Petty isn’t pretty

Culture shock doesn’t come much harder than being unceremoniously relocated from an experimental hippy dippy school for disadvantaged kids, to a more English than the English grammar school. The kids in the experimental school were aggressive, and sure there were tensions, jockeying for position and grievances, but being from disadvantaged homes, the kids had probably seen enough violence not to resort to blows. The more exclusive school kids had violence down to a fine art form, and that is why I ended up at the local Dojo training several nights per week.

In a bizarre twist of fate, the Sensei of the local Dojo just happened to be one of the greatest martial artists that this country has ever produced. Who knew? He was a humble bloke but exuded competence and could demonstrate his skills when necessary. The several nights of training per week soon became many years, and word must have gotten around at school. The aggressive behaviour stopped quickly enough.

One of the odd side effects of moving from one school to another is that you lose all of your former mates. One day you’re sitting pretty with a goodly collection of friends, the next day due to geographical differences, they don’t want to know you. A sad hammer blow which has struck hard at various times.

As one of the less than a handful of new kids at the grammar school, I’d managed to worm my way into the intermediate group of kids. They were neither the cool kids, nor were they the dorks, they were somewhere in the middle of the pecking order. Unfortunately the new kid status didn’t lend any mojo to my place in the pecking order. And then for some odd reason being at the lower echelon of that particular group they’d got it into their heads that I was gay. In those days of the not so distant past, this was a mortal slur.

It didn’t take terribly long, and involved a fight which unsurprisingly I won, before I took up with the dorks of the grammar school. It is a truth universally acknowledged that the nerds are the true individuals. They were a lot of fun.

After a few years, one of my new mates became interested in the martial arts training, and so he attended many sessions. He had the gift of the gab as they say, and could talk the leg off a chair. Before too long, the Sensei was also enjoying conversations with my mate.

In an unfortunate twist of fate, my mate also just happened to be very competitive, and so he kept pestering me to have a one on one sparring session with him at the Dojo. Reluctance was felt and expressed. The Sensei however, encouraged the engagement, and after many months of badgering, the arrangements were made. After the training session, we faced off against each other.

An agreement was made between us that there would be no head shots, all blows were to land from the shoulders down.

There was no hurry to engage in the fight, and my mate lacked experience so I moved slowly and deliberately around the mat whilst keeping him engaged. The Sensei used to regularly take on all comers at practice sessions, and he’d casually deal with the confrontations – with ease. With that lesson fixed firmly in mind and displayed by actions, my mate realised where the bout was headed, so in an act of desperation he took a massive swing at my face, thus breaking our agreement. In anger I let loose on him and put a rapid end to the farce.

That was when things got really weird.

Turns out that it was I who was in the wrong. The Sensei upbraided me firstly for expecting that the rules were going to be upheld, and secondly for losing my temper. In doing so, I’d embarrassed myself on the hallowed floor of the Dojo. And the Sensei was right too.

For some odd and unknown reason this incident all those long years ago has been pushing itself into my thoughts of late. Maybe it is because people have been badgering me as to when I’ll get vaccinated against the health subject which dare not be named. As of a few days ago, slightly less than 11% of the population have been fully vaccinated down under, and there are acute shortages of the stuff.

Against this background I was listening to the wheelchair bound Federal Senator Jordon Steele-John on the youth radio news program a few weeks ago, and he was lamenting the lack of stuff to protect against the health subject which dare not be named for people living with disabilities. It seemed like a fair and urgent need to me to protect the more vulnerable members of the community, others clearly feel differently.

To be honest, I no longer know what to think about this health subject which dare not be named. The editor and I are now in our fifth lock down and I have no doubts that things are more locked down here than pretty much anywhere. Not being one to waste days, during this time I prepared the accounts for my business and was dismayed. And you know what, the health subject which dare not be named is I’m sure very unpleasant, but regular readers might want to recall that my old mate died last year not of the health subject, but allegedly because (one contributing factor) his medical appointments were cancelled due to fears of the health subject which dare not be named. It is not the only concern in town, although people temporarily appear to have forgotten this.

Many long years ago I sold a car. A bloke had agreed to purchase the car and the deal was done. Independent inspections were completed, certificates of road worthiness were obtained. A deposit was paid, other purchasers were disappointed and sent on their way. It took a while to finalise the sale, and then the bloke suddenly out of the blue got cold feet and decided to renege on the sale.

That’s when things got really weird.

The bloke wanted his deposit back. Most normal people would understand that a 10% deposit (under $2,000 in this instance) is paid upon a purchase in order to secure the transaction – and deposits are generally non refundable. I’d turned other purchasers away and it was a really difficult car to sell (and eventually took a huge loss on the sale). I contacted the other interested parties, and smelling blood, they offered outrageously cheap offers to buy the car. It took months of work to sell that car.

From earlier conversations with the bloke I was aware that he was a doctor. Upon learning that the deposit was forfeited, he then went on to threaten me along the lines of ‘if ever I come into his care.’ For some odd and unknown reason I’ve been thinking about that bloke of late. It is almost as if he felt that by his very position in society, he didn’t have to play by the rules.

The lock down began late Thursday night / Friday morning, and wasn’t announced until Thursday early evening. Earlier that day, the editor and I had a gut feeling that we’d be in lock down sometime within the next 24 hours. This was a bit of a problem as we’d arranged to pick up a replacement second hand couch for the dogs bedding on the coming Monday (the day this blog is posted). With an impending lock down, that wouldn’t have been possible, so we contacted the seller on Thursday morning and arranged to pick up the couch that day. The seller was amenable to the change in arrangements.

A new second hand leather hide couch for the dogs to sleep upon

The second hand couch, which is upholstered in real leather hide was a $100 because it has a few stains upon it. I’m pretty sure the dogs won’t worry about the stains. The decades old green couch had sadly been barfed upon by our canine companions once too many times, and it was candidly making my office smell rather fragrant. It had to go, and the replacement is far cheaper than new dog bedding and will last far longer. I’m constantly surprised as to how little value our society places upon some items regardless as to their quality.

We continued cleaning up the damage from the recent epic wind storm which dropped many tall trees. As an interesting side story, many parts of this mountain range still have so much damage that only locals are allowed access. We were more fortunate in this relatively protected part of the mountain range that it is usually protected from the worst of the winds. Even still there was a lot of tree damage.

Ruby poses in front of some serious tree damage

We spent a day burning off dropped forest material.

A day was spent cutting, hauling and burning off forest materials

The fire was big enough, and with enough materials, which despite them being green and very wet, they will probably burn for a couple of days.

The author attends to the burn off. No authors were harmed in the taking of this photo!

Other than one very large fallen head of tree, we’ve now removed most of the forest litter from the paddock and orchards. Despite this work, there is still much to do.

The author is sitting with Plum on the fallen trunk of a tree head

Spring is not far away as the Bluebells have begun poking through the soil.

Bluebells are appearing at the base of this large Olive tree

And there was one weird lone raspberry – very hard to explain at this wintery time of the year.

A lone Raspberry – in the depths of winter

Onto the flowers:

A Silver Banksia flower
Lavender flowers on one of the garden terraces
The forest is full of colour even at this time of year – Alpine Heath
Hellebores have begun flowering this week
Hellebores are a lovely splash of winter colour

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 6’C (43’F). So far this year there has been 720.8mm (28.4 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 672.0mm (26.5 inches).

65 thoughts on “Petty isn’t pretty”

  1. Yo, Chris – I don’t know quit what to say about the Dojo story. Except, somewhere recently, I saw a story about a martial arts trained guy, who came up against a crim. So, as the martial arts guy is deploying his martial arts moves, the crim pops him in the mouth. So, I guess it’s not such a rare story. And, the lesson, I guess, is always be prepared for the unexpected. Or, something.

    Well, I don’t know why people would be giving you grief, over the vaccines. It’s pretty common knowledge, that they’re not easy to come by, in Australia. I can think of a lot of people I would have given my vaccine slot up for, had it been that kind of a choice. Grocery clerks, teachers, caregivers. But, I tend to forget that I’m in a pretty high risk group (old) and living in a place where high risk people (old), are thick on the ground. I think it’s kind of a miracle that That Which Cannot Be Named, didn’t show up at our door.

    I think you can call the car buyer, Dr. Entitled. One can only hope there’s justice in the world, and that his practice and personal life are failures.

    Same, same, here. Lots of stories of people who needed one kind of health care, or another, and either canceled through fear, or, were canceled by the clinic or doctor’s office. Lots of maintenance, was deferred. The ladies seemed most bothered by a lack of trips to the beauty parlor. Forget that impacted tooth, or the cataract surgery … they couldn’t get their hair done! 🙂 .

    So, the picture of the second hand hide covered couch? Are you just going to sit there and admire it, or are you actually going to sit on it? Or, perhaps it’s strictly reserved for the Fluffy Collective. But Inquiring Minds Want to Know … how did you dispose of the old couch, in a ecologically sensitive way? 🙂 .

    Nothing beats a good roaring, well managed fire. No authors were harmed, but how about some smores? Perhaps a ratty green couch? I see your bee hives. The bumblebees were having a go at the scarlet runner bean blossoms, today. Go bumblebees!

    Your signs of spring are encouraging. Not a hint of fall, here, yet. The loneliest raspberry sounds like a children’s book.

    The pink hellebores are quit pretty. I see my volunteer wild geraniums have made an appearance, in their usual spot. Even though that area got a through turn over, there they are. Real staying power. Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    Are we discussing food experiments that were not originally intended to be food experiments, but ended up that way all the same, or are we discussing the gentle art of food exploration? Tell ya what, I learned to not add bicarbonate soda to the Anzac biscuits the day I forgot to follow the original recipe – and what was really weird about that particular accidental experiment was that the shape of the biscuits was better for the exclusion. For some odd reason, the bicarbonate soda caused the original recipe to produce flattened biscuits. Do you even use this stuff in the kitchen (I don’t nowadays)? I was mildly put off the taste of the stuff because when I was a kid my grandmother used to add too much to chocolate cakes, and whilst I stoically endured the taste, it just somehow didn’t seem right. And the downside of any complaints was that the chocolate cake would be not seen again, and so there was this awful moment of realisation where the recipe could be better, but any feedback was bound to have immediate and future consequences. Thus the gentle philosophy of stoicism was learned – on the receiving end of chocolate cake. I’d be certain that in the far distant past, people learned the same philosophy in more trying circumstances! 🙂

    Hehe! There is a small part of me that suggests that we should indeed subject you to intensive psychotherapy to explore these fooding outrages. You never know what we might learn in the process.

    By sheerest of chance I happened upon a book today which proffered a dozen unique tips for life, and it may have been written by some thinker with the surname Peterson. Anyway, with only a dozen tips and what looked like a sizeable book, I went straight to the executive summary where all of the dozen tips were conveniently listed. The tips seemed like common sense to me, and took less than a minute to consume. I’ve utterly lost the thread, but that was one moment from earlier in the day.

    Fortunately the local general store / post office is within 5km of my house otherwise I’d don’t know, maybe go postal. 😉 Went there this morning to check the mail and pick up milk. It is really quiet up here. Whilst in the establishment by sheer chance I happened to discover a leaflet on local history which was printed by the local historical society. To my surprise the history was written with an amusing tone and I learned much of interest in the few pages. A suggestion was even made that the wealthy folks employed the local full time local mountain folks. It was a fun read.

    Really, well I guess the same is true down here too in relation to celery, but mark my words – that is one finicky plant. The old timers used to wrap the stems up in newspaper on hot days to protect the valuable (or not so valuable as the case these days) stems. I’ve never heard of such a thing, but peanut butter on celery sticks does sound like an early state fair food kind of arrangement.

    The first and only time that I have heard of Cheese Whiz was in the Blues Brothers film. Jim Belushi may have chucked a can of the stuff at an old fella living in the place the brothers resided. If memory serves correctly the quote may have been: Have you got my Cheese Whiz boy? I’m all for innovation, but cheese can’t possibly come in a spray can, can it? Pickles and olives!!! 🙂 I’m not convinced about the merits of the ice cream flavour, but like you, I’d give it a go just to be sure. One must run the experiment purely for research purposes, just to be sure.

    It is too much to hope for, but today I spied a bloke standing in the property just sucking up the vibes. He looked fairly competent, and competency is probably a skill you need up in this part of the world. Some other folks have been driving around in expensive looking new Range Rovers, and I really don’t fancy their chances, but at the same time they might surprise me. I don’t really know where they are coming from given the current lock down, but then land is a rare commodity.

    Sixty millennia of connected culture will have that affect, that’s for sure. I liked how you wrote of changes as being in the deep time understanding of those words. There was always the Diprotodon which were probably the source of the mysterious Bunyip stories. And those large megafauna beasties were actually distributed right across the continent. When I travelled across the Nullarbor plane (i.e. Latin for no trees), there were actually warning signs to beware of wombats, so marsupials can live in some pretty harsh environments.

    I hadn’t realised the iodine addition to sea salt, but just between you and I, I now keep a small stock of this sea salt stuff just in case. There are however side effects and I wrote about those a while back under the title: Greedy salty chip scab. It doesn’t paint me in a good light, but I felt very ill almost immediately after consumption of the very salty chips. Water assisted the ill effects.

    What’s with folks in New York being in therapy? It’s almost become a cliche.

    Oh no, you suffered the casual misunderstanding turned into pouty discord at the hands of Suzanne. Unfortunate, very unfortunate indeed. You know, dunno, but I reckon such folks play on the social niceties before going all melodramatic. I dunno what they expect? How good a word is flounced? 🙂 Hehe!

    Ah thanks for mentioning the film Minari again and I see that the full film is available online. Alas due to lock down craziness and recent operating system upgrades, our interweb bandwidth is down to vapour! Ook! Not sure what will happen soon, but it won’t be good. I have to contact the telco to get extra bandwidth, but due to the lock down the local shop was shut. Yeah, crazy days. An old school note has been made about the film, and notes get actioned here, the film sounds great.

    Thanks, and I didn’t know what to make about the story either – but I’d seen a similar story in a martial arts film long ago and yes expect the unexpected. It really annoyed me that day as I felt violated and then humiliated, and I guess that may have been the outcome. It was a valuable lesson learned though. Of course I was also trying to perhaps unsuccessfully in my own overly subtle way paint a picture that the folks we believe are put in place to assist us in our more vulnerable moments are playing by the rules we think that they are. I’m often guilty of over subtlety. The editors mum was misdiagnosed and then died within about six months, and I recall the final session with the surgeon after the funeral and I knew deep down the guy had arranged to meet us only because he could charge for the appointment.

    Well that’s the thing with the vaccinations, there are plenty of people in a higher risk category than I, so they should get jabbed long before I do. And I’m seeing a lot of class issues involved in that story. The thing is, even fully vaccinated folks are reported to be catching the health subjecvt which dare not be named – so what is this thing? Actually, you guys really did get lucky.

    Hehe! Beauty appointments cancelled! Hehe! Thanks for the laughs, well a person has to know their priorities. Hey, people put off going to the dentist down here too and you may note that Ruby and Plum have been unable to get fixed up due to, well the same thing as the beauty appointments. Life has to go on regardless. 🙂

    No, the couch is the domain of the fluffy collective, and err, well, I guess it all depends on whether you believe that burning off is environmentally friendly? People can get a bit weird about that subject, but are all too happy to chuck stuff in landfill or the oceans. I don’t believe that there is any easy option – it’s a predicament.

    What is a smore? Never heard of such a word before.

    Go the bumblebees! A good sign for tomato fruit production too.

    Yes, the hellebores are real late winter stunners and deadly AF. Geraniums are related to Triffids and so watch your back near those wild varieties. 😉



  3. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks for the kind thoughts, and believe it or not people are wearing masks even outdoors. I no longer know what to think. I can see that response, and for whatever reason we are a super compliant population.

    That’s my thinking too with the vague floral scent on the couch and the fluffies will do their very best to stink it up proper like! 🙂 At least my office no longer smells vaguely of dog barf. The cloth on the old green couch really sucked that up – despite applications of vinegar.

    Thanks for the update on the day of festivities! It sounds like that despite the vagaries of existence, the day went well. And I’m really glad that Gwen and Marty could make it, and hope they were on their best behaviour?

    And yes there’d be a certain edge to the party vibe due to that ‘first event’ nature of the wedding. Honestly, it really sounded like a lot of fun.

    Out of sheerest curiosity, when the editor and I got hitched in 1995 (was it really that long ago?) we never had a rehearsal ceremony or dinner and doubted that I’d ever heard of such a thing. I’d begun hearing of them in about maybe the mid noughties, but I was wondering if they were a long term thing in your part of the world? As a comparison, we just kind of turned up and had a garden ceremony and then dinner at a restaurant – it was all very casual. Although, I hear your troubles and can recount that the editors mum almost killed us all in a car accident on the way to the ceremony! Perhaps err, tensions were high. I can still recall the editor and I yelling out the command to her mum to ‘Stop!!!!’ Ah, crazy days. The editors mum was a really lovely lady.

    We might get some snow flurries tomorrow night. They’re forecast to fall down to 2,000ft, and the farm is at about 2,300ft. Here’s hoping for some snow! 🙂

    Glad to hear that some summer rain has arrived, despite the impact on the ceremony – such stuff is the stuff of life over an otherwise hot and dry summer. And I’d posit that it was a good sign for the next stage of Carla’s journey. 🙂

    And especially glad to read that stresses have now gone down a notch for you two! A garden is a lovely place at such times.



  4. @ Al – I’m glad to hear your wife is on the mend. Sigh. The indignities of getting older. 🙂 . Lew

  5. Chris,

    Yes, all of our family has survived the fire, but lost the one house. No injuries.

    Wearing masks outdoors today! Not because of the corvids. 😉 Nope, the smoke is hideous. Officially “unhealthy”. The masks help a bit. No outdoor work, but we’ve got errands to run so will be in the smoke some. The smoke is thick enough that it might keep the temperature down a few degrees, keeping it in the “normal hot” rather than abnormal.

    I saw that Lew mentioned the crim vs MA guy. Happens a lot. Most martial arts are geared to tournament fighting with rules, not what really works. I remember sparring with the senior student when in karate. He tried one of those sweeping “turn your back on the opponent” roundhouse kicks. I could’ve crippled him or worse if I hadn’t backed away. He was soooo slow. Sensei got mad at me, a total beginner, for not properly engaging an advanced move.

    Thing is, most of these big kicks get you off balance. Knowing avoidance, and a few basic blocks and punches, maybe a couple basic holds – like how to ruin an elbow – is enough. And a basic front kick. Just get good at them. As Bruce Lee is supposed to have said, “I don’t fear the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once each, but the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” It sounds like your sensei prepared his students for reality, not just the tournaments. And preparation for reality doesn’t mix well with the politics of tournaments.

    We enjoyed a wonderful anniversary dinner Saturday. Ate too much and brought home leftovers.


  6. @ Margaret – Sounds like quit the production. if I remember correctly, this wasn’t your sister’s first stroll down the aisle? I’ve noticed that serial brides either get more and more elaborate … or less.

    My idea of an ideal marriage. Back in the late 1960s, when we did silly things, I had a “friend,” who was a friend of a friend, who knew someone, who knew someone, who was a young woman who wanted to immigrate into the US. They told her she couldn’t, because she “was a single woman with no job skills.” Being outraged by the injustice of it all, my friend of a friend married her. They both took half a day off work, went to the local courthouse, and were married by a judge. Two office secretaries had to be hauled in, to be witnesses. They had a drink at a local bar, and parted ways. Five years later, with citizenship in hand, they did a cheap-o, do-it- yourself divorce for around $35.

    Now that’s my idea of the perfect wedding. 🙂 . The stories one hears.

    I am also glad that Gwen and Marty were able to make it. Lew

  7. Yo, Chris – Food exploration or food experiments. It’s a thin line. Hmmm. I may have to try the Anzac biscuits, sans bicarb. Did you leave it out entirely, or, just skip the boiling water song and dance? I use bicarb in a recipe, if it’s called for. Unless I can replace it with yeast. I use bicarb mostly for cleaning, or, an open box to freshen up the freezer or fridge.

    I see Peterson’s original book was called, “42”. Which, as all right thinking people know, is the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. 🙂 .

    Local history societies can be a wealth of information. But can also be purveyors of myth and legend. Stated as fact. Grains (or pounds) of salt, may be employed. But, as far as the locals working in The Big House, that’s a pretty standard trope, in a lot of literature and films. Sometimes, local families worked for the rich families, for generations.

    George Washington Carver is usually credited with the mash up of peanut butter and celery. But there are other theories. This is a short, very funny, send up.

    Sprinkle raisins on top of the celery and peanut butter, and it’s called Ants on a Log. 🙂 .

    I succumbed to the lure of a package of bagels, off the swap table. Took a bagel and cut it in half. Cut each half into 6 bite sized pieces. Put a smear of good peanut butter on top of each piece, and dipped the tops into sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Tasty. Called it dinner.

    Yes, processed cheese can be shot out of a can. But, traditionally, chez whiz came in little glass jars. And, value added, they had designs on them, and could be repurposed for juice glasses. They’re quit collectible. Or, were. They were called Swanky Swigs.

    You needed to know this, right? 🙂 .

    I mentioned the Mac & Cheese ice cream, to my Idaho friend. She wasn’t too jazzed by the idea, but said she could probably get behind dill pickle ice cream. A quick trip down the rabbit hole, and … yup. It exists. The company that made it, targeted it at expectant mothers.

    Let’s hope your new neighbors aren’t a Karen and Chad. Or, Dr. Entitled. I’m sure whoever they are, you’ll take them firmly in hand.

    Our table salt here, comes in either iodized, or un-iodized. No difference in the price, so I go for the iodized, stuff. Not that I use that much.

    People in New York being in therapy, IS a cliche. But cliche’s are often quit true. One must remember that New York City has the highest population density, in the US. 27,000 people, per square mile. There were some experiments with rats, and overcrowding …

    Well, from what I see in the more rational press, the fully vaccinated may get a variant, but it tends to be a mild case, and hospitalizations are rare. At least, so far. Next up … Monkey Pox!

    S’mores. Another beloved food mashup.'more

    One of my tomato plants is turning yellow 🙁 . Don’t know why. The possibilities, are endless …

    I see wild Geraniums can be used for any number of sovereign cures. Including hemorrhoids, gonorrhea, and cholera. Good to know.

    Saw a novel, on the library new list. “A Psalm for the Wild-Built” (Chambers, 2021.) It sounded interesting, so I put it on my hold list, with reservations. It looks like the author refers to their protagonist, as “they.” Third person singular. Which seems to be the hip and with it, thing to do, these days. In certain quarters. So, I don’t know if I’ll “take” to it, or not. What can I say. I’m old. I don’t like change. Maybe I can stomach it, if I convince myself that it takes place in the future. And, as I know, things are different, there. Lew

  8. Hi Chris,
    I won’t be showing Leo and Salve that new couch of yours as they would be very jealous.

    At least around here disabled individuals that lived in group homes or larger facilities were the first to receive the vaccine. Gwen was vaccinated in January I think. Speaking of Gwen I had to take her down off the deck where the DJ was playing. When we had our house warming party two years ago we used the same deck for karaoke which Gwen likes a great deal. I had to explain to her that she couldn’t perform this time.

    I don’t remember when rehearsal dinners started especially as done now. Cecily who was married in 2003 had one. They are typically put on and paid for by the groom’s parents/family. Those in the wedding party and guests from out of town are generally invited so they can get pretty big. I think this one had about 50 guests. Speeches are made and often a slide show of the couple though out their life is part of the event. Cecily, who can whip those slide shows together with music put together this one. The dinner is shortly after the actual rehearsal which generally goes pretty quickly.

    Once again no rain in the forecast for the next ten days so the reprieve from watering is soon over. Everything is looking pretty good considering the drought conditions we’ve had. The onions are small and the cucumbers are slow to grow but I picked the first beans and cherry tomatoes today.

    I sure hope your lockdown doesn’t last too long but at least you have a place to go outside even though it’s a bit cold.


  9. “Fellow Gastronauts,
    To boldly eat what no man has ever eaten before…”, quote by Jeffrey Steingarten, in his very savory book…

    Great move to remove the bicarbonate from cookies. I also get a astringent mouthfeel from those “rising agents”. IMHO most cookies and cakes are better without. With good butter as “shortening”, cookies get nice crumbly anyway.

    Regarding raspberries – it is a remarkable family of soft fruit. We have planted lots of varieties and we can harvest almost every week from 15 june to 15 november. They are easy to grow from seed. Just take a few of your favourite raspberries and plant in potting soil when they are ripe. Wait and water and voila, next year you will have plants that are similar but not the same as the original ones. The main advantage is that the ripening period will be slightly different. Some earlier, some later. This is great for home use. And the birds help us with this!

    We had quite some flooding in the region where Netherlands-Belgium-Germany meet last week, with 100+ deaths. A mess. We need more trees in the uplands and along the river banks. And a less destabilized climate… The surge in river water moves at a pace of around 200 km per day downstream, and it is interesting to follow how the peak water moves from the mountains along the big cities in the low lands, out into the sea a week later. I am glad to live on a small hill… I have a “fright of lowths”.

    Today we had the first berry-jam cooking session of the season. Rhubarb was already processed, and now the currants and gooseberries are ripe. The coming weeks will hold some good overcast cooking days, before the sunshine reappears. It is my first season doing canning (glass-bottle preservation) with rubber-sealed jars. I bought a load of German “Weck” pots and now I use my beer-brewing kettle to do the second sterilization-boil of the jam-filled jars. I used to be a “benzoeic-acid-user”, but now I try without.

    Have a great week!

  10. Hi DJ,

    Good to hear that yours and your ladies relatives survived the recent fire, despite the loss of the house. Such things can always be rebuilt one way or another – as long as the permit process is not too arduous.

    Did you see that the property next to me is up for sale?

    Hehe! Yes, well masks are super handy to keep out particles caused by epic fires (or even just local fires). I hear you and the air stinks with the stuff and I also get hay fever reactions from the particles. And exactly try working strenuously outdoors in those conditions – it’s like suddenly taking up a two pack a day habit! That happens here too.

    It is very cold and humid here today and the masks were required to be worn outdoors – apparently even when nobody else is around. Carrying very heavy tubs of used coffee ground was no fun at all in those conditions. The rain dumped on my head, and my hands were rather grotty after dealing with the coffee grounds. Fortunately a lovely lady whom I’ve known for many a long year took pity on my plight and provided some disposable towels to clean myself up with. I had to go and work at a client after that too… (they are an essential service and the one client I can visit now).

    It does happen a lot, and you’re spot on – you go into a bout with agreed upon rules, and you find that others aren’t playing by the same rules at all. There is a bit of that going on all around us, and perhaps that was my point. Mike Tyson was famously quoted as having said: Everyone has a plan until they get a punch in the face. But yeah, it is very unwise to take your eyes off your opponent.

    And exactly! Yes, totally absolutely exactly! This used to exasperate me with the local fire brigade too – if I was in charge I would have drilled everyone on the basics until they were seriously unhappy with me – and then I would have drilled them some more. But no, when I was there they kept going on to the latest and greatest, and I never understood that. But hey, it wasn’t my decision. You have to know the basics backwards, forwards, leftwards and rightwards and maybe even upside down before you can go onto the next task – but this is an unappealing prospect somehow. I think it is a wrong way of looking at the world, but that is merely an opinion. Bruce Lee was right.

    The Sensei incidentally provided security services during the daytime hours! So yeah.

    Well done you two! 🙂 Happy days and congrats.



  11. Hi Margaret,

    Oh, what was that Ollie? What did you say again? Are you sure about that?

    So Ollie interrupted my reply to suggest that: If only you loved Leo and Salve just that little bit more, they too would score a second hand couch to recline upon at their leisure.

    Bad dog Ollie! He’s a naughty scamp isn’t he? I wouldn’t listen to him and his rubbish anyway, as everyone knows he’s flawed as he favours Ruby over Plum – and Plum has the better shaped ears and more classically Kelpie face. And he now has a sore left leg as he inadvertently became embroiled in some secret Kelpie sheep dog business and ended up injured as a result. Those two girls have him wrapped around their paws.

    That’s a very sensible policy to protect the vulnerable, although I’m aware of some darker sides to that particular story, but a person can only but hope for the best. Honestly, by way of comparison, down here it is chaos. It is hard to put a better front on the matter.

    Hehe! Go Gwen! The thing I wonder is whether Gwen can hold a melody in the correct key? That’s no small thing and can make a world of difference to a karaoke night. 🙂 I really appreciated the laughs.

    Thanks for the background, as I hadn’t known about those customs. Down here weddings are traditionally paid for by the brides family, although I’m not really aware of the derivation of that particular custom. Wow, what a hornets nest it was digging into wedding etiquette down under style, basically someone wants to sell some idea or other, but rehearsal dinners and ceremonies don’t seem to be a thing. Fascinating stuff, and after careful consideration and much reading, it was wise that you had Carla’s wedding at your place. 🙂

    Yum! Hope the early cherry tomatoes promise great things for future harvests! 🙂 It’s still early in the season for you, but if they’re still small in four weeks time, that’s a different story. The cucumbers failed to even germinate last summer so you are miles ahead.

    Guess what? It rained here again today, and down in the flat land at the bottom of the mountain range there are now standing puddles of water in paddocks. Yikes! It sure is cold outside, but it doesn’t look like it will snow. Oh well.

    Out of curiosity, how many years have you grown those onions?



  12. Hello Chris
    Older daughter is sending me a copy of the book by your master teacher.
    I also wonder what your potential new neighbour will be like. Neighbours can make quite a difference for good or ill.
    Summer is still with us and hot enough for me to wear clothes that were last worn, by me, in Australia. Radio and television keep telling us to remain hydrated but they never mention the need for salt. Many will be suffering from cramp. This at a time when we may be taxing salt and sugar.
    Your lockdown is appalling. We are supposed to have had freedom day haha. Out shopping yesterday, the streets were full of people wearing masks, unbelievable!
    The potato puzzle that I had, remains. The potatoes have now been dug up. 2 months worth from one bath and about 10 tiny diseased ones from the bath that had previously held the rhubarb. Both baths had been prepared in an identical fashion.


    @ Goran
    What a fantastic idea about the raspberries. I used to grow them but sold the land that they were on and I really miss them. Shall certainly get hold of some raspberries and try planting them.


  13. Hi Goran,

    Hehe! That’s funny, and by sheerest of coincidence I heard the noted author Michael Pollan on the national youth radio news this afternoon being interviewed. As an interviewee, he’s delightful and very well spoken. He came up with the advice: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

    Actually the omission of the sodium bicarbonate was an error. Yet the results were so good that I had to laboriously discover through trial and error as to what the error was. For some reason unknown to me, the chemical caused the biscuits to slump and flatten out – not rise as was advertised. And butter just tastes better. A lot of products now have palm oil as an ingredient because the plant is exceptionally high yielding, but the food then tastes odd to my palate. Dunno, it’s not good.

    Thanks for the growing advice for raspberries as I have not grown them from the berries. The ones here were a gift from a local lady who made the claim that they were originally grown by her grandfather. They’re super reliable, and you’ve just reminded me that I need to feed the soil and cut back the dead canes in that enclosure soon.

    I’ve seen the news reports of the flooding and am glad to hear that you and your family were not harmed, but send my condolences for the loss of life and destruction of properties and livelihoods. I hadn’t realised that the floods were close to you. And exactly, you need trees in the uplands as they hold the soils together on the sloping ground, but for some reason unknown to me, river banks tend to be favourite locales for removing vegetation and planting houses instead. Rivers flood and low lying land is highly fertile and productive land – it is a shame to plant such land up with houses. 😉

    A mate of mine who moved back to New Zealand last year was also very particular about purchasing land on higher ground. They get epic rainfall events and floods over there too. Mind you, this year here has been exceptionally wet to date. I fear the cold and wet growing seasons.

    Respect for taking on the bottling challenge – and you won’t regret it! I do of course add raw sugar which does increase the acidity and acts as the preserving agent in both bottling and jam making. I’ve read that long ago fruits and berries were far more acidic than they are today and that those traits have been bred out of the plants.

    You may have to use an opener (when you do some testing) which doesn’t damage the lids or rubber seals, whilst breaking the air pressure seal at the same time. I use this one: Bottle Opener which is sourced from a local supplier who’s been around for over a century.

    You too! It is a bit crazy down here as we are in another lock down. Someone mentioned 172 days and counting, and it sounds about right. 🙂



  14. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! Yeah, what about food production errors (like the one mentioned about accidentally forgetting the bicarb in the biscuit recipe and the result was better)? Actually the ingredient was entirely missed and the biscuits retained their original shape which had been balled up before being placed on the baking tray. The other thing I do (also learned by accident) with the biscuits is let them cool in the oven and so they get a bit of extra cooking, without necessarily burning. And once they have cooled the result produces a satisfying crunch, but not so hard that it breaks a persons teeth. Nobody wants that.

    I remember some biscuit cooking experiment as a kid and the results were so hard that you could use them in a stone wall for a castle. And they’d still be intact in the wall in a millennia’s time!

    Yeast produces a tastier result, but I could be biased against the bicarb because of one too many heavy handed chocolate cake pieces as a kid. The therapy to get over that, was very expensive you know!

    We don’t use bicarb for cleaning, and instead tend o rely on the acid side of the equation in the form of white vinegar which is readily available and for some reason super cheap. Same, same, but at opposite ends of the pH continuum. Might give it a trial. The editor dropped some sort of oil on one of the office chairs, and that plastic material on the seat sure does hold the stains. The editor had another go at cleaning up the stain tonight.

    Mate, it is cold as here tonight, but the rain is heading south of the mountain range so I doubt that there’ll be any snow tonight. But, wow it is it cold out there or what?

    Forty two, of course! 🙂 How could it be otherwise? Actually I thought that the 12 more rules for life seemed quite sensible and hardly controversial, and could even possibly get a person ‘off the couch’ so to speak. I don’t see the big fuss in any of them. But then people are easily offended by ideas these days. An idea needs to stand on its own merit, and in fact should do so, although admittedly entrenched interests can ensure that some ideas don’t get air time – no matter how valid. I’m particularly curious as to the lack of public debate down here. I see that the bloke who owns the Washytongue Poopst newspaper is set to propel himself outside the atmosphere. That’ll be exciting.

    Thanks for the warning on the local history. Actually I rather enjoyed the authors use of an amused but yet also serious academic review of the days. And I also learned a few titbits of information such as the reasons behind the names of certain streets. Way back in the day, there were only a few families who resided in the mountain range year around. They would have been hardy sorts and they ran some of the local businesses which catered to the tourists and the wealthy families. But the other two main industries up here were logging and agricultural pursuits. One country lane (Devonshire lane) once boasted a large commercial orchard and I’m also assuming a goodly sized berry patch for the Devonshire teas. They’re superb as long as the scones weren’t frozen, but that can be forgiven if they were reheated properly and I’m sure much literature and dare I say it but heated (!) discourse has been entered into on this touchy subject. Some folks favour the nuking process, but that produces a damp scone and scones were never meant to be damp, they were meant to be oven fresh baked (if possible) or at the very least warmed up in a conventional oven. Wars have possibly been started over such delicate matters. 🙂

    Thanks for the laughs, and the authors delivery was superb. Yes cannibalism bad, smooth peanut butter good! I can’t believe that I used to get a supplier to crunch the peanuts up for me. I think that it was your suggestion to use the food processor, and we haven’t looked back.

    Ants on a log strikes a sense of deep fear into me as those little blighters are chemical warfare nasties of the darkest stripe – so yes, maybe they should be eaten…

    Lewis, stay strong and feed the remaining bagel chunks to H, she’ll love you for it and give less hassles on walks. 🙂 Sounds like a tasty dinner, and some nights we make sliders which have patties that contain both sunflower kernels and pumpkin seeds. Guys should probably consume pumpkin seeds as a health matter, but then if the seeds became too popular they’d go up in price. No the seeds are dreadful don’t eat them, but just between you and I, probably not a bad idea. 😉

    Who’d have thought it, but your mention of the choz whiz jars got me thinking about how we re-used vegemite jars as drinking glasses when I was a kid. They were designed that way so as to be reused, and the lid was levered off rather than having to rely upon a thread arrangement. Turns out some of the older jar stuff is collectible. There is always a bit of dissension down under as to whether vegemite (and butter for that matter) should be kept in the refrigerator or a cool and dark cupboard. When I was a kid butter was sold in wax paper pats and kept in the cupboard on a ceramic dish with a ceramic lid. I can imagine that storage option didn’t work so well when the temperature rose.

    Of course we need to know this! 🙂

    I was with your Idaho friend, but now after the switch and bait routine with the pickles – I can’t go there. I’ve heard of such stories too, although have no experience in that area.

    Well, we’ll see. Despite the lock down there have been plenty of visitors to the property. Who knows what will happen, but we’re not without resource and experience in this regard.

    Probably not a bad idea. I’ve read about iodine deficiency but never encountered anyone with it. Oooo, sounds very nasty indeed. Note to self: something to avoid. I add sea salt to my bread, but will check to see if it is the iodised stuff.

    My thinking as well about that matter. The rats have something to teach us humans.

    I’m having to expend a bit of personal energy to lift up other peoples spirits right now. This latest lock down is really bringing folks down – and given the four month experience last year, people are rightly nervous. Backlash is building and I believe that people say one thing in public and another in private. When the centre is neglected, awful things happen – history teaches this time and again.

    Ook! Two plant mysteries are too much for my brain (your tomatoes and Inge’s potatoes) and I simply defer to basically anyone else. Tomatoes are super hardy here and I’ve never experienced them yellowing. I’ve got a book on that plant and will dig it out and see what it says on the subject:
    – Nitrogen deficiency (yellowing of lower leaves which progresses up the plant) I note that you have a ready and convenient source of nitrogen. 😉
    – Magnesium deficiency (older leaves first go yellow as an inter-veinal yellowing, fruit will be pale coloured and softer).
    – Calcium deficiency (thick woody stems, slow growth, yellow upper leaves and weak flabby plants)
    – A lot of the other mineral deficiencies appear to produce white leaves rather than yellow leaves.
    – Mosaic virus. If that is the case, I’d pull the plant and get rid of it.

    Mate, I had no idea the plants were so subjected to such torture. Doesn’t make for pleasant bedtime reading that’s for sure. The book was ‘How to Grow Juicy Tasty Tomatoes 2nd edition’ by Annette Welsford and Lucia Grimmer.

    I’m honestly unsure what the third person singular title is trying to achieve, but then I have no dog in that fight. I’ll be curious to learn your thoughts in this matter. Language can be culture and so it is sometimes fought over.



  15. Hi Inge,

    I’m really happy to learn that you have that particular book on its way to you. He was a very interesting teacher and lead an extraordinary life. The last I heard, he’d moved out this way in the central highlands of Victoria.

    That’s true and we’ve been lucky to have had no immediate neighbours for quite a long while, but even so the distance is significant and if needed we can always erect a fence between the two properties. We are no pacifists either and can also be spontaneously annoying to people who annoy us. But it all depends and at this stage I have no idea what is going on. It surprises me that the people who own the property didn’t first come and see us to find out whether we were interested in purchasing it.

    Salt is important, absolutely and it is a problem down here during summers as well. And a few times, it has brought me back when I’ve had too much physical activity in the hot summer sun. I don’t believe that people get taught such basics any more, but maybe people also consume far more salt in their diet than previously?

    Thanks, and the lock down is getting peoples spirits down. And I’m expending personal energy to zing them back up again. Oh well. Some folks are speaking angrily that news reports suggest that the lock down in the state to the north is the harshest anywhere, but I can vouch that this is not so.

    And yes, even when the mask requirement was removed down here in between this lock down and the previous one, people still wore masks outside. I suspect some folks get comfort in them. What do you believe is going on?

    Your potato mystery has me stumped – and now Lewis has a tomato mystery. Have you had any further thoughts on the subject? And will you dispose of the soil?

    It’s very cold here tonight, almost freezing, but no snow tonight I reckon.



  16. Hello again
    I clean windows with white vinegar but for sinks and filthy roasting pans plus suchlike, I mix bi-carb with white vinegar. It is a mixture that can hardly be bettered.


  17. Yo, Chris – Maybe the Anzac biscuits were invented by the bicarb company people? 🙂 . There are a lot of recipes out there, that call for a particular brand of ingredient. I think Jello was the first company to put out a free, little recipe book, to be given away. With “creative” ideas to use the stuff. Ah, yes. Consulting my volume of “Jello: A Biography,” I see the first little recipe book came out in 1903. (There’s also, “Spam: A Biography,” but I don’t have it.) Recipes were also printed on packaging, or, in ads taken out in magazines.

    I use bicarb, with a few drops of water, if I need a bit of “scrub” in the cleaning. A few drops of vinegar, and you get the excitement of foaming. In case one is having a hum-drum day.

    Too cold to snow? You may be surprised. Hardest thing to forecast.

    From what you’ve said, the wrong kind of public debate can get you arrested. Tends to put a damper on things.

    As you probably know, the Poobst fellow, about to be shot into space, also owns that great emporium, souk, and bazaar, The River. There’s an on-line petition circulating, that he not be allowed to come back.

    There’s probably some trick to getting a dryer, nuked scone. But no argument: fresh baked is best.

    Speaking of cannibals, I killed a snail, last night! Was taking H out for her night walk, and came around a corner, and heard “crunch.” It was gruesome. I came back later, to hunt slugs, and three were feeding on the still living snail. All were dispatched, in what I hope is a humane manner. At least, it’s quick.

    H can’t have bagels, as, she’s gluten intolerant. Yup. Animals, too. So was my cat, Nell. Something you never used to hear about, but seems pretty common, these days. Probably the wheat varieties and milling process.

    I remember when I was a kid, there was a peanut butter that came in clear glass, with a built in handle. Some canning jars can be collectible and expensive. Or, at lest, they were.

    Fifteen or twenty years ago, there were “bottle” shows. Price guides. the bottle shows were for buying, selling and swapping. The usually covered a number of “niche” collecting areas. Old bottles and jars, barbed wire, glass electrical insulators, etc. “Real” antique collectors kind of looked down their noses, at such things. Interest (as in a lot of collecting areas) seems to have died out.

    Speaking of my Idaho friends, Shalen seems to be making real progress. He did a bit of a walkabout, with a walker. And, some zipping around in a wheel chair. The Mennonite work crew, shows up tomorrow, to make some adjustments to the house.

    Well, the lock down is depressing. Kudos for attempting to keep everyone’s chin up. And, yes. It can be emotionally exhausting, for you. But you know how to refresh yourself. A pint, some excellent baked goods. A turn around a good demo garden. Clears the head.

    The Master Gardener’s were here, and took a look at my sick tomato plants. At first they though it might be a virus, but then settled on a fungus. In either case, two were ripped out, and I need to pick up some anti-fungal spray, at the hardware store. I should also pinch off any yellowing leaves on the other plants.

    Oh, throwing around the third person singular means you’re one of “The Good People.” It’s theatre. I noticed the author of the book on ancient cities was also afflicted. 🙂 . Whatever floats their boat.

    Speaking of lockdowns, etc.., our community room, here at the Institution, has been open. But only when the Warden is around. To monitor, what, I don’t know. But when she went home, the doors were still open, Did she just forget, or is it really open. I mentioned ti to the Night Manager, and she said there was nothing in the log, or, that there should have been a memo (they love there memos). I suggested a ribbon cutting ceremony, or, maybe, a brass band. Our Night Manager is always just as in the dark, as the rest of us. They don’t share much with her. Lew

  18. Hi Chris,

    That is a very fine couch! Ollie, Plum, and Ruby receive royal treatment in return for their services on the farm. I commend you and the editor, as well as the person you bought the couch from, for thinking ahead and getting the sale and transfer completed before the latest lockdown. Soon the new-to-you couch will have its own stories to tell. (Maybe you can interview it for a future post?)

    At this point, with so many different theories about that which I can’t name and about measures to prevent its spread, I can only go by what I have experienced and what I hear directly or indirectly from other people. It didn’t have to be this way, but it dropped into such a stew of mistrust that it’s been poisoned by that stew. Not much to do about that but cope as best I can. Our county executive issued a public health advisory strongly recommending wearing masks indoors, but as it’s only a recommendation it’s unenforceable. The Missouri state legislature passed, and the governor signed, a bill that health orders can be issued for only 30 days at a time. After that period of time the appropriate legislative body (in the case of the county, the county council) has to approve any extensions. The state legislature and governor are punishing our county exec and other local and county political officials who kept business restrictions and mask orders in place for longer than the state did (April to early May 2020), so our county exec isn’t going to issue any new health orders unless and until things get really bad. Watching laws get made is not for those with weak stomachs.

    I’m now at the peak of summer and harvesting tomatoes (big heirloom tomatoes!), cucumbers, and summer squash. Sweet peppers will ripen soon. We’ve eaten a few raspberries but the main harvest season for them is August and September. We remain within delightful conditions for July in St. Louis, but the heat and humidity will return by Friday, with highs in the mid 90sF and heat indices approaching 105F. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a heat advisory issued. Nothing out of the ordinary for summer in St. Louis.


  19. @Lew

    I do indeed have a sister who’s been married 3 times and is engaged again but it was my daughter, Carla, who got married at our home. We suggested getting married as you described and have a party later but obviously that didn’t fly.

    She and her now husband did all the planning and paid the vast majority of cost.

    Marty and Gwen had a great time. This was the first time they’ve been together more than an hour since you know what began.


  20. @DJ

    Happy Anniversary! Sorry to read what you and your family had been going through.


  21. Hi Chris,

    Gwen doesn’t do to badly though she often picks somewhat bawdy songs. Just to add to the picture she wears flashy clothes and some interesting wigs. She is 67.

    I have grown that variety of onions quite a few times but this was the first time here. They are planted close to the house so I can water them easily but the soil in that bed isn’t the greatest. It was back to major watering again today. Seems like hardly anyone is getting the optimal amount of rain this year.

  22. @Marg,

    Thanks! Tis 30 years together, 15 of it blissfully married, or so the Princess states several times a day. And she must be right, as she’s the Princess. When we decided to get married, she decreed that we would get married on the same day we’d been using as an anniversary. Why? Guys can’t remember important dates, so celebrating both on one day minimizes the stress on my memory banks. And it gives her twice the number of gifts.


  23. @ Margaret – I’m glad the wedding turned out so well in the face of rain! It’s just like rain to not show up for weeks and then manage to rain all over the one event you’ve scheduled. 😉

    @ DJ: while I’m glad that your and the Princess’ relatives were unharmed by the fire, I am sorry that they suffered the loss of a home. I hope that they have no further troubles from fire.

    @ Lew: may Shalen’s recovery continue and be complete!


  24. Chris,

    Listening in on your conversation with Inge…and that the state to the north, according to some, is in the worst lockdown of everyone. I used to field multiple phone calls per day from peopl who live on gravel roads in vastly different parts of the County. All would claim that “my road is the worst gravel road in the County.” My reply got to be, “There’s 1,100 miles of gravel roads in the County. Every single inch is the worst gravel road in the County. So how may I help you?”

    So are you going to recruit THE posh doctor with an attitude to buy the place and build there? Then you could volunteer to cut some trees for him, leaving him with a big brush pile that the bunnies AND OTHERS will move into. It would be a community service. 😉

    Strenuous work in the smoke is nasty. I avoid doing that if possible. I just heard that smoke from this region’s fires is actually causing air quality problems in New York City. Which reminds me of the Hitchhikers Guide. Humans thought they were the most intelligent beings on earth because they had invented the wheel, New York and wars, and dolphins did nothing but muck about in the ocean having fun. Dolphins considered themselves to be more intelligent than humans for precisely the same reasons.

    When we had the initial mask mandates, we were supposed to wear them even outdoors even when alone in our yards. Even I said something rude and crude about that. Something to the effect that the persons who came up with that idea can p#^s up a rope and stand under it while it’s drying.

    Cold and wet and masked and working hard. Sympathies from here. Glad someone knew where her towel was so it could be loaned to you. See? Douglas Adams had it right about towels! Never leave home without one, and always know where it is.

    There was a lady in England who was teaching taijiquan as a fighting art. Which it is supposed to be. She really didn’t teach forms, just took the moves in the forms and demonstrated how to use them. Then drill after drill on these and then a lot of sparring. She taught the applications to a lot of police and security types. That is what it traditionally was for. I would’ve rather done a lot of drills on the basics (your idea with the fire brigade) rather than learn endless katas and forms. Mastery of the basics, regardless of the subject, can get you a long way. Unfortunately, the young instructor caught some weird illness and she died several years ago. She kept teaching up until the end.

    We’re getting breaks from that intense heat. It looks like we’re in for more “normal” hotter than average temps, but the wind and the ultra arid humidity is still with us. Got a trace of rain Monday night, nothing measurable, and dry lightning with gusty winds expected Tuesday night into Wednesday. Again. No measurable rain since June 15…


  25. Hi Inge,

    Never used bicarb as a cleaning solution, but your suggestion is making me reconsider this. Thanks for mentioning it. Bizarrely enough, when I was a kid (and this goes for the editor as well), the rule of thumb when it came to cleaning products was that the more unidentifiable chemicals in the mixture being offered for sale, the better the product. As an older and hopefully wiser person, I now know better and stick to the basics as much as possible – you would have noted that we now make olive oil soap.

    We’ve spoken of contact dermatitis before, but far out some of the hand cleaners used nowadays are seriously harsh – I’m thinking that skin was meant to be alive, not dead like a Dodo. Anyway, one does what one can in otherwise trying circumstances.

    Incidentally the dangerous tree somehow managed to become even more dangerous and the head is now precariously hung up in an adjacent tree. Looking at the forecast wind direction and speed, I’m thinking that the dangerous tree may fall this Sunday when the winds originate from the WNW. Fingers crossed that nothing is underneath the weighty cellulose at the time of descent.



  26. Hi Claire,

    Thanks for the commendation, and to be honest I was glad that the seller of the leather couch was amenable to a sudden change in plans. The lady was really lovely, and offered to assist with moving the couch. The editor and I assessed the situation, sized the petite Asian lady up, and politely (and also amusingly) suggested that her and her French bulldog step to the side and remain uninvolved with the moving process. After so many years and decades of hard work, the editor is quite strong. By the time we got the heavy couch down to the bright yellow trailer, I remarked to the editor that: Fark you’re strong, this couch almost did me in! And we had a good laugh and were simply relieved to have secured the couch. Getting the couch into the lift was a touch and go procedure, and the naughty French bulldog escaped from the apartment and had decided at the very last minute that it wanted to assist with the move…

    Claire, there are moments that I feel that I’m only but one single step ahead of things.

    As an interesting contrast, I can observe from a discreet distance that the health subject has become a touch politicised in your part of the world. By way of contrast, down here debate has been effectively stifled, but I can assure you that grass roots resentment is brewing.

    I hear you about that, and to watch the political argy bargy indeed takes a strong stomach. Is it necessary to do so? I suspect that the answer to that question is no, but everyone feels differently in this regard. I still recall the words of Galadriel and the warning contained therein.

    Thanks for the garden update and you summer sounds wonderful. 🙂 I look forward to reading your next post and drooling over the photos of the produce.



  27. Hi Margaret,

    🙂 Thanks for the mental picture of Gwen, and there is nothing wrong at all with bawdy songs sung at the appropriate times. 🙂 Years ago I’d heard someone recount on the national youth radio broadcaster the story that their wedding song was from the band Nine Inch Nails and their song Closer. I’m not convinced at the appropriateness of that, but you know, people constantly surprise me.

    Flashy clothes and interesting wigs has been termed ‘Advanced Style’ elsewhere, and yeah said it before, people constantly surprise me. Incidentally, the editor often wears quite colourful clothes too, and she has an interest in fashion and has read deeply and experimented much with this subject. Her mum didn’t hand over many of the feminine arts and so the editor has had to laboriously delve into these matters. The editors mum grew up as the lone youngest girl amongst seven older brothers.

    Thanks for the info on your onions. The reason I asked was that there was an old saying about the plant that a person: ‘knew their onions’. The plant for some reason is very sensitive to daylight hours and so the variety has to be just right for the latitude and daylight hours. But given you have experience with the plant not too far from where you are now, you should be fine. I reckon on of the big challenges over the next few decades is plant breeding appropriate varieties to the area in which they are grown. The market for that has become too concentrated to be very useful to small growers.

    If there was any way I could send some of this excess rain to you and the people on the west coast, I would.



  28. Hi, Chris
    I have just been catching up on the comments, and noticed that you have an oil stain to remove. Next time you can get to a pharmacy, ask for bentonite clay powder, otherwise known as fuller’s earth. It is amazing stuff, especially for getting grease out of fabrics that are hard to wash. Just stick a spoonful or two on the mark, rub in gently, and leave for 24 hours. Then dust off, or vacuum. It works on silk, wool, carpet, etc.
    As usual, your place looks amazing, and the hellebores are so pretty. Makes winter almost bearable, having flowers like that.
    It’s supposed to get down to -5C tonight in Canberra, and last week we had the coldest July day for twenty years – an apparent maximum temperature of 2.5C! Hopefully, Victoria isn’t that cold.
    My regards to yourself and the editor, and congratulations to the fluffy collective on their new bed.

    Cheers, Hazel

  29. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for that, it’s kind of a funny way to approach the differences whilst tackling peoples expectations head on. You know, it’s kind of a ‘dad talk’ approach where you just spell out the realities of the rural road network. Don’t you reckon that sometimes it is really hard to shake people out of their own concerns?

    You are like super bad with that suggestion! Respect. Actually, we’re working around the weather at the moment and tomorrow looks like a promising day to get stuck into the log pile. Winter is definitely the time to do this job, when hopefully possible reptiles are sleepy. Fingers crossed… Chances are there won’t be any there, but you never know until the job is done.

    Douglas Adams had a fun way of pointing out the obvious. 🙂

    Dunno how the property business next door will go, who knows, it might be really good. I met a neighbour the other day that I hadn’t previously met. Ollie was being an idiot and barking at the young lady who had just gone for a run up the road. Does he bite was a fair question given all the noise he was making, although I can’t recall him biting anything or anyone even when Plum and Ruby are hanging off his face by their teeth – and surely those two rapscallions deserve a response.

    Anyway, I grabbed Ollie and said: you two have to make friends, and so I introduced them both and Ollie was like a totally different dog after that. You can tell when a dog is a very aggressive dog, but people are very removed from nature these days and so sometimes don’t know how to respond when they encounter it. And always fear is pushed, so people fear instead of taking charge of a basic situation.

    Outdoor masks when you are by yourself makes no sense whatsoever to me, but them’s the rules down here – and the winters are so humid, it’s not right to force that.

    Yes, the towel was a lifesaver, and I should never have left home without one. Always unwise, and Douglas Adams knew.

    Exactly, drill and then practice, then start over again. The various kata’s were required for grading and it also often assumed that people would enter the fray via the traditional four major points of the compass. With a kata, you have to think upon the form and recall the dance, but with the basics it should be a reaction – there is a difference in timing there. How did you come across the teacher?

    Far out, fingers crossed you get through the season and back into the cooler months soon. How is the garden holding up?



  30. Hi Lewis,

    Oh, you might be right. Given the name of the biscuit there might even be a history of biscuit interweb page – the interweb being a very strange place… … What a rabbit hole! So turns out you can get into a lot of trouble if you foolishly called an Anzac biscuit an Anzac c@#kie. I wouldn’t recommend doing that, and then there was the horrid rabbit trip down old seafarers lane on the subject of hardtack. Sounds revolting, and how any army or navy could fight properly after eating that meal is a subject that I can’t really understand. I’d imagine that the early mariners suffered some pretty horrendous gut issues?

    You know, you’ve mentioned your collection of food books before, and so I have no doubt that you have the Jello book. The first I encountered spam was in cadets whilst on bivouac. It wasn’t all that bad really, just a bit salty and it wasn’t lost on me that pigs don’t generally provide their meat in conveniently shaped cans. 🙂

    For a few months there, talk of lab grown meat was a thing, but last I heard, the stuff wasn’t economic to produce. It kind of reminds me of all the noise we used to hear about self driving cars, and that sure has gone quiet of late. It is funny how such fads get their day in the sun, and then quietly go the way of the Dodo.

    Both yours and Inge’s mention of bicarb as a cleaning agent has me intrigued. Our home made soap works pretty well too as a cleaner as it is slightly basic – but even so it sure beats the detergents most people nowadays confuse for soap. That stuff strips the oil off my skin and dries it out – which is not good for dermatitis.

    Yeah, the storm drifted slightly south of the mountain range, and so we had no snow. Although when I took the dogs out to do their business, the occasional frozen drop of ice fell upon me. It was pretty cold, and this morning I happened to notice that a middle aged man and his daughter had been living rough in their car down by the creek and picnic area. They looked miserable this morning, and I can’t say that I’ve ever seen homeless people living rough in the area before. The area is considered too cold (although by your standards it is probably positively warm). He looked like he’d been out of work as a labourer I’m guessing by his attire. During this lock down there are plenty of people wanting to work, but being unable to do so and thus earning nothing – with little in the way of gobarmunt support this time around. It’s pretty cruel. And I’m beginning to sense a definite shift in sentiment. Yup, things are different, and I’m guessing it is because the strategy of lock downs doesn’t appear to be working despite the sacrifices. A backlash is ever so slowly building. Hmm, not sure what form it will take, but it depends I guess on whether the flow of money recommences.

    Yes, that thought crossed my mind too. Honestly, wealthy dudes buy up media so that they can attempt to control the narrative. It sometimes works, but not always, and the fools rarely consider to work together, and so their sniping, coniving and inability to set limits – and just basically find some good grace – is always their undoing. History tells me that it is so. The river changed its terms recently and removed the internal dispute resolution process – that was interesting. The court system here is not cheap to navigate, so they’ve given away an advantage.

    It is funny you mention that about quick ways to heat a scone, but nuke to warm the guts and then oven to dry the outside does actually work. But some heathens freeze these bakery things.

    Top shot with the snail and slugs! May they pester your garden no more. I found two slugs on a kale plant tonight, this is an outrageous offence. I flicked them off, that’ll teach them – maybe, actually probably not.

    Really? I hadn’t encountered a gluten intolerant pet before. Not good, the fluffies and chickens all love bread, but then I bake the stuff using high protein flour. A local once gifted me a large sack of commercial bread for the chickens – and they refused to eat it. I had to gather it all up after a few days and dump it in the worm farm.

    I can see that with the old canning jars – and if well handled they just last. Interestingly, preserving gear is in short supply. Nope, if you can handle the older stuff there seems like a good supply. When we stocked up years ago with that stuff, you used to be able to buy the stuff by the box for not much mad cash at all. Ah, I see, the same situation applies down here as the rare bottles are quite expensive. I deal with the common as muck only fifty year old bottles.

    Good news about Shalen, he’s made of tough stuff. Incidentally, don’t tell him but the dangerous tree here, looks more dangerous to me today, and may come down Sunday at a guess (due to the forecast wind direction and speed). Yeah not good.

    Thanks, and yes it has been draining and I intend to refresh the batteries maybe Saturday or Sunday. I put my foot down and said to the editor that I have to have a quiet day with no planned activities. I’m even picking up the editor a bit too. This lock down has really gotten to people down here.

    Probably not a bad idea to have removed those two sick plants – tomatoes are like sick chickens in that they don’t recover. Out of curiosity, did they give any reason for not considering a mineral deficiency? Although I note that you feed your soils well, but still it is really hard to tell sometimes.

    Fortunately neither you or I are one of the good people, so we can relax and enjoy the ride! It would make for a great Monty Python skit, but if it makes people then I really have no dog in that fight, but neither will I be coerced – it is dare I say it, their fight!

    Your night manager is perhaps approachable, and as such she may not be communicated with – of course there are timing issues there as well, it being the night and all. 😉

    Going to try and cut and split some more of those logs tomorrow. I’m working around the weather at the moment, and some days the winter weather is filthy.



  31. Hi Hazel,

    Thanks for that. You learn something new every day. 🙂 I thought that bentonite was only used to plug up leaky dams, and who knew it was sold at chemists? This is a totally new concept to me. I will definitely try this technique.

    Cool, and yeah we do neat. One day when you are in the area, you should arrange to drop by. Hellebores are really lovely aren’t they, and I’m guessing they’d do well in your area too. The botanic gardens were stunning and I really enjoyed my visit there many years ago.

    Yikes! And here is me whining that it was 2’C last night… The editor sometimes used to stay in your city during the summer months with her favourite uncle, and she recounted that you could be swimming in the day and then warming yourself next to the heater at night time. Oh no! The weather station near to you is now showing -1.3’C.

    Seriously stay warm. How’s the garden coping with the cold nights and extraordinarily low daytime temperatures? Can you imagine the whingeing that would happen if such weather were to occur in Melbourne or Sydney? 🙂 You’d hear the sound of it from the moon!



  32. Hi, Chris!

    You were the most fortunate of people to have that Sensei. I am sure that he contributed greatly – besides your own effort that you put into the work – to the person that you now are.

    I was so sorry when your mate passed away. I have known others who have suffered a lot from the lack of medical care during this crisis. On the other hand, I took my father for a check-up yesterday, to a doctor that I had picked out online (though we did have to wait 5 weeks for the appointment as a new patient), and I was astonished at the wonderful care that he received. This doctor even said that the less medications the better (my father is on a lot) and we are cutting out at least a couple. So – doctors are only human, and they have had their own troubles during this thing.

    That’s some couch! I wish you could see our “people” couch. It could easily win an Ugly Couch contest.


  33. Chris,

    “Don’t you reckon that sometimes it is really hard to shake people out of their own concerns?” Yes. Very hard. After all, my road is the worst one in the County. 😉

    I’ve been full of “bad” suggestions this week. Must be the break from the extreme heat or something, allowing my brain to start working again.

    Yes, a break. Normal today is 30C it was about 27C officially, 29C here. Coolest day in about 6 weeks. AND (drumroll) we got about 4 mm of rain here, 3mm officially, this morning. Every little bit helps, and it was pleasant having fresh air, no smoke and opening up the house for a few hours. Back to “normal” temps the next 2 days then into the 33C range or a bit higher. Which is not abnormal for late July and August. I can work with these temperatures.

    Gawrsh, dogs! Our neighbor has a yellow lab/basset hound mix. Yellow lab body and color, basset hound ears and legs. VERY strong dog is Elvis. He likes to jump up on people. Neighbor lady can’t handle him. Took me 5 minutes of working with Elvis and he obeys anything I tell him. He melts when he sees me. I speak dog, neighbor lady doesn’t. And there was nothing about Elvis that seemed the least bit aggressive to me, he just liked to jump up and say hello.

    I’ve not had any problems breathing with the mask, even when working in the smoke. However, my face gets insanely hot sometimes. Breathing through real respirators when constructing asbestos removal containments was harder, but I don’t remember my face getting as hot with them. Strange times we live in.

    We have towels in our cars. Therefore we have them whenever we are away from home. I even know where they are.

    Yes, you do a kata, and you have to think. Fighting in a tournament supposedly has rules, but little time to think. A real life situation? No rules, no time to think, so you better be well enough drilled in order to defend yourself.

    I was doing a gaggle search for some esoteric thing related taijiquan and qigong. A quote in an article cited this instructor, the (now) late Joanna Zorya. Her partner kept her writings up on her website, which I’ve devoured. A lot of her DVDs are still available, as are a plethora of youtube videos she had made.

    The garden. Pretty much the main veggie bed is empty, just a few volunteer potatoes. The carrots are doing okay, as I moved them under the patio roof where they don’t get scorched. We’ll get some chokecherries if the starlings don’t get them first. Raspberries are done producing for this year.


  34. Hi Chris
    That lead photo of your debris fire stoked with eucalyptus wood shows why the species is rated so high for fire wood. The flames emit a certain luminance even in daylight. has a wood species fire wood rating that’s kind of interesting. There’s your local eucalyptus right near the top.😀some where on that giant continent there is a wood fired steam powered generator just waiting to be adopted into the farm machine collection on fern glade farm. 🙂Hmmm. That would raise some interest in the neighborhood. Al! Al! Get back on topic!

    The short haired dogs living there will likely really enjoy the warmth that leather seems to impart to those who have such as your new old couch. Good price too!

    Heat wave is moderating some this week. I’ll take it!. Even a few days. This evening it’s 81F at 8:00pm. My wife put the sewing project aside and is outside enjoying the breeze and a book.
    I guess I’ll make a giant root beer / vanilla ice cream float and catch up on the comments of others yum.

  35. Yo, Chris – Well, twelve hours later than I usually reply, for this and that reason, which will be revealed later. All good stuff.

    The BIG NEWS is that “The Stand,” mini-series will be out, on DVD, the first week in October. Just in time for Halloween! I am already laying plans. I hope the pumpkin spice ice cream, will be out by then. And, I’ll do popcorn, with melted cheese.

    Well, my day started early, as, I had some cleaning and organizing to do. Some for the inspection, and some because my mate Scott was coming to visit. He came bearing pizza. We really haven’t had a good chin wag, since You Know What, started. He had suggested we go out for a meal, but I said I was still pretty twitchy, about You Know What. But, take out and a park bench, or, tucker at my place, was fine. He opted for the second. I had forgotten that Elinor had a dentist appointment, today, so, H came for a visit. Luckily, after the pizza had all been stowed away. She quit took to Scott, and he to her. He has recently had to put down his buddy of 16 years. He’s going to get another one. Actually, two. Elinor’s appointment went really long. And, the rest of the day was just this and that. So, here I am.

    Well, I know better than to call a particular baked good, coming out of Australia, as anything other than a biscuit 🙂 .

    Spam is an interesting product. Somehow, or another, it’s really big in Hawaii. Probably because they had such a pork “culture,” going way back before contact. If you look into it, and meat is on your menu, it’s not such a bad product. Only six ingredients, and the meat comes from the shoulder. Of course, it does have a lot of salt, nitrates and sugar … what kind of sugar? But as an occasional indulgence, if one ate meat, it’s not so bad. I must admit I’m a bit intrigued by the interesting flavors it comes in, these day. When I was a kid, we had it from time to time. Sliced and fried. Made great sandwiches.

    As with a lot of things, these days, lab grown meat was going to save the world. Or, at least, save a lot of cows. I think I’d be more likely to eat Spam, than that stuff.

    If you need a bit of scrubbing power, bicarb with a few drops of your soap might be an interesting experiment.

    Your story of your local homeless folk reminded me of that recent film, “Leave No Trace.” Homeless kids are nothing new, in our supposedly First World country.

    Well, lockdowns. Etc.. I saw in the newspaper, today, that last week we had 43 new cases. 6 in hospital. 4 deaths … maybe two more. And, an outbreak in a “congregate care facility.” AKA, some kind of old folks home.

    Well, the thing is, I quit like the snails. They’re small in number, and pretty much stick to their patch. So, I felt kind of bad about squishing one.

    Next time your in the store, check the pet food aisle. You’ll probably see a lot of gluten free food, for Fluffies. I didn’t quit believe it, either, until my go around with my cat Nell. She started loosing the fur on her tummy and the inside of her legs. No sores, no scratching. Just hair falling out. So, down the rabbit hole I went. And, much to my surprise, there was quit a bit about those symptoms. And, to switch to a wheat free diet. So, I did, and her condition cleared up. Fur grew back, and all was right with the world. H just itches like heck, if she gets a wheat product.

    Well, I hope that tree comes down, when you get the wind. That will be a load off your mind, without a tree being on your mind, if you get my drift. 🙂 . My friends in Idaho sent a couple of pictures, today. Their renter, Marvin the Mennonite, brought his Mennonite crew in. They don’t dress obviously, as the Amish do. But they are clean cut. I commented to my friend, that there probably wasn’t a tattoo, among the whole group 🙂 . I also asked her who the old reprobate, on the right side of the picture, had wandered in from. That was her husband, Ron. 🙂 . Ron takes ribbing in good grace.

    Well, I figure the Master Gardener’s have a lot more experience with sick tomatoes, than I do. They advised picking up some fungus spray. But, I notice I can make my own with (here it is again) bicarb and a bit of dish soap (without degreaser or bleach). Speaking of tomatoes, I’ve been watching one of mine, waiting for it to get red. Glad I checked. It’s a yellow / orange tomato. Picked it tonight. A bit soft,but not too far gone. I’ll give it a try, tonight. It’s called “Taxi.” A heritage, determinate, and low acid, so, if you can it, you should add a bit of lemon juice.

    Well, here’s a garden mystery. When I went out to water, tonight, someone had snapped off one of Elinor’s gladiola blossoms. Not taken, just hanging there. And then it got weirder. When I was watering the grapes, I noticed two of the branches, toward the front, were snapped off. Chance? General meanness? Some kind of a weird warning?

    Our night manager is “not in the loop.” Clearly, the rules say they must have a night manager. So, they do. But that’s about where it ends. When she was hired, she was told not to get too … close? … to the Inmates. Not to get to know us. It’s pretty much their Standard Operating Procedure. They don’t want to get to know us, as people. I’m often stunned by their general lack of curiosity. Lew

    PS: I noticed something interesting, about the first picture you posted,of the bonfire. The flying embers make it look like some of the trees behind you, are bursting into flame. Odd, that.

  36. Hi Lewis,

    🙂 It ain’t just you today, I spent many a fine hour gasbagging on the phone tonight and it’s now just on 10pm here, and I haven’t even begun to begin replies. Ook! I have no excuse other than just general chattiness! At school I was often reported upon as: Chris is a good student, but easily distracted. As a kid the reports were a cause for offence, but as a more experienced adult (I’d like to think so anyway 🙂 ) I can acknowledge the truth of the criticism.

    But it turns out that there is truth in the old retort that: ‘it takes one to know one’, and you are also perhaps a chatty individual! The facts today suggest that this is true, but I’m happy to at least discuss this most important of matters. Hehe!

    Actually I’ll definitely watch the new mini series of The Stand. It’s getting to business time for the many characters in the book as today page 1,100 was reached. Things are not going well for the good guys, and there has been a call to a Quest. An intriguing introduction at this late stage of the book. Who knows what will happen in the next 250 pages, certainly plenty of characters are set to get the axe. And yes, hope the pumpkin ice cream is released just in time for the release of the mini-series. I’m really enjoying the story – it’s engrossing and is very hard to put down, even when I’m meant to be doing other things.

    Like today, we got stuck into the snake/rabbit wood pile and so far I don’t reckon I’ve been bitten by anything – maybe. We cut and split firewood for the entire day. It was a very cold winters day and barely surpassed 39’F all day.

    One good thing happened too, at some point last evening, a burst of wind brought the dangerous tree to the ground. Yay! Glad I took a photo of it in its perilous state yesterday. And glad nothing was harmed in the fall (by way of contrast, plenty of characters were actually harmed in The Stand – just sayin…)

    Glad to hear that Scott dropped by for lunch and a good chin wag was had. 🙂 Happy days. How is Scott doing, you didn’t mention that. Sorry to hear that Scott lost his little mate, that’s no good, but 16 years is a pretty good innings for a dog. Glad to hear that he is going to get another one – or two. Dogs have been in rather short supply down here, and in a bizarre twist of fate, due to the health subject which dare not be named, it has been extraordinarily difficult to book in Plum and Ruby to get fixed up. Dogs get rather amorous, but need they become over stimulated whilst I’m eating my breakfast? That was their undoing… But yeah, getting them booked in is not so easy a thing to achieve.

    Respect, the Anzac biscuit naming thing has legal force down here. Best not to upset the apple cart me thinks, but you can probably get away with it being in another country. 🙂

    Well that’s the thing, spam wasn’t that bad. Sure it was salty, but you can’t preserve meat without copious quantities of salt. That’s how it goes. Like you I consumed it fried where from memory it substituted for hamburger patties. I’ve had far worse over the years. When I was a kid sometimes they’d serve up something called a ‘steak and kidney pie’ which came in a can. I’m not much of a fan of kidney, but it was OK and you wouldn’t starve eating it.

    I put lab grown meat into the same basket as self driving cars or Artificial Intelligence. Every now and then the media gets in a furore about some idea or other and it all turns out to be a flash in the pan. How could lab grown meat be cheaper than an animal which eats grass? That makes no sense to me, and last I hear the idea wasn’t making economic sense. The other two ideas might fall into the same problem.

    Thanks for the suggestion and I’ll try that – maybe on the oven glass?

    Oh yeah, I really enjoyed the film ‘Leave No Trace’ – and it wasn’t far off that, except that the father daughter combo didn’t look as competent as the combo in the film. The daughter was sitting at a picnic table with her head bowed over in her elbows. They both looked miserable, and it takes a lot of skill to live on the cheap – I spent all day processing firewood. It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure.

    I’m limiting my access to the news this week. I’ve spoken to a lot of angry people this week, and so I have no need to raz myself up. Something had to give and it is not cost free for me to listen to a lot of angry and confused people.

    Go the snails! All of the insects and other life forms are cool, they just have to work out some sort of balance that we can all live with, and if they can’t manage that, well you go a slug hunting. 🙂

    I’ve never heard of gluten free pet food, but I’m going to ask on my next visit. The place I buy chicken feed from and top up dog biscuits is more like a stock feed warehouse that has feed for all manner of domestic animals. They even keep frozen mice and rats for people with pet reptiles.

    Actually in the dogs breakfast I chuck in a small amount of coconut oil and that has helped with any itchy skin outbreaks which they used to get. In fact it worked so well, I began adding coconut oil to my muesli, fruit and yoghurt brekky and the eczema has been much better. Also making our own soap helped a lot too. But yeah, I’ll ask and see what they say about gluten free. The dogs love home made bread, although unlike commercial bread I use a very high protein flour and finish off the dough with spelt flour. Not all flours are created equal.

    Thanks for that, and no author was harmed – so far – in the dodgy tree business. And I’m seriously grateful that the head of that tree is now resting on terra firma. I’d only finished cleaning up on Monday, oh well back to the drawing board.

    Hehe! Yes, I doubt that Mennonites are mad keen for tattoos, and there is nothing wrong with clean cut and hard working – as a strategy it has much to commend itself. That’s funny about the old reprobate. Like it.

    I don’t have any experience with sick tomatoes, so don’t listen to me, I’m just recounting what the book suggested. I wouldn’t have a clue as they are super hardy plants down here. I hear you about the fungal issues and will have to pull out two decade old citrus trees soon (one diseased with collar rot and the other was blown over in the recent wind storm). It is a hard thing to remove decade old fruit trees – although the job itself is easy enough.

    Maybe it is general weirdness – there is a bit of that going around these days. Sometimes the birds here snap off branches, and plenty of the birds here have strong enough beaks with which to do so. Wildlife cares not a whit for your concerns and often they don’t even eat the garden stuff they damage. I look for patterns in their behaviour and sometimes there just aren’t any to be found.

    Lack of general curiosity is a common affliction. It is possible that the night manager isn’t as well managed as the day time staff! Always a problem with shift work. 🙂

    Hehe! That’s funny, and those embers were actually starting to land on me when the photo was being taken. Well one day a fire will sweep through here – the preparations are ongoing, let’s put it that way.



  37. Hi Pam, DJ and Al,

    Thanks for the lovely comments. I’d like to say that this evening I went to the local for a pint and a feed, but no that would be a lie and it would also be easy to uncover. We’re in lock down in three states. Yes, day 170+ something or other of my captivity. So no the pub is shut, and I do hope that they can reopen again, I feel for the staff who probably aren’t getting paid.

    Anyway, I digress and you may have noticed that digressions are a policy here at this website! In fact, digressions are a prerequisite. 🙂

    But truth is that I was chatting on the phone this evening and the minutes slipped by into hours and so I’ve just run out of time to reply this evening. Trust me, I have nothing going on tomorrow night, so there’ll be plenty of time to reply then, but until then…



  38. Hello Chris
    I am very happy to hear that that tree has come down.

    You asked whether I was going to change the soil in that ex rhubarb bed. I really don’t know, soil is something that is in really short supply here. A great deal of it had already been changed before I planted those potatoes.

    The weather is still absolutely stunning here, it is supposed to change at the weekend.


  39. @ Al – You had to mention root beer floats! 🙂 . How long has it been? I’m going to the store, tonight, and maybe … just maybe … Did you ever try 7-Up with ‘nilla ice cream? Pretty tasty, but just a shade less tasty than root beer. Lew

  40. Yo, Chris – I generally don’t gasbag on the phone, and, in fact keep it turned off, most of the time. But even so, I seem to have long conversations with my deep cover contact, at the sister Institution, to this one. And, there was a long call to Idaho. So now I’m getting voice mails (that use up minutes), from my Tela-Com, wanting me to have a chat with customer service. They can just charge me more, or write. What a concept!

    I’m selectively chatty. I do not suffer morons, fools, or idiots. Them, I’m short with. And I can go very quiet, to avoid encouraging them. We have a few around here, who just … can’t … shut … up. It’s an almost constant background drone, to my existence.

    “The Stand,” is, a classic. I re-read it, every 3-5 years.

    No snakes or rabbits were harmed in the production of this woodpile. 🙂 . I’m glad the tree came down, on it’s own. More firewood!

    Well, Scott has his concerns, but, is generally doing o.k.. He revealed another reason he went to see his sister. An old friend of her’s (who lives in Texas) was a bit concerned, and got ahold of Scott. His sister had a woman (and her dog) move in. The woman, though employed full time, was living in her car. Given the rents (especially in S. California), that happens, a lot. People who are employed, full time, at minimum wage, who can’t afford housing. So, Scott thought he ought to check out this stranger, who moved in with his sister. Well, he’s still a bit leery, but after checking out the situation “on the ground,” feels a lot better. His sister is getting up there, and has physical problems. She made it clear to the new tenant, that in return for housing, she has to keep the place up to par. And, she does. So, she’s kind of become a care giver. The other concern on Scott’s plate, is his wife. She’s a big lady, and her mobility keeps getting worse and worse. Hip problems, back problems, lots of pain. Won’t see a doctor. Pass the beer nuts. But, otherwise, Scott’s doing pretty well. Get’s a lot of exercise, and like me, generally eats intelligently. Other than minor slips. (Also, like me. 🙂 .

    Spam hits all our cravings, as humans. Salt, fat, and throw a bit of pineapple on it (that’s the Hawaiian thing), and you’ve got sour and sweet. Steak and kidney pie, has always put me off. Not that I’ve every tried any. I’m sure it would fall in that classification of: there’s so many other things I’d rather eat. But canned? That is beyond the pale. Sure, you wouldn’t starve to death. And, it’s not like the Dark Man’s side-kick, stuck in a cell with only rats and roommates to dine on. 🙂 .

    Wild ideas. We can do it, aren’t we clever, but it’s just not cost effective. Yup, an old, old story. Somehow, this relates to an article I saw yesterday …

    Seemed like a good idea. What could go wrong? We have enough problems with viruses that pop up on their own, without poking about in prehistoric virus pools.

    I’ve also been doing a rather selective news screening. About two weeks ago, it occurred to me that if I stopped reading articles about a certain politician, formerly known as “president” (or, his family), that’s one small vote that these people are no longer interesting, and the news can move on. And they can fade away. I know my lack of attention is just a drop in the bucket, but I’d guess I’m not the Lone Ranger, in this endeavor.

    My friend Amanda has a snake, and keeps a few frozen mice in her freezer, just in case it gets peckish. 🙂 .

    I add a bit of olive oil, when I make my oatmeal or rice. And, on the rare occasions I fry something, that’s what I use.

    I see the peas I planted for the Garden Goddess, are producing a bit of a crop. Bounced back from the heat wave. I’ll put it out on the grape vine, that they’re about ready to pick. I wonder if she will, or if they’ll go to waste?

    I tried that Taxi tomato, last night. Plain and ungarnished, just to get the full flavor. They’re tasty … rather sweet. The funny thing is, I didn’t see a single seed in it. it might have been some kind of a one off. Though ripe, it was quit a bit smaller, than they’re supposed to be. And, pictures on the web, clearly show seeds. Lew

  41. Al@Lew
    Thanks Lew My wife is doing well, For us oldies it’s pretty much downhill😟😃

  42. Good evening

    Our captivity here, although no longer prison lock-down , is milder, but I fear the intention of a full closing of the jaws in the autumn has been all too clearly signalled. Did someone mention Totalitarianism?

    Wise to de-tox as much as possible from anger of others, and one’s own, and the often mendacious media.

    I find poetry can help, and particularly like this from the more or less forgotten Vita Sackville-West:

    ‘The power to be alone with earth and sky,

    To go about a task in quietude;

    Aware at once of Nature’s changing mood,

    And of the movement of an insect on a stone.’

    Off to saw up some wood now, for use in some two years or so – being an optimist!

    All the best, to all,


  43. Al@Lew
    I’ve enjoyed ice cream floats most of my life. Seven up kicked up with the juice of half a lime poured over the ice cream is good. But my favorite is A&W Sugar Free Root Beer made with hard froze vanilla ice cream. I make em in A tall 16oz plastic cup. start with three scoops piled in then pour root beer until foam gets near the top then plunge in a large bore straw and enjoy. Drink , stir , add ,root beer as required until the 12oz can is gone. Beware Brain Freeze! May be habit forming! Root beer of your choice,

  44. Hi Lewis,

    This is the first mention of a deep cover contact at your sister institution. I sense a story there, but as they wisely say, loose lips sink ships, and more balefully, dead men tell no tales (the reference to men is actually a reference to mankind in general and history suggests that this response in particular is very gender neutral). I hear you about keeping the blasted infernal machine switched off, but the phone I settled on has a five day battery life, so I just chuck the thing in a corner and occasionally check it from time to time. Of course, gasbagging does involve a lot of fun chit chat, and so allowances for this must be made, but calls from robots are enough to annoy me greatly, and so the device gets chucked to one side for the nuisance factor that it is.

    We’re in lockdown, so the lovely caller in amongst all of the fun conversation, was possibly also providing me with a much needed mental health check in. The call was very appreciated and enjoyed.

    Every big business appears to have become so insecure lately that they seek feedback. My take on this is that I never ask for feedback from clients – if they continue to pay their bills, what more feedback does one need? That is the main problem with seeking a monopoly market position in that their inevitable success can usually be their downfall.

    Now in a sort of related side story, the editor and I met up this morning with some young dudes in an existing business who want to leverage the editors knowledge on one of her hobbies. The editor has been quietly plugging away at her hobby for many years and word gets around, and so yeah, the young dudes want to go commercial. Lewis, I can’t tell you what a pleasure it was to hang out with some younger folks who smell opportunity, have a proven track record, can do things on the cheap and are just waiting for their day in the sun. When I was at the big end of town one response was to buy out competition and then shut that biz down, or keep the competition on a short leash. That’s what I call fear because if the competition was no good, then there’d be nothing to worry about. But when the young dudes have little to lose, and massive energy and can-learn attitudes, it was like finally meeting our people. More on this story as it unfolds… And that is about as much as I can tell you right now. 😉 It’s exciting!

    I dunno, I sort of don’t try and alienate folks, but if they are morons, fools, or idiots, I just kind of keep things to an absolute minimum. That works for me, and saves me a lot of social conflict. So your strategy of quietude is kind of along those lines.

    I’m really enjoying The Stand, and the editor assures me that the conclusion wraps up in about three pages or less. This morning, the Dayna versus Walking Dude scene played out and it turns out the Walking Dude is not as all seeing and all knowing as once thought. I re-read The World Made by Hand series every couple of years just because I really enjoy the fictional world imagined by the author. The author hints at the overall lack of a sense of purpose in current society by providing a contrast.

    Yeah, I’m glad no editors, authors or fluffies were harmed in the dangerous tree fall natural process. Trees are nice and all, but best not to have them within dropping distance of a house. Gravity is unrelenting.

    It is interesting that you mention the arrangement between Scott’s sister and her carer. It’s not a bad option, and kudos for Scott for getting down there and checking things out on the ground – it sends a message. Incidentally in the local general store I saw exactly that arrangement being offered in this area. They have a community notice board and I often peruse it. I suspect that it will become more common in the future, but don’t really know for sure. Out of curiosity as the blogs resident well read historian, how does this arrangement stack up from an historical perspective? Like, was it ever a thing before now?

    The addition of the pineapple to spam is an innovation, and given some of the super cheap processed meats I’ve seen used on pizza’s, it still goes on today that’s for sure. Have we ever spoken of the Aussie pizza – which has egg on it, among other local adaptions?

    Here I have to confess that I don’t actually enjoy the taste of kidney, it was just as a kid there weren’t that many fooding options and so one ate everything put in front of them. I even remember with the lamb chops, that I’d suck out the marrow, chew the fatty tail and chew hard upon any gristle. There wasn’t much left of the lamb chop after that. 🙂

    Thanks for the memory of the hapless character Lloyd and his time of incarceration without food with only the rat and the next door room mate to dine upon for sustenance. Under those conditions I probably would also have signed onto the Dark Man’s program. Starvation would do strange things to a persons mind. I read a first hand account of Pol Pots craziness from the point of view of a young educated person sent to work in a village growing rice. Yeah, not good.

    Yay for those researchers. Exactly, what could possibly go wrong? The problem with science as I can see it is that many of the folks working in that endeavour have to re-apply for their jobs every couple of years via the grant system – and that would make for an unstable domestic economy for the people caught up in it. There is an old saying about whomever controls the debt, controls the asset – and it is true here as well.

    You’ve mentioned that Prez affliction before, and he’s just some dude, you know. 🙂 I never got caught up in the whole affair and it means little to me, but of course I live on a different continent! Time heals all wounds as they say.

    Hope Amanda’s snake is not hideously deadly like the ones down here – there is little margin for error with them, and one day I could be happily typing away to you, and the next I could be set for the cremation fires. So I can’t say that the species and I are friends.

    Well done with your choice of olive oil. Hey, does that stuff ever turn up in the magic food boxes? You never know. I wouldn’t have thought that olive oil is much used in your country, but dunno why I think that is the case. The trees would do really well in the south west of your country. They grow well here.

    How is the Garden Goddess going these days? You’d hope the garden fresh peas don’t go to waste.

    Ooo! Tes not natural, but some hybrid varieties are bred for low (or no) seed count. Regardless it sounds pretty good to be seeing some tomatoes at this time of year (for you). They should get better over the next month as the plants harvest more sunlight and produce more sugars and protein in the fruit. Yum!



  45. Hi Pam,

    Thanks and yeah it is funny how that in life you can sometimes stumble across chance mentors and others who set a good example. Dunno about you, but I’ve been lucky to have come across a few such folks over the years. Have you also had that experience?

    The work ethic is probably more due to me learning at a very young age to work or miss out so it was a bit ingrained really. The mentors incidentally taught boundaries, ethics, morals and how to work more effectively and thus channel energies appropriately and effectively. Whoa, that was a mouthful of a sentence. 🙂

    How’s everyone getting along at your place?

    Good stuff, and the five week wait is something I’ve seen down here occasionally. It is a bit like a test to see whether you’re serious or not, but you’re right those words and advice sound pretty good to me. I often wonder who takes an holistic approach to health matters, and ultimately it has to be us ourselves (or for immediate family members as in your case).

    Ain’t nothing wrong with an ugly couch, and as an early adult, such items of furniture were more valued than they are today – and that is not a good outcome.



  46. Hi DJ,

    That’s a good point about everyone thinking that they have the worst road in the county. Dunno about you, but such talk sounds like a guilt trip to me, but little do they realise that when you’re on the other side of that call, you have the big picture and can see what things really look like.

    Ah, yes of course, after the heat waves comes the stupor when bad suggestions float to the surface of ones mind. 🙂 Time will cure this, but you already know that. Anyway, we can’t be good all of the time, and eventually normal programming resumes, whatever that is. (sorry had to get in another Hitchhikers Guide reference).

    Your summer weather sounds almost like a perfect summers day to me. Warm, but not too hot and some rain. Beware of Triffids though, they thrive in such conditions. It was 2’C this morning outside and 16’C inside, and I had to get up in the dark. Not happy about that, but one must bend to realities. Had to take the car in to get the remote door lock boppers fixed under warranty. So get this, I’d replaced the battery in the remote key and despite that neither that key nor the spare key worked. They told me that the batteries were flat, but it sounds almost improbable that all three batteries were flat all at the same time (original, replacement and spare) and the batteries didn’t come from the same source and checked out OK on the volt meter. I reckon either the wire or a fuse in the receiver unit was damaged and they charged me for the batteries at a premium which they couldn’t do under warranty. It was just so odd, but moving on nothing to see there!

    Exactly! People aren’t taught to speak dog, and so they act as if they are the lesser partner in the relationship. Dogs spend an inordinate amount of time testing and confirming their place in the pecking order, only humans believe that this is an inherent right. They’re wrong to do so, but all the same it is a widely held belief.

    Lucky you with the mask. For some odd reason wearing a mask (in a social setting – not a work setting as protective equipment), somehow restricts my peripheral vision and leaves me feeling mildly disorientated. It takes a lot of concentrated effort to work past those problems. Yes, the times are strange indeed. Requiring people to wear them outdoors in the fresh air with no one else around seems somehow cruel to me.

    Glad to hear that you know where the towels are because then you wont have to ask your fine lady who may caustically reply: Did you take a DJ look for the towels (as distinct from your ladies)? I hear such talk from the editor and it is always fun to find something that she herself has lost (which happened yesterday). One must celebrate the small wins for the race is long and the wins are few. 🙂

    That is so true, and what my mate showed me in no uncertain terms was that in real life situations, chaos can take place, despite the rules and you have to adjust your toolkit of responses for that possibility. Always was it thus!

    Thanks very much for the introduction, and there is much to learn there despite the departure of the master.

    Ah, so are you suggesting that your garden is now in heatwave and drought survival mode?



  47. Hi Al,

    The initial photographs from that firewoodresource interweb site are very familiar to me! 🙂 Yes, the BTU’s are rather high and for density, you don’t get much better that 720 kg/m3 (and higher). The discussion thread sounded about right to me with the 2 years of seasoning, but even after that I’ve never had trouble splitting the rounds. Mind you, we might use heavier duty log splitters down here (and I have four actually: 1 x manual; 2 x electric; and 1 x petrol). You may think that is a lot, but it’s an important job.

    Now that you’ve mentioned it, what’s your opinion as to the most heat resilient steel on the market (stuff that is commercially available)? The inside of the combustion chamber is looking pretty good as is the door to the fire box, but there are a couple of pins holding the baffle plate at the top of the combustion chamber and they are showing signs of wear and tear. The firewood I use here may be too hot to handle? I’m thinking about ways to repair this situation and wondered if you had any thoughts or suggestions?

    Hey, I thought about a steam engine many years ago, and they are still made, but they’re super expensive. I’m sure that they weren’t always expensive machines and people often made their own, but in these technically impoverished times things are now different.

    Hehe! The two Kelpie girls have very thick short dense hair, and it is Ollie who was bred to a much warmer climate and has rather thing hair, who feels the cold the most. The love the new old couch! I can’t get over the price either, and it wasn’t uncommon.

    Yay for a reduced heatwave for you and your lady. Mate, you two have been doing it super tough of late. What a lovely way to spend the cooler evening hours. Ain’t not much better than a good book. 🙂

    I see that your mention of a giant root beer / ice cream floater has garnered a reaction from Lewis! 🙂 Hope that it was nice – candidly it sounds nice to me.



  48. Hi Inge,

    Yeah, I too am glad that the wind finally shook the remainder of the dangerous tree enough that gravity reclaimed it. It was a relief I can tell you as we’ve had to avoid the area, and you could hear the groaning cellulose from quite a distance away. I managed to get a before and after photo, so I’ll put them on Monday’s blog. Felling the now seriously broken remaining trunk will be a job for the tree dudes, but given the sheer volume of work in the state, I might not see them for months. I’m cool with that. All in good time.

    Yikes! As far as I understand things, soil is generally not sold down here either, what products are sold are blends of this and that, and you may have noticed my recent interest in getting diverse soil minerals back into the soils and plants here. But actual proper top soil is as rare as hen’s teeth and I’ve never encountered it for sale, although the editor recounted a story of that happening when she was a kid. Certainly when we arrived here, whatever top soil was once here had either washed down hill, or as local legend suggested: was sold off to folks in Melbourne (or elsewhere). I’ve heard in your country that you are also facing cement shortages, and that is I’m guessing part of that particular story as well.

    Glad to hear that you are enjoying the nice weather, and your garden would be responding gloriously to the sunshine and heat. 🙂 But yes, the seasons they do turn, and seem to do so quicker with each passing year! 🙂

    The weather here by way of contrast is all rather gloomy, and tomorrow looks to be like that, but with rain.



  49. Hi Xabier,

    And a good evening to you too! 🙂

    I too fear that there has been a swing in the pendulum over to the more authoritarian outcomes. I’m watching your part of the world closely, as are many people down here.

    Dunno about your views in the matter, but some forward thinking folks have suggested that we move to a civilisation entirely based on renewable energy sources. It seems like a worthy goal, and I can understand the reasons behind the desire for such an outcome. Yet my experience with the technology suggests that every decade or two, the vast majority of such a system has to be replaced – at an exorbitant use of resources and finite energy. A bit of a minor problem that, but the whole health story which dare not be named seems like a similar problem. How does vaccination keep ahead of the variants, and can we even afford such an extraordinary and regular undertaking? My gut feeling suggests that we can’t, but maybe I’m being a Debbie downer (as they say in the US). And that however is the bind that the policy makers have caught themselves in.

    Thanks, and the anger and probably it was more frustration being vented this week, has kind of worn me down a bit. I took it easier today, and feel much better for having done so. How are you going up there on that front?

    Thanks for the lovely poem, and it mirrors my thoughts almost to the letter! Ah, to spend time in nature is a wonderful thing. I tell you that it is very quiet up here what with the lockdown. Even distant engine noise has been muffled to levels not heard since the last lockdown. There is a bit of traffic with interested people checking out the property for sale next door, but that is about it.

    Vita Sackville-West is one that is not so easily forgotten, for even down here I have heard claims as to the grandeur of the Sissinghurst Castle Garden. 🙂 To me (from images) it appears to be a garden that has grown into its skin – it really is stunning.



  50. @ Al – I was agonizing at the store last night, between A&W root beer, or Dad’s Old Fashioned. Finally went with the Dad’s. But, I’ve put off floats, til tonight.

    Ah, the indignities of aging. When I mention some new physical weirdness, to my neighbor Elinor, who’s 94, she always says, “Just you wait.” 🙂 . I’m fast closing on 71. Mick Jaeger and I, share a birthday. But, as I like to remind everyone, he’s older. Lew

  51. Chris,

    Nice Hitchhiker’s Guide reference. Such things are always welcome.

    Triffids are not a problem this year. The intense heat seems to have burnt out or chased away the local varieties. I’m sure they’ll be back, but maybe not for awhile. Allegedly another round of intense heat is due to hit us by Sunday which will hopefully keep the triffids at bay.

    16C indoors? That’s about the temperature I like. I sleep a lot better when it’s cool. This 21C we’ve kept the house at at night is a bit warmer than I like, but trying to cool the house lower than that might cause problems with the heat pump/AC.

    Those car door bopper things? Finicky. They can be very finicky. As is my automatic garage door opener bopper thingy. I had to change its battery and it has taken many weeks for it to “settle” to the point where it works without multiple attempts. These things are all great when they work, but only when they work.

    Yeah, most people don’t understand dogs. Even though he fed them sometimes when we were home, and took care of them when we were on trips, a friend was always assumed to be below Thordog on the pecking order, at least by Thordog and Cheyenne. Friend would grump and complain when Thordog let him know the pecking order, but friend would never do what was necessary. The Princess and I just laughed whenever Thordog exerted control. I could grab Thordog’s chew toy and he would wag his tail and beam at me. Friend would get near it, and Thordog would but a death grip on his arm with his massive jaws.

    Masks and peripheral vision? I get it. I wear glasses, so there’s always frames in the peripheral vision. The mask adds another layer of substance there. Some masks that I’ve worn in the past 16 months have somewhat obstructed my peripheral vision. I don’t wear those particular ones any longer, but some of those are perfect for the Princess. Different masks work better on different facial shapes.

    Oh yes, I always do a DJ search for the towels in the cars. But the Princess keeps them pretty well stocked and handy. I’ve not caught her on missing car towels. Yet. Maybe someday. Although she’d likely pull one out from under the seat just to mess with me. Maybe something about having her own personalized Infinite Improbability Drive.

    The longer I’m alive, the more I think that there is much more randomness than we want to accept. And once the random appears, one best remain calm, then rethink, redeploy one’s resources, reorganize, without being able to take a timeout to do any of that. Just the way things work, sometimes.

    Yes, I’m glad the departed master’s information was kept where the public can learn from it. I’ve certainly learned a fair bit from the videos and her articles.

    That’s a good summary: the garden is in heatwave and drought survival modes. Well put and quite accurate.


  52. Yo, Chris – Oh, yeah. My deep cover operative. 🙂 . I found out quit awhile ago, that one of the volunteers at the Club, lived in our sister Institution. Cranky old broad. Love her. 🙂 . She’s not volunteering, now, but when she did, I’d stop by and gas with her. Now I gas on the phone with her. Every Saturday night at 7:30. As far as what goes on around here, we can kick around rumor, vs fact, and sometimes figure out what’s really going on. Since the vipers nest is so parsimonious with information.

    Big business seeking feedback is all part of the “everybody rating everything” culture we’ve developed. I’m constantly getting e-mails from my insurance company, to rate my local agent. I suppose they want to make sure she’s pushing as much product, as possible. I see the Land of Stuff is developing some kind of a social rating system. Don’t have high enough numbers, and no goodies, for you. We’re all kind of moving toward that. Potential employers often check employees social media. There was an idea floated from the government, about doing away with the three big credit rating companies. Well, that idea sank like a stone. Even though there’s been some data breaches. And, the government did finally put in place some laws, to make correcting mistakes, easier. Oh, well. I suppose it provides a lot of employment, for a lot of people.

    Have the young entrepreneurs taken into account their options for health insurance? 🙂 . Well, it all sounds exciting, and I’m sure more will be revealed, in time. I got a book recently, that I thought I could recommend to the Editor. By one of the people in the V & A Museum, that handles costuming. But it was mostly about her sad little life and upbringing. I didn’t even finish it. Tantalizing little bits about the collection, but no real meat.

    In Ye Olde Days, elder care was, of course, family. If no family was available, there were religious institutions (which was the concept of this place … to start out.) Lodges. Burial societies. Mutual aid societies. Back to Roman times. But, we’ve lost a lot of that. See: the book “Bowling Alone.” So, now it’s up to hired caregivers, of one sort or another. We have two agencies, in the area, that provide caregivers. Not sure where the funding comes from, but it’s free to the participants. Elinor’s mainstay, is Regina. They have their ups and downs, but generally bump along.

    Do tell, about Aussie pizza. Are the eggs fried and chopped up? Whole fried and arranged in artistic patterns? There’s a lot of latitude in pizza, and even seemingly odd combinations, can be very good. One of the best pizzas I’ve ever had was chicken chunks, feta cheese, sun dried tomatoes and pickled artichoke hearts. Scott and I kept it pretty pedestrian. He had pepperoni and olives, I had Canadian bacon and pineapple.

    Luckily, my folks cultural background didn’t include kidney dishes. But there was the odious liver and onions. It didn’t taste bad, but I didn’t care for the texture of the liver.

    There are so many researchers and scientist, thick on the ground, that they can be bought to produce any outcome big business requires. See: Big Food. I just read an article yesterday, in the Atlantic, by some Russian professor at one of our universities. He’s developed this statistical model of history. It was a reprint, and, I think I linked it to you, before. One component of his theory, was that too many elites are chasing too few elite jobs. And then, things get weird. I think Mr. Greer has touched on the same thing, in different words.

    Amanda’s snake won’t poison you, but might squeeze you, to death. 🙂 .

    Looking at the oil aisle, at the supermarket, there’s almost as much olive oil, as other kinds of oil. Quality varies. If I get out my loop, and figure out the codes, most of it is blends of oil from far flung places. Mostly around the Med. But, California does have an olive oil industry. And, they have some standards. Hard to find at a decent price. I was just looking into preserving dried tomatoes, in olive oil, last night. But if you’re going to dry them, in the first place (which I do), why do the whole olive oil, routine. Other than taste variety?

    As far as the food boxes go, never seen any olive oil. Occasionally, some kind of “vegetable” oil. But, haven’t seen that, in months. There’s a lot of things in the food boxes, that I haven’t seen in months.

    There was another big internet outage, yesterday. Only lasted about an hour. Affected a lot of big businesses, banks and airlines. “…software configuration update triggered a bug on the DNS system…” Well. That clears everything up. I finished reading “Version Zero.” I quit liked it. Big tech / data takes a big hit. In a rather grisly manner. Also, a lot of insight into the wired in generation. Not something I’d aspire to. Lew

  53. Chris:

    I have, of course, learned many things from many people, but I can’t think of a single person who actually acted as a mentor to me. Perhaps that is why I had such a hard time learning to manage in the “real world” once I got out of highschool. I don’t think I’d ever really been in it.


  54. Hi Pam,

    Hmm, your words are true for me as well and perhaps I’ve over sold the concept which was not my intention. To say the folks took me under their wing and mentored me is perhaps a half truth, it’s more like I came within their sphere of influence and then they pointed out to me directions not previously considered and then helped me along the uncharted path. Hope that clarifies the reality? And how does that stack up to your experience?

    You and I are swimming in deep philosophical waters here and possibly brains far smarter than mine or yours have to wield have pondered the question which you raised. Perhaps more pragmatic folks have instead asked the question: What does this here thang look like?



  55. Hi DJ,

    A person can but only do their best to bring into the conversation a scene from the mind of Douglas Adams! 🙂

    Sorry to hear about the lack of Triffids in your part of the world this season. They are extraordinarily useful plants, just keep out of striking distance seems to be good advice. Those plants need a good feeding too, so best not get involved on the business end of that arrangement. It could end badly.

    15’C or 16’C is a four blanket night here, and as long as the blankets are in place – or ready to hand if I wake in the middle of the night, I sleep pretty well. But I sleep best at 18’C for some reason, dunno why that would be. I hear you though, and would be curious as to your experiences, but I’ve visited the tropics around the equator, and I never adjusted to the hot and humid night time temperatures. In the far north of this country I recall having a shower and then immediately commencing perspiring again, and further north and even closer to the equator, the conditions can be more difficult.

    Those radio transmitter bopper things can be a problematic technology, but when they work they’re pretty good. Fortunately both cars also have key locks. Yeah, sometimes ya have to go old school just because it works. This time of year puts technology under stress as this morning we had a flat tyre on one vehicle, and a slow leak on the other. Talk about improbabilities, but there you go. The flat was fixed this morning, but before that, despite removing the wheel nuts, the wheel stuck to the hub. Never seen that happen before and the states road assistance club came to the rescue and the mechanic kicked the tyre in a certain way and the tension was broken and the wheel fell off the hub. You learn something new every day. I’ve been a member of the club for almost three decades, and don’t use their help much, but when you need them, you really need them. I didn’t try that manoeuvre because I was worried the car would fall off the jack.

    Thordog was a discriminating canine, and dogs just know. Ollie is a gentleman and would never dare to bite someone, but he could certainly round them up if they were foolish enough to allow it. The thing is, if you want to be the boss, you have to actually have to be the boss and remain calm and be consistent – however in these days of high emotional states (an encouraged state of mind), that can be too much to ask for most folks.

    Ah, thanks for the explanation about masks and I’ll consider that, but yeah all the same I’m not much of a fan of the things.

    Hehe! Respect to your lady. 🙂 The female of the species just happens to know where things are located, and that reflects poorly upon us males, but all the same we must stoically endure the process of correction and try to do better, but deep down knowing that we’ll fail abysmally. And around and around we go, and where it stops, nobody knows. 🙂

    I agree with your randomness theory, and retort with the line: Happy to be alive. It’s odd that you mention this, but.

    Mate, been there and done that and have endured some truly repulsive droughts and hideous heat waves. I don’t know much, but I can say for sure that the climate exhibits considerable variability, the best we can hope for is to endure the extreme weather whilst remaining unscathed.



  56. Hi Lewis,

    Ah, a club deep connection – makes sense. Thanks for the laughs at your most excellent description of the fine and upstanding lady in your sister institution. 🙂 Cranky indeed! Some of us are like fine bottles of wine in that we get better as we age, and then there are others who turn to vinegar. But clearly the lady in question is refining her technique, and you and her swap oodles of rumour as grist for the mill. And mills can produce rather refined flour.

    Hey, on a serious note, watch out for vipers nests. I mean if Conan the Barbarian had trouble with the elder God Set, then how are you and I meant to do better? Someone who semi regularly comments here recently mention that allowing the dogs inside the house and not taking our shoes off before entering the house – in some cultures – marks the editor and I (as well as the fluffies) as barbarians. Unsurprisingly, there are no comments from that part of the world. Ook, or more properly: Ugg! Mate, I’d be super happy to be compared to the fictional character Conan! 🙂 Robert E Howard was a prolific author, and the short stories were a fun romp through an ancient and fictional setting.

    The land of stuff’s social rating system seems bonkers to me. I have been on the wrong end of bureaucratic bungles and I can tell you that all it takes is one missed key stroke, or exposure to a bureaucrat having a bad day, or, and I’ve experienced this one: A robot making a bad call. This is Ed-209, you have thirty seconds to comply… What greater warning do we need? The robot error took about a days work spread out over two months to correct. What a Kafkaesque nightmare to fall into.

    Well as far as I can guess, the vaccination matter will sort people into persons and non-persons. It won’t take long to get there I’m guessing as we’re well on our way. The thing is there is little in the way of supply down here. Eric Clapton says he won’t play at venues.

    The implication I took from the aftermath to the 2008 response in your country was that some folks are a protected species. An alternative perspective is that maybe there are no other tricks hidden up their sleeves. Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my sleeve…

    Well, it is not lost on me that when big things fail, what’s left are the little things. Has it not always been thus? As far as I understand the situation, the young are at little risk, but then a person can always get unlucky. The editor enjoys the subject matter but would probably not want to get bogged down in the sad little life and upbringing part of the story – unless of course the author bounced off that time and rose above the past? Always a difficult act.

    I’d imagine that things have become worse since the book Bowling Alone was penned? Interestingly, I suspect that the political process has been captured by a class of people who you could probably describe as career politicians. The lack of diversity in terms of background would harm that particular setting. It wasn’t always that way, and has only become that way in recent years. But the truth of the matter is that that particular arena is probably a really unpleasant place. Anyway, I don’t believe that many answers can be found in that environment.

    But yeah, we’ve lost a lot of that down here too. Back in the late 1990’s I used to live around the corner from an Oddfellows Hall (which had been converted to a house) and an RAOB Hall (which I’d never seen put into use but I could observe through the windows had a very large portrait of the Queen – thus the royal charter I’m guessing).

    Eggs fried and chopped up? Me thinks not. Not sure how that innovation would go down under – there might be riots or something, especially if the suggestion was made in Sydney (they love a good riot in that city). Others can explain the phenomena better than I, but it is what the pizza’s look like: How to make the perfect pizza – Egg and Bacon Aussie Pizza . It’s a big claim, and big claims need testing. Your mission should you choose to accept it is…

    Actually the pizza you mentioned is that dissimilar from the capricciosa pizza the local pub produces – they even use the preserved artichoke hearts you mentioned. Yum! You did really well scoring that pizza. Haha! Bacon and pineapple – we were speaking of spam and pineapple combinations the other day. I like the Hawaiian pizza varieties too, although the editor disagrees about the use of pineapple on a pizza.

    Same, same but different. I don’t much care for liver either, but some folks swear by it. I assume that such meats end up in pet food these days? When I was a kid a wider variety of meats were consumed, and I can still recall the smell of tripe cooking at my grandmothers house. She never consumed the stuff, but my granddad (the other one whom I had little to do with) consumed the stuff. I can’t recall him ever getting out of his recliner chair, it was like the thing was an extension of his body. And he’d sit in the chair all day long watching television from sun up to sun down. As an existence, it kind of scared me.

    Too few elite jobs. Makes you wonder whether the researcher understood that this outcome could apply equally to himself? Years ago my mate who died last year used to work for a guy who said that he liked his well paid employees dependent.

    Ah ha! A python. Yes, up north such reptiles hunt domestic animals and can often move into all sorts of domestic arrangements. Nobody wants to be a Florida man for example – In breaking news a Florida man was killed and then consumed by his own pet python. 🙂 Respect to Amanda, the outcomes down here are so bonkers harsh that I fear the reptiles.

    You’re right about preserving dehydrated tomatoes in the olive oil. We do that for taste, and also the olive oil gets used in cooking and the taste of the tomatoes gets infused into the olive oil. If the fruit is dehydrated enough then you don’t need the olive oil. I’m sure there are good standards in your country as well as here, but for other countries I’ve heard rumours that some of the growers down here seem to think that some older areas of the planet couldn’t physically produce the quantity of extra-virgin olive oil that they claim they do.

    Ook. That’s not good, and it’s the little changes which signify bigger changes going on in the background. Once used to work for a big corporate and they ran a well stocked staff kitchen. As a joke I mentioned to some of the other accountants that you’ll know there are problems when they take the cream filled biscuits away – and sure enough the joke eventually became reality and the cream filled biscuits were not seen again. Except that it wasn’t funny.

    Well that’s interesting. Your country and the land of stuff are having a bit of biffo over interweb activities. Australia joins international community in blaming. Is asking another country to ‘act responsibly’ the same thing as ‘don’t do this thing again’? Maybe it is just me, but the concepts seem very different.

    Hey, me neither. I’d read enough cyber punk sci-fi for one lifetime.

    Onto more important news: Where will the bones of Mungo Man and other ancestors go and who will decide?



  57. Hi everyone,

    Just in case you’ve all missed it, the blogs resident scientist and occasional commenter Claire, has posted a link to a sustainable home tour of her own garden. It is a really beautiful garden and it can be seen in a short video of only a few minutes duration here: The Intelligent Gardener




  58. Yo, Chris – I’m rapidly turning to vinegar. More on that, later.

    I’m sure my social rating is very low. As I’ve drawn a line in the sand, and choose not to participate in a lot of the tech nonsense. And frequently criticize large chunks of it. 🙂 .

    Re: Clapton. I saw a headline that Sean Penn has walked off a film project, as, he refuses to participate unless the whole crew is vaccinated. The social and job pressure is pretty tremendous, for some people. There’s some loose talk around, about mandatory vaccinations. “You hold ’em down, and I’ll give ’em the jab.” This is not going to end well.

    There’s a school of thought, that there is something deeply wrong … deeply flawed about anyone who wants to be a politician. On the other hand, they get platinum free health care. For life.

    So, ok, it’s a bacon and egg pizza. With eggs artfully arranged on the top. Works for me. I’d say the Editor is wrong about pineapple on pizza, but then, she DOES like pizza for breakfast. 🙂 . People get so invested, in the darndest things.

    The professor who is working out the theory of history, is a pragmatic Russian. He knows he’s one of the elite. And, pointed out to the reporter, that so was he. 🙂 .

    Speaking of snakes …,269558

    This is where we used to go fishing, when I was a wee small lad.

    As long as the garbage is picked up, and the postie keeps coming by, I figure we’re doing ok.

    But, back to vinegar. I am surrounded by morons and idiots. The blueberries are looking very sad. Lack of water. I was going to mention it to The Warden. When I came back from the library, yesterday, I noticed a fellow working on the garden sprinkler system. Turns out, the control panel is shot, firing randomly, or not at all. It’s replaced. According to the Warden, who I saw moments later. But, I guess there’s some serious problems, in one corner of the property.

    So … when I went out to water, last night, there was no water to the primary spigot, that I use. Of course, all this carp always happens late on a Friday. So, I’m not sure if they just forgot to reestablish water to that spigot, or if the job isn’t finished yet, and it still needs to be off. So, there was a lot of juggling of hoses, to get everything watered. But that’s not the corker.

    After watering, I went into the dumpster room, to retrieve a garden tool. The dumpster is under a chute, from the second and third floors. Someone had dropped three full gallon plastic milk jugs, down the shut. They hit the dumpster, and burst. The dumpster leaks. The dumpster room floor was awash in milk. I hosed it out, as best I could. It’s just one darned aggravation, after another.

    As my blood pressure is up, and my nose is bleeding, I’ll move on to a completely different topic. Of course, we all here about Spartacus and his slave revolt. Wonderful what Hollywood can do for your PR. But, Archaeology Land, on-line is a bit of an echo chamber. And there’s been a spate of stories, recently about Eunus (or, Eunous).

    Didn’t end well for him, either. Lew

  59. Hi Chris
    You have the log splitter category well covered. Your 230 volt powered splitters are likely of higher power than our 115volt powered ones. Your latest petrol model can operate any where you can tow to on your property safely. Very portable. Most of my wood heater fuel is obtained from apple orchard removal operations. I like limb pieces between 1 and 6 inches in diameter. We get about 2 years out of each 128 cubic foot cords of wood. My wood heater is a cast iron model from 1986. Usually fired only when temps are close to freezing. The small 1200 sq ft house can quickly shoot through the Cozy and into the too hot heat zone If over fired. We enjoy it .😴😴

    Your problem with your wood heater should be taken up with the manufacturer. Supply them with a good close up view of the support pins. Other customers of like units may have already voiced similar concerns with their units . The company may be able to supply a replacement part that will work in the hot environment in your heater. It’s hard to guess what’s going on with the metal used in the particular part. With fasteners I generally replace with higher strength grade 5 or 8 for bolts. Deterioration due to excessive heat can be hard to determine. The ones that engineered the stove would be my first inquiry.

    Suppose a restored old steam tractor was mechanically driving a bank of DC automotive alternators producing 12 volt electricity at 90 amps of current interconnected to a solar charge controller. The charge controller would handle the alternator just as if it was an array of solar cells. So long as the boiler on the tractor fire box was stoked with fuel the alternator would provide power to the charge controller and into the solar battery and onto the house power inverter. Seems simple.

  60. Hi Al,

    The funny thing about the electric log splitters is that with the generator set I can actually take them anywhere on the property as well – it is just that their inherent design makes the electric devices a touch top heavy – despite the heavy electric motor being on the underside of the main rail. And the wheel axle is not wide enough to provide correct stability (I’ve doubled the width of the axle to correct this, but still it’s a problem). One day if I have nothing else to do I’ll weld up a more robust frame for the machine. So they’re portable to an extent. The electric unit does up to 12 metric tonnes of breaking force, which is plenty of capacity. Did I mention that there is a 20 metric tonne electric unit?

    Ah, 128 cubic feet = 3.6 cubic metres. Right. At a guess I use four times that much firewood in a year – although it is my only source of heating fuel. It was 34’F here this morning at 99% humidity and the wind was really zinging along! Brr!

    I’ve heard good things about cast iron, but the wood heater here gets some serious use. And thanks, that is exactly what I was thinking in relation to the heater. Thought you might have some thoughts on the matter. The heater has a ten year warranty, and the manufacturer has been around for a long while. They’re just in lock down right now…

    I like the idea of the steam engine, but the solar photovoltaic gives me 99% up time, so other sources like steam don’t make any economic sense. And if things were so required, I could just ease off usage of electricity on those 1% of days. Not sure that other people could manage that feat, but if it was really necessary it would be a no brainer.



  61. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, it happens to the best of us. And times are a bit odd right now. I’m cutting plenty of slack with everyone I interact with now because people are genuinely stressed out and mistakes are being made.

    The forecast suggested that it was likely to snow here this morning. It rained, but no snow. This morning when I woke up it was a mere 34’F outside, seriously humid and the wind was blowing. But no snow. Oh well, and it looks like the next week will be warmer and sunnier. I’m already observing the signs of spring, although it is reasonably early for that.

    Social ratings like the land of stuff’s are meant to draw you in to follow a well defined line and then stick to it unquestioningly. I dunno though, I worked hard and studied hard and toed the line, and for some odd reason all that was placed before me was more work and more of the same. It’s kind of like playing a game you can’t win, and in such a circumstance there are a couple of available options such as cheating. But you can just as easily choose not to play too, although not many folks take up that option – mostly because it comes with costs. But then the original path has costs too, and so you just have to navigate as best as possible and try not to wholly turn into vinegar if you know what I mean.

    Is that so? Well, Sean’s getting on in years – like us all. Everyone is different and nobody really knows the future or even just their particular future. It’s like a game of lucky dip and you take your chances, but we all know the eventual outcome. Most years influenza takes out some otherwise young and healthy folks. I’ve had that monster twice and it’s got some kick to it I can tell you.

    Exactly, if it was self evident to everyone, talk of mandatory this and that wouldn’t be necessary. That’s just common sense. Of course you’re always going to get some dissenters and that’s life so I’d ignore them and just look at the perception in the wider community. And the mixed messages received has done nothing to build any sense of consensus down here, so one conclusion I draw from that, is that this is the outcome so desired.

    People can be pretty weird, and that doesn’t exclude the powers that be. Have you ever heard of this: India’s dark history of sterilisation?

    Health care is not so expensive down here, so it is no inducement. But yeah, it would be wise to treat such folks with a level of suspicion. And once that particular career path becomes professionalised, then the people in that job fear that they’ll lose their jobs and have nothing to fall back upon. That hardly creates an environment where people have an ability to tackle difficult situations. In the not to distant past, those people could fall back upon their day jobs – ex-pollies have no other day job. I’m guessing that their day to day fear is being projected out into the community.

    It’s conflicted isn’t it? And just to throw a spanner in the works, I like pineapple on pizza, but dislike brekkie pizza (tes not natural).

    Hope the lost and forlorn pythons have been re-homed. So many fascinating articles, and I noted that there was one proclaiming that the current inflation in your country was only a temporary phenomena. Good luck with that.

    You’re probably right about the postie and garbage. Speaking of which I’m nearing page 1200. It’s getting exciting, and the Walkin’ Dude is cracking up. What can of leader disposes of loyal underlings, thinks he knows it all, and can’t keep his temper in check? An unwise strategy. All he need fear is hubris itself.

    Ook. Not good about the garden irrigation system, but I note that you rapidly resorted to old school methods. Mate, during the growing season I walk the vegie beds most days just keeping an eye on things. It amazes me how quickly things can go off the rails if a system packs it in.

    The milk incident is disgusting and careless. You did well hosing the area out before it began to stink to high heaven in your summer conditions. You can never know the motivation of people doing such acts, but it could also be dementia – some folks get super unpleasant as that kicks in, even when they were formerly once nice and delightful.

    Eunus of Enna and Cleon had clearly had enough and decided to act, but yeah it didn’t end well for him or his followers. One of the problems with directing violence at the established order is that it is well set up to counter the threat. Look how the Roman’s reacted to Eunus. It took them a while to respond effectively, but they got there in the end. The recent protest marches against the lock down over this weekend kind of fall into that category. There are better and more effective options, they’re just unappealing to the masses.

    It wasn’t lost on me all those long years ago when I marched with tens of thousands of others against the ‘war for oil’ that I still kept using oil. Truly, we got what we really wanted.



  62. @ all
    Liver and kidney yum yum. The absolute best is chicken livers wrapped in streaky bacon and cooked under the grill. Turn once.


  63. @ Inge – I too like chicken liver, and turkey liver as well. The processor for the local ranch from which we purchase our chickens and turkeys includes the liver and some of the other organ meats in the package. That’s not the case for whole chicken or whole turkey purchased from grocery stores here. Your recipe sounds delicious!


  64. Yo, Chris – No snow day for you! 🙂 . But, you still may get lucky(?).

    Constantly moving goalposts, mean the game is possibly rigged. Some choose to take their ball and go home.

    We’ve had our own history of sterilization, in this country. Shameful episodes. If one were a believer in karma, as for the reasons for our present troubles …

    Here, politicians move from government to big corporations or Wall Street. And then, back to government. All those connections. Interesting how politicians are usually a lot more wealthy, when they leave office, than when they enter. Funny, that.

    There’s been quit a few articles, recently, that there’s not that much inflation, when you factor out some things. Which seem pretty necessary. Or that inflation is leveling off. Or will decline. Or, won’t. This is pretty typical.

    Well, our veg gardens aren’t watered by the in-ground irrigation system. That’s all got to be done by hand. The system that went wonky, is for the Institutions grounds. But that includes the blueberries, and a couple of fruit trees. Wonder of wonders. I went out last night, armed with duct tape and scissors, to repair a bit of old hose. Just on the off chance, I decided to re-check that primary spigot, I use. Wonder of wonders, it had water! Either the guys came back and finished up the job, or, maybe, when I tried it before, there was air in the line? Anyway. It works. I’ll take the small wins where I find them. We’re heading into another hot spell. Nothing like east of the mountains, but, once it gets over 90F, I generally water twice a day.

    More related to supply lines, than inflation. A view from the furniture market.

    I noticed the young lady was smart enough to mix old with new. Right now, opening a used furniture store, with quality stuff, might not be a bad idea.

    Dementia is in the air, here at the Institution. It’s why I wear a mask 🙂 .

    Eunus, Spartacus … they both had big early wins, until the Romans got their act together and squashed both revolts.

    Yes, I saw there was rioting, in Sydney. Sounds more like something the French, would do. But, push people far enough… By the way, thanks for the air tanker, to help us fight our forest fires. And, I think some of your firefighters, are coming over. Much appreciated. Lew

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