Top Chook: Maverick

Winter months are cold and wet. For those born during the winter months, birthdays mean short days, extreme humidity, and dark comes early for those who are celebrating the annual passage of time. Not great times for solar power production either, and darkness descends when the government decides: Son, you’re gonna be locked down. There’s not much to celebrate then, especially when you get that edict worse than anywhere else on the planet.

My previous two birthdays were abysmal experiences. The rain drizzled down just beyond the veranda. The park bench was dimly lit by the street lights, and how to discern whether the swirling individual rain drops were mist or drizzle was of importance. After all, the air was only just above freezing. A take away pizza and bottle of Marsh ‘Mallow Mafia Stout’ possibly kept the cold at bay, but more likely it was the thick layers of woollen clothing. Sheepskin boots and jacket, woollen hat and jumper. Thank gawd for sheep. Crazy days.

Fortunately this year there were no lock downs, a good outcome for mental health. There’s always unexpected consequences from the previous crazy days. The other day there was an article suggesting that speech therapists are in high demand, apparently really young kids didn’t get enough socialising and interaction during the lock downs. What did the government expect?

With no lock down this year, we went to the cinema to watch the film: Top Gun: Maverick. The cinema was mostly empty. Honestly, expectations were low, and wrong. Such a great film. A really simple story, told really well. It pumped from one end to the other. The authorities in the film said not possible. The plucky protagonist suggested otherwise. And proved them all wrong to boot. Can’t get better than that.

Maybe the crazy extended lock downs have affected my brain. At such times as these, with inflation running rampant, thoughts stray into the dark realms of economics. I reckon the Modern Monetary Theorists with their penchant for expanding the money supply, got it wrong. The theory may have worked when there were suckers to take the extra paper in exchange for actual stuff, but when there are resource and energy shortages, let’s just say that things have gone badly. Unfortunately, unlike the cinematic world, there’s no plucky band of heroes to save the economic day.

The numpties in command don’t seem to have any new ideas right now for solving the problem either. Simultaneously increasing both immigration and interest rates, whilst continuing to expand the money supply (I don’t see how they can’t not do that given their deficits), are probably going to have unexpected consequences. They tried this in the 1990’s to an uncomfortable extreme. And as a very young bloke, it put me out of work, scrambling to do anything which kept a roof over my head and food upon the table. But it also sent house prices climbing for the next twenty five years.

Makes the sensitive person wonder what will happen this time around? Can’t say for sure, but my experience of that recession we had to have during the 1990’s, was not a pleasant or fun experience. Repeat of yesteryear, what with the economic misery of those days, probably with the same outcome too – a whole bunch of mortgagee and other auctions. The thought doesn’t make me comfortable, and is suggestive of the difficulties of pursuing contradictory policies and beliefs.

But, who knows? Maybe the government has a small band of plucky buff heroes ready and willing to put their lives at risk to save us all from the awful economic ill winds blowing over the land? Probably not though. Right now, as the old Zen story may have suggested: Before economic disaster: Chop wood, carry water. After economic disaster: Chop wood, carry water. Good advice for troubled times.

Speaking of unintended consequences, I’ve had something of an ongoing War upon Rats. The clever rodents had managed to break into the previously thought of as rodent-proof chicken enclosure. After learning that I’d been feeding twenty very healthy looking rats on the chickens grain for quite a while, I decided to act. That was a few months ago. Brother, the news from the front is good, and the war is turning in our favour.

After fifteen separate bouts of modifications to the chicken enclosure, the rats are now again excluded. The problem lately has been that one of the modifications involved removing the guttering which collected rainfall from the steel corrugated roof of the enclosure. The water was collected and stored in an adjacent water tank. Unfortunately, the rats were using the guttering and pipes as a super highway, and it had to go. So, it was removed. That’s when things got weird.

Now, when the rain falls upon the roof of the chicken enclosure, it slides off and falls onto the ground on either side of the enclosure. It’s been super wet this year, and last year, and also the year before that. The ground next to the chicken enclosure was pure mud, and despite the steel and concrete used in the enclosure walls, the inside of the enclosure got very wet recently. And two chickens died within two days. Something had to be done.

In the warmer and drier days of April. Ruby loves chickens so much that she wants to eat them

The above photo was taken during one of the modifications fortifying the fortress against the plucky rats. The uphill side of the enclosure became very wet during the winter months. This week, we installed a ground surface water drain, added crushed rock and dug in a decent sized rock wall.

Ollie also likes chickens. I like the new surface water drain, crushed rock and heavy duty rock wall

Any surface water now gets channelled into the drain, runs around the rear of the chicken enclosure and exits downhill onto an oak tree.

The surface water drain and rock wall continues behind the chicken enclosure

Earlier in the week produced a few sunny and warm early spring days. I’ve been doing a lot of paid work recently, and so took one sunny afternoon off to get outside and put the stump grinder into action. The machine eats up old tree stumps, but it is still a lot of hard work and is not a quick job. A century of logging has left a lot of tree stumps around the property, and it is easier to maintain the property if you’re not having to worry about hitting old tree stumps with the mower.

Ruby is amazed at the new hole in the paddock. Are there any chickens?

A lot of sawdust gets produced in the process of grinding out an old tree stump. The sawdust is spread around, the area levelled out, and on the surface I apply my patented mixture of coffee grounds, clay and soil from the immediate area, and Agricultural Lime (Calcium Carbonate). Plants seem to grow in that heady mixture.

The hole has now disappeared. Dame Plum wonders what all the fuss is about

Two weeks ago I may have mentioned that the old Dirt Rat Suzuki was replaced. The replacement Jimny seems like a great little car. I have no desire to test the limits of this very capable machine, and they’re probably beyond my skills anyway. However, I did test the limits of the car radio, and the factory supplied speakers were a manufacturing abomination. Sure, they worked and produced sound, so they can’t be faulted, but the quality was below my acceptable minimum standards. Earlier in the week the standard speakers were replaced with after market beasts of speakers. Yeah, rockin’ the bush!

Replacing the standard speakers in the new Dirt Rat Suzuki

Spring continues to be very wet, and Thursday was no exception. By Friday, the sun shone again and the humidity in the atmosphere produced an astonishing sunset. The colour was one that I had not seen before. Blink and you’d miss it.

A deep yellow sunset courtesy of very high humidity

The fruit trees are continuing to break their winter dormancy. Several plum trees have produced a lot of blossoms.

Plum trees are beginning to produce blossoms

Fingers crossed that we avoid late frosts now. Late frosts are not unknown here. The frosts burn off the blossoms on the tree, and damage young fruit.

Onto the flowers:

The Editor’s succulent garden continues to delight
Forget me nots are always cheerful at this cold time of the year
Few flowers produce a nicer fragrance than Daphne
Hellebores love the shady areas of the garden
Daffodils brighten up the paddocks
And produce all sorts of different shades of yellow

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 6’C (43’F). So far this year there has been 777.8mm (30.6 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 736.2mm (29.0 inches)

60 thoughts on “Top Chook: Maverick”

  1. @ Inge – I thought your comment on fussiness and past experience was so astute, I wrote it down. But I did wonder. Does this mean your a Woman With a Past? 🙂 Lew

  2. @ Goran – Before I moved here, to the Institution, I lived out in the bush for about five years. Like you, one day I was quietly having my lunch, when a tribe of about 20 goats went thundering past. Luckily, they were headed toward their home, down the road. I only had to give my neighbor a call, and let him know to watch for them.

    But there was a mule … big fellow. He was an escape artist. Several times I was out, waving arms and yelling, to get him turned away from the road and back to his pasture. Luckily, he was a pretty mellow fellow. Lew

  3. Yo, Chris – Rain! We got rain. I was down at the Club, this morning, and we had a shower. It’s been showering, on and off, all day. And is supposed to continue overnight.

    It’s probably helping the fire situation, out in our east county. Although, the fire has grown to 2,800 acres. And is only a mile and a half from the town of Packwood. But still no evacuations, of the town, itself. Fire lines are being dug around the threatened and evacuated neighborhoods. They’re being patrolled by county sheriffs and fire fighters, to watch for spot fires. So far, no buildings (or people) have been lost.

    It sounds like you had a grim couple of birthdays. Not even a meat pie or chunk of Lamington to be had. It brought to mind “Oliver Twist.” 🙂 Best not worry about the Modern Monetary Theory folks. They’ll do, what they’ll do. Best concentrate on that “chop wood, carry water.” And contemplate your plan B’s and C’s.

    Re: The Rat Wars. Hubris, hubris. Shhhh! They may be listening, and busy planning the spring offensive. Ruby and Ollie like chicken, because, well, it tastes like chicken. 🙂 The drains and rock walls look like a wizard solution, to the water problem. And really kind of finishes off the “look” of the chicken fortress. Since a moat probably would have made maters worse.

    Maybe Ruby thought you were digging a hole, to bury the chickens? See her carefully noting the position. For a later visit. That’s a good chunk of land you’ve reclaimed. Nothing like a day with a stump grinder to really rattle your teeth.

    Good going with the upgraded speakers. Of course, by the time your my age, you’ll be as deaf as half the inmates, here at The Institution 🙂 .

    Our sunset looked similar. Unfortunately, due to the courtesy of smoke. The showers didn’t seem to clean the air, much. The full moon was a shade of pumpkin orange, last night.

    The succulents look so pretty, and other worldly. Our Forget-Me-Nots are months away. They seem to have naturalized, a bit. Wonder if I’ll see any, next year. The daffodils are so cheery. And you really don’t have to mess with them much, once they’re established. They’re the gift that keeps on giving.

    And, if you haven’t seen it, here’s a two minute clip of the Queen, with Paddington Bear.

    And, yes, that really is her and not a stand-in. Lew

  4. @ Lew
    Could one reach my age without a past?


    Hello Chris
    Amazing sunset!
    The world is going/gone mad. So much I could say that I am not about to put out in public.


    To Chris, Lew et al
    I don’t know whether or not you can get this up but there is an Island paper that only appears on the internet: – ‘Island Echo’.
    It has a wonderful article today in the section called ‘latest news’. The article is about King’s Quay and I live a walk through the woods from there. It says that it is the most inaccessible place on the Island. Son said ‘Oh no, that represents a challenge to some’. One can get there by boat. We used to own the east side of the quay but sold it.
    Anyhow it is one heck of a fascinating historical article, telling even me stuff that I didn’t know.


  5. Hi Inge,

    I’d never seen such a sunset before, and the spectacle passed in only a few short minutes. Enough time to produce a weird glow on the inside of the house (the alert that something was afoot) and enough time to grab the camera. The new second-hand camera reproduces colours more faithfully than the previous machine.

    Inge, I hear you about that. There are plenty of things that I cannot say here as well. Some of the things I’ve read penned in the US astounds me, we have no free speech rights down here, and very few other rights actually. Best not to push boundaries in such matters.

    Well, well, well. The Magna Carta and what appears to have been a wicked King, King John. The artwork portrays a person with a foolish face. What a story. I must say, the Gatekeepers cottage looks delightful.



  6. Hi Lewis,

    Yay for rain, especially with the Goat Rock fires still going. You can only hope that some of the rain headed into the eastern section of your county? And that the library remains intact and unharmed.

    Thanks, my birthdays were dismal affairs, but you know, you just kind of deal with the world as it is. Despite us getting cold and damp, and dodging well, need I say whom? The pizza was good and the excellent dessert stout helped. It is good to be alive, I just hope that there is not more of that craziness in store in the future. It was good being able to have our regular daily chats. 🙂

    My point exactly, chop wood and carry water, and don’t let the numpties take you down with their crazy talk. I wonder if those Modern Monetary Theorists have yet to announce that things are not working as planned, because the plan is not being followed? 😉 They do have a prescription for dealing with inflation – I read it – but yeah, zero chance of being implemented. I suspect that the policy makers just wanted to do the fun bits of the theory. 🙂

    You’re probably right about hubris and rats, but they have been on the offensive for at least a decade. I’m catching up and trialling new strategies. We will fight them in the mud, we will fight them in the fruit trees, but always shall Dame Plum and I take them out. That’s the theory anyway, they’ll probably win in the end.

    The stump grinder is actually pretty smooth and well built. It was constructed in your country, and modified to local conditions with commercial cutting teeth. It’s a good machine, but very hard work, and it has to be constantly maintained. I doubt many people would be up for the level of maintenance required to keep it running well.

    That’s the thing with the new speakers – it’s like a game of catch up. The amplifiers and speakers have to get better as I age, because the hearing is probably declining. 🙂 Whaddya say? Speak up sonny! Hehe! The ageing thing doesn’t sound all that bad. There might be some advantages in that I can loudly say very naughty candid observations and pretend that nobody can hear me, and then pull the old duffer card. You did warn me the other day about dissing people.

    Smokey sunsets are pretty amazing aren’t they, if you can ignore the physical impacts of the smoke upon your health. They tend to be more orange, brown and red. This sunset was a real bright yellow. Never seen such a thing before. I remember as a kid when they had huge bushfires, I was in a supermarket and there was a lot of glass and the sky just turned this weird orange glow. People sometimes forget that nature can put on amazing displays.

    Forget me nots have most certainly naturalised here. They grow quite wild about the mountain range, but hardly seem to be any sort of pest. Exactly, daffodils are super low maintenance, and the bulbs can easily survive transplanting. Such plants make us all look like we know what we are doing.

    The clip with Paddington Bear was delightful, very sweet.

    Hehe! Mate, there’s probably less people up in the hills here than there is in all of Packwood. It’s hard to know what to call different areas. Commuter town seems to provoke angry responses, so that’s probably out. Hamlet isn’t bad, and could even apply to an area with such a small population. How do they afford a library, that’s what I wanted to know? Unless there’s heaps of tourism or people coming from outside areas, that small population might not even support some shops? Dunno. Where will it all end? Probably small towns.

    That’s the case down here too. Firefighting is a bit more inclined to asset protection. Thus the township effort. It’s pretty hard to actually stop a big fire once it’s begun. Thanks for the photos, you could see that the fire was racing up the sides of the hills, pushed by the winds I’m guessing. Getting into those hills would be a nightmare, and probably pretty risky. I’ve been told by reliable sources that the fire services won’t come here if there’s a big one, we’re on our own.

    Did you read Inge’s local history on Kings Quay? I found the article easily, so can put up a link if needed? Good King John sounded like a bit of a bad egg.

    I don’t think so. 🙂 My aims are not that lofty. I like the sound of Squire, it has a nice ring to it don’t you reckon?

    He was a good bloke, and he taught me as lot about the area, growing edibles here and of course the bees. I took the ‘posh’ comment as a compliment, yeah, that was how it was intended. I can only hope so, and I do try not to offend the local notables, although sometimes I can be a touch forthright in certain circumstances. My grandfather used to happily call everyone ‘d#$khead’. I think he carried that policy a tad too far, but in some situations, he was spot on the money. Maybe the forthrightness is in the blood? Who knows? That’s my excuse anyway.

    Phantom of the Open looks good. Adding it to the to-watch list.

    How could they not just have the interweb connection going? Hey, they might not be moving any time soon. 🙂

    ‘Tis catnip that essay, that’s for sure. There is always lots of good meat in the comments there. Nobody else asked. Far out! You see, the tall overstory trees are the Eucalyptus Obliqua, and the past few years have been rather damp, and they don’t like having wet feet. On the other hand, the damp conditions are favouring the shorter Acacia Melanoxylon, which are growing pretty fast in response to the extra moisture. Once that lot were the kings and queens of the forest, now they’re playing a lesser support role. I’m noticing a bit of die back here and there, and a number of mid sized Eucalyptus trees are falling over in the damp ground, like literally falling over. How this will play out is anyone’s guess. And the ground covers are becoming healthier. The extra moisture is also speeding up the process of decomposition into soil. I suspect that the plant residents of the forest are in competition (but also support) with one another. It’s fascinating to watch, and is changing in response to the climate. Possibly also the sheer volume of wildlife that eats here is having an impact upon fertility.



  7. Hello Chris
    We are supposed to have free speech here but that shouldn’t negate common sense.
    I tried to buy that cottage at King’s Quay when it went to auction in, I think, 1964. Unfortunately I was outbid. I guess that it must have had a lot of work done on it since then because it was very odd and inconvenient when I looked over it. Of course the site was everything.


  8. @ Inge – I am eagerly awaiting your memoirs. Will you publish under a pseudonym? 🙂

    That was a fascinating article about “King’s Quay.” The gatekeeper’s cottage is interesting. But, it said it sold. So, if Queen Victoria bought it, did the Royals divest?

    The article sure did flog that it’s a forbidden area. Which will be like catnip to the “You Can’t Tell Me What to Do” crowd. Your son is right. In my checkered job history, I was a security guard, two nights a week, guarding a dam. The lake behind the dam, was off limits, to the public. Liability issues, and all. Many a time, people would park down the road, and bushwhack through miles of brush, trying to get around me. I’d drive up to the lake, and wait for them to come crashing through the brush. “Hello. You know your not supposed to be up here. Now turn around …” It was great fun. Lew

  9. Yo, Chris – We even got some rain, overnight. I’ll probably water, this evening, as there is no rain forecast for the rest of the week. But, we’ll get onshore flow and temperatures in the low 70sF. Overnight temps in the 50sF.

    Here’s the latest on the fire, out in Packwood.,299636

    The highway is open, again. Some evacuated areas, well, people can return to their homes, but better stay on their toes.

    There will be more craziness in the future. It’s baked into the cake.

    Re: Rats. So, your not so much the King of Australia, as more the Prime Minister of Fernglade Farm? 🙂 Did you have a speech writer, or did you come up with that, yourself?

    Uncle Larry used to blurt out the most outrageous things. It was a risk to take him out in public. 🙂 But, he never got thumped. I wonder if he could get away with that, now?

    Smoke does funny things to light. I get defused light, through my blinds, and it was quit a bit different, during the worst of the smoke. Snow does the same thing. I usually don’t even have to take a peek outside, to know it’s snowed.

    The Paddington Bear clip is such a delight. It’s kind of how I’d like to remember the Queen. There’s another Paddington Bear clip. The Queen doesn’t make an appearance. But the guards at Buckingham Palace, do.

    I wonder if it was created to say something about homelessness?

    Maybe I shouldn’t be banging on about the goings on in Britain, but bits and pieces are interesting. One article stated that the Game Keepers at Balmoral bore her coffin out to the waiting cars. And you might want to have a chat with your bees … 🙂

    That was the population within the city limits of Packwood. I just saw a map, and developments around Packwood are pretty extensive. But as to funding … The Packwood library is part of the Timberland Regional Library System. Five counties, 27 (or so) branches. A (very small) percentage of property tax, goes to the library. Because of the way the system developed, organically, it seems like every city has a slightly different arrangement, with Timberland. But mostly, it seems that the cities provide the buildings and their maintenance, and Timberland provides staff and collection. There’s also some money from state timber revenues. Used to be lush, not so much, anymore. That money goes to libraries and schools. There’s also a Timberland Library Foundation. People donate or leave money, to that. But everything goes into one big pot.

    Yes, I saw Inge’s article. By gosh, I could see the article and even the pictures (an iffy thing, with my old computer). They must be running software, as old as mine. 🙂

    I don’t know what the problem is with my credit union and the interweb. Just speculating, but that area that they are moving to, is heavy with big box stores. Maybe the bandwidth isn’t enough? Maybe they discovered new cables must be laid? You know, they closed my bookstore, because it was the last B. Dalton Bookstore, in the country, that wasn’t computerized. And, at that time, we didn’t have the … internet capacity, in our county. I don’t know if it’s still the same, but back then, all our phone equipment was second hand, from metro areas up north. Also, at that time, if we needed service, it would come out of Seattle or Portland. So although the store was showing a healthy profit, it wouldn’t if we computerized. Go figure.

    You probably know there’s a thing called “forest progression.” Or, sometimes, “forest succession.” You might find it interesting. There are four stages. Of course, you’d have to factor in any messing about you’ve been doing 🙂 and climate change. Lew

  10. Hi Chris,

    Lovely flower pictures! Glad you solved the water drainage problem with the coop. Yesterday we had 7 inches of rain. Luckily we are high – even the garden so for the most part drainage is good. The pig pen though is quite soggy as it’s, while not the lowest part, it’s on the downslope of the property. Today is drizzly and quite cool. The pig’s hut got pretty soggy so I bedded it down with more straw last night. Doug is away on his annual golf weekend six hours away. I realized this is the 3rd time we’ve had major rain events during this weekend. A couple of years ago I had to fortify one side of the pig pen as it had rained so much on the side the pigs had been excavating that it was in danger of being pushed over. All this moisture might just do in much of what’s left of the tomatoes though.

    As Doug was gone had a ladies overnight on Saturday as well which was quite fun. Rain didn’t start until 3 AM but 4 inches had fallen when most left around noon. Carla and my aunt drove back to the city. Carla said it was the worst drive she had ever had. Drove with hazzard lights on much of the way and said there were many accidents. Many basements were flooded in her neighborhood but hers was not. She was pretty worried as it had flooded a couple years ago. When it floods in the city the sewers back up and water comes in through basement drains and even the toilets.


  11. Hi Inge,

    You’re lucky to have free speech, but the same laws of defamation apply (which is a harsh form of common sense), although it is a frightfully expensive action down here. More so than anywhere on the planet, I believe. Only for the wealthy, in either direction. Given that is the case, it is best not to poke them.

    Of interest to me in this matter was that during the health subject which dare not be named, people were being hauled out of their homes and charged for stupid things they were saying on the interweb. Looked a bit like a thought crime to me, but what do I know? Newspeak was all the rage down here at the time too, and there were posters proclaiming: Staying apart keeps us together, or something along those lines. At the time it was a pleasure to read the book you recommended titled: Straight and Crooked Thinking. It was a useful antidote.

    The site looks superb, and the photos emphasised coastal scrub, when my eyes detected quite a nice looking sward in the background. I must say, that the cottage would have been delightfully and blissfully quiet. From the external appearance, I got the impression that the cottage was renovated as a rustic retreat, merely based on the external finish. Who knows what the interior looks like nowadays?



  12. Hi Margaret,

    It is a pleasure to share the flowers with an appreciative person such as yourself. 🙂 Every year there are more flowers.

    7 inches of rain is an utter nightmare. Is the slope on your property consistent, or does the ground undulate a bit? At least you wont have to water the garden for a while, if again for the season.

    Ouch, pigs love to dig, and I’m sure yours are no different. Perhaps think of the soggy and muddy experience as providing more areas for the pig to wallow, whilst they’re turning the soil and aerating it? That’s my best positive spin on the matter, in reality, cleaning up the bedding area with fresh dry straw is what I had to do with the chickens as well. What else do you do in such weather?

    Apparently, the Bureau of Meteorology down here has today declared a third La Nina summer in a row. That means wet for us, and perhaps dry on the west coast of your continent. How much water can a Koala bear?

    I reckon what’s left of the tomatoes best be harvested now, they’ll split for sure with that amount of rain.

    Ladies definitely need ladies nights, as do guys needing guy time for sure. 🙂 Glad you had fun. The drive on the other hand sounded most un-fun. Not good, but at least Carla made it home OK and the basement wasn’t flooded. I’d seriously hate to imagine what cleaning out water contaminated with sewage would be like. Hardly good for your health, and the things people and industries chuck into the sewers is alarming.

    It’s nearing freezing outside tonight, and um, well, fingers crossed that there is no frost tomorrow morning. It was freezing over night last night too, but no frost this morning, just a bit of ice around the place. Not sure why. Plenty of almonds, apricots and plums are in blossom now. Oh well, that’s plants and climate for ya.



  13. @ Lew
    The cottage was originally part of the Osborne House estate and a member of staff lived in it. Queen Victoria used to stop off there, I assume for a cup of tea. There was a covered walkway to a separate room where she sat. This room was larger than any room in the house.
    I have no idea why it was first sold away from the estate or when.

    Mention of writing a memoir was hilarious, particularly so because I was badgered yesterday by a neighbour on the very same subject. He told me that I would be famous. Laughing his head off because he knows that I choose to live below the parapet as does he.


  14. Hello Chris
    We really did have free speech once and it is claimed that we still have it, but I think not.
    Australia was much stricter over the virus than we were. I think that most people went along with the first lockdown but compliance weakened a lot subsequently.
    The cottage sold very recently with about 28 acres of (I guess) woodland. Because it was part of the Osborne estate once, it owns the beach to the low tide mark. Unlike my beach which I only own to the mean high tide mark.
    It owns the Quay to the mid channel.


  15. Hi Lewis,

    Low 70’s sounds lovely, although the overnight temperatures aren’t enough to continue ripening the tomatoes. It’s 0’C / 32’F outside right now, and hopefully there is no frost tomorrow morning? It was just as cold last night, but we appear to have dodged the frost this morning. I’m not sure why that would be? Frosts seem to require more than just cold air. Hmm. Do you know anything about this subject? A mystery!

    People will be happy to be able to return to their homes – and doubly so to find them still there. It’s a relief, and perhaps the fire may have used up most of the fuel in the immediate area near to the town? That can happen. The 1983 fire here might have been much bigger had a much smaller fire a few weeks earlier not occur. The story apparently goes that someone working at the water works plant using an angle grinder in long dry grass ignited that earlier fire. I’ve heard an old timer recount that the bloke went from Zero for that earlier fire to people recognising the lucky break provided by the fire-break inadvertently created. Perhaps it would be easier if such fire-breaks were allowed to be created in the landscape, or the state government did more burning off. They take that task for themselves, and yet manage the responsibility very poorly. Locals would probably do a better job of it.

    I agree, future craziness is a near certainty now. But in what form will it take? I guess we’ll find out.

    When we got home from the big smoke tonight, the inside temperature of the house was 14’C / 57’F, and fair enough it was near freezing outside. Mate, I’m cranking the wood heater now and it’s now risen to 61’F. Before heater, wear wool, after heater, wear wool. 🙂

    No, no such high office for the likes of me. That role is for someone else. Anyway, if the rats had any say in the matter they’d possibly vote in favour of your suggestion, if only to get rid of me. Their nefarious plans are ignoble, best we don’t play into the hands of the rats. Hey, I’d like to believe that if the need came for a touch of oration, I could do that trick. I’m comfortable with public speaking, mostly due to being forced to do so in High School in front of the entire school. Kids can be harsh critics, but often they provide sound feedback due to the sheer lack of filters, and earnest desire to critique their fellows. The cheeky scamps.

    Oh, you’ve mentioned Uncle Larry before. Yes, quite the character. It’s an interesting question isn’t it? You know I suspect that folks are a touch reactionary right now due to years of stress being applied. I probably wouldn’t recommend the Uncle Larry approach now that I’ve considered the matter a bit further.

    Really? I hadn’t known that about snow, and will try and observe the effect when next it snows (it may not this year, didn’t last year, and probably won’t next year).

    The video was very charming. Thank you. I know almost nothing of Paddington Bear. This must be remedied. Yes, Paddington himself was originally abandoned, and the blues band, the homeless dude, and of course our charming protagonist suggest that you are indeed correct. It was saying something.

    I’ll get onto that task tomorrow with the bees. How could I have been so neglectful of such a useful tradition? I told you education these days was appalling.

    Thanks for the funding explanation. Ah, a mixture of public and private funds. Hmm. Libraries down here are managed by the local councils, of which there are I believe 79 in the state, from large rural areas to smaller densely packed urban areas. They collect property taxes (council rates) from land owners, and they fund the libraries. Of course there is always the State Library, which I presume is funded by the State Government, and of course there is in the city: The Melbourne Athenaeum, which I believe is a members based library.

    The cottage looked delightful to me. Just the place to get away from it all.

    It is possible that there aren’t enough connections at the local exchange for the new credit union? I’m not quite certain how these things work, but I believe most telephone calls go over the interweb nowadays.

    I’ll have a look into forest progression.

    Mate, I can barely keep my eyes open. Sleepy time is calling.



  16. @ Inge – That’s a nice turn of phrase. “below the parapet.” But how many young people would even know what you were talking about? I usually say, about living here at the Institution, that I “keep myself, to myself.” Lew

  17. Yo, Chris – My cherry tomatoes keep ripening. Even with the cool nights. I’m about ready to pick another round, for another dryer load. I know little about the ins and outs of frost. Perhaps you should consult Mr. Jack Frost? 🙂 Or, sooner or later, Prof. Mass will probably explain it all.

    More Packwood fire news. It’s now at 3,096 acres. There was mention in another article of “…crews will be wrapping the historic structures at Packwood Lake.” Which may also include the library, as it is a historic structure.

    You may find this newer article, interesting. Especially down toward the bottom where they talk about “defensible space” and warning evacuees that when they return home, they may find “new landscaping.” Now a smart homeowner would observe what the fire crews did … and maintain whatever changes were made.,299740

    I can do public speaking, but am not comfortable. But, on reflection, if I go to meetings, I do tend to babble … but hold it to a minimum amount of time. And, occasionally inject a bit of humor.

    Well, you’ll need a real snowfall (like in the pictures you posted), to notice a change in the light. Those light dustings you’ve had, so far, won’t cut it. 🙂

    The Paddington Bear clip reminded me of when I was a doorman, way back in the early 70s. Just off Seattle’s Skid Row, before the whole area got yupped up. I sat in an entry way, that was shallow, but very long, with a few shaded corners. On really nasty nights, I’d occasionally let the, err, Ladies of the Night, duck in, to get out of the rain for awhile. After awhile, they started bringing me oranges, from the little grocery up the street.

    By joining the regional library system, the little libraries got more “bang for their buck,” by centralizing some services. But they lost a lot of local control. On the last “New Items List” there were NO new DVDs. I wondered if someone had forgot to download them. So, using the computer in our Institution library, I availed myself (for the first time) to a real time chat, with a librarian at our Service Center. Chuck was very helpful. They did download some titles, but no new DVDs. That’s a first. Oh, and by the way, I noticed, per my suggestion, they did order copies of “Slouching Toward Utopia.” It appeared on my hold list. I don’t know when it will show up.

    I don’t know what the story is, about my Credit Union. That’s all they had to say. That they hadn’t got an internet connection, yet. Might not even be the whole story. I imagined maybe they found a huge security hole, in the basic construction of the place. As with you and your rats. 🙂

    When I was at the grocery, last night, I noticed that a local big bread company had pumpkin spice bagels and bread. But I held back, as they have an outlet store, in town. Not all that far from the Club. I knew I could get them at half the price, there. So, I stopped in this morning. I got pumpkin spice bagels, bread AND old fashioned donuts.

    Stopped by the Club. Biscuits and gravy are on again. The young lady who did it, so enjoys it, that she figured out a cost cutting method. Make the gravy part, from scratch. It was very tasty. I’m off to shop for our Club pantry, tonight. Maybe I won’t lock my keys in the truck? Lew

  18. Hello Chris,
    Thanks for the very flattering intro to my blog pages in your sidebar. 😉
    I rather see us as “trying our best to be a little less stupid”…

    Today I got 20m3 organic soil amendment (local turf mixed with organic chicken poo) to increase the soil carbon, and on Thursday I look forward to a few tons of pig manure and a neighbour with a rotary plow to work it in. A year from now, I will measure pH and evaluate how much lime I will add next winter. The chestnuts and hazel are fine with a bit acidic, but the walnut trees love the lime, so I will aim for something in the middle.

    I have now a pond (3x5m and 1.5m deep) that I am trying to fill with rain water. Mainly to have a water reserve if everything else dries up, but also to increase local biodiversity. Water is life. I sit on a sandy soil, so I use an EPDM (rubber) liner.

    It is great to get things in place for the winter tree planting season.

    Again, I would like to share to all your readers that I really appreciate all the observations that you have shared here over the years. It has been very useful to us, to make better informed decisions.


  19. @ Lew and Chris,

    The Goat Rocks fire crew said that they DID get some of the rain Lew got. It’s also cooler and the humidity is higher, with the potential for more rain later this week. The fire also appears to be moving south, rather than west toward Packwood. Packwood’s evacuation level dropped to Level 1 – be ready to go, but nothing imminent.


  20. Chris,

    Problem solving in life can be a good thing. The downside is that folks wired like I am to view everything as a problem to be solved? Well, a lot of things can’t be solved and trying to solve those bits leads to bad things. Learning how things relate and trying to work with the relationships is more of an art form, but also something that is vitally important. And something I’m finally learning a bit as I age.

    I dunno, mate, I really dunno. Was dad disappointed? Clearly. But was it at the lack of an Oly or at that his son had drunk it? Or both? We’ll never know. Interestingly, my friend who was at my house at the moment I pilfered the Oly said, “DJ, that thing has been sitting right there for 8 months. He’ll never know.” But he DID know. We won’t know.

    Ya know, I’m still upset with Mad Magazine. They took my family motto of “What? Me Hurry?” and warped it into Alfred Neuman’s “What? Me worry?” and made a fortune on it. We got nary a brass farthing for that obvious copyright infringement. 😉

    Ick. The temperatures are more seasonal and comfortable. Unfortunately, the smoke has been too thick here for the windows to get opened for 5 consecutive nights. Air quality has been bad enough that Avalanche spends most of the day indoors. No walks. Perhaps Wednesday the air quality will improve…the storm system that might drop more rain on Goat Rock fire might also blow through Spokane and scour out the worst of the smoke.

    Good work on the drains. The system looks good. I hope the chickens appreciate the effort.

    Your daffodils look extra good!

    The Princess will be in eastern Montana again this week. Another funeral. Same family of cousins as in early June. That’s two 50ish year-old daughters in 3 months. That family has been hit hard.

    That’s one big hole in the paddock. Did you find any bodies in the hole? Bury anybody in the hole? Was there a den of wombats in the hole? Inquiring minds want to know.

    I need to change the filter on my Viking Air Cleaner – a box fan with a MERV13 air filter taped onto the intake side of the fan.


  21. @ Lew
    I did consider that it might be a bit wearisome if I continued the topic, but gave in, so here goes. Keeping oneself to oneself has an aggressive tinge because of the personal hint while the parapet one refers to a more public avoidance. I’ll now shut up.


  22. Hi Inge,

    Rights are a funny topic, meaning an odd topic, as distinct from any sort of amusement. I have heard some bizarre claims in relation to rights down here, and I guess it suggests to me that people believe things that aren’t necessarily true. For some unknown reason, I believe that we in this state are currently in a state of emergency. Not sure why, but err, yeah, weird. My understanding is that the constabulary at this time could simply enter my home sans warrant. Prior to this I could ask them to politely leave the premises and they’d have to, but now, things are different. People speak of rights, but I’m not so sure about that subject now.

    What I noticed was that support for lock downs waned with each incidence and extension – and there may have been six of the things in this state. For some reason, unbeknownst to me, the enthusiasm the state government here displayed for that one tool (lock downs) was more extreme than anywhere else on the planet. We’ll probably discover the reason in time, so no hurry, what was done, was done and I can at least vent my displeasure at the election in two months time. I kid you not, one lock down which went for four months, apparently nobody in the state government owned up to making that decision. Such incompetence is rare. Perhaps it was the magical elves who wanted to keep everything the same ad infinitum who made the decision? 🙂

    Whoa! Osborne House is a level of opulence which my mind fails to comprehend. Wow!

    The old titles work that way down here too. Stops the riff raff from enjoying the beach. My understanding is that down here, when the titles are exchanged, the boundary is redrawn and the crown takes back the land to the high water mark, which presumably is the same case in your part of the world. They do say that title rights have to be asserted.

    I recall a few years ago that some very wealthy person attempted to close off access to the beach below their property in a ritzy seaside locale. Created quite the stir, and the locals (who were also not broke) probably took matters into their own hands and put an end to the land grab. Whenever I hear people suggesting that there’s some cabal of uber-wealthy folks attempting to play the role of puppet master, the mind recalls such a lack of goal congruence at that level.

    Almost forgot. It would be ‘under the radar’ down here, although you hear that said less and less nowadays. I understood the replacement with the word ‘portico’ which has suggestions of wealth and prestige as well. And I agree, oneself does have a sort of aggressive overtone to the usage.



  23. Hello Chris
    We also say ‘under the radar’ here, but again there is a subtle change of meaning. It suggests that you are trying to hide the fact that you are doing something illegal. ‘Below the parapet’ has no such suggestion.
    Change of title here would not alter the right to the beach. Title deeds are absolute as far as I know. I have a right to walk across some lands around here and queried the continuance with my solicitor after I was aggressively asked whether or not I ever used the right. My solicitor told me that any lack of usage was irrelevant, my right remains regardless. In fact a neighbour has blocked one of my rights of way by building his garage across it. I have better things to do than make a fuss but when my property gets sold, he could have a nasty problem.


  24. Hi Goran,

    🙂 Thank you. From a geopolitical and energy perspective, you are definitely miles ahead of your peers. Although I must add that the results of your recent election was barely reported upon down here. Interesting times, huh? I find it odd that your country was pulled into the mess.

    Goran, talk of 20m3 of soil amendment is like catnip. 🙂 I’m impressed, I usually limit things to 10m3 due to the difficulties of moving so much material. How are you spreading the soil amendment around the place? If I were in a hurry I’d hire a bobcat or front end loader so that everything beds down before winter sets in. I’ll be really interested to learn of your thoughts in relation to lime. Mate, that mineral makes a massive difference, although you have to be careful as to which variety of lime you bring in. If say, you already have heavy clays, it might be that you have plenty of magnesium already in the soil and want to avoid dolomite and stick to either Calcium Carbonate or Gypsum (which has sulphur), but I’m just guessing and have no idea what conditions you’re facing. But on the other hand, I’m impressed with the scale. Funny though, even 20m3 doesn’t go as far as some people might imagine.

    The rotary hoe is a good idea too.

    I’m envious of your pond. I could make a pond here, but the water would attract the deadly snakes, so better if other people in the area provide the reptiles with more suitable conditions. What do you do? Far out.

    Do you expect the soil to freeze over the winter? How do you plant bare rooted trees in frozen soil? Curious minds want to know.

    Thank you again, and that is high praise indeed. Mate, I tell it like it is, and don’t shy away from the massive stuff ups! Actually, between you and I, the stuff ups are better because if you get things right the first time, sometimes you’re not sure why that may be. 😉

    Had a massive burn off today, and I can still smell the smoke on me.



  25. Hi DJ,

    Mate, have to laugh. Your recent elucidations as to your inner workings is actually mirroring the Editor’s journey, almost word for word. In her case, the death of her father kind of exacerbated behaviours, but it’s all cool. And exactly, not everything can be fixed, and sometimes despite your best efforts, things still fail, or advice gets ignored. I wish it were not so, but it is. And there is little you can do about it. Wisdom is perhaps knowing when to assist, and when to stand back, get out of the way, and do nothing. 😉 Actually, in the past few years I’ve trialled just sowing the seeds of an idea and hoping that the seeds take root. It’s not a bad approach all things considered, and overall is less heartache and contention.

    Like the Editor, I’d have to suggest that before, you probably didn’t have the time to peer inside the workings under the hood and see what’s going on. Now you do! 🙂 Mate, I’m working like a dog now and giving the Editor the free time to do the same work. You two need to swap notes for sure! 😉

    Being a smarty pants here: How did your mate know that the beer was in the fridge for eight months? That’s the real question – and a follow on question: Did you split the nefarious gains from the Great Beer Heist, 50/50? Common sense suggests that it was so, but until we confirm the facts on the ground, it is all pure speculation? Mate, truly, one of my regrets is that at such a young age, I just completely and utterly failed to work out that I could have brewed the stuff myself and avoided all manner of hassles, whilst possibly climbing the social ladder and getting invited to parties. Need I mention the following quote (purely for research purposes):

    The principle of generating small amounts of finite improbability by simply hooking the logic circuits of a Bambleweeny 57 Sub-Meson Brain to an atomic vector plotter suspended in a strong Brownian Motion producer (say a nice hot cup of tea) were well understood. It is said, by the Guide, that such generators were often used to break the ice at parties by making all the molecules in the hostess’s undergarments leap simultaneously one foot to the left, in accordance with the theory of indeterminacy.

    Those physicists sure knew how to party!

    You got ripped off, just sayin! 😉 But then, family motto or not, it’s a worthy quote, and one which needs more air time. People seem rather strung out in these enlightened days.

    Did the storm clear the air of smoke? Had a massive burn off today, and now it’s raining. Fancy that? Another La Nina is on the horizon for this coming growing season. Surely, we’ve done something bad down here to deserve such a wet fate?

    The chickens don’t care at all. I’ve got a chicken which has become obsessive about eating eggs. I’m probably going to have to bop her. An unpleasant circumstance, which can’t be ignored for much longer. Protein they scream – I give them protein and they demand more eggs. Alas that system is broken.

    Oh no! Please extend my sympathy and condolences to your lady and we can but only hope that the tide turns.

    No bodies yet, although I might not tell. The Kelpies have been hard at work this week digging holes. Hopefully they don’t discover any hatched reptile eggs. You never know. And how would the reptiles have taken such a deep dive in the first place.

    Duct tape is a wonder product, and good to hear that you’ve put the miracle to good use on your air filter. Would you describe the set up as super-charged? Might be appropriate. 🙂



  26. Hi Lewis,

    A wise suggestion, which I’d never considered so thanks, and the good Professor has discussed this subject about five years ago: April 11, 2017 – Frost on your car but the temperature is above freezing. How can that be? I’m impressed that the good Professor was freaking out the neighbourhood with his ‘high-accuracy thermometer’. Mate, I do such things too. 🙂

    Still, the mystery remains. Yesterday morning was 32’F and there was no frost or ice. This morning was 34’F and the tops of the cars were covered with ice, but fortunately I did not notice any ice in the orchards. That was weird, but I’m grateful for the break in luck with the blossoms. Frost is not their friend. The next seven days promises cloudier and warmer over night temperatures.

    Spare a thought for the tree dudes who worked this morning. It was a touch bitey, as in zombie freezing cold (can zombies be freezed? Is that even a proper present tense verb?), temperature-wise. I lit a burn off pile for the guys to keep warm, and they really appreciated the gesture. They got stuck into cleaning up the old logging refuse, and I was very grateful because I’m strong, but they’re stronger and were able to move some logs that I had dreaded dealing with. I gave them the log rollers AKA peaveys and they used them well. The logs were rolled into the burn off fire and even now late into the night I can still see the glow. It was a hot fire. I might head out and push the pile together. Thank gawd there are no bears in this part of the world – it would make the sensitive person nervous that they’d be ripped limb from limb by a hungry, or angry, bear.

    Good stuff with the tomatoes, and dehydrating them is I reckon the tastiest way to preserve tomatoes, although we also do passata when the summer is sort of warm. Yum!

    Of all the things I thought that would be done, wrapping a structure in temporary fire blanket is not one that I would have thought of. Might look into that practice. Hope the structure doesn’t need the wrapping.

    That particular newspaper writes very thoughtful and balanced articles (the ones I’ve read anyway). Yes, defensible spaces around buildings is a very good idea. Some of the earlier photos displayed rather large trees adjacent to houses, and you know, it’s an option. Probably wouldn’t do that myself, but there you go.

    Mate, you sound like you’ve got a good balance. Sometimes I play the role of moderator with people I know and err, gently redirect the conversation when it goes on over long. I dunno what I’m doing I just kind of watch the vibe of other people. Mostly, people who’ve known me a long time pick up that they’ve babbled on a bit long and take the hint with good grace, but sometimes when they first encounter that tactic a few folks get a little bit tetchy. The humour is a great idea. Mate, with the graduate program, sometimes I used to run training sessions and if they were dropping off, I’d chuck chocolates at the graduates. A unique training tool, but far out, it works! And everyone gets a laugh.

    Man, it is bucketing down outside. Hope it doesn’t put the fire out. Mind you, I was just about to head down and push the fire together so glad I wasn’t caught out in the rain. Another year, another La Nina wet growing season. Oh well, mustn’t grumble. The rain on the radar looks to be a sizeable chunk of blob. Haven’t heard anything about blobs in your part of the world for a while. What’s going on?

    Hehe! Maybe such snowfall will happen sometime, but yeah, the more usual snowfall can be brief and perfunctory. 🙂

    That’s really sweet, and more importantly, compassionate. The ladies probably did it pretty tough. I’ve noticed that in the city, the number of homeless folks seems to have risen.

    It’s impressive you were able to chat with a warm body. Not always possible. I’ll be interested to hear what you have to say about the book ‘Slouching Toward Utopia’, and if you recommend it, I’ll give it a read too.

    Your suggestion about the rats got my mind considering the old excuse story about: The Dog ate my Homework (would make a good children’s book title – our fortunes might be made, although you have to do the book tours, too much for me 🙂 ) Anyway, imagine if rats got into the credit union vaults, and ate, or at the very least, destroyed the notes? In the past I’ve gone into bank branches to exchange damaged notes, and they’re pretty good about it – as they should be. But losing a truck load of notes might be an entirely different matter! What headache that would be. You can almost hear the head office types saying: Sure, the rats got the notes…

    What a score, although I’m a bit dubious as to bagels. What’s an old fashioned doughnut? Sounds intriguing! The old school doughnuts down here are the Cinnamon doughnuts. So good, so more-ish. You used to be able to purchase them in freshly baked lots, and some work places I used to take them in – then I read the Dexter series of books.

    The Editor said something odd about synthetic milk. I’d read stories of synthetic meat and it costs more to produce that stuff than it does to just raise cattle. I’m not sure I’m a fan of err, such innovations. Reminds me of Soylent. Do we really need this?

    Hehe! Make the gravy from scratch!!! Whatever will they think of next? The young lady is a keeper to have worked out that idea. Respect. Mate, some visitors have been scared when confronted by the contents of the kitchen cupboards. Freaking out the neighbourhood! 🙂



  27. Hi Inge,

    Apologies, I’d used the word ‘portico’ in place of ‘parapet’, and introduced a difference. But I agree, using the phrase ‘under the radar’ does suggest shady dealings, or the desire to avoid undue attention from the authorities – which probably amounts to the same thing. Maybe?

    The definition of the word ‘parapet’ has caused me to wonder about the origins of the phrase. From my reading, the phrase suggests that troops may have been hidden by the defensive structure, but I’m not entirely sure. And of interest, the parapet would most likely have been employed by the authorities in defence, and not the other way around as with the radar phrasing. What is your opinion of my understanding of this phrase? I’d never heard it used before.

    Out of curiosity, how did the rights to the access to the easements come to be? And I realise you can’t answer, but I’m gobsmacked to read that your neighbour would build a garage over the access right of way. Aggressively pursuing the matter raises more interest than had they been cool about the issue – and that clearly was the outcome.

    Like you, I too would take such an approach. Hardly worth the bother, but the garage does not negate the right. I guess they’re hoping it gets forgotten about? Although it can be difficult to discern motives. For all we know, they could be growing naughty cash crops! People always ask me about such things. Not sure why, but I always reply that my business is so well known around these parts that it would be foolish to do so.

    It’s hard to believe, but the rain was pouring out of the sky a few minutes ago. And we’re due for another wet summer. Ook!



  28. @ Inge – I hadn’t thought about it, that way, but sometimes, the aggressive tinge is exactly what I’m shooting for. 🙂

    The right of way topic brought a TV series to mind. “The Detectorists.” Which I quit enjoyed. In one episode (as I remember), a property developer built a house across a right of way. When it came time to show the property, a great mob of people showed up, marched in the front door and out the back. Lew

  29. Yo, Chris – Did it again. I got about a paragraph in, and, blip! Gone! Once more into the breach.

    I thought Prof. Mass would come through. So, to extend your growing season, you should put your beds six feet above the ground 🙂 Prof Mass’s neighbors probably thought he was checking for radioactivity, or radon gas.

    Can zombies be frozen. We haven’t had any more rain, but the clouds sure look like it. My Idaho friends got some rain. Settled the smoke, and they could open their windows, at night. I got my electric bill, yesterday, and parts of it were interesting. I used more power, than the same month last year. Same, last month. Given the A/C and dehydrator, no surprise there. I’ll make it up in the winter when I need little or no heat. But the really interesting thing is, they had a box for average temperatures. This month, the average temperature was 82F. Last month it was 79F. Last year, the average temperature for this month was 77F.

    Or a cougar. No worries. If all goes well, you’ll soon have to contend with Tasmanian Devils. 🙂 I bet the Tree Dudes are looking forward to warmer weather. Your sensitive to their needs. I bet not all their customers are.

    I mean to mention how some of the pictures of the Packwood fire, well, the brush and trees growing right up agains a house. Foolish. The structure wraps are pretty amazing. I think they used it to try and save some historic trees, down in California. I wonder how hard it is to get. And is it expensive. And can it be re-used.

    There’s been several articles on the triple dip La Nina. For us, the general forecast is colder and wetter. Maybe flooding, maybe snow.

    The Fallen Women were not very forthcoming about how they ended up fallen. The exotic dancers, that lined up at my cafe counter every morning, were a lot more chatty. Most of them were single moms, trying to keep a roof over their kids heads, and food on the table. A really good look at that world can be found in the TV series, “The Deuce.” Not family friendly, but, fascinating. To me. It all takes place in the 1970s/80s. It’s really a history of how the adult entertainment business evolved, and the evolution of street life along with it.

    There are several books (mostly for kids) titled, “The Dog Ate My Homework.” Not to be confused with “My Homework Ate My Dog.” Or, “Aliens Ate My Homework.” Or, “Zombies Ate My Homework.” Yes, those are all actual books. 🙂

    Bagels are wonderful. Especially the onion ones. Besides being tasty on their own, they’re often transport devices for other goodies. Hmmm. How to describe and Old Fashioned Donut? Search “Franz Old Fashioned Donuts” and check images. They have a slightly firmer crust, and are … crinkly? I think it’s a “brand,” particular to that bakery company.

    Well, the “young” lady, is young, in relationship to me. Of course, to me, just about anyone under, say, 55 is young. You’ll get it when suddenly police men and doctors, seem hardly out of high school. 🙂

    I went shopping for the pantry, last night. Made a pretty good haul. I also picked up some ground pork, and those tinned biscuits, for the Club. I’ll be reimbursed, for those. Lew

  30. Chris,

    “Do nothing” is becoming one of my favorite responses to life’s situations. It becomes a great tool in the kit, especially when paired with “Shut up and listen”. 🙂

    Hmmmm, swap notes? That’s assuming that I have notes! Glad Sandra is getting the time to process things. Very important.

    My friend was at the house a lot, had seen the inside of the refrigerator many times. And yes, the gains were split 50/50. Twas his idea, after all. 😉 He came out ahead: he got a share of the spoils and did not have to endure The Look.

    Okay, some other physics students and advanced the operation somewhat for our amusement. Moving clothing a few feet was child’s play and got boring. We wanted to embarrass the nasty professor, the Dreaded Dr. Dan. I ignored some basic maths rules; with the help of a few classmates, we took my results and concocted the Skyrider Identity, the name inspired by the song “Ghost Riders in the Sky”. That allowed us to improve on the Bambleweeny 57 process by having multiple parallel universes which we could access…that and we realized that by adding MORE brownian motion by shaking the piping hot cup of tea, we were able to move objects between these parallel universes. So, one day during the Dreaded Dr. Dan’s lecture, we fired things up and just as he reached for a piece of chalk, some very interesting pieces of clothing appeared from “nowhere” and were clutched in his hand. That day’s lecture came to a sudden and entertaining end. 😉 Another astute classmate wondered if in this case “nowhere” meant “no where” or “now here”.

    For real, the physics profs took the physics students to Bill’s Tavern many Fridays, the profs buying all the beer we could drink. One student’s girlfriend had just dumped him, so he was a bit morose. She was there also, and suggested that maybe she would do a table dance. (Not seriously, just to irk her ex.) Her ex promptly began pounding a fist on the table while chanting “take it off, take it off!” about an hour later, the guy, now not quite so down in the dumps, had the idea that he should do a table dance. He was met with most of us pounding our fists on the table chanting “keep it on! keep it on!”

    We did get some rain sprinkles off and on for a few hours Wednesday morning. The air quality eventually improved to the lower part of “moderate”. I got some outdoor work done and Avalanche was happy to be outdoors with me so we could have some good chases and some training sessions. Things are deteriorating somewhat in the evening, so the windows will remain closed for now.

    There was rain throughout much of the region. The Princess told me that she ran into very heavy rain going over Lookout Pass which straddles the Idaho and Montana border. And it kept raining hard for over an hour of her travels. Perhaps many of the fires got slowed down from this system.

    A super charged air cleaning system? Hmmmm, maybe, okay. Hence, due to the use of duct tape, one could say that the air filter got inDUCTed into the system? 😉


  31. Hey Chris,

    Nice work with the rats. I too have been fighting an extended battle against our rodent companions and, after trying every other possible tactic, finally resorted to poison. The last straw was when they decided to start chewing through the plastic container that holds the chicken feed in the shed. Apparently these new rat poisons are not dangerous to birds and other animals. I’m sceptical but they certainly did the trick and the pitter patter of tiny feet on the roof of the extension can no longer be heard.

    Those car stereo pictures bring back memories. The one and only time I invested in a better stereo and went to the trouble to install it, the thing got knocked off about 3 weeks later. The locks on those old Ford Cortinas were ridiculously easy to break into. I once got it open with a flathead screwdriver!


  32. Hello Chris
    I always assumed that ‘keeping below the parapet’ was to avoid an arrow.
    The said garage was built against his neighbour’s fence. Haha, my right of way goes right through said fence and on through. That next lot are the ones who tried to shut off a vehicular right of way to the beach that I had. I did contest that one and was given a key to the gate that they put there. Two other neighbours also had that right and I got keys for them also. One does need to choose ones fights, worth it or not is the question.


    @ Lew
    I looked at a house once that had a right of way straight through its walls from side to side. My solicitor (I was seriously interested in the property) said ‘look out of the window, there must be a path’. No there wasn’t, a creek came right up to the back of the property. I didn’t buy the place but gathered that the issue was later settled. One really does need to have a very good solicitor when buying property.


  33. Hi Inge,

    Yes, that makes sense. Thanks for the explanation. The many interweb sites dedicated to providing explanations suggests that the phrase refers to ‘the avoidance of risk’. Being shot by an arrow would be a very unpleasant experience, and possibly fatal – or the resulting infection would be. You could suggest that ‘flying below the radar’ describes a person taking on risk, but also wanting to avoid being caught. That is definitely a different kind of person. Language is fascinating.

    Ah, interesting indeed. That garage would not have been allowed here. There are proscribed set backs from the property boundaries for out buildings. Basically, the neighbour would have had to demolish the structure if it was down here, but then someone has to lodge a complaint, and then there would be repercussions. I agree, selecting when to pick ones fights is a difficult subject, and good for you for distributing the keys. That’s a great least-worst path through the mess.

    Some people just push boundaries looking for an edge for themselves. I’d have to suggest that as time goes on, this occurrence will become more common as real wealth declines.



  34. Hi Simon,

    Thanks! The rats were such a pain, and feeding twenty of them was something of a burden. Since eliminating them, I’ve reduced the quantity of feed consumed by about a third. The rats enjoyed excellent health, but yeah. And the cheeky rodents attract snakes – not a good outcome for anyone.

    Who knows about the poisons? It’s actually a situation where if you do nothing, it’s a problem, and if you poison them, maybe there is some small risk? Dunno. Whatever the case, if you do nothing, the rats will thrive on your chicken feed, and it’s not as if they can’t climb trees and take out fledglings in their nests.

    I read somewhere long ago that after the dinosaur killing meteor hit the Earth 65 million years ago, the mammals on land which survived resembled today’s rodents. A highly adaptable critter to survive such an epic disaster if ever there was one. They’ll be around long after the human species is but a mere memory.

    Hehe! What a shocker to lose your car stereo, but then Ford Cortina’s were not known for their secure locks. Curious minds want to know: Did you replace the car stereo with a cheaper model?



  35. Hi, Chris!

    My birthday is in January. We always had to have an indoor party. Back in the day, the skating rink was always popular.

    I guess Plum couldn’t reach the rats? Otherwise, they would have gotten what for. It’s nice to see Ruby.

    That is one strange sunset.

    Do you normally get many plums?

    When people would go on too long I used to look at my watch and exclaim: “Is that the time?!” Alas, with my phone always handy (and my watch broken) I can no longer use that ploy.

    The succulent flowers are so lovely, notwithstanding cockatoos (?). Or maybe they were withstanding . . . There is nothing like daffies to cheer one up. Thanks!


  36. @Lew:

    I so much enjoyed the clip of the Queen and Paddington Bear. To think that she made that when she was 96, or almost.


  37. Hi DJ,

    Knowing went to keep quiet is a worthy skill, and one I’m refining. Which is to say, working at it! Actually, I’ve found that keeping quiet and out-quieting folks who are being rude to me is quite an effective strategy. Mostly, I’m quiet because my brain hasn’t yet formulated a response to the sheer outrage of the situation, but they don’t know that, and need we tell them? 🙂

    Ah, listening. Grasshopper, when you hear words spoken, and understand meaning, then will you be ready to go into the world. Said using memories blindly ripped off the old Kung Fu television show. Can’t argue with such excellent pedigree, can we? Who knows what it means, but it probably means something.

    What? No, notes? No, journal? Well, there you go! Yeah, thanks man. A lot of work for me, but such is my lot.

    Who can survive the ‘Look’? You’re probably better for having had the experience, and survived. Could have been worse, you could easily have enjoyed ‘the look’ and the ‘remonstration’. Nobody wants that. And your mate did win, although it may have been difficult visiting your house after the incident? Everything was OK, before the incident. 😉 I’d never thought to do such a thing when I was a kid, mostly due to consequences, death and stuff. 🙂

    Thanks for the laughs! 🙂 Exactly, where is ‘now’ anyway? Surely time is a relative concept? No! I can’t believe I chucked that thought out there. I’m not worthy of such discussions! Perhaps the lesson to take away from the morose ex-girlfriend story is that beer can turn ships around, give the middle finger to the sirens of yore, and being the romantic that I am, find one’s true love. In caveman terms: Beer Good. Ugg! Not sure what the Ugg was for, but you have to admit that it kind of worked?

    For different reasons than excessive smoke from fires, the fluffy’s crazy running around time was also restricted today. The mountain was socked in with thick fog and drizzle all day long. At times we headed down below to tend the large bonfire, and got wet for thanks. But the fire sure is burning hot. Not even 15mm of rain put the thing out. Yikes! Has the smoke cleared away?

    Glad to hear that your lady got through the worst of the storm. A bit of a shame that the view from Lookout Pass was obscured by the rain. Mate, the Bitterroot Range is epic looking. What a majestic landscape.

    Oh, that’s a good joke. Hope no ducks are harmed in the ducts? Sorry, that’s the best I have. Ook!



  38. Hi Lewis,

    Braving the uncharted waters of dodgy software and older computers is always fraught. But then, here’s the catch: the older computers have been tested by time, and are still going. What’s to be of the newer computers in as many years time? Probably not good. 🙂 My work laptop is well over a dozen years old now, and has been through a repair here, a software upgrade there, and a work around for chunks of failing hardware over there. But you know what? The thing still works just fine. For how long will that situation last? Do we really want to ask that question? Until it doesn’t is the proper answer. I don’t use anywhere near the grunt that newer computers provide, and never asked for it anyway.

    Hehe! What a thought! A raised bed, like literally raised on a platform six feet above the ground. My head spins at the engineering required for the structure to hold the weight. On a serious note, the soil in the raised beds is actually warmer than soil in the more traditional rows. Oh! Almost forgot to mention. It’s exciting! The Japanese ginger plant in the greenhouse has sent forth a shoot from the soil. Yay! I’ll be curious to see if the flowers live up to the taste reputation.

    The more traditional ginger has yet to awaken from its winter slumber. Being in the greenhouse, it was easy to keep the soil for the ginger plants drier than it would be anywhere else – and I didn’t have to dig up the tuber. Now, if it works I might be onto something. Fingers crossed.

    It’s a serious question. Oh wow. There is a zombie research society. Who knew? And they’ve researched the poop out of the frozen zombie question. DO ZOMBIES FREEZE IN COLD WEATHER? Well there you go. The comments are a hoot with even mention of Finnish skinheads. Talk about a niche genre.

    I hear you about things being warmer. It’s the warmer ocean waters surrounding this continent which are driving the unrelenting wet weather. As an innovation in the weather, today was both foggy and drizzly. And I don’t recall any snow for the past two years now. Oh well. Kept the bonfire going today, and it soothes my soul to clean up the mess the loggers left over the century they were active in the forest. But it is a very hard job.

    Holy carp! Forgot about the cougars. You can keep them too. Although I have a hunch that over millennia, the humble, yet feral domestic cat will get bigger. Why not? Actually, cats are rarely humble, the cheeky scamps.

    Yes and no with the tree dudes. It’s easier to keep cooler doing such hard work during the winter months. I was talking to the boss man of the dudes yesterday, and he was telling me about his climbing work. It was very windy yesterday and so they were also happy to be working on stuff at ground level. Yeah, you’re right, but then I’ve known them for at least a decade, and we’re on good working terms. They wanted to work last Thursday, but we had an inch and a half of rain that day and I just said no, but that is rare. If they contact me, they get the work.

    Houses and very large trees (particularly flammable ones) don’t mix well. I’ve heard the theories, and seen the squashed cars and houses. It’s not good.

    Dude, they really do wrap large Californian Redwoods with the stuff. Just checked out the website. Claims as to re-usability were made. It’s not a bad idea. It’ll be expensive I’m guessing.

    Possibly it will get wetter here, dunno about the more southerly parts of the west coast of your continent. More of the same might be how things go there. Not good. Adding to the general wetness here is a negative Indian Ocean dipole event and a positive Southern Annular Mode event. Yeah, gonna be wet. Oh well have to deal with things as they are, and not as I might want them to be. That’s life.

    The series looks gritty and intense. An interesting time, that’s for sure.

    What? No way! I was certain that our fortunes were to be made. Better get back to the drawing board. Aliens Ate My Homework, is a pretty good spin on the title.

    I’ll pass on the bagel, I’m struggling with the boiling bit. I just don’t get it, sorry. On the other hand, old fashioned donuts are a fine looking specimen. Incidentally, the cinnamon donuts were not that different looking. I see that they used a glaze over the dough. Not a bad idea at all. Doughnuts aren’t a big thing down here, although when I used to go the fruit and vegetable markets they did have a food truck (years before they were a thing), and you’d go up to the window (it was an aerostream bus, years before they were a thing) and order freshly deep fried doughnuts and they’d roll them in sugar and squirt a chunk of jam in the guts of the delectable monster. Probably not good for you, but so good, still warm from the fryer and tasty. As the years went on, the squirt of jam became less, and that wasn’t heading in the right direction for my palate.

    ‘anyone under, say, 55 is young’! Hehe! You might have to be careful with those observations, look at what happened when I called a bloke ‘sir’ the other day. Far out, what a carry on!

    I assume this is for the biscuits and gravy? The pantry is a very good idea. I’m hearing stories of food banks getting smashed by requests. It’s not good, and inflation is eating away at peoples incomes and savings. Eventually the policy makers will rue their foolish economic policies. The underlying resource and energy shortages cannot be swept under the carpet.



  39. Hi Pam,

    🙂 Winter birthdays are for the strong. You kind of have to be, don’t you? The lock downs meant err, no party, no seeing friends etc for almost two years. There’s probably a bit of residual trauma in there.

    Do you refer to ice skating, or roller skating? Dunno whether you ever roller skated, but every now and then, with no warning, the direction would be reversed and there was a lot of fun confusion as all the roller skaters had to change direction. Silly, but also kind of fun. There were ice skating rinks down here, but they were not as common. Snow sports aren’t that well followed down here (for obvious reasons). It hasn’t snowed here for two years now – is this a new normal, or a new different? One wonders.

    Dame Plum and I worked as a tag team. I used the steel wire in a coat hanger to knock to the ground the rats who’d attempted to climb out of reach. Dame Plum would do what was needful. What I like about her is that she treats the incident as something she is required to just do, and won’t get razzed up like some other dogs I’ve known. I may have squealed once or twice (maybe more than that) when the rats actually jumped at me. Some of the rats were fearless.

    Plums (the fruit) are quite commonly available when in season in this corner of the continent. I have a hunch that people look down upon them as a lesser fruit, but au contraire! The plums grown here are smaller, but tastier than the commercial varieties. And what I’ve noticed over the years is that depending upon the prevailing weather for the growing season, different plums are better in different years. How does that compare to your part of the world?

    Very polite, and please excuse the watch pun: You wound the conversation up. 🙂 Had a neighbour once many years ago, who just could drone on and on. That was when I learned to just cut him short. ‘Man, I gotta go’. I had not encountered such a beast before, and at first (don’t laugh) I thought I was going to upset the bloke with my abrupt conclusion to the conversation, but no. It didn’t matter. A mystery. I’m sure you’ve met folks like that? It would be OK if they were interesting or amusing, but no…

    Thanks. And yes, that was the bird. Hmm. We’re not friends that species of bird and I. 🙂 The daffies are lovely aren’t they?



  40. Hi Chris,

    Another winter birthday here, February in my case. It happens to be my least favorite month. Spring doesn’t get going in any meaningful sense till March, when the forsythia and daffodils start blooming and the soil thaws for the final time. By February I am just plain tired of winter and cold weather but stuck with it for another month or more (if we have a colder than normal March, more).

    Our numpties-in-charge don’t have any better ideas than yours do, I’m sorry to say. Ours have decided that throwing money at the predicament of climate change is going to do some good. Which it might, if the money were actually directed toward reducing energy use – except that it isn’t. Meanwhile, we have an election in November. Even though it isn’t a presidential election, I don’t have enough popcorn for it. I don’t think enough popcorn exists for it.

    The Zen monks got it just right.

    As I type, all the windows in our house are being replaced. The windows being replaced weren’t original to the house. Those windows were wood and single glazed. These windows were aluminum and vinyl framing, double glazed. They were installed during the previous owner’s time in the house. We know not when, but we’ve lived here 20 years, so it was longer ago than that. One of the installers of the new windows just remarked on the low quality of the window he’s removing. I hear that. The reason they are being replaced is that this summer two of the windows broke as I was opening them, so the bottom pane (they were double-hung) would not stay in place when we raised it, and it was hard to raise. I had a brick holding the bottom pane up in one and a rock doing that job in another. A third one had broken like that a few years back, only it was the top pane in that case, so it was permanently closed. We put up with the first broken one, and even the second one when it broke early this summer, but when the third one broke a little over a month ago, we realized that it was a trend and that it was time to replace the windows. Amazingly, it only took a month after we ordered the windows for them to be installed (and the weather is perfect, warm and dry, no heat or AC needed – except that mosquitoes are getting in the house while the doors are open and the windows are out). It’s the same company that did the windows and doors for our front and back porches, so we are comfortable with them and the quality of their products. After the job is done, I’ll see about getting the kind of window coverings JMG mentioned in the previous Ecosophia post.

    In the garden, all the squash family plants have died, but the tomatoes and peppers are still producing. We’ve had some lows in the 50sF this week but it’s been sunny and dry, so highs have been around 80F or so. The eggplants are doing better than they have all summer and are finally making some eggplants. It was too hot for them most of the summer. I have also picked lots of beans, and I started harvesting edamame (the soybean version of green peas). The autumn greens and roots are growing well and need thinning. I’ll do that after I clean up where the windows were replaced and Mike and I put everything back in its place.


  41. Yo, Chris – …and in news of the world … Kevin Smith is coming out with a new movie. “Clerks III”. And, yes, Jay and Silent Bob will make appearance. There was a line quoted from the movie, in the review. One of the characters says that he “prays to Conan the Barbarian’s god Crom, mostly to irritate those around him.” 🙂

    Mushrooms are full of vitamin D. It’s recently been discovered, that if you put them in the sunlight, gills up, for a few moments, it really boosts the amount of vitamin D, available.

    Our railroads may go on strike, tomorrow. Supply line problems? We haven’t seen anything, yet. Passenger service is also suspended. Also, I didn’t realize it, but a lot of UPS delivery drivers are private contractors. The company has been making billions, their contract is up for renewal. Given the price of gas, and the fact that the vans have no A/C and the drivers were dropping like flies, they may strike. If so, they plan to pull it off the day after Thanksgiving 🙂 .

    I suppose I could bite the bullet, and learn about Foxfire software, or something. But, I figure as soon as I had a minimal grasp of it, some bit of hardware would fail. Nope. New computer in my future. But not just yet …

    You could put your raise beds (to avoid frosts) on rock gabions. Run heated water or electrical coils through the beds?

    Go Japanese ginger! I rolled out the nuclear option, a couple of days ago, and gave my corn and one sunflower a light sprinkling of ammonium nitrate. It’s a race, between the plants and the weather. Some of the corn is up waist high. I want to hear that corn grow! Which is actually, a real thing.

    “Do Zombies freeze in cold weather,” has, unfortunately slipped into a temporal anomaly. But I see the short answer is no. They kind of hibernate. Which would probably make them easier to hunt down and dispatch. Next time I use the computer in the Institution’s library, I’ll check out the site you linked to.

    Feral domestic cats are occasionally mistaken for cougars, here. It’s usually a question of distance and scale. I once thought I saw a bobcat (which is another toothy thing we have here), but it was a very large (very large) domestic cat.

    If the Tree Dudes have been coming around for a decade, you must be doing something right.

    Southern California is now being slammed by a hurricane, and there are mudslides and flooding. They do get the occasional hurricane, just not as often as our Gulf Coast.

    It’s ok if you don’t like bagels. Just means more bagels, for me. 🙂 I don’t eat the old fashioned donuts, very often. I’ve not gone out of my way to check the ingredients list. I don’t want to know.

    Yes, the pantry is banging along. So far, we can just keep up.But then, we keep it pretty low profile.

    I heard from my buddy, Scott, this morning. On the 2d, he came down with You Know What. He’s pretty sick, but not in hospital.

    Elinor called me, and I attempted to call her back, last night. Twice. The switch board put me on hold, and never put my call through. Judging from some of the instructions (…consult the list on the left hand side of your screen…” What screen.) it appears it’s mostly set up for a smart phone. So, I called her daughter, this morning, got the room number, and got a call through.

    She sounds pretty good. Wanted to talk to H. I cheated a bit. When it came time to do that, I waved her squeaky toy around, which always gets her barking. Of course, Elinor thought she was responding to her voice. The secret is safe, with me. And, I’ve sworn H to secrecy.

    So, it’s still she’ll come home if she can find a caregiver or move on to wherever, if a bed can be found. So far, no luck on either front. But the hospital can’t turn her out, unless she has a place to go. Lew

  42. PS: I picked blueberries, and then cherry tomatoes, this morning.I got enough blueberries for my three day supply of oatmeal. I may be able to do that one more time. Maybe. The cherry tomatoes are in the fridge. I’ll wash them, tonight, and run them through the dryer, tomorrow. There were some split, but not too many. I picked right before that rain, and plenty have ripened since the rain. Lew

  43. Hey Chris,

    Well, there the story takes a twist that you might appreciate. Shortly after the stereo was stolen, I was offered, through a strange sequence of events, a Suzuki Swift for practically nothing. Was in great nick and had only 50,000 km on the clock. It was, however, the most base of base models. 4 speed manual, no aircon, locks not much better than the Cortina. The stereo was well below your minimum standard. Nothing but a tape deck and speakers so small that the bass was as good as inaudible.

    But it was a bulletproof car with great fuel economy and handled beautifully despite having no power steering. With the 4 speed manual it was great fun to drive. Used to throw it around corners like nobody’s business. I even drove it across the Nullarbor without drama. In wintertime. Wouldn’t have done it in summer with no aircon.

    So, I can understand your attachment to the Suzukis.


  44. Hi Claire,

    Oh yeah, I feel much the same way about August (your February). It’s usually the month where if it’s going to snow, it will snow then. You get a certain sort of cold weather fatigue after months of winter weather (and winter isn’t all that cold here). I’ve noted that people are reluctant to venture forth that month, and they begin peering forth from the winter murk in September (your March). It just starts getting more social then, but getting people to get together to celebrate birthdays in the depths of winter runs contrary to peoples natural inclination. Mind you, the bonkers long lock downs made the time an utterly dismal experience – probably have some continuing trauma I need to work through! 🙂

    The Daffodils and other bulbs are a real treat, and you can feel the promise of the forthcoming growing season. A real pleasure after the long cold grey days of winter. The Japanese Ginger has in the past few days just sent two shoots through the soil. I’m intrigued to see if the taste of the flowers lives up to the hype? The more traditional ginger tuber has yet to awaken from its winter slumber. After reading your advice, I chose not to water the plant during the winter months and it’s sat in dry-ish soil. Last year the tuber mildly fermented due to winter watering, and that was not nice.

    Yeah, they love to print and throw bits of paper at problems down here too. Overall if I were a teacher I’d grade them F minus with the cryptic remark: “Easily distracted. Could do better!” Your red president look gave me the creeps. That act of magic has been tried before, and failed. Oh well, what will be, will be. I’d heard that there has actually been popcorn shortages.

    It’s a great quote, isn’t it. 🙂 So very true.

    Nice work. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but double hung sash windows are like the hardest of the hard windows to manufacture. The whingeing I’ve heard about them from suppliers over the years. Hmm. Good to hear that your local mob came through with the goodies, that is not always guaranteed in these days of odd and unexpected shortages. Well done and a good use of funds for windows are crucial chunks of infrastructure in a house.

    Powdery mildew is the natural end-point here for that family of plants. Nowadays as soon as I see the first signs of the fungi, I pull the plants and chuck the organic matter into garden beds. Too hot for eggplants! Far out, Claire, candidly I dream of such conditions. 🙂 Enjoy your harvest, and I look forward to reading about your tally. I’m a bit slack on recording such yield information and can only look on with total admiration for your work.

    What a surprise, late this afternoon the rain was torrential.



  45. Hi Simon,

    Man, your story is like total catnip! Sometimes the universe has things to say to us, and bizarrely the words can sound like: “Simon, get thee into this Suzuki Swift. You’ll love it. Go on, what are you waiting for?”

    In praise of the humble tape deck. Now, the secret with tape decks was getting copies of music off your mates without the quality being reduced with each subsequent copy. But even then, the music came first, and the production was secondary. Rhythm and Melody, plus a catchy hook. But then, and here I digress, there was always the album. Can the tracks be understood without the cohesiveness of the entire album? No wonder our politicians lack vision in these enlightened days. They didn’t grow up on a diet of Dark Side of the Moon. That explains everything. 🙂

    Kudos to you for surviving the Nullabor, and yeah, fortunately winter and stuff. Summer would have been a killer without air con, although Mad Max didn’t seem to have that in the Ford Interceptor. You could tell, the windows were down all the time. I’d read Dr Bill Bryson’s delightful down under travel book and he suggested that the name was of Latin derivation for No Trees. It’s an awesome drive and a great way to discover first hand, just how big the continent is. We found ourselves stopping at roadhouses, just because, and then camping out in the scrub at around the half way mark. Respect.

    Mate, a little 1L four speed Suzuki Sierra soft top taught me to let the rest of the world go by, there were other destinations and speeds. I’ve been inordinately fond of them since then.

    Did you get the rain today? Far out, it was torrential here. Another La Nina summer, oh well. Your garden will grow amazingly this summer.



  46. Hi Lewis,

    Ooooooooooo. Clerks III, gonna be good. Checked out the trailer, an interesting take on the story, and yeah why not? Honestly, I can’t forget the line from II about Kelly: I’m disgusted and repulsed, and yet can’t look away. Says it all. The film was just so very wrong, you couldn’t look away. Far out, that film made me laugh. Thanks for mentioning that there was to be a sequel, and glad that Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes can work together. That’s a tough world that one. Crom’s probably not a bad choice for a problematic and challenging world!

    What? I never knew that about mushrooms and Vitamin D, but do consume a lot of mushrooms – should probably grow them here, they’d do well in the conditions. Interesting about leaving the gill upwards to the sunlight to increase the Vitamin D. Plants are amazing. I’d often wondered why hops were used in brews, and discovered the other day a reference suggesting that hops have antiseptic among other useful properties. Makes a lot of sense in the brewing process. It astound me sometimes the sheer weight of knowledge accumulated by our species over the years. I’d imagine that there’d be some sort of optimal amount of knowledge that we can carry around with us as a civilisation? Sometimes the weight could become too much, and stuff gets chucked over board.

    Your rail strikes made the news down here. I couldn’t quite understand how or why, but your illustrious leader had become involved. It’s an option, and some companies are hard to work for. There was talk in the media a year or two back that the river distribution folks didn’t have time in their day to go to the toilet. I’ve seen Fight Club and know how that story ends, but had management seen the film? Probably not. There were also suggestions that the computer program which allocated their work had not been optimised to reduce work for the people in the warehouse, and they had to scurry from one end to the other. That seems quite mean to me given the profits produced. Such acts reflect poorly upon the owners.

    Foxfire, or bioluminescence has been reported on quite a bit in the past couple of years. Apparently, as the climate warms it has been sighted further south. Rare bioluminescence bloom ‘like fireworks’ in Moreton Bay near Brisbane. I’ve never seen such a thing, but have seen glow worms in the (even) wetter parts of the state. Amazing to see.

    No hurry or stress with the new computer, when it happens, that’s when it will be. Fingers crossed the machine will keep going for years to come. I hate upgrading hardware or software. Some people might thrive on novelty, like you, I’m not a fan.

    Heated water or electrical resistance cables through the growing beds to keep them warm during winter. Don’t think so, too much like hard work. And I try to bend with nature rather than fighting it, and try and find out the lowest energy advantage we can construct. Like the greenhouse, it just works passively and the energy and resources were spent in building the thing.

    Speaking of which, we used heaps of scrap timber today to construct a set of stairs leading off the rock gabions next to the greenhouse. It was a fun job, but err, a lot of art, and a little bit of science. We were scratching our heads and coming up with the design as we constructed the thing. Possibly why the original West Gate Bridge fell down during construction? Fortunately this is a set of timber stairs. Working out the angles of the cuts beforehand was within the realms of competency for the Editor (not for me), and yeah, after much discussion, on the ground we instead went with Chris’s patented method of trial and error for determining the angles. It’s spot on too.

    I was wondering how the ammonium nitrate worked with the corn and sunflower (I can but only dream of such plants in these cold years). Hmm, if the corn were here, I’d probably give up on them at this stage of the year. There’d be about four weeks left to the growing season, and much would depend upon the weather during that time. It depends. I never knew that about corn making sounds as it grows. Wow! Nature is amazing.

    That was the general consensus about zombies and cold weather – made life easier for the survivors. Except they might not have much to eat themselves, but then the cold weather would slow down the decomposition of any food they did have stored. So many things to consider. 🙂

    The same thing happens here with large feral domestic cats, and they can get upwards of forty pounds. Not an angry creature I’d want to encounter. The dogs and I were once attacked by a pair of angry cats, and I’d never seen anything like it. They were both up on their rear legs stalking us with their front paws held high. Glad we don’t have rabies down here, as the two cats looks rabid to me. The dogs quailed despite having the size advantage. They need to pray to Crom, huh?

    Thanks, and yeah I don’t muck those guys around, and we have a good working relationship going.

    Those corners of your continent probably need the rain. I see that the ex-hurricane was forecast to reach into Arizona. You wouldn’t expect rain there at this time of year. Probably get muddy with a side serving of flash flooding.

    Good to hear that Scott is doing OK with you-know-what. It’s been getting around, hope he keeps it to himself, as in avoid lunch catch ups for a while. It’s bad for plenty of people, but my experience wasn’t all that bad, the flu was far worse.

    Oh my gawd! You were stuck in telephone tree hell, and barely escaped with your life – or sanity for that matter. Look at how things turned out for the characters in Stephen King’s book ‘The Cell’. Not good. It’s good that you were able to talk with Elinor, and I like your style with H, and the secret is safe with me too – but I took notes for future use, just in case. H being a lady of the finest breeding, would never rat you out to Elinor. Well, over that matter. She told me that there was this one time… 🙂

    It gives me a headache thinking about the caregiver dilemma. Mate, I live in a rural area, and reputation is something you have to be careful with. Far out, what do you do?



  47. Yo, Chris – It’s why our ancestors drank an inordinate amount of brews. 🙂 Available water could be pretty dicey. I think we’re loosing a lot of accumulated knowledge. But, with a little luck and a few hundred years, it’s often rediscovered. Sometimes, the wheel is invented, twice 🙂 . One of the great mysteries is why the Mesoamericans (If that’s still the correct term. Just can’t keep up.) had wheeled toys, but no wheeled wagons or carts. Speculation is that it was because they didn’t have any draft animals. Other than Llamas. You’d think a two wheeled human pulled cart would come in handy. Terrain was also a problem.

    Here’s a good article explaining the ins and outs of the rail strike, and the White House intervention.

    But it was a near thing. “Eleventh hour,” indeed.

    I can’t say I’ve ever seen any kind of bioluminescence. We don’t have Lightening Bugs, this far west. And, when I was a kid and we got far enough east, it wasn’t the right season.

    Oh, I just toss out a lot of rubbish about your raised beds. (And a lot of other things.) But something might stick against the wall. Like spaghetti. 🙂

    No concrete stairs? Your slipping (let’s hope not.) Are you going to install railings? You probably know, that when the weather finally gets nice, you might paint the treads with a mix of deck paint, and sand. For better traction.

    I don’t know if the ammonium nitrate is helping, or if the plants are just racing the season. At least it didn’t kill them. There was a decided nip in the air, this morning. No frost. Just a different feel. I see the nighttime lows for the next week are finally dipping into the mid 40sF. Prof. Mass has an interesting article on how the migrating birds are beginning to show up on the radar. I haven’t heard any geese, yet.

    I took a look at that zombie research website. What fun! Looking at the comments, it doesn’t seem if the question is yet settled. I saw the comment about the Finnish skinhead. The comment that really caught my eye, was the response to the grammar Nazi. LOL, “Just pat them on the shoulder and say, “There, Their, They’re.” 🙂

    I just finished loading the dryer, for another round of cherry tomatoes. Using a highly technical and scientific method (glancing at the clock), it takes me about 40 minutes to slice and load four trays. I discovered something interesting. I don’t quit slice the tomatoes, all the way through. A slightly dull knife, helps. So they’re more butterfly or figure eight. I did that with the last batch, and they dried just fine. Also, they’re less likely to fall through the dryer grill, as they shrink. And loading the trays goes faster, than dealing with halves.

    I put a book on hold, that I read years ago. Alan Bennett wrote a novel called “The Uncommon Reader.” A young man drives a bookmobile, in London. One of his stops is a back courtyard, at Buckingham Palace. It’s mostly used by staff. One day, the Queen notices the bookmobile. Never having been a reader, she begins to read. Widely. Which creates a constitutional crisis. As I remember, it’s a bit of a humorous satire.

    There was another book, I remember. Not by Bennett. But, the library doesn’t have it anymore. Given it was probably written in the early 90s (Princess Diana figures in the plot), that’s not a surprise. Given it was a bit of fluff. But funny fluff. “The Queen and I” (Townsend). Republicanism takes over the UK, and the royal family ends up being sent to live in a public housing estate. Some adapt. Some don’t.

    One of the Ladies, here at the Institution cleaned out her pantry. Left me a couple of boxes for the Club pantry. There was a small, badly dented tin of beef stew. So, I had it for dinner. Threw in some rice, seeds, secret herbs and spices, garlic, dried mushrooms and fresh diced tomatoes. Turned out to be pretty tasty. Lew

  48. Chris,

    Very good. People don’t need to know WHY you’re quiet. Your strategy of being quiet while the rude people are being rude is a strategy that I used for 25 years. I had a lot of rude ones stop talking and ask, “Are you still there?” My stock reply was “Yup. I’m listening to you.” Not what they expected. Usually, a reasonable conversation followed.

    It is hard to go wrong when quoting the Kung Fu Tv show.

    Oh, notes as even in a journal. Ok, then I have some notes. 😉

    I never said a word to dad about the Great Oly Heist. My friend was very comfortable visiting after the event, as he knew that he had not been ratted out.

    Ah, you asked the Question: “where is now?” Of course, the other question is “When is no where?” Such questions have plagued me for much of my life.

    “Beer good. Ugg!” I don’t know what ugg means either, but it seemed a necessary part of the quote. “Beer good” just isn’t enough by itself.

    Yes, the smoke finally cleared away. Walking Avalanche in totally smokeless air was a joy Friday morning. I was able to work outdoors for much of the afternoon also. Cool temperatures, no smoke, good times.

    The Bitterroots are fantastic and filled with wonderful scenery. I learned how to downhill ski at the Lookout Pass ski area. After I learned what I was doing, several years later, I returned there and had a wonderful time skiing while enjoying the scenery.

    I read this recently:
    Question: What is wrong with computer programmers?
    Answer: They try to design a loop so the machine can wait “faster”.


  49. Hello Chris
    We have just had our first cold night 37F.

    Yesterday Son brought me a huge wood mushroom 8 inch diameter. I fried it in butter, wonderful. Have given up buying mushrooms in the supermarket as they are completely tasteless. The rain has produced masses of fungi in the woods. Most are inedible. A large number of edible bolitus but I don’t like them. They don’t have gills and taste vaguely slimy to me.

    We have glow worms here. Lovely to see on a summer’s evening at ones feet after dark.


  50. Hi Inge,

    It’s a long slow ragged run into winter. We had two nights in the past week which dipped down to 32’F. Brr!

    Yummo! Mushrooms are a fave food, and you’re lucky to be able to identify some species in your area which are edible. I don’t touch any of them down here. Have you ever grown mushrooms? I’ve heard that the fruiting bodies, the mushrooms, respond well to changes in temperature along with increased moisture.

    There are foragers who harvest slippery jack mushrooms from the nearby pine plantations, and I’ve tried them, but have the same reaction to the slimy texture. A person probably has to grow up consuming them.

    Lovely! I’d like to have some of them here! 🙂 Certainly it is wet enough for glow worms. Had another almost inch of rain today and we were about two minutes from home when we discovered an enormous tree had fallen across the road. The trunk was around four feet in diameter. Spent another half hour getting back home from there as we had to go all the way around part of the mountain range.



  51. Chris:

    It was a roller skating rink. Great fun!

    I don’t believe I would much like knocking rats off their perch with a wire, especially above me. They can sometimes be bad-tempered. Especially when struck by a wire. Eek. You and Plum make a good team.

    As for the other plum – I don’t see much in the way of plum trees around here. We did have one tree for some years, but it never produced very well. Probably because it was one tree . . . I really like plums.

    Ha, ha – at your watch pun!


  52. Hi DJ,

    Lucky you to have had access to such an effective technique, I only worked out that effective strategy recently. Some people look for and attempt to create reactions in others. Not nice people. And you get to know their inner workings based upon their actions. Like the reply too, and will definitely use that.

    Few television shows from that era stuck in my memory, but Kung Fu for some reason left an impression. Probably why I got into martial arts as a teenager as a solution to a number of pesky problems. Pesky problems, it should be noted, don’t tend to go away of their own accord. They have to be dealt to, in a way that is both unexpected, and of your own choosing.

    It’s kind of strange because some folks have said to me that I’m kind of harsh, but mostly I just don’t want to put up with unnecessary nonsense. There’s enough necessary nonsense to consider, without adding extra burdens onto the pile. It is hard not to note that other people may take umbrage at the response, but hey, that’s their problem.

    Dude, you and your mate got super lucky with that beer heist. The reason I never considered such an action was because the reaction would have been bonkers. Need I mention the knife to the throat response for a lesser infraction? Best not to poke some folks, but then there is always the chance that a person will get away with a heist, and the miscreant has to weigh up the reward versus the risk. 😉

    Oh my gawd, your physics conundrums are rattling my consciousness. Where will it all lead? Hopefully not to some time which is no where! What is time anyway?

    The Ugg just added something special to the celebration of good beer. We were handed a tasting of a stout today at lunch. The brew had been infused with coconut milk. Brewers are pushing at the boundaries these days. Actually, the brew was pretty good, and went nicely with the gourmet chicken, leek and bacon pie. It rained all day today, plans were changed and that’s how it rolls sometimes.

    The lack of smoke must have been a welcome change for all of you. Change is in the air, and winter is approaching for you. Not entirely sure what is going on here climate wise, but this time of year does tend to be cold and wet, and this year has upped the ante.

    Hehe! Yes, hurry up and wait indeed! Best we don’t let those folks into too much of our lives. They might expect us to start acting like chunks of code, and when we don’t…



  53. Hi Pam,

    The wire was usually wielded when the rodents were to the side and scurrying out of the way – they’re fast. But yeah, the ones who jump at you are horrendous to experience, and talk about bad tempered. The pitchfork was quite a handy pointy bit when the rodents hid in hard to access corners. It was probably best if I hadn’t let the problem escalate to such an extent. Oh well, Dame Plum and I have done the hard yards now.

    Hehe! Yeah, I enjoyed the roller skating rinks too. Around and around we went, until the music stopped and the DJ ordered a reverse – that was when the difficulties presented themselves. 🙂

    I would have thought that your part of the world would have been suitable for plum trees? Here they tend to grow well in warmer and drier climates (i.e. about 50 miles north of here) and the fruit ends up being larger and quite tasty. Apricots on the other hand are a little bit earlier in the season than plums, and don’t have quite the same amount of sugars. Possibly so about the cross pollination issue! 🙂

    Thanks! It rained and rained here today. It’s been a very wet couple of years. You can hear a squish, squish, squish noise when walking around the orchards. Oh well.



  54. Hi Lewis,

    I’d read that about our ancestors consuming a lot of fermented brews, but wasn’t entirely sure whether it was a tall tale? Surely some of the waterways must have been OK to drink from? I agree, observation is a skill that most people have, and happy accidents have often been a source of knowledge. Sometimes when preparing the weekly batch of yoghurt, I wonder what circumstances lead to people in hot climates consuming the results of off milk, and thinking to themselves: This stuff is pretty good, how did it happen? And then spending years perfecting the happy accident.

    The altiplano is a pretty harsh environment, and the cameloid species are very well adapted for the conditions. I’ve seen a small part of that area with my own eyes. But yeah, a lack of draught animals could produce such an outcome, I can see that. And I tell ya truly, hauling a wheelbarrow load of firewood uphill is not something that is easily done. I have much experience in that regard. From memory, the folks there were growing tubers such as potatoes, and I’m not sure how much ploughing is needed for that crop. I do seem to recall that the creatures could carry small loads, but nothing compared to what horses could carry.

    To be candid, after reading the article, I wasn’t entirely sure what had been achieved. Sorry, maybe I’m missing something. The article I’d have to suggest was replete with what I’d describe of as: ‘statements of belief’.

    Thanks for the image of the spaghetti stuck to the wall. That would take a lot of cleaning up! And I agree, it may be an innovation, or a post modernist art installation?

    Man, it rained here for most of today, and may in fact still be raining now. Almost an inch fell, and the wind blew strongly. Trees come down in such weather. So, we looked at the weather, forgot about plans, and headed off to sort out some household admin. The honey stores were getting low, so we picked up another almost 20 pounds of the stuff. Some apples were picked up from a cool store up north, an excellent coffee scroll was consumed, as was gourmet pies. I’d say things went well, until we were about two minutes from home and there was a big tree lying over the road. The tree was massive. Turned around, and took the long way home. Added on another half hour, but we made it past the downed tree and got home again. A funny story happened along the way home. Will probably recount it this week. 🙂 Got the wood heater fired up, and then had a brief nap, whilst the house warmed up. Refreshes the brain. There’s also a lamington in the fridge for tomorrow. Yum!

    Oh well, yeah, there’s a story there about not using concrete on the stairs. A water pipe has to travel under the timber stairs, and it’s been such a wet year that we’ve been unable to pour much cement recently. Just waiting until things warm up a bit. And you guessed correctly, we do that with paint finishes on stairs.

    Had a look into mineral additives for the chicken feed today. And I might begin to add some rock crusher dust, diotamaceous earth and blood and bone meal to the chickens feed. Can’t hurt in small quantities. Dunno why it’s taken me this long to consider that aspect of the feed? Mind you, they eat plenty of fresh greens and herbs, so maybe it was no big deal? Dunno, but it’s worth a try.

    You can feel the change in the seasons. But yeah, mid 40’sF are starting to get very cold. We don’t get much of an autumn season here as it tends to skip from the growing season, with a brief interlude, and then the cold winter weather begins to get colder.

    The good Professor had an excellent essay on wildfires, and I find myself agreeing with his analysis. And bizarrely, the same is true down here. Immediately after European occupation of the area, the fires were huge – much bigger than the ones today. If fires like the say 1851 fire happened today here, the city folks would think that the world had gone mad. But of late, there has been an increase in the number of fires (none of the earlier scale), but that may also be due to more people being in the area. An increase in the risk factor.

    Oh, that’s good. Yeah: “There, Their, They’re.” will both console and derange the grammar Nazi’s. I hate grammar Nazi’s, and fortunately have not encountered many of them here. I note that Mr Greer seems to attract more than his fair share of them. Actually one of Mr Greer’s comments this week almost made me spit my tea due to laughter. Now where was it… … “Thanks for complying” Not saying that I was immediately reminded of ED-209, but kinda. 🙂

    Butterflying the cherry tomatoes is great idea. I forget, how do you store the dried tomato chips? The racks here have very narrow gaps, so it is unlikely that they’d fall through. We are fast running out of preserved tomatoes – last year was abysmal growing conditions. A second spear of Japanese Ginger has pushed through the soil.

    The Uncommon Reader sounds like an enjoyable read. Who says yapping Corgi’s can’t lead a person anywhere good? Had a Dorgi many years ago. The breed was I believe an innovation of the Queen’s. A delightful dog, but occasionally grumpy which is from the Dachshund side of the err, kennel situation. There was such a great deal of public sympathy towards Princess Di, but I dunno, the story just didn’t raise any great sympathy from me. Can’t really say why either. OK, maybe she seemed like hard work to me. A few years ago I blurted out to someone: “I just don’t want hassles”. Princess Di seemed like hassles, but that is purely opinion and may be far off the mark.

    That was a thoughtful gift for the Club. I won’t press you on details for the secret herbs and spices. A man’s gotta know when to keep quiet on such things. 🙂 Mate, my dinner tonight wasn’t all that different except here I refuse to disclose the herbs and spices, and we replaced the tinned meat with kale and eggs. A lot of kale. That stuff reduces heaps once cooked. And believe it or not, the Editor and I have begun initial negotiations on planting some rainbow chard this coming growing season. To date she has professed a hatred for silver beet / chard. We’ll see. First kale, then chard – the wins get chalked up. 😉



  55. Yo, Chris – Well, that whole Johnny Appleseed tale, relates. He spread apple seed, far and wide. And we know about apple’s breeding true. Or, not. From seed. So I’d guess that most of his apple’s were spitters. But, even spitters can make a fine hard cider. And the pioneers drank a lot of hard cider, given possible poor water quality. I also wonder if they drank a lot of it to self medicate. They weren’t a healthy lot, and probably needed a bit of pain relief. They had problems with everything from intestinal parasites to bad teeth.

    Yes, who “discovered” yogurt. Or raised bread, for that matter. The oldest cheese found, so far, is out of an Egyptian tomb. 3,200 years old. Now that’s a well aged cheese! 🙂 I just hope we hold onto the idea of soap, and germ theory.

    What had been achieved? Well, a railway strike, averted. That seems like a pretty big achievement. But then you may have gathered, I’m pretty pro-unions. Coming from a long line of pro-union folk. And today’s ear worm is … “Look for, the union label…” 🙂

    We also had several showers, yesterday. Some of them real downpours. I didn’t have to water the garden. 🙂 Looking forward to your funny downed tree story. Several years ago, I was headed out in the country to visit a friend. I knew there was a storm on the way, but didn’t realize how serious it was. So, I rounded a corner, and there’s a tree, lying across the road. A few vehicles were lined up on either side. Well … several guys on either side of the tree, jumped out of their trucks, grabbed there chain saws, buzz, buzz, buzz. Haul, haul, haul. Problem solved, road open. See: “Inauguration Day Storm, 1993.”

    I saw an article, the other day, about our projected weather …,299965

    I’ll be fretting about the Club getting flooded, and if the water will pour down the hill again, and flood parts of The Institution. I saw that post by Prof. Mass, about the wildfires, and was going to mention it, to you.

    Also weather related. I stopped by the veg store, this morning, to pick up a couple of red onions. Not too large. The price? $3+. I expressed my shock to the owner, Frank, and he said the weather has been so poor, on the other side of the mountains, that that is the reason. I saw him unloading his big truck, last week. He’d been over to Yakima, to buy fruit and veg. I teased him that he must be living right, as he managed to squeak over and back, right before they closed the road. When I stopped by this morning, a local farmer was unloading pumpkins! (…round, orange…). They were really fine looking.

    I put my dried tomatoes in a one quart plastic sack. One dryer load just about fills one. I suck out all the air I can, with a straw. And, put them in the pantry. They’re very pretty, but as the months go by, I think they oxidize, and darken. Doesn’t seem to effect the flavor.

    Ah! I see. You wouldn’t want to have to bust up some concrete steps, to get at a leaky pipe.

    I pretty much feel I know all I want to know about the Diana story. I was watching “The Crown”, but lost interest about the time she made her first appearance. I’ve tended to avoid the stories, coming out of Britain right now, that are all speculation and rumor. I’m more interested in a lot of the side stories. Such as, the Royal Beekeepers. And who were those old duffers, standing around the coffin, with bow and arrows? They’re the Royal Company of Archers. They’re the Sovereign’s body guard, when they are in Scotland. It’s a rather new tradition. They’ve only been around since 1822 🙂 . I see the Beefeaters, from the Tower, were there. I wonder if the included the Raven Master? I had a thought. What if King Charles is crowned, and the raven’s leave the Tower? That would be VERY bad.

    I feel the same way about kale and chard, as you do about bagels. 🙂

    Just to rave for a minute, I am surrounded by idiots. We got a commodities box, yesterday, that was unexpected. Sure, it was the third Friday of the month, but, every month “The Office” sends around a calendar, that I post on my fridge. It said the box was coming next Friday. So, I wake up from my nap, to discover the boxes outside my door. All fine and good. Except the pound of frozen ground beef, on top of the box had begun to thaw and had leaked onto some things. I also get Elinor’s box, so, double that. When I broke down our boxes, and took them down to the dumpster room, I discovered my fellow Inmates had pretty much just chucked their unbroken down boxes, into the tip. And, around it. So, I spent about a half an hour, cursing and organizing so that we may have enough space for other things, until pickup on Monday. Rave finished. 🙂

    So, double whatever I say in the box report. As I got Elinor’s too. There was a big bag of pre-prepared sandwiches, which I immediately dumped. It’s just too dicey. The times Elinor and I have sampled them, we’ve gotten mildly ill. A pity, as there’s some tasty stuff in there.

    So. What treasures did we get? Besides the frozen beef (which I have in the fridge, to complete the thawing process. I’ll fry it up and freeze it, to add to “stuff.”) we got a tin each of salmon and chicken. A jar of peanut butter. 2 bags of corn grits. Two packages of dry spaghetti pasta. Two bags of dried red beans. A liter of some kind of juice drink. Two containers of shelf stable milk. And, lots of tinned stuff. Plums (3), diced tomatoes(4), diced potatoes (4).

    In the produce box we got baking potatoes (5), a head of iceberg lettuce, a bunch of celery, a clamshell of sweet grape tomatoes, 3 heads of garlic and a bag of small apples. Two green bell peppers. Not a bad haul. Some I kept, some went to the swap table, some to the Club.

    I picked up two more green bell peppers, off the swap table. I’ll freeze four and use two fresh. Took the potatoes to the Club. The lettuce will get chopped up, and turned into the garden. I’ll dry the tomatoes, along with mine. I’ll use the garlic and apples. The celery? Hmmm. Might freeze it. It usually goes bad before I can use it up, fresh.

    It may be a popcorn night, tonight. I picked up a DVD from the library, today. “The Black Phone.” Pretty much a horror film. But that’s ok. Tis the season. 🙂 Lew

  56. Hello Chris
    I have given up trying to grow mushrooms, never had any success at all. Son ditto.

    We frequently have to turn around and take another route home. This is due to our narrow dirt road. We are almost home when we encounter a huge, parked lorry. I’d wait it out but not so Son. He turns around and comes in from the other end.


  57. Hi Lewis,

    Ah, of course Johnny Appleseed. That’s an interesting point about apples, and when the Editor first began brewing activities, the little light went on: All apples have their uses, whether it be fresh eating, cooking, preserving or cider. Apples are one of the cheaper fruits you can buy nowadays, second to pears which for some unknown reason are cheaper again. People don’t know what they can do with them. One of my regrets is that I did not begin brewing activities until much later in my life. And despite what people tell me, or asper, it is very hard to over indulge if you have to make it all yourself. Not impossible, just very difficult. Discovered a feral seedling quince tree today and couldn’t quite understand how it had come to be where it was. Oh well, a gift. Due to the sheer number and diversity of fruit trees, seedlings are popping up in odd places. I assume the birds are distributing the seeds?

    I hadn’t considered the pain relief aspect, but that makes sense. An untreated rotten tooth could send a person bonkers.

    Yeah, well that’s right – and I was thinking of bread too. Which came first beer or bread? And I could see how beer would be easier to discover than bread, which is a more involved process. It’s astounding to consider the historical feats we rest upon at our leisure. 🙂 I remember that cheese, and didn’t some enthusiast try to sample the bacteria and/or replicate it.

    The 1979 film Alien scared the daylights out of me. I was very young and my older sisters ditched me in the cinema because it would have been very uncool for them to be associated with err, me. Their loss. Anyway, so I’m reading a Jack Vance trilogy penned in about 1970 (Durdane trilogy), and the aliens kind of appear to be of similar appearance and unpleasantness. It’s great how stories evolve and grow over time. This time around I’m invested in the characters, but not scared. The film was awful for a young mind to see. Mind you, my grandmother took me to see the film Airport 77, and the plane crashing into the ocean really has set the tone for my enjoyment of air travel. Those things occasionally go down, badly… Can I relax, no. This possibly requires lots of therapy to overcome, but I’m busy and have no time for such things.

    Unions are good things. I just wouldn’t have voted for Biden or Brexit if presented with the opportunity. The left leaning government down here put me under the harshest lock down on the planet. From this experience I have mild trauma and I was a rusted on supporter, and I can’t forgive them. Sorry, dude. They’re probably great people, I just want them not involved in my life as thoroughly as they were. The left folks have an historically very high body count, and I’ve visited the killing fields in Cambodia and that was a real low point. There’s so much talk about right wing extremism, I just wish the idiots who pedalled such nonsense realised the elephant in the room: Extremism is bad, it matters not what the stripe displays.

    Good to hear that you don’t have to water. Another half inch here today! Yikes. I hid in the house and did paid work just trying to get way ahead of the schedule so that when the weather gets better…

    There are folks up here I know who can do such work, and I count myself among them. Then there are others. Not sure about them. What a storm, not quite as bad as the Columbus Day storm, but not far off. It’s like the wildfires down here, what has occurred once, may occur again. Yikes!

    I was wondering how the now forecast La Nina was going to impact upon your part of the world. Your part of the world looks set to enjoy the same conditions as here, except it will be colder there and warmer here. To see standing pools of water on a sloping piece of land is to understand that the soil is not far off saturated.

    Dude, what will be with the Club, will be – just like here. As a suggestion, be ready to relocate perishable stuff to above the flood line mark. I have to consider the landslide risk above the house and have taken many precautions so that the incident does not get repeated. That’s life.

    It depends: Do the farmers know their onions? Some seasons are rubbish for the bulbs, and in that case, plant leeks instead. Good stuff with the pumpkins and I’m envious of the harvest.

    Ah, thank you. The dehydrated tomatoes in olive oil also slightly darken but more to a deeper red, but they seem OK to me too, and the intense flavour is unforgettable.

    In the past we’ve stuck through a large diameter plastic pipe into the cement so as to feed infrastructure like water pipes and power, but the wet season dictated the construction will be timber. The constant rain would damage the concrete.

    I too enjoy the side stories, like who are the folks in the background who keep the wheels rolling along? Like the royal beekeeper. He seemed OK to me and just kind of plopped into his vocation. And yes, how fares the Raven master of the tower? Curious minds want to know such details. How did the ravens take the passing?

    Hehe! I hear you about the kale and chard. What can I say, I’m a rabbit. 🙂

    Sorry, it’s 9pm and I’ve gotta get writing. Will speak tomorrow.



  58. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for the lovely comment, however due to an inherent sense of irresponsibility it’s now 9pm and I’ve totally run out of time to reply. It’s wrong, and I know it, but all the same circumstances lead me to blame society. Yes, maybe it is society’s fault? 🙂

    Speak tomorrow.



  59. Yo, Chris – I think brewing might be a bit like baking … or, making more of what you eat, from scratch. One might toss off a bag of store bought biscuits, at a single sitting. But when you make your own, you tend to make them last. At least, I do. I don’t know if it’s because of the time and labor that went into them, or, just that they’re more satisfying in smaller amounts.

    I have studiously ignored the whole “Aliens” series. I heard enough about it, to figure out it wasn’t my cup of tea. “War of The Worlds” scared the bejesus out of me, when I was four. But I had no problems watching the movie, later in life.

    Speaking of movies, I watched “The Black Phone,” last night. Wowie zowie, was that a good movie! Well worth the bowl of popcorn. I hadn’t realized it’s from a short story by Stephen King’s boy, Joe Hill. He’s got his old man’s chops! 🙂 I noticed he’s also listed as one of the executive producers. I won’t say much, to avoid spoilers, but it’s really a ghost story, with a dash of the psychic, thrown in.

    No rain in the forecast for the week. But the temperatures are going to be cool, day and night. Even though we’re going back to an east wind, again. Things have calmed down a bit, on the fire front, up in Packwood. But the town, and fire crews remain vigilant.

    Guess I’ll walk the dog and head for the Club. I took down 4 sacks of food, yesterday. Two, today. Just about all the tinned stuff I took in last Wednesday night, is gone. That I had gone shopping for. Soups, stews, condiments.

    They had a yearly picnic, yesterday. I’ll here how that went. Usually, a good turn out. The Club does the meat, and the rest is pot luck. I don’t go to those big events. Crowds, screaming kids. My shattered nerves :-). Lew

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