Come what may

Recently I’ve been thinking about my old mate Mike who died a while ago. Apparently the health authorities cancelled his appointments because the officialdom were oh so worried that he’d get the health subject which dare not be named, and die. That fear didn’t work out so well for my old mate. He was a fun guy and a good friend. At the time he died I wrote about who he was and shared some charming anecdotes. What I didn’t emphasise in the story was that one day a few years earlier our friendship abruptly ended.

People are something of a mystery to me, but I observe actions, listen to words, and can only do my best to predict the outcomes. Mike’s new girlfriend hated my guts. That was easy enough to work out. I couldn’t and wouldn’t compete with that, and so our friendship really did end abruptly one day after decades. It was a real kick in the guts.

Things can indeed change abruptly. A dark hunch tells me that some people lust for abrupt change in the hope that they won’t have to go to work on a Monday morning. I’ve got bad news for such folks. Change can be abrupt, but you’re still probably going to have to go to work on a Monday morning.

Speaking of work and abrupt changes, only two years ago people could go about their daily work without having to wear masks. In these enlightened times and as a member of the public, I can enter a cafe or restaurant without wearing a mask and order some food or a nourishing coffee. Caffeine is good, Ugg! But the staff have to wear masks all day long regardless of temperature or humidity. And I am super uncomfortable about this situation because it introduces a social divide. It stinks of politics hiding under the covers of science. If I may offer a bit of advice to scientists: If you tolerate this, then you’ll be next.

For me the social side of things count, and despite being something of an introvert, I enjoy speaking and interacting with other people. Way back in the recession that ‘we had to have’ in the early 1990’s I worked four years in the job of debt collection. It’s an unglamorous trade, but you get to speak to people all day long which is hardly a difficulty for someone as chatty as I. Plus it puts food on the table and keeps a roof over your head. The thing is though, debt collection teaches you the skill of communicating with people whom would otherwise be very reluctant to open a difficult conversation. Recently, I’ve been using those skills and conversing with people who have to serve the public and wear a mask all day long. If I was to advise the left leaning politicians in this state as to the mood of the population, I’d tell them to give the people working in those jobs a break.

One night a few weeks ago, Sandra and I were heading to the local pub, where the young staff by law have to wear a mask. As a side note, the customers and staff, by and large looked pretty healthy to me. After a pint of the finest local cider combined with a good pub feed, the sensibilities were loosened. Sandra suggested that we visit a distant town which has some familial ties. Rather ungentlemanly I responded: “Well, how the fuck can I do that?” And then I was utterly mortified at the overly emotional response. Was I turning into an angry old fella? Why was I even suddenly angry? Hasty and heartfelt apologies were followed by many hours and days of quiet consideration.

After the careful consideration, Sandra and I discussed the core problem and options, and decided to cut the Gordian Knot. For those who don’t know what a Gordian Knot is, the story goes that some smarty pants oracle laid a challenge to untie a very complicated knot and thus win a Kingdom. Way back in time, Alexander the Great was confronted by this knot and unsuccessfully attempted to untie it. Possibly he thought to himself: Stuff it, this is too hard. Then he slashed down with his sword, cut the knot, and thus won the Kingdom. We on the other hand did nothing so great, we sacked a client and have now withdrawn our services.

Working in small business means that I have no benefits such as sick pay or even annual leave. If there’s a public holiday and I don’t work that day, I don’t get paid. Having previously been in the corporate world, I did actively choose this life, but I haven’t had a week off with no accounting work for many years. And I’m tired and in need of a break. And meeting the requirements of one of my clients in particular meant that I had to keep working week in and week out and have done so for many years. I can’t do that any more, so I sacked them.

I can only guess that like my old friendship with Mike, the abrupt change in the status of our relationship came as something of a surprise to them. Unlike my old friendship with Mike, there was a power imbalance with that client, and they can dictate terms. Even when the terms were harmful. You can’t maintain a relationship that has that sort of power imbalance. It’s bonkers.

Most of my business dealings are with people, small businesses and family businesses. We have chats about their kids, or their pets, or the sort of challenges they are facing and the successes they’re enjoying. Those relationships are with people, even when those businesses are large and complicated. The business which we sacked was much larger again than those relationships. So, I’m beginning to come around to the idea that a person cannot have a normal social relationship with a large corporate business. And if normal social relationships can’t take place or be enforced, then there’ll be strange outcomes. Just ask my old mate Mike how that turned out for him.

The weather was cool and sunny this week, so we did two days of work moving steel rock gabion cages for the new greenhouse project. It takes a days work to relocate an eight foot steel rock gabion cage.

Fill ‘er up! Ollie approves of the relocated steel rock gabion cage

The cages have to be emptied, then relocated. Then they have to be filled up again and sewn shut with steel wire. But the gabions are very strong and will last a long time.

Ollie is impressed that the rock gabion cage is now complete

One side of the new shed now has its soil retaining wall completed. Excavating the soil so as to produce flat land can now take place, except that a retaining wall is also being installed on the other side of the shed.

The final rock gabion cage wall is nearing completion

All that remains for this job, is to fill the final steel gabion cage with rocks, then sew it shut. Can’t wait to get the digger machine back here again and play around with it.

Over the years it has been remarked upon that this farm is very neat and tidy. The area where we are removing the steel rock gabion cages from, is far from neat and tidy. There are plans to eventually convert this area to garden beds. And after that, you’ll never even know what lies beneath!

Not so neat and tidy! Once there were retaining walls!

The existing greenhouse was originally constructed as an experiment. The building has performed very well and that is why we are constructing a much larger greenhouse with permanent raised garden beds. We’ve been able to grow a few useful plants which are outside our climate zone, not to mention all of this years seedlings.

Ginger, Tea Camellia, Babaco and Japanese Ginger all thrive in the greenhouse

On Friday after making the fateful sacking decision, we took the day off and visited a nearby waterfalls which we’d never visited before. Let’s just say that it’s not well sign posted and doesn’t appear to be set up for hordes of visitors.

Loddon falls

The falls are on a river which runs through a small canyon. The canyon was created by volcanic activity a couple of million years ago. It’s not well recalled, but the area of the continent I reside, is full of volcanoes. Looking out the window I can spot several volcanoes. Heck, I live on the edge of one of largest ones. Hopefully, they’re all extinct. There are always suggestions from people in the know that perhaps this is not the case.

We scrambled down the cliff face via a well defined path and was able to check out the falls at water level.

The falls at water level

It’s sort of dry granite country around that part, so the soils have fertility and lots of minerals, but the rain, well, it comes and goes. However looking back down the small canyon, the plant community looked like a dense rainforest.

Dry country up top, very wet country down in the canyon

Autumn produce update:

The cool and damp summer has proven to be very challenging. The grape vines have produced plenty of bunches of delicious looking grapes. Unfortunately, they’re mostly unripe and quite sour tasting.

Lot’s of unripe grapes

Sandra and I have been so busy this season that we neglected to fence the tomato vines. And yet again the tomatoes are also green and unripe, which is part of the reason we hadn’t worried about them. The plants must be related to Triffids because they grow really fast.

Tomato vines have taken over

Usually we fence the vines, but there must be a better way to grow the plants than let them sprawl and/or using fencing. A problem for another day, but if anyone has any suggestions I’d appreciate them.

A person would never go hungry with enough Globe Artichoke plants. And the chokes taste really good. The old plants have died off, and already the new ones are producing.

A new Globe Artichoke produces edible chokes. Yum!

Blackberries continue to produce heaps of berries for breakfast, and it looks like there is now an occasional autumn raspberry to consume.

Autumn raspberries! Yummo!

I’ve taken better care of the citrus trees this season and some of the trees are now flowering. They’re such a great tree because they produce fresh fruit in the depths of winter when no other fruit tree is producing.

A Lemon Eureka has produced flowers in anticipation of winter fresh fruit

Onto the flowers:

Feverfew is a hardy and reliable herb
Roses continue to delight the senses
Plus Roses produce superb flowers

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 18’C (64’F). So far this year there has been 201.0mm (7.9 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 186.6mm (7.3 inches)

43 thoughts on “Come what may”

  1. Come what may- ah yes, those points in our life when we really do gather up our resolve and take the jump. I’ve never had to do that very often, and am frankly a bit too risk averse. Who knows what might have happened if I’d jumped my rut more often? But that’s the point isn’t it?

    Sometimes, you just can’t worry about it anymore, and decide a change has to happen, come what may.

    Are we referring to an old Air Supply song by chance, or merely the simple reference to your decision?

    In our marriage, which has gone pretty well, our two styles have figured out how to work together, but in general, I am more inclined to just put up with things, while Patsy has more of a “let’s fix this now” approach. Sometimes my style is the better choice, and sometimes hers is. Viva la Difference.

    Dunno how traffic is to Loddon Falls is, but it sure looks like the kind of place my wife and I would call an excellent skinny dipping water hole.

  2. Yo, Chris – More friendships have been ended by the psycho girlfriend. Or, the psycho boyfriend, for that matter. You have your Green Wizard mates, and The Editor has her girl’s nights out. Good for youze guys. That, I think, is healthy. These couples that are jointed at the hip? Not so healthy. So, what’s that all about? Insecurity, I suppose. Or maybe just plain old power and control.

    But, as a stray thought, Mike also has to take some responsibility for how things went, the way they went. But, people change. People move on. As when a good chunk of your mates disappeared into the gaming world. But, another way of looking at it is, it leaves room for new, and maybe more interesting people.

    Yup. I think you made the right decision to dump the more corporate client. I suppose there was a bit of a financial hit, involved. But you’ll soon replace them, with perhaps some of those small and family run businesses you mentioned. Something not as soulless. Something that doesn’t have an HR department. Hmmm. That might be a good rule of thumb for working for businesses. Wish I would have thought of that, when I was still in the working world.

    Ollie knows which side his dog biscuit is buttered on. 🙂 . The top of the gabion cages look as tidy and well constructed as the best in Roman roads. Top them off with equally monumental planters?

    Loodon Falls is really quit beautiful. That little slice of your country looks very much like what you might see over in Al and DJ’s part of the world. And, like Steve C, it also crossed my mind to wonder if you took a bit of a skinny dip. 🙂

    If by tomato fencing, you mean tomato cages, then, never mind. But do a Gargle search (tomato cages), and you’ll see all kinds of tomato roundup, ideas. I use tomato cages. I see they also come in square and triangular. Also, tomato bushes can be pruned. I often loop off the non producing branches. The one’s without flowers. And “topping” them, once they get a bit of growth, doesn’t seem to do them any harm. Easy to do, between building machine sheds, rock gabions, expanded greenhouses, walking and chewing gum.

    Some varieties of grapes need just a kiss of frost, to really ripen and sweeten up. Don’t give up on yours, yet.

    The feverfew looks so much like camomile. A shallow dive down the rabbit hole and … yup. Same family. Asteraceae. Lew

  3. Hi Steve,

    Yeah, it’s easier to do than it sounds, and like you, I’m also risk averse. But sometimes a man can only be pushed so far, and you gotta know your limits. Have I got this one right? Beats me, I’ll tell ya in another years time! You called that too, it is exactly that. Mate, truth to tell I’m just muddling along trying to do my best.

    Mate, how many times do we have to make decisions based on inadequate information and intuition? And then act on those decisions.

    There’s a blast from the past! 🙂 Nice one, but I was thinking more along the lines of: Paces covers LDRU ‘Keeping Score’ Ft. Guy Sebastian for Like A Version. The guy has an amazing voice. The grin he pulls at the end just says: I smashed that one.

    Hehe! Did you just say the word ‘compromise’? Sounds like it to me. 🙂 Sandra and I try to help each other out with the areas where we are each weakest – and only doing the helping out when it actually matters. Don’t need to be onto everything huh? But sometimes you kind of have to know what to do and what to leave alone. Dunno. It’s complicated.

    An excellent suggestion for the watering hole and I doubt we would have been the first to do your suggestion. Unfortunately, it may look sunny and nice in the photo, but summer is AWOL this year.

    It’s raining outside right now.



  4. Hi Lewis (part one),

    The madness continues here for a few more weeks and then we get our lost hour back. Have you ever wondered where is it right now? It’s left your shores, probably on a slow boat…

    That’s the plant! Mullein. Thanks for identifying it. An intriguing plant and treated as a noxious weed in this state. Yes, I guess that’s why I’ve only ever seen one of them. I’m amazed at the number of traditional uses the plant was put too. Always interesting to know.

    An unfortunate way to create plastic waste by putting the storage bins to a new and interesting use to which it is not at all suited. Having learned that lesson about UV stable plastic, I’m very careful with how the stuff is used. Years ago I quipped that the decline of Western Civilisation will come about due to a lack of long term food storage containers (systems really), and I might be onto something. Already the lack of phosphate imports has effected the wine makers who used it as some sort of preservative agent. Who knew? We don’t kill off fermentation with that activity, I tend to feel that preservatives have benefits as well as costs – and some of the costs may be to peoples health. But I don’t really know and am just guessing.

    The good Professor suggests that rain and snow is on its way for your part of the world. Has it arrived? It’s very dark here and heavy bands of rain are skirting around the mountain range. On the rain radar it looks as though two storms are smashing into each other. There’s a bit of rain here, and lots of thunder.

    Hehe! We can only but wish, and then whilst the wish is being fulfilled, keep out of harms way. It’s a public holiday today, but we did paid work just to get some urgent jobs out the door. Happy clients make for a happy Chris.

    Speaking of classic books, the Editor is suggesting for me to read ‘Jane Eyre’ after I’ve completed reading: “Straight and Crooked Thinking’. It’s an interesting book and the learned author tackles the English language and its complexities. Very readable. The idealism of the author makes me chuckle. If only we just did… Not gonna happen any time soon, sorry mate. I’m learning though.

    Interestingly, in the book Uther by the author Jack Whyte, the protagonist spoke about the coinage in use in one of the towns, and how that arrangement was not in play in either Camulod or Cambria. Do you think that the coins were sent to the mainland and/or buried? Or converted into useful items? Mate, sometimes I feel as if I were born a bit out of time on that front and I’ve been really grappling with the issue surrounding substituting social arrangements for monetary arrangements. I tend to favour and put energy into the social arrangements, and I reckon this got to the core of my work predicament. Dunno, but I’d be interested in your thoughts. I kind of feel that rural areas are different on that front, but even here there is a clash of cultures.

    to be continued…



  5. Hi Lewis (the double secret continued edition),

    Man, it was crazy, that girlfriend hated my guts. I suspect that it is a form of social isolation and like you say ‘power and control’. Although it was weird how rapidly it happened. They eventually broke up, and Mike was one of the few who resisted the call to online games, but I understand that he eventually took them up. And yeah, the Editor and I do things together, but we also do our own thing. The Editor tells me that her friends have said that they appreciate me not coming along to their girl catch-ups and that their other friends do that. Far out, I enjoy the down time it leaves me. 🙂

    Well I tend to believe that Mike did just that, but I dunno it is hard to fathom motivations, but I had this odd hunch that his pride stood in the way of patching things up. He’d done that with one or two other friends towards the end who’d he’d had a falling out with, but maybe he could sense his own impending demise? People can be downright complicated.

    Losing all of my mates to the online gaming world was a serious kick in the guts. I didn’t see it coming either. One day they were there, and the next they were still there, but at the same time not there. Some of them had families, so I dunno how that all worked out. It can be all consuming those games and require huge hours every day. You never know what your addiction will be, that is until you’re addicted. I’ll bet your Club has something to say about that matter? I avoided the games because of earlier experiences with computer games, and just looked on in abject horror. Pulling yourself out of such a corner is no easy thing.

    And abso-freakin-lootely! 🙂 Yeah, I’ve met some very interesting people since those days, such as yourself. The thing that interests me about the subject is that it seems to be a thing for blokes my age to disappear into their family and work life. I dunno, but I don’t recall that things were like that when I was a young bloke and observing the adults around me.

    We now interrupt this reply for an important message from our sponsors: Plum just got a mouse! You go girl. So, the tally has been good for that dog. Surely she deserves a title? Dame Plum, dare I Suggest?

    There was a massive dust-up near to the kitchen and she brought the dying rodent to me. What a good dog, and she was rewarded with some beef jerky.

    Yes, there will definitely be a financial hit from this, but when your business is based on building upon relationships over the longer term, how do you deal with new employees in a corporate business? They come at such matters with their own biases, and sooner or later and despite the long association, someone will decide that I’ve gotta go. Like what about loyalty for the long and trouble free association? It’s bonkers and defies the social norms.

    Hehe! It ain’t just you, I hadn’t thought of it either before this! That’s the problem with a bit of wisdom, by the time you work out what’s goin’ on…

    I like your thinking about the Roman planters on the top of the rock gabion cages. Surely we can scrounge up an amphora or three from somewhere?

    It’s pretty dry isn’t it? Thanks because that’s kind of how I figured DJ and Al’s part of the world would look like – similar climate really. Lewis, I am a gentleman of the finest lineage and would never dare share such secrets. It was a bit cold for that, but maybe next year… 🙂

    Thanks for the ideas for the tomato cages. Interesting. Yeah, definitely need to do something like those. Might try pruning what has already grown and see what effect it has. I dunno really, I’ve never pruned tomatoes before. But yeah, been a bit busy lately…

    I didn’t know that about grapes. Hmm. I’ll keep an eye on that, and by the end of next month frost will most certainly be a risk.

    Respect to the humble daisy family of plants. 🙂



  6. Yo, Chris – The lost hour is probably sitting off the coast, on a container ship. Supply line problems … 🙁

    Mullein can be a bit invasive. But not much. At least here at The Institution, it’s many seeds seem to have a hard time finding exactly the right place. But we still get 5 or 6 show up, per year. They’re easy to spot when young, so, easy to do away with.

    Oh, our ancestors came up with lots of long term food storage solutions. Recently, I watched some “Time Team America”, and they were down in our SW. Some of the tribes, down there, built small, scattered grain storage (maize), high in the cliffs. Some of the fellows, as part of experimental archaeology, built one.

    We’re getting scattered rain, and the wind is rising. Howling in the elevator shaft, like the souls of the damned 🙂 . I figure the spigot will really open up, this afternoon. But, we’re having a clear day, on Wednesday.

    I probably read Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre,” somewhere along the way. Or maybe just saw the film. There was certainly opportunity, to do that. By one count, it’s been filmed in English, 16 times. Starting in the silent movie era. It’s also been adapted for radio, TV, and the theatre. There’s even a musical 🙂 . And at least one comic book.
    Something to keep in mind is that it was pretty contemporary with Dickens.

    I think a lot of the coin disappeared into hordes. They certainly have found, and continue to find, a lot of them. And, I suppose a lot of the people who left Britain, took their filthy lucre with them. A lot of the post Roman coins are “clipped.” Which in Roman times, was a capital offense. It’s speculated that the clipped coins were a way of making change. The later Roman coins were also so debased, that they lost all their symbolic value. Some may have kicked around for quit awhile, but just as curiosities.

    Yup. It’s hard to figure out the monetary arrangements vs social arrangements. Barter, gifting … But, I think it will return first, to the rural areas. It’s been there at a low level all along, and we’re not that far removed from when it was fairly common. Besides, rural areas have useful things to trade … like food and labor.

    Social isolation is a hallmark of cults and abusive relationships. It can start off small, and then escalate.

    Yes, it’s often bandied about the Club, that one addiction can be replaced with another. Food, shopping, gambling. The pitfalls are many. Beware of anything that makes you feel too good. Beware the “high.” Maybe find a mania that doesn’t cause too much damage. 🙂 There’s often a lot of talk about how when one kicks a substance or behavior, you’ve got all this time on your hands. I sometimes suggest taking a look at old childhood hobbies. Or, volunteer for something. Anything.

    Well, Grasshopper, I’ll impart some Old Duffer Wisdom. (Lew ©). People are always going away. I deal with it better, now, than in the past. At a ripe (spoiled?) old age. But I still don’t like it. One feels abandoned, and it hurts. People go, but new people come.

    Go, Plum! Ah, yes. Fall. When rodents look to move inside. I don’t know about the whole thing about substituting mice for rabbits. Rabbits were the original metric. I suppose one could figure out how many mice = one rabbit, but, I think, that way lies madness. 🙂 . Best to stick to the original plan.

    Employer / employee loyalty died in the 80’s. Didn’t you get the memo?

    Amphora didn’t have very stable bases. Best to go with urns or planter boxes. There are some nice terracotta ones, out there. Pricey, but can be had cheaper at auctions, op shops and estate clearances.
    Or you could pour your own, in concrete. Develop or adapt patterns of your own. I’ve never mentioned it, but spell checker doesn’t recognize “terracotta.” Never has. There are books and, probably U – Tub videos on how to make garden stuff out of concrete.

    Claire might have some ideas on taming the wild tomato. Something better than a whip and chair.

    I watched the most fascinating documentary, last night. “My Garden of a Thousand Bees.”

    I guess in some cities, the insects are doing OK. This was filmed in Bristol, England. The fellow found over 60 species of bees, just in his back garden. The photography is truly amazing. Well worth a look. Lew

  7. Hi Lewis,

    Of course, so obvious from hindsight when someone tells it like it is. 🙂 And where else would the thing be but at sea? Anyway, wouldn’t have been airfreighted, we can’t afford that! Hehe!

    I saw petrol at $2.22 this evening. Holy carp fuelman! We need to get out and Kapowie, or something like that. I never understood that 60’s Batman series. Maybe. 🙂 The actors looked as though they were having a lot of fun. So very wrong, but somehow, so very right.

    Took the day off any and all work today, and we headed north and checked out a remote aqueduct: Coliban Main Channel Waterfalls and Dissipator. It was constructed in the 1860’s to 1870’s and I can assure you that it is very much in use today. The channel is about 43 miles long and operates purely on gravity. How cool is that? It was amazing and despite having a map was quite challenging to find, and hope that the photos work out. The aqueduct channels water from the northern part of the local government area I live in at some reservoirs adjacent to the town of Malmsbury, and sends it north to the goldfields city of Bendigo. When you think about what was constructed with hand tools and animal energy way back in the day, it sure makes us all look soft as. It’s also one of the reasons I don’t worry too much about the future, although the skills to do such engineering feats have been rather lost and the red tape these days is bonkers.

    That’s also what happens here with the plant. It turns up at the same place every year, and then as the other plants in that garden bed explode into late spring growth, the mullein dies back. The other plants are more vigorous and they out-compete the mullein.

    Yeah, exactly, the indigenous folks down here had ways to preserve grains and I read somewhere once long ago that they used to produce sacred drinks using a hollow log, rain water and lots of flowers. I’ll bet it tasted pretty good. In the book Dark Emu, the author recounted a few of the explorers supplementing their own food with pilfered grains. One day we might construct a proper cement lined underground cool store. At a pinch it could double duty as a fire shelter.

    Have the souls of the dammed stayed put in the elevator shaft? Surely, you’ve seen Poltergeist? Hey, what do you reckon, could it be the sounds of disgruntled ex-inmates not wanting to move on? It’s a bit errie isn’t it? If given the choice would you choose to haunt a specific place?

    Mate, it wasn’t exactly cold today, but it sure looked and felt like early winter weather. It drizzled and rained and overall was quite grey. Had an excellent day.

    Musical? My brain is starting to phase out and some sort of toe-tapping catchy ear-worm stuff is trying to worms its way in. Ah, the pain, the pain! Dodged a bullet there, and might just stick to the book. Thanks for the Dickens warning too. 🙂

    When you use the word debased in relation to the Roman coins, what do you mean? I’ll tell you a funny story, a fifty cent round coin from way back in the day when I was a kid, is now worth I believe about $11 due to the silver content. And yet, a current $10 note is only worth $10. Hmm. I assume that it is expensive to produce physical coins?

    Yes, I agree about rural areas being different in relation to that matter. It is one of the things that I really love about living in a rural area. Sometimes I have to remember when dealing with city folks that I’m not in the country any more. There are actually different values at play and the intersection of those competing values can be problematic if I make that mistake.

    The pitfalls are many. Yes, I can see that. I’m not mucking around, it was hard for me to give up computer games, and I had deal with the question as to why I spent so long playing them, not to mention the consequences. You know what I’m speaking about. When my old mates went down that path, holy carp, well nothing I said or did made any difference, but there was no way I would join that journey. Heard from one of them today, hopefully we can reconnect as that would be good. I really did like how you used the word ‘anything’, oh I hear you alright. 🙂

    Man, that’s so true about people moving on and thanks for the plain old good advice from one who knows. You don’t seem spoiled to me, but then we don’t agree on everything, like err, say: musicals. Hehe!

    The Editor is now calling Plum by the name: Blood Plum (after the plum fruit variety). I don’t know how I feel about that, and just hazarding a guess here: Four mice equals one rabbit. Perhaps two rats equals one rabbit. What, oh no maybe that should be three? Far out, you’re right watch out: madness at twelve o’clock! madness at two o’clock! They’re coming in fast! (doing my best WWII gunner voice) I dunno, where I’m going with this, so I might drop it and stick to counting rabbit scores.

    The loyalty thing kind of died here in about 1992, but we’re a bit behind you guys. Work was quite slack before that change.

    I installed an Australian dictionary to the browser and it’s mostly OK, but all the same, every week there are some words that the thing just does not know. Don’t these software packages read books these days, or what? 😉

    Hmm, turns out that some crafty folks make their own concrete water tanks. Well, I never!

    Thanks for the recommendation for the documentary on bees. Your PBs folks don’t allow me to stream it. I’ll have a look around and see what I can come up with. It’s nice to see that some city gardens are alive and humming because Melbourne is very dead on that front, and I have no idea why that would be. I don’t believe that it is a good thing.



  8. Hello Chris
    Thanks for the waterfall pictures. I love waterfalls and wish that there was one on my land. It is years since I have been in the vicinity of one and that was in Queensland.
    Still cold here, 39F last night. Plants are waiting for some warmth. The ground is still a mud swamp.


  9. Yo, Chris – Yup. Batman was pretty over the top. In a fun way. There seemed to be a few of those, back in the day. Who can forget “Get Smart?” Batman had some great guest stars, too. Who can forget Ertha Kitt as the Cat Woman?

    So, is the Dissipator a super-hero, or a super-villain? 🙂 Just last year, archaeologists managed to find a source, and section of a “lost” Roman aqueduct, outside of Rome. The hero of Harris’s novel, “Pompeii” is a young aqueduct inspector. I learned more about Roman water systems, from that book, than I ever wanted to know! 🙂 I hope the pictures turn out. Those Victorians were some engineers.

    I think a root cellar / fire shelter is a very smart idea. Just be careful with the site. Don’t want to be moving that baby, around. 🙂

    Well, ghosts are funny things. Depends on who you talk to. Some seem bound to a particular place. Others seem to get around. And then there are ghosts attached to objects … that get around. As we’ve discussed, before. I’ve never seen anything here at the Institution. But there have been a story or two about sightings. But when I moved in, there were noises in the walls and ceiling, of my place. Usually, late at night. I was rather disbelieved, until Elinor (whose hearing isn’t all that great) complained, too. Being on the third floor, there’s an attic space, overhead. Finally, they got a fellow to check things out. See if an animal had got in. He even took pictures, up there. Everything was undisturbed, even the layer of dust on the floor. But after that, the sounds tapered off and finally stopped. I think I’d rather have a bit of mobility, if I were a ghost.

    I watched a new series, a couple of weeks, ago. “Ghosts.” It’s British, but I guess there’s also an American version. It’s about a young couple who inherit and old stately home pile. They want to turn it into a family hotel. But it turns out, the place is haunted by a cast of ghosts. From all periods of history. The ghosts like their peace and quiet, and do much to thwart their plans. The wife has a near death experience, and, due to that, can now see and hear the squabbling ghosts. It’s a very amusing series. I’m looking forward to season two.

    So far, this atmospheric river is not near so bad as the one a couple of weeks ago. And, it’s supposed to get nice, tomorrow.

    Debased coin. The silver or gold content, declines. Often, steeply. The Romans, at one point, did the same thing we started doing here, in 1963. Base core, silver wash. You can still buy bags of “junk” silver. Silver coin sold only for the value of the silver. Not any collectible coin, which is a whole different ballgame. The “spot” price of silver coin rises and falls, daily. Some preppers seem to put stock in having huge amounts of silver coin. But, as Mr. Greer often points out, you can’t eat the stuff. And, if you have a large amount of the stuff, someone might want to take it away from you, and not be too nice about doing it.

    As you often say you have no head for maths, best keep away from Plum animal corpse equivalencies. 🙂

    Ah, that explains it. I thought spell check was just some kind of universal internet thingy. I didn’t realize you could taylor it, specific to this blog. Interesting.

    I went up to the store that carries a wide variety of Bob’s Red Mill products, and picked up a 25 pound bag of old fashioned rolled oats. It was $28. Or, about $1.12 per pound. Not a bad price. I got tired of scrambling for dibs and dabs of inexpensive oatmeal. If I can find it for under $1 a pound, I grab it.

    I’m H sitting, this morning. So much for biscuits and gravy. Lew

  10. Hi Chris,

    I do indeed have a tomato pruning method and a spiral stake to go with it. Here’s the stake I use:

    The idea is that you only allow one stem to grow, and that stem is supported within the spiral, so you don’t have to use ties to keep it upright and in place.

    When I’m ready to plant a tomato plant, I first push the straight part of the spiral stake into the garden soil where I want the plant to grow. Then I plant the tomato plant so it can grow up through the inside of the spiral.

    After it starts growing, I push the stem up the inside of the spiral as it grows. I also watch for suckers (new vines) to grow off the main stem. They look like smaller versions of the main stem, and you’ll see them where the leaves join the stem. Your goal is to remove the suckers to leave only the stem that is growing up the inside of the spiral and allow the flowers on that stem to form tomatoes.

    If you catch the suckers when they are young and thin enough, you can pinch them or pull them off. If the sucker gets too thick, you’ll need to use a pruner to prune it off at the main stem. Be careful to distinguish the suckers from the flower clusters before you pinch/pull/cut anything! You want to leave the flower clusters that arise from the main stem. They will bear your crop.

    This method usually brings earlier ripening and bigger tomatoes, plus the tomatoes will stay drier and be less prone to rotting.

    If you can’t find a spiral stake, you can do the same thing with a tall and sturdy stake, but you’ll need to tie the main stem to the stake every so often to hold it on. Otherwise you remove the suckers in the same way.

    Spring is springing here! I’m scrambling to keep up with it.


  11. Chris,

    I had a few friendships end due to my friends’ new girlfriends hating my guts. As it was for you, it was for me, also: a nasty kick in the guts. Then I realized something: the type of girls those friends liked, I found abhorrent, which made me wonder, years later, what my friends and I had actually had in common in the first place.

    Ah, the wish for abrupt changes. People need to be careful what they wish for, lest it come true. Change can bring worse things than having to go to work Monday morning. What if the abrupt change means, ala classic “Country/Western songs, that the dog died, the wife left, the house burnt down, the truck broke down, and you STILL have to go to work on Monday at a dehumanizing job? Harsh. Or, maybe everything turns to bat guano as described above, and the only stability left is to go to work on Monday, but the job disappeared also? Change happens, and we have to deal with the changes, but wishing for abrupt changes? ugh!

    Once upon a time in graduate school, I had 2 of my female students in my office, chatting about physics and then whatever. It was a nice break from studying graduate quantum mechanics. Then the postdoc threw my office door open and demanded to know where my office mate was, as he worked in the lab the postdoc was in charge of. Without thinking, I responded with a rather rude response in Spanish, pretty much along the lines of the rude phrase that burst out of your mouth with Sandra. The postdoc spoke no Spanish, but my 2 students spoke Spanish and English with equal fluency. They looked aghast that I had said something so rude. Sometimes, you know, these things just pop out of the mouth without the brain even turning on first! I then calmly (sort of, maybe) said that I had just said that I didn’t know where he was. After the postdoc left, my guests admitted that they didn’t know I spoke Spanish. I said that I only spoke the naughty bits. 😉

    Congrats. Rectifying the Gordian Knot Client was a hard thing to do, but it sounds necessary. Mental health is worth more than the client, but it’s hard to cut that knot even when you understand that it must be done.

    Nice new gabion wall. Ollie is right to be impressed.

    Loddon Falls looks wonderful. The Southwest part of Spokane County is nearing the desert portion of the state. There are some abandoned railroad tracks that are now State (public) land that can be accessed off a public road right in the SW corner of the county. There is a small stream that flows in a large public parcel of land that is accessed via the public railroad tracks. I walked through that once upon a year. There’s even a small waterfall. Looked a lot like Loddon Falls, except the plant growth was mostly sagebrush with some grasses and pine trees and some spectacular wildflowers. Oh, and the stream and waterfall and the pool beneath the waterfall? Inaccessible due to being overrun with poison ivy. Darn.

    Thanks for the rose pictures. Plants and trees are now showing signs of it being spring. The grass is turning green in protected areas where the heat is trapped. And we got another 10mm of rain!


  12. Hi Inge,

    We took the day off work yesterday and visited an artificial waterfall and hope to put the photos on next weeks blog. In an amusing side story, the artificial waterfall was very difficult to find. It was not sign posted and the map was a very loose representation of reality. Despite the travails, we sallied forth on an adventure up this very dodgy dirt road in the wrong car. The road deteriorated further, and I suggested that the Editor turn the car around. I jumped out of the car so as to test the very damp dirt road surface, and that was when I could hear the waterfall (but not see it). A search around the area found the waterfall. Given the age of the engineering marvel, it was in an impressive state of repair.

    It’s a swamp here too accompanied with grey gloomy skies. What do you do? Better next season, that’s what we’ll do. 🙂

    I did a mountain of paid work today. My mind was pulled from one issue to the next, so I can only but hope that I make sense.



  13. Hi Claire,

    I’ve never seen such a clever tomato stake down here. It’s ingenious and thank you very much for alerting me to the arrangement.

    Next year we may build on that vine supporting arrangement and use steel reinforcing mesh. That would probably work equally well here along with the pruning of the suckers which I have not attended to properly this year due to the sheer lack of free time. It is nice to be in demand, but there seems little point in being in demand if our own house is not in order. What else can you do? Took some steps today to rectify that issue.

    I’ve also been reading upon the subject of determinate varieties of tomatoes, and a mix of those plants with the long trailing vines, maybe be just what the doctor prescribed? I’m not sure really, and I’m making a lot of this stuff up as we are going along via the method of experimentation combined with observation to figure out what works here. Way back before I was born, this area was used to grow potatoes and berries, and nearby there is a blueberry farm, but other than that, few people do anything.

    I really appreciate the detail which you provided in your instructions as it has given me much to cogitate upon. I’ve seen such an approach used in poly-tunnels (hoop houses) where the vines are trained like hop vines to climb up a central support and wondered as to how such an outcome occurred. Now the arrangement makes total sense.

    Lovely! 🙂 Best wishes for a bountiful year for your delightful garden. The pumpkins are swelling in size every day. They don’t grow as fast as the Triffid-like zucchini’s, but they’re not far off that.



  14. Hi DJ,

    It’s awful, and you’ve raised the most doubly awful concern: what if those friends were but a moment in time? It is possible that there is no answer to that question. Far out, what if you’re where you are now, because that is where you need to be at that moment? Mate, my brain is about to explode!

    On the other hand, some of my mates see the world in vastly different ways than I, and I can accommodate that story. There is an implicit and unspoken assumption that we need to have an agreed upon common ground. I don’t really know about that and commonly held values can shift over time. A regular commenter here recently expressed concern about the goings on in eastern Europe, and I put a hard line under that discussion. Honestly, I have no idea how that rule was perceived. Beats me. However, one of the things which troubles me about the media and general societal discourse is that people are asking me to care about certain widely discussed things, and that rings warning bells in my brain because it doesn’t appear to be a two way street. There’s something a little bit fishy about that, but maybe I expect too much?

    Hehe! Yup, I agree. What did Monty Python once quip. Ah: Worse things happen at sea, you know! Truer words were rarely sung. 🙂 The Editor introduced me to some very funny office jokes, and given your most recent endeavours, I thought you might enjoy them: The Funniest Job Memes. My favourite was the line: Efficient workers got punished with more work. Hmm, so true.

    Mate, I know, I know. There are times for gentlemanly behaviour, and then there are times to drop in the occasional F-bomb for effect. Doing that in Spanish is genius, unless of course your audience speaks that language, and then mate, you’re f!@#ed! 🙂 But you already knew that. Hehe! On a serious note, I actually used that technique this morning to get across the idea that my professional accounting group really made things super hard for me, just because I took a path they wanted nobody to take. It looked like a protection racket to me – hardly a path towards innovation, but they made the rules.

    Thanks for understanding. Sometimes you find yourself ending up in working arrangements that began with good intentions, sailed along for a long time, before then going downhill. Very unpleasant, but, it happens. I’m sure you’ve been there too.

    DJ, the scene sounded idyllic, until you got to the poison ivy business. If I dare but offer one suggestion in relation to that plant: Burn it. Burn it with fire! And even then, the chemical is in the smoke. Holy carp! What a nightmare of a plant. Please keep the thing away…

    Go the rain and the warmer weather for you! It’s been super cloudy here and on the cooler side of things. Outside it barely got passed 16’C today. Brr.



  15. Hello Chris
    Woke this morning to a dull, yellow sky. Am told that we were at the edge of a Saharan sand storm. It is now reverting to its usual dull grey.
    Although the primroses and daffodils are flowering, there is no other sign of Spring; nothing is leafing out and it is still cold.


  16. Hi Lewis,

    The show was way over the top, but funin a psychedelic way. Eartha Kitt was one clever and talented lady, oh yeah. In Batman parlance, the dissipator would be a super-hero. Yes. The roar of the water washing down the aqueduct was quite deafening, and I was impressed that the sharp angles in the channel were still intact given the forces which struck them over such a long period of time. I see what you mean when you wrote: a section of lost Roman aqueduct. The Goths sure put an end to that Roman water system. You know, it’s very possible that the exact source of the water was something of a state Roman secret? And I’ve learned of a new material: opus signinum lining. Pretty clever stuff. Last evening, I was watching utoob videos of people constructing home made brick and cement water tanks. There’s some handy people out there.

    A wise point. Did you just suggest that I plan ahead with such an idea? 🙂 All I know is that such a spring house / cool store would need to be set back into the soil of the land. Some infrastructure here is not likely to be moved. The sheds on the other hand aren’t all that demanding to move. It’s a lot of work, but neither is it impossible and being on a slope, the most difficult parts are the earthworks creating the flat land in the first place.

    Like you, I too would enjoy a bit more mobility if stuck as a ghost. And wouldn’t it be awful to be stuck to a cursed object that people keep trying to get rid of? Talk about sticky situations. I’d read of that story in Jack Vance’s book: The Green Pearl. Nobody really wanted to be stuck with the green pearl.

    Very occasionally rats can get into the ceiling and at night time they can sound as if they are having a party up there. They need a special feed. One of the power safety switches tripped this morning, so I do hope that no rats have been foolish enough to sharpen their incisors on any electrical cables? Dunno. It’s not like a rat didn’t blow itself up years ago after munching through an air conditioning hose in the engine bay of the little Suzuki. A fatal error for the rat, and an expensive fix for me.

    Wonder what it is that makes a ghost stick to a house. Beats me. Is there any consensus on the why of that? And Poltergeist was about new houses over an old cemetery and the fictional ghosts seemed pretty comfortable with the new digs. Far out, there was a clown doll attack scene – I’ve gotta see this – maybe… … Just watched the scene. Super creepy. I don’t get clowns, and going to sleep with that thing looking at me sitting in the chair would certainly bring on nightmares.

    The Ghosts series looks pretty funny. Yes, why not a haunted hotel? Dare I mention The Overland Hotel? Or that one the kooky Bates bloke lived at – hopefully he didn’t have the remains of his mum under the stairs… Creepy stories. Hey, what’s your go-to when it comes to authors who can pen a proper scare-tale?

    Good stuff that the rain wasn’t as bad as forecast. The weather here continues to be gloomy with meatballs, sorry I meant to say: gloomy with a chance of drizzle.

    I’m beginning to wonder whether introducing some determinate varieties of tomatoes might not be a bad strategy to hedge my risk with these sorts of cold summers? Dunno. Have you ever grown bushy tomato varieties?

    Thanks for the explanation as to the debasing of coins, and it’s remarkable that everything old is new again. I guess it is a least-worst path, so no wonder it gets repeated over longer history. I’m not interested in hoarding that stuff because it produces a moth to a flame result, with unfortunate outcomes. Best to have valuable skills, but I have no dramas if people want to do otherwise.

    You got me there with the Plum maths conversion calculations and I now retire from the field in defeat and can only but acknowledge that you have won the day. 🙂 Nice one!

    Yup. The Blog software incorporates a translator, although I have no idea how good it is and what you may be seeing on your side of things. I wouldn’t worry about it, the machines can hold all the opinions they want, but the old hard cover Oxford English Dictionary may have greater authority. And don’t get me started on grammar checkers. But since you mentioned them… 🙂 Nah, I mentioned the things. An ear for grammar must be acquired. Hey, we could have some fun creating a glossary for this website. But then people might understand what I’m going on about when I use the word: Fluffy. It can mean all manner of things.

    That’s a pretty decent price for a 25 pound bag. With grains, I now only buy in bulk. I’m trialling a new chicken feed this morning. It seems OK. But I try to mix in some new products to their feed around every month or two. Probably better for their health.

    I trust that H was a lady of the finest breeding, and kept out of the occasional puddle and/or mud splat? The fluffies were not energised by the gloomy weather and so they spent most of the day sleeping. Nice for some! 🙂 Could have done that myself, but I woke up early and worked until almost dark. That’s what being ‘woke’ means! 🙂



  17. Hi Inge,

    To reach all the way to your island and into other more northerly parts of Europe is one massive sand storm. Wow! On a positive note, the sand would probably bring some interesting minerals to where ever the stuff lands.

    Hope that your weather warms up soon? We’re rapidly sliding into winter. The seedlings here didn’t really get much of a start until about maybe the equivalent of your May. Makes for a short growing season. I’m considering determinate and short season tomatoes. There is a variety down here called 42 days. I might need that tomato. What do you? Hope your strawberries produce some berries soon.

    It’s cold here tonight.



  18. Hi Chris,
    I’m glad you parted with the toxic client and you are taking some days off. So many travel to far off places ignoring their own backyard. There is a state park not too far from here that has some nice waterfalls. I’m thinking I should go there as it’s been many years.

    Doug some years ago left a bad job situation without anything else in place. Even though there were a few years where we had to go into our retirement savings it was a good decision in the end. The job had him traveling all over having to staff the company’s booth at food shows which he hated. His flights would often be delayed and he’d have to drive some rental car, sometimes a few hours to his destination in the dark. It’s a longer story which I may get into later but we’re having some lovely warm weather and I need to get outside to enjoy it.

    Ollie looks he’s taken on the role of elder statesman of the fluffy collective.


  19. Hi Chris,

    I think it would be a good idea for you to add a short-season, determinate tomato variety to your tomato mix. You can trial one such variety next year alongside your others, and see how it performs. Such varieties are commonly grown in the short-season areas of the US to ensure that some tomatoes ripen.

    Congratulations for breaking up with the too-demanding corporation. You’ll have noticed by now that the new Ecosophia post treats corporations with the disgust that they so richly deserve.

    I wish you enough time next year to properly prune the indeterminate tomatoes and many ripe and delicious tomatoes from all the varieties you grow!


  20. Yo, Chris – To have a spring house, you need a spring 🙂 . Which I think you said Fern Glade Farm, doesn’t have. Near the fern gully might be a possibility, but I gather it’s a bit of a hike, from the house.

    Rats in the ceiling, or … The second roommate I had was James Brown. A skinny little ginger fellow, who I don’t think broke 5 feet. One night I was awoken by a terrible commotion. There was James Brown, clad only in his tighty whities, standing on a dresser and pounding on the wall with a coat hanger. “What?” says I. “Damn squirrels are dancing in the walls!” says he. I remember the incident, but not how it all resolved itself. If it did.

    Why do ghosts stick in one place? Well, general consensus is, they’ve got some unfinished business. Or some trauma. But, more rarely, they stick in a place they were happiest. On the trauma side, one of the ghosts, in “Ghosts” is an Edwardian lady who pitches herself out of a window, every night at the same time. With a shriek. Her husband had defenestrated her. 🙂

    Well, in the series “Ghosts,” they haven’t made it to the operating hotel stage, yet. Turns out the stately old pile is a bit of a money pit. Speaking of pits, it’s quit crowded in the basement. Due to the plague pit, under the floor. The wife asks if they ever want to get out a bit. But, they say they’re quit happy, down there. It’s what they’re used to, and their friends are there. There is one little plague girl, who occasionally wanders upstairs. Just to see what’s what.

    Clowns are creepy. Dolls are creepy. Combining the two seems like a bit of overkill. Best scare-tale author? You have to ask? Stephen King, hands down.

    Have I tried the determinate tomatoes? Sure. Those are the one’s that never want to ripen. 🙂 . I always try one or two, every year. But it’s the cherry tomatoes that are the most dependable.

    Probably wouldn’t hurt to have a small handful of silver coin. Nothing over the top.

    How’s this for maths. A pound of oatmeal contains about 5 cups. So, 25 pounds of oatmeal is 125 cups. I use a cup, every three days. Three days divided into 365 is 121. So, the bag should last about a year. Depending on how often I make oatmeal cookies, crisps, or use it to round out a fried egg and rice patty. I still intend to keep my eye out for any rolled oats at the cheap food stores, that’s less than $1 a pound. So, I may be able to make up the difference.

    I bought gas yesterday. Hadn’t in a couple of months. $4.90, for regular. Our gallon. As I don’t drive much and get good mileage, it doesn’t hit me as hard as some people. I don’t fill my tank, either. As I predicted, people are beginning to steal gas. Saw the first case mentioned in our newspaper’s police blotter.

    Grammar checkers are OK for college papers, and such. I can’t remember the last time I turned mine on. Lew

  21. Yo, Chris – I finished the book of Margaret Atwood essays, “Burning Questions.” I found the review she did of King’s “Doctor Sleep.” I hope it comes through.

    I didn’t realize that Atwood could be so funny. She and her husband had a small farm, way back when. You’d enjoy that essay, and I’ll try and see if I can find it. Her husband once said, “You drive around farm machinery until it breaks. Then you drive around looking for a part. Then you drive around…” 🙂

    Hmmm. Probably won’t be able to run that one down. The publishing history of that essay is rather torturous. And, she updated it for this book.

    Her husband Graeme Gibson, wrote a book called “The Bedside Book of Birds.” Are you out there, Damo? Won’t be able to link to that essay, either, as it was the introduction to a re-issue of the book. I’ll have to see if my library has it.

    When I took H out, this afternoon, I saw a number of bumble bees, working over the heather. The B-52s of the bee world. Lew

  22. Chris,

    “Far out, what if you’re where you are now, because that is where you need to be at that moment?” I’ve thought about that idea from time to time. Then I come up with this one: what if where you are now is NOT where you need to be at that moment? That’s when my head threatens to explode.

    The common ground is something that I have to pay attention to at the carving club. There is a time and a place for political or religious discussions. The carving club ain’t it. Carving is (supposedly) the reason we’re there. And your website probably isn’t the place to have discussions about Ukraine. As with the subject that dare not be named, the press is bombarding us with all Ukraine all the time. It’s nice to have a place to discuss other things.

    Thanks for the link to the job memes. I see that there was a link at the top to part 1. I’ve laughed myself to tears looking at those. Twice. I’ve shared the links with some friends.

    One of my coworkers used the f-bomb very regularly. She had a cartoon of a little girl with an angry look on her face. The caption read “Now that I work here, I use the f-word like it’s a comma”. She retired a year before I did and the swearing immediately stopped. I guess it kept her from getting PTSD on the job or something. But when the person who never uses such language suddenly blurts out an f-bomb, it tends to grab peoples’ attention in a hurry.

    Oh yeah, poison ivy can keep far, far away. Nasty stuff.

    We got to about 14C today. I always enjoy the differences in our climates – what is warm for one can be cold for the other. It’s just what we’re acclimated to.

    So, in the balmy weather today 😉 I played in the vegetable patch. Last fall I dug in a lot of leaves. Some leaves got put in the compost pile. Then another batch got placed on of the vegetable patch for the winter. I dug those in today. The bunch that I dug in last fall have mostly turned to dirt. And a lot of big fat earthworms were enjoying what was left. It’s always a good sign to find earthworms in the vegetable patch!


  23. Hi Margaret,

    You know, I was mildly concerned that this week’s blog was going to be something of a bummer of a subject. Then when writing it, I thought I’d hit the ‘feels’ as the kids are wont to say. But yeah, didn’t score on either outcome, and here we are today. Honestly, I had to do something on that front, as I have not had an uninterrupted week off for a few years and there was a serious power imbalance with that client which was unwarranted. And I’m a high energy person, but even I have my limits. As you’d know from personal experience, such work as you and I have done, subtly changes your personality, and so there is a need to limit that gear.

    Sometimes the local sites are every bit as amazing as distant shores. Hopefully there will be an artificial waterfall on next weeks blog. 🙂 Hey, spare a thought for me – I had a note in the post box from the local gobarmint suggesting that leaf change is coming… I’d forgotten about that.

    Good stuff. Hey, a bad job situation can seriously impact upon a persons mental and physical health. Long distant travel for work is no fun at all, and I feel for Doug. A long time ago, they used to regularly fly me back and forwards between Melbourne and Sydney. And the joke was on me, because my boss would act like he was doing me a favour with the travel. Not good, and the early mornings and late finishes did my head in, and they’d expect you at work bright and shiny the next day. What a nightmare. An old mate of mine was once flown to Europe for a meeting and his flight back was over the weekend, and they expected him at work on a Monday morning after that. Crazy expectations.

    Hope you managed to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather – which should assist with your back – hopefully.

    Ollie is the girls mascot. They always feel safer when he’s around. He’s a big softie though, don’t tell anyone!



  24. Hi Claire,

    Yes, that’s my thinking too and I appreciate your thoughts. Trial and error, plus relocating the entire vegetable patch is probably the way to go for future growing seasons. This season sadly is a write off, but fortunately conditions are better in other parts of this continent, except for the recent massive flood affected areas along the east coast.

    I’ll do some experiments next year with determinate varieties and see what happens.

    Hehe! I read both your comment and Mr Greer’s essay this morning over breakfast. It really is a failure of the imagination, and it is nice to know lovely people such as yourself, who simply just went off and did something else with their time. 🙂

    Thanks, and fingers crossed that next season supplies better growing conditions. However, just in case, I’ll try and get the new larger greenhouse completed around the end of May. Then onto the next project after that. 🙂 It gets easier every year, but some years present greater challenges than others.

    Best wishes for your coming growing season, and may your harvest be both bountiful and lacking in Triffids. Always a worry those plants. 🙂



  25. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, you plugged hard for the Margaret Atwood book on essays, and it is on order and is now on its way here. It was the zombies you know! 🙂 Many years ago I read a Jane Austen classic which also surprisingly had martial arts and zombies as part of the central narrative. Now what was it titled, oh that’s right: Pride and Prejudice with Zombies. Who knew zombies were a thing in the early nineteenth century? 🙂 Just kidding. I kind of enjoyed the story, however sans zombies and martial arts sequences, I might not have enjoyed it. The Editor is reading the original text now, and I can only hope that I have not influenced her. People have a deep love for that book which is lost on me. Jane Austen is not really to my literary tastes. Possibly it’s a bit like how you respond to the works of Dickens? I must say that I preferred the more modern interpretation of the Austen classic story in film format: Bridget Jones Diary. So very amusing.

    Clearly they need to know some farm machine repair dudes! 🙂 They’re good.

    Unfortunately the review was behind a pay-wall. Alas the days of free content on the interweb seem to be ailing in lockstep with the overall economy.

    Hehe! I like that description of bumble bees. So true.

    It being St Pat’s day and all, we went to the local pub this evening for a pint and feed. It was quite a warm day here today and so we were able to eat dinner outside in the courtyard in the fresh air. All very pleasant. Earlier in the day we spent most of the day doing paid work. As you may have guessed from the content of this week’s essay, things had gotten a bit out of hand recently. All remedied now, and we’re kind of feeling on top of things – maybe.

    Had a weird experience this morning though. The wake up alarm went off this morning and I must have switched it off in my sleep. But then I hadn’t realised I’d fallen back asleep, and the Editor was out for the count too. Didn’t think anything had happened, and after breakfast I looked at the time and wondered where an hour had disappeared to? It was an hour later than I’d expected it to be. I don’t remember anything, or even going back to sleep, so my gut feeling is that we slipped into a temporal anomaly. For sure. And I learned that the word: ‘temp’, was derived from the Latin word for ‘time’. How obvious, from hindsight. But where did that lost hour go? A mystery.

    Yeah, alas no springs here because there isn’t enough land above the farm. And yes, the fern gully would not be suitable at all. A root cellar on the other hand might be easy enough to construct, and we have access to wonderful waterproof products these days.

    Really? What has everyone got against gingers? 🙂 Hehe! Before all the current craziness, there used to be a ginger get together day, I might have mentioned it to you? You know, mate, there are some things that you can’t un-see, and you lived through one of those in that incident. Given you can’t recall how it ended, I’ll hazard a guess: Your room mate was flailing around a steel coat-hanger batting away at hapless fictitious squirrels, which were actually ghosts. Sadly for your room mate, the pointy end of the steel coat-hanger lodged itself in a power point and the safety switch failed to shut down in time. The ginger hair turned white, the tighties went brown and the hand was permanently burned. Alas for the brain. Twas never the same. Last I heard he was institutionalised. Moaning was the best he could produce. And some whispered that he was conversing with the dead. 😉

    Thank you for improving upon my vocabulary. I’d never heard of that word before. It seems a rather extreme act, surely divorce would have been easier? Although I hear that it is an expensive process these days. Oooo, the plague pit concept is very high in the creepy factor, but also amusing. I did notice that lot in the basement in the trailer and wondered about their stories. Did they really used to bury people in basements? I guess if the ground outside was frozen, burial was probably not all that feasible an option, and animals are hungry at that time of the year.

    Clowns aren’t part of the culture down here, and they’ve always seemed a touch creepy to me. Although I have not seen many of the Simpsons cartoons they do have a clown character and I recall him amusingly suggesting in some sort of advertisement that: I sincerely endorse this product and/or service. 🙂 That’s funny. Yes, Mr King has kept me awake deep into the pages and suffering from the awful situation: Do I go to sleep and endure nightmares; or continue reading, avoid the nightmares, and find out what happens to the characters. The latter option is always preferable.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with determinate tomatoes. Like you, I’ll put a few plants in the ground as a test, but you’re probably right with the cherry tomato assertion. I’m wondering how the determinate tomatoes taste because the growing notes hinted that they might not be as good on that front.

    😉 Say no more.

    Oh yeah, oats are very good, and like you I consume a decent amount of them, as do the dogs. Made a batch of toasted muesli this morning, and that usually lasts a few days. Good stuff. And I’m always amazed at how cheap food is in your country.

    That doesn’t surprise me about the gas stealing. Most of the petrol stations down here use number plate readers and CCTV, so there are signs warning against doing that act, but I’d be sure it still happens. There used to be a thing to get people to pre-pay for their fuel, but I never got a straight answer as to what do you do when you want to fill up the tank? I was once asked if I’d leave my credit card with the console operator, but why put temptation in the way of some folks who might well be underpaid? Bonkers. Some of the wellthieust folks in the land own petrol stations.

    Grammar checkers, whadda they know? 🙂 Probably not all that much, and they force a certain sort of homogeneity in writing. A little flair every now and then doesn’t hurt, and I found myself disagreeing with the grammar checker robot. Who needs to argue with a robot? Whadda they know?



  26. Hi DJ,

    Oh no! Now my head is exploding at that thought. Like that horror film Scanners where the people could blow up other peoples heads at will using mind-powers alone. It does seem like a rather useless gift because I suspect that sooner or later someone might get a touch startled by that act and do something very ungentlemanly to the mid power person. Anyway, encountering one of those folks would be a good example of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. 🙂 I admit that you’ve made a strong case.

    Thank you for your understanding in this matter. The problem with everyone being poked into a high state of emotion all of the time by the media is that the emotions drown out thought, and you know, you need both emotions and thought, but if either are taken to extremes then bad things happen – or become possible. Better to keep a cool tool, and go off and do something more productive with your time, like wood carving. 🙂 And you’re right, the carving club is not the place for such things.

    I don’t agree with all the things my mates talk about, but then I respect their opinions and sometimes they discuss matters convincingly enough that I can change my mind in relation to a particular subject under discussion. But I only speak about contentious topics with people I know who are not out to convince me in the first place. As a general rule, I don’t hang out with such people… 😉 A lot of very complicated subjects get discussed in overly simple terms and in very inappropriate forums. I’m not into it.

    When I was a young adult bloke an amusing rock band with a cult like following had a song titled: I’m interested in apathy! Very ironic, and also very amusing.

    DJ, I did that too with those memes. 🙂 Glad you checked out Part I because I thought that was even funnier. Good deep breathing exercise for your lungs!

    I’ve learned that too over the years with the use of f-bombs. I’m more than happy to have a good swear, but it must be used judiciously and for good effect. Dropped the odd one here and there in a meeting the other day to highlight the extreme corner I’d been backed into. I wrote about that story over at Mr Greer’s this morning.

    Seriously, I hope that neither your or I encounter poison ivy. It’s not right that a plant need be that toxic, but then I guess the plant has it’s own reasons. Does anything eat that stuff? Something must otherwise it would have taken over.

    It got to 29’C here today which felt really nice despite the bonkers off the scale humidity. On the other hand the warmer day meant we could sit outside in the cooler night air at the local pub and enjoy a pint and feed on St Pat’s day. Any saint that can recommend a good beer has something going for him.

    Good stuff with the earthworms. 🙂 Have you wondered what might happen if you put all of the leaves on the beds in late autumn? I don’t make compost because we have no excess of organic matter – anywhere on the farm.



  27. Yo, Chris – I read “Pride, Prejudice with Zombies.” And, saw the movie. Which I thought was a lot of fun. It ended on a cliff hanger, and I’d hoped for a sequel, but it didn’t happen. Guess the film didn’t do all that well. I’ve never been able to “get into” Austen. But I quit enjoyed some of the film versions. The one’s without zombies. 🙂

    So, did you have green beer with corn beef and cabbage? Seems to be the go-to in this part of the world.

    “Tempus Fugit.” Time flies. From Virgil, a Roman poet. Although the original was “Fugit Iriparable Tempus” which actually translates as “It escapes, irretrievable time.”

    Your speculation on the ultimate fate of James Brown is rather farfetched (and, silly). Why would there be a power point, that high on the wall? It wasn’t long after that that I moved to Seattle. I can’t remember if James stayed on in the apartment, or not.

    Plague pits might pop up anywhere. But, usually they’re associated with churches or hospitals. The stately old pile might have been built on the ruins of a monastery, that fell during The Dissolution. But it was not explained.

    Yes, the Simpsons Crusty the Clown. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. Always seems to play a part in their Halloween specials.

    I’m down to my last bag of dried cherry tomatoes. They do provide a nice zing, to this and that.

    We do like our government subsidies. 🙂 . Especially the rich, who complain about subsidies for the poor, while raking in the Federal dollars for their businesses. Lots of cognitive dissonance. I’m having a bit of a change of view about rising food prices. If you get out there and beat the brush, a bit, there is inexpensive food to be found. Might not be what you want, but it’s there. And money saved there, allows you to take an occasional splurge on the high priced spread. Even in a semi-rural, low population county like ours, there are at least three outlets that have lower priced food.

    There was actually an article, yesterday, in our newspaper about gas theft. They lifted the article from The Seattle Times.,286218

    I went to the library, yesterday, and read Mr. Greer’s post. How timely. You snapped because your suffering from Corporate PTSD. There’s probably a pill for that. Or, maybe an app. 🙂 But seriously, it made a lot of sense. I scrolled down and caught your response.

    Someone also made reference to a book called “The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity” (Graeber & Wengrow, 2021). Turns out it was on the Lucky Day shelf, so I was able to acquire a copy, without waiting. What a door stop! Almost 700 pages. I think it’s one I’ll skim, a bit. One author is an anthropologist, the other an archaeologist. Graeber (now sadly passed on) was the author of “Bull***t Jobs” and also, “Debt: The First 5,000 years.

    I ventured into the new book section. Always a dangerous proposition. So MANY interesting things. I picked up a book on seed libraries. Something called “The Modern Larder” (wouldn’t want your larder to be outdated), and something that looks VERY interesting. “The Australian Blue Ribbon Cookbook: Stories, recipes, and Secret Tips from Prize-Winning Show Cooks.” (Harfull, 2020). I thought it might be TV shows, but it’s your agricultural shows. I just took a quick look, last night, but it looks good. Down home country cooking. And there’s great photos and graphics.

    I also picked up a couple of DVDs. “Captain Marvel.” The first film. Worth a bowl of popcorn, but … I don’t know. It didn’t seem much rooted in reality. I mean, Superman and Batman, though fantastic, have enough connection to the real world, to seem plausible. This, not so much.

    I also picked up a multi disc set about the great comedian, Mel Brooks. It put me in mind of a film, that I thought was Brooks. But, it isn’t. “Haunted Honeymoon.” But never mind. I’ll link to a bit of it, anyway.


    Just because it’s so funny. Lew

  28. Hi, Chris!

    I remember when Mike passed on. It was so very sad and appeared to have been completely unnecessary.

    Where I live the proprietors of each shop seem to have the last say as to whether or not employees must wear a mask. I don’t think it’s government mandated anymore. A lot of them still do make the employees cover their faces, I guess because they are afraid of scaring away customers. There are still some very scared customers around. I am sorry that you had to give a client the ax, but what else could you do?

    What a perfect swimming hole those falls are. I believe Steve mentioned skinny dipping. Ah, yes – did that long ago when I was very young and dumb, in the swimming pool of my grandmother’s midrise (7 stories) apartment building. Duh – who would have thought of all those windows and balconies up there?

    Maybe it is still too early for your grapes to be ripe. Ours ripen about October, which would be April for you, I think. Though it would be too late for us here to have ripe blackberries at the time that you are, so maybe our seasons do not correspond exactly, though oppositely.

    The roses are beautiful, as usual. I like rose hip tea. Do any of yours produce nice, fat rose hips?

    I see EV charging stations – as we were talking about EVs last week – popping up in grocery store parking lots, in the first prime spaces nearest the store (forget handicapped people). My grocery store has 2 and they are free and say that there is a 2-hour limit. I have read that the charger people make their money through the advertising on the screens on the “pumps”. I don’t buy that. I am sure that the store subsidizes them (and raises their prices to cover that) and that, once people are hooked by this, they will have to start paying to charge their car. And who spends 2 hours in a grocery store?


  29. Hi Pam,

    It was pretty sad, and the funeral arrangements were nothing short of crazy due to the fear of you know what. It may have just been his time too.

    Things are a bit different down here. We too have people who are scared of you know what, and they wear masks when they don’t really have to. The state govt. is using some emergency powers which they got into place during the whole situation to enforce people working in retail and hospitality to wear masks at risk of rather large fines. I don’t see the point in that as it smells more of a political response than a scientific response. The benefits and costs of the policy has not been well explained to the public. That govt. is very left leaning, and I now fear the left when once I was a rusted on supporter.

    Yeah, the client thing stressed me out, and they’ve had a very good run for a very long time. The imbalance in power is not sustainable for me. I’ve tried to navigate the situation into a better outcome for everyone, but we’ll see how that plays out. Sometimes people want what they just want. My skill set is actually quite rare nowadays because I worked in a number of industries such as manufacturing, which society turned their back on. There is a tendency in our society to want to stay the same forever, even when conditions are err, dynamic. 🙂 It’s not right that expectation.

    Hehe! Pam, that’s funny! Haven’t we all been there? 🙂 Tis a wondrous thing to be young, dumb and naive! They wouldn’t have been able to see much – maybe… Amusingly, as a very young bloke living in an apartment block (only 3 stories), an older very attractive lady living in the apartment above me asked me if I had any sugar. Yes, well, I did loan her my sugar container. When it was returned, the lady looked rather angry, and moved out not long afterwards. I didn’t know what she was talking about…

    The tomatoes are not ripening, and today was another particularly gloomy and cool day. I don’t believe the temperature went past 59’F. I’ll wait and see with the grapes as this is the first year the vines have produced a decent crop. I might just smoosh them up anyway just to see what happens? Dunno. I’ll probably move all of the strawberry plants out of that enclosure and just dedicate it to the grape vines. The strawberries will do better in the new greenhouse. Less plants will result in more berries from what I’m observing.

    Yes, some of the roses produce numerous quite large rose hips. Do you know, I have never produced rose hip tea, but over Christmas a very lovely person gave me a sample of rose syrup to taste. It made an excellent cordial. One of the rose plants produced a self seeded new rose plant with large pink flowers. Never seen that happen before either. So much to learn.

    I could be wrong, but EV’s play a soothing role in our collective consciousness. Petrol was $2.22 a litre ($8.43 a gallon) earlier today. I’d expect to hear more about EV’s in the coming weeks and months. The talk in the media is there to soothe you. Stops you worrying. Sure, you’ll see plenty of EV’s on the roads now and in the future, but I’m not necessarily sanguine that it is a possibility to replace all of the transport infrastructure currently powered by oil derived products with electricity. Can you afford one? I could pay for one, but might not be able to afford one and there is no way the off grid system here could recharge such a beast.

    If I may dare suggest a course of action: Get a little bit more sunlight onto one part of your property (be very careful doing that) and plant a larger vegetable garden. I’m serious too. The technical and resource problems supporting that EV belief system are bonkers, but I’d like to be proven wrong.

    Thanks for the historical language lesson. I’d wondered about that and it makes a great deal of sense. The victors were subsumed. Yup.



  30. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the link to the article on Dark Ages tombs. After much mucking around (and I had a similar amount of drama with Pam’s Norman language link) the full article was eventually available to read. And here we find ourselves again at Tintagel Castle. Every time I look at the images of the area from today, the word impregnable forms in my mind. After reading so much about Arthur, I now have the idea in my head that at some point he over reached. Nobody wants that. However, it is very likely that such a person once lived. It fascinates me that more items of high Roman technology are found there at the site dating from the Dark Ages following the departure of the legions.

    I dunno, relating to the original Austen’s character’s concerns was a difficulty which was hard to surmount. But on the other hand, the book is enormously popular and the weight of public sentiment is not to be lightly dismissed. Of course, all of them could be wrong. You sent me on a deep dive into the zombie version of the movie, and I reckon it was better than the book due to the sheer grittiness.

    Historically, the European inhabitants of this part of the continent were from Germany and Scotland. Not sure why that may have been the case, but that was how it rolled. The German folks changed their names around WWI, the others didn’t seem to care that much in the first place. I’ve experienced the green beer thing and candidly it is over rated. On the other hand, I’m quite partial to corned beef, but you rarely see the stuff in these enlightened times. Cabbage does not grow all that well here, and you may have noted that last season we experimented with kale as an alternative. Those things are like weeds now. Holy carp! I’m now pulling the plants out of the ground there are just so many of them. It’s not a bad problem to have.

    Respect to Virgil! Lost time, is indeed lost. The long dead bloke makes an awful lot of sense.

    Ah, here I must add that the original James Brown room-mate story was silly to begin with, and thus it all went down hill from there. OK, so you weren’t a fan of the electrocution story due to logical inconsistencies such as all the power points being lower in the room. I get that, and thanks for the correction. So what actually happened was that James was in his undies hollering loudly enough to wake up any nearby local demon whilst trying to scare the squirrel. Unfortunately he was foolish enough to carelessly brandish around the steel coat-hanger, when it became entangled in the over head ceiling fan. In a bizarre twist, James had woven his hand through the coat-hanger, and the local demon having been rudely woken from his slumber ever so slightly lifted the hapless James into the air where one of the ceiling fan blades sliced deeply into his cranium. The rest of the story remains the same, other than the emergency surgery bit, and also bonkers medical bills because he had no insurance. Is this an improvement upon the original story? 🙂 I too would have moved to Seattle after that.

    In all my years with house mates, I can’t say that I’d experienced that outcome, but then there were some seriously strange times for sure.

    Ah, Norah Lofts book: A wayside tavern, mentioned the land grab after the dissolution, and how did the text put things, was it popery? One of my favourite lines from the book was after the Black Plague had swept through: Now’s the time to buy land. Only a brutal pragmatist would come up with such an option.

    We stored enough cherry tomatoes from last season that we’ll get through this winter and spring, but by the end of that, the coffers will be dry. We really do need to relocate the entire vegetable bed to the sunniest spot on the property near to where the large solar panel array is. Today was another gloomy day which barely surpassed 59’F. This has truly been a very strange growing season. But at least there are no zombies or triffids lurking around.

    Mate, I’m well aware of such matters. There was an article in the local news allegedly about such things: McDonald’s Australia defends reducing its local tax bill as NGOs raise questions offshore. With the food prices, you’re right, you just have to be pro-active and change purchasing habits and perhaps buy in bulk. Whether people can do that is something that I wonder about. In the early days of the health subject which dare not be named, some of the suppliers I’d had long association with were inundated with orders. They appeared to struggle under the weight of demand, but yeah in the short term, changing habits will assist. But far out dude, seriously how many people do you know who can cook a meal from raw ingredients? It is not as commonly held a skill as it once was. But then, hunger and rationing-by-price can be an outstanding incentive for people to learn new skills in the kitchen. The other day I noted that there was an article on repairing clothes – who knew you could do that? Just kidding, but do you get my point? We can get back to older skills, and people can learn by trial and error, especially if they have few options, but will they do so? That’s what I wonder about.

    What a horror story about drilling into petrol tanks so as to extract the stored fuel. That idea had never even occurred to me. It reminded me of the original ticket vending machines used by the public transport system. I dunno how, but someone worked out that if you pour acid into the coin slot, the machine jackpotted and released the stored coins. So nefarious folks were creating tens of thousands of dollars in damage in order to liberate a few hundred bucks of coins. Hmm, I’d have to suggest that staff are a cheaper option. The replacement machines now only take card or cash – no coins. Was there irony in the use of your word: ‘lifted’? 🙂

    Mr Greer’s article made a lot of sense to me too, and you might be right. I dunno, all I know is that I have to do something different that is more sustainable. The not-too subtle take away I guessed was that nobody wants the likes of me doing this work.

    My mate Simon who’s blog is linked to in the side bar is a fan of the work of Mr Graeber and his works: “Bull***t Jobs”; and also, “Debt: The First 5,000 years”. I have not read either book, but can only imagine that I might agree with the outcomes. Mostly my work is super practical and also at the coal face. If I were smarter, I’d probably earn more mad cash.

    Ah, yes, nobody wants an outdated larder. And pray tell, when was the book penned? 🙂 So have you ever encountered a Madeira Cake before? I grew up eating those things. Quite tasty, by the way. My mates of the big shed fame enter produce at their local agricultural show, and the competition is pretty fierce. Surely I’ve recounted to you how the Editor won the best apple cake prize at an agricultural show many years ago? It would make a good blog story. 🙂 The local women’s association were rather vocal at their unhappiness about the win. So forget about the two undergraduate degrees and the masters degree, the best apple cake prize certificate takes pride of place in the kitchen. It was a good apple cake too and earned her a smooch on the cheek from the recently retired state premier (your governor equivalent). Such a strange day that one. And the thing I learned about it all is not to get involved in the local women’s association bidness. 🙂

    The film appears to have done very well, but I rather struggled comprehending the story line. Of course, the box office success suggests that I’m in the minority.

    Mel Brooks, and to think that we were discussing Blazing Saddles the other day. I watched that originally at a Saturday afternoon matinee. A very fun film.

    Yes, one of you is a werewolf, let’s retire to the palour to enjoy coffee and dessert. 🙂 Very, very wrong, Mr Lewis! But also very amusing.

    Had a quieter day today. Plans were quietly shelved and put to the side where they belong. Not much was achieved other than relaxation in the knowledge of past jobs done well. Is this resting upon one’s laurels? I’m uncertain, but whatever, a very tasty hot cross bun (which dare I say have been in short supply this year) was harmed.



  31. Yo, Chris – “Dark Ages,” is de classe. If you want to be hip and with it, it’s either “Late Antiquity” or “Early Medieval.” 🙂 “Early Middle Ages,” and “Early Byzantine” is also tossed around, a bit. Cut off points are very hazy. “Post Migration Period?” Tintagel is very interesting, and get more interesting as time goes on. Apparently, whoever controlled Tintagel, also controlled a tin trade. There was a good landing site. Looks like traders from the Med, swapped tin for Roman or Byzantine goodies.

    About 1917 a certain family switched there name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor. Signaling patriotism to Old Blighty? Or, just less of a mouth full? 🙂

    Corned beef and cabbage are very much in evidence, in the stores, at this time of the year. And the grocers seem to compete to see who can offer the lowest prices.

    The James Brown story still doesn’t work. Put it in a drawer for six months, and see how it read, then. Kill your darlings.

    The Black Death really reshuffled the deck of society. It was a mortal blow to serfdom. Laborers could demand higher wages. People who never expected to inherit anything suddenly came into land and property. Titles changed hands at speed. Whole families were wiped out. I remember reading one report, where a title changed hands three times in a year.

    Local governments often offer all kinds of incentives, to lure in business. It can all get very shady. When The River was thinking of changing it’s corporate headquarters, the competition got rather unseemly. Besides tax breaks, local governments often also offer infrastructure. Money under the table. Trips to exotic foreign places. Girls. And the cry is always, “It will bring jobs!” But what kind of jobs? And how many? And where are all these new workers to be housed?

    It’s anecdotal, but word on the street is, people are developing or sharpening their kitchen skills. Due to the down time, enforced by You Know What. And now with inflation, it just makes sense. Let’s just say smart people, sensible people, are discovering the kitchen. I sewed a button back on a shirt, the other night. Does that count?

    Drilling a petrol tank, well, one wonders about the friction. Should some night I notice someone screaming and on fire, running around the parking lot, I’m likely to just quietly go back to bed. 🙂

    I read a bit more of “The Dawn of Everything,” last night. Interesting new ways of looking at things.

    “The Modern Larder” was published in 2021. There’s a lot of stuff in there that’s pretty exotic and yupped out. But I’ll be interested to read about more sensible ingredients.

    I took a longer look through “The Blue Ribbon Cookbook,” last night. There is a recipe or two for Madera cake. But the text noted that it’s kind of falling out of favor. Even in the world of the agricultural show, there are trends and fashions. 🙂 Besides the food, there were lots of pictures about other aspects of agricultural shows. I’d say they’re comparable to our county fairs. There was one crowd picture from 1935. All the men were in suit coats, wore ties … and hats! The ladies were turned out in their Sunday best. There was an ad from a milliner, suggesting ladies needed a new hat, for the show.

    I watched a bit of the Mel Brooks documentary. They had quit a section where he talked about his films. He really set out to parody different genres of movies. The studio heads nearly had a melt down, when he declared he wanted to make “Young Frankenstein” in black and white. And use dollies, instead of zoom lenses. And when he did “Silent Movie?” But by then, well, you can’t argue with success.

    “Haunted Honeymoon,” (not a Brooks film) wasn’t a musical. But when they broke into “Balling the Jack” it was just so … unexpected. Which made if very funny.

    Resting on one’s laurels isn’t a bad thing. As long as you don’t sit there, too long. Might get carbuncles on your bum. A cushion of Mullein leaves, might be more comfortable.

    How did I miss this? The Sy-Fy channel has come out with a new series, “Dawn of the Dead.”

    Apparently, a tribute to George Romaro. Lew

  32. Chris:

    I grew up in the Old South here in the U.S., where it was common for us to say: “Give me some sugar, Honey.”, though more often than not it was from one’s grandmother or Auntie.

    No way can we afford an EV with out a lot of debt. We don’t do debt.


  33. Chris,

    Some things just make heads explode or worse. Here’s an old sci-fi short story I recently found again. I first read it about 40 years ago.

    “But I only speak about contentious topics with people I know who are not out to convince me in the first place.” Very wise. That’s how I tend to do things, usually. Life’s too short to put up with people who try to convince us of things we may not even care about.

    Nice song title “I’m interested in apathy.” Funny. Did the band have a follow-up to that song entitled “And apathy doesn’t care”?

    Agreed. Part 2 was funny. Part 1 was funnier.

    I had to gaggle poison ivy. Here’s a link that might answer some of your questions. Apparently, it doesn’t have negative effects on everything.,the%20fruit%2C%20stems%20and%20leaves.

    I tried putting all the leaves on the veggie bed for the winter, then dig them in when the ground thawed. Too many leaves to properly dig in that way. Also, the soil quality seems to be a bit better if I dig in half in the fall, allowing the remainder to sit on the bed for the winter and then bury come spring.

    I was reading over your shoulder about EVs. One aspect not discussed publicly is that they have a top distance of 200 to 300 miles give or take. If I have to travel to Toppenish (230 miles), pick up our relative, then continue north to Omak (215 miles), I’ve gotta recharge. I recently read that the typical battery at typical charge rates takes 8 hours or more to charge from empty to full.

    Alternatively, the drive from home to my friend who lives north of Seattle is about 350 miles. Can’t do that in an EV without a longish stop to charge the batteries. Does not compute…


  34. Hi Pam,

    It’s a very charming way to ask for you know what, and I had not appreciated the origins of the phrase, so I appreciate the background – the loss was surely mine in this instance, whilst I was oblivious to the hurt I’d inadvertently caused. Alas, as a not-so-worldly young bloke, the words made no sense to me whatsoever. Now, you may laugh, but realisation dawned upon me as I watched the amusing film sequel: Evil Dead III: Armies of Darkness. The fictional protagonist was an idiot, but at the same time Ash was also a very entertaining character and the film was genuinely very funny. The character used that exact line, and um, yeah, well the understanding was awkward.

    The whole EV thing is one giant boondoggle. Pam, we’re in the same boat. I could pay for one, but I can’t afford such displays of virtue signalling, and how am I meant to charge the thing off the power system here? It makes so little sense, and the media talks about the topic as if it were a foregone conclusion. Now if we made super light weight cars (think go-karts or electric bikes), we might be able to power a whole lot of them on the roads. But I don’t see that happening.

    We’ve got this here thing called Oil, and it’s so super-good that we think to ourselves that all other options are just as good. I tell you this truly: Nothing I’ve seen is anywhere near as good as that oil stuff – and we have electric chainsaws and electric log splitters should it become necessary. Already we’re thinking about how to reduce our dependency on natural gas – hmm, I’d like a wood oven again…



  35. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for the enjoyable story. Poor old hapless Al caught forever in a time loop. Not an enviable estate. It wasn’t all that long ago that sci-fi used to be more interesting than it generally is nowadays.

    Man, the last two years the media has been screaming at me day after day to get concerned about this issue or that issue. I dunno, but at some point I decided to only read the headlines so as to get a feel for the overall direction, and then I went off and did something more useful with my time. Perhaps I’m apathetic for not caring about all this stuff which I’m meant to care about. However, I’ve observed that all the while, life is playing out all around us. What troubles me is that few people seem to notice that.

    You’re not far off the mark. The band in question had a gift for dodgy song titles. 🙂 And there is a bit of difficulty repeating many of the titles whilst retaining a delightfully family friendly environment. Your follow up single might well pave the path to financial independence for all of the good readers here, we just might need a catchy melody, good key change, maybe a drop, and a few years of relentless touring. It does sound a lot like hard work to me. 😉

    That makes sense about poison ivy. The local wildlife became immune to the plant, and the plant enjoys the benefits of spreading. It’s possible that many species of the local wildlife are immune to the bite of the super venomous snake which lurks around these parts. I’ve wondered about that, and encourage the Kookaburra’s who are quite deft at catching, killing and eating snakes. I see no reason why those birds shouldn’t take the risk and enjoy a good feed?

    Hmm, I’ve not dug organic matter into garden beds before, so have no experience with that process. Mate, I’m slack and so I chuck the stuff onto the soil surface and let the soil critters do the hard yards. This of course is a slower process and is probably why it takes about three years to get really good soil going here. The stuff eventually forms an interesting black sand-like soil layer which most things will grow well in. And over the years the clay layer below the black sand begins to disappear and become more porous. It’s an interesting process and I’m not at all certain that other parts of the planet would follow a similar path. Dunno.

    Yeah, you know I expect to see plenty of EV’s on the road, but it won’t make any difference. Our society is structured such that mobility is a given, and I have doubts about that. Look, I’d like to be proven wrong, but my experience with battery technology suggests that things might be otherwise.

    Hehe! 350 miles is like 563.5km, that’s more than half way to Sydney from here. I can’t recall the last time I drove that far – anywhere. 🙂 What can I say, I’m a home body. Such trips are getting to be expensive. Petrol was at $2.22 per litre the other day. The last time we went on such a long journey in the car was to Canberra for the Editor’s uncles funeral. It’s interesting to see a small slice of the country. And heading west for you would be an amazing trip.



  36. Hi Lewis,

    It’s still the Dark Ages to me. 🙂 Although I’d hate to be thought of as something of a philistine. Let’s not get hip, and we can just call the times: The Dark Ages. Didn’t the Britain’s after the retreat of the Roman legions turn their backs on matters of personal hygiene? We could call that period of history: The Dirty Ages? The Roman bath houses seemed like a very useful technology. But now I’ve typed that ages name out, it seems somehow wrong and possibly I’ve offended heaps of people? Oh well, can’t be helped.

    I’d noticed that about Tintagel and the proximity to the tin mines in Cornwall. It would be a very difficult place to live and also a very difficult place to storm. Ah, I had not known that the poem ‘For the Fallen’ was penned by a Cornishman, Laurence Binyon.

    I had not known that about the ‘family’. Hmm. Makes sense though, and that also happened down here at that same time with families with Germanic sounding surnames. A local history booklet penned by a very old timer (more likely dictated) mentioned that surname change happening. I believe the words the lady used to describe the names were: Foreign sounding. Had to laugh, the people involved had most likely been in the area for as long as any other person of European descent. You pose a difficult question there.

    Today was 88’F so corned beef probably wouldn’t go down all that well. Might upset the tummy. 🙂 Had a delightful lunch of freshly baked bread (more on this later) with cheese, tomatoes and a fermented bean salad using our own bean crop. It took a while to shell the beans last night, but the result today was worth it. The electric oven finished the baking process a bit early and chucked a hissy-fit. The screen displayed a weird error: E05. What does this mean? Turns out that the general consensus is a faulty transistor on the power board. Should be easy enough to replace. Always amazes me that people chuck these expensive items out at the first sign of trouble.

    I defer to your experience in these matters and shall drop the whole James Brown story idea. Fiction is not my area…

    It’s odd isn’t it that there was a general uplift in prosperity following on from the Black Death. That outcome suggests to me that population pressures were quite intense prior to that plague. Also I noted somewhere before that just prior to the Black Death, the harvests had not been kind and people were malnourished. Nature has some deadly tools with which to cut back on species who over reach their resource bases.

    Exactly, what kind of jobs, and do those businesses pay taxes in the country in which they operate? Of course the simple answer to that story is: yes they do that. However the matter is far more complicated than that simple response conveys.

    I tend to agree with you about cooking skills being on the up. Some of the bulk food places I’ve long been ordering from got smashed during lock down, so clearly people are cooking more food at home. It was a gratifying that those business looked after their long term customers. I’m wondering how things will change with the sudden increases in prices across the board, and I don’t really know. Of course your repair counts! It wasn’t that long ago when sewing was better known about, and the Editor tells me that poor fit with clothes is so readily accepted these days because people don’t know how to sew.

    The spark question was at the back of my mind too when it comes to such nefarious mischief. It could be Darwinian? Certainly there would be little that you could do for such a person – chuck a woollen blanket over them might help. But then, what if some idiot chucked a polyester blanket over such a person? Not good.

    Yeah, mate I haven’t seen a Madeira cake for decades. They were pretty good too. Oh well, there are other cakes… And let’s not forget Lamington’s? Did the book cover the humble lamington?

    People were better dressed at social outings in those days, but still 1935 were some very hard economic times. I’d read about clothes being made out of grain sacks in those depression days. The standard of presentation is pretty low on average these days. Makes it easy to do slightly better than that. 😉

    Young Frankenstein was way over the top – and very amusing. The studio made heaps of mad cash – and that gives actors and directors certain cachet.

    Of course, one can’t sit still for too long. Began properly installing the bathroom cabinet today. That was the one we bought from the cabinet maker way back at the start of all this craziness. A builder had ordered this custom made cabinet and then couldn’t pay for it due to going out of business.

    We’d had the cabinet in use, but the quick and dirty installation was not all that great. There were holes in the walls and no splash back. A couple of weeks ago we worked out how to finally install the item of bling. It is a nice looking unit and well made, I’ve just been busy on other things. Editor says: This must be installed! Guests and visitors probably wonder why there are holes in the wall and the plaster hasn’t been done properly… Something, something attack of the vapours.

    Day of the Dead. How can you not like the declaration: An ode to the Godfather of Zombies? 🙂



  37. Chris:

    I wish we had a wood oven. I’ve never had one, though once my son and I built an horno, which didn’t work so well.

    I am letting my mother (84) read “A Wayside Tavern” first and she just loves it. She says that she has learned a lot of historic facts that she never knew. I am a little dubious, but am certainly looking forward to it.


  38. Yo, Chris – I don’t know. The Dirty Age works for me. 🙂 But just between you, me and the gatepost, I thought the whole change from BC / AD to BCE and ACE was silly.

    You can’t get much of a more Hun sounding last name, than mine. Hamburg. But then, the grand folks lived in a small town that was mostly people from Germany. By way of Russia.

    Didn’t you save the manual, for the electric oven? 🙂 The error message is probably available on-line. Somewhere.

    I wouldn’t waste a good wool blanket. 🙂

    Yup. There’s a recipe for Lamington. The book is interesting as, each recipe has a sidebar with “tips from the cook” and “tips from the judges.” There’s also a recipe for mustard pickle. I made some years ago, out of my “Cooking of the British Isles.” It so sticks in memory (in a good way), that I really ought to make it again. So many recipes, so little time.

    My friends in Idaho were also casting about for what to do for a bathroom cabinet. I think she finally adapted a used small dresser.

    We got a food box, yesterday. After a few months hiatus, we got some produce. Apples and oranges. A few pears. Potatoes and carrots. There was the usual tinned stuff. A good mix of fruit and veg. A jar of peanut butter. Of interest, were a few pre-made, plastic wrapped sandwiches, from a well known coffee company. A couple of tins of chicken.

    I took four bags of stuff, down to the Club. Plus a bag that I had picked up at one of the cheap food stores. I have a problem finding inexpensive tinned fruit. And keeping it on the shelf. But I did score some mixed fruit. And, pineapple. Julia had a suggestions that I’m trying. I picked up a large bag of tangerines, and have divided them into quart plastic bags. 5 to a bag. We’ll see how that goes.

    The Master Gardener’s are coming to do a blueberry care and pruning seminar, this morning. I’ll go lend my support. Ought to be interesting. Lew

  39. Hi Pam,

    I’d not previously encountered a horno oven before. It would work for sure, but I’m guessing it would take a lot of practice to get just right. Did you notice the similarities with wood fired pizza ovens? There is a bakery not too far from here that has a historic Scotch brick oven, and honestly, the principle is the same. I’d imagine the commercial Scotch oven might use gas these days, but traditionally it would have been firewood.

    Picked some ripe corn today and am having that for dinner. I’ve never quite got my head around the process for preserving corn, and so we planted less plants this year. Seems to work, but you can’t really save the seed from such a small crop.

    Hope that you enjoy the book as much as your mother does. I thought it was a great read, and I was impressed that the author could squeeze in so many characters with different personalities. It was an impressive achievement. The history kind of plays along in the background, whilst the family and pub just do their thing.



  40. Hi Lewis,

    Dirty Age it is then! 🙂 I liked it too, although I’m far from convinced that all of the residents of that land dropped the habit of bathing. The Roman’s were there for almost 400 years, and some habits would have rubbed off for sure. Do you reckon that claim may have been some sort of propaganda from people in later ages? It’s not like we can ask the people back then as to their personal hygiene habits?

    Mate, I hadn’t even noticed. When did that change take place? What’s wrong with a bit of Latin anyway? Anno Domini sounds all rather mysterious to me. The stupid thing is that BCE and CE pivot on the same historical occasion. It seems to me that it is something of a storm in a tea cup. Like that old number of angels on the head of a pin argument. Still, whilst concerned folks are worrying about such matters, they’re not getting up to other mischief. Let them use their energy this way and in the meantime we’ll just quietly enjoy a good book or two.

    Haha! I’m more organised than that, I have the original manual and it says to stop using the device and contact the customer service department. Hardly a useful analysis of the problem. Some clever repair folks on the interweb have offered the suggested solution I’ll follow. The part was $3, and delivery by post was $15. Better than replacing the machine because it is not a cheap machine.

    Hey, have you noticed how expensive wool blankets are nowadays? Holy carp, those things aren’t cheap. People love the much cheaper doona’s / duvet’s / European comforters (that sounds a bit dodgy doesn’t it?), but I find them to be too hot for my sleeping comfort and just chuck on woollen blankets as many or as few as required. I have this notion that people don’t sleep very well these days because they don’t tend to work with either their body requirements or room temperature very well.

    Hardly surprising about the lamington recipe. They’re a thing, you know. And speaking of food things, did the book cover the vanilla slice? Country bakeries vie for the rights to claim the best vanilla slice – and people will actually travel to check out the claim for themselves. When I was a kid, the slices were commonly called: snot blocks. It was the wobbly custard and kind of solid centre which earned that name. Charming, but that was what they were called. In these enlightened days, they are usually a better made product.

    Mustard pickles would be really good. Dunno about you, but we haven’t yet worked out a good pickle recipe. I tend to find that after about six months, the pickles get a bit dodgy and lose their crispness and the mixtures gets a touch cloudy, so shelf life is a problem for us. Got any advice on that subject?

    That’s a possibility with using any old cabinet. The get-rid-of-this custom made cabinet we picked up way back at the start of all the craziness is just a really nicely constructed cabinet. It’s been a pain of a job to install, and I’d been putting it off for months. Oh well, what do they say: no time like the present – unless you get sucked into a temporal anomaly, like what happened the other day when an hour or so just disappeared. Sure, it was equally possible that I fell back asleep after the alarm went off, but you can’t rule out the temporal anomaly hypothesis either. I’ve watched Star Trek, those things happen! 🙂

    The food sounds like a top notch score, but pre-made sandwiches. How long ago were those things made and do they still look fresh? A few weeks ago, I bought a pre-made sandwich at a bakery which used to have a sandwich counter. Dunno whether you have such things, but basically a couple of ladies take your order and make up a fresh sandwich (or roll) on the spot. Quality is good. The pre-made sandwich was quite the shock and I’d wondered what had caused the change, but it was tasty and made earlier that day. The thing which made me feel a bit ooky was that a sticker suggested that the sandwich had a shelf life of a few days.

    Are your pineapples sold green and unripe? When I was a kid pineapples had more flavour and were sold in a more ripened condition, so it’s been years since I’ve purchased one. Out of curiosity, what do you mean by the sentence: And keeping it on the shelf? That has a number of interpretations, so I thought that it would be easier to ask than speculate.

    What? Pruning blueberries? Do you have to do that? They seem very slow growing plants to me.

    Cleaned up the feral tomato vines today. Then cleaned up the house a bit. It is nice to have a bit more free time of late. Things had gotten out of hand.



  41. Yo, Chris – Tragic news from New Zealand. Dug, the giant spud isn’t even a potato. He’s some kind of gourd root, or something. Dreams of Guiness Book of World Records fame, smashed! 🙁

    No need to inquire into anyone’s hygiene habits. Just stand downwind.

    The old system of dating might make some non-Christian, somewhere on the planet, uncomfortable. Maybe, even on another planet. Interesting fact I discovered in “The Dawn of Everything.” The eye roll is found, across our planet, and across cultures. But primates don’t do it. Elinor and I were just discussing, last night, that there seemed to be a lot more crybabies around these days, than in past.

    They’d be smarter if they just charged $18. With free delivery. 🙂 More and more I’m noticing that delivery charges are far outstripping the cost of the product, ordered. Don’t think it could have anything to do with the price of oil? 🙂

    No vanilla slice in the “Australian Blue Ribbon Cookbook.” But it might be in her earlier offering, “The Blue Ribbon Cookbook.” Which my library doesn’t carry. But I think I’d like to acquire, both.

    I’ve never made pickles. But I bet other people here, have. I’d ask early in the week. And, I’m sure Mr. Katz may have a lot to say about pickles.

    The sandwiches were close to, but not past, their expiration date. We have whole chains here, that make sandwiches / rolls, to order. But pre-made sandwiches save a lot of bother. Here it is, take it or leave it. Apparently, a lot of people take it, as, they’re pretty popular and found a lot of places. Even in vending machines.

    I forgot to mention there were also two plastic tubs of something called “Harvest Chili.” Which I’m sure would leave some chili devotees, aghast. “Black beans, butternut squash, Cauliflower and sweet potatoes, simmered in a pumpkin puree & chili spices.” Sounds tasty, to me. I’m going to heat it up and try it over rice.

    I never buy fresh pineapples, to eat. So, I can’t tell you. But I’ve seen plenty of articles that have tips for picking out a pineapple. I’ve never bothered to read them, so, I don’t know the tips and tricks.

    Keeping it on the shelf. Well, the Club used to be a restaurant. Where I have the food pantry, is on the old “pass through.” So, between what was the kitchen, and where the servers picked up the food to deliver to the customer, is a very long shelf (at eye level). You may have noticed smaller ones, at restaurants you frequent. The one at the Club is at least a foot deep, and well over 12 feet long. I keep everything grouped, in rough order. All the tinned veg, together, etc. Dry stuff at one end. Beans, pasta, rice, cereals, etc.. Condiments at the other end. When I do in I make sure everything is still neat and tidy. Some things disappear very fast. Other things, linger.

    The blueberry class was good. I went year before last, so, knew where it was heading. There were good handouts. About 20+ people showed up. I stayed for about half of it. Until the civilians headed out to the blueberries, to do some pruning. Didn’t want to get to close to the uninitiated, waving around sharp tools. Basically, you prune off any dead wood, or any crossing branches. Given our climate, you want good air circulation. To avoid fungus. Lew

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