For those who are prepared to dig

A local bloke with an excavator business cut in the road the farm sits off. Before then, there was a road, it just wasn’t as good as the present road. The former road was an old Cobb and Co coach route which lead all the way up to the Victorian era health resort of Craigielea.

The Victorian era health resort, which is now a private residence, was constructed in the 1870’s. It’s way higher up in this part of the mountain range but nearer to the ridge-line. Meanwhile the farm is only about two thirds of the way up. The Victorians used to believe that illness was caused by bad air, or as they called it back in the day: miasma. So common sense would suggest that the cleanest air was to be found high up in the mountains. And what better place for a health resort, than just below the ridge line of a mountain range which coincidentally is near to a convenient stop on the Melbourne to Bendigo train line servicing the gold fields.

In those earlier days in the big smoke of Melbourne, the night cart folks would collect peoples sewage from the rear of their houses. Delicate persons wouldn’t want to sprain their eyes by sighting the night cart workers, so the stuff was collected in the dark hours, and the horse and carts used to traverse the cobblestone lined alleyways doing what needed doing. Clop, clop, clop would have been heard. The stuff had value for farmers as a fertiliser. Some unscrupulous businessmen, depending on the prices paid for the inputs and outputs, used to dump the contents into the local creeks and river systems.

The industry at the time also wasn’t shy about dumping whatever waste they created into the local creeks and river systems. It didn’t take too many encounters with the polluted water to produce epidemics of Cholera and Typhoid in the city population, especially during the warmer summer months. People who could afford to, fled the cities during those summer months, often heading up into the mountains to avoid the miasma.

At the time, the fresh air of the mountains would have been a nicer place to be. Even a tuberculosis sanatorium was constructed in the area, for much the same reasons. The sanatorium was of course at a respectfully polite distance from all but the poorest folks in the community – apparently much to their outrage.

Ah, how times have changed. It’s such a wet year this year that I do wonder how the Cobb and Co coaches navigated the muddy tracks way back in the day. Probably not well, and you’d hope the gentlemen were ejected from the carriage, whilst the ladies were spared the walk. Hopefully that was how it worked. Maybe.

The dirt roads are a bit of a mess around here due to the very wet season. And the conditions deteriorate from this elevation upwards. It’s not good, but it’s survivable.

The new road the farm is located on, replaced the old Cobb and Co coach track, and the local bloke who did it sure knew what he was doing. The road has held up very well during this wet year, and also the many previous wet years.

It was a fortunate thing that he was also employed to cut the house site into the side of the hill using his machines. When I met him to get him to quote on the work, the meeting was like an interview. If I’d been anything less than polite and agreeable, it is doubtful he would have done the work. And the work has held up well over the years.

The author assists the local excavator driver to install a large underground pipe

As part of the work, we installed a very large concrete pipe to redirect water away from the top of the driveway. I don’t even recall him asking my opinion as to the sizing or placement of the pipe. He operated the excavator whilst I was on the muddy end of the job and directed the placement of the concrete pipes. And the amazing thing about that pipe is that it just works all of the time and without fail. The bloke knew what he was doing. I on the other hand, am learning as I’m going along. As I’m certain he did long ago.

In between the rain, there was a bit of sun, and even some frost. Yay!

Earlier in the week provided a break from the rain, with some sunny and warm skies. It was really nice, except that for most of the time I’d had work activities scheduled that I couldn’t get out of. On the nicest day of the lot, I’d booked a visit to the dentist months beforehand. Best not to annoy the dentist by cancelling, as the rescheduled visit could possibly be accidentally painful.

On the other hand, I had a bit of free time here and there, and so decided to do a project which I’d long been avoiding. The project was adding a wider gate to the sapling fenced enclosure which is used to grow pumpkins and leeks. The existing gate (which has not been altered) and concrete stairs made it almost impossible to get any machines into the enclosure. Clearly the enclosure had been set up in our earlier days when we didn’t know what we were doing!

Ollie admires the new easy access to the enclosure

A section for the new gate was cut out of the sapling fence, and a new gate post (right hand side) was set into cement.

A section of the thick Agapanthus had to be removed using a jackhammer. Those plants survive the most atrociously hot and dry summers because the root systems are massively thick and tough. It is possible that they are related to Triffids. A rock wall on either side of the Agapanthus was put in place in order to keep the plants at bay. Take that ya Triffids!

Rock walls replace Agapanthus and the gate was hung on the new post

It is hard to see in the above photo, but there was quite a steep ramp leading up to the gate. A huge amount of soil was relocated onto the ramp, and then compacted so that it is now a smooth path with a reasonable incline.

Ruby approves of the new smooth ramp leading into the enclosure

There was one not-so-little problem remaining. Observant readers will notice that in the above photo that there is a white pipe connected to the side of the large grey water tank. The pipe goes downwards, and then through the middle of the enclosure. That was a stupid arrangement, because being in the middle of a cultivated area, the pipe was continually getting damaged. It wasn’t my idea to put it there, but all the same it was something which needed to be corrected.

An overflow pipe running through a garden bed is a stupid idea

Removing the overflow pipe from the enclosure meant relocating the pipe all the way around the outside of the enclosure. In less technical terms, that meant me digging a long trench around two sides of the enclosure (and under the new ramp). A mate of mine helping me out long ago, once remarked that I dig trenches faster than anyone he’d ever seen. I’d like to believe that he was correct.

A trench for the new overflow pipe was dug around the top edge of the enclosure
Then the pipe runs under the gate ramp and down to a swale

The water running in the overflow pipe now runs in an underground pipe which exists outside of the enclosure. Incidentally the water collects in a swale below the enclosure where it then slowly infiltrates into the soil. As a system, it works.

The trenches were backfilled over with even more soil. Then a layer of crushed rock with lime was placed over the soil. The Editor suggests that I have a natural knack for stomping, and so I put that gift to work and compacted down the crushed rock using my feet. It’s a lovely all weather surface now, ready for anything!

The trench was backfilled over and a layer of crushed rock with lime was placed onto the surface
A layer of crushed rock with lime was placed over the surface of the ramp as well

Alert readers will notice that the enclosure is full of weeds. ‘Weeds’ is the technical term for plants that probably shouldn’t be where they are. I’d like to suggest that I was leaving the area fallow, but that would be a lie. We just hadn’t been able to easily maintain the enclosure – now we can.

And whilst the sun was shining, which is also known as ‘in between the next rain storm’, I got up onto the roof and cleaned out the guttering. An electric high pressure sprayer was very useful for doing this work. But the job still took many hours.

The roof guttering was cleaned

The guttering collects the water which ends up in the water tanks. Some sections of the guttering had quite an interesting collection of organic matter. It was surprisingly clean really, especially given the job hadn’t been done for a couple of years.

A scoop was used to remove chunks of organic matter which ended up in the garden beds

The other night, we spotted a wombat at around dusk wandering around the top of the driveway. The wombat uses the concrete pipe there as a super-highway.

A wombat enjoys the fresh grass near to the top of the driveway

Echidna’s (a monotreme ant-eater which is closely related to platypus) have been busily digging around the property. You can tell it is an Echidna because at the bottom of the digging are pointy nose indents in the soil.

An Echidna’s calling card with two pointy nose indents

The bees have been very active of late.

A European honey bee enjoys this Echium flower

Onto the flowers:

Bluebells and Pinkbells!
Apples and Pears are producing masses of blossoms
The Garden Beds are full of colour

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 10’C (50’F). So far this year there has been 1,161.0mm (45.7 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1,141.6mm (44.9 inches)

47 thoughts on “For those who are prepared to dig”

  1. We salute you.

    So the pumpkins and leeks get their own enclosure huh? Would lead to jealousy amongst the other veggies, I would think.

    What plant are the saplings in your fence, and how long do they last before needing replacement? Nearly all the saplings here are either trees I want to grow, or trees/brush that do not grow very straight. Next time I clear a path, I might take more care to save the saplings that are even roughly straight.

    I’m envious of your full canopy forest that makes the saplings reach for the sky nice and straight.

    So Melbourne did night soil? Good on them, I thought it was just a thing from the past in China. That profession will be making a comeback, I predict.

  2. Yo, Chris – I’ve always liked the sound of the word, “miasma.” Call the dictionary folks, as I’ve always thought of it as that which is obscured. Besides the usual bad air definition. I come close to one of the definitions. “An unwholesome or befogging atmospheric influence.”

    I can imagine a conversation, back in the day. “And what do you want to be when you grow up, young man?” “I want to be a night soil man!” “Why is that?” “Because everyone leaves you alone.” 🙂

    Your interaction with the road builder, probably laid the foundation for your own personal local legend. “What’s the new bloke like?” “Hard worker. Not afraid to get his hands dirty. Bears watching. Might be occasionally entertaining.”

    Looks like the sapling fence inclosure is another big job you can check off your to-do list. So, you’re a good trencherman? 🙂 Another foray into alternative meanings. “He’s a hearty trencherman, as befits his girth.” Old French. First used in 1590. Meanings: 1.) “Hearty eater. 2.) Archaic: Hanger-on, sponger.” Given your gustatory adventures, not so far off the mark. In both senses. One who digs trenches and one who eats hearty. One fuels the other?

    What are the two potted trees, on either side of the stairs? I bet that gutter gunk would be good for any struggling plant.

    I thought wombats were nocturnal beasties? Your Echidna looks a lot like our Porcupines. Totally unrelated. But one of those instances where evolution, in two widely separate locations, moved in the same direction. My, Echidna can live up to 60 years! How do Echidna (or, Porcupines, for that matter) mate? V-E-R-Y carefully. 🙂

    Echidna. Greek goddess. Monstrous she-dragon. “Mother of monsters.” Do your Echidna eat the Echium? Which are very pretty, by the way. Lew

  3. Hi Inge,

    Rodents can be the very bane of our existence, but then they can wiggle into the tiniest of gaps, and you seem to have scored one who is noisily building the winter nest. Sorry to hear that, and I too would have been annoyed at my sleep being disturbed by such activities. But 2am is unforgiveable on their part.

    The other evening I heard a sort of weird vomit sound followed by the squeak of a rat being err, done in. At first I thought it was one of the dogs, but they too looked startled. I’m still a bit scared to know what caused the initial sound. Many possibilities suggest themselves, and I’m not a fan of any of them.

    In almost exactly six months time, the rodents will be seeking shelter for the coming winter here. It’s the time for such things, and you do hope that they don’t try and sharpen their teeth on either the plumbing or electrical wiring.

    A nice cup of tea can make the worlds problems seem lesser. 🙂

    The really big storms last week knocked out the power from the local grid. Storms are very challenging events, and the grid is both a robust and very fragile arrangement all at the same time. That incidentally is one reason I do not rely upon a freezer for food preservation techniques, I go older school than that.

    We had another three quarters of an inch of rain today. Wherever has the sun gone? At least the zucchini seeds germinated today. That’s now peas + beans + cucumber + zucchini.

    The floods are continuing. They’re very slow as the water is traversing a very large distance and eventually reach the ocean at South Australia, but far from any city.



  4. Hi Steve,

    Nice one, and respect for getting my little joke. It’s a good title and worth repeating. And I salute you too! 🙂

    You’d hope the veggies didn’t get jealous but you never know, and if they were related to Triffids, it could be a serious problem. Far out, did you see the weeds in that enclosure. I’ll try and get in there next weekend and deal with them, but the risk of slipping over in the resulting mess is a real problem. Might give the new scary old rototiller a go in there.

    The saplings are the dominant tree: Eucalyptus Obliqua. It’s a very dense tree at somewhere around 700kg/m3. If the saplings stay dry by keeping off direct contact with the ground, they should remain in place for decades. But I don’t really know. None of the saplings in the fence have failed, so that’s not a bad sign.

    Don’t they use Robinia pseudoacacia / Black Locust in your part of the world for fencing? If you didn’t want the thorns, you could always plant some Acacia Melanoxylon which grows super straight, provides lots of shade and adds nitrogen to the soil?

    The tallest trees are now pushing around 50m / 165ft and can apparently almost double that given enough time. I quail in fear at what that sized canopy would do for the solar power or veggies. They’re not going to like it. 🙂

    Yeah, they did night soil, but by about maybe 1880 – 1890, the authorities put in a full sewer system leading to a massive grass filtration plant over in the west of the city. The place is huge and has bizarrely become an internationally renowned wetland for birds. But I agree, as a society we are very foolishly wasting opportunities, one flush at a time. I don’t get that story, but maybe we just can’t afford to do the job properly.



  5. Hi Lewis,

    Whoa! That’s amazing and yes a 12ft skeleton does send a strong message. What ever will they think of next? Did you notice that in the lead photo there were even skeleton dogs? I’m left wondering how people get the things from the shop to the home? So many questions, very few answers.

    Miasma is an intriguing word, and yes I could see your usage, although as you note the officials have other ideas. I thought the word ‘occlude’ meant pretty much what you described, but no I’m wrong in this regard. But it could mean that, we might be able to start something here. 🙂

    Makes the curious person wonder how a person ended up in the night soil cartage business? Your explanation is better than any other I’d heard of. Ah, I now understand why the occupying forces in Japan after WWII were discouraged from consuming the local foodstuffs. All makes sense now. What a rabbit hole, and what we call a ‘dunny’ down here is called by the slightly more respectable ‘outhouse’ in other more refined corners of the planet. And it was a strange interweb journey as I discovered there have even been many toilet gods.

    Hehe! Who have you been listening to around here? It sounds like an alarmingly accurate description. The guy was a very well known bloke, and what was interesting was that he confided to me that some folks around these parts had dealt poorly with him, and he wasn’t afraid to tell me about just how it went. I was surprised that some folks had apparently ripped him off, but it happens to the best of us. Grifters are always with us.

    Had some bad news this morning. The bloke who ran the farm machinery repair business died. I spoke to him only the day beforehand too, and we shared a few laughs. A bit sad as I’d known him for well over 14 years, and he’s only a few years older than I. Oh well, life is tragic and uncertain.

    I’d like to think that I could my own in the trenches as a trencherman. Although I do try not to over consume, it being probably not good for your health and stuff. That’s news to me about the word having French origins. Well, too many cakes is probably a bad thing and I’ve gotta balance it all up with the energy outgoings. Look, I’ll probably stuff up the calculations, badly. One can only but do their best. You seem to have a similar outlook, mostly rabbit food and then some biscuits and gravy. Can’t be good all the time.

    The two potted trees on either side of the stairs are known as ficus, but with 850 varieties, I’m completely lost as to what variety it specifically is.

    Wombats are usually nocturnal as you suggest. When the weather is favourable for humans, to see a wombat out and about then would suggest that the wombat was unwell. And there is a form of mange with wombats in the more fashionable end of the mountain range. This is most likely due to all the fencing keeping the wombats out of gardens where minerally rich soil is to be found. And the areas over there that wombats can get access too, are fastidiously mowed and so they’re probably hungry and under stress a lot of the time so the mange issue does not surprise me. Things are different here in that regard. The photo was late in the day and the wombat had been rained in for a few days. They can wait for three days before venturing out of their burrows, but the recent weather has been err, challenging for all the critters down here and so the wombat was out and about earlier in the evening than you’d expect.

    Hehe! Yeah, they’re almost identical looking, but Echidna’s and Platypus are off on their own when it comes to reproduction. Ouch, one of those pointy spikes in the wrong place would seriously hurt. 🙂 They eat whatever critters live in the soil. Echidna’s are expert diggers. When the dogs occasionally threaten one, the Echidna’s hunker down, and then bury themselves. Cars seem their biggest threat.

    I reckon being a bit higher in elevation than the weather station does shave a few degrees off the readings. Have you noticed frost pooling around the area where the weather station is? But yeah, it’s all downhill for colder air.

    All the whinging indeed! 🙂 I’ve decided not to touch your comment. Especially after three quarters of an inch of rain fell today, with more every day for the next week. It’s all fun and games until it doesn’t stop raining. 😉

    I dunno much about demon possessed trees, but I reckon I’ve encountered some people who were.

    What’s with keeping pet Alligators? I saw a video of an apparently pleasant natured and unassuming alligator hanging out with the fam, probably in Florida somewhere. Just remember to keep the pet alligator well fed and happy. Hashtag, just sayin. People can dump such pets when they become too large and problematic. That’s hard on everyone.

    Clever with getting the shells into the compost. You’re canny!

    Limolivo sounds tasty. I’d heard that a few years ago dried olive leaves finely chopped up where being substituted for some herb. I forget the details now, but that kind of suggested that the leaves weren’t too toxic, or inedible – maybe.

    Nice one and thanks for the recommendation, but there is season 23 of Grand Designs UK just released. I quite enjoy the show and some episodes are quite bonkers.

    We had an outed Prime Minister make a comeback. Despite being one of the most popular in recent times, he still got turfed out at the next election. Why would anyone want to get into politics? I’d have to suggest that the ambition itself is suggestive. I reckon they did a bit more than just sit on the wealth, they used some of it to acquire more wealth. Yup, that’s what my gut feeling tells me took place. It seemed like a spurious claim, but you’re also right: People might want their own day in the sunshine basking in the glory of easy money. And exactly, they blew it.



  6. Yo, Chris – I noticed that nowhere did they mention how much the skeleton, costs. It was mentioned, it comes in a big (really big) box. Some assembly required? I guess really big “yard art” is the new thing. Last year, our local hardware store had a 10′ tall Bigfoot.

    The English language. Every changing and mind boggling. In even more polite society, the outhouse was referred to as “the facilities.” “Trencher, originally a thick slice of bread, used as a primitive form of plate … but by the 14th century, a square or circular wooden plate of rough workmanship.” Hmmm. I wonder if splinters were a problem? Maybe that’s how toothpicks were invented? 🙂

    Oh, that’s bad news from the farm machinery repair business. One hopes a family member, or one of the employees picks it up and keeps it running. Sad news, indeed.

    The weather station (which I can’t quit see, from here), is down near the river. Hard to tell if it’s fog, or frost. No worries. The rain is back and overnight lows are in the 40sF. My friends in Idaho said they had their first snow. Just a skiff.

    Golfers in Florida really need to be careful around water traps. Occasionally, an alligator lumbers out of one and eats a golfer. Two college wrestlers were mauled by a bear, last week.

    I filled out my ballot, last night, for the next election. In this part of the world, a lot of the positions run unopposed. Sometimes, there are two people from the same party, running for a position. I very carefully read the election material, to see if they lean toward the crazy side of their party. There are clues …

    I don’t know how much it plays in, but if you get elected to a higher office, you get free medical, for you and your family. For life. Given the sad state of our medical industry, that might be a draw.

    I’d rather be canny, than tin-y. 🙂 Lew

  7. Chris,

    Nice discussion of your road and the road builder. He sounds very interesting. He also built the road and your driveway correctly. Good thing he didn’t squish you with that big pipe! I see that the pipe has 300mm stenciled on it.

    So you are good at digging? Be careful. Be very careful. You never know who might want a hole dug. Since Steve beat me to the joke on this week’s title, I give you Clint Eastwood.

    We got more rain today (Monday). About 2 or 3 mm. The sun came out Sunday, so I was able to get the final mowing of the front yard done. Trimmed back the roses. It was t-shirt weather in the sun while working. But today? Twas a vastly different story…+3C with rain and wind. The daily walk was postponed until late afternoon, by which time the rain and wind had quit. It had warmed up to a “balmy” 42F. I figured the 42 was a “sign”, so doffed a jacket and away we went. We walked past enough crows at one spot that I thought we had entered an Alfred Hitchcock movie. 😉

    The pothole in the bridge? Maybe a bit of deficiency in construction, a lack of compaction perhaps. Then some wet conditions, maybe someone hit the accelerator too hard at that spot, a small hole gets started. Then maybe some frost and voila! one pothole.

    I know some computer people who swear by the fruity company. I miss the days before Windows. Even 3.1 and 95 I got along well with, as it was easy access to DOS. I knew just enough in DOS to be able to make those machines work more to my wants. I also liked working on the boss’s computer and adding something to DOS so that some weird message would flash on the screen. One time only, so he was never sure if it had happened.

    Skop? Skald? Bard? Dunno if I really fit any of those. I do, however, descend from someone named Ewan Thomas from Swansea, Wales. There was one Ewan Thomas who was undersheriff of Glamorgan in 1615. There was also Ewan Thomas, member of the Awenyddion at the Glamorgan School of Bards in 1620. Or maybe they were one and the same? Anyhow, one of the two was probably my ancestor. So maybe I descend from an early 17th century Welsh bard?

    That’s a nice looking new gate. And rock walls. And good work on the trenching and improvement on the overflow pipes.

    I need to clean the gutters sometime in the next few weeks. Gotta be on a dry day, though. Don’t want to slip on a wet rung of the ladder and take a tumble. Pain hurts more now that I’m 62 than it did when I was 22.

    I get a lot of holes in our yards. Little ones. Avalanche likes to make them bigger. Sometimes in her hole enlargement exercises, she finds a walnut that was buried by a squirrel. Then she likes to play with it, slobber on it, then eventually roll on the slobbery walnut.

    Ah, good! The bees in your garden are getting busy. The bees here apparently have entered their winter quarters. Haven’t seen any bees of any variety since the weather changed and got rainy and cool.


  8. Black locust- yes, a good, rot resistant species for fences, and some ambitious folks in these parts harvest and sell as fencing material, but as luck would have it, none grow on my land.

    A few years ago, I tried to grow osage orange, an even better choice for rot resistance, but mistakes were made, and that experiment will have to be restarted at some point. I even might do a proper hedge with a mix of osage orange and hawthorn. A multiyear effort to be sure.

    Osage orange is a tough, strong wood that was a preferred wood for the original inhabitants of north America to make their bows from.

    Also has one of the highest BTU contents of all the trees here in the U.S.

  9. Hi Lewis,

    Mate the demand is so strong for the 12ft skeleton, that there appears to be a secondary market for them operating similar to ticket scalpers. The prices I saw were between two and three times that of the retail price. It’s quite astounding really. Interestingly, factoring in exchange rate differences, and at the escalated scalper price, that would be almost two thirds of an average weekly wage down under. There’s a lot of product for the cost.

    It must be a new thing, mustn’t it? And I noticed that there was a 10ft floating witch and some sort of 10ft werewolf, but is it a 12ft skeleton? Size does indeed matter in this contest. 🙂 I’m still trying to get my head around how the thing would be transported, but yeah, I’m with your suggestion: some assembly must be required.

    ‘The facilities’ sounds an awful lot like ‘The help’, which is a phrase not heard down here. As someone who earns their mad cash by providing services to others, the phrase does make me uncomfortably squirm a whole bunch. I just don’t think that way, but it maybe a thing. I wonder when such thinking crept into the social conversation? I’d also heard the word ‘privy’ used, which I read was derived from the word ‘private’. That seems like a formal description of the humble dunny. 🙂 Thick slice of bread as a primitive plate, sounds kind of tasty, especially if the fillings are good and contain the essential pan juices. Yum! Weren’t the concept of sandwiches attributed to Earl of Sandwich? You’d have to suggest that the compatriots from your country kept him at the gambling table when other more pressing matters should been at the forefront of his mind?

    Yeah, splinters would be a problem. Makes you wonder if the wood used for the bowls etc. was oiled? I reckon they would have been, but aren’t really sure. Do they discover any wooden bowls at Vindolanda? Given the wooden letters survived, it’s possible.

    It is sad, and I don’t honestly know what might happen. Succession planning is rarely handled well, although it needn’t be that way. Might pop my head in and see how they’re going.

    They often look very much the same: fog and frost. One is of course colder than the other, maybe? Believe it or not, almost an inch of rain fell this evening. We missed it completely, but saw the aftermath. A lot of water. Went to the pub for dinner, and I’m guessing the weather kept the punters away. It was quite pleasant.

    I saw the article of the two college wrestler bear encounter. That’s pretty serious business. I wouldn’t feel anywhere near as relaxed if bears like your lot were lurking around the forest here looking for an easy feed. I’d probably keep a firearm nearby when out working or walking.

    Out of curiosity, did you fill out your ballot at a polling place, or is it a mail in ballot? Down here we do mail in ballots, but most people either vote on the day, or beforehand at a pre-polling place. It seems to work and we get what we deserve. They’ve called the state election down here for the last Saturday of next month. I’ll be curious to see how it goes. In particular I’m curious to see whether the voters punish the government for the recent steep interest rate rises. They might, I was surprised by the election results at the last Federal election, especially the independent candidates getting in. That suggested to me that there was some disillusionment with the two mainstream parties. I hear you about the reading up on the candidates positions on things. We’ve recently had a very left leaning Federal candidate on some sort of justice committee, when she was allegedly dating a bikey boss. How’s that for a good look? Far out. What does conflict of interest mean? 🙂

    Yeah, that would be a good draw for politicians. Health costs in your country are bonkers. How’s Elinor going on that front? Hope she is doing OK?

    Hehe! Canny it is! Yes, tin-y is very suggestive, and down here it would be a small aluminium boat, not sure what you’re talking about!!! 😉



  10. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, he was a good bloke and I enjoyed his company and talk. It was interesting that the initial quote discussion became a sort of interview, and not of him, but of me. I’d guess he’d had some difficulties in the past and had enough freedom to pick and choose his work.

    Your eyesight serves you well. Twas 300mm diameter. A meaty pipe which has never failed.

    Mate, maybe it is just me, but some dude with a loaded gun and an assertive, yet understated attitude, leading me into a cemetery and suggesting that now was the time to dig, well, you know things ain’t good, and they’re not about to get better any time soon! Thanks for the reminder of film genius. Should re-watch the film.

    A nice amount of rain, and glad to hear that you enjoyed the sunshine. But where has it gone now? And 3’C is a bit on the chilly side of the story. For sure, you are heading into winter, bit by bit. With all that heat you had for the past many months, do you think there is a risk you might get summer soft?

    A bit over an inch of rain fell here today. Does it really need to be this wet?

    This evening I was using the Dirt Mouse Suzuki, and the pothole on the bridge is now so big that we couldn’t avoid it. It probably needs to be filled with road base, and not clay. At least the clay lasted a few days…

    Do the people you know get this weird cult like glean in their eyes? And do they appear ever so slightly superior? Hmm. I make fun of them, all the time. And you know the weird thing about that, they write me off as some PC barbarian. Good on ’em. Hehe! Yes, it’s still there you know. DOS never went away, it just got hidden a bit. You’re like super cheeky to do that, and good enough to get away with it. Respect.

    Not just anyone can make the claim that they’re descended from an early 17th century Welsh bard? My lot were probably cattle rustlers, although I heard a rumour that your lot had some shady goings on too. Just sayin…

    Thanks. The ground compacted well, the gate is still hanging correctly, and the overflow pipe is working well. I’d call that a win! The job still has a bit of work to go before it is completed. And all those weeds have to be munched up and turned into mulch. The growing season waits for no man – or dry weather for that matter.

    It was Jo (a semi regular commenter) who started the whole gutter cleaning thing. It’s not a bad idea, and if you have a warmer winter, it might be a very soggy winter requiring drains and gutters to just work when they’re needed. But yeah, good point, be careful.

    Dogs will most definitely be dogs. Avalanche sounds like a delightful dog, and it’s really good that you got her when you did.

    Lots and lots of insects here. The air hums with their activity. It’s only when I go into the big smoke that I see very few if any insects. Nobody seems to notice that.



  11. Hi Steve,

    There’s plenty of other species for fencing, and the good thing about sapling fences is that the saplings are off the ground and therefore stay fairly dry. Some folks strip the bark off the saplings and then use steel wire to make the fences (as distinct from using timber rails to attach the saplings to).

    Not much would get through such an awesomely spikey hedge. The old timers use to use hawthorn for living fences. When in flower the small trees look great, and impenetrable. There’s a great example of one down in the valley below. And the house there is quite elevated and one of the older houses in the area. It seems that Osage orange (Maclura pomifera) is regarded as an environmental weed in New South Wales. The early settlers planted it for living fences, and it appears to have become naturalised. Who knew? I have never seen one in the wild.

    Good BTU ratings for such an adaptable tree makes it a very handy tree. I’d read somewhere years ago that people were using some part of the cellulose of the tree to make some sort of plastic.



  12. Hi Chris,
    Whoa! That’s quite the pipe. Love the sapling enclosure and it’s nice to see some pics with sun.

    Glad you survived the dentist. Last week I mentioned that Marty had to go to the endodontist for a root canal. The process has changed for the better since I had one 5-6 years ago. Marty only had to go for a short initial visit for 3-D xrays and consultation. The root canal itself was only one visit which lasted just a bit over an hour. Speaking of Marty, oh boy, has he been a royal pain in the a**. He’s quite the hypochondriac and doesn’t think twice about calling 911. Well he’s quite convinced that he has a hernia that is causing him excruciating pain and this has been happening since 2019 or 1999 depending on the day. He’s been examined by his doctor and has had an ultrasound and he does have a very small hernia that doesn’t need surgery but oh no Marty is not convinced. I got a referral to a surgeon that I know well from prior issues brothers and informed him that he was going to have to accept what he says which caused him to start screaming at me and demanding that if this doctor wouldn’t perform surgery I was going to have to find one who would. Needless to say I hung up on him and haven’t heard from him since though my sister and brother-in-law have. My sister, Kathleen, is in a holding pattern but has lost two more pounds. We have been successful getting family and friends to visit her on a regular basis which helps her mental state immensely. Stayed at Cecily’s this weekend to see her play, “Young Frankenstein” which was quite good but lasted well past my 9 PM bedtime. There’s lots of drama in that household as well but I’ll save that for another day. Times like these that I envy you as you don’t have to deal with all this drama and needy people.

    On a good note we’ve had absolutely beautiful weather and the fall colors are wonderful though the leaves are falling awfully fast. Today we’ll get about an inch of rain and then good weather for the next ten days.


  13. Yo, Chris – I drove a bit out of my way to check out the skeleton, at night. They don’t have any fancy illumination on, or in it. But a nearby streetlight provides some light. I think it looks move menacing, looming out of the dark. 🙂

    Yes, it’s the same “class” of people, who use words like “facilities,” and “the help.” All la-de-da. Not my kind of folks, at all. I quit like “the bog.” Not something I knew about in the past, but attribute to a certain Australian influence, in my life. 🙂

    See, the REAL story is, we didn’t fight and win a revolution, at all. The Earl of Sandwich just gambled away the Colonies. So it’s all just one big massive cover-up.

    A glance into the rabbit hole doesn’t reveal any wooden plates or bowls, at Vindolanda. Plenty of wooden buckets and barrels. I think most Roman plates and bowls were ceramic. There were huge industrial plants, mostly in Gaul, to make cheap (and more pricy) pottery. Transport was good.

    Another bear attack. A woman east of Seattle. She survived. There’s been a lot in the news about how to survive bear attacks. Actually, bear spray is move effective than firearms.

    We used to have polling places, which I quit liked. But then our State went to all mail in ballots. Or, there are drop boxes, here and there. Since I live close to the courthouse, I dropped it in the ballot box, this morning.

    I haven’t heard from Elinor, this week. As far as I know, we’re still on for Friday.

    I was trying to make a lame joke. What you call tins, we call cans. Lost in translation 🙂

    It’s official. I’m losing it. There seemed to be more month than money, so I’ve been scraping along, a bit. Well, yesterday I opened my desk to discover a wad of cash. Sigh. Since they moved my credit union, I got more walking around money. It was such a wad, I split it in half, and put half in my desk. And, promptly forgot it was there. So, I went shopping, last night.

    I picked up enough supplies, for biscuits and gravy, that we’re covered for about three weeks. Mr. Bill, our club manager, gave me a check for it, this morning. And H and I had a good feed.

    Master Gardeners are here, this morning, and, as it is bucketing down, luckily they’re under cover. They have two areas where they store there stuff, and what with the inspection coming up, they were organizing.

    Mr. Jorge, the maintenance guy is here, today. And I think he’s going to replace my blinds! Hurray! Now I can get back to seriously preparing for the inspection. Not that I haven’t been doing this and that, all along. Lew

  14. Hi Chris,

    That is an awesome pipe! Lots of steel, thick walls, we can see the high quality. I’m sure they don’t get made as well these days.

    Congratulations on all the infrastructure work! We’ve been doing a bit of infrastructure work too. Mike is replacing the slanted, Wizard of Oz style cellar door. The old one is rotted to the point of being unusable.

    Then there is the drapery project. When we had the windows replaced in September, we had to remove all the window treatments for the installation. On the largest two windows, next to each other, we’d had a custom drape made and installed nine years ago. I’d never had it cleaned, so it seemed like the perfect time to take the drape to the nearby dry cleaner. It would be safe and out of the way and come back clean. Of the blinds and shades on the remaining windows, only two of them were in good enough shape to keep, along with a short drape on one of the smaller windows. It seemed like a good time to replace all of the other shades and blinds with drapes.

    Well, the dry cleaned drapes didn’t come back clean. Somehow a ball point pen got in the load with the drapes and they received a huge stain from the ink in the pen. After negotiating with the cleaner and receiving a settlement for the ruined drapes, I set out to buy drapes from an online retailer. Got the replacement drape for the ruined one hung with little trouble as it uses the same traverse rod as the previous one did. Then we ran into trouble with the drape for one kitchen window. The label on the package matches what I ordered, but the drape inside the package is the next shorter drape, 9 inches too short. It’s just a bit short of covering the window. Rather than hassle with returning it and reordering another, I’ve decided to accept what I received. The drape is good enough for the likes of us.

    Meanwhile, in order to remove the custom drape for the dry cleaning, we had to move a book case out far enough for me to squeeze behind it. This book case came to us for free and it is constructed mostly of real wood, but the fit and finish wasn’t especially good. It was probably a kit that some previous person put together not all that well. And I had it almost full of books. Bottom line, when we moved it back into place, it started to fall apart. I got all the books off it and the moveable shelves out so we could see what went wrong. As it happened, the wooden dowels that attach the permanent shelves to one side of the case were showing; that side was trying to separate from the shelves. Mike is going to use wood glue on the dowels and then clamp the case while the glue dries so that the junction between permanent shelves and sides is more stable. Meanwhile, the books are spread all over the sofa and the place looks chaotic. I do try to keep things neat, so the chaos is a little bothersome. Hope the glue job holds up!

    Last week we had two freezes – a low of 29F one morning and then 25F the next morning. Then by the weekend the highs got up to 84F. Not quite record highs, but close. And it’s raining today! I don’t know how much, but the local creek was running high, so enough to matter. Tomorrow I’ll check the rain gauge for the total and report back. We should be back to more “normal” autumn highs after the rain ends.


  15. Chris,

    Your road building neighbor was very fortunate. Having the freedom to pick and choose one’s work would be wonderful but isn’t something that happens for most of us. I remember one occasion in which 2 low level managers refused to do what our group’s Big Boss told them to do. I slyly suggested that if managers could ignore him, then so could I. Yup another career limiting move. 🙂 When the Big Boss responded that I would be insubordinate if I refused to do what he said, I asked why the other two weren’t insubordinate for refusing his directive. Yup, a second career limiting move within seconds of the first one. He was rather stunned that anyone called him on it. I merrily went on with my work knowing that there was nothing he could do to me.

    Summer soft? Yeah, I think I have a mild case of Summer Softness. It will dissipate quickly. After all, between the daily walks and some outdoor chores and other time spent meandering in the yard, I spend a minimum of 2 hours outside most days. Getting acclimated will be fast.

    With all the rain you’re getting, be thankful you live on the side of a mountain. The standing water you’re getting on some slopes is bad enough, but can you imagine living in the flats with that much rain? Your paddock would be a bog. Given a few years, you’d be burning peat from your very own peat bogs rather than firewood. DIGGING for fuel, rather than cutting it. And with no rough and tough Man with No Name around to threaten you. 😉

    If they don’t take care of that pothole properly, they might have to redo the entire surface of the bridge. Keep a good eye on that pothole and hope you never get to see the water below the bridge through the hole…Just saying.

    Yup, a couple of the Fruit Computer Afficiondos DO have that certain gleam to their eyes and that unique smug look. At one time, I think maybe those computers were better than a PC, but not so much better as to warrant the ultra-high price. Now? I’m not convinced that they’re any better at all. Paying for the name, not the machine is what I think.

    Cattle rustlers. Yup, got some of them in the old family tree too. Mom’s paternal side came from Clan MacGregor territory and were apparently distantly related to them, at least according to DNA studies. So cattle rustlers and ruffians, yup. And there’s some ancestry with the Forsters and Hendersons from the English-Scottish borders. More cattle rustlers, marauders and makers of mayhem, those Borderers were a rather nasty lot. And a Danish pirate (or privateer, depending on who’s side one is on) who allegedly had “papers” from the Netherlands to be a legal privateer, aka marauder of the high seas. He settled in New York when it was still Dutch and called New Amsterdam. He got the contract to clear the trees for a new settlement – gent named Bronck was the owner – and that is now known as the Bronx in New York City. The Dutch governor of the colony, Pieter Stuyvesant, eventually evicted my piratical ancestor for causing too much mayhem. The final straw was when my ancestor, a rather large man known as Grosschau (Big Shoe) bullied his nearest neighbor into “trading” wives. He was a colorful individual. And since he wore big shoes, I’m sure he had big feet. Hence, I’m descended from Big Foot doncha know. 😉


  16. Chris,

    It is with great pride and joy that I make a pronouncement.

    The sun broke through the clouds. Avalanche the Mighty explored the boundaries of the yard, her realm and responsibility to protect. A squirrel attempted to cross the territory and a chase ensued. The valiant dog soon caught the vile verminous rodent. The melee was on! Soon the battle raged into the thickets and the bushes. In the midst of the thick undergrowth, the heroic husky vanquished the foul fiend. In wondrous and ancient canid style, the prideful conqueror paraded and pranced through the yard, shaking the deceased intruder. Buried was the squirrel, then dug up and shaken and paraded once more. Again and again, the prideful heroine displayed her hunting prowess and proof of her battle skills to one and all. Proudly presenting the carcass to her adoring master, she accepted praises and treats, eventually donating the vanquished foe to her master’s trash bin.

    After her record of dispatching various and sundry mice, and now a very large squirrel, I am proud to present Dame Avalanche Rodent’s Bane, Keeper of the Green, Loyal Protector of the Yard. The beer hall will be loud with the sound of rejoicing tonight!

    The Princess, also, is proud. She suggested that Dame Avalanche will likely hunt and slay a buffalo for her next venture.


  17. Hi Claire,

    The concrete pipe takes vehicle traffic and can handle trucks with ease. The earthworks guy sure knew what he was doing.

    Thanks for saying that. I wanted to kind of do the infrastructure whilst I’m able to get it sorted out. In some ways, it’s like resolving a puzzle.

    It took me a while to work out what a Wizard of Oz style cellar door was. Cellars are very uncommon for some unknown reason down here. Yes, that sort of timber door would have to put up with some serious weather. Hope Mike uses good quality timber, and then protects it from the elements.

    Oh Claire, that’s awful about the drapes. You go in with good intentions, and then the drapes get trashed by an unanticipated ball point pen. A lot of ink in those things. Out of curiosity, did the person at the business notice the damage and alerted you to it, or did they try and slip it past your notice?

    🙂 Make do, is a workable philosophy. But far out, what a nuisance. Drapes in kitchen windows used to be not full height anyway. The universe may be trying to tell you something? Probably not. A few years ago I purchased a pair of jeans online and the label sewn onto the jeans showed the correct size, but what was attached to the label was in no way shape or form, that size. Skinny jeans are for other folks… You’d have to suggest that the days of quality are receding in the rear view mirror?

    A very good repair to the bookshelves, if I may say so. It would be worse if the weight of books collapsed the edifice. But yes, I too would feel that such disorder would be mildly unsettling. The glue is probably something of an improvement. Years ago I visited an old church which had been constructed using dowels and sealed canvas. Tarraville Church. Nails need not apply!

    Hope you received some decent rainfall? It’s still cloudy and wet here today. Mind you, tomato, basil and pumpkin seeds germinated today. All that remains are the eggplant and chilli seeds, and they shall enjoy a cosy growing season in the greenhouse.



  18. Hi Margaret,

    The earthworks guy was not one to muck around, and what he said – happened. The concrete pipe is let us say, sturdy enough to handle truck traffic with ease. In this wet year, the road is holding up very well. The main road which it leads off, not so much.

    The photographs of the sun do help me to recall what that big fusion reactor in the sky looked like. 🙂 It’s been another very damp week, what with a hybrid cyclone in the east of the state – whatever that monster weather thing is. Whatever, still wet. At least the weather is slowly warming up.

    Margaret, you’re a saint. I would have hung up on Marty years ago. There has to be some give and take for me to help out in those sorts of situations, although explaining that boundary is never easy. Sorry to say that, but yeah. The main issue with calling those particular emergency folks too often is that when he genuinely needs them, they may have blacklisted Marty. It’s a real problem, but maybe there is no middle ground for Marty.

    The play sounded like it was good, and hope that Cecily was pleased as well? Hehe! 9pm is just getting around to dinner time. 😉

    Are you kidding me? Surely you jest? It is a very quiet and pleasant life here, but all the same, and I tell you this truly: People bring their poop to my door, regardless of the quiet and pleasant environment. I have a general policy of nipping problems in the bud, but people don’t like that at all one bit. And for a very few, it’s something of a personal challenge. Oh yes. Fortunately the ancient sage Sun Tzu provides useful advice.

    Yay for some rain for you and hope the garden is gently settling down for the season. It continues to be cloudy and wet here. However, the greenhouse is earning its keep. The pumpkin seeds sprouted today.



  19. Hi DJ,

    Congratulations on the well earned title for Avalanche. Certainly the squirrel is the whole next level for Avalanche, and I hope she was suitably rewarded with like a chew, or bone or some such treat? Dame Plum sends Dame Avalanche cordial tail wags and welcomes her into the order of the Fluffy knighthood of the Secret Fane. May the beer and mead flow freely this evening, and I salute her valiant achievements and new peerage.

    Ooo, yeah, maybe a bit more experience might be needed before Avalanche takes on a Buffalo. But you know, you’ve gotta start somewhere.

    The guy wasn’t quite a neighbour, although he did live off the same main road which the road here is off – just several kilometres closer to town. 🙂

    Hehe! We’ve all been there. Far out! Mate, I heard such insubordination nonsense too, many years ago now, and took a somewhat more forthright approach (but sadly, still a Career Limiting Move) by countering with: Last I checked we weren’t in the army. They didn’t know what to say to that, but I now know better ways of handling such a situation.

    Your approach to acclimatisation is the correct path, and will avoid summer softness episodes for sure. I do know some folks who hail from further north than your part of the world, and they now complain about winter in the big smoke. It ain’t that cold. On a more serious note, it is very good for all sorts of reasons to get at least some sun over the winter months.

    Peat bogs aren’t really a thing around these parts, at the moment. Sometimes in some areas of this state, fire gets into the peat bogs, and those are very hard to put out. Oh yeah. Digging for fuel and let’s not forget bog iron. Ugg!

    The pothole on the bridge was pretty big this morning. I’m not sure what might happen there. I have a hunch the bridge might get put out of action. That would be ten times not good (maybe forty two times?), but what will be, will be. People aren’t treating the bridge carefully and respectfully.

    Yes, that’s my opinion too, there’s a lot of brand hype. But if people want to pay for such things, it is no business of mine. I just don’t see the need, or the need for the constant cycle of upgrades.

    Of course, your lot were part of the infamous border clans. Yes, they were up to some mischief weren’t they? Which incidentally would have possibly included cattle rustling. The crowns were all too ready to provide license for pillaging on the high seas, but then what they giveth, they sometimes taketh awayeth. Not good, and a surviving privateer needs to read the room carefully, and keep off the rum, well, at least when they’re at risk of being held to account for their deeds (or misdeeds)? Trading wives would be a chancy activity, and Big Shoe might end up getting a bargain he didn’t bet upon. You left yourself wide open for this quip: If the shoe fits! 😉



  20. Hi Lewis,

    I agree, a 12ft skeleton is a menacing Halloween monster. It would give me nightmares. You could imagine such a beast in a Robert E Howard story. And dark lighting would just add to the ook factor. Makes you want to chuck in a globe in the street lamp so that the lighting flickers and/or is intermittent. 🙂 Fun stuff. People really get into the day in your part of the world. It’s gaining some traction down under.

    Man, I don’t put on airs and that probably costs me socially in the pecking order, but do I want to play such a game? Nope. It might be my imagination, but over the past month or two, people have gotten somewhat more aggressive. Probably stressed out, but I regularly see some weird social stuff going on. Wealth inequality, I’m guessing, tends to exacerbate such behaviours. Time will sort it all out. On the other hand, I held the door open at a shop for an older bloke a few days ago and he said: Thank you sir. To which I replied: My pleasure. The other recent bad ‘sir’ interaction was unexpected and somewhat defensive. Haven’t seen that guy around for a while now. Maybe he over stayed his welcome? Dunno.

    Hehe! You know how it would be spoken: “Yeah, gotta go to the bog (or dunny), mate.” The comma is of course for the slight pause in the spoken sentence.

    Yes, but did the Earl of Sandwich get promoted following the loss of the colonies? He probably did. That 4th one was quite the character.

    The Roman’s had some decent manufacturing capacity to have sent ceramics to Vindolanda. It’s quite the feat really. You’d imagine that the frontier forts would be thrown onto their own resources. But then I recall that in the Camulod series, the spear chucker was sent to Gaul to procure arms for their northern allies. It’s funny how the collapse of the Roman empire was spread over such a long geographic area and time.

    I’ve heard that about bear spray, but what makes you believe that we’d get bears and bear spray? I doubt the stuff could be purchased down under.

    Good stuff. And voting is always to be encouraged, unless it is compulsory like down here, and then voting is punitived. 🙂 Good luck and I hope your vote counts. Actually, I’d just enjoy the politicians being a bit quieter and getting on with the jobs which need doing that they get paid to do, but appear to be dodging. Is it too much to expect them to be held to account for their actions?

    Hope things work out OK for Elinor. I went in this morning and checked in on the folks I know working in the farm machine and repair business. My profession gives me insights into how people might respond. Hmm. They’re good people in that business.

    Definitely lost in translation. We do call them tins, true. But nowadays they’re as often called cans. At a guess the usage depends upon whether there is contents, or otherwise. As in: a tin of something (meaning the can contains some goods). Or without the contents it would probably be known as a can. Although we tend to call trash-cans, rubbish bins. That character in the Stand wouldn’t sound all that scary as rubbish bin dude. Just sayin…

    Always a problem. But then, hey, I put my hat down on the back of a chair the other day, and was wondering where I had left it. The Editor cheekily suggested that I’d give the hunt for the missing hat a: Chris look. There is something a bit cheeky about that observation. Can’t quite put my finger upon what it is though.

    Ah, the dreaded check problem strikes back. Well, that’s how it goes. I trust H was well behaved? And scored some yummo biscuits and gravy?

    It’s seriously good to hear that rain has made a special guest appearance in your country. Hopefully you get enough. I know what too much looks like! 🙂 Oooo! The pumpkins germinated this morning. The new greenhouse is working better than my expectations of it’s performance.

    Did you get the new blinds?



  21. Yo, Chris – Halloween is a big deal here. There’s money to be made, and a lot of it. Here at The Institution, the lobby and community room look like the Great Pumpkin threw up all over it. The Ladies do like their “decor.”

    Wealth inequality. One of the major indicators (according to some authors) as to why empires collapse. I saw an article the other day, about how aggrieved and threatened certain parts of our population feel. Due to real or perceived loss of status and power. They look for scapegoats, and the real culprits toss out enough disinformation to throw them off the trail. Of course, that’s beginning to not work so well. As we talked about the other day, the trickle down, etc. is not so convincing, anymore. Only took them 40 years to catch onto that. Mr. Greer seems to think the aggrieved have a good case.

    Oh, I’m sure the Earl of Sandwich got a promotion. See: The Peter Principle.

    As an example of Roman transportation, The Stanegate was a Roman military road, that ran from British coast to coast, with large harbors as either end. It predates Vindolanda … and, Hadrian’s Wall.

    I suppose it all depends on if you want to put your faith in one shaky possible kill shot at a charging bear, or the wider dispersed and longer lasting bear spray? I keep expecting for bear spray to be licensed, or something, due to it’s recent use in several civil disagreements.

    Well, according to the dictionary, a “Chris look” is a cursory inspection. 🙂 As if it never happens here. How often have I been on the hunt for something, and thought, “It’s a 500 square foot space. Why is this so difficult?”

    Oh, H got her gravy and sausage. But no biscuits for her. Given her wheat free diet and delicate digestion.

    Pretty soon, you’ll be able to sit in your own pumpkin patch, to await the arrival of The Great Pumpkin (Charley Brown.) But if they’re not round and orange, he won’t stop in. 🙁

    No, I did not get my blinds, yesterday. Even though the repair guys were busy all over the building, yesterday. Lots of hammering going on. The stress is killing me. And, if they keep to their usual schedule, they won’t be back til next Tuesday. After the inspection. The Night Manager might have let something slip. If I heard him right, the Building Manager may know which apartments are to be inspected. Which would explain the lack of attention, to mine. A low priority, in other words. But it’s not something I can count on.

    We had our first “flood advisory,” yesterday. But only for 24 hours. My, it did rain. But it’s all sunshine and blue sky, today. A flood advisory is: “Minor flooding in low lying and poor drainage areas.”

    I finished watching “The Green Planet,” last night. Fascinating. He had a bit about your Hammer orchid (which grows near the Grass Trees.) It’s the shape and color of a certain type of female wasp. Even smells like her. The male wasps will often pass up “the real deal,” and end up pollinating the orchids.

    A similar, fascinating bit comes from South Africa. The dung beetles have a preference for antelope poo. So, there’s a plant, who’s seed is the exact shape, color and size of antelope poo. And, yes, even smells like it. What long evolutionary paths had to be traveled, to attain these results? Lew

  22. Hi Lewis,

    Perhaps the orange decor was caused by The Great Pumpkin who dared a midnight visit to the lobby and community room? After all, who can prove that Linus was wrong? He may have been onto something for sure. 🙂

    There are some issues out there which are being swept under the carpet on the wealth inequality front. The gubarmunt over the past two or so days apparently made the prediction that energy prices are set to rise by the weirdly exact forecast of 56%. What if it increases by 57%? Always unwise to give exact numbers when it comes to predictions. I hear how things are playing out on the ground in real time, mostly because I talk with a lot of business owners – and regularly. Interesting times, and hey, just to show how different things are nowadays, people seem to be earning six figure salaries in commercial kitchens with only six months experience: Inflation means your wages are worth less. Will they rise to catch up? And they’ve coined a new phrase: Quit for More. Like interpersonal relationships couldn’t get worse, oh, they just did.

    I agree, there is a lot of disinformation out there right now. I talk to people who have to get groups of people to do stuff, AKA small business. It is pretty weird out there, but my gut feeling suggests that the wheels are decoupling from the rails, and you don’t have to look much further than the bonkers attempt to curb inflation whilst churning the presses in money printing operations. The two outcomes are mutually exclusive goals, and western civilisation is pursuing both goals at the same time. It’ll end sooner or later, but when? That I don’t know. But I’m genuinely astounded that the game has gone on so long.

    That particular Earl of Sandwich was reputedly a very charming fellow and much liked, and despite the epic loss, well, the sun did eventually set on that Empire. Charming folks though. Lovely. Despite that lot strip mining the soils of this country, I still feel quite fondly towards them. Probably brain washing, but during school assemblies as a kid we’d all stand in neat rows and sing ‘God Save the Queen’. True, even after her representative sacked an elected Federal gobarmunt in 1975. Mind you, they probably had it coming, and they weren’t returned at the next election, despite the outrage. The two leaders of the political parties both of whom were Prime Ministers, eventually settled their differences and became mates. It was a sweet story, and I’d met one of them on two occasions. He seemed OK. Our former leaders don’t get the security details your lot do, nobody cares about them, don’t worry about it, we’ve got plenty more where they came from! 🙂

    I must say, the Stanegate Roman military road looks in pretty good condition from the images I’ve seen. And interestingly the Romans employed milestones, and those things are dotted around the landscape down here too (although clearly not of Roman origin).

    Ha! I like how you think. Mate, it all depends upon the calibre. And being in the belly of mommy land, I’d imagine that there would be official registers noting who had bear spray. Far out, that was my first thought. Any tool can be misused.

    Yes, of course I’d forgotten about the gluten issues with H. No biscuits for her. Do you have any idea as to how H became gluten intolerant? The dogs here love bread. It’s dirty. But then, they’ve only eaten home baked loaves without any chemical additions. A friend once hinted that I baked like a bricklayer, and what my mate didn’t know is that super fluffy bread is super low in protein. You see what I have to deal with here? 🙂 The vast majority of visitors enjoy the freshly baked bread I feed them.

    Well, my gut feeling suggests to me that you’d call my pumpkins by the inglorious name of ‘squash’. To my mind those things are little yellow fruits from that family, but hey, we’re mincing words here.

    Use your intuition as a test bed. They might turn up, but then they might not. Best not to make yourself a target during such episodes, and if you do get targeted, give them something easy and simple to rectify. Trust me on this.

    Did you suggest that it is wet out there on the moors? Always has it been thus. I’m reading Jane Eyre at the moment, and I must say that the Bronte sisters kick the sensitive reader hard in the guts. It’s a dark tale, and some authors put their characters through utter misery. Am I enjoying the story, well it’s meant to be a classic and so who am I to argue?

    I’m always been a bit nervous mentioning the orchids in a public forum like this and all, but right now, they’re going off like a frog in a sock. Doesn’t your observation suggest a sort of weird vegetative intelligence?

    We’ve got the sundews which attract and eat ants. I like those plants, because maybe about a week ago somehow a little ant got onto my boot and crawled up my leg and bit me in three places on my leg. Yeah, chemical burns from the formic acid. The bites are itchy now, but oh well.

    Dung beetles are amazing. They’re not part of this continents fauna, however, that didn’t stop many varieties being released into the wilds. I like the critters and whenever I see them on their backs all helpless and stuff I pick them up and drop them on a juicy poop of some sort. Hard working critters they are.

    Oh, it rained again today. What’s a poor boy to do?



  23. Hi, Chris!

    I had always heard that in the past the people from the lower- lying areas here, nearer the coast (but maybe not nearerest) would move up to the Blue Ridge Mountains for the summer. I had always though that was because it is at least 10F cooler up there. From what you said, maybe that was to try to avoid warm-weather pestilences as well.

    Still no rain here in now almost 2 months. We had a few drops yesterday, but I am not counting it. I should be watering the fall veg, but I don’t have time, besides which a rabbit keeps nibbling on them. Last week you mentioned rabbit tunnels are deep. How deep? But maybe we don’t want to go down that rabbit hole . . .

    Your white pipe = my husband’s satellite dish, until he gave it up. The only spot where it would get reception was right in the middle of the garden (the only clearing of any size). We used to periodically cut into the cables when digging until finally we marked the line with rocks all the way to the house. That put some beds out of commission until it was gone. I am so glad that wretched thing – for many reasons – is no longer.

    I am glad that you have weeds. Weeds are keeping me well right now, I have no doubt. Every morning I browse through the garden – the deer have eaten all outside of it – and eat chickweed, hairy bittercress, dandelion, heal all, wood sorrel, and oregano, which is now wild. Of course, I would not suggest that anyone else do this without doing some research.

    The Return of Fatso!

    Thanks for the flowers, especially the echium.

    My son says that the breba figs should be removed from younger trees, can be left on the older ones. He likes to go to for info.

    Last week I went out to the car to go into town, put my stuff in it, and shut the rear door – let us say “firmly”, it was on a hill – and the rear window completely shattered. Rather startling! A man came out and replaced it a few days later. We all decided that a hickory nut had fallen on it from a great height and make a tiny crack on the top of the window (there was one, not noticed before) and that did it.

    A “Quote of the Day” from last week: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift: That’s why they call it ‘the present’.”


  24. Hi Pam,

    Oh yeah, Cholera and Typhoid were serious problems during the summer months and they killed plenty of people. A nasty business, and incidentally the water would have been cleaner up in the mountains.

    Hehe! Very funny about the rabbit hole. Honestly, I have no idea how deep the tunnels went, but the last one that Dame Plum dug up was about maybe four feet deep. However, winters here are not as cold as in your part of the world, so the rabbits there might have to dig deeper? Dunno.

    No rain for almost two months. Yikes! Pam, it is now raining almost every day here. A little bit of middle ground would be nice.

    That’s funny about the satellite dish being in the only clear area on the property, and thus coincidentally shading the vegetables. Hmm. And cutting cables and pipes, we’ve all been there. The electrician managed to put his excavator bucket through one of the main pipes from the water tanks to the house. A lot of water oozed, and whilst Sandra and the electrician were peering into the rising pool of water, I ran around shutting off the power, the water flow and then releasing the water pressure. What a mess to fix up. I don’t miss TV either. Do people comment about the lack of a prominent TV at your place?

    Thanks for the advice, and as far as I understand things, all of those weeds are edible and most of them bring benefits. I’m of the opinion that unlike you and I, most people don’t eat enough fresh leafy greens. One year a long time ago we ran out of edible greens (due to poor gardening skills at the time) and subsisted on the local edible weeds for salads. There’s a plethora of info out there, and even some local books: The Weed Forager’s Handbook. Mostly the cultivated plants do taste better, or perhaps less err, cultivated. But some cultures really respect the more bitter flavours.

    It’s a great name for a wombat! The one that lives in the paddock below the house and commands the orchard there, is almost twice the size. A force to be reckoned with.

    I agree with your son, but like your watering, I’m having troubles keeping on top of everything that needs doing. I’m kind of pruning the fig trees so that they grow biggerer. They need to do so. Thank you for the link to:

    Oh my goodness, and aren’t you glad that car windows tend to shatter rather than leaving sharp edges all over the place? I’ve never seen such a thing happen before. But car windshields getting chipped is a problem with dirt roads. Hey, the local bridge is looking very dodgy with some huge potholes – makes for a nervous crossing.

    Thanks for the most excellent joke. Yes, life is a present. 🙂



  25. Yo, Chris – I think we’re both in the wrong business. We should work in a commercial kitchen 🙂 . Maybe, not …

    Some of the wage increases, may be catch-up. We have a federal minimum wage here (currently $14.49 per hour, to go up to $15.74 in January). States can add more on, if they wish. Any-who, as of 2019 the Federal wage bought 17% less than 10 years prior. And 31% less than 1968. Meanwhile, productivity has increased three fold. Workers are aware of this. They’re also aware of the sometimes obscene take home, of their CEOs.

    Restaurants are notorious for getting around paying even the minimum wage. Tip credits and meal credits (no matter if you eat a meal or not), are often removed from wages. There’s unpaid overtime. I was once in such a situation. Didn’t stay long. Some high end restaurants don’t pay wages, at all. Waiters work for tips.

    There were a lot of fellows around, like the Earl of Sandwich. Delightful fellows, who gambled away the stately family home.

    You need to round up some Romans, to rebuild your bridge 🙂 . Roman milestones, British milestones, Australian milestones. Probably a direct cultural transition, there. Maybe.

    Even an elephant gun, isn’t effective against a charging bear .. if you miss.

    As I’ve said before, I think gluten intolerance in dogs, cats and people, is due to the varieties of grain grown, and the way it’s milled. And baked.

    Tomorrow is shaping up to be quit a circus. There was a notice on my door, and on Elinor’s, that “…maintenance will be entering your unit to complete work orders.” I’d guess it’s for new blinds, in each case. On top of that, we’re getting two food boxes AND Elinor’s coming home. Last I heard. I’ve penciled in a stroke or heart attack, on my Saturday schedule.

    Dickens and the Brontes did a lot to move public opinion to have a bit more sympathy for the poor and unfortunate. Glacial improvement, but it helped.

    Oh, there’s a bit of vegetative intelligence, out there. Or, instinct. More is being learned, all the time. I’ve always been fascinated by carnivorous plants. Sir David Attenbourough did some interesting experiments with a Venus Fly Trap. The plants don’t want to waste a lot of energy, snapping closed, if there’s really nothing tasty that’s flown in. Say, a raindrop. So, there are special hairs. They must be stroked, I think, 5 times before they snap shut. And if that goes on for too long without a payoff, they don’t respond for awhile. Trees, and many other plants “talk” to each other. Or, at least they exchange information.

    I picked a couple of handfuls of cherry tomatoes, last night, for dinner. Quit a few on the bush were split, but enough were in good shape for a feed. I discovered some more green beans that the deer had missed. None for me, this year, but enough for next year’s seed.

    Time to give H a bath, so she’ll be all clean and shiny. Lew

  26. Chris,

    Yesterday was a wonderful and rare midweek hiatus. The Princess returned home early in the afternoon from 10 days with her brother. We had to celebrate her homecoming as well as Avalanche’s promotion. That meant 2 consecutive days of extra treats for Rodent’s Bane.

    Buffalo are BIG. As in huge. Once in eastern Montana on a narrow road, a sign said, “Beware of Buffalo on Road Next 20 miles”. Friend who was riding with me laughed, thinking the sign was a joke. There was a curve immediately, so I slowed down even more than normal for the curve due to the sign. Good thing, too. There was a buffalo in the road about 30 meters from where I rapidly (without skidding noises) stopped. Friend then asked if we could push the buffalo out of the way with the car! I suggested that since we were in a Datsun 510 wagon that was smaller and lighter than the buffalo, we would sit there until the buffalo decided to move – 10 minutes, 3 days, whatever it took. The buffalo got tired of staring at us after about 20 minutes and moved off the road. The remainder of the herd then crossed the road to follow their leader, at their own pace. No rushing those big animals! Conclusion: you might be right that Avalanche needs to s l o w l y prepare to hunt buffalo.

    Oh, at that organization, the normal response to any logical questions was to be warned about being insubordinate. I simply started laughing every time a manager said that word. 28 and a half years working there and there was only one time anybody got in trouble for insubordination – 2-week suspension without pay.

    People can get soft about weather rather quickly can’t they? Although I did sort of acclimate to the heat in LAs Cruces, New Mexico, there were 3 of us who had moved there from within 100km of the Canadian border who wore shorts and t-shirts outdoors during much of the Las Cruces “winter”. Felt like late March to us.

    Agreed, getting what sun is available is a good thing in the winter. I do a lot better if I spend one to two hours outdoors daily regardless of the weather. Well, almost, today has been mostly an indoor day as it is too windy and blowing in some dust, which bothers my allergies. Did get in the daily walk with Avalanche before the wind kicked up though.

    If I’m remembering what you’ve said about alternate routes, I think having the bridge closed would be 42 times dumb and go well off the scale for inconvenience. Not a 10. Not an 11. “But it goes to 42!”

    Nice quip re: fitting the shoe! Big Shoe seemed to survive the eviction and eventual resettlement in New Jersey.

    Yeah, the Borders clans, whether Scottish or English, were true baddies and ruffians. All of the Scots and Britons and Irish had a cultural propensity for cattle raiding predating the Romans in England. The cattle raiding seemed to be the ancient sporting event before the advent of soccer. The Borderers just took it to a completely different level.

    Been dehydrating this year’s zucchini harvest. The dried zucchini is getting stored in vacuum sealed bags. One day of dehydrating remaining.


  27. Hi DJ,

    It’s nice to take some time out, and simply enjoy. And Avalanche had a very big win. Hope your lady showered her with affection, although this loose talk of extra treats suggests that this was exactly what went on. 🙂

    Forget about the bison, although I’m glad you didn’t have a closer encounter with the graceful beastie, but far out Datsun 510! Man, that’s like catnip to me. Down here they were known as a Datsun 1600, and the one I had was a four door which cost only about $500. Dirt cheap, but such a great little car. I chucked a five speed gearbox in it, and the beast went like stink. 🙂 That’s the technical description for going super fast, wherever you pointed it at. Of course, only those such as yourself who know, know. Bizarrely enough, the new Dirt Rat gets about the same fuel economy, although the Dirt Mouse uses far less again. My how we’ve advanced over the years… I’ve long wondered if there is a market for such simple and efficient vehicles? And um, just to tease you, if you hunted around down under here, you used to be able to get the twin carburettor version which went like double stink, as in say the difference between 42 and 11. You of course would understand the difference. The machines are worth quite a bit of mad cash these days. Who’d have thunk it?

    You know, I’ve never heard of anyone being suspended from work without pay, for any reason. The threat down here used to that you’d end up with a written warning, and the more written warnings you’d accumulate, the closer to being terminated you’d be. Never had one myself, but the insubordination threat was as you suggested, laughable. Mate, when I heard that threat levelled at me, they were asking me to do some very dodgy activities which would have left me carrying the can and taking responsibility. I don’t think so. The craziness was easily thwarted by suggesting that I’d send an email documenting that on this date I was instructed by X and Y to do X. Didn’t win any friends, far from it actually, but the response took the heat off me. I didn’t hang around much longer there to find out how it all worked out. They didn’t like me for having thwarted them. It’s funny how you can sometimes just encounter utter weirdness, and then have to work out how to navigate the strange new world.

    That’s what I’ve noticed too. We went to a funeral today for the local bloke I knew for many years. It was almost a winters day, grey skies, drizzle and cold Antarctic winds. After that, we had a late lunch at the local General Store, and sat outside (under the veranda). It was 9’C, how’s that for mid to late spring weather? Far out. We were the only people outside, but compared to some parts of the world, it wasn’t that cold. It’s a relative experience I’m guessing. Your occasional -20’C winters would strike dread fear into my heart, and probably freeze some extremities! Mate, it would have been shorts and t-shirt weather there for me too.

    Sorry to hear about the wind, dust and allergies. Anyway, it would be a bad thing if Avalanche were swept away by the late autumn winds. And no doubts you might get swept away too – hanging onto leads has that effect.

    I noticed that today, the potholes in the bridge deck were filled, and some sort of temporary looking tar patch was placed over the surface. People probably need to slow down when using the bridge.

    New Jersey! Ah, a new start for Big Shoe. Probably not a bad idea. People would take umbrage at having their wife taken, then replaced. Certainly there may have been consequences if he’d hung around to discover what they might be.

    I’d never considered dehydrating zucchini. Mate, you learn something new, every day. We keep the marrows intact in a dark cupboard, and then slowly use them all during the winter. One must use them all up prior to early spring, otherwise… Yes, a problem.



  28. Hello Chris
    I haven’t had time to read all the comments yet.
    That is one heck of a big pipe and pipes are on my mind at present. Son spent most of yesterday here trying to discover where the blockage in my waste water pipe was. In the end he dug the whole thing up. This might not have been necessary if he had paid any attention to what I said. But of course the woman doesn’t know what she is talking about. Or rather I was indicating a site that was particularly difficult to reach. Finally he had to go there. The problem had been caused by land movement. All sorted now.
    I think that Ollie is averting his eyes from the new opening.
    Old hedges here, tend to be hawthorn and blackthorn.
    Weather remains pleasantly warm and rather wet.


  29. Chris:

    We no longer have a TV.

    There is a small bridge over a single railroad track that I must cross when heading north of town. It is a timber bridge and is barely one lane, but quite heavily trafficked. There have been times when I wondered if I would actually make it across. Since it is so rickety they have to close the bridge every few years for an extended period of time and rebuild it. Thankfully, the last time they built it more sturdily, with even some concrete, so that it looks to be holding up better.


  30. Hi Lewis,

    The pay rate seems pretty good, but is it sustainable? It might be what with all the money printing monkey business going on. 🙂 I’m unsure whether I’d enjoy the working hours, not to mention the break in between lunch and dinner shifts. It probably works with some folks though. A very old friend is quite a talented cook, and it was the break in between the shifts which ate up the entire day, which eventually turned him off that industry.

    Have you ever noticed how economists are always banging on about labour productivity? Maybe I’m cynical but I interpret those words to mean: More for less. Maybe, it’s just me… But three fold increase in labour productivity, sounds intense. But then I recall that work in the very late 1980’s early 1990’s was much more super-chill than it is today. Back then, nobody seemed to care much if we went to the pub on Friday lunchtime and just didn’t go back to work. I guess that’s why the department was eventually made redundant. Oh well, it was fun whilst it lasted. 🙂

    Not all CEO’s earn such whopping great pay packets. The problem is that there are some that do, and news reports splashing that news around tends to be a justification for further inequalities. It wasn’t all that long ago that such senior employees didn’t earn such outrageous pay packets. They’re employees after all, and the cult of personality does not impress me much. I’d have to suggest that if hard times hit, then they’ll have to earn their keep. But the ever expanding money supply story plays into all of this too, and something has to give somewhere. But where, that is the question?

    Before the health subject which dares not be named, that particular industry appears to have played fast and loose with peoples pay packets down here too. There were quite a number of very high profile examples which came to light. I suspect that workers got out of the industry, and now it can’t be staffed properly. The food quality on average has lowered considerably in the past year or so. George Calombaris, former MasterChef judge, says ‘I’m sorry’ for underpaying staff. At least he appears to have repaid the monster wage bill, but it makes you wonder how the employees at the time kept a roof over their heads, paid their bills and kept food upon the table – whilst working.

    Tips aren’t part of the culture down here. However, of late where I can see the business struggling (the downside of my day job) a tip can’t hurt.

    I’ve read such stories. 🙂 A decent understanding of statistics suggests to me that the house always wins. And if you’re not the house then that means…

    You’re not wrong, a legion of Roman Engineers could do some sterling work around here. Some of the stuff they built was rather sturdy.

    Went to the funeral this afternoon for the farm machine dude, and I’m gonna miss him and our chats about business, life the universe and everything. He had quite the turnout too, standing room only. The Editor has kindly agreed with me to offer some free business assistance to the widow next week. We’ll see what comes of it, dunno, but he was a good bloke. The weather was a miserable grey cold and drizzly day – just what you’d imagine for a sombre funeral. I learned that he was a freemason, and the local group held a rite as part of the ceremony.

    That’s assuming that I miss the charging bear. 🙂 The local birds and also the dogs would give me forewarning, that’s their job. The local magpie family kicked the young ‘un out of the nest yesterday. I had to keep the dogs inside and restrained lest they bring an untimely end to the occasion. The young one was acting all lost and forlorn, whilst the parents were giving it a good kick up the bum. The young bird appears to have survived the owls last evening (although I was awoken late at night by a blood curdling scream of some description – didn’t end well), and late this afternoon I noticed the young bird high up in one of the tall trees. Sure was making a lot of noise about how good it was being way up in the tall trees.

    I agree about the wheat varieties grown. There are better choices of varieties, but do they work as well with combine harvesters?

    Lewis, hope all goes well. It does sound a bit like a mad house, sorry to say, but yeah not good. 🙂 At the very least, stay safe! And hope you finally get the new blinds. At least there was a notice.

    That the authors did.

    Yeah, I’m thinking that plants are intelligent enough in their own way, and possibly we just can’t comprehend it. Doesn’t mean it isn’t there though. The eucalyptus trees here can adapt to new environmental circumstances within three generations I believe, and that is astounding adaptability.

    A delightful sounding harvest. You’ve had a decent long season this year, which is a good thing. Haven’t checked in on the seedlings this morning as we were kind of distracted due to the later events in the day and kept busy. The Tree Dudes turned up this morning and did some work. The weather was filthy, but the worst of it held off for them. I probably should have got them a fire going, but the wind was up and I was worried the swirling embers would have burnt holes in their work gear – the downsides of plastic high visibility clothing. We all agreed that this would be a bad thing, but then it was cold and windy.

    Nice work saving the seeds, and I hope that H enjoyed her bath.



  31. Hi Inge,

    No worries, and hope you enjoy the comments when you get around to reading them. The comments are the fun bits of the blog process, but let’s not tell too many people. 🙂

    A concrete pipe that size, just works. It takes an awfully big storm to block such a thing up, and so far I haven’t experienced such a storm. Hoping I haven’t just put the kiss of death on myself there. There is rain in the forecast for each day for the next four weeks. What a season.

    Really? I hadn’t heard that story, but then I did grow up in a household where I was the only male for many years. 🙂 Far out! Well, at least your son got there in the end. And I’m assuming that the problem was discovered in the area to which you were indicating? Actually the land movement is a bit of an issue with pipes here too. I’m yet to see one break or otherwise fail, but at times I do have to relieve some of the stresses in the joins, and for that purpose I use the flexible rubber couplers. They work pretty well and seem to survive the harsh summer sun.

    You’re probably right about Ollie doing that, he’s always sniffing and investigating the Agapanthus plants. They provide housing for small frogs and reptiles, and some say snakes, although the ones here might be a bit damp for those critters – but I’m not entirely certain about that belief.

    Ah! Of course, the sloes. What a clever idea using them in hedges, along with hawthorn. I’ve read that the hawthorn berries once had a medicinal usage. What a great idea.

    Nice to hear that you’re getting some warmish weather. It is like winter here today, and looks set to get worse next week.



  32. Hi Pam,

    We don’t have a TV either, and that lack can excite some guests, as I’m assuming you’ve also noted. Nervous folks… Sometimes with guests we don’t even put on background music and um, err, expect them to converse. The horror! 🙂 Hehe!

    A heavily trafficked barely one lane bridge, and rickety to boot, is a bit of a nightmare story. Is that one lane in each direction, or only one lane full stop as in the local bridge here? I do hope if that is the case, the local etiquette is being followed? Knowing who and when can cross the single lane bridge is a bit of a game really. Most people are pretty reasonable about such things, but then I have encountered folks (probably from outside the area) who feel that they’re on World Rally Championship, and just must get over the bridge at speed regardless of all other considerations and/or vehicles. That can be somewhat exciting to encounter.



  33. Yo, Chris – Six figures in a restaurant is probably not sustainable. Gee, what I could do with six figures … 🙂

    Can’t say I’ve ever had a job that required split shifts. Although, when I think about it, when I was working in the library, sometimes I worked a shift in one branch, and then a later shift in another branch. But, as I was racking up hours toward retirement, I didn’t mind so much. And, if you get an entire change of scene, it doesn’t seem so bad.

    I think I mentioned how I diddled my hours. You were only supposed to work no more than 40 hours, per week. We got paid, every two weeks. And, as my time cards were coming from all over the place … So, some weeks I’d have more than 40, and then maybe the next week, less than 40. I was always careful not to run over 80 hours, for the pay period. Took them awhile, but they finally caught up with me. I just played dumb. “Oh, I thought it was 80 hours, per pay period.” No wonder Inhuman Resources hated me.

    Yes, more for less. And with stagnant wages, things just got better and better for big companies. But it wasn’t enough, for them. They off shored everything that wasn’t nailed down (and some things that were), chasing that ever cheaper labor.

    CEOs. See: “Golden Parachute.” Even when they’re dismal failures, they still get it. It’s in the prenup. 🙂

    Ah, I wondered if you’d go to the funeral. And, I figured there would be a big turnout. The farm repair supply dude just sounded so personable and helpful. It was nice of the Editor and you to offer assistance. We’ll see how it goes.

    So, the local magpie population is secure. You can sleep at night. Maybe that blood curdling noise was a mating call? It is spring, no matter what the weather is doing. We had no rain, yesterday, but quit a bit of wind. As we’ve had no frosts, the leaves really haven’t started coming off the trees. I was woken this morning, an hour before I’d set the alarm by a blender? vacuum? dental drill? Not a good start to my day.

    Ah, the window blind dudes just pulled into the parking lot. I hope they get Elinor’s and mine done, before she comes home. Food box should show up, anytime.

    Yes, H is all clean and shinny, and smells good. I should make an appointment with the groomer, pretty soon. As it takes so long to get a slot. She’s also due for another one of those flea pills. Pricey. $67. But, oh, so good. Lew

  34. Chris,

    You’re right. That Datsun 510 got about the same gas mileage as our current cars. Go figure. I miss it a lot. The engine was simple and easy to work on. I did nearly all of the maintenance, myself. Can’t really do that with these more modern vehicles.

    Hahaha! I like your email solution. I actually did something similar with emails. It was well known at work that I have better reading comprehension than verbal comprehension. With the difficult Boss and Big Bosses that I eventually had, there was a lack of trust in them for good reason. Ya know, the basic direct me to do something, then throw me under the bus for doing what I was directed while denying any knowledge of giving such directions. So I learned and thought. The solution: after discussions with them, I would email a synopsis of what I thought I had been directed to do. The email was sent to the Boss, the Big Boss, the Biggest Boss and my union rep. I closed each and every email along these lines: the above is what I recall discussing on such a day at such a time. Please correct me if I have gotten anything wrong. The Boss and the Big Boss hated it, but as I was asking for verification, clarification and any needed correction in my understanding, there was nothing they could do. Kept me out of trouble.

    Your outdoor feed sounds similar to our weather on Friday. Typical autumn day for us. It’s always interesting seeing when and how your weather and our weather are similar at times in the spring and autumn. And the wind with Avalanche. Never seen the wind blow hard enough to pick up a dog of her weight. However, I have experienced winds powerful enough to “blow the fur off a dog” to put it in Montana parlance. 😉

    Glad they’re doing something to try to fix the bridge. You summed up a lot of the problem with roads decaying: too much speed. Not good for the roads, and unsafe also.

    Ah, Big Shoe was sentenced to 2 different forms of punishment for the wife swapping fiasco. First, he and the other 3 adults each had a long pole placed at the top of their shoulders with their wrists attached to them, then forced to parade around that way for a few days. The other 3 adults were banished from New Amsterdam for 90, IIRC. Big Shoe’s banishment was for a year. So he moved across the bay and never returned.

    We’ve been free from frost here so far. Some outlying areas have had some frost. That is supposed to change next week. I got the garden hoses drained and put away today. I should have the bulk of the garden “winterized” by the end of the weekend.


  35. @ DJ – I saw a book on our libraries “new” list, tonight.

    “Lettering on Wood, Paper,and Leather: A Pyrography Workbook.” (Irish.)

    Might be of interest. Lew

  36. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the article on Turkey’s beepocalypse. It’s not good. It interested me that ants also harvest what is known as honeydew from trees using other insects. And we thought that humans were the only farmers on the planet! The erosion of soils there is the real risk, but I heard that in some European countries, they’re now burning biomass for electricity. So timber, even burned timber, has economic value which we might not quite understand. The bees to my mind are sort of like the canary in the coal mine in that they are indicative of looming trouble. But really, nobody seems to care. I go into the big smoke of Melbourne, and insects are a rare sighting, and I’m guessing the folks there think it’s a great thing that there are few if any insects. I dunno about that.

    Far out! The rain is pounding on the roof of the house. It’s like a tropical downpour out there. Just poked my head out to check on whether the drains are holding up OK, and so far they seem to be. And oh goodie us, it looks like worse is yet to come over the next few days: Antarctic winds to bring unseasonal snow for parts of south-east Australia. It’s possible that snow will fall higher up near to the peak of the mountain range here.

    The plan is to get outside tomorrow and Monday and get some work done, but I dunno. It’s a long weekend here what with the public holiday on Tuesday for the big horse race. And I’ve put my foot down – no work on Monday.

    You and me both mate. Salaries and wages appear to me to have become detached from both reality and merit over the past few years. But then, that’s what expanding the money supply does. It’s exciting, but makes no sense whatsoever. When I was a kid, it wasn’t anywhere near this crazy.

    Your library plan was pretty good. Only those who understand the system, can play or exist within it. With the electshun (!) next month, work was proffered but the thought of the possibility of wearing a mask for maybe 16 hours and subjecting myself to potentially multiple RUT (!) tests, just left me feeling cold. The narrative has ended, and the folks excited about it still, have to let it go so that others can breathe.

    Restrictions upon working hours can be something of a barrier, and I like your style. When I decided to go the path of offering my professional services to the public (i.e. small business), the professional body slapped immediate income restrictions on me that no reasonable person could survive upon in ordinary circumstances. No wonder few people provide the services I do from my background. Hmm. Anyway, like you, I did a work around and picked the path least travelled. Only the brave, or foolish perhaps, thrive under such yokes? 🙂

    Man, that hurts as I worked as a manufacturing accountant back in the day and watched it all take place from a most personal first-hand perspective. The off shoring was a very sad experience, but people wanted good incomes and cheap stuff, and that was the price decided upon. It didn’t have my support, but it had popular support, as I’m guessing the same took place in your country? I’m of the opinion that that decision will come to be regretted if not now, at some point in the future.

    Hehe! Yes, we want pre-nup! 🙂

    Yeah, I sort of mentioned to you that I wasn’t sure whether I should or shouldn’t go, but we decided to go, and it would have been wrong not to do so. It was lovely to see the strong show of support for the bloke and his family. Both the Editor and I used to talk business with him, and we’d bounce ideas around and talk through strategies. We received discounts and were looked after. One idea we discussed in depth, we were all super excited about as it would have made his life easy. Anyway, reading between the lines, we inferred yesterday, that an old mate of his put the stymie on the idea. And in the last week, I spoke to him and asked him how it was all going. Turns out, he seems to have taken a much harder path the old mate possibly suggested instead, and let’s just say that when I spoke to him in the final week, he was angry, but not at me, but err, loyalty to a fault. The phrase says it all, doesn’t it? I’ve noticed with businesses, and any human enterprise for that matter, there is a point at which the whatever it is, grows beyond the ability of any one person to manage it all. Regrets, yeah, well, we all have them. It wasn’t my place to put my foot down. Choices were made. We’ll see what happens whether the unexpected new owner can take advantage of free assistance. Maybe. I want the place to continue, and there is a bit of self interest there, but hey, it takes a village…

    I spotted the young magpie this afternoon, about a 100ft up a very tall tree squawking at the parent magpie. The young magpie will probably be fine, maybe.

    No, I don’t think so, but then wombats have horrendous mating rituals. It was the sort of blood curdling call, that brings goosebumps and prickles the skin.

    A truly awful start to the day, and you have my sympathy. I used to have a neighbour who tenderised meat at about 6am every Sunday morning. The lady used to bash the daylights out of the roast. Really, was all that noise necessary?

    How did the timing go for the window blind dudes and Elinor? A nasty confluence of events if ever there was one. Stay safe, and keep out of harms way. 🙂 How’s Elinor going anyway?

    Fleas, what are these things? On the other hand, I’m aware of ticks and worms, so yeah, win on one hand, lose on the other.



  37. Hi DJ,

    Yes, like you, I also performed all of the maintenance on the old Datsun 1600 (your 510). You can’t really do that with newer vehicles. They’ve got these things here called computers, and you need to have another device which can read whatever it is that the computer says, and then tell the stupid thing that problems have been rectified. Back when carburettors, were real carburettors, life was simpler. 🙂 And to be honest, reliability wasn’t as good, but the things were cheaper and easier to maintain. And fuel economy wasn’t all that different.

    Exactly! Yes. And well done working that story out. In technical terms, that email is known as a file note. And when the poop hits the fan, as it does from time to time, the organised person can pull the file note out and point without any prejudice, that on such and such a day, this persons instructions was to… Mate, whenever there is trouble brewing, I make a file note and then save it so that it is easy to access at any future time. And I tell you truly, I have faced some awful folks asking hard questions about why something was done in such a way. Here he pulls out the file note and repeats: On this day, you said to…. Problems magically disappear under the guise of reality.

    What amazes me over the years is that people want to do dodgy stuff, and then pin the blame on the donkey. Best not be the donkey in that instance. And it is easy not to be that critter. File notes and documenting, is your friend. Like your style by the way. They were only trying to gain advantage at your expense.

    Stop it! I have this mental image of Montana as being a really quiet and rugged environment, but please save the dog fur! 🙂 I reckon autumn and spring weather is pretty similar too. Summers here are sometimes way hotter, and your winters are sometimes way colder, but otherwise, same, same. Of course there are outliers like the past three bonkers wet years. It even rained today, and today was forecast to be one of the better days weather wise. It’s exciting to think that the forecast is predicting rain every day for the next 28 days. I dunno what to make of that, but will endeavour to just muddle on through. A good year to move fruit trees. That’s my thoughts, although there may be some other thoughts. Not sure really!

    People are travelling too fast on that bridge, and so a small pot hole just got enlarged for no good reason. It was a bit of a shame because the pot holes ended up being filled and then patched up before I got a photo of the dirt mouse swallowing sized hole. Mind you, how long will the patches last? Dunno. Asphalt patches don’t seem to have that much longevity to them.

    I’d assumed that Big Shoe had instigated and then enacted the entire sordid affair? The other three were unfortunates, but then it is a truism that one must be careful of the people they associate with, lest they be brought low – as the 3 discovered. Being banished in those days would have had serious consequences. And Big Shoe decided that he’d had enough and skipped the country.

    How’s the winterisation of the garden going?

    Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, it looks set to get super cold here again. Plus rain, and more rain, and then real furry rain from Alpha Centauri! I’m not sure what that means… Far out!



  38. Yo, Chris – No one seems to care, except for the bee keepers. One interesting thing about the article was the young woman who is reforesting, by firing off “seed bombs.” In that green planet documentary, there was a bit where in an African country, they showed them being made. They’re surrounded by charcoal, both to fertilize, and keep predators off the seed. Whole classes of young students, go marching out with their bag of seed bombs, and sling shots. They fire them off in all directions. Looks like they were having a great time. Reminded me of our tree planting efforts, in the burned over areas, when I was in grade school.

    In this part of the world, you often hear “Stay dry,” or “Keep dry.” It’s our version of “Watch how you go.” 🙂 Looks like we might have our first frost on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Forecast is for 32F (0C). We’ll see. Then the overnight lows bounce back up to 40+F, again.

    In theory, I could have sued them for “unpaid overtime.” 🙂 . But I never even bothered to track that. I was just interested in racking up the hours toward retirement vesting.

    The income restrictions in your profession, just sound like more gatekeeping. It’s what happens when professions become profesionalized.

    You saw the offshoring, first hand. I knew what was happening second hand, and, like the people’s lack of interest in the disappearance of city insects, didn’t understand why more people weren’t getting excited. The investment bankers and financial investment firms, bought the old family firms. Loyalty bit the dust, and the mantra became “it’s only business.” Never mind the huge human toll.

    Maybe best back off. That old mate of his, might still be a fly in the ointment.

    Well, yesterday. The guys showed up and replaced my blinds. I also got a new fire detection / Co2 detector combo. It talks to you. They were short a blind, and said they’d be back “later.” Didn’t know if that was going to happen. Then the food box came. More on that later. Then I went to pick up Elinor. Went pretty smooth, except when we got back here, Elinor and her daughter were bickering. The guys came back and did put in the blind. Now I’ve got two days to get ready for the inspection, though I’ve been picking at this and that, all along.

    I didn’t keep a list of what was in the food box. Eggs, peanut butter, a lot of frozen meat. Some tinned fish and chicken. The surprise was, another 2 pound bag of pistachio nuts and a one pound bag of shelled Filbert / Hazel nuts. Cereal, shelf stable milk.

    Elinor seems ok, except for some mobility issues. Looks like she’s got caregivers, coming in. From a different agency, so, maybe better quality? She’s going to see her doctor, so, will get back on the meds that help with her anxieties. The hospital took them away. As they do.

    I don’t miss H, probably because she’s right next door. And, I still walk her three times a day. I’ll still take her down to the Club on Sunday mornings, and Tuesday morning for biscuits and gravy. I noticed when I went over to chat with Elinor awhile, last night, H planted herself in my lap and stayed there. I’m sure that will wear off. Lew

  39. @Lew
    Glad to hear Elinor is returning. Hope the blinds and her arrival go smoothly.

    “This might not have been necessary if he had paid any attention to what I said. But of course the woman doesn’t know what she is talking about.” I had to laugh at this. So often true.

    @Pam and Chris

    I envy having no TV. Doug is a big TV watcher if he doesn’t have any projects to do. His family was like that as well though my in-laws were very well read and were quite active throughout their lives.
    We were the last kids on the block to get a TV. My mom held out for a long time. Actually I would like one TV to watch DVDs. We have a rotating antenna and can get many stations but Doug wanted the satellite dish. However, I think I finally have him convinced that it isn’t worth the ever increasing cost and it may be going soon.


  40. Hi Chris,

    Just wanted to give a more positive update from here. There is a good possibility that my sister may be able to get a treatment that could help her considerably. She would have to get infusions in the hospital and then Medicare would cover it. The other, possibly better treatment, would not be administered in the hospital so would only be covered by a prescription plan which she doesn’t have.
    Today I dropped off the funds to Marty for his rent and he apologized for yelling and arguing with me last week. Of course, then he started to bring up some doctor from 2019 but I just held up my plan and said “not going there” and he stopped.

    I can’t believe your weather! We got a nice rain mid week and now it’s above normal for the next 10 days at least.


  41. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks for the update. Things had gotten quite bleak on a number of fronts. There doesn’t seem to be much understanding of the disease, so glad to hear that your sister can get some treatment. Retraining your gut flora and fauna is a monumental exercise for a person, and my understanding is that it takes many, many years to correct, and sometimes it ain’t possible. Hope she is OK, or at least stabilises.

    Oh my, but he’s a cheeky one! Two words: Good luck! 🙂 At least you two are back on speaking terms.

    Margaret, it’s not just you, I fail to believe the weather here too! Rain every single day sounds OK, until you have to experience it. Wow, you seem to be having a warmer than normal autumn? Crazy days, huh?

    The sun shone today, and it was quite nice. Don’t worry, it did rain in the early evening, with more to come on the radar. Moved some more fruit trees – ’tis the season for that job. 🙂

    Ouch! From down under, you can sort of forget how many channel options you have for TV. The signals here went to digital a few years ago and reception was bad before that, it’s abominable now. But then, it’s been over a dozen years since we’ve had TV, and we just don’t miss it. I’ll tell you a funny story about technology. The new Dirt Mouse Suzuki (which is now four years old) didn’t come with an outdoor air temperature thermometer (the former Dirt Mouse had one). At first I used to notice the lack, now I don’t really care. They tell me that habits can be changed in three weeks. Not sure what to make of the claim, but it could be true? 🙂



  42. Hi Pam,

    Lovely to hear that the drivers in your part of the world are polite and can navigate such an arrangement as a one lane bridge. The vast majority of people down here can do that too, and it’s pretty obvious what their intentions are. It’s actually only the very rare person who acts as though they’re on some particularly gruelling leg of the World Rally Championship which just happens to involve the one lane bridge over the little creek here – and they have to push the limits and test boundaries. I guess that’s life, huh?

    What a surprise, it’s raining outside! Yay!



  43. Hi Lewis,

    I read your comment about the bee keepers this morning, and then went outside with Ollie for a walk, and the sun was shining (don’t worry, it’s now raining again), and all you could hear were the various bird calls and the hum of insects. The city is really different on the senses, and it can be a bit jarring. Only a few bird species can make a go of living there, and insects are very rare. All the noise of nature, is replaced by the hum of humanity. And nobody seems to notice.

    The seed balls are an interesting technology. A very clever idea really. Hey, I’d enjoy that activity too, it would be super fun. Your Tillamook burn is no different to the sort of crazy as bushfires that sometimes occur down here too. Good to hear that you were involved in replanting as a kid, although it may not have been in an area which had anything to do with the Tillamook burn. Out of curiosity, do you recall if you were replanting the same species that existed prior to the burn?

    It’s raining quite heavily outside right now. Might adopt that ‘stay dry’ quip! Mate, if the shoe fits… 🙂

    That’s some frosty weather coming up for you. Stay warm! Today was actually a really delightful day (before the rain hit at least). We fixed up the seed racking in the greenhouse. For some unknown reason, we’d placed the shelving too high, and the Editor was having troubles peering into the trays to see what was going on. And I hadn’t understood that the huge timber lintel which runs the length of the greenhouse, would also block some of the sun on the seedling trays. Teething troubles, but easily corrected.

    Well yes, that’s a possibility about the hours, but then it depends upon what your goal was, and I reckon you kept your eye on the ultimate prize. Respect. Only those who know the system, can play the system. That’s how it works. Going hard on the lost hours would have seen you thrown out onto the streets with much reduced shifts. I’d have to suggest that would be a sub-optimal outcome for you – but you already know that.

    Exactly. The income restrictions placed upon me were a purely arbitrary restriction. It really operates from my perspective, to keep people in their places. Like you, I had to play the system just to do something different. The problem as I saw it, was that the people being protected, had an entirely different set of skills, but were trying to do the job. It’s not a good outcome for business.

    As an interesting side story, my grandfather was rather vocal about not letting what was happening with the off shoring, happen. It was so weird, because what we’ve kind of ended up with is a society which seems to be able to construct buildings and some infrastructure at an extraordinary cost, but when it comes to doing other things, like say making useful items which we need, we’re absolutely hopeless. It’ll all come to a bad end, you know. I’d heard that mantra too about it only being business. It’s not good.

    Yes, I agree. All the Editor and I can do is offer help. We’re the help! 😉 If they don’t take the help, I can’t make them and wouldn’t push that despite the consequences, which we’ll bear some costs if the business goes away. The old mate isn’t a local, so that may have an impact upon the outcome. I don’t really know. From what I’ve observed of people over the years, some can rise to the challenge when required. Others, not so much. I guess, much depends upon the people and circumstances. I expect something will happen – things will not continue as they are. That was a lovely way of putting it too: fly in the ointment. 🙂 I hear ya.

    When you say the new device talks to you, does it say things like: Lewis, someone’s nicked the battery? 🙂 Two days is plenty of time to prepare for the inspection, isn’t it?

    Was the peanut butter the sort with a film of oil on the surface to keep the atmosphere at bay? Ever since you let me know that the stuff could be made in a food processor, I just make a small batch each week. I probably should be growing the peanuts in the greenhouse? So far, no strawberries, but then the birds can get inside there, but not for very much longer!!! I have a plan to thwart their evil strawberry desires.

    Far out, frozen meat. You scored well. Last week, mince meat cost $17 for 2.2 pounds. Getting expensive, and I feed the stuff to the dogs and chickens over two days per week as a special treat. The chickens are dirty for the feed of meat. The nuts sound like another good score. Tis the season for them.

    Bickering, really? One would imagine that there was a certain level of gratitude for being home? Maybe I expect too much from my fellow human? Do they take them away? Elinor may have gone cold turkey during her stay there.

    All the same mate, H would have been like a little constant companion what with all her tricks and affectations. But yeah, H is only next door. And my gut feeling suggests that H may yet return to your care. I dunno about that, dogs know these things.

    Better get writing. Holy carp, it’s almost 9pm!!!!

    Fortunately for me, I wrote half of the essay last night. Should be super chill here, maybe, unless I don’t write anything… Ook!



  44. Yo, Chris – Well, let’s see. We planted those trees over 60 years ago so I remember … nothing. 🙂 Or, at least, not much. I’d guess we planted Douglas Fir. Whatever it was, it was mono-culture.

    As the sun moves, so will the lintel shadow. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to tell time by the shadow. Might be interesting to observe where it falls during the solstices.

    It will be interesting to see how the farm repair business shakes out. There’s news on the Frank the auto repair guy, front. Just over a month ago, there was an article in the newspaper, that power had been cut to the Yardbirds complex. Where Frank has his shop. Hadn’t heard anything since then. I mentioned to someone that it was time for me to take my truck in for it’s fall check-up. They said Frank (and the complex) still didn’t have power. He’s got a generator, but is just keeping the truck rental end of his business going. I’ll probably stop by and see what’s what, this week. The newspaper didn’t do a very good job of reporting what’s going on.

    Yes, two days is enough to prepare for an inspection, but what with all the maintenance / moving stuff around, a bit more complicated, this time. And, there’s always a glitch. I discovered yesterday, our dumpster is overflowing. And I’ve got some garbage to get out of here. So … I’ll have to put it in my truck, until the dumpster is empties, tomorrow morning. Which is the morning of the inspection. Even our night manager mentioned that he’s tired of inspections. I told him, “Now you know how we feel.” 🙂

    The peanut butter we get is not the natural stuff, with the oil on top. Though we do get an occasional jar. The stuff without the oil on top is hydrogenated peanut butter. I wouldn’t eat the stuff, but take it to the Club, as if someone chooses to eat it, it’s their look out. I am not the food police 🙂 . It’s funny, I often hear people say their kids won’t touch the natural peanut butters, because they think the oil is just weird. Or, people don’t like it, because it’s such a “chore” to stir the oil in. Oh, please.

    Rats in the chicken run and birds in the greenhouse. I just hope they don’t form an alliance. 🙂

    I eat so little meat, I end up taking it down to the Club. I’ve set up a box in one of the freezers and have put a note on the food shelf that there is frozen meat, available. It disappears.

    No getting around it, Elinor is a querulous old lady. Since coming home, I’ve had to draw a sharp boundary, as to what I am, and am not willing to do. Twice. Lew

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