Is someone getting the best of you?

Computers are great when they work. When they don’t, they’re boat anchors. Internet connection is kind of a useful feature if you want to send and receive emails. Even the dodgy thirteen year old laptop could connect up to the internet. But not Sandra’s computer. And of course, it was a work day.

The bare minimum of work got done that day. Phone calls were made, apologies given. Another phone call was made. Computer advice was sought. By late afternoon the Dirt Rat Suzuki and I were on our way north to the next big town of Bendigo. After an hour and ten minutes of driving, I was in the computer store doing my best to make the guy selling me the replacement parts laugh. Success!

Upon arriving home, the sun was setting. Boxes were opened. The naked computer guts sprawled over the desk. A glass of ginger wine assisted. Out with the old. In with the new. Like granddad’s axe, the computer was as good as gold. Switch it on. Funky coloured lights pulse. The noisy speakers are quiet. There’s no software. Nothing useful could be done. The late night finish meant bed was calling.

And that was how Wednesday rolled. All bit of a minor drama really. The question I pondered that afternoon was: Do I implement my plan B in order to keep on working that day, or do I resolve the immediate issue and keep the plan B in reserve for another day? I chose to keep the plan B in reserve, and instead fixed the suddenly useless computer.

The long drive to and from the computer shop gave me some time to get my thoughts in order. One of the jobs I had to do that day was probably going to take at least seven hours, and there were other jobs to do after that. The seven hour job folks were the ones I finished up with recently. And so the the decision was made to sort out my own interests ahead of theirs. After all, because of them I hadn’t had a week off work for a couple of years now.

In these enlightened times, it can be hard to find a restaurant open on a Sunday night. I heard an explanation from someone working in the food industry. Turns out that employees get paid penalty rates (higher hourly rates for employees) on Sunday’s, and despite there being ready customers, the businesses are struggling to make money those days. So they choose to not pay the penalty rates, and instead close their doors.

There are always choices, actions, and consequences. The employees of those businesses often rely upon the higher rates of pay on Sundays in order to increase their overall weekly take home pay. And don’t forget the ongoing requirements relating to the health subject which dare not be named. People are leaving that industry in droves. You don’t have to go far these days to see: ‘Help Wanted’, signs.

The Great Resignation sad to say, is happening. It’s often presumed that some group of people in society pull all the levers and everyone merrily just goes along with their evil plans. Such thinking brings to mind the image of James Bond villain’s and their Persian cats. However, that’s an error of thinking.

Everyone needs a long dead military genius to provide guidance when it comes to strategy. Years ago I read Sun Tzu’s treatise: The Art of War. It’s an excellent book. If you haven’t read the book yet, why not? Old Sun Tzu advised never to back an opponent into a corner otherwise they’ll fight like they’re possessed and act as if they have nothing to lose. Fortunately, that fight-like-the-devil outcome is not necessary in this case. With employment, you can simply walk away. And when work is easy to get, that’s what’s happening.

Sun Tzu also advised to not wear the troops out on stupid stuff. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of stupid stuff going on these days. And not having an uninterrupted week off work for a few years is stupid. But then I’m at fault here too and have to take a measure of the blame, for I allowed it to happen.

I’ve heard it said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

My first job was hit pretty hard by the recession of the early 1990’s. The ‘don’t come Monday’ letter was a serious blow, especially with 10% unemployment. But before that, the job was the most fun working environment ever. That of course, may have been part of the problem. And towards the end of that decade yet again fate had plans for me. In a job interview for my first senior role they asked if I was looking for a challenge. Goofily, I replied in the affirmative. That wasn’t a fun job or workplace, but it looked good on the resume.

Despite the odd hiccup, most of my working relationships have been pretty good, and I work pretty hard. But I’m a person and not a work unit. And I’m guessing plenty of other people feel much the same. The great risk with being viewed as a work unit, is that you may be treated as if you are easily replaceable.

This week, we’ve been catching up on lost sleep. It’s been really pleasant, and the nights have been cold and the days sunny and warm. A delightful time of year. With all of the paid work I’ve done recently, the orchards and gardens have been neglected, despite them all being regularly fed.

In order to remedy this, Sandra and I have been hacking and slashing at the jungle-like vegetation, whilst avoiding the occasional Triffid. The vegetation appears to enjoy encroaching upon the many paths and staircases which provide easy access. The cut vegetation is chucked back onto the garden beds.

A number of fruit trees were deemed large enough that they could be removed from their wallaby proof cages. The wallabies (a smaller lone forest dwelling kangaroo) are right vandals, and they’ll happily break off the lower branches of fruit trees. If a fruit tree is not large enough, the wallabies can break off the head of the tree, which is not much good for the tree. It’s a risk.

The final relocated steel rock gabion cage was filled with rocks and then sewn shut.

The author and Plum admire the new gabion retaining wall

There is one further job to do in that area before we can get the digger machine in to do some serious soil moving.

The nights have been very cool to cold, and these temperatures are hampering the ripening process for this seasons tomatoes. On the other hand the cold nights are almost perfect to produce a sea of fog forming over the valley.

A sea of fog (with waves) forms over the valley below the farm

And Plum the Kelpie has finally earned her title. From here on she is to be known as Dame Plum, with the lesser mentioned sub-explanatory-title of ‘Rat and Rabbit bane’. Go Dame (blood) Plum! This week she nabbed both a large rat and a rabbit. Her efforts far exceed that of the other two dogs, who display few skills in this important area.

Dame Plum nabs a very large rat
Dame Plum nabs a rabbit

You can tell there is to be a state election later this year because the government is finally getting around to conducting some back burning. They have been extraordinarily lax on that front during the past two years, and that’s despite the awful Black Summer bushfires prior to this time.

The state government conducts some large back burns in Wombat State Forest

Due to the fire risk, we keep a very neat and tidy farm. But even so, with the hugely tall trees in and around the farm, there is always forest material falling to the ground. That fallen stuff, combined with the low dry vegetation is what drives the really intense bushfires.

This huge branch fell about a week ago

I’ll burn off all the small leaves and twigs, and everything else gets turned into firewood.

Onto the flowers:

A lavender Rose, and this variety smells superb
The Roses have grown really well this year
And they look great against the tall trees of the surrounding forest
A red variety of Flowering Gum

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 20’C (68’F). So far this year there has been 213.8mm (8.4 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 209.0mm (8.2 inches)

46 thoughts on “Is someone getting the best of you?”

  1. Chris,

    Oh, okay. I totally get not doing ebooks in any form. A great print book is “The Call of the Wild and Selected Stories” by Jack London. It has both of the stories I suggested, as well as some of my other favorite Jack London short stories.

    More after I’ve read your newest installment.


  2. Yo, Chris – Well, now that you’ve got an anchor, will you buy a boat? Better yet, build a boat? See Farley Mowat, “The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float.” 🙂

    I think you got your priorities right. Given the way you were treated, you don’t owe those people much of anything.

    I’ve had a few jobs that paid time and a half, for Sundays. But that’s a thing of the past, due to 27/7 everything. Of course, when I was a bookstore manager, it was “suggested” that the manager (on salary) work all Sundays. Preferably alone, so none of the loyal minions could dip into that honey pot. But other than a few bumps, like that, they were a pretty good company to work for. Early on.

    Hooray! Rock gabion job done and dusted.

    Picture pretty fog … or tomatoes. Well, you can’t eat fog.

    Maybe Dame Plum tries harder, given her rank in the pecking order? If you’re not going to eat the rabbit, how about fuzzy slippers? There are probably videos on how to skin them. Not for the faint of heart. I suppose you know that the Easter Bunny will probably NOT be visiting your house, this year.

    Oh, Lordy. I’m glad you were somewhere else when that limb came down.

    The roses are stunning. It occurred to me, that perhaps, even thought your climate the past couple of years has not been ideal for some things (looking at you, tomatoes), it is ideal for roses. You’ve been having weather more like Portland. The City of Roses.

    Prof. Mass had a post on the 24th about atmospheric rivers. Although he didn’t mention “pineapple express”, the first five or so of his commenters, did. I guess after “that” movie, they had to come up with another name.

    The fellow who was selling the Currier and Ives prints, on Eee – Buy has one called “Mortgaging the Farm” Although it’s by another well known lithograph company, Kellogg. It’s from 1830. I went back to take another look at it. Turns out, its a temperance movement print. Which I didn’t pick up on, right away. The farmer has stopped by his local tavern, for a quick tipple on his way home. Surly the top of a slippery slope! I won’t be bidding on it. Starting price is $200. And the shipping is $115! Probably due to it’s being framed and glazed. So the packing has to be pretty robust, to get it wherever it ends up, in one piece. Lew

  3. Hi DJ,

    Ah, there’s something about physical books that I just enjoy. But then I do have to earn my living by peering at screens all day long, and so there are limits to that activity. Thanks for understanding.

    PS: A copy of the Jack London book is on its way here. 😉



  4. Hi Lewis,

    DJ got in early and broke through the resistance to naughty book recommendations. What can I say: I’m occasionally weak and prone to literary temptations! 🙂 Jack London’s book ‘The Call of the Wild and Selected Stories’, has been ordered and is now on its way here.

    Whiskey was a thing in your country, whereas Rum was more the thing over here. Same, same, but different feed stocks. Sugar cane was easier to grow down under on the north east coast, than the heavier feeding corn. Mate, just to show how busy we’ve been, the corn harvest was left slightly too late this year and is now being enjoyed by the chickens. I’ll do better next year. The corn set well and early on tasted quite sweet but soon became starchy.

    We’ve run out of frontier down here too, but then the vast majority of the population are rather happy with urban dwelling. Last I checked it may have been up around 98% of the population. And most of that hugs the coastline. It really is quiet up in these rural parts. I’ve noticed one or two of my neighbours beginning to consider how they live in this area, and am intrigued by the change. It’s a good thing too.

    Thanks for introducing me to Molly Ivins and I’ve learned a new and useful phrase: ‘That dog won’t hunt’. Oh what a fun dinner guest and friend Molly would have been. Democratic systems need people like Molly to hold up a mirror to the folks at the top and point out the excess, before the excesses take those very same folks out. Not to mention everyone else along with them. But there is a cost to doing that as was mentioned in the trailer.

    I’ve known a few people over the years who have actually been to boarding school, and I’m not entirely sure the experience did them a good turn. On the other hand, they do have a level of emotional self reliance that is hard for me to pretend is not there. My mate Mike I mentioned a week or two back went through that experience. At a guess, I’d imagine the experience works well for some, and not for others, and it’s not lost on me that parents treated children differently in the 1970’s than they seem to do today. I was definitely not front and centre. Times have changed in that regard, and I’m not entirely convinced that the change was a good thing. Someone brought an infant to the pub the other week and then proceeded to enjoy a meal in the public bar rather than the lounge / dining room. I was scratching my head about that choice, but you can’t say anything without getting into a screaming match that’s louder than the ruckus the infant was kicking up. We ate outside.

    Hehe! You might be right about the oil and gas reserves there. I’d call either location by the appropriate word: challenging! If enough ice melts, Greenland and Antarctica will most likely bounce. Hope we’re nowhere near when that happens.

    No doubts the future birds will sort something out and begin to specialise again. Have food, will adapt and specialise. 🙂 I’ve noticed the long beaked corella’s appear to have adapted to eating something that no other bird seems able to consume because their numbers have increased.

    Dunno about the trees, but it might be possible that some species can produce a double crop in a year. I’m wondering about that, because it would require a wacky climate to produce that outcome, but then the trees produce spring and autumn blossoms so there must be some reason behind that outcome.

    To be honest I’d never thought about harvesting the rabbit fur. It just hadn’t occurred to me. An interesting suggestion. Hmm. When I was a kid you used to see rabbit meat on offer, and the gourmet pie place produces a very tasty rabbit pie. Mind you, when I was a kid people used to eat all manner of things that people would turn their noses up at these days like: tripe and other chunks of offal. Kidney used to be a regular part of my diet as a kid – often as you said, stewed or with thick gravy.

    Yup, that borax stuff. Thinly, use very thinly. I added a large tablespoon of the stuff to the compost soil mix I mixed up in the cement mixer last year. It was pretty dilute and the rest of the mix contained: compost; agricultural lime; gypsum; sea derived stuff; pelletised chicken manure; wood ash; coffee grounds and maybe some other stuff. I grabbed whatever was available in bulk, but always added the tablespoon of borax. Boron is used by most plants. Ask the master gardeners and see what they say?

    I’ll be interested to hear what the master gardeners have to say about the orphan tub. I’d try asparagus there as it will be easier to keep the plant well fed. It’s alarming to watch the soil levels in raised garden beds drop. Ook! What I’d call an instructive experience!!!

    The descendants of those folks are still there today. I’m not sure that I’d want to live at such a place. It’s got an interesting history though, oh yeah. Closer to our shores and an Australian territory there are of course Norfolk Island as well as Lord Howe Island. I’m unsure that island living would be for me, I much prefer the more elevated parts of the land.

    Respect for your achievement! 🙂 Yeah, were is the zester when you need it? We use a microplaner which is not dissimilar an idea from the old safety razors. Watch out for the fingers? I’m assuming you are speaking about such a sharp kitchen beastie? Nice one with the orange extract. Dunno about you, but I reckon muffins have more flavour after they’ve cooled. Not sure why that would be, but the Editor made a tortilla for dinner this evening, and I prefer a slice of that meal cool. I used to burn my mouth when biting into them when they’re hot. Ouch! But I actually believe they taste better cold.

    Total score with the harvest chilli! You can tell Elinor that snoozers are losers, although she may not appreciate hearing that. 🙂

    My education was terrible. How could I have missed Jack London or Farley Mowat’s: “The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float.” And to think they had me reading about Holden freakin’ Caulfied and his boring in three dimensions life. 🙂 Teachas’ do no nuffin anywhoo! No wonder kids are bored at school during English classes.

    Thanks for the support. You know, it’s really hard to have a relationship with a corporate entity. The people working there change, and despite me being the worker with the longest history there, loyalty is worth less than a bucket of dog poop. It means nothing as far as I can tell, and you’re only ever as good as the last time you worked for them. This is why I work predominantly, with that one exception, for small business. I know the people there, they know me, and we have this thing called a relationship. It’s soul destroying to be a work-unit, because as work-unit it’s not lost on me that the intention is to see you as being easily replaced . Anyway, sorry for the rant… 🙂 The laugh is that there just aren’t that many people with my skills and experience willing to do the work that I do.

    Mate, I don’t get time and half either if I work Sunday’s, so I definitely hear you about that. It is awful to contemplate the thought that stuff is sometimes not priced accordingly that staff can be adequately remunerated, and some of the wealthiest folks in this country apparently have interests in companies which allegedly flouted the employment laws. Surely those folks have enough mad cash that they could ensure that staff were paid correctly. Anyway, the health subject which dares not be named seems to have put a lid on those uncomfortable disclosures.

    Ah, the climate this season is what it is, and an expanded and well located vegetable garden will be a better hedge against such years as this in the future. Well, that’s the theory anyway…

    Maybe that is why Plum tries harder, but the other two dogs tend to want to chase varmints instead, and that maybe is a different skill set. Dunno. I once watched Dame Scritchy encounter an ailing parrot. She swiftly killed the parrot and then kept on about her business. It was quite chillingly efficient to observe, but then that is why she was small but boss.

    There was a Kelpie muster dog update in the news (it is of interest to me!): Muster Dogs Annie and Lucifer prized members of Frank Finger’s team. 🙂

    Yes, that tree limb was a killer, no doubts about it. I’ll have to get the chainsaw into it soon. Hey, burnoff restrictions were lifted early this year, which is a good thing. It’s very green out there in the forest, so risk is very low – right now.

    I can’t believe the good Professor would bend to social pressures. 🙂 It’s kind of funny, and that film was very silly. When I was a very young adult, I used to hang out with some stoners (although my sister went way off the rails so I took that lesson on board and never partook), anyway their relaxed personas rubbed off on me, and that was good until work colleagues began thinking I was stoner and asking me if they could purchase. I had to drop the persona after those difficulties. Who would expect that would happen?

    Had a look for the print, but couldn’t work out which it was. Spotted an old cartoon of a robust but thin farmer seeking a mortgage from a very dodgy looking Uncle Sam. Not sure I would have signed that one myself.



  5. Hello Chris
    A good read with which I concurred. Loved the lavender rose, I have never seen one before. Our short warm Spring seems to have disappeared as expected. Foghorns out on the water and it is cold.

    People can’t get staff here; a large section of the population seems to have enjoyed lockdown and is not going back to work. There is a huge surge in the virus here on the Island; people are getting ill for the second time plus having had all the vaccine boosters. Fascinating!


  6. Hi Chris,
    You go Plum! Salve used to be like her but at age nine has slowed down some though she does score the occasional catch.

    Impressed with your computer skills. Doug and I are pretty clueless in that regard but since we don’t use our computers for work we don’t worry about it much. Figure we know what we need to know.

    Like you I’ve had a pretty good experience at my jobs. All but one were with small companies and even my teaching job was with a pretty small district. I have several family members who start working at a small company but eventually it gets bought out and grows and they all report that there work experience deteriorated significantly.

    Good your catching up on sleep – very important. I sure appreciate taking time out of your very busy life to write each week.

    We’ve had pretty wintery weather lately but more birds are migrating this way and the male goldfinches, who turn a light tan/brown during the winter are starting to turn bright yellow – a good sign.

    Flowers, as always, are lovely.


  7. Yo, Chris – I’m sure you’ll enjoy Jack London. Great writer.

    Well, at least you got a bit of your corn. Save seed? Oh, well. Went to a good cause. Chickens think corn is candy.

    Molly Ivins was a hoot. Another of her quotes that I like is “Ya gotta dance with the one that brung ya.” That was aimed at lobbyists and political critters. More wit and wisdom from Ms. Ivins …

    Rabbit fur hat? Bet that go your attention. 🙂

    I’ll keep the borax in mind. I made my suggestions to the Master Gardeners, about the tub. They’re mulling it over. We divided up the plots, this morning. I’ll have my usual, and, trade my smaller bed for a stock tank. I finally got seed in the ground, last night. Two kinds of beets and two kinds of carrots. Turnip and parsnip. The broccoli is coming up. I planted pretty short rows, but, how much can one guy eat? And, if I want more, I can plant a late summer crop for fall. Before the meeting, they were talking about a small green house. Don’t know what was decided, on that.

    There was a report that a snake, crawled under someone’s door. Down on the first floor. Non poisonous, of course, but still …

    I pretty much finished the book on the Bounty, last night. It bounced between the mutiny, and, the current state of Pitcairn Island. Those folks are rather strange. The author spent about 2 months, there. He also talked about how in about 1850, the island was getting too crowded, so all were removed to Norfolk Island. Later, about 60 went back. Current population is around 48. The author also spent time with descendants on Norfolk Island. Those folks were a lot more … personable.

    The zester …

    This is pretty much the one I use. Works a treat. I can zest off an entire large orange, in just a few minutes. The orange muffins went over well, at the Club. I think I’ve got them nailed. But, will hold them in reserve for “special.” The clean up is about twice, say, banana muffins. I might try lemon muffins. The recipe is slightly different.

    That age old question. “How much money is enough?” When I watched that documentary “The Big Scary S Word,” (it’s socialism), it was commented on that 5 people own 40% of the world’s wealth. Yeah, I think they’ve got enough.

    Muster Dog. Either reality TV is scrapping the bottom of the barrel. Or, the quality of reality TV is finally improving. 🙂

    Well, changing the name from “Pineapple Express” to “Atmospheric River” wasn’t just Prof. Mass’s idea. It was an across the board shift from weather reporters. They’re always trying to come up with catchy new phrases for weather phenomenon. “Arctic Breakout,” anyone? 🙂

    If you search “Kellogg litho Mortgaging the Farm” and check images, several copies of it pop up. That big building in the background has a sign on it that says, “Distillery.” Just to drive the point home. 🙂 Lew

  8. Hi Inge,

    Thank you and I appreciate your words. We’re very good at queuing and following instructions down here – to a point. And at that point, we tend to go off and do something else with our time. I’m seeing a bit of that going on right now. I’m assuming that the culture of your country is similar?

    The lavender rose is such a beauty and it is a favourite of mine, and the flower has such a strong rose scent. It’s a lovely plant, and on warm sunny days, you can smell the aroma of the combined roses.

    One of the larger rose plants has produced dozens of rather large hips. I’m beginning to think about possibilities with rose syrup, or a rose wine. It could be interesting.

    I agree, and yes there does seem to be a proportion of the population for whom lock down worked. I do wonder about that story because it is not as if there are not economic realities to consider? And yes, I know of people who have been boosted (the third shot) and yet still contracted the disease. It makes me wonder what kind of stories they tell themselves about that in the dark hours of the night. It is a fascinating time isn’t it?



  9. Hi Margaret,

    Plum sends cordial tail wags to Leo and Salve and wishes them pleasant dreams and time out to warm their bodies in front of the fire.

    Did you get Salve as a puppy, or an older dog? Apologies if you are repeating yourself. I’m wondering what it is that causes one dog to perform these useful acts, whilst other dogs just want to have the chase? I’m not sure really. Certainly all of the different canine personalities I’ve known over the years appear to be rather random.

    Thanks. 🙂 I’ve been mucking around with computers and electronics since I was a young kid. I had the computer guy at the store laughing, but you know you’re getting mature when you don’t make the joke to him as he’s handing over all of the parts: So where does the computer chip meant to go? They tell me age brings wisdom, and it might be true.

    Well that’s the thing too. It’s a work computer, and it has work on it. I’m caught in a bind by the professional accounting body because the work is confidential, so if the local computer store did a download of the data, I’d be in dog poop. Best to do the repairs yourself as I don’t have a working relationship with the local computer repair people – last I was there, they sold me a product which wasn’t in the box. I got home and discovered an empty box. That was a new experience. Thus I head further north to the larger computer store.

    Yes, I agree there are ups and downs with working for smaller businesses, but overall like you, I feel that the experience is better. And pretty much that is how the other story played out – almost exactly like that. I do wonder about issues such as loyalty, because it means something to me, but not so much to others. And you have to sort of find this middle ground between idealism and carelessness. Dunno, haven’t figured that one out! Hope you do, as it would be helpful to get a better understanding of how to navigate that maze.

    Writing the blog and responding to lovely people such as yourself is a joy. 🙂 I mentioned before I used to enjoy writing for the hippy press, and those gigs kind of dwindled over the years. It was then that you realise the act of creativity is quite fun, and maybe that was the important bit. And yup, sleep is good. Hope your back isn’t mucking around with your sleep?

    Signs of spring!!!! We’ll get our lost hour back this weekend. Hope that you have been nice to it and returned it clean and undamaged? 🙂




  10. Hi Lewis,

    I’m looking forward to reading Jack London and I get the impression that the author tells a ripping yarn. I finished the book Straight and Crooked thinking this morning (and am now equipped and ready to venture out into the world, like one of those little baby harp seals – hope I don’t get clubbed over the head like them!), and needed a break from non fiction so picked up Jack Vance ‘Wyst: Alastor 1716’. Such a fun story which I’ve read many times. Reading a book like that is like hanging out with old mates.

    Not to worry about the seed for next season. After shortages over the past year or two, I got onto that job early. And the chickens love the corn. There isn’t much left on the cobs, in fact the chickens pick them clean. I’ve been experimenting with having a garden full of fresh greens to feed the chickens and I pick from it every day. Chickens love fresh greens.

    Oh, that’s a great quote from Molly Ivins. And the lady is correct too. A lot of good could be achieved by sweeping the lobbyists from the halls of power – imagine that lot having to engage with the public? And holding public debates on matters of policy? Maybe I expect too much from that lot. What do they do all day? Sit on their backsides probably.

    Thanks for the quotes and my favourite was: “I don’t so much mind that newspapers are dying – it’s watching them commit suicide that pisses me off.” Very nicely spoken.

    Haha! I already own a rabbit pelt hat. It’s a very country hat, although I must add that I cannot claim ownership of cows, muster dogs – yes, but cattle no. I wrote years ago about how I swapped out the very cool, but too-cool-for-me Blue hat for the more serviceable rabbit pelt hat. I loved that Blue hat, but it had it’s own life, so I had to set it free.

    But your idea about the rabbits is a goodie. I genuinely hadn’t thought of the option. My brain is rather full.

    What ideas did you end up coming up with for the tub? The stock tank trade was a wise move. I use some of them here and they really are good, and in cold summers the soil being raised and with a greater surface area, gets warmer.

    Good to hear the broccoli is coming up, and I’d be curious to hear what you have to say about it. You could eat quite a lot I’m thinking! I could. Hope they establish a greenhouse. They do work, although you do have to work out how to use them, and then they are a touch more maintenance than the average garden bed, but not much more.

    Well I’m frightened of the snake already, and I didn’t see it!

    That’s my understanding of the comparison between the two islands. I believe Pitcairn is under the control of the British, whilst Norfolk is under the control of down under. And dare I suggest it, there is a bit more traffic to and from the mainland to Norfolk. Just sayin… A mate of mine visited there maybe in the last twelve months. He seemed favourably impressed.

    Ah! Thanks for the explanation. This is what I use (it’s sharp and should only be used in one direction): Microplane.

    I can see that about the clean up.

    Went into the big smoke today for work. Had a late haircut and then we had dinner out locally. The feed was excellent. A chicken parmigiana with salad, chips and gravy. Plus a local cider. Yum!

    They’re constructing a roundabout in town at a busy intersection. Apparently the job will take a year, and at some points in the day there is traffic chaos in town – not something you’d expect to see.

    The Muster dogs thing was I believe a government paid advertisement to the cattle industry. Horses will take a while to breed, but dogs you can build up good working packs quickly in about a year they proved (although traditionally it took three years). I expect diesel fuel to be rationed at some point before the end of the year.

    Gotta hit the sack. Talk tomorrow.



  11. Yo, Chris – There used to be (decades ago) a terrible joke about baby Harp Seals. That if it was found that they produced an enzyme, in the moment of being clubbed to death that cured all forms of cancer, then no one would be trying to protect them. 🙂

    The greens give the egg yolks such a nice color. Nothing like the pale, pale yellow of a factory farm egg.

    There was a movie, about 10 years ago, about lobbyists. Screamingly funny, if you have a slightly sick sense of humor. As I do. 🙂

    You can’t have two rabbit fur hats? Or The Editor could take a tired winter coat, and dress it up with a new collar and cuffs. A cozy fur quilt? It would give Fern Glade Farm that touch of barbaric splendor. Shades of Conan … 🙂

    I’ll see the Master Gardeners this morning. Their weekly visit. I’ll ask if after mulling it over night, if they’ve come to a decision about the wooden half tub. Which, by the way, I noticed are selling this year for $40. At the Sunbirds which generally has about the best prices, around. Also, the stock tanks that they got last year, are $100 more, this year.

    Our building manager sat in on the meeting to divvy up the plots, and was her usual snippy self. When I mentioned that Elinor wanted her same stock tank, this year, she inquired as to if Elinor could take care of her own plot. As she did last year. With a few well chosen words, the Master Gardeners came to her defense. And, we have at least one stock tank that has not been called for. We have a few more gardeners this year, but will they stay the course?

    I’m not mentioning, to Eleanor, the snippy comment. Nor about the snake on the first floor. Why a snake might slither up to the 3d floor, and right under her door (out of 12 or so doors to pick from). Then again, maybe a snake might catch a ride on the elevator?

    Of course, there was a lot of comments on my forks. I must have 30 in there. I just said that being an La Nina year, the weather would be good for forks, and I’d probably get a bumper crop. Gosh, do anything out of the ordinary … And, I noticed that a kitty had paid a visit, overnight. A couple of the forks were knocked about. But, no damage done, that I could see.

    I eat a lot of broccoli and brussels sprouts. Probably four or five times a week. But it would be nice to have some fresh.

    I had a few other thoughts about Pitcairn Island. As it is, it’s not very sustainable. But it was, in the past. And may have to be in the future. They heavily depend on a four times a year shipment of diesel. They have a generator, that provides power to the residents. But even so, it’s turned off every night from 10 pm to 6 am. And they all have ATVs, that the author commented on. Even for very short trips, they tend to hop on. Early on, the island provided everything a person could need. As long as you weren’t too fussy about education or health care. The isolation got to some people.

    You micro planner is quit the bit of kitchen kit. And it’s blue! 🙂 . I was looking at some of the testimonials. Had a bit of a laugh at “Celebrity Coffee Chef.” I suppose it looks good on a CV. What’s interesting is the difference in textures. Yours makes more of a meal texture. Mine produces small … hmm, how to describe it? Very tiny strips.

    I don’t like round-abouts. And they’re slapping quit a few of them, here. I suppose it’s what your used to, but I find them a bit hard to maneuver.

    I hit a couple of the cheap food stores, last night. Picked up a big bag of tangerines, that I turned into little bags of tangerines. And, for the first time, found some honey in little plastic squeeze bottles that are shaped like bears. The quality might be a bit dodgy, but, you get what you pay for. I have about four bags of food to haul down to the Club, this morning. It’s time for biscuits and gravy! Lew

  12. Hi Inge,

    Far out, it’s raining and flooding up the north east coast again. This time around I noted that there was some sort of intense thunderstorm warning for Coffs Harbour. Some towns have been flooded again. What a year, hope they’re doing OK up there.



  13. Chris,

    First, a hearty greeting to the worthy Dame Plum, who has earned her title. Well done, Dame Plum!

    I hope you enjoy the Jack London stories! I’ve read that particular book a zillion times.

    I have another book suggestion for you. The author is (allegedly) Lewis Burke Frumkes. The title is “How to Raise Your IQ by Eating Gifted Children”. Available from Amazon. I know nothing about the book other than that, but the title is intriguing.

    I have recently read another children’s book titled “We Don’t Eat Our Classmates”. It was rather cute.

    My take on the Great Reesignation is that the powers that be have ignored Sun Tzu’s admonition about not wearing out the troops on needless things. The troops are worn out due to too much petty nonsense tasks and are quitting as a result. You nailed it by adding that idea of Sun Tzu’s.

    More on the drone incident. According to the police, the offender works for the school district at the school the neighbor girl attends. He works with the police by using his drone and “patrolling” the neighborhood after school to assist in minimizing bullying of the students who walk home. The police were not amused to hear about his “methods” and were going to give him a remedial lesson about proper technique and etiquette with the drone.

    That lavender rose is gorgeous. The Princess especially likes it. I agree that it is beautiful, but think that the photo with the forest as background is stupendously superb.

    I was busy on Sunday. Physics stuff, more or less. In physics, there’s an old adage called: The Buttered Side Down Principle: If you butter a piece of bread or piece of toast and then drop it, the buttered side lands face down on the floor.

    I discovered DJSpo’s Corollary by dropping a piece of toast that had peanut butter on it: If you use peanut butter rather than butter, it creates a bigger mess. To which my friend, hereafter known as Jack Physics, added the Jack Physics Sub-corollary to the DJSpo Corollary: Your dog will clean up the mess faster than you can.

    Then there’s my bit of doggerel for the week:
    When you’re having a terrible day,
    And you’re filled with woeful dismay,
    It’s time to put your cares away
    And enjoy a cup of Earl Grey.


  14. Greetings Avalanche!

    Dame Plum sends cordial tail wags to the up-and-coming new kid on the block. Woof! Woof!

    Yours sincerely,

    Dame Plum

    Hi DJ,

    Thanks for the book recommendation for Jack London as it sounds like a ripping yarn, which I’m looking forward to receiving in the mail.

    Cannibals the world around would heartily and brainely agree with the author. 🙂

    Ook! Tis a fine line ta walk, what with all of the sneaky book recommendations around here. And books are a sore temptation. I’ve travelled to many a fictional time and place, without all the unnecessary mucking around in hyperspace, with a good book.

    Sun Tzu and his mate Wu Tzu are very interesting characters, and it impresses me that after so many millennia their thoughts are readily available for the person with a passing interest in strategy. And still applicable. Isn’t it funny when you have that moment where you realise that we’re pretty much the same folks with the same characteristics as what kept the Roman Empire ticking along. And we seem to have inherited the same personality failings – and end up with similar outcomes. It’s quite eerie really.

    So bare with me a moment, and let’s not get ourselves into any trouble here as Australian law is pretty unpleasant and the website is hosted here. So drone dude is allegedly causing you and others hassles, whilst the controller is apparently authorised to detect hassles. I’m not suggesting that the circumstances make little sense to me, but kinda they do look that way to me. My head is now spinning and fortunately you’ve saved Avalanche the potential hassle of chomping down hard on a drone. The Kelpies can jump quite high off the ground, so perhaps Avalanche might get inspired, just sayin…

    Thanks, and the roses are really lovely, and that lavender one has an amazing scent. It may well be a David Austen rose, but I can’t quite recall. If you and your lady are interested I can look up the exact name? Mate, when the conditions are just right like this season, the trees here grow at 1 metre per year. Triffids – you heard it here first. 🙂 There is massive flooding again up on the mid east coast of the continent. They’re doing it super tough up there.

    It is of course a truth universally acknowledged that our canine friends love peanut butter. Alas it is on average too cold here to grow those delightful plants, except that one year it was rather hot and we’d planted out a goodly amount of peanuts.
    The plants grew well and strongly.
    Looked upon with pride.
    Leaves turned to the sun.
    Multiplied they did.
    Soil was warm.
    Rain fell.
    Pride proceeds downfall.
    A fluffy shadow.
    Doom lurked.
    Disappeared, peas.
    Guts of fluffy, replete.
    Sir Poopy rested in shade.

    I must add that a good cup of tea could be applied as balm to the worlds problems. Of course I’m commanding a starship and can demand from a replicator: Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.



  15. Hi Lewis,

    That’s a rather amusing joke about the baby harp seals. It always astounds me that photogenic creatures get larger amounts of concern bestowed upon them than their less attractive and yet equally at risk critters compatriots.

    Years ago I owned a delightful white cat. She was a really good mate of mine, and I was gifted her as a kitten when I was maybe about eight. She lived to a ripe old age and eventually died when I was twenty six. Because her fur was snow white and she loved sitting out in the sun on hot days, she had a lot of skin troubles with her ears due to repeated sun burn. The fur on her ears after all was quite thin. Eventually the ears had to be removed, but she barely seemed to be troubled by that. And without the ears she looked like a baby harp seal.

    Yah! Greens are so good for the chickens, and despite feeding them a bucket of greens every day, there’s never any left over. Having richer looking yolks probably means the eggs are better for you to eat.

    I’d seen that film. Oh, the cunning argument is so persuasive. It was pretty funny in a twisted way. Both of my older sisters smoked, and thought they were so cool. They were a captured constituency. I didn’t really know how they afforded the habit either. A mystery.

    Dunno about your opossums. Frightening creatures. But the possum variety down here used to provide the fur for indigenous possum cloaks. Each cloak from what I understand is quite unique to the person. It really is a beautiful fur, and super warm. And I believe that the cloaks tell a story.

    $40 for the wooden tub is quite cheap. I can’t quite recall whether it is a full or half wine barrel? I’ve seen them for sale down here, and the contents always leave an interesting coloured and crystallised texture to the inside timber. Not sure that you’d want to try to use one to survive Niagara Falls. Steel is getting more expensive here too, although at least we manufacture the stuff down here. Nickel is something of a problem as are a whole bunch of other metals. Down under we do a lot of mining, but less in the way of processing which is a very dirty business.

    Snippy as an emotional response is over rated. And therein lies the problem – will they stay the course? I remember a large drop off in numbers at Uni. The first few lectures you could struggle finding a seat, but by the end of the semester, the lecture theatre was mostly empty.

    It’s possible that the snake might make its way up to your floor. Wasn’t there snakes on a plane? 😉 Speaking of dodgy films.

    Hehe! Whatever, if the forks work, use them that way. I don’t have to deal with felines using the garden beds as a giant kitty litter tray. The local birds are bad enough, which is why I tend to now over sow and then thin.

    I do hope that broccoli variety works for you as it seemed super tough to me and has even re-sprouted now with almost no help on my part. Those kind of plants make gardens easy. And apparently unlike a heap of other brassica varieties, they will grow true to type. The kale is booming too.

    Predictions are hard, especially about the future (to quote someone wiser than I), but I reckon we might get to experience diesel rationing this year. I’m sure that the news of the day will be claiming that it doesn’t matter – that is until they can’t deliver their physical newspapers from the printing press factory.

    The island has a pretty decent climate. Norfolk Island is a bit different energy wise, yet last I checked they still had to run a diesel generator. My understanding is that the spinning of the generator provides stability for the frequency of the electricity. Down here we have a 50Hz for mains electric standard which means that the Active and Neutral wires switch back and forth between positive and negative state 50 times per second. And that’s the thing, you need that stability for electronics to work properly. My off grid system provides it, but it requires far more complicated electronics and as such is far more expensive a solution. The super nifty folks on King Island run a large flywheel which provides the same service. Real time energy dashboard. Sometimes 100% renewables be an expensive option. That island has an amazing system.

    Blue makes things go faster and better. 🙂 It does create a fine zest. I actually like the tool, although you have to be very careful with its use. Not one for the careless! Don’t we all know a few of those folks.

    Good stuff, and you don’t really see tangerines for sale down here. They’re very tasty. I have a tangelo tree growing but the wallaby stripped it of leaves… I have plans for the many small citrus trees. And the plans will be implemented soon.

    Me tired today. I started paid work early and finished late. Done something bad in a past life, for sure.



  16. Yo, Chris – I have mixed feelings, about the lavender rose. 🙂 Years ago, I ordered a “blue” rose, out of a catalog. The picture in the catalog was of a sky blue blossom. So, I got the rose, carefully tended it, and when it bloomed … well, it was a disappointment. But, I’ve got to say that seed and plant company is rather dodgy. Always has been. But one hopes … You should read the comments about them, on line.

    Re: “photogenic creatures.” Applies to humans, too. The lookers get all the attention and there’s a lot of slack, cut, too. Ah, well. Life on life’s terms.

    Poor kitty! Well, she brung it on herself. Amazing how animals adapt to lopped off parts. Had a roommate that had a three legged dog, once. Didn’t slow the little fellow down, at all.

    I’d like to see that film, again. Wonder if the library still has a copy? Probably not, given it’s age. But I might be surprised. Sometimes there’s one beat-to-heck copy, somewhere out there in the hinterland. I went to the library, yesterday, but it was a wasted trip. Their computers were all wonky. Thought they might be tampering with the catalog, again. But, it seemed to apply across the board. Nothing wanted to load with any dispatch. It was like watching paint dry.

    Nothing very exciting waiting for me, but I found a few DVDs on the shelf. A couple of bios. A sci-fi. A Teen-age Mutant Turtles film. Have never checked them out, but I saw a trailer that looked kind of interesting.

    Went to the Club and had biscuits and gravy. Unloaded the food I found for the pantry. I took a closer look (with magnifying loop) at that honey, as I put it on the pantry shelf. Product of India. Hmmm.

    Gotta work on my timing. 🙂 When I got back, the Master Gardeners were unloading the stock tanks. So, I helped with that. Next week they’ll “site” a couple, drill the holes. The week after, start disassembling two of the raised beds (one is mine). So, I’ve got about two weeks to get a few perennials I’ve got in that bed, out.

    The $40 barrel is for a half barrel. It was decided what to plant in that spare barrel. Potatoes. Not very exciting, but useful. I was talked out of asparagus, as one half barrel might provide one serving. In three years time.

    From what the author said, Pitcairn Island is very hot and humid. Quit a few of the people there are very “handy.” I’m surprised, at least as of the writing, that no one had given solar a go. Everyone relies on cisterns, for water. But a few streams were mentioned. A small hydro plant might be possible.

    That’s quit a set-up on King Island. But, I think sooner or later the lack of parts or deliveries of the liquid stuff, will cease. And it will either be a subsistence type of life, or, move off island. Lew

  17. Hi Chris,
    I spoke to Leo and Salve about Plum’s skills and suggested they could step it up a bit. Salve was abandoned on our road in the middle of winter when she was probably around 1 year old. She was skin and bones and someone had cut her ears to make her look like a pit bull. She clearly had been abused. She followed Leo home on one of our morning walks. She also had a prolapsed uterus so we suspected she had pups at too young an age. We called animal control and they posted a notice of course knowing no one would claim her. They fixed her up and we adopted her after the waiting period for $80. She did quite a bit of damage chewing things though it was mostly when we were out so she was crated. We tried many times to let her out of the crate but each time eventually she would chew something – almost always wood. Even though she’s nine now and been with us a long time she still will chew when we’re our so we’re reconciled to the fact that she’s always going to be crated. Fortunately she doesn’t mind and goes right in before we’re ready to go out.

    On another note, I enjoy Jack London’s writing too.


  18. Hello Chris
    I am becoming unsure of the culture in the UK, it seems to be changing. Always difficult to assess because rural culture differs from that in the cities. Immigration is increasingly making a difference as well, though it also affects the cities rather than the countryside. At one time I would have said that individualism is very high in the UK, but think that it is becoming less so.

    Haven’t heard from daughter near Coffs Harbour and other daughter is currently camping in the wild so is incommunicado.


  19. Chris,

    Interesting point about Sun Tzu. But really, people really haven’t changed. Technology and religions may change, but humans are still humans. Dogs are still dogs. Little furry creatures from Alpha Centauri are still little furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. So insights into human psychology from Sun Tzu should still work just fine today. Empires will grow, and empires will crumble for much the same reasons as they have before.

    Nice ideas there about the drone. Basically, I know as a fact in Washington that there is a 10 meter limit on drones and private property. Meaning, John Doe’s drone can fly over my yard and house, can hover there indefinitely, as long as it remains 10 meters or more above the ground. Anything less than 10 meters and it’s legal for me to take measures to deter the drone, so to speak. I’m reasonably certain that a similar law applies for drones flying above public roads and walkways. Additionally, I can always claim that the drone nearly hit me and my dog and I had to take defensive measures. So, at least one of a good walking stick, garden trowel or even Ian’s Cricket Bat are on hand whenever Avalanche and I go on walkabout, to act as a deterrent, of course. And if I can teach Avalanche to catch unidentified low flying objects…

    Please, would you look up the name of that lavender rose. I can always find a place for something that unique and spectacular.

    Wonderful poem, that was. Very creative. Sounds like the type of thing that I’d expect in Beowulf or “The Ruin”. Well done.

    Ah but one must be careful with the starship’s replicator. They have been known to dispense something almost exactly unlike tea when tea is requested. And smugly, also, due to its Genuine People Personality.


  20. Hi Inge,

    We have the same problem down here. And yes, rural culture is different from that of city culture. When I was a child I do recall that the local culture was frowned at, and also looked down upon by the intellectual and social elites. And yes, immigration has certainly changed the flavour of the culture. But when a culture tries to stand for everything, it ends up standing for nothing. I’m not entirely sure but it appears to me to have similar origins and end points to the stupid story that people repeatedly told me when I was very young. And that story was: “You can do anything”. It was a patent lie, because clearly the facts spoke for themselves in the matter. But I did wonder back then why the adults consistently lied to me. Sadly I know more about the why of that story nowadays. I guess the Romans tried the same shtick with indoctrinating the various cultures which they subdued.

    I tend to believe that individualism is less of a thing down here nowadays too. But on the other hand, the policies being pursued have delivered the goodies for the past quarter century, and so people toe the line. I have strong reservations that the situation will continue.

    The flooding was pretty bad further north than her township. I have not seen or heard any reports from further south than the flooded areas. What a year.



  21. Hi Margaret,

    Ah, you can only but hope that Leo and Salve follow Plum’s good lead, but she is a young whipper-snapper of a canine so has unfair natural advantages. Your two can rest on their laurels and past achievements. Although candidly chewing upon timber in, on and around the house would be a problematic experience. I assume that with your previous house, you and Doug had to fix up all of the bite marks and damage prior to the sale? 🙂 Dogs, you’ve gotta love them.

    In their rabbit and rodent hunting endeavours, the two Kelpie’s dig open burrows producing epic sized holes in the garden beds. Still, Plum does what is needed to be done, and it is not as if the rabbits and rats haven’t already created the burrows. And I guess the plants will recover.

    Went to the pub for a feed and pint this evening. It was quite nice and the food was good, and the pub was busier than I’d seen in a while.

    Thanks for the thumbs up for Jack London. I’d never come across this author before. Education these days… 🙂



  22. Hi DJ,

    There have been a few changes over the millennia, like I’d hope that the pub I visited tonight for a pint and a feed was cleaner than the average Viking mead hall from way back in the Dark Ages? And would the Vikings have produced cider? The offering this evening was from a local orchard and cidery, so I must get out there one day for a visit. Much less hoity-toity than a winery. 😉

    How good is that Douglas Adam’s quote about the real furry creatures from Alpha Centauri? 🙂

    But yeah, Sun Tzu is sadly as relevant today as the year the bloke put quill to rice paper. Or actually I have no idea what methods the ancient Chinese scribes used to record their thoughts to paper. And it may have been animal skins for all we know? And did they even have scribes? So many questions, so few answers.

    We have drone rules too. Drone rules . We love rules down here, but one of the rules intrigued me. It was about operating only a single drone at a time. Who has the skills to operate two drones at once? Far out. I was speaking with someone the other day, and I have this ongoing joke I use with everyone who expects me to do too much. The joke goes like this: I’m a guy, I can only do one thing at a time (add cheeky grin or chuckle depending on the situation)! It’s not a bad joke as it gets a groan out of the ladies, but seriously: two drones at once. That person needs to get a medal for sheer dexterity. 🙂 I’m not up for that. It reminds me that some people can send text messages and drive at the same time. I lack the competency for that, and have to give either of those skills my full undivided attention, otherwise things will go badly, like crashing the car, or suffering from an embarrassing auto-corrected message. Nobody wants either of those.

    The Editor looked up the name of the rose, and down under it is known as the: Blue Moon Rose. Cool name, huh? We also have a very similar rose to that one and it’s a hybrid tea rose with the name: Charles de Gaulle. There isn’t much between the two roses although maybe the Blue Moon is a marginally darker shade. Both have delightful scents.

    Well you guys keep expanding my education through the many and varied sneaky book recommendations. And I’m so easily lead astray in this regard! 🙂 One day DJ, I will be ready to set free into the wider world. Sorry, I’m feeling a bit silly this evening, blame the pint of cider. So good.

    Oh that’s good. Can you imagine on of the replicators in Star Trek giving attitude or useless life tips due to the flawed Genuine People Personality? I always enjoyed the line: Your plastic pal who’s fun to be with. So patently untrue.



  23. Hi Lewis,

    Oh my goodness. So the Editor produced the name of the rose, and then I did a quick gargle search to ensure that the name matched the images of the plant – which it does. And that was when I discovered to my horror, that the name Blue Moon rose, of which this one is an example, was described as: ‘the most popular of all the ‘Blue Roses’.

    It looks like a lavender rose to my eyes. The Editor has a colour chart which we should employ to resolve this most awful of questions: Yes, yes, but is it blue? I tend to think not. Oh man, that sounds like a most foul trick was perpetrated upon you. Some of the practices of seed companies defy my imagination – especially the ones who distribute to the home market. Mate, we’ve all been done over on that front, sorry to say.

    The 16 hour-long-in-one-day job folks phoned me today to check upon my availability. I politely declined the offer and said something about having to wear a mask for that many hours would make me quite unwell. It’s too long a work day for that impost.

    One of the plant nurseries I frequent is closing their doors after almost two decades in business. They’re clearing their stock, but do I really need more plants? Possibly not at this stage.

    We had a sourcing day today and travelled to a nearby town to pick up some materials, and a new ladder. I was amazed by the ladders on offer as many of them had plastic components and some used fibreglass. Obviously electrical risk was a factor in the use of those two materials. But I really don’t know about the longevity of those two materials, so I chose an all metal A frame ladder. I repaired the original A frame ladder a few weeks ago, and I’d that for several decades. It’s well made, but I thought I’d get a spare, just in case.

    Woke up late this morning. Had a late lunch, and enjoyed dinner at the local pub. There were heaps of people at the pub tonight which was good. It felt like it was back to where it used to be, except that the staff had to wear masks.

    This is true about photogenic creatures, and that was my side point with using the baby harp seal analogy. Us lesser folks have to employ our sunny dispositions and delightful personalities, except that these naturally superior assets are somewhat hard to spot at a distance! And I can assure you that many people remain unconvinced of these assets based upon my own extensive experience. Note to self: must do better, maybe, if I can be stuffed trying. 🙂

    Yeah, the cat just went on as if nothing had happened, and she lived to a reasonably advanced age. My initial belief was that she would not do so well from the loss of her ears, but I was incorrect. You do see a few three legged dogs and cats, and yeah, they just get on with life, don’t they.

    It’s a pretty funny film, and quite subversive. Some of the argument and communication techniques used in the film were astounding, and I noticed that the guy rarely seemed to be in a flap about anything. He looked as if he enjoyed what he was doing. If plans work out, I might even watch a film over the Easter break. Mate, I’m slowing things down a bit and getting some more slack. I did rather enjoy Mr Greer’s essay today, and the Editor is now sick of hearing me recite the complaint that my: Slack is Under Attack. Far out, turns out the name is used nowadays by some techo corp-se.

    Did you consider heading down to the library today? And hopefully the new catalogue system was working. Yikes!

    The Margaret Atwood book turned up in the mail yesterday. I’m looking forward to reading the essays.

    Years ago I was at a mates house and he had a teenage mutant ninja turtle film playing in the background. Some people do tend to feel more comfortable if there is a screen going all the time, and that ain’t me, but when in Rome. I didn’t know much about the story or characters, and the film was quite good. It was one of the latter instalments in the franchise. I’ll be curious to hear of your thoughts on the subject of the film.

    Good luck with the honey, and not a bad idea to keep it away from diabetics. Not sure why I say that, but yeah not a bad idea. Hope you had a good yak with the folks at the club?

    Are the master gardeners intending to recover and re-use the soil from your existing raised beds? If they’re not, I’d keep some existing soil to the side where it won’t get disappeared, and then use it to inoculate the new soil. It will save a lot of hassles and speed the processes up. Ah, the metal raised garden beds I use have an open bottom, so they’re really only sides. That helps with drainage during heavy rain storms. I guess you guys get gophers, which would be an absolute horror show and the solid bottoms of the stock tanks would do wonders. Who can forget Bill Murray as the greens-keeper in Caddyshack? I re-watched the film a few years ago and had to switch it off early on. You and I age well, that film, not so much.

    You know what, potatoes is a good use for the half barrel, and that still is pretty cheap. Down here I’ve seen people use sturdy bags with which to grow potatoes.

    Things are getting very serious down here (although few city folks think about the consequences): High fertiliser prices leave vegetable growers struggling to make ends meet.

    A small solar power system can make a huge difference. I wonder if the island life stifles novelty, even when the costs and benefits have been thoroughly tested? But your point also stands – lack of parts can be a sticking point. Imagine having access to electricity and running out of light bulbs? They don’t seem to last anywhere near as long as they used to. Or worse, not being able to use the energy source for other reasons – such as attracting zombies and other critters.

    Ollie chased off a small herd of deer this morning from out of the orchard. He looked well pleased with his efforts. And I’m always amazed at how fearless he appears to be as he runs them off. Fortunately he is wise enough to know to attack from the rear.



  24. Hello Chris
    It is bitterly cold outside with a vicious north wind which had the temerity to snow on me when I walked up to my post-box. Now, a few minutes later, the sky is blue again.


  25. Yo, Chris – Yeah, that seed and plant nursery is probably the biggest in the US, for home gardeners. I must get 6 or so catalogues a year from them. They’ve also gobbled up a lot of smaller companies. They send out their catalog, with the small companies name on it. But, the look is the same and a quick internet search reveals the deception. Yup. It was a Blue Moon rose, I bought. But, it is many years ago, so, the sting has lessened. If they ever do come up with a true blue rose, I’ll wait til I see one in a nursery. Oh, well. Plenty of other blue flowers.

    A 16 hour shift? Stuff that. When did they repeal slavery, in Australia? 🙂

    That’s sad about the plant nursery. You were strong, an managed to keep away? There was a big annual charity book sale, this weekend. I managed not to go.

    Well, now that you’ve got two ladders, you can run a board between the two of them, and have a bit of scaffolding. Probably something the Editor doesn’t want to hear.

    I think you’ll enjoy most of Margaret Atwood’s essays.

    I’m heading out early this morning. Frank’s taking a look at my truck. So, hold the phone, I’ll be right back. Lew

  26. Yo, Chris – Back! Frank worked his usual magic. Now I don’t know much about the ins and outs of trucks, but it seems there is a vent into the left rear wheel well. From where I know not. It was plugged (80,000 miles + of crude and corruption) and putting pressure on the axel seals. Frank blew it out. Problem (maybe) solved. He’d like to have another look see, in about two weeks. Cost me $25. I don’t know of another mechanic that would have diagnosed and found that problem.

    The “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie was kind of fun. It was the recent “Out of the Shadows,” one. Can’t say I’m chomping at the bit to see another one, but at least now I know what all the hoop-la is about. I would like to see the origin movie. And maybe, “Turtle Power” which is about it’s creators and fans. Their sensei who is a giant sewer rat, is also a lot of fun.

    I watched a documentary about the director Peter Bogdanovich (Last Picture Show, Paper Moon, etc.), last night. He, and I think Beau Bridges were talking about how you can really like a movie, but in later years, not like it so much. But later on, might like it as much as in the first place. Maybe some movies speak more about where we are in our lives, than others?

    Last week, I watched a documentary about Dr. Oliver Sacks (The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Awakenings, etc.). His uncle, who he called Uncle Tungsten, developed a lightbulb with a tungsten filament. He went bankrupt, as the bulbs lasted so long. 🙂 .

    Last night I dug out the half barrel with all the Jerusalem artichokes in it. I got about 10 pounds of tubers. I added more garden soil and some composted chicken poop. After doing a bit of research on the Net, I also added a sprinkling of lime and stove ash. Planted six good sized tubers. It might be they don’t flower, because our weather isn’t hot enough. I’m also a bit confused about their water requirements. From what I read, they only need about an inch a week. But I found mine start wilting in a day or two, in hot weather. So, I end up giving them a good soak, every two days or so.

    Yes, the Master Gardeners save the soil. But they’re not too fussy about which soil goes back into which beds, or if the top soil is still on the top. I’ll ride herd on my plot when it comes time to move it. Last year, they also brought in a truck load of composted cow poop (I think) as an addition.

    The article about the fertilizer problems was interesting. What jumped out at me was “be diverse.” I think people (myself included) are going to have to adjust their expectations. Some things that were inexpensive and available, are going to slide into the “for special” category. One part of a story people always remember is how excited the girls were, in “Little House on the Prairie,” when they got a single orange, for Christmas.

    The stock tanks, this year, were $100 more than last year. They’ll drill holes in the bottom, for drainage and put landscape cloth in, to keep the soil in. My friend Julia plants her tomatoes in old tires. Just stacks them up and adds soil, as the plant grows. Lew

  27. Chris,

    On the one hand, you hope the modern pub is cleaner than the Viking mead hall. However, I have it on good authority via Aahz from Perv of the Myth Inc Link fantasy series…the cleaner the eatery, the less taste the food has. His example was the Golden Crescent Inn that was spotless and served a variety of burgers and chips.

    That furry creature from Alpha Centauri quote is one of his best, by far. And he had a lot of good lines worth quoting in his books.

    I’m tired. Worked hard the past two days, and have a third day tomorrow so I can finish the project. I’m digging up sod around the brick patio and placing some of the decorative blocks I got from my neighbor. Naturally the weather got cold and windy. We even had some of Inge’s snow for awhile this afternoon.

    What? Gotta have a rule so some eejit can’t try to fly multiple drones at once? Holy smokes Jonesy! I’d have trouble keeping one aloft and crashless.

    Thank the Editor for getting the rose name for me. That’s a fantastic color. Hope I can find one or several.

    Your plastic pal who’s fun to be with! Another of his brilliant quotable lines. Goes along with “Share and enjoy”. This is from the original BBC Hitchhiker’s Guide radio series:
    I wrote the lyrics on a chalkboard during one summer job. My boss was NOT amused, probably because his humourless boss saw it, and I was made to erase it.

    But yes, I got paybacks. There was this pipe that wasn’t connected to anything. One end was readily accessible if one knew where to look, and the other end was above the office. In an earlier age I had learned how to play a metal pipe like it was a trumpet. So, whenever Humorless Boss showed up, I’d “play the pipes”, making the ceiling echo to my music right above her head. 🙂

    Mate, that’s brilliant! Star Trek meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Can you imagine how flummoxed Captain Kirk would have gotten? Or how irritated Dr. McCoy would’ve been? Or maybe Zaphod Beeblebrox with an extra tribble or 3? Not to mention the Infinite Improbabilty Drive versus Mr. Spock’s logic? Then toss in the Genuine People Personality machines…Eddie the Shipboard Computer on the Starship Enterprise? The possible combinations are endless.


  28. Hi Inge,

    Ah, the changeability of the in-between seasons. There’s not much you can do about the vagaries of the weather. Sorry to say, such weather would knock all of the blossoms off many of the earlier flowering fruit trees in your area. A similar storm in spring took a toll on the orchard’s produce here. Fortunately, in warmer parts of the area the storm presented as rain rather than the frigid air which did so much damage.

    And yes, the temerity of the sun to peek out from behind the clouds after such a storm.

    Went to an agricultural show today, and had a lot of fun. We sat in on a few lectures, looked at the animals, bought lots of stuff and had a very tasty lunch of chilli cheese kransky’s. So tasty. The guy had bratwurst for sale too, and the choice between the two was a tough moment of indecision.

    I believe that the rain has eased off a bit up north. It was cool and sunny here today. Quite pleasant really.



  29. Hi DJ,

    Well that was a rabbit hole and then some. How did I miss this author? Had a mate years ago who was part of the Society for Creative Anachronism, but I hadn’t known that I lived in the Kingdom of Lochac. This is all news to me. And I’m guessing that he was part of the Canton of Cairn Fell, otherwise known as Ballarat. They’ve got a castle there which I may have mentioned before. Kryal Castle. I remember going there as part of a bus tour in the late 1970’s for the ‘parents without partners’ group. They did things proper like back in those days and there was a display room of medieval torture devices. Fortunately nobody was naughty enough to have been used to test the devices.

    Hehe! The quoting always brings a smile. Some works are like that in that they’re so outrageous that they’re memorable.

    A brief snowfall? Yikes! I do hope that any fruit trees in your area are not in blossom? They won’t like that snow business. Happened here last year. There’s nothing that you can do about the situation.

    I was wondering what you’d intended to do with the blocks you scored from your neighbour. Is the work for aesthetic purposes or does it serve some function which you haven’t mentioned – or a combination of the two?

    Hope you remembered to stretch and cool down young man! 🙂

    That was my point about the drones. Don’t you wonder what had happened to cause that rule to be committed? Surely things were simpler, before the incident? 😉 Crazy stuff, and I agree our competency would be called into question, fortunately we can talk the situation up and suggest that: yeah, I could easily operate two or more drones at once, but you know, I’m not really allowed to do so.

    I’ve sent on your thanks for the plant identification. Hope nobody ever asks about the fruit tree varieties as many of the aluminium tags have disappeared over the years. It’s an apricot. Yes, but what variety? Apricot, that’s the variety! Here take a scion cutting and get lost! 🙂 That’s probably how the conversation would go.

    Thanks for the ear-worm. Weren’t those dudes at the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation Complaints Division the first up against the wall following the revolution? 🙂 So funny.

    Mate, playing the pipes was in your blood in the first place, and the humourless boss was, dare I say it, an audience for your ingrained talent? Please don’t repeat the noises though as I suspect few would understand.

    Eddie the Shipboard Computer on the Starship Enterprise – oh, that’s good.

    Hope you took it a bit easier today? We went to an agricultural show and it was a lot of fun. We sat in on a few lectures, one of which was about Kelpie’s. Watched some dogs performing very talented tricks. Had a look at the animals. Bought some tools. Most importantly bought some locally made sheepskin lined boots with outdoor soles. Spoke to a bloke who manufactures portable timber mills (so good!). Had a nice lunch, and followed it up with an ice-cream dipped in chocolate with a waffle cone and chunk of chocolate poked into the ice cream (prepare for ignition). We almost missed the sheep dog trials because I was waiting for the large cappuccino. Had to get up before the sun this morning – I never knew that it’s dark before the more usual alarm goes off. Oh, and bought two chickens.



  30. Hi Lewis,

    Went to an agricultural show day, today. The Seymour Alternative Farming Expo. It’s our kind of ag show. After a delightful lunch of chilli cheese kransky’s with extra cheese, onion and mustard, which was so good because it was cooked on a large grill suspended over a charcoal fire. Anyway, the Editor spied an ice cream truck. When I was a kid those trucks used to cruise the streets loudly playing a demented and ever so slightly out of tune carnival melody that Pennywise the Clown from Stephen King’s frightening book: It, would recognise and appreciate. Anyway, the melody used to grab your attention and just like Pavolv’s dogs you begin to salivate, and I at least used to scramble for mad cash and head into the street to buy an ice cream. Things are different nowadays and I haven’t heard of one of those ice cream trucks roving around anywhere. On the other hand, they can be found at things like agricultural shows near to the food area, and there was one there today.

    After the tasty polish sausage, we made a bee line to the ice cream van. On the side of the van there were pictures of at least forty or fifty different combinations. The Editor and I were standing in queue waiting to order, and we began a jocular argument about which combination to choose. People in the line were watching our comedy routine when she pipes up and says: This is like rocket science, but with ice cream. By that time, even the lady inside the van was laughing. Mate, as you once quipped: Sometimes you’re hot!

    It was a good day, sunny and cool with a bit of a breeze. We saw dog trials, attended lectures, looked at animals, bought tools and two chickens. Spoke for a while with a bloke who manufactures and sells portable saw mills. I had a great time, except for the getting up before dawn business in order to get there early at gate opening. That lost hour would have helped a bit with that problem, but mustn’t grumble.

    Had a long conversation with the good people at the poultry club about chookflation. It’s real. Our general consensus was that it was cheaper to buy hens than breed chickens, and I did mention to them that the poultry group was doing us a solid. I even had a chance to speak with the bloke who’s chickens I’d bought, and he was talking them up. They do look like good birds. I chucked them into the chicken enclosure this afternoon and they seem to be doing fine. A lot of people slowly introduce new chickens to their existing birds, I’m not one of those people. Of course, it could go horribly wrong…

    Mate, you learn something new every day. I had not been aware of axle vents, and have made a note to check the Dirt Rat’s vent. Thanks for the tip! And fingers crossed that it solves your leak issue. Yup, his actions suggest that he’s an honest mechanic.

    Yeah, the Sensei sewer rat was quite the character. It’s a pretty novel fictional world and narrative. Thanks for the review, and I enjoyed the bits of the film which I’d seen.

    Paper Moon sounds like a great film, which I’d never heard of. The pair make a solid point about changes in taste. Hey, the same is true of books, although some literary appreciation can last a lifetime – the wordplay of Jack Vance, for example has always spoken directly to my soul from the first book that I encountered. Not all of his works are great though, but when he hits the high notes, he nails that story telling business. I’m sure that you have your favourite books and authors? And I agree, some books are but a moment in time.

    A shame that as a society we could not see further ahead and support those who can like those who make durable goods. Always has it been thus. Ooo, picked up today a replacement pair of sheepskin lined Ugg boots with outdoor soles. So good, so warm. I’d had my existing pair for many years and somehow I’d worn out a hole in the side of the boot. It may be repairable with a patch, although such things dare not be seen off the farm, lest the locals take note. 😉 All part of my dead sheep clothing line! Just the thing for deep dark winter days.

    Yes, lime and stove ash. But which lime? There are a few options to choose from. I’ve noticed that Jerusalem Artichokes seem to wilt during the day time here, only to recover at night (when they do most of their growing I believe). I can’t really give them a good soaking so the patch will receive maybe half a minute of the hose on a hot day (about a bit over two and a half gallons of water). No flowers from them this year.

    Ook! Like you, I’d keep a sharp eye on the proceedings, and then take appropriate action after they’ve departed. They wouldn’t know any better. Composted cow poop is a pretty good additive. It can be very fine though and shows a tendency to blow away if the wind picks up too much in dry weather.

    Exactly. Be diverse is an excellent strategy, and one which I follow as the easiest path. Mate, unless you do the continual testing, you won’t easily know what your soil is missing out on, and so you just have to do your best and chuck on a bit of everything – and hopefully you watch out for signs that you’ve over done some additives. And yes, the same is true for produce. Between the shortage of fertilisers and the hike in diesel prices, far out producers are going to produce, but it’s going to be expensive. Did I mention that the Ugg boots were manufactured down under? Yup. They’re good.

    Far out, old tyres are a resource. Mention them though and someone will begin banging on about contaminants, but I’d guess those same people are happy with all the freakin’ tyre dust which blows around the landscape from vehicles. Far out! I used to live in a gritty industrial area near to a busy road and that house got dirty pretty quickly, so I assume that I was breathing that same air in. Tyre dust is everywhere.

    Good to hear that you are in recovery in relation to the blue rose. 🙂 We’ve all been stung. I don’t see the need to call that group of roses ‘blue’ because they look like the colour lavender to me. Would lavender roses be confusing to people? Does it even matter?

    Yup. 16 hours beginning at 7am and ending at 11pm. I initially did the work out of curiosity about the process, but the length of day knocks me around and I’ve only got so much energy. It’s an astute observation which you’ve made. Yeah. And imagine working that length of day, having to talk to people for many long hours and wear a mask. There’s something not quite right about that ask, and this time around, the work is beyond me.

    Too… Many… Plants… Already… Nuff said! 😉

    Most definitely, the trestle arrangement will not happen. The Editor would kill me after I fell off.

    Thanks. I’ll read the book next after completing ‘Wyst: Alastor 1716’.

    Me tired. How come nobody warned me that the sun isn’t up before my usual alarm goes off? I did so much getting up early in the dark as a kid out earning my mad cash, that I have no taste for such activities nowadays. Where is that lost hour? I heard some horror stories of bonkers hikes in freight costs with people at the ag show today.



  31. Hi, Chris!

    You and Sandra (I still like to call her the editor; that’s a fine title) seem to have had some epic computer problems over the last few years, yet somehow you have always sorted them out. Whew! Our old (and cheap) printer finally gave up the ghost the other day. No way, no how, could we get it to go again. So we now have a new laser printer – the other was not laser – and it seems to be dandy.

    I am so glad that you brought Sun Tzu up. I always enjoy hearing what he had to say.

    I was just contemplating the mulberry trees we have planted along the edge of the woods and not inside the 8 foot garden fence like all the other fruit trees. They are in cages, too, though deer-proof and not wallaby-proof. I am trying to decide if I dare remove the cages and use them elsewhere, but I think maybe “better safe than sorry” and wait one more year as a really hungry deer can stand up on its hind legs to eat, which is fun to see – if you don’t care about your tree.

    Your gabions are a thing of beauty – so symmetrical, so sturdy.

    Is the digger machine like Tractorzilla? Tractorzilla now has a home-fabricated grapple attachment with two huge jaws with teeth that is called The Claw, so that now it can actually pick up really large, really heavy things that the front-end loader can’t manage, like giant tree stumps.

    That “sea fog” really does have waves. Neat!

    Dame Plum – I am honored to know you! Tell me, do you ever eat your catch? Or are you always so thoughtful as to give it to Chris, so that he may have fried rat, or whatever?

    I have never seen a rose of that lavender color. They are all beautiful, of course, and those flowering gum flowers are so much fun. They pop right out at you.


  32. Yo, Chris – The Ag Show sounds like a lot of fun. Creepy ice cream trucks have figured in a number of horror / mystery films, besides Mr. King’s. Everything from serial killers to kidnapped kids. I think it’s the slightly out of tune “cheery” music, that sets the tone.

    I think The Editor and you, should work on your shtic and take your two act on the road. Maybe to that comedy festival you’ve mentioned. 🙂

    What kind of chickens, did you buy? Or have you lost the tags? 🙂 I don’t know. Having a few chicks running around is always a lot of fun. My friend Julia usually lets one of her hens brood. Right now, she has a turkey that’s sitting on eggs. But no way they’re fertile. Julia felt so bad for her she slipped a couple of fertile chicken eggs, into the nest. Just so she’ll have something to mother.

    Speaking of films, I suppose you’ve heard about Bruce Willis. Or, at least seen a headline or two. He’s got aphasia, which is a stroke like condition, where he’ll loose language and speech. What causes it? Might be a stroke, or, head injuries. Given all the action adventure rolls he’s done, and that he does some of his own stunts, I’d guess his head has gotten knocked around a bit. I feel rather bad that I dissed his performances in the two sci-fi (straight to DVD) films he did over the last two years. “Cosmic Sin” and “Breach.” I believe I said he just kind of walked through them and “phoned in” his performance. In a way, I wasn’t so far off. For his recent movies, he’s had an ear piece so they could feed him lines.

    When you work up your line of rabbit skin hats, you can call your business “Dead Rabbit.” Maybe have a sideline of rabbit jerky?

    Don’t know. It was some kind of agricultural lime. I lost the tag. 🙂

    After years of intensive psychotherapy, I got over the lavender rose. “Accidentally” hitting it with the mower, also helped.

    I’m reading a pretty good novel, right now. Picked it up at a book sale, somewhere. I’d tell you the title, but you might rush out and buy it. 🙂

    I stopped by the library yesterday. No joy. They changed the delivery day from Thursday to Friday. They don’t have “Thank You For Smoking”, anymore. No other “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” films. Not the documentary on the creators and fans. But, the interlibrary loan of the “Blue Ribbon Cookbook” is in transit and might show up on my hold shelf, tomorrow morning. Then we’ll see if they’ve got a recipe for Anzac biscuits. If not, I guess we can just write off the whole endeavor. 🙂 Lew

  33. Chris,

    The snowfall didn’t last long or stick to anything. It was one of the usual spring blustery days with it +10C but freakishly snowing. Happens every spring.

    Avalanche likes to dig at the grass/brick patio interface. She scatters the dirt all over the bricks. I’m hoping that having the decorative blocks next to the bricks will at least keep her from throwing dirt onto the bricks, as the blocks are about 4″ thick and about 12cm above the brick/grass level. Plus they look okay.

    Yes, I stretched and cooled down. Still stiff and sore this morning. Then I had the final 3 blocks to place today, which wasn’t hard. Then had to backfill them and tamp the dirt down. There was still a lot of dirt left on the patio. I had to move that to a better place then sweep the patio. I’m tired. No hard work this weekend. I hope.

    Brilliant. “Yeah I can do that but I’m not allowed to.” Hahaha. Good one.

    Way back when my sister was of the age to wonder if eating hot cross buns would make her grumpy like her brother, 😉 our grandmother was visiting. Sis and grandma were sharing an apple. Sis said, “Grandma, this apple is really good. What kind is it?” Grandma replied “it’s a delicious.” Sis then said, “I KNOW it’s delicious, but what kind of apple is it?” It took mom and grandma quite some time to convince my sister that the apple variety was, indeed, a Washington grown red delicious apple.

    Meaning…sometimes it doesn’t matter what kind of apple or apricot it is. Having it taste good is more important.

    Yes, indeedy, the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation was the first up against the wall when the revolution came. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch!

    Once upon a time, I did the math and figured that my mom’s paternal ancestors, Johnson/Johnston, were most likely from the thieving and marauding Borders family from SW Scotland. I ran a clan tent for that clan society at the local Highland Games for a few years. One year, a sheep got away from the dogs during the demonstration of the herding dogs. One of the dogs eventually got the sheep heading back to the flock, but not before the sheep had leapt over my table (closely followed by a flying border collie) and had knocked over two other clan society tables.

    The next year, they had a lot of the clan society tables set up right in front of where all the bagpipes were going to warm up and lead the parade. I couldn’t hear for a few hours after that cacophony!

    Then mom’s male cousin did a high-quality genealogy DNA test, which we recently upgraded to take advantage of technological improvements. Long story short…my mom’s paternal ancestry is from the Dunbartonshire/Lennox area and has shared DNA with the MacGregors and Buchanans. Yes, the MacGregors and Buchanans were apparently one family/tribe until the latter half of the 10th century. I guess that means that, as you said, the pipes were in my blood in the first place.

    On an interesting side note, dad’s maternal side, Todd, was from just southwest of Loch Lomond. Mom’s paternal side, if Buchanans or MacGregors, were form the easterly side of Loch Lomond and probably conducted occasional cattle raids against dad’s maternal ancestors. This tells me 2 things. First, Earth isn’t really that big. Second, Earth isn’t harmless, just “mostly harmless”, to quote that certain book with “Don’t Panic” emblazoned on the cover in bold friendly letters. 😉


  34. Hi Pam,

    🙂 Such are the problems with running a small business which relies on computers. They have to work, so there is little tolerance for minor annoyances, and we’re expected to be connected to the hive mind that is the interweb. It’s over rated, you know! But I do so enjoy writing and our lovely chats. Mind you, I’m old enough to have seen how things worked before computers. There aren’t that many around these days who did that manual grunt work way back in the day. You never know when the knowledge might come in handy.

    Laser printers are pretty affordable these days, and they’re a good technology and seem reliable. Hope you enjoy the printer. The consumables (toner cartridges and image drums) are expensive, but you can get generic brand replacements (I’d recommend keeping two toner cartridges and one image drum spare and maybe a few reams of paper, but that’s me) and they’re pretty cheap. I haven’t noticed the difference in quality. For your interest, our heavy lifting printing is done with an ink jet printer that uses ink tanks, and those things are an amazing technology and super cheap to run – just more expensive up front. Of course the recent computer drama meant that the ailing computer could no longer talk to the printer.

    No worries at all, feel free to call Sandra by her secret super hero alias: The Editor. I kind of like that better too, and still have no idea why she wanted to disclose her secret identity. A mystery.

    Pam, everyone needs a long dead military genius to guide them when it comes to strategy. After all, running a war is probably not that much different from running a household in that you have to deal with the vagaries of people. Another mystery! 😉

    Oh my gawd! Cute little descriptions of Bambi and her ilk does not do the reality justice. I’m facing similar issues with removing the cages from trees. The cages do the trees no favours other than protecting them from the voracious wildlife. But still, sometimes I remove the cages all the same, and hope for the best – it depends upon the season and if the little vandals have anything else better and easier to consume.

    Thank you, I love the gabions too. Did the final pegging out of the excavation site today, and hopefully next weekend I’ll bring in the digger. So much fun!

    The roses are beautiful aren’t they? And if the sun does shine and produce some warmth, the scent of roses hangs heavy in the air.

    Dear Pam,

    Woof! Woof! I’m super excited that I was elevated to high status. All them other girls bad like Riri!

    Rat and Rabbit are gifts for Chris. He’s a nice boss and deserves presents. I once ate a rabbit and ended up with worms. I don’t want worms no more. And worming treatment was no good. Makes my guts ache. Yuk.

    At night I snuggle up with my hero, Ollie. I spotted deer the other day and said: I do’ see nothin’. Ollie spotted the deer and he gave them ‘what for’. I could have given them what for, but Ollie has to do something and a lady must allocate work to her minions accordingly.

    Ruby is my sis, and I love her, but she doesn’t take instructions.

    Gotta roll, there’s a rawhide chew with my name on it.



  35. Hi DJ,

    It doesn’t really snow here until the temperature gets closer to 0’C. Mind you, your description of 10’C with snow matched the conditions here today, but with drizzle instead of snow. If it was colder…

    We worked this morning despite getting drizzled upon. Pegging out the excavation site for the expanded greenhouse. Fingers crossed we get into the digging work next weekend.

    After work finished up about 2pm we went out for a late lunch. All the leaf change tourists are a bit soft because they huddled indoors at the local general store. The Editor and I enjoyed the quiet outside under the shelter of the veranda. Occasionally visitors to the area would burst out of the door and exclaim to their fellows as to how cold it was. It wasn’t, but… And then they’d race off to their cars whilst the drizzle fell. We read books whilst enjoying lunch and a coffee too. Very civilised, except for the regular loud interruptions.

    Ah, I see. Dogs like to dig, and you never know what scents they are smelling. I did tell you years ago that it was a bad place to hide the bodies! Hehe! Just kidding around. Far out, the Kelpie’s dig holes in garden beds too opening up rat and rabbit burrows, so you never know what our canine friends can smell. Good luck. My gut feeling is that you will tire before Avalanche does.

    Good stuff. After work, rest. Before work, rest. Balance work, with rest. Of course you will note that I completely stuffed that up recently, and am only now getting things back into a more steady state. I lack a certain sort of credibility in this issue. 🙂

    That’s funny about the delicious apple variety name confusion. The variety Granny Smith was discovered as a chance seedling variety in Grandma Smith’s garden in Sydney I believe way back in the day. Your sister may have interpreted the words in their most literal sense. It happens. I’ll bet she was a clever person?

    I agree about the taste. It makes no difference to me either as to variety. Having a few varieties of the same fruit tree means that the dangerous blossom timing can be spread over a period of many weeks thus reducing the fruit risk – but last spring was a shocker down here on that front. I still recall the feeling of horror at observing the 2’C combined with hail and high winds which whooshed the blossoms off so many of the trees.

    Mate, the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation clearly had it coming! I’ve used that line so many times over the years, and mostly it earns uncomfortable laughs. Whatever, for me it never fails to bring a smile.

    Thanks for the sheep / dog story. Very funny! I have little experience with sheep, but I have heard that they are great escape artists. At the ag show I watched a bloke using dogs to round up a small herd of sheep. Sometimes the dogs would mess things up and provide an opportunity for a sheep to escape from the flock. But the dogs were onto that, and could bring the escapee back to the flock. Interestingly, to me the dogs looked as if they were working as a pack in hunt mode. They’d crouch their head down whilst eyeing the sheep from a discreet distance. And they’d work the flock by running around to the sides in an attempt to keep the sheep in a huddle and direct them to where the alpha dog (the human dog trainer) was. The same dogs will do just as well with cattle, although cattle can kick hard of provoked. I tend to believe that all this new interest in dogs and herding is that diesel fuel might become an issue in the near future.

    Yes, you’ve mentioned our border land ancestors. 🙂 I was from a mixture of low land and high land folks – probably a bad combination! 🙂

    Save our ears! Although it does stir the blood. I was always partial to Paul McCartney & Wings – Mull of Kintyre.

    Yeah, thought so!!!! All this talk of raiding borderland folks, and you’re deep in it. 🙂 As far as I can understand the situation, not every year produced a good harvest. I can’t even begin to imagine the sort of response a year or so with no summer would produce, although after the last two years I’m getting an idea! Holy carp.



  36. Hi Lewis,

    I’d read the title of the robot dog at Pompeii and for some weird reason I had this bizarre notion that the ancient Romans had created some sort of stone or timber dog on a skate board arrangement, and some poor slave had to push the thing around the city streets way back before the mountain blew its lid. It never even occurred to me that it was an actual current robot dog. Why not employ actual guards with actual dogs? Looking at the robot dog, it occurs to me that you could just tip the thing over on its side, but that maybe just how my mind works. Yeah, take that ya mangy mongrel robot, boot – job done, now back to the grave robbing.

    Speaking of grave robbing, I’d heard that there had been some sort of development in the recent incident I mentioned a few weeks ago. Man charged over alleged grave robberies at Footscray General Cemetery in Melbourne’s west. The article does not mention motives. In the Victorian era I believe it was quite a common offence, which is a bit ooky. But then I recall something about Waterloo teeth, so people I’m guessing were up to who knows what in those days. Incidentally I used to live in the suburb adjoining that mystery. In those days it was a very industrial suburb. Gritty. Someone once told me that you don’t pick someone else’s fight at the local pub. They’d worked behind the bar and it seemed like a menacing observation which I could neither confirm or deny. A mate of mine lived in the other suburb over and the Editor dropped us off at another local pub in the area: ‘The Commercial Hotel’, and we got pretty smashed (not good for a work night) and later on the pub put on a drag night – that was an unexpected turn of events. Gawd that was a funny night. The Editor picked us up later (drink driving laws) and decided to hang around and watch. As you can imagine, I was very ill the next morning and that was when the neighbour began loud construction works at 6am. My head sure hurt. Ah, the punishment for the previous night. That was a long time ago. About the same time, I began dialling that activity back and eventually settled on hard limits on consumption. But yeah, I guess the point of the story is that the gritty industrial area is quite gentrified these days, despite the occasional odd grave robbing. Is it an improvement, maybe not? Dunno. What is character worth?

    Oh yeah, I agree the ever so slightly out of tune cheery melody played at volume is super creepy. But it was a thing too. Mate, this afternoon has been another gloomy wet day. About 20 minutes of peak sunlight today – an impressive achievement, but not nearly enough to power the house. And I can hear a frog calling out. It’s pretty cold and damp outside tonight and I’d accidentally forgotten to close the screen door to the outside door. A large Bogong moth is bashing it’s head against the glass door as it’s attracted to the light inside the house. It’s now ominously quiet whilst the frog is not – I can imagine how that encounter rolled.

    Hehe! I don’t mind public speaking, but your performance idea seems like a lot of hassle. And what if I needed to go to the toilet mid way through the performance. The Editor would kill me for leaving her up there on the stage in front of an angry crowd. Actually that reminds me. I watched a film a long time ago about a fictional rock band. The lead singer had had enough, and during the performance he plucked a guy out of the crowd (who was showing a bit of talent), and walked off stage with the words: “I’ve gotta go take a piss” (that was a direct quote) – and never returned. I sometimes think about that line, but am not entirely sure that I could use it. Would you? It might be a good way to get out of a lecture from someone, (just picking a name randomly): Suzanne. Would she be offended?

    To be honest, I did choose the chickens using a random methodology which acknowledges that after more than a decade of chicken keeping, I still have much to learn. The exact details of this random methodology will have remain a secret. 😉 A Buff Orpington, which I’ve just discovered is a dual purpose bird bred for shows. No wonder the chickens looked good – oh, shoot I’ve just told you my chicken selection secret. 🙂 Never owned this variety of bird before, so I’ll be interested to see how they go. Last evening they slept on the floor in a well protected location behind the feed bin. This evening they have elevated themselves and are now sleeping upon the bag of sugar cane mulch. It’s a step up. I fed them some mince meat and greens today, and they had no idea what they were. The other chickens are not so shy about such things. At least the birds knew what grains were.

    Yes, I had heard of Bruce Willis, and I do recall your review. Mind you, there is no way that you could have known, and it is not as if you didn’t faithfully report that there was something amiss. I’d say that gives you a keen eye for detail.

    Hehe! I like how you think. Sadly for Dame Plum, she’s getting through the rabbit population and keeping on top of the problem. Sir Poopy and Sir Scruffy used to spend their days sorting that business out, and a fine job they both did.

    This afternoon was so dismal weather wise that the fluffies retired inside and slept the afternoon away. Dogs sure can sleep. It’s an impressive achievement to be that relaxed. In more technical terms, they have plenty of slack.

    This morning the weather was only marginally more pleasant, and we pegged out the excavation site for the expanded greenhouse. Then we proceeded to remove sods from around the edges. The sods were put to good use on the path to the garden terraces way up above the house. There was one point along the path where the ground fell away a bit too steeply for our comfort levels. The path hadn’t slumped, it was more that the drop off the side of the path was a touch too steep.

    It was odd that the grass on top of the sods was quite wet, whilst the soil was merely damp. Nature is quite clever.

    Man, don’t we all lose the tags from things? I applaud your devil-may-care attitude, which I must add: I follow. It’s one thing to be super neat around the farm, but must I label everything? It’s probably a step too far.

    Jolly good shot ol’ chap! 😉 I’m sure the mower incident was an accident! Hehe!

    Stop it! I can resist sneaky book recommendations, maybe… 🙂

    Ah interesting. We shall get to the bottom of the “Blue Ribbon Cookbook” mystery. I will have to mention this book to my friends of the big shed fame given they compete in such things.



  37. Plum:

    Keep it up, Plum. Maybe you’ll make it to Countess, or even Duchess, someday.


  38. Chris:

    I will see about getting extra cartridges, paper, and an image drum. Thanks.


  39. Yo, Chris – I forgot to mention I read Mr. Greer’s essay, when I was at the library. And your responses. That was an interesting essay, about slack. LOL. What came to mind is when he was talking about the dish washing part. That one can be … competent (?) at it, which allows for slack time. Oh, yeah. What came to mind is counting down tills. Or, balancing tills. I sure did a lot of them, in my time. Any-who. Sometimes at the Club, I happen to see someone counting down their till. Often, it’s so inept, I actually feel pain. 🙂 . But I manage to keep my mouth shut.

    Actual guards and actual dogs can be bribed. In the past, there’s been a lot of problems with Pompeii and organized crime. There’s quit a system of pipelines, from ground to some posh store in a world capitol. But, it’s getting harder and harder for the crims. Thank the internet, for that.

    I wonder if we’ll ever get the full story on the grave robbing. Oh, like, say, motive? If there’s a motive that makes any kind of sense.

    The weather here has been pretty good for the seeds I put in the ground. On and off scattered showers, with occasional clearing. And, warmish.

    When I want to end a conversation, around here, I claim OMB. Old Man’s Bladder. And, yes, I have used it with that unnamed person you mentioned. Works a charm.

    Nothing wrong with random methodology. That’s a good term, and I’d say I use it in gardening. Throw something in the ground and see what happens. I’ve got quit the reputation (unearned) as a gardener, around here. Hmmm. No, I don’t have a green thumb. I just have a sense of adventure. 🙂

    I’m unfamiliar with the Buff Orpington, but I see they’re a nice Victorian breed. You can tell they would be a good dual purpose breed. They got booty. 🙂 . I wonder if the judges have that on their check list? “Got booty? Yes or no?”

    As with the poor, rabbits will always be with us.

    I watched a good documentary last night, “M. C. Escher: Journey to Infinity.” The Dutch artist. If you check out his stuff, I’m sure you’re familiar with it. The narration was from his letters and journals. And then there were several talking heads thrown in. Everyone from his sons to the musician, Graham Nash. Well worth a look. Even though I discovered that I had seen it in the past.

    Our community room and library are open again. And, if the You Know What numbers don’t go up, will remain so. So I had access to a computer when the library new list went up, last night. And, sure enough, “The Blue Ribbon Cookbook” is waiting for me on the shelf. I’ll pick it up, today. Report, tomorrow.

    The computer and operating system was unfamiliar, to me. But I used the old “push buttons til it does what you want it to.” Worked. Fancy that. Lew

  40. Hello Chris
    The media here has been discussing whether or not we have a class system still in this country. Of course we have and how. Anyway, the reason for me mentioning this is that a newspaper gave a whole list of the signs which indicate whether one is upper class or working class. It claimed that blue roses are upper class and pink and yellow roses are working class.

    I have also been fascinated by Jerusalem artichokes indicating their need for water. They droop right down and straighten up at once when watered. I have known no other plant that reacts so rapidly.


  41. Hi Pam,

    Now I’m confused. Should it be Lady Dame Plum, or more simply Dame Plum, or what about Lady Plum? So many options and I’m not really up to date on the latest title business.

    Good stuff. And I hope your printer gets more out of toner cartridges than the one I use. I think it gets something like 1200 pages, which sounds like a lot until you realise it is only a bit under 2.5 reams of paper. Ook!



  42. Hi Inge,

    What a strange issue for the media to discuss. Surely, the media can’t be serious? Even down here we have class issues. And because the Editor and I perform physical labour around the property, most people assume that we’re at the bottom of the social pecking order and I don’t discourage them. What a fine joke that is though. If I wanted to play social games, I could, there are just better things to do with my time and energy. Also the other interesting side effect from being viewed from that perspective is that people give themselves away over the most trivial of matters. It astounds me that people would act so and not realise it, but they do. With the occasional exception (where people annoy me) I am unfailingly polite and gracious with everyone I interact with. When I was a younger bloke, similar to your younger experience, I had interactions with old money folks, and that was how they comported themselves, and the good example was not lost on me. Only those who can afford to be gracious, can be gracious. It reflects very poorly upon individuals when they act otherwise, but try telling them that and you’ll hear dozens of excuses. So yeah, class issues are indeed a real thing. Doesn’t it make you wonder why the media would be pushing such a story now of all times?

    As a prediction, in the longer term many who are now in the comfortable classes will soon be pushed downwards. I do hope they learn good grace as it can only benefit them.

    Inge, sorry to say, but we grow both roses here! How confusing. 🙂

    And yes, Jerusalem Artichokes do the exact same thing here with hot days and water. It’s probably a survival strategy. You’d think that because they’re tubers, the plants would have reserves to call upon if conditions proved unfavourable, but no, they act differently. A mystery!



  43. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! It was one of Mr Greer’s finest essays. He does set the bar for essay excellence. The essay also produced more than a few chuckles and the Editor is now in the process of obtaining a poster for my birthday with the title: Your slack is under attack. It’s unfortunately true too, my slack genuinely is under attack.

    Dishwashing is a funny business. As a bit of background, we don’t have a dishwashing machine. Not only do the things heat water which uses a lot of energy, but the chemicals are quite harsh and I doubt the worms would enjoy or benefit from them. Maybe it is just me, but I also don’t like the feel of ceramics and cutlery which have been through that process. They feel dry to my hands, and of course I get a touch of eczema in the colder months so do I need the chemicals to challenge my skin?

    But yeah, I hear ya. Be good at dishwashing and use the extra time to do something else like, I dunno maybe enjoy life. Plenty of people haven’t got that memo.

    Far out! Counting tills. Yup, how hard could it be? Turns out that for some folks, it is a hard job. I may have mentioned the electshun job I usually work at? Last time, I was paired up with an older lady who was a bit slack and casual on the discipline and accuracy front, and it caused no amount of drama at the close. Fortunately between us, we finally sorted it all out and righted wrongs, and she had the decency to apologise, but still it just added extra hassle to an already super long work day.

    How good is the word inept? I once read a curriculum vitae where someone used the word ‘inept’ instead of more appropriate word ‘adept’. I must say that in that particular case, the facts spoke for themselves.

    Of course, I’d forgotten where Pompeii was located and the historical and cultural background. That makes sense.

    Exactly! Why did the dude allegedly rob the grave? For all we know it could have been some sort of weird mob activity (not even your dead are safe from us), or maybe the activity of Satanists, or maybe the crim was going old school and selling to scientists? So many questions, so few answers.

    Your weather sounds perfect. We were socked in by thick fog and drizzle all day long. What a day. Hopefully the sun makes a special guest appearance tomorrow? Mind you, I cannot complain as the lost hour was gratefully returned and I can truthfully say that the patterns are now restored. 🙂

    Hey, speaking of silly but quotable quotes, did you notice that the latest instalment of the Top Gun franchise is set to be released next month?

    Mate, it’s a good strategy and I applaud your common sense. It has been used elsewhere: Salman Rushdie.

    Your reputation is secure, because I don’t know what I’m doing either and just make it up as I go along. 🙂 Of course on the adventure you do learn a thing or two. Also, it is very possible that other people know even less…

    Hehe! I’m sure the judges are looking for exactly that. 🙂 I didn’t even know that the chickens were bred for showing, but it makes sense given how good they looked. Incidentally, chookflation is real and the two birds set me back $150. Hope the other birds don’t injure them… Prices for chickens had escalated, but then that trend has been consistent over many years. Way back when I started a point of lay chicken could be had for $20. Not now. Holy carp!

    I expect that if Western Civilisation took a nose dive, the rabbits would most certainly benefit.

    M. C. Escher produced some astounding works. It makes me wonder if he saw the world differently from other people. Or did he uncover some understanding of how the brain interprets images? Fascinating stuff.

    Good to hear that the library and community room are open again. Sure, lots of people have passed on, but it is possible that the whole thing was a normal cycle.

    Yes, I’d once mentioned to you that this was the old Commodore 64 users trick. Just keep pushing them keys until something happens. And if nothing happens, switch the thing off, wait a few moments, and then switch it back on again. Never fails to work. 🙂



  44. Yo, Chris – Your vote tabulating story is a good lead in to … You-Just-Can’t-Get-Good-Help anymore, or, maybe, It-Will-Remain-A-Mystery-A-Bit-Longer. I stopped by the library to pick up that interlibrary loan, to discover they had ordered the wrong book. They ordered the one that was already sitting on their shelf. So, once more into the breach …

    The inept / adept story is really funny. Freudian slip, anybody? 🙂

    I never had any interest in “Top Gun.” But I did catch a little bit of an old movie, at Elenor’s last night. “Reno Williams.” If your not familiar with it, well, it does have a martial arts theme. And looks like a lot of fun.

    Yikes! That really is chockflation. Sure you don’t want to raise a few chicks, on the side? Maybe the folks at the ag fair were discouraging, to eliminate competition?

    I do think some people’s brains work differently. Nature or nurture? Escher was quit ill as a small child. The documentary I saw recently about Dr. Oliver Sacks was interesting. He certainly saw the world and interacted with it, in a different way.

    Weren’t we just talking about … I received a catalog from the Great Courses folks, the other day. I don’t know why they send me so many catalogues. You think they’d catch on to the fact that I wait until they have their “every course $20, free shipping.” Any-who … they have a new one. “After the Plague.” “…how people across the Continent reckoned with and responded to the new political, economic, and social realities that emerged during the Black Death.” 24 lectures.

    I’m going to suggest they order a copy of it for inventory. Library service seems to be eroding. It used to be, if you put in a request that they buy something, you got an e-mail back, stating if they would, or wouldn’t. And, if they did order it, they’d put it on your hold list. That doesn’t seem to happen, anymore. And this time around, I’m going to call them on it. I wonder if it’s a matter of money, or what?

    And, from the wonderful world of archaeology, I see they’ve discovered a Roman malting oven, in Britain. And here’s a bit (pun?) about the folks who developed horse stirrups.

    You know, you’d think there were attempts at stirrups, here and there, at different times. But, on reflection, you do something a bit different and everyone goes bonkers. Exhibit A .. my putting a few plastic forks in my garden. Some people act as if it’s the strangest thing they’ve ever seen. (Must not get out much.) And what business is it of there’s if I do?

    I’d guess some bright Avar squadie came up with the idea, but until an Avar with a lot of clout adopted it, the idea probably went nowhere. Maybe he even quietly disposed of the squadie and claimed the idea as his own. That sort of thing happens in even modern times.

    H gets her bath, today. I asked Elinor if she wants me to cut out some of the mats. No, she wants to see if she can work some of them out, on her own. Won’t happen. I try and work on them when H sits on my lap in the evening. But she only puts up with being fiddled with, for so long. And not long at that.

    I’m heading down to the Club. One of the Ladies was cleaning out her pantry (she’s moving to North Dakota) and I have three bags of tinned stuff, to take down. Haven’t taken a look to see what it is, yet.

    Going to be a lot of changes, here at the Institution. Three vacancies, in the next couple of months. Our night manager is quitting, due to a family emergency. We’re getting a new Community Outreach person. AND, no more lazy shiftless Jack the maintenance guy. They didn’t can him. He’s going to be working only in the county north of us. New maintenance people seem to be friendly and competent. Lew

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