Where do we go now?

One of my daily activities is skimming the news headlines. It’s a useful exercise, and gives me a good feel for some of the things going on in the world. Such news titbits are useful, and can help a person interpret overheard conversations. Funnily enough, the other day a couple of well-to-do blokes were conducting a conversation at volume, banging on about economics. They had an outstanding ability to enunciate their words, so that meanings could clearly be discerned from a goodly distance. Probably have a future in the theatre those two. Apparently the conclusion they came to, was that the recent pause in interest rate rises would bring back stability to the markets, and that would be it for any further interest rate rises. I don’t think so.

Anyway, who cares about economics? Earlier this week the stinky dead rat incident dominated my thoughts. It’s a sad tale of woe. A friend was visiting for lunch on the Tuesday public holiday, and for a few days leading up to that visit, I was sure I could smell the unmistakable stench of decomposition – and in the kitchen of all places. It’s very unreasonable of a rat in its final act of indignity, to go and die under the kitchen floor.

The war on rats is going well, brother! Through sheer craftiness, plus some deft use of steel and rock, we’ve finally got the upper hand on the rats. Intruder alert! Intruder alert! Oh no! Spoke to soon. During the months of March and April as we edge ever closer to winter, the nights get cooler. It’s rather chilly out there at night. And rats use every trick in the book to get under the house. It’s dry under there, and it’s also warm. The timber flooring is insulated with really thick glass fibre bats. And the pipes for the hot water running from the wood heater must keep their cosy little rodent nooks super toasty warm on the coldest of nights. It’s like rat paradise.

Last year the rats access to the chicken enclosure was firmly denied. You shall not pass! And take that ya pesky rodents! Since that win, we’ve turned our attention to the house, and have mostly excluded the rats from getting under the floor. The prize for them in getting under there is so great though, that like the chicken enclosure, they never cease trying. And the other day our perimeter defences were breached. A rat got under the floor.

Every time the rats pull off a successful raid, we learn something new about them, then adapt. It’s a brutal war of attrition, the stakes are high, but we’re wining, mostly. But the enemy is smart and the war is long. After this recent successful raid, we blocked access. Except that unfortunately we trapped a rat under the floor. There are plenty of things for the rat to damage there, so we gave the rat a special feed of unpleasantness. The rat died in a strategic location. Then began to stink.

Sandra didn’t believe me about the dead rat smell. After all, the scent was rather faint, but I could smell it. And in the kitchen of all places. You could say that I have a nose for trouble. At that very moment, trouble was laying dead under the kitchen floor sending up a stink.

On the day before the visitor arrived, I crawled under the floor of the house. For a moment there, I thought my ally Dame Plum rodent bane would assist me, but she looked freaked out, so I left her above the floor. Thanks for that Plum. Anyway, it’s a tight squeeze, but you can crawl around under the floor in the dirt, whilst occasionally sliding under plumbing. There are a lot of cobwebs. And without my wingman, Dame Plum, there was a touch of anxiety about a rat attack. During the anti-rodent activities at the chicken enclosure, many of the rats weren’t shy about attacking a human. Some of them used to leap at me. A frightening experience, and produced a sound from me which was thoroughly unmanly.

It’s slow going crawling around under the floor. Your senses are on high alert, sensing where trouble may arise. Fortunately I have a nose which can scent trouble. Whilst navigating the dirt, I had a flashback. A couple of decades ago an employer lied to me in a job interview. And my nose missed detecting that trouble.

The company was one of the top 100 fastest growing companies in the country. They were super excited for me to join the team, I was super excited to work there. Walking into the office, the first thing you noticed was that the staff were moving with a sense of determination and purpose. They were also super excited to work there. The buzz ended the moment one foot crossed over the threshold of the accounting department. The accounts folks looked at me like frightened little rabbits. You could see the fear in their eyes, and the nose suddenly detected the stench of death.

After listening to their stories, the adventurous person sallies forth and makes up their own mind. Over a few days, systems were learned, numbers were reviewed, discussions were had, and hard questions were asked. An inescapable conclusion was reached: Mate, you guys are goin’ down like the Titanic. My boss, who incidentally was a good looking bloke and featured in all the promotional material for the business, when confronted with the assessment, looked at me like I was a crazy person. The justification for the brutal assessment was given and I even supplied a timeline. One month.

Apart from the anxious looking folks in the accounts department, nobody seemed to notice the looming disaster. It was quite the surreal experience. There wasn’t much else to do there, so I quit. And the cheeky scamps didn’t pay me for the good advice they received. Anyway, sadly I was incorrect, they lasted two more months. Note to self: Allow for more time when predicting doom.

As I crawled out of the manhole, all covered in filth and dirt, the dead rat was displayed to the surprised-that-there-was-actually-a-dead-rat, Sandra. I’ve got a nose for this stuff.

Frosty air pools in low lying pockets in the valley below

When it wasn’t raining this week, the days were sunny and warm, but the nights really are cold now and getting closer to freezing. On some mornings you can see frosty air pooling in low lying areas in the valley below.

Work continued on the recently commenced concrete staircase, and we added a few extra steps this week. The cement is very slow to cure now, so you have to have at least two dry rain-free days of curing before the next higher step can be poured.

The recently commenced staircase requires two more steps to complete

At the top of where the staircase will eventually end when completed, a line of Agapanthus plants grew. Those plants are serious garden survivors and have really thick and dense root systems. In order to remove them, the plants were cut back hard, then we used the electric jackhammer to dig them out.

The electric jackhammer is very useful for digging up Agapanthus plants

Observant readers will note in the photos above that the staircase ends between two white painted bollards. The stair steps are narrower than the gap between the two bollards, so we decided to fill the space with large rocks. Peak Rocks being a real thing, we had to go and split some large rocks into smaller rocks, then bring them back up the hill. Hard work.

Splitting rocks so that they are more easily relocated

Whilst we had the tools and power in that area of the property, we decided to tackle one of the larger rocks. This time, we cracked the rock in half, and we estimate that with a bit more work, it should supply about half a dozen useful sized rocks.

Take that big rock! A crack formed right through the middle where we’d drilled and split

Thanks to the splitting efforts, we brought four large rocks back up the hill for the new low gradient path project. But before the rocks could be set in place, we had to lower the height of the path and widen it.

The scary old rototiller gets used to reduce the height of the existing path

The scary old rototiller is used to loosen up the soil on the existing path. The now loose soil is then moved by either rake or shovel over the edge of the path. The process widens the path, whilst dropping the height.

Each week a little bit more of the new low gradient path is completed

The recently sown seeds for the winter leafy green vegetables have grown in size over the past week.

Seeds for the winter leafy greens have grown in size over the past week

The bloke who sold me the recently planted tree fern, advised me to never be afraid to water the plant. On days where it does not rain, the tree fern gets watered. And the two slowly unfurling fronds are almost complete.

Fern CamTM, tells no lies

The recent weather has been ideal for mushrooms, and there’s plenty growing about the farm. Probably all very toxic.

A little cluster of Funghi
More Fun(ghi). Most likely very deadly – not so fun?

Onto the flowers:

Rosemary is super hardy and very attractive
This Hydrangea turns up reliably every year
A delightful Geranium
A pink flowering form of Eucalyptus Ficifolia
The Roses were fed a few weeks ago and have produced a lot of flowers
Despite being close to winter, the Roses continue to bloom

The temperature outside now at about 11am is 12’C (53’F). So far this year there has been 268.4mm (10.6 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 254.8mm (10.0 inches)

52 thoughts on “Where do we go now?”

  1. Yo, Chris – Yup. Projection. You want to be able for the folks in the cheap seats, up in the nosebleed section, to be able to hear you. The least these two captains of industry could have done, is drop a few stock tips. Your fortune would be made! As I can do nothing about the economy, in general, I don’t sweat it much. Now, the household economy is a different matter.

    I’ve watched enough police procedurals to know, one should always keep a jar of vapor rub handy, to rub under you nose. When dealing with any long dead things. You could have just handed some to your guest, and avoided the crawl. 🙂 Probably best that Dame Plum stayed away. If she had crawled ahead of you, and bitten into that rat, given the “special feed,” it might not have been optimum fluffy. I was once laying a ground cover, in a crawl space, and ran across a long dead cat. Well beyond the smell stage. Such was it’s state of mummification, it would have done the Egyptians proud. It was also firmly affixed to the ground. Discretion / valor … I decided to just roll the ground cover over it.

    I think the Titanic reference was apt. Some people just don’t know this sucker is going down, til the water is lapping around their ankles.

    Looks like you have the staircase about whipped. The bollards and rocks really set it off. Don’t forget the childproof gate. Otherwise your insurance rates will go up. 🙂 Handrails might also be a good idea. Oh, heck. Best cover the whole thing over, as the insurance folks would probably consider it to be a death trap.

    Congratulations on conquering Moby Rock. Hmmm. There sure are a lot of rocks scattered around behind you, in that one picture.

    Funny, our venerable old Rosemary is in about the same state of bloom, as yours. I had to remind someone, again, not to over water the Rosemary, as, they are a Mediterranean plant. I use the same watering schedule as you do on the fern. If it doesn’t rain, during a day, it gets watered. Hydrangeas are so pretty. And, they’re blue! Or, can be. The Ficifolia looks like it should live on the sea floor, and catch small fish. The roses are knockouts, especially the yellow one. Lew

  2. Hi crow,

    He took on anyone. Be afraid, be very afraid! And seriously, I never knew he was that accomplished, and yet treated him with respect and deference. Truth to tell, I’ve been very lucky to have had some really positive and strong male role models in my life, and he was one of them. It was quite the achievement given my father left when I was so young I barely recall him.

    This was my Sensei, a very formidable bloke: Raoul Kent, Hanshi, 10th Dan. He was accomplished in many different styles. Bizarrely, there is a photo of me in that book where Sensei was about to throw me across the room. Sadly he passed away a decade ago.

    That’s about what you’ll pay now for a restaurant or pub meal down here too, maybe it’s a bit cheaper here. But I reckon mains are usually more than AU$25 onwards.



  3. Hi Inge,

    It is for that reason that I am trialling alpine strawberry varieties. Those are closer to wild stock, but the variety most people expect have probably been over-bred. The runners produced by the more usual variety of strawberry plants I’ve trialled over the years appear to be sterile, and the yield goes down every single year until all the plant produces is runners. It’s not right, you know. Thus the foray into the much older alpine strawberry varieties. They grow differently.

    Your experience with the ever bearing varieties doesn’t surprise me. Most people prefer good looking strawberries, whereas I value taste and hardiness. It’s not easy being green! 🙂



  4. Hi DJ,

    Man, Sunday is late in the cycle, that you know. Do I respond, or do I write, or maybe do something else altogether? My brain now hurts.

    I must say that you’ve come up with a fascinating theory. So I came up with a couple of other names for astronomical units, and far out, they’d all been used by commercial interests. Pah! No fun. What about astro-stroll units? Thinking about 3,500 years left me feeling tired. And it’s been said before that I work very hard, but perhaps not that hard? Over to you.

    Yes, Avalanche would know. But then explain to me why Dame Plum refused to set out with me on the under floor dead stinky rat quest?

    Probably used a lot of animal fats. Well you did ask the question! Leather is quite amenable to being maintained with waxes.

    I didn’t make that criticism technique up, and for the life of me, I can’t even recall where I stumbled across it. Mate, I was put in a tough situation of having to be a manager to people who were twice my age from the very get-go, and so I never felt comfortable berating people. It ain’t my style anyway. The thing is, if you want to get the job done, you aim for a system where people get the job done (yes, that sounds obvious, but your constant criticism statement suggests other motivations from the people dishing that up), or even aim for a sort of continual improvement.

    Look at how a lot of younger folks see their prospects for home ownership. That reality means that they have no incentive to pitch in for team civilisation. Why try, is a valid option in those circumstances.

    Don’t mess with the farmers is something that many folks living in the city, or even in rural towns, don’t understand. It’s not good. Don’t worry about Mount Robertson, that’s what a home made 5 element tuned Yagi antenna overcomes. 😉 Have antenna, get signal. But yeah, the aurora was another matter. Too early in the morning…

    Not that it is a competition, but years ago we had a much loved dog die on our wedding anniversary.

    Hehe! Not saying you had it coming, but it kind of looks that way to me.

    How did the hard winter affect your options on getting the landscaping done? Did the plants die from the extreme cold weather? Yikes! I see, the snow also acts like a blanket for the plants. It was the cold air which did them in then, perhaps?

    30’C+ sounds very nice to me. It might be about 4’C here at the moment and the wood heater is keeping us nice and warm.



  5. Hi Lewis,

    You met those noisy dudes? 🙂 Or more likely have met such folks. It’s a real skill to be able to project your voice. And it unfortunately takes a lot of practice. I was always encouraged to be quite softly spoken (the old be seen and not heard routine), and haven’t really ever changed my ways in that regard. Probably couldn’t now anyway as it would take a lot of muscle building work, I’m guessing. I’d imagine that some of your inmates could project their voices with force?

    Makes you wonder if today’s actors could actually project their voices for the stage? Microphone technology is pretty good in that regard.

    Hehe! Stock tips from strangers. What could possibly go wrong? Sounds a bit old school Kennedy shoe-shine-kid-story to me. I note that they are making a comeback. One can only wish the bloke well.

    Maybe I worry too much about the economy, but I hold serious doubts that I’ll ever be able to retire. It’s more surviving the inflationary effect on mad cash, than being prudent. At 7% inflation, prices will double in a decade. That’s a big jump, and I reckon the real number is a lot higher than that.

    That’s a genius idea, and I’d never considered doing that to mask the smell of decomposition. The smell of the stinky dead rat didn’t make me retch, it just wasn’t very nice. The delightful guest would probably think that I’d lost my mind. 🙂 Oddly enough, Dame Plum brought me a dead rat yesterday. We don’t set bait other than under the house, but I can’t say that everyone around these parts would do that. There are a lot of owls, and they could be seriously affected by toxic dead rat.

    Maybe like rocks, the mummified cat ended up where it was because that was where it was. The logic is sound. And yes, I too would have probably done that with the ground cover, but we’ve got the worm farm to chuck such finds into. In the end, the worms get us all.

    In looking up my old Sensei for another comment reply, I discovered that he’d passed away about a decade ago. Mate, I was very lucky to have fallen into his orbit for a few years. You know the story about my deadbeat father, but there have been a few really positive and strong male role models who have guided me to better paths. It’s been a real honour.

    Yeah, this here ship is goin’ down. I tend to believe that most people are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach. I can’t recall if it was true, but some of the first lifeboats for the Titanic went away with space to spare. Truly, that ship was a massive challenge to ‘hubris’. To be honest though, it does pay for people to ignore the possibilities.

    Last I checked, insurance premiums seemed to be going up 20% annually. That’s what unsustainable looks like. Although I’d have to suggest that you are hinting that things could always be worse. 😉 I’ve spoken to commercial orchardists who’ve told me in all seriousness that they’re not allowed to place one foot on a ladder tread. Hmm.

    More rocks! Ugg! It was nice to split that rock, but there are others…

    Yes, wise advice. I have never watered the Rosemary plants. They don’t seem to need it. And exactly, the watering schedule works with tender annuals, and also tree ferns. That’s funny about the Ficifolia flowers, yup the undersea anemone. The Roses are amazing aren’t they? We gave them a feed a couple of weeks ago, and the plants really bloomed as a result. It’s such a nice place that garden bed.

    Mate, $5 a pound for apples is making me wish I’d had the time to preserve the fruit which grew here. Oh well, next season. But yes, we’ll hit the coolstore and stock up. Food prices are getting bonkers. More and more, we’re going bulk purchasing and stocking up. I have no idea how other people are coping with this story.

    In some ways the smaller book stores are a bit closer to their customers, so that may have been a variable. It is surprising though that sales continued on as before. There’s also something of a loyalty aspect to businesses such as book stores + people who know can find their way around.

    I see another bank collapsed. Have to laugh, one of your states to the south of you has a department of Financial Protection and Innovation. From what I’ve read upon the subject of The Great Depression, the two concepts are mutually exclusive. But then, maybe not. 😉

    Yup! Raspberry first. The other berries I have to work out how to grow easily. The birds love blueberries (there’s a blueberry farm within walking distance) and strawberries are a mystery to me. I’m scratching around for an easier way of growing strawberries – old school style. Thus the alpine strawberries.

    Junk and fast food is derived from plants, and animals have the same problem because they often consume the same plants. It’s a big connected web, and that’s a problem.

    Jerry rigging something is what most people do in such situations. It doesn’t look pretty, or seal well, but it works with the air con.

    Yum! There really is something else with a dense loaf isn’t there? This fluffy bread like stuff is a bit hard to convince me of the benefits.

    Hehe! Go the party bear! It should be a very entertaining film, and I eagerly await your review.

    I hate yellowjackets and will destroy any nests that I find. Not a fan. Hope they get onto sorting that problem out. Mind you, better than those murder hornet things.

    Hope H put on a more polite show this time around?



  6. Greetings Chris;
    We get mice in the house on occasion. The house is built into the hillside, with an attached garage, so finding all the routes is tough. I’ve blocked some, but obviously not all. We live with it.
    The house cat is not a mouser, would rather just chase laser dots.

    Traps work well once you know one has entered, but once or twice a year, one expires on its own, and then we get that special scent in the air, and go searching. ( and hoping we have no visitors, which would be quite embarrassing)

    Imagine Rod Serling voice over, slowly intoning, “Not quite a basement, not a concrete slab, you have now entered the crawl space zone. Eerie music crescendos and fades………..

    Yes, In the past I’ve spent time in those special places, and as in your case, not because I wanted to be there, but because duty calls. If it’s a repair job, invariably I don’t bring all the tools I need, and retrace the gauntlet more than once.

    On to rocks:
    Have you considered a supplemental/backup method for rock splitting when the sun hasn’t shone enough to charge the jackhammer?

    Skimming headlines- Yes, I keep tabs on the wider world, and since I sample a wide variety, am staggered at how poorly mainstream media fulfills its role in society.

    The quandary is that while I can’t affect national trends, and slowly try to insulate myself from them, given time, they will certainly make my life harder than it had to be.

    So it goes. Not growing ulcers, but not ignoring either.

  7. Yo, Chris – A dip into community theatre, and you learn the voice techniques. Today’s actors … it’s why I always turn on the subtitles, when I watch a DVD. Unless they’ve done a bit of theatre, they’re pretty mush mouthed. Also why I prefer British offerings. Those folks are mostly trained.

    Then there’s “command voice.” Found mostly among military and first responder folks. 🙂

    Yes. Even though there were never enough lifeboats, on the Titanic, a few of the early ones that got off, were not fully loaded. And they couldn’t really pick up people to fill the empty seats, as all the people struggling in the water would have overwhelmed them. Plus, needing to get away from the boat, due to the suction.

    I noticed one of the other Inmates has put in a few herb starts. One of each, but two Rosemary?! When we’ve got venerable old Rosemary that anyone can use? I guess some people have space to burn.

    Also, the Barnes & Noble Bookstore, a mile away, was a free standing store. Our store was in a big mall, so, we got a lot more walk in trade.

    “Financial Protection and Innovation.” Well, that’s a mouthful. You may find this article about our local library system, interesting.


    Ah, the accounting department. Not as bad as a few years ago, when one of the Timberland accountants was nailed for being part of a human trafficking ring, running in young girls from Asia. That was a shocker. Such a quiet, helpful guy.

    It’s a mystery to me, that the birds here, don’t bother our blueberries at the Institution. Maybe it’s all the traffic, coming and going, that keeps them off? I’d better not say that out loud. Hubris, hubris.

    I’ll watch “Cocaine Bear,” tonight. Popcorn’s all made. Last night, I watched the first episode of a new Australian series. “Wakefield.” About an insane asylum in your Blue Mountains. I watched the first episode, and it’s not grabbing me. I’ll give it one more episode. Watched another episode of “One Lane Bridge.” Engrossing. After all that drama, I needed a palate cleanser, and watched a bit of “Star Trek: Lower Decks.” What a hoot! The documentary about “Star Trek” mentioned that there was an animated series, after the first series, back in the 1970s. I never saw it. It was run on Saturday morning, along with the kiddie cartoons. Though, like the original series, the themes could be quit adult. 🙂 They interviewed some of the folks involved in that project, and they said how fun it was, that they could do things with animation, that they could never do on the series. As far as effects, and things.

    I ran into our night manager, last night. We had a talk about the yellowjackets. Turns out, there’s two kinds. And, he spotted several nests. Now it’s up to Little Mary Sunshine, to get an exterminator in here. As he’s highly allergic to the stings (carries an epi pen), I’m sure he’ll ride it, til something is done.

    H was pretty well behaved, down at the Club. My friend Julia usually has some yogurt, or cottage cheese, and H gets to lick out the container. Makes a mess of her muzzle. 🙂 Lew

  8. Hi Chris,
    I’m sure glad you found the rat. Seems like a never ending battle.

    We are taking advantage of higher CD rates which of course doesn’t cover price increases but it’s something. Our bank has had some very good offerings lately.

    Life continues to be a bit too full but mostly in a good way. Yesterday was our Friends of the Library groups annual spring tea. The program this year was Julia Childs presented by a popular historical interpreter. This is the 3rd tea which raises funds for our committee that goes towards purchasing items on the library wish list. It’s been a very popular event though yesterday was anything but spring like, low 40’s, rainy and windy and todays the same. Except for that brief respite a few weeks ago this has been a very cold spring but it looks like we’re finally turning the corner in a few weeks.

    The bluebird trail monitoring has also begun and there are three boxes with eggs.

    Tomorrow me and two other sisters are taking my sister, Kathleen, out for a birthday lunch. She is the sister who was so sick. She’s been getting regular infusions which have helped a lot and has gained 14 pounds and is now up to 92lbs.

    I’m finally going to get some plants outside to harden off this week. The peas and greens I planted weeks ago are finally popping up but no asparagus yet. I have been harvesting some hosta shoots. We have more hostas than I would ever want. People are surprised they are edible. I sauté them in butter with some lemon, garlic, salt and pepper. Very tasty.

    I mentioned as Doug is taking a break from pigs this year there are some trips planned so it’ll be an unusual summer for us. Next week I go to Giant City and environs in southern Illinois for 5 days with my daughters. Three days later Doug and I take off for the Badlands for a ten day road trip. It’s going to be challenging to get things planted this month. My daughter, Carla, will be staying here holding down the fort. She’s had experience with spring planting so should be able to keep things from dying.

    Crossing fingers there are no more rats.


  9. Chris,

    Yeah, Sunday is late in the cycle. I try not to post anything on Sundays. When I do, I don’t expect a reply until your next installment has been posted. Hope that helps relieve future brain pains. 😉

    I have nothing to add to potential names for newly minted astronomical units. McLeod has a much better ring to it for such things than does my surname, Jones. At university, we joked about the Nirider Identity (named after one of my fellow students), an obscure and non-existent mathematical gizmo that allowed one to simply state the answer, as in: “Well, the problem was easy to set up, but the mathematics got rather sticky, and I hit a brick wall. However, I then invoked the Nirider Identity which gave an answer of 42.” Always a joke, until I actually used that on the hardest problem of a senior Electricity and Magnetism exam: “Alas! At this point I know not how to proceed. So I used the Nirider Identity to ascertain that the answer is 42.” The professor wrote on my exam paper, “True, the Nirider Identity gives 42 as an answer. But you need to show your work!” He was in on our jokes.

    I don’t know how the younger set is supposed to survive in today’s world. Home prices are unaffordable. Rent is unaffordable. As you said, trying hard doesn’t make much sense in such circumstances.

    Having a pet die sucks. Having one die on a birthday or wedding anniversary compounds the suckiness. If it’s a revered dog, the loss is magnified.

    Yeah, it was the cold weather killed some of the plants. No snow during the cold snaps and the plant gets hit hard, as do a plant’s roots. Brutal year for several of my plants. At least all the trees survived. I did a lot of work today on the project. Hard work removing rocks and decorative bricks, but that is done for the easy half of the project. This type of work, as you probably know quite well, is why the venerable martial artist always has his students do all of the hard work around his domicile. This type of work builds strength, stamina and even aids in stretching muscles. Better than any gym membership by far, as it’s REAL muscle, not gym muscle.

    Enjoyed the new staircase you’re constructing. I think I see what your goal is with the various staircases. In the far distant future, a new civilization will discover Fernglade Farms and do an archaeological dig. They will find several outdoor staircases that appear to lead to nowhere. Yes, future generations will think that you constructed stairways to nowhere.

    Reminds me of that old, ummm, musical “Fiddler on the Roof”. In a song early in the movie, Tevye sings “If I Were a Rich Man.” One part goes something like, “I’d build me one long staircase just going up, and one even longer going down. And one more leading nowhere just for show.” So others have thought about confusing future archaeologists with staircases.


  10. Lew,
    My preferred method for locating yellow jacket nests. Sit in the general area looking at the air but not really focusing on any particular area. After a while lines of flight will become noticeable. Then focus on where they converge. Works every time…

  11. Chris,
    Yes the snow acts like an insulator. It’s not the cold as much as the dry air. Winter is effectively a desert if the water is frozen and the air is bone dry. Last winter in western PA killed a lot. The Bamboo is probably dead to the ground, so I’ve been harvesting.

  12. Hi Gerry,

    Thanks for the explanation. Of course, I had not considered that aspect in relation to water – winters here are at 99% humidity for months on end, so that’s my idea of winter. The sheer endless humidity comes with its own challenges.

    Wise to harvest the bamboo and I’ll be interested to hear if the roots survived the extreme cold snaps and then re-sprout.



  13. Hi Steve,

    Mice are as sneaky as rats, but can get in via the tiniest of openings. Hmm, yup. Since the rats have been on the back foot – and habitat destruction and reduced food opportunities is the best approach – the mice have been on the increase. I have this odd notion that the two critters compete for the same nesting space and perhaps the food sources also overlap. One may even feed on the other.

    Yes, I absolutely agree with you. Not only is it hard to discover all of the routes, but the cheeky scamps are not shy about creating new ones. We’re learning pretty fast though.

    Cats can be a bit fickle, as are dogs in that regard. That’s why of the three dogs, only Plum has earned a title for services rendered to the farm. If you get a cat that is interested in mousing and ratting, that’s a good cat to have.

    Hehe! Glad you understand the awfulness of the situation – and those that know, nose. 😉 You are now entering the Zone! Mate, it was good stuff.

    In such situations I apply Fluffy technique number fourteen, which is yell to the Editor for assistance (mobile phones are handy in these instances)! Can you drop me down the (insert much needed tool, material and or sealant). It works. And that happens with me too. It’s hard to have thought of every contingency, and inevitably some tool or other is left behind. What do you do?

    Ah, yes, I do have a set of feathers and wedges. The holes still have to be drilled into the rocks though, but you’re right, once we get to around four weeks either side of the winter solstice that job will slow down. There are other projects which need doing. We could crack the generator out if needed, but better to use the sun.

    It’s a bit wrong isn’t it? If I had to grade their efforts, I’d give them a D- with the accompanying comment: ‘could do better’. 😉 I found out in an article this morning that the powers that be intend to up my workload. A bit of consultation would have been nice.

    It’ll get me too sooner or later. I suspect inflation is a whole lot higher than the official numbers, but even at 7%, that means most things will double in price before a decade is done. Even if you’re the last person standing, you’ll still fall under those crushing conditions.

    I try not to worry about such things either, and instead continue to keep up the turtle pace on activities here – which gets stuff done. I’m sure you know what I mean.



  14. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks, and I was pleased to retrieve the rat. Sandra really did not believe me that there was a dead rat under the kitchen floor. I’m not entirely certain what the visitor would have made of the faint odour. Probably not good!

    Exactly, and we’re doing the same here. The thing to be mindful about is to ensure that you consider the limits for the deposit insurance, but you’d know about those.

    Other than the cold weather, the fundraiser sounded good. And it’s always great to have a presenter. Were there scones and muffins to go along with the tea? Freshly baked muffins with proper jam and cream are a serious delight. How bonkers is the weather? It’s 50’F here tonight. My brain now hurts after considering the variability. Hope spring warms for you and the garden – plus Leo and Salve will love the warm sunshine.

    Congrats on the eggs. Do the parent birds leave the eggs in the nest whilst they forage? A risky strategy in the world of bird.

    Oh my. Margaret, I’m happy to hear that your sisters condition has improved with the infusions. They apparently don’t work for everyone, so she was very lucky. Between you and I, it’s wiser to have a bit of extra resources just on the off chance that illness strikes. The old timers used to favour that option too, for good reason. I’m currently consuming a decent chunk of tiramisu. Yum!

    Thank you so much! Ah, we’ve got a new garden bed which is very shady. Hostas might be the plant – and the shoots are edible. Hmm. Must look into this matter further.

    The plants will be fine. Hope you both have a lovely trip.



  15. Hi DJ,

    Maybe the brain pains won’t be a factor in the future, but then again, they just might! No worries, I knew you’d understand.

    Down Under your name might work better for the astronomical units because it could be adapted for local conditions. You doubt me? How does this then sound: The Earth is 42 Jonsey’s units from the sun. What is a Jonsey’s unit, well I can’t tell you, and most people know better than to ask. 😉 All sounds very mysterious don’t you reckon?

    Oh, that’s a great reply from the professor who was in on the joke. Funny stuff. And I absolutely agree with you, one of the most intelligent sentences around is: “I don’t know”. From that point knowledge can accrue.

    That’s the thing. If trying hard does not work, that doesn’t necessarily imply that people will do nothing. And I suspect that belief (that people will either go along, or do nothing) underpins a lot of policies and strategies. The future will be far from that actually, but I suspect that events have gone too far now. Where they’ll go, nobody knows. But go they shall, for events have been set in motion. My natural preference is for stability, if only because entropy is always hungry and you have to work just to keep things the same, but that is an unpopular view. Most folks tend to want more. They might get what they want, but for how long is the question. Better to seek stability, or even a gentle decline.

    I hear you about that. It never gets easier, but in some ways it is a reminder to live, and try not to let other folks stress you out.

    Hehe! I see that you are familiar with Mr Miyagi? 🙂 He was onto something there. Ah, I see there is a master plan forming and evolving in your garden. Very good. And I agree, what develops from that work is different isn’t it? Glad to hear that the trees survived. When I recently read the book ‘Cheap Land Colorado’, I had no idea that large trees are hard to grow in areas with the occasional extreme winter day. Makes sense though when you look at the photos of such places. I just have no experience of such land.

    Hehe! Very funny about the future archaeologists and their confused activities. Mate, that’s their problem. I might leave them a little time capsule saying that by constructing the stairs we were in search of the Elves who were rumoured to have the secret to the ultimate energy source. That’ll mess with their heads. 😉

    Yes, who can forget that notorious ear worm. And it’s a musical.



  16. Hi Lewis,

    Having sub titles is pretty handy. I’m also of the opinion that some films I’ve watched have had awful sound mixing. Hey, it’s hard to recount a ripping yarn, if ya canna un-a-stan what them actors be sayin’! I hadn’t considered that aspect of an actors earlier training. Sir Patrick Stewart has a very commanding use of his voice. Makes a lot of sense.

    Yes, I’ve encountered the command voice. It can be used, and those are great examples, but there is a cost I reckon for doing so. And you hope the people using that technique can back up the words with action and skills.

    That was really weird that the earlier lifeboats left whilst not full. Have you ever come across the rationale behind that bit of craziness? Mind you, when there is a big fire, I’ve read that the community roughly splits evenly in three responses: Leave early + Be ready to leave, but keep an eye on conditions + No idea at all. After the big 2009 fires which the brigade was involved with for weeks (not to mention vast resources across the state), I was haunted by the story of a bloke who was surprised by the fires, and had been spending that day constructing a chicken pen. For days leading up to the big day, you’d hear about how bad the day was going to be – but plenty of people said they didn’t get any warning. I’ve never really known what to think about that story.

    What? Can the sinking boat suck lifeboats under? Holy carp. There’s some stories out there about that effect. Seems like the big risk is getting sucked back into the ship as the air races out and water races in. Few swimmers would be strong enough to resist that pull.

    Rosemary as a plant is pretty hardy, and a person can only consume so many leaves. I’d stick to one or two plants, but as you say: space to burn. Beats me too why limited space would be used for such a plant. I see numbers vary, but a couple of decades seems to be the way of things with lifespan for that plant.

    I see, walk in trade is very useful in retail. Yes, your position in the mall was a bonus. Can’t say that I’ve ever come across a book store which is in one of those huge warehouse type arrangements in industrial estates (or edge of town) that the big box stores tend to favour. Not sure that I’d enjoy the vibe of such a place.

    Ah, not good about the library, but it seems that the appropriate authoritas were notified, some was recovered and another was settled. Still, the deductible is no small amount of mad cash. Hey, you can never tell, although I’d have to add that being ‘quiet and helpful’ is not necessarily indicative of dodgy behaviour! 🙂

    I’ve witnessed the aftermath of fraud, and it’s a place where fingers get pointed. Rarely do the folks who were paid for the oversight role during such nefarious activity, handle the outcomes with good grace. I’m big on boring old internal controls, and they work. Probably not exciting enough for some folks.

    Mate, you are very lucky with the birds and your blueberries. If the parrots don’t get those berries, the larger corvids will. If you want some parrots, I’ve got plenty to spare! 🙂 You don’t want them.

    Cool. Hope the drugged up bear story rocks. I’ve heard it’s pretty gory. Ah, that’s a shame about the Wakefield series. It sounds promising, and I have a mate who worked as a psych nurse. He’s cool. Hmm, Lower Decks sounds intriguing. Lewis, I’m easily swayed here. 🙂 What to do? I’d heard about the animated series as well, but like you never saw it. I’ve got the box DVD sets for the original series and am saving it up for a rainy day.

    That’s good he knows where the nests are. I see, things have to follow the proper procedure. Be glad that you are not in medieval France and that it’s a broken roof tile – e.g. It might take a while. Oh my! I’ve never known of people that allergic to the stings – and unlike bees, the yellow jackets can sting multiple times. Ask me how I know this. Far out, what do you do? My thinking is that he’ll see this one through to completion.

    Dogs care not for such things – it’s food for later on. 😉



  17. Yo, Chris – Eons from now, archaeologists will find an inscription, and say, “The translation is a little dodgy, but we think it says, “Stairways to Elvis. Given what we know about pop culture in the 20th century, that makes sense.” 🙂

    “…back up the words.” Or, guns. Guns seem to make a statement.

    Early on, things were pretty calm, on the Titanic. And, a lot of people just thought making a trip out in the cold and dark, and back, didn’t appeal. Or, they thought, “I’ll just wait a bit, see how it sorts out, and catch the next one. Because the boat is unsinkable.” There was one story about a fellow, on the Titanic. As the ship was going down, he was pulled up against a grill, by the suction. Then one of the boilers exploded, and he was propelled up and out of the water. Ah! Here’s his story.


    Speaking of bookstores, I started reading Orwell’s, “Keep the Aspidistras Flying.” Our “hero” is not very appealing, or sympathetic. In fact, he’s a bit of a s___. Maybe he’ll be redeemed, in the end?

    Re: Our human trafficker from accounting: Still waters run deep, and mucky?

    Hey, I’ve been begging for parrots from you for years. Given what they go for, here. 🙂 Smuggle me some eggs? I’d sit on them, myself.

    I watched “Cocaine Bear,” last night. What a hoot! Rather a Darwin at work, kind of a story. 🙂 “Star Trek: Lower Decks” is pretty interesting (and, funny.) And a lot more of the backstory of the characters is revealed.

    Oh, yes. Plenty of people are allergic to wasp and bee stings. Our night manager has all kinds of allergies that would kill him. Besides bees and wasps, he’s also allergic to nuts. Last month, he got a muffin that was supposed to be nut free, and it almost killed him. I was teasing him, last night, about what would happen if I had to wield his epi pen. “Plunge it into your heart, right?” No, no. The thigh. He said there were instructions on the pen. “I’d probably have left my reading glasses, upstairs.” 🙂

    I see Prof. Mass thinks California may have dodged the bullet, when it comes to the Big Melt. They’re in for a cold snap, and the snow will melt off more gradually.

    I read an interesting article, about private equity firms, last night. Unfortunately, it’s walled, for you. But, it comes from a new book, “Plunder: Private Equity’s Plan to Pillage America.” (Ballou). Any private equity firm that buys a company, well, the company is ten times more likely to go bankrupt, then not. One of their tricks is, they buy the property, of a company, and then lease it back to them, at such a rate that the added costs drive them into bankruptcy. And, while they’re at it, they also loot any pension funds. Nice folks. Need to run into a cocaine bear.

    H and I went for biscuits and gravy, this morning. Tasty. She behaved pretty well. When we got back, there was a fire truck and two police cars, in the lot. Don’t know what that was all about. Had to park somewhere else, until it was all sorted.

    I finally got my yearly rent recertification, yesterday. I’ll be paying an extra $38 a month. No drama. Still the best deal, in town. Lew

  18. Chris,
    The bamboo roots always survive and it can go to the negative teens Fahrenheit here. But that does limit their height. Right now it’s a race to finish harvesting before the new shoots come up. Previous growth will not leaf out until June, so it is hard to tell if the plants are killed to the ground or not. However I do need a lot of stakes, etc at the moment.

  19. Hi Gerard,

    I see, the growing height is limited by the eventual die back of the shoots from cold weather – the stems can only grow so far in a single season. Interesting.

    Some fruit trees are like that too, and I’ve got a peach which is now deciduous but I’m dubious as to whether it has died. The branches still retain flexibility, but don’t count your fruit trees until the next season.

    There’s a bamboo nursery not far from here. Who knew? Largest bamboo nursery in Victoria Funnily enough I’d seen them at the farm expos.



  20. Hi Lewis,

    Like it. What about the inscription: There’s a lady who knows, all that glitters is gold. And she’s buying a stairway to heaven. That’ll mess with their heads, don’t you reckon? John Lennon was onto something with that whole eggman / walrus business. 😉 Just had a listen to Led, and it’s a beautiful piece of music. A month or two back I picked up some second hand bonkers high quality speakers which now sit on the desk. It’s quite disrespectful to the folks who made this stuff, and also goes to prove that price is not indicative of quality.

    Of course, a bit of extra authority to a command voice adds something to the heady mixture. Guns seem to be something of a facet of rural living. Down here they’re harder to obtain than in your country.

    What a story! The guy was, as the old timers used to say: Born under a lucky star. A White Star perhaps? Please excuse the pun. He even survived Dunkirk. Thanks for the link, some people have quite astounding lives, and he was one such person. His knack for survival was probably borne from the women and children first good deed. I’ve read that not all shipwrecks follow that good example. And what interested me about his story was that he worked his way up the chain of command. A very competent and experienced bloke.

    I read the plot summary of ‘Keep the Aspidistras Flying’ and it is my general opinion that the bloke didn’t much like himself. He seemed rather difficult to boot. Well, the did the ending suggest that the protagonists journey through the muck just wasn’t worth it? Definitely not a heroes journey there, more of an anti-hero. Am I far off the mark with this opinion?

    Hey, I’ve heard that still waters run deep story, and you know what? I’m coming around to the conclusion that folks who pull that trick have very little to say. Of course, I’m unfortunately a very chatty individual (you may have noticed?) and I’ve spoken with some blokes who are left giving me nothing conversation wise. They just miss or ignore conversation hooks. To be honest, I probably confuse the daylights out of them. I don’t know what he’s sayin’ and I just wish he’d shut up! or words along those lines. 🙂 You could have a better conversation with H. Far out.

    But in that blokes case, his tastes are not pretty.

    Our fortunes would be made, but the fines are big and there’s risk of worse, so perhaps not. Would a photo of a parrot work? Might not bring as much mad cash… Drat it! The moons are against us in this goal of fortune seeking. I noticed the Titanic senior officer survivor spent some time up in the Klondike.

    The Editor and I have been discussing your review of the Cocaine Bear film. It does sound like a hoot! I know what you mean about those sorts of slasher films. There’s always some idiot doing something stupid which leads them (or their mates) to a bad end. A cocaine bear would look rabid. Were the special effects good?

    When I was a kid nobody had food allergies, but then there is always the possibility that they all shuffled off this mortal coil before anyone noticed the food allergy? Wonder if anyone has ever looked into that possibility? Mate the nut allergy would be hard because that stuff is in everything.

    Yes, getting an epi-pen instruction right is probably something which demands the reading glasses! What is this word? Does it say heart or thigh? i dunno. Look, we just have to do something. Alright here goes. Stab! Oops. Chaos.

    Very amusing, yes The Big Chill will save them. And again I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly about the need to adapt, rather than all the fearmongering. It’s easier to whinge I guess, and there may be an impetus to keep people anxious and off their game.

    They’re a mixed bag, that’s for sure. The one I had an encounter with loaded up debt, a lot of debt. Things went badly from there, but not before the sucker was sold off to an unsuspecting public. It happens. Fortunately debt is getting more expensive, so there is an end run for such activity, but so much damage. Money of itself can’t produce things. A cocaine bear holds its own counsel, and probably takes decisive action – even if it is way out of line.

    Did you get any update on all the emergency services? I tend to believe that if there is no sign of smoke and/or damage, that it may have been a minor incident. When it’s not minor, usually easy to tell at a glance. Hey, it may even have been a practice drill. They do such things.

    That is a good deal, and it’s nice when the paperwork is settled.

    Worked late this evening. Had a few minor dramas. All part of life, nothing out of the ordinary. And dealt to with aplomb.



  21. Hi, Chris!

    That was some lot of work, that rat was, but perhaps it will never happen again. Can one rescind a dameship? I am sadly disappointed in Dame Plum. Then again, your experience might have been even more trying with her there under the house with you. We had a flying squirrel fall down the chimney one night and he couldn’t get out. Apparently he’d been there for awhile because, when my son opened the damper to help him, the squirrel shot across the living room to where a filled bird feeder was sitting and glued himself to it and started eating (it had been brought in because the squirrels, of course, had figured out how to get into it). He was so starving that my son could pick up the whole feeder with him attached to it, and put it outside.

    That’s one cold photo.

    Perhaps the jackhammer manufacturer would like to hear about your agapanthus?

    I see the bollards, but what are they?

    Thanks for the flowers!


  22. Yo, Chris – “The Ancients worshipped stairs.” 🙂 You could probably get away with that, with the Maya and Aztec. Nothing captures archaeologists stuffing it up, as the book “Motel of the Mysteries.” If stairs have entirely fallen out of use, in the future, they’ll probably just toss them in with that useful catchall, “Unknown Ritual Object.”

    Yes, here you can pick up a gun at your local convenience store. The Stop N Go, The In and Out. Well, not quit. But our local mall (or, what’s left of it) has a gun store. And it seems like “gun shows” are a regular bi-monthly event at our fair grounds. We’ve just banned the sale and importation of assault rifles, in our State. Which will probably be a brief moment, until the inevitable Supreme Court case.

    I’d say, Lightoller must have, in general, kept a cool head. Maybe his philosophy was something like, “Might die. Might not. In the meantime, there’s stuff to do.” There was a very boring conversation, at the Club the other morning, with everyone kicking around their blood pressure numbers. As far as mine go, got me. If my nose isn’t bleeding, I don’t worry about it much. And, as far as committing what those numbers mean to memory? Well, I just ask whoever is taking my readings, “Is that good?” Always startles them, that I’m rather laz a faire about the whole thing.

    I haven’t finished “Keep the Aspidistras Flying,” yet. After seeing all those Orwell lectures, I think there’s a great deal of it, that reflects Orwell’s history.

    Gee, I don’t know how we’d get on in “Real Life.” I generally avoid the overly chatty. 🙂 Although if your chat, reflects what you write, no problems.

    Maybe back in Ye Olde Days, people just didn’t talk much about their allergies? There’s also some theories kicking around that early exposure can head off said allergies.

    “Keep people anxious and off their game.” That’s sure going on over here, now. Debt ceilings, defaults. Might not get my Social Security check, next month. Let’s all get wound up.

    Haven’t got any kind of a straight story, as to why the police and EMTs were running all over the place, but paddles (Clear!) may have been involved. Or not.

    Master Gardeners are coming, this morning. I measured out the strawberry patch, last night, and inserted plastic forks where each one should go. Then I finished pulling the stuff out of the plot I’m going to share with our night manager, and raked it out. But first, walk the dog.

    Oh, the special effects were pretty good in “Cocaine Bear.” Or at least, they were on my small screen. I don’t know what they’d look like, in a theatre. Lew

  23. Chris,
    What happens is the bamboo plants lose the energy they invested above ground-that’s what limits the height in the long run. After the rapid shoot up in May of their first year, which is truly impressive, the individual stalks never gain additional height. In a mild winter they stay green and leafy (albeit tired looking by this time of year), and then re-leaf in June *after* the new shoots have reached *their* full height. It seems that all their energy is focused on the new shoots before the old stalks. An exception to apical dominance, it seems…

  24. Chris,

    I see that Gerry supplied the important data point that I left out: when it gets very cold, the humidity plummets and the air sucks the moisture out of everything. The blanket of snow helps to protect against this.

    I LIKE it! “The Earth is 42 Jonesy’s from the sun.” Perfectly said, and the lack of definiton of what a basic Jonesy is adds the perfect layer of mystery, doubt and uncertainty. Members of the Amalgamated Union of Seers, Philosophers Luminaries and Other Thinking Persons will be happy with the mystery and uncertainty.

    That professor and I got along famously from his first day. He’s also the chap who invited me to speak at seminar that time. He was very intelligent, a lot of fun, and a good teacher. Oh, and extremely short, maybe 155cm. He would walk down the hallway between 2 of the other physics professors, who were 185cm and 198cm tall. We often said that he looked like a valley between two mountains.

    Yes, stability is best in my book. Or a gentle decline when it comes to that. Unfortunately, that’s not what we get. And the powers that be often get stuck in that duality that you suggested, of people either going along or doing nothing. My experience is that many people will do something, and often not what the powers that be expected.

    The Miyagi Method would be my preferred training method if I were an advanced martial artist teaching a student or two. My yard and garden areas would be in wonderful condition. The downside is that I wouldn’t be as active because the students would be slaving over the work that I formerly did. So it’s probably a good thing that I’m just this guy and not some sort of super hero.

    Hehehe. Yes, please leave clues around suggesting that “Up these stairs are Elves” or “These stairs lead to enlightenment.” Messing with future minds could be fun.

    Oh, wow, oops. I stuck you with double jeopardy with an earworm AND a musical. I’ll try not to do that again. There are worse earworms though, but I’ll not mention them. Yet. 😉

    We got out on a trip for ourselves on Tuesday. Had lunch/dinner at a favorite eating establishment somewhere between here and there. It has been years since we were able to get out on a fun little trip, just the two of us with no family pressures dictating the location and schedule. It was a nice break from everything.


  25. Hi Gerry,

    I see, and many thanks for the explanation and observations. A very intriguing plant, and I must make its acquaintance and obtain some varieties. I had not been aware that the young shoots have been used as food. Hmm. It does seem to be the exception. Some of the trees here are tall, yet they’re still relatively young. Bamboo could get quite large here.

    Just for your interest, a few weeks ago I picked up some second hand Jamo speakers for very little mad cash – certainly nowhere near what they cost when new. Last week they were connected up to the amp which was recently refurbished. It’s a pleasure to restore this stuff to its former glory. The Jamo’s are a bit lacking in the bass regions, but err, blame the subwoofer in the Editors car for setting the new normal. 🙂 You probably know what I mean.



  26. Hi DJ,

    Ah, that is a considerable difference to here with the low humidity during the winter months (he says noting the next four cold days will be associated with rain). Bizarrely, that occasionally occurs here during the summer months – low humidity (very occasionally < 10% yikes!) And it's a problem for plants. I had not appreciated that aspect of the winter weather in your part of the world. Yes, what is a Jonsey astronomical unit? Theses will be penned, and there will be much arguing to and forth as to the exact meaning. Meanwhile, little of actual value will be achieved, and that lot can provide as you rightly note - public entertainment! I always enjoyed that concept in Hitchhikers, the cheeky rascals. 5 Feet 1 inch, is cool. It's never how tall a person is, but whether the door will open in advance through sheer force of personality. Your professor mate sounded like fun. Few things are as enjoyable in life as a brew, a decent meal, all accompanied by a good chat. It's funny the people who enter into your life and make an impression. You never know how things will turn out on that front. Well that's exactly it. Sun Tzu didn't make up the idea to do something out of the ordinary as a response to stupidity, he worked it out by observing people and testing strategies out in the real world - where it counts. A lot of people get ideas, and then hope to make the world conform to those things. It's an option I guess, but I don't think that most people will enjoy it. 😉 Sorry to geek it up, but batteries are something which is of interest to me. They're useful little chemical reactors. Anyway, picked up a charger - analyser machine for the little rechargeable NiMH AA and AAA batteries which we use in lots of little devices. The labels for those little batteries don't always tell the full story. Hmm. I wanted to get a deeper understanding as to how long those things will last, and we don't get the cheapies I can assure you. Hehe! I so hear you about that, and likewise also enjoy doing all the stuff around here which needs doing. Better than going to the gym and walking on a treadmill huh? 🙂 Don't laugh, but I knew someone who use to drive to the gym only to then walk on a treadmill machine. Only slightly bonkers, well, maybe a bit more bonkers than that. We tried removing a rock from the paddock today, and the best we could achieve was taking about a foot off the top of the rock. The thing was immense. Anyway, we backfilled over it with fresh soil, so we'll never see the thing again - maybe. Split one of the large rocks which was itself split in half last week. Hauled all the still large rocks back up the hill, and poured the final cement step. A good days work. How's your place going with all that landscaping? It's more the musicals. A man's gotta know his limits. 😉 DJ, mate that outing sounds really fun. Hope the food, brew and conversation were good. 🙂 Cheers Chris

  27. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! By the time the stairs are getting worn down by the elements, the house will probably be long gone. Can you imagine some future person walking around the forest up here and coming across all the various stairs? Yes, unknown ritual objects will probably be how it rolls. Whatever were they up to those ancients? And here’s us just using the stairs to get around more easily. 😉 Hope at least some of the fruit trees establish future wild stands? That would be good. The Mayan temples with those well formed stairs suggests to me that plenty of folks used them and the top was the destination.

    Hey, Motel of the Mysteries sounds like a fun story of utter misinterpretation of what is a basic shelter. It kind of reminded me of how hard some of the efforts at interpreting life in ancient Pompeii would be like. The ancient fast food joint there came to mind. Dead roasted circus giraffes anyone? 🙂

    Yeah, I can see that. They’re around here and part of the rural area, but you know, mostly they play part of the local background colour. No big deal really. After the Port Arthur Massacre, the community pretty much collectively decided to set hard limits on assault weapons. There was a general amnesty and buy-back for pretty much any guns. I heard at the time people took their old ones in (always wise to phone in advance!), got mad cash and went and bought new ones – which were then all registered. Kind of makes sense. The things are machines after all and only have so much lifespan. The entire country paid a bit of extra tax in order to pay for it all. There’s testing and licensing, not to mention delays for first purchases – which are only sold from gun shops. Hmm. Seems to work, despite the occasional whinge from some sectors. Basically, it’s no big deal, but they were not really a big part of the culture down here anyway. Certainly open carry would have a person taken down and hauled away. Nobody wants to be the person who is ‘assisting the cops with their investigation’.

    The problem if it is a state thing, people will simply drive such things across the border.

    That’s what I was imagining was Lightoller’s mindset too. He’d experienced more than a few shipwrecks – not to mention sticky situations – and survived them all. A cool head in a crisis.

    Ook! It’s a bit of a thing that sort of health conversation with folks of a certain age and beyond. Yeah. I tend to avoid such conversations, and rarely do I offer up my own list of woes (which candidly are few), but I fully accept that it is a normal topic of conversation. What do you do? Try not to initiate such discussions? Dunno. Usually the only time I’ll mention health issues is if I am ill and the writing is affected, but other than that. On the other hand, if their health is their biggest worry, things ain’t all that bad in the wider world.

    Well, yes, exactly. When I read the plot summary for the book, I was wondering if there was an auto-biographical element to the story. What do you reckon about the whole ‘artist sell-out’ meme that the protagonist appears to have struggled with? There’s a weird sort of thread which suggests that if an artist makes a decent living from their works, somehow they’ve sold-out, whatever that means. And for the protagonist, in the end all of the angst appears to have come to naught. Was it even real angst the protagonist was suffering, or was he an actor?

    Hehe! Well, if ever the moons aligned (hardly likely) I promise to not overdo the chattiness. 😉 Ask yourself the question, and ponder the response: How many people do you know who happily discuss ideas? Hmm. It’s funny you mention this issue, but…

    Maybe, in relation to the allergies. I’m of the opinion that people consumed less processed food in the days of my youth. It takes a lot of preservatives to stop food from going off, and those things enter a persons gut and who knows what flora and fauna preservatives will have in such an environment. Probably not good.

    Don’t you reckon that there is an advantage for the authoritas to keep people wound up? It’s a bit like marketing: You look tired, here’s something for that, you know you want it. Except the authoritas are marketing themselves. I ain’t buyin’. 🙂

    So, pretty much nobody knows, but there is heaps of speculation as to what was going on? Sounds like the rumour mill to me. Funny. Are you sure aliens weren’t involved?

    What sort of spacing did you use for the strawberry plants?

    Who cares? If the effects look good on the small screen, that’s perfect. I don’t believe the film is still in the cinema.

    Finished that new staircase today (or at least the final step is slowly curing). Had to put a plastic cover over the curing cement because it’s meant to rain tomorrow evening, and then for the next four days. If the surface is firm tomorrow, I’ll probably pull the cover off. The rain will be good for the concrete. And we broke up one half of the rock we split last week. Yay! Lots of rocks. We need them. One large chunk we brought back up the hill still needs to be split again.

    If I recall correctly, last year we were unable to pour any further steps due to the winter weather, but we probably could have if we’d kept the rain off the surface for a few days. The stuff dries slower in cold weather.

    Might get back into the new path tomorrow. It’s good to get outside in the cold and cloudy conditions and get rid of the minds cobwebs. Hey, has Elinor decided upon the tomato variety yet?



  28. Hi Pam,

    I’d like to think that the stinky dead rat incident of 2023 won’t happen again, but my gut feeling suggests otherwise! Dead rats, happen… Hey, we could get that on a t-shirt and people would wonder what it was all about!

    Look it’s not just you, I too was disappointed to have lost my wingman. Candidly it was like a scene from the Top Gun movie, and I was left wondering where had the wingman gotten too. And there were dead rats. Dame Plum made up for it the following day by presenting me with a dead rat she somehow got in the garden. We’ll have to forgive her and I guess everyone has their kryptonite, don’t you reckon?

    Wow, the poor little flying squirrel, although it turned out OK in the end. If they’re anything like the little sugar gliders here, they need a lot of feeding in order to do what they do. Strangely I’ve only ever seen a few sugar gliders over the years here, but you can hear them almost every night. A few weeks we spotted one clambering up a tree. Thought it was a mouse or bush rat, but you could see the folds of skin where the membrane gives them the natural wing suit. Incidentally, glad for the stuck little fella at your place that the fire was not lit.

    Brr! It was 37’F the other morning, and I guess that’s that for the growing season. Except maybe in the greenhouse, which was notably warmer than outside on that cold morning.

    Maybe. Sometimes I’ll write reviews for products that I find useful. What surprises me is that they get read.

    The bollards are set into the edge of the driveway because one day many long years ago the plumber was in a bit of a hurry and almost drove off the driveway and into the shady orchard. We decided to cement in poles which are painted white. Sends a strong message: You shall not pass! And if you do, things will go badly.


    It’s sure been cloudy and cool this week. Oh well. We’re still going hard dehydrating tomatoes and chilli’s and so far have doubled what we did last year. We’re working out how to adapt to such a dismal growing season. How’s it going at your place weather wise?



  29. Yo, Chris – When I took H out for her walk last night, there was lightening, way off to the south. So far, I couldn’t even hear the thunder. This morning, we’re getting some real boomers, overhead. Probably, the Sky Gods grumbling about such an early hour. I just dropped H off at the groomer’s, for her 8am appointment. Oh, well. When I pick her up, the Club will be open, and I can get a cuppa, and she can show off her new “do.”

    Sometimes, those Mayan an Aztec temple tops, were not a destination you would want to take in. Although the Mayas, were more into throwing people into deep wells. 🙂

    Circus giraffe: tastes like chicken. There was many a story that during WWI and WWII, in Europe, they couldn’t feed the zoo animals, anymore. Or, people for that matter. So, often, zoo animals were slaughtered, and the meat portioned out to the folks.

    Massacres here, don’t seem to sway a certain segment of the population. I’d guess Supreme Court cases are already gearing up.

    When people start banging on about their health woes, I change the subject. If that doesn’t work, I discover a previous appointment I’d forgotten about.

    Knowing a bit about Orwell’s biography, there are themes in “Keep the Aspidistras Flying,” that do mirror his life. I’d say, when the hero (?) Comstock talks about his family, there are certain elements from Orwell’s family. Schooling. Ditto. Comstock has two “good” jobs. As Orwell had when he went out to Burma. Comstock throws them over, as Orwell did. Of course, there’s lots of family drama. Comstock is always banging on about how money (or, the lack thereof) is the root of all his problems.

    Yes, people who “make” it in the arts, are often looked down on. At least by the Literati. Capital “L.” The folks in the “Star Trek” documentary, mentioned how none, none of them ever got an award, of any kind, for acting. Sure, lots of awards for scripts and special effects. But none for acting. Sci-fi is kind of the red headed stepchild 🙂 of Hollywood.

    Oh, I quit like our chats here. Exchange of ideas … cooking and gardening tips and methods. Lots of spaghetti thrown against the wall. More than a few laughs along the way.

    Oh, sure. Keep people frightened, and they’re willing to give up all kinds of freedoms. They’ll trade their grandma, for a feeling of “safety.” Whatever that is.

    I spaced the strawberry plants, a bit more than a foot in all directions.

    Congratulations on finishing off this weeks stairway. 🙂 You ought to paint a few of them gold, just to really screw with future archaeologists.

    Elinor’s got a caregiver, now, who’s willing to drive her around and wheel her about, in her chair. So, I’d guess they’ll make a trip, sooner or later, down to the variety store, with all the plants. I’m sure that will be an agonizing expedition, that I want no part of.

    Last time I brought H home from the groomer’s she thought the cut was just fine. Last night, she started banging on about how she wants it done. After awhile, I remembered a previous appointment. Lew

  30. Chris,

    One of my coworkers went to the gym during his lunch hour. Every day. I walked during my lunch hour. Every day, usually to the big park downtown. Coworker’s gym was near the park. The car park where he parked his car was a third of the way from the office to his gym. I often left at the same time he did and was walking through the gym’s car park as he was arriving in his car. Why he didn’t walk there is beyond me. Many years later the gym moved to a new location about 200 meters from our office, closer than his car park. I asked him if he was still going to drive to the gym. He was, ummm, rather taken aback, shall we say. Oh, he did walk to the new gym.

    Rechargeable batteries are interesting. The old nickel cadmium batteries were well known for their quirks. Had to let them run down completely before recharging or they would be able to store less and less charge. When I was the lab assistant for the junior college physics department over 40 years ago, I was tasked with trying to revive the worn out nickel cadmiums. The idea was to charge a very large capacitor, then to discharge it across the 2 poles of the deadish battery. Didn’t really work well, although I was able to “revive” between 5% and 10% of the batteries.

    The landscaping project is moving, albeit slowly. Meanwhile, the Princess is feverishly trying to put fringe on two large shawls. She needs to have them ready for a May 20 event and has other obligations before then also. I have been pressed into service: the threads for the fringe are on large spools. They need to be cut to a specific length. There IS a method to “mass produce” 30 to 50 at a time. It’s still meticulous. Punching holes in the shawl is work, too, and she’s having me help with that.

    Supposed to rain for 36 hours. Or maybe sprinkle a lot. Had 2 evenings of thunder and lightning. And wind. What we call a 4 forty. 4 raindrops and 40 mile per hour winds. Very good at leaving your car covered with mud drops.


  31. Hi DJ,

    Going out for a walk at lunchtime is a great way to refresh the brain. Can’t say for sure whether driving to a gym would produce the same result, but my gut feeling suggests that it would not do so. 😉 You know the bloke was going to drive there don’t you? Mate, I sometimes get people off side by pointing out the obvious. They don’t like it! Not sure why. Hehe!

    Oh yeah, who can forget those NiCd batteries? And yes, the memory effect was a pain. Did they really expect you to do that with a large capacitor? Wow, well, it was worth the attempt. My understanding with that chemistry battery is a slow trickle charge, then a heavier discharge, then a slow trickle charge might help. The machine can do that over two days. Probably not an ideal technology that chemistry. At 5% to 10% they’re probably for the tip. Hey, Cadmium is like super toxic, and a mate had a large array of old telecommunications batteries with that chemistry, and when they eventually died, disposal was not cheap. At least lead acid batteries are mostly recyclable. The battery analyser machine is amazing. A couple of the batteries perform better than the label rating. Thanks for the tech talk time.

    Nothing wrong with slow landscaping. A bloke needs time to look around and see what’s going on and whether the overall composition works. Good stuff! And what did the old timers say about idle hands? They were onto something there. Yup. It is a truth universally un-acknowledged that off the rack clothing items save a lot of work. But it is very skilled work to be able to make and/or repair clothing items. Oh yeah. Sandra tells me that her mother was useless with that skill, and she’s had to pick it up and re-learn it all from scratch, but funnily enough it’s become quite the hobby for her. And also affected the clothes that she does purchase. There’s a lot of rubbish out there, and nobody notices.

    Hehe! You’ll need more water than that to wash the car! That mud rain happens here when the storms pick up red dust from the centre of the continent. Probably brings in a lot of soil minerals. So did it eventually rain?



  32. Hi Lewis,

    Always fun to have a crash between high and low pressure systems. I quite enjoy thunder and lightning, but there have been some very near hits here (large trees and stuff). Blew up a modem once (external antennas). And there was that one time a tree was hit by lightning and then ignited. You could see the smoke plume from quite a ways away off in the forest – and nobody could find the tree easily. It took hours to finally put the fire out. It was kind of funny because when I first noticed the plume of smoke I was thinking to myself that there is no house near to the smoke, and then wondered what was going on. It was good to see so many locals working together and getting onto the problem.

    How was H with the thunder? Dogs can be very strange about thunder. The sound freaks the current lot out, but former canine residents were super chill, but who can forget Dame Scritchy storm detective? She gave hours of advanced notice of an impending storm, and was usually correct.

    Good to hear that the weather gods in your part of the world are sensible enough to complain about early mornings. They might be onto something there! 🙂

    There’s a lot of incentive for H to learn new tricks, whilst conducting subtle experiments on the other folks at the Club. Make sure she keeps away from the caffeine.

    Oh, shoot! Yes, of course and thanks for the correction. Many dastardly deeds probably occurred at such Mayan and Aztec places to appease the local – and perhaps rather bloodthirsty – gods. The sensitive person might notice that the response is perhaps more direct and hands-on than the four horseman of the apocalypse. The outcome though, same, same, but different.

    Hope nobody wanted to use those wells for the water? It is rather dry in some of those Mayan areas. I’ve read accounts of crims in Victorian era London chucking bodies into wells, and um, yeah, revolting, but people kept having to use the water. I guess it’s like the old story of the frog in the boiling water – at first it wasn’t so bad.

    Hehe! You go first with the giraffe meat. 🙂 Mate, I’ve been to some countries where ‘bush meat’ was on the menu. I stuck to well cooked vegetables with rice. It seemed like the safer option. Years ago I read about a bloke who ended up with a brain worm after consuming a tainted meal. Nobody wants a brain worm. You take your chances in other times and countries, and who knows, the meat was probably pretty good. It’s awesome to consider that someone in Pompeii even knew how to butcher the animal – and what does that say?

    Hungry people can do strange things.

    Yeah, that’s certainly the case, but then you have some freedoms which I can’t enjoy – freedom of speech comes to mind here. When I read some of the things written in your country, at the back of my mind is the story that if such things were ever tried down here – lawfare would soon result. And that action would shut people up because they’d soon be broke and lack the ability to say the things that may have only recently been able to say. Swings and roundabouts, but perhaps with a higher body count.

    That’s a difficult subject – the health dramas conversations. I don’t indulge such conversations mostly because my lot tend to reach your age and then promptly keel over, and so it is not lost on me that time is short and friends and convivial chats are moments to enjoy. I can’t say for sure how other people view this matter, but I tend to follow your guide here, whilst also reaching for a middle ground response of short engagement then moving onto other subjects. I can’t say that I’m overly successful with my approach, but a person can only but do their best, and try not to mess things up too much. Always a possibility!

    A question mark following the word hero was my perspective in the matter as well. Would I hang out with the protagonist in the local pub whilst he inveigled a pint from me (the dreaded pub-test)? Dunno, although if the whingeing ceased due to what at face value is beer blackmail, who knows where the conversation will then venture? Comstock’s problems appeared to have originated from within, but maybe I’m being overly harsh?

    Hehe! Man, that’s good. Yes, sci-fi may well be the red-headed step child of Hollywood! Thanks for the laughs.

    Yes, I’d also like to believe that our conversations go places. And if I must add, a lot of folks discuss ideas as if they were beliefs. Well, they ain’t! At least they aren’t the last time we may have thought to investigate this matter. I laugh a lot, and acknowledge that not everything goes well for us – that’s life. You know, there’s always some really crazy stuff that produces mirth. Far out, have you read the newspapers lately? 😉 Crazy stuff, but also rather silly given the underlying and much ignored larger story of decline.

    Thanks for that about the strawberry plant spacing. Are you intending to steel your heart and cut off the inevitable runners?

    Hehe! Yes, this weeks staircase indeed. It’s looking good, but the rain this evening might possibly damage the surface so I chucked a plastic cover which sits over the highest tread. In a day or two, the rain will actually benefit the curing concrete.

    Continued working on the new low gradient path today. What I thought would be an hours work, took most of the day. But the work was needed to be done, and it’s now looking good. The Editor headed out to dinner tonight with a friend, and I reckon I’ll have a quiet night. Might watch a film, and I was thinking of The Breakfast Club. You mentioning the film the other week has brought it to my mind.

    That’s good news about Elinor’s caregiver. You’d been rather quiet of late on that score, so I was wondering how things were going. I’d presumed the lack of recent news, was in fact good news.

    Hehe! Well done H, and points for trying, but err, no luck there. Lewis, stay strong and ignore the demands!



  33. Chris:

    The weather here has been a little extra cool for over a week, pretty cold at night, so I have held back planting the things that would normally be out, like tomatoes and peppers. It is soon to warm up, though.

    I am spending most of my garden time devising squirrel discouragers. They are devastating a lot of the pawpaw and jujube seed beds, and the nut beds – especially one called yellowhorn – of my son’s orchard business. He does have cages over most of them, but is behind with some stuff, so I am helping.


  34. Hello Chris
    Weather 60F with showers. I am hopelessly busy at the moment and not managing to read much. However, I have been assuming that as you list ‘notayesman’ at the side, you read it. Just in case you don’t, it was Australia today.


  35. Yo, Chris – I quit like thunder and lightening. And high winds. H doesn’t seem overly concerned. Just shrugs it off.

    I didn’t have to water, last night. We got enough rain. And, it looks like we’ll have at least showers, for the next 5 days, or so.

    The Mayas. See: Cenotes. They were sink holes in the limestone crust. There’s a lot of them, down that way. Usually, one would be the designated “sacrificial well.” There was an article in National Geographic, years (decades?) ago, about an expedition to scope out one of those wells. Besides the odd skeleton, there was a lot of gold, jade, and other valuable stuff, chucked in those wells. Recent work has revealed a fairly complex water catchment system, around their cities.

    Bush meat and wet markets. Seems like some bad medical things come out of those markets. But, if you’re hungry and it’s cheap … Best cook the heck out of that stuff. Beyond, well done. But then there’s the problem of fuel … Thinking of the giraffes I’ve seen, I’d guess the meat would be pretty lean.

    What’s Lawfare?

    Interesting you should mention the pub test. I just read a scene in the Orwell, where Comstock goes out for a beer with a friend (one of the few he has) in a dive pub. The friend is quit well off, but plays poor, so he can “bond” with the proles. A socialist, you know. 🙂 Thinks Comstock should read Marx, and all will be well. In some ways, Comstock is admirable, as he refuses to take money or “in kind” renumeration. But I think he carries it a bit too far. That’s why they’re in a dive pub. He knows he has enough money to stand the first round. But overall, I think if I boiled Comstock down to one word, it would be “tedious.”

    Oh, when it comes to the strawberries, I’ll just follow the Master Gardeners lead. If the runners produce little plants, they can go to the Master Gardeners plant sale, next year. At least next year, we’ll know that all the plants in that patch are the same species.

    Well, Elinor. About two weeks ago, we had a blow-up, over, first guess doesn’t count, the dog. It was time to get her a flea pill, again, and someone had told her that they could be gotten cheaper, elsewhere. Probably her daughter, from Iowa. And, she is hesitant to give her the pill at all, because “It might shorten her life!” By the way, I checked on-line and those pills are $60 – $70. For one that last three months. Yes, you can get them for $20-$25 dollars. But those are the ones that only last a month.

    Any-who. I told Elinor I just didn’t care, anymore. “You don’t care?!!!” I told her, caring just leads, for me, to anxiety and stress, and I’m done with it.” Do as you please. I’ve detached. Since then, I don’t visit in the evening, anymore. I got 7 hours a week of my life back! Oh, it’s pleasant enough. We just exchange necessary information. Did I know who the EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) hauled out? I never do, and could care less. It’s a fact of life, here at the Institution. No sense dwelling on it. Does she have a caregiver, and if so, should I leave her door unlocked. Food boxes. Stuff like that.

    Speaking of food boxes, we got one, day before yesterday. It was the commodity box, with the produce. It was rather a lackluster offering. Oh, a bit of frozen chicken. A small individual pecan pie, which I put on the swap table. A brick of cheese product. The produce was baking potatoes, red onions, a head of cabbage, a clutch of celery. That was about it. In fact, they tossed a couple of tins in there, to just fill up the box. The rest was the usual suspects, with no unusual suspects.

    I went to one of the cheap food stores, the other night. I just wanted a bit of ice cream, and they usually have it pretty inexpensive. All the freezer cases were empty, with signs saying, “Sorry. Supply Line Problems,” etc.. The only thing in the case were these pints of “Non-Dairy, Made with Oat Milk”, frozen oatmeal cookie, something or other. At $1.49 a pint, I figured I could take a flyer. Actually, it was quit tasty.

    I went to the regular store, last night, and after months of being missing in action, the good brand of peanut butter I wanted finally showed up. Still no Swiss Cheese. 🙁 . Lew

  36. On time estimates: my father the agricultural engineer said take the estimate double it and add ten percent. My brother the business vice president of something at Zink (also in engineering physics) says take the estimate double it and increase the units (hours to days, days to weeks etc). I think in one generation time is taking longer but maybe it is the surroundings, ie farm vs business–shrug 😉

  37. Chris,

    Respect for Sandra learning that stuff from scratch!

    Yes, we got rain. A LOT of rain. Thursday night into Friday was about 10mm. Friday we went on another road trip and it rained most of the way back. Another 10mm in my neighborhood, apparently. That helps a LOT.

    Friday’s road trip was to get more materials for the fringing: fringing thread. Hard to find, so we actually had to go to the store in Toppenish where the Princess bought the first batch of fringe. The store also had some items I can use in carving projects – 2 buffalo pre-cuts for $1 each, a major score. Her brother is out fishing this week with his in laws, so it turned into another day for just the 2 of us. Wow, 2 in a week. We enjoyed it.

    Tired. That was a ton of driving today. This weekend will feature fringing the other shawl. Will catch up next week.


  38. Hi Pam,

    Thanks for that, and yeah, getting the planting date right for tender annual seedlings is a little bit art plus also a bit of science. If things were suddenly upside down, I’d be considering planting seedlings out about now but like you, would still wait and see. Do you have any rules of thumb you use for working this out?

    Oh my! Yes the ongoing war against the hungry critters is going well sister! 🙂 Far out, I feel for your son in that regard. We get possums which are herbivores down under (unlike your scary opossums – yikes!) and the owls destroy them. As a suggestion, construct a nesting box (or more) for your local species of owls, and they’ll perhaps do some of the hard yards with the squirrels. I know there are heaps of things to do, but think of the nesting box as an investment in the future – just like the rats, the squirrels won’t go away. A possum here can strip fruit trees in days, so yes, the owls are handy.



  39. Hi Inge,

    Today’s weather here was remarkably similar to what you describe, although right now outside at night the temperature has dropped to 37’F and it feels chilly. Tonight will be the first frost of the year, and that is it for the growing season.

    Thank you for taking the time to drop by and say hello. And I always appreciate the prescient analysis of that blog.

    Inge, it is not lost on me that unknowingly, most people down under are taking a pay cut. The problem I have with the economic policies being pursued is that there are plenty of people being left out – or probably more correctly: being chucked off the side of the sinking ship in order to keep her afloat for a little bit longer. Our country has a history of these sorts of strategies, and mostly people down here seem to be OK with that. I really don’t know though.

    I see that we’re all to enjoy a new head of state today – if not right now. 🙂 At least he seems to have an appreciation of the complexities of organic growing methods.



  40. Hi Ann,

    Your father was an astute bloke, and maybe your brother has simply adapted to the present realities? It does makes you wonder though, as you so rightly point out.

    I like your hint too, on a farm there are perhaps variables which cannot be talked around – such as the weather and/or climate. Business on the other hand may have more fat/surplus with which to utilise, and so I’d suggest people deliberately take their time with projects? Dunno, but the dilemma is suggestive of many possibilities. It wasn’t always this way, like look at how things rolled in WWII with projects.

    Incidentally, a very long time ago, what you are speaking about is something which I had to address. I was very poor at predicting how long a project or job would take. It was not good, and so I set about improving upon those estimates, then testing them out in the real world – where things matter, and learned from there. Then I had to learn how to simply confront people with the estimates and disregard the demands. Nowadays I see plenty of people telling other people what they want to hear (or demand to hear, given the circumstances), and it’s not good.

    How are you on that front? It’s not easy.



  41. Hi Gerry,

    The indigenous folks were great plant traders, and my understanding is that many such useful plants were traded over vast distances. I’d imagine a lot of effort went into plant breeding too, and that includes extending the range of various plants. Those bamboo species grow way up in the northern tropical part of the country. Way down in the cold south east of the continent, I have to stick to cool climate plants because the occasional snowfall can really ruin many a plan! Like the coffee shrub. Mate, the coffee shrub grew really well in the soils here, but one snowfall was all it took to finish it off.

    Thanks to your prodding I will obtain some bamboo species. Can you make any suggestions based on what the local bamboo nursery is selling? I’m not worried about invasive plants, because there are very few, if any plants, which can out-compete the tall Eucalyptus Obliqua dominated forests. Those plants are tougher than a pair of old boots and know every trick in the book.



  42. Hi DJ,

    Thanks, and surprisingly few people value such skills in these enlightened days. And the manufacturing area I used to work in was with clothes and footwear. The fit and finish of stuff sourced from overseas is not as good, but it sure is cheap. The old timers used to make some joke about: don’t worry about the quality, feel the width. Sadly many folks no longer comprehend how bad a lot of clothes are nowadays. Whatever.

    Now, I sense that there is a story behind all this business and clothes making. If you can tell, what is going on?

    20mm of rain in your area is a very useful amount of rain. I’ll bet the garden positively jumps with growth now. Good to hear.

    Lucky you two, and it sounds really lovely. We took the day off any and all work today and headed back to the fern nursery. There are plans. Anyway, on the way back we stopped off for a late lunch at a nearby cidery. Very, very good. I’m glad to see the place doing well and the orchard looking in good condition. During the floods last year, they faced a 7m flood level, and given they’re on the banks of the river, that flood put a lot of their buildings and orchard under water. They now produce a cider called 7m, it’s a cloudy cider and is quite good.

    Nice score with the buffalo pre cuts.

    Yes, I too would feel tired after so much driving. Mate, an hour and a half away is a long, long way for me. I used to enjoy driving, not sure what happened there. A mystery!



  43. Chris:

    It seems to me that my style of gardening is mostly guesswork, though I like to call it intuition.

    We do have owls. I hear them at night, but the only squirrels out at night are the flying squirrels and I think their numbers are small. In the daytime we have hawks, and the other day I saw one take a squirrel out of a tree. I don’t know how they maneuver through the forest. This hawk is a huge, old one, a Redtail with a wingspan of four feet. He knows his business. That is probably why our little hamlet is called Hawkshill.

    And yesterday my son found out that the fox den that was here 33 years ago when we moved in, is still in use. The foxes had cleared out while my son was using Mr. Diggy back there; now there are three cubs. Squirrel would be a tasty treat for them. As long as it is not Charlene the White Squirrel and her son Junior.

    Oh, and – please don’t crack the sads – but yesterday I needed a lot of heavyish rocks for my squirrel discourager project and I thought of where my son had recently been working with Mr. Diggy. I went back there – and there was a harvest of rocks of every size imaginable, just for picking up off the ground. On the other side, it sure is going to be hard planting right there.


  44. Hi Lewis,

    A good storm is a thing of beauty, as long as the consequences aren’t severe. I like the freshness in the air once a big storm has rolled on through. Do you experience that in your part of the world? When there was less population pressure, we used to venture down to the coast during the winter time and enjoy the storms whilst staying over in small hamlets along the coast. It’s pretty busy there nowadays, so we avoid the area. But the storms continue, and the beaches are eroding. It’s been many years now, and I’d probably be shocked by the changes that time have wrought.

    Same, same here. Rain, then more rain. The sun looks set to do a special guest appearance next Thursday and Friday. Yay!

    Who knew there were cenotes in Australia? Although they seem to be mostly located over the border in the next state and thus far west of here – limestone country. They have a lot of caves there too.

    Honestly, it’s astounding that a major civilisation could have become established where the Mayans were located. A very challenging environment, and yes, some years with water would have sent the elites into a panic. And reading about the area would not be complete without another read into the notorious Chicxulub crater. Wow! Talk about a big bang. There’s been some recent research suggesting that the tsunami would have reached the east coast of Australia.

    Hehe! Yes, sage advice, and who can forget Bruce Willis advising forcefully: All you have to do, is cook the meat. 🙂 Some films have pivotal moments, and that was one. A lot of wild game is quite lean. Kangaroo is a lean meat, just for an example. I see the sale of roo meat has been banned in your part of the world. I don’t see the big issue. But I hadn’t considered that a lack of fuel might cause meat to be undercooked. Ook!

    That’s where you go, to go broke! And as an added side benefit, the process eats your time and energy.

    Hehe! That’s good, and yes, that story line was recounted in the plot summary. Would I hang out with either of them? Probably not. Nobody has ever pushed me to read Marx, let alone in a pub where more interesting conversations could take place. I absolutely agree with your assessment. Comstock is an admirable person with a genuine commitment to his ideals, but were the ideals any good? That’s the question, and your answer is what I’d also been thinking – tedious. And then the flipping around to the other social extreme at the conclusion of the book – like, how does that work? Anyway, his mate could well afford the pint.

    Good stuff. The strawberry runners grown here don’t seem to produce any berries. I have not had enough free time (or inclination) to consider the matter any further. Raspberry and Blackberries produce better here, so they’ve received more care and attention. What do you do?

    We went back to the fern nursery this morning and picked up about a dozen smaller ferns for the garden beds near to the new low gradient path. It should look pretty good. Whilst in that area we stopped by an apple and also a citrus orchard and picked up bags of locally grown apples and oranges. I was looking on at the orange trees with great admiration, because the climate is not dissimilar to here. Anyway, it rained a lot today, and on the way back we stopped off at a local cidery (the only one in the area!) and had lunch. It’s 35’F outside now, and rather chilly. Brr! The growing season will finish tonight – except for in the greenhouse and the winter leafy greens. For some reason Kale has failed to grow this season. Another plant I’ll have to put some brain cells into.

    Oh yeah, I’d heard of those flea pills. They’re not cheap, that’s for sure. Sorry to hear about that, but err, beliefs and realities are different things. Ook! Mate, it ain’t just you, and I hear you about that. I’ve noticed that pressure can be applied to care about things that otherwise are not your concern, so if you don’t care about it, what’s the big deal? I don’t recall hearing that H had fleas much anyway?

    If I want to upset people, I tell them that the dogs here don’t get treated for fleas, simply because they don’t have fleas. I’m unsure why, but I have not had a dog with fleas for well over fifteen years. It’s possible the soils here are no good for fleas. They do get ticks though – not paralysis ones thankfully. But even those are rare. I dunno what is going on with that.

    Stress and anxiety are no good. Mate, it’s a shame that things can get to that stage and the loss of 7 hours with a friend is no small thing, but if they’re breaking your balls, well that’s something else, and I don’t know what that is. It’s really odd you mention this subject, but instead of watching The Breakfast Club film last evening, I sat down instead and wrote. Something needed saying (not to you!) and the process of writing is a sort of cathartic act. Perhaps the moons have aligned? 🙂 Anyway, you’ll read the words on Monday morning (my time) I guess. It’s not a whinge fest either, just a general observation on life.

    That does sound like a lacklustre score. Never tasted a pecan pie, I wonder what they’re like? Years ago I planted a pecan tree, but the wallabies have damaged it. I had not appreciated how large those trees can get. There are some historical photographs showing the huge trees which are fascinating.

    Bummer about the Swiss cheese, but peanut butter, that’s a thing of goodness. We make the stuff in the food processor using roasted unsalted peanuts. We once grew a successful crop of peanuts, but the naughty Sir Poopy dug them all up and ate them. Can’t say that I appreciated his gardening efforts at the time.



  45. Hi Pam,

    Intuition works for me too! The gut should be listened too, it tells us useful stuff. The other thing which pops into my head is that you kind of learn the story of the plants and their life cycle, and that feeds into the gut feelings.

    Oh! I didn’t know that about squirrels. Well there you go, I’d assumed that they were nocturnal. Most of the critter activity here occurs at night, although some animals like the grey forest kangaroos will be around (if they’re brave enough and large enough) during the day time. Owls would definitely not be useful for squirrels then.

    Thanks for the Redtail hawk story! Most of the birds here easily navigate the forest, although occasionally some of the parrots accidentally fly into the windows. What amazes me about that is that the impact doesn’t seem to kill them. They fly away, probably with a monster headache. Ouch!

    The foxes will most likely feed upon squirrel, and you can try talking to them about Charlene and Junior. Dunno whether the foxes will listen to you though. Most fox activity here is at night, but they can climb although how high, I don’t really know. The foxes here keep the rabbit population down. Might be easier to talk to Charlene about the risk?

    No sads cracking at all, just rock cracking! 🙂 Interesting. How does your squirrel discourager work? Most of the critters here are well equipped to deal with rocks.



  46. Yo, Chris – All hail King Chuck 3!!! Just glimpsed a picture. Gosh, they look old. Said the old guy. 🙂

    In a strange bit of coincidence, I seem to be running across a lot of oblique, brief references to Orwell, these days. Or, maybe, I’m just more sensitive to them?

    Also, in another strange twist of fate, “The Daily Impact” has put up a new post, with a Titanic theme. Although the point of the essay is distraction. And, while were on the subject of shipwrecks, last night I watched “Triangle of Sadness.” Don’t watch it. It was pretty good until one of those unresolved endings. I even got online, just to see if I’d missed something. The director said the ending could have gone either way, and it was up to the audience to decide. Sorry. It’s up to the director to deliver a conclusive ending. Oh, well. Woody Harrelson was the captain, so there was that.

    As we get so much rain, the air is always fresh here. 🙂 Unless there’s forest fires or a long drought.

    So, I guess if a cenote doesn’t fill with water, it’s just a plain old garden variety sinkhole?

    So, if you apply brain cells to plants, is that zombie gardening? Which reminds me, that new zombie series, “The Last of Us,” was on last weeks new items from the library. Coming soon to a portable DVD player, near me.

    H did have fleas, at one point. Caught them soon enough, so they didn’t get out of hand. The pills pretty much end any infestation, as the fleas keep jumping on the dog, and dying. I found a flea at my place, the other night. 🙁 Maybe I should take one of the pills? Maybe you don’t get fleas, due to all the Eucalyptus, in the air? By the way, those pills also takes care of ticks. A friend of mine who’s a dog guy, said he just gives his dogs the pills, during flea season, in the summer.

    I don’t know. A pie made of nuts just doesn’t seem right. Long ago, I tried it, and it seemed overly sweet, to me. But then a lot of things do. Lew

  47. PS: Go to any pub near a university, and you’d probably hear discussions of Marx. Ad nauseam. Lew

  48. Hi Lewis,

    You’re probably right about the University pubs. 🙂 But here’s the thing, there are better pubs to be found, and you don’t hear such talk around these rural parts. Don’t you think it is weird that people would still want to talk about Marx after the fall of the old Soviet Empire?

    Go Chucky! Yes, God Save the King. He’s our head of state after all. I used to sing the national anthem of God Save the Queen, at school assemblies in primary school. To this day I can still recall every single word and note. A loud speaker used to accompany us kids as we sang. Quite the stirring anthem as we all stood to attention in nice neat rows. Very unlike the present one: “Advance Australia Fair”. What a truly dull song, and it does makes me wonder whatever were they thinking when that one got selected. Personally, I was in favour of Men at Works probably much better known anthem: Down Under. Yes, the crazy misspent days of my youth. I never understood the song, or film clip, but it has a very wide appeal and is super catchy. The flute work is apparently a nod to the much older song: Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree. The rights for that older song were gifted to the government I believe, then sold again through a number of owners. Sadly, you don’t hear the song sung these days.

    We’re all gettin’ old matey! 🙂 Life is kind of like that. Hehe! The alternative is dark.

    It’s not just you on that front, that’s why I picked up Orwell’s classic 1984, and re-read it. I can’t say that I enjoyed reading the book, but not all books must meet that criteria. Hey, I began reading ‘Stick a Flag in it’ today. Very amusing, and also highly informative.

    Thanks for mentioning the recent Daily Impact post, and yes, this is a subject I too wonder about. Those companies are getting pounded down here too from what I’m reading. And at the same time, I’ve read that people are quietly dropping their policies in order to reduce household outgoings. It’s a complete storm of poop out there! The other alternative the author fails to mention is that we could make the process of constructing a house cheaper. Thus the costs are lower to rebuild when the place gets flattened by nature – which incidentally provides that service free of charge. 😉 The present very expensive path being pursued to construct a house is not the only option.

    Thanks for the warning about the film, however in the trailer it looked like Woody lifted, if not stole, all of the scenes he was in. Oh well. How can a story be recounted with no ending? Had the screen writers gotten bored or something, or maybe, just maybe, they were on strike and the film had to be churned out for contractual reasons before the strike concluded? So many possibilities.

    Yes, as someone who enjoys the same climate potentialities, I hear you! I tell you, the weather was fresh today. Far out. It didn’t snow at this elevation, but was not far off that at all. When walking the dogs this morning, conducting the perimeter patrol check, the rain was icy cold. The drops stung the skin. Brr. Winter isn’t coming, it’s here. Mind you there was a bit of my mind which wondered if any of the leaf change tourists over in the more fashionable end of the mountain range were inappropriately attired for the conditions? I’d have to say that the answer was: yes.

    Probably, a cenote is a sinkhole, but they also seem to be so much more. The paintings of the ancient timber ladders leading into the depths and water were quite amazing.

    Of course it is zombie gardening, because as my brain capacity gets filled up with plant lore, well, let’s not go there. The Editor recently purchased a succulent plant which seems to want to consume insects – and I’m sure the thing is now bigger. It’s in the greenhouse, which even today felt warmer than outdoors.

    I’ll be very interested to hear what you have to say about that zombie series when you finally get it. There’s been a lot of hype, and so I’m wondering if I’m missing out. The premise sounds good.

    Hehe! Well I wouldn’t advise taking the flea pill. Probably a bad idea. 🙂 Makes you wonder if anyone has ever tried that? Ook! People do weird things. That is possible about the eucalyptus oils. They’re pretty strong, and on a warm day you can smell the scent in the air. It’s quite pleasant really, despite the fire risk. I’m not fussed about the ticks here, the ones to worry about are found much further north where the weather is far warmer than here. And the sluggish ones here are easy to discover and remove. And they’re also only occasional nuisances. One advantage of the cold winters is that the insect and general nuisance population – of all types – gets reduced.

    That’s my thinking too, although I’ve had some tasty almond meal cakes way back in the day. A bit different I’d imagine to what a pecan pie would be like, but I don’t really know. And I hear you about the sweetness heavy flavour because I too tend to prefer less sweet desserts – or anything for that matter.

    Man, it was so cold here today, and the rain came in waves throughout the day. I had plans. The weather had other ideas. The plans got shelved. And instead I did a few hours of paid work in order to get ahead for this week. That way I can have a more relaxed working week. My mantra for this week: Less is more. 😉



  49. Chris:

    My squirrel discourager experiment is built around a 12ft by 4ft bed of pawpaw seeds (3 1/2m by 1m and a bit). It is a fence made of chicken wire that is cut to 20in (51cm), attached to poles, with 4 in (10cm) laid flat on the ground and outward, and then the top 6 in (15cm) is bent over and curved outward so that the fence becomes 10in (25cm) tall. The bent-over part is then cut all along the edge so that very sharp points stick outward and down. My theory is that, if I were a squirrel, I would run up to that and not dare to try and scramble over it (they do climb over regular 4 ft chicken wire fences). So far, so good, though they may just be busy elsewhere.

    The rocks hold down the flat 4 in on the ground.


  50. Yo, Chris – Banging on about Marx isn’t so weird to the young and clueless. Reasons for that are everything from underdeveloped brains, due to age, to plain old “Shock your Mama.” 🙂

    Some wag referred to the coronation as “Disney on Acid.” One participants dress was described as looking like a Bajoran Ambassador (Ref: “Deep Space Nine.”) I did have a thought, though. There certainly was a lot of recycling going on. One of the robes King Chuck wore has been kicking around the palace for 200 years, or so. One of the crowns has been on call since the 1600s. Even the King and Queen have been recycled from previous marriages 🙂 Coach wasn’t exactly the latest model.

    “Down Under” got quit a bit of airplay, here. Who knows why. Though it did have a catchy beat and you can dance to it.

    Sure, houses could be constructed more cheaply. If there weren’t so many gate keepers, with their hands out. As you know from experience. When WILL those people all go away?

    It was the director who wrote “Triangle of Sadness.” So, the responsibility for a muffed ending, was his. It was well in the can, before the writer’s strike.

    We got a pretty solid prediction of what El Nino will mean for our area. Dryer and warmer. How dry and how warm? Todays supposed to be pretty nice, so, I’ll do some gardening late this afternoon.

    I think carnivorous plants are so cool. Although they can be a bit hard on pollinators.

    Do to the climate changing, we’re just not getting the winter insect die off, that we used to. Which is creating all sorts of problems. Malaria: Coming soon to a swamp near you.

    The Sunday morning usual. Take H down to the Club, so she can greet her public. I suppose everyone will oh, and ah, over her new do. As if she needs encouragement. Lew

  51. @ Chris and @ Lew: pecan pie is excellent. One of the most excellent foods around. Roasted pecans, brown sugar, a syrup (maple is the best!) and a pie crust; it doesn’t get better than that. Unless one adds some chocolate. 😉 But I think you need to live where pecan trees grow well to really appreciate it. It’s a classic Southern dessert in the US. Our pecan trees are just beginning to bear; it takes them close to 20 years to get to that point.


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