Where you fall

As an adult, far from the clutches of family, a person can look back over time and realise just how strange things were. A few weeks ago I wrote about an extreme and rather violent incident which found me on the wrong end of a sharp knife blade as a young bloke. At the time, you assume such things are normal. However, with a few more years under your belt, and observation of more functional families, let’s just say: the comparison was hardly flattering.

My mother was a single mother. She was a touch wild and wayward. My father left the household at such a young age, there are no memories of him there. After the divorce, on Sunday’s he’d drag my two older sisters and I to his mothers house, where my grandmother spent the day entertaining us, whilst also putting us to work. She was really nice and there are pleasant memories like the consistently creaky gate, the smell of roasting meats, and her exclamation: “Oooo, lurve, g’day!” My father used to sleep in front of the television, wake up to consume the Sunday roast and then watch the races or football with his father. Then we’d head home again. On birthday’s my dad would send me a card and a five or ten buck note. The newspaper rounds netted more mad cash than that, not that he knew such things. The Sunday excursions with him stopped. And after a while, even the birthday cards stopped too.

A few weeks ago I learned that my mother had died way back in 2017. Nobody had thought that this news would be of interest to me, and on the funeral notice, among the family members names, my name was not mentioned. In not mentioning me, it was as if I’d died to them long ago. We’d all been estranged for decades, so the news was initially a shock, but soon settled in to the background of other day to day concerns.

From a certain perspective, it’s really weird that nowadays all of the adults from my childhood life who were such a pain, are now dead. But then, I’d heard that time sorts out all manner of problems, and it’s true.

The thing is, the news wasn’t traumatic for me, if only because the grief had been processed decades ago. That’s the funny thing about being a young bloke and observing comparisons with more functional families, your own situation doesn’t end up looking all that great. After a while you stop wondering why you were the only kid in school who had to catch the public buses home after school camp. You know things aren’t good, and just you do your best to be independent and maintain distance from the careless and hurtful ones.

You can’t do some things on your own though, and you only know what you know. At the age of seventeen I entered the full time work force, and after board was handed over (almost half my earnings), there was some mad cash left. Back in those days, there was no interweb to ask stupid questions like: Is it normal when your step father takes a knife to your throat? Nope, I had to pay for a psychologist. That was expensive, but also a useful experience. Books were cheaper, and fortunately there was plenty of good advice to be found in them.

As a late teenager, with new knowledge in hand and a vision cleared of many abstractions, I walked away from them all. It was a hard decision, and not the accepted narrative of happy families. I’ve even encountered some people whom have blamed me, and that’s an option I guess. But I kept them all at a distance, and life just went better. Around the time of my marriage to Sandra, she worked at building a relationship with my immediate family. It was all good, until they turned on her one day for no real reason I can understand. It was brutal. I just maintained the distance, and after that experience, so did Sandra.

My mothers father, who would be my grandfather, seeing me without a dad, took me under his wing. I liked him a lot, and he gave me his time, and he may even have shared some wisdom. I wish I’d absorbed more of his gardening knowledge because he had an extensive vegetable patch in the enormous backyard, but I was too young to take much notice. A week or so before his death, the old bloke asked me to fix the rift with the family. I didn’t want him going to his grave with false hopes, and he seemed like a pragmatic kind of guy, so probably understood. Maybe.

A father figure to many. No mention of family for him either!

After his death, I spotted the above article in the business section of the newspaper. I miss the old bloke, but life does tend to end in death. And now all of the generation below him have passed on. I don’t miss them, and haven’t for a very long time.

The weather was marginally drier this week. There were even a few days of sunny spring weather. That was a nice change from the bonkers cold and wet year that it has been to date. We were even able to use a few machines without too much ripping up of the wet paddocks.

The machines were used to bring quantities of rocks down to one of the steel rock gabion cages near to the large shed. The cage was filled, and then sewn shut. The rock gabion cages are awesome, super strong and can hold back large volumes of soil.

A steel rock gabion cage was filled and sewn shut. Ollie is impressed

At the moment there is no water near to the greenhouse. Everyday I have to walk buckets of water down to the greenhouse so that the plants growing inside can enjoy a drink of water. This week, we placed some treated pine sleepers immediately below the greenhouse where a couple of water pumps will sit.

Treated pine sleepers will keep a couple of water pumps off the soil. Ollie is obedient

Over the next week or so, two water pumps will be installed, and I’ll no longer have to take buckets of water down to the plants in the greenhouse. There’ll be a tap (spigot) and hoses inside the greenhouse.

The regular mixture of coffee grounds and agricultural lime (Calcium Carbonate) continues to be added to the area where the tomatoes will grow later this year. In that area, we also discovered an old tree stump and then ground it out.

A mixture of Coffee grounds and Agricultural Lime is placed over the remains of a recently ground out tree stump

And we did another large burn off cleaning up some of the mess that the loggers left over the past century of their activities. I’d heard a new theory from a neighbour as to why so much forest materials were dumped into that area. My neighbour suggested that it may have not been the loggers, but rather the activities of the road builders, who pushed the materials down to that area. Possibly they may have hoped that the stuff remained out of sight, but alas, ’twas not so!

Ollie amuses himself by diving between my legs. A burn off occurs in the background

After all that work, and forestry work is very heavy going, Ollie decided to take a nap in the cool spring sunshine.

Ollie enjoys a short nap

A few days ago, the dogs alerted me to a presence in the wood shed. Not something you want to experience, but I poked my head inside the shed anyway and was alarmed to see a large reptile in there. The dogs went back inside the house, I grabbed the long sleeved welding gloves and relocated the Blue Tongue Lizard to a more beneficial location far from the wood shed. The lizard would have appreciated the many rock shelves and hidey holes in the new location. Those lizards are feed for Eastern Brown Snakes, and have no reason to be in the firewood shed.

The rear end of a Blue Tongue Lizard

The bird life is enjoying the warmer weather, and the King Parrots now have more to eat and will hopefully be less destructive in the garden.

A King Parrot. It’s good to be the King!

As the spring soil slowly warms, more Asparagus spears are poking through the earth. They’re a very tasty vegetable and we cook them by frying the spears in olive oil with a touch of salt and pepper. So tasty!

More Asparagus spears are poking through the earth

Onto the flowers:

Daffodils continue to cheer up the orchards
The Mexican Escalonia produce very colourful flowers
A very early Pink climbing rose
The Ornamental Cherry trees are stunners

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 11’C (52’F). So far this year there has been 838.6mm (33.0 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 833.4mm (32.8 inches)

38 thoughts on “Where you fall”

  1. Yo, Chris – I won’t trot out that old saw about happy families and unhappy families. Still holds water, but we’ve done it to death. Probably mumbling it, in my sleep. Sometimes, I think I’m a bit of a monster, as I shed not a tear when my mother and father died. Mother, well, I could tell you the exact moment all affection for her died. And my father, he just wasn’t very forthcoming. But then, men of his generation weren’t. But, they kept a roof over our heads and food on the table. Can’t complain on that account.

    I think it’s interesting (and commendable) that you discovered some answers to your own questions, in books. Seen on a t-shirt. “I Read. I Know Things.” Some people don’t read, and don’t know much about anything. Others don’t read, and know a lot about a lot of useful things. So reading, per se, isn’t an indicator of knowledge, or not. And some people read, and are just as empty headed, as when they began.

    The gabon cages are a bit of monumental architecture. They’re quit striking. Your place, in the background of that picture looks so lush and green. People here often comment on how green the Pacific Northwest, is. “Well, yeah, the rain….” 🙂 It’s the price we pay. The trade-off.

    You could put together an album. “The Many Looks of Ole.” “Impressed.” “Obedient”. “Diving.” “Nap.”

    As Iris tubers are winging their way to me, I need to get cracking on preparing a bed for them. Recommended bed preparation is, wait for it, coffee grounds and lime.

    The Blue Tongued Lizard looks like a small alligator. Did you get to see his blue tongue? Maybe he took up residence in your woodshed, as he thought the blue tarp would provide camouflage?

    The parrots? Less destructive? Well, that’s wishful thinking. 🙂

    Asparagus is so yummy. We won’t see fresh, local asparagus, for months yet.

    Your orchard needs to be cheered up? Is it depressed? 🙂 Oh, the early rose is so pretty. And the ornamental cherry is what the nursery catalogs call, “…a cascade of blossoms.”

    Well, I picked a big bowl of cherry tomatoes. They’re washed and drying in a colander. I’ll put them to bed in the fridge, for the night. And pop them into the dryer, tomorrow morning. That will give me 6 quarts, in the pantry. What I was shooting for. Still a lot of green tomatoes, on that bush. Should I shoot for 7? Lucky number, and all.

    I picked a couple more San Marzano’s that didn’t have blossom end rot. And, some of Elinor’s tomatoes. Spanish rice, tonight, with fresh tomatoes. Sounds tasty. Lew

  2. Hi Margaret,

    It’s a good option with the lack of mowing, eventually the largest and strongest plants will dominate the light, and there’ll also be an established and well fed under story. I’d seen such a forest on the island state of Tasmania. The over story trees were huge, tall and widely spaced, and the understory had supporting nitrogen fixing plants, vines and the ground was packed with ferns. It was a true delight to experience. Here could be exactly like that, but only in the absence of uncontrolled fire, and there are enough numpties doing stupid things with fire around these parts, that I have to disregard the option you can enjoy. Either way will produce a forest though. I recently looked up some images of old growth pecan trees, and they were enormous. I envy you your good soils and greater number of edible plants. So much knowledge of the local varieties of edible plants has been lost down here.

    Mount Field National Park

    I’d really love to see an oak savanna, and it would be easy to replicate such a system here, even with an understory of flowering plants. And it would just work beautifully. The forest here is not dissimilar, mostly due to similar reasons that it was once commonly found in your part of the world. Historical accounts suggest that much of this part of the continent was like that. Hmm.

    🙂 Autumn is much like a mini-shortened-version of spring don’t you reckon? Such a delightful time to be outside.



  3. Hi Lewis,

    There is that, but also Tolstoy is a master and I’m just some dude living up in the forest. Not sure what that means, but probably as you hinted at, the quote has been much over used. This week’s story was told for a specific reason, and time is limited and as such I have to as they say: Kill two birds with one stone, with the story. Hope the birds don’t come and get us, like angry birds. Very unpleasant.

    Man, I so hear you about your parents. What the heck is wrong with them? And that was true in my case too, yes there was a roof over my head and food upon the table. However, they were damaged people, like seriously damaged, and how could anyone expect better from them? I dunno, but the roof and food came with a price.

    Hehe! That’s such a great slogan. Yes, I read, I know things. Very good. There’s also the knowledge held in the abstraction-o-sphere, whatever that may be. Mate, we’ve all met the empty headed folks, yup, beware though, they may have rat cunning so you never know with folks. Best to tread warily, but most people display their inner core eventually via their actions. The thing with reading for me was that I gained access to people I’d never otherwise have been able to chat too, and I acknowledged my own earlier experiences had not set me up well for a normal life, or the sort of life most people seem to want to hanker after. And the authors had something to say, even if it was just one idea, or an extension of an earlier understood concept, which they took the time and effort to commit to paper, and so were worth listening too. Except for that Infinite Jest work, I’m a bit dodge on that because I believe the author is taking the piss. There may be others in that category which are there for different reasons. I’m sure you can think of a few? 🙂

    Man, the rain, it’s a double edged sword this year. Usually in drier winters, it’s still wet and green here (summer it dries off), and credible reports suggest that the same is true of the Pacific North West. I spoke with a neighbour last week, and he’s been here for almost a decade longer than I, and he reckons this year the soil is as wet as its been in his experience. It is a trade off.

    Still, conditions are apt to alter sooner or later. In between paid work today, I put a few more hours into stoking up and feeding the burn off. The rain has not put it out. Tomorrow the forecast looks very wet indeed. Yikes!

    Ollie is dirty for the camera. He’s a natural, and probably could make some big mad cash in the films, as long as the directors didn’t expect too much and kept him well fed and entertained.

    What sort of colours did you choose for the Iris tubers? Such a great plant and stunning flowers. Dare I ask, is it blue?

    The Blue Tongue Lizard scared the daylights out of me. When I first glanced into the firewood shed to investigate what all the fuss was about, I saw the wriggling reptile tail, and it sure looked like a Black Snake to me (from a distance in the dim light). That gave me a bit of a start, but after I got the dogs inside the house, a closer inspection revealed that it was a lizard. It’s possible with the blue tarp, but mostly the little fella was seeking shelter from the cold and rain. We’re going to empty the firewood shed this year me thinks.

    The parrots might surprise us all yet, but I kind of doubt it. The avian intelligence in their eyes says: One we were dinosaurs, and you lot were little rat like creatures.

    Hehe! The orchard is doing OK on the mental health front, thanks for asking.

    Nice work, but I’m having doubts that you’ll get enough warm weather from here onwards to ripen the green tomatoes. I’d like to be wrong on that front too as they’re super yummy fruits and great to add to cooking. If the planet was flipped upside down, then by mid to late next month the tomato season would be done and dusted here. Things might be different for you, and I recall one hot and dry year where they continued growing into what would be your December. That was an extreme year though, and far from the average conditions here.

    Your rice sounds very tasty. Yum! Had a roasted cauliflower, cheese and curry err, casserole for dinner this evening. You’ve never tasted cauliflower like that, mostly because the meal doesn’t taste like cauliflower.

    I see, you have played a musical instrument in the past? This is a new side to you. Did you enjoy playing with the band? We didn’t do much marching music when I was a kid, except in cadets they used to have us march to a cadence, which was a neat way to bring consistency to motion. I’m fascinated by the stories of the railroad work gangs way back in the day were the guys sung to mark the passage of the work. When working around the forest I like to keep the music playing in the background so as to take my mind off any other ideas, so that it can concentrate wholly and solely on the work at hand.

    Had to look up to find out what you meant by Stash Tea. A fine choice by the way. Hope there are no local shortages, although I believe that a lot of tea is grown in Sri Lanka, that can’t be good. It might be a bit cold in your part of the world to grow proper tea, the plant struggles here over the winter months, and I moved the final camellia into the greenhouse. It seems to be doing OK in there but probably could use some additional heat from the sun.

    Yup, clean up, and the land regenerates. It’s an old story.

    Sorry about that, but Editor likewise laments the utter lack of a third season for Prodigal Son. We’ve been good viewers, they’ve always been bad producers! 🙂 Hehe! You won a lot of brownie points for recommending that series.

    Lack of car parking would be a problem in such a locale sorry to say. Something will turn up sooner or later. If the property market crashes…

    I didn’t know that about Charles II. Ah, I see the Puritans. What a pack of bores, that lot. Yes, dialling their influence down would be a popular move. The guy had some amusing quotes attributed to him. Who knew that the monarchy could have some fun? I saw that about the Plague and afterward the Great Fire.

    Did you get grapes last year? The birds are onto those delectable fruits. The ten vines here are in a steel cage – for good reason. The Blue Jay clearly knows when it is onto a good thing.

    What was the Aussie cookbook? I agree and do rather hope, perhaps pointlessly, that the little fungi under any undue pressures? I’ve noted such responses from other fans of fungi. Must be something in the water?



  4. Hello Chris,

    I think a good Tshirt for you would be “I work. I know things.”.
    The book-side of knowledge is vastly overrated. Important, yes, but not exclusive. Not like the MSc. PhD. people (like me) tries to make it appear, in our usually overpaid positions.

    Your asparagus looks great. Here, we “inherited” a patch with 100 stems, and I am mulling over whether or not to chop the stems and remove the foilage. Some sources claim that it reduces the risk for beetle infections and certain moulds, but others extol the virtues of leaving the leaves over the winter. When do you cut your stems?
    I will move the patch to a new place after cutting, and I think I will do it in November, approx. six weeks from now. Or maybe in the spring. So many choices.

    I want to become more systematic, like Claire, and ask questions to my garden. However, I have so far failed to formulate my questions unambiguously. The better (or worse) results could be due to any of my interventions, or the weather, or my lack of precision in measuring the yields…

    The first wave of non-payments for energy bills started this month. That is often a sign of the upswell of an economic downturn, this time it came early.


  5. Yo, Chris – Just to be clear, it’s usually me that trots out that old saw by Tolstoy. 🙂

    Alfred Hitchcock, “The Birds.” A classic. Hmmm. Wonder if the library has a copy? Tis the season!

    I think you were very lucky, to find a soulmate who, as near as I can figure, is pretty much on the same wavelength.

    Well, there’s The Novel That Cannot Be Named, in your case. And in my case, a Dickens novel. I’m glad that experience didn’t put me off Dickens, entirely. He wrote some great stuff. They even turn them into musicals! 🙂

    We’re under a “Red Flag Warning,” again. Extreme fire danger. But, we’re supposed to get rain on Wednesday. Prof. Mass seems pretty convinced, but then, his forecasts are kind of Puget Sound – centric. But even our local forecast predicts, “Showers Likely,” for Wednesday. We’ll see.

    Ollie must be convinced, that Hollywood is just a boulevard of broken dreams. Read him a few selections from West’s “Day of the Locust.” (1939). Was a great movie, too. Who doesn’t want to stomp an irritating child, to death, with a great big pair of Oxfords? 🙂

    Several of the companies selling iris have blue collections. I picked up one that has two blue and one white iris. I also picked up an extra blue, called “Clarence.” Next year, if I can decide on a spot for a few renegade iris, I’d like to pick up a “Queen of the Night” (black) and a white one. I think a small black and white patch would be striking. And maybe a little sinister 🙂 I also ordered a garlic sampler from Nichols Garden Nursery. I was surprised, that in both cases, there wasn’t an out of stock situation. The economy? I didn’t think the prices were bad, but maybe the shipping costs are putting people off?

    Maybe the Blue Tongued Lizard laid some eggs in your woodshed? Never mind. A glance into the rabbit hole indicates that they don’t lay eggs. They have live births.

    The parrots might have delusions of dinosaur, but might be reminded the little rat like creatures pretty much came out on top.

    We’re still going to have some 80+F days. So the tomatoes might keep perking along for awhile. But I have noticed they seem “softer” and I’m seeing more with splits. They seem slower to ripen, too. The dryer is perking away. I was short a few tomatoes, to fill the fourth tray, so I raced down to the garden, and picked a few more. I needed seven split cherry tomatoes, to round out the tray.

    “Casserole” pretty much covers anything you can throw in a bowl, and not have to slurp up with a spoon. Cauliflower is one of those nice vegetables that acquires a lot of the flavors cooked along with it.

    Oh, I never played a musical instrument (other than the ill fated foray into accordion.) But I sure saw enough marching bands. Portland has a lot of high schools, and each high school had a marching band (which also plays at sports events.) During Rose Festival, between each float was another marching band. When the big bass drums went by, you could feel them vibrating in your chest.

    Work gangs, field hands, folk music. I wonder if people still sing at work, or if they’re all just plugged into their I- Whatevers?

    Stash Tea. Problem solved. I discovered that the Premium Green is very available on The River. And would work out to 50¢ less per box (box of 20), then the usual “sale” price. When the grocery deigns to even stock the stuff. So, I ordered 300 bags. Which ought to hold me for about 10 months. As I only use a bag (two cups), a day. I still have a stash (pun intended) of the Double Bergamot Earl Grey. But I think next month, I’ll order some in. Or even their regular Earl Grey (lavender notes.) I began looking about for chocolate bars, but that’s going to be a lot more complicated. And, I think I should wait until the weather cools, so they maybe don’t melt during shipment.

    When the Brits decided to chuck the Puritans out, they went hat in hand to Charles II. Though they did have some demands. Forget that Divine Right of Kings, etc.. But, they’d had it with the Puritans. Close the theatres? Forbid Christmas? Ban gingerbread men? A good novel about that period is “Forever Amber.” (Winsor, 1944). The book was considered scandalous when it came out, and was banned in a lot of places. I read it when I was about 12, and didn’t see what the big deal was. It was made into a pretty good movie, though watered down. But, it still had the plague and the fire. Which is the parts I was interested in, rather than all the bodice ripping. 🙂

    Another interesting look at the Puritan’s is a film called “All Is True.” (2018) It’s about the end of Shakespeare’s life, but an interesting character is his son-in-law, who’s a pretty typical Puritan stick in the mud. A very good movie, I thought.

    We didn’t get any grapes, last year. Combo of factors. Lack of a good prune, weather, birds. Take your pick.

    I’ll have to look up the name of the Aussie cookbook I put on hold. I just hope it isn’t one of those celebrity chef or restaurant tomes. They’re pretty useless.

    I think some of the mushroom claims are a bit overblown. Perhaps the authors are sampling a little too many of their own magic mushrooms? 🙂

    I took a closer look at that bread book, last night. “Evolutions in Bread: Artisan Pan Breads and Dutch-Oven Loaves at Home.” By Ken … Forkish (Really?) 2022. Interesting. He has a bakery, down in Portland. About ten years ago, he came out with a book called “Flour Water Salt Yeast,” which was quit popular. It’s basically a sourdough baking book. Thou, apparently, I didn’t get the memo. Sourdough (at least among the Foodies) is now called LeVine. French, you know 🙂 . LOL, at least the author seems a bit … embarrassed and awkward, at catering to such pretensions. He pretty much says, “same, same, maybe slightly different, I’ll use the terms interchangeably.” Lew

    PS: I think I set a record. If I count Dickens as 1, I mentioned six books and four movies. 🙂

  6. Hi Goran,

    🙂 Or, it could be: I read and try things, therefore stuff gets done. We could keep on going like this for many more weeks!

    Respect for your education, you no doubts worked hard for the title and earned it. Science is a hard way to earn a living, I know a few people who do, or have worked in that realm.

    It’s an awful moment when realisation hits home, and you get a tiny glimpse of the vast swath of knowledge that is ‘out there’.

    Nothing here eats asparagus, other than humans and the occasional pesky parrot. We’ve trialled both arrangements and it didn’t seem to make all that great a difference for the following years spears. They do enjoy a little bit of salt and a good feed, which hints at their earlier seaside origins. They may enjoy kelp or seaweed solutions particularly? Nowadays, we tend to cut the spears back in late autumn when they begin to turn yellow, the wind will knock them over anyway. Generally we leave a small section of dead spear above soil level so as to indicate that there is a plant below the surface. It’s worth running both management experiments on half the patch each just to see what the difference may be? Sometimes I’ve discovered that available time dictates management practices with plants. Best practice may not be achievable, so good enough has to suffice.

    But my understanding as to what kills off asparagus is too much competition from adjacent asparagus plants. So give them plenty of room in their new location. They self seed here, and if I were more energetic, I’d remove the female fronds with their red seeds.

    Hehe! Claire has many years more experience than either you and I. I admire Claire’s systematic approach, and I am yet to encounter another person with a better knowledge of the soil minerals in their garden. I’m a bit slack on that front, but the scale is larger. However, having said that, Claire put me on the right track to fixing one of the issues I had with soils in the orchards – and the difference has been awesome, and I owe Claire a debt of gratitude.

    Ouch. Sorry to hear that. The nationwide tax relief which resulted in a fuel discount, looks set to end tomorrow. Interesting times.

    Focus on improving the fertility of your soils, and getting your infrastructure in place – but, you’re already doing that! 😉



  7. Hi Lewis,

    🙂 Good quotes are always worth repeating!

    Hey, there should be a follow up film: What made the Birds Mad? Hitchcock made some very scary films. One day I should re-watch Psycho. What’s amazing about the film is that they did it on a budget, and sanitised the book, but still made it scary. There was something about the ordinariness of the settings that was a bit creepy.

    Thank you, there was a lot of trial and lot’s more of error, early on with relationships. It was a strange road to travel. And the pedestrian aspirations of many people I met, didn’t really spark.

    Oooo, you’re good! Novels that dare not be mentioned plus musicals all in two short lines. I admit defeat.

    Hope you get the promised rain. There’s been plenty here. An inch of rain fell today, and it’s still raining outside right now. We were planning to grab food whilst in the big smoke, but yeah, there was a distinct lack of appeal to that concept due to the rain. Ate locally and had a tasty Seafood Jambalaya.

    Ah, the book was penned by Nathanael West, and the film was made in 1975. It sounds like a gritty reflection of the uglier aspects of that industry. Yes, what a scene – can’t do that, what would the local notables think?

    Yeah, some of the darker flowers are quite striking. Sinister indeed! 🙂 We planted an almost black flowering Hellebore. I reckon it is a very dark purple, but whatever, it looks good. Mate, sometimes you just run out of space in the garden. What to do? And that’s the thing with shipping costs – when you expect them to be cheap, and reality proves otherwise, well, it’s a disappointing experience.

    And the nationwide tax discount on fuel looks set to end tomorrow. I noticed quite a few long lines leading into petrol (gas) stations today.

    The Blue Tongue Lizard is best if it were elsewhere. And that is exactly where it ended up. I sound like Dirty Harry! 🙂

    For now we’re on top. The race is long, and the future is uncertain. I do know the rain is pounding down upon the roof.

    Out of curiosity, do your softer tomatoes continue to have good taste? That sounds weird, I meant to say: Do they taste good?

    Yes, who can forget the burnt orange and camouflage green Crock Pots from the 1970’s? They still make them, but I can almost feel the call of the retro looking model. My memory of them suggests that err, casserole, was sometimes stuck to the sides of the unit. Probably needed one of those industrial strength cleaning agents you’ve mentioned in the past. But far out, the food was good from them.

    Cauliflower and curry is a common Indian dish. They’ve come down in price recently. For a while there, due to the floods up north, the vegetable was expensive.

    I’ve never seen anything like the Portland Rose Festival Parade. Wow, so astoundingly colourful. Man, I’ve been to some gigs which were mind bendingly loud. Probably didn’t need to be that loud. One of them, for a band from your country ‘Ween’, was so loud I hid behind a pillar in order to shield the effects on my ears. Youch. Good gig though.

    I don’t actually work any place where people put on headphones and tune out to the world around them. Music is heard in about half the places I visit. It can be a surprisingly controversial topic. I recall one place where I was the boss, I got sick of the whingeing and forced them to listen to the national youth broadcaster for a day. The following day, the more usual radio station was returned, and there was no more whingeing. 🙂 Speaking of i-whatever’s I have heard that some folks I know have online work meetings with people they have never seen, and who won’t show their faces. Dunno what to make about that.

    Just in time is dead – you heard it here first. 🙂 Good luck with the tea purchase, and I would do exactly the same. Went to the hardware this afternoon and noted a spotty supply of led light globes, and so stocked up. Always handy. Imagine having electricity, and no light globes? Yikes!

    The Puritans sounded like a pain in the rear. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but Mars Boy is attempting to beat Charles II challenge! Of course Mars Boy does tend to acknowledge his issue, but we might never know of Charles II’s activities. You’re right, the dude was out to party. I hear you about that, the plague and fire were very interesting events. Don’t laugh, but I came across the concept of that large a fire in a David Edding’s book. In some ways, that historical incident effects my life today. The building codes had that outcome in mind, and I had a bit of experience with construction of fire resistant structures before ending up in this area and having to take that knowledge and experience to the next level with the house here.

    I salute your excellence, and it is certainly a record. Well done! 🙂

    Possibly with the mushroom folks. There’s always this sort of charming earnestness about them, as if they know something we don’t know. It’s possible that the belief is well founded, but you’re probably right. 😉

    I’m embarrassed and left feeling awkward. So are you suggesting that I have to ask for a LeVine Loaf, if purchasing err, sourdough? It sounds a mite pretentious to my ears. We’ve had some strange edicts out of that part of the world, so nowadays what used to be known as champagne yeast is now known as sparkling white yeast. It would be funny if that were all. Really? Exclusivity is good for marketing, as long as nobody is pushing volume.



  8. Chris, Chris, Chris. The birds are mad, because they are. Although I think there’s some old “bird” in the movie, who makes some pronouncements on that topic. Interesting fact: The screenplay for Hitchcock’s “The Birds” was developed from a novella by Daphne du Maurier. Other news on the Hitchcock front, our library has fresh copies of Hitchcock’s “The Trouble With Harry.” (1955). Billed as a “black comedy.” Haven’t seen it in decades. Put it on my hold list. It was also the film debut of Shirley MacLaine.

    It hit 88F, yesterday. Today is supposed to be about 10 degrees cooler. There is an 80% chance of rain, tomorrow. Back to the 80s by the weekend. There was an autumn fog, this morning.

    What to do when you run out of space, in the garden? Move to Mars. Plenty of elbow room, there. Wide open spaces. I read they had some little machine, on the Mars rovers that made oxygen out of the Mars atmosphere … or dirt, or something. But will it scale up?

    Well, the softer tomatoes taste like … tomatoes. I just have to take a bit more care, getting them into the dryer. I checked, and dogs can have tomatoes as an occasional treat. Tried it on H. Wasn’t interested. Waste of a good cherry tomato. 🙁

    Crock pots aka slow cookers. A good soak with a little dish soap and white vinegar, usually took care of the cleaning problem. One of the restaurants I worked in, kept chili going in a crock pot. All week long. We only cleaned it out and started fresh, on Sunday night.

    The Rose Festival has been banging along since 1905. There’s one thing and another for a couple of weeks. The fleets from many countries, come in, and they’re sailors get a liberty. That’s a mess, as all the bridges are up for a day, so they can tie up at the sea wall. Besides the main Rose Festival parade, there’s a Junior Rose Festival parade. A torchlight parade. And a “fun” fair down on the waterfront. There’s usually a celebrity Grand Marshal. Which enabled me to sit on Jane Russell’s lap, and stare down her cleavage. (Can I say that?). Pretty impressive, to a 16 or 17 year old boy. 🙂

    City destroying fires have a certain … cache. London, Rome, Chicago. And, yes, after such events, building codes get beefed up. Seattle, 1889.

    I think pretensions are designed to make other people feel awkward. I think if I ordered a sourdough loaf, and was smarmerly corrected, I’d buy the load … and then smack them up against the side of the head with it. Been watching too much “Evil.” 🙂 I went into one of “those” coffee shops, one time. The song and dance I had to go through to just get a cup of plane old coffee. Apparently, you need to order a “cafe Americano,” or some such.

    I had an interesting thought this morning. I wonder if a lot of companies are giving up on retail outlets. I bet they found out during You Know What that dealing primarily with Net middlemen was a lot easier … and maybe, even more profitable. A theory, anyway.

    I wonder if there will be biscuits and gravy, this morning? Oh, well. If not, I’ll just come home and do the usual oatmeal. Always good to have a Plan B. 🙂 Lew

  9. Chris,

    The carving show turned out fabulous. We had many more entries than I had even hoped for, much less expected. The venue was perfect, as it was constructed for art displays. Because the venue is owned by the city library, and we partnered with the library, we got a lot of free advertising. I don’t ever remember this many attendees from the public since I joined the club 10 years ago.
    I was the judge’s assistant for the Intermediate level, the 2nd highest of 4. (Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert.) I had been the assistant on the novice level for several years, so helping on the next level was a welcome change. I learned a lot.

    My woodburning got what I expected. A red ribbon. There are enough flaws in it to warrant that on the Advanced level where I “compete”. I also talked with the Advanced judge and another judge for their input on how I could have improved my work. Again, very instructive.

    IIRC, I had mentioned in my last post that the air quality plummeted. That was a weird day, let me tell you. Started off pristine, then the smoke rolled in, the air quality degrading to “unhealthy”. Then the wind really picked up, the smoke disappeared to be replaced with dust. By 10 pm the air quality was improving, and it was back to pristine the next morning. Never seen that scenario before, and I’m happy the air quality got back to good so quickly.

    So, Eastern Brown Snake bait was taking up residence in the woodshed? Or, as you put it, the fluffies had detected a presence. Good thing you were able to find and remove the presence, errr, the lizard. Add in a few more lizards and you could have had the Dread Presence of one of those nasty snakes. Or more.

    The autumn flowers just started blooming. There’s some type of bulb with wonderful light purple blooms that is doing well this year. That photo of the ornamental cherry is spectacular. Thanks for sharing that. It’s interesting comparing your spring blooms with our autumn blooms.

    Twas 32.2C today. A record high. “Normal” is 21C. Another toasty day Wednesday, then there should be some sprinkles Wednesday night and Thursday and much cooler weather.

    Let me see if I’ve got this correct. In addition to the dread musical, there is now the dread “novel that cannot be named.” As Lew mentioned, some novels that cannot be named get made into movies and even dread musicals. Or, the dread Musical That Cannot Be Named.

    Thanks for the history this week. Twas good to see a picture of your kindly grandfather.


  10. Hi DJ,

    Man, the venue sounded perfect, and is not wood carving considered art? They did you a solid with the advertising. Did you pick up any new members? But all the same, it would be great to experience such an increase in interest in the activities of your group. Did you lot manage to do any show and tell sessions with the public? They’re always interesting and at the agricultural expo I went to back in April, there were plenty of sessions with folks. The bloke who bred, sold and trained Kelpie’s was of particular interest.

    Mate, you’re moving up in the world! 🙂 But yeah, the skills are hard won, that’s for sure. Respect.

    I’m not sure I understand what a red ribbon is? From memory, it was either second, or maybe third place – with the blue ribbon being the first place. There may have been a yellow ribbon, but the memory gets hazy over the years… Were you happy with the result? Flaws, don’t the Japanese have a specific word for that to denote the specialness of the hand produced article? Wabi Sabi, or something like that?

    It’s good that they were able to talk you through what the judges were looking for. How else does one learn without some critique and guidelines?

    Sorry to laugh, because it is not funny, but please forgive my mirth. I’m actually at the point where a little bit of smoke wouldn’t hurt here. 67.2mm of rain in the past few days, and it’s err wet out there. Smoke denotes dryness, and this is a good thing. I was talking with a local bloke this morning about how there are now standing puddles of water on the side of a mountain, and that’s kind of hard to explain. His place was in flatter land, and was worse. We shook our heads collectively at the vagaries of the weather. Droughts and flooding rains seems to be the way of it. Good to hear that the air has cleared. The fire risk will reduce as you get closer to winter.

    The Fluffies talk, and I listen. The birds talk too. Most often they’re complaining about the fluffy’s, and one magpie in particular has decided the best option to reduce the annoyance of those two dogs is to wear out the Kelpie’s. My money is on the magpies winning that endurance test. It’s embarrassing to see Ruby jumping up and down, and she can reach quite a height, but err, the magpie 15m up the tree is quite safe.

    Hmm, what sort of bulb do you reckon it may be? Most of the bulbs here are either spring or summer bulbs.

    32.2’C would be a record high down here for this month too. Far out, but we can get hot days in March (your September). The sting in the sun is lesser than near to the solstice though. Not to put too fine a point upon it: What the heck is normal when it comes to weather these days? I’ve heard of parts of the world with stable climates, but yeah – a mystery we might both have to live with. 😉

    Musicals – yes, no good.
    Health subject which dare not be named – yes, no good.
    And that novel – yes, no good.
    And the other novel – yes, also no good.

    There may be others to add to the list! 🙂

    He was actually a pretty good bloke, and I feel fondly for the time we spent together. In many ways I was very lucky to have had him in my life, the other adults were bonkers (with the exception of my other grandmother who was lovely, but sharp as a tack – as they used to say).



  11. Hi Lewis,

    I will defer to your greater expertise in this subject of the birds. Certainly the species appear to have some sort of axe to grind, but then they have a very long history. What an accomplished family which Daphne du Maurier belonged too. The author has astounding eyes, almost of a piercing quality.

    The magpies here have decided that their best approach with Dame Plum and Ruby is to wear them out – and they do. The birds will happily swoop either dog and get them to chase them across and around the farm. I’m embarrassed for Dame Plum and Ruby for not seeing through this strategm, but they do seem to enjoy running – a lot. I do hope that the magpies don’t lead the two hapless dogs into trouble. I wouldn’t put it past the birds as they’re very intelligent. They leave Ollie and I alone.

    Did you end up getting the rain? 2.63 inches of rain fell here in the past two days. It’s rather damp outside now, and the ground surface drains are running water away from the sheds and chicken enclosure. Fortunately there is not much in the way of wind forecast in the immediate future as the saturated conditions can bring down large trees. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I dream of 88’F weather. The past two days combined have delivered about an hours peak sunlight. People who talk about running an industrial civilisation on renewable energy sources need their heads read. The geology here won’t support any hydro.

    Yeah, you go first! The Mars idea seems like a bad deal to me, but you know. I wonder how the electronics will far when the planet decides to kick up one of it’s super-huge dust storms? I’d heard that about the oxygen generator. Yes, exactly, very clever technology, but are the resources and energy there to scale up that technology? And it’s a long way home if the stuff breaks down. Mind you, that was a plot point in the enjoyable film Total Recall. I enjoyed the film anyway.

    Thanks for the cleaning tip with the crock pot. I probably should get one. Not casting any aspersions, but people weren’t as stressed out in those days about trying to keep things bonkers clean like they seem to be now. There’s a nice middle ground on that front, and I have an inkling that people are killing off their own flora and fauna by taking cleanliness to an extreme. Gut issues are rife in the population. It’s not good.

    Speaking of not good, in my reply to DJ, I offered a proposed list of not good things. 🙂 Don’t stress, I’m not going to seek to cancel them or anything like that. I was cancelled long ago in a writing gig and so have empathy for those who have been. It’s a bonkers strategy, but some groups seem to embrace it.

    When I was a kid, I recall that when our allies (i.e. US warships) visited the port, you’d hear a call out on the radio for ladies to accompany the sailors on a date. Seriously, it used to happen. Mind you, that was a number of decades ago now, and the port probably doesn’t get visited. After WWII there were actually arranged: Bride trains.

    The fuel tax reduction is finishing in another hour or so (midnight) and I’d heard reports that some petrol (gas) stations had run out of fuel and that there were long lines in some parts of the country. I just run small and cheap cars, so fuel costs aren’t great in the first place. Some cars nowadays are huge, and the truck thing seems to have gotten from your part of the world to here. It never used to be a thing, but now it is. When I was a kid during the mid 1970’s cars were smaller and lighter than they are today.

    Ooo, you’re like super naughty. And an impressive achievement. The lady was a stunner. However, I will note that the ladies notice these things. No matter how surreptitious an act may be, the ladies notice. And I believe they discuss such matters with their friends and family. 🙂

    Ah, of course. The 2009 Black Saturday fires which destroyed about 2,000 buildings resulted in beefed up building codes – ask me how I know this!!! 🙂 Most of the stuff I was going to do anyway, and the roof design is pretty interesting, but bonkers expensive. The cost of constructing this house, most of the work we did ourselves, almost beggared the kingdom of fluffy. I had plans to get a builder to do the work – a fine joke.

    I had not noticed that about pretensions, but yes that makes sense. The discomfiture of others, the cheeky scamps. If you’d ordered a cafe Americano down here, people would look at you funny. Mind you, people have diversified with their coffee orders, and the things I hear in my travels – I tend to keep things simple and stick to the well recognised cappuccino, but don’t tell anyone, I secretly just enjoy the dash of chocolate.

    Probably that is the case, and may lead to uncomfortable legal outcomes. Wouldn’t recommend it myself! 🙂 Mind you, it is possible they had it coming.

    Bricks and mortar retail is expensive. Of interest is that the rivers advantage is only an advantage so long as nobody else takes that path, then they’re stuffed. Of interest to you, I believe with the food delivery folks, the platform can suck up something crazy like 25% of the value of the sale as fees for providing the service. That’s also known as ‘the margin’ and how the sellers make money from there is something of a mystery to me.

    Did you get the biscuits and gravy?

    Had I mentioned that it rained a lot today, and yesterday? 🙂



  12. Hello Chris,

    Thanks for sharing your asparagus-tips. The most delicious parts of the experience.

    Here in Sweden, the latest media storm is focussing on a couple of holes in a tube in the Baltic Sea. I guess it is professor Andreas Malm who has been activisting, inspired by his own latest book:
    On the other hand, I think he is mainly a theoretical kind of guy …

    For a while, when I am waiting for winter and that I can dig out my trees in the Netherlands, I am doing a side gig at a company in the “circular economy”. I.e. waste shredding and sorting. It is very interesting to see the realities behind the green stories of our contemporary society. Especially certain plastics are difficult to recover or reuse. Some kinds are only for “energy recovery”, i.e. burning.
    To be fair, it is a lot better than 10 years ago, and it could be much better 10 years from now, if we can keep energy flowing.
    On the other hand, the easiest improvement in material use would be to buy less stuff. And the economic slide that we recently started will enforce just that.

    I usually say that only compostable stuff, like my wooden chair, are part of a circular economy, where the main input is the sunshine to grow the wood.


  13. Hi Chris,

    Last week, Mike and I visited a friend of ours who is a resident in a nursing home near Madison, Wisconsin. In 2020 and 2021 we were not allowed to visit our friend for the reason I can’t talk about, but this year the nursing home is finally allowing visitors. Mind you, we had to wear a disposable mask and a sterilized face shield, both of which the nursing home provided, and sanitize our hands three separate times as part of the protracted procedure to sign in for each visit. It was bonkers. But we were able to visit him on each of the three full days we were in town, plus his mother, brother, and sister-in-law took us out to dinner the first evening we were there. We also enjoyed walking on two trails and found an excellent Irish pub for dinner the last evening we were there. A good time was had by all.

    I can tell you who is not having a good time: anyone in Florida who is being affected by Hurricane Ian. Thank goodness my mother doesn’t have to live through it. The town she and my dad lived in, Port Charlotte, is on Charlotte Harbor, which is predicted to receive a 12 to 18 foot storm surge. The apartment building that my mother lived in is only 9 feet up from sea level, so if the storm surge gets that high, it’ll flood part of the lower story. Siesta Key, where my family stayed in June for the memorial service for my mom, could get an 8 to 12 foot storm surge as well – that will flood the lower story of the house we stayed in. The area the hurricane is hitting has bonkers high priced real estate in it. Ian may cause as much or more damage than Katrina did, depending on where it hits and how slowly it travels. The insurance industry isn’t going to be happy – and when they’re not happy, ain’t nobody happy.


  14. Yo, Chris – DJ’s mystery autumn bulb might be Saffron. The bulbs are available, here. Nichols Garden Nursery, has carried it, for years. I’ve grown it a time or two. And DJ’s climate, is ideal for it. There are times in it’s life cycle, where you don’t water it, at all.

    Maybe Dame Plum and Ruby think the magpies are playing a wonderful game. Sure, they may appear to take it all very seriously. It’s like H with her squeaky toy. A rousing game of keep away, at least once a day. You’d think she was going to take my arm off, trying to get at it. But it’s all just in fun. The magpies might have a different take. 🙂

    We are getting rain. When I took H out this morning, it was just a sprinkle, and I thought, “Yup. Still have to water, tonight.” But now I see puddles, so, “Nope. Don’t have to water, tonight.” It will be gone, by tomorrow.

    The scientists really thought the Mars rovers would be dead, by now. Due to dust on their solar panels. But they keep chugging along. They don’t seem to know quit why the dust doesn’t stick. Electromagnetic charge? Wind? Might just be the composition / texture of the dust.

    We pretty much treated the chili pot, like a stock pot. Kept the temperature up in the safe zone, and, at the end of the day would rapidly cool it with ice, to take it down to a safe zone. Then it went in the walk in freezer. We were constantly adding things to it. A few vegetable scraps, and the butt ends of the meat we sliced. Ham, chicken and beef. We didn’t make the chili, from scratch. But it came from a small, local company that really paid attention to quality.

    Re: Your lists. Value judgements. 🙂

    For a couple of years, I worked in a place (same place that had the chili), and survived shore leave week. We were only three or four blocks from the sea wall. It was a lot of fun, sailors from all over the world. The worst behaved were … the Americans. The sailors usually had working girls, on their arms. I only remember one bad blow out, and, it was the Americans. It was the Ladies who got them back in line. Something like, “Shape up, or we walk.” Just another reason I’ve always had a soft spot for Ladies of the Night.

    I’ll have to get gas, next week. Report to follow … We’ve been told that our Social Security payments will go up, next year. And some of our Medicare premiums are going down. Not great amounts. Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, or an increase. But not near enough to offset inflation.

    What I really remember about Ms. Russell, is that she wore little or no makeup. And, she looked just like she did on the screen. She really was a natural beauty.

    My Stash tea, arrived yesterday. E-Buy does chip away, at the River. I comparison shop. Sometimes, one has a better price, than the other.

    Yes, I got my biscuits and gravy, yesterday. Tasty. H got a bit of a taste. She also approves.

    Did you say something about rain? I must have overlooked it 🙂

    You must have heard me in Australia, this morning. I hope no one was passing, in the hall. I was making up my next three day batch of oatmeal, and when I pulled a bag pf blueberries out of the freezer, it wasn’t quit sealed. Blueberries … frozen … round … wood floors … everywhere. Only a couple of handfuls, but besides the kitchen floor, they also made a break for the hallway. Oh, well. No harm done.

    I finished reading the novel, “The Kitchen Front”, last night. Finally. A good read, and some interesting recipes. There was one little bit, that caught my eye … “It uses no sugar except for a sugar syrup that I made using sugar beets grown in the garden. Basically, you boil chopped beets for two hours, then sieve them through cheesecloth and reduce the sugar water until it is a thick, sweet liquid. You can dry it to form brown sugar…” Sounds pretty simple. It was used in something called “Summer Pudding.”

    I watched a good movie, the other night. “Where the Crawdads Sing.” It’s from a novel, that was pretty popular (I didn’t read it.) I’d call it a romance / murder mystery. Lew

  15. Hi Goran,

    Dunno about you, but I’ve discovered that with plants, and any gardening advice for that matter, that there are plenty of people who will push an agenda. However, working out what is important, and what advice can be blithely ignored, is where the experience shows. Your part of the world could be very different from here, so at best we can only ever speak in general terms, but rest assured, I keep it real.

    Professor Malm is talking from an old story. The Luddites played that hand a long time ago, and their actions left a scar, but changed nothing. Yes, there are some holes in that pipeline, and it’s a problem and also an opportunity to adapt to using and expecting less stuff. Last year I made something of a mistake and have had to rectify an error. The truth is, I brought that penance upon myself. I wish it were otherwise, but I made the error, and your part of the world looks like that to me.

    Goran, I don’t know what to say. I have to deal with people who suggest that using the local firewood to heat my home during winter is a bad thing, and yet the same people hypocritically think nothing of flying half way around the globe. The level of disconnect is hard for me to understand.

    Really? Well done you. That would never happen here due to fear of transmitting plant and soil diseases. Can you really dig up your trees in the Netherlands and relocate them to your new locale? Wow!

    A good friend of mine has a bit of experience with the dirty end of the plastics industry too. It’s not much good. My understanding is that quite a lot of plastic compounds only have I believe a maximum of two re-uses in them. Not quite the green nirvana that people might expect them to be. I can’t really say for sure, but I’m guessing the plastic usage is a side effect of the fossil fuel business, and is only done because the raw materials are there. Some plastics though are awesome, like the uPVC pipes I use to channel water around the property. They’re an amazing material.

    Exactly, the whole system could be better. We make the choices we make, and that is what we do.

    Yes, buy less stuff. And yes, that is my best guess too – economics will have her way, and expectations be damned.

    There is an enormous amount that could be done with local resources. After all, our ancestors plied the distant seas in ocean going vessels made from, err, local resources. The arrangement just won’t look like things do today. How could it be otherwise?

    If you need any extra rain, please don’t hesitate to ask! 🙂



  16. Hello Chris
    I very much admire your ability to produce a weekly blog; I certainly couldn’t do it.
    Your grandfather sounded great and very interesting.
    The critter in the woodshed looked like an alligator to me.
    Have been getting to grips with my new washing machine. Why do they have to get more and more complicated! So unnecessary.
    A friend who turned up, told me that he had a smart washing machine. Ye gods, he can run it from his phone. I can see a potential disaster looming there.


  17. Hi, Chris!

    You had a hard go of it with your family. I feel like I had a very privileged childhood, yet my brother says “no”, that he was emotionally abused. Oddly, my husband says that abuse was his upbringing, too, though his older sister says not. Perhaps female children often are more favored? Yet when my husband’s younger sister was born 14 years after him, his mother told her that she hated her for coming along and messing up her life. A screwed-up family and one of the biggest reasons that we moved 1,300 miles away. Also, to get away from my father’s family, nasty people, his own mother ditched him when he was four and ran away with another man, came back once to tell him she missed him (which made it even worse) and then disappeared forever. His father then married Cinderella’s stepmother. Sometimes one wonders about the human race . . . yet what wonderful people there are, also.

    Your paternal grandmother sounds like a bright spot in your young life and, of course, there was your maternal grandfather. What a nice article/obituary that you found.

    It is dry, dry, dry here. One begins to worry about fires. However, we may get some rain from Hurricane Ian.

    You just plain have more rocks there than we do here. You also do a lot more digging, I think, so maybe a lot of ours are under the surface. I love seeing the gabion cages; they are a thing of beauty. Hi, Ollie! Lots of Ollie – thanks!

    The greenhouse water pumps seem to be the last thing you need for it? I know about hauling water in buckets . . .

    That’s an interesting thought about the road builders and the stump detritus. I could see that as being part of the cause of the mess.

    You have a Blue Tongue Lizard, we have a Blue Tailed Skink.

    What a gorgeous sight that cherry tree is. And thanks for the rest of the flowers!


  18. Hi Claire,

    Your story pained me, but at least you were able to visit yours and Mike’s friend. Two years ago my old mate died (the anniversary of that day was only a week or so back) and the specialists were more worried that he’d die of you-know-what, so that apparently, his appointments got cancelled. That didn’t work out so well. I dunno what to say, sometimes there are hoops put in front of you, they make no sense, and you have to jump through them all the same.

    I note that Goran, who also has a science background, like yourself, is impressed with your most excellent and meticulous approach to the garden which you achieve. Forgive me, but I did dob you in regarding the soil mineralisation project you’ve been working upon and writing about for a number of years. Sorry, but I defer to your experience, and honestly don’t know even where to begin for soil testing here due to the scale of the property. Steve Solomon himself might suggest that I take the more-on (say it fast enough) approach to the matter, and he’d be right too, the cheeky scamp. 🙂

    Claire, that storm is feral. I was reading a news article about it this morning and 240km/h winds and storm surges were predicted to be over 3m. Yikes. Yes, it would not be a good place to be. Incidentally evacuating that many people would be like emptying half of Melbourne’s population. Where ever will they all go?



  19. Hi Inge,

    Thank you for saying that, and the words are much appreciated. I’d like to hope that you’d never be able to guess what was written about from week to week. Although there are times where I pursue a theme for a week or three.

    Thinking about themes for future writing: Just-in-time is dead, thankfully. I was never much of a fan of the economic strategy as it pushed costs ever lower down the food chain. And who wants that?

    My grandfather and grandmother were one of a kind. They don’t make them like that any more, as perhaps you would be aware. I tell you an odd thing about my grandfather. He’d been involved in some unpleasant activities in WWII (err, Dresden bombing for a start), and his personality was very together and commanding, yet also he had an understanding side to him. I’m always amazed at how people rise up from the awful challenges they can face in life. And you never really know who will thrive, who just gets through, and whom is crushed by the events.

    Give it a few millennia, some additional warming of the climate, and the little critter in the wood shed will certainly get bigger. 🙂 I’d encountered a much bigger version of the lizard on the beautiful farm of the author Jackie French in the state to the north of here. The lizard was just hanging off the side of a tree, as you do, and it was huge. It was a Monitor Lizard. Best to leave such a beast well alone was my thinking!

    Inge, I so hear you. I’ve done washing since I was about 11 or 12, and far out the current machine makes my head spin there are so many programs and options. When we had the 5.9 earthquake I was yelling at Sandra: How do I turn this stupid thing off (thinking the shaking was the washing machine about to explode)? You have my sympathies, and I would never connect up a device like that to the interweb.

    A major telco down here has suffered a massive data hack, and I was surprised to find out that the company had demanded ID like passports. Like why would a telco require them? Anyway, I can understand why hackers would want them. I dunno what they expected, but I get sick of the demands for really complicated ID from companies. It’s not reasonable and is a step too far. I assume the same thing is true in your part of the world?



  20. Hi Pam,

    Thanks. It was a weird upbringing, that’s for sure. The thing is though, it’s like being poor, you don’t realise that you’re poor, until you begin to understand how everyone else who is considered normal, lives. 🙂 I dunno about that about being female providing a form of protection from oddness. If only because, my mother was err, wild, and um, well my two older sisters had much more focus upon them than I. One went right off the rails, and the oldest seems sort of OK, although I avoid her mostly because we have little in common. My mother wasn’t altogether all that sure as to what to do with this male thing (i.e. me) in the household, and so I got to go my own way much of the time. But as a late teenager, I needed and sought help, you can’t know how to navigate the world around you relationships and stuff, if you had minimal guidance, bad examples, and the adults in your life were crazy.

    I’m so sorry to hear of those stories. It’s awful, and yes I too had heard the ‘messed up my life’ complaints. It sounded peevish to me. As an adult, I’m pretty certain that neither you nor I would have had any say in ending up where we ended up – and that’s true for husband’s younger sister too. What do you do? Everyone is different in that regard.

    Exactly, things can go horribly wrong. Faerie tales are replete with evil stepmothers. But more generally, like you suggest, I too believe that it is only a minority of people who are like that, and it is up to us to find good grace in the face of evil knowing that sometimes you lose.

    Yeah, both my grandfather (on my mothers side) and my grandmother (on my fathers side) were what used to be called ‘upright folks’. They stepped up to the plate, when others around them faltered. The funeral for my grandfather was on an epic scale, and it was only there during a eulogy where I learned he called all of his best mates ‘d@#khead’. He used to call me that affectionately, but I have to say, I discovered was in good company! 🙂 Some people have the knack of swearing and it not sounding aggressive or a put down, and he was like that.

    Fingers crossed you get some rain from Hurricane Ian. Oh Pam, it troubles me deeply to see just how wet it is outside here. I dunno.

    Yes, there are lots of rocks, and they float in the clay. I tell you truly, if it were drier, I’d hire a machine and move some of the larger rocks around the property. I had an idea for their use, but it is too wet to bring the machine in. Woe is me. 🙂 I love the gabions too.

    I was hoping that you noticed all of the photos of Ollie. He loves the camera that dog, he’s a natural.

    I’ve gotta begin the summer seedlings and require the water in the greenhouse to be able to keep them moist. The water pump is becoming more necessary as time goes on.

    That’s a lovely looking skink. The little critters work hard in the gardens consuming many of the pests which would otherwise plague the plants we all grow.

    My pleasure!



  21. Hi Lewis,

    Really? You mentioned a while ago that turmeric would be a good tuber to plant in the greenhouse, but perhaps I should be planting saffron corms instead? The corms look a bit like garlic bulbs. I’ve noticed that the plant appears to enjoy warmer and drier climates, but then down under it is grown in Tasmania, and much of that island state is neither warm nor dry. Yikes $27 a bulb apparently. A bit pricey for my tastes, and I can’t say for sure I’ve ever tasted real saffron. Did you enjoy the taste of the spice?

    Hmm, just going with my gut feeling here, but the magpies probably don’t see the fun in having to wear out two over active pooches. I warn the magpies ahead of time that the dogs are out and about doing their thing. H would no doubt give the magpies ‘what for’ as well.

    Another dreary cold and cloudy day today. One of the red mustards succumbed to too much water – from the rainfall. Others seem to be coping OK. The soil in the greenhouse is only four months old, so it doesn’t really have the oomph (a technical phrase) to see less than super-healthy plants through shocks like this current bout of rain.

    The Mars Rovers are amazing robots, and they’re very hardy to have survived as long as they have. And Curiosity in particular is a true achievement in technology. The power source incidentally is a thermoelectric generator, so I’m hardly surprised by the longevity. An ingenious technology, but you wouldn’t want one too close to you. Radiation sickness is a bit of a bummer. The Voyager craft used them too. Such a simple device. A shame spent fuel rods aren’t used in that manner, but that ain’t my problem to wonder about.

    Yum. So tell me, did the chilli get better as the week went on? A lot of food in commercial kitchens is pre-prepared. I doubt it is possible to do otherwise and it’s always a compromise between speed of turnaround, and quality. It’d be a real skill to be able to manage and direct such an environment – especially if they get pumped with lots of orders.

    I freely admit guilt in this matter. It’s possibly a character flaw not to enjoy musicals – most people seem to do so.

    Hehe! Shape up, or we walk. Says it all, and also proves that they’re the boss in that arrangement. Mate, I’m not much of a fan of gentrification. The inner city area we used to live was rather quirky and gritty, but then bit by bit it changed, until one day you find your neighbour wants to install a 7m high brick wall on your boundary – blocking out most of the northern sunlight, for most of the year. What’s with that? It’s even like around these parts, land is so expensive that young folks with energy to do something with the land, can’t get a look in. It’s not right.

    I’ll be curious to hear of your gas experience. The two Suzuki’s don’t use that much fuel, so cost isn’t that much of an issue. But I’ve seen a few people filling up larger vehicles at the bowser and the costs have gone in excess of $200. Youch! Those behemoths would go through the consumable components quicker too like tyres and brakes etc…

    Ms. Russell was a stunner, no doubts about it.

    True, e-buy is nipping at the river. But then one day, the river won’t flow. The inverted bell shaped curve we’re all on is brutal. I’m just waiting for someone to say to me: I liked your old stuff better than your new stuff, and then… Oh well. But until then, and even after then! Hehe! I guess I’ll be dead one day too, until then, there’s stuff to write.

    Go H! Biscuit and gravy treats are the whole next level! 🙂

    Very funny! Far out, it’s now very wet outside, and more rain is forecast next Wednesday. Oh goodie. Are you sure you don’t want any of it?

    An unfortunate incident in the kitchen, and I’m glad to hear that no blueberries were harmed. Have you considered training H to hoover them up? The Fluffy’s would take advantage of that error, and then there’d be nothing left to clean up.

    Mate, is that Sugar Beet they’re referring to? I used to grow those beets and they have something crazy like 20% sugar (due to plant selection and breeding), which is impressive. The old timers used to boil them down, and make a sugar syrup. It’s not bad tasting, just a little bit of an earthy after taste, but still it’s good stuff in colder climates. I’m yet to try sorghum syrup, but need to do some experiments with sugar sources. So much to do, so little time.

    The Editor read that book and really loved it. To be honest, she has been hesitant to watch the film, if only because the trailers didn’t look gritty and the book was gritty. Dunno, I’ll pass on your review. Turning much loved books into films is a hard and difficult road don’t you reckon? I mean people have their own ideas as to what things should and shouldn’t look like. I couldn’t watch the Game of Thrones series just for one example which springs to mind.



  22. Hi Chris,

    You had a rough childhood but have found a way to come to terms with it. Many don’t. If course the scars will be with you always and shaped you into the person you are today. Thank goodness you had your grandfather. I know of no family that doesn’t have issues and/or dysfunction. I know mine does. Fortunately we do discuss it along with family history and with that at least comes some understanding.

    We know quite a few people in Florida but have yet to hear how the hurricane has affected them. I can’t believe how many continue to move down there when they get to retirement age. Apparently it is getting oppressively over crowded.

    After some frost last night our weather is going to be beautiful.


  23. Yo, Chris – The part of the Saffron used for spice and dye is the three red stigmas. It takes 13,000 hand picked and dried stigma, to get one ounce. “Turmeric is used as a substitute by unscrupulous spice merchants to adulterate … ” Nichols has the bulbs for $7.25 … and I see by a glance down the rabbit hole, that they can be had for as little as $6.14. A large investment, in your part of the world, but they do multiply.

    I did try harvesting the stigmas (with tweezers) and dried them. Tried them in some rice. It turned it a lovely color, but I could detect no taste. But I was working with a very small amount. Pregnant women should avoid Saffron.

    H seems ok with birds. It’s squirrels, cats, other dogs and joggers that wind her up. 🙂

    Oh, yes, the chili got better as the week went on. We also got hot German potato salad, from the same vendor. We made an French onion soup and a Black Forest German chocolate cake, from scratch. A little old Cornish lady brought us beef pasties and pork pot pies. Staff got a meal a day, anything off the menu. Often, by the end of the week, there were no pasties or pot pies left for the customers. We got a mild lecture, about that, at a staff meeting 🙂

    I find I need a certain amount of quirky and gritty, in my life. Probably why I hang out at the Club.

    I get such good mileage, and drive so little, that usually, I can get away with $35 – $40, once a month.

    I think E-Buy might be around longer than the River. They haven’t diversified, so much, and have kept their eye on just selling stuff. They don’t produce their own movies, try and develop their own shipping systems or tinker with brick and mortar stores.

    H quit likes the biscuits and gravy. I put aside a couple of chunks of meat, for her. And, due to a sink malfunction, we used disposable plates, last time around. She cleaned that right up. But … she had a bit of gastric distress. As if she were trying to hack up a hair ball. I think it’s because I used some black pepper on the gravy, and, after the fact discovered it’s not good for dogs. I’ll be more careful, in future.

    I’m sure Lake Powell and Lake Mead would be happy to take your excess water. You pay the shipping 🙂 . In a couple of months, you’ll be begging for our winter rain.

    And, it did rain enough, yesterday, that I didn’t have to water, last night. Not as much rain today, but I think I’ll still not have to water. But, we’re supposed to be back to 80F, over the weekend.

    Yes, sugar beets. A quick look into the rabbit hole indicates that sugar beets can be a bit hard to grow. And, deer love them!

    Books into movies can be a disappointment. I think because, if you read the book first, you’ve already screened it, in your mind. What’s presented on the screen, will never match up.

    I finally got a call through to Elinor, last night. Night before last, I called twice, and my calls never went through. Even though they rang “somewhere”, many times. And she was waiting for my call. I suspect that the hospital phone system is set up for smart devices. Just a theory.

    Elinor still mentioned coming home, a couple of times. I didn’t comment on that. LOL. More worries, about H. I mentioned that I only take H to the Club, if I have no other stops to make (because someone is going to break my truck window, and steal her.) So, when she trigged to the fact that I sometimes leave H home, alone, well … what if the building catches fire, while I’m gone, and she burns to death! Is it just me, or do you detect a bit of a double bind, here?

    We get a food box, tomorrow morning. I wonder what will be in it?

    I checked the library catalog, and they do have copies of Hitchcock’s “The Birds.” So I put a hold on it. Although neither the book nor the movie, explained why the birds went nuts, I did find this …


    Toxins from algae. Who knew? So, based on real events … kind of. Yup. Nature’s trying to kill us, or drive us nuts. Lew

  24. Chris,

    Yes, wood carving is considered art, at least by that venue. 😉 Time will tell about new members. One young couple seemed to be very interested.

    The ribbons. If I were competing in a race, yes blue ribbon=first, red = second, white = third place. In this case, I am “competing” against some criteria first. As one moves up the scale from Novice to Intermediate to Advanced to Expert, the expectations and requirements for that higher level’s blue ribbon become more rigorous and demanding.

    Next, say that in Intermediate there were 7 bird carvings entered. Perhaps 5 met the requirements for a blue ribbon. So that “division” of the Intermediate class/level would have 5 blue ribbons and 2 red ribbons. Then the 5 blue ribbons would be judged against each other to determine which is the best of the bird carvings (Best of that Division) in the Intermediate level. This is done for every “division”. Sometimes no “Best of Division” is warranted, as the requirements are higher than for a blue ribbon. Finally, all of the Intermediate level’s various Best of Division winners are compared…what is judged as the best of these is also awarded a “Best of Classification” or “Best of Level” ribbon. The final step…the Best of Level winners for each of the 4 levels (Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert) are taken to the “Best Of” table and the best of these is awarded “Best of Show”. I’ve seen the Best of Show winner come from all levels except Novice.

    We pay a small stipend to each of the judges. We then expect them to be available for answering questions during the Saturday and Sunday sessions of the show. (Judging is done Friday evening.) Each judged item is given the “judging sheet” that the judge’s assistant filled out at the judge’s direction. This includes general comments by the judge as well as the judge’s name, so that the artist, if present, can find the judge.

    Hehehe…magpies are part of the corvid clan. Smart birds. My money is also on the magpies to wear out the dogs. Sometimes the corvids are too smart for their own good, but they can be amusing to watch.

    Due to Lew’s clues, I think it is a lavender colored crocus.

    Yeah, the 32C this week felt nothing like even 27C in July! Then we awoke Thursday morning to the sound of raindrops. The forecast was for maybe 8mm total if we were lucky. Nope. The entire Spokane area got at least 12mm! That much rain is very welcome. And it is pleasantly cool today.


  25. Hi Margaret,

    That’s true, and I see plenty of that in our travels, sorry to say. I knew deep down as a late teenager that I had to make peace with the past, and I got help for that. Upon reflection, the most difficult aspect was realising that there was loss to acknowledge and accept, and then facing the loss with courage. That all sounds a bit twee, but it really was how things were. I’d lost, and no amount of effort could better the situation.

    I’m glad that you have understanding people who are able to talk about how things were and are. It’s a good place to be. I read somewhere that to err is to be human, and that’s cool.

    Not a good place to be right now, and um, yeah, not good. Hope the folks you know are OK? Long term that part of your country is facing some serious troubles, but where doesn’t? The news reports are not good.

    Is that the first frost of the season? Today was beautiful, but cool with sunny blue skies. Not to worry, another storm is due to hit next Wednesday. I got out into the orchards today to get the trees prepared for the growing season. Got through about a quarter of all of the trees, and chipped up the prunings. It was quite pleasant really.



  26. Hi DJ,

    I was curious about the new members because of my former experience with a local seed group. If they don’t join in, it’s their loss. 🙂

    Mate, I’m guessing that you’re a bit like me in that you set your own standards to achieve, and if you win a ribbon, that’s good too. Thanks for the explanation of the ribbons. And, if I may be so bold as to suggest, the groupings appear set up to spur you on to greater accomplishments.

    I wouldn’t have guessed that about ‘best of show’ coming from all categories other than novice. Out of curiosity, is the selection of Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, or Expert self assessed? It would be strange for someone usually in expert category to enter an item in novice, unless it is an area of skill which they have only the most rudimental prowess?

    Have you ever considered putting your hand up for the role of judge at such an event? Mate, the judges earn their small stipend.

    How unlucky can a person get? Not only are there Corvid’s and a few representatives, but also the Parrots. They’re considered the smartest of the avian’s, and they certainly challenge me. In particular, I always speak nicely to the Corvid’s, they seem to have long memories and can hold grudges.

    Who knew that you could grow saffron in your part of the world? I’m yet to score any turmeric tubers, but it’s only a matter of time. One brain good. Many brains better. Ugg! 🙂

    The sun finally shone this morning. Holy carp! The house batteries begun the day at 40% full, and declining…. They filled up today, and thanks be to Lithium chemistry. Lead Acid chemistry would not have filled up, despite there being plentiful sun.

    Half an inch of rain is a thing of joy when the land is parched, and the trees need a drink of water. Hopefully if the rain continues the land will green up a bit, before winter.



  27. Hi Lewis,

    That would explain why the spice costs near to the value of gold pound for pound. That’s a lot of work to harvest 13,000 stigma, merely for an ounce of weight. Cheap labour is probably required in order to make the growing of the spice, an economic proposition. Still, you can mine gold, but can you grow it? Think I’ll stick to trying to track down some turmeric, probably easier. The local gardening club sells vanilla orchids, and those plants are fiddly to get the vanilla bean pods – probably beyond my skill set, or patience for that matter. Now rose hips…

    The sun shone today, although it was still on the cooler side of things. I was grateful for the sunshine because the house batteries had a chance to get back to being fully charged. It’s been a rough few days, and it is hard to comprehend, but another multi-day storm is forecast for late next week. Anywhoo, moving on. Got out into the orchards and began cleaning up around and pruning the fruit trees. Got through about a quarter of the trees today. It’s funny, but as time goes on the job becomes easier, plus we have access to the tools to make the job easier. Chucked all the prunings through the scary old wood chipper and then blitzed them with the mowers. They’ll feed the soil. I’m pruning so as to produce taller trees and eventually the orchards will have a canopy and a person can walk around underneath. That’s the plan, but we’ll see how it goes.

    This morning I visited the farm machine repair dudes, and they have an old rotary tiller machine which I might get. Could be useful.

    H is a sensitive soul, and joggers probably might be up to no good. Dogs know these things.

    Good to hear about the chilli as I was wondering about that. Holy Carp! How could German potato salad not taste good when it has a bacon vinaigrette? Super-yummo! You’ve mentioned the Cornish pasties and pies before, and they sound good. Of course, with the staff scoffing all of the pasties and pies down their guts, the facts sort of speak for themselves. Did anyone in the dressing down meeting pipe up with the opinion that it was managements fault for not ordering enough? 🙂 Merely a question of perspective. Probably a career limiting move though – we’ve all done those.

    I hear you about the quirk and grit. Those are often the folks who can exercise a modicum of free will, of course that exercising may have resulted in some difficulties, but that’s life.

    Well that’s an interesting perspective, and you’re probably right about the river messing it up. Over reach is always a risk. By contrast, e-buy often has bricks and mortar stores broadening their reach and customer base.

    Oh isn’t it? I never knew that about black pepper and dogs. You sent me on an interweb rabbit hole there, and I get the impression that pepper in small quantities is OK for dogs, but it depends here on scale and whether the cook (or consumer) mixed the pepper in so that there is no chunks? The Editor once surprised me by not properly mixing in a stock cube into a rice dish (a very long time ago when skills were lower) and it was an unpleasant experience to have the revoltingly salty massive chunk of stock cube in my mouth. I may have spat it back out again and gone without lunch, but the salt taste remained and left me feeling queasy.

    I’d like to pay for the shipping, but yeah, can’t help out there. Sorry, they’re gonna have to use less.

    Your cherry tomatoes all might end up ripening with that sort of weather. I mucked out the chicken enclosure today and distributed it over where the tomatoes will grow in a few months time. Fingers crossed for a warmer season.

    I didn’t find that with sugar beets. In fact they were a bit weedy. I should have put more effort into them, but there’s always so much to do. Mind you, this year I’m feeling more on top of things. But there are a few large projects still to do. Oh well, nobody said it would be easy.

    Yes, I’m guessing that may be the case for that film. The Editor truly enjoyed the book, and described it as one of the best which she has yet read. She keeps hassling me to read it, but other books have grabbed my attention of late.

    What a nightmare of a phone system. Like what kind of phone system can’t make or receive calls? How does that work? I’m a bit dubious about smart phones, I don’t really need the computing power on the go, and forcing me to take one (or lose my income) did not impress me much.

    Why ever would anyone want to steal H? Dogs had more street value during the lock downs due to shortages and people being stuck at home with nobody to talk too.I guess it’s a possibility, and strange things do happen, but still. Hmm, maybe it is just me, but I try to avoid other people handing over their anxieties. I’ve got plenty of things to worry about, why add to them? Anyway, what me worry? 🙂

    Your magic food boxes are kind of magic. Is this the fresh produce box? I noted that one of the big markets in Melbourne is under pressure from snivelling developers.

    Fascinating. Yes, the humble algae. I believe that it has also been anecdotally linked to some nerve related disorders in humans too. I come into contact with algae all the time.



  28. Yo, Chris – Turmeric. I think I mentioned some “health” food stores have small sections of organic produce. I’ve seen Turmeric at the one here. Even some grocery stores, carry it in their produce sections. The Vanilla orchid might look pretty, and even smell nice, but getting a pod… One of the books on plant hunters told that tail. How you need a certain insect, for pollination. But that an enslaved man discovered the secret of hand pollination … and made his master a lot of money.

    Yes, pruning. The right (sharpened) tool for the right job.

    Hot German potato salad is a taste treat. We kept that in a crock pot, too. But I think we only added bits of ham butt. It usually has celery seed. The little old Cornish lady, who made the pasties and pies, could only crank out so many a week. 🙂 I’d heat mine up, and top it with either sour cream, or hot mustard. Sometimes, both.

    I figure Sunday or Monday I can dry another round of cherry tomatoes. There are plenty of green ones, on the bush. I’ll keep an eye on the forecast, and I’ll probably do a round of drying green ones, just before the first forecast frost. They’re also tasty. A bit more zing.

    Someone might steal H, just because she’s always got her “cute” dialed up to 10. Some guy might decide she’d make a good “free” gift, for his girlfriend. Who knows why people do things? The sirens section is always full of all kinds of weird stuff. A police car was here, this morning. I wonder what that was about? He didn’t stay long. I haven’t seen anything in the newspaper, about our grocery store parking lot shooter … who lived here. There ought to be a trial date, pretty soon.

    No food box, yet. No, this one doesn’t have any produce in it. It’s just the first box, of the month, which comes from a different source.

    I think I mentioned they’re building a new chemist shop, a block down the hill from us. Not a national chain, a local outfit. When it was first announced, they said it was going to have apartments on the second floor. They’re far enough along now, that I can see it’s a partial second floor. Doesn’t look like it has enough room for only one or two apartments. They’re placing the roof beams, today. They might get it sealed up, before the weather gets ugly.

    My credit union finally got moved and open. I went down about 7:30 last night. The traffic was pretty heavy, and there’s a round-about to navigate, to get there. Can’t say I’m happy with the new location, but no one consulted me 🙂 . I guess I’ll just have to go later, at night. I’m not looking forward to the holiday season. Also, to get there, you have to navigate past the entrance / exit of the Store of Walls. And it’s right at the edge of the parking lot of a big box hardware store. The landscaping is nice. Lots of meandering channels of river rock.

    I checked my library catalog last night, and the movie, “The Birds” is winging it’s way, to me.

    I did my grocery shopping, last night. There was one display box of Lindt high octane bars. At $4 per, I only picked up two. Mushrooms were back in stock. Still no “lite” popcorn or Stash tea. But I don’t have to worry about that, anymore. Lew

  29. Chris,

    You nailed it. Our group is friendly, often humorous, fairly laid back. If someone chooses not to join, it’s their loss.

    Exactly. The process is set up to encourage one to improve one’s skills. If one participates in the show. Some members carve, improve, but are there for the social interaction mostly. Entering carvings in the various shows is NOT a required part of club membership.

    It IS theoretically possible for a Novice to win Best of Show. Unlikely, but possible. If the carver is newish to carving, the carver starts at Novice. If the carver has experience, but maybe some years of not carving and absence from shows, probably starting at Intermediate is warranted. The Intermediate carver who won our Best of Show fell into this category – a fair amount of carving experience, but no entries in shows. If a carver moves here from, say, Arizona, and has been competing at Expert in Arizona, it would be expected that the carver compete at Expert here.

    If a person is misplaced in Intermediate, it will show: one of our carvers had a 20 year absence from the club. He returned and entered as Intermediate, won the Best of Intermediate Level. Winning best of level automatically moves the carver up a level. That carver then won Best of Advanced Level the next year, so will compete as Expert forever.

    The other kicker. I am at the Advanced level. I primarily wood burn, having entered no carvings for about 8 years. Were I to enter a carving next year, I could probably enter the carving in Intermediate, one level below my current standing. WITH permission of the show director and IF the carving is in a totally different division, say a bird or a human caricature. I know one carver who enters carvings in both the Advanced and Expert levels. Just depends on the category. But he cannot enter anything at less than Advanced level.

    They want me to be able to judge. However, a judge needs to be at the Expert level and have won blue ribbons in 3 or 4 different categories/divisions at the Expert level. I am nowhere near meeting that criteria!

    Oh, and then there is the Master Carver. This is an Expert who has won Best of Division awards in at least 5 separate categories as an Expert. VERY hard to get to that level! Masters compete at Expert.

    Hahaha! Poor Chris is surrounded by the smartest birds on the planet. And of various species. Heck, I’d be doing everything I could to be friends with the smart birds, too. Corvids are smart, and I’ve seen them cause a lot of mayhem while entertaining themselves. If parrots are smarter, UGG.

    Good word, Ugg. Glad you introduced it a few weeks back. Very useful word.

    Lithium chemistry is good. Hmmmm. What would happen if your lithium batteries crystallized somehow. And did it twice so that they became (drumroll and trumpet fanfare) dilithium crystals, the mythical eternal power source from Star Trek. Endless power, forever for everybody. I bet if you got to work on trying that, the breakthrough would only be a decade or two away! 😉


  30. Hi DJ,

    Such people are a pleasure to enjoy the company of. Life is too short, and if new comers can’t be bothered, it really is their loss.

    I had not known that about members not wanting to enter items into the show, but it is nice to offer an automatic ‘out’ to those members, and it also makes a great deal of sense. It’s unnecessary to put all of the members to the test.

    Thanks, yes, I can see that it might be an unlikely outcome. Of course there is always the person with the wild talent, but they’re rarely encountered in the wilds in which we all live. If I dare add, ours is to learn. 🙂

    And ah, so wise. Winners get one chance to dominate the their level at the show, and are then pushed into the next category against more seasoned practitioners. Presumably, such persons have to try harder at the following years show. Your groups methods are very sensible and don’t avoid, but instead deal with any silly business. Certainly a wise way to go through life. And on a more personal note, one cannot be on their guard all of the time – wears ya out!

    Respect for achieving advanced level.

    Judges are a rare breed, and the folks may be err, suggesting to you that this role is in your future. Today this may be so, but who knows what the future holds in store for you, and on a balance of probabilities good work, patience and ability to throw yourself into the art, will achieve results. On the other hand, there have been times when I’ve been chucked into a promotion, and just had to learn on the fly and do the best I could. I’m sure that you’ve been there too?

    Perhaps we’re not worthy of Master grades, but Expert is good enough. 🙂 Tell ya a funny story. In High School I took accounting classes for two years. It was a subject about bookkeeping, and just how things were done manually (and to my surprise was done for a few more years after that time). I was no slouch in the subject but anyway, there was this one guy who just used to beat me on every exam or test by one or two marks. No matter what I did, or how hard I tried, second best was to be the outcome by one or two marks. Beats me how it happened consistently. But all the same, it was an excellent result (I run my own race and set my own goals).

    Heard an odd third hand story about Corvid birds. A crow was caught feeding fox baits to dogs. Hmm.

    Ugg! Needs to be said from time to time.

    Oh that’s good, and I never noticed. 🙂 Didn’t the Klingon’s blow up the moon Praxis where such crystals were to be mined? Ah, I had not been aware that Praxis refers to: practice, as distinguished from theory. Who knew the writers had a sense of humour?



  31. Hi Lewis,

    Turmeric has been added to the shopping list, and we should be able to track down a tuber somewhere. The Editor and I were discussing this topic today, and made the decision to try some tubers in the greenhouse. There is also the Galangal tuber, which might be interesting (it’s a relative of ginger I believe). But just in case the ginger tuber didn’t get started for any reason, we might get some replacement tubers for that too – can’t hurt. The Japanese ginger is getting bigger, and I picked up the parts for the water pump this morning on the way into the big smoke for lunch with friends. Hopefully over the next few days I get the pump up and running. There’s a bit of work to it, and surprise, surprise, another storm is due late next week.

    At least it didn’t rain today, although there was thick fog this morning which soon burned off to show blue skies and a warm sun. The UV radiation is increasing and we’re now in the High category. And plants are beginning to grow, although the air is still cool.

    That was my understanding of the hand pollination of the vanilla vines. What a nightmare getting a pod (we are of one mind in this subject), and I can’t provide that level of attention, and frankly there are easier plants. But yeah, the young slave bloke who worked out the system, won his freedom. We had a similar historical thing down here. A convict farmer worked out how to get the local soils growing the sort of European crops the early settlers wanted to consume. I believe he won a couple of acres of choice land, but I have a vague recollection that he later lost the land. And it may have been gambling.

    The pruning was an interesting job as I let my mind wander and not concern myself overly with the details, and just cut back the fruit trees as they seemed to need. I’m no purist with that job, although probably have a lot to learn. I have a belief that trees were meant to be pruned. The herbivores living in the forest happily prune trees for feed, and the winds certainly do a good job of it too. The trees and those two forces would have acted together in concert for a very long time. And interestingly, pruned fruit trees respond by producing lots of new growth. I’m assuming that is a response to stress place upon the fruit tree by pruning, but am only guessing. If you could ask your Master Gardeners about that, I’d appreciate their learning thoughts?

    The German potato salad does sound delectable. I never would have considered putting such a meal in a crock pot, but yeah that makes a whole lot of sense. Probably better than bringing the stuff out of the refrigerator and putting it through the ‘science oven’. Ding! Ding! That’s the sound the magnetron makes when it’s work is done. I accidentally left a tiny chunk of wrapper on a pad of butter I chucked in that machine a few months ago. The machine makes different sounds then, and as a side benefit – provides a light and sound show. The little bit of wrapper I missed removing had some metal in it and the burn marks on the butter pat were very real looking.

    Innovative additions to the Cornish pies and pasties. Especially the hot mustard. More information: Apparently American mild mustard is the same product as the English hot mustard, but cooked at a different temperature. Either is good, but sometimes a bit of food challenge is a good thing – and that English stuff is a sinus clearer.

    I never tried, but I’m wondering: Can you dehydrate green tomatoes? One website describes them as: “you’ll end up with a richly concentrated morsel of magic”. Doesn’t sound too bad to me, and I’ve never tried it. There was also a cryptic note about getting the plants to put more energy into ripening the tomatoes already grown. Much to learn here.

    Fair enough, I don’t know why people do half the things they do, let alone that nefarious act. You’re probably right, people can be strange.

    Your local newspaper seems remarkably well informed on local events, so you’ll most like find out what happened, sooner or later. That process grinds along on a very slow basis, and from all accounts has not improved since the days of you-know-what.

    Thanks for the explanation. Which box is which, is a matter which is not locked into my head, and thus I get to be astounded by your recounting of the contents.

    Incidentally, we appear to be gifting you lot an hour this evening. I trust that you will be nice to the hour and return it in good condition and unsoiled? I’m not looking forward to getting up an hour earlier tomorrow morning. One must suffer through these moments of discord.

    An interesting development. I believe the number of such businesses are strictly limited down under. Mate, back in the day, families used to live in the rooms above (or behind) the shop which they ran. Dunno how people would have coped with the unrelenting nature of the work, and the long hours, but I’m guessing that the work wouldn’t be stressful and demanding? Dunno. And yes, time is running out for them, what with winter fast approaching.

    Incidentally on a related note, we were reviewing our goals and plans for the next couple of months and have decided to change around priorities a little bit. Always good to be flexible with such matters.

    I assume that only the ATM was open at that time of night? I can understand how Friday night traffic could be heavier than usual. A shame that you weren’t consulted because you did note something or other about flooding. Time will tell on that front, but you’d like to hope they knew what they were doing? Maybe.

    All this loose Hitchcock talk, and the birds might come and get us both? Best they don’t get any ideas, so make sure the blinds are drawn when you watch the film.

    Good stuff that the mushrooms became available again. The Swiss brown mushrooms I enjoy have also been restocked, but the stock volume was tiny compared to what it used to be. At least there is less wastage now. Good work, always wise to be ahead of the trend. After the toilet paper madness, I don’t know what to think about supply issues.



  32. Yo, Chris – Just a preview of things to come. Time to hit the road to the Club …

    I was poking around in my library hold list, and the Australian cookbook I put on hold (hasn’t shown up yet), is “Baking Masterclass: The Ultimate Collection of Cakes, Biscuits & Slices.” It really doesn’t have an author, as it’s put out by taste.com.au Who knew? “Australia’s #1 food site, with over 50,000 recipes! I think it’s one of those sites where people post recipes, and other people give them a whirl, and report back on success, failure or tweaks.

    Poking around some more on the Net, it appears they put out a few other books. One I noticed is “The Thrifty Pantry.” Might be worth looking into.

    Another interesting book I’ve been reading is, “Plagues and Their Aftermath: How Societies Recover from Pandemics.” (Jenkins, 2022). It’s a compact paperback. He’s trying to make some predictions, made through the lens of looking at past pandemics. Some of the chapters are: “Human toll,” “Economic Scars,” “Effects on Society,” “Political Repercussions,” etc.. I had a hard time putting it down. Lew

  33. Yo, Chris – Once more into the breach … Pretty soon you’ll be whinging about peak space in the greenhouse. 🙂

    We’re supposed to have 80+, for the next four days … at least. I figure I should be able to pick another round of cherry tomatoes, on Sunday. Might not be enough for a full dryer, so, I think I’ll mix in some green ones. I might even slice up some San Marzano to round it out. I have occasionally picked a green one, by mistake, but just include them along with the rest of the lot. I did notice that they dry a bit smaller. Probably, because less moisture in the tomato? A quick glance into the rabbit hole indicates that green tomatoes are nutritious, but not quit as nutritious as red ones.

    The Master Gardeners that show up here, regularly, each have a specialty. But none of them are pruners. Except one, who knows how to prune grapes. Like, you, she found an old guy who gave her a lesson. Our fruit trees are (sometimes) pruned by someone who appears mysteriously in the winter, and gives them a whack. Don’t know who. They pass like the wind. 🙂 I think I’d ask Goran. He’s our tree guy.

    Science oven aka Nuker. Once, I put a jar of peanut butter, in the Nuker. There was a tiny bit of foil, left on the edge, from the seal. Luckily, I was standing right next to it, and no harm was done. But, if you’re hankering for a good lightening storm, right in your own kitchen, just leave a bit of foil in the Nuker. 🙂

    We got our box, yesterday. There was a bit of a snafu. But to my surprise, our building manager stepped up, for a change. She’s usually not here, on Friday. Works from home (yeah, sure). But, she was getting together the monthly newsletter, when the food bank called to say the volunteer delivery people had not shown up. Our boxes were ready to go, but the food bank would only hold them for an hour. So. She rounded up our Night Manager (he works for a religious social service agency. So no problem getting him released for a couple of hours. Besides, they’re going to pick up the delivery end of things, anyway.) and they got the boxes and delivered them to us. So, we got our box.

    Well, just to make a liar out of me, we did get some produce. A bag of apples, and a bag of nectarines. Those had been frozen, somewhere along the way. The one I pulled out, last night had a small spot of mold on it. We got 2 one pound packs of frozen ground beef, a dozen eggs, a box of margarine (that no one ever uses), one frozen cob of corn, divided in half (?), a pack of 10 whole wheat tortillas (?), 6 one pound snack packs of dried cranberries (which I opened up and mixed in with the bag I keep in the fridge, for my oatmeal), 2 bags of lentils, a pack of spaghetti pasta, a pack of shelf stable beef stew, mystery cereal in a plastic bag, that appears to be wheat flakes (maybe) and some kind of nut flakes, 2 boxes of mac & cheese, a bag of raisins, 2 tins of diced tomatoes, and a tin each of Mandarin oranges, corn, mixed vegetables, mixed fruit, green beans, chili, chicken noodle soup, pinto beans and vegetarian ravioli. And a jar of peanut butter. Oh, and six glazed donuts. I took a bag down to the swap table, and a bag to the Club. Not much on the swap table, so far.

    We’ll receive shipment of your slightly used hour, sometime the end of October. And, for about a week, they’ll be a lot in the news about ending the madness, and that’s the last we’ll hear about it.

    The ATMs are accessible 24/7. The new branch has one walk up and two drive by. Easy to get at, but I see they’re more …. reenforced and barricaded. They’re also on the side of the building, that is easily seen from the two big box stores. Actually, I went down on Thursday night. International Date Line, something, something … I’ll just have to go down later, to avoid traffic. But, during the holidays, all bets are off. I’m already looking to what I need to stock up on, to get through the holidays, with a minimal amount of effort.

    Boo! I looked at the new library list, last night, and there were only two DVDs on that list. Neither of which I want to watch. But, I still have lots of DVDs on my hold list. It’s just a matter of them getting shipped in, and processed. I picked up a copy of “Knives Out,” today. I gave it a miss when it came out, but, I guess there’s a sequel (or, at least Daniel Craig plays the same detective, and, it’s getting good reviews), so, I thought I’d give it a look.

    I didn’t have to water, two nights this last week, due to rain. Well, I had to water last night, and it’s back to that routine, again. Lew

  34. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the article, it was fascinating. Of interest to me was that the authors had not considered that humans could have simply burnt the grasslands in patchworks so as to provide new forage, and easier movement. It would have made hunting bison easier too. That would have been an obvious move. Down here, there used to be a variety of millet which was a staple crop and the grains were stored. Used to make flat breads etc. In wetter and cooler areas there were the yams, and they grow like weeds, and produce a dandelion type plant with fat and tasty tubers. Where you can’t grow grains, you grow tubers. Makes sense.

    Shot weed grows here wild too. We call it Bittercress, and honestly any edible plant which looks after itself is OK by me.

    Possibly so about the lack of space in the greenhouse. Does this then imply an extension is an option? Probably not. I try to keep the growing systems as near to simple as I can manage. Fear not, I’ll find something else to whinge about!!!! 🙂

    Man, we split and hauled firewood all day today. Like, all the entire day. And my brain hasn’t quite been right having had to get up an hour earlier this morning. Some fights you can’t partake in. We’re cleaning up the place. Last season we discovered a snake hiding near to those firewood piles and thought that it might not be a bad idea to deal with them. For most of the day I’d expected to discover a snake, but no. Is it better to discover the snake, or wonder just where it got to?

    Interesting. I’d noticed that green tomatoes tend to darken in colour as they dry, but the taste isn’t quite the same as sun ripened tomatoes. A bit earthy actually, which is why we threw in the towel last year on that most delectable of winter delicacies.

    Moving the entire area for tomato production to a sunnier locale is a no-brainer. I reckon the unripened fruits have less sugars than fully ripened ones.

    Ah, I had not appreciated that aspect of your master gardeners. Mate, I’m a jack of all trades, and master of but only a few. Still, I’ll give things a go! Wise advice about asking Goran, and I had neglected that avenue.

    Hehe! Science ovens, mate, the idea of calling the nuker by that name, still brings a smile to my face. Initially they were treated with suspicion, and I’m not entirely certain how other people use them. I tend to rely on the machines to melt butter, and that’s really about it. I can defrost stuff by leaving it on the kitchen bench which takes no energy at all, but that does involve a level of planning.

    Your building manager might underneath the crusty outer exterior, have a heart of gold – or not want to face open revolt? It’s hard to know, but given that circumstance, the benefit of the doubt is called for. 🙂 And it was very good of your night manager to step up to the plate. Are you suggesting he has two jobs?

    No stress at all, your magic food boxes are something of a mystery to me. You have to understand that my weekly shopping bill is now usually in excess of $100, and we don’t walk away with that much stuff. Makes folks with nervous dispositions begin thinking about victory gardens. Yes, we can defeat the awful awfulness of the completely whacked out of their minds economists and policy makers pursuing candidly contradictory policies, by planting an edible garden. How anyone believes that inflation can be brought to heel by printing more money is something of a mystery to my brain, but maybe I’m wrong, and I’d really like to be wrong here.

    Glazed doughnuts. I may have tasted one of them, maybe. 🙂 Lewis, you are stronger than I when it comes to cakies. Yum, cakes.

    Hopefully folks in your country don’t get too razzed up by the loan of the lost hour. And please remember to return it unsullied, whatever that means.

    Ook! You know, one day I should show you a photo of the local bank. Drive through banking, whatever will they think of next? 🙂 Hehe! Mate, here you have to park, get out and walk to the branch. Probably not a bad idea to fortify the things. Down here I believe they use dye bombs to stop people just ripping the machines out of the walls. Hard to explain how a person was covered by a dye bomb.

    And it all gets down to planning in the end. Planning, I’ve noted does not come naturally to members of our species.

    Hmm, thanks for the film recommendation, and I would have missed that one. 🙂 Daniel Craig is a fine actor.

    Better get writing! Yikes, almost 9pm. Hope I make some sense, always problematic. 😉



  35. Yo, Chris – Yeah, funny that. That they didn’t mention people burning off the prairie. Or lightening, for that matter.

    One of our Master Gardeners leaps upon any Shot Weed, she sees, and pulls it up. Funny, when you work around a lot of gardeners, you discover they all have their different likes and prejudices. She also didn’t like my horseradish, as, it could become invasive.

    North Greenhouse Annex, South Greenhouse Annex … etc..

    I thought you’d killed the snake, last year? But, best to keep alert.

    Early on, I thought the Nukers really didn’t cook the food. That it was somehow done with smoke and mirrors. 🙂 I use mine, a lot. For tea, my supply of rice, three day supply of oatmeal. And most of my evening meal casserole like constructions 🙂 Tried melting butter. It exploded in the Nuker. What a mess. Since I usually use melted butter in baking, I just put it in a bowl over the oven vent, while it’s pre-heating.

    Heart of gold? Not a chance. More likely angling for a look in on our Night Manager. He, by the way, does have two jobs. The Night Manager gets free rent, garbage, water. Maybe a few other fringe benefits. But no actual salary.

    His day job is as an alcohol and drug counselor, at a budding mega-church, of no particular denomination, over in Centralia. I’m highly skeptical of those outfits, but, have my own prejudices. They have a lot of social programs, advocate for the homeless, etc.. They already have a county wide food delivery service. I think they may have had their eye on The Club. All of a sudden, we had a lot of them volunteering for counter service. But I quietly raised the alarm, and they were beaten back. But I’m sure they’re just biding their time.

    In the “Home Front” novel, several source books were mentioned. About food on the British home front, during WWII. Our library system doesn’t have any of them, but, eventually I’ll see if I can get them on Interlibrary Loan.

    Here, what we’re seeing in the news is that inflation is being fought by raising interest rates. Spinning the money printing presses isn’t mentioned much. Rising interest rates are pretty easy to follow, by the person on the street. Oversupply of money, with nothing to back it up, not so much.

    I started looking through that book on fungi, last night. I think you mentioned you favored Swiss brown mushrooms. I ran across this, last night: “The most widely cultivated mushroom in the world is Agaricus bisporus. White button, chestnut, portobello, Swiss brown, cremini and champignon mushrooms are all the same species – Agaricus bisporus. They are simply harvested at different stages of maturity and marketed using different names.” Who knew? 🙂 Lew

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