The editor has become the accidental lock down whisperer. She knows somehow in advance that there is to be a looming announcement which has such a massive impact upon our lives. Although how she knows is something of a mystery. Thursday morning, the sun was shining and the weather was sweet. In the late winter sun, the editor and I enjoyed a casual masked breakfast at the local General Store. As far as I could tell, there were no indications of trouble, despite the troubling brewing quietly away in the background.

The news from other states in this continent country was not good. Serious people reported in the media in dour tones that there were so many cases of the health subject which dares not be named over there. But the serious people never mentioned this corner of the continent. The editor suggested that things were otherwise, and that we should drop everything and grab any necessary distant supplies that day. The suggestion was met with initial ambivalence and mild disbelief, but then a small part of me whispered that the editor had been correct before. Good track records are kind of hard to ignore. So we acted on the editors hunch.

That day, unfortunately work couldn’t be ignored and we faced it all with a smile, but underneath it all was trepidation for the lost moments. The editors prediction chafed against the days necessary realities. The work was finally done, and the editor and I headed off on an odyssey of delectable bakery products, apples fresh from the cool store located not far from the nearby orchards, and supplies of honey from a long established bee keeper.

It’s become an unfortunate fact of life that these days we’ve had to manage essential supplies so as to accommodate the numerous and frequent lock downs which the fine citizens of the state of Victoria have to deal with on a regular basis. These days sure are crazy. But at least the larder is replete, and that is a good thing.

Upon returning home later that day, we discovered that the entire state was going to be chucked into a lock down at 8pm that evening. Holy crap! It is worthwhile noting that there are no cases of the health subject which dares not be named in this rural area. The editor called it correctly, and so we dropped everything and headed to the local pub for a pint and feed, a sort of last supper so to speak. We guessed that the local pub would be shut for at least the next few weeks. The announcement was that the lock down was for only seven days, but most people no longer believe such pronouncements and expect a far longer lock down.

As someone who has chosen to work with small to medium businesses, I have no idea how the businesses are meant to survive such ongoing economic carnage. They’re having considerable difficulty operating in such an environment, and this is the sixth lock down now in this state totalling probably 180+ days. It sure is a mystery to me how they’ll all make it through. Heck, I don’t even know how the editor knew we’d be shut down that evening, but she sure did call it.

The question was put to the editor: How did you know we were going to be in lock down before the day had closed? The answer was longer and more complicated than I’d imagined, but of course, the answer involved a story.

The editor’s mother had married a bloke of an Eastern European background. He was a complicated bloke and had grown up in Eastern Europe during World War II, on the losing side. Many years ago, he recounted a story about how the Germans were enthusiastically recruiting young teenagers, just like him, to man the U-Boats. And he laughed about the recruitment drive because it was well known in his town that the U-Boats were sitting ducks to the Allied forces. After the war, his plans to attend a college and gain further education were thwarted because the communists imprisoned him, and later forced him join the red army. Don’t ever ask him about the communists – you were warned.

Eventually being the enterprising and resourceful bloke that he was, he took a dump on his red army papers, left them on the ground and then escaped into West Germany. It was a bold move, which paid off, and once in West Germany he was relatively safe, although he was now a refugee. Eventually as a refugee he resettled in Australia where he scored a job with the public service.

Things have a certain way of happening, people meet, eyes are made, and a dalliance occurs. Out of those interactions, the editor was born to much older parents. My grandfather went through World War II as pilot and he was firm but fair, and equally called anyone and everyone the colloquialism: “D#ckhead”. It was at my grandfathers funeral that I discovered that it was a term of affection for his mates. Who knew?

The editors dad on the other hand, and by way of contrast, was firm and unfair. The editor recounted a story from her childhood. Whenever the family was in the car driving in a rural area, and the father spotted a sheep, he’d demand that the editor describe the sheep as a camel. The editor is nobodies fool, and she knows that a sheep is not a camel, and usually said so. Such a situation can lead to one of two outcomes. One, the sheep is always comfortably described as a camel forever. Two, a distrust in the proclamations of authority figures.

Now whenever someone yells ‘camel’ she does not reply. Instead she considers the camel thing and asks herself: what is this thing? More often than not, it’s a sheep. And that’s how the editor knew of the lock down in advance of the news.

Lock down version 6.0 is a bit of a pain, and to make matters worse, the pump in the coffee machine packed it in. Fortunately an online retailer was found who could supply the part and deliver it by mail. Unfortunately, we don’t have the part yet, and so have resorted to using the tried and true back up plan: The Bialetti stove top coffee maker. It makes a good coffee, but it’s not as good as the coffee produced by the temporarily defunct Gaggia Classic espresso machine. Woe is me.

Unhappiness is a stove top coffee when one is used to a proper espresso

Mustn’t grumble as the English are won’t to say, but the lack of a proper espresso… Whatever, the weather has been reasonably pleasant this week, and enough people are now stuck home and burning stuff off that the sunsets have produced a nice shade of orange from all of the particulate matter in the local atmosphere.

The recent increase in burn off activity has produced some nice sunsets

Even we’ve conducted a good burn off, and the area near to the former old log pile is now looking super neat. Except for those two large rocks!

The area surrounding the former huge old log pile is now looking super neat

As we’ve been cleaning up the area, we’ve been removing most of the large rocks in that area. Most of those large rocks had to be split and that takes a considerable amount of work, skill and effort. Once those rocks were made smaller, we could relocate them and use them on the low gradient ramp project.

Work on the low gradient ramp project continues

Observant readers will note that the crushed rock with lime applied to the path surface, has a somewhat different colour to the original lighter coloured locally quarried crushed rock with lime. The local quarry owner has apparently had to shut the quarry for a few months due to some sort of health issue. I have a hunch the new alternative material has more magnesium in it, which gives it the orange-ish colour. It looks like good stuff.

Regular readers will recall the recent epic wind storm a few months back. The storm knocked a few fruit trees over. This week, I relocated one now horizontal fruit tree (a Medlar), and righted another (a Carob). Both trees required significant pruning, and we’ll see how they survive the process. The vast majority of the fruit trees were fortunately unaffected by the storm.

An eight foot Medlar tree was heavily pruned and relocated

The extraordinarily wet summer was also a challenge for two decade old citrus trees. Both trees were in the process of succumbing to collar rot, and so I made the decision to remove both of them this week. The recent epic wind storm was the final straw for both of the trees.

Two decade old citrus trees had to be removed this week. Ollie looks thoughtful and delightful

And I forgot to mention last week, but the tree dudes visited the farm to do some work. Those guys must have ESP as there was a lot of fallen timber on the farm due to the wind storm, and they also felled the remains of the very dangerous tree which was smashed during the storm.

The tree dudes felled the remains of the very dangerous tree which was smashed in the recent epic wind storm

There’s a lot going on right now, and I also somehow forgot to mention last week that the old tomato enclosure was cleared and is now waiting to have the garden beds fed and the paths mulched.

The old tomato enclosure is now waiting for the garden beds to be fed

There sure is a lot of work around here to be done at this time of year. Even the pobblebonk frogs are hard at work consuming the insects in the garden beds.

A pobblebonk frog enjoys the wet year (whilst trying to avoid being eaten by Plum)

Onto the flowers:

Forget me nots are flowering – and they’re blue!
A light pink form of Alpine Heath
This creeping rose happily rambles through the garden beds
Echiums provide plenty of late winter feed for the honey bees
The first Daffodils have produced flowers

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 9’C (48’F). So far this year there has been 794.2mm (31.3 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 786.4mm (31.0 inches)

46 thoughts on “Max-Carnage”

  1. Yo, Chris – The story of The Editor’s upbringing, is interesting, and all, but why not just admit she’s psychic, and leave it at that? 🙂 . If nothing else, she read the signs. Something in the wind. The slant of light. A discordant bird call. And really, in your part of the world, seeing a camel, though rare, is not unheard of. But, yes, it was a sheep.

    Sad about the coffee, but, the solution is winging it’s way, to you. At least you had a semblance of real coffee. It’s not like you had to resort to instant. Though I imagine you’d rather mix dirt, from the yard, with a little water, rather than drink that stuff. Even I won’t go there, if in coffee extremis. Chris Expression #8. Disgruntled and put upon. 🙂 .

    That is a beautiful sunset picture. Calendar worthy. We’ve got similar, here, this evening. Prof. Mass posted something new, on some really interesting cloud formations. They look like rock formations.

    I think the two large rocks add “interest.” You could plant something around them. To either enhance, or hide. Or you could go all Zen.

    Take a bit of your patch and turn it into a Japanese garden. In your spare time 🙂 .

    That’s sad about the citrus trees. It’s always a wrench, when you have to yank something out, that you put time and energy into. And had hopes for. Ollie Expression #3: Thoughtful. Speaking of the Fluffy Collective, no Plum or Ruby, this week? Were they caught in a plot so nefarious, that their photo privileges were taken away?

    Are you going to plant more tomatoes, in the tomato enclosure? Or, do a bit of rotation?

    Forget Me Nots are always blue. Though they may go through some color changes, before attaining the august state of blue. The rambling rose, is lovely. Daffodils. We won’t see them, for months yet.

    My daily meditation book’s quotation of the day, is one of my favorites. I think I mentioned it, on this day, last year. “I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade. It’s amazing how it cheers one up to shred oranges and scrub the floor.” D. H. Lawrence … via … Lew

  2. Hello Chris
    I particularly enjoyed the photos this week, not sure why.

    I hesitate to comment too much on our insane world but here goes on house prices here. Some people I know, who have sold there home, finally discovered a place to buy. However other offers for the property have been raining in. They went up £10,000 and then someone came in and offered £80,000 over the asking price! Apart from the fact that this sounds insane it also shows just how much wealth is hanging around.

    It poured with rain last night even waking up deaf Son. I now have to walk out via a swamp. I don’t think that raised beds would help under these extreme conditions. Not sure whether this is the wettest Summer that I have known but I don’t think so. Unusual but not unknown.


  3. Hi Lewis,

    Fortunately here there are serious costs involved with the aerial photos and I’d probably try and take out any drones poking their nose around my business here. Those drones are an insurance nightmare for the operators and are something not to be mucked around with lightly. And you might have noticed that the gargle title boundaries didn’t appear to accord with reality, and I’ve had to field a few queries from that stupid image put up onto the interweb. Fortunately, I have an actual surveyors assessment of the title boundaries which I needed to get for the building permit. Gargle caused trouble for me by being careless in that matter, but it interests me that people seem to believe that gargle can do no wrong – except when it is wrong. The cheeky scamps.

    Actually the layers of complexity in the building process are beginning to feel the pressure from the community. Small-home dream can become a nightmare of red tape due to building codes and laws. I did most of the paperwork for the permits for this house to keep those costs down, and the amount of paper is enormous and covers four folders. How could it be so complicated? Fortunately I can do complicated, I’m just not happy about it. You’re probably right about that, it seems a trifle foolish to stifle innovation using red tape. As an interesting example, our friends across the sea on those two large cloudy and mountainous islands legalised the distillation process because banning it was almost impossible and caused massive community outrage. They’re one of the only countries on the planet to have done so, and out of that small relaxation those folks are now giants in terms of innovation in that process, and they have made a worldwide difference – you’d be surprised at the extent of reach of that one small change.

    The river ports will probably make a come back down here too, and any decrease in the amount of energy available per capita will actually reduce the usage of the river waters upstream, allowing for greater flows down stream. There are some questionable practices going on upstream such as cotton and rice farming, which some folks suggest are inappropriate for those areas.

    Respect for your taste in movies, and Animal House is a personal fave of mine. 🙂 Yes, Toga indeed! Hehe! So politically incorrect at almost every scene, but somehow so very right. Wow, I hadn’t known about the frats versus the independents, but it makes sense. It seems a bit tribal, really.

    You have a sensitive nose for the future, and yup the old yellow power wheelbarrow is good for today and for the immediate future, but the part I adjusted was a consumable item that can’t be easily replaced if only because it isn’t available for purchase in the first place. I’m going to have to put some brain cells towards the problem and maybe ask for help from the farm machine repair dudes – they know their stuff.

    Hmm, going to have to add the film to the ‘to-see’ list. The list is long and growing. But getting to the cinema is not so easy these days. However, there has been something of a minor rural revolt, and rural areas (which have no cases of the health subject which dares not be named) are being let out of the lock down at midnight tonight. It was stupid to lock down areas that have no cases. The city of Melbourne is still in lock down.

    Ah, thanks for the underlying forces behind King Arthur, and that makes a lot of sense. Five generations would leave a big impact upon the population and you can almost hear the historical echoes of: It wasn’t like this when Arthur, Merlin and his merry knights strode the land. Hmm. It is funny but industrial civilisation hasn’t been kicking around for that much longer.

    Robert E Howard perhaps knew this to be true as he penned the Conan quote: “Barbarism is the natural state of mankind. Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.”

    Ooo, they were a wily bunch those old clerics, but I can well understand the need to set at least some boundaries around the worst excesses of the nobles. My how things have changed. Interestingly, I noted an odd reference to how the Germanic tribes once respected such a pagan brief interval in the ongoing and never ending skirmishes. Not a bad idea, if you want to get the harvest in.

    I’ve been to Canberra (our nations capital), and it is quite an interesting inland city, but unfortunately I skipped the National Library and instead visited the Botanical Gardens. It’s a personal failing that my grasp on medieval Latin is poor to virtually non existent. What the heck is education these days? I do recall that the last time we were in Canberra (for the funeral of the editors favourite uncle) we had a very tasty meal of gnocchi fungi and they’d somehow slipped in a touch of truffle oil and whilst I’m not usually a fan of the fungal black gold, the meal was memorable. And need I mention the tiramisu and bottle of Chianti? My only regret was heading back home again after the funeral and wake – that was an error as it was a crazy long drive to get home again and we should have stayed over and headed off in the morning. And maybe got another fine meal in again whilst we were there. It’s complicated! 🙂

    Mr Greer’s writing kept me awake for a few hours last evening whilst I pondered the future and the possible courses of action when all branches seem ill.

    Adding salsa as a pizza sauce could be counted as an innovation. Nice one! Are your salsa’s hot and spicy? Hmm, chilli. Having pizza here tonight and I can now smell it cooking away in the electric oven. Yum! There is an ancient school of thought which suggests that zombies and pizza are perhaps a good mix – others may disagree, but they’d be incorrect and that is their problem.

    Half a gallon of blueberries sounds pretty good to me, but yeah your earlier crazy hot weather would have wreaked havoc on those berries. Did you spot the red branches of the blueberries in the photos in this week’s missive? The fires in the western part of your country are being reported here as the second worst in memory. What is your take on that story? Is it hyperbole?

    The editor was amused by your comment. The editor is a rather private person and yesterdays essay was approved in advance, but was thoroughly edited. Much I wanted to say was deleted, but then it ain’t my story and I was happy to tell the parts that I could. The editor suggests that I’m a sharer, whatever that is. But I don’t recall being able to shear sheep? 😉 Apologies for my dodgy word play.

    And yes, I agree, serious people bang on endlessly and say it’s a camel, and I fully know what they look like, but it’s a sheep. 😉

    Some people actually keep camels as livestock down here, so you do actually see camels very occasionally in paddocks. But in the arid centre of the continent, camels are feral animals now. I once had the chance to consume a camel burger, and I reckon it might have tasted like chicken – crocodiles sure did.

    What? Did we just mention the word ‘instant’ on this blog? Oh my gawd, standards have become rather lax these days and it only serves to remind me that someone was attempting to convince me a few months back about the merits of pod coffee. The creator of that machine apparently now has misgivings, and I can honestly say that I have never experienced such stuff. On principle, I’d go without rather than subject myself to such stuffs. You nailed my expression! Disgruntled and put upon, indeed! 🙂 Very amusing.

    The Japanese have some great ideas, and mosses are a thing here. In fact the largest mosses on the planet grow in this locale, bizarrely enough. The gravel though, hmm, the fluffy collective would destroy such neat and orderly gardens. Yeah, it might take them ten minutes, but possibly the damage would be done in less time than that.

    The citrus trees had not quite gone toes up, but those two were close to it, and then the wind came and knocked them off vertical. Not good and I still recall planting the trees and consuming their fruits.

    To put it delicately, Plum is on heat and must be chaperoned. And Ruby just missed out on being in the photos. Ollie is big enough to make up for the exclusions.

    Man, I dunno about the rotation yet as I keep feeding the soils vast quantities of minerals, but elsewhere, rotation has become part and parcel of living here. The main problem I have with rotation in that old tomato enclosure is that Bob’s crazy yellow cherry tomatoes spontaneously turn up every single year there.

    Hehe! I put the blue comment in just for you, and glad that you enjoyed it.

    Thanks for the D H Lawrence quote, and he’s right.



  4. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for writing that, and I’m very much enjoying the book which you recommended. It’s very English and I smile every time the protagonists face a difficult situation reinforced with a cup of tea. The book is beautifully written and full of descriptive and also internal prose.

    I agree, there are more pounds than wealth. And such is the stuff of hyper inflation. There are times where I sort of know where things are heading based on historical guidance, but then I think to myself: Can this really be true? Is this really happening? Then somehow the whole entire shonky edifice continues to roll merrily along, and where it stops, nobody knows.

    Yes, such weather is not unknown down here either, and the wettest year that I can recall, I believe a bit over 55 inches of rain fell and it may have been either 2010 or 2011 (either year was crazy wet). That was an astounding amount of water to observe, and during one five day stretch, ten inches of rain fell. Bonkers.

    Raised beds are worth a try in such damp conditions, and the raised beds here are more than a foot elevated above the soil surface and have good drainage. But even then, capillary action does tend to be a problem, however it is less of a problem than non raised garden beds.

    Surprisingly, when I dug the hole for the Medlar in the paddock, the ground wasn’t as damp as I’d imagined it would be. The top soil in the paddocks are getting slightly deeper every year, and the underlying clay base is beginning to shift to loam. When I first bought the farm, the clay was like concrete and just as hard.

    Sorry to hear about your new swamp.



  5. Yo, Chris – A shallow dive down the rabbit hold, indicates that drone insurance isn’t required here, for the most part. I wondered, when you mentioned it, as, I had never heard any stories about that aspect of drones. It’s strongly recommended, though. Also, I guess it’s quit pricey. Someone asked, why so much. Apparently, they’re so new that the insurance companies can’t get a fix on a scale. So, they price high … just in case.

    Do you have a fence, along that boundary line? If not, might be advisable, before someone buys the property.

    Every aspect of housing, is just nuts. But sometimes, things do change for the better. At one point, rainwater catchment was in question, in this State. Legally, every drop of water that fell out of the sky, belonged to the State. Might still be, but as far as homeowners and gardeners are concerned, no worries. Of course, some guy down in Oregon built some huge holding ponds. I didn’t hear how that all turned out. At one point, composting toilets were forbidden. Gotta be a septic. And you can’t build it, yourself. Add 20 to $25,000, to the cost of your house. There are inroads being made on that front.

    We have a real checkerboard of laws, when it comes to making hooch. Of one kind or another. Federal law says you can’t have any kind of still. But several States allow them. It’s the old State’s Rights argument. It’s the same with mari-hoochie. Against Federal law, but now several States allow it. It’s how our County kept it out, for so long. They’d get all weepy, and moan about Federal law, even though it was legal under State Law. Of course, if the Fed wanted to use The Big Stick, they can always threaten to pull all Federal funding, if a State doesn’t comply. That’s true in a lot of areas, not just drugs and alcohol.

    Given the opportunity, people go tribal. But then there’s “I refuse to join any club, that would have me as a member.” Groucho Marx. 🙂 .

    I’m glad your part of the lockdown, is over. They’ll be celebrating at the pub.

    I think the Church, also got tired of refereeing, endless squabbles. Took up a lot of time and resources.

    Yeah, Mr. Greer’s post gave me a bit of the willies. Then I reminded myself that I have no progeny to worry about, and maybe only have 20 years, or so, left, myself. So any prep I do, is short term stuff.

    The salsa was mild. Came out of one of our food boxes. Not as sweet as the tomato sauce. Which I preferred.

    Not only did the blueberries suffer a bit, from the heat, but there was also the problem of the sprinkling system going wonky.

    People must have their exotic animals. We see a lot of llamas and alpaca, around here. But that at least makes some sense. There was a small buffalo (bison) heard, north of town, for awhile. But then there’s this …

    I’ve had the pod coffee. It’s a cut above the drip machines. But I think that’s more due to the varieties of grind, you can get. But the machines are expensive, and the pods a waste producing nightmare. At least with the drip machines, the paper filter and grounds can go in the garden. Someone donated one of the machines, to the Club. They thought they could charge a bit more, and maybe make an extra bit of jingle. Well, the machine was temperamental, and no one was much interested. Lasted about a month.

    That’s the Zen part. Constantly restoring the nifty patterns, in the gravel.

    Doesn’t he look Zened, out? 🙂 .

    Tomatoes. I was thinking more of diseases, and less of nutrients. I had to rip out one tomato plant, as it got a fungus. Luckily, it didn’t seem to spread to another near by plant. I’ve been getting a handful of cherry tomatoes, almost every night. Pretty soon, with luck, there’s a bumper crop coming on, and I’ll start dehydrating. I might even bottle up some sauce. We’ll see.

    Well, the National Weather Service has revised our forecast. 100F (37.77C), Thursday and Friday. That will probably do in the green beans, and scarlet runner beans. And maybe some other stuff. Lew

    Where do old power wheelbarrows go to die? Is there a power wheelbarrow graveyard, like the elephants? Parts may be had …

  6. Good morning

    A sunny day at last in England! This is better than cocaine, or so I imagine….

    I’m glad you appreciated the sentiment of Vita Sackville-West’s lines of verse.

    At Sissinghurst, her ‘Delos ‘ garden, which was meant to evoke the Mediterranean complete with ‘ruins’, and failed due to the mud of the good old county of Sussex and lack of cash to spend on such a folly, has been re-done, with 600 tonnes of gravel and thousands of perennials.

    Quite an effort! And just in time for this very wet and dark ‘summer’…..

    Good story about Vita: in later life she hit the bottle a bit, partly I suspect to deaden the pain of a crippling bad back and being seen as a back-number as a poet and novelist, although her books made lots until the end.

    She once caught one of the gardeners very drunk:

    ‘Smith! Do you know how drunk you are?!!’

    ‘I do, your ladyship. About as much as you was yesterday’.

    All the best, I am sorry to see Australia descending into Totalitarianism – but it’s going on everywhere as far as I can tell, just differing in degree.

    Once the first shock of realisation is over, and I think the gloves are really coming off now, we can work out how to deal with it.

    I think w know what your grandfather would have called them, an not affectionately. ….

    All the best


  7. Hello Chris
    I have a very high opinion of Meg Rosoff as a writer. As you are enjoying the first book that I mentioned, try ‘What I was’. Perhaps I should try to get hold of a few more of her books.

    The sun arrived today. I sat out to get some vitamin D accompanied by a book and a coffee. It actually became too hot and I have come back in. I was reading an Elizabeth Peters book. Am re-reading them all before giving the books to Oxfam. I take boxes of books to them every week as I try to unload a lifetime of things.


  8. Hi Lewis,

    You guys have all the best insurance coverage! 🙂 Down here, drones are actually covered I believe by aviation insurance policies, and if that isn’t prohibitive I don’t know what is. Businesses using the machines have to do so at their own risk, so you don’t really see them around all that much. I was mildly curious that a few years back basic drones shut down major aireports and I never heard that the wascally offenders ever got their comeuppence.

    No worries about the fence as the idea is on the table for discussion and we’re both sort of in agreement in principle as to the idea. Much depends, and I was onto every response and requirement for the building permit, but most people can’t seem to muster up such a response, and so they’ll wail and gnash their toothies and probably have to hire a consultant to do the hard yards. But nobody will be as incentivised as the owners are to get the permit – the consultants after all have a possible conflict of interest in that they get paid less if they spend less time on the process – so why expedite the matter?

    We don’t have that idea of the rain being owned by the gobarmint, and in fact it was quite a surprise to me when first I learned of it from your country. On the other hand, the epic pond would raise many eyebrows and be investigated as downstream flows would reduce, and water is enough of an issue down here that it gets monitored and recorded and compared to rainfall. We have the same issue with toilet systems, however many suppliers have jumped through the hoops and the worm farm folks were one of those. From memory, the price of the system was half the numbers you mentioned. Composting toilets are cool, but so many people have an ick factor with them, and I barely notice any smell from them whenever I’ve used them.

    Mind you, I’ve also noticed that any poop well buried in the ground is gone within a few weeks. It’s uncanny what those soil critters can achieve when they put their backs into the job of digesting poop.

    I hear you about the power of the states in a federation, oh boy do I hear you about that. Before this current bout of craziness, I was of the opinion that the states were a bit of a non entity and everything happened at federal level, but oh my, has my opinion changed about that. I now understand that there are military personnel on the streets of Sydney. Army to begin patrolling Sydney COVID hotspots to help police enforce lockdown rules . Crazy days, and unfortunately marioochie is illegal down here, so I have to fall back on an old colonial fave to soothe shattered nerves: rum. 🙂

    Groucho has a good point, but I think it also hints at his internal belief structure. Mr grandfather used to dragoon friends and everyone into groups, and I reckon he was onto something.

    Thanks. I was in the big smoke today for work, and things are still a bit crazy there. Interestingly, some parts are quiet, like the sort of affluent area I visited, but then the industrial area where I went to work seemed sort of normal – other than people furtively getting around and trying to avoid eye contact. I didn’t mention to the people there that the bush is now open, albeit with odd restrictions – that sounds a bit dodgy, but I’m referring to rural areas thank you very much! 😉

    Hmm, that makes sense about the Church’s roll in the never ending squabbles.

    Me neither with the progeny, but I’m just trying to work out how to avoid becoming a non-person at some point in the future. Not as easy to do as you’d imagine. It seems like one of the possible outcomes.

    I forgot about your janky watering system. Yeah, that’ll teach you lot for relying on robots (he says nervously). I have to do a walk most days during the growing season just to keep an eye on things. I even do that in the orchards now as the pesky wallabies are always pushing at the boundaries.

    The snake on a suburb (think on a plane) sounds horrendous. Especially as the article suggested that there is no anti venom. Hope they catch the pesky critter.

    That’s true about the different coffee blends, but yeah it is a principle thing for me due to the sheer scale of waste. Hey, someone was talking about food delivery via tech giants and I mentioned my conversation with a fish and chip shop owner (not a client) who candidly mentioned that the margins of the business get handed over. And I want no part of that story.

    Ha! That doesn’t look so zened out to me (!), it looks like work that the fluffies would destroy in seconds just on principle. Some dogs just can’t have nice things. Probably trying to dig up a bone or something. It sure looks nice though. It’s too controlled for my tastes, nature changes and bends and goes all over the shop. The monastery is trying to pretend that it has mastery over nature, when that ain’t necessarily so. Or maybe I’m too slack to undertake such a venture? 🙂

    Your talk of tomato harvests are making me pine for the warmer weather and the promise of the summer harvest. Yum! I look forward to hearing of the tomato dehydrating process.

    That is some hot weather, keep out of the sun. It is fairly consistent weather here over the next week.

    Ah, there is no dump for dead dumper power wheelbarrows, sorry to say. The old stump grinder was taken in by a mechanic who has the spares, time and skills to repair it. This old wheelbarrow is going to be modified, but it’ll cost me heaps for sure. I appreciate the suggestion.

    Simon has written an outstanding essay on our culture (for a dissenting opinion in the link on the left hand side of the screen). It is remarkably insightful.



  9. Hi Inge,

    I agree, Meg Rosoff is an outstanding author and I’m enjoying the book immensely. I must say that the narrative has taken a very dark turn of late (I’m about a bit over half way through) and the contrast to the earlier idyll is a fascinating narrative technique. Also, it’s very cheeky to write a book with no direct dialogue! 🙂

    The author captures the spirit of the protagonists age too, and it reminds me as to just how oblivious and adaptable to circumstance (as I’m guessing you were) that I was to the realities of the Sensei at a similar age. Mind you, I now understand why the warm ups were so astoundingly tough.

    Looking forward to hearing of your reviews of the author’s other books.

    Hope you get some sunshine and warmer weather.



  10. Hi Xabier,

    Yes, it is a good thing the sunshine. The other, maybe not so much, I have no personal experience but have spoken with old friends who have dabbled and my understanding is that it does not improve upon their personalities. Which candidly might have not been all that crash hot in the first place, but they sure knew how to have fun.

    Thank you so much for sharing the poetical sentiment, and um, yeah, inspiration can strike when needed. Recent events down here are more crazy than I’d generally be comfortable with.

    Hehe! The gardens sound like an audacious plan that failed due to environmental realities. Not much of a fan of mud myself, and fortunately it is rarely seen here. To be honest, your description sounds a lot like Bridget Jones falling from the sky into a pig sty in the middle of an English rural setting! 🙂 I do so enjoy Richard Curtis’s quirky films.

    Yes, welcome to the club. Did I mention last growing season that nobody wants to actually experience a year without a summer, but the list does seem to be growing. It is not a good club to be a member of.

    If you want to get a good insight into just how crazy things are down here, well look no further than Simon’s excellent essay (for a dissenting opinion link on the left hand side of the screen). I’d hope that the circumstances are not coming to a land near you, as that would be an unpleasant experience. We hear very little of news from your part of the world nowadays. How are things going compared to the super-crazy taken to 11 on the dial down here?

    He had a way with words that old bloke, and didn’t spare anyone the sharp, but also at the same time friendly, end of his tongue. But here is the weird thing: people liked him for that. It is probably something very deep in our psyches? Alas for those of us who don’t have as much charm. I remember him being very unhappy that the political class turned their back on the manufacturing sector, and he always drove a locally made vehicle, even when he could easily have splashed out on high end imports.



  11. Yo, Chris – A simple fence of short t-bars and a single wire, would do the job. Of course, the wombats might take umbridge. 🙂 . Solar units to electrify them, are fairly cheap. But I don’t know about potential fire danger. Never heard of it being a problem. Ah, there are a few articles on the Net, discussing that.

    I think composting toilets, here, are becoming more acceptable, because the old water buffalos in the bureaucracy are retiring, and the hipper, younger, and dare I say, greener lot are moving into power. Just a theory. They’re having just as much problem establishing households, as everyone else. I’ve idly thought about the poop potential. But, I think I’m taking enough risks, pouring on my self produced nitrogen, in the dead of night 🙂 . I have no problem with that idea. Millennia of night soil men, can’t be wrong.

    In some quarters, the ONLY reason for our Civil War, was State’s Rights. And, it’s still bandied about, whenever the Federal Government comes up with something that goes against the grain of … whoever. Cuts both ways. So, basically, everyone is unhappy, to one degree or another. Tends to be regional. If our Union every fractures, it will be along those lines.

    Seeing military in the streets, always gives one a turn. But, as the article points out, sometimes they provide positive aid. In times of natural disasters, and such. And, here, we have the military, military which are forbidden from getting involved in domestic matters, and the National Guard, which is kind of “military light.” No offense intended. I think State governors can call out the National Guard. But I can’t check that, as, my search function has stopped working. It’s temporary. Happens.

    Wise to keep your lockdown light status, close to your chest. No sense stirring up bush envy. 🙂 .

    Land owners will probably become the last to become non-persons. The gentry, don’t ya know.

    Japanese gardens can be all over the place, and some look rather slapdash. But it’s a studied slapdash.

    My buddy Scott was kind enough to take me to get some blueberries, this morning. I had $40 in coupons, but they can only be used in certain places. There’s a fruit stand, that takes them. But the fruit stands online presence, neither revealed opening hours, or, if the blueberries were in, or not. They were. So, I got two flats of berries. A flat is $28, this year. Less than last year. I ought to get 4 or 5 gallons, out of the lot. Lew

  12. Yo, Chris (again) – Got interrupted. Sounds like River Dave, the hermit, is making out, OK. He’s got at least 20 offers of land to live on, from Alaska to Maine. Something rang a bell. Dave lived on the Merrimack River. Henry David Thoreau, wrote a book called “A Week on the Concord and Merrimack River.” Thoreau also spent some time in jail. For not paying his poll tax. Perhaps even the same jail that River Dave, was in. Interesting historic parallels. Which, as far as I know, not a single reporter picked up on. What are they teaching in schools, these days? 🙂 .

    And, from deeper, deeper time, an Australian story.

    Aren’t you glad these big fellows aren’t still around? 🙂 .

    Read more about the author, Marjorie Rawlings, last night. She published with Scribner’s and her editor was the mythic Max Perkins. He guided quit a stable of authors, through the editing process. Hemingway, Thomas Wolf, F. Scott Fitzgerald, etc.. Last night I ran across one of his editing tips, to her. “Show, don’t tell. 🙂 .

  13. Chris,

    I am very glad that last week is in the past. At least the Princess and I got caught up from her recent forays. Then we got about 6mm of rain on Sunday. After 3 cooler days and some respite from the smoke, we both feel much better. Hot today (Tuesday) then back near 38C for a few days before another break from the intensity.

    The air filtering system we have has helped. And no, the filters cannot be rinsed with water and reused. Papery furnace filters that get tossed into the garbage bin when they get too dirty to use.

    The Editor clearly has some unique way of looking at things and knowing what is about to transpire. Patterns and observation and thinking and insight and there it is! Not all of us can do that. Enjoyed the fascinating story of her background.

    I was sorry to hear that you were in another lockdown, but read that it is ending for the rural areas. Took TPTB long enough to figure that out, but at least you’re off the hook for now.

    I always like the photos of the pobblebonk frogs. Thanks for adding another. And flower season is beginning for you!

    I know that look on your face. The disgruntled look. The “Where the bleep is a proper cup of coffee” look. We use a French press for our coffee most days. It is much better than the slow drip, even with the exact same coffee. When alone and desperate, I’ll use a coffee bag, which is not quite as good as the drip coffee, but is much better than instant. Old crankcase oil mixed with sand would be better than instant coffee.

    A lot more fires are burning in the entire region. There are 5 separate fires on her home Rez, including the first big one that is almost “contained”. The newest big one about tripled in size on Monday and is on the ridge top overlooking 2 family homes. Third time in 20 years that a fire has been nearby, but this is the closest yet. Saving the homes in that area is a high priority according to the latest from the fire’s incident commander. Worrying, though. Basically, Spokane is surrounded by fires stretching from many hundred miles away to about 50 miles away. The same can be said for most any area in the western USA right now.

    Got my water bill which shows usage for May 21 through July 20. Didn’t realize I’d used that much water per day, and the grass was still in dire shape. I bought a 12kg bag of regional native dryland grass seed this week, to be planted later. Hopefully this will work out, grow well, and need significantly less water.


  14. Hi DJ,

    Mate, you’ve done it tough, and I only hope you both get some time out to recover and regroup before the next rough patch. Your summer reminds me of the worst of times, which I too have experienced where you’re on tenterhooks for most of the season. And you never truly know how things will eventuate, sorry to say.

    Is it possible to install a washable pre-filter? As any old rev-head would know, install the right type of foam filter over the paper filter. Add a touch of filter oil to the foam filter, and you’ve got yourself there a proper washable foam pre-filter. Of course you have to wash the pre-filter out in solvents such as petrol (or other variety such as ethanol), but hashtag just sayin…

    I shall convey your words onto the editor. As a point of fact, she’s reluctant to become part of this here interweb behemoth, and I have never questioned the why of that, but just accepted it as how things are. Between you and I, when she said that I could write the story, I didn’t waste any time (and there was much editing too). The original text looked mildly different.

    We’re off the hook for a while. The idea of masks has been raised today as something we’re gonna have to get used to for the next several years. I’m not saying that we’ve lost the plot, but it kind of looks that way.

    The frogs here live a charmed life, and there are plenty of them. The chorus they sing up on a warm summers evening as they dine upon the moon addled insects would possibly have the Temperance League demanding that insects no longer feast deeply upon the moonlight of those now distant warm summer’s evenings. 🙂 They sure do make a racket. Although I quite enjoy their chorus. And when the warmth becomes enough, the cicada’s chime in, and sometimes the raucous noise becomes more than a sensitive person can bear. The forest would sound strange indeed if a hush of quiet fell upon it.

    Ah, down here the French press devices are known by the name as a Bodum. Arghhh! DJ, it is an unforgiveable sin to mention the words ‘instant coffee’ on this blog – despite the fact that you were disparaging the stuff. You knew the rules. No, I will allow no clemency or allow any leniency in this matter. Your penance is to drink one cup of instant. You brought this on yourself young man!!! 🙂 Hehe!

    On a more serious note, I’m so sorry to hear about the fires in your part of the world. The reports are astounding, so please do keep alert when the temperature spikes, and I hope that the winds play nice.

    The dryland grass is a great idea. Out of curiosity, does your lady or her family know of the traditional management techniques with the variety of grass? In some spots I grow a wallaby grass which stays green in even the hottest summers, but I’m no expert on its annual cycles or maintenance.

    Spare a thought for my limited water reserves here during such a hot and dry summer – which I’ve experienced. Yeah, it’s a tough school, but us humans are apt students.



  15. Hi Lewis,

    I’m not keen on fencing (unless it is for very specific vegetable growing areas) because the movement of the wildlife through the property brings some really good advantages. And fences would upset that flow of the wildlife, and candidly wombats are like armoured vehicles and if they want to get through your fence, they’ll achieve it with aplomb.

    On the other hand, everyone else around here seems super keen on fencing and that’s their business. The wildlife benefits from the mineral rich soils on the farm and they spread those minerals in and around the immediate area. Hey, the other day I heard the first Boobok Owl. I really don’t know where those owls go during the winter months, but you never hear them at that cold time of the year. Everyone in these enlightened days are so worried about their power, or their power bills or something like that. I’m worried about the powerful owls. Yes, it’s true: Powerful owl chicks are poking their head out of the nest for the first time. Giant balls of fluff who probably don’t appreciate being poked and prodded and generally hassled by otherwise well meaning scientists. 😉

    Never heard of a solar fencing starting a fire. Fires are investigated down here for obvious reasons, but I’d never heard of such a thing happening. Mind you, I prefer more passive systems. I recall my mates of the big shed fame setting out one of those invisible zapper barriers for one of their dogs who enjoyed a good roam – and word on the street is that the dog could push through the pain. Batteries pack only so much charge.

    That makes a certain amount of sense, and what do the old timers say about necessity being the mother of invention? I remember that the health officer from the local council scathingly suggested that my worm farm system was no better than a septic tank. I must say that although I took offence, he would have had no idea – and just because I got him on a bad day, he doubled the size of the drainage field. And I had to pay the installers on the spot for. Can’t say that I enjoyed the experience of speaking with the bloke, and the worm farm has been one of the systems that just works and works with no addition of energy (gravity does the work). The system produces a mineral rich feed for the wildlife all year around. When other grasses are lacking in protein, that section of the paddock sure isn’t. People be crazy, and they want to share their craziness. Actually the installer pulled out the plumbing code and said that it ain’t so, but the health officer just got a bee in his bonnet that day. I’m hoping for change, that’s for sure, and it will happen out of necessity. But I reckon things will be very weird until we get to that point.

    Poop is pretty good if composted for long enough. Some of the big smoke sewage farms compost up part of their solids and then sell them off. Unfortunately if you don’t know the inputs it could be a problem, but most things break down eventually. The problem with the night soil men down here is that some of them took a short cut and dumped the stuff in the local rivers in Melbourne. It is hard to know how many did that, but I’m guessing the vast majority was industrial pollution. The night soil guys would have been a soft target. But even so, the wealthy folks used to depart the city in the hotter months due to the serious cholera and typhoid risk.

    People try to re-write history, that’s for sure. I tend to agree with your take on the potential for fracturing in your federation. I dunno about down here, my gut feeling is that longer term the reach will just become, less in many ways. Nobody is really clamouring for the states independence down here, because the economic costs of that are pretty horrendous. Before federation they each had to maintain their own army and navy, and the Great White Fleet just sailed on in and berthed, as did some others. We feasted them and gave them plenty to drink, and by all historical accounts a good time was had by all. But at the time they were a foreign power.

    That’s true of disasters where the armed forces do get involved, and we don’t have that distinction. I’m assuming that the national guard equivalent down here is the army reserve and it too is federally organised. Hey, I used to know an engineer who was part of that weekend mob and he used to amuse me by recounting stories of blowing things up. They sounded as if they were having fun.

    Lockdown light status in the bush is worth twenty buds in a bag! 😉 Mate, I’m treating everyone with kid gloves these days. There is a bit of a cost to that, but so far I’ve got plenty of energy to spare, so far. Not sure what the future will entail though.

    Ah, of course. And many thanks for the insight. Hadn’t thought about things that way before. There is a bit of resistance to the stupidity, but it’s coming from the bush rather than the city folks. Historically I’d guess that there has always been something of a tension between that divide?

    It’s funny you mention the studied slapdash line, but when I was a younger bloke, there was a certain pride to be taken in presenting a house as, how did they call it: shabby chic. It saddens me that people want to live these days as if they were in some sort of hotel, and people aspire to that sameness, as if it was a worth goal. I’d be curious to hear what Damo has to say about the matter as he and his good lady were locked up in a one room hotel room for a fortnight earlier last year. I’d imagine it would be the last interior they’d want to see again any time soon. I’m not exactly seven ure why people would be comforted by a dreary sameness which seems to have infected the housing stock and population. It makes no sense to me.

    How is Scott doing these days? Top score with the blueberries and no doubt you’ll be enjoying your famous blueberry crisps in the depths of winter – which is not all that far away, although it may seem like that.

    I reckon we put away too many preserved plums and apricots last summer, but it is hard to know from year to year what the correct amount should be.

    My education is sadly lacking as I had not realised what a firebrand Mr Thoreau actually was. An impassioned orator that’s for sure. To be honest I do wonder what the pollies are up to all day long. Surely their jobs aren’t all that onerous? Gobarmine is not a set and forget affair, but neither is it a hands always on the tiller sort of thing either. One interesting thing has come to light in the never ending lock downs with a lot of that lot working from home is that they probably aren’t all as necessary as they’d imagine.

    I saw that about the pterosaurs! Frightening things and with a wing span equalling a small aircraft. They’d mess up your day all proper like. And I love a new dinosaur find, especially when they look like they’ll stomp the daylights out of us all. But yeah, glad that they’re not flying around the forest. Had to laugh, I saw a tea towel for sale which had a cartoon print of the Lancefield panther. It’s probably just a very large domestic black cat roaming around the hills. It’s progeny in a millennia or two’s time will no doubt be dining upon us humans.

    A good editor is hard to find, and what author really enjoys having their works scrutinised with an unforgiving gaze? Thanks for the introduction to the mysterious Max Perkins and I salute his strength of character to stand strong in the face of the upset creative. They’re a touchy bunch! 🙂



  16. Hi, Chris:

    This is so terrible, what you all have to go through. I don’t see the point of it. My friends and I look at things over there and wonder if they are taking notes to use over here. After all, as far as I can remember, you were the first place to have a run on toilet paper . . .

    We burned some refuse recently. My son has a bunch of 55 gallon steel drums that are very useful for that.

    Thanks for the flowers!


  17. Yo, Chris – You asked if the fire reports, were accurate. I did a little research. It’s complicated, because it looks like each State does their own reporting. And any totting up, nationally, happens at the end of the fire season. But it looks like this is the second worst fire season, we have ever had. And, it isn’t over yet.

    I understand your reasoning, about the benefits of free roaming (for the most part) wildlife. Free fertilizer is not to be sniffed at 🙂 . I just hope you get good neighbors. LOL. Maybe they’ll build a fence, then they’ll have to deal with the wombats.

    The powerful owls are really cool. In the first picture, the owl looks quit startled. I also noticed, they look a little … bottom heavy. Owls are fascinating birds. I hear them, but haven’t seen any. At the last place I lived, I’d sit out on the front porch, at night, and the owls and I would hoot back and forth at each other. I don’t think I fooled them, for a minute. But they liked to play along. At least, I never had to fight off an amorous owl. 🙂 .

    The health officer will come to a bad end. Just in the natural course of things. Karma. What a sad little miserable life.

    Over the years, I’ve seen quit a few articles on how drugs in the poop are having weird effects on amphibians and fish. And people. We live in a chemical soup, and about all we can do is stay out of it, as best we can. You’ve mentioned industrial cleaners, and that’s just a part of it.

    My search function decided to play nice, this morning, so I was able to follow up on our National Guard. Which is also called the Army Reserve, here. At some points, it’s a nice cozy little niche, with a lot of benefits. But at others … After 9/11, Guard units started to be called up, to fight our endless wars. That was a shock, for some. State governors can call out the guard, for State emergencies. The President can call out the Guard, for national emergencies. Of course, what constitutes an emergency can vary, from person to person.

    The city / rural divide, goes way back. There’s a history of mutual distrust, on both sides. In towns that have universities, there’s been a “town and gown” divide. Given opportunity, people get tribal.

    Yes, interior design can look pretty sterile. You look at the glossy pictures, and wonder if anyone really lives there. I visited the Huntington Museum, in California. The very opulent mansion of an old time railroad baron. I wondered if he wandered down in the middle of the night, and just touched things. Of course, some people look upon that sort of thing as a blank canvas, to paint upon.

    Oh, Scott seems to be doing OK. Plenty to keep him busy, around his place. We’re of a like mind, on a lot of things, so part of our get togethers are just having a good whinge. 🙂 .

    Politicians seem to spend most of their time raising funds, for the next election. As near as I can figure.

    That was an interesting trip down the rabbit hole, over your Possible Panther. The best headline I saw was, “Boring Town Makes Up a Rumor About a Panther.” 🙂 . Of course, we really do have big cats. But, in some parts of the country, they are a bit mythical. But myths can sometimes be based in fact. Trail cams have become thick on the ground, and some interesting animals have turned up on them. Like big cats. But, there’s always the problem with scale. I’m sure some of the sightings really are just large house cats.

    Max Perkins really did have a talent, for dealing with temperamental writers. There was a bit of a dust up, when a few critics began questioning how much of Thomas Wolf’s books were Thomas Wolf, and how much Max Perkins. Which upset Wolf so badly, that he switched publishers … and editors. In reading the Marjorie Rawlings bio, it was mostly a lot of back and forth, between author and editor. And, of course, agents have some input, too.

    It’s supposed to hit 90+F (32.22C), today. And go up from there. I baked a pan of cornbread, last night. As I won’t be firing up the stove again, for at least a week.

    Elinor has a dentist appointment, this afternoon. So, I’ll have H for awhile. Maybe we can nap. Lew

  18. Hi Chris,
    Wonderful power the editor has. I’m glad you have been released and hopefully it’ll last for awhile.

    Our next guest has just arrived for the next four days but I wanted to pop on to tell you that we’ve received a little over 3 inches of rain over the last two nights and this morning. Possibly more tonight. It came with some pretty nasty storms but we were spared from any damage and still have power. Others in the area not so much. It’s been exceptionally humid. Yesterday the high was 91 but the humidity was so high the heat index was 107. This is dangerous for our frankenbird chickens but they fared ok. Doug kicks them out of their movable pen along with their food and water in the morning and they have been actually moving more and eating extra zucchini and apples as we have severely cut back on feed. This practice results in much less death we’ve found. They’ve been doing well seeking out shade as needed as well. When we first started raising them the advice was to have feed in front of them 24/7 and believe me they could eat all day.

    Our guest is really Doug’s good friend but I suppose I should go and be sociable.


  19. Hello Chris
    It is raining. Son has raised beds and they haven’t helped at all. Everything that I have tried to grow is rotting apart from Jerusalem artichokes. The stuff in the greenhouses is okay and I have barely needed to water there because of the humidity. I am not going to get a single tomato, those in the hanging baskets have rotted and they can easily drain. There are tomato plants in the greenhouses but they have only just started to flower and there probably won’t be enough Summer left for them. Thank goodness I don’t need this food for survival.


  20. Hi Inge, Margaret and Pam,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, but err, pub night and thus the dreaded mid-week hiatus. Promise to speak tomorrow night.

    Inge, as a special note to you. Those sorts of climactic conditions are distressing and you seem to have taken my experience of last year and gone to the next level. With global warming, my big worry is how to cope if things get wetter than they are today, and the past 150 odd years of rainfall records suggests that this is a real possibility. Dunno, will speak tomorrow.



  21. Hi Lewis,

    A similar situation takes place here in relation to fire responses in that it is a state matter. Now the Black Summer fires of 2019/20 presented an interesting problem for the responders in that the fire crossed state lines, and then presented co-ordination problems between the states – and even basic radio communications became an issue. When I was in the fire brigade, they were in the process of upgrading their radio from analogue to digital, and maybe I’m old school, but a weak analogue signal often gets through when a digital just drops out. I’m not sure I would have gone that path, but I guess they might have had an issue with the media and other interested parties – i.e. rural locals – listening in to the older analogue signals via scanners. Even I had a scanner with their frequencies and could listen in to hear what was going on.

    The media here is also reporting the same news about the fires in your country being the second worst in history.

    What was stupid about it is that people were asking the federal gobarmint to intervene, when it really is a state issue. Although they did send in the defence force and rescue one town via the navy (Mallacoota from memory). Crazy stuff

    Exactly, I have no idea what the wildlife take from here in terms of minerals, but neither do I have any idea what they bring in. And the hordes of parrots probably bring in vast quantities of guano every year, and they’re just one group of critters. And the wildlife here looks pretty healthy and robust, so I just have no desire to muck around with the stalemate we’ve achieved. Who knows what might come of any changes?

    Hehe! The Powerful Owls are quite delightful, and effective. That’s been my experience too – rarely seen, and commonly heard. They hoot to each other most nights. And yes, don’t get involved in their business. 🙂

    The health officer guy was a really unpleasant dude – and every suggestion cost me more money for no benefit whatsoever. We’ve never used those extra lines he forced us to put in. Crazy stuff.

    It is weird isn’t it? I saw a sign for a sports oval that it had measurable amounts of lead contamination – but that is what living on a poisoned planet looks like, and we take our chances because of that. People sometimes ask me if I’m worried about the compost or other minerals I bring onto the farm – and I have no doubts that they’re all bad apples, we just don’t know the details. But, I have a belief that the natural systems can eventually sort out the mess. I’m sure worse things have happened to the planet and it got by just fine – although it may not have gone so well for the inhabitants. Sometimes I think about that Mount Everest (and then some) sized rock which hit the planet 65 million years ago.

    What? I had no idea they called be called up to serve. Yikes! I thought they were only to be used on the continent. I might check into the situation down here in relation to that. I’ll bet the folks weren’t entirely happy about that.

    Town and gown divide! 🙂 Like it and hadn’t heard of that term before. What interests me about the tribal thing is that suburbs in the big smoke seem to be dividing upon economic lines due to the soaring house prices, and I don’t believe that that is a good outcome. Sometimes the ‘riffraff’ have to do the work. I’m not a fan of that outcome.

    Exactly, houses aren’t there to look at, they are there to be lived in. Sometimes the standards that people expect to be part of normal life are probably a touch higher than reality allows for. We do the bare minimum on that front, and it is good enough. Visitors are a bit like your pre-inspection clean-up process.

    Better bounce as food and a pint are calling. Had a day off today, and it is good for the brain. Others want me to feel a low level of underlying stress all of the time due to the craziness – but I refuse to play that game. Or at least do my best to deflect the worst of it.



  22. Good morning

    Just off to London for a few days, it will be interesting to see what the shops look like there, as I haven’t been in over a year. I toyed with the idea of a train trip to Sissinghurst from there, but it’s to damn long.

    Many closures here, but not so many as I’d expected. I’ll send you a ‘State of the UK’ update when back, as you asked. Are you a masochist by any chance?

    My gardening experience matches Inge’s dismal season, after summer last year in which nearly everything grew happily without much care.

    The exception now being apples, and all kinds of berries, which have thrived.

    Well, they are excellent nutrition straight from the bush, so that’s not so bad. But as for greens…..

    Fundamentally, those large-scale grain farmers have to be successful, year after year, or we are truly done for ……..

    All the best, Xabier

  23. Yo, Chris – It’s supposed to be 97F (36.11C), today and tomorrow. Then, cooling toward the weekend. There’s even a “slight chance of showers”, Sunday night. We’ll see. After I walked the dog, I watered. Morning and evening, today and tomorrow.

    CB radio used to be all the craze. Got your ears on, good buddy? Etc.. I hadn’t even thought of the end of that. But there must be some way …Suzanne, Who Always Has a Better Idea, has two devices strapped to the front of her electric chair. One for fire, one for police. Just so she can keep an ear on things 🙂 . But maybe, they haven’t gone digital, yet?

    My grocery store is going all ap happy. They’ve changed their web page, to reflect that. When I was checking out, last night, two of the night supervisors were mulling over the new changes with their devices. Of course, I couldn’t shut up. “What if you don’t have one of those things? Or, want one?” They looked at me like I was from outer space. I told them I was happy with my little flip phone. But what about accessing their great deals? I told them I’d be more disgruntled, with their company, than I already am. And would shop somewhere else. I also mentioned that the new website made the sign on impossible to find. They had noticed that. Then I told them about the work around. 🙂 .

    I do wonder about my little flip phone. That company also is pushing this ap and that. And, there are low level noises about not supporting the flip phones, any more.

    Mr. Greer was amused by my story about the German monk. His analog bell, beat the digital siren warning system, hands down. 🙂

    I remember that story about your navy, rescuing people off the beach at Mallacoota. At least they didn’t end up like Pliny the Elder, at Pompeii.

    Yup. Lots of people’s lives got disrupted, when their Guard Units were called up. As we have a lot of women in our military, often, mom had to go serve, leaving dad on the home front. Sometimes, both parents had to go.

    “Town and gown,” goes way back. Can’t claim that one. During medieval times, university students had some minor clerical role. As such, they could only be tried in church courts. Which were very lenient, to the students. And, students being students, they often busted up the town, and the townspeople got little or no compensation. Some of the students crimes were pretty serious. And all they got was a slap on the wrist.

    I’ve also been cutting way back on my media scanning. I may read headlines, but not so many articles. Besides, I’ve got things to do!

    Speaking of frogs, I ran across this, yesterday …

    Ah, us Finns. We do have some strange folkways.

    Not that you’ve got a little distance, any closing thoughts on King’s “The Stand?” Inquiring minds want to know.

    Not much to pick up at the library, this week. I may dip into one or two of those Australian films, sitting on the shelf. Lew

  24. Chris,

    Yesterday the Princess and I celebrated her birthday. Went out for a wonderful dinner and margaritas. If you ask her, she will say that she is 21. Who am I to argue with the Princess about such things?

    No, sadly, installing washable prefilters won’t work. As it is, the current system does quite well and I always keep new filters on hand.

    The Princess also refuses to become part of the interweb entanglements. Perhaps the Editor and the Princess are wiser than us mere mortals?

    Masks are a thing that I think will be part of us all for quite some time to come. Has the plot been lost? I’m uncertain as to whether the plot has ever truly been discussed completely and understandably, and therefore has not been properly understood. Dunno if it can be lost if it wasn’t universally understandable to begin with.

    Hehehe. Most people don’t understand how much sound there is in the forest, or an “empty” field, or anywhere out of the city. Lack of traffic noise and the other usual urban sounds doesn’t mean that insects and birds and frogs and other wildlife are silent. I enjoy sitting outside and hearing coyotes sing at night. A quiet forest to me signifies that some type of a large predator is roaming about.

    Bodum is the manufacturer of my French press. Makes sense to call it “a Bodum” as a result. Like a tissue is often called a “Kleenex”.

    The Princess, yesterday, ordered a post meal cup of coffee. I mean, the food was excellent (as always) and the margaritas were beyond fantastic (as always). Alas! The coffee was quite substandard. In fact, the Princess gave it to me to finish after struggling through a small portion of it. The foul concoction tasted like a poorly brewed inferior blend of icky instant. So, having finished that off for the Princess, I believe that I have paid my penance for writing that unseemly phrase hereabouts!

    Mate, I stand in awe of you! The winds shifted to come from the north, allowing more backburning and most likely stopping any major chance of the fires spreading further northward toward family members. The incident commander sounded very optimistic about that this morning, also. Not out of danger yet, but things are looking much better today. Your hope for nicely playing winds was well timed.

    No, unfortunately, care of native grasses are outside of the surviving lore for this area. However, one of the same grass varieties from the seed mix has introduced itself into my yard over the years. It takes very little care whatsoever.

    Reading about your struggles in one of the hot, dry summers makes me VERY grateful for the water source we have here. Water is one of those things most of us don’t think about until it’s in short supply.


  25. Hi Pam,

    To be honest, it ain’t just you, I too wonder about the point of it all. I knew something odd would happen sooner or later given resource and energy limits are a real thing, but this current state of affairs is beyond my darkest imaginings. It’s like we’ve somehow become utterly unable to talk about other probably more pressing concerns, and the noise is hard to blot out. Oh well, a person can only but do their best in otherwise trying circumstances.

    Speaking of which, we broke up a very large rock today into three really nice square edged slabs of rock. The three slabs should yield about thirty large square rocks, but that stage of the job is yet to be done (although it should be easier than the original slab split). The rocks will be used as a protective wall on the downhill side of the low gradient ramp.

    Well you can only hope that your lot aren’t watching the goings on down here and thinking to themselves: We can do that too! Except they probably can’t given the differences between the two cultures. I’m learning of late, that we are a somewhat conformist culture. You lot are notoriously reactionary, and this is probably a good thing as it curbs the worst of excesses.

    Yes, welcome to the future. 🙂 When the steel in the drums burns out, seek ye some rocks and place in a circle. And avoid the smoke.

    Thanks, always a pleasure. A purple Hellebore must have at least twenty flowers on it today.



  26. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks for the kind words, and the editor has a nose for impending trouble – which I kind of rely upon and appreciate. The rural areas have been let out to play, but the city folk (all five million of them) are still tied down tightly, and the talk in the media is that they won’t be let out any time soon. An odd form of madness has gripped this country, but then things could always be worse, and historically and also traditionally such times of societal stress when the upper boundaries of resource and energy depletion have been surpassed, the go-to device for western cultures was to alleviate the internal stresses by way of a war. Other cultures have other options which aren’t on the table (and are frankly quite horrific), so my gut feeling is that things could be worse than they are.

    3 inches of rain at this time of year following on from a hot and dry spell, is almost perfect summer conditions. 91’F sounds almost ideal to my winter addled brain, but then things are turning here and the sun shone beautifully today and there was not the least breath of wind. The air temperature in the shade was 54’F and we worked splitting a very large rock into three huge slabs and grinding out old tree stumps – the lazy loggers of the past did us no favours I can tell you. It was really nice conditions (and at very high humidity too) and I was able to work in a t-shirt and overalls and suck up some Vitamin D courtesy of the sunlight.

    Yeah, continuous power in rural areas might be a complicated problem in the future. If you’d told me that there was a likelihood that the mains grid might be cut off for five full days I possibly would have laughed off your suggestion as humour. But that recent wind storm was something else. Even now on weekdays I can hear the forestry workers cutting and chipping up the fallen trees – and one section of the mountain range looked as if a giant had just felled everything. I’ve never seen such a mess before.

    Cutting back on the Frankenbird feed and forcing them to forage is a really good idea for their health. Nice one. We’re getting about five to eight eggs per day now, and as a consequence are eating a lot of eggs. 🙂 Fortunately I’m rather fond of eggs.

    Yeah? Maybe. As a comparison, the editors girlie friends often tell her how much they appreciate me not hanging around when they’re talking about whatever it is that they talk about, so perhaps your gut feeling isn’t all that far off the mark and you may not need to be as social as you might imagine? Dunno. I say hello and try to make them laugh at some silly thing, and then depart the scene before I overstay my welcome… The editor by sheer chance the other night at the pub charmed a group of guys who are something of a local power brokers group and we just happen to be at the pub the same time that they are. The guys were seated between our little table and the toilets – where she had to go! I must say I watched the unfolding interaction with a vast sense of amusement.



  27. Hi Inge,

    Out of curiosity, how are the potatoes in the previously good bed going? I have no idea how they’d survive such wet weather – and the potatoes here seemed to do OK despite the awful conditions here last summer. I’d imagine your pond is rather full right now?

    Yes, my gut feeling also is that it may be too late for the tomatoes in your greenhouse, unless your growing season does a 180 degree sudden turn around and warms up.

    And as to your concluding sentence, those exact same thoughts also went through my mind last year. The passata we made from the tomatoes last year was not as good as it otherwise would be. At the end of the season I posted an image which garnered few if any comments, but it was of the awful waste of unripe and mouldy tomatoes.

    With this possibility now in mind and I have a hunch about this next impending growing season, we fed the soil in the garden beds with epic amounts of mineral additives. My thinking is that the additional mineral additives combined with wider plant spacings, will encourage faster plant growth and produce a larger harvest with fewer plants. Time will tell.

    I finished the book ‘How I live now’ this morning at the local general store. And the editor was having a lovely discussion with the lady sorting out the mail and I was doing my best not to shed a casual tear or two (people might believe that I have the dreaded lurgy!). I’d like to say that something was in my eye, but that would be a lie. It astounds me that the book was considered children’s literature, but then you called it likewise on my writing efforts. 🙂



  28. Hi Xabier,

    I’ll be very curious to hear your account from a far distant land. In the inner burbs of Melbourne there is a delightful hat shop and I’ve purchased many an excellent hat there (and had some hats repaired and cleaned). Next to the hat shop the next five shops are vacant, so yeah an update from your part of the world would be appreciated – we hear so little of news from abroad these days. For your interest, the retail dramas have spread outwards from the city, but aren’t quite as bad as the rotten core.

    Are the gardens at Sissinghurst even open to the casual visitor? That is the question!

    An interesting question! I’d have to suggest that I’m not a masochist, but then it is a truth universally acknowledged that there are more doms than there are submissives. Subs, are everywhere from what I can see – and oh my gawd, we are a reflection of your well aged culture! 🙂 It makes sense given the beginnings of culture in this country, despite the dubious beginnings. 🙂

    Out of sheer curiosity, how are your raised beds performing relative to the not-so-raised garden beds?

    Berries had a total blast last year here too – and particularly the black berries. What a season they had, and fortunately I really like blackberry jam. The strawberries and raspberries didn’t do nearly as well, but then the raspberries were only in their first year, so allowances must be made in that regard.

    The greens here did OK, but then I was growing them in raised garden beds and the beds had at least a foot of soil above the natural soil level.

    Exactly. And doubly exactly! This is my fear. You may have noted that the record grain harvests in the drier areas of this continent attracted record numbers of mice.



  29. Hello Chris
    I think that Rosoff’s books are described as for young adult rather than as for children. Definitely have a go at ‘What I was’.

    The potatoes in the good bed were fine but all the other beds have been disastrous. I did take up the good ones a bit early which may have helped but I am still puzzled by the fate of the even earlier planted bed.

    There has just this minute been a huge bang echoing through the ground which has made me jump. Often means a large tree has come down. One of my exits from here has been blocked by a giant oak branch which I only discovered 2 days ago.

    I have been pickling cucumbers. So strange that they have done so well after 2 dreadful years.

    Wow I can suddenly smell smoke, what is going on!

    I was considering that once people lived on land from which they had fed themselves for generations, so they would have been experienced at having a variety of stuff in anticipation of varied weather. Here we start from scratch and it is all experiment. I have found books on gardening to be absolutely useless. Local ancestors for generations would be great.


  30. Hi DJ,

    With smooth moves like that, you’ll go far indeed! My mother gave me virtually no useful guides to better living, but she did indeed once offer the helpful suggestion that a gentleman would be wise to guess at a ladies age, and then deduct ten years. Looks like you have that advice down pat. Respect! 😉

    Had to laugh, but I recently was speaking with a mate who was having a birthday in lock down, and pulled that same trick. Except my friend, being a guy, corrected me and informed that it would have been more believable had I stuck to twenty years younger, rather than the thirty years I deducted! I’m occasionally sharp of wit (interspersed with moments of dull wittedness), and to save an already awkward social moment I said: How is it you look like Errol Flynn these days? My friend told me firmly to stop it, but you know I reckon whilst in lock down, a person sometimes has to take things to 11 on the dial. 🙂 Anyway, don’t argue with your lady about such things, and the editor would likewise be super chuffed with such nice words of flattery. My mother may also have said something about catching more flies with honey than vinegar, although she might not have applied such wisdom to her good self. 🙂 Over summer there are a lot of vinegar flies in the worm composting system, so I dunno…

    Ouch, oh well, the pre-filter was not a bad idea. Anyway, all you have to do is keep plenty of spares. How often do you have to clean out the filters?

    It is possible. The editor is really full on in her belief in this matter, so who are we to argue. Anyway, they’re missing out on the chat-fest. 🙂

    Yes, the plot has been lost. Mate, there was an article in the news the other day that masks are going to be with us for years. If the current responses were so good, why is this the possible outcome? Cloth masks or surgical masks? Either way, you’ll be wearing one for ‘years to come’. There are times I’d like to say that I’m making this poop up.

    Ha! If the plot was even allowed to be discussed…

    One of the minor side benefits of the lock downs is that the forest is a quieter place, and you get to to hear the smallest of noises. Although the wood chippers are working overtime in the more fashionable end of the mountain range – and I can hear them from here. That wind storm really was something else. Some parts of the mountain range were flattened as if a giant had run amok.

    Your type of coffee maker and the bialetti would make a similar tasting coffee. Hey, the replacement water pump for the coffee machine turned up in the mail today! The espresso machine also extracts some of the oils from the coffee grounds – the technical word is creama, I believe, and it sits on top of the coffee extract.

    Padwan, your penance has been paid in full. Awful was your fate, swiftly did you pay the price, and with stoicism you have now moved on. Your lady was super clever to dump the awful coffee on you (he says taking notes for the future – never thought of doing that!) The ladies sure have us guys figured out. 🙂

    Thanks. Do you know that the last really super hot and dry year, we got down to as low as about 25,000 Litres left in storage before the rains finally returned. That was a bit stressful really because if there was a fire, that would be all we had to fight it with. Hmm.

    Great news to hear that the winds played nice and your ladies family were not in harms way (any more than they’d already been this season).

    Humour me here a second. If the grass is a clumping variety, and stays green in hot weather, once it is well established would you be brave enough to try an experiment? So if you’ve got a few clumps well established at some point in the future then try this: just with one clump, hit it hard with the mower, but leave the cutting deck high so that some of the plant remains. Leave the cut grass where it falls. Then with another clump, at the same time in maybe spring or autumn – actually autumn would be better, burn the highest point of the grass with a flame torch, but not all of the plant. And then leave the other clumps as a control sample. Of course such experiments are easier for me than you given the circumstances. I’m guessing those native grasses might be perennial grasses, but don’t really know. Anyway, it’s just an idea and you’ll learn a lot from watching the plants recover from the indignities.

    Yep, water is everything.



  31. Hi Lewis,

    As you get closer to the century, temperature wise, conditions become more difficult. Cliffmass mentioned your impending bout of hot weather. Ouch, keep cool. How is H coping with the heat? Does Elinor get H clipped?

    The weather today here was delightful. 54’F and not even the slightest of winds, whilst the sun from the blue sky warmed my otherwise winter outraged skin. Remember those two large rocks which sparked the discussion of Japanese zen style garden forms. Well, everything is not so zen here because I cracked one of the large rocks into three huge slabs today. It was a good use of the nice weather, and certainly improved my mental health! 🙂 It took most of the day to make the three large slabs, but here is the thing, we can now break those slabs into maybe thirty or more large rocks which will be used on the downhill side of the low gradient ramp project.

    I may have mentioned to you a while back that the low centre of gravity mower had a minor steering mishap on the low gradient ramp. The editor fortunately was largely unscathed in the mishap, and so we decided to add in a heavy duty rock wall on the downhill side. The farm machine repair dudes modified the steering last week to ensure that the mishap does not happen again. Today’s rocks will go a very long way to ensuring that mishap does not happen again – we’ll no doubt do some unusual and unexpected incident instead. Oh well.

    Hey, I have mentioned that the banged up shoulder has now fully recovered? Some folks might have rushed in for surgery, and that would have been an error me thinks as I have full movement and full strength back. That’s a relief. I couldn’t do this rock work with the shoulder as it was. Despite that, the editor and I take turns with the drilling into the rock for the splitting process, as it is quite hard work. The editor does the first two shallow drill holes and then I follow up with the longer and deeper drill into the rock.

    I hear ya good buddy, 10/4. 🙂 Hehe! Those words sure bring back memories. I wonder if the radio band is even used these days? Sometimes at night when the radio signals bounced off the ionosphere the signals went bonkers distances. You mentioned the Day After Tomorrow film, and I really wonder how many campuses would even have or know how to use a Ham Radio these days? I always thought that was an odd thing for the guy to do as he’d attract attention both good, bad and indifferent. Me, I’d be instead out harvesting the many local stores of their canned food whilst shoring up water supplies, but maybe that’s just me being me?

    Suzanne sounds like a complicated person, sorry to say. The stupid thing was that the old radios worked good enough from my perspective. The new digital ones sent GPS co-ordinates so the fire fighting units could be tracked, so I’m guessing the benefits were for the folks afar, not the folks on the ground who might not be able to receive or send a clear signal. I left before I found out how it all worked out, but given the uproar in relation to communications from the Black Summer fires of 2019-20, they possibly might not have worked that well. It is my guess your lot haven’t gone digital, but you could always ask Suzanne?

    Hehe! Well, from their perspective, you might be from outer space. Mate, I so hear you about that. People were forever trying to tell me how good the smart phone things are, and the only benefit I can see from them is that they have a ‘do not disturb’ function which automatically switches them off between certain hours of the day. The postal service used to like sending messages that packages would be arriving shortly, except the messages were sent before sun rise – and this is an unforgiveable sin.

    Yeah, a lot of money gets spent on automation and new interweb services, and I do wonder if it is money well spent. Most small businesses don’t indulge in such foolishness.

    It is possible about your flip phone. My ability to earn a living would have disappeared had I not swapped over to a smart phone. And I tell you, I’ve locked that baby down to the bare minimum of functions. The amount of information it reported to disinterested parties rather alarmed me. If they want to find out what’s going on, they can read the blog, but updating my whereabouts seems rather odd. I’m sure that various gobarmint agencies would have dreamed about such monitoring years ago, and people are offering it up at their personal cost today – for free for them. It’s bonkers. Hold out as long as you can, and then you just have to do what you’ve gotta do, and then learn how to shut that baby down.

    It wasn’t just Mr Greer who was amused by your tale of the monk – I too enjoyed it! 🙂

    Pliny the Elder carked it on that fateful day – so it is also possibly true that fortune does not favour the brave – and maybe he might have done well not to indulge in those seconds and thirds.

    What? Both parents being called up would create utter confusion in a household. I can sort of understand how one person could could end up serving, but both parents seems really unnecessarily harsh.

    Well, it sounds good. I didn’t know that about students having a clerical role, but then it makes sense as the church would have been intertwined with the education system – out of fear I’m guessing. I’d read that about the church being only able to judge their own. The outcomes from the Royal Commission into institutional child abuse suggested that some churches were worse than others. The highest cleric in the land was slapped into jail for a while to cool his heels I’m guessing.

    It is wise to keep busy whilst exercising the mind! But yeah, the news media these days leaves a lot to be desired.

    Thanks for the frog article. And a Finn who’d worked down under to boot. Yeah, that’s nature magic at work for you. In some old houses down under you can find old shoes placed in the walls or under the floor, and it has similar origins. It’s amazing what is lurking just out of sight, but is going on all around us. I never disturbed such things.

    Thanks for the reminder as I hadn’t mentioned The Stand for a while. I liked the character of The Kid, who was written out of the original edition – a right nutter, who ended up pretty poorly, but gave as good as he got. I’m also left thinking that the author deliberately associated the walking dude’s folks with technology and machines – and the favour was returned several times over in the form of the Trashcan man and his novel and obsessive antics. I liked the Tom Cullen character as he appeared simple and yet underneath it all was smarter than the others understood him to be. And I reckon Stu was my favourite character. There’s a whole bunch more, but what where your thoughts on the book? Have you got the DVD yet?

    Have you managed to watch The Dry yet?



  32. Yo, Chris – Well, we nudged 100F, yesterday. Supposed to be the same, today. Smoke has begun to move in, but Prof. Mass says it will be moving out, by tomorrow night. As we get cooler weather. So far, the smoke isn’t bad. I can still see I-5.

    H is doing ok. She just happened to go to the groomer, last week. Who cut her a bit shorter than Elinor would have liked. But it’s ideal for the weather.

    Saw an interesting article, about clearing defensible zones, around your house, in case of wildfire.

    Nobody ever thinks of moving underground.

    You know the best use, for your rocks. I’m glad everything is going well, on that front. And that your shoulder has pretty much healed up. I think people rush to surgery, too quickly.

    Well, tech. I’ve got a book on my hold list, called “100 Things We’ve Lost to the Internet.” Ought to be interesting. I started watching season 3 of “American Gods,” last night. I read the book, and quit liked it, years ago. It’s about an epic battle, between the Old Gods (and, I mean ALL the Old Gods. Every pantheon imaginable takes a turn), and the New Gods. Who are the New Gods? Tech, in all it’s manifestations. The most loathsome creature is Tech Boy.

    The tale of the German monk and his bell, would make a great children’t book. The Greenies would eat it up. 🙂 .

    Universities were an outgrowth of the monasteries. So, it kind of makes sense that they would take minor orders.

    When I was at the library, this morning, I picked up two Australian films, off the list. By the way, that list also includes documentaries. Which is what I picked up. I’ll tell you what they are, as I watch them.

    As far as I can determine, “The Dry” isn’t available on DVD, yet. I’ve got an eye out for it. “Occupation: Rainfall,” is on my hold list, and ought to show up, pretty soon. It’s a sequel to “Occupation.” Which is an Australian alien invasion film. I quit liked, “Occupation.” Looks like the sequel had more money to play with 🙂 .

    I ran across ANOTHER reference, to “show, don’t tell,” in a book review. If I ever sit down and write something, I’ll twitch, every time I think I’ve told, not shown. Lew

  33. Chris,

    Yes, turning the dial to 11 is needed at times. Especially if that means comparing someone’s looks to Errol Flynn’s. 😉

    Surprisingly, the Merv 13, the one used during severe smoke and/or allergy events, has not yet needed to be changed. This is its 3rd year of use. I bought a 6 pack from the online behemoth company, gave one to my in-laws in Toppenish. So, 4 brand new filters left in the box. The furnace filters? This time of year, as the furnace fan is running almost constantly, this needs changing about every 8 weeks. Every 14 months during the heating season works fine. So, I go through about 4 a year, as the furnace is idle at times in the spring and fall.

    Plots. All I can think of is an old, horrid pun: is Lenin’s grave a Commie plot? And that, too, is beyond discussion by certain groups.

    An amok giant? Ohhh, the visualizations that brings to the imagination! Did the amok giant knock down the trees, or were the trees knocked down by Thor throwing his hammer at the giant and hitting trees as well? Did Thor miss the giant and knock down a lot of trees by mistake? Did the giant get destroyed, or did it run off unscathed? Are there any unexplained trenches in the afflicted area that could have been caused by the hammer Mjollnir skidding on the ground? These are all important questions that demand answers!

    Oh goodie! So you are near to having proper coffee again. You’ll soon start to feel better! In my list of the best coffees, I left out an important one: campfire coffee made with a percolator over the flames/coals. I can use the same percolator on the stovetop, where its taste depends on how long I let it percolate. But campfire coffee just tastes better than almost any other coffee, at least in my experience.

    Which leads to a story. My sister’s husband and I were out early season archery hunting one year, early September. The final day out, it started raining. And raining. We reconvened at his truck and decided coffee was a dire necessity before returning to town. He fired up a camp stove whilst I was about to prepare my percolator. He said not to bother, he had a giant bag of inst%&t. So we boiled the water and added the large-grained inst%&t. Which turned out to be from his other large bag of regular coffee grounds. It tasted like bad doodoo and stuck between our teeth. After arriving home, I mentioned that to the Princess. She about died laughing because she had made me pack two boxes of foil-enclosed coffee bags in my daypack in case I needed some while away from camp. I still hear about that from her when I do something extra stoopid. Oh, and I gave a box of coffee bags to my brother in law for Yule that year.

    Yes, the ladies have us figured out perfectly. “Honey, this is too much for me to eat, you eat it” means that it is inedible but must be ingested lest the hostess has hurt feelings. And the ladies know that our chivalrous natures will come to the fore on demand.

    25,000 litres on hand would be rather unnerving. It sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t when it’s thought about. But if you have more collection and storage tanks, the water could easily go bad in the more normalish years. It’s one of those conundrums for which there is no one correct answer.

    Oh, yes, those grasses are perennials. No sense in planting them if they’re not. I’ll try to remember to try the experiment once they’re planted and established, though. I mean, playing with fire is one of those primal things, right? And it must be done in the name of science, right? “What could possibly go wrong?” (Said in my best General Burkhalter voice from Hogan’s Heroes.)

    Today is the smokiest day so far this year. The air has been officially “very unhealthy” for much of the day. This means that the smoke is so thick that it will not get to 38C. So far 34C appears to be the max at my house. So there is a silver lining behind the clouds of smoke. Expected to improve maybe Monday when the cool front moves in. The air filter system is doing well indoors. When I ventured outdoors early for necessary plant and bird watering, I had my mask on, and I had no ill respiratory effects from the smoke. Another silver lining – I wouldn’t have had such a mask if we didn’t need them for that which shall not be named.


  34. Hi Pam,

    Ah, time and the elements generally has a bad habit of wearing the rough edges of rocks, and for the vast majority of the time here, the rocks are rounded or irregularly shaped.

    Of course that was what made the huge, let’s call it Rubik’s cube shaped rock something special. And without thinking about it, the rock is being split along the lines of a Rubik’s cube. It’s a bit eerie isn’t it?

    Mostly when properties around here decide for whatever reason to construct stone fences supporting the front gates, the rocks have to come in from elsewhere (due to the lack of square edged rocks).

    Hope that explains the situation – and the photos on the next blog will say more than a thousand words could.

    With all the people in your household now, are you having much chance to get into the garden? I enjoy my quiet time and would seek out such a place. 🙂



  35. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for introducing me to the author. 🙂 As an amusing exercise earlier today, I imagined a few different endings for the book, as if it was written by an author from a different culture. And here is what I imagined:

    American author: After much travail and hardship, Edmond and Daisy would have been finally reunited and lived happily ever after.

    Australian author: Daisy would have discovered to her perpetual sadness that Edmond had died heroically whilst trying to defend the lives of the folks at Gateshead farm – and before his final moments he had managed to take out more than a few of the enemy just for good measure. Unlike Edmond, the legend lives on.

    French author: Despite the hardships, Edmond and Daisy were happily reunited, only to have a random encounter with a psychopath which led to Edmond being disappeared – and nobody being the wiser as to his outcome.

    Irish author: Edmond and Daisy were reunited, but there are some wounds that are unseen and can never heal of themselves. Edmond’s mood was grey matching the bleak winter skies, and one day pushed him too far…

    Finnish author: Edmond was conscripted into the Russian army and was never reunited with the forlorn Daisy. In a remote northern town on the edge of the Arctic circle, he succumbed to hypothermia.

    I could have hours of fun offending people all around the globe with those imagined endings! 🙂 Hope I didn’t offend you?

    I’ll definitely check out the title you recommended.

    Did you discover what the source of the loud sound was? Today I headed to a nearby bakery so as to enjoy a sausage roll and Lamington (my needs are few these days), and took a different road returning home. I discovered on that road that the epic wind storm had knocked over some seriously big trees in that part of the mountain range. I’ve got the tools and experience to deal with such large trees, but I don’t know if other folks can manage such a thing. Are folks in your area nowadays ready for dealing with such problems as the large downed oak branch?

    Your cucumbers are a mystery! And I’d strongly advise saving seed from them.

    Has the source of smoke revealed itself?

    Yes, that too has been my experience and as a result I read widely and source and test as many varieties of seed as my mind can handle. People don’t generally understand the risk profile which they’ve created by outsourcing this problem to unknown others.



  36. Hi DJ,

    Despite the blokes failings, when I was a younger bloke the actor had hero status. He certainly led a vivid life, that’s for sure.

    No way? The machine is not really called a Merv 13? What happened to the other 12 version is the first question which pops into my mind. I’m going to look into this matter… … Well there ya go. Down here, the word Merv is a reference to the shortened name of Mervyn, which also happens to be the name of a well known local former Australian cricket player. Rabbit holes aplenty there.

    Out of curiosity, why is the furnace fan running at this time of year? How does that work? Bear in mind I have zero experience with a furnace heater.

    Sorry, but I don’t get the pun. We never really had that whole commie thing down here, and at one time there was actually a political party presenting that philosophy, although they didn’t poll all that well. Sucks to be them. On the other hand you led me on a rabbit hole into that matter. It seems like a waste of time and resources to me, but then I have no dog in that fight. 🙂 Imagine being the guy charged with having to come up with ways to keep the body properly embalmed? The resulting CV would sound rather strange.

    Given that really big trees were flattened in the storm, my money is on it being something to do with Thor and that hammer of his. Well truth to tell I can’t easily get into those areas to check for the hammer imprints, unless I walked in there. But then there are a lot of things to do in life and I’m kind of busy so, I’ll just accept that someone really annoyed Thor that day.

    Tomorrow is the fateful day that the coffee machine gets to spill its guts, and then emergency surgery has to take place. Fortunately, we have the technology to repair the coffee machine! 😉

    All things taste better with a camp fire due to the unhurried nature of the setting. Having machines and energy to do normally ordinary everyday stuff, does not necessarily improve the quality of the experience. And camp fires lend themselves to talking rubbish with mates. Or ghost stories! No wonder you rarely hear ghost stories these days…

    Your lady knew! I’m not even suggesting that she read the weather report in advance, but she knew how things would turn out – and provided, which you (and I’d suffer that fate too, being a guy and all) missed on. Oh well, lesson learned, and nice work with bringing the memories back to life with your brother in law.

    Hehe! There are times that such tactics fall on deaf ears. The editor once ordered a kangaroo steak on a bed of mashed parsnip, and we discussed this the other day when we were at the pub. The order surprised me, but turns out the editor misread the description and was imagining mashed potato. Parnsips are OK, and roast parsnips are quite tasty, but an entire bed of the stuff? Beyond the pale.

    No, if you had to fight a fire, 25,000L isn’t going to get you terribly far. Most fire trucks down here carry about 2,000L from memory, and you can go through that pretty quickly. Interestingly, the water doesn’t go bad as the tanks get churned a bit with new water going into them, and the water pumps also stirring things up. It is possible, but you’re more likely to see that in a dam or pond where the last dregs just have little to no oxygen in them.

    What could go wrong, well you might not have thought to keep a hose handy (or test it just to be safe), or you might attempt the experiment on a super windy day, or… So much to go wrong, so little time! Hehe! Good luck.

    I’ve noticed that too with the smoke reducing the intensity of the sunlight. What a summer you’re having. Hope the rains return soon and the winds are favourable in the meantime.



  37. Hi Lewis,

    A film about truffles, food critique with Nicholas Cage – they’re onto something. The film sounds quite good. Is it on your hold list yet? Just one minor quibble: I do hope that the author of the review gives up on the social policing, it is very tiresome and serves no useful function. Not so sure about truffles, but from time to time, with some dinners, I’ll chuck a touch of truffle oil into the mix if the meal is heavy with the more usually seen fungi suspects. As an interesting side story, we met the guys of the big shed fame a long time ago at an agricultural day promoting truffles. Down here they use dogs rather than pigs, but pigs have a fine reputation for hunting out the black fungal gold.

    Did the cool change arrive? 100’F is uncomfortable hot, but before you know it, the winter winds will be sweeping down upon you from the frozen north (well at least things are frozen up there right now). I once read that specially adapted dinosaurs once lived in Antartica… Brr!

    In such weather, H needs a short clip otherwise she’ll overheat. That species of dog is bred for a far colder climate than where H currently resides. When Sir Poopy the Swedish Lapphund was alive, the dog groomer knew him well and she clipped him pretty closely in the summer months. I recall encountering the horrified expressions of the next dog owners at the groomers – they’d encountered the clipped version of Sir Poopy. I couldn’t believe the seriousness of their disbelief. Seriously, if that is the worst thing they have to worry about, life is clearly pretty good.

    Thanks for the article link to the defensible space. The law was enshrined down here after the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires when some common sense had to be inserted into the debate – and people can follow the law if they so wish, or also ignore it. It is not a mandated thing so there is no inspection. Incidentally with the first photo of the article – the house is alight, but the two Douglas Firs in the foreground don’t appear to be alight. I’ve read a lot about this topic, and have my own opinions and look back at what history has to say about when things once worked – and the house we constructed is not your average house, but it is no guarantee. It didn’t take long for the ecosystem to unravel once the Europeans first turned up, that’s for sure. They arrived in 1834 (although disease may have arrived far earlier) and by 1851 there was an epic bushfire – quite shocking really, and far worse than today’s fires in terms of extent and sheer damage.

    Hey, they have underground fire bunkers here, and as an old school technology, they do work. The issue here is that the installation of such constructions have been professionally captured, and this makes them more expensive than they probably should be.

    It is not lost on me that the rocks are fertiliser for the forest and housing for critters, but they’re also super useful, as the Nearings also knew. Thanks very much for the kind words about the shoulder and yeah I had no desire to rush off to the surgeons knife. I have no beef with that lot, but have also been on the wrong side of them getting things horribly wrong, and my trust isn’t perhaps what other peoples trust appears to be in them. There is a lovely lady I know who recounted a story to me from her youth, and it was of the doctor telling her to go into the waiting room and have a cigarette to relax (she did not partake of that habit). Hmm. My how things have changed. 🙂

    We have lost a lot of things to the interweb, haven’t we? I really like our regular chats, and visit a few websites here and there, but other than that the interweb holds little personal appeal. I note that one thing that seems to be a given during the ongoing lock downs (and we’re beyond 200+ days now, I believe) is that the fun things in life have either evaporated or have become hard to do, but the work still keeps rolling along – funny that. Still, like the dude, I abide. Anyway, went to a nearby bakery and purchased a very tasty sausage roll and a Lamington. This act may seem irrelevant to you, but I can assure that this is not indeed the case. Yes, true. It being a Saturday and all, I had to work on paid work today as I’ve become behind in what is ordinarily required of me. Ah yes, the nearby bakery provided much needed picking up of spirits, and the editor and I enjoyed our sausage rolls with tomato sauce whilst seated at a park bench in the warm early spring sunshine. It was very pleasant sucking up the free Vitamin D. Then we came back home again and smashed the paid work, except it took most of the rest of the day.

    Tech boy sounds like a right pain, and here’s hoping he comes to a nasty end. Surely Thor’s hammer could deal him an untimely fatal blow?

    Hehe! I like how you think – yeah a children’s book. There is a solid market for such things so the business case is good.

    The editor is rather enjoying an Australian black comedy crime drama: Mr Inbetween

    Occupation: Rainfall looks awesome, and I’d never heard of it. The film has plenty of destruction too. You can’t be afraid to destroy a few cities in the quest for alien invasions. I liked the guy in the trailer who said: Uh, oh, that’s not good. I’ve seen that actor before but for the life of me I can’t recall where. Ah, Mr Chow, of course. He’s funny. Oh yeah, the computer generated destruction sequences were awesome looking.

    Careful – no twitching here, unless of course you’re a twitcher? It’s a thing you know.



  38. Hello Chris
    The pond is full. I don’t know what the bang or the smoke was caused by.
    I loved your various endings for the book and you will be able to do the same for ‘What I was’.
    I am going to get no tomatoes at all for the first time ever. A lovely sunny day today but it is too late. Blackberries are coming along but they are later and smaller than usual.
    Son is the only person who deals with large branches down across the road. I have suggested that he just leave them so that others are pushed to do something but he prefers to just get on with it.


  39. Yo, Chris – The Nick Cage movie won’t be on DVD until next year. If ever. I’ll put it on my hold list, then. Can’t, now. It must show up in the catalogue, first. Hmmm. Filmed in my home town? Another reason to give it a look. Social policing? Was there social policing? Generally, I just roll my eyes and move on.

    Well, last night I watched … “Mad to the Max: Hoon Nation.” Great fun. Lots of projectile vomiting, blowing things up, and setting things, and each other on fire. It was mostly about the yearly get together, that the lads used to have. Sadly, no more, as the Powers That Be, firmly stepped on them.

    Turns out our library has Mr Inbetween. Next time I have some space on my hold list, I’ll give it a whirl. Added to my hold list, “Exhumed: A History of Zombies.” Ought to be interesting.

    Woden is a major player in “American Gods.” Thor, not so much, but he makes frequent cameo appearances. Due to lack of worshipers, he’s reduced to using his hammer, in the slaughter houses of Chicago.

    Yesterday, it was 90F (32.22C), and ought to be the same, today. 70s, by next week. I think I detect a slight breeze, from the ocean. Didn’t stay long at Elinor’s last night. Solid whinge fest, about the weather. If she turns on her A/C, her feet get cold. Blah, blah, blah.

    I can quit clearly remember doctors pushing smokes, in magazines and on TV. The government finally stepped on that.

    Sausage roll and Lambington. Life is good. I got two gallons of blueberries into the freezer, yesterday. The end is in sight. One last half flat. Last night, for dinner, I had the Harvester salad (cucumber, vinegar, pepper, onions and cream) over the cornbread, I made. Yummy. Cool.

    There was an interesting article in our local newspaper, yesterday. On sewers, water, zoning, etc..,270733

    The fellow who was asking for the variance is the fellow who owns the fruit stand, I go to.

    I don’t know if you have Dairy Queen drive-ins, down there, but here, they’re rather iconic. Been around for years. They’re franchised operations. Our local one has had to reduce it’s hours, and, even close from time to time. Due to lack of deliveries of supplies.

    When I took H out for her walk this morning, I noticed a good sized limb had come down, from our pear tree. Due to the fruit load. I’ll clear away the limb, and figure out …. something, to do with the fruit. Lew

  40. Chris:

    I had the strangest experience during my once-a-week grocery shopping today. The whole time I was in my main grocery store I had the feeling that the editor was looking over my shoulder and saying: “You’d better be ready.” It wasn’t a sinister thing, just a strong suggestion. So – what does it mean? I did stock up on what I could. I also realized that grocery prices seem to have gone up a lot; I hadn’t been paying attention.


  41. Hi Pam and Inge,

    Sorry, but tonight I am off to a very late start tonight, and so hope I don’t end up talking about a lot of rubbish. And yes, something in the very air has changed in the past day, although I’m uncertain what it is – but feel an absence of pressure that has been all pervasive for a while. Not sure what it means. Promise to reply tomorrow.



  42. Hi Lewis,

    Another late start to this week’s writing efforts. Had a lovely day today and the editor and I had decided to independently tackle the many different things that needed doing, but we’d previously not allocated any time to do. As you can imagine, the editor had a list, whereas I’m a bit more loose about such things. Anyway, there were a lot of small things which needed my attention, like replacing the water pump in the coffee machine, or fixing up one of the screen door locks which needed some care and attention. The old house batteries needed a charge, and I set up a new arrangement for them all so that I could ensure this happens more regularly in the future. And some other stuff involving some noisy target practice took place. I was amazed at just how many things required some attention, and I can report in all seriousness that it is a true pleasure to have the coffee machine working again. Clearly I am addicted to caffeine! Speaking of which, the tea camellia’s in the greenhouse are more or less growing well and possibly it was something of a shock to the plants to have relocated them – but they’ll get over it. The leaves on the turmeric and ginger in the greenhouse have long since died off, and I’m on tenterhooks to see whether they’ll re-sprout come the warmer weather. I dunno, turmeric is meant to grow here (albeit at it’s coldest extreme range), but I dunno.

    Hey, I do that too with social policing too – on the basis that it ain’t my dog fight. A real old timer from my youth, who was sharp as a tack, once quipped that: You can’t teach a dill. There is truth in that observation.

    Hehe! Even the trailer to the film sported a reality checked chunder with thunder for a distance! I made that up right there and then. Essentially the more the culture is stomped, and the harder it is stomped, then despite its obvious and incontrovertible flaws, the more it is embraced. Surely the folks doing the stomping understand the process of escalation? In our nations capital an annual pilgrimage of such folks used to meet up at the Summernats. I’d imagine that has bitten the dust recently.

    Good stuff and it warms my otherwise cold accounting heart to see so much interest in the undead – mind you I have an awful conflict of interest here if only because I made that dratted prediction about zombies all those long months ago. I nailed that prediction! Yeah! The editor is really enjoying the series, so hopefully you do too. Alas for the limits of the library system.

    Odin always reminded me of the wizard Gandalf and that is how I imagine the god. “Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.”

    Hehe! Cold feet demand that thicker woollen socks be placed over them – then the problem goes away. I’d imagine that the old medieval castles would have been brutally hard to keep warm – the technology of the four poster bed suggests to me that this would have been the case. What is your understanding of life in a castle during the winter months?

    It was dirty that subversion, and I’ve heard first hand accounts of how things rolled back in the day. When I first worked as an adult, smoking inside buildings was just what some people did. I remember the smoking ash trays which produced the strangest smoke trails in the air.

    Man, it’s 8.30pm and I seriously better get onto some writing gear. I’ve only got the vaguest notions as to what I was even intending to write about… Ook!



  43. Chris:

    Yes – but we have to check with the editor first. Does she feel that absence of pressure?


  44. Yo, Chris – Supposed to be the same temp, today, as yesterday. 85F (29.44C). But, then a couple of days of 75F (23.88C). Then back to the low 80s, for awhile. I noticed a bit of a coolish breeze, yesterday.

    My mate Scott makes lists. I don’t. When I’ve tried, I generally just loose the list. 🙂 . Those fiddling little days, when this or that small (but important) task needs to be done.

    Well, now that your coffee maker is back up and running, we’ll expect a stellar weekly post. For better or worse. 🙂 . Way more hits, than misses. No pressure. 🙂 .

    It will be interesting to see how your turmeric and ginger turn out. I picked up some ginger root, from the store, and am tempted to pop a piece in an indoor pot. Just to see how it goes.

    Sometimes I think the social policing, chucked into a story, is just PC theatre. Displays of bonafides to illustrate an author’s “woke” sensibilities. I’ve noticed that “woke” seems to be sliding out of general usage. And, not to soon.

    Last night I watched “The Flying Scotsman: The Night Mail.” Well, before I watched it, I had to get it sorted. I mean, I vaguely knew that The Flying Scotsman was a train, but I had thought it was, you know, in Scotland. But then I figured out that it’s the name of a type of train (first to go 100mph), and could be found, anywhere. From things I read, I thought it would be lots of scenery around Melbourne. No such luck. It was the run from Sydney, over the Blue Mountains, to the Western Territories.

    So, anyway, once I got that all sorted, I took a look. Thought I’d see some nice scenery. Well, being the Night Mail, it took place mostly, in the dark. Dawn did not come until it reached Bathurst. Just about the end of that run. LOL. There were no subtitles, and, what with the accents and constant background of a chugging locomotive, well, a lot was lost in translation. I think you’d have to be a real steam train junkie, to get much out of it. Didn’t inspire me to do any train spotting, any time soon.

    Interesting that Bathurst popped up, again. Past annual capitol of the Hoon Nation. Though the permanent capitol seems to be Bendigo. When things unravel, from there will warlords come. Reflecting a bit more on the film, “Hoon Nation,” there were times when it appeared some of the participants were working out a real animosity towards motor vehicles. Maybe it’s a love / hate relationship?

    Castles, I think, were cold and drafty. And one had to be careful, on a trip to the gardrobe that one’s bottom didn’t freeze to the stone seat. Ruth Goodman has a bit to say about interior climate control, in her series, “Secrets of the Castle.” Besides well curtained beds, all those tapestries helped cut drafts. Furniture was used to cut drafts. Our wing chairs are descendants of those types of furniture. Movable screens were used. A good layer of rushes, on the floor, kept one’s feet up off the cold stones.

    I finished the Marjorie Rawlings biography, last night. Quit good, I thought. Now it’s onto an eco-fiction novel, called “Appleseed.” (Bell, 2021.) I hope it isn’t so good, that I have to recommend it. 🙂

    I got two gallons of blueberries, into the freezer. Looks like one more gallon, to go. Picked a bunch of cherry tomatoes, four different varieties. I’ll pop those in the dehydrator, today. Will deal with the downed pear tree limb, today. Trying to decide if to do something with the pears, or just pop them in the garden, for compost. Lew

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