Dead Butterflies

A long time ago, I used to enjoy reading science fiction books. The floor to ceiling bookshelves which line the hallway of this house are full to the brim with many cherished books. The editor commands one side of the hallway, whilst I reign over the contents on other side. The bookshelves are quite extensive, but despite the sheer depth and girth, they have only finite storage space. And whilst I no longer read recently published science fiction books, neither have I been able to stomach the awful eventuality which is to cull the existing collection so as to create space. It is sad but also true that as new books arrive, something has to go – but which book it should be always remains something of a mystery.

For the record, my cherished collection of Jack Vance pulp fiction novels, most of which are now older than I, would be unlikely to be deliberately culled. That is until their acid yellow pages fall to pieces, the glue in the bindings gives out, and the scantily clad young ladies on the front covers, whom to be fair are usually being threatened by astounding looking aliens – can no longer be seen. Well, by then it would be too late for those books anyway as time managed to achieve what the softer and more sentimental side of my personality could not do. Anyway, I have replacement copies of those books printed on low acid paper with probably decent bindings, although the scantily clad young ladies on the covers are nowhere in evidence in these new editions. Frankly it is no great loss as the original pulp fiction book covers rarely reflected the contents anyway. The recently published and more sensitive book covers were worth the mad cash if only because I can now read the books at the local cafe without unduly raising eyebrows. Need I remind readers that memories are long in rural areas and tongues may wag!

In addition to Jack Vance, there are other authors in my book collection, and some of those authors are even still alive. One science fiction author whose writing I quite enjoy is the English author: Peter F Hamilton. A large collection of his books line one section of the hallway. For some reason, earlier this week I recalled a line from the quite entertaining series: The Night’s Dawn Trilogy. As a background to the story, the ecological damage to the planet Earth was so great that a character made an amusing quip about the butterfly effect.

For those who don’t know, the butterfly effect was an Australian rock band, but more importantly it is also the concept that a sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. Did you understand that? Me neither. Well, the concept can also be more easily explained by noting that small changes in one part of a system, can lead to vast unknown changes elsewhere in the system.

So, one of the fictional characters in the The Night’s Dawn Trilogy, suggested that the reasons for the massive ecological damage to the planet Earth was that a butterfly beat its wings on one corner of the planet, and the resulting storm was so destructive that the cheeky wag further suggested that there must have been a whole armada of butterflies. And thus the epic fictional storms were coined: ‘Armada storms’. The human population on the planet lived in cities under protective domes whilst the rest of the planet seemed basically uninhabitable.

However, in the fictional story, humans had managed to colonise vast tracts of space and had settled on many other habitable planets and had encountered other intelligent species. It was a good read, I just never understood why with all that technology, the folks never got around to repairing the damage they’d done to the Earth’s ecosystem. Maybe they just enjoyed living under protective domes, I don’t really know, and the story never went into those details. Although at the very end of the series an alien known as a singularity sorted the whole mess out – for free. How’s that for winning?

I have strong doubts that aliens would be so inclined to repair the stresses that we’ve placed on our ecosystem, if only because they could just hang around and watch us make a right mess of it all, and then stomp right on in and take over. Anyone who’s read science fiction would know that for every nice and accommodating alien, there must be at least a dozen more species that want to supplant us (a nice way to suggest that they’d kill us) before taking our jobs and also the books with the scantily clad ladies on the cover. From my reading of sci-fi, aliens are generally bad news. But maybe I still just can’t forgive my older sisters for dumping me in the cinema by myself to watch the 1980 sci-fi horror film: ‘Alien’. Some pain runs deep.

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) handed down earlier this week, what was it now – ah, the sixth report into climate change. The news candidly did not make for pleasant reading, and I have strong reservations that neither technology nor aliens will make things somehow all better again. At the core of the problem is that dumping lots of some types of gasses into the atmosphere will heat up the atmosphere. It’s a serious message and I note that the folks who penned the report will be adding to that problem when they apparently head to Glasgow later this year for a massive talk-fest conference. It’s a confused philosophy.

Less than a week on and the report is now old news, I guess, if only because it has quietly faded from the local news. The news is of course chock full of the health subject which dares not be named, but in between that furore I noticed that possibly solar power connected to the grid down here may not be all that it is cracked up to be:

It’s amazing what changes have been quietly introduced recently whilst peoples attentions were directed elsewhere. Even the moratorium on on-shore gas drilling in this state was quietly over turned. I don’t know, maybe the sci-fi folks had it right, and despite the technologies we can command, we just don’t give a toss how many butterflies die.

This week we set about splitting a very large squarish rock into many smaller rocks. The smaller rocks will be used as a protective barrier on the downhill side of the low gradient ramp project. But before we could obtain smaller rocks, we had split that huge square rock. Most of the rocks on the farm are roundish, if only because time has worn them down, but not that huge square rock.

The large square rock awaits splitting into slabs

Over the past year or so, we’ve been developing our methods for splitting the insanely tough granite boulders which litter the farm. All of the smaller and easily moved rocks have been used up in various projects around the farm, so we are down to creating new rocks from the large boulders. Peak Rocks sounds like an amusing concept, until you have deal with the consequences of it.

Firstly we drill many deep V shaped holes into the boulders along the line we wish to split. Then the electric jackhammer is used with rock splitting bits to pry the hole open, just like how the Roman’s used to use ‘feathers and wedges’. It is more or less the exact same process, but we do it faster.

With enough drilled holes and rock splitting bits, the rock splits

The repeated action of the electric jackhammer when moved back and forth along the line of drilled holes forces the rock to split apart.

The huge square rock splits

A 6 foot steel house wrecking bar is then used as a lever to move the slab of split rock.

One thick slab of rock was liberated from the original boulder

You can see the V shaped drill holes in the next photo. The drill goes in about a foot deep into the boulder.

The author goes to work on the remaining boulder

The remaining boulder was also split into two slabs.

The remaining boulder is split into two more slabs of rock

Despite the late autumn cool weather, it’s hot and hard work doing this rock splitting work.

The small split is encouraged to become more permanent

The three rock slabs were then moved around and laid out flat so that we can break each of them into about nine smaller rocks – although all being well, that is a job we hope to get to next week.

The author uses the steel house wrecking bar for leverage

Eventually the job was done, and that was enough work for me that day!

Plum celebrates the rock breaking win!

Thanks must go out to the nice folks who commiserated with me last week on the untimely death of the coffee machine. This week, we put the finest brains on the farm into action (Plum and Ruby) so as to work out just why the coffee machine had died. Turns out that the water pump had failed and additionally had become clogged up with a chemical known as descaler during the cleaning process. The water pump was replaced, the water lines and boiler were cleaned, and the ancient coffee machine is working as good as new – if not better than new.

The happy author and the now repaired coffee machine – nuff said!

Sunday was kind of like that. We spent the day pottering around performing necessary maintenance on many of the things and systems which go towards keeping this juggernaut of a farm happily rolling along. By late afternoon, the editor and I went down to the bottom of the paddock for some target practice. I refuse to divulge who the better shot is, and all I can add is that the results suggest that the scope could surely use some adjustment.

Who got that bullseye?

And in sad news, the Lemon Meyer is now succumbing to a fungi known as Phytophthora. This of course is our fault as we directed a major drain close to the fruit tree, and it has been an extraordinarily wet year. We must obtain a replacement tree, but in the meantime I’ll hack it back hard and see if increased airflow and sunlight assists matters.

Sure looks like Phytophthora

Onto the flowers:

Snowdrops have now produced their cheery flowers
The citrus do not enjoy the damp conditions, but the Daffodils sure do
Hellebores are at their peak right now
We grow all manner of Hellebore colours
But none are as cool as the black Hellebores

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 9’C (48’F). So far this year there has been 803.8mm (31.6 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 794.2mm (31.3 inches)

48 thoughts on “Dead Butterflies”

  1. Yo, Chris – Ah, yes. Pulp fiction with GGA (Good Girl Art). It can bring a premium, on EBuy. Besides sci-fi, it was also used on a lot of hard boiled detective paperbacks. I once saw an art project, that was really interesting. Someone had take a small, very deep shadow box frame, cut the different elements out of pulp covers, and arranged them at different depths. Gave it a real 3-D effect. Quit striking. I’ll see if I can round up some examples.

    Ray Bradbury wrote a short story, “The Sound of Thunder.” It was about time travelers, going back to hunt dinosaurs. A rich person’s very exotic safari. Some how or another, they figured out which dinosaurs were going to buy it, so it just happened a few minutes earlier. But one fellow steps on a butterfly, and the future they return to, is very much changed. It was done as an episode, on TV, on “The Ray Bradbury Theatre.” It was also done as a film, which didn’t get very good reviews. But I think the best film done on small changes that can have big repercussions, is “Sliding Doors.” Well worth a look.

    I think if was Stephen Hawking, who said it was a bad idea to try and contact aliens. Did anyone listen? No. “Seemed like a good idea, at the time. What could possibly go wrong?” 🙂 .

    Well, that’s the pits that they’re going to charge people to return solar energy, to the grid system. I wonder how many will beef up their systems, and cut the cord? Time for you to write a book? Now watch for them trying to figure out how to charge people, who have solar, but aren’t tied to the grid. They’ll probably say that if you have the potential, to get grid power, if you use it or not, you should be charged. More crazy things than that, have been enacted.

    Thanks for the tutorial, on splitting rocks. If I ever have to split a large rock, I’ll know exactly what to do 🙂 . Kidding aside, it’s commendable, that through lots of trial and error, you’ve finally got it figured out. In the final picture, you look like Rocky III. Only he didn’t have a dog. What’s wrong with him? In the interest of full disclosure, I saw none of those films.

    Congratulations on the coffee machine repair. Chris – Facial Expression #5: Happy and self-satisfied.

    How’s the price of ammo, down there. My Idaho friends have been saying either they can’t find it, or, when they do, the price is out of sight.

    The spring flowers are quit lovely. And the black Hellebore is a real stunner. There’s a black iris I’d like to try, called, I think, Queen of Night. Lew

  2. Hi everyone,

    It’s true, I’m shameless and cannot deny it. I promised to reply tonight, but instead was on a massive video call with mates for hours and now have zero credibility. However in this instance things have gotten suddenly very weird down here again, so please bare with me in this particular instance. We are back in curfew. How’s that for living in a western democracy? We’re back baby, back in curfew. I can’t even make this stuff up:

    Melbourne curfew among new lockdown rules as restrictions extended by two weeks.

    We have officially lost the plot!



  3. Hi Lewis,

    Sorry mate, I will reply tomorrow, but today has been just super weird and yeah, promise to speak tomorrow. I actually can’t believe that we are in curfew again – like an actual curfew, not a muck around thing. Crazy stuff.



  4. Hello Chris
    Had a phone call from younger daughter today. Things sound completely dreadful in NSW. Even worse, she is trying to renew her British passport which unfortunately she allowed to lapse. She has clearly had too easy a life so far and was unaware of what can potentially happen. The details that she is having to supply are quite outrageous. Strangest of all is a request for MY marriage date!! What the heck is that about?


  5. Yo, Chris – No worries… at least as far as replies on this blog, go. The rest of it? Well …

    We really don’t get much news, as far as what’s happening with You Know What, at least locally (county, State.) There was a small article, that last week, there were 250+. new cases. And that our hospital, and the hospitals in the surrounding counties, are pushed to capacity. Don’t hear much about contact tracing. For awhile, our National Guard was doing a lot of it … but I think they finally threw up their hands, and ended that.

    But on the more bucolic front, I got the last gallon of blueberries, into the freezer. Two trays of cherry tomatoes (all yellow), are about ready to come out of the dehydrator. The apartment smells like baking pizza, this morning. Hmmm. I cut up the pear branch that came down, last night, and cleaned up that mess. If not me, who? 🙂 I got almost a two gallon bucket, of pears, that I brought inside, to ripen. Another two gallons (small, damaged) went into the garden, for compost. I mixed in a few rotting apples, to help them break down, faster.

    One of my Siberian Mammoth Sunflowers, is beginning to form a flower head. It’s about ten feet tall. I’ve got it roped in, in two places. I should measure the girth, of the lower trunk. Glad I bought that folding saw. I’ll need it, when it comes time to bring it down. Call in the Tree Dudes! Timber! Lew

  6. Hello Chris,
    What a happy face, next to the open-chest-surgery of the coffee machine! Well deserved! Congratulations! Especially after the epic, well-documented rock break!

    I am sad to hear that the lockdown/curfew/stupidity is back on you. What did you do to deserve this? (or is there no such thing as instant karma? 😉

    Regarding aliens, I am dumbfounded by humans who seriously think they would be able to communicate, in case of encounter. We are utterly unable to communicate with mammals that are very, very close to us like pigs. There are extremely rare cases of minor collaborations with wild animals, like birds (see the film “Hadza, last of the first” for an example of collaborative honey-hunting).

    If there are aliens who can communicate with us, it is only because they are much, much more clever than us.
    And then I don’t need to ask the pigs how our relationship (human-alien species) would end.

    A side step – regarding aliens and cultures. I was giving a cross cultural training a couple of years ago with people from all over the world, and one exercise was to draw a cartoon to highlight cultural differences. A pair of students (one Chinese, one Syrian) drew a cartoon on this topic: First scene – Chinese guy meets alien, thinking “Can we eat them?”. Second scene – Syrian guy meets alien, thinking “Can we f*** them?”.
    (The participants had a good laugh, despite the un-woke topic, even the women in the group.)
    We all bring different expectations and subtexts into encounters like this. I don’t know what the alien was thinking. Maybe the same thing? I am not so keen to learn from a first-hand encounter…

    The lemon tree with phytophtora will probably rot from the ground up, so indeed, better to get a new one. Or a citrus rootstock onto which you can graft from the top of your old tree… Since you are in the winter time, it could work.

    Good luck!

  7. Hi Inge,

    We’re back – that is the royal we as in ‘Ollie and I’! 🙂

    The water table is quite high here too this year, so the water in your pond is quite telling in that regard. Please correct my memory, but didn’t the pond run dry one year?

    Hehe! I was having a lot of fun playing around with culturally appropriate but rather odd endings for the book. I really enjoyed the book and loved the way it ended as that is sometimes how life works out sometimes, not smoothly, but messily and requiring much effort. If things are running smoothly, a person should as the old timers used to say: count their blessings.

    My gut feeling also is that things are too late for your tomato crop, although you might get a few outliers. But it is really hard to know in advance what the next few months of weather will bring. There’ll be no snow here this year as far as I can understand the current conditions.

    Ah, that is an interesting difference with the blackberries. Last year I had one of the best blackberry seasons that I can recall. Mind you, I massively fed the soil where the plants grow and that may explain the difference. It does seem rather odd to feed blackberries, but I highly recommend trialling that.

    Your neighbours are relying on your son without them being aware of the effort involved. People are sort of capable around these parts in relation to fallen trees, but each has their limits. Although, last weekend I ventured into a part of the mountain range I hadn’t been since the epic wind storm, and wow they have some huge trees laying on their sides. Might try and get a photo.

    Things are bad there. Yes, that is true, but believe it or not, things are actually worse here. I’m beginning to truly wonder how businesses will survive these days.

    On such minor and inconsequential matters can lives turn, sorry to say and your daughter and her family have my sympathies. The editor and I are all over our paperwork and admin, and there is a good reason for that. Others, well, most of the time if things slip between the gaps, it is not a problem, but times have turned and such things now matter.

    I have no doubts that background checks will be made. My understanding is that if you want to leave the country badly enough, you can – you just have to continually pester border force so that they know that you are serious. Such people might not make it back again. Early last year a state premier was quoted as saying: come back now, or don’t come back at all. It seemed a rather difficult to misinterpret statement – and so far it is proving to be very true.



  8. Hi Pam,

    I joke around about having nightmares about aliens and terminators, but usually my sleep is very good and undisturbed. Last night was an exception. A nightmare gripped me.

    The dream was extraordinarily vivid and found me at the rear of a narrow Victorian era house. The house faced north and was only a single room plus one hallway wide – which is par for course with Victorian workers cottages. The hallway ran the length of the western side of the house before opening up into a full width room.

    This house was unknown to me, and I stood rigid in that full width room. I knew the house was unknown to me because there were windows at various points along the hallway (and windows are never placed at such a location). The windows were opaque and I could not see out of them.

    I was also facing north towards the front of the house. The light in the house had a sort of weird blue / grey hue, not so much the deep indigo blue of a summer sky, but more a muted blue of no great significance, or producing much light for that matter.

    Whilst I stood rigidly facing the front of the house, a sound built, like a wave coming in from a distance which is barely perceptible at first, and slowly builds. As the sound grew in stature I knew that it was the sound of the dead. Eventually the sound became a roar and my senses were overwhelmed and I cried out in my dream – and also in reality and I woke up with a massive fright.

    Kept me awake for hours last night, that dream did. Can’t say that I appreciate such weird and frightening intrusions into my sleep. And today, believe it or not, I have had to spend personal energy making other people laugh in a dark time.

    In addition to that nightmare, there is a sense of a lessening of pressure, but I don’t know at all what any of it means. Hope to sleep better tonight.

    Wise to stay alert.



  9. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for understanding. Mate, yesterday was super-weird, which is not your normal everyday sort of strange, but like strangeness taken to the whole next level. I’m glad that not everyday is like that one.

    Headed into the big smoke today and helped out with order processing, which is one of the few excepted businesses. Sometimes I like to chuck in the ice breaker observation (hopefully not the ice which sunk the Titanic, but audiences can be rough): Cue artless facial expression and tone, and then add the words: “The roads were pretty quiet today. Where is everyone?” Always gets a laugh. Yes, so today I worked, pretty hard actually, and just did my best to keep others laughing along. Well, it makes me feel better, and I kind of enjoy doing that – working hard + laughing. 🙂

    Did you know that your part of the world and down here are at opposite ends of the continuum in that regard? It is hard to come across news that does not relate to the health subject which dare not be named. Probably neither extreme is a good place to be, but it is a truth universally acknowledged that humans fly off to extremes for some odd reason known only to themselves.

    The contact tracers here are paid for by the state government, and it can lead to odd places such as: engagement parties… The news is reporting $350,000 in fines, so far.

    Go the sunflowers! I take my hat off to you my good Sir. Sunflowers have been beyond me, and I’ve seen those giant Siberian variety growing – they’re impressive. Respect. We often much around with such Triffid like plants and suggest that: You could cut floor boards from them!

    How crispy did your tomatoes end up out of the dehydrator? Don’t you reckon that job is affected a bit by the relative humidity in the air? Sometimes a day is enough for tomatoes, but then at other times it can take a day and a half to get them dry. Had some in dinner tonight too. Yum! Linguine with a mushroom, French lentil and vegetable sauce (with a tomato base). It was very good and the editor chucked in some chilli flakes and a touch of parmesan cheese. So good. 🙂

    Really? I might have a look into the ebuy auctions later tonight. It is funny how some items from peoples misspent youth can become collectors items. What do you reckon it might be? Do you think a call to nostalgia plays into the story? Some of the cars from my youth, (and here I must digress and confess to the most stupid act of my youth – purchasing a car from a wreckers to fix up) now cost bonkers amounts of mad cash. Makes no sense to me, the cars weren’t all that good.

    Did you find an example of the 3D effect? It sounds fascinating.

    Hadn’t read Ray Bradbury’s short story, but the narrative rings a bell so I may have seen the film or show. Sliding doors is a very good take on that story. Yes, quite enjoyed the film.

    I’m pretty sure that it was Stephen Hawking who had reservations about contacting aliens. I tend to believe that they may be bad news, and fortunately the distances are quite large. There was a John Carpenter film about space lizards ‘They Live’. Very entertaining, and I was mucking around once a few months ago when I laughingly suggested to friends that: “wasn’t that a documentary?” Earned a few cheap smiles.

    Hope you empathise with the most awful prospect of culling the book collection so as to make space for new additions – and yes, you are guilty of book recommendations, and I am sometimes led astray. Have you got any tips for the novice as to how to go about culling a book here or there from the collection?

    The solar power problems down here are real, and what is being discovered is that even with only one-fifth of houses with a roof top solar grid connection, the voltage is sometimes rising too high on the house side of the transformers. Seems like in order to keep the home grid tied equipment cheap, nobody thought to have a facility to throttle output into the grid. The equipment here I run has to do just that, otherwise the batteries and the mains power in the house will pop – but it is expensive to perform that neat trick.

    I like the suggestion about the book, but you know I reckon I’d end up being universally hated for telling it like it is with that favourite pet technology. Or even worse, I’d tell it like it is, and then people would blithely ignore me – which is another form of cancel culture. They’re not up for the discussion, or if they are, they inevitably suggest that yes, this how things are today, but in the future it will be so much better – and everyone feels much calmer, until they get to the future that is. 🙂 It’s true.

    Sure you didn’t watch Rocky III! It’s a classic and ol’ Rocky has much to say about getting knocked down and then getting back up again. I was using this very analogy today, except I added in the extra bit about ol’ Rocky being flat out on the mat and trying to work out whether the referee counted seven or eight – those extra seconds of time out might come in handy. And Plum, well she was simply enjoying herself out in the warm sunshine.

    Oh hey, you just reminded me. We worked out why the water pump in the coffee machine broke in the first place – it was the third filter theory again. Turns out that there was a hidden filter which we weren’t aware of and the back pressure was burning out the pump. We twigged to the possibility when a chunk of black carbon stuff was pushed out of the machine by the new water pump and into a coffee cup (which candidly had been mostly consumed). Kind of like finding half a millipede in your sandwich. Disassembled the components and used bicarb with vinegar splashed onto it to dissolve the dozen years of gunk in the mysterious filter. The coffee today is superb.

    Ammo is reasonably priced but then you may have a hernia at the cost, and some may even be manufactured locally – maybe. Last time I was at the shop they had pallets of the stuff and seemed well stocked. It sounds a bit dodgy, but that area of my life which I rarely speak of, is kind of fun, and the err, more judgemental folks would probably frown about such sentiments.

    Glad you enjoyed the Black Hellebore. It is a stunner – and I hadn’t heard about the irises. That is a delicate plant believe it or not and has taken about three years to produce that particular flower.

    Has it cooled down much yet?

    Mate, truth to tell, I jot ideas down for stories when the inspiration strikes, otherwise I’d forget them and then wonder what was it again that I was going to write about. But lists only work for me when I feel overwhelmed and need to unburden the brain. The editor on the other hand loves lists, and they’re not just for show either – those things get actioned.

    There is always a few misses with the blog – and those are the comments I tend to delete. So far in all the years there has only been one computer generated comment that I genuinely wasn’t sure about – so I deleted it anyway just to be prudent.

    Yeah, I’m interested to see how the turmeric and ginger grow too. I hope they bounce back after the winter, but time will tell.It is worth trying, and your indoors will be warmer than the greenhouse is.

    Ah, I had not considered that about the woker author having such an insecure need to prove their bonafides to the audience. That culture makes no sense to me whatsoever. Had to laugh, I said to someone today that a lady need not put a sticker on her vehicle declaring ‘Bi#ch with attitude’, it should be self evident when said lady gets out of the vehicle that she is indeed bad news – and all shall tremble in her presence. The sticker is irrelevant and simply a sigil. Reality is otherwise. Another smile produced! You see what people have to deal with all day long when I’m around? 🙂

    The documentary sounds rather dull, and yes sometimes I can’t even understand what people are saying when there is heaps of background noise. The original mad max probably required subtitles.

    Bathurst is of course motoring mecca here what with the Mount Panorama race track, which you can drive on during the week day. You have to observe the speed limits though.

    Ah well, Bendigo is a largeish town north of here (and in fact on the same train line). I can see that, and have heard things, and probably can’t repeat them here – sorry. But yeah, you might be onto something there. The town was mentioned more than a few times in the Underbelly series of books. It’s actually a really lovely inland town full of gold era architecture and that was where we went with my mates of the big shed fame to see the exhibition a few months ago. The food was pretty good too.

    Tapestries keeping draughts out, and rushes on the floor. How sensible.

    Oooo, nice one. Was that a pre-recommendation for a book just to soften up my resolve? Hope you are enjoying the Appleseed book – and hopefully nobody is being forced to consume too many of those seeds?



  10. Hi Goran,

    Many thanks, and yes I was rather pleased with the repairs to the machine. It is a very well designed machine which was intended to be repaired over time. Very thoughtful of the manufacturers and not all of them take such a path – as you probably also know. Discovered that there was a hidden filter which had accumulated enough gunk over the years to place too much pressure on the water pump. The unknown filter is now clean and the machine is working really well again.

    You see, there was this engagement party… I’m guessing that we are all being punished as a consequence. We are very naughty in this state, but some are clearly more naughty than others. It sounds like I’m speaking in riddles, but no there actually was an engagement party (nothing to do with me).

    That’s a good point, although I would like to reiterate that aliens might be seriously bad news. Actually the magpies and kookaburras have a good working relationship. If ever a fox is around, they will seek me out and expect to drop everything and do something about the fox. I’m also alert to their calls, and listen to them during the day. You know when something bad is happening when the birds make their alert calls to one another – it’s a language and if you listen long enough you can pick up some rudiments.

    That’s pretty funny. And yes, other cultures have vastly different takes on the world. I mean look at the sheer difference between say, the US response and the Australian response, or even your own fine countries response to the health subject which dare not be named. We’re all reacting, but taking differing paths – and I suspect that this indicates a lessening of the formerly dominant culture as their empire wanes.

    Yes, first hand encounters with aliens seem rather unpleasant. Have you ever watched the 1980 film Alien? When the alien jumps out of the egg and attaches to the crew members face – it’s horrific, and then gets worse.

    The lemon tree is a goner, sorry to say, and you’re right. I might try the grafting. You can summer graft too using a bud graft technique which is quite successful and worth learning.

    How are you doing up there? Has the season warmed up and dried off a bit?



  11. Yo, Chris – Your dream: you’ve clearly been watching too many zombie movies. 🙂

    Chris: Spreading joy (or at least one liners), wherever he goes. 🙂 . Quit commendable. Leave ’em laughing. Hmmm. Wonder where that came from? Ah, a 1949 movie, staring Milton Berle and Virginia Mayo. “Always Leave Them Laughing.” Can’t say I ever saw it, but the phrase has some common use.

    We don’t get much county news, about You Know What. And, I think it’s business interests, that have put pressure on our local newspaper. At least, that’s my theory. We’re hearing lots about Sydney, and a bit about Melbourne. And, yes, we heard about the engagement party. Ohhhh! Those fines!

    The Mammoth Siberian Sunflower, is 6″ round, at the base. I’ve got two, about that size. The rest are languishing around the 2 foot mark. Don’t think they’ll make it.

    The tomatoes come out of the dehydrator, flexible, and a bit sticky. I let them sit in their racks, for a couple of days, on the counter. Make sure they’re really dry, before bagging them up.

    Your dinner sounds really yummy. I finished off the last of the cucumber harvester salad (on corn bread), last night. Tonight will be back to beans and rice.

    Collector’s interests do move forward, in time. People do collect things from their childhoods … or, what they saw at grannie’s house. Hence the interest in Midcentury Modern. Then there are a few old fossils, like me, who look beyond what we can remember. But then, I spent a lot of time in museums, and hung out in an antique shop, when a wee small lad, that was stuffed full of 18th and early 19th century stuff. So I developed an … appreciation.

    Couldn’t find the article on 3D pulp paperback covers. I saw it years ago. I probably just haven’t figured out the right search terms. But I remember how striking, they were. The major elements (the man with a gun, the babe, any other props, the title) were cut out with an Exacto knife, glued to stiff cardboard, and arranged at different depths, in a shadow box. If you didn’t want to destroy a falling apart paperback (or, pulp magazine), you could color photocopy it, and work from that.

    “They Live,” was a great film. So cheesey. I wonder if that’s where all the conspiracy theories about the lizard people, came from? I watched a good movie, last night. “Those Who Wish Me Dead,” starring Ms. Angelina Jolie. She’s an ex-smoke jumper, now a fire tower watch. There’s a kid, whose father was a forensic accountant, who is killed, because He Knows Too Much. The father is killed, the kid escapes into the wilderness, pursued by relentless killers. The kid meets Ms. Jolie, and they must escape through a raging forest fire. Do I recommend it? Well, if you’re looking for a good escapist, action/adventure movie, it’s a winner.

    Culling books. Also known as “weeding,” in library land. Or, deaccessioning, if you want to get all hoity toity. Gee, it’s such a personal decision. How long has it been, since you read it, or even though about it? Is it useful? Is it useful to the person you are, or, some imagined person you want to be? It’s always a good idea to check The River, to see what a good used copy, is selling for. Wouldn’t want to let a treasure, go, for a song. On the other hand, it will probably end up with someone who will also treasure it. Temporarily.

    Yeah, probably best not write the definitive book on solar power. Probably not worth the grief.

    A third filter. Who knew? I think that happened to you, once before? I wouldn’t have that “black carbon stuff,” analyzed. You probably don’t want to know. On the other hand, maybe you can carve jewelry out of it? 🙂 .

    I figured from a few comments you dropped, that you had a bit of firepower. Very, very prudent, if you live out in the bush.

    We’re having a stretch of very nice weather. In the 70s. Overcast, and it’s not smoke. I really thought it might rain, yesterday. But, I watered, anyway. Never know if it’s going to rain. And if it does rain, how much?

    Best not talk trash, about Bendigo. The home team might be a bit touchy. 🙂

    I’m well into “Appleseed,” but can’t say I can recommend it. I’m skimming through vast chunks of text. Reams and reams of description of land, animals, plants, etc. etc.. Just to get to the bits where the characters do something. It’s set in America, in three time periods. The late 1700s. Two half brothers, Nathaniel and Chapman (wink, wink, nudge nudge), wander the Ohio territory, creating apple orchards. Oh, and Chapman is a faun. Yup. Hooves, tail, horns. The second time period, is about 50 years in our future. Climate change and a huge earthquake, have emptied out our West. Everything east of the Mississippi River, is pretty much owned by a bio-genetic corporation. They’ll take care of you, if you give up everything, and enter into a feudal arrangement, with them. You will have nothing, and you will be happy. Except there are pesky eco-terrorists. The third time period is probably 300 years in the future. America is covered with an ice sheet (geo-enginerring gone wrong) , and a creature, man? faun? part artificial construct? lives in some kind of a ship on the ice, which he really doesn’t understand. As he has been regenerated hundreds of times, and looses a bit of memory with each regeneration. He has to mine biomass, from under the ice (very dangerous), to feed the hoppers in the ship, so he can eat and regenerate. Clear? Good.

    I attempted an E Buy auction, this morning. It was that Currier and Ives print, “Life and Death.” The two kids in the window, that, when you look at it long enough, becomes a skull. I lost in the last minute. Someone probably had snipping software. Oh, well, I probably got the seller and extra $50. I don’t feel badly. Just wasn’t meant to be, and the jingle is still in my pocket. Lew

  12. Chris:

    My goodness – that was an absolutely horrifying nightmare. I am not surprised that you woke up in a panic. And I imagine that it does mean something. Well, by the time you see this you will have been through another night – and I hope it was better.


  13. Chris:

    I still read read my favorite books that are in tatters, though it takes all my skill to hold them together to do so. Put the scantily clad young ladies on the covers of your replacements, unless they just aren’t worth it. If I don’t like a book cover I have been known to make a brown paper bag cover to go over it.

    Yes – I did understand that.

    I have no wish to ever encounter an alien.

    Are you going to split some square rocks and save them for future projects or are they always for current projects?

    Oh – the snow drops! Thanks!


  14. Chris,

    Thanks for the photos that show the rock-splitting process. That was very instructive. Seems that you’ve found the right system.

    Good job on the coffee machine repair, too. Gotta have the good coffee, or bad things happen eventually. That is nearly an immutable law of the universe.

    No, the numbers on the filters are the MERV rating. I use MERV 11 or MERV 12, whichever is available, in the main furnace. These are 16″x25″x4″ filters. The MERV 13 on the box fan is 20″ square and 1″ thick. The higher the number, the smaller the stuff it filters out. The MERV 13 removes between 2/3 and 5/6 of the smoke particles.

    The furnace…It’s central heating and cooling, depending on which mode the heat pump is in. There are outlet ducts and vents, then return vents and ducts. The returns dump the air right into the filter area. Some additional basement air gets added somewhere in the system. There is a setting on the “smart” thermostat to keep the furnace fan on at all times. This is a low speed setting that will keep air moving throughout the house. I only use it in the summer to circulate cooler basement air into the main floor. The fan will also automatically come on at speed when the cooling system kicks in. Ditto when the heating system kicks in. And the fan does NOT run all the time in the winter. Don’t want to circulate cold basement air into the main living areas then!

    An entire bed of mashed parsnips? That’s too much. Now a mix of mashed parsnips and potatoes and turnips would be really good. I’ve made that. Even the Princess likes it occasionally.

    We *might* get between 2mm and 6mm of rain overnight. I’m not holding my breath. 23 km south of here, in an area I know well (you pave it, fire will come) there was another house fire that ended up burning that house down, as well as 7 outbuildings and about 130 acres. Still smoky here from that. And 30km NW of here there’s a BIG one that started Sunday night/Monday. The wind is pushing it fast, many houses burned, 15,000 acres and a ginormous area under “must evacuate” orders. Because the winds keep shifting, we’ve got smoke from that one, too. The “Great American Smokeout” is an annual event in which many habitual nicotine smokers take a day off smoking. However, I began referring to fire season as the Great American Smokeout some years ago due to the wildfire smoke.

    Meanwhile, the fire that was threatening family is getting under good control – 60% contained, they say, but experience is that when it hits 60%, it’s pretty well done. Evacuation notices reduced to “pay attention, nothing imminent”. That’s hugely good news.

    I really like the “I’m King of the Rock!” pose with you holding Plum. Nice photo.

    Our unmentionable numbers daily are about what Lew is seeing on a weekly basis. Statewide, there are almost no hospital beds left. Anywhere. Whereas the English speaking world is either a) in denial or b) trying to eradicate the thing, it’s clear that, as you say the narrative has been lost. Continental Europe, on the other hand, is attempting to make plans to live with the unmentionable for the foreseeable future, but what that plan entails is sort of unknown yet. A HUGE annual outdoor event held downtown in early September, “Pig Out in the Park” (yes, that’s the official name. seriously), has been cancelled for a 2nd year due to unmentionable concerns. And so it goes.

    I’ve yet to dig up any carrots, but judging from their above the surface growth, it looks like I should have a good crop this year. I’ll let you know how they are when I give them a try.


  15. Hi Pam,

    You know, I can’t really say that I enjoyed such visitations in the dark hours of the night. The departed rarely make for pleasant company. And candidly such frights can up a persons heart rate to unsustainable levels, and whilst nothing is guaranteed, I’d like a little bit more time, so I hope they quit their mischief. I slept much better last night, but was again visited by vivid dreams. This is not my usual state of being and I usually enjoy quiet repose, but then extraordinary times…

    This time around I was trying to get away from a massive music festival in the industrial areas of the big smoke but for one reason or another was being held up in the throng. It is all rather tiresome and I can only but wish for a decent nights sleep. It is hard to think correctly when outside forces are poking you hard. Oh well, this I guess is our lot these days.

    Hmm, I shall be guided by your excellent example with the books. Isn’t it nice revisiting an old and much loved book? It’s the same feeling as coming home after an ordeal. Even though you know the characters and their predilections, the familiar ground holds appeal. 🙂

    However, I must say that the addition of a brown paper bag over the cover would only serve to raise interest here as to what I was up to. If I may offer an alternative: Tis best to hide out the front of a rock and roll band. Yes, there is anonymity to be had there.

    Glad to know that you understood.

    Would we be friends with aliens – that is the question here? My thinking runs along your line of thinking: Who in their right mind would ever want to discover the answer? 😉

    No, sadly Peak Rocks is real, and we have more projects than there are rocks. Might get stuck into them rocks tomorrow.

    Always a pleasure to share the flowers, and the bees were out and about today enjoying the late autumn sunshine. My gut feeling suggests that it will be a long spring this year.



  16. Hi DJ,

    The rocks abide, but with a discreet quantum of attention, they yield their goodies. Do you know what a struggle it was trying to work in the words abide and quantum into the same sentence? I now retire from the grammatical field in full glory and with honours. 🙂

    It has taken a number of years to work out how to frack the rocks so as to avoid the dreaded Peak Rocks. And sadly, there are always more projects than there are rocks. Actually, the Moby Rock which is buried in the ground up above the house is unyielding. At this stage, we’re thinking that the surrounding clay reduces the force of the jackhammer in that it reduces the ability to expand the area in which the rock resides. What does your most excellent command of physics suggest in this regard?

    Exactly. I recently heard Michael Pollan being interviewed by the local youth news radio. The author sounds really lovely, and during the interview he admitted that what people like is the caffeinated version of himself. For research purposes, he had apparently quit the habit for three months and discovered that it affected his day to day existence.

    Thanks for the explanation regarding the filters. I’m still thinking somehow a washable foam filter could be worked into the system. The pollen count is up here for sure as many of the indigenous plants, and in particular the wattles, set flower in late autumn. Wise plants to do so.

    Ah, all is now clear. For your interest, I have the option of pumping in cool air from under the house into the battery room (if ever needed) using a 24V truck radiator fan mounted onto the floor. Super easy. When I took the system to 48V I had to install a DC to DC converter.

    A bed of mashed parsnips is indeed a step too far. I like the sound of your blend. I forget now, but years ago someone from Europe piped up in the comments and suggested that turnips were only suitable for cattle feed. I beg to differ here and told them so. Hope you add some butter to the mix? Yum!

    Did you get any rain? Sorry to hear about your fires, and hope that the season for such craziness comes to an end soon for you. And yes, that sort of advice is very welcome news. I hope your ladies folks use the opportunity to observe how nature responds to such outrages? Always something to be learned there.

    Thanks! I was channelling Rocky! 🙂 Plum was collateral damage to the photo.

    Mate, the whole thing is crazy. Due to privacy issues I cannot tell you about the details of the strange week which I have just had, but it was super strange. I always knew that the decline of western civilisation would be an unusual business, but these days have surpassed my imagination. Of course, this may well be a personal limitation. I see that some poor soul tried to steal away in the wheel well of an aircraft. An unfortunate choice.

    I’ll be curious to hear of your carrot crops. And I suspect that your dry-ish year has allowed them to dig deep and they notably enjoy fluffy loose soil.



  17. Hi Lewis,

    Pah! The cheeky departed had numbers on their side that night, and cost me more than a few hours of lost sleep. We are not amused. 😉 My dreams are rarely that vivid, and woe betide those who attempt to ruin my restful repose. Haven’t seen a zombie film for a while now, but you might have a point in that the undead linger around making a right nuisance of themselves. But candidly I was just chuffed that my end of year zombie prediction has now been proven correct! Not that I’m crowing or anything like that, well maybe I’m not. Go Chris! Go Chris! 🙂 Might have to recycle that prediction as it is like, in the bag, man! Do you reckon it might be safe to recycle the prediction?

    Times are really ordinary down here, and spirits are let’s just say – flagging. So, like a strolling court jester I bring mirth to dark places and everyone is the better for the experience. Well, at least they haven’t complained yet, although there is a bit of theatrical groaning going on – but I take that as a letter of encouragement and recommendation. And in between that I dispense the odd chunk of wisdom here and there where it may (or may not) do some good.

    The phrase was unknown to me, but it makes a certain sort of sense. Back in one of my corporate jobs I used to run a graduate program, and always tried to make the learning process fun, or at the very least amusing. Having all those assistant accountants around was like being surrounded by the sheer wall of energy that puppies supply. As I’ve gotten older in years there are things that I’ve discovered which I enjoy which would quite startle my younger self, and having a couple of puppies running around the house and farm causing all manner of mischief with their hijinks is something that I’ve become quite fond of. Earlier when I was doing my now daily routine stretching exercises, I just happened to notice Ruby and Plum play fighting on the floor. Ruby seemed to have flipped Plum upside down and was play gnawing on her neck. So I remarked to Ruby: Do you have insist upon pretending to be a vampire? Ruby mistook my words as a personal admonition, whereupon they both turned their combined attention upon the hapless and previously relaxed Ollie, who had his ears promptly chewed. And so it rolls.

    Lewis, please trust me in this – you really don’t want the down under experience in this case. Despite the unreality of your own counties experience, it is not seppuku. Still something had to give and things have been very good for many decades. I tell you truly the photos of the miscreants were released in the news today, and all other considerations to the side – I am uncomfortable with that. It is a truism that if you tolerate this, then you or your kids will be next. Mind you, I don’t have any kids so that part of the story might not be such a great personal problem, but still. Hmm, just got next weeks blog.

    The two foot sunflowers might not do so well this year, but the others are definitely worthy of saving some seeds. With a diameter like those, you might need a chainsaw. Just sayin.

    Wise to get all of the moisture out of the tomatoes, but you knew that. Don’t you reckon it’s funny that peoples minds stop at the harvesting part of the food story and entirely forget about the growing and/or preserving parts? The sounds of Lenny: ‘tell me about the rabbits again’, does come to mind.

    Beans and rice are a fine dinner. Had a tortilla this evening, which is basically a massive potato and vegetable patty held together by eggs. It’s of a Spanish origin. We’re drowning in eggs right now with at least half a dozen a day.

    Ah, makes sense. I’m assuming that The Goldfinch film was especially enjoyable for you – I really enjoyed it too. Way back in the day when the editor and I spent a month drifting around the island state of Tasmania, we always made time to rifle through the antique shops and what amazed me was how much stuff they had in there that dated way back to the early days of the colony – and the stuff looked genuine and was well priced. I’m sure the situation would be different now as the island state is seen as like Vermont and something of a safe haven, but I dunno.

    They Live was a pretty funny film. John Carpenter films usually scare the daylights out of me, but not that one. Maybe David Icke watched the film and possibly considered it to be a documentary? Stranger things have happened. The trailer to the film which you watched looked pretty cool – and was that a Johnny Cash song, dark stuff?

    Thanks for the new word. 🙂 And for the excellent advice.

    My mate Simon suggests that Australian’s are prone to avoiding arguments, and the assertion sounds correct to me. So why upset everyone unnecessarily about the truth on solar, when they can find out for themselves – for free. Yeah. The instability issue with renewables technically could be overcome, but the system becomes uneconomic and creates winners and losers, and also people who will game the system for personal benefit.

    Your memory serves you well, and yes it is true about the third filter theory as it has struck before. And probably will again. Sometimes ya just learn through the gentle art of making mistakes. It is a perfectly path, and seems to be the one civilisation is favouring at this stage.

    I was in two minds about putting the firepower image in, but then on the other hand, the addition might not hurt either. The 4AM dude was a real wake up call, and something had to change. I drill the editor on the basics relentlessly so that she knows how they work in her sleep. It’s not complicated.

    Your weather sounds really lovely. 64’F here tomorrow and sunny. Spring is early this year. Hopefully it is a good fruit season, I’ve chucked a lot of agricultural lime (and other goodies) into the orchard this year and the trees are growing massively.

    My thoughts exactly. You may trash talk the town, but they’re a whole bunch closer to me I can assure you! Lovely people.

    Hehe! That’s funny about the brothers and the faun. Maybe it is just me, but I’m a touch sceptical about the claim that: You will have nothing, and you will be happy, if only because it sounds disingenuous. And of course everyone with even the most fundamental understanding of history knows that some pigs will be more equal than other pigs.

    Are people even still using auction sniper software? I’m with you, despite its charms, it wasn’t meant to be. And there is always next time to look forward to. 🙂



  18. Hello Chris
    Am having a job to keep up with reading the comments, in fact I don’t know how you manage.
    I am getting rid of books at the rate of about 50 a week and am finding it surprisingly easy. Suspect that this is due to old age. Do I want to read this book again, yes or no. I keep reference books. So books are first offered to Son, then to friends, then to charity. Really valuable ones are sold.

    DNA is fascinating. Older daughter has had hers done and an unknown first cousin has appeared. One of my husband’s brothers had a son with his landlady. I am currently hunting out photos of his father for him. Strange to discover that you are not quite who you thought you were at the age of 74.

    The virus has definitely been overtaken in our news!


  19. Hi Inge,

    That makes two of us! 🙂 Due to a gobarmint experiment in the early 1990’s I was taught to type fast, very fast actually, and this has come rather in handy over the years. I’m serious too. Although candidly, I would not want to reply to more comments than now. There is a plan in place which gets wheeled out from time to time whenever there are too many comments. It’s fail safe. Works every-single-time. I just write a really bad essay, and then everyone extra goes away. How easy is that?

    There is something very responsible in the how and why of you culling your book collection. Respect. Time is a funny thing and I too wonder if I’ll ever get back to re-reading certain books, and whether the effort involved would even be worth it, although there are some books that are treasured. I’m sure you hold your own counsel in this matter?

    Hehe! The cheeky scamp, and his secrets are now known to all. I assume you know this son? Speaking of the health subject which dare not be named secrets sure are coming out about the dreaded engagement party. I’m uncomfortable about how the media is approaching this subject. But I guess we are the same people we were several millennia ago and not as much has changed as you’d imagine.

    Well, there is a good reason for that. Yes. Your country is lucky to be an island, although the channel is not overly wide. There is much trouble brewing in that part of the world, and water and energy is perhaps at the heart of a lot of the trouble. I note that some poor soul was desperate enough to attempt to hide in the wheel well of an aircraft – usually a fatal choice.

    On a brighter note, I was enjoying many laughs at the uncomfortable truths and half truths delivered courtesy of the amusing spoof videos you linked to about our gobarmint down here a few months ago. Very cheeky.



  20. Hello Chris
    No, the discovered relative is unknown to all of us. I also never met the brother of my husband who turns out to be his father.


  21. Yo, Chris – All this talk about basement air, and fans. Memories … 🙂 .
    In our house in Portland, we started out with a sawdust burning furnace. A huge load was delivered, in the fall, and stored in a bunker in the basement. It was replaced by another furnace. Electric, I think. It also had a way to suck the cool air out of the basement. I remember there were always long discussions about when, and if to turn the thing on. Expense? But, in our climate, it worked about as well as A/C.

    Theatrical groans and eye-rolls? 🙂 . When my mate, Scott, attempts to tell a joke, I don’t even give him that. All he gets is a dead pan stare. Drives him crazy 🙂 .

    H is always coming up with some unexpected amusement. The other afternoon, when I went to take her for a walk, I opened the door to Elinor’s apartment (I have a key). She took a few steps down the hall … stretched. A few more steps … stopped for a good scratch. A few more steps … another good stretch. Well, we are all retired, around here, and apparently, she’s gotten into the “all the time in the world”, groove.

    Pictures in the newspaper? Next, they’ll be branding them on the forehead. Our county fair kicked off, yesterday. And, there’s the Morton Logger’s Jubilee. There was a lot of back and forth, as to if these two events would be held. Due to You Know What. I noticed that our county health department, did not report numbers to State health, this week. Hmmm. If I were more conspiracy minded …

    I usually store my dried tomatoes in quart bags. Just in case one goes bad. I’d rather loose a quart, than a gallon. So far, no problems.

    There aren’t many “real” antique stores, around, anymore. Most of the “good” stuff, gets sold on-line. Although auctions can be rich pickings. But even less and less, of that. I forgot to mention, an auction in Olympia had two sets of the cast iron shoe lasts. They went for about $45, per set.

    I really didn’t pay much attention to the sound track, of the film “Those Who Want Me Dead.” By the way, Mr. Cash once played our county fair. Back in the days when we had at least one headliner musical act. I happened to see him walking down Tower Avenue, on his way to our local grocery store. 🙂 .

    I read Simon’s post. I thought it a rather scathing review of the Australian character. But I want to go back and read it, again.

    The Master Gardeners came, this morning, instead of their usual Tuesday. A couple of them had to judge something or other, at our county fair. I notice, this morning, I have tiny green beans, developing. I also picked about a quart of blueberries. Round out some of those gallons.

    There’s another Currier and Ives print, coming up for auction, on Friday. It’s called “American Fruit Piece.” C&I sometimes published the same print, in three different sizes. I don’t have any in the largest size. This is one. I’ll have to make sure I don’t have it, in a smaller size. Any-who. I might have a good chance at this one, due to condition. The borders are trimmed, including a bit of the title. But I’m ok with that, as long as I can get it at a decent price. The colors are spectacular.

    I seldom re-read books, or watch films, again. But, when I was in the library, the other day, I saw a copy of “The Station Agent.” My, it’s almost 20 years old, now. It was the first time I ever saw Peter Dinklage, and thought to myself, “There’s one to watch.” So, I picked it up, and will give it another whirl. Last night I watched a documentary, on Frank Baum. Creator of “The Wizard of Oz.” Interesting man. Failed at many ventures, until the Oz books. Lew

  22. Hi Chris,

    For your sake, based on those target spreads, hopefully the zombie prediction does not come true! No, no I am sure it is the scope 🙂

    I got my 2nd Pfizer shot last week. A two hour line up was required (despite a booking!), the nice lady tells me they are doing 2000 people a day (now 3000) from the one centre. Unfortunately, the stories about side effects are true and I had a mild fever etc that night, and stoically took the next day from work to recover. Mrs Damo got her 2nd shot two days ago and claims to have had no side effects. This does not bode well for my attempts are sympathy, various noises about “man flu” are getting bandied about again.

    Tomorrow we escape the city for 10 days to visit the far north deserts and coral lined beaches of Exmouth. Don’t worry, we are all in this together! Like the fabled pig, perhaps some of us are more “in it” than others….


  23. Chris,

    I bow to your grammatical and imaginative expertise to work abide and quantum into one sentence. Awestruck is what I am.

    The Moby Rock? Yes, perhaps the clay is keeping it from expanding when you are working on Moby Rock. Also, how deep is Moby Rock in the ground? Rather than attempting to break up Moby Rock in the same fashion you have done others, you might have to try drilling sideways into the Moby, take off the parts that are above the surface and make it flush with the surrounding terraced area? I still think the best option is to throw a party and have a “big blast” at Moby Rock’s expense, so to speak. 😉 But, like igniting dry clumps of grass during a drought has serious downsides, a Big Blast Party might rain debris onto house and critters.

    I can drink several large mugs of black tea in the morning, and I do not get the same result that I get drinking my 1 largish mug of coffee. There’s just something about a good cup of coffee that nothing can truly replace.

    I’m not sure wear I could put washable prefilters. I figure if I need more air filtration, I can add another box fan with a MERV 13 filter on it.

    Of course there was butter in that mix! My dad may have called me the “family barbarian”, but I do have some culinary skills beyond roasting some fresh game on a stick over a fire while burning my fingers. 🙂 Seriously, the butter is a necessity with that concoction.

    No rain. Nary a drop. At least Wednesday had VERY good air quality. I had the windows open most of the day and got a lot of nice air in the house. And it was much cooler, also, and should remain pleasant until next week. Then, maybe into the 31C range rather than horridly hot. Another frontal system Friday, but probably little if any rain from it.

    In the Nicholas Cage movie “Con Air”, someone tried to stow away in the wheel well of the airplane. He landed on a car whose owner was just that very second complaining to his wife about having washed the car and immediately a bird pooped on it. I think he probably preferred the bird droppings after that.

    Like you, this is not the way I expected civilization to decline. It’s very strange times we live in.


  24. Hi Inge,

    Clearly you are entering upon an adventure. 🙂 Far out, you never really know what lies in wait.

    I was at the local general store the other day and there was a sign on the counter which said something along the lines of: “please have your identification ready”. They know me, so in my case it was a superfluous request, but it is a legal requirement. City folks have been sneaking out of their lock down. Who’d have imagined that would attempted? What crazy days we live – so unexpected, like unknown about family members. 🙂



  25. Hi Lewis,

    Do you know how rare it is to find a house with a basement down under? In the really older parts of the inner burbs, and here I’m thinking of the Victorian workers cottages in the suburb of North Melbourne just outside the CBD, some of those houses have basements. I’m guessing the rooms were used as a root cellar, or cool store way back in the middle of the nineteenth century. Probably quite necessary.

    Now you’ve got me thinking about it, the houses from the latter part of that century were still Victorian era workers cottages and not that different, but I’m guessing the occupants had access to ice somehow as a basement would be rarer than hens teeth. Dunno. As a kid I visited an ice factory in a very rural township with my grandfather, but that would have been in the late 1970’s, and we headed off camping with his WWII buddies.

    Hehe! Those conversations upon when to kick off the heater are part of my life. Not that we argue about it, it’s more a matter of whether we really need to get the additional heat into the household. It’s funny too, because firewood use just drops off one day. Already we now only light the fire at night. It takes the edge off the temperature and keeps the water toasty hot. Today was sunny and sort of warm. The sun felt nice on my skin and with the health subject which dare not be named, it is not a bad idea to get some extra Vitamin D.

    Anyway, we broke up two of the three rocks today and created a large dozen rocks. Moved them all back up the hill and installed them on the downhill side of the low gradient ramp project. Best not to fall off the edge as the editor did recently in the low centre of gravity mower. The steering mechanism had a mild freak out, and the editor survived unharmed, but the event did give us impetus to continue adding to the protective rock wall.

    Hehe! Dead pan stare. An effective response to bouts of brevity. Although you have to throw him a bone every now and then and just give an ever so slight bemused smile.

    The postal service here is pretty slow these days. Something shipped on the 9th from the far edge of town, only turned up yesterday in the mail. An impressive achievement.

    Mark my words, H is performing subtle experiments on you and Elinor. Of course if you feel that this cannot be so, well this is where you are wrong. H is into the groove this week, but next week is uncertain. Stay edgy and keep a close eye on that one and expect the unexpected.

    The editor tells me that the miscreants have now been named, and I guess shamed – but I have not confirmed this for myself. Reading the papers has as much appeal to me as wiping my bum after going to the toilet with stinging nettles. I have to limit my exposure for my own well being. It is possible that there are too many crazy people in the news of late.

    Thanks for letting me know how you store the tomatoes. Such an interesting fruit. Way back in the day, folks used to attempt to consume the leaves on a dare – an unwise prospect.

    It is interesting that you mention the ‘real’ antique stores, but I’m currently reading a book by the author Jack Vance: This is me (or more correctly this is I). Basically the story recounts vivid moments in his life, and I’m quite intrigued at what opportunities he and his lady had for travel to exotic places, career changes at the drop of a hat, and then when they got back from travels they just went and bought a house – as you do. It is a world which I know almost nothing about, and is different from my early adult years, and I’m guessing early adults have a different time of things now compared to what I experienced.

    I’d bet that the steel in those cast iron shoe lasts is pretty good quality. I worked at a shoe factory as a manufacturing accountant. For some odd reason recently, I’ve had a recurring memory from Alan Marshall’s, I Can Jump Puddles that the author worked as a manufacturing accountant during the Great Depression, and the factory was shut down, but he pulled some accounting trickery – and I was curious as to what it may have been. Maybe it is because it is an economic bloodbath out there right now. I work in the very unglamorous end of accounting, and I get feedback within hours and days, whilst the better remunerated and higher status accountants tend to not see such patterns for months or even a year afterwards. Little wonder my quiet repose has been disturbed this week. 🙂

    Cool! I never watched that film about Mr Cash’s life, but years ago the national youth broadcaster played Mr Cash doing a cover of the Nine Inch Nails (a big call if ever I’ve heard such nonsense, and Trent Reznor has somehow become elite, ain’t life a funny thing) song: Johnny Cash – Hurt. Powerful stuff.

    It is good that the master gardeners are getting around. Great news about the green beans. They enjoy the cooler weather from what I noticed about them last year. I saved heaps of seeds from them too. This talk of blueberries is making me salivate.

    Out of curiosity, how did they get the colours onto the C&I print?

    That’s a recommendation! And Peter Dinklage can do no wrong. 🙂

    Me tired after all the rock splitting and hauling. Went to the pub tonight. Not sure that I felt like doing so, but I honestly can’t say with any uncertainty that they’ll be open tomorrow night. What do you?



  26. Hi Damo,

    Next time you are over this way – if that is even possible – mark my words young man, we’ll put your words to the test and see how well you do. 🙂 Hehe! You and Mrs Damo are probably safe over in that pleasant western part of the country. It is hard not to sound defensive, but the scope does need aligning.

    I’ve heard the lines for the jab are quite long and full of people. Yeah. Glad that you were able to take the day off work to recover. Actually I hear your particular side effects from many people I speak with – it is quite common, but usually goes away.

    This man flu story lack of concern and/or care thing often rebounds upon the person making the outrageous claims. Just sayin… 🙂

    Hehe! Damo, you are like super cheeky. Mrs Chris and I would be hauled into jail if we attempted such a thing. Enjoy your holiday.

    It is a small thing I guess, and I must console myself with small things these days: we have better bakery products down in this corner of the continent. Everyone knows this to be true.



  27. Hi DJ,

    Hehe! Word games are quite fun. Sometimes when I’m being cheeky I slip in the line: War of Waste – and nobody has yet remarked upon the cheekiness. Oh well, thanks for the nice words.

    Hey, we broke up two of the three rock slabs today into a dozen large rocks. They were all hauled up the hill (power wheelbarrows are an amazing technology) and then placed on the low gradient ramp project. The rocks were needed on the downhill side as the drop off is quite severe (and the editor fell off on the low centre of gravity mower a few weeks ago). No great harm done, but a protective rock wall is kind of necessary with that possibility in mind. I got the farm machine repair dudes to correct the steering so that this cannot happen again, but still there are always new and interesting problems.

    Your idea in relation to the Moby Rock has much to recommend it. Just getting it below ground is probably the way to go. If I had an edge on the rock it would be easier too, but no the thing is round and has great strength. Nah, the party idea is a great way to become the most hated people in the state – this novel concept has recently been tested by others. So yeah, best not to be reattempted.

    Hmm, coffee! You can only hope that if any zombie apocalypse was to eventuate, then the packages of coffee stay well sealed. The coffee grinds we buy are vacuum sealed. It smells beautiful when first opened.

    Fair enough about the filters. Idle speculation on my part and I know little about such systems.

    That’s funny about the butter. Cooking is a serious skill that takes an inordinate amount of practice. Like the burned fingers bit too – very amusing. I got roped into cooking at about the age of 12. Dragooned might be a more polite way to describe the circumstances, but my previous life of domestic ease disappeared that day. Oh well, we must be stoic about these things.

    31’C is pretty nice really, as long as it cools down at night. Mate, in a couple of months time you’ll be thinking fondly of those warm late summer days.

    That was a great film, but I can’t recall the wheel well scene. Dunno why but I have a vague memory about reading up on this topic about a year or two back. It may have been something Inge and I were discussing. It’s kind of morbid, but to be that desperate says something too.

    We’re all bamboozled. It is crazy taken to 11 on the dial down here. Still, better than a war and credit must given for this strangeness. If only I could tell you of the distressed calls and discussions that I have been having this week. My upbeat mood is a marvel even to myself.



  28. Hello Chris
    Sorry, I forgot to answer your query re. my pond. Yes it does dry out every now and then.
    Where, where has Summer gone? I have heating on.


  29. Yo, Chris – And, in News of the World … I see the “Kung Fu” series, is going to be re-launched. Grasshopper has undergone a sex change. That ought to light up certain dark corners, of the Net 🙂 . And, take care next time you go shopping. I see in your country, 10 foot pythons are likely to crawl out of the spice shelves. Not an aggressive or poisonous snake, but still … How lucky the woman who spotted it, had had training in snake handling. Maybe the snake, “knew?”

    Root cellers or pantries. Here, people seemed to store a lot of home canned / bottled stuff, down there. I remember my aunt and uncle who had a farm, had dozens (hundreds?) of bottled up stuff, on shelves in their basement. Well, with four kids …

    I’ve wondered. Where do you get your hot water from, when your wood burner is not in use?

    Go, breaking up rocks. Just so you don’t go pitching over the side of your rock barrier.

    A slightly bemused smile, would just encourage Scott in his attempts at humor. Same goes for his attempts at poetry. And, musical composition.

    Things have gone down hill, at our postal service, too. But it’s more political. The head of the postal service, is left over from the last administration. He’s not a political appointee, but the board that elects him, are. So far, it hasn’t been possible to pry him out.

    There sure are a lot of crazy people in the news. And I’m talking about the local level. At one of our grocery stores, recently, a woman dropped trou, and placed her bum in the ice machine. And, it wasn’t even during the heat wave. Another woman set her house on fire, and ran naked, down the street. Yup, getting stranger, and stranger, out there. And, how about the family in California. Out hiking. Mother, father, daughter and family dog. All found dead, with no apparent cause. What’s that about?

    I always check it out pretty thoroughly, as far as eating any part of a plant, that is usually not eaten. One of the Master Gardener’s mentioned that sunflower root was good for something, but she couldn’t remember what. Well, a trip down the rabbit hole, was pretty useless. “Benefits of sunflower root tea?” seems to have entirely flommoxed the search function. It apparently thinks I asked about dandelions. I didn’t. But some on the uses of the leaves. I even saw one article titled, “50 Important Uses of Sunflower Leaves.” I didn’t look at the article. Probably one of those slow loading (due to the number of ads), slide shows.

    Hmmm. Sounds like accounting is like a lot of other professions. The less actual contact you have with The Great Unwashed, the more status you have. When push comes to shove, people will remember those who were more helpful and hand on.

    I’ve read that Currier & Ives lithographs were colored in two ways. Might have been different time periods. One method, was long tables full of immigrant girls. A girl would apply one color, to one area, and pass it along to the next girl, who would add another color. Who said Henry Ford invented the assembly line? 🙂 . The other was multiple lithographic stones, each printing a different color. Kind of like silk screening.

    Well, yesterday we got a memo, that all the vehicles needed to be moved out of the parking lot, as it is to be power washed. So less than 24 hours notice. And, the memo was post-dated. As often happens around here. Dire forecasts of damage, to vehicles not moved was bandied about. “Management is not responsible.” They may think that covers their bums, but a car insurance company may feel differently. 🙂 . Well, of course, my truck wasn’t going anywhere. And, I noticed I wasn’t the only one. And then … the whole thing has been postponed, until Monday. Well, it did get me moving (a bit) on getting the truck fixed. I may be able to call Frank the Mechanic, tomorrow. We’ll see. Don’t want to rush into anything. 🙂

    One of the Master Gardener mentioned, that the blueberries that dried on the bush, might be tasty, in baked goods. I’d say they had never actually tried that. I found that the dried berry, clings tightly (very tightly) to their stem. Very likely to drive one mad. Might be placing my bum in a handy ice machine, or setting the place on fire, and running naked down the street. Could happen. Did happen. Lew

  30. Hi Chris,

    I often reread my favorite books and rewatch movies as well. Your rock splitting process is quite interesting. I don’t imagine you could pick up Ollie as easily as Plum though. You may have said but do you have a spare coffee machine in case your favorite goes down. We do.

    Back in a curfew again? How does one ever plan anything? In news about that which should not be mentioned my son-in-law, Cecily’s husband has it and he’s fully vaccinated. He was always the most worried in our entire extended family and restricted his family’s activities to a ridiculous extreme until they were vaccinated. They went on a two week trip to Glacier National Park which had been postponed from last year. The park requires masks inside and anyway he would have insisted on it and they always ate outside. He also used disinfectant wipes in the hotels. Well he was feeling sick on Monday and at first thought it was due to all the smoke from the fires they drove through but didn’t improve and get tested twice and he’s got it so they’re driving back home early. I can’t figure out how he possibly contracted it and the rest of the family is fine so far. Cecily did say he seems to catch everything. The advice given to Cecily and the twins was that they get tested when they get home and wear masks in the car. How fun as each day’s drive will be 8 to 10 hours.

    We’re back to no rain with heat and humidity here. The japanese beetles have been horrible as well.

    Our house guest left Sunday but we have more guests for lunch next Monday and my aunt will be staying for two days at the end of next week and so it goes.

    I see Lew mentioned the county fair. We went to two, the first was the fair Carla used to participate in while in 4H and the 2nd (and in our opinion much better) in our present county. Brought back good memories of our fair days. One of my sisters, the sister of many husbands, has a very time consuming job and is very active in local politics so we don’t see her too much. She and her present SO were supposed to be on an Alaskan cruise this week which was cancelled last year. When they found out a few days before departure that masks were required to decided to postpone again. I don’t blame them as they would be on the boat a lot and wearing a mask all that time doesn’t seem like a vacation. So anyway due to her time off I saw here twice, once for a hike and lunch and yesterday for lunch once again with all four of the sisters something that rarely happens. With all my social events I’m surprised anything has gotten done. Also I signed up to work at the used book store a couple days a month. My first day was Tuesday and I actually only bought two children’s board books for my great niece whose 2nd birthday party is soon. She like most children has way too much stuff so it’s 2nd hand books for her.

    Well it time to pick japanese beetles off the raspberries again.


  31. Hello Chris
    Our weather seems to have returned to more normal conditions. About 85 F today forecast for 80s day and 50 overnight. It’s been rough. I have been a fairly busy recently, our ancient plumb tree surprised us with a decent crop which wasn’t noticed for awhile due to my wife’s problem. The tree is about 70 feet from the house and the little green plums don’t show for a while. Our Sil picked about 25 pounds of ripe plums for us. I got busy yesterday with turning the bounty into juice for our favorite plum jelly. First in quantity for several years. We had a little supply chain angst at first with jar lids. Ms Al had stored a few boxes awhile back and she remembered where. So we got all the pieces for the plum jelly fest to take place. My wife is recovered except for her stamina. Her pervious 3/12 mile daily river side walks are way less but she’s working at it.Go girl!👍.

    Your description of your extensive library and the quandary about winnowing the books is always a concern. My parents had book shelves every where in our government built house which was about 1300 sq ft. Pretty much every room had shelves. My dad loved science fiction and guided me to his favorites. He also had magazines save from the late 30s on. Yeh they had the girls on the covers. He had a lot of books of collected stories. Between his books and the local library I had a lot of good reads. My Mom was involved with a Friends of the library organization. They put on used book sales several times a year which provided a good opportunity for disposing of our families unwanted books The money went into improvements to the local library’s needs. 🙂

    Congratulations on your rock breaking skills . Also the coffee machine repairs and sleuthing out the true cause and repair of the failure. That’s always rewarding!. We were gifted into the Pod Coffee world and have had two failures of machines .The manufacture replaced for free under a lifetime warranty. They seem to be no parts available throw away items. Very wasteful!.

    Our HVAC Air handler filters are the same type as DJ describes. I have installed low cost easily replaced pre-filters ahead of the 20x 20x 4.5 inch main filter. They get replaced about every 6 weeks or so. That pushes the main filter life to at least a year. The pre filter cost is $3 per the two per filters. Saves a lot. I have also installed an extremely sensitive differential pressure instrument to measure the pressure drop across the pre filters to tell when they need changing.
    I could have bought a mechanical low range gauge (0 to 1.0 inch H2O) for around $100 but I had a new old stock electronic gauge on hand that I could install. I only paid 20 bucks for the surplus one😃
    Cheers Al

  32. Hi Inge,

    Periodic drying of the subsoil occurs here too some years, and that shows up for sure in the water levels in peoples dams (ponds). A really weird thing about the situation is that somehow the fish and other aquatic species down here have adapted to this occurrence. You may not remember, but in the last really hot and dry summer I experienced a few years back, I mentioned (and showed some photos) of yabby (a very tasty local crustacean) holes, who’d walked their way overland from nearby creeks and decided to bury themselves in the relatively damper soil on the farm. They can live in stasis in the ground for many years until the rains return. It’s an amazing survival strategy, and also makes a sensitive person quail at the thought of the sort of natural selection process required to produce such an adaptation technique.

    Had a yabby pie years ago, and I must add that they are the most delicious tasting aquatic creature – nary a better pie you will find anywhere. Even scallop pies are a mere shadow of the delectability that is the yabby pie.

    Please correct me here, but I believe that your summer has drifted north to the mysterious island of Greenland: Rain at Greenland summit for first time on record.

    Today here was really delightful, although tomorrow the editor suggests that we will be in lock down again (for rural areas). I was almost going to make the smarty pants comment the other day that: “It’s been at least thirty years since I’ve been asked to show my ID” (a reference to the liquor laws down under). But then, I vacillated at the last minute and ended up looking like my more usual ‘distant professor’ look number three. Hey, it works. Far out, things are crazy down here. Hope your fine country is doing better?



  33. Hi Margaret,

    Books are beautiful things, and between you and I, I have travelled to many distant times and exotic locales via the humble book. Travel in the real world to exotic places is often just as interesting, but it does pose the sensitive traveller the most awful of questions: Where the heck is the next toilet, and is this food going to make me feel very ill? My pragmatic side sometimes comes to the fore. 🙂

    Peak rocks is sadly a real thing, and yeah we spent yesterday breaking up two of the three rocks into a dozen smaller, yet still very large rocks, and then hauling them up the hill. Thus proving that fracking has low returns on net energy… 😉

    Your mind is alert and onto things. Respect. So when we got Ollie from the animal shelter, they not only shook us down for an extra mad $250 cash, but a claim was made that he was six months. This may have been true, but perhaps the facts suggest otherwise. Ollie has grown large indeed over the intervening years and resembles a powerful beast worthy of not annoying. He’s such an utter gentleman though, and you raise an important question: How do we pick him up when he weighs over half my own weight? So we had a think about this matter a few months ago and decided on putting him in a sling if ever there was a need for this possibility. Easy. I can still pick him up now, but he doesn’t appreciate the experience!

    Clever to keep a spare coffee machine. The Bialetti fills that role for us, and it’s OK, but not quite the same. The next question is how are your coffee supplies going? I keep a few months worth ready to hand, which has proven to be handy given the general craziness down here.

    No, the city of Melbourne is in curfew, and we just happen to be outside of that area in a rural area. However, word on the street is that we will be locked down by tomorrow night and unable to leave the house again.

    Well yeah that is the question that I wonder about too with the health subject which dare not be named, and candidly I hear the same stories elsewhere. What does it then mean should be the next question, but at this stage only time will tell. I’ve heard official people stating that they just don’t know what the long term effects will be in relation to any of this and they seemed honest enough. I hope he’s OK. Masks are indoors and outdoors here and have been for so long that it now surprises me to see a full unmasked face, and the masks do my head in, but I must not grumble. Dunno about you, but I’m coming around to the idea that we just have to learn how to live with this genie which has been let out of the bottle.

    Sorry to hear that the weather conditions have deteriorated. Hey, spotted the first tiny asparagus spears today. That is super early.

    I hear you about the Japanese beetles. I’m going to severely prune the sick Lemon Meyer tomorrow, but also just in case purchased a replacement this morning. $50! That’s eye watering, or otherwise known as fruit-tree-flation.

    Hehe! Thanks for the update, and respect for living in the face of adversity. Had to laugh about only purchasing two books for the kids. Lead us not into temptation indeed!!!! 🙂 It sounds like lovely work. Too much stuff is a thing of the moment, and like all things, it too shall pass. The thing is, it isn’t all that it is cracked up to be having too much stuff, as you well know. Maybe at some point in the near future, and I don’t believe that it is that far away, kids will be collecting tadpoles from the local creek again like I and my childhood mates used to do.

    The raspberries here just produced some leaves too in the past few days. They scored a really good feed a few weeks ago, and may get some more plant food tomorrow.



  34. Hi Al,

    Those temperatures sound quite pleasant to me. Glad to hear that things have turned a touch more normal on that front. Other aspects of normality, well they can’t be guaranteed can they? 🙂 Oh yum! Green plums are super tasty, and I have a plum tree variety named ‘Greengage’ and it would not surprise me at all if yours were the same variety. For a laugh a few years ago I mentioned that western civilisation would fail due to a lack of food preserving equipment – such as jars and lids – but in these days the quip doesn’t sound quite so funny anymore.

    Yo go girl! 🙂 Respect. And not to nag, but keep up the rehab exercises. As am I, and will probably have to keep on keeping on doing so until the final curtain call.

    Thanks for the story of your mom and dad’s love of books and storage for them. I’ll share a little secret with you here. I fully expect the economy here to really hit the skids over the next few months and years. It’s already on that path. When things are bleak enough I’ll get a cabinet maker to produce replacement bookshelves with doors for the hallway. They don’t need the work now, but they sure will later.

    Al, you’d love the design of the coffee machine I use. It truly is a beautiful design and any or all components can be replaced – and the guts of the machine are not so tight that the parts are impossible to extract or eyeball. Mate, remember old cars and how much space there used to be under the hood? Sometimes I peer into modern engine bays and wonder – does it really need to be this compact and complicated?

    Yours and DJ’s HVAC machines are beyond my experience. Not to startle you, but I don’t have any HVAC appliances in the house. Some summers are notably harder under these conditions than others, that’s for sure.

    Hey, I might get onto the re-capacitor project tomorrow. For too long it has been delayed!



  35. Hi Lewis,

    I had no idea of the Kung Fu reboot. So is it any good is the next question? Or was that the first question? So many questions these days. 🙂 And oh yeah, the fans can be brutal i.e. some of the Star Wars franchises. Of course I always felt that The Empire Strikes Back was the best of the lot, but then the film didn’t end neatly. Of course, you may not have seen this film. Like me and the Harry Pothead series, the book covers gave me the heebie jeebies and that was that, there was no going back. Mind you, people love that gear.

    Hehe! Yes, the pythons up north get into all manner of mischief up to an including consuming household pets. I’ve heard of some folks who happily allow them to reside in the same house and/or property, but my relationship with the fellows of that bloke Set, well they’re not nice down here. At least the pythons won’t kill you dead within a matter of hours… Snakes are pretty clever creatures, and they don’t shy away from a confrontation.

    Speaking of such matters, the editor and I had a major disagreement which ended up in an argument over a local social matter which she’d unwittingly become embroiled in. And I must say to my delight, I was proven correct and have clawed a way out of the swampy murk to the relief of everyone except the miscreant. Yes, community is learning how to live with the person up the road who thinks vastly differently. Little wonder that people fled to the cities – even with the abhorrence that was the Industrial Revolution. A few weeks ago I mentioned the camel / sheep story the editor was subjected too as a kid, but I forget whether I mentioned that he tried to pull that gear on me – and I stomped him hard. He was a bit surprised about that outcome. And then the weird thing was that he went really quiet after that, and as you can imagine he was an utter nuisance of a person.

    Four kids takes a lot of feeding, that’s for sure. But the truth is that the harvest comes in all at once over a few months, and you have to know how to process and store the stuff so that you have something to eat come the next lean period – spring. Speaking of which we spotted the first few asparagus spears today – how early is that? Those raised garden beds were given a solid feed of the mixed up soil mineral additives and so I do wonder what difference they may have made – things are growing better, even now at this time of year.

    Picked up a replacement Lemon Meyer fruit tree today at $50… Far out, I planted out the main part of the orchards years ago when fruit trees could be had for only around about $10 each. And serious people keep telling me that inflation is not real. I guess it’s not real at all.

    When the wood heater is not producing copious amounts of hot water, the sun is usually shining and the sun provides the hot water for free. Even at this time of the year, if the sun is shining, some hot water is being collected. In summer the stuff is bonkers hot. Here is the thing though, just like the solar photovoltaics when the winter solstice is upon us and the clouds are thick, you need an alternative fuel source. The solar hot water is no different. In the in-between seasons when it is too warm to run the wood heater and too cloudy to produce much solar hot water, you need a backup LPG gas fired hot water service. 😉 Look, if I didn’t have to conform to the normal standards of society, the couple of days each year when neither system works – wouldn’t be a drama. I just wouldn’t require the resources, but just like a car I’m expected to keep hot water and electricity for those few days each year. If I was seriously worried about the hot water issue, I could probably install an electric heating element into the hot water heat exchanger to cover those days, but there are always issues with increasing complexity of existing systems. It’s a great question which you asked.

    Hehe! Yup, nobody wants to fall off the side of an elevated soil bridge. It kind of hurts. The editor scored a few bruises from the fall and I remarked to her that she good get a good photo of those for the court case. 🙂 Not politically correct humour, but I can say such things with a clear conscience.

    What? Scott does sound rather multi talented and maybe you need to just fertilise that ground a little bit with a bit of encouragement every now and then? Mind you, it is easy for me to say that as I am not the one subjected to the worst sides of Vogon poetry.

    You’ve mentioned the ongoing shenanigans in your postal service. It is a truth universally acknowledged that performance is not what is generally rewarded at such august levels of society, but that is merely an opinion. Our postal service suddenly went into over drive and delivered the remaining items this morning. How weird is that? The editor is predicting that rural areas will be locked down tomorrow night. Glad I went to the pub last night and scored some yummy bakery products and a gourmet pie today. My needs are few these days…

    Yeah, people sure are weird, and getting weirder with the passing day. Thanks for the fine examples of that specimen. Here, we keep things civilised and would never show such a photo – unless the interweb site got hacked or something like that. How strange would that be? There was a lady in our country years ago that got into trouble for flashing the gargle street car, thus proving that we are a lusty bunch down here. A rumour on the street is that the prim and proper – but illegal – engagement party folks have allegedly been linked to homeless sex workers. A strange story, which has gotten stranger in the telling. Oh, and someone mentioned to me that the names have been released. I’m really uncomfortable with the way the media has gone to town on that lot. Makes you wonder when your own lucky numbers will turn up.

    Dandelion roots are edible, and a large variety selected over millennia by the indigenous folks are their yams. Meant to be very tasty, and they used to also apparently collect all of the many wildflowers and store them in a hollow water tight log and produce probably a really tasty err, fermented beverage.

    Hey, some interweb sites are like that. Occasionally the tabloid ‘The Daily Mail’ produces some excellent old school journalism, but the ads, and some of the images make me blush. 🙂

    Well that’s the thing, when urgent help is needed – like it is right now – folks turn to me, they don’t go up the food chain. I’m getting feedback on business conditions which are only a few hours or days old. And the news ain’t all that crash hot. It actually reminds me of the chaos of the early days of the recession in the early 90’s. It has a similar feel, and I’ve recounted the survival stories from those days as an idea what to expect in the near to distant future. There are some upsides to being an old fella, in that you have some wisdom (or would like to believe that this is the case).

    Hehe! Yeah, the guy was probably over rated. At least he paid his employees well – comparatively to other industries. Thanks for the insight into the colouring process. People need work.

    Did you manage to get onto Frank to get the truck fixed? Or at least get the ball rolling? Hey, if you were clever, you’d have the truck in at his shop on Monday when the pressure wash takes place. Cutting the Gordian knot I call that!

    Ah, the master gardeners suggested a ‘sounds good in theory’ response. Try not to get into trouble any time soon. A little bit of trouble is OK, but not too much or too frequently – the senses might get over stimulated and that wouldn’t be good would it?



  36. Hello Chris
    Interesting Greenland info., I hadn’t heard it.
    The fellow who writes the garden info. in our local paper says that he has lost all his tomato plants this year and he grows 12 different varieties. It is nice to know that ones own disaster is not due to incompetence.


  37. Yo, Chris – The Nerd-verse had seizures, when the most recent Dr. Who turned out to be a lady. Get over it boys! One of these days you’ll grow up, and find half the population more intriguing. 🙂

    LOL. “Proven correct.” You’ll probably pay for that. In the Bush (country), things are different.

    My auntie had food preservation, down to a science. She was a farm girl, so, it came natural. She died at a rather early age. Brain hemorrhage and long coma.

    Tree-flation. Could you have taken a cutting, off the old tree, and rooted it? Duh! Solar hot water. I knew that. Just lost the plot.

    Scott may be multi, but not necessarily talented. But, maybe your mileage may vary. I’m just not up for tedious sessions of poetry or musical composition. Probably went to one to many parties, in the 60’s, where someone dragged out a guitar. No wonder I took to drink 🙂 . Remember that scene in “Animal House,” with the folk singer?

    Gee, those …err, “interesting” links to the engagement party, were probably a surprise. You’d expect more of that, after the bachelor party, or hen party 🙂 .

    Well, from what I understand, if you skip from the front page, to page 4 of the Daily Mail, that should save you some blushes. 🙂 .

    I’ll call Frank this morning. After the E-Buy auction. Which reminds me … gotta go! Lew

  38. @ Marg,

    Sorry to read that your son-in-law has the unmentionable. Here’s my take on how he got it. Genetics. An example from my asbestos removal industry days follows.

    For example, John Doe had regular mid-level exposure to asbestos on a daily basis for 5 years. He never had any health problems from it. His cousin, Tom Doe, was an auto mechanic and used an air compressor to blow dust out of brakes several times a week for 50 years. Brake shoes used to contain asbestos. He eventually got asbestosis while in his late 70s, a hardening of the lungs akin to pulmonary fibrosis. Meanwhile, Joe Smith had an office job his entire life, was standing on a street corner daily waiting for a bus during heavy traffic. Joe ended up with mesothelioma, that most dreaded of asbestos caused cancers. The cause? He probably inhaled an asbestos fiber from a brake shoe at the exact wrong instant.

    What’s the differences here? John Doe’s genetic predisposition kept him from getting an asbestos related disease. Tom Doe got the illness that would have been expected after decades of chronic exposure. Joe’s genetic predisposition kicked him in the backside.

    So, taking a mask off while eating outdoors in public when somebody sneezed 8 feet away from your son-in-law might have been all the exposure he needed to get sick due to genetics. Bleeping bleep of a bleep.


  39. Chris,

    War of Waste? Brilliant.

    Glad the editor wasn’t injured falling off the machine. Yes, it does indeed sound as if a wall is necessary there. I will soon be moving the rocks form the failed front rock garden/slope landscape experiment to the back. Which will be in a hand powered wheelbarrow and up a small hill. The cart will NOT be fully loaded. Something about dramatic repercussions when a man doesn’t know his limitations per Dirty Harry.

    Ah, well, most people really don’t like loud parties that disturb them. And I do recall some discussions here about having had the idea of blasting the rock to bits shot down by the Editor. Oh, well.

    There IS something extra delicious about the smell of freshly opened coffee when it was properly packaged, isn’t there? Add to that the promise of many wonderful morning cups of coffee to follow, and it is SUCH a pleasant aroma.

    Like Al, we’re having much more seasonable temperatures with wonderful cooling most nights. That’s the nice part about the 2nd half of August – it DOES cool at night. It’s late Friday afternoon. A bit cooler than the norm today, rain forecast tonight. Hope it works out better than the last time! This has thunderstorm and flash flood warnings for the northeastern 1/4 of the state. A lot of fires in that swath that could use the rain, but flash flooding on recently burnt areas isn’t good. Beggars can’t be choosers, and the rain is needed and welcome if it arrives.

    The Princess and her siblings are in the greater Seattle area for a few days. When we were chatting earlier today, she was so happy about the temperature there. It was 16C at noonish. Much nicer than the 33C and higher noon temperatures we’d been having.

    Ya know, just about everything is dialed to 11 right now. Between 18 months of the unmentionable and visible effects of climate change, with the economic turmoil brought about by both, there is a lot of intensity milling around. Sometimes I think setting the dials to 11 would actually decrease the levels of distress and bamboozlement we currently have. Perhaps some of the calls you’ve taken are BECAUSE you’re able to maintain some cheerfulness and people need to hear a cheerful voice?


  40. Hi Inge,

    Well the Greenland news is far from us, so it is reported upon. But it sounds like bad news.

    Oh no, I never for one moment felt that your varieties were a failure. For all of the varieties to fail suggests that the species is not appropriate for your area in it’s present state this growing season. I once (or maybe more than a few times) attempted to grow a coffee plant. And the plant has grown superbly here and produced lush growth. The best of them looked great and enjoyed the conditions and the soil. Except that one day the best plant enjoyed a day where it snowed heavily. Within two weeks the leaves had turned black and the plant died. Without additional warming, the plant is currently not appropriate, but it may be in the future.

    Tea camellia is really marginal here, but in the greenhouse they seem to be doing OK. Time will tell, and I have no idea how the experiment will turn out.

    The farm here is at 37.5’S which is warmer than your part of the world, but the elevation and trade winds put the actual climate at about 44’S which is still a bit warmer than where you are, but not that much warmer. And last year the tomato harvest was abysmal. The reason I so heavily fed the soil was to get the plants to grow as fast as possible this upcoming growing season.

    I’m not keen to experience a similar growing season again any time soon.

    If I were in your part of the world, I’d suggest reading up on what soil minerals tomatoes enjoy and then bringing them in, in bulk, whilst you can do so.



  41. Hi DJ,

    It is pretty funny to slide on in such word play, and I often wonder if anyone ever takes notice? Probably doesn’t matter though as I’m amused and the editor just groans at my dodgy humour. Before the current health subject which dare not be named came into vogue, people seemed genuinely concerned about the wastefulness and pollution of our society. But now in these more enlightened times, nobody seems to much care (from what I can see).

    The editor predicted another lock down this morning, and we didn’t have long to wait before her prediction was proven correct. By 1pm today the lock down for rural areas was in full swing. With the prediction in mind, earlier today we went and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at the local general store. Whilst reading a book and enjoying breakfast in the late winter early warmth (although it was a touch windy, but we’re super stoic and sat outside unlike everyone else), I happened to notice several people who were turned away from the establishment. They weren’t locals I’m guessing and probably shouldn’t have been there in the first place. The world has become much smaller these days.

    Very wise to know ones limitations (and thanks very much for the Dirty Harry video). Hand powered is how we rolled for many years, and still do. In fact I have three hand wheelbarrows as they are super useful tools, and another that is in not so good but still kind of useful-ish condition.

    I tell you a funny story about the wheelbarrows. After much trial and error over the years I discovered a locally made wheelbarrow that is the exact right weight and capacity for me. You wouldn’t think that there’d be much difference from one wheelbarrow to another, but this point of view is incorrect.

    Your memory serves you well, and the story goes that when we had the earthworks guy cutting in the house site into the side of the mountain with his 20 tonne excavator, he suggested to blow up a large rock which even today now sits proudly behind the house. Sadly, the editor demurred. It is a big rock after all. And it is a truth universally acknowledged that the ladies don’t often recommend blowing up rocks as a first course of action. Sad, but true. So the opportunity was lost.

    Mate, between you and I, I could blithely ignore the toilet paper mania last year. But if ever there was a coffee mania, I might have to join on in – I’m weak in this matter. I’d suggest that you keep a few months store ready to hand, like I do.

    Yes, the rain would be welcome to those areas despite the landslide / mudslide / ashslide risk. Did you score any rain in your part of the world?

    Had a glorious and sunny day today. Really nice. Tomorrow looks good too, but after that the next week looks like an unwelcome return to winter. Two steps forward, one back, so it goes.

    Good stuff, and I hope that their trip to Seattle is pleasant.

    Mate, it is super crazy down here. Thanks for understanding. It has been a seriously hard week, but you know been there before got the t-shirt and all that jazz. What people want is a quick solution, what they’ll get might go on for the next five years, like what happened in the early 1990’s. It is an unappealing prospect, but you know what can’t be sustained, probably won’t be sustained. That’s life.



  42. Hi Lewis,

    I don’t worry about such things – who cares anyway? I mean the story is fiction right from the get-go, and so why not have a female Doctor Who? For all we know, she might be a smarter Doctor Who? What impresses me is that the series has run since the black and white TV days and somehow avoided repeating the same tired old story lines. The series is a survivor, and I recall watching the series when I was a kid. The Doctor back then had a natty scarf and a robot dog. I tend to feel that real dogs are better than robot dogs, but I have this thing about robots. Robots as every right thinking person knows aren’t our friends. No, they want to take our jobs and our Doctor Who. It’s true! 🙂

    Have to laugh, we’re in lock down again. I feel like Bill Murray in the film Groundhog Day, without the Sonny and Cher wake up call. I reckon some folks would have that as their alarm. Here I’d like to disagree politely with that choice as it would leave me feeling that the day was going to end badly, but somehow at the same time – not end. It’s confusing! 🙂

    It is a good analogy for what I’m guessing will be many hard years of economic hardship yet to come. Groundhog broke AF day, doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, but people will adapt. They always have before.

    The editor predicted the lock down which actually occurred at 1pm, and so we had a pleasant breakfast at the local general store using civilised cutlery and ceramics. Won’t be able to do that gear tomorrow. Oh well, we’ll make do because I reckon deep down that the editor and I are sort of over educated hill-billies and have flexible perspectives.

    The local constabulary were up in this remote part of the mountain range today herding city folk (who thought to escape the imposed 3 mile from home limit and take the back roads) off the mountain and far away, with now probably empty wallets I’m guessing. The fines are stupendous for getting caught.

    Read an article about some bloke that has burned through his savings and his family are now perilously surviving on hand outs because he is unable to work. I expect more of that stuff if the many weird discussions I had this week play out – oh, they are playing out. Oh well, moving on… I tend to believe that as a species we are pretty much ok with inequality, but we are entering a period of hardship that few considered a relative possibility. My (and the editors) experience of the recession of the early 1990’s suggested to me to never rely upon continual economic growth – for what goes upeth, eventually falleth. Gravity in some weird way is reflected in the Hubbert Curve, sad but true. If I had to give a sermon I’d say to the parishioners: Think not friends of the current hardships, think ye of the thirty years of growth which led to the these days of tribulation (this is sounding good!). And despair ye as ye mighty works fall low, (should I add ‘into the dirt’ for dramatic effect?) and listen not ye to the yammering sounds of the economists. 🙂 Mate, I reckon I might have a knack for this oration business.

    No, as to being ‘proven correct’, I’m sort of trying to find some middle path where everyone is unhappy, but everyone gets at least something and live with that. I’ve considered the matter for quite a while, and any other path I can imagine seems to produce winners and losers, the everyone loses something is not such a bad option.

    Ouch, yes that can happen with relatives, and when I was a kid it was not unusual for people to simply drop dead. It surprises me now that folks older than I – and there are plenty of those – seem to believe that things are different now. They ain’t.

    No, any cutting from the old tree is infected with Phytophthora as the infection got into the tree above the graft. The sheer volume of water this year produced that outcome. It is a sneaky disease that one.

    Hehe! No worries, the solar hot water is actually far hotter than the hot water which the wood box produces, but then the solar water does not have to deliberately lose energy to the rest of the house via a few radiators dotted around.

    I take your point in relation to your mate Scott, and over the years I too have suffered such indignities and have learned the hard way to avoid them in the future. Most unpleasant. And oh yeah, I love that film – so true. The guitar smashing scene sends a strong message to wandering troubadours!

    No doubt that you are correct about the party. The things young people do these days!!! 🙂 Had to laugh, when I was a kid a mate and I went into the city and we watched the Tom Hanks film ‘Batchelor Party’, and it was pretty funny. So very wrong, but somehow so right. It is actually a very quotable film. I wonder if anyone has put together a wikiquote page for the film? Oh wow, so diligent film geeks have brought to life some of the more memorable moments of utter hedonism. Who’d have thunk it?

    Thanks for the suggestion as to the newspaper. When I used to work in a newsagent and delivered papers, people back in those days were more circumspect and suggested that they purchased such newspapers for the horse racing form guide. What do they call plausible deniability? 🙂

    Hope the car gets fixed. The nice folks at the farm machine repair shop have performed a sterling job on the low centre of gravity mower – and I remarked so earlier today. Lovely people.

    Let’s see what craziness tomorrow brings!



  43. Hi Chris,

    A riot in Melbourne looks like the craziness you referred to. Just waiting for your report. 😉 I’ll talk more next week.


  44. Yo, Chris – I never cared for the early, Dr. Who, but became a fan when they re-booted. But, you’re right. They keep coming up with new plots. though I think the Daleks are wearing a bit thin. At least they’re not constantly falling back on “temporal anomaly.” Of course, maybe that’s because Dr. Who (in whatever form), IS a temporal anomaly? The only objection I have to the current Dr. Who is that she’s just a bit too “high energy,” for my taste. But that’s just me.

    I am so sorry your in lockdown (again.) At least you squeezed in a good nosh, with real ceramics and cutlery. Why am I reminded of Englishmen, trapiseing off on Safari, while dragging along a full kit, to provide white linen table service?

    “…knack for this oration business.” Mmmm. Keep your day job. 🙂 . Reminds me of a game we used to play. Someone would come up with some pronouncement, that sounded sort of biblical, and then add a completely fiction chapter and verse. I think Monty Python did a bit of that, in “Life of Brian.” Great fun. The pronouncements ALMOST made sense.

    Well, it seems like these days, most people expect the wonders of medical science (and a lot of money) to take care of any problem. Of course, I think some of it is guilt, and wondering too much about what other people think. “Didn’t you do everything you possibly could, to keep grandma alive, including mortgaging the house and selling your first born.? Just to give her another four months in abject pain and misery.

    “Newspaper for the horse racing forms.” Yup, I’d rather be thought of as a hopeless gambler, rather than a pervert. 🙂 . And I only bought Playboy magazine, for the articles and movie reviews.

    Well, yesterday seemed to be just a bonkers busy day. Walk the dog, trip to the library, won an EBuy auction, called Frank the Mechanic to get that ball rolling, then the food boxes came. Dealt with a garden thief.

    The piece I got at auction was a Currier and Ives lithograph called “American Fruit Pieces.” It’s the first large folio print, I’ve got.

    I got it so cheap, as there are problems with the margins. But, a good mat, and I can live with it. Mine has much brighter and clearer colors.

    Food boxes were pretty good. No dairy, at all, though. No eggs, cheese or milk. But, a bag of apples, carrots, oranges, celery, green beans, broccoli. I picked up some more off the swap table, and my empty fridge is now full. I see a lot of blanching and freezing, in my future.

    This morning, the Master Gardeners gave a class on sharpening your hand tools. I learned a lot. How come I didn’t know this stuff, before? But, it was four Master Gardeners, someone’s 5 year old grand daughter (very quiet and well behaved), and me. Bowling Alone. Then I picked a bowl of tomatoes, to go in the dehydrator.

    I made a big bowl of popcorn, with swiss cheese, last night, and watched “Occupation: Rainfall,” which was very good until the end, which made me scream. When they flashed “End of Chapter 1”, before rolling the credits. Lew

  45. @DJ
    Thanks. My SIL has mild symptoms fortunately and is improving. Interestingly my daughter and granddaughters have all tested negative and they day he started feeling sick they were in a closed car due to smoke for 12 hours so clearly they were exposed so your hypothesis clearly has merit. I imagine a poor immune system could play a part as well. He mainly works 12 hours a day on his computer, gets little exercise and diet is just OK.

    Glad to hear your temperatures are moderating.


  46. Hi Lewis,

    Oh my goodness, interweb rabbit holes beckoned and the minutes and hours ticked away (in this case it was actually mere minutes). This is of course is no reflection upon the quality of our long correspondence, which can only be rated as: First rate. 🙂 My brain has been over worked this week and can only be described as over wrought. There, I now feel better and can only but add that in penning our long discourses and essays over the many long years that there are times that it becomes a useful therapy session. 🙂 The forces of annoyance move amongst us always and like rampaging zombies, they cannot be stamped out. Speaking of rabbits, I needed a perk up before setting off on the voyage of authorship this evening, and for all sorts of reasons which I genuinely can’t really go into, but are still valid and real all the same, I decided to listen to a brief track from a family unfriendly local indie band. I suspect that like myself, they were over educated… I dare your amusement: TISM. Curiously the amusing acronym is for This Is Serious Mum. Nuff said!

    Oh, that’s so true. The whole show is a massive temporal anomaly one after the other, so does this mean that the normal rules get chucked out the window? I always thought that Star Trek inserted those story lines when the writers were creatively having a slow week? 🙂 Hope they don’t come and get me for suggesting that.

    That makes sense about the ‘high energy’ business, and mate candidly I am drained AF this week. Sorry, I’ve turned the discussion back on myself… That entire concept of matching energy like for like wasn’t even on my radar until I read Cesar Milan’s book on dog training. He knew that concept intuitively and applied it between the pooches and the owners. There is also the additional concept of mood. I’m coming around to believing that this may be hard wired. We got Plum and Ruby at about 12 weeks and their personalities were hard wired as far as I can see. Ruby is super fun, whilst Plum is a bit anxious and that is an unappealing trait to their pack boss Ollie. I can assure you that Plum has had no defining moment which triggered that anxiety, it is just how she is.

    It’s just cricket ol’ chap. 🙂 Yes, and where would things be without silver service? But I am a bit old school and believe that life is too short for take away coffee.

    However, I can deal with exigencies and I recall a significant life milestone last year when we at least managed to consume a take away pizza, some very fine stubbies of stout (a Marshmallow stout to be precise at $22 a stubby) which were consumed in the depths of winter (32’F) on a park bench which was only just sheltered from the rain. You know, it was kind of fun and the pizza was excellent.

    Thanks for the advice. Well my words have nary inflamed a population so you’re probably right. 🙂 Nobody is listening down here anyway and I’d get fined for talking in public. Not a wise career path. As you know I really loved the film: The Life of Brian. The game sounds like fun.

    Well there is also the much under discussed matter as to what happens when that mob royally stuffs things up? Down here you’d be pretty hard pressed (or just plain old super wealthy) to bring a case against them. Mate, if a dog is in serious pain and has no hope of recovering, I put them down. It is an act of mercy. Others feel differently and I’m cool with that as they need to explore the paths and discover the horror.

    Yes, I’m sure I did the same thing. 🙂 The articles were very good. Hehe! I’d heard that story before too. Thanks for the laughs.

    Hang on a second. Did the call to Frank result in having your Ranger not there for the impending car park whatever it was that they were going to do?

    And, now you are totally teasing me. What is this story of the orchid, sorry, I mean garden thief? It is odd that you mention that possibility of other people brining their rubbish to you…

    Congratulations on the win, and the large print looks great. Out of curiosity how are the colours on the print you won brighter?

    Eggs and dairy are probably in shorter supply right now for the time of year you are in. I’m getting between eight and ten eggs a day – a true gift from nature that’s for sure. For your interest, the purple broccoli seem to be growing quite well here and they survived the winter. Good luck with the blanching and freezing. 🙂

    Yes, tools are good, but as your master gardeners allude, they have to be maintained. You may have noticed that I have a reluctance to take on new tools, and it is for that very reason. Sharpening steel is not so hard, and years ago I went on a grafting course with a real old timer orchardist and he showed just how sharp his old pocket knife was. I keep all of the knives and cutting implements – super sharp. In fact late this afternoon I sharpened three chains off the chainsaw and it is not a quick process, but when done properly the machine cuts super quick. 😉

    Yeah, mate the old seed saving group ended up being just like that. Need I mention though that in my circumstance there was a wrecking ball of an individual. I usually deal swiftly with such people, but alas it was not my group and the usual implosion took place. Learned, I have!

    Oh what? No way? Mate, I’m getting flashbacks to the end of The Cell. Just sayin…



  47. Yo, Chris – Yup. Our chats can be good therapy. Put’s one’s thoughts, in order. Keeps the old brain, a bit nimble. There’s a lot going on. There was quit a few articles, last night, on the Net, about the demonstratons (riots?), in Australia. Melbourne was featured. There was a lot of drone footage. Looked like someone had kicked over an ants nest.

    As long as we’re on the topic of You Know What, well, it finally happened. They have a case over at our sister Institution, in Centralia. Got my info, from my contact, over there. A very sensible woman, who checks out stories, pretty thoroughly. I wondered why we had got a rather odd and cryptic memo, the other day. And, we’ve been locked down a little tighter, than usual. Their night manager, is retireing. So, of course, they had to throw a party. It’s the night manager who has It. I guess even their Warden, was at the doings. Who was just back from a trip to Iceland! Which seems to be the hot vacation spot, du jour. There have been banners, all over the Net, for the last month. “Visit Iceland!” An interesting place, I’m sure, but not on my bucket list. Anyway. An “interesting” development.

    Our energy ebbs and flows, I think. There are probably lots of factors. Amount of sleep, what you’ve been eating, things on the mind … maybe even the weather. Elinor said it rained, yesterday. I must have blinked and missed it. My apartment felt a little chilly, this morning. Prof. Mass has been banging on about our outlook, due to La Nina. Wetter, colder. What I want to know is, when will we have our first frost? Will it be really, really late, like last year. I suppose that’s harder to predict, than lowland snow. 🙂 .

    China, silver … unexpected good times. Life’s grace notes.

    Hmm. Getting around to taking care of the truck. Let’s just say, the planets aligned. 🙂 . Or, little things, this and that, piled up. I could care less about the parking lot, getting power washed. But our chattering classes have finally looked up, and there have been comments. My backup stocks have run down, a bit. Walking to the store is all well and good, but there’s only so much I can carry back. What with Mr. Greer banging on about hard times, ahead, it makes me a bit twitchy. I need to haul some bags of chicken manure, pretty soon. I want to take some stuff to the auction, etc. etc.. It’s been an interesting experiment. Kind of a trial run, for when I won’t be able to drive, anymore. Still mulling it over.

    The garden thief. Well, about the time the boxes came in, there was a bit of garlic, on the swap table. I commented on it, and was told that Dot, had lifted it out of my garden. Not much, so, I just shrugged it off. When I went out to water, that night, I discovered ALL the elephant garlic, had been pulled, out of one bed. And, quit a mess had been left. But, I noticed most of the garlic bulbs were neatly stacked in her garden space. So, I just bagged them up and took them home. 🙂 . Anyway, I had heard that two of the ladies had reamed her out, so, I didn’t have to. She’s a new tenant, and has a pretty good looking garden plot, herself. I haven’t talked to her much, but my gut feeling told me there was something a bit “off” about her. It might have been an honest mistake. Some of the plots are “free range,” and others, not. But still. Bears watching.

    The colors on the lithograph might be lighter and brighter, for a couple of reasons. Might be a bit of sun fading, but not too much. Or, if it was colored, using lithograph stones, it might have been at the end of a run … not so much ink on the stone.

    The Master Gardener presentation was pretty interesting. The right tools, for the job. A safety razor holder, to get the major gunk off, The right file … oddly, the best for a flat bladed tool, is a chain saw file. The right wire brush. The correct angles for one tool, over another. And, those cylinder ceramic rabbit ear things, for kitchen knives and scissors. You know, I think I may have one of those. I had a vague idea, they were used for sharpening. But didn’t know what, or how. Also, how to clean them. An eraser, works a treat. Something our presenter had recently found out. Or, a bit of grit cleanser. We have a new outpost of a tool store, here in town. I can get most of what I need, there. Harbor Freight.

    Well, there’s been interesting developments, in the Wonderful World of Archaeology. From Pompeii, the gift that keeps on giving. You may have heard of it, as, it seems the story has spilled over, into the popular press. Here’s the best article, I think. Hope it’s not pay walled, for you.

    There’s lots of details, that don’t show up in other articles. He died a few years before the eruption. So many unanswered questions, so far. Was he partially mummified, or, was his remarkable state of preservation, due to the tomb being air tight? And something no article mentioned … why is he kind of propped up, in a corner? Now that, to me, is very odd. Lew

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