What it looks like, with the lights on

Anyone with eyes to see, knows that Triffids are easy to out run. Those predatory plants with the toxic stings, just aren’t all that fast on their feet. Zombies on the other hand, and fast zombies in particular, they can ruin your whole day. One minute you’re happily pulling weeds from the garden bed, and the next the undead are upon you biting, clawing and tearing at your delicate innards. And before you know it, you don’t ever have to go to work again. There’s a certain sort of appeal to zombies.

The hated alarm went off just after dawn. Sunlight poured through the bedroom window. The birds cheeped their cheery songs. Five weeks to the winter solstice and it looked like the day would be fine. The warm-ish air blowing through the open window at this time of year, wasn’t natural. Promises of coffee was the only bright note, and it wasn’t enough. The blankets were pulled higher to blot out the horror – early mornings are for other people.

Sandra was also tired. We’d spent the previous day painting the timber on the new greenhouse. Unfortunately for me, Sandra was resolute. Today was the day, we were to put the second coat of paint onto the greenhouse. Oooo! Was that a zombie lurking outside the bedroom window? No, it was Ollie wanting to come back inside the house again for his breakfast. Alright, alright! And thus another day was launched.

With only five weeks out from the winter solstice, the timber on the new greenhouse required painting. The hungry beast of a project also required a second coat of paint. For those who don’t know, the quality paint we chose does not cure in temperatures under 10’C / 50’F or when humidity is high. That description matches winter conditions here perfectly. So with time running out, the weather Gods chucked us a solid: Two glorious sunny and warm late autumn days. So we painted both days.

Now of course, earlier that week we’d been closely watching the weather forecast and trying to interpret what was to be for the conditions here. Proving that models are not the reality, the nicest forecast day ended up being the worst of the lot. A day of carpentry work on the greenhouse in the drizzle would have scared the average zombie, but not us, we soldiered on – like what the cold and flu remedy advertisements used to advise. Spare a thought for the two Kelpies, they got soaked crashing through the wet garden beds chasing rabbits and other varmints. Ollie hid under the cover of the solar panels safely out of the drizzle and curled up into a small ball, which is quite the feat for a large dog.

We’d manage to finish off the carpentry work and clean up the work site as the sun went down that day. It was still drizzling. We decamped into the house, lit the wood fire, had a coffee and Anzac biscuit, fed the dogs, dried off and all was good again with the world.

But then weirdly, the drizzle ceased and a warm wind began blowing down from the tropical north.

Overnight, with the constant warm wind, the timber on the greenhouse dried. From the bedroom window, the wind could be heard calling a promise of dried timber: Ah-whoo! Ah-whoo! Or was that awful noise a zombie? Dunno, but whatever the case, the next day was glorious and warm and we were able to do a bit more carpentry work and paint the entire construction. Oh! And one of the windows in the greenhouse had to be moved, it was in the wrong spot and somehow just didn’t look right.

Staying up all night is hardly a difficulty, but getting up early, now that’s a challenge. Certainly this character flaw stymied my career at the top end of town. Take it from me, asking the hard question: Why is the start time 9am? – that’s what is technically known as a ‘career limiting move’. Whatever, after a day of painting the greenhouse I was tired and alarmingly, went to bed early.

The next morning proved to be another glorious day. Disappointment is peering out the bedroom window hoping for zombies, but not finding any. We got up early again and painted a second coat of quality paint onto the structure. With winter rapidly approaching, the timber on the greenhouse is now protected from the weather. And we can now take a week off that project and enjoy a well deserved break.

Zombies by comparison, don’t require well deserved breaks or sleep. And I’d imagine that sleep might be needed this coming week because events should prove to be rather interesting:

  • Australian Federal Election (of both houses of Parliament): Check
  • Dodgy economic news: Check
  • Oil over US$110 a barrel: Check
  • New news of supply shocks (Indian wheat export ban): Check
  • Old news of supply shocks (Still no Monoammonium Phosphate imports): Check
  • Where’s my new tyre for the trailer? (still no sign): Check
  • Climate change: Check
  • Zombies: Nope – well, that’s some good news at least! Have to get to work then.
You see what I have to deal with here?

The above photo displays a rather typical winters day here: Thick cloud, rain, drizzle and generally all round cold weather. But we’re made of tough stuff, and despite the horror, we worked outside all day long in it.

In the more or less constant drizzle we listened to the music on the radio, and also installed the windows and did plenty of other items of carpentry on the new greenhouse.

Winter weather: When Women are real women, Men are real men, and Bull Arab’s are real Bull Arab’s

We’re beginning to get an appreciation for the size of the greenhouse and have begun chucking around ideas for the internal layout. At the moment, the plan is to have three raised beds for permanent and annual plants, shelving for bags of fertiliser and shelving for seed raising.

The greenhouse is beginning to take shape

Observant readers will note that in the above photo, the large window next to me. It was moved to the opposite end of the greenhouse. The location of the window in its original position negatively affected the overall composition of the building.

The next day of work involved further carpentry, relocating the window, and then putting a first coat of paint over all of the timber. The timber it should be noted is treated timber so it is quite resistant to rotting in the first place, but the paint will further protect the timber from moisture and the sun, and plus it just looks better. You can’t argue with that logic! Aesthetically sensitive readers will note the juxtaposition.

Towards the end of the day after the first coat of paint

Another days work in glorious late autumn weather, with the music rocking and the north wind blowing, we put another coat of paint on all of the timber. The paint looks very solid and we applied quite thick coats. It’s now touch dry, which is good because there is rain in the forecast. The structure required 9L / 2.4 gallons of paint, which was a lot more than we’d anticipated.

After the second coat of paint

Time off any work has been in short supply of late, and next week I hope to do very little – maybe. In the past fortnight I’ve had one day off work and we took it pretty easy that day and just kept things very local. As part of this quiet day we explored a walk at the local Mount Charlie Flora Reserve. It’s over in the eastern (and even less fashionable) part of the mountain range. The forest at the Flora Reserve was very different to the tall damp forest here because the more exposed aspect receives more wind and sun than here. The trees were shorter, the soil was thinner, but conversely the ground covers sure did contain more flowering plants.

The author and Ollie explore a walk at the Mount Charlie Flora Reserve

After the walk, we had a delightful lunch and then headed up to the main ridge of the mountain range to what must be one of the best lookouts in the state. We had the place to ourselves, except for that mountain bike rider who whizzed past at high speed.

Mount Charlie, Mount Teneriffe and Mount Robertson

It’s a terrific view and you can see (from left to right) Mount Charlie, the longer and wider Mount Teneriffe, and then the lower Mount Robertson. All very impressive looking. For those who are interested, the farm sits high up on the mountain saddle to the fore of Mount Teneriffe almost in the centre of the photograph.

Being in the centre of the mountain range has proven to be quite a protected location from the worst of the weather. Up on the mountain ridge, the wind blows constantly, and you can see how it dries out and burns the vegetation not clumped into the protective forests. It’s been a year or two since the timber was harvested and regrowth of anything there has been slow.

The difference between that location and ‘more protected from the elements locations’ are quite marked as the next photo clearly shows:

Not quite rainforest, but not far off it either

Observant readers will note the naturalised exotic Linden trees and their beautiful autumn foliage display.

The constant shifting between the wet and dry, cold and warmth, is perfect conditions for fungi. And they’re all over the place, and probably very toxic.

Lots of fungi!

Onto the leaf change:

Autumn foliage from the berry enclosure
Autumn foliage in the appropriately named sunny orchard
Plum patrols the Cherry Walk, part two
Japanese Maples are a favourite

Onto the flowers:

Salvia’s are still going strong
Salvia’s are worth growing so as to provide feed for the Honeyeaters
The Roses are still enjoying the conditions
Roses are stunning

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 9’C (48’F). So far this year there has been 376.6mm (14.8 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 365.4mm (14.4 inches)

45 thoughts on “What it looks like, with the lights on”

  1. Yo, Chris – Sure, Triffids are easy to outrun, as long as you didn’t look at the comet. Then you’re blind and likely to stumble into the things. Being accidentally locked in a bank vault, or in a coma, seemed to be the best way to avoid that fate.

    I think birds cheeping their cheery songs, early in the morning, is highly over rated.

    Sometimes, I think consulting chicken innards is more accurate than the local weather forecast. At least you get some nice chicken livers out of the deal, to fix with gravy, over rice. There are times when I pray the forecast is correct. That it will bucket down, and I’ll have a good excuse, not to work in the garden. Stay in and make biscuits, or something.

    You should have worked more retail. Volunteering for afternoon and evening shifts is appreciated by your co-workers. And you get to sleep in until 11am!

    The original placement of the window must have disturbed your sense of “Wa.” A Japanese term for harmony. Or maybe it was a Feng Shui, thing? 🙂 . So tell me, is the greenhouse an annex of the mead hall, or is the mead hall an annex of the greenhouse? Questions like that keep me awake. Inquiring minds want to know. Wow, the photo of Ollie and you, inside, really gives it a sense of scale. That is really a stately edifice. You could have “amber waves of grain,” in there.

    I will not make fun of your mounts. I guess they’re impressive, in their own way. That one photo looks like a clear cut.

    You shouldn’t post the gorgeous photos of the leaves. It just encourages the leaf peepers. You could charge admission.

    The roses are lovely, but enjoy them now. Winter is coming. “Gather ye rosebuds, while you may.” Obscure English poet from the 17th century, Robert Herrick. My gosh, that man had a honker on him. You’d think he’d be remembered more for that, than a bit of poetry. 🙂 Lew

  2. Hello Chris
    Your obsession with zombies is becoming worrying; are you sure that you are not calling them to you?
    Great photos (thank goodness they are not of zombies.

    Is there a limit to how high or large sheds, greenhouses etc can be without planning permission? There are limits here though I don’t carry them in my head; I would have to look them up.

    Huge storm last night which has topped up my pond beautifully.


  3. Hi Inge,

    Oooo! I’d not considered that aspect of writing before. They do say that words have power. Zombies are probably not the sort of power you ever want to encounter, although if the films are anything to go by, it’ll be over quickly, and then you won’t know any better.

    Thanks. And I shall pass on your praise to the Editor who nowadays takes most of the photos.

    It depends upon zoning, and whether there is a dwelling upon the property, and then there are specific set back from roads and property boundaries to consider (plus let’s not forget distance from the dwelling). I do recall you mentioning years ago of the clear out of people in your part of the world whom appeared to be allegedly residing on property without dwellings. That is apparently happening down here too with the Tiny House folks from what I’ve heard. I read every word of the dull planning words and note that these days people employ other people to do that application stuff. A hundred square metres, as long as it does not contain animals – which is more than needful.

    Isn’t it a lovely thing to go into summer with good reserves of water. 🙂 It rained here again today. What a year.



  4. Hi Lewis,

    That book about the aggressive plants left me with an unnatural fear of fireworks. 🙂 Not many people made it out of that story with their eyesight intact. I can’t recall the details all that well, but I’m assuming the vast majority of people died from misadventure afterwards? Does that match your recollection? There was some suggestion of plague, but that may have been something to do with the Triffids and plentiful supply of bodies. Certainly sci-fi books were interesting in those days.

    Here we can only agree, the early birds are the most annoying! 🙂

    Far out, late this afternoon the heavens opened and delivered quite the downpour. The intensity of the rain was almost tropical as if it were summer rain. Fortunately two warmer days has produced dry to the touch paint, and so it appears to have survived the downpour well. We appear to be set for a few dry days in a row, and that would be nice because it has rained everyday (yes, even the warm two days) for almost the past fortnight. And that was my exact thinking, I was tired and didn’t want to work that third day, but events just kind of took over. Outside right now is quite cold, so it is possible that from here on for the next twelve or fourteen weeks that painting outside would be an impossibility. Hope you get a chance to have some quiet time and enjoy baking those biscuits.

    A wise solution, yes the afternoon shift. Good one. When I did that stint on a production line for the computer disks, they put me on the morning shift, and that thing started at 7am. Back then the trains didn’t run nearly as early as they do nowadays and you often ended up on either the first or second train. I don’t really know how well our species is wired for early starts? Are people faking the enjoyment of that? It’s possible that they have little choice in the matter.

    Wa is a very complicated word, worthy of an interweb rabbit hole, which I dived down. Makes you wonder what an Aussie Wa equivalent would be? We don’t really have such a concept though and whilst the suburbs do work with all of the current conditions are maintained, they can be a bit of a shambles. I tend to enjoy pleasing aesthetics with the more industrial aspects of the farm. It always surprises me when I see a very interesting looking rural property and yet off to the side is some gawd awful looking flat pack shed. What were they thinking, is often the question which floats to my mind.

    Ah, a curious question. Well I could grow the hops in there (although it would be a bit wasteful of the space), and that would suggest an annexe of the darker shed. But I tend to believe that the greenhouse will be the more frequented than the mead hall, and even the ale-wife may agree to this observation! 😉

    Oh no, since emerging from the former greenhouse, the Japanese ginger Myoga plant has gone toes up. Not good as it was doing very well before this time. The wikipudding page suggests the plant is very cold hardy, but has something known as: ‘specific shade requirements’ – what the heck does that mean? Sounds like hard work. The plant is probably important enough to replace. The more usual ginger appears to be doing OK.

    The photo was taken from a clear cut. That part of the mountain range is used to grow softwoods, Oregon / Douglas Fir in particular. It won’t grow well in many parts of the state, but it sure grows well up there. I believe that was the third harvest from that area (probably not counting the harvest of the original Eucalyptus forest).

    Sure, the mountains are unimpressive, but when you reach 250+ million years old, look as good, you will not! Hehe!

    I know, the leaf tourists are getting more intense every year, and we just don’t have the infrastructure for such vast volumes of people in such a short period of time. The colder winter weather tends to scare away a lot of newcomers, but I have wondered of late whether some folks have permanently moved into their former week-enders? I’m not sure, but I’m guessing that has happened, not much else could account for the higher volumes of people I’m seeing up here.

    He’s not wrong, and yes seize the day indeed:

    “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
    Old Time is still a-flying;
    And this same flower that smiles today,
    Tomorrow will be dying.”

    Thanks for the continuing education. He, to quote Monty Python, must have come from nose city!

    Lewis, you are like super-bad for mentioning my one true weakness – scrabble. It’s a vicious game which I cannot hope to win. It’s not fair you know!

    No, I’ve never watched the film ‘Idiocracy’, not for any good reason, but maybe one can live in hope, and just hope that we don’t all muck it up, which is probably a very likely outcome. The gentle art of communication must be under a concerted attack, considering the reluctance to teach kids how to write by hand and spell correctly. It does no one any good to be functionally illiterate.

    Nabbed a copy and thanks for reminding me. How postage can be free from the UK is something of a mystery to me.

    Oooo! That’s a brutal review. Shame, the premise did sound interesting. I’d imagine nothing could survive such an impact? I believe the moon is orbiting ever so slowly further out from the planet? It would have been a complicated place to be when the Earth’s gravity first captured the moon. Yikes!

    Very funny about Dex. Best not to have him as a mate as it kind of ends up badly for everyone. Although the series name is suggestive of a different outcome.

    The Editor is more of a fan of the Bronte Sisters than Austen. I bought her some leather bound and beautifully printed compendium of a few of the more famous Bronte sisters books for her birthday. Even the edges of the pages were gold flecked. It’s a lovely looking book (it was second hand and in great condition) and they don’t make ’em like that any more.

    Ah well, you’re probably right about the use of that Crusaders grenade. Merlin would have killed for such weapons. 🙂 It’s funny how people think we’re all so much more advanced and stuff, but the ancients were pretty clever too. I’d read about the Greek fire, and you wouldn’t want to encounter that on a wooden ship. And using the plague bodies that way sends a strong message.

    It’s all a continuum you know, and as adults used to say to me when I was a kid: There’s no prizes. Talk about keeping it real. Well done with saving the soil. I’m really impressed with that, and it will save you years of work by inoculating the new soil. We’re going to have to do a similar thing with soil in the greenhouse, and you may recall that a long time ago we put away a small (yeah, maybe not so small) pile of compost and mulch. It’s been happily cooking away ever since. I noticed broad-leaf weeds have begun growing in it of late. It might be ready.

    Good stuff pacing yourself. I went to bed rather weary and tired last evening, and the blog took about an hour and twenty minutes to write. This morning I re-read it and was mildly pleased. Too much work.

    When are you going to plant out the new stock tanks?



  5. Hello Chris,
    I live across the river from JMG, and I really enjoy reading your comments on Ecosophia, and this blog.
    I wondered if you know of a musician living in Malmsbury named Lucy Wise. Her most recent single is “Broadbeans” so I bethought you might have something in common. Lucy has played a house concert in my home on one of her tours in the US.

  6. Yo, Chris – Been decades since I read “Day of the Triffids”. But, even though I’m sure a lot of people died after being struck blind, through misadventures (similar to that chapter in King’s “The Stand”), the films mostly showcased people being done in by Triffids.

    Left to our own devices, as a species, (or, left without our devices), I think we’d pretty quickly revert to a up with the sun, to bed with the sun, regime. There’s probably an evolutionary advantage, to that. Those who couldn’t “get with the suns program” would probably be swiftly sorted out of the gene pool. Maybe.

    Flat pack sheds. Cheap, fast or good. Pick two. 🙂

    That is very sad about the Myoga. Advice on how to tend to a sick plant always makes me bonkers. Might be too much water … or not enough. On the other hand, it might be too much sunlight … or not enough. Might be nutritional. Which nutrients? Anybodies guess. But I must say, a shot of worm bin juice may work wonders.

    Well, what can I say about your part of the world being “discovered.” Someone shot their mouth off. 🙂 . In general, there are more people in the world, and they’re crowding closer together. And, climate refugees are a real thing. Even within my own country. The little town that my Idaho friends live in, is getting a dollar store!

    “Moonfall” had some interesting aspects, bad acting aside. I don’t know how much to say, spoilers, and all. But it turns out the moon is hollow. It’s actually a huge alien (or not so alien) superstructure.

    I finished off “Sanditon” season two, last night (there will be a season three), and watched the first episode of “Dexter: New Blood.” Hmmm. Well, I hope they work on the opening. Usually, with series I watch the opening, a time or two, and then fast forward through it, in later episodes. I think I watched it every time, in the old series. It was so … pedestrian. And yet just so creepy. And what’s with the perpetually burning fire pit, in his front yard? Seems like a terrible waste of wood. And, OK. Dexter has chickens, goats and a pig. Is he ever going to collect an egg, milk a goat or stick a pig? And being out in the woods, where things “red in tooth and claw” wander about, the housing of said animals seems rather slap dash. Wouldn’t last a week. But, I’ll watch a second episode, and see how it goes.

    What to put in the stock tank. One of the Master Gardeners e-mailed me, and said she had two extra yellow zucchini plants. I’ll take them. And, I’ve got seed for green zucchini, so I’ll probably plant two of those. At one end, I plan to put up some chicken wire trellis, and will probably put in scarlet runner beans. And, I’ll try and leave space for a tomato. The yearly plant sale is this month, and last year they had extra interesting tomato plants. I may get another tank. I think there’s going to be an extra. And I did loose a bit of square footage, between my old plot that was disassembled, and one tank. I’ll have to figure out exactly how many square feet I lost. In case I need to beat anyone into submission, with statistics. 🙂

    Three people at the Club, gave me a total of $80 for the pantry. So I’ll probably make an expedition to the cheap(er) food stores, tonight. The thrill of the hunt! Lew

  7. Chris,

    Ugh. Routers with a life expectancy of 2 years? Dumb. Glad you’re paying up for better quality. We do a lot of paying up for quality as well. I thoroughly detest the “designed to be tossed in the trash bin in 2 years” culture.

    The teenager across the street recently told her mother that she (mother) is old because she doesn’t understand modern music. I told her mother, ” If you’re old, what does that make me? I’m old enough to be your father?” But maybe, just maybe, I have acquired a smattering of wisdom over the years. Perhaps.

    “Yup, water it be a problem for sure. Hope you’re OK?”
    Okay as in yes, I/we are doing well? Or about the City’s water thingy? If the latter, I’m still grumpy. More information has been released. Basically, City Parks uses 4% of the total water usage in the city. Nearly all of the usage is in a 4 month period. Per the initiative, Parks is exempt from the rationing IF it is determined that it is an emergency to protect the Parks and Rec infrastructure. In other words, they’re exempt. Further, the reasons for this: the City wants enough water going over the waterfall to attract tourists and keep the hotels filled for tax revenue. And enough water in the river so that kayak business can bring in tourists…

    Also, on the COUNTY website: in 2000 (22 years ago), the average person used 217 gallons of water per day. The State average was 114 gallons per day per person. A stated goal is to have us all drop to that 114 gallons per day in the City. So I did a calculation based on our water usage from 2021 which included 6 weeks of intense heat and extreme drought for the entire year. With 3 adults in the household, WE BEAT THAT GOAL. Yet, with the proposed standards, I would be out of compliance from June through September because I watered for longer durations than they want.

    My and some neighbors’ biggest concerns are: this is draconian, all at once – why can’t this be eased into over a period of 3 or 5 years. Also, how will it be enforced? Will the City Water people send out a Water Cop if I’m using water at 2:00 p.m.according to their viewing my meter? Jeepers, that’s when we wash dishes, do laundry, take showers, not use outdoor water. Or will they hire people to drive around and look for violations? This has NOT been addressed in the proposal. Whinge completed.

    I forgot to mention that we received an additional 6 or 7mm of rain Thursday. Things are very green. The pollen is thriving, too.

    I hear you about those “slow start” days. There are days in which the promise of a perfect cup of coffee doesn’t provide the proper incentive to move. I rely on Avalanche to motivate me on those days so that she can attend to “business” outdoors.

    And alarm clocks? Before I retired I wanted to smash mine into itty bitty pieces each day. Ony one thing stopped me: I’m too cheap to buy a succession of alarm clocks due to any stupid acts on my part. Maybe that’s some of the wisdom I may have acquired? 😉

    Sounds like you got a great break with the weather regarding your greenhouse project! Good job! Nice way to sneak in another Hitchhiker’s Guide reference with that photo. 🙂

    Nice photo of the mountains. I also enjoyed the photos that showed the contrasts in the type of plant growth in different areas of the mountains.

    Plum patrols the Cherry Walk. Meanwhile “Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.” Taken, of course, from this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z15pxWUXvLY

    Fall colors and roses are always nice to see.


  8. Hi Peter,

    Welcome to the discussion. 🙂

    Thanks for the music. Just goes to prove that the world is a very small place.

    Malmsbury is at the northern end of this council area. A lovely town, very aesthetically pleasing. Did Lucy say anything about the town itself? They have a botanical garden which dates back to the gold rush era and let’s not forget the bakery. Hmm, so good.

    Do you ever get the chance to hang out with Mr Greer? He’s cool.



  9. Hi DJ,

    It makes no sense to me that story. The devices must be so hard to make in the first place, it’s somehow very irresponsible. Oh well. The one we ended up with has a label describing it as Industrial quality. So far it seems to be living up to the reputation, but when it finally packs it in, we’ll know. Far out, how much stuff is like that?

    Hey, have you begun any new wood carving projects?

    That’s funny, perhaps her mother has just stopped and is happy with the music she enjoys? As a certified old fella myself I still listen to the youth music station, but I enjoy the challenge and journey that it takes me on. I don’t like all of the music, but some of it is pretty good.

    We went out for dinner locally tonight and ended up having a great chat with some lovely neighbours. It’s nice to have known people across so many years. Lovely people.

    Went into the big smoke today, and when picking up the coffee grounds ended up having a chat with a lady about the life, the universe and you know, everything. The conversation struck up because she was curious about what the heck was going on with the bins of coffee grounds, otherwise I would not have spoken with the lady because it’s not socially appropriate to do so. However, she did start the conversation, and you may have noticed that I’m chatty? 🙂 Takes one to know one is what I say!!! Anyway, there’s a bit of trauma in the population down here due to the prolonged lock downs, and the conversation swung around to her kids screen addictions. It was a bit of mental first aid really, but otherwise a very pleasant conversation. And I’m in a good place on that front and can help in small ways from time to time.

    DJ, that wasn’t just a little whinge, that was a fine and outstanding first class rant. 🙂 Well done you.

    Heard a joke the other day, it goes like this.

    Two people having a conversation:
    – Quick maths, what’s seven times six?
    – Thirty!
    – That’s the wrong answer.
    – Yeah, but it was quick.

    I thought it was funny. 🙂

    So, some quick maths. 114 gallons per person per day = 433.2L

    Far out dude, during the last drought, the population of Melbourne got close to 155L per person per day (about 41 gallons). We have only 125kL in storage, 114 gallons per day for two people works out to be 144 days of storage. Water is a precious resource down here and we treat it as such, and we have all the gardens to consider as well.

    And just to truly alarm you, the water bills told a story, but there was a lot of encouragement to dob in people flouting the limits. It was dire, like seriously really very bad.

    Good to hear that your rain has picked up a bit.

    Avalanche is wise, listen to Avalanche and her important canine business. I often make the joke to the Editor that the Kelpies are upon important Kelpie business. I’m sure it is to them.

    You’ve got heaps of wisdom: Note to self, don’t break alarm clock: Check. Always an important consideration.

    🙂 I was hoping you noticed the Hitchhikers reference. Truth to tell ya, even if nobody gets the music reference, or the little jokes peppered here and there, chucking ’em in brings a smile to me.

    How lush did the area with the linden trees look? It is hard to describe the sense of relief that nearing the end of leaf change brings.

    Thanks for the ear-worm, and I grew up watching that show. Lot’s of strange things going on, very hard to explain. They had great voices.



  10. Hi Lewis,

    I noticed that on utoob there was a film adaption of the John Wyndham story. A little bit more than just a tad of creative license and story bending had taken place, but we mustn’t be purists. Your words matched my memory of the BBC series which (again from memory) followed the book quite closely.

    Over coffee this morning at a cafe in the big smoke, I read the farm essay in the Margaret Atwood book (it being towards the end of the book and all). It was a lovely essay which candidly appeared to me to be a very moving tribute to Graeme. Sometimes our darkest hours can produce the finest of works. Please indulge me a short quote:

    “… no matter how many around us have died; and to live in the present is to accept our inevitable death. Yet if you aren’t alive to the present, how can you live your life to the full?

    Beautiful words, and again I must express my thanks for the book recommendation.

    I tend to agree with you about people getting into a more natural rhythm with the seasons and light. Of course we had fires, and always someone, or someone’s must have kept a watch – dogs would be a big help in that regard. You and I would probably be volunteers for the night watch group – being inclined to owl like patterns, after all. 🙂

    Brr, it is cold tonight. 39’F outside right now, and a little bit chilly feeling. We got home late tonight as we’d worked in the big smoke, but ate dinner locally (on the way home). Met up with some lovely neighbours (they were departing as we entered the restaurant) who joined us and we shared a drink, all very pleasant.

    I guess there is a place for flat pack sheds, but the structure is usually some form of pressed sheet metal with thin channels. Not a fan. It does make you wonder if people see the cheap sheds as they are, or as they imagine them to be? I’ve wondered about that ability to delude, or maybe it is merely a representation of inherent low expectations? Dunno, it’s a mystery.

    Did my civic duty this morning, and got in ahead of Saturday. The queues are unappealing and I have other plans.

    There was a fantastic article on growing Myoga (Japanese Ginger) down under, and it turns out, the plant has probably just gone dormant with the first frost – and that the growing conditions here are almost perfect for the plant (if I avoid the sun and keep the ground moist over summer). The first will be easy, the second one, maybe easy, maybe not.

    Worm juice is definitely a good idea for plants. I agree it is a top notch tonic.

    Having the blog does present some difficulties on that front for sure. But there were some much larger interests which induced the leaf change tourists. And that is true about climate refugees, and I know someone who applies that name to her family and they packed off to a very rural area. On the other hand, I have heard it said that there are some heavy weights lurking around this particular mountain range and development is discouraged. As to whether the claim is true or not, who knows, but a blanket ban on wind turbines on this mountain range has legal force, and it is one of the few exceptions in the state.

    Are your friends excited by this prospect of the dollar store?

    An intriguing fictional concept with the moon, and probably to humanities vast disadvantage. I’d imagine that some pesky physicist would have done the maths and spotted that lack of substance. 🙂

    Hey, I spoke to a lady this morning – a purely random chance conversation – and she looked genuinely worried that her kids had become addicted to screens during the lock downs. I’ve been hearing this story quite a bit lately. It’ll probably be a very big club, eventually. The lady was candidly canvassing for ideas, and I suggested getting the kids out in the real world and seeing that there is life beyond the screens. It sounded a bit lame, but nothing else came to mind. Have you been seeing this too?

    Yeah, the original Dex opening was super creepy. They just got that one right, and only once mucked around with the sequence just after the baby was born – everything was even more off. And yeah, you’re right, the animals were there for looks and background story. You’ve seen my chicken enclosure and I would not keep fowl in such conditions as depicted on the show. However, having said that, I have seen such arrangements being used and am not excited by them – but it is none of my affair.

    The fire pit plays a role. 🙂 Few things are there by chance. I will add that I struggled to see the storage for the firewood.

    Do yellow zucchini grow into the huge marrows like the green variety? And do they taste the same? You won’t regret the beans. I’m genuinely impressed with that plant, so productive.

    Did you strike down any feral bargains for the Club? Enjoy the hunt!



  11. Hi Chris,
    Wow – the greenhouse looks amazing. Impressed with both you and the editor. Of course I have to give Ollie his due supervising and all.

    We just completed a week of hot weather – way above normal but are back to normal and in fact will be below normal for a few days coming up. Between the wind and heat I couldn’t get the transplants in until yesterday. Of course I’ve cut back quite a bit. I am concerned that we are getting into the same rain pattern as last summer. After a decent amount of rain in April we’ve only had less than an inch so far in May with not much in the forecast. Like last year the rain missed us on Sunday and not by much.

    My fellow retiree’s funeral was Saturday. As he has lived in the town all his life as well as being a teacher for over 30 years and active in orther organizations it was very well attended. It’s interesting learning new things about people even though you’ve known them for decades. Another of my close teacher friends that I had lost contact with came and we spent lunch afterwards catching up.

    I brought up the Margaret Atwood book at my new book club (and this one actually reads books) and none of them even though they are all avid readers had read any of her novels.

    I have to laugh at your description of getting up early as I am completely the opposite.

    Unfortunately one of my granddaughters has gotten quite addicted to her phone since the pandemic. She has decided that her mother is evil incarnate and decided after being homeschooled all along she would go to school. The school which is very affluent requited smart phones and iPads. Before that the twins only had flip phones. Cecily feels that so much of this is out of parents control now.

    Hope the tourists don’t get too out of hand. That would drive me crazy.


  12. Yo, Chris – And, in news of the World … Fish and chips shops in England, are in dire straights. Can’t get fish, can’t get oil … at least without pricing themselves out of the market. In a related article, pizza companies (which are ubiquitous, here) have also fallen on hard times. Mostly due to delivery person shortages. Several have resorted to outsourcing the delivery. But they are also pricing themselves out of the market, due to rising food costs. And, the president of Sri Lanka announced that the country only had one day’s supply of petrol, on hand. A preview of things to come?

    And, in news closer to home, Prof. Mass has a post about our third La Nina year. A forecast (prediction?) for our summer weather. I think we can forget any large tomatoes. “The Daily Impact” has a newish post, “The Great American Recycling Myth.”

    But to your epistle … “Day of the Triffids” has been filmed, three times. Twice as a TV mini-series, and once as a 1963 film. I’m pretty sure I saw the film, at the 25¢ Saturday matinee, at our local neighborhood movie palace. And maybe again, on some TV late night Creature Feature. Speaking of Creature Features, last night I made a big bowl of popcorn and watched “Let the Wrong One In.” An Irish vampire comedy. It was a hoot. Pretty good. Better than “What We Do in the Shadows.” 🙂

    Atwood is a wonder. I laughed out loud at some of their adventures in their back-to-the-landers, stint. The decline and death of her husband, was indeed sad. But her outlook on coping was admirable, and offers a roadmap to others in the same situation. I ran into Mike’s sister-in-law in the hall, the other day. She says they’re to the stage of telling Mike stories and having a good laugh over some of the funny things he said. His nephew, who must be 16 or 17, is looking a lot less “stricken.” Poor kid. Might be the first time he’s had to help clean out the digs, of someone he knew well.

    Hmm. Maybe there was some genetic selection, for folks to stay up all night, and keep the fires going? More likely, it went something like this. Even the Nethanderals showed signs of taking care of injured members of their groups. Maybe they said something like, “Well, you can’t hunt anymore. But if you keep the fires going at night, we’ll keep you fed. You can sleep during the day, in the back of the cave. Just watch out for the bear.” 🙂

    Flat pack sheds can be OK. As long as they’re blue 🙂 . Pay more, and you can get one tarted up a bit. Now, a fellow here in town makes a pretty good living, building garden sheds out of recycled material. Barn board, and such. They are nice looking. He even hauls a selection to garden shows, around the region, on a flat bed truck.

    So there’s hope for the Myoga. Go, Myoga! Well, I caught myself in a bit of silliness. Year before last, I had a lot of Bachelor’s Buttons, AKA Corn Flowers. I saved seed. Not much of it germinated. So, I bought another pack, a couple of weeks ago. Reading the fine print, it said, “Put the packet in the fridge for five days.” Silly me. I didn’t realize they needed to be striated. I’m going to have to start checking all seeds, I save, to see if that is the case. Well, you learn something new, everyday. Or, I do.

    Oh, I didn’t think it was your blog so much (fine as it is) that encouraged a lot of leaf peppers. Probably more the fault of the Councils. Could be worse. See: Japanese mania for cherry blossom viewing. Blossom opening is announced along with the weather report.

    Well, the heavy hitters in your mountain range may be able to hold off progress, for awhile. But when they pass on and the kids get greedy … change might come.

    My Idaho friends are quit excited about the new dollar store. Given they have to drive an hour, in either direction, to access another one. They’re ex-son-in-law, is not excited. He doesn’t like change. I’m sure the one local grocery store isn’t very excited, either.

    Our NPR (National Public Radio) website has had several articles on kids and screens. Advice is out there. LOL. Take the kids somewhere where there is no reception. Seems to be a trope in a lot of films, these days. Quelle Horreur!!!

    Well, Dex goes through firewood so fast, the only storage he seems to need is a pile with a tarp thrown over it. A tarp that also plays a role. Oddly, so far (2 episodes) I’m having trouble engaging with this series. Maybe I’m just older … and softer.

    Yes, the yellow zucchini grow as large (or can) as the green ones. They taste the same. But, as I remember, they’re a bit “softer?” The skin is not quit so thick. And, as promised, the Master Gardeners did bring me two, this morning. I’ll plant them, this afternoon.

    Last evening I got out and planted the green zucchini seed. Weeded the strawberries and horseradish. Weeded and thinned the veg rows. More of that, tonight.

    I went hunting and gathering food for the Club pantry, last night. There is hardly tinned anything for less than $1, anymore. 🙁 . But, I still managed to get four bags of stuff, for around $70. Took it into the Club this morning, and had a good round of biscuits and gravy. Had a good conversation, with Julia.

    The Master Gardeners are having their big spring sale, this weekend, at our local fair grounds. Next Tuesday, there may be odd things left over, that they’ll bring to us. Lew

  13. Chris,

    New carving projects? Are you trying to divert me from continuing a perfectly good rant? 😉 We have an ongoing “Barking Dog Challenge” that requires the addition of a new element each month. The first month was, you guessed it, a barking dog. This month we add an inanimate object and place it and the dog on a base, unattached to the base, just sitting. Future months will add a human, another dog, a fence or shrubbery (I might add a knight that says “Knee”). I’m nearly done carving my inanimate object: a box that got a bit crumpled and broke open. A small head that I previously carved, then started to turn into a miniature bowl with a face, then Avalanche chewed on it, this will be attached to the “hole” in the box as if it got knocked out when the box broke open.

    Meanwhile, our club’s outdoor event is the 3rd through 5th of June. I’ll be teaching a class, so I need to actually do the project I’m going to teach. This upcoming meeting on the 21st is also our monthly “Show and Tell” for projects we’ve been working on. I’ll probably take in a walking stick I’ve slowly been carving.

    Monday, the Princess and I had some shopping to do for supplies for her to take to her brother this week. So we took advantage of some rare time alone together and stopped for an enjoyable pint and feed. The food was good, the ale was good, the company was the best.

    Avalanche and I went on a 4km walk today. Then I mowed the back yard, which is large. After two weeks of rain and warmish weather, the grass was long and thick. Avalanche decided she was still full of energy, so we played some. Then after dinner, she was still full of energy, so it was another play session, mostly tug of war, but she sprinted several laps around the yard. She’s keeping me young.

    Nice maths joke!

    We actually averaged closer to 95 or 100 gallons per person per day over the last year, meaning we were in the 32 gallon per person per day range for over half the year. I’m about to start removing some water-needy landscaping on the slope, then replacing with regional dryland grasses, overseeding the other parts of the lawn with dryland grass seed. Hopefully this will reduce the lawn’s need for water by another 40% or so.

    The linden areas looked grand. Very lush. The American variety of linden is also called basswood. Most of my carving is with basswood. The park in which we held our outdoor meetings during the shut downs has a lot of basswood trees. They have a pleasant fragrance when in bloom.

    I’m watching an ice hockey game on the telly. One of the teams is the Colorado Avalanche. Somebody kept hearing her name on the telly, so she was watching the game for a few minutes. As neither food nor walks were forthcoming from the telly, she got bored and wandered off onto her bed and fell asleep.


  14. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, maybe. Was it really that obvious? 🙂 Things on that water front got pretty bad down here, and you might recall that the year of the Black Summer fires (two years ago), our water reserves for the house fell as low as about 25kL, which isn’t all that much. There was a little bit for emergency watering for the gardens and of course fire fighting, but I was truly glad when the rains returned. The trees in the orchards are a bit larger these days so they may be able to better forage for water in dry years, plus the canopy casts more shade over the ground and also reduces evaporation. But by and large the fruit trees survive without watering, but have had to be trained for that outcome over many years. It would be hard for commercial orchards to suddenly lose access to water. How are things in Yakima on that front?

    Thanks for the laughs and Monty Python is always worth quoting. Dude, we got some bad extended family news on the Editors last evening, although frankly the news from that direction is rarely good. So yeah, feeling a bit flat today. Hey, all this talk of shrubberies lead me on a interweb rabbit hole which ended with poets of all things with the Warwickshire Coterie. Those Monty Python folks sure knew their history. 😉

    Surely Avalanche was assisting with the overall composition? That’s how it seems to me.

    It’s good to have a point of focus for the meetings. And if I’m not mistaken, those dates are but a fortnight away.

    How’s your ladies brother doing? Your journey sounded delightful, and I hear you about the company.

    Dogs are a true gift like that, and they sure are active. On work days, I sit at a computer, or stand around stretching whilst talking on the phone, and the fluffies hang around. But in order for them to settle down and wait, I have to walk them first. It’s very interesting how they’ve trained me just so – as no doubts Avalanche is training you.

    Glad you enjoyed the maths joke, and did you note the little nod to Hitch hikers guide buried in words?

    Mate, at this juncture, my brain is easily confused, but I’m sure you meant to type ‘per household’ instead of ‘per person’? Otherwise, you’d be a creative accounting genius and can prove that two plus two really does equal five? Or perhaps my mathematics skills have entered into a new phase – the woeful years! 🙂

    Your choice of grass is interesting indeed. At the risk of displeasure, some nitrogen fixing flowering plants interspersed would be a good idea too. I have heard credible reports that Alfalfa root systems can reach down as deep as 20m+. Of course the overall aesthetic scheme may shock some folks. I tend to have vetch and clover growing in amongst the grasses too.

    Basswood is an intriguing tree, and one which I will keep an eye out for. It would probably grow very well here. Shade giving hardwood tree species are always very useful and interesting. Hadn’t realised it was related to the linden.

    Avalanche is a sensitive canine of the finest breeding and may have thought that the television was playing games with her.



  15. Hi Margaret,

    Ollie sets a cracking pace for the construction of the greenhouse, and of course being something of a gentleman he is all too happy to supervise. Oh, that is of course he was rather unhappy supervising the day we spent out in the drizzle working on the out-building. He wasn’t too keen to voice his opinions of the work done that day. Instead he sulked, and huddled up into a tiny ball to keep warm and stuck under the protection of the adjacent solar panels trying to keep dry.

    Picking the time to plant out delicate seedlings is difficult under the best of conditions, but variable weather is not that at all. Fingers cross that you don’t get a repeat of last years dry growing conditions. All of your rain is down here you know? It’s rained at some point on every day for the past fortnight – even the days when the sun shone. It rained today. How far out does your rainfall forecast go?

    You didn’t mention the things you learned at the funeral, and so I hope that the eulogy did not contain any surprises? Some people can be very strange at such times and from time to time you do encounter eulogies (or wedding speeches for that matter) where the people go wildly off-topic, or even worse speak about themselves. Public speaking it should be noted, is a skill. Glad you caught up with your old friend who’d you’d lost contact with. That’s always an interesting experience, isn’t it? And you can slot right back into the old patterns and conversations, except everyone’s now older. Situations of course differ, but sometimes there are good reasons for why people drift apart, yeah.

    Had some bad news from the Editors extended family last night. All a bit of a bummer really.

    Margaret, here I too have to ‘fess up as I had not read any of the authors novels either. I was aware of the author because Sandra watched the Handmaids Tale – a very dystopian future that one.

    Blessed are those who get up early, for they shall enjoy the rare quality of the early morning sunlight, the bird song, and the others of their kind. Just please keep quiet in consideration of those whom are not so wired. 🙂 In the late 1990’s we stayed at a bed and breakfast in a quaint sea side town in the far west of the state. Lovely town. The owner of the bed and breakfast wanted us up early, and so the horror banged on metal bins, and then proceeded to whinge through breakfast. Can’t say that after that experience we’d ever go back. We prefer self contained accommodation nowadays, but really haven’t travelled much in the past decade.

    Ook! Sorry, but that sounds like a problem, and nobody knows what sort of messages are getting into the kids heads via screens. I hear things spoken of, and it’s a worry. The thing with addictions is that the person so addicted has to find their way out of the hole they’ve dug. If Cecily wants to test the depths of the addiction, take the device away and watch the rage, but I’m being dead serious, be super careful afterwards. I’ve heard stories. Best not to get addicted in the first place.

    They drive me crazy. Yup. Nice for the tourists, but does there have to be so many? Surely it can’t be enjoyable for them?



  16. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, the UK has long been a food importer, so the sunflower oil issue from the east of europe does not surprise me. The UK has the same landmass there as the state I live in, but with 15 times the people and not as easy a climate. When I was a kid, fish and chip shops were not nearly so quick to replace their frying oils as they are nowadays. A sensitive gastronomist may suggest that back then, they used everything including the squeak. A clever farmer in that country might want to get back to growing Canola / oilseed rape. They used to do so, and probably will have to again.

    Not a good time to be in Sri Lanka. With the news brewing in that country, I’d expect trouble, lots of trouble. I knew someone who travelled there during the insurrection (as you do when you possibly hadn’t thought it through properly and the airfares were cheap) and by all accounts it is a beautiful country. Will they do tea for export, or food for internal consumption? What a dilemma.

    The good Professor forecast does indeed sound like larger tomatoes are off the plate. After the summer here, I’m kind of getting grateful for any tomatoes. There are actually more plants than ripe fruit, and the fruit that did grow – all varieties – had a mouldy taste. Can’t recommend them. In fact, I’m probably going to pull all of those plants this week.

    I left a little comment on that blog. 🙂 I read too much of Rummage, before having to walk away from it.

    Just watched the trailer for ‘Let the Wrong One In’. Yeah it’s good, and will have to be chucked on the ‘to-see’ list. Showing how inflation worked its evil way into the currency, by the time I went to the Saturday matinee in the late 1970’s, early 1980’s, it may have been either $7 or $10 a ticket.

    Margaret Atwood’s poem ‘Dearly’, which is included in one of the final essays was a lovely tribute, and I enjoyed the poem for it’s own sake. Death has been somewhat institutionalised since my younger days, and people now expect to die in hospital. I tend to find such places quite unsettling and rather unpleasant. When I was a very young kid, people mostly died at home, when it wasn’t some misadventure or other such thing. And people were more familiar with it. I tell you truly, people now fear both poverty and death, and this like safety concerns is driving all manner of weirdness in society. And you’re right the authors outlook does her credit and does provide a roadmap. We had some news on that front from the Editors extended family yesterday. Life, huh.

    Good to hear, and cleaning out of an estate is always an instructive process. The kid will be fine, and there seems little point pretending that things are otherwise, but plenty of people find comfort in that view.

    Oh my, you’re so right. It would have been like that too. Yeah, the frail or injured earned their keep by such acts. Everyone has a function to perform. This bizarrely is not the case these days, and that seems strange to me. It’s like watching people exercising for little productive gain, when I could put that energy to use in the gardens here.

    Well yeah, the sheds I build contain plenty of recycled material and we provide all of the sweat equity, and they’re still not cheaper. But will they be around as long? Dunno about that. A mate asked me the hard question as to housing supply and a little insight popped into my head that the general housing stock doesn’t seem to have all that long a lifespan and that certainly would drive up costs in the long term. I note that a big residential builder down here appears to be in some sort of trouble – if crisis talks mean anything. One day, I’ll make a blue shed – you wait and see! 🙂

    Ah, the cornflowers do need the striation in the fridge and they have kind of naturalised here in the paddocks, although there might be a local variety (always possible).

    Hmm, yes cultures from that area are definitely driving the leaf change mania here.

    That’s always possible about the heavy hitters, but the mountain range does have a long history with such folks, so I don’t know. Interestingly back in the day there were more productive elements like a dairy, butter factory and orchards where there are now ornamental gardens. I could see such things coming back for sure. So yeah, change may come.

    An hour drive in either direction is as far as I want to travel these days, and that will get me to most parts of the big smoke or around these parts that I’m interested in going to. I lost the appeal for travel over a decade ago, dunno, just doesn’t interest me much any more. Fortunately the nearby town has a two dollar shop (things are more expensive down here!) And things in there may cost more than that.

    It’s a bit sad about the going where there is boldly no reception! But yeah, that might work, but there could be a few tanties…

    I thought the series was slow to start, but the pace picks up and Dex is having to extricate himself out of the usual dramas. I did like when the geeky CSI dude turns up, low expectations prove to be incorrect.

    Ah, thick skinned zucchini’s would be better for preserving I’m guessing?

    Horseradish leaves are a fave, and the roots are awesome. Clears your sinuses for sure. Mate, we paid $7 for a bag of oranges, and they’re grown not that far away from here. I’m eyeing off the citrus fruit trees here and considering giving them more attention.

    A good chat is a great thing! 🙂

    I’ll be curious to hear what the master gardeners have left over. Gardening has been on the up due to you-know-what, and I can only hope that people continue this trend, although economics may drive the necessity for it to do so. Dunno, it’ll be interesting though.



  17. Yo, Chris – DJ mentioned keep away. Every evening, when I take H home after her walk, I have a chat with Elinor. There are a few rousing games of keep away. Interesting how H cycles through her toys. This week, the favorite is, I think, Gumby (well, it’s long and green.) Last week it was a stuffed raccoon. Then she wants to lay in my lap, and have me rub her tummy. She makes noises like she’s three months old.

    The Building Manger from our sister institution over in Centralia is from Sri Lanka. She was just there. Still had a 90 something year old father, living. She plays close to the chest, so no news on how that went. Speaking of cheap air fares that can go terribly wrong, what starts the whole ball rolling in “Let the Wrong One In” is a hen party, that got a cheap air fair to Transylvania. It did not end well. 🙂

    I figure our cherry tomatoes will do OK. Even if the big fellows, don’t. The weather was perfect, yesterday. Today, it’s rain and wind. But, the weekend is supposed to be nice, with temperatures in the 70sF. That ought to make things lively, in the garden.

    I find hospitals unsettling and unpleasant, due to costs. 🙁 Here, they can break you and drive you into bankruptcy.

    I’m sorry to hear about the loss in the Editor’s family. Words fail me, as they always do, in these situations.

    I snuck little patches of the properly chilled bachelor’s buttons, into the gardens, here and there. Maybe there will be a better showing, this year.

    In this county, it seems like quit a few of the heavy hitter families, have plaid out. The kids and grandkids spent it all on houses, cars and other “toys.” But, there’s still enough of them around to effect development.

    I planted out the yellow zucchini. Thought I was getting two plants. Well, I did, but in one pot. I have a bit of seed. I might put in another hill. Just as a backup. I started thinning out and weeding my root crops. I’ll have plenty of time for that, this weekend. I also need to string the green bean trellis, and do a chicken wire and t-bar trellis for the scarlet runner beans. Lew

  18. Chris,

    Most of the agriculture in the Yakima Valley gets irrigation water from the Yakima River, if I remember correctly. The desert region surrounding Moses Lake and southward some distance is irrigated via the Columbia River. Yes, gobs of water get pumped uphill and transported many miles. The Moses Lake area is an even larger potato producer than is Idaho, the Great Potato State. None of this will be feasible indefinitely – see energy costs/availability and perhaps water issues due to climate change, especially on the Yakima River.

    Uncanny and unexpected isn’t it? Those Monty Python comedians actually KNEW something about history. And how to use it for laughter.

    Avalanche’s contribution to the Barking Dog challenge? She grabbed that hollowed head and chewed on it a bit. I wasn’t happy with how it had turned out, anyhow. Then I looked at her artistic additions and the idea hit to include it, tooth marks and all, as a somewhat macabre thingummy.

    Yes, the Rendezvous is looming close. Fortunately, I know what I’m going to teach. My class is a 3 hour session, and I intend to have a project that can be completed in that time frame, so I should have ample time to get it done, assuming no weird emergencies pop up. Ha ha.

    Brother-in-law is doing fair. Could be better, could be a lot worse. Ditto sister-in-law who lives with us. Aging, bad lifestyle choices, health issues for both, so things are up and down. Caregiving is hard work, and it’s something we’ve been doing nonstop since 2006. Just accept, adapt, move on. And have the occasional feed and a pint for just the 2 of us. 😉 Thanks for asking.

    Ahhhh, you hit the nail on the head. The dog trains the human probably more than the human trains the dog. What’s the biggest things the dogs learn from us? Don’t poop or pee in the house, don’t eat the humans, pretend that you come when we call you. What do the humans learn? Pick up the dog’s poo. Feed the dog what it takes to get them to eat. (That’s especially true for huskies. They are notoriously picky eaters.) Groom the dog. Pay attention to the dog when the dog gets antsy. Walk the dog. Play with the dog, but the rules and needs for playing change at the drop of a hat. Shower the dog with lavish amounts of praise and affection. See? We get trained a LOT by the dog. 🙂

    Yes, the Hitchhiker’s reference in the math joke added to the appreciation of the joke.

    Good catch. I should have written: “We actually averaged closer to 95 or 100 gallons per day for the household over the last year, meaning we were in the 32 gallon per person per day range for the year.” There are times we averaged maybe 20 gallons per day per person. What the City wants is 114 gallons per day per person averaged over the year, not 114 gallons per household per day. BUT, they do NOT want the per capita water usage to skyrocket during the summer.

    I got this written earlier than usual. We had some rain early. Now the wind is hitting. There is a high wind alert for the entire eastern third of the state. We might see gusts up to 75km/hour in town. There may be power outages due to downed trees/limbs. At noon it was already so windy that I saw the fur get blown off a rather small dog. 😉


  19. Hi Chris,

    I have always hoped that your blog was not all about spelling and punctuation, and if you got things wrong, you were in trouble. Rather, that it is a place for storytelling and flowers and hearing about the tree falling in someone else’s forest.

    I am sorry for your loss,

  20. Hi Elbows,

    Rest assured, perfection is for other people. 🙂

    This sentiment is our maxim, and indeed it represents the entire philosophical stance. And your words match my goals.

    Here I feel the need to add that I have not yet been visited by the grammar faeries, and their fear is righteous, because I have potent spells to employ upon them which will reflect poorly upon their small mindedness.

    Thank you for the kind thoughts, and we have embarked upon a week of healing, although admittedly it may not be enough time. Grief is a mysterious journey, full of unexpected revelations and turns. All we can do is but our best in otherwise trying circumstances.

    And whilst that is occurring, life continues apace. Continued to squirrel away interesting soil mineral additives, even today. The greenhouse will take more than its fair share of that stuff.



  21. Hello Chris
    I was invaded by ants yesterday. They swarmed across the floors, up the walls and curtains and into everything. They were the smallest ants that I have ever seen. So tiny that I didn’t realise until I saw the movement. I cleared them with the hoover and an hour later realised that I had to start again. I failed to discover their entry point.


  22. Hi DJ,

    All is now explained. So this evening I took a very good and close look at the flow of the Columbia River and noted the origins of the tributaries and topography it traversed. Ah, I had not appreciated just how far east you were, and noted that the Spokane River had its origins even further to your east in a mountain range which may or may not be subjected to other rain shadows – depending upon the season. And please excuse my ignorance (now resolved) but I had not understood that Yakima is further west than where you are. All is now clear.

    It is possible, looking at the maps and considering the movement of moisture laden air, that Yakima has a normally variable input of water given the river flows eastward into the Columbia. Like here in the growing areas along the huge Murray River, some years are good, and others, maybe not so much. The real challenge for our civilisation is to learn to adapt and live within the constraints of the worst years. It’s unfortunate that due to cultural conceits, the four horsemen are wheeled out whenever things go too far.

    🙂 Mate, I watched both the Holy Grail and Life of Brian films when I was kid and the humour in the films just spoke to me. I’m not sure about your opinion, but I felt the Life of Brian was the better of the two films possibly due to having a single director and thus being a more coherent story. But far out, those guys nailed it. Yes, where is the foetus going to be gestated, in a box? 🙂 And they really drew deeply upon actual history, which is funnier and stranger than most people realise, and who can forget Killer Rabbits and the Holy hand grenade of Antioch? All with historic parallels – it’ll do you up a treat, mate! 🙂

    Go Avalanche. She’s simply expressing her artistic integrity and you should be guided by her good taste.

    No weird emergencies hopefully, well that didn’t sound like hubris to me, but you know others may have plans and unexpected turns of events. Man, far out, the stories I could tell, but unfortunately can’t… And here we are today.

    Respect for the care that you and your lady are providing. Hope the brother and sister in law give you both some joy and entertainment from time to time. Since 2006 is a long haul.

    Hehe! Strangely enough, in the big bad corporate world I aimed at being a calm and assertive leader whom could evince a vision for the tea, but dogs have reinforced that lesson tenfold. I’m genuinely surprised that our current batch of leaders have somehow forgotten that lesson and bizarrely have begun to speak in emotive terms themselves. It wasn’t always thus, but it has changed over the past decade and a bit. Dogs always tell the truth.

    Spotted another mathematics joke on a bumper sticker today: 4 out 3 people have problems with fractions. 🙂

    I knew what you meant, I just wanted to clarify what you were saying. And your usage does you credit, and there are years where we have to really watch our usage lest we run out of the precious stuff. Please forgive my correction, but from my precarious perspective, city folks can have views on this subject of water which quite frightens me. We have to manage this resource from beginning to end, and in all its phases and seasons, and the powers that be still have the temerity to send me a water bill – despite no connection. Water is precious.

    Hope that small dog didn’t need the lost fur? Yikes! How did you go with the storm?



  23. Hi Lewis,

    Go H! I was unfamiliar with Gumby, but now know more than I care to know. 🙂 Did you ever see the clay stop animation series Wallace and Gromit? So much fun. But who knew how far the tentacles of Gumby reached? It lead me on an interweb rabbit hole which ended up with the Katzenjammer Kids and The Captain and Kids comics. A whole new world to me. When I was a kid I really enjoyed the comic Footrot Flats, and who could forget the Wizard of Id or Peanuts? The Sunday newspapers used to have a comic section which I loved reading, but those days are now many decades in the past. Mate, there are some times where I now believe that I’ve somehow fallen into the Footrot Flats lifestyle due to sharing the farm with the various fictional characters of the comic such as sheep dogs (Plum and Ruby) and the large pig dog (Ollie). Isn’t it funny how life can imitate art? A relevant quote: “The Dog was born on October 13 at Aunt Dolly’s holiday home for cats and raised by a Persian cat named Ninky Poo before being given to Wal.” Typical that a Persian cat would be so named… 🙂

    A couple of decades ago I had a cat which arrived as a sickly kitten and was subsequently raised by the dogs – but especially the boss dog at the time: Old Fat. She was a great dog, and the cat and her shared an unbreakable bond and they used to happily sleep together curled up for warmth of a night. The cat believed he was a dog, that was until he encountered other cats, but even afterwards he still loved his Old Fat. Being a cat though, he’d play tricks on the dog and loved nothing more than standing in the hallway waiting for the dog to walk past and at which point he’d pounce on her, but yeah all in good fun, maybe. When the Old Fat died (of old age), the cat died a few days later, I suspect of a broken heart. That’s dedication for you.

    Yeah, probably that country is going to go through some rough times. It’s been my observation gleaned from reading upon history, that rough times can sometimes suspend the usual niceties of society. At such times, much depends upon the leadership and whether the concept of sharing a burden can be elucidated and accepted. Weaker leaders tend to seek to place blame, and probably it’s not good to be in either group (leader or so blamed).

    Hehe! Hey, we watched the trailer this morning for the vampire film, and it is now definitely on the to-watch list. Now comes the challenge as to where to see or find it. It’s not like there are video stores any more these days. All very complicated. Just checked out the cinema listing for screenings, and things are returning to where they used to be. It’s hard to ignore the Top Gun sequel. 🙂 The original was such a quotable film.

    I agree, your cherry tomatoes will be fine. The other larger varieties, who knows? We’re discussing moving the vegetable beds to the sunniest locale on the property, but of course this involves a great deal of work. But yes, it will happen and we pretty much have all the materials for the fencing too. The plan is to move some of the citrus trees into that larger enclosed area too. The wallabies are a bit of a pain with some citrus trees. We picked up a good supply of soil minerals today for the future new raised beds in the greenhouse, but the current stash of minerals represents only a third of what will be required. Stocks looked OK to me, but I have noted that some products in particular appear to have been redirected into commercial agriculture as they have disappeared from everywhere. It’s exciting to think that slowly bit by bit the country might go organic. They might not like the results…

    Sorry, I’d forgotten about the cost situation with such places in your country. I tell ya what, there ain’t many businesses that you can’t get a quote from beforehand (or at least a vague idea of costs) before engaging their services. I tend to believe that it is a case of them winning, and then ultimately losing. Probably not a good outcome.

    As you may have guessed, I’ve been inundated with political advertising. Lots of it, and usually peddling fear. I had a lovely personalised letter from a former Prime Muppet which was bizarrely the most calm sounding and reasoned of them all. The Editor is a bit miffed because she didn’t get one, and weirdly it was very directed marketing. It kind of makes a sensitive person wonder what list they’re on? Hey, the strangest of the lot was an ad from I believe the greenzes who had some policy which I didn’t frankly understand, but may have suggested that tax payers should pay for certain elective surgeries which seem to play a role in the media these days. Such things are fine by me as it ain’t my concern, but the people involved probably should stump the mad cash for such procedures themselves.

    Thank you for the kind words, and mate words fail me too. What else do you do? The skinny dude with the sharp blade and the ‘going out’ hoodie comes for all of us in the end. Is he a friend or foe, dunno. I’m thinking the dude is OK. And regardless, none of us have much choice in the matter.

    A wise idea to relocate some of the cornflowers. Hope it all works out and I’ll be curious to hear how it goes.

    Interesting, and yeah I can see that. Wealth rarely survives three generations anyway. Dunno, but it is possible that over in the more fashionable western end of the mountain range the weight and obligation of the old hill stations impresses itself upon the owners both new and old alike – and maybe it is even possible that the land itself is such that it has an impact upon the custodians? There’s an old saying about what you own can end up owning you, and I believe that there is a great deal of truth to that. That area has been put to the test for about 170 years, and so far it has a weird consistency to it. Can’t say for sure why this would be.

    Good idea starting another hill, and I’d do that too. The seedlings might do better if separated. I respect your general level of ruthlessness at being able to thin and weed. Not every gardener can bring themselves to do that necessary task. What did you say about letting go (in relation to writing)?

    Thanks for the article. The media is most certainly pushing an agenda and such articles are quite common. On the ground though, and I speak with many different people across a broad class and age group, and they’ll say one thing in public, and I reckon they’ll do another thing in the privacy of a voting booth. The book Rummage nicely summed up the realities and compared them to the ideals. And you know how that turns out.



  24. Yo, Chris – So you took a deep dive into the history of comics. It can really suck you in. I’ve got a few of the Buster Brown comic books from around 1910. Yes, the shoe company. The books are collections of their Sunday funnies. I keep meaning to send them to auction. Along with the pile of “underground” comics I have. “Wallace and Gromit” never “spoke” to me. Might be a generational thing … youngster 🙂 . Gary Larsen’s “Far Side.” “Bloom County.”

    I have a few lithographs by an artist named Alex Blum. Mostly views of tat shops and used book stores. From the 1930s. I found out later that he worked in the comic book trade and illustrated a lot of the “Classics Illustrated” comics. Turns out he had a daughter, who also worked in the comic book trade. It being the 1950s, under many assumed men’s names. See? A deep, deep rabbit hole.

    That’s a delightful story about Cat and Old Fat. Would make a great children’s book.

    Churchill and FDR were masters at getting across the idea of sharing the burden.

    Yes, whence the video store? I could suggest the library, but we’ve had that discussion, before. 🙂 Op shops and swap meets often have large collections of DVDs. But finding anything specific is a fools errand. I’m still on the lookout for a copy of “The Dead Poet’s Society.” I suppose I could just order a copy from one of the two big on-line retailers. They are cheap.

    “Kill your darlings.” I went out to the garden, this morning, and started harvesting camomile. One is supposed to harvest herbs (pronounced YAAA-bs), in the morning. Who knows why? The weather was bad, but, it’s supposed to get better this afternoon … and we’re supposed to have a glorious weekend. 70F+. The camomile is full of buds, so I may be able to get a years supply during the nice weather. Then I can dig them out and make room for something else. As the Jerusalem artichoke barrel was just of my starboard bow, I thinned them out, too. Again.

    Interesting how old time politicians from “not my side” are beginning to have more appeal (to me), compared to the lot that’s out there now. Who thought I’d ever have a bit of nostalgia for Richard Nixon? 🙂

    It kind of makes sense that people who want elective surgeries should pay for it themselves. But who decides what is elective, and what is not? On the other hands, if little Babs wants a nose job, she can darn well flip burgers til she saves up the mad cash. 🙂

    The Reaper’s “going out hoodie” must be similar to my hats. I have a gardening hat … and my going to town hat.

    People do terrible things to lovely old properties. Onerous as they can be, that’s why historical designations are in place. One of the funniest scenes in the recent film “Made in Italy” is when a Euro trash couple show up to by the Tuscan Villa, and the deal is not made due to their ruminating over how they’ll rip out this and that.

    Stuff out of order, etc.: Historic film comedies reminded me of historic book comedies. I went in search of an author I read when I was a kid. Richard Armour wrote several send ups of history. And, low and behold, over at Good Reads (.com) they have a list of “Historical Humor.” Who knew Jane Austen wrote “The History of England.” Which was a send-up of English History.

    I was at Elinor’s the other night, and saw a bit of that new Nova film, on the last day of the dinosaurs. I hope our library gets it, soon.

    My Idaho friends mentioned that sheet rock screws jumped from $2.98 to $4.19, a pound. In one week. I went in search of a 25lb bag of “Bob’s Red Mill” all purpose flour, last night. No joy. Just 5lb bags … for $11 per. They did have bags of unbleached all purpose, for $7 per. So now I’m trying to figure out the intricacies of one kind of flour, over the other. Thoughts?

    Things on Mars are shutting down. Due to dust on the solar panels. Makes me wonder about all those solar panels, out in the deserts. I suppose there, they just send someone out to sweep them off. Lew

  25. Chris,

    Yes, Spokane is far enough east to be almost in Idaho. In fact, I refer to the eastern third of Spokane County as “West Idaho”. And you got it exactly right with the Yakima River. It has had some issues in recent years with the amount of water AND with the water temperature: salmon and trout need water at or below 69F, but the Yakima River July through September has had average temperatures exceeding 80F in the “lowlands” once out of the mountains.

    The history of Killer Rabbits is fascinating. A lot of medieval books included them. I like Holy Grail much better than Life of Brian, partially because of the incoherence of the story. But I can be weird that way.

    It’s hard to have good leadership when most people in our culture fail to become more emotionally mature than the average 13 year old. That’s my theory, at least.

    Nice fractions joke!

    Thanks for the water usage compliment. I’ve tried to reduce, and once the dryland grasses have taken hold, should be able to reduce further. As you mentioned, however, many city folk don’t understand how precious water is. Of course, many of these people think milk (or name any food) mysteriously appears in the grocery stores, then complain about the smell when they drive near an actual dairy with real live cows.

    Well, the nearest small dog was a chihuahua (aka hairless rat that barks), and the flying fur in the wind might maybe perhaps have been a fistful of fur I’d brushed off of Avalanche and released into the elements. 😉 We did well in the storm. There were official gusts as high as 82km per hour, but in town the highest was about 65km per hour. No damage here, but one of the tv stations was down for several hours.

    It was still breezy on Thursday. Didn’t get much of a walk in on Wednesday, so Avalanche was VERY energetic Thursday. I walked her to see Killian the Doberman, a round trip of 2 km. They also got a play date in Killian’s yard for 3 hours of running and rough housing while Killian’s owner and I enjoyed several mugs of tea indoors out of the wind.


  26. Hi DJ,

    I see what you mean about West Idaho! Funny. Had a bit more free time tonight and so I took a very good and hard look at the images of the Yakima River. The rain shadow effect is there for anyone with eyes to see, and that river is really the lifeblood of the the flat lands in that part of the world. Without the river, it wouldn’t be good, let’s put it that way. You can see that the trees only survive where their root systems have access to the river water, but other than that it is a monster arid-land. The message I got out of that story was: don’t mess with the river.

    Hey, the water temperature thing has been a problem down here too. The authoritas in their authorita have decided that willows are a problem. Unfortunately, the trees seem to be removed prior to the replacement trees getting big enough to cast shade over the water, and in the summer months, the water temperature ends up being too high for aquatic life, and possibly it fuels the growth of algae – with everything involved with that. Interestingly, the loop is mostly self defeating as the willows re-sprout from root systems, the dead algae provides plentiful nutrients, and the other over story trees also grow. My observation is that the stream-side arrangements end up being more complicated and dense than they used to be. I don’t worry about such things as they’ll all sort themselves out in the long run.

    I see what you mean about the Holy Grail, and the skits were often funnier than the more coherent narrative of Life of Brian. Dunno about you, but to my mind it felt like the crew had come up with a bunch of really funny scenes, and then did their best to string them all together. If I recall correctly, one of those scenes was of one of the films animators going toes up – that’s hard to explain! But also kind of silly and amusing.

    It’s as good a theory as any, and has the benefit of reflecting the environment we all find ourselves in. If you shrieked instructions at Avalanche, how would she respond?

    The fractions joke really was on someone’s car as a bumper sticker.

    Years ago someone told me a story about kids declaring that money comes from ATM’s! A lot of things are like that nowadays for a whole bunch of people. My mate Simon made a very amusing joke on his blog that some well to do sections of the community down this way possibly think that going ‘green’ apparently means swapping your Porsche for a Tesla. Pretty funny. The problem as far as I can understand things is when the people making the tough decisions also fall into the same trap.

    This morning I began reading Jack London’s story: The Call of the Wild. It’s about a dog, and written from the dog’s perspective! As a bit of advice, keep the book away from Avalanche, she might start getting ideas. 😉

    In comparison, we have a forecast week of sunny and mild weather. That never happens! Glad that Avalanche did not lose her fur coat in the strong wind gusts.



  27. Hi Elbows,

    I have a bit more free time this evening, and was curious as to your last comment. Why did you ask that question, or probably more correctly, pose that observation?



  28. Hi Lewis,

    Never heard of Buster Brown before. What an interesting artist, and the bloke who was an early pioneer of the comic strip form was a pretty clever dude. And I note the cartoonist understood the merchandising angle. Thus the shoes I’m guessing. Hey, Ollie has a bit of Tige’s genetics. The six degrees of separation thing is real. 🙂

    Fair enough about the generational thing. And I always enjoyed the Far Side comics. Sometimes when the aircraft fly overhead at low altitudes, and the sensitive person wonders whether the machine and passengers will clear the main ridge of the mountain range, I’m reminded of a Far Side cartoon I saw long ago: A captain and co-pilot look out from the cockpit window and ask the hard question: What’s that goat doing up in the clouds? Hmm.

    Oh wow. You know long ago I’d seen some of those Classic’s Illustrated books when I was a kid. Hey, I’ll bet some of the folks at Mad Magazine also had read those comics? But yeah, I agree it is a deep interweb wabbit hole (just to chuck in a Warner Brothers reference)!

    It’s funny you say that about the cat/dog story, but it tingled and flowed as I typed the words to the screen. Mate the book tours would kill me.

    Exactly! Culturally we can do what needs doing, those two leaders proved conclusively that it was possible. But will people do so? I dunno, I see some strange behaviour and it seems to have escalated as people have more stuff. FYI diesel is $8.30 a gallon now and petrol is about $7.60 a gallon.

    Alas poor local library, I did not know thee well! We’ll work something out. Robin Williams was a great actor, and I quite enjoyed that film. Few people seem to have grasped the central tenet of the plot, but you know, this is not my problem.

    Thanks for the reminder, yes that was it: “Kill your darlings.” OK, I’d heard people in the US pronounce the word ‘herbs’ without the ‘h’ so that to my ears it sounds like ‘erbs’. Down here it would be pronounced ‘her-bzzs’ (with no gap between the two sounds). If someone asked me for Yaa-bs, I’d think that they’d be asking for the inland crustacean: Yabbies. So tasty. And I recall fishing for them when I was a kid. Unsurprisingly, the crustaceans were lured by meat, and so in my kids mind I was beginning to understand the concept of ‘net returns’ in that it takes meat to harvest meat in the form of yabbies. And you never quite knew whether you’d be ahead or behind on the endeavour.

    70’F+ sounds delightful. Hope the wind has died down a bit? We’re set for a nice week of weather too, albeit colder at around 60’F. After almost two weeks of rain, the prospect has much to recommend it!

    The chamomile harvest is a great idea. I’m planning to pull all of the tomatoes and then weed those beds.

    We had plans to catch up with the guys of the big shed fame over the weekend. Always interesting to see what they’re up to and their place is getting pretty productive. But with everything going on here, we instead had a very long lunch with them today and it was a lot of fun. It was really good for the Editor. In between all of the laughs and stories, we do swap information as to how to do better at all of this rural stuff.

    Just off my starboard bow, suggests that the Jerusalem Artichokes were asking for it. Everyone knows they should have been off the port bow. 🙂 That Star Trek song with the clay animation was good laugh.

    Yeah, that is funny about how the old timer politicians seem a little less unhinged. I dunno man, how is anyone meant to cope with such media and public scrutiny 24/7 – 365? It’s not normal, nobody in their right minds could keep up such a pace – hang on a second, what did I just type? 🙂 They’re their own worst enemies, how hard is it to set boundaries and tell the media to piss off?

    Well, life threatening might be one way to decide what is elective and what is not? One nuisance with that lot is that they try to cajole you into coming back, and the problem with that, is I don’t know whether this is a real concern, or a money making exercise. I just don’t know. But Babs would most certainly think carefully about the nose job, if she had to work long and hard to pay for it. Plus I tend to feel that people place higher value on things which they have had to work very hard to get.

    Yes, repeat after me: the gardening hat is not to be worn in public! 🙂

    Ooo, that’s funny about the couple wanting to trash the villa. It’s on the to-watch list. Just. Need. Some. More. Time. Without. Infrastructure. Projects. It’s something of a problem that.

    Now that is interesting. Jane Austen and “The History of England” I see is an audio book. I will look into this.

    Cool, I’ll be interested to hear what you have to say about the film of the last day of the dinosaurs.

    Ah, just as a difference, we don’t sell screws and stuff by weight, but rather by quantity. The roof screws for the greenhouse were about $55 for maybe 250, but nothing was as expensive as the stainless steel screws which may have been about $80 for 250. This stuff ain’t cheap, and it ain’t gettin’ cheaper! Picked up the roof sheets for the greenhouse this morning. Put in the order for the steel ridge capping and edging and both prices and lead times are erratic and unpredictable.

    Unbleached flour is perhaps higher quality, well it is to my mind, but opinions vary in this regard. Flour sorry to say, I believe has to be bleached to come out so white, and last I checked I don’t recall bleach being one of the essential minerals, vitamins and nutrients. I could be wrong.

    Life on Mars would suck.



  29. Hi Chris,
    I see JMG at least yearly, when I host an Ecosophia potluck at midsummer (midwinter for you). In general, he’s not that much of hanging, out having a cold one kind of guy. The furthest guests have travelled to the potluck is from the west coast of the US, so if you happen to throw off everything and take to seafaring, try to arrange a stop in southern New England in late June.

    I’m glad you enjoyed Lucy’s music. She and her partner moved to Malmsbury shortly before the pandemic from Melbourne. IF you happen to go to one of her shows in the area, tell her I sent you.

  30. Yo, Chris – A quick look down the rabbit hole reveals that Blum did the art work for the Classics Illustrated comics, “White Fang” (London) 🙂

    I went and got gas, last night. $5.30. I put in $30 and called it good. Our gallons. I stopped by one of the cheap food stores, on the way out to get gas. Inventory is thin. I don’t know if it’s because of supply problems, or, just that more people are shopping there. It’s the place that looks like it should have rats scampering across the shelves 🙂 There were more people in the store, than I had seen before. I did a lot of shopping, here and there, yesterday. I got the feeling that people had an attitude of quiet desperation. With a dash of resignation. Though maybe that’s how I was feeling, and I was just projecting.

    I did my monthly on-line shop, at the two major on-line retailers. I can’t say prices were particularly up, but at least they had stocks of what I was looking for. I made a major tactical error. I stopped into the local big box office supply store. Paid $41 for an ink cartridge. Could have got it for a lot less, on line.

    I also went back and took a look for the cheaper flour. It was, of course, gone. So, I paid $11 for a five pound bag. But when I was going through the register, I asked the nice young lady when the Bob’s Red Mill was delivered. She asked what I was looking for. I told her a 25 pound bag. She took my name, number and what I wanted. Said she’d pass it on to their buyer.

    I took another look at bleached vs unbleached. Looks like, unless your making angel food cake, or something, unbleached is fine for say, muffins and biscuits. And, it’s a bit more nutritious.

    Read an article that said Nova is doing a special on the White Sands footprints. That ought to be interesting.

    We get a food box, this afternoon. The one that sometimes has a bit of produce. We’ll see. Lew

  31. Hi Chris,

    Last week I was so sure that Bored of the Whinge was a word play on Bored of the Rings which is a spoof on Lord of the Rings. This led to my ill advised comment about Lord of the Rings that I thought was SO clever at the time but it was infact completely incoherent.

    Anyway… You pointed out that my communication was faulty but you would give me the benefit of the doubt on formatting issues like paragraphs and sentences.

    This week I continued with spelling and punctuation and the things I enjoy about your blog hoping that if I stick to those topics I will communicate better.

    I hope this is what you ment.

  32. Hi, Chris!

    I’m up before the birds; I can’t help it. Nothing makes me sleep later. I have to rest during the day, though. I nearly does my husband in to get up early, yet he actually sleeps better when he does get up betimes.

    So, the dogs won’t stay inside when it’s raining if you and Sandra are outside working? Though it sounds like maybe Ollie might wish for other plans. I don’t believe we have any zombie. Triffids – yes. Quite a lot of them. One bit me today, then I bit another one, which was poison ivy, and it is no more.

    You have rough winters, though not as cold as us. Or with as much snow, I guess. But you have an awful lot of wet, gloomy, and still plenty-cold days.

    You were right to move that window.

    That is one great view from in the Reserve. I love it when I get back away from where our property is in the mountains and can get a view of where we are (generally speaking) from a distance.

    I thought your leaf change was over, but it’s still very beautiful. I have a Japanese maple just like that. It is red right now as its leaves come out that color in the spring. Mine seems to grow about 2 inches (5 cm) a year; seriously, the tree, I mean, not the leaves. It is still a tiny thing at 7 years old.

    Roses and flowers still! Thanks!

    I so much enjoyed The Call of the Wild when I was younger. It made me want to move to Alaska – for awhile, at least.


  33. Chris,

    With, say, the Yakima River, people want their cake, and they want to eat it too. Unfortunately, it’s really beginning to look as if the Yakima can be used for irrigation, or MAYBE it can be used to support salmon, but definitely not both.

    Avalanche does poorly, to say the least, with being yelled/shrieked at. Lots of positive attention and praise works great. Yelling? The northern breeds of dogs will get skittish or turn on you or both if there’s too much shrieking at them.

    There have been a lot of jokes here similar to Simon’s about “going green” and Teslas. So many, in fact, that there was a recent article that compared the carbon footprint over the lifetime of both a NEW economy petrol car and a Tesla, from mining to the “death of the vehicle”. The carbon footprint of the Tesla is somewhat smaller, so the article concluded, but the difference is exceedingly dependent on the mix of sources that produce the electricity. The article did NOT compare the carbon footprint of, say, my currently existing 2005 Subaru Forester for the remainder of its lifetime with a Tesla that has to be mined and manufactured, etc. IT also glossed over the problems of what to do with the spent Tesla batteries while neglecting to mention that the Tesla and its home charging system are cost prohibitive for most of us.

    Hope you enjoy Call of the Wild. I don’t think I need to share it with Avalanche for her to know what’s in it. She seems to have come by a lot of that knowledge via genetics. I’m doomed. 😉

    It was time for our daily walkabout, but a thunderstorm hit so we went later. Then another thunderstorm rolled in and began dumping small hailstones on us. We hurried home; upon arrival the storm moved on and we had another break between squalls, so we ventured forth again.


  34. Hi Peter,

    🙂 Your potlucks sound like fun, and it’s impressive that someone travelled from the other side of your country in order to attend. It’s a good effort.

    Man, that’s probably not gonna happen, but thanks anyway for the suggestion. We travelled around quite a bit when we were younger, but now, the appeal just isn’t there. I dunno why either, it just doesn’t call any more. Do you travel around much these days?

    Candidly, they were lucky to escape before you-know-what. There are some sectors of the community who believe that it was a good thing to be record breaking for the lock downs, but I’m not one of those folks.



  35. Hi Elbows,

    Ah, thank you for the explanation, as I honestly wasn’t sure and thought it best to simply ask. 🙂

    And as someone who grew up reading Mad Magazine, I tell you truthfully, it was not a great intellectual leap from there to National Lampoon’s: Bored of the Rings, and who can forget Doon? Yes, he pours beer with no head! So silly, but such fun. And you guessed correctly, although I was riffing off the title more than anything else.

    No worries, please be content at the thought that the grammar police will nary a foot set in this ‘ere domain! Other places on the interweb, well that seems a bit wild west to me and no guarantees will be forthcoming.

    OK, now for the record, and please feel free to correct me here, but I reckon your command of the language is pretty good. So nothing to worry about. 🙂 As to my own command of the language, if the official English grades at the end of High School were anything to go by, I’m done for. Hehe!

    Got half of the roof sheets up on the new greenhouse today.

    Thank you.



  36. Hi Pam,

    You are setting the gold standard there for us all to aspire too and we look upon your early morning acts with a sense of awe. In this particular instance, I really do hope that it is not expected that other lesser members of the species are expected to follow suit? Ook! I’m getting nervous…

    Fortunately for me, Sandra is similarly wired for later get up times and we keep the same hours. Mind you, everyone is different in this regard. And often work can make disparate demands upon members of any household for sure. I have not had a week off work for a couple of years, whereas Sandra has had more flexibility, although this is something that has to align at some point…

    Winter here is damp, actually very damp and humidity remains high (well over 90%) for at least half of the year. This has many implications for plant diseases and not to mention houses. Colder winters may actually be less humid, but I have little experience with such things. Is that understanding correct in relation to the humidity?

    The two Kelpie’s don’t feel the rain, but Ollie has a thinner coat and so he does get cold. His breed originated in a much warmer climate, but even over wintry days like today he’ll hunt out a sunny spot.

    Yes, beware the Triffids – they lurk in the shade. Sorry to hear about the poison ivy encounter. Hope you are doing OK? The inflammation on contact looks horrendous.

    Thanks about the window, and the two sheds have an even closer symmetry going on now.

    Plum got another rat tonight, she’s a great dog that one.

    Those sorts of views really are beautiful, plus don’t you find that after many years you get a feeling for the topography of your area?

    No, unfortunately it appears to have been something of a prolonged leaf change display this year. Not good, although things are getting back to normal.

    Brr! It sounds feral cold up there in Alaska. And the book is a great read. Hard to put down, and barely a quiet sentence.



  37. Hi DJ,

    Mate, you should see the local creek which begins somewhere near the bottom of my property and drains into the Macedon River / Riddells Creek. Dunno why the watercourse has two names, but the creek name is the better known one. Anyway, it’s about a hundredth the size of the Yakima, and whilst the water is dammed up at two points that I’m aware of, there isn’t a huge amount of flow. I’ve noticed that water is a problematic subject and allocations – including to the salmon – are generally based on average years, and not worst case years. A lot of expectations from the natural world follow that particular mindset. It never ends well, for us, or the salmon.

    Yeah, exactly. If you yelled at Avalanche, she would think that you are a poor pack leader and are possibly unstable, and might go off and do something else with her time. That’s what I call pursuing important Husky business!

    I hear those stories and wonder if overall costs are so low, why are the machines so darn expensive? The little Dirt Mouse Suzuki gets almost 40mpg and is dirt cheap to run and own. I look upon other peoples fuel bills with a sense of horror. And yes, I hear you about the 2005 beastie (the Dirt Rat Suzuki – the other one is a 2004) and I maintain the thing. There is no way we could charge an electric vehicle here from the solar power system during the winter months. Just. Not. Possible. And we’re at latitude 37.5’S. Hmm. Someone must be wrong, somewhere in their calculations, but I have no head for advanced mathematics.

    Sorry, I sent Avalanche a copy in the post… Hope you get the copy first before she does? At least you’re aware of fate in this instance.

    Spring and summer is the time for thunderstorms, all that cold air hitting the warmer air stuff.

    Went a rat a huntin’ tonight and I injured maybe three rats and Plum had a definite score. I’m still modifying the chicken enclosure and learning from the rats. The cheeky scamps are hiding in the RHS posts and I watched one climb into the steel post. Dunno what to do about that. Do you have any suggestions?



  38. Hi Lewis,

    I feel a bit zinged up (the blood is pumping a bit) as we just came back in from rat hunting. A few days ago, I noticed that the feed was being consumed at an alarming rate and tonight discovered that the rat count was up to maybe five or six rats inside the chicken enclosure. The rodents are super clever and they’ve begun trying to remove some of the modifications I’d recently made to the enclosure which has made life super hard for them. Plum scored another rat – confirmed. And I reckon I injured maybe three rats using the pitchfork. Some of the tougher rats will actually try to jump at you – which is rather alarming as you might imagine.

    Anyway, back to the drawing board and I shall implement new innovative ways to stifle the rats activities.

    Today was a glorious sunny, but very cool day. It was so nice we put up half of the roof sheets on the new greenhouse project. Plus, have I mentioned that the concrete staircase between the two sheds now has two steps? There’s probably five steps all up before the staircase is finished, and the cold weather means the cement is very slow to cure.

    Other than that, I took all of the days activities at a leisurely pace (at my leisure speed, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea). This week has been something of a good rest and recuperation week. You need such things from time to time.

    I’ll have to have a look at the White Fang film (the story was unfortunately not part of the compendium I’m reading). Just watched the trailer for the 1991 version – and there are a few versions including an animated version. I hadn’t realised that Ethan Hawke was in Dead Poet’s Society.

    Jack London is a great author and he has a good sense of narrative pace. There are few superfluous sentences, and the action flows whilst the characters grow in stature.

    Mate, you guys are catching up to the sort of prices we’re paying down here. Thank gawd for small efficient vehicles is my thinking. It cost $66 to fill up the little efficient Dirt Mouse the other day. That was a surprise.

    It is possible that people are beginning to ratchet down their expectations, and you and I might be in for some competition for stuff? Dunno. During the crazy early days of the pre-but-impending-lockdowns a security guard was posted at the door to the supermarket and it became a locals only business. I remember telling you I’d neglected to sign up to their loyalty card and yeah I had to go down with my credit card statement showing previous regular purchases – and sign up for the card. Hmm. That was strange, but then a lot of things have been strange over the past couple of years.

    Quiet desperation with a dash of resignation sums up the feeling in the air.

    A rookie mistake, which you probably might not repeat! I get caught out by those, and just hope that the mistake isn’t too crucial.

    Hey, that’s a wise idea, and mate not saying that this is the system I follow, but you know, it’s the system I follow. Be known and be seen, and try not to mess up the relationships. Not always easy, and sometimes the road to perdition really is paved with good intentions. A bit of a bummer that one, but what do you do?

    I tend to stick to unbleached flour and a bit of spelt flour just from the precautionary principle.

    Did you get much in the food box?

    It is appearing likely that we’ll be getting a new government. Hmm.



  39. Chris:

    I think you are correct about colder being dryer.

    Well – “Arab”. That says it all.

    I got the poison ivy before it got me.

    Good for you, Dame Plum!

    Yes, I have a pretty good feel for the topography after 33 years. And I find that I can usually tell where north is, even in dense woods and hills, at least in my home territory.


  40. Yo, Chris – Zinged up? Next you’ll be smearing rat blood on your cheeks and forehead. 🙂 Go, Lady Plum, Rat Bane!

    No, you didn’t mention the new staircase. Between which two sheds? Pretty soon, your place is going to look like an M. C. Escher print. Stair ways here, stairways there, some leading somewhere and others, maybe not.

    I think the 1991 “White Fang” is the film in which the quilt, that I sold to Disney Studios, makes a brief appearance. If it’s the same film, watch for the young man to fall through the ice. He’s hauled out by a couple of fellows, stripped down and sat next to a fire. And, wrapped in a quilt. THE quilt. I wonder where it is, now?

    Well, London had one foot in the Victorian age, where superfluous sentences were de rigueur. But London wrote in a spar manner. As spar as the Alaskan wilderness. And, I think, he was writing for magazines, where longer pieces could be serialized. I forget which author it was, but recently I read an author was asked to beef up the word count, as Victorian publishers issued novels in three volume sets. 🙂

    Well, the weather here, today, is glorious. And as I think it’s the first week-end day that we’ve had glorious weather, the traffic is a horror. Where are all those people going? Me, it was just down to the Club and back. With a stop to pick up Elinor a newspaper, and a swing through the drive-in window of the library.

    No wonder newspapers are going out of business. Elinor gets her paper, by mail. It did not come, last week. Turns out her subscription had run out. And, they didn’t bother to tell her it was coming up for expiration. The same thing happened last year. So, I was asked to pick up a newspaper. Not that easy to find, these days. Newspaper boxes are going the way of phone booths. She can’t live without her paper. To keep tabs on who she knew that died. 🙂

    The regular grocery store had a special on canned pork and beans. A good brand, but it’s kind of a laugh. Usually, each can contains one small square of pork fat. But, it was a good bargain at 10 cans for $10. The shelf was empty. Bottom shelf, of course. But, by getting down on my hands and knees, I managed to see 5 cans, way in the back. Pork and beans is kind of like chicken noodle soup. A chicken MAY have walked through the soup. Or maybe, gave it a glance.

    The food box was OK. It’s the one with the bag of produce. There was a head of cabbage that was so large, it almost didn’t fit in my vegetable bin. A few pears and potatoes. Two yellow onions. The rest was the usual 5 pound brick of cheese, a couple of boxes of cereal and shelf stable milk. A gallon of some mysterious fruit drink. A shelf stable pack of beef stew. A jar of peanut butter. A small package of brown rice. Two bags of dry white beans. The tinned stuff was a bit different. No beans, carrots or green beans. Just corn. Lots and lots of corn. Some tomato sauce. And instead of the usual peaches, there were apricots. And I got 8 prepackaged sandwiches from Starbucks. I don’t know if you have Starbucks expresso stores down there. That Seattle company had taken over the U.S..

    New government. Same as the old government?

    I’m through episode four of “Dexter.” Still not feeling it. Though as I don’t have much else to watch, I’m still sticking with it. I’ve been mostly reading. Two humorous books by people you’ve never heard of. And last week I picked up a cookbook that looks kind of interesting. “The Hebridean Baker: Recipes and Wee Storiesf rom the
    Scottish Islands. (Macleod). Today I picked up the book, “Boom Town: A Lake Wobegon Novel.” (Keillor). I’m quit a fan of his Lake Wobegon books and broadcasts. Lake Wobegon is a small Minnesota town, that sounds so much like the town my mother was from. Except instead of crazed Norwegian Lutherans, her town was populated by crazed Finn Lutherans. 🙂 Lew

  41. Hi Pam,

    Ah, here is much you need to know about Ollie (I’m sure you’ll enjoy the short read): Bull Arab. He’s a very gentle giant.

    Good shot with the poison ivy. The reaction looks very similar to reactions from multiple bites from the large bull ants here – even the dogs occasionally get bitten. Dame Scritchy used to look like a bloated puff ball after being bitten, and I’d slip her some anti-histamines and then she deflated and promptly fall asleep.

    Dame Plum, rat bane, scored another rat today – in full daylight. 🙂

    Yes, I know exactly what you mean. Drop me randomly somewhere local, and I’ll be able to find my way back home. Who needs GPS?



  42. Hi Lewis,

    Ah, those who have had a large rat jump at them, will know what I mean by the term: ‘zinged up’. Probably ancient memories of the black plague, but yeah that particular move by the rats gets my adrenalin going. Not a fan. I’m ordinarily very relaxed on that front even when people do stupid things around me in cars. A decade of motorbike riding in commuter traffic left me with a very calm outer demeanour, but the rats…

    Put an hour or so into further modifications of the chicken enclosure today. I’ve lost count, but maybe this was the twelfth adjustment to thwart the rats. It’s been an interesting journey for sure. And interestingly, whist I’ve been making these modifications for the rats, I’ve also done quite a few minor changes to make the every day maintenance easier. Dame Plum was the work wub today.

    The sun shone again today, although it was cold and humid. We did a huge number of administrative tasks which involved electricity, and the ovens (note plural) were going for hours. There was even enough spare electricity to weld up some supports for a small poly trailer which tows behind the ride on mower. The original steel used was a bit rubbish and it had bent and required support.

    That artist (M. C. Escher) makes my head spin. Where do things start and finish might be an applicable question to ask of that bloke? Nah, the staircase sits between the two sheds, and it will be very useful.

    I noticed the 1991 film was by the Disney Studios. Mate, I’d really like to see the quilt (and it proves your overall fame!), but animal films, I dunno. The animal protagonist always seems to die at the end, and far out, something might get in my eye and cause the eye to water – not that it would upset me, maybe. I blame Old Yella for this trope!

    Issuing a novel in a three volume set, sounds to me like a merchandising / marketing chunk of genius. Or was it multiple novels in a three volume set from the same author? Interestingly, there are serious theories being chucked around nowadays that the digital delivery of music is forcing musicians to introduce hooks earlier on in their songs – so it is changing the way music is presented to the public.

    Sorry to hear of traffic horror in your part of the world, but I can offer you some leaf change tourists, don’t worry about it, we’ve got plenty of them. Possibly this situation will self correct – it is hard not to note that oil is about $112 a barrel.

    And Jack London is not one to waste words or even squander sentences. I’m suspecting that the author would have been an intense fellow.

    A school of thought suggests that the newspapers may make money in other ways than delivery of physical product to subscribers – for this is what Elinor is. Really? I’ve heard of people doing that, and the High School I went to sends me an update every now and there are short spiels on ex-students done well. Some folks are put on the planet to make the rest of us look bad! Or raise the bar. 🙂

    I’d heard of Pork and Beans, and assumed it was a food ‘thing’, although what it was is something of a mystery. If it is a soup, would it be at all like pea and ham soup? There was a band Weezer, who had a song about that stuff. All very mysterious. Good find too, and it may suggest that your fellows in your part of the world are unable to peer into the depths of such low shelves. Incidentally, suppliers are often required to stock supermarket shelves nowadays. Talk about outsourcing costs.

    It is very possible that no chickens were harmed in the production of that soup. 😉

    The pears must have been imported from the southern hemisphere or have been brought out of cold storage? Dunno, but I like those fruits because they ripen off the tree – the trick is to let them do so, but not to let them ferment. A fine balance. When I was a kid, I recall being served pears that were unripe, and it is little wonder that they are an overlooked fruit.

    So did you squish the cabbage into the bin, or remove some outer leaves and gift them to the worms?

    Speaking of that, Dame Plum nabbed another rat today in broad daylight. In an unusual move she didn’t come when called, and then raced in showing me the almost dead rat. Exceptions must be made, and she was rewarded, as were the worms.

    We’ve got a very lively coffee scene, and that company did turn up and is still around, but shows little sign of taking over. Many long years ago, I knew the bloke who was the ops manager for them.

    Yes, exactly. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Mate, many of the problems we’re facing down under are structural in nature, and might not be able to be resolved by a change in management, but you know I’m all for them giving it a go and finding out the hard way. After all it sounds good in theory to shut down large coal fired electricity generators, and most of the time it will probably be OK. But some of the time, it won’t be OK, and if people change their minds about that outcome, well, it takes many, many years to construct a brand new generator. You can’t build one overnight.

    We’re probably at about the same point in Dex. I’m slow on such fronts. However, rustic home baking and old family favorites from the outer Scottish Isles does have a certain temptation. 🙂 And very good to hear about the crazed Finn Lutherans and their merry goings on. Hope they are OK without the gas? It gets awful cold up in that part of the world.

    Better get writing.



  43. Chris:

    Thank you for the Bull Arab info. I had no idea they were Australian. I thought you got him from Arabia . . .

    This is mean of me, but I would have liked to have seen a puff ball Scritchy.

    Which just goes to show that rats have less common sense than previously thought. Either that, or they are guided completely by the thought of the easy life – or they’d get the heck out of there.


  44. Yo, Chris – Rats can smell fear. They’ll go for your throat. Or, eyes! 🙂

    I don’t think you saw any of the Harry Potter films, but Hogwarts School has all these moving staircases. Very M. C. Escher.What is it about mazes, that intrigue? The idea goes way back to the ancient Greeks.

    Oh, well. The quilt makes a very brief appearance. Blink and you’ll miss it. But I think it won an Oscar for best supporting prop. 🙂

    One novel, in three volumes. Magazine serials really got people wound up. There was a Dicken’s novel, and so many people were waiting for the next installment, that the dock collapsed!

    Yes, all those people running around yesterday. “Don’t you know gas is over $5 a gallon?” did run through my mind.

    Our pork and beans look very much like the pictures I’ve seen of your beans on toast. Might be the same product.

    I did some rearranging, and managed to get the cabbage, into the bin. There will be plenty of exterior leaves, to feed to the worms. I ended up dumping the sandwiches. Had a touch of the trots, yesterday, and the only thing I can attribute it to, is the sandwiches.

    I don’t know if you do “host” gifts, and such, but I thought “The Hebridean Baker” might fill the bill for your Big Shed friends. Or, at least you might want to tell them about it. There’s a West Highland Terrier, on the cover. Now that’s a fine dog. I had two, in my life. Or, at least they were before they got popular. They might be overbred, by now.

    I read a bit of “Boom Town,” last night. Lake Woebegone is becoming gentrified! And all the old gang is dead or well on their way out. But, as the author points out, he’s pushing 80. How did that happen?

    I read a couple of articles last night, about a new film. “Triangle of Sadness.” Woody Harrelson is in it. It got a 5+ minute standing ovation, at the Cannes film festival. Too new to have much of a trailer, up. There was something about being shipwrecked, and the only person on board who knows how to fish is the cleaning lady. 🙂 Lew

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