Talk is cheap

It’s hard not to notice how emotive our current batch of leaders are. They’re always getting razzed up about some boring subject or other, then they emote. I don’t much care for that. The other day, our state leader appeared to be threatening jail time for journalists if they broke some rule or other. Not sure what that was all about, but he appeared riled-up to me with the look of barely suppressed anger. And if jail time was a prospect in just doing a job, would anyone ever do their job properly? I don’t think so. Anyway, seeing that response in action doesn’t fill me with confidence that if our leaders were ever confronted by an actual crisis, that they could keep their cool. And who wants to be lead by that?

Earlier in the year, Sandra and I went to an agricultural expo. During the expo we attended a workshop run by a guy who breeds and trains Kelpie dogs. Having two of that breed of working dog here, the workshop was of immense interest. During the workshop he handed a puppy to a small child (as you do!), and then proceeded to critique the kids interactions with the puppy.

As you’d imagine, the kid had a fun time and set to razzing the unsuspecting Kelpie puppy up. Turns out this is a bad thing for a working dog. The dog became over stimulated, was incapable of settling down and then wouldn’t take guidance. It was a bit of a disaster really. But the bloke made an important point.

After the workshop, the group headed out into an arena where the bloke put the young Kelpie pups he’d been training into action with a small flock of sheep. An older Kelpie dog sat on a platform watching the activities of the pups with the trainer and the sheep. It was an impressive display of self control for the older dog to just sit there.

It didn’t take long before the bloke gave the instruction for the older dog to get involved. Off the stand the older dog jumped, and into the fray. She immediately got to work with the sheep. It was an impressive sight to see the dogs working the sheep as a cohesive pack. They made no noise. There was no excited yipping or yapping, they just did what needed doing.

Working dogs in action

Not all of the pups were up for the job of herding sheep as directed by the trainer and older dog. One puppy in particular ran into the crowd and sought pats from the audience. That puppy sure was popular, but probably wasn’t much of a working dog.

After the display ended, the crowds dispersed, the dogs were put into cages. I had a brief chat with the bloke who bred and trained the dogs. I’d wondered about what happened to the Kelpie pup which ran into the crowd seeking pats. I even amusingly added: “That’s my kind of Kelpie”. Those dogs get sold off is what happens, and unsurprisingly, that’s how we came to have two of that breed of dog. Even at twelve weeks of age, you could tell that Ruby and Dame Plum had zero chance of making their fortunes as working dogs. They’re plenty good enough for us though.

Even so, all of the dogs here get training, structure, routines and calm leadership. That’s what they need, and that’s what they get. It’s taken a lot of effort to get to that point, and the dogs have both freedoms and obligations. They know what’s required of them, and I know that they know. When I call them to me, the instruction is calmly spoken. If there’s a lot of background noise, I’ll add a hand clap. But, there’s no point yelling (or emoting) at a dog like an enraged fish-wife from tales of yore, the dog will think you’ve gone crazy, and then promptly ignore you. What they want is calm leadership, then the dogs will put their trust in you.

Over the years in business I’ve experienced and employed plenty of different leadership styles. In my last role in big business I was asked to take charge of a team where the former manager had allegedly been involved in what is technically known as a defalcation incident. Not good. Anyway, at the time, the team was known to me as was I to them. However at the very first meeting to discuss the unfortunate situation and the new leadership, the team acted like a bunch of feral animals with a lady who was a particularly excitable ringleader.

Their behaviour upset me, but I gave them nothing, and simply walked out of the meeting. Went straight to the owner of the business, and said of the ringleader that: ‘she has to go’, and received immediate support for the decision. The trouble maker of the group had unfortunately been on friendly terms with the former manager. In the meantime and much to my surprise, the team had not left the meeting. I returned, sat down and as calmly as I could say to the trouble maker: ‘this is your last day, pack your stuff, you can go’. Then we all calmly got on with the meeting.

That’s what leadership looks like. Leaders are not in that role to be your mates, or provide emotional support, but neither should they display their fear of reporters by possibly getting angry and threatening them. Leaders have a job to do, and that’s to lead. And looking around, I don’t see too many leaders.

The weather has been quite warm this past week. Don’t fear, there have still been regular rain and storms.

A storm travels along the valley

On one day this week, the weather warmed up to 30’C / 86’F and it felt nice to be finally warm. The day produced a lovely sunset.

A warm day ended with a lovely sunset

The warmth on that day was just enough to germinate the seed of some of the heat loving plants in greenhouse (Eggplants and Chilli’s). However, there are still cold spells in the forecast for the next week, so I dare not plant the seedlings outside.

Most of the seeds in the greenhouse have now germinated

The other thing the warmth has achieved, is to spur on the growth of the fruit trees in the orchard. The shady orchard, which is the oldest, now resembles a rainforest the trees have grown so much of late.

The shady orchard has grown prolifically

The sunny orchard is a few years younger, but still growing strongly. This week I managed to use the brush cutter (line trimmer in US parlance) to cut back the grass away from any of the trunks in that orchard (which was pretty much all of the trees). Grass really does successfully out-compete fruit trees for minerals and water from the soil.

The sunny orchard is also growing well

In the above photo on the right hand side a large brown-ish shadow can be seen. That is a Manchurian Pear tree which split and fell over in a storm the previous week. All of the smaller branches (less than an inch in diameter) were cut away from the fallen tree and fed into the scary old wood chipper. I love using that old machine and it’s a beast of a thing.

A large portion of the fallen tree was chipped up into mulch

The mulch produced from the chipping process was collected and used to feed the new hops and passionfruit garden bed.

The mulch from the fallen pear tree was fed to this new garden bed

Observant readers will note that the garden bed now has a neat rock wall. We also covered over the exposed clay in front of the rock wall with a load of crushed rock with lime. The middle vine in the above photo has begun climbing up the steel reinforcing mesh. No doubts about it, hops are related to Triffids.

For those who are curious, it looks as though the Manchurian Pear split near to the graft. More experienced folks in the readership may have something further to add in this regard?

The split in the Manchurian Pear base is clearly visible

The remainder of the fallen tree was cut up and either converted into firewood, or burnt off. I used one of the ride on mowers with a poly trailer to remove what remained of the tree, and at one stage I almost got bogged in the paddock despite the ride on having a locking differential and tractor tyres (tires in US speak).

Deep tyre tracks show just how wet the ground is here

In other work this week, we began dismantling the old raspberry enclosure. The enclosure didn’t work well because the walking space between the rows was too narrow so that during the summer months it was almost impossible to walk through the thorny canes to harvest the ripe berries. Several months ago we relocated about sixty canes, and they’re all doing fine. The fencing materials for the enclosure weren’t cheap and can be put to a better use. So we dismantled the fencing and recovered all of the materials.

An electric jackhammer broke up the concrete supporting the posts

An electric jackhammer was used to break up the concrete which supports the dozen or more timber posts used in the fencing. Then the timber posts had to be lifted out of the ground. That was hard work.

Timber posts were then lifted out of the ground

The work was almost finished when the heavens opened and the rain bucketed down. We ended up getting quite wet and cold, and hopefully all the equipment was undamaged by the rain.

The old and now unfenced raspberry enclosure

The machine attachment I wrote about last week arrived. It’s a plough blade attachment for one of the power wheelbarrows. We have a specific future job for which it might do well.

The power wheelbarrow can now be used as a plough

The King Parrots have proven that they have impeccable taste because they’ve taken a liking to the radio aerial on the new Dirt Rat Suzuki Jimny. Can’t blame them…

A cheeky King Parrot enjoys the view from the Dirt Rat Suzuki

The rain combined with the warmer weather has brought out all manner of critters on the farm. The other evening I spotted this Pobblebonk Frog who was clearly out hunting spiders.

A Pobblebonk frog out hunting spiders and other insects

And there are plenty of spiders for the frog to eat, and do we want to find out whether they’ll kill us with their poisons? Hopefully the frogs keep the spider numbers in check.

A very healthy looking garden spider. Yummy frog snack

Spring Produce update:

Apples have produced a bumper crop
As have Pears
Asian Pears grow really well here too
There are very few stone fruit due to the cold and wet conditions, but this Apricot looks promising
This pink flowering Strawberry hybrid is producing some berries

Onto the flowers:

A Granny’s bonnet
The Horse Chestnut has added colour to the flowers this week
It’s Rhododendron time, and they’re loving the conditions
And the Rhodies are getting bigger

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 13’C (55’F). So far this year there has been 1,278.4mm (50.3 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1,225.0mm (48.2 inches)

44 thoughts on “Talk is cheap”

  1. I think that you have the room to start with wood and mushroom “plugs”– dowel like bits of wood that you drill a hole for and put into the proper kind of tree. I’ve used these guys: but then I live in Alabama and we don’t have many eucalyptus. Surely Australia has its own mycologists? I haven’t had great results with my plugs, but I did enjoy the lion’s mane (my current favorite) and shiitake that I did manage to grow.

    As decomposers they are a very different critter from the sunlight harvesters we gardeners have spent lifetimes learning to grow. They are tasty and better if “home grown” YMMV

  2. Yo, Chris – I finally trigged to you’re occasionally hiding secret musical messages, in your week’s blog title. “Talk is Cheap.” Nothing comes to mind. Must be one of those hip and with it young folks pieces of music.
    Or, not.

    Here, reporters occasionally go to jail for refusing to reveal their sources. Many are arrested while attempting to report on this or that riot or demonstration.

    That was really interesting about the working dogs, at the ag expo. I do hope the puppies that wash out, are sold on. And that the trainer wasn’t just making you feel good. Your dogs might not have measured up as working dogs, but, they sure are a good fit for Fernglade Farm. And the Editor and you. May all pups be as lucky.

    I never yell at H. Or make fun of her. We have very adult conversations. 🙂

    You drove me to the rabbit hole, to find out what a defalcation incident, is. I see. Financial fraud or identity theft.

    The storm and sunset pictures are beautiful. Calendar worthy.

    Tell us the filthy part. Which seeds haven’t germinated, in the greenhouse?

    Brush cutters, and line trimmers aren’t quit the same thing. At least here. Though there’s lots of crossover. Brush cutters usually have a blade, and are used for more heavy duty jobs.

    The shady orchard is really pretty. The long and winding path. The Beatles, ear worm, there.

    Short work (and far more fun) of the Manchurian Pear, and a more arduous slog for the old raspberry enclosure.

    You’ll be able to move tons of snow, with that plow attachment. 🙂 Looks like someone is trying to climb over the back and into the hopper.

    Maybe the King Parrot will improve reception? That spider probably crawled out of a bunch of bananas. Looks like you have a good start on this years fruit harvest. Such potential.

    The Granny’s Bonnet is a real knockout. I hadn’t heard of the flower, before. I see that it is a type of Columbine. Lew

  3. Hi Ann,

    Many thanks for the link, and the photos were delightful. I agree with you regarding the space, but nobody really knows as to whether they are toxic or not, or they know and won’t tell, which is also a possibility with the local varieties of fungi. And I regularly discover native truffles in the soil too. But they’re all off limits.

    From what I understand of mushroom hunting, down here it is usually done in pine forests, and all of those trees and their mycology are imports from overseas and yeah, they’re known.

    I’ve seen the inoculated dowel plugs for sale, but have not tried them, and so appreciate the suggestion.

    Never tasted a lions mane mushroom before, and shiitake are very tasty, so that’s a good recommendation.

    That’s funny, and a great point, they are different aren’t they? Someone told me long ago that mushrooms are closer to animals than plants. And most things taste better if they’re home grown. Not much beats fresh harvested produce.

    It’s still raining, so hopefully the fungi in the soil are getting some air?



  4. Hi Lewis,

    Nice one, and yes, you are most correct. The title was a sneaky music reference. You’ve probably never heard of the guy, but here it is (there’s a bit of talk until 1:44) Chet Faker – ‘Talk Is Cheap’

    That’s pretty rough about being jailed for not revealing sources or reporting on a demonstration, at some point such folks look a lot like political prisoners. That sort of fear stinks of institutional weakness.

    Yeah, the puppies that don’t work out do get sold on. However, it is notable that the breed is over represented in dog shelters. I think a lot of people get the breed, and don’t quite understand how high energy they can be. They need to run, much like I need to work! I tend to hold the opinion that dogs and their owners need to sort of be matched in temperament and energy levels, not exactly, but it has to be a relationship that can work. But then, that belief denies random chance, and sometimes some dogs, like the ‘Old Fluff’ I used to know, she was something else, and you experience different things with such dogs. She ended up being a really good mate, and she’d hang around whilst I worked. Ollie is heading in that direction, which I’m pretty pleased about.

    Good to hear, H sent me an email recently attesting to your good character. 🙂 But yeah, dogs don’t much like being yelled at, not because they’re worried about what you’re saying, they just think anyone yelling is crazy as.

    Oh that incident. Yes, it was bad, and afterwards in that job I felt like something like a healer and setting them on the right path. Eventually I had to leave that workplace, that was hard, but the business was a hungry monster, always demanding more.

    Thanks! The new (second hand) camera really captures the colours, and the storm with the sunset in the background was an amazing scene. Nature sure can put on a show can’t she? Oh, and it rained here again today, quite a lot at one point. More floods in the state and elsewhere on the continent, but we seem to have dodged the worst of it.

    It was the coriander. What is wrong with those seeds? 🙂

    Ah, usually down under the machines can run either line or a cutting head. I tend to run line as I wouldn’t want to slip over using one of the cutting heads. Ouch!

    It really is starting to look like a rainforest in the shady orchard. The kiwi fruit vines are climbing into the fruit trees. Must be related to a Triffid. A lot of apples and pears are on the trees this year. We’ll see how many get left after the parrots efforts.

    Man, it hasn’t snowed here for two years now, and who knows what the future holds in that regard? As I said, I’ve got a job for that attachment, but time will tell if it’s any good or not. Maybe it will work. Dunno. The gloves on the machine were pretty funny. That was unintentional, but amusing all the same. Cousin It, or some such creature of the night is probably trying to pinch the machine.

    The Granny’s Bonnet’s are really lovely plants, and they happily self seed. A local garden here – which isn’t open to the public – has a huge variety of them, and that’s where it came from. All manner of colours.

    It’s totally cool with me, and of course leaves more coffee for myself. Yes, it is a touch of self interest, but what of that? 🙂 The tea camellia in the greenhouse seems to be doing OK, and has responded well to extra water now that it seems to be warming up, although tomorrow will be a cold day here. Brr. There’s just not enough leaves to harvest any for tea… Glad to hear you sorted out your stash of tea.

    Oooo, yuk! Haven’t found a spider in a banana, but have encountered that dread fungus. Horrid looking mess.

    Ah, yes, Paul Stamets, why did that name not pop into my head when mushrooms were mentioned. Thanks! Yes, the basics is what I kind of need, like really basic and don’t miss any details, even if the author thinks it unnecessary. I’m sure you’ve encountered books that purport to be instructional, and yet leave steps out, because apparently everyone knows about those steps? Really?

    Did Elinor make it home today?



  5. Hello Chris
    Superb photos, one can really dwell on them for a while.

    I have tried those plugs to grow mushrooms and had no luck at all.

    Elder daughter in Middleton south of Adelaide has just had tremendous rain. Someone above the area had an illegal dam and it burst. Daughter’s house is off the ground so is alright but her studio is a mess. At the moment she is helping people whose homes were flooded.

    My internet and landline phone went out on Saturday. Obviously my internet is now on but the phone has an horrendous crackle. Engineer coming out tomorrow and no doubt (as usual) he will try to suggest that the problem is at my end. It never is.

    We have the most colourful Autumn that I have ever seen in this country as there are many red leaves. Usually nothing here turns red.


  6. Yo, Chris – I quit liked the patter, before Chet Faker launched into his song. I thought “Chris sounds like that.” 🙂 Although your videos (bread) are more … gentle and off hand. Don’t want to scare the punters!

    Sometimes, when someone wants to know where I heard something, I say. “Can’t reveal my sources. If I do, they tend to dry up.” “Political prisoner” is thrown around, quit a lot, these days. “Do the crime, do the time.”

    “They” also say, masters end up looking like their dogs. A look into the rabbit hole, “Dogs that look like their owners?” is a hoot. Check out the images. There’s some interesting articles there. Also some on do dogs take on the personalities, of their owners.

    It rained there, again? How unusual! 🙂

    You sly dog. Coriander. Also known as the (dreaded) Cilantro. Which can be a nice herb, but I think some chefs really overdo it. OK! We know you’re hip and with it! Lay off the Cilantro! That reminds me, on the library “new” list, last week, was the annual collection of food writing. I should see it in a couple of weeks. “The Best American Food Writing, 2022.” Last year, as I remember, a good deal of it was about the lockdowns. At least, that’s what sticks in memory. I suppose this year, there will be a good deal about getting and retaining staff. Food costs, etc.. But there’s always a good bit about food (rather than the selling of it), trends, and such. Sometimes, it gets a bit twee.

    The Club is gearing up for the big, annual Thanksgiving feed. Two turkeys and a ham, provided by the Club. The rest is potluck. I usually show up about an hour after it kicks off. Pick through the leavings when the mob has passed. One turkey will be traditionally baked, the other deep fried (speaking of trends). Out in the parking lot.

    If the local garden is not open to the public, how did you get the Granny’s Bonnet? Midnight raid? Like “Mission Impossible?”

    Some cooks, when pressed for a recipe, leave an ingredient out. Or sometimes, it’s just an oversight. When I’m thinking of a new recipe, sometimes I’ll look at half a dozen, just to see where they are similar, and where different.

    Ah, the rabbit hole. I saw a recipe for banana cookies (biscuits), the other day. While looking at those, I ran into something called “Cookie Run: Kingdom.” Turns out there’s an on-line game that’s a “mobile, endless running game,” based on the folk tale The Gingerbread Man. Who knew? Somehow, baking biscuits in the real world, has more appeal.

    Elinor? Got me. I haven’t turned on my phone, or checked my messages, in three days. I gave the pup a bath yesterday, just in case. But, she needed one, anyway. Lew

  7. Hi Chris,
    If you don’t mind me asking a few questions, is that a Guttos brand power barrow from Somerville?
    Which model and an idea on how much they cost would be appreciated.
    Does it have the option of the tow ball ?

    I am in awe with the amount of work you and Sandra seem to get completed and…. you have time for a well executed blog as well.
    Many thanks

  8. Hi Kelvin,

    Welcome to the discussion!

    ‘Tis indeed. You’ll have to contact Shane for pricing if he’s still around, it’s been a number of years now. He’s a good bloke and I have nothing but praise for the machine. As far as I’m aware, the model is similar to a Paddock brand and also a Scintex brand. Those folks are easy for you to find and get pricing for, and as far as I’m aware they’ve both been around for years. Good luck!

    Thanks! 🙂



  9. Hi Inge,

    Thank you and your words are high praise. The sunset with the storm was particularly striking. The colours were superb, and also goes to show just how much particulate matter is floating around in the atmosphere.

    Truth to tell, I’ve tried mushroom plugs before too, but the fault with the process lay with me as I had not kept the logs damp enough. It’s difficult to keep water up for such things if the summer weather should turn hot and dry. Hard decisions have to be made during those times. I’d read about a commercial mushroom grower who’d set up their business in an old disused brick lined railway tunnel, and they had great success. The option of digging back into the hillside and creating a sort of root cellar and mushroom growing arrangement is something which I’ve toyed with. At this stage there are however more pressing projects, but that option is not off the table.

    Oh my gawd! The rains in that part of the country were horrendous, and when they eventually reached here it was something of a miserable cold wet day. Even today was similar, and last I checked it was 37’F outside. The fruit on the trees is not going to like that temperature one bit. I’m glad to hear that your daughters house was OK, and approve of her good sense, as I too am a believer that houses should sit above the ground – although construction techniques these days ensure that the opposite is true. I’d been reading about a dam in that part of the world which had been at risk of failure, and it’s not good and hope it was not that dam, but even so any dam failing is bad for those underneath it. Glad to hear that your daughter and hopefully also her family, is doing OK. In such challenging times, neighbours pull together.

    Haven’t you had ongoing problems with the land-line connection at times when the weather gets very wet? Keeping electronics dry is a good way to ensure of their longevity. Unfortunately this is not always the case, and corrosion can become a problem after say, err, telephone pits become inundated.

    Inge, I tell you truly, I spent an hour and a half on paid work today where someone else had acted (what appeared to me to be carelessly) just so, and caused all manner of strife. People get so confused, a person cannot have a relationship with a large corporate entity, although that’s a hard lesson for people to have to learn.

    Hope the crackling phone problem gets sorted, and I must say the response seems pretty rapid. It is possible that like here, they may eventually put you on wireless connection?

    Lovely to hear about the reds in your forest as winter approaches. Apparently, the process is something of a mystery. And leaf change here every year is different. Sometimes it goes on a bit long for me due to the incessant crowds over in the more fashionable end of the mountain range. Whatever the case may be, the climate wind is changing, that’s for sure.



  10. Hi Lewis,

    The patter was pretty good, and Aussie As! 🙂 Don’t think I’ve ever been asked what percentage of good is bad, but it is an intriguing question when you think about it a bit. And the answer was given in the video as 60% (probably wouldn’t want to see the magic number of only 42% good, huh?) One of those presenters is still at the radio station and sounding better than ever, with a new co-host. They’re a great team those two. But thanks! I have a very youthful sounding voice and I’m cool with that, but at the top end of town, they’d probably prefer an octave or two lower! It’s funny but presentation does count for something in that heady air, and being on the leaner side of the continuum there were times I could see it in their eyes: He looks a bit underfed, is he gonna eat us if we turn our backs on him? Hehe! Like one of those horror stories where an aircraft crashes into a remote mountain range, and what to eat becomes more than a casual and passing dilemma?

    That’s good, I like that reply (he says taking notes). Gives a bit of mystery as to just what connections do you have access to? Always wise not to reveal sources. Yeah, well that’s true the phrase does get thrown around, but all the same, there are some genuine political prisoners. We’re not the nice folks we imagine ourselves to be, and some notable whistle blowers have been treated rather harshly (from my perspective) by the authoritas. You can’t fight city hall, their pockets after all are deeper. Speaking of which, the Editor and I were discussing defamation cases the other day (just casually not for any real reason) and from what we’ve observed is that the costs are horrendous and unknown, but all you know is that they’re not going to be good.

    Hehe! That’s true about dogs and their masters, although I have over the years noted some people choosing aspirational outcomes if such were always the case. 😉 The physical side of the story is less likely than the personality side. Oh yeah, personality can rub off on a dog for sure. And some folks create dogs that are monsters, but yeah, it’s not hard to imagine how that story came to be. Dogs appreciate leadership, and in a household where they get no boundaries or limits, they really can go feral in the resulting power vacuum. I’m not into that, but I’ve noticed that some people just seem to hope for the best with their dog whilst not understanding that it takes consistent work to sort out who’s the boss. When the two Kelpie’s hit this household, I hadn’t appreciated just how high energy they were. But we all adapted.

    That’s funny. Yes, it rained here again today. I’m noticing something of a pattern, aren’t you? 🙂 And far out, it’s 37’F outside right now and barely got warmer than 45’F today. What a crazy year climate wise. Hopefully this sudden Antarctic cold snap doesn’t trash the apple and pear crop? The stone fruit crop is done, there’s no getting around it. I’m thinking the berries might make up for the loss, maybe.

    Ah, well that’s news to me. I’d never heard of the plant name Cilantro as a substitute name for Coriander. Anyway, the seeds have not germinated, might have to get a punnet of seedlings. Dunno, it seems like the right time of year to get the seeds started. Maybe I’ve just got a bad batch of seeds.

    That wouldn’t surprise me at all if that was the core theme of the book on the hospitality industry. I’ll be interested to hear what you have to say about it, in a few weeks time. From all that I hear about that industry, staff are very hard to get and then retain, but that is also true of many other industries which are having similar troubles. Well, the book is probably written by people in the industry, for people in the industry? Maybe?

    On a reading front, I’m nearing the two thirds mark in Jane Eyre, and I’m getting into the story now. The Bronte sisters are masters at providing descriptions, and I do love the use of the old fashioned word: ‘situation’, as in looking for one. A delightfully understated way to put things. We’ve all been there.

    That sounds like a great feed the Club is putting on. Well I never, turkey from what I know of the meat is a very large bird. You’d hope the deep fryer cooked the insides? I’m a bit dubious of pink under-cooked poultry meats. Best avoided for ongoing good health reasons, but who knows, what doesn’t kill them, may only make them stronger! 🙂 Just kidding, I’m sure they know what they’re doing. Personally, I’d stick to the baked turkey.

    Ah ha! An astute question, yeah. The garden in particular is in the valley directly below here. It’s a lovely garden and was opened specially for when I was part of the local garden seed club. It used to be a nursery specialising in Fuchsias quite a number of years ago I believe. The Editor had been there when it operated as a nursery. Someone in that club once remarked to me that all the best gardeners were thieves. Not sure what the lady was trying to imply! It seemed to be a slur on all of our good characters. 🙂

    A wise strategy, and in these interweb days it’s much easier to get ingredient lists and reliable instructions for recipes. We won’t speculate upon the motivations of those whom deliberately leave out an ingredient (or add unnecessary ingredients), or make the recipe appear more difficult than it otherwise would be.

    Online games, he says backing away from the subject uncomfortably. I lost a lot of mates to those sorts of games along time back. The images of the game were quite amusing and very colourful. And I agree. Made a batch of Anzac biscuits earlier today, and the baking not only warmed the house, it smelled pretty awesome too.

    It’s now 35’F outside. Yay for us! Must have done something bad in a past life… Better go put some more firewood in the wood box.

    Yeah, sometimes you have to switch off the things. I plan to do exactly that over the Christmas break. Must have at least one continuous week off paid work (the first such in three years), otherwise my brain may get deep fried. And imagine what would happen if the brain wasn’t properly cooked through? I’d be very grumpy having to deal with less than my full faculties, but then would I even know? I’m not asking for that much with the week. Hopefully no clients sees this as some sort of personal challenge to overcome. Yikes, what a thought! I’ve been reading too much Jane Eyre of late. Might go for something a bit lighter for my next book.

    Go H, and I do hope that the little lady was well behaved?



  11. Yo, Chris – I stopped by the veg store, this morning, to pick up bananas. And got a hand that had seven bananas! Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket? Someone must have slipped up. 🙂 Biscuits and gravy were very good, this morning. H was naughty. I had to give her a time out, take her out on the veranda, and give her a good talking to. Begging and climbing up people’s legs. Won’t fly.

    Good vs bad. Somehow or another, your machinery came to mind. Car, etc.. At what point do they slip from good to bad? Economics factor in.

    Some men work at pitching their voices lower. I think one can even take lessons. Probably wrecks hell on the vocal cords.

    Or your wagon train gets bogged down in the snow, because you were frittering away and started on the trail, too late in the year.

    A bit of mystery fits in with my witness protection schtick. 🙂

    Yup. There are certainly real political prisoners. It’s when someone gets a parking ticket, and claims to be a political prisoner, that they get the eye roll.

    LOL. Rain is a constant here, in the winter. Hardly worth commenting on, unless it really gets out of hand. Silver lining. A lady from the east coast once commented that most of the women out here had really nice complexions. Due to the moisture.

    “Best Food Writing” has two or three editors (I don’t know how they’re picked), who comb magazines, blogs, websites, to pick out the most interesting or informative articles. So it’s really a mixed bag. In the back, there’s always a short bio of each author. Which is always interesting.

    There was a “reality” TV show, that had a young man who was referred to as “The Situation.” Kind of a lad. Now, I never watched the show, but these things tend to percolate through the popular culture. Maybe I saw a magazine cover, while waiting in the grocery line. Usually I wonder, “Who are these people?”

    The Fuchsias reminded me, that when I worked at an antique mall, about every six months we’d be hit by a gaggle of folks from the Fuchsia Society. They were rabid for anything with a Fuchsia on it. Everything from tea towels to high end art pottery. Always a good day when they showed up. Always trying to one-up one another.

    Garden thieves are a mixed bag. Great for spreading species around the world. As long as they don’t wipe out a species, in nature.

    I talked to my Idaho friends, last night. She’s been asked to be on their town library board. They have quit a nice little library. It’s an independent, stand alone. They’re going to need a new “librarian”, pretty soon. Hmmm. Now how does a town of 850 people, pull that off?

    I also talked to Elinor’s daughter. She didn’t come home, yesterday. She said Elinor had been moved to another room, and had had a couple more “spells.” Whatever that means. And that she’d be home in a “few more days.” I told her I didn’t want to pick up Elinor from the hospital, again. She said she didn’t know why Elinor called me, when she had so many other options. Who knew? We speculated it was because I brought along the dog.

    And, in News of the World … sometime in the very near future, the world population will hit 8 billion. Steve Jobs’ (fruit computing) worn out old Birkenstocks sold at auction for $218,000. Roberta Flack (an old favorite of mine) has ALS and won’t be able to sing, again. And, finally … rats!

    Maybe they can keep rhythm, but can they dance? Lew

  12. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, top score with the bananas! And curious minds want to know, did you end up with other lucky wins? They do say good things come in threes. And anecdotally, I’d say there’s some sort of basis to that scheme, of course my maths skills aren’t that great. Due to my day job, numbers tell me different stories than what other people may see when confronted by the same digits.

    Are you being intentionally funny suggesting that someone slipped up? Oh, that’s good, and I bow to your superior word smithing skills. Thanks for the chuckle.

    Were you in any danger of being roped into the cooking process this morning for the biscuits and gravy? Your abilities to dodge additional responsibilities may be put to the ultimate test there.

    And H possibly needs to learn the gentle art of discernment – as in, you only beg for a feed of biscuits and gravy when the certainty of reward is guaranteed. In your next talk with H, (if I maybe so bold as to offer her some advice) suggest that she attempt a more subtle ruse on potential biscuit and gravy donors. Better still try this: H! Are you listening? Get in a bit closer to the screen. There. That’s better. Now, try this strategy next time when dealing with unknown biscuit and gravy benefactors. Pull sad doggie face number seven. Yes, I know it’s hard, but you have to do this for Lewis’s future good reputation with the Club. So, yeah, try sad doggie face number seven and exert the thought at the potential donor: Me, hungry. You can satisfy the hungus. Try that next time and report back. Hope H is a diligent student. 🙂 Sir Scruffy, who I shall point out was the most intelligent dog I’ve yet encountered, would have had all of the Club feeding him. That is the gold standard of excellence which H may one day aspire to.

    Oooo, man, you’ve got me there with the machinery metaphor. You’re right, at some point economic sensibilities is challenged by reality. Hey, how’s this for a title: Economic sense and sensibilities?

    I have to agree about wrecking vocal chords that way. And I ignored such issues when at the big end of town, however, I had to also learn to accept that the issues were there and couldn’t be worked around. In reading Jane Eyre, it is not difficult to observe that social station and the class system is never far from view. Like Jane, I’m an over educated working class bloke. It was their mistake to educate me in the first place. 😉

    Holy carp, what a nightmare scenario of getting off to a late start in the year on such a journey. Interestingly, that story is much more relevant these days than most people would credit. But, no matter.

    Yes, of course that is true about the parking ticket types. There is a disabled car park spot right out the front of the local general store and I’ve noticed that it is usually the tourists who abuse this probably necessary chunk of infrastructure. The things I’ve seen… A month or so ago, the local council operated health service ran a small sized bus up to the general store. A number of older ladies exited the small bus, and as I was outside enjoying my book and coffee in the cool climate quietude (people were a bit scared of the cold weather), I gallantly opened the front door for them, and you know mate, sometimes it’s the little things in life which people appreciate. There was a lot of giggling, but they looked like they were having a fun day out. I dunno about the whole grand gesture thing.

    True, you do live in a remarkably similar climate when it comes to rainfall. Hey, I had the awful thought today: What happens when summer does sort of eventually arrive and it hasn’t rained for three days – am I going to freak out at the dry spell? As you can imagine, it rained again today. And when I woke this morning, outside was 34’F. Not a bad effort for two weeks out from the official beginning of summer. My head may explode – Scanners style – at this bonkers weather.

    That’s probably true about the complexions. I heard a dermatologist from your country once said that they could tell a person who lived in this country due to the sun damaged skin. After all, we are physically closer to the sun during summer than you guys. A lot of extra radiation from that giant fusion reactor in the sky.

    Ah! Oh, that is interesting, and also it alludes to the deliciousness of random chance in the choice of author for the collection. I will be very curious as to hear what you have to say about the book.

    It’s a complicated question, after all two friends put themselves on Grand Designs Australia for their epic award winning house, and I dunno, neither the Editor or I (who can be seen on that episode) have the cojones to put ourselves out there in that style. I can’t say for sure what would motivate a person to do so. I’d be worried that during the construction process things were going a bit awry and that would be the footage, not all the majority of times things went smoothly. It’s funny you mention this issue because I’ve been thinking about it of late. Outside of this blog and one or two other websites, you wont find me, and I don’t do anti-social media (peoples command of the English language being rather poor and misunderstandings so easily developing). Mostly I kept a low profile from family because some had err, problematic aggressive tendencies, and they’re all dead now. Makes for a more pleasant experience overall really.

    Lewis, milk them for everything! Who knew Fuchsia’s could be so complicated?

    The first rule of Fernglade: Don’t talk about the location of the orchids. Second rule… 🙂

    A town of 850 people, that’s potentially technically known as unpaid work.

    Oh my gawd! Lewis, the news is frankly not good. Brace yourself.

    I’d read that about the news. Eight thousand million sounds far more impressive. One of the fascinating side issues with that news story is that serious people are pointing to some sort of peak of ten thousand eight hundred million, before decline sets in. I have strong doubts that such a number will be reached. The issues surrounding feeding that many people were breezily reported as being super-easy. Au contraire my fine reporting friends, me thinks not, but hey, what do I know of such matters? When reading that story I heard the whisper of a long deceased farmer peering out at the strangeness and saying which sounded a lot like: I don’t see too many folks ’round here with dirt under their fingernails. Not sure what he was going on about. 🙂

    That’s not good about the ALS and Roberta Flack. What a voice. It’s not gardeners who are thieves, it’s time that is.

    Rats are more intelligent than we give them credit for. I’ve attacked and been attacked by them. Not to be taken lightly.



  13. Hi, Chris!

    What a delightful tale – you know how I love dog stories! I would say that it is never a good idea to razz any kind of puppy. You have the perfect home for Plum and Ruby and, of course, they are still working dogs – one doesn’t become a Dame for nothing. The work is just a bit different than what they were bred for. More well-balanced!

    True leaders are easily recognizable.

    The storm photo and sunset photo are super.

    I had brought in a fairly large volunteer tomato to possibly overwinter it in the room we use as a “greenhouse”, but I see that it has blight and I do not need to encourage that. In fact, that is a very bad sign as we have suffered a great deal from tomato blight for the last few years.

    Possibly mulch around the base of the fruit trees? Maybe you just have too many trees to do that?

    Do you expect the Manchurian Pear to grow back? Is the graft a weak spot?

    What a precious attachment . . .

    You have a very good start to the summer fruit.

    Thanks for the flowers, especially the rhodies. Like Lew, I think the charming Granny’s Bonnet looks like a columbine.


  14. @ Lew:

    My mother is mostly deaf, but she can hear lower voices better, so I have trained myself to speak in a lower voice.


  15. Yo, Chris – No other lucky wins. Other than waking up in the morning and breathing in and out. 🙂

    No, I wasn’t roped into making the biscuits and gravy. Other than being a consumer. And commissary person. Yes, H needs to work on her facial expressions. Maybe I should send her to drama school? Less emoting and more … whatever it is actors do, when they convey a lot with an expression. H’s command of the English language is pretty good. I’ll pass along the words of advice. Though I think some of the nuances get lost in translation. Or, she chooses not to understand. 🙂

    Economic Sense and Sensibility. Jane Austen, might sue. Though probably not as it seems titles fall outside of copyright concerns.

    I’ve seen articles that seem to think the ideal CEO is tall, has a great head of hair and a deep voice. Applies to presidents, too, I think. Though cunning, ratty little guys also get in there to pull the levers of power.

    Yes, it’s the little things, when it comes to civility. Those small kindnesses that cost nothing.

    Yes, I’d say it’s about 72 hours, before people start complaining about current weather conditions, and yearning for whatever went on prior. Seems to be universal. I suppose it falls in the realm of “How soon they forget.” 🙂

    Well, if you’re friends ever go to sell The Big Shed, they might get a few more quid declaring, “As Seen on “Grand Designs – Australia.” Maybe. I see the house used in the (now) Christmas classic “A Christmas Story,” is on the market. I read an article a couple of months go, about how difficult it is, for people that live in famous houses or neighborhoods that have become known through movies. Sometimes, they have to post reminders. “People Live Here.”

    Yes, I’d say my internet footprint is pretty small. I do have a Face Plant account, that I had to set up for that retreat I went to, a few years ago. And I haven’t looked at it since. And, as you know, I sing the praises of being an orphan. Makes life a lot less complicated.

    Speaking of which, Elinor came home, yesterday. Much to my surprise. H and I were taking a nap, and when I got up there was a note on my door that she was home. I’m surprised H didn’t let me know. Now it’s against the law to toss someone out of a hospital. More or less. But from what I gather, Elinor’s insurance ran out and the hospital put the screws to the family. And I guess there was some unpleasantness, between her and the family. She didn’t want to go into it, and I didn’t want to know. But anyway, she’s home, but who knows for how long?

    The Fuchsia Society was years ago, and I’d guess like a lot of other civic organizations, it’s probably bit the dust.

    Well, there’s a lot of food around, and a lot goes to waste. But there’s the problem of transport …

    Still slogging away at getting ready for the auction people to show up, tomorrow morning. After I’m through here, I’m going to give them a call to re-confirm. Fingers crossed there are no hitches.

    I forgot to mention I cleaned up the cherry tomatoes. With the frosts, there were tomatoes dropping all over some of the paths, and I thought I’d better clean them up, before someone complained. Tomatoes are one of the few plants I don’t dig back into the soil. They’re so prone to viruses, and such. So into the dumpster they go, mostly. Once I got them cleared away, I found a couple more pods of green beans, that have already nicely dried on the bush. A few more to add to next years stock of seed. Lew

  16. Chris,

    Wonderful doggy tales! Thanks. I concur with Pam:
    Your kelpies aren’t good at herding sheep,
    They do other chores to earn their keep.

    There was a wild turkey in our neighborhood a few days ago. I’ve seen several on the outskirts of town, but never here. Avalanche had fun trying to drag me over to the turkey while on our walk that day. It reminded me of the day, maybe 10 years or so ago, in which there were about a dozen wild turkeys on the County Campus. Many people had no idea what they were. I was repeatedly asked if I knew what they were. I deadpanned the same answer every time: “Those are elected officials.”

    No heatwave yet. Still normal weather for early to mid-January, with single digits (Fahrenheit) forecast for 2 nights before the warming starts this weekend. Oh, wait, this is November! So our normal January weather means that it is cold right now. And cloudy and no new snow for over a week.

    Meanwhile, somebody developed a cough. Again. Only this time it sounds a bit worse than during the summer smoke and is slowing her down. Poor Dame Avalanche. And getting her to the vet? 5 weeks before an available appointment. Killian the Doberman’s human suggested their vet, and they only have a 3 week wait, but also were helpfully suggestive on which emergency vet clinics to visit and avoid. So we made the appointment 3 weeks out and visited a pet emergency place Tuesday evening. Avalanche, being a husky mixed with likely American Eskimo, lost the genetics lottery and has what both of those breeds often get: chronic bronchitis. Manageable, but it will never totally go away. So she’s on a course of meds. She’s already coughing much less, has more energy today, and seems happier. We’ll get directions for ongoing future treatment from Killian’s vet.

    Interesting story you told about your management position and the troublesome ringleader. Looks like you handled it well. Those are tough things to deal with.

    Storm and sunset pictures were spectacular. Well done.

    Also enjoyed the photos of greenery and sprouting plants. Very pleasant break from looking at the grey skies and bare trees and brown leaves on other trees. It’s early for the Bleak Look of Winter.

    The king parrot on the Suzuki almost looks like it’s attached to the aerial. The flowers in the background add a nice touch. Appreciate the other flower photos too.

    To the tune of “Let’s Get Physical” by Olivia Newton-John:

    I’m a Pobblebonk, Pobblebonk
    A spider-eating Pobblebonk, Pobblebonk,
    Listen to the froggy talk (Pobblebonk)
    Listen to the froggy talk…

    The percentage of good that is bad, by the way, is NOT 42. This is one of those rare occasions in which 42 isn’t the correct answer. I’m surprised that the video suggested 60%. I did a very tongue in cheek study early in my career. I came up with the conclusion that the maximum amount of good in a system is 80%, and the maximum amount of bad in a system is likewise 80%. I had inadvertently come up with more applications of Pareto’s Law. I then calculated that the odds in my discovering that were like 1 in 424242.42. 😉


  17. Hi Pam,

    Glad you enjoyed the tale, and it’s true the fluffy’s do love their tails! 🙂 The two Kelpie’s don’t know how lucky they are to not ever be separated one from the other. I like a good dog tale too, they’re fun to write. And that’s true too, Dame Plum certainly works hard around here, this year she has done in close on twenty rats and several rabbits that I’m aware of. Her skills and tenacity do her credit. Ruby, well, the magpies now take an active interest in her goings on and swoop her. She did bring this unfortunate situation upon herself and perhaps does not realise that magpies can live for up to twenty years. They’ll remember, train their progeny and can immediately tell the difference between the two dogs. Hmm.

    That is true.

    Thanks. The colours of the sky that evening really were other worldly. Almost purple.

    Sorry to hear about the tomato blight. It surprises me that blight occurred in your otherwise hot and dry growing season. The plants grow so fast that they’re heavy feeders. Err, maybe add some Calcium Carbonate, wood ashes and a bit of err, home grown nitrogen (you know what I mean, but I don’t want to embarrass the polite folks who may be reading the blog and blush at the suggestion. You of course are polite, but being a gardener would understand about necessity and stuff). The only one you might have to pay for is the Calcium Carbonate, but even then if you saved all the egg shells for a year and used them (although for all I know, you already do). The continual blight might be a sign you need to rest that area, or give the soil a darn good feedin’.

    You hit the nail on the head. A long time back when the soil was rock hard clay I used to mulch around the fruit trees, but all manner of critters live in that stuff like wood lice, and they can consume the bark off the fruit trees. But then they can hide in long grass too. Oh well, better get out with the brush cutter in the next few days.

    I haven’t noticed any regrowth from the fallen pear, but I too was wondering about that. Dunno. Too much water caused the split.

    Ah, well who knew? That’s another name for the granny’s bonnet flower. You learn something every day. I think I recall the name granny’s bonnet rather than Columbine.

    I like the Rhodies too. And there’s even more this week, and the plants are getting biggerer as the years go on. Apparently around here is one of the few places in the world they can self-seed and produce volunteer Rhodie plants. I’m yet to see that, but who knows.



  18. Hi Lewis,

    Buried a few mates, so yeah I too count myself lucky for much the same reasons as you cite. Yep, it’s good stuff to be able to smell the roses.

    Speaking of which, we went to a nursery today to yes, yes, pick up a punnet of Cilantro (although Coriander does sound more correct to my ears). Also restocked the fertilisers as the greenhouse soil needs a top up. Probably should have also purchased a punnet of Chilli seedlings, because so far only three seeds have germinated. We’re going to save seeds from that lot, but bring in other seedlings so as to boost the genetics of the seed we’ll eventually save. Hope they don’t end up being too hot, me scared! 🙂

    Oh, roses, yeah. The nursery had a full complement of roses in flower. The scent from several hundred rose plants for sale was pretty awesome. They even were selling a really old variety of rose with more thorns than your average raspberry cane – Rosa rugosa. Spiky as.

    Spent today doing a lot of admin tasks. It boggles me how other households cope with the volume of admin that builds up. Companies are pushing their admin downwards onto customers. For your convenience… Sure we asked for it, I just don’t recall doing that. Yes, join our customer portal, or else. A bit sinister (ooo, I typed sin-sister, not sure what that is, but it sounds kind of wrong, like nuns gone wild).

    A tidy dodge with the biscuits and gravy. Respect. The war is long, and there will be sacrifices! 🙂 Good luck! I have no idea what they do either, but that does not mean that H can’t learn her lines and turn up on time. Surely sad dog face number seven is not that great a leap for H? Oh yes, a good point about being lost in translation, and we also have not ascertained whether she herself wants to accept change? I’d say greater opportunities for future biscuits and gravy, that’s a worthy prize, but there is the trade of the short term for the longer term considerations. What a pickle H is in.

    Yes, you did warn me about the lyrics, and I listened and acted upon your warning. Titles on the other hand, that’s fair game. In reality, I’d have troubles working out new and interesting titles each week.

    Hehe! So true, and let’s salute the efforts of the cunning ratty blokes of the world! Someone has to do the work. 🙂

    On a serious note, I was reading somewhere recently that all it takes is three weeks to change food preferences. I always gave new house mates about three months before I worked out whether they were a numpty or not. Some people can hide their inner core workings for a bit, but most can’t hide for longer than three months. Do you ever get new folks in the Club with the fervour of the recent convert? I assume your group has ways of moderating such over enthusiasm?

    I don’t know whether being on the show is a benefit or not. It could be a detriment, and the UK presenter Kevin, at least, is always canny enough to extract just how much mad cash they’d poured into the place. As a kid I was told to never discuss politics, money or religion in polite company. It’s funny how people aren’t all that polite these days (me probably included!)

    Speaking of politics (note being polite and stuff), I went and did my civic duty of voting in the upcoming state election today. Nothing dodgy like drop in mail ballots, we actually get checked off an electoral roll by an official, and the votes are all on paper. The process is very secure, I can vouch personally for that. The Editor had a delightful interaction with the local member and said: “I’ve contacted you on several occasions in the past few years and you didn’t bother to reply”. Not much you can say to that. Truth to tell I had a little bit of simmering anger, and had to squash that down, and I said something amusing to which someone else remarked: “Like your style”. I later thought up something even better to have said, but alas the moment had passed and isn’t that always the way of it? Turns out I still have a little bit of trauma from the crazy goings on of the past few years due to you-know-what. Hadn’t realised that, but it’s there. Hmm.

    Have they ever had another retreat like that since you-know-what? But yes, wise to keep a small footprint.

    Mate, you and I are like a good bottle of plonk in that we’ll get better as we age, sorry to say, not everyone travels along that journey. It isn’t all bad, vinegar is a useful product. Hope the three of you are all OK.

    Yes, transport. Exactly, the consumers are far removed from the producers and that’s where diesel fuel comes in, although as a story the fuel plays a big role in agriculture as well. The machines here don’t need it, but you need diesel to get the fuel (and parts and consumables) that the machines here do need. I wonder about the bitumen materials required for road repairs. All heavier grade fuels…

    Fingers crossed the auction folks are good, and that the auction itself goes well.

    Yeah, Pam also mentioned tomato blights. Never seen one myself, but I do move them around and feed the soil – a lot. Dunno, a mystery. I chuck old tomato vines onto the grass and run them over with the mower. The resulting muck disappears in a week or two.



  19. Hi DJ,

    Mate, I’m real sorry. It is the awful mid-week hiatus AKA headed to the pub for a pint and a pizza for dinner. They make a very good pizza too and the beer, well, the brewer was Little Creatures / White Rabbit and was White Ale. Rather tasty and went most excellently with the capricciosa pizza. I’m a sucker for artichokes.

    Anyway, it’s 11:15pm and thus bed time. Speak tomorrow.



  20. Yo, Chris – I took a look into the rabbit hole, over the topic of coriander vs cilantro. Leaves and stems are cilantro. Seeds are coriander. It was one of the first domesticated crops, dating back to 5,000 BCE. People’s perception of the taste, good or bad, may have a genetic basis.

    You can always check the Scoville Scale, to see how hot your peppers are likely to be. Because you saved the plant tags, didn’t you? 🙂 I think I mentioned the veg store has some Ghost Pepper cheese. Which, for a long time was the hottest pepper around. Dethroned by the Carolina Reaper.

    So, fess up. Did you buy any roses? You can never have too many roses.

    Early exuberance in recovery is referred to as “being on a pink cloud.” It can manifest in a number of ways. Like the old queen, we can only warn and advise. 🙂 Actually, we can only suggest. Enthusiasm is great, but life intrudes … I had another thought about the falling fortunes of the Club. Back in the day, we were the only game in town, as far as recovery went. Now, seems like there’s a treatment center on every corner and the churches have siphoned a lot of “pigeons” off.

    Kicking around ideas with my friend the new library board member, she mentioned their circulation count is down 50%. A good start to remedy that would be more programs for kids and teens. Like organized religion, you gotta catch them when they’re young. 🙂

    Thinking of the perfect reply … too late. The French have a phrase for it. Probably the Germans, too. L’sprit de l’escalier. Literally, “staircase wit.” The perfect retort you think of, while slogging your way up five flights of stairs to your drafty little garret.

    Well, the retreat was ok, but I decided I didn’t want to do it again. So, I really haven’t checked into their current status.

    There’s certainly been enough articles about roads being left to go back to gravel, due to the price and availability of asphalt. Which is petroleum based. Ah! “Bitumen is the liquid binder that holds asphalt together.” Who knew? 🙂

    The auction guy, showed up. Turns out it was Zack, who I know. He recognized me to. Young fellow. From my point of view. Very personable. I had the horrible feeling last night, that perhaps they’d want to do the packing themselves, in their own containers. But, no. What I did was fine. I ended up with 6 boxes, to send off. Not as much as I wanted, but, we talked about future forays. 6 banana boxes, full. (No spiders were injured in the execution of this adventure.) Three boxes of Fenton glass … gone. All the Roseville, Rookwood and Weller pottery … gone. All the bookends … gone. Actually, over the last few days, I’ve had a bit of a different feeling. A lifting of responsibility. LOL. I sound like some aesthetic devotee from the 1880s. We managed to get all six boxes in Zack’s car. But he had to move around a lot of landscape cloth. Turns out, he farms. He mentioned how poor the pumpkin and corn crop were, this year.

    Well, a long afternoon nap is in order, and now I can get back to cleaning up the garden. Lew

  21. Hi DJ,

    🙂 Thanks for the most excellent poem, and the smile it brought.

    Man, it’s always something I wonder about, the mid-week hiatus thing, but being something of an experienced muddler I tend to go with my gut feeling in this regard. The mid-week hiatus is of course the unspoken Plan B option, and once or twice over the years I’ve had to fall back on the Plan C option – which is less appealing. Let’s not even think about the Plan D option. Yikes! Anyway, I kind of figure that the good people who read this blog, such as yourself, appreciate words, and so a fuller reply a day later is a better arrangement than a hurried reply a day earlier. Due to government experiments in the early 1990’s I am able to type rather rapidly, but even my skills are not equal to a lack of time. And of course a pint of beer does reduce the number of words typed per minute, but may just increase the amusement factor! Something to think about huh? 🙂

    The wild turkey would have been a sight to see. Yes, Avalanche might want to dine upon such a tasty bird, but if it was big enough it might fight back. Wood craft is one of those things that requires time spent in the woods, and if all a person has known is the city, well, the woods are scary. You have known remote places, and I live in one such, and it’s different. I walked Ollie out this morning in the early morning sunshine to do his ablutions. The air was crisp and sharp, prickling the skin with cool, and all that could be heard were the multitude of birds. Mate, it took me right back in time to camping out in the high country with my grandfather and his WWII buddies. They of course woke later due to decent imbibing the night before, whilst I was quietly up at the crack of dawn. And you could smell the night before’s moisture over all of the vegetation. The river gurgled as it round a bend, and the sun was filtered through the tall trees. Took me right back this morning, almost as if they were all there with me.

    Your weather has my head spinning exorcist style, minus the pea soup spit incident! Well, it’s not a contest, but I can top your weather. Today was a beautiful spring day. 73’F / 23’C and really nice, not a breath of wind. We worked about the property getting things done. Tomorrow will begin nice, then turn (we’ve all met a few of those types haven’t we?): Here comes yet another massive November cold burst. Monday might get to 55’F here, but probably not. I dare not plant any of the tender annual plants out yet in that sort of weather. And the growing season may be very short.

    Sorry to hear about Dame Avalanche’s bronchitis issues. Interestingly, after a bit of an interweb rabbit hole there are some additions to her food you might want to consider including: Licorice root; lemon; and/or honey. All complicated ingredients in your part of the world due to cold winters. Those are traditional things to assist folks with such a condition and work with dogs. The licorice roots would require no less than a greenhouse, and maybe even a heat mat to grow in your climate. The local gardening club sells the plant, which is not much good for you, but someone somewhere might sell the roots. Honey is probably the easiest to get, but far out some nefarious folks add in sugar syrup to pad out the honey. It’s a problem.

    Man, I had staff for so many years, and was forced to do so from a very young age. I dunno, it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. And nowadays I don’t have staff. Hmm.

    Yeah, winter has arrived in your part of the world with a thud, and that can happen here too. But snowfall similar to what you recently endured does tend to wind up the growing season. Hang onto your hat, because there is more green photos to come, until the season dries up, then the grass dies back and the sun bakes the soil. All bets are off then and yellows and browns ye shall see! Except of course for the fruit trees which might enjoy some hotter and drier times. It’s complicated.

    The parrots don’t take anywhere near as much fruit as the rats did. And today, the evil rat empire took another blow! You’ll see. Sun Tzu advised to get into the mind of the enemy, and I know rats.

    Hehe! That’s funny! Right now, it’s frog paradise out there.

    Your answer, if I dare point out (acknowledging a lesser grasp upon the language of numbers than your good self) does kind of sound like 42. It does. 😉 And you know it. I do defer to your greater skills in this area, but your answer suggested sophistry at work. Hehe!



  22. Hi Lewis,

    The Atlantic for some reason doesn’t hand out free content to me, and they tease you with the first couple of paragraphs – the cheeky scamps. The birds down under are crafty as, and the lead photo in the article was of the superb lyrebird. They have a natural gift for mimicking sounds, and human voices are no difficulty for them. The cockatoos here can reproduce human voices easily too, if they have a mind to do so. Over the years I’ve learned some of the magpie language, mostly because it is very useful to do so. Especially the ‘intruder alert’ call. Always wise to listen for their calls and understand the information they are trying to convey to each other and possibly myself. We’ve got a good relationship those birds and I, but far out, they are done with Ruby and will now mercilessly swoop her. She knows not what trouble she has set in motion. The superb lyrebird is an astounding bird by the way: Attenborough: the amazing Lyre Bird sings like a chainsaw! The forest in the short clip looks identical to here.

    Hadn’t known that about the taste of Coriander, but it does make a weird sort of sense. Some commercial kitchens which I’ve encountered tend to over use the herb, but it is rare. And can salsa be salsa, without coriander and chilli? Yum! On crispy corn chips, salsa is a joy to consume.

    Speaking of chilli, so we broke and went back to the nursery this afternoon for a punnet or two of chili plants, plus one advanced chili plant (an insurance plant). The punnets were full of seedlings, and they all got planted out in the greenhouse towards the end of the day. Ended up with some mid-heat chili’s, jalapeño being one of those. I forget the other variety but it had a similar scoville rating and was a longer and thinner variety. It’s too cold here to grow the larger and wider varieties. One must accept reality. There were true horrors available at the nursery with enticing names such as ‘ghost’ and ‘death’. Look, I’m just going with my gut feeling here, but what it told me about those varieties was not good. 🙂 Many years ago I had a very amusing neighbour who used to get such varieties of chili grown for him specifically. He was an interesting bloke and we’d regularly have dinner and just talk rubbish, but those chili’s he ate are bonkers. Man, they had that reaper variety for sale as a seedling. It’s not good. 🙂 Can’t go there.

    No, we dodged the roses, but certainly there will be more in the future. I’ll bet they’re easy to grow from seed given the sheer variety available. Once the infrastructure work is all done in the next year or so, I might take a deep dive on growing fruit trees and other useful plants from seed. But until then…

    Interesting, and thanks for that. The Editor smoked for maybe two years before we got together (the habit didn’t survive the relationship), and not to put too fine a point upon it, but after giving up, she was a bit of a pain about that subject, especially to others who did continue to smoke. Yes, the fervour of the newly converted. 🙂 I did wonder if that was a common response and clearly it is. I’d never heard of that phrase before, but yes, it makes a certain sort of sense.

    That’s an interesting point about the Club no longer being the only game in town. Hmm. You do wonder if longer term, the people would want to get on board with the other aspects of the church groups, and whether they’d make suitable parishioner’s? That particular group may not be able to provide longer term support and engagement that the Club does. What I mean to say, is that the Club is focused upon a single concern, the church, well I doubt it. A little whisper suggests to me that the church groups will be as impacted by economics, as everyone else, and such outreach programs couldn’t be cheap. That’s why your lot have a longer history. What does history suggest of the role of churches in communities in relation to that kind of work? Time will probably sort out that matter.

    It’s interesting that in the upper house of the state parliament (the legislative council), that in the up coming election (next Saturday) there was a party with a sole policy to sack the premier and restore democracy. I liked the sound of those guys. Focused.

    Out of curiosity, how did the library folks come up with the number which suggests that circulation was down by half, and over what period of time? Like here, the library may be closed in the evenings, and that’s no good for me, who has to work. 🙂 I don’t even think about the local library because clearly despite being a rate payer, it is not run with the likes of me in mind. But I agree, get kids off screens and into books. I reckon it will happen sooner or later anyway, I’m just not entirely certain of the loss of library facilities in the meantime. It is possible the interweb is dying due to being strangled. It’s an echo chamber, and the echo’s sometimes sound eerily similar from one website to another.

    Ooo! That’s brilliant. A noble and useful thought from a more eloquent language. L’sprit de l’escalier! Yes, exactly. The story of my life… Hehe! Ah, we’ve all been there.

    Alas, I knew this about bitumen, and have wondered about it for quite a while. Oh well, what will be, will be.

    Hey, it’s good that you’d previously met Zack. An earlier working relationship is a good thing with such auction of stuff matters. Good to hear that no spiders were harmed in the auction process. Nobody wants that. No, actually your feelings make perfect sense to me, and funny you mention that… Interestingly, I heard on the local grape vine that the local general store is up for sale, not the building, but the business. I can understand how that circumstance has come to be, and the decision probably would have felt much the same way that you did sending the stuff to the auction. Yes. People can be very difficult. At the nursery today, a lady did an interesting strategy to get served before the Editor and I. She plonked her stuff down on the counter in front of us, and when she was about to be served before us, said: “Those people want to be served first”. Talk about besmirching our good character. I looked her in the eye, whilst saying to the bloke at the counter, ” we were here waiting long before she turned up”. That put an end to the mischief. It needn’t be this way, but wealth does funny things to people, and not in a good way. Anyway, it’ll get sorted out in due course, of that I have no doubts.

    It’s interesting that the young bloke also farms. Very interesting.

    Hope the nap was pleasant!

    With no rain forecast for the day (don’t worry tomorrow it will rain) we poured the final cement for the highest step on the greenhouse staircase. It’s looking good, and will be very useful. I chucked around heaps of fertiliser, including the heady coffee ground and lime mixture. Planted out the chili plants in the greenhouse, and got the stump grinder out and cleaned up some old tree stumps. Plus, we struck another blow against the evil rat empire. Take that ye’ pesky rodents. Truth to tell, I was a bit worried a snake might eventually set up home under the house. It was an alarming prospect and something had to be done. So we did something!

    Had I mentioned it will be warm tomorrow, with a monsoonal build up?



  23. Chris:

    I do use all the things you mentioned – er, well, not the nitrogen source, though I suspect others here do – plus some bought rock phosphate and composted horse or cow manure. Our tomato beds need desperately to be rotated with something else, but sun is so in short supply here that I may not be able to do that. The tomatoes and peppers get the most sun. Could they be switched out with peppers?

    I have less time than ever lately. My mother keeps falling, though amazingly not breaking anything, and we spent 5 hours waiting at the ER yesterday, with her having to sit in the regular waiting room in a wheelchair, in pain, as the ER was full up and no beds available. Don’t know if that was the usual shortage of staffing or whether folks around here are just very sick and accident-prone.


  24. Yo, Chris – That’s a shame about the Atlantic. For awhile, I couldn’t see their articles, either. Or, could only read three, before they cut me off. But I found ways around …

    Good ol’ Sir Attenborough! The article went on to mention the antics of the Lyre Bird. Amazing birds. One of these days, you may think you have a doppelganger, out in the forest calling “Ollie!” “Plum!” “Ruby!” Best keep your guard up. Might actually be one of the pod people.

    There are few things better than corn chips and salsa. Best wear disposable rubber gloves, when handling peppers. And one doesn’t want to touch eyes, or other tender bits. Over the last couple of months, boxes of those gloves have been turning up, here and there. On the free table, etc.. Funny that. I’ve snagged a few, to stash under my kitchen sink. They’re handy for some gardening tasks, that don’t require breaking out the heavy duty gloves.

    Taking a look into the rabbit hole (safety harness on, and securely anchored … reppelling down the side … ) getting roses to germinate from seed takes months. Up to a year. And you might not see a bloom for three years. Also, like apples (they’re related), they don’t breed true. Most roses are propagated through cuttings. Cloning.

    Nothing more zealous than a convert. Tiresome people. 🙂

    Well, there are many roads to recovery, and I suppose religion works for some people. I’ve seen some spectacular failures, of people who took the religious route. But then, spectacular failures are more noticeable than quiet success. Funny, that. Sure, our 12 Step programs have a deep spiritual aspect. But it’s not an organized religion aspect. Does that make sense? The 12 Step program was carefully crafted (or, stumbled into by accident 🙂 to not be offensive to any religious group. And, it was test run on Catholics, Jewish people, Buddhists and even Muslims. If it mentions a god, it’s a god of your (a person’s) understanding. Or anything bigger than one’s self. People sometimes get creative 🙂 Pretty much covers the waterfront.

    Restore democracy and boot the PM. Sounds good. Any indication as to how they define “democracy?” That can be a pretty slippery term. Beware if they also promise to make the trains run on time 🙂 .

    There’s been several articles lately, on if the interweb is dying … or just having a midlife crisis.

    I think Zack, the auction guy, is pretty trustworthy. Although, his being of the ginger persuasion, did give me pause. 🙂 We were just parting, when I trigged to the farming angle. So, no real details. Other than he grows pumpkins and corn and it was a poor year, for both.

    I took a three hour nap, yesterday afternoon, and still felt a bit zonked (a highly technical and scientific term.)

    Well. We just got our local food box. Which is supposed to come on the last Friday of the month. And, according to our monthly calendar, our commodities boxes (with the produce) are supposed to come, today. Happy to get them, whenever. I suppose with the change of delivery personnel, and holidays, things are a bit up in the air.

    So, what goodies did we get? I know you’re dying to ask. 🙂 A couple small packs of frozen corn and carrots. A dozen eggs and a quart of eggnog. An individual Royal Mousse cake (were any moose, injured in the production of this cake?). One pound of margarine. A 2 pound bag of pistachios (in shell, salted) and a 1 pound bag of hazel nuts / filberts (naked.) 2 pounds dried green split peas. A pack of shelf stable beef stew. 6 little individual cartons of corn flakes. I guess you just open them up and pour in the milk? A six pack of raisins. A box of chicken stuffing. 2 boxes of Mac & Cheese. A bag of dry elbow pasta. A jar of peanut butter. Something different, a jar of “Jalapeno Nacho Slices (Mild).” And, from the Wonderful World of Tinned Food, one each of tuna, salmon, cranberries, chicken noodle soup, carrots, refried beans, black beans, green beans, bean beans :-), and a can of vegetarian chili. 2 cans each of spaghetti sauce and mixed fruit. There’s a bag to go down on our swap table, a bag for the Club, and I kept a few things, for me.

    We had a very heavy frost, last night. Got down to 23F (-5C). When I walked H this morning, it was cold and clear. And even though there was no wind, I noticed the leaves are falling off the trees. Oak, apple and pear. Sunday night, our rain is coming back, and the overnight lows will be up in the 40s. Such is our winter weather. Lew

  25. Hi Chris,

    A firm hand you have with the fluffies, indeed. We have our expectations of Leo and Salve though we have yet to break Salve from chewing when we go out nor keeping Leo off furniture. Every morning we go on our walk on the road with the dogs unleashed. Luckily we have little traffic but there is some. Salve hears a vehicle before we do and runs to us and sits down. Leo used to be better but he’s pretty deaf now. Doug got a light that attaches to his collar as it’s often on the dark side when we walk so if he lags behind at least a car will see him. Dogs like young children need a firm but calm hand. When I was teaching I often had to cover other teachers’ classrooms and I also subbed. Of course kids will take advantage of that situation and would start off the class happily chatting among themselves. My practice was just to stand there looking out at the class saying nothing. One by one they would stop and focus on me so I could begin the class. As an aside I’m reading JMG’s
    blog this week with great interest. I started teaching in 1986 and by the time I ended for good in 2011 things had deteriorated greatly.

    That power wheelbarrow would sure come in handy here – especially as we get older. Everything looks so lush. As you can imagine it’s pretty much brown and gray here now. We did have our first snow – a couple of slushy inches. Now it’s turned quite cold with highs in the 20’s and a low of 7 forecast for Sunday night.

    Saw in the comments your mention of the Editor smoking. I may have told you this but I was a heavy smoker for quite some time. I tried unsuccessfully to quite numerous times. Finally I tried hypnotism with a small group from the school I was at. It did seem to help but a few months later I was back to cheating just a little. On St. Patrick’s day I went to a bar for the first time since quitting. For anyone who smokes drinking and cigarrettes go hand in hand. Anyway after copious amounts of beer I went out in the parking lot to head home (Doug was driving). A friend asked if I wanted a cigarette and of course I said yes. Well right after when I got in the car I felt about as sick as I’ve ever felt and was very sick the entire following day. Of course, it was really due to all the beer but the association in my head was it was caused by the cigarette. I never wanted a cigarette again and even though it was a nasty way to quit it was one of the best things that has ever happened.


  26. @Lew
    Our local library does tons of activities for teens and younger kids (as well as adults). For a small, not well funded, library they do a fantastic job. This year they had a scarecrow contest with many entries from community groups and businesses. The county will be having a “Library Expedition” for the months of February to through March. Each library, I think there’s 14, will showcase whatever they have that’s unique. Ours has quite an extensive butterfly collection among other things. Each participant collects a button or some such thing from the library they visit and if they visit all of them they have a chance at winning one of several baskets with items from local business, restaurants etc. This is the 2nd year. It was quite successful last year but not all libraries participated.

    I hope Eleanor manages to stay for a time. Wonder if she has a Medicare Advantage plan (aka Medicare Disadvantage). People sign up for these because they are cheaper and possibly cover more things not realizing what isn’t covered and the lack of choices. Marty has one of these plans. He’s having hernia surgery at the end of the month and even though the surgeon performs surgery near where he lives and at the hospital near me Marty has to go to one about an hour away from his apartment because it’s the closest one that his insurance plan will cover the cost. To top it off all three hospitals are in the same system.


  27. Chris,

    Yes, absolutely. A proper reply is better than hasty nonsense. Much better. If I had a problem with that, I’d ask for a refund of my membership dues. 😉 Glad you enjoyed a good meal out.

    Interesting. Your experience with Ollie and the smells and sounds taking you back, well, I had a similar experience today before I read your latest. Our favorite camping area when young was at the north end of a large Idaho lake. It was pretty remote, and the camping was primitive other than an outhouse. We could spend a week camping there and might see 2 or 3 other groups. The water was extremely clear. In fact, it was very pure and could be drunk straight from the lake, no boiling needed. Not that we did that, but that was how remote it was. I enjoyed waking up in the tent in the mornings and listening to the nuthatches call back and forth while the sun was rising. So this morning? I awoke soon after sunrise, poked my nose out the door to discover it was a gloriously clear day, and heard some nuthatches calling back and forth. Took me straight back to my childhood.

    I also did NOT keep my beak outdoors very long. Twas a chilling +11F. Or is that -11C? They’re about the same. Sorry to hear that you’re reverting back to late winter weather. Wrong time of year for that.

    Yes, the turkey was large enough to make an attempt at defending itself. Perhaps. But it chose to run. The geese are nastier than the turkeys. Usually. The occasional male (tom) turkey will get its dander up and attack even large groups of people, however.

    Thanks for the diet suggestions for Avalanche’s bronchitis. I think I can find licorice root in some of the local stores, actually. So you’re suggesting pure, unadulterated honey rather than impure honey that has committed adultery with sugar? I have a jar of the good stuff, locally produced.

    Being a manager is over rated. They wanted me to take my boss’s position both times that said position became vacant. And another similar position once also. Along with the headaches of staff and meetings and being on the Elected’s speed dials, I would have gotten a pay raise of 2%. Not worth it.

    Good job. Any and all dents and blows given to the Rat Empire are worthy. I’ll breathlessly await updates.

    Glad you enjoyed my poetry as well as the rewritten lyrics. 😉

    Sophistry? Sophistry! I really truly did perform such a study, and it does have applications in many different scenarios. But sophistry? Just because I pulled the odds of my having made the original discovery out of thin air, it’s sophistry? 😉


  28. Hi Pam,

    All good additions, and they do include some Calcium, but tomatoes need lime (Calcium Carbonate). As in probably more than you are getting from those sources. Sorry to say that, but for some reason tomatoes seem to need more of that stuff than other annual plants. From what I understand, the presence of Calcium in the soil allows plants to better access the other minerals which are there – I have no idea why that should be. And tomatoes grow so fast, and produce so much fruit, that they need everything they can get. Exhausting soil minerals has ended many a civilisation, and it only takes a deficiency of but one mineral. Given the blight issue, you might be removing the vines and all of the fruit, rather than returning them into the soil.

    It’s not just you either. Over the past decade I must have brought back something crazy like 20 metric tonnes of coffee grounds here – easy. And it’s no exaggeration to reckon that the amount of mulches and composts brought back are probably well over the thousand cubic yards over the past decade and a half – easy. It wasn’t until I began regularly adding the Calcium Carbonate (30 pounds per week for a couple of years) to the soil that plant growth really took off.

    Sure plant diseases do build up in areas, and historically plants had to be rotated regularly and ground left fallow, but that was because of no coffee grounds and all the other mineral imports and stuff. Basically growing the same plants in the same area year after year strip mines the soil minerals, and it only takes a deficiency of a single mineral to produce unhealthy plants.

    It would be nice if that wasn’t the case.

    Pam, I’m so sorry to hear of your mothers falls and health. It’s not good. You’ve had a rough couple of years.

    The thunder is rolling and the rain is just about to hit here hard.



  29. Hi Margaret,

    Every dog has it’s kryptonite no matter how well behaved they otherwise are, although the chewing would drive me to distraction and curtail the dogs freedom, thus the cage which Salve clearly accepts. You adapt, and we do too to with the dogs quirks and foibles. All part of the experience. 🙂 The two Kelpie’s yesterday rolled in something which candidly smells dead (ask me how I know this?) Anyway Dame Plum scored a washing down as did Ruby, but Ruby sneakily reapplied her perfume today. I’d thought that the rainy weather and wet vegetation which she was running around in would have washed off the stink, but no, it is a minor potent background current.

    Far out, the thunder is crashing whilst the rain pounds upon the roof.

    I’m reading the essay and comments with interest too, and trying to be amusing. 🙂 Like you, I also tend to believe that things have deteriorated. The amount of time which people have spent isolated and in their own heads (with outside programming) over the past couple of years has not improved the situation based on what I’m experiencing.

    Hope the book club is continuing its activities?

    Margaret, it’s not just you, and that machine is worth it’s weight (and I have a second more powerful machine for moving heavier loads). Candidly, it is like a rainforest out there, and right now it literally is that. I can’t recall the environs being this green before. Far out, the rain is heavy out there.

    Winter has some ways to go for you, and I hope both you and Doug and Salve and Leo stay warm, and have plenty of firewood.

    That used to happen with Sandra too. Friends would put temptation in her way, and a few drinks and the next thing you’d know. I never hectored or judged, it was just a thing. It’s funny you mention that, but yes a very similar experience occurred, and the association stuck and that was that. Isn’t it funny how the mind works? Smoking was one of those things which never appealed to me and plenty of my mates smoked, as did my two older sisters. Never liked the smell, but I’m told that smokers do like the smell. We all see the world differently, that’s for sure. Thanks for letting me know that, and glad to hear you finally kicked the habit. It’s super expensive down here. And vaping seems to be making headways into new younger markets. There’s always temptations placed before us.

    Did a lot of mowing today and had to fix a flat tyre (tire) on the self propelled mower. The wheel was turning, but the tyre was not moving. Oh well, that’s what spares are for.



  30. Hi DJ,

    Thought you’d understand, but sometimes it’s the things which are left unsaid which can turn problematic. 🙂 Membership dues indeed! I’ll send you a timesheet – touché!

    Over the past year I reckon we’ve become more local, and these days if I’m going to eat out, it will be local. And the local pub is good, I like the intriguing beer matrix (that’s what I reckon that film franchise was really all about) and you know, it’s local. After you-know-what, we don’t tend to eat out much in the big smoke these days, and the quality of food sold there has reduced anyway. It wasn’t always that way.

    It’s interesting you mention that issue about the unspoken comparison to the current state of the water, if only because the story is not good. The same was true of the river we camped alongside of (it was a small clearing in the forest) because we did just drink the water straight from the river, and I never recall being ill from that experience. If anything the experience was invigorating.

    Ah, a nuthatch looks similar to the wrens and robins here, and fill much the same niche. Thanks for sharing your memories of the camping, it sounds lovely. I’d hate to think how crowded a place like that would be today (if the weather was conducive to camping, as it might not be in your part of the world right now).

    Actually, it would be very unpleasant camping here tonight. The rain is feral. And looking at the radar, it might get worse, before easing off. We did a lot of mowing today, and both ended up getting very wet, and somewhat cold. Started the wood fire late this afternoon and that warmed the place up nicely and is also drying off the now washed work clothes. 🙂

    Holy carp dude! Wise, and yes, it’s close enough to be uncomfortably bonkers cold. Good luck! Brr! -11’C, I worked out to be 12.2’F, but my formula may be in error? I only mention this minor issue as I know you appreciate numbers, but please spare me, my maths skills are not of the err, top shelf stuff. Make sure that your nose, or Avalanche’s nose remains unfrozen in such bonkers cold weather.

    No shame in running, even if it happens to be a wild turkey. It was hard not to notice that their main predator was us humans. It’s probably better meat for consumption than the more usual turkey meat.

    Look, it’s worth a try with Avalanche, and the use of that root has a very long history with such conditions. Dunno. And yes, that unadulterated stuff. We got caught out once using honey we’d bought from a different supplier. Didn’t know about the issue, and made a batch of mead. It was so sweet tasting due to the higher sugar content, it was disgusting. I prefer a less sweet tasting plonk. Too sweet is headache inducing.

    Mate, truth to tell, I wasn’t as wise as yourself, and took the money and the responsibility and ran with it for many years. The thing is, when you’ve had enough, it’s super hard to take a backwards step and walk away from the dramas. No employer seemed to want to allow me to take that option, so I gave them all the middle finger and started my own business. The professional body didn’t want me to take that option either and they curtailed my income to near to poverty levels for three years. A good way to make enemies. 😉

    The rat empire is reeling at this blow to their liberties.

    🙂 It’s good stuff.

    I find it bizarre that the Sophists could have degenerated into the word ‘sophistry’. Someone had it in for them, I believe their original intent was honourable and worthy.

    Not sure what is more feral than the bonkers feral rain which is hitting the roof. Far out!!!!!



  31. Hi Lewis,

    The weather radar service is an outstanding chunk of technology. I get to sit at the computer and get forewarning of fast moving storms coming in from the north west. Storms at ten o’clock, storms at ten o’clock (said in best WWII navigator voice). Rain is usually shown as a nice green blob, all pleasant and stuff. Then there is the yellow colour for a bit heavier rain and a less pleasant experience. Darker go the colours on the radar still! Red is the whole next level on from yellow. But then there is purple. One of them purple storms just hit. Half an inch of rain in under ten minutes. It was bonkers out there, and yes I did have to go out in that rain. The inlet filters for the house water tanks failed as they filled up with gunk. Water was going everywhere, and so I took my trusty cleaning brush, a heavy duty umbrella and headed into the fray. Got quite drenched, and for the second time today. At least inside the house is warm and dry.

    We did a lot of mowing and brush cutting earlier today, but had to call it all off at around 2pm when the rain picked up. What a day, and what a couple of wet years it’s been.

    Thanks for the idea, and turns out the paywalls aren’t so smart after all. More of a nuisance factor than anything else. Thanks!

    He’s alright that Attenborough bloke and has an infectious enthusiasm which is unrivalled. You could be right about the pod people being a problem. A frightening film. I have this vague memory we were discussing this film recently, did you rewatch it? And was it any good? I’ve only seen the 1978 version which apparently rates pretty highly compared to the original.

    Nah, man I’m too tough for that glove gear stuff with the chili’s. Yeah, don’t worry about it. Hehe! There is no way I will grow one of those death, reaper, or whatever variety of chili plants that are bonkers hot. But then, what if someone at the seedling company went a bit Fight Club on me and swapped in some super hot chili’s into the seedling punnet for a bit of mayhem. Hmm, it all comes down to Fight Club in the end. 😉

    Truth to tell I always wear leather riggers gloves when I’m working about the property, so yeah they’re a good idea. Today I was cleaning up grass growing near to the trunks of fruit trees and there were times when I was reaching into the unknown patch of grass and hoping not to be bitten by some critter – probably toxic as too.

    But yeah, if you’re not being bitten, you get cut, or stabbed by splinters, or scratched or burned. It’s a challenging environment. So, leather gloves are very handy, but any gloves gives you an advantage. People probably had tougher, more calloused skin back in the day.

    I agree with the seedlings from seeds, but then I have room to spare, and may at some unknown point in the future have ample time, so why not run the experiment with them? And any that are no good, I can graft new buds to them. Like your style too with the safety gear.

    Yes, the recent convert can be a bit of a chore to the other people around them. I hear you about that.

    The spiritual aspect, rather than a dogmatic religious aspect, makes a lot of sense. And I first heard that being used with the masons. It makes a lot of sense, and in some ways is asking people to look beyond themselves, which you I guess allude to using the words ‘bigger than oneself’? I’d imagine that people would get creative, and hope that they can impart a sense of fun to their creativity? You never know, they might be onto something, or even more mysteriously, channelling something.

    Nah, I wasn’t too troubled about the second bit, I kind of got focused on the first bit of their platform which was all to do with the sacking part. I’m not asking for much. Anyway, the policy had the benefit of being simple to understand. We could do worse, but we could also do better than we are doing now. The new folks might cause the trains to run late, that would be a problem.

    I hadn’t considered that the interweb could have a mid-life crisis. Hmm. Possible. It’s a vast echo chamber. I think I mentioned to you that the other day I was doing a search on a subject and the various responses were almost word for word the same. My best guess is that like ice cream we might end up with a bunch of flavours (yes, yes, excluding spiced pumpkin! 🙂 ), but will they be all that different? I dunno, but that’s how products end up.

    I’ve heard of this ginger thing business, and if I may be so bold as to mention the reality is that gingers are better. Nuff said! It’s interesting what you hear about the place. You’re very lucky over there that you have such good soils.

    Winter is the time for recuperating from the efforts of the previous growing season.

    Ah, I forget about Thanksgiving, but of course it will affect all sorts of unexpected things. Hey, I’ve noticed that they’re trying to push Black Friday as a sales thing down here. It just reminds me of bushfires, but that maybe me. There was a particularly nasty one with that same name back in 1939. It burned through here. Just shy of 8,000 square miles in the state burned in that time.

    Lewis, what a good score with the boxes. That sounds better than the usual fare, and I do hope the tuna and salmon didn’t mind being canned? 🙂

    Brr! That is cold. It’s funny, but it wasn’t all that long ago that your weather seemed rather warm and pleasant. The frost does that job with the leaves. You can see the stems may be blackened. I spotted a few small pears which the 34’F morning earlier this week frost damaged and it had a similar look, but what do you?



  32. Hi Pam (cont),

    One other thing springs to mind. In past times they used to burn the ground regularly. It reduces weed competition, kills off a lot of soil diseases, and releases minerals for the plants which come afterwards. It’s a bit hard to do nowadays because everyone will freak out especially if it gets stuffed up, but would it work – I think it just might.



  33. Chris:

    I will try the lime; I have some. Several years ago my son and I had knocked heads over using it, so I had not fooled with it. We do have an acidic soil, so I don’t see why a bit would hurt.

    You hit the nail on the head about a burn. Some people around here would freak out, especially my husband, who was not even here when we had the wildfire caused by our neighbor creep onto our property. I might freak out myself; it was a horrible experience.


  34. @ Marg:

    Thank so much. She is prone to such things, so I knew it was only a matter of time. I also knew that assisted living meant not all that much assistance and the people there do try very hard, but there is never enough staff, like at the hospital where we just were.

    Someone, somewhere – not necessarily here – recently said: “Things are hard. So?”


  35. @ Margaret – Thanks for the library tips. I’ll pass them along to my Idaho friend.

    Medicare Advantage plans are just a plot to privatize Medicare. Already, the appeal end of Medicare has been outsourced and privatized. I also steer clear of any state Medicaid programs. Some states have “estate recovery.” They come after anything left over, to cover costs. So, granny, who thought her little house was going to her grandkids, well, it seized and sold for Medicaid costs. Some states have it, some don’t. There are ways around it, but it varies from state to state, might involve a lawyer, and you’ve got to get the timing right.

    It’s just all so complicated. Easy to make a miss-step. Lew

  36. Yo, Chris – I know what you mean about the weather radar. The colors … the colors … Very psychedelic. Sometimes, I think I’m having an acid flashback 🙂 . The more colors, the more going on. And not all of it good.

    It was another 23F night. I’m keeping an eye on the leaves at the library. Pretty soon, the wind will push them into easily retrieved eddies, windrows, whirls and pools. Speaking of gloves, I usually wear my heavy canvas gloves, when poking around among the leaves. I mostly am concerned about coming across a discarded hypo needle. You think junkies would be a little more careful, with their toys.

    You’ve got to think of something different to do with the inlets on your water tanks. I’m sure you’ve put thought to it. So have I, and come up empty. All this bumbling around in the dark is not going to end well. If nothing else, you’ll catch your death! 🙂

    “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” was from a 1954 novel. It was made into a movie in 1956, 1978, and 1993. I’ve probably seen all three, but so long ago I couldn’t separate one from another in my mind. I can’t say it’s a favorite. The “creeps me out” factor, is rather high. I think the Donald Sutherland (1978) version, was pretty good. Maybe.

    Well, if you’ve got the space, time and patience, give growing roses from seed a whirl. That’s how they come up with new varieties. Maybe you’ll even come up with a blue one. Your fortune will be made.

    Oh, people get pretty creative with their selection of a higher power. The young, hip, with-it (and clueless), more often than not, pick Satan. Which is a shock-your-mama move. I’ve heard of doorknobs and telephone poles. Of course, us old timers don’t bat an eyelash. We’ve heard it all before. “Whatever works.” The ocean, and a stately tree are also popular. A more socially acceptable choice.

    Well, as far as the web goes, what with interest rates and the general state of the economy, there just isn’t as much venture capital to throw around. People seem to be becoming a bit more “off” social media. Or maybe, they’re just switching around. Aps seem to have peaked. Software “innovation” (New! Improved!) is beginning to wear thin.

    Pumpkin pie ice cream disappeared a few weeks ago. Will it make a reappearance? Who knows. When I went to the store the other night, I got the last bag of pumpkin spice yogurt dipped pretzels. Will they do another run? The seasonal chocolate orange balls, have made an appearance. Those are the one’s in foil, you smack on the counter, to get neat little segments. I picked up two. 2 / $7.00. Pricey. But, after the holidays, they may make an appearance at the cheap food stores, at a much lower price. We’ll see.

    Next time I see our Night Manager, I’ll have to tease him. His day job now has something to do with the delivery of the boxes. I’ll ask him when our 12 pound turkeys, are showing up. 🙂 Three years ago, we did get two pounds of sliced, smoked turkey. That was nice. I doubt we’ll ever see that, again. But, actually, I feel that if the food banks get turkeys, they should really go to families.

    LOL. One of the women at the Club is about to fly apart at the seams, over the Thanksgiving Day potluck. Us oldsters were trying to get her calmed down. Sure, they’ll be a few bumps, but everything works out. And everyone has a good time. So why worry? Lew

  37. Hi Pam,

    Being a forested area, like yours, the soils here are acidic as well. Sorry to say, but applications of lime may put a dent in the population of tomato diseases too. But oh well, there’s no upside to creating disharmony in the household, the outside world is more than good at producing that particular outcome. When Sandra and I have such disagreements, we throw down the challenge and run a test patch and compare the outcome to the more usual practices. The results speak for themselves, and as a system it settles such disagreements – life is too short for unpleasant words and feelings.

    Given you’ve got a lot of woody material, cutting some (or cleaning up the fallen material), burning it in a contained area, then applying the ash to your tomato beds will help as well. A lot. Ash supplies potash, but combined with water produces lye which is quite caustic and sterilises the nasties in the soil.

    Nowadays Sandra doesn’t involve herself in the soil improvement work other than helping move the materials around the place. As far as I can ascertain a glimpse of the future, it is one of the jobs which needs doing whilst ‘stuff’ is so plentiful. A future of less stuff is not all that it may be cracked up to be. 🙂

    Yes, I take burn off’s very seriously and don’t muck around with them. I have known other people around here to be a bit casual with them, and the outcome was similar to what you mentioned. Occasionally I even had to assist and/or intervene. People can be reckless, and there are days where it is OK, and days when it is not OK to attempt something. A failing of our culture is that we consider all days to be the same. It ain’t so.



  38. Hi Lewis,

    Very funny, and I rather enjoyed that about the radar. I’d heard that the 60’s and 70’s were a fun time and now know the rumours to be true! 🙂 In between the sun shining today, it rained, just for something different. You’d appreciate the colours on the rainbow, sorry, I meant to say radar! Honestly, I was always a bit dodge on H R Puff N Stuff, but it looked like they were having a lot of fun. Just sayin… 🙂

    Last night however, the rain was not good, and in a bad way. Half an inch in ten minutes can create a lot of damage, and water has an enormous amount of energy. In colder epochs the glaciers (of frozen water) grind rocks into mineral dust, and in warmer epochs the continual intense downpours erode rocks into mineral dust. Pah! Can the volcanic action keep up with such an onslaught? Maybe, it does appear that there is some sort of balance. Incidentally, living on the side of a long extinct super volcano does kind of give you occasional pause to consider such matters.

    Youchie! 23’F is horrendous for so early in the season. My previous suggestions as to citrus in your part of the world have been quietly ditched. 32’F was as cold as I saw this year (fingers crossed) and plenty of citrus trees went into shock, to which they have not yet recovered. Respect. I do like your style and getting nature to do the hard yards is not a bad idea at all. And that is a fair concern. When we lived in the big smoke, to the rear of the house was a cobblestone laneway dating back to the 1890’s for the night carts. Occasionally some user would leave their used needles out there. Surely they could be a bit more careful, but maybe it is too much to expect they probably can’t look after themselves even. At least, unlike your situation, they were easy to spot – if you expected them.

    It’s funny you mention that, but a few weeks ago I saw a video of a young girl mucking around with a baby brown snake in the big smoke. The snake was tiny, but it just happened to be the second deadliest on the planet, and the young girl got very lucky indeed that it didn’t bite her. In this state there are laws prohibiting snake catchers to talk about their catches. Other states are different and allow that. It seems like a weird prohibition, but I guess the snakes don’t confine themselves to rural areas and people might freak out. The video was posted because the young girl wasn’t a snake catcher.

    There are other water systems, and they all fail as far as I’m aware. The system had to deal with a thousand gallons of water in a few minutes, and it failed. It is a system which has to be maintained manually under those storm conditions. The inner linings of the pipes have algae and that can tear loose in strips under such energy and then block up the inlets even if there is no other muck in the system. There is no easy answer to this problem that I am aware of, and I have asked around a lot. I accept this downside.

    The critics tend to agree with you, and I believe that was the version I saw. Donald Sutherland is a fine actor and who can forget the role of Oddball, or his brief appearance in Animal House?

    A blue rose would be something else, wouldn’t it?

    Very dull indeed. Maybe they might consider making up their own more evil than evil spirit? I’m left uncertain why they’d want to shock their mama anyway, you’d imagine that no stone had been left unturned in the journey to get to such a place? Out of curiosity, are family generally supportive, or does it vary with individuals? The ocean and stately trees are a great idea, although it might scare us humans to have to listen to hear what those greater entities have to say about our activities.

    My friends who work in IT are telling me a similar story. Imagine if the start-up projects had to pay their way? Holy carp! What next… To be candid, I’m a bit over digital innovation at this point, and I can well understand why a large number of older members of my profession have thrown in the towel and retired. That possibility is not for the likes of me, although I might add that my mother was only a few years older than I when she retired. Financially this is not a possibility for myself.

    Top score! Mate, I’ve also grabbed the last of something which had special meaning to me, and for a few seconds I felt guilty at doing so. Only a few seconds. But then there was the enjoyment. Well done you. Mate, gotta be in it to win it is my thinking with the chocolate.

    Your probably right, and hey, could you actually eat a 12 pound turkey? I’m not even sure my oven would be big enough for such a monster bird. 🙂 We had to cut some poop dags from one of the chickens tonight. Very hands on and rather challenging on the nose. Yeah. Oh well, this is part of the reason for being a vegetarian at home.

    Hmm. I’ve heard that neurotic behaviour has been on the increase since you-know-what and have certainly experience many interactions of late which suggests that it is so. Just sayin… Two words, good luck!

    Had a really low key day today. A gourmet pie was injured in today’s activities and a batch of Anzac biscuits was baked. I’m taking things easy the past few days and will write about that tonight. The vacuum cleaner which we had reconditioned recently was returned with a – get this – new but faulty part. It happens, but a brand new part is faulty and we have to send it back again. At least they’re covering the postage costs.



  39. Yo, Chris – It was a balmy 25F, last night. A warming trend! 🙂

    Probably doesn’t make much difference, but are you on the in-side or out-side of the volcano? That earthquake you had may have been magma moving around, deep in the earth. Earthquakes can have a few sources, other than fault lines. There was just an earthquake down in Texas (not known to be an earthquake prone area), and that might have been from the oil fracking.

    Laws prohibiting snake catchers from talking about catching snakes? I wonder how that came to be? Sounds pretty silly. What, if you don’t talk about them they go away? Ah, I’ve just thought of a possible reason. Snake talk might drive a properties value down. And it’s all about property value. Oh, well, I’m sure the (possible) new government lot will do away with such nonsense. 🙂

    Oh, I just worry some night, they’ll be a big gust of wind, and off you’ll go like Mary Poppins.

    Sweeping generalization, but I’d say the general run of the population isn’t creative enough to come up with their own evil spirits.

    Are families supportive? Varies. Although (another sweeping generalization) I’d say they do more harm than good. Some people would do so much better if they just cut their birth lot loose. As you well know.

    Oh, I’ve baked up a 12 pound turkey, as recently as 3 or 4 years ago. None of it went to waste. It either went into the freezer as individual servings to throw in or on this and that, or, in dressing that I also froze up. But I’ve been hearing horror stories about the price of turkey, this year. And ham.

    Your dust bunnies will live to fight another day! 🙂 But, yes, irritating when a replacement part shows up damaged.

    I stopped by the library, yesterday, and picked up a few things. Of interest (maybe) is “Flush: The Remarkable Science of an Unlikely Treasure.” (Nelson, 2022). I read the introduction and a bit of the first chapter, last night. And yes, it’s about poop. I think it’s going to be a good read. Given the topic, the guy is really funny. The puns come thick and fast. But I think the idea he’s trying to get across is that we’re really missing a bet (in a lot of areas), when it comes to our handling and outlook on, well, poop. Lew

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