Chasing Cars

If it is ever going to snow, and some years it doesn’t snow, then August will be the month when it happens. August is the coldest month of the year at the farm. I’ve been thinking about cold weather because we’re now only a month out from the winter solstice. Each day, the sun is ever slightly lower in the sky, until eventually it will reach the nadir of the winter solstice, before beginning to climbing higher again.

On Saturday there were small patches of frozen grass in the orchards, and from this higher altitude I could see that frost was widespread in the valley below. It is a weird quirk of nature that cold air becomes heavy, and so it falls and pools in the valleys way below the farm. On those mornings, the higher mountain saddles can actually be warmer than the frosty abodes below. Despite that, the patches of frozen grass in the orchards sure mean that winter is fast approaching.

A decade ago I volunteered for a few years as a fireman. It was a good way to get to meet the locals and form some connections in the area. After all the upside of providing your time and labour free of charge was that you benefited from the social contacts. The head honcho at the time remarked appropriately that the service was part emergency service and part social group. Then along came the truly astoundingly awful Black Saturday fires in 2009, and the culture of the service appeared to change. My experience was that the social aspect was shunned. A Royal Commission full of heavy weight legal folks (probably none of whom lived in the bush) investigated the fires, and eventually volunteering became much like an unpaid job to me.

August is the coldest month of the year, and I recall being at a meeting where snow was gently falling outside the fire station shed, and someone mentioned that: ‘it was going to be a bad fire season’. Trying to reconcile those words with the certain knowledge that it was snowing outside, was probably a bit much for my brain. And eventually after a few years, I handed back my firefighting gear and did something else with my time.

In rural areas you end up getting social contact and making connections through different mechanisms than would otherwise work in a city. It is a marked difference, and in a rural area it can be quite surprising just how many people know of you and your business. As a former city boy, it took me a long while to come to grips with this reality. But these days I get my social contact where I can, and so I enjoy brief regular chats with all manner of locals.

The other day I was speaking with a guy who works around these parts as a mechanic, and he made the observation to me that he was: ‘under the pump all of the time nowadays’. Being under the pump is a colloquialism to describe that he faced a never ending stream of work. Mate, I hear you about that!

A person needs downtime, and one of the reasons I left employment in the big end of town was that I was being asked to both work and cogitate upon the businesses problems and systems all at the same time. Unfortunately, I’m limited and was able to do one or the other, but not both at the same time. And because the work was never ending, the cogitation time hung around for me in the background of my brain on weekends and at night. I wanted my weekends and nights back, and so eventually I went off and did something else with my time.

When I first entered the adult workforce as a young bloke at the age of 17, work was not anywhere near as unrelenting as it is today. There was time for relaxed drinks on a long Friday lunchtime which inevitably stretched into the afternoons with my coworkers. That might not be the case these days.

Fortunately, this week it has been something of a relief to me to be having a quieter time on a work front.

The health subject which dares not be named put an end to any quiet time at all last year, and so I’ve been under the pump since March over a year ago. The editor and I were required to navigate the various government imposed red tape systems on behalf of the many small businesses we service. The government in turn sagely advised the small businesses to: ‘just ask your accountant’. Except that we just had to figure it all out on the fly and then assist lots of people who, like us, probably had higher than normal blood pressure.

Meanwhile the city was in lock down for four continuous months and there was a genuine travel ban and serious night time curfew placed on the denizens of that city. The editor and I lived outside the city limits in a rural area, and so we were subject to less restrictive policies, but all the same, the regular experience of having to display my identification and papers to military and police personnel on my once per week trip into the city was an unsettling experience. Probably didn’t do much good for my blood pressure either.

I don’t believe that the pain has been distributed equally. My day to day experience was filled with people who were wondering whether or how their business would survive the government response to the health subject which dares not be named. Their blood pressure was probably not good either.

The other day I heard a third hand account of someone who works in one of the big banks. The account sounded to me like working from home meant looking after the kids and getting paid for it. In small business I get no benefits, so that if I don’t work for whatever reason, I don’t get paid. I accept that risk, but hearing that people in big corporates get paid to ‘work from home’, when that means doing things other than working, kind of annoys me – a lot.

But what will be, will be, and whilst I don’t enjoy the benefits of getting paid not to work, at least I don’t have to work for such a behemoth. And I’ve experienced being made redundant from such a behemoth during the darkest days of the recession of the early 1990’s so I know that the benefits today, can be gone tomorrow. They’re all care and cuddles, until the poop hits the proverbial fan, and then you become inconvenient.

With the strange experiences of the past year, and first hand experience of the even earlier dark days of the recession ‘we had to have’ in the 1990’s, I try to forget the inequality and just go off and do something different with my life. Fortunately, the gardens here call to me to continue working on them, and by spring I’ll show you a garden that’s bursting into life.

I’m continuing to take it easier on my shoulder whilst it recovers from the recent injury. What this translates to in reality is that the heavy infrastructure work has stalled. Work continues though and this week we are in the process of getting the garden terraces ready for the next growing season.

The fourth highest garden terrace as of last week

Last week, we’d removed the tomato vines from the fourth highest garden terrace. It was a bit of a mess really, and there were hundreds of unripe and frankly unpleasant tasting tomatoes left on the garden terrace, not to mention the weeds.

This week the tomatoes and weeds were cleared from the garden terrace. We’d also decided to formalise the path running down the middle of the terrace with rock walls and a surface of the locally quarried crushed rock with lime path.

A string line on the uphill side indicates where rocks should be placed for the rock wall

A string line was strung and we began laying rocks along the new rock wall for the path. Unfortunately, Peak Rocks is very real and we rapidly depleted our available rock reserves.

The rock walls for the new path have begun to be laid, but we ran out of rocks

Observant readers will note the many soil mounds in the above photo. Last year when the garden terraces were hurriedly pressed into use, we hadn’t really given the soil a good feed. We’re now making amends for this by giving the soil in these garden beds a very good feed.

The author mixes up a heady brew of soil feed

Mixing up the soil feed was a bit like a production line, except that it took many hours of mixing and hauling. The soil feed contains eight ingredients:

  • Purchased fine compost (0.5 cubic metre / 0.65 cubic yards)
  • Boron (a tiny addition to each wheelbarrow load)
  • Blood and Bone (20kg / 44 pounds)
  • An ocean based product called Seamungus (10kg / 22 pounds)
  • Gypsum (25kg / 55 pounds)
  • Agricultural Lime (24kg / 53 pounds)
  • Dynamic Lifter (35kg / 77 pounds)
  • Coffee grounds (70kg / 154 pounds)

And all that makes up about 25 wheelbarrows of soil food. It is not a perfect soil mix by any measure, but it is good enough, and at least I can source the materials locally. Incidentally, the fourth and fifth garden terraces will require about four loads of the above mix, but in future years I expect the demands won’t be anywhere near as high again.

A whole bunch of feed was provided to the soil

One of the other things we’re changing on this garden terrace is to move the roses from the downhill side of the central path, to the uphill side of the path. The soil on the downhill side of the garden terrace is warmer because it receives more sunlight, and as such it is valuable growing space for vegetables. And whilst we are moving all of the many roses, we’re increasing the spacing between each rose from 800mm (31.5 inches) to 1000mm (39.3 inches). The original spacing was based on roses planted out in a nearby botanical garden. This was an error on our part, and here the roses require much more space to grow properly.

The roses are being relocated from the downhill side of the path to the uphill side of the path at greater centres

The local birds are always alert as to what activities we are up to around the farm. The editor mowed the area up above the yet to be completed utility area. And just after the editor had moved away, a family of the local Kookaburra birds moved in to investigate.

A family of Kookaburra birds investigates the mowed area

The birds on the farm are generally not migratory, and so they are around all of the time. From some respects this is a good thing as the reduced feed over the winter months sets an upper limit on their population. I dread to think at how quickly an endless number of parrots would strip the gardens and orchards of any produce, so fortunately their numbers are within reason.

A local King Parrot hangs out in an apple tree

Leaf change is almost over, and I can sometimes see what the tourists want.

Leaf change is here and almost over

Onto the flowers:

A Hydrangea is displaying some unusual colour
The Roses are always awesome
Californian Poppies revel in the late Autumn warmth
We’re growing more Salvia’s each year. Lovely plants

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 9’C (48’F). So far this year there has been 429.6mm (16.9 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 429.2mm (16.9 inches).

65 thoughts on “Chasing Cars”

  1. Yo, Chris – So, being up in nose bleed territory, do you have a bit of a longer growing season? Does it compensate for lusting after flood prone bottom land? Six of one, half a dozen of the other?

    Ohhh! A Royal Commission. Ohhh! Next time Mr. Greer has an open post, I might ask when, in the descent, can we maybe expect the hopped up little bureaucrats to go away?

    Some employment, these days, is just bonkers. They expect you to be “connected”, 24/7. And people put up with it, as they expect it hinges on maintaining a job and possible advancement. As you discovered, the old contract between employee and employer, has pretty much broken down. It happened about the time Personnel, became Human Resources.

    I’d say, from just the little hints you dropped (due to client confidentiality, which I fully understand), the Editor and you did yeoman service, to your clients. And yet maintained some semblance of work / life balance. Kudos.

    Your mention of high blood pressure, reminded me of an article I saw, yesterday. There was a study done, in North Carolina. During our 2016 election season, cardiovascular problems increased 70%.

    Ollie, picture #1. “You sure this is a good idea, boss?” Ollie, picture #2. “Ah. This is more like it.”

    That’s quit a mix of fertilizer. Boron, is a new one, on me. Please expound. I did a quick check of Solomon’s Pacific Northwest gardening book, and didn’t see it mentioned in the index.

    Kokaburra birds? I enlarged the photo 3x and got out my magnifying glass. Where? The King Parrot is quit stately, but probably up to no good. Today I saw a smaller bird, species unknown, harassing a couple of crows. The aerial gymnastics were quit exciting, as I expected a midair collision, at any time. Didn’t happen.

    The picture of the leaf change, is calendar worthy. You can almost (but not quit) understand the leaf peepers.

    The Hydrangea is really pretty. We’ve got some here, at the Institution, that are a deep, dark blue.

    The roses are lovely. Yup. They need a lot of breathing room. Good air circulation to avoid fungus, of one type or another.

    We’ve got California poppies, all over the place, People are always asking me, “What are those?” One neglected 4 x 6″ raised bed, last year, was entirely overrun by them. It sure did make a bright splash! Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    Hope you recall to give H a rub behind the ears along with her bath, I’m sure she won’t enjoy it!

    Actually not being able to find things on phones seems to be a common problem, and I don’t even understand how people navigate through so many screens of applications either. I keep that device simple and locked down as who knows what information it sends to I dunno, someone, somewhere. If I hadn’t been forced to have one, I wouldn’t. I suggested to a mate who knows stuff about software that people needed an application where they could use voice instructions to categorise photos. I don’t (or rarely) use the device for taking photos, but yes I agree it is a spectator sport to watch as people valiantly swipe their fingers on little glass screens to try to find that one photo they want to show you.

    Decades is perhaps not long enough? 😉 Far out. A persons past is a funny thing and for some reason I’m not really caught up in any great emotional investment in relation to that, it is kind of background colour really. It is hard to express really, and some folks might describe it incorrectly as nihilism, but it is far deeper belief than that as it is vaguely possible that the Universe really doesn’t hold any great special place for us, especially if we are careless of the very things which keep us all alive – as we appear to be. It’s complicated.

    The mouse plague up north continues. Having gone head to head with rodents for over a decade, I’m a bit in awe of the rodents, and also a little bit fearful – for good reason: After drought and pandemic, mouse plague pushes regional NSW residents to breaking point. Unfortunately, the main problem with trying to obtain all of your harvest all of the time, is that sooner or later something will come along and try to eat it. The wildlife here gets a share of the goodies, and whilst this is not efficient by any means, the wildlife also has a serious incentive to keep out other birds, animals and insects from getting at the goodies. Last evening I shone the torch into the edge of the forest and there was a fox, and that would certainly be hunting the rabbits and rats.

    Hehe! A Koala overlord, fancy that. Probably permanently grumpy to boot too – I’ve worked with a few folks like that. Permanent dissatisfaction is an unpleasant and difficult worldview.

    AAAARRRGGGGHHHH! Those spiders are toothy looking critters – and it amazes that something so small could be on the move over such distances, but then a major pest here is the Portuguese Millipede (the name is a dead giveaway as to its origins). And let’s not forget the mice.

    Of course, I understand that the very amusing film series would have little appeal. If it means anything to you, I believe that the hangover in the film was caused by the drug Rohypnol rather than alcohol and a tiger was part of the plot. Great news that the real life tiger was found and no children (or adults for that matter) were harmed. I’d hate to think what the people had been feeding the tiger.

    Some menu’s to my mind look as though they were dreamt up by a chef who had a bad case of the jaded palate syndrome – you don’t want to catch a case of that awful affliction. Other chefs may follow a similar path and perhaps if you asked the hard question why, the answer may make you blush as they did it for the ego (I couldn’t quite work out how to use the word phallus in context without breaking my own website limitations). 🙂

    Some award was given for a dessert maybe a few years back which apparently had 91 steps, or something difficult like that. I’m guessing the dessert must have been good, but surely 81 of those steps weren’t necessary to produce an item nearly as good?

    Are you intending to give the apple crisp another go? As they say, best to get back on the horse.

    Too thin has been also described elsewhere as leanest liveable weight – which as a concept, kind of scares me. When I was in the big smoke a neighbour had a e-type vehicle, a V12 engine too. I caught him chucking rubbish in my expensive construction bin (we call them skips for some reason) and we had words. You’d think that having a media profile and ostentatious displays of wealth would mean that a person wouldn’t steal from their neighbours, but no.

    Hey, it is possible that if the local newspapers need a mug shot of you, one will turn up with you gesticulating at a security camera! How funny would that be? 🙂 It would certainly make an impression on the audience.

    to be cont…

  3. Hi Lewis (the double secret cont edition reply),

    Someone remarked to me today that text messages are now considered old school. Hey, remember the days when people actually communicated by email? That system is now exclusively for business functions, and the cool kids use snapchat, whatever that is. I’ve elected to be old school, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that, but as a species we’re very wasteful of our technology as I’m guessing there is an underlying penchant for novelty. The reason I was thinking about this was because the subject of duplicating machines came up here, and I recall the distinct smell of those purple text sheets. But hey, the stuff worked and wasn’t that complicated a technology – a digital scanner and high resolution printer by way of contrast is not reproducible by the home boffin.

    Have you heard anything more regarding the revenge of analogue? I was listening to the youth radio the other day and heard a listener message read out that the person had just purchased their first turntable – and the album: Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. A very cool first choice if I may say so myself.

    A year or two back a celery plant happened to grow in one of the very oldest vegetable beds. All by itself, and I watched the plant grow and thrive. Towards the end of its life cycle I harvested some seeds from this miracle of nature – and nothing. The plant was a true garden mystery and possibly lost opportunity. But other than that, I grow the herb Lovage instead as it is simply easier and tastes exactly the same as celery.

    Fancy that, the concept of leaving no bare earth is being discussed in all seriousness and paid for by who knows? Hope big farmer Boss Dork Number One can get his head around natural systems as he sure lays claim to a lot of land nowadays – unless the settlement does not head in his favour. If I had to give him some advice: You gonna need a lawyer son, you’re gonna need a real good one to get you out of this one. I ripped those lines, but they’re applicable all the same.

    The weather here does not portend well, so I shall vicariously await on your 4am observations from your part of the world. Tomorrow evening a dark and imposing storm looks set to sally forth over this part of the continent. Ouch!

    I’ll let you in on a little secret about your cardboard: It contains more than it’s fair share of Boron (and the ash can be applied to your soil). OK, so the other day I read this: “please don’t be scared of Boron. It has a unique and vitally important job to do. The minuscule tubes that plants use to conduct moisture must be lined with Boron. If these tubes don’t get enough Boron, they don’t function effectively. As Hugh Lovel, a biodynamic soil consultant puts it: Boron comes first, and then come the rest of the plant nutrients.” from Steve Solomon’s book ‘The intelligent gardener’.

    Platonic friends work as long as everyone understands the relationship. Mate, I have a lot of friends, some of whom are gay, and it is only other people who are weirded out by that. People are people. I tend to believe that many people are insecure and that drives a lot of the externalisation of their fears.

    It’s a good point and in terms of climate weirdness, we actually are in the nose bleed section. Thanks for the correction, the Hilltop Hoods had lead me to believe that it was the front row folks, or the very sweaty mosh pit dwellers. I tell ya, I’d be rather disturbed if my nose bled regularly, and on another note the rapid change in elevation when returning home from the at-sea-level big smoke, sometimes does play havoc with my sinuses when I’m dehydrated or have a cold.

    But yeah, if you take frost and elevation into account I have a longer, but also cooler growing season which overall is milder than what they experience down there in frosty valley land. Mind you, you’re probably right as the soils there are more fertile and so the plants grow faster. It is kind of akin to how annual plants cope with growing at higher latitudes in that they get more sunlight to do so over summer than at mid-level latitudes like here.

    Ooo! What a great question, and I look forward to Mr Greer’s reply. The cheeky scamps probably earned a fair chunk of mad cash too. It is highly possible that one of them was an uncle on my dads side.

    Far out, it is technically possible to be connected and contactable by an employer 24/7 – 365. On the other hand it is a very unwise course of action, and the police down here recently won the right to disconnect. I’ve never encountered anyone who can be switched on to work all of the time without burning out. And exactly, to expect people to be so is a bonkers concept. And I’ve said before that HR has an inherent conflict of interest given who pays their salary.

    Thanks, and I could only give the briefest of details – which you clearly understand. It was a rough road, and there were days which just disappeared into a murky vat of assistance. Oh well, we kept our cool as best we could, or at least maintained the facade.

    As resources get channeled into the health subject which dares not be named, the resources are removed from other areas, and my old mate died last year of apparently cardiovascular complications. His appointments were cancelled due to the health subject which dares not be named, so blood pressure is kind of important. There is a bit of mania in your country about politics, and down here, we just don’t feel the same level of emotional investment. Perhaps our expectations of our leaders is lower, and people are less rusted on in their choices. Dunno, but it is different here and we just don’t understand the passion you guys have for politics.

    The Kookaburra photo was taken at low resolution so the bird is in the middle of the frame sitting on the steel support and eyeing off grubs. Not out finest photography work. The leaf change colour on the other hand turned out really nicely.

    Did you discover what variety of small birds was harassing your crows? A brave bird by any other name.

    The Hydrangeas here are also normally blue. It is possible that the falling leaf litter around the plant has altered the mineral profile of the soil thus producing the different colour?

    That’s my take too with the roses – more room = less fungi issues. 🙂 The botanical garden has more resources to throw at these issues than we do.

    Californian Poppies are super reliable, and I can understand how they’d attract peoples attention in the neglected garden bed. Lovely plants and we have a few colours established now.



  4. Chris,

    I’m back, at least sorta kinda. Cousin One Leg got out of hospital and is in the region’s premier rehab facility for a week. My neighbor is some kind of physical therapist there and will probably be assisting with Cousin.

    We had some rain Monday morning! It rained hard enough that there was a river running down the gutters on the street edges. This knocked the pollen down, allowed me to air out the house for 90 minutes, the the wind kicked up. Sneeze cough etc, ensued, so the house is again buttoned down with the air purifier running.

    Thanks for the colorful photos. That hydrangea has interesting colors. Also enjoyed the bird pictures. I saw the kookaburra right away in that photo, by the way.

    You are entirely correct: the pain due to that which must not be named was NOT distributed equally. Not even close. These things never are. My guess is that those who are the last to feel the ramifications will take it much worse than those who otherwise learned to cope.

    You mentioned this to Lew: “Platonic friends work as long as everyone understands the relationship. Mate, I have a lot of friends, some of whom are gay, and it is only other people who are weirded out by that. People are people. I tend to believe that many people are insecure and that drives a lot of the externalisation of their fears.” That is VERY well said and covers a lot of deep territory very concisely.

    I noticed that your wheelbarrow has “Sherlock” written on the side. Maybe you should let Sherlock sleuth around for the rocks you need to line the path? Alternatively, as I’ll be getting rid of my slope/rock garden, and will have available rocks, maybe Sherlock can come and get them? 😉 Actually, I’m already coming up with uses for the rocks.


  5. Unequal pain distribution- as it was ever such. Sure seems like the disparity and gap are wider every year though, and it takes less and less to exacerbate it. Historians have told us repeatedly that this does not end well, but looks like once more the cycle rolls on.

    Quite the soil recipe! Of course, you are creating soil from scratch, and I’ve only ever had to amend soil that was already there. How did you come up with those portions?

    Boron- yes, a little goes a long way. Do you use borax? Some gardening sites call out borax as weed killer, but I don’t think I’d try that, might sterilize the soil for all plants for a good while.

    Ollie is a hoot. I think I’ve taken a liking to him.

  6. Hello Chris
    Weather today still quite dreadful, very cold and very wet. We have been told that it is going to warm up in a few days, I wonder.

    I also can’t see the kookaburra even with your further explanation.

    I don’t plant my own kept potatoes as they all get eaten, so I have to buy new ones to plant. Mind you, there are always some little ones that escape my digging up and they then grow the following season.

    I dig up old strawberry plants every 2 years and start again from the runners. However I have also a variety of strawberries that keep producing fruit all summer and don’t produce runners. They have been in for years but don’t produce quite such nice strawberries.


  7. Yo, Chris – Better than an ear scratch, for H’s bath. She used to have problems with itchy ears. But since I started bathing her regularly, no. Because as part of our full service, I take a twist of TP and give it a good whirl. And also carefully deploy cotton swabs. Sometimes I think she puts up with the rest of it, just for the attention to her ears. Her ears are always pretty clean, now. And no more itching.

    Well, we sure do talk about the past, a lot 🙂 . I had a bad habit of ruminating to much, on dark aspects of the past. Like a cow chewing it’s cud. 🙂 . I read something that made a lot of sense (to me). Ruminating on the past, is like sitting in a room, with lots of windows, all with different interesting views. But you just keep getting up and looking out one window. Sometimes I can jog myself out of swirling down some dark memory hole, by just telling myself, “Let’s think of something more pleasant.” And, I do. Works, most of the time.

    The mouse plague is really horrible. I hope all your forest critters keep them far from your door. Snakes like mice. But, they don’t need to eat many of them, to keep going. The thing about using bait is, it can kill the very creatures that go after mice. But at those levels, what else are you going to do?

    Well, if I want to see tigers in movies, I’ll stick with “Bringing Up Baby.” Hepburn and Grant, 1938. Whoops! That was a leopard. “Jungle Book?” Speaking of big, cat-like bitey things, I saw this, yesterday.

    Wow! Look at the size of those paws!

    I steer clear of recipes with too many steps or ingredients. I’ll keep making crisps, apple or otherwise. I was just a little out of practice, and, I think part of the problem was the apple variety.

    Re: “…gesticulate at a security camera.” Ending up in the local newspaper, won’t happen. They’re too family friendly, for that. 🙂 . But they sure do like to report on lurid sex crimes, from far afield. Do I really need to read about some perv, way up in Bellingham? I’d say it was a slow news day, and they needed filler. But why pick that?

    Text messages. All the cool kids, are doing it. Speaking of e-mail, I couldn’t get into one of my accounts, last night. Because “we have noticed suspicious activity on your account.” Well, no, they’re just testing their system. It needed a two step verification. You go to another e-mail account, and enter a secret code. That account stopped working, three days ago. Had a similar problem with E Buy, about a month ago. But, I used the computer at the library, and had access again, at home. Go figure. The problem with accessing my primary e-mail account, cleared up, all on it’s own, by evening.

    What it all boils down to is, I have a very old machine. 15 years? And, if I had kept up with the updates, it might chug along for longer. So, I may have to buy a new one. Soon. I have the money in savings, but, given my new miserly ways, am loath to spend it. And also shudder at the learning curve, involved with a new machine.

    I’m afraid the return of analogue, will come very slowly. I figure it will happen, in a noticeable manner, about the time the little jumped up bureaucrats, disappear. And, yes, they probably made a lot of mad cash. And spent a lot of mad cash. And, more.

    Volunteers in the garden, are always interesting. I see there’s a couple of tomatoes. But in poor places. I also see something interesting coming up, where I buried some kitchen scraps. Some kind of vining plant. It’s better situated, and I might let one or two run. Just to see what they are. Ohhhh! Lovage sounds really interesting. Leaves look like celery. Or, parsley. A perennial. Doesn’t grow all winter, though. Dies back.

    Looks like we’re also going to be socked in, for the eclipse. But I still might see the moonrise (at a more conducive hour), if the clouds are high enough.

    Ah, boron. I checked Mr. Solomon’s other book, “Gardening When It Counts.” He talked mostly about slash and burn agriculture. Next time I set a packing case on fire, in the parking lot, I’ll save the ashes 🙂 . Actually, there’s probably boron in the coffee cans of stove ashes, that Julia gave me. But I wonder about adding it, now? The garden got a dose of stove ash, last year.

    Yesterday, I did a bit of weeding, planted giant sunflowers and scarlet runner beans. Wow, those are …interesting. About the size of lima beans, and purple and black. Frankly (Frank), I had forgotten about those. But, figured out where to do two test patches. Which may work out better, as I can see if a.) they’ll grow and b.) will I eat them. Then I scattered lime, bone meal and blood meal. I had a slight breeze working with me, so distribution was pretty even. Probably a pound and a half, over 50 square feet. All those plots got the same, last year. But that blood meal. Oh, the reek! I don’t remember it being so odiferous, last year. Got in my clothes, my hair. A shower and change of clothes, was in order. Then I watered the whole thing down.

    I keep forgetting to mention, slug hunting season opened, a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been out about three times. The first night, I got 14. But, it was rather dry. Then 35 and 37. Mostly, tiny. I seem to have really knocked them back. Gone are the days of night after night of 50 and 60 🙁 .

    Our passion for politics is cultivated. And, manipulated.

    I couldn’t tell what the small bird was. Looking up, I could only see him in silhouette. I figure he or she was keeping them off their nest, eggs or young.

    I guess the hydrangeas are bred to be that deep, rich, dark blue color. But as a species, as you mentioned, the color can be manipulated depending on soil amendments. Lew

  8. Hello Chris,

    I am impressed by your stint as a fireman, and a quite unfortunate turn of events that the autonomy was curtailed.

    A short note on the Hydrangea colouring. It is availability of aluminum that determines which colour you get – blue where aluminum is available, and pink without (and when pH goes up, such as when you add lime, hint, hint).
    Some good illustrations here:

    Regarding potatoes, you can grow new varieties from seed. If you don’t get blight on your potato plants, they will form little “tomatoes”. Harvest the seed and plant out next year, like you would a tomato plant, start it in your greenhouse and transplant into the bed – you will get a new variety. One of my friends is developing new potato varieties as a hobby, and it does not look so hard, but I have never done it myself. I will try next season, if I don’t get blight.
    For more instructions, read e.g. here:

    I get more and more inspired to get the Steve Salomon books. Thanks for sharing your enthousiasm! The new garden beds look great!

    Here, the annual greens season is starting up and we do get lots of vitamins!


  9. Hi Goran,

    Thanks, and during the stint I learned quite a lot about fires and met some great people. The lack of social activities as time went on meant that giving your time looked a lot like an unpaid job that the community sort of took for granted. We actually got into trouble for organising a social night too and that was one of the final straws. Oh well, I’ll tell you something though, having seen that fighting western side of things, my inclination is to replicate the Indigenous folks practices – and what does that say? 🙂

    Thanks for the link to the very informative article on Hydrangea flower colours. Fascinating, and the colour is turning a deeper blue as the season gets colder – interestingly the flowers also have a hint of pink, which was shown in the colour charts in the article. The soils here are acidic.

    Oh yeah! I suspect that the seedling potato plants don’t diverge as much as we’re told (usually by seed companies wanting to sell product). What has your friends experience been on that front? I noticed that crop rotation is something I’m going to have to practice soon, some plants I’ve been growing in the same locations for a decade, but I do bring in new compost each year. But not rotating crops will be an issue.

    Glad you are enjoying the books – I’ve learned a lot, and he writes about issues which I’ve not seen explored elsewhere. Mind you, he writes purely for vegetables and has not covered berries, grains or fruit trees.

    Good to hear that you are getting some sunshine and fresh greens. 🙂



  10. Hi Inge,

    Your weather sounds a lot like what I’m seeing out the window right now. It is raining and quite heavily too. Hope it warms up for you and your garden soon. A year without a summer is an alarming prospect to experience.

    I zoomed in on the Kookaburra photograph:

    I’m at a bit of a loss as to what the potato issue could be. My final idea is: Have you grown potatoes in that location for many years? It is possible that you’re seeing a slow decline to accumulated diseases – not enough to knock out the plants, but enough to slow the growth considerably? I’ve only had the potatoes in their current location for a year.

    Thanks for the information on your strawberries and you’ve given me much to consider. I might collect a lot of runners, and then pull everything else out and then replant the runners in new soil. Hmm.



  11. Hi DJ,

    Cousin one leg sounds like a pirate name! How’s cousin going?

    Good stuff with the rain, and at the time of year you’re in the garden will seriously appreciate the extra water. Sorry to hear about the hayfever – can you imagine what it is like when the Eucalyptus trees here produced flowers? The air smells nice though, kind of like honey. It’s absolutely bucketing down outside right now.

    The Kookaburra is there alright, and well done for spotting it. I zoomed in on the photograph in Inge’s comment. Kookaburra’s are closely related to Kingfishers.

    I accept the correction and yeah, small business did it hard and much harder than big business. Can you believe a government department increased a bill I have no choice not to pay from $750 to $1400, and some industries have been pounded like the music industry just for one example. A festival was due to kick off tomorrow and there are five cases in the community now… Restrictions are being implemented as of midnight. Here we go again.

    Thanks mate, that’s high praise! Mr Greer would suggest that people are projecting the shadow of their own insecurities, and I reckon he’s right too.

    Hehe! Do you know every time I see name on the wheelbarrow the words: “No S@#t Sherlock!”, come to mind. DJ, I just can’t seem to shake that idea out of my consciousness, which means you just have to be careful what ya chuck in there in the first place. Collecting rocks from your place kind of proves the much debated and argued theory of Peak Rocks don’t you reckon? 🙂 I look forward to hearing how you use the rocks.



  12. Hi Steve,

    You’d think that people with their hands on the policy levers would learn the lessons that history can teach us – if they but take the time to learn? You can almost hear them saying to themselves: “Just turn the screws a bit tighter, we need it more than they do, and anyway, this time it’s different.” It isn’t different, and unfortunately you have the right of it, this won’t end well.

    The portions aren’t as good as they could have been, but they’re good enough for my purposes – and yeah making soil from scratch is a complicated problem. There used to be top soil here, but the loggers were followed by strawberries and potatoes and then there were the wildfires. The idea for the mix came from Steve Solomon’s book: The Intelligent Gardener. The book goes deep into the science of soil for vegetable gardening, but in a mostly accessible way. By the way I’m more relaxed in the orchards and feed the soil there: Composted woody mulch + compost + coffee grounds + agricultural lime

    Yeah, you can use Borax, and I’m sure that is exactly what is in the container I picked up at the nursery. Two pounds an acre I believe, which is not much at all per wheelbarrow (half a teaspoon). You can get it by burning cardboard and spreading the ash too.

    Ollie sends cordial tail wags to you and yours!



  13. Hi Lewis,

    Rain, lot’s of rain: Hey Melbourne, here it comes… Four fifths of an inch so far and it looks like it will continue raining for a while to come.

    Earlier this morning I purchased a Pyrex jug made in your country and it was under $20. It seems a bit cheap to my mind, but prices are a bit weird nowadays. Had to also go to the hardware big box shop in a nearby town as some of the power points here are breaking – which is so weird. I only discover they’re broken when I push in a plug and it feels springy. Hardly confidence inspiring given what the power points are meant to do – and the risk they represent if they fail. Oh well. Picked up some spares whilst I was at it too – higher quality ones, but who really knows?

    And um, it gets stranger. Did I mention the broken toilet button? So I tried to repair it and got some epoxy resin into the mechanism and couldn’t disassemble the button without breaking it. Thought I’d get a replacement except they were $90 – for a simple button which had already broken once. They’re no longer available as the design has been superseded. Decided to replace the guts of the toilet cistern with a generic replacement and generic dual flush push button. Easy, and the generic items look far better quality and work better. A crazy situation, but better than chucking the whole cistern out as it is a ceramic item.

    Have you ever seen ear mites? Revolting things and I once had a cat who had them in one of her ears. Your cleaning activities are how you had to clean out the ear mites. Glad to hear that H isn’t itchy any more.

    Hehe! Mate, if I didn’t have the past to plumb for stories, I’m not sure what I’d write about – the future can be a dull topic, and look how things turned out for flying cars and electricity too cheap to meter. 🙂 Heights are not my thing so flying cars are out, but electricity too cheap to meter – sounds good – but is probably a very big call. What would probably happen is that people wouldn’t switch their electric devices off, and then we’d drown in pollution or run out of resources because the electric devices would wear out much faster.

    Sometimes poking at the dark places of the past can be good for a persons mental health, but as you note it’s a fine line between poking and dwelling. I like your window analogy – a lot. The past is part of who we are today.

    Oh yeah, the snake – mouse story is not lost on me. Snakes are pretty handy at hunting and eating mice, but do the snakes here have to be so hideously deadly? I try not to provide habitat for either species. Mate, our species created the conditions for the mice, so it really is our issue to resolve it. The less other species there are on the planet, the more humans have to step into the breach and the more energy and resources that draws away from our species usual endeavours. I have an odd notion that the Indigenous folks learned that lesson the hard way after the last of the megafauna walked the planet, which wasn’t all that long ago.

    Encountering one of those Florida panthers alone in the reserves would be a difficult experience and one you might not survive. Nature can sometime pack a punch, and it looks as though cars and trucks are winning that battle. Did I read correctly that a 1,000 people per day move to that state? Hope they choose to live on high ground.

    A curious reference to an apple variety affecting your crisp. Which variety did you use? I recall that recently you said that new apple varieties were being planted out because I dunno, someone asked for that. Makes you wonder who this ‘someone’ is.

    It’s still raining here…

    How is reporting on lurid sex crimes considered family friendly? I have an odd notion that the stranger danger fear is talked up in the media. If that is the case it doesn’t look good to me. Sure random acts happen and you can be unlucky, but I read a book on statistics in the real world years ago (it may have been titled Panicology) and the book posited the suggestion that risk is often more likely increased exponentially depending on who you hang out with.

    Ebuy did that down here recently, something to do with not paying through PolPay in future. Grr. We now have restrictions in place from 6pm due to the health subject which dares not be named. I use my own email server rather than choosing to use large online providers.

    Sorry to hear about your ageing machine, and you’ve done well to eek it along for so many years. Software and hardware providers each drive along the need to force users to jump onto a never ending upgrade / replacement cycle. Mate, I’m slowly getting forced from Boss Dork Number One’s product Seven to product Ten. It annoys me no end as this works just fine. What do you do? If you work out what to do, please let me know.

    Do you know, that’s a good question about the cost of the Royal Commission and I couldn’t dig up an answer. One website suggested that a year long Royal Commission cost somewhere in the order of $70m. Not bad work if you can get it.

    Volunteer tomatoes are always interesting, and my experience has been that they’re mostly good. Lovage is awesome, and super hardy, and every year they grow in the same spot, but yes they do die back in winter.

    Boron is only a minor trace element, and unless you test for it, who knows if there is a shortage? I’m creating top soil from scratch and so it is easy to add Boron then and there and it also gets spread evenly. You wouldn’t want to concentrate the stuff.

    The scarlet runner beans are beautiful aren’t they? I shelled some of the bean harvest the other day and the beans were white, I think they were the lazy housewife variety – that’s what they’re really called. Yeah, respect for conducting the experiment. 🙂

    Makes you wonder what changed with the blood and bone meal? It doesn’t smell good here, but it isn’t that pungent that the odour sticks to you either. Yuk! It may have been a bit fresh?

    Take that ya sluggies! A good harvest.

    Oh no! The waste… But the chainsaw art is so cool. And a sasquatch!



  14. Hello Chris
    Thanks for displaying the kookaburra so clearly, a lovely photo.
    I misunderstood your question about potato seed. I have never used seeds as I don’t let my potato plants bear seed. I never keep growing potatoes in the same place as that is an invitation to blight. Usually I plant Lady Balfour which are blight resistant but I couldn’t get them this year. The mystery of the differential growth will remain it seems.


  15. Hi Chris,
    I sure couldn’t see the Kookaburra so thank you for the hint. Glad to hear you are taking care with that shoulder. From what I hear shoulder issues are the most difficult to resolve and the most painful.

    It seems you made the right choice leaving the corporate world and your volunteer position especially as the social aspect mostly disppeared. I left the accounting profession after about 10 years to finish up the requirements for my teaching certificate and never regretted it. Even 40 years ago accounting positions required a lot of time on the job. I often took work home and went into the office on Saturdays often with a child in tow. I lucked into quite a cushy teaching position though back then most teachers in the district weren’t overwhelmed as they are now. Now, they too, must be accessible all the time. It seems that many that worked at home will continue to do so at least most of the time losing the social aspect of their jobs. The only person in my extended family who wasn’t mostly working from home was my BIL who owns the restaurant. The rest were all huddled away in their homes ordering food and other supplies to be delivered to their door. At least a few recognized how lucky they were to be able to do that versus the workers who had no choice in the matter and of course caught you know what it higher numbers.

    That is quite a concoction of soil nutrients. Did you get this from Solomon’s book? I use old cardboard covered with mulch to kill off weeds and grass for new areas for planting. Works pretty well. Never mind I see the answer in your response to Steve. The grass along the road which was one to two feet tall was mowed today so I collected a couple of wheelbarrows for mulch. I’ve still got plenty of chopped leaves but with the continuing dry weather one can never have too much. It sure makes a huge difference keeping moisture in the soil.

    Got barely enough rain last week but still quite dry. It’s in the mid 80’s now but we’ll have a high of 52 and low of 40 on Thursday. Sounds a bit like your last summer.

    Daughter, Carla, is having a rat problem in their garage. They are eating the insulation. Chicago in general has a serious rat problem though she lives on the edge of the city in a residental area.

    Five whole cases – wow and you get shut down. Things are almost back to where they were before all this started even though there still are quite a few new cases. Good luck with that.


  16. Good evening (it is here and time zones are beyond me).

    Here’s a nice little anecdote about fertilizer, from a 19th c book of rural reminiscences.

    An old boy, giving some of his delicious locally-famous rhubarb to a neighbour, uncharacteristically responded to genuine and effusive praise with ‘An I’ll tell thee the secret’.

    ‘This will be worth it, I can’t believe he’s going to let me in on it!’ thought the neighbour.

    ‘The missus and me allus empties t’privy pot over it regular.’

    Best wishes from a very soggy and chilly East of England, everything is about one month behind, but at least the raised beds you inspired are draining…..and tail wags from Sir Sancho!

  17. Yo, Chris – Looks like your in for a spot of weather. As “they” say. 🙂 . We see a lot of those big green globs, on our weather radar. It poured here, yesterday. Over 1″. Today is overcast, with a bit of small splash, from time to time. Not enough to slow up the Master Gardener’s, or me. More on that later. Tomorrow is supposed to be nice and clear. But not too warm. Then more rain. But Saturday it’s supposed to be 70F (21.11C) and Sunday and Monday? 80+F! (26.66C).

    So, did you pick up the Pyrex jug at an op shop? I didn’t know Pyrex did jugs. When I Gargle it, I see lots of measuring cups.

    Cistern. AKA Toilet bowl? Toilet cistern. AKA Toilet tank? 🙂 . I do wish they hadn’t messed about with toilets. New! Improved! Once upon a time, I could do most repairs on the toidy. These days, I look under the lid (hood? bonnet?) and can’t figure out what in the heck is going on in there. So, your toilet button has been made redundant. Isn’t that just ducky 🙁 .

    There is no high ground, in Florida. At least, southern Florida. If you look a projected sea rise maps, it pretty much disappears. I see another big chunk of Antarctica broke free. I can see 1,000 people, moving per day, to Florida. It’s a huge retirement state. When older people get tired of winters, in the upper midwest, and New England. Even the Amish and Mennonites have several large retirement colonies, there. It’s also a very conservative (politically) state. That has an appeal, to some people. Especially, now. The same goes for Idaho and Texas.

    The apple variety I used in the crisp, was either a Yellow Transparent, or a Golden Delicious. What I did wrong. Before, when I made crisp, when it was near done, the bottom of the baking dish would begin to boil (clear, Pyrex). So, I kept watching it. No bubbling. So, five more minutes. Then another five. Then another five. You know how it goes, when you kind of get in a rut. Finally, a bit of bubbling, at one end. But by that time, the topping was beyond “crisp.” Oh, well. Lesson learned. Once more into the breach …

    I guess the local paper thinks it’s “family friendly” as long as you don’t use naughty pictures or language? Last nights paper had an article. A tree fell on the Centralia Library. From the pictures, looks like the roots just gave way. No damage done to the building.

    As I mentioned, my main e-mail program cleared up on it’s own. The other one, owned by Boss Dork, was still seized up. But I took another look at the sticking point. One of those “terms and agreement” pages. “We are not responsible, for any wrong doing, anywhere, anytime. We’re just a platform.” And then a list of all their products, as long as my arm, that that applies to. Usually, those pages have a little square at the bottom. “I agree.” (Because, what else am I supposed to do.) No little square. But I noticed a tiny hot spot, up at the top, that just said, “Next.” So, I clicked on that, and, low and behold, everything freed up and life continued on.

    I did a brief look at my operating system options. I’m using a version that is about 6 or 7 steps down, from the current operating system. So, I gargled, “Can I jump from this to that (most current.) Well, no. But I can jump (they claim) to an intermediate system. Just go to the Fruit Store, and you can get it for free. I may try, but I want to get ahold of a real live person, to walk me through it.

    I wonder if the members of the Royal Commission bill $1,500 an hour? Got to keep up, you know.

    I ran across an interesting article, about building ritual foundation deposits. There were a lot of those, across the ages and cultures, on “Digging for Britain.”

    So your house wouldn’t fall down, get hit by lightening and to keep the bad juju away from your door. You find cultures that used to pop in the occasional pleb or slave, under the foundation. Not in Britain, though.

    The Master Gardener’s came, this morning, bearing gifts! There were tomato plants, left over from the sale. An eggplant (that Elinor might like) and four tomato plants (three varieties.). She’s got her heart set on two varieties, but maybe I can talk her into going with two of these. As, a.) they’re free and b.) I can get them into the ground, tomorrow. I’ll research them, before I give her “the pitch”, tonight. Whichever two tomatoes I get, won’t be exactly what I want, either. But I’m not going to look a gift tomato, in the mouth. So to speak. 🙂 .

    They also gave me one tomatillo. We had a slight disagreement about the necessity of having two (to tango.) I’ll see if I can round another one, up.

    I planted basil, in three spots, this morning. Fingers crossed. Didn’t do too well, last year. I think I might have seen the first pea, poking through the ground. Also, one strawberry is turning red. Lew

  18. @Chris
    What can I say, except I know which side of the toast to butter! Last weeks title was a reference as well, but it would be blowing my own trumpet to point it out 🙂

    50 Shades of Nerd – no comment 😮

    If anyone out there enjoys a good comedy/detective noir type movie, I watched The Kid Detective last week and found it very enjoyable.


  19. Hi Inge,

    Kookaburra’s are a favourite bird of mine as they’re tough enough to hunt snakes, and for their services I’m eternally grateful. Like the magpies, the kookaburra’s will also seek me out when there is a fox around. Of course, nothing comes for free and the Kookaburra’s expect me to do something about the fox.

    As an entirely left of centre idea, I’ve read that demand for seeds in your country has risen exponentially due to the increased interest in gardening I’m guessing due to the health subject which dares not be named. It is very possible that the seed potatoes you purchased were of very uneven quality? You can start potato plants from the cuttings of the tubers and given how cold and wet your season has been so far, you probably have plenty of time left to do so.



  20. Hi Damo,

    I applaud your discernment! 😉 Actually I heard the song during the recent bonkers requestivle week and I was going to exit the vehicle, but instead just sat there and enjoyed the musical journey that is that particular song. A beautiful song, I’ve always liked it.

    The parody was pretty funny. Yes, who would have thought that upgrading to Windows 10 could cause physical pain? Hey have you had any experience purchasing cheap licenses for that product off ebuy?

    Thanks for the movie reference.

    Now, onto serious bidness. How did we miss Grand Designs Season 21? WTF? Atonement needs to take place, and I have read that the show has been described as a particular generation getting their comeuppance as expectations crash hard against realities! The cheeky scamps…



  21. Hi Xabier,

    Good evening to you too, from the land of the currently eclipsing moon. Every ten minutes or so I head outside to watch the unfolding spectacle. The sky is superbly clear (for once) but at the same time it is quite cool at 41’F / 5’C. It was very thoughtful of the universe to consider putting on the show.

    Thanks for the laughs! Hey, I read the other day that rhubarb is actually a heavy feeding plant, so the night slops would be a heady mix of err, stuff! 🙂

    Accounts of your so called spring weather, have even made their way down under, so things must be rather unpleasant. Your part of the island is meant to be sort of dry and sunny, so things are probably much worse elsewhere. Summer barely rated a mention here last year and it was a bit of a drama I can tell you.

    On the other hand, glad to hear that your raised beds are doing well – they are made for such seasons! 🙂

    Where ever is the moon going? It seems to be doing a disappearing trick.



  22. Hi Margaret,

    In an earlier reply to Inge I provided a zoomed in photo of the Kookaburra, but here it is again in case you missed that.

    Thank you very much for your concern and I reckon the shoulder is at about 85% now, and getting better each day. I sure did a job on that shoulder joint and elbow. Oh well, mustn’t grumble.

    Your experience matches mine as the hours were pretty brutal, and I’d be sure that your good self, like myself, had a life outside of accounting (cough, cough, kids, partner, friends and family) – and possibly this was incompatible. Expectations far exceeded reality, and between you and I, I actually tried working the huge hours long ago as well, and was neither rewarded for it nor appreciated – and ended up feeling like a bit of a mug. In point of fact, the folks at the business were quite rude and eventually I left. Chalk it up to one of life’s learning lessons me thinks.

    The moon is currently being eclipsed by this massive planet – it’s all very exciting!

    Oh, as a general observation, I believe that the folks who struggled on during the epic four month lock down last year (and it is really hard to describe just how extreme the authorities took the matter down here) are doing far better on a mental health front than those who stayed at home. I’m really unsure why that is, but it is there all the same. Your experience may be different as the lock downs were far less extreme than here. The media is now suggesting a possibility of a lock down right now.

    > Did you get this from Solomon’s book?

    The answer is – sort of. Mr Solomon achieves a level of excellence that I can only marvel at. At best I’ll probably get about 80% of the way there, and maybe no further. I’m limited by what is available in this part of the world. Also I have to consider the berries and fruit trees which he doesn’t write about, so the mix is based on my best guess, a bit of luck, and some basic understanding of soil science.

    Exactly, having working top soil and its accompanying microbiology is one way that we as gardeners gain an edge. And retaining soil moisture is more important than most people would realise. Respect.

    Sorry to hear that and I wouldn’t wish my last summer on my worst enemy, let alone lovely people such as the people who comment here including yourself. What do you? An inch of rain fell here yesterday.

    Is Carla inclined to bait the rodents? They eat the insulation so as to create toasty warm nests.

    Six more cases today… Oh well. Here it goes again…



  23. Hello Chris
    You really reckon that all the poor potatoes went into one bed and all the good ones into the other?! I think not. Truly the only difference is that one lot followed rhubarb and the other lot followed runner beans plus the poor lot getting slightly less sun. The difference is too extreme for lesser sunlight to have caused it.


  24. Hi Lewis,

    All very understated of course with your observation of the weather and I approve of such language, and right now down here in the big smoke we seem to be having a spot of bother on the health subject which dares not be named front. Talk of lock downs are being mooted in the media. Oh well, mustn’t grumble.

    Oooo, the moons have aligned as an inch of rain also fell here yesterday. It’s been said before that there is a lot of water in that Pacific Ocean thingee. In unrelated weather news I’d read that far and away to the south of you in the town of Lima, there was a once in a many decade lightning storm. The weather there is usually very dry and settled.

    Outside right now as this planet eclipses the moon, the skies are clear and the air is quite brisk at 39’F. The supermoon and eclipse looked really cool. Usually thick clouds obscure such spectacles, but not tonight. The camera was ready to hand, but we have no tripod so who knows what the quality of the shots will end up like? It is very considerate of nature to put on a show for us down here given the current events.

    That’s why I asked you about the Pyrex as we’ve never encountered a jug either. By the way, it was a brand new purchase, which is why the price surprised me. We obtained the jug for the purposes of soap making. The glass seems rather sturdy too, but time will tell.

    Down here we call them cisterns, whereas you call them toilet tanks. And in a nod to the realities of living on an otherwise dry continent, the buttons have a half flush as well as a full flush. And how crazy is it that the original dual button would be a discontinued item? Can you imagine how many toilet tanks would get turfed out because the button failed when the rest of the mechanism was otherwise fine? Anyway, the replacement generic mechanism for the outlet valve is a much simpler device than what it replaced and it works really nicely. And here is the really funny thing: The original mechanism had so many moving parts that from time to time a diligent person had to squirt some lanolin (water resistant lubricant sourced from sheep wool) into the guts of the device. Who thinks to themselves that they might have to occasionally maintain their toilet other than the usual cleaning?

    The sea level rise maps were fascinating, but yeah southern Florida looks like it will be toasted by the sea. Who gets tired of winter? Mind you, I have remarked to you before on many occasions that the locals down here fear where the farm is located because of the winters. With all of the crazy goings on in the big smoke I headed out this morning to the local general store and it looked to me like it was a locals only day. It was cold today, but not that cold…

    Thanks for mentioning the varieties of apples as I’d come across Golden Delicious before, but Yellow Transparent was an entirely new variety to me. As an early season apple I doubt it has much in the way of sugars in the fruit, and the accounts suggest that it breaks down quickly in cooking. I hear you about that! Reproducibility is the goal with cooking, but can it be achieved under all conditions? A complicated question.

    Intermission: Turns out the planet isn’t that big as the shadow has passed and the moon is beginning to show the merest of slivers of brightness on the other side. We now return to normal programming.

    Trees can fall without warning and do a lot of damage, but I’m glad that the library building wasn’t damaged by the falling tree. What would possibly happen to your hold list if the tree squooshed the library building? Do they have contingency plans for disasters in library?

    Is it duress when you really have no option not to tick the ‘I agree’ check box? I concur as I mean it is not as if you have much choice in the matter. But good to hear that you survived the dreaded software encounter and can continue with the familiar. Mate, boss dork number one’s product, glass version ten is becoming harder to avoid. The nuisance factor is really stacking up now. Unfortunately, unlike your situation I have to connect into business software and I have this horrid thought that the suppliers see us little folks like walking ATM’s. What do you do, other than render unto Caesar? The big J got that concept spot on.

    I’ve heard that Queens Councillors get that much per hour, but I’m unfortunately not smart enough to ply such a lucrative trade and also fervently hope that I never require the services of such an august station.

    Thanks for the link, and I noticed that the old flint arrowheads were often named ‘elf bolts’ and were possibly quite deadly, and possibly poisoned. Flint was traditionally sourced not too far from here – and the crushed rock with lime is a reminder to me that the stuff has long been of value. It was traded widely too. But getting back to your point, it seems like a wise practice.

    Did Elinor go with the ready to hand tomato varieties? The use of the word free suggests that you have a strong argument in their favour. 🙂 Hey, who gets what they want all of the time anyway? Maybe sometimes, but rarely all the time. A very old friend once confided to me that he never wanted to compromise – and I was a bit aghast at hearing such a personal goal. Was the eggplant variety a slim variety or the more commonly seen monster variety? I can’t grow the larger variety here as it is just too cold – even in stonking hot summers.

    Oh my goodness, I defer to both you and the master gardeners in relation to the necessity to have two or more tomatillo’s (I’ve never encountered such a plant in the flesh). Interestingly, the tomatillo reminds me of the Cape Gooseberry plants which grow here. They’re quite a tasty dessert fruit, although they occasionally have an odd after taste. Have you thought about trialling Chilean Guava?

    Basil can be marginal here some seasons as well. We plant it with the asparagus as the basil seems to appreciate the filtered light of the asparagus ferns. Yummo! Fresh strawberries!!! Yum!



  25. Hi Inge,

    Your logic is sound and I stand corrected. Of course I have only the merest understanding as to your processes, and perhaps you have trained me to ask more probing questions in the future? 🙂 It is also possible that by random chance, poor seeds were placed in one bed, and better seeds in the other bed – you can’t necessarily rule out that theory as there are an enormous number of variables involved in the problem you mentioned. But overall, the probability is in your favour rather than my own.

    Incidentally, now that you mention it I must get to reading the book which you recommended regarding the ‘straight and crooked thinking’. The next book in the to-read list is Stephen King’s epic tome: The Stand. Now due to the sheer size of the book (I have the unabridged version with 400 additional pages ruthlessly cut out by the original editor – yes, yes, concision I hear you), I won’t be able to take it with me in some circumstances, so I may take the logic book with me instead. Of course this entails reading two books at once which is a definite challenge for a person who reads in a linear fashion. Hmm.

    The editor still reminds me of the sheer weight that was Robert E Howard’s weighty leather bound tome of the complete tales of Conan the Barbarian. I really enjoyed reading those collected short stories, but it was a massively heavy book as befits a barbarian King. Such a book needs weight and heft and would possibly be useful in a knife fight if one should be so unlucky as to find themselves in one. 🙂

    The lunar eclipse and supermoon was a really good show tonight.



  26. Yo, Chris – Australia has been in our news, lately. I saw about the handful of cases, that may cause another lockdown. The mouse plague has finally made our press. And that the electric was snuffed out in Queensland, due to a power plant explosion. Nothing conducive to a good nights rest.

    Per usual, we were socked in, last night. I have a theory that that extra hour you sent us, was damaged goods. A gloomy and overcast one. 🙂 .

    When I gargled Pyrex “jugs” several laboratory beakers, also showed up. Makes sense, for soap making. Unlike some recipes, you probably can’t play fast and loose with soap making.

    Cisterns: Ever more layers of complexity. Oh, well. Sooner or later we’ll be back to the outside little wooden house, with the crescent moon on the door. The most complex question will be, one holer or two?

    “My” library is Chehalis. So, as many trees as want, can fall on the Centralia library, and it won’t cause a ripple in my hold list. That building has had it’s problems, over the years. Broken flexible tubes, under sinks (on a closed weekend) and dead raccoons in the duct system. The stench!

    As far as the QC’s go, it’s not how smart they are. It’s accident of birth and the Old Boy’s Network. Who you know.

    Elinor and I are still thrashing out her plot. She’s got her preferences, and sometimes, the practicalities escape her. Pragmatism? As with children, it’s lucky I never married. I’d still be in jail. If she got her way, I’d have to open up that one disused bed. I don’t want to go there. Got enough on my plate, as it is.

    The eggplant is “Patio Baby.” But hesitates to have it in her bed, as she doesn’t know what it will taste like. But she passed along word, this morning, that she’ll give it a try. She’ll take two of the free tomatoes, but “Can’t we find a place for a “Hundreds and Thousands?” Which didn’t do well, last year, and she didn’t harvest, anyway. Getting her plants in the ground is also delayed, as she’s searching for a jar of some kind of chemical shite, to throw in the hole. And, is agonizing over which tomato cages, to use. Me, I’m shoveling mine in the ground, this afternoon.

    The other tomatoes from the MGs, were “Legend,” “Oregon Spring” and “Taxi.” There were two “Legend,” so we’ll each get one of those. She wants “Oregon Spring.” I’ll take “Taxi”. The MGs, also gave me a small branch of a “Harvest Gold.” So, I shoved it in the ground and slapped a cage around it. We’ll see.

    As far as the Chilean Guavas go, Here’s how it’s playing out. When I went out to my garden, yesterday afternoon, there was a small 6 pack of something called a “Cucumelon.” Mexican, size of a grape, and tastes like a cucumber with a lemon note. A vine.

    I got an e-mail later, that one of the MG’s, had left it for me. Much rather would have preferred another Tomitillo. But the problem is … I have no more fence space, for another vine. I managed to fob one or two off, on another gardener. And, I may have figured out where to squeeze another couple in. By digging out some Elephant Garlic, to make space.

    Peas are breaking ground, and I can see one red strawberry. Lew

  27. @ Inge,

    Regarding your potato mystery. My first guess is that the runner beans added nitrogen to the soil that the old rhubarb bed doesn’t have.


  28. @ Lew,

    Thanks for the Oakville Sasquatch link. Those chainsaw carver guys can be amazing.


  29. Chris,

    We’ve had no new news about our “piratical” cousin. We’ve been concentrating more on the deteriorating health of both siblings the Princess helps each month. Priorities. Plus we can’t visit Cousin One Leg due to, well, I can’t mention it. 😉

    Having worked for government, yes, I can believe that government would hit a small business with a serious fee increase during a catastrophe with accompanying economic downturn. I was fortunate that I was able to talk upper management into decreasing fees in one of my programs during economic difficulties. My argument was that “some of these companies are barely making it. Increasing fees will put the out of business. When they go under I’ll tell the media that you, Big Boss, told me to increase the fees that put them out of business.” So we reduced fees. That Big Boss knew that I don’t make threats, just promises.

    I’ve heard what Mr. Greer said from various sources in addition to him. Once we understand that “folks are folks” while also learning that we ourselves are “just folks” and far from perfect, then maybe, just maybe, we can be more accepting of the differences of others. The people I know who seem to have the least amounts of insecurity are those who best understand that change is always occurring.

    Bwahaha! Maybe you should stencil “No S%*t” onto the wheelbarrow at the appropriate place! Peak rocks? I think that during the Lake Missoula floods that all the rocks from my neighborhood rolled downhill to where my parents lived.

    On gardening news… Wind storms Wednesday night into Thursday night with seasonable temperatures, maybe +20C during the day. Then heating up to +33C by next week. I can probably start planting vegetable seeds after the wind dies down.


  30. @Chris

    The requestival week was good fun. I didn’t even realise there was a heavy metal cover of Lana Del Rays, Born to Die, and now my life is richer for it!

    RE: Blood Moon
    It was pretty good wasn’t it? Mrs Damo and I wandered out onto a sand promontory a few hundred metres from the beach and watched it rise over the bay. Unfortunately, there was scattered cloud, but it opened up just before the full eclipse to allow us a bit of viewing with binos and even a cheeky photo or two on the long birding lens. We also had a fox with zero fear of humans follow us down the beach, which gave extra pagan vibes to the whole show.

    RE: Windows 10.
    Officially, Microsoft only gave free upgrades for 12 months after release of Windows 10 a few years back. Unofficially, it has never stopped allowing the free upgrades. No dodgy websites or ebay purchases required. This website has a good summary of how to do it:

    I would strongly advise (and this applies to Lew as well with MacOS) to do a full wipe and re-install rather than an inplace upgrade. You will curse me for a few days as you reconfigure the computer, but then you will thank me for years of trouble free and speedier operation (in place upgrades are a crap shoot, and even best case scenarios leave a lot of software dregs behind that can cause “interesting” bugs).

    Windows 10 will be significantly faster than 7, they did a *lot* of rewriting and optimisation. But it does phone home more often 🙁 What MS gives with one hand, it takes with the other! However, warts and all, I still prefer it to 7 and would not go back by choice.

    A controversial suggestion: do *not* install 3rd party firewalls, anti-virus programs etc etc. Many of these programs simply provide additional access vectors for malicious actors in addition to slowing down the system and causing configuration headaches. Microsoft has provided excellent protection, for free, built into Windows for over 15 years and I have never had an issue in this time. By comparison, in my old IT days, I had many, many issues “fixing” PCs that had security software related issues – including frequent infections they supposedly would stop. My advice to clients back then was to remove the offending software and save $100 a year.

    RE: Best show eva!
    Thanks for the heads up, there is a House sized hole in my life the past 2 years waiting for another season of Grand Designs! I will be watching this weekend for sure!


  31. Hi DJ and Damo,

    Gentleman, circumstances have changed rapidly here in the past few days, and as of midnight tonight we are in lock down due to the health subject which dare not be named, for a minimum of seven days, possibly much longer. Of course what this means from a pragmatic perspective is that for the next seven days I won’t be able to go anywhere, and so there’ll be plenty of leisurely time for chats etc. However, tonight the lock down is not yet in force and so a pint and feed is calling. Hope y’all understand? 🙂



  32. Hi Lewis,

    It kind of looks like the trifecta of bad news doesn’t it? We’re going along swimmingly, and then three big buckets of poop rained down on our parade. We’re in lock down now for the next seven days minimum, and they take such matters seriously down here (as you may have noticed from the discussions of this time last year). It is cold and flu season here after all.

    The power plant explosion was pretty intense, and how they will cope up there in Queensland if electricity demand climbs too high is anyone’s guess. There are a couple of cold nights looming on the forecast next week. Looking in the papers there is talk of ‘brown outs’. Interestingly, the state to their south (New South Wales) is in the process of decommissioning an older coal fired power station and the Feds have been pressuring that state to put in a replacement gas fired power station – they’ve even offered the mad cash to build it. This incident may well focus everyone’s minds on the realities, as I read that the state of Queensland was exporting power to New South Wales at the time of the incident. I’d expect that voltage over that part of the grid will vary quite markedly if folks don’t curb their use. And as of today, word on the street is that nobody is really sure what caused the damage to the turbine. It is not an easy or quick fix.

    That’s probably true, and we may have forgotten to clean the extra hour before returning it to you. It’s all a bit slack really on our part, and instead of socked in, you could say that the extra hour was soiled. 🙂

    Yeah, that was our thinking too with the soap making and Pyrex container. The editor recently read Chuck’s book as well, and um yeah, soap. Dangerous stuff. Interestingly the jug is almost as wide as it is tall which is a really odd design, but beggars can’t be choosers and that was all that was available. Might have a look on ebuy and see what they’ve got. There are some vintage lemonade Pyrex jugs. Hmm.

    Hey, when I was a kid outhouses used to be commonly seen and few if any people had an indoor toilet. Trips to the toilet on cold winters nights were an interesting experience. The outhouses were connected to the sewer, but the easiest connection to the sewer was at the rear of the property adjacent to the lane way. How fancy things have become in only my lifetime. You know it is the lack of returning human poop to agricultural soils which convinced me that civilisation as we know it is but a flash in the pan. That act alone is a losing game, and each year the agricultural soils get a little bit worse for wear. It is not good for peoples health. But then what happened to poop before the sewers was not good for peoples health either. As a civilisation we try to do many important yet largely forgotten activities on the cheap – it is not a wise idea.

    OK, I’m intrigued. Why the second hole? There is a tale there, and I have only encountered single hole drop toilets.

    That’s alright then! Mind you the tree Centralia library incident could hold up the episodes of this seasons Grand Designs… The loss! Oh yeah, dead animals kick up and extraordinary stink. Had a rat die under the floor of the house were I couldn’t get it years ago. I eventually used the dogs and a got them to pull a rope under the house so I could remove the stinking dead rat. The dogs didn’t want anything to do with the rat either. This was in the terrace house in the big smoke.

    Yeah, you’d have to play the politics carefully if you were doing that lucrative job. The money wouldn’t interest me.

    Hehe! Yes you did get lucky there and dodged a bullet. No put yourself in harms way, is there? Elinor will come around in time.

    > I’d have to open up that one disused bed

    Remind me again what happened to helpful Mike recently? 🙂

    Hey, I removed many large gooseberry plants from the oldest vegetable bed today. Those plants take over and I knew they were big, I just hadn’t understood just how big they were. I had to get the chainsaw out and cut the trunks. Poor Ruby was following me whilst I was carrying the chainsaw (which was not operating at the time) and she head butt the chain on the bar because she was going too fast and being careless. She was lucky she didn’t take an eyeball out, and now has a slight scratch between her eyes. She sure did yelp, but she does need to learn caution. I don’t have the dogs anywhere near me when I’m using that machine. Anyway, we may now call her scarface, albeit until the scratch heals.

    Eggplant tastes like eggplant. It is a difficult vegetable to like and I have to treat the vegetable in order to reduce the bitterness. They’re not bad, just too bitter for my palate. We still grow eggplant and I eat the stuff regularly, it is just not a fave. Incidentally, we now purchase them because last growing season they did not produce any fruit. Hundreds and Thousands sounds like a tomato variety which will take over and is possibly related to Triffids. Ware the little fruits! 🙂

    Well I never, the Cucumelon’s look very interesting. We have a heritage variety available down here and I reckon it just might be one of those. Given the small size of the fruits, it might do well in marginal seasons. The plant gets quite large too.

    Good luck, and may you discover some more growing space – or cut something else out! It is an eternal quest to lust for more growing space.



  33. @ DJSpo
    Thank you, that is a very interesting suggestion and could well be the answer.


    Hello Chris
    Warmth has arrived , oh frabjus day!
    I have started to read ‘The natural history and antiquities of Selborne’ by Rev. Gilbert White. He wrote it in the 18th century. My copy is published 1894 edited with notes by Sir William Jardine. Am finding it most enjoyable and rather sweet at the latter part (which I am reading first) where he writes his observations about the wild life around him.


  34. @ Damo – Thanks for the advice! But what if I wipe my computer, and then can’t get a download? Lew

  35. Yo, Chris – Brownouts, blackouts. It’s all in the nuance. Add “rolling” to those, and you’ve got a sort of planned event. Never quit as bad, in the high end of town. And, people notice. I wonder if the electrical plant was the victim of some kind of cyber attack?

    Speaking of which, I asked Mr. Greer my question about when the jumped up middle managers, will go away. Apparently, I need to hire on some Visigoths. Eastern or Western? 🙂 .

    Which of Chuck’s books? I don’t remember soap, playing a part.

    Your jug sounds like lab ware. A beaker. My friend in Idaho just painted one of her kitchen doors, Avocado Green. I asked her if the Harvest Gold appliances, were far behind. And that she should paint big 1960s daisies, on the door. Flower power, baby! Actually, she was thinking of doing just that. Next up, orange shag carpeting! 🙂 .

    Well, a two holer for companionship. 🙂 . Also, cuts down strife in large families. Of course, The Roman soldier’s carried, er, unit cohesiveness, to extremes. WARNING!!! Glimpses of bums, ahead.

    Third picture down. A teen friend of mine, had parents who had a wheat farm, up in Canada. The privy, extended out over a water filled slough. One time, when Mum was engaged, they put an animal skin on a long stick, shoved it under the privy, and gave Mum’s bum a stroke. They couldn’t go home for three days. 🙂 .

    My elderberry starts are not looking good 🙁 . Leaves keep forming on the twigs, and then, dying.

    Ruby Scarface. Organized crime figure, or pirate. Is there a difference. Maybe only, the parrot?

    I’m learning the difference between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes. All the one’s the Master Gardener’s brought us, were determinate. Neat and tidy. As you mentioned, the one Elinor wants is indeterminate. Will sprawl all over the place. But they can be pruned up, a bit. We’ve got the tomato cage selection nailed down, but she hasn’t found the Magic Tomato Powder, to go in the hole. I just mix in a bit of lime, bone meal and blood meal. Small handful of crushed eggshells, chucked in the hole.

    I walked to the library, yesterday, and saw the most incredible bush (small tree?). It was covered with 3″ bottle brush flowers. In Persian Blue. Or, maybe, Maxfield Parrish blue. The bees were busy. Haven’t found out what it is, by search.

    Speaking of the library, jackpot! Nine DVDs and one book. I watched a bit of “Digging for Britain,” season two. One of the excavations was a huge, lavish Roman villa, overlooking the Channel, in southeast England. It’s kind of a rescue operation, as bits are sliding into the sea. It was in use, throughout the Roman occupation. They think it was the residence of the admiral of the Classis Britannica, the Roman Channel fleet.

    And, in other odd and interesting news, a cougar broke into a house in San Bruno, California. Apparently, he saw trophy heads on the walls, through a window, and thought there were easy pickings inside. 🙂 .

    A new interesting twist, in the drama along our southern border. Besides the folks from Central and South America, several hundred Roma (Gypsies) have turned up, seeking political asylum. Apparently, they’re from Romania. They fly from Paris, to Mexico City, and then storm the border. Lew

    PS: Mystery shrub might be a Ceanothus. But the bush I saw, the flowers were better … organized. More bottle brush looking.

  36. PPS: Prof. Mass has a post on atmospheric pressure. There are bowling balls…. 🙂 . Lew

  37. Hi Chris,
    Exactly, I did have a life outside of work. I’m of the mind if you choose to have children at least one parent should be around a significant part of the time and my teaching job did just that. In fact it was at the same school district where the girls went to school. My job required me to work with students in four of the five schools so I was in the building where my kids were fairly often. Actually there were quite a few situations like mine where the parent worked in the child’s school. From their perspective there were advantages and disadvantages to this. I often could drive them to school rather than taking the bus (Cecily particularly enjoyed this perk) and if they needed to ask for permission to go somewhere I was pretty easy to find. In Carla’s case though I always knew when she was getting into some kind of trouble and also knew the character of different boys she was going out with. When she was in 8th grade one of my fellow teachers said, “Carla couldn’t pick a worse boyfriend than Jesse.” Jesse was a wannabe gang member and think as a brick to top it off. I replied, “Thanks for telling me the bleedin obvious.” At any rate I informed Carla that I couldn’t choose who she wanted to be involve with but Doug and I would be around much more i.e. chaperoning the school dances (something I was loathe to do after spending all day with Jr. High kids). Well that worked pretty quickly. Anyway I was pretty much home when the kids were where as if I had continued in accounting that certainly wouldn’t be the case.

    Carla has poison and traps out I believe. She says they haven’t caught any in the traps. Now their garage is quite full of excess stuff which doesn’t help. It was apparent that the rats had been there for quite some time when they finally noticed it.

    Today it’s 52. Two days ago it was 86. As per ususal this year rain is forecast and the closer the the predicted arrival time the amount forecast goes down. I spent two hours yesterday watering.

    We have at least six new cases each day in our county which has a population around 53,000 and most restrictions are gone now.


  38. @Lew

    I can only give general advice, but the procedure would be roughly:

    1) Save crucial files to a memory stick – this might include, but not be limited to, safari bookmarks, pictures, word/excel documents, emails* and contact list*

    2) Prepare a system install disk of the new OS – your apple store may do this for you, or if your computer has a burner, there is probably a download and burn process you can follow on apple website

    3) Reboot computer with system install disk inserted, there will be a key combo you need to press on startup to make the computer boot from the CD rather than the normal hard drive – after a few minutes of loading, you will get a wizard process to update/wipe and reinstall etc. Perform the format and reinstall, during the guided install which will take 30-40minutes, it will ask you for wifi password so the internet starts working again

    4) Copy your precious files back from memory stick onto “new” computer, import your web bookmarks back into browser

    5) setup email passwords, reimport old emails, contact list if desired (again, this only required if you don’t use webmail)

    6) Enjoy new system, hopefully the new bugs are less annoying the old ones 🙂

    *most people use webmail these days, so no need to backup messages and contact list – but I am not sure what you use, YMMV 🙂

    Good luck, and happy to help out with more details if you want.


  39. Hey Chris,

    I remember back during the long lockdown, when I wasn’t working, a couple of friends of mine who work at a bank invited me to a zoom call on a Friday after lunch. The call ended up going for about an hour and a half and I asked them whether they shouldn’t be getting back to work. They just laughed.

    I think it depends on your job. My workload working from home is the same as if I was at the office. In fact, I made an interesting discovery. We go into the office one day a week now (not this week, of course) and every time I’m in there I find my eyes getting very sleepy. The only variable I can think of to explain this is the lighting. At home, I have my back room which is always full of natural light cos the walls are two-thirds glass whereas in the office there’s basically no natural light. This is in line with some research I read once about how levels of attention fall very badly when you spend time away from natural light.

    Sunlight and fresh air, just like your grandmother said you needed when she kicked you out of the house and told you to go and play. Even the chickens at this time of the year take some time out from their busy day to lie around in the sun and soak up some Vitamin D. Clever birdies.

  40. Hi DJ,

    I can only but send my best wishes and energy to your ladies siblings for their benefit in their deteriorating health condition. As an observation, some foods and some forced living arrangements do not produce good health outcomes. And people would be amazed to know that down here leprosy was introduced from Asia in the 19th century, and every year there are a few treatable cases now reported in this country. Mate, I’ve visited the Indian city of Varanasi and seen the funeral pyres and travelled the sacred river Ganges and encountered the beggars so afflicted, and then I knew for sure that the line of separation was very thin indeed. I really do hope that your ladies siblings face the road before them with the clear sighted strength of their predecessors. All we but have in the end is our inner strength and our good grace to endure in the face of loss.

    Perhaps, the health subject which dare not be named has lent a certain sort of brevity to my reply, sorry to say. Two weeks ago the media was braying to bring back citizens stranded in India, today the same media which once shouted loud about human rights for citizens is now silent. They are cowards or fools, I know not which. And I am unable to travel far at all now 5km / 3.1 miles or risk a heinous fine. I suspect the lock down will cease after the Queens Birthday long weekend in a couple of weeks.

    🙂 Respect for having taken a stand for the little fella. Victoria’s fourth COVID-19 lockdown throws casual workers and small business into panic. As someone who is in small business, if I don’t work, I don’t get paid either, and next week is looking grim on that front. Fortunately for me, our finances were fashioned after the experience of the brutal recession of the early 1990’s, but few other people took that lesson on board.

    As a further observation, any ecosystem which attempts to resist change, gets change regardless and often so much effort was spent in resisting change that nothing was kept in reserve for other outcomes. The Elves in Tolkien’s works wanted to remain the same forever, and yet that ain’t possible and so they faded. How could it be otherwise?

    Hehe! I might just do that with the wheelbarrow. It’d be pretty funny. My brain now hurts. I can’t recall where but only a few days ago by sheerest chance I read about a Missoula rock found wandering far from home. Ah, here goes: Extremely Rare Rock Dating Back to Ice Age Discovered in Oregon.

    A wise decision, tender seedlings would appreciate the warmth, but not the wind – and I too would wait it out.

    Went on a huge rock scavenge today, Peak Rocks is very sad, but can be overcome if additional energy and resources are thrown at the problem. And the pub was very good – more on that story later though.



  41. Hi Damo,

    🙂 Requistival was bonkers, but so much fun. And yes, I’m with you Lana Del Rey could most certainly translate into heavy metal and end up sounding pretty good. I must say, that I don’t often get to indulge my music geekery, but you started it. 🙂 Sydney metal band Polaris did an enjoyable cover of Eskimo Joe’s classic: Polaris cover Eskimo Joe ‘Black Fingernails, Red Wine’ for Like A Version. Sometimes you just need to get heavy.

    Thanks for the story of you and Mrs Damo and the blood moon / eclipse. Talk of long birding lenses on cameras is like catnip to my ears. Are we talking 300, or have you got some sort of insane 2,000 lens? They’re kind of cheap on ebuy sometimes, but then tripods are a hassle and you have to suffer the indignity of looking like a tourist. Glad the spectacle was good, and foxes care not a whit for the concerns of us puny humans. A fox once ventured within only a few metres of me to take off with a chicken and the audacity was quite amazing to experience (the chicken was fine, but the same fox killed but couldn’t take off with the bounty a few weeks beforehand – I chased the fox down).

    The night was clear of clouds here although only about 5’C which is candidly a bit chilly but also par for course at this time of year. Over a few hours the dogs, the editor and I took the 300 lens and Pentax SLR out to try to capture the experience. Who knows how it all turned out?

    Any website with the domain geeksadvice rates pretty highly in my book. I’ll have a look at the procedures and many thanks for the mad cash saving techniques. 🙂

    Damo, I’m weak and have spent a little while reading up on how to make Win 10 look like Win 7. Of course I may be hanging on too tight, but everyone has to have their kryptonite.

    Thanks for the further suggestion as to the third party defence software. I’ve long used and paid for BitDefender and have never had any troubles with it – or problems, but will put the matter under advisement and as always appreciate your advice as I am not as up to date in this area as I probably need to be.

    Tomorrow evening promises homemade pizza and episode 1! I look forward to swapping notes with you, and can only promise that they go over budget, over time, and suffer an inordinate amount of stress. 🙂

    I leave you with: Snow Patrol Reworked – Chasing Cars Live at the Royal Albert Hall



  42. Hi Inge,

    🙂 Ah, the dreaded Jabberwocky has dared set foot upon this here blog! Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas—only I don’t exactly know what they are! But tis good to hear that warmth has finally arrived at your island.

    Inge, you lead me into literary temptation by opening a world that existed before the “improved knowledge and refinement which belong to these enlightened and virtuous times.” So many books, so little time, and this book includes the description of a hermit.



  43. Hi Margaret,

    That is the thing with long working hours, they are jealous beasties and do not account for a life outside of those long working hours. For your amusement and edification, at that one particular job with the long working hours (I’ve never attempted the same path again), the editor became rather concerned and so I simply hired her (she was working towards the qualifications so it gave her some experience). The perspective I gained from her was that the situation was crazy and so with a fresh perspective I went and did something else with my life. Here is the thing though, the next place of employment was so astoundingly normal that I was in a bit of shock at what I’d only just endured.

    You were lucky to have enjoyed such an experience working where your kids schooled. And given that Carla and Cecily appear to have turned out OK and still want you in their life, you’ve done well. And hehe! Well you know what, when you’re young you can occasionally be dumb – and that kind of rhymes and is part of the whole experience. Surviving those early episodes of pure dumbness is the challenge don’t you reckon both the primary folks and their parents? 🙂

    Your fellow teacher was wrong in that it is not enough to point out the obvious. Wisdom instead, is perhaps the gentle art of understanding how to navigate the awful circumstances. If I could but impart one chunk of wisdom it would be to seriously assess the character of your first partner or love interest! But err, yeah, I’ll probably go to my grave without ever getting such experience into acceptance in the wider world! 🙂

    Yeah, rats which have been in residence for a while are kind of hard to ignore as they tend to urinate near to their bedding. The aroma is very hard to ignore, and possibly much harder to clean.

    Ook! Two hours watering is quite a lot of time. Have you ever considered a water robot like the one I use which operates a timer and drip irrigation lines?

    Six cases for 53,000 population. I’m cool with things, but to put things in perspective there are now 30 cases for a population of over 5,000,000 and the entire state is locked down hard. I do wonder how the people in the further distant reaches of the state are reacting to the shenanigans in the big smoke of Melbourne. I can’t suggest that the government is actively making friends with the rural folks.



  44. Hi Simon,

    Thanks for the laughs and it is nice to know that in some employment corners the old carefree ways continue and Friday lunchtimes are sacrosanct – except probably not next week, or perhaps the week after me thinks. Now of course, this puts me in something of a total dilemma in that I’m asking myself: Do I want to pay for these folks for their carefree ways? Once the recession of the early 1990’s kicked in hard, such prerogatives disappeared, but then I haven’t worked for a big, big, corporate since those crazy days.

    I’d be curious as to your perspective, but I’m thinking that this current bout of craziness will end after the Queen’s birthday long weekend. Obviously I’ve put this prediction out there in the public, but would candidly be happy to see it end earlier. And I’m purely going with my gut feeling there. The words ‘at least’ have been used when the seven days was announced and such words can mean much.

    It is interesting you’ve noticed that too. I’ll tell ya a funny story. Years ago I used to work as a financial controller for a very wealthy bloke. My team had their own office near to the wealthy blokes commodious office (and he had his own separate kitchen and toilet too). Anyway, it used to really annoy me as he liked having the office really well lit with fluorescent lighting, and of course the tubes were the cool white colours (sometimes described as daylight) rather than the warmer white colours (more yellow and easier on the eye). It became some sort of an unknowable display of conspicuous consumption but the glare used to give me headaches, and so I’d just remove the plastic deflectors and disconnect every second tube. Easy, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief, except the wealthy bloke. He used to get the building maintenance team in to fix the lighting. I couldn’t reason with him as he had fixed opinions as to what things should look like. Incidentally, I’m of the opinion that most offices in high rises I’ve experienced are at best a compromise and at worst possibly not much good for your health.

    🙂 The chooks are clever birdies aren’t they?



  45. Hi Lewis,

    Da da da! That is the sound of important information about to hit you: There is now a trailer for the latest Dexter installment! Poor sad Dexter has moved to a small town in the far north, and as everyone knows, in a small town everybody knows your business better than you do. This will surely provide much entertainment later in the year.

    My gut feeling suggests that the turbine was a physical incident of some sort. It interests me that nobody was injured in the incident. The technology for the turbines is pretty robust and you’d imagine it would have some serious tolerances. Anyway, it is going to be a difficult and slow fix that’s for sure. They’re going to get some cold mornings very soon in that part of the world, and I’ll be curious to hear how the grid holds up. I’m not sure whether way up north in Queensland they use natural gas for heating? It is a warm climate most of the year, so I’m guessing that heating would predominantly be by electricity given that is the cheaper option.

    Where are those Visigoths when you need their services? Mr Greer’s answer suggested that the distribution of Visigoths was perhaps not as linear and all encompassing as they perhaps needed to be. Ah, spare us all the gaze of the pedant!

    Chuck covered soap making in the book: Fight Club. It was a minor sub plot, and as you may recall there was some irony in rendering liposuction fat to produce high quality soap – and other side products… The book contained quite the chemistry lesson.

    Painting big 1960s daisies, on the door. And shag pile carpet – very hard to vacuum (the pragmatist in me baulks at such carpet. Very cool though! Hey, where is the burnt orange or snot green crock pot though? A serious omission if I must say so. 🙂 Do you know the editor has never tasted food cooked in a crock pot – and I extolled the virtues of the slow cooked casserole which turns the cheapest cuts of meat into something delectable. I’m no salivating thinking of memories of slow cooked meat along with thick gravy and root vegetables. Yum. Did you ever own one of those ubiquitous units in your kitchen?

    Thanks for the link to the three blog posts on a visit to Hadrian’s wall. And now I know about the second hole. It is perhaps an innovation? Down under we only have single hole facilities and I guess we must have a less community minded culture which the Roman’s appear to have had. Oh my gawd! Your friends are thrill seekers and possibly paid the price for their cheeky ways. 🙂

    Sorry to hear that about the elderberry starts. I usually plant out the starts in winter, so they might need more moisture than you are currently providing them with. Actually how are you getting the cuttings started? And are the cuttings semi-hardwood or hardwood?

    The parrots are a bit leery of young Ruby if only because she is a super fast runner, and the two Kelpie dogs love to run. I’ve never seen a dog like that before. If I turn my back on them, suddenly they are hundreds of feet away. Mind you though, they’re responsive to commands – a hand clap will bring them back post haste.

    Yeah, there is a difference with the tomatoes, and we prefer the indeterminate tomatoes as they produce a bigger vine and consequently a lot more fruit. Restraining the vines is an issue though and you will note that I use plastic fencing mesh for this purpose. Your mix of additives sounds pretty good to me. Tomatoes are super hardy and productive plants.

    Hey, day one of lock down and we went on a huge hours long rock scavenge for the new path in the garden terrace. Came across an old lava flow which is now fortunately nicely cooled, and began extracting rocks. It is quiet up here given that there are restrictions on movement beyond 5km / 3.1miles from your home. Someone once asked me in all seriousness what shops we had up here… There are a lot of trees – shops, not so much.

    A mystery! Bottle brush plants down here are usually yellow, orange, pink or red and I’ve never heard of a blue form before. Did you manage to rustle up the plants official name?

    It makes you wonder if an archaeologist unearthed a horde of Roman coins at such a villa whether they’d say anything about the find? Given the location of the villa, it probably fell prey to marauders from across the waves. Did the show discuss the probable fate of the villa?

    I see your cougar and raise you: Aussie dad risk his life to save a grumpy koala wandering in the middle of a busy road.

    Wow, your southern border will be a problem, no doubts about it. The problem as I see it is that some of the folks dealing with the issues on the ground don’t share the same values as the people instituting the policies from afar.



  46. Hello Chris
    I ate my first bowl of strawberries for lunch. Then I looked in last year’s diary where I had listed my strawberry meals. Amazing, my meal was only 2 days later than last years first. Considering how cold it has been that seems most odd. Admittedly these will be ones grown in a greenhouse but I would have thought that the lack of sunshine would have made more of a difference!


  47. @ Damo – Thanks for all the information. Sounds complicated. Luckily, and this give’s you an idea of how low tech I am, I have no saved files or pictures. I use the web mails, so, no worry about a contact list. Though I’ve got them all written down, in a little book. Due to the occasional brain fart. 🙂 . I watched the first couple of episodes of “Star Trek: Lower Decks.” Great fun! Lew

  48. Yo, Chris – When the Dexter series ended, he had relocated to our neck of the woods. We have enough of our own serial killers, thanks. See: Green River Killer. Or, Ted Bundy. AKA “The Stranger Beside Me.”

    I saw two trailers, that looked interesting. M. Night Shymalan has a new one out titled “Old.” And, there’s something called “Werewolves Within” which looks like a lot of fun. A werewolf / comedy movie. Last night, I watched “Cosmic Sin.” Bruce Willis. Pretty good. Lots of cool explosions, outer space battles and extended firefights. I also watched a few episodes of “Star Trek: Lower Decks.” That is pretty amusing. Cartoons for adults. They do have a firm grasp of the Star Trek canon. And, extend it.

    There’s been a few articles here, on people with health problems, at home, but that depend on one electrical medical device, or another. Not a good place to be, in a brown or blackout.

    LOL. Well, it’s been decades since I read “Fight Club.” Or, saw the film. Details tend to escape.

    Oddly, I’ve never had a crock pot. Elinor has one, and uses it, frequently. But, I’ve eaten the results, over the years, and it’s always been tasty. Second food box of the month, comes today.

    The elderberries were hardwood, I think. I water them, every day, if it doesn’t rain. The soil that there in looks good. They also had some rooting compound, on them. She also brought me one that was already rooted. That’s doing ok, so far. Green beans and peas broke ground, yesterday. The mystery plant I saw might be some kind of a Ceanothus. Maybe. I got 37 slugs, last night.

    Ohhhh! Your very own lava flow. 🙂 . Keep an eye out for tubes.

    I used to have a friend, down by Mt. Shasta, in northern California. His water came from the melting ice, in a lava tube. They are often filled with ice.

    Speaking of real estate, there’s a house across the side street, from the Institution, that’s for sale.

    In pictures 16 & 17, you can see the one and only entrance drive, into The Institution. I have the same view, except I’m a floor higher. Given the prices in the neighborhood, lately, I’d say it’s “priced for quick sale.” Divorce or estate? Or, maybe, seeing what it sold for, last time, they’re making a tidy bundle, anyway? 25 days on the market, and I see a sale is “pending.”

    We had 139 new cases, of You Know What, in the county, last week. One of the highest, per capita, in the State. State average for vaccination is 40+%. We’ve only vaccinated 27%, in our county. Had our first death, of a really younger person. Someone who was 30. Good luck on your lockdown, and may it be short.

    No hoards at the villa. But lots and lots of random coins. Which indicates it was occupied, through the whole Roman occupation. As admirals came and went, over 400 years, I’d guess it was state owned property. No clue as to why it ended. But, it ceased being occupied about the same time as the Roman pull out. As you can imagine, it’s a rather windswept spot.

    There was also another episode, looking at what was going on, in a Roman fort, up on the wall, after the pullout. More signs of families, within the fort. And, a lively business of tanning hides, and making jewelry.

    That was a nice article about the koala rescue. Note to Chris: keep welding gloves in your vehicle. 🙂 .

    I also saw an article that Tasmanian Devils, have been reestablished on your mainland, for the first time in 3,000 years. Is this wise? I see they eat wombats and wallabies. And lots of other things. Lew

  49. Chris,

    Thanks for the best wishes. The news last night and this morning was improved. “All we but have in the end is our inner strength and our good grace to endure in the face of loss.” Another one of your statements that is spot on.

    The media is fickle. Very fickle. Cowardly at times, acting foolishly often. We got an offer in the mail from the local newspaper. $1 per week for Wednesday and Sunday newspapers. The Princess threw the offer in the trash. Our local paper is little more than trash. It can be composted, but that’s expensive compost, if you ask me.

    I read the article you linked about Victoria’s lockdown and the business issues. We faced the same type of thing here, too. A lot of businesses failed, and even more are teetering. I know how extremely fortunate I was through that.

    The fees I was able to reduce and/or waive? That started during our 2009 economic downturn. When I took over that program, I TALKED to the people who needed the permits, got a good feel for their angsts and needs and expenses, their time commitments, etc. I figured it was in everyone’s best interests to reduce some fees, streamline the processes, and therefore free up some their time and minimize the angst of dealing with bureaucrats. The “loss” of $1,000 revenue meant nothing for an annual operating budget of over $70 million, and it made it easier on the drivers and on me. Another instance of treating people like people, with respect, and how I would want to be treated if I were on their side of the conversation.

    Ah, yes, that change thing. “Change happens” is one of my mottoes. The change isn’t always pleasant or wanted, but it happens. Fighting it makes it worse.

    Thanks for the Missoula rock article. Funny that that particular rock was found in Lake Oswego, Oregon. A good friend of my father used to live there. We stayed at his house when I was 6 and then when I was 7 and we were moving to Spokane. The railroad tracks were at the end of his back yard, maybe 25 meters from his house. He warned that a large freight train went streaming past about 2: a.m. nightly. My sister, age 4, and I slept through the train. My parents woke up and thought it was racing through the house. Kids can sleep through anything, I guess.

    Glad you enjoyed the pub. Going there was a necessity before lockdown, if you ask me. Sorta like Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent going to the pub prior to the Vogons destroying earth. Protein and alcohol are needed for these types of journeys!


  50. Hi Chris
    My wife is doing well with her rehab progress. Our daughter and my wife returned from a visit with an orthopedic surgeon who ordered a current X-ray series that showed evidence of bone mending. Both of them were calling out “she’s mending “ “she’s mending “ good news for us all😊👍. There are lots of ups and downs with pain levels which will continue for some time. Friends and family help with lots daily things. I have on line grocery ordering and loading in car at two large stores for low or no additional fee ( depending on $$ value level). Works ok. So far. (That type of service was just added last year with arrival of the disease that’s name shall not be spoken)

    Hey Chris I noticed in the pic of the soil making process that there was no small cement mixer at the party! That would seem to be a very handy means of mixing and blending such stuff. I somehow thought you had one around the farm when you were building the concrete steps. Maybe it was rented or something? Or just imagined on my part.😁

    Cheers Al

  51. Hi Inge,

    Strawberries are amazing plants – and they are the earliest of berries here as well. I’ve read that the berries don’t have that much sugars – because they are early season – and so they use a number of chemical tricks in order to produce an aromatic berry that tastes good. How clever is that?

    Out of curiosity, what sort of spacing do you allow between strawberry plants? Or are they grown in pots? I’m thinking of ripping all of my plants out and then replanting the runners at much wider spacings, but I’ll experiment a bit and see what happens.



  52. Hi Al,

    Great news about your wife’s health and that she is now on the mend. Keep up the calcium e.g. Leafy greens and Beans, as they both may provide some benefit. It is good that you can get help about the place, and the ordering and loading service sounds pretty nifty. If I recall correctly, such things were done when I was a kid. Except there was that one time last year when the hardware store was shut due to the health subject which dare not be named, and the folks in the store in their wisdom sent a young lady out to load a very heavy metal shelving unit into my car (I was not allowed to assist with that). Oh well.

    Your memory is good and I do in fact have an electric cement mixer and may use it next time. I just couldn’t be bothered dragging the heavy machine up the hill. Between you and I, I’ve never regretted purchasing a larger machine of whatever type, but I have my doubts about the cement mixing machine I ended up with as it needn’t have been that big. But on the other hand, I’ve not used a smaller cement mixer and so don’t really know if they’re any good or not.



  53. Hi DJ,

    Ah, thanks very much for that, and I’m gladdened to hear that news is good on that front.

    Here I must confess that I do indeed read the local newspaper. And that was when today I discovered that a mother at the kiddie school drop off at a local school had some sort of park brake issue in her very large vehicle. School run ends in shock crash. Horrendous, and one of the actors who played Chekhov in the recent Star Trek reboot film crew didn’t fare nearly so well in a similar incident as the local folks appear to have. And the local newspaper also makes great kindling for the wood heater. 🙂 But yeah, you can get a lot of organic matter or soil mineral additives for a buck. The local paper is free as I’m assuming that the advertising revenue pays for the production.

    Locally, there doesn’t appear to be too many empty shops, but in the CBD and inner urban areas it appears to be a bloodbath as between maybe one in four, or maybe one in three shops have for lease of for sale signs. Most people don’t really understand what that actually entails.

    Exactly, and respect too. In some situations flexibility is called for and would have been appreciated by people at the coal face. And in your country 2008-2009 was a brutal experience by all accounts. It does you credit as flexibility is not something you usually encounter when dealing with bureaucracies, sorry to say. But something has to give, and I’m in the sort of unique position where I know how things are going on that front for the people I work with. There was a wealthy family who owned and controlled a number of big shopping malls down under. From what I’ve heard, such managers actually get the monthly financials for their tenants under the lease arrangements. And I noted that about two years ago the wealthy family sold out to some Europeans. What does that say? I do wonder if they’ll buy them back again at some point in the future at a substantial discount.

    Hehe! Yah, freight trains – them noisy beasties! Hehe! I can sometimes hear the grain trains heading into the mills and silos in the big smoke late at night. A fully loaded diesel electric locomotive sure does make a lot of noise even at distance. I’m not entirely convinced that it is good for a person’s health to be subjected to such noise on a regular basis.

    The pub was packed with people who had a similar plan. It is very quiet up here today, but I’ve noticed a few tourists driving around the back roads. People are bored, I’m sure. I’m kind of grateful to have so many projects on the go as not everyone has that option.



  54. Hi Lewis,

    Poor old Dexter is probably missing out on the sunny weather in Florida and also possibly the high homicide rate there. Small towns rarely have both of those indices, and the second one tends to get thoroughly investigated. But then given you have those two monsters in actuality, so maybe Dexter knows a thing or two about your part of the world.

    The “OLD” film looks super creepy and will perhaps be a salient lesson to the holidaymakers that the vehicle they arrived at the beach in, was too oversized. It looked like four people were sitting in a bus. Werewolves Within looks like fun! So many dodgy lines in the two minute trailer left me chortling. And who names a town Beaverfield? Is the humour in good taste, does it matter should be the correct question here. The Cosmic Sin trailer looked pretty cool too, aliens, explosions, Bruce Willis – what else do you need? Might have to check out Star Trek: Lower Decks. I intend to watch the first episode of Grand Designs tonight – tis a rare thing these days for me to sit in front of a screen and suck up the narrative, but 21 years has some serious weight behind the show. The time itself lends it a certain gravitas (I ripped that line from Zombieland 2 – true, the best lines are sometimes other peoples!)

    Given what is going on down here, it is not a bad idea for folks to have some sort of backup power supply. The grid can be an odd thing and a few years ago a mates inverter died because the frequency in the grid apparently became a bit odd for a brief while. The problem is that most people put off getting any form of backup because it is expensive – and even generators have problems with fuel because it appears to be a weird concoction nowadays and goes ‘off’ rapidly. I’ve begun using fuel stabiliser and some of the less regularly used machines are responding well and becoming easier to start. Hmm. Sometimes things can change, and you’d barely know it, but the change has occurred all the same. But if your life depended on a continuous supply of electricity, well if that isn’t enough incentive…

    Hehe! The soap sub plot was a fine addition to Chuck’s story, and I doubt that such a story would get written in these enlightened times – let alone being made into a movie.

    Oooo! Your mission should you chose to accept it is (cue music score for increase in tension levels) to test drive a crock pot. I reckon it would reduce a vegetable stock really nicely. But I don’t have one of these kitchen devices either. Oops! Better stock up the hungry wood heater.

    The editor and I have today been debating the relative merits of leaving one of the windows lightly ajar in the room with the wood heater. I’m all for this practice to improve air quality in the house, whereas the editor is on the side of: ‘but it’s 39’F outside’. I think I’m right though, and today we’ve run the experiment and the air quality does seem markedly better. Due to the lockdown, with the editor around all of the time, my usual practice of opening the window when the editor is not around has not been able to be implemented and air quality has deteriorated. It is one of the minor problems with houses which are too well sealed and insulated. Basically, I’d had enough and we had to do something differently. The editor is less affected by toxic environments than I – a handy knack to have.

    As a suggestion with one of your elderberry cuttings (if you can spare it), try chucking it in fresh water (which you clean out once per day) and leaving it in a sunny locale and watch to see whether it produces a root system. Dunno. I’ve only ever planted cuttings in late autumn or early winter.

    Go the beans and peas and a notable score with the slug hunt.

    The lava tube looked awesome, and would make for some decent dry food storage and maybe a bunker (solid walls), unless a bear moved into the cave for the winter, and then the bear would own and control the cave. Would you argue with a grumpy bear? Talk of secret staircases just reminds me of the Amityville Horror. Hey, real estate folks have to now disclose such sordid histories to prospective purchasers. “Yeah sure some folks died, but it was only a few. Evil spirits, who believes in ghosts, huh?”

    The plums or ornamental cherries planted on the street looked nice, and I respect the home owners use of rock walls for the garden bed. Evil spirits, perhaps? 🙂 That sure is a quick turnaround. The property market makes absolutely no sense to me anymore. I just don’t get it. Things are selling quick up this way too. Ordinarily it used to take up to a year for a property in these parts to sit on the market for sale – not now. What this means is beyond me, but I suspect there is a portion of people fleeing the big smoke.

    We’ve got like 30 cases in the entire state, and maybe a few more. As a prediction, the lock down will be lifted on 15th June. I said that prediction today – and it is only a wild guess based on a long weekend public holiday around that date – but who really knows. The words seven days ‘at the earliest’ hardly has a sort of definite ring to them.

    Hehe! Agriculture would have been really difficult in a windswept spot like that Roman villa, and so it’s importance would not have been to the locals, but rather the strategic importance. I guess the Legions would have had to have paid their way through those trades – and a tannery would have been a very useful item for the Legions. But jewellery is a trade I wouldn’t have guessed being plied from a Roman fort along the wall.

    Hehe! I’ve got a towel ready for those grumpy bears with their sharp claws – far easier than welding gloves – and if I heard correctly the bloke was bitten. The Koala seemed more annoyed than grateful and I was quite impressed at how far the arms and claws could extend.

    Oh yeah, Barrington Tops is a good place to release Tasmanian Devils, although I hope the managers of the area ensure that there is enough prey for the Devils through good land management and that foxes, cats and dogs are excluded from the area. But it is an impressive achievement indeed to have produced some baby Devils.



  55. Hello Chris
    The strawberries are planted in pots, fish boxes (which wash up on the beach) and baths. One in a pot, 6 in a fish box and up to 14 in a bath. So they are quite close together. Far closer than in farms where you can pick your own.


  56. Yo, Chris – It’s supposed to get up to 76F (23.88C), here, today. Gotta get out and plant something. Prof. Mass had a posting (5/27) about dust storms, over Al’s way. And, up north of Seattle. There was an article in yesterday’s paper about Mt. Rainier …,266900

    Seismic monitoring stations have a very small footprint, but, I suppose, some eco-warrior, with time on their hands, will show up to object.

    We have a lot of quiet country roads, in this county. With convenient freeway access. A great place to dump bodies. Seems like every few months, someone stumbles on “human remains.” If male, seems to be gang connected, from up north. If female, some poor working girl from the Sea-Tac airport area. Remains were found in our river, recently. No news on that one. Our county coroner is understaffed and underfunded.

    “Old” is probably about punishing the eco-unfriendly 🙂 . What with the big car, and all. They probably litter too. It’s often listed as Shyamalan’s worst film, but I’d like to see “Happening” (2008), again. Library doesn’t have it. I hope our library get’s the werewolf movie. Those horror comedy films (with relatively unknown casts) are kind of a flash in the pan, and go to DVD fairly quickly. There’s a town right outside of Portland, called Beverton. Old town, but kind of a suburb, now. The “Star Trek: Lower Decks” episodes are pretty short. 22 minutes, per.

    I also saw a review and watched a trailer for a comedy, “Plan B.” What caught my eye in the review was, “…cell service dead zones that require them to try to figure out how to read a paper map…” The horror, the horror … 🙂 . Don’t know if I’ll catch the movie. Not quit my cup of tea. But, it does look pretty funny, in spots.

    Crock pots cost money, you know. 🙂 . Why invest, when my stock pot works just as well? I do have a bit of an aversion to electric gizmos in the kitchen. As I have two doors full of them, that I hardly ever touch. Got most, for free, when Don cleaned out his mom’s estate. I do use the Oster blender. Rarely.

    Air quality wars. Elinor’s always whinging on, about open (or closed) hall doors, windows, A/C and heating units. She has quit elaborate theories, about thermodynamics. She finally tore the worst offender, a new one, yesterday. 🙂 .

    Lava tubes are interesting. When I was a kid, too young to remember much detail, we visited the Shoshone Ice Caves, over in Idaho. Then there’s Ape Cave. That’s pretty close to here. Just the other side of Mt. St. Helens. So called because of frequent Bigfoot sightings, in the area. Going way back. A quick search and … you have lava tubes, too. National Park, no less. Undara, SW of Cairns.

    Here’s an article about our recent real estate madness.

    The admiral’s villa, was directly across the Channel, from Boulogne. Where the Classis Britannica, was based. Maybe it was his holiday getaway “cottage.” The tannery and jewelry making enterprise was directly after the Romans left. But the question that’s raised by the excavations is, “Did they?” Or did some stay on and develop these industries for trade? When the payroll stopped rolling in. Lew

  57. @Lew

    In a way, that makes it so easy, you can just wipe the lot with zero fear 🙂 The hardest part will be creating the new apple restore disc with the latest OS version that you are allowed to install. If you are keen, send me a message and I can help you out with the process.


  58. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for the details in relation to your strawberries. Out of curiosity, do you replant the runners and remove the original plants? The spacing you use between each plant sounds quite good to me as I have basically no idea and am trying to work out a manageable plan for the plants.



  59. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! It was 2’C / 35’F here this morning and the early fog dissipated (there be mist on the moors this morning!) and then the sun shone and it wasn’t warm, but neither was it unpleasant. Your weather really does sound like planting weather to me too. Did you ever rustle up a soil thermometer?

    My pragmatic side suggests that if Mt Rainer blows it’s top, then the Northern Spotted Owl will face far bigger problems than being offended by a seismic monitoring station. With a bit of early warning some of those species can be nabbed and taken out of harms way – albeit in a rather unhappy and possibly very grumpy state of mind.

    Years ago I read Kim Stanley Robinson’s epic trilogy on the subject of terraforming Mars, and at one point the author included some hard nuts who wanted to keep the epic Mount Olympus, all 24,000m intact and unchanged for future Martian generations. Crazy stuff, but it was a very good read. Hey did you see the photos of clouds on Mars? It looked like an image from a particularly dry and rather uninspiring desert locale. I’ll bet the real estate is cheap as…

    Yes, that is a rather unfortunate down side of living in an under populated rural area. And it wasn’t that many years ago when the remains of a lady were dumped in the more fashionable end of the mountain range: Borce Ristevski sentenced to nine years in jail for killing wife Karen in unexplained manslaughter. Borce appears to have been a thorn in the side of the legal system because he has allegedly said nothing and the system is not well equipped to deal with that response. I’m glad the body wasn’t anywhere near to here because the dogs would have dragged bits back home – dogs are really nice creatures but they can have some revolting habits.

    No doubt, the family in the film did litter and they probably used plastic straws and take away coffee cups as well. 😉 Did the cast do a convincing job, that is what I want to know? Unfortunately the talk of always being together and never separated in the trailer kind of made me recall the story of the wicked Fairies who granted a human that wish and then promptly killed them and buried them so that the wish was fulfilled. A tricksey lot, them.

    Oh well, I’m sure that no humour was ever intended in the Beverton name? Thanks for providing additional incentive to delve into the lower decks. That is where the action happens anyway.

    Plan B looks like total fun, and I really enjoyed Harold and Kumar. The film escape from Guntanamo bay was so silly that it was seriously funny and there were parts that were so very wrong.

    Of course, you have the stock pot already – you are sorted on that front and clearly need no further stuff. Mind you, it could be very much like machinery used around the farm – the editor asks me the awful question: Is this machine the last? But then the spectre of your full cupboard suggests that further sheds are necessary to circumvent this dire problem. How bad could a new cupboard be? You know you want it! 🙂

    Elinor clearly has some bite if she rip someone a new one. Yikes! Note to self, do not annoy Elinor. Done and now we can move on safely in the certain knowledge that Elinor will not be annoyed. Mind you, just saying it has nothing to do with thermodynamics and everything to do with particulates in the air. And possible temperature to a lesser extent – you can pass on these thoughts though, I’m a bit scared.

    Keep a sharp eye out for Bigfoot – him big, you sqooshed. Nuff said.

    Thanks for the article on the real estate madness, and the exact same story is playing out down here right now. Mr Kunstler’s guest on his most recent podcast spoke about this very subject. I tended to agree with many of his guests assertions and observations.

    Out of curiosity, were any legions or legionaries left behind after the withdrawal of the Roman imperial presence from Britain? If there was no pay check coming in, something would have to take place in order to pay for food.

    Better get writing.



  60. Hello Chris
    Once I spot roots on a runner I cut it off and plant in a small pot. I end up with a fair number of these and what gets done with them is infinitely variable. Old plants are usually dug up after 2 years but many runners escape me (unnoticed due to close planting) and self plant. These I permit to stay. Every now and then I clear a whole lot out and start again because then I can redo the soil thoroughly. I am nowhere near as systematic as you are.


  61. Yo, Chris – The weather here, yesterday, was in the low 70s, with a nice breeze. Perfect gardening weather. So, I went out yesterday morning, with the intention on getting my tomatoes, in the ground. But one does get side tracked. First I picked more chamomile, and then ripped about half of it out, to make room for the tomatoes. Watered … and then got sidetracked, as one does. Cut a lot of volunteers out of the rhodies. Oak, maple and walnut. Not in my job description, but if not me, who? Got out my whip and chair and got some errant grape vines growing in a more socially acceptable direction. Weeded and prepared the ground, for the tomatoes. That was it for morning! But, I got them in the ground, in the early evening. And, prepared small areas for the cucumelons.

    When I went out to hunt slugs, last night (17), I saw an odd creature. Some kind of black and yellow centipede like critter. About 3″ long. I left it alone, as I thought I’d better figure out what it was … and if it’s beneficial. I went down the wrong rabbit hole, but finally figured out it’s a millipede. A yellow spotted millipede. One entry said that if you pick one up and smell almonds, you’ve just been shot with cyanide. Which might give you a blister. But, yes, they are beneficial. They eat (and poop out), an incredible amount of dead foliage, and are vital for the break down of materials.

    Haven’t run across my soil thermometer, but, I think we’re passed worrying about the soil temps.

    I read Robinson’s trilogy, decades ago. As I remember, it was a bit political, for my taste. I like my Mars books to have ruins of lost civilizations. You know. Fantasy. Yup. My take on Mars, too. There is still cheap land in Arizona, but it’s basically hardpan, with no water. And I shudder at the temperatures.

    H has tarnished her reputation as the best dog in the world. She pooped on the floor. At Elinor’s. Elinor isn’t buying it, but I had her on a schedule, which is now in tatters. I won’t say she kills with kindness, but perceived kindness is sure messing things up.

    I watched “Land”, last night. Woman has a family tragedy, moves to Montana and buys about a gazillion (a highly technical and scientific measure) acres, a moves to a derelict cabin. Must be nice to have money. She’s totally inept, and clueless. But she has books! To say more, before I know if you’re going to watch it, or not, would be spoilers. Should you watch it? Well, you might find parts of it amusing. That are not meant to be. Or, you may want to wear a crash helmet, as you’ll be slapping your hand to your head, a lot.

    I also watched the first episode, of a new series. “One Lane Bridge.” Takes place in Queenstown, New Zealand. Looks like it might be a good one. A young Maori detective arrives in town, There’s a one lane bridge, where lots of bad things have happened, over the years. Cursed bridge, or something else? Just to make things interesting, he’s got a touch of the “second sight.”

    I should really get into those two doors, and sort out the electrical kitchen gizmos. Donate them to an op shop. On reflection, it’s not as bad as it sounds. That’s also where I store all my baking pans. And those, get used.

    Well, we really don’t know much about the mechanics of the Roman withdrawal. Was a skeleton force, left behind? Or was it just a lot of veterans, who had married local girls? And, by this point, most of the soldiers were from other parts of the empire. But may have been on the same posting, for two or three generations.

    As the money ran out, I’d guess the men and women, looked around and figured out what they could produce, to trade for food. Although there was probably a good bit of family farming and hunting, going on. And they had animals. Well, think of the Camulod Chronicles. Take out the sweeping saga, and the grandiose goings on within Camulod, and I think it’s a pretty good speculative look at what was going on. When you read between the swash and buckle, parts.

    Saw an interesting article, on land subsidence, down in California.

    Well, what did they think would happen? It’s not as if this information wasn’t out there, already. Lew

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