The clock was turned back an hour a week or two ago, and once again mornings are filled with the light of the early morning sun. It is a truth universally acknowledged that waking up in the dark is especially hard, for some people. As a child of a rare 1970’s single parent household, waking up in the dark of the early mornings meant access to mad cash. I delivered the news of the day to locals by bicycle. In the pre-interweb days as a humble kid on a heavily laden bike, it was a bit of thrill to learn that the Space Shuttle had exploded well before my fellow citizens knew of the tragedy.

As an avid reader of science fiction novels in those days, the exploding reusable space craft was a bit of a buzzkill for dreams of space travel. But proving that there are both costs and benefits with everything, the mad cash from the newspaper deliveries was well received. At one point my mother had to borrow money from me. Yeah, we can do this, but here are the terms, and this is what it will cost you. Serious business. At a younger age, my grandfather taught me the hard way not to mess around with such monetary agreements. An indelible learning experience much like branding, but perhaps without all that messy hot iron applied to flesh business. Since then, I’ve always treated debt arrangements seriously.

Sandra also used to deliver the local newspapers as a kid, for similar mad cash related reasons. I vividly recall getting to the newsagent at 5am in the depths of winter, and hoping that the journalists and printers weren’t late, again. The panniers of the bicycle sagged under the weight of the newspapers to be delivered. Your fingers would blacken with the ink and freeze with the winter air. Dogs would bark and chase you. The rains chilled your very bones. But the newspapers got delivered. You’d return home in the dark and climb back to bed, that is if the journalists and printers weren’t late.

Nowadays I loathe getting up in the dark, but can do so if required. Friday morning, we indeed woke up in the dark. It was the weekend of the Seymour Alternative Farming Expo. It’s an agricultural day aimed squarely at small holders like us, and we love it. Sure, we can hack the dark early mornings, when there’s that much fun on offer. One of the exhibitors was a bloke who breeds and trains Kelpie working dogs. The demonstration would no doubt fill Ruby and Dame Plum with fears of heightened expectations…

Two well trained Kelpie working dogs do their thing

In another exhibit, an experienced snake handler and catcher put on a demonstration. It was with some relief to learn that the local Eastern Brown snakes had been downgraded to third spot in the most deadliest snake in the world competition. Another recently discovered central Australian reptile has proven to be even more deadly than those. All I can hope is that the local reptiles are not annoyed by their sudden fall from grace!

I probably wouldn’t have taken my eye off that particular super-deadly reptile

It was a fun day, and lunch was an especially tasty chilli cheese kransky sausage (that’s a Polish variety I believe). It was served in a bread roll with extra cheese, onions and mustard. Yum! The bloke who ran the stall was a master at dealing with the public. It was just my luck whilst waiting in line to be served, that an old guy was ahead of me in the queue. As you do when you want to stand out, he was ever so slightly out of line and off to one side. Locally he’d be described as a ‘Cocky’ (which is slang for an old farmer). So, he turns to me and remarks: How come they’ve got Hungarian sausages instead of Australian ones? Yeah, very funny. Realisation dawned that I had a real live one on my hands. We had a brief chat, but he was probably going to annoy me, so I ushered him forward with a hand gesture, and gave the drawl command: Goo orn! The bloke who ran the stand was the true sausage meister. When the old guy made it to the front of the queue, the master provided clear and simple options and listened to the old bloke. Then, instead of waiting for the inevitable fumbling of the payment, he went back to turning the sausages on the huge charcoal fired smoking grill. After a respectable period of time had passed, he took the money and got the blokes order ready. Working with the public is the school of hard knocks, oh yeah. It’s not for everyone, and I was left in awe at the efficiency of the encounter.

Speaking of the school of hard knocks. The other morning (thankfully) we woke to the joy that is daylight. I took Ollie outside in the cold morning air to perform his ablutions, and that’s when things went horribly wrong.

Ollie takes note of the marsupial damage to the Silverbeet crop

Ordinarily, the wildlife here is nocturnal. You don’t usually expect to see wallabies, wombats and kangaroos loitering around the orchard during the daylight hours. Except that day. A wallaby was hanging around the raised vegetable beds. It must have been old, sickly or full of our best vegetables. Ollie is clearly more alert than my good self at such early hours. He launched off the veranda and chased the hapless wallaby. I’m pretty sure that Ollie thought to himself that morning: Thank you Lord!

My grandfather was prone to calling everyone he knew well by the most family unfriendly name of: D!#khead. He even called me that, and I later learned at his funeral that it was his form of endearment, and maybe it was? I caught up with Ollie and the tussling wallaby, grabbed the dog by the collar, and that was when the thought popped into my head that maybe the old bloke may have been right there.

Ollie was amped. The wallaby was in shock. The excited dog was dragged back inside the house. The thought: What has my life become? entered my mind. At such moments though, there is little time for philosophy. I headed back outside into the orchard prepared for the worst, only to discover that the wallaby was bounding off and away into the forest. That’s one problem I didn’t have to deal with. For concerned readers, the wallaby hasn’t given up consuming the Silverbeet crop, far from it actually. The hapless marsupial has simply learned that it’s a bad idea to be around in the daylight hours when the household is active.

Two weeks ago we began splitting boulders to produce large rocks for use on the low gradient path project. The boulders in that rock shelf are granite but are of a softer variety, and are a bit easier than usual to split.

Turning granite boulders into more usefully sized rocks

Once the rocks are split, they’re smaller and more easily lifted, rolled and/or moved. The bucket of the power wheelbarrow can take a good quantity back up hill for use on the low gradient path.

This is what hauling rocks looks like

The rock shelf has now been mostly stripped of its granite, and sadly Peak Rocks is very real. But at least we’ve got a decent quantity of large rocks ready to be used on the low gradient path project.

A decent quantity of rock was brought back up the hill

One of the main reasons environmental activists have such an easy time of it complaining about loggers, despite the very same people demanding forest products, is because the forest workers leave such an almighty mess behind them. The loggers mess we’ve dealt with here over the past eighteen years has been extraordinary, and the job is still not finished. However, I tend to believe that consumers can’t or wont pay for the forest clean up work required to restore a site. We do that work, and know first hand how hard it is. The site where the rocks were removed from was cleaned up this week. All the holes were filled. The soil was aerated and levelled. It’s looking really neat, and in another year it will look superb and be easy to maintain.

The area with the rock shelf was cleaned up

Regular readers will recall that over the past few months a number of steel rock gabion cages have been installed. They retain the soil from a steep garden bed near to some sheds. At one end of the line of cages, there are three very large and heavy rocks. Over time, the rocks have tilted backwards.

Three large rocks to Dame Plums left had tilted backwards

It was always our intention to bring those rocks more upright so they were level with the front of the cages (or near enough to). For all sorts of reasons, mostly relating to rats, we had to purchase (Oh the humanity!) a small trailer load of 40mm rocks (about an inch and a half) . There were enough spare purchased rocks left over from the rat work to correct the tilt of the three large rocks. The intention is to place another steel rock gabion cage on top of that area.

Ruby approves of the now corrected large rocks

There were even enough left over rocks to fill behind most of the gabion cages.

Purchased rocks now fill behind the gabion cages

I usually don’t really write about the ongoing soil improvement program, but each fortnight we mix up a special batch of coffee grounds + agricultural lime + sometimes blood and bone meal, for the areas producing edible plants. The mixture seems to work here well.

The smaller power wheelbarrow is used to mix up soil fertiliser

That fertilisation work has been going on every fortnight for at least fourteen years now. The mixture in the above photo was just enough to fertilise the two rows in the sapling fence enclosure. A shovel is used to spread the stuff thinly over the soil surface, then a rake gently works the material into the mounds.

The two rows in the enclosure have been fertilised

Now that the weather is getting cooler, the raised garden beds in the greenhouse are really proving their worth.

Not quite tropical, but much warmer than outdoors

You can see that the orchard is beginning to shut down for the coming winter.

The shady orchard is turning towards winter

Onto the flowers:

Catmint is a lovely smelling plant, but are the flowers blue or purple?
Basil mint is very pungent
Geraniums bravely produce flowers in the cooler weather
This creeping rose is massive and climbs through a garden bed
Yeah, yeah! Leaf change is here

The temperature outside now at about 9am is 9’C (48’F). So far for last year there has been 325.0mm (12.8 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 302.4mm (11.9 inches)

35 thoughts on “Moderation”

  1. Yo, Chris – My paperboy experience, in those pre-dawn hours, was “Monroe Dead!!!” I think the headline print was larger than “VE Day!”
    That was a little shot of power, that feeling of having information that hardly anyone else was privy to. I wonder, if as adults, people who have experienced that hunger after that feeling, again?

    The farming expo looked like a lot of fun. Bar the snakes. But the nosh would have made it worth it.

    Lord deliver me from old duffers who think they’re funny.

    Rocks, rocks, rocks. That’s a lot of rocks.

    So, what’s with the misbehaving tree? In the greenhouse? You turn your back for a few moments, and …

    Catmint: Purple.

    The Geranium looks like ours, except ours are a pinkish color. Like roses, I wonder if the simpler structure, indicates the ancestors, of what all geraniums came from? A lot of plants have their roots 🙂 deep in the soil of Pangaea, the super continent. Roses and Rhodies come to mind. Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    Oh yeah, that would have been massive news about Norma’s death. A troubled soul that one. I recall being at a funeral when we heard of Elvis’s death way back in 1977, not that I understood what anyone was talking about, being so young and all. That’s a good question to which I have no answer. It’s possible, and over the years I’ve read some dystopian fiction which bares a more than just a few passing similarities to current events. The thrill for me was comprehending that the science fiction works I so beloved, were probably not going to come to pass, or at the very least only be achieved through great risk. It was a sobering sort of thrill really, which left me pondering the tough question: Well, what’s up next then? Makes you wonder how many people are confronting that question these days, don’t you reckon?

    From what I’ve observed, they deliver newspapers wrapped in plastic thrown from car windows today. It’s amazing how enlightened we are these days! I must say, I put a bit more care and effort into that job back in the day. The tea cosy Christmas bonuses never made any sense to me, in the same way the box of neatly folded handkerchiefs as presents baffled me. Mad cash was an acceptable substitute… Hehe! I’ll bet you never had to put up with such rubbish back in the day?

    It was the Editor who wanted to watch the snake display, and I did my best to dodge most of it by heading to the loo. Unfortunately, the show was still going when I returned. We have snake bite kits located in handy spots, and know what to do if bitten because of that show over the years. Still, just like with vampires, it’s best not to be bitten in the first place. You’re lucky not to have such critters lurking around your part of the world. But then you’ve got some other pretty nasty customers, so same, same, but different! 🙂 Man, those sausages were worth the old duffer encounter. He was what I’d describe as mostly harmless. If he hadn’t been such a smarty pants, we would have enjoyed a good chat, but no. And I like your comment in relation to this matter. 🙂

    The misbehaving tree in the greenhouse is what is politely known as a ‘marital difference of opinion’. The Editor does not want to lose the developing fruit at the top of the lodging shrub which in all probability will ripen next summer. And I’d cut the thing down with a chainsaw to the lowest new fruiting branch in a heartbeat. Neither of us is entirely certain as whom is correct in this matter and how the plant will go, so we’re taking a wait and see approach. And also planted out another Babaco shrub, just in case. The fruit is amazing tasting, a real winner you’d never see in the shops. Need second greenhouse…

    Very good. Thanks. Yes, purple it is for catmint flowers.

    You sent me on a deep wabbit hole dive into the movements of the continents over the years. When that dinosaur killing meteor hit the planet, Australia was way off to the south down near Antarctica. The movement of the continents is like a massive slow dance across the planetary surface. It was very interesting to note that much of the fossil fuels we enjoy today were laid down in much warmer times than these. It’s getting colder now as we edge ever closer to winter, but today was sunny and cool and really lovely. Spent most of the day indoors doing paid work, but had a quick run to the post office late this afternoon. A lot of tourists over in the more fashionable end of the mountain range, but there are notably less than in previous years.

    Oh hey, there’s been some fascinating finds down under recently. Turns history on its head: Oldest Aboriginal pottery discovered in Far North Queensland, say researchers. Interesting stuff.

    Thanks. I’d never previously heard the term ‘skein’ used for Geese, but a ‘gaggle’ is occasionally heard still. There’s a gaggle of geese in a nearby town just off the mountain range, and they have right-of-way on the roads. Always fun to see a huge group of geese waddling across the road there.

    Oh yeah, mint oil extraction would be amazing smelling. I wonder if it is at hard to do? Seems easy enough.

    That’s funny about ol’ Zeus. He was reputedly a bit of a Lothario and as the comic suggested, he put it around as much as humanly possible. This is not criticism, but with all that activity and intrigue, I do wonder how the deity got anything done? Sounds a bit like some politicians… 🙂 Oh my, what a thought, but yeah the fall is perhaps great from such heady heights.

    Nothing wrong at all with being surrounded by books, wilderness and the natural world. It was hard to find decent photos of the house, as I was curious as to what that sort of mind would seek to have constructed. In a number of articles I’d inferred a desire to shed the author of the feelings of ‘rootlessness’. Makes sense to me.

    Model trains are not a cheap hobby. I believe that may be the sticking point for new entrants. I used to go to the shows too, and the efforts the people put into their displays always impressed me.

    Another new word! Sounds very French to my reading ear. That was one I’d not heard of, but it’s an old tradition. The cynic in me believes that people put too much emphasis on the wedding day, and way too little on what’s to occur after that time. The old glory boxes were a gift along that path.

    What? I’d never heard of that camphor wood ban, but then long ago someone mentioned to me that the plant Hellebores were banned from near to the kids for similar reasons. Probably best not to consume either plant.

    Yummo burgers! Hope H was on her best behaviour? An unattended dog approached me today whilst at the post office. Sometimes it pays to have the mail in your hand for performing some deft and unnoticed handy work on the dogs nose.



  3. Yo, Chris – Yes. That’s the question. “What’s next.” Or on a more personal level, “What’s next!” 🙂 Had one of those mornings, where it was one darned thing after another. I could whinge on, endlessly, but will refrain, and just throw out bits and pieces, as we go along.
    I think a lot of people have that on their minds. Even if subconsciously. Hence, all the crazyness going on, these days.

    Our local newspaper is now delivered by mail. Or, you can buy it at stores, or the rare, rare, newspaper vending machine. We had paper “boys” as recently as 5 years ago. Nope. Never got tea cozies or hankies. But then, my route didn’t include an institution full of old lady inmates.

    Ah! So that’s the rest of the story. The Babaco. All things considered, I think you’re taking the best course of action 🙂 . I hope it doesn’t fall over, and kill a small child.

    The Rose, the Rhodie. Somewhere, way back when, each had a common ancestor. Now both native to Asia and the Americas.

    That was an interesting article, about the Aboriginal pottery. As the article mentioned, one wonders why it petered out, and didn’t spread further into Australia. But, probably a case of needs must. Or, needs musn’t. Of course, what excited me about the article was the one photo, of the green kneeler, next to the hole. LOL. There’s an identical one, belonging to the Master Gardeners, that I frequently use, around the garden.

    I also read some of the sidebar articles. I was happy to see that Molly the Magpie, has been re-united with her family. The photo of Molly and her dog, both on their backs, legs in the air, was just too funny.

    If you Gaggle “Annie Proulx Bird Song Photos” there are plenty of shots of the exterior and interior. I see she’s moved on, again. And lives in our very own Port Townsend! Which is kind of an artists community. The sci-fi author Frank Herbert lived there. Also the couple who “live just like it’s 1900.”

    If you search you’ll learn more about mint than you ever wanted to know 🙂 I didn’t see a picture, of our local factory.

    I was unclear. It’s not the camphor wood that’s banned. It’s the oil.

    My seed showed up, today. I’ll plant the cool weather crops, tomorrow. Rain on and off, today, but the rest of the week is forecast to be nice. Lew

  4. Chris,

    I think maybe I’m back, perhaps. How’s that for clarity and being definite? 😉

    So, the Princess and I decided to attend my cousin’s funeral. It was in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We won’t fly. Took three days to drive there, three days there, three days to drive home. Meanwhile, her cousin had another minor procedure and is now at home doing much better.

    The drives there and home were mostly relaxing and filled with a lot of beautiful desert scenery. And a lot of mountains around us covered with snow. We hit high winds and snow squalls with the snow falling sideways at places. In other words, the southern Utah and northwest New Mexico weather was just like home! We drove right by Shiprock on the way to Albuquerque. It is impressive.

    My sister flew there and stayed in the same hotel the Princess and I were in. So the northern branch of the family was well represented. Interestingly, I realized on the drive there that I was now the oldest living descendant of my great grandfather Johnson. Yes, the Princess took many opportunities to make sure everyone knew that. It was good that we were there. We were needed.

    Naturally, we were able to turn the trip into a bit of a vacation. We ate a lot of good food from local establishments. Ditto on the trip home. Many chili peppers were consumed in one form or another. Local brews were sampled. A day was spent wandering through Santa Fe also, one of my cousins acting as tour guide.

    This cousin had done her PhD studies at University of Washington in Seattle. Some obscure Welsh history from the 13th century. Had to spend a year or 2 doing research of medieval Welsh documents in Wales. She gave me a real treasure: a copy of the Mabinogion in Welsh. Surprisingly, she has never read that book…she had to translate several of the stories from medieval Welsh into modern Englich as part of her PhD process, so was rather tired of the stories. Now I have a goal with my ongoing Welsh lessons – learn enough to be able to read that book!

    The vast majority of the time was spent at elevations between 4,500 feet and 8,000 feet. The Honda CRV thrived on this for some reason. So did we, as our heads cleared from all the gook once we hit 6,500 feet or so. It was nice being able to breathe with no allergy issues for parts of the trip!

    Although it was good to see family and have some fun, it was very good to return home. You may have ascertained from reading this that the trip also served as a “reset button” for the Princess and me. Sometimes getting away is a very necessary thing. It really helped us reboot while providing us with a welcome break form the usual situations at and near home.


  5. Hi DJ,

    Seems comprehensible to me, despite having just finished on some late work – it being past 9:15pm. We had an urgent job to get out in the mail. Hope I don’t say anything stupid…

    That’s what I’d call a big drive. Do did you go back by way of Denver? I hear you about that and likewise don’t much enjoy flying, although you may have your own reasons. It’s good you went, just to be there. Respect.

    Awesome scenery. Shiprock is something else. Thanks for mentioning the site as I’d not previously hear of it. A powerful site. And sacred to the Navajo people for obvious reasons. Just took a massive virtual tour of the areas you travelled through.

    Yeah, that’s the thing man, go to enough funerals (or not as may be the case) and sometimes you can be pushed into the Elder representative category whether it is in your plans or not. The accidental elder, if I may boldly produce some humour in a dark moment. Long ago, someone who was faced with the death of her parents made a similar observation and changed my perspective. How’s the carving club going on that front? And yup, a stabilising presence in a time of turmoil perhaps?

    🙂 Always fun, and glad you both enjoyed the travel, and took up the quest for the very best of the local chili peppers you came across. A worthwhile endeavour if you ask me. Yum! I should have chucked in a photo of the red ripe chilli’s in the greenhouse. So good. The plant is a perennial in there.

    Oh my, I doff my hat to both of your command of an ancient language. That’s an intriguing tale you mentioned, although I’ve only ever read the Evangaline Walton version. Thoroughly enjoyable. Your challenge should you decide to accept it is… Insert zingy melody to get your blood pumping. Dude, sometimes a bloke has to set goals that reach for the very stars.

    The air is notably clearer at such heady heights above sea level. 🙂 Is the word ‘crisp’ the one you were seeking? Sorry to hear about the allergies, but some folks were borne to the mountains.

    We travelled around this continent two and a lot decades ago, and that’s when you find where your roots are. After months of that, I just wanted to go home. Home is a bigger thing than our culture ever realises.



  6. Hi Lewis,

    Sometimes a bloke has to get a good whinge off their chest. Makes the day go that little bit easier, don’t you reckon? It is one of the more interesting and important questions floating around. It’s been my observation that many dodge that one, and the strategy pays dividends, until it doesn’t.

    I dunno about where you are, but I see a lot of stress being exhibited in just random every day encounters. Speaking of which, we watched the ‘Dumb Money’ film last evening. You mentioned it a long while ago and with new tensions in other parts of the world, reader numbers and comments are down! I find it very strange to be considered a substitute product for the news of the day! It quite amuses me. Anywhoo the film was about the whole Game-Stop short squeeze retail investor situation. I have no doubts the apes will be hatching new plans. The moment looked like a turning point to me, if the threads aren’t de-railed.

    Wow! Well that’s an innovation getting the newspapers delivered by the mail service. Sounds like a subsidy to me. Man, I dunno when the kids lost their jobs, and I stopped that work in the mid 1980’s. Working at Tandy Electronics allowed for later starts! 🙂 And hey, one of my rounds did encounter such an institute, and I so feel your pain at the occasional odd encounter with a denizen. Beware the gifted tea cosy – you were warned! And if you ever discover the true meaning behind the gift, don’t hesitate letting me know. It’s been something of an enduring mystery that.

    Dude, I worked in the big smoke today, then got home and had to do some more work. Me falling off my chair with sleepiness, so I apologise in advance if I say something stupid.

    The fruit on the leaning tower of Babaco won’t do much over winter, but if that plant remains vertical by the end of say, next January, it’ll be a miracle. Thanks for the vote of support though for the process. I could be wrong though. And yes, lawsuits are made of such sad tales. Little Johnny reached up to pick the only ripe fruit, and the laden plant decamped in a ground wards direction being only stopped at the last second by smooshing into his head causing serious injury. It wouldn’t be good, and the tasty fruit may get bruised! 😉

    Even the largest Eucalyptus trees here belong to the Rosids family of plants. True survivors.

    Green kneelers are useful items! When working on machines I’ve got a thick chunk of sturdy foam for kneeling on, and it’s also green. Must be a thing, huh? I’ve had the chunk for well over two decades, and clearly it is nothing found in nature. Had a dog who used to sit on it whilst I was working, and so the foam has earned the nickname: Sponge Wub. The dog used to make a strange wub like bark, so she was known as the ‘wub’. A good dog. Save those knees though.

    I was also happy to read that Molly the Magpie had been reunited with her Staffy buddy. Those two really do that. The poor bird had zero chance of survival outside that family, I don’t know what people expect? Removing the bird seemed like a baffling decision to me.

    Thanks! Ah, those are some better photos of the house. That’s a bit of a shame the author moved on given the article talked longingly upon the subject of ‘putting down ones roots’. I guess Port Townsend was more to the authors liking? I must say the images of the book cases looked great and the house seemed inviting and warm, although I’m guessing it would have been complicated to keep warm in the winter without a lot of fuel use.

    There must be something in the water in that town.

    Ah, thanks for the correction. Still, I do wonder why camphor boxes would have been a thing here in the 1970’s, but not in your part of the world. Whatever would people be doing with the oil, although the old timers used to have those pungent ‘moth balls’ made from the stuff.

    My head is spinning with new information on the gentle art of extracting mint oils from the the leaves.

    Did you get a chance to plant out the seeds?



  7. Yo, Chris – I quit liked the “Dumb Money” film. I’ve been toying with the idea of investing in some stock. There’s an outfit that invests in farm land, and crops, all over the US. Spreads risk. And, there’s no minimum buy-in. If I did, I’d use the folks in the film as my broker. The thing that makes me hesitate is it would probably complicate my certification process, here at the Institution. And, might also complicate my tax situation. As it stands now, I don’t make enough to even bother filing. But not to worry. No free ride, here. 🙂 Anytime I buy any goods or services, there are local … state … federal taxes.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about reader numbers and comments down. It’s spring in the northern hemisphere, where a good deal of your readers come from. And, we’re up to our who-whos in spring garden stuff. I worry a bit about Margaret, Claire and Pam. Midwest and east coast weather is pretty wild, right now.

    Our local newspaper comes out three times a week. I don’t know what the subscriptions cost, but they probably pass the mail costs, onto the subscriber. One can also sign up for an on-line subscription. Although since they don’t have a pay wall … There’s also a low postage rate for “media mail.”

    Probably wouldn’t take much to throw a brace under the Babaco. A bit of scrap lumber … maybe cushion the end with a bit of rag. Think of the children! 🙂

    Garden kneelers can get pretty fancy. Some are made from recycled materials.

    That was good news, about Molly the Magpie, et all. But it sounds as if they’re still making her parents jump through onerous hoops. I’m sure the animal people were not pleased by being called out. World-wide. 🙂 Discomfort the comfortable.

    Annie Proulx couldn’t spend winters, there. Four or five months a year, the house was cut off by deep snow. Also, the woman was born in 1935, so, she’s pushing 90.

    I think I’ll put off planting any seeds, for a few days. We have a frost warning. Forecast is for 32F (-0-C), tonight. Oh, dear. Our night manager, who I share a garden bed with, put out some plant starts, the other day. They may be cool weather crops, but they’re tender seedlings. I also want to consult the chart on my Old Farmer’s Almanac yearly garden calendar. See what the optimum dates are, for planting this and that. Lew

  8. Chris,

    Cool. Good news about Molly the Magpie. And it “only” took 6 weeks. That’s rather fast since a government agency was involved, at least by my experiences on the other side of the world.

    Denver? Nope. Much too long a drive. Would’ve cost us another night on the road. We went south via Butte, Montana and spent the first night in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Then we somehow made it unscathed through the hideous Salt Lake City traffic (the metro area lasts forever and the interstate has 7 lanes in the southbound direction!) until we hit the turnoff at Spanish Fork. We then went through some wonderful scenery and delightful Helper, Utah and eventually to Moab, Utah, land of red rocks and the gateway to Arches National Park. Spent the night there. Then twas on through Monticello then eastward until we hit the turnoff to Shiprock, on south to Gallup, New Mexico, then into Albuquerque.

    The trip back started differently. From the north end of Albuquerque we went through Cuba and then via Farmington to Shiprock. From there we reversed the prior southward trek to Moab. Another night there, then another night in Idaho Falls, then home. Oh and we stopped for a meal and brews at the wonderful shop/restaurant/petrol station in St. Regis, Montana.

    Interesting observations from the road…all through the redrocks and Arches Park area, bicycles, desert dune buggies, all terrain vehicles were for rent. They could be ridden at places within the National Park. Of course, people also drive them off the trails and chew up the terrain something bad. Meanwhile, it is technically illegal to remove so much as a pebble from the
    National Park. The Princess wanted a small jar of the red dirt. Not a chance to get any as there were eyes everywhere, yet it was okay to chew up the earth.

    Also, there were RVs everywhere on the highways. I think maybe you’d call them caravans? At least that’s the term in Wales. Every single one of these towed a vehicle behind it, most of the towed vehicles being larger than our Honda. A few even towed a smallish trailer behind the towed vehicle. They were having a very difficult time navigating in the 50 kilometer per hour and higher cross winds.

    You made an astute observation. Yes, I became the “accidental elder”. Nice term for it, thanks. The Princess and I actually expected that, what with our funerary experiences of the past years. My sister and I had a few hours together our first evening in Albuquerque, and she asked what to expect. I told her that the cousins were burned out watching their patriarch fade away and die, preparing for the services, going through boxes and boxes of stuff, and generally being sad. I explained that, at least for the Princess and me, our “job” was to be a stabilizing influence by providing calmness, talking from experience, and bringing some levity into the situation if people were being too morose.

    I threatened 2 of the young cousins, women in their 20s, with dire consequences prior to the start of the services. (One of them I know fairly well.) I was sitting behind them and threatened to braid their hair together if they got too sad. I also said that I hoped that we wouldn’t sing “Amazing Grace” because I always get in trouble. When asked why, I explained that I default to the words of “House of the Rising Sun”, which can be sung to the tune of “Amazing Grace”. They looked up the lyrics to Rising Sun, looked at me, and giggled.

    Yes, “Amazing Grace” was part of the service. I *mostly* behaved myself. The hymnal had the first verse written phonetically in 6 different Native American languages in addition to 4 verses in English. So I picked a language in which I have a wee bit of ancestry and sang that version. Well, until the 2 cousins started giggling, causing my sister to look aghast.

    Yes, to an unasked question…I have also been caught singing the words to “Amazing Grace”‘ when “House of the Rising Sun” comes on the radio. Also, I have gotten some stern, disapproving looks when I accidentally sang the “Rising Sun” lyrics to “Amazing Grace” during what were supposed to be solemn occasions. I’ve also found that the lyrics and tunes for “Good King Wenceslaus” and “‘Yankee Doodle” are interchangeable. People ceased asking me to sing Christmas songs long ago for some reason. 😉

    I have already accepted the mission, even without the music. Gotta learn to read Welsh well enough so that I can enjoy that book. I’ve read most of the stories from The Mabinogion in a book sitting somewhere on my shelf. They’re enjoyable. Now to work toward that goal.

    Crisp is one word for that nice air. Clear is another. I just enjoyed the positive effects of that elevation.

    As you said, however, it is important to pay attention and learn where your roots are. I like the high desert that we spent our travels in. However much I like it and enjoy it, my home is here, not there. It’s a good thing to know.

    I see that you’ve made more progress with your rocks and the low gradient path. Well done.

    That photo of the guy with the snake. Ummmmm, no thanks, I would never do that. No. Neither would the Princess. Whenever we stopped, she took her time getting out of the car. “Looking for rattlesnakes” she replied when I asked her about it. Better safe than sorry, but the weather was mostly cold enough that any such beasties would’ve been rather sluggish. But better safe than sorry.

    Almost forgot. We had this eclipse thingy that the media was going stark raving mad about. Monday the 8th. My sister gave us one set of “eclipse glasses”, and Killian’s human had given us 2 sets. Albuquerque was supposed to have maybe 70% to 75% of the sun covered. It was cloudy. I quipped to the Princess that we were having an all day total eclipse. The cloud cover thinned out at an opportune time. We had to leave the hotel for the funeral when the eclipse was at its peak. Very close to 90% of the sun was covered by the moon. We took a few minutes to watch. The Princess was awestruck. It was very enjoyable.


  9. Hi DJ,

    The magpie matter was expedited I believe when the state premier (your governor equivalent) became involved. About a decade and a half ago I had to apply for a special dispensation in relation to a minor building issue, and it was resolved within the fortnight. It was amazing because it went right up to the top of the food chain, and especially given it was a common sense request. Sometimes things can work well.

    You got me wondering why Salt Lake City could have such traffic congestion. By down under standards, it’s a big city, but by your standards there are much larger inland cities. Looks like flat land there is in short supply with mountains on each side and there is a pinch point between the north and south. We’ve got a 12 lane freeway over the other side of town (6 lanes in each direction), but 7 in one direction would be an impressive sight, unless you’re travelling at crawl like speeds.

    Arches National Park looks amazing. Hope you both enjoyed some star fields if the night sky was dark enough there?

    I’d not appreciated that your part of the state was right up against Montana, and route back looked fascinating. You really were directed through a massive valley between competing mountain ranges. You never know when you’ll encounter an above average feed and drink! 🙂

    Well that was a surprise to learn. I doubt such things go on in the national parks down here. The state forests most certainly get their fair share of trail bike (motorised or pedal powered) riders, but that wouldn’t happen in a national park. Well, it has been known before that folks want to pit themselves against nature. Your lady was thwarted! It is very possible that she dodged a curse there.

    Hmm. We’d call an RV a motorhome. And yes they sometimes do tow small vehicles. But they’re not common. Mostly what you’ll see is a utility vehicle (think Ford Ranger or Toyota Hilux, or even a Toyota Landcruiser) towing a caravan which is like an enclosed trailer. I’ll bet they were having trouble in those winds. I’d have trouble in such winds too! Youch.

    Thanks. Most of the time, calm and experienced leaders are what you want in a tough and complex situation. Respect.

    Well I never knew that Amazing Grace could be sung to the same chords and melody as House of the Rising Sun. It’s a lovely song, both of them. 😉 I’d giggle too. You know my thoughts about High School students and loud hymn singing, it’s anthemic and would raise the interest of any passing deity. Hey, that was the question which had formed at the back of my mind to which I dared not ask. But I appreciate the elucidation. 🙂

    Isn’t it nice to hang out with people who know your foibles well, and refuse to hand over the microphone? What I wanted to know was: could you belt out the lines with the gravely tones that was Eric’s forte? There is a house in New Orleans… Thanks for the ear worm, it’ll take a bit to shake that thing off. They call the Rising Sun 🙂

    The highlands are clearly in your blood. I prefer living at elevation too, although it is hardly a desert here. It can be a very wild place though, and raw. Would you ever consider moving?

    Well, it turns out that snakes like warm weather, but like that coffee storyline in Seinfeld, it should be hot, but not too hot. The reptile show was good to see, and deadliest snake was quite feisty. I noticed the bloke wiping his brow from time to time. He kept telling people to not put their arms into the enclosure – and you could see in the photo people doing just that.

    Very cool! Hardly an eclipse, but there is a comet in our night skies (although it doesn’t sound all that bright to me): Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, aka the ‘Devil Comet’ is visible this week. Here’s how to spot it. Ollie and I just went out to have a look and the skies are giving us nothing. A bit of cloud tonight. Oh well. The article suggests that there may be a much brighter comet later in the year.

    And it’s been the ruin of many a poor boy. And thanks again for the ear worm! 🙂



  10. Hi Lewis,

    Speaking of dumb, I again worked late this evening. Oh well, must have done something bad in a past life. Probably very bad indeed! 🙂

    How are you going?

    It was a good film, and I really liked how the people piled in on the action for goals other than investing. Knowing when to sell, hmm. Oh my goodness, dude, sorry, but I can actually get into trouble down here for discussing your strategy. Could I discuss it? Sure. Can I discuss it though is the question here, to which the answer is unfortunately no. Ook!

    I can tell you a little story though. So back in the early 1990’s the Editor invested in property trusts. She lost everything. You see what we learned from that experience, was that what you actually own is a unit/s in a trust, which is a bit of paper with words that convey a legal right. It is the trust itself which owns the underlying property assets. What happened in our case was that an unrelated problem in the trust, liquidated the underlying property assets held and the fund value went to zero. John Kenneth Galbraith’s most excellent book: The Great Crash 1929, discusses this same matter in horrid detail. All I can recount is my personal own experience. And I dunno man, whenever I tell people that story, it really elicits a strong emotional response.

    Nah, I’m cool about the reader numbers and comments. It is an amusing observation. I began the whole blog thing so that you and I could enjoy a regular chat, and also to show that I wasn’t bragging – this stuff here is really happening.

    The garden always calls. The dirt gets under your fingernails, and good food ends up in the kitchen. Worthy goals! 😉

    The weather forecast in your corner of the country looks OK to me, but yeah there are some thunderstorms out east. Doesn’t look too bad to me, maybe a lot wet in isolated locales. Hey, we’re having a remarkably stable period of weather. Blocking highs over the Tasman Sea apparently: Melbourne weather strongly out of character. Quite pleasant really. Oh no! I began reading Professor Mass’s blog about the unusual goings on at his institution, and was glad in some ways not to have to navigate that mess. I’ve got enough dramas to deal with already. Hope he’s OK.

    The lack of a pay wall could be a form of bait and switch. Some of the papers down here used to be free to view over the interweb, and now there are subscription pay walls. Had to laugh, I was listening to the radio late this afternoon and one of the presenters accidentally dropped an F-bomb! I’d imagine there was a bit of trouble there.

    Dunno about bracing the Babaco. It’s not a bad idea and I’ll mention it to the Editor. My thinking about plants lodging is that if they’ve done it once, they’ll probably do it again. My preference is to reduce the height of the plant, and then the new trunk will grow vertically. Until it too eventually gets big and falls over again. The kids might want to keep just as much of a look out for trouble as I do, and then they’ll probably be fine, maybe. 🙂 Man, some people want to eliminate risk, but nobody can ever afford to do that. It’s a goal that makes no sense, but you do hear calls for this and that along that path.

    Yeah, absolutely with the garden kneelers. Mine was just a scrap chunk of foam, which seems to just last and last. Tes not natural!

    It is good that magpie was reunited, but apparently with conditions not to make money from the bird. Yes, the outcry was strong in this case. You know there is a large percentage of people in the population who love rules and will follow them? It’s like that old experiment where people pushed a button and inflicted pain on another person they couldn’t see, but they could hear the consequences, yet still dialled up the pain. Not good and all we can hope is that the button does not relate to our good selves.

    Oh! Probably not a good choice of location for a 90 year old, no matter how feisty! 🙂 Honestly, living in such a place is probably a job you’d want to start at a younger age. I doubt I could have done such a thing if I added on another fifteen years. I tend to be of the opinion that as fossil fuels decline in availability and likewise commensurately increase in costs, plenty of people will be living in places which aren’t quite suitable for their skill set. You may have noticed that we’re working hard on getting our infrastructure just right? Or at least just good enough! 🙂

    Wise. Yeah I’d hold off on planting out the seeds too. They’ll rot in such cold weather I’m guessing. What did the Old Farmer’s Almanac yearly garden calendar suggest? I’m doing my best to get a feel for when things should be done. A systematic calendar would very handy, and is a project for the future. Just got some more infrastructure to do first.



  11. Hi Lewis cont…

    Almost forgot to mention that I’m no reading the bee book you mentioned. I must say that the authors use 1,000 words when 50 would suffice. Haven’t seen anything in the book yet which is new. More review to come over the next few weeks. It’s an interesting read.



  12. Hi, Chris!

    I loathe waking up in the dark, but I have to do so every day.
    Thank you – you know who you are – for jumping the clock forward last month so that, just as my usual wake time was about even with the dawn, I now once again have to get up in the dark.

    Oh, to know what the Dame and Ruby’s thoughts were should they view a sheep trial complete with Kelpies.

    Now that’s something our local exhibitions don’t have – snake charmers!

    No “Sir” Freckles this time, I guess . . .

    I have always coveted your power wheelbarrow. What a useful machine.

    Lovely and neat, the site now where the last big rocks were harvested and the tilted rocks, no longer tilted.

    Catmint flowers are bluish purple, so I guess that makes them purple. Thanks for the rest of the flowers and the beautiful leaves. Our leaves have changed, too: From nothing to bright green!


  13. Yo, Chris – Well, stocks. It’s just gambling. And, as any sensible person knows, the odds are heavily tipped to the house. 🙂 And, I’m not prone to gambling.

    I figured you just photoshopped, everything. 🙂 My Idaho friend took a ride with her realtor daughter, to look at 125 acres of “recreational land” and an old duffer wants to list with her. My friend made the comment that if she were 20 years younger … I said, if I were 20 years younger and had money. 🙂

    Melbourne’s weather has a lack of character? Could be worse. Could be Dubai. Depending on which report you read, they had a year (or is it two?) of rain, in one day. Make the desert bloom! Our local weather station recorded 32F (-0-C) for a few hours, overnight. Last frost? I don’t think the frost extended up here on the hillside. But I’ll record it as a last frost, anyway.

    Our local newspaper tried a paywall, for awhile. I think interest dropped to near zero.

    Dr. Sheldon Cooper likes rules. So do I, to a certain extent. Or, it’s more like I take into consideration making other people’s lives a bit easier. To think about other people. Which seems in short supply, these days.

    What bee book? I don’t remember a bee book. But you might find this article interesting …

    Some of our blueberry bushes are blooming. But I don’t see any pollinators, around.

    I finished watching season one of “Wednesday.” As in Wednesday Addams, from the Addams family. I enjoyed it. Looking forward to season two. I also began watching season two of “The Royal Doctor’s Flying Service.” They spent an episode at your White Cliffs Rodeo, up in New South Wales. Plenty of broken bones to set, there. And one old duffer who ended up with a dart in his eye. Lew

  14. Hi Chris,

    Years ago my sister and I went to a small farm expo in Missouri. It was there that I found the moveable chicken pen that we still use today at least 25 years later. On that same trip we visited my late uncle who was a Trappist monk at the monastery where he resided. It was an interesting experience to be sure.

    Do you suppose that your experiences as a newspaper delivery boy may contribute to your aversion to early rising?

    Sorry to hear about the silver beet damage. Fun for Ollie though. One of my friends said she was close to giving up on gardening due to woodchuck damage.

    Doug got four pigs about 10 days ago and one of them was the runt. He has found that he can get in and out of the pen at will through the fence panel. Luckily he doesn’t seem to want to leave his brothers so hangs around the pen until he finds a place to get back in. We figure he’ll be too big soon for any more escapes.

    The water levels have dropped and most of the fields are dry now. We’ve gotten some rain but to catch up we need more. Temperatures have averaged a bit above average but have fluctuated quite a bit.


  15. Hi Pam,

    Respect for your stoicism when faced with such darkly morning choices. I hear you, and before the clocks were turned back, waking up in the dark was a challenging experience here as well. But yes, you do what you have to do to keep the household running smoothly (whatever that means) and the bills paid. It was chilly here today, accompanied by thick low clouds and a touch of drizzle. By late this afternoon (paid work was the order of the day) the old bones were feeling a touch of chill, and so the wood heater was kicked off. Soon in your part of the world, no doubts we’ll be discussing the complexities of 100’F+ weather. 😉

    Oh my! Imagine the horror that the hapless Ruby and the much better behaved Dame Plum would experience should they be pressed ganged into working with sheep? Actually, those two dogs enjoy being sent out upon a task, but the thing with them is that you have to communicate what the required task is, and then let them learn and also make up their own mind as to how they’ll go about doing the task. Kelpies are complicated dogs, and present many challenges to their humans. Other dog breeds I’ve known over the years prefer more instructions, and some prefer less work, but not these two.

    The dude from Snake Safe Victoria (as a hint, they have a very active Faceplant page which looks like fun) put on a good show. We’d purchased snake bite kits from him in the past shows, and have them dotted about the property – just in case.

    Sir Freckles is way deep in the dog house. Looking at him now happily asleep on the white leather couch behind me cuddling his rawhide chew, you’d never know how far he’d pushed things. His freedom is now strictly curtailed, and he doesn’t seem at all concerned. Dogs…

    Pam, I embarrassed to say that I’ve got three power wheelbarrows, but that big ol’ yella is the biggest daddy machine of them all. How’s moving a 1,000 pounds for ya with a dump bucket working out? If I only had one of the machines, that’d be it. It is a very useful machine and the thought of bringing such heavy materials back up the hill gives me an old fashioned attack of the vapours.

    Yes, it has been remarked upon before that neat is a lifestyle choice. You can quote me there! 😉

    We’ll have to stick with purple, although I’ve ridden a lot of fences in my life in order to merely maintain the peace. That’s why I so enjoyed your bluish purple colour observation, and had similar thoughts. But in this instance we shall go with purple, but note that there is ever so much a tiny bit of blue to those flowers.

    Yay for spring! Such a lovely time of year. Hopefully the sun is now warming your household?



  16. Hi Margaret,

    Oh yeah, you know we’ve visited the really big ‘field day’ farm expo’s and honestly I’d look at some of the huge machines and asked myself the hard question: What the heck is this thing? Now it was worth noting that the sausage master was also at the big field day expo, and that makes for a most excellent experience. Although, from memory, that was back in October when the rains were feral. We took the Dirt Rat Suzuki Jimny on the day because we weren’t entirely sure we’d be able to get out of the car park in a grassy field otherwise. Four wheel drive being occasionally quite a useful vehicle technology. Anyway, so think cold and wet conditions, and we purchased the little battery hand-held chainsaw from the Stihl dealer display. That little battery machine is awesome for tree pruning, although we do also have manual tools for such work. Oh yeah, wet and cold weather and sausages. Had an awesome charcoal grilled cheese kransky sausage in roll, and it being cold and wet, we went back for seconds. Yum! We we were talked into the bratwurst sausage option and whilst it was good, but the kransky was better. Sorry, I digress! 😉

    But exactly, appropriately sized chicken tractors which are well made, are the sort of things you’ll find at such a small farm expo. Yup. Hey, I’ll bet you and Doug saw some other items at the expo which would be useful? Did they sell livestock there? The poultry sales at the expo have always been a good place to buy, although I realise things may be different in your country.

    Whoa, respect for your late uncle. The life of a monk is not for you or I, but yes, I can see the tangible appeal and benefits which such a life may bring. Nothing wrong with hard work and notably fine beer. 🙂 Out of curiosity what was your primary memory from that visit?

    Hehe! Margaret, you so busted me there. Yes.

    Alas, we’d planned a good harvest of silverbeet to get through the winter. Ollie, well, he’s Ollie, and is now in the doghouse with vastly curtailed freedoms. Mind you, there has been a bit of a population boom, then a bust due to the two hot and dry months, otherwise the careless marsupials wouldn’t have been caught hanging around during the daylight hours. I’m still working my way through the feelings and knowledge associated with the incident.

    A woodchuck sounds like a woodworking tool to me. Oh my! So that is the famous groundhog. I hope never to encounter such a critter, although they probably do a lot to aerate the soil, which might a different plan to what you had in mind… Your friends option may be right depending upon the size of the area under cultivation. I can shrug off the marsupials worst excesses because despite the silverbeet loss I’ve got kale growing in other areas. But in a small-ish garden, all the eggs are in one basket. To be honest, learning how to live with all of these critters is as much a challenge as simply growing the plants.

    Pigs are smart creatures, and you’ve got an escape artist. Who was the famous escape artist? Oh that’s right: Harry Houdini. I don’t know whether you or Doug name the piggies, but surely the name ‘Harry’ couldn’t be too far off the mark. Hopefully the piggie is not a ginger, or people may get the wrong idea!

    There were some thunderstorms to the north and west of you, did they produce any rain at your place? Rain is now arriving here in not much, then a big dump. Hopefully this is not the way of the future?



  17. Hi Lewis,

    That’s the thing with gambling, the odds are in favour of the house, otherwise there would not be a house. The facts sort of suggest this most likely possibility. But the thing with an ever expanding mad cash supply, is that it kind of stuffs around the signals people get as to the true value of the stuff. I’m not prone to gambling either, but I will tell you this, the video games I used to play in the arcades as a kid, had a lot in common with many of the gambling machines. Hmm. Dude, it’s a hard road to pull yourself back out away from the abyss and look at the ugly truth of a situation. Still, sometimes unpretty views reveal all sorts of truths, so perhaps the experience was worthwhile, maybe.

    Actually, about a quarter of a century ago whilst working full-on senior jobs I dabbled in a bit of day trading with shares. It was when I was on the phone to the broker complaining about their rules which were bizarrely stopping me making a lucrative trade, that I had this ‘hang on a second’ here moment. Yeah, it was a real moment of clarity that phone call, and so I wound the whole exercise up, and decided to be more, and do more, un-exciting with my life. Not a bad option.

    Stop it! Hehe! Thanks for laughs. You know someone actually left that comment about the photo shopping of the images. Like I have the time, inclination or skills for such nonsense.

    That’s the thing with such land, although I don’t really know what you mean by the term ‘recreational land’. Is this some sort of lightly forested block? What actually do you roughly mean by that? It’s not a term used down here. We’d call a really basic property with no services a: ‘bush block’. Man, we’ve been at this work here for eighteen years, and hey, things were cheaper back in the day. 🙂 The price we paid for the land wouldn’t even buy land in a housing estate nowadays – and that’s for a small way outer suburban residential block too.

    Dubai copped it pretty bad, yeah. Hey, even I’d be whingeing about 10 inches of rain in one day. 🙂 That’s the problem with lots of hard surfaces and minimal run off areas, things can go wrong badly and quickly in big storms. The video footage looked like utter mayhem. With your new computer, you can view such madness nowadays without all the messy security certificate inexplicable jargon only comprehendable to people with surnames such as, I dunno, say ‘Cooper’. How’s the new beast working out for you anyway?

    That’s a sort of safe bet with the last frost date, although I’d wait for two additional weeks, if the seasons were suddenly upside down. Does the old farmers almanac lend credence to your diary?

    Hehe! Yeah, that’ll do it. Rest assured, there are no plans for a pay wall here. 🙂

    Rules are most definitely useful abstract concepts which can be helpful to smooth the social wheels and ensure we don’t end up in blood thirsty anarchy. However, as abstractions they can be taken to logical absurdities I really don’t want to think too much about. In that experiment, dialling up the pain-o-meter was following the instructions, but was it right to do so? Perhaps you and I reside in a murky world dominated with concerns for morals, ethics and consequences? No wonder we have not yet made our fortunes… But have we had fun? I’d like to think so, yeah. 🙂

    The bee book was err, Raising Resilient Bees by Eric and Joy McEwen. After 50 pages, we’re finally getting into some nitty gritty important details as to what works for them with hives. To be honest, the authors could have skipped a bit of the background to their ideology, but then I guess it is a subject where everyone has a pre-conceived notion as to right and wrong.

    Who knew? But then when you think about it, ground dwelling insects must have some abilities to deal with floods, otherwise evolutionary selection pressures would have sent them the way of the dinosaurs. A lot of our native bees here also live in the ground. Still haven’t found that pesky European wasp nest, but it’s getting cold enough for the wasps to hunker down where ever they are.

    Ook! You could always try hand pollinating the blueberry flowers. A mate of mine hand pollinates his tomato plants, and gets larger crops than I do.

    The flying doctors get to some remote places. I saw an article on them earlier today in the news: Young kangaroo befriends Royal Flying Doctor Service pilot with a handshake.

    Did another day of paid work today. Had to start the wood heater mid-afternoon as I was beginning to slowly freeze over the course of the day whilst sitting at the computer. Brr! A dark day, for dark deeds… Sounds ominous, but I had to spend a few hours updating the quality control manual. The professional body wants to take their once a decade review into our biz. Such work does not produce income with which to pay the bills, just sayin’.



  18. Chris:

    We are still eating silverbeet planted late last summer, that grew into the fall, a little bit in the winter, and then started up again this spring. It has recently bolted, but still tastes fine (ditto last fall’s kale and spinach). I am letting them grow till they produce seeds. So – if you can keep the varmints away, they may still be fine.

    I expect Sir Freckles was just trying to help.


  19. Yo, Chris – I’ll start the conspiracy theory. Fern Glade is a virtual reality construct, run by an AI. 🙂

    Hmmm. Recreational land. Depending on where you live, sometimes, it’s zoned so that you can’t build on it. Generally used for hiking, camping, fishing … whatever.

    So far, the new computer is doing whatever I ask it to. Though I haven’t really asked it to do, too much.

    We did have a frost, last night and the night before. I saw our night manager. He heads out to his day job, early, and said all the car windows were frosted. LOL. He works across the street. Heck of a commute. Rest of the week, the overnight lows are above freezing. We might hit 70F, tomorrow. Rain back, over the weekend.

    Well, this is the first year I’m going to pay attention to the planting guide, in the Old Farmer’s Almanac Gardening Calendar. We’ll see how it goes.

    Oh, I’m all for following rules, unless they’re stupid. 🙂

    Oh, yeah. That bee book. It was on the new books list, from our library. Well, I think it was you that said (or, was it me?), ask five bee keepers a question, and you’ll get four answers.

    Hand pollinate? I’ll let the plants get along on their own. Our night manager is allergic to bees, so he pays more attention. He said he’s seen pollinators around. Including honey bees. Maybe because I usually work the garden, late in the day, they’re already heading home for the night. I noticed our first Rhodie blossom is opening.

    That was an interesting article about the RFDS. A pet Roo? Better be careful. The animal welfare people will be after whoever is taking care of him. An episode I watched last night, had a small child bit by a Death Adder. I noticed an interesting side bar article. “Plants You Shouldn’t Plant.”

    Mr. Greer had an interesting post, this week. And in one of those odd coincidences, I picked up a new book from the library, yesterday. “Marcus Aurelius: The Stoic Emperor” (Robertson, 2024). I need to pop over to his site, and mention it.

    I ran a lot of errands, yesterday. Swung by the library, dropped off a bag of donations for our local women’s bookstore, swung by the garden store to pick up a packet of Scarlett Runner Beans (I left them off my seed order), and hit the all purpose store for three bags of good garden soil and 6 Quinault strawberry plants. See if I can resurrect that communal strawberry bed. Then I stopped by the Club for a cuppa. Jane usually works, but she had car problems. Still, ran into some of the usual suspects. Lew

  20. Chris,

    You got it right. The entire Salt Lake City metropolitan area is long but narrow. And there are a couple of pinch points. The highway, Interstate 15, is also THE major north-south highway from Interstate 90 in Butte, Montana south through Salt Lake City, then southwesterly through Las Vegas to San Diego and the Mexican border. It sees a lot of traffic, as that highway gets tourists near a lot of scenic areas.

    I really wanted to see the stars in the Arches area. Alas! The clouds were most uncooperative.

    Yes, the trip from Butte, Montana was spectacular. Some of the mountains were over 3,300 meters high. As you noticed, the highway at times was between the competing mountain ranges, the peaks very high and covered with snow. It was very beautiful.

    That’s how I look at it. Never know who is watching or what curses are there should you disturb the land. It makes me wonder what happens, curse-wise, to the people who tear up the land. On second thought, I probably don’t want to know!

    Okay, RV equals motorhome, which it is often called here. Thus the caravan is the trailer, and probably that’s what it is in Wales. I appreciate the extra educational bits that I get here.

    “Any passing deity”…That has a good flow to it. Maybe the title of a good historical novel? Followed by book 2: “Where the Eldrich Plays”. Stone circles would have to be involved.

    I’m very happy to share the Rising Sun ear worm. But, no, that tune, while I can sing it, I can’t come close to duplicating Eric’s tones. However, I do a frightfully grand job belting out various (sometimes nefarious) lyrics to the tune of Good King Wenceslaus. I received the evil eye from folks in the office each Christmas.

    There’s also “Viking Men” to the tune of Jingle Bells. I don’t often get asked to sing Christmas carols any more. 😉

    A coworker I had was in a band. They played near Christmas at the local Sons of Norway one year. I had introduced the “Viking Men” lyrics to him, so they sang that. The crowd got very animated and wanted them to sing it repeatedly.

    There’s also a Viking version of “The Night Before Christmas”.

    Move? We had thought about retiring to various parts of New Mexico. Water is becoming a huge problem. The Spokane area is in our blood, too, so it looks like we’re here for the duration.

    Snake handler: “Don’t put your hand near my snakes!”
    Spectator: “But I want to touch one. They’re so cuuute!”
    Snake handler: “Yes, and they’re deadly.”
    Spectator: “But it’s cute OWWWW! It bit me!” Thud as the unwary spectator hits the floor.
    Arena announcer: “Clean up on Aisle 3!”


  21. Hi Pam,

    With the silverbeet, do you consume both the stalk and the leaf? We do, and I note that the stalk has a similar texture to celery. You’d hope that the marsupial munched upon silverbeet recovers, but there is so little energy in the sun now.

    Had a big burn off clean up today. Me feeling tired. It was kind of nice getting rained on too, because it cooled you off. The fire was very hot, and hard to get close to. A few moments close to the fire, and you dried right off.

    I quite like the word ‘varmints’. 🙂

    That may be so, and time will tell. He’s now on what can only be described as a short leash. We’ll see. There is less predation now.



  22. Hi DJ,

    Oh my, tourists and road pinch points. Yes, I’ve seen those mythical beasts as well. Had a very late lunch this afternoon, just past 3:30pm. Headed over to the more fashionable western end of the mountain range to check out the post office and grab some food. It was good, and being only 10’C, we were the some of the few people sitting outside. My general rule being that if it is 6’C or over, it’s warm enough to sit outside and enjoy the bracing mountain air. Of course, tourists are a bit scared of such things… 😉

    And oh yeah, pinch points. So they’re putting in a roundabout on Barringo Road near to the new footy and netball fields. There’s only a few roads off the mountain range, and that was one. So getting off the mountain from here now requires a 15 or 20 minute detour… Yikes! That’s road progress for you. They reckon it will be finished by the end of June.

    Clouds will have their own way when it comes to viewing the star fields. I’d imagine there’d be little light pollution there at the Arches? The area has some fascinating geology. There are thick clouds here today, and only about an hours peak sunlight. Winter is fast approaching.

    Burn off restrictions finished Monday morning. Hey, it even rained a bit this morning, so we did a massive burn off and clean up with an area, and it’s looking good. The heat from the fire was good to dry off – it rained quite a bit during the day. Oh, and the fire helped warm up too! That area had a lot of loggers mess, well it did this morning anyway. One of the biggest loggers tree stumps fell in half. Winning.

    That trip would have been really good. Had you been in that part of your country before? It’s funny to me to think of snow capped mountains in otherwise arid country. I’ll bet that land is fairly fertile, if anyone could get the water during the growing season?

    Best not to get involved with curses and avoid the curiosity as to how things rolled, is my thinking too. We can access the materials, but there’s a massive responsibility to clean up afterwards – then maintain the area. Such burdens are not for everyone. Still, the area has had humans doing that work for tens of millennia. It’s an old country down here, you can feel that. We came across an old firebreak track today.

    We tend to follow the English terms in such cases, and caravan is a very commonly heard word to describe the little home on a trailer. 🙂 Wales would be an interesting place, rather damp I’d imagine.

    Reproducing Eric Burdon’s gravely vocals would be a tough school. Yes, you’ve mentioned Good King Wenceslaus, but do I dare? What could possibly go wrong… … Saved, as there were so many interweb references to the more usually found lyrics that they overwhelmed the bawdy and/or subversive versions. No doubt the alternative versions were the first, whilst the goodier versions came later! A bit of let’s just call it: Carol-washing. You read that here first!

    The Viking Men carol was very good, but now I’m slightly nervous about the impending Viking onslaught. And where is a simple country bumpkin like me going to come up with adequate Danegald? There are going to be some future disappointments on that front.

    Thanks for the laughs. Yes, Odin and Thor are not to be trifled with. At least the narrator survived the encounter, and the ten dead warriors would have sobered the mighty warrior up quickly enough. You’d hope so anyway.

    Oh yeah, I forgot about the ground water issue there. Yes, best to not be involved is my thinking as well. I know of people with water bores (wells) down this way, but I dunno. It’s really hard to tell where the water level is in such things, but they’re really common in your country which took me a while to get my head around. The electricity required to pump the water up the well would trouble me as something of a risk.

    Hehe! Yes, indeed. I’m sure an ambulance would have been called, but at least the snake bloke would have known how to treat the bite and had dressing kits to bind the affected limb. Apparently the bites don’t hurt all that much, and with older snakes they sometimes bite but don’t inject the venom. I guess it would not be easy to produce something really deadly like that neurotoxin easily. You can see the snake’s thoughts now: “I’m not made of venom, you know!”



  23. Hi Lewis,

    A tidy conspiracy theory. Hmm. Yeah, maybe it is a virtual reality construct. It’s amazing what they can do with computers theses days, don’t you reckon? 🙂 The AI generated words that I’ve read, don’t sound right to my reading ear. They’re a bit flowery and verbose, and could use some concision, and also some editing, by a human – which for all we know, may actually be happening in some sweat shop in a distant third world country? That’s my conspiracy theory of the day! How else could those services be so cheap?

    The bee book is good, even genius, it’s just that I have this urge to yell and scream at the authors. Seriously, there are times when reading the book, I’m having difficulty comprehending the information the authors are trying to convey. And the subject matter shouldn’t be complicated. It’s not too much to ask of the authors to make the words in the text comprehensible is it? It’s an unusual and rare feeling for me to want to edit the daylights out of some text in a book. The authors seriously need a good editor, who is not a friend, and can deliver the harsh news, and then get something done about it in the form of a major re-write.

    It’s really difficult for a person reading a book to gain an insight into the motivations behind why a book was written the way it was, but sometimes I get eerie insights into such things. This is one of those times. Hmm, I shall say no more. I wonder if the authors would appreciate a friendly email of unsolicited advice? Probably not given the way the book was written.

    In my first adult job, the boss was a grumpy bloke, along the lines of the firm but fair old school temperament. Early on, he took a memo I’d only just written, and basically gave me a ‘telling off’ session. Let’s just say that it wasn’t my finest work. But he also made an excellent point, which I’m sure you’ll agree with it: If you intend to write so that another person can understand your intentions and/or instructions, bloody well make sure that is what you do! Yes, boss. 🙂 Can’t argue with such truth, can we!

    I’m not sure that we have such land zoning down this way. Interesting. To be honest, the zoning makes the property sound like an expensive picnic ground to me. Mind you, with that much land, if the property was forested, who’d know if the property owner built a cabin in an out of the way spot? Once outside a city or town, we tend to have either rural or farming zones. I’m in a rural zone.

    Very good. Just in case, make sure that you have your whip and chair handy if the new computer gets a little bit uppity. Nobody wants that.

    Oh no! Did the night blokes seedling starts survive the frost? That’s an enviable commute distance. It’ll apparently be 64’F here tomorrow, so we’ve handed the weather baton over to you, and I noticed that the lost hour was returned in good condition. A bit soiled, but this is to be expected! 🙂 Far out, it rained here this morning. It was perfect weather for a burn off, and so we headed down to the forest edge and cleaned up more of the loggers mess. The stumps were the right way around this time, but one was so large I had to cut it into smaller pieces. Burned the whole lot off. It’s good cleaning up an area. It rained off and on during the day, but you dried off if you stood near to the fire. It’s still burning now, and I expect it to be burning tomorrow. I’ll push the fire materials together again tomorrow morning and it will kick off again. It takes days for the ground to cool off.

    I read that the nice folks in the country north of you have what they call ‘zombie fires’ under the snow. Not good. Peat is not usually an issue in this part of the world, but there have been some peat fires in this state which are super hard to put out. I’ve heard stories from this mountain range that sometimes tree roots will burn for months, so we don’t usually have fires near to the trees. Probably not a good idea. With those zombie fires though, when the summer weather conditions dry off and if the winds pick up, those fires may well spread.

    I’ll be very interested to hear from you if the results from following the almanac were good? We definitely need such a thing, but I doubt it exists down here, especially for say where I am which is closer to the conditions seen in Tasmania. The old timers used to grow potatoes and berries up here, but not the other vegetables in any great quantity, so we’re kind of making it up a bit as we go along.

    Well that’s my point isn’t it? Rules are useful, unless they’re stupid. I think we’re on the same page here.

    Almost forgot to mention, what I’ve taken away from the bee book, is that there is no real consensus when it comes to bee keeping. And there is certainly a lot of room for experimentation and improvement on existing systems.

    Hand pollinating seems like a lot of effort to me as well, but it works. We have too many plants for such labour intensive activities. So yeah, live and let live is my thinking with the plants as well. Yikes! You have to really annoy bees for them to sting you, but sometimes a person can get unlucky. I once put my hand on the underside of a water bowl and was stung by a bee sheltering there. Thanks for that. I don’t get a bad reaction to the stings, but they do hurt. Hey, I annoyed a lot of very large and aggressive looking ants today. Wow! Do those ant dudes hate me or what? 🙂

    That’s a good point about those folks, although the ‘roo lived in a different state, and it wasn’t in a city. They might be more chill about such matters outside of the cities. The magpies here were following me around all day. There were six of them, and we’re on good terms with those birds. I read the article on the ‘plants you shouldn’t plant’. Maybe I have some sort of defective gene, or something like that, caveman, whatever, but I’ve heard such stories, seen the plants, and very little can actually out-compete the forest ecosystem here. Maybe the Sycamore maples are a bit invasive in the mountain range where it is just a touch cooler and wetter than here. But you know, the Eucalyptus trees hardly seem to even notice the maples growing in the understory. Neither do the ferns or mosses. People have funny ideas as to what they think an ecosystem should look like, when I doubt many people really know the answer to that question.

    Many years ago I had a chat to a local group who had the claim that they were doing good things for the local environment. It seemed like a good thing to do. So I asked them the hard question: How do you know what the plant community in an area is meant to look like, and is there any undisturbed reference areas which provide an example? It really seemed like a fair question, but they got all uncomfortable and looked at me as if I were some sort space lizard, or hey, we haven’t mentioned the pod people for a few weeks… 🙂 Maybe one of those… I was beginning to get the idea that they didn’t know. I didn’t get the chance to ask my next question which was: So how do you know what you’re doing then? Regrets, we’ve all had a few.

    I saw your mention of the stoic philosophers book. Are you enjoy the work? And is it worthy of a book recommendation?

    Good stuff with the donations. Were they some of the leftover books? Ah, I respect your strawberry efforts, and can only read on in awe. Those plants defeated me… 🙂



  24. Yo, Chris – I keep forgetting to mention, a bit of space junk crashed through the ceiling (and floor) of a home in Naples, Florida. We’re supposed to take comfort, in the fact that it’s a rare event … unless it happens to you. 🙂

    It’s always exciting when an edit is done by someone who speaks English, as a second language.

    The bee book. Might just be two authors trying to outdo, each other. And if they come from academic backgrounds, well …

    Expensive picnic ground, about covers it. It’s tough to build a cabin in an out-of-the-way spot. Satellite photos. Not only do they look for new construction, but also additions. I’ve seen the one’s, for our county. They’re pretty detailed. You might get away with it if you went underground …

    Another frost, last night. But very light. The temperature bumped around freezing, for a couple of hours. I wonder how much the warm ground might mitigate frost damage. We’ve had some warm days. Our night manager might have lost a lettuce plant, or two. The edges of one of his green pole bean plants looks a little crispy.

    Chris likes to play with fire. 🙂 You hear about people stepping in holes, filled with embers, from a previous fire. Sometimes, a long while after a fire sweeps through. Smoldering fire under snow or, just underground is always a problem.

    Our night manager swears he actually attracts bees. That given the opportunity, they intentionally attack him. Maybe he did something horrible, to bees, in a previous life? I never have problems with bees.

    “Undisturbed reference areas.” That’s funny. Sure, there’s old growth forests and remnant prairie. But the eco-freaks don’t seem to “get” that they’re just snapshots in time.

    Well, I found the Marcus Aurelius book interesting, and a good read. I finished it in two evenings. Your mileage may vary…

    Well, the book donations story is what I was going to whinge about, the other day. We lost a couple of tenants, and a lot of books were dumped in the Institution’s library. Which I generally ride herd on. So, a few things I pulled out to trash, and I put together two bags of books, one for our local regional library, and one for the bookstore. To make space. Well, then I discovered that someone had pretty much had disorganized the library. I had everything sorted into rough subject areas. Everything had been pulled out and mixed up.

    Turns out, one of the newer inmates (who I believe is, what we now politely call “developmentally disabled), has taken it upon herself to “clean the library.” Any-who. Rather than getting all over-wrought about it, I’ve decided to just step away. We have a tenant’s group, and I told the president about it, and that I would no longer have anything to do with the Institution’s library. I’ve got enough on my plate, anyway.

    I dumped the three bags of good garden soil, into the strawberry bed, last night, and planted a few new plants. Worked the new stuff into the soil. We’ll see how it goes. It’s not that big of a bed. There were only two of the old batch that had completely died.

    Another whinge … last year, there was a little clump of Bachelor Buttons (aka Cornflowers) that grew in a corner of the strawberry bed. They were quit pretty, and, due to our mild winter, grew and flowered well into the cool season. A few had seeded, and were coming up. I even surrounded them with forks, just to let people know there was something there worth saving. Well, someone pulled them all up. I’ll start some seed, in other places.

    We should get a food box, this morning. I wonder what we’ll get.

    I finished season two of “The Royal Doctor’s Flying Service.” I see there’s to be a season three. Looking forward to it. Lew

  25. Chris,

    10C can be plenty warm. If the sun is shining and there is little or no wind, 10C is nearly perfect. In fact, the past few mornings have been about 8C when I’ve gone outside with my coffee. Warm enough.

    Condolences on the road progress. They keep giving us more and more roundabouts. Also, they keep removing vehicle lanes and widening sidewalks on the major north-south arterials in town, which adds to traffic congestion and air pollution. Then they wonder why the air quality is worse during air inversions than it used to be. Yes, road progress. I feel your pain.

    Get outside Moab and there would be limited light pollution. One of my cousins likes visiting Arches simply because the stars are much brighter than in Albuquerque. We just hit the area on the wrong days.

    Ohhh, that’s some of my favorite weather! Cooler temperatures, some rain, but able to burn things up. The heat from the fire and the occasional nose full of smoke are things I’ve always enjoyed. The fact that you cleaned up some messes is a bonus. Did you make any ash to be used elsewhere?

    I’ve been in most of that country before on several occasions. However, the trip between Gallup and Moab was new to me, as was the trip through Cuba and Farmington.

    Once upon a time, I think 2012, the Princess and I drove the route from Spokane to Spanish Fork (just south of Salt Lake City) then to Grand Junction, Colorado via Helper, Utah. (This latest trip, we took a turn to the south to go to Moab when an hour west of Grand Junction.) That was a previous trip to the Albuquerque area. That 2012 trip took us over a 3,500 meter pass in Colorado before we dropped into Pueblo, Colorado and then south to Albuquerque. That trip was also very scenic. My mom’s dad’s family had lived in Grand Junction for awhile before moving to southern California where mom and the cousin who just died were born. The orchards they owned are now shopping malls and under concrete.

    As you surmised, much of that land is fertile. Water is the issue. A BIG issue. Most of the Mountain West, except for the higher elevations, gets something between 8 and 12 inches of rain per year. We crossed 2 of the larger rivers that flow westerly from the mountains, the San Juan and the Colorado. Big rivers for that area but pretty small compared with the Columbia and some of its tributaries. The Rio Grande is much more impressive than the Colorado or the San Juan as it drains a wetter stretch of mountains.

    Carol washing. Brilliant. My mischievous side thinks some of the revised lyrics are an improvement. Not everyone agrees with me. I am glad that I was able to provide you with some humor while, hopefully, getting rid of the prior ear worm I donated. 😉

    You would have little trouble appeasing the Viking hordes. You make wine. And sake. You could pay off your danegeld in annual installments of alcoholic beverages. Brewing alcohol is a worthy skill to have when the Viking hordes come rampaging through.


  26. Hi DJ,

    Similar conditions prevailed again today, but this time with some pleasant sunshine and a moderate UV rating. We had lunch at a nearby cidery (a pint and a pie) and it was quite nice to have one side of me warmed by the autumn sun, whilst the other was cooled by the autumn breezes. Kind of like hanging out near to a camp fire – you’d know the feeling. It was only 12’C.

    And yes, exactly, warm enough is fine by me as well. Did the Viking raids ever fare so far south that the warriors suffered from the summer heat? I’ll bet they stuck to what they knew.

    Yeah, thanks. The local council owned a couple of paddocks and turned one into a massive netball and indoor sports shed (probably not a bad idea given the cold winters here). The other paddock was turned into a footy oval with change rooms etc. The main road here off the middle of the mountain range runs between the two paddocks, and so a roundabout was in order. Just for good measure there are also two primary schools. Most of the time the road is very quiet, except for school drop off and pickup times. Hmm. There’s talk about planning, except the nearby town has three primary schools at one extreme end, whereas most of the people live at the other furthest geographical end. If that is planning, I’d be curious to see what anarchy might produce! 😉

    Oh, so you’ve got those sorts as well in your part of the world? In the inner urban area I used to live, they’re also reducing a number of vehicle lanes from two to one, and then adding in bike lanes and/or removing parking. It’s a nice idea, until you have to drive on one of those roads. What a nightmare, and presumably the plan was to exclude people like me. Some of the bike lanes are barely used. Oh well. The worst example I can think of is a road limited to 30km/h. That’s 18.36mph and I tell you vehicles are not designed to be driven at such speeds for very long. It’s all fun and games for those ideologues, until they need the help. And I mean that literally.

    Lovely. The arches looked like a great place to star gaze. Hey, went out to see if the comet could be seen, but the light from the moon put the stomp on that. Hopefully the comet later in the year is brighter. Living where you do, you’d sure get some cloudy weather from time to time. 🙂

    The smell from the burn off was exactly how you described it, just like a camp fire, but a bit hotter! 🙂 It’s still burning strong today, and we’ve just kept adding to it throughout the day. It’ll continue to burn tomorrow. Ah, the ash will be spread around the cleaned up area as a form of fertiliser. I have a hunch the ash also cleans up the soil a bit. You guys deal with a lot more soil diseases than we do, and I think that ash story and the tens of millennia of indigenous land management may have something to say about that difference. We have to wait for the ash to cool down a bit before it gets spread.

    Using a wood heater, and summer burns offs in the brazier provide all the wood ash we’d ever need, and then some. It doesn’t go as far as you’d imagine.

    Your road trip sounds awesome. And there’s something about travelling over a 3,500m ASL (above sea level) pass isn’t there? You can get altitude sickness at such great heights. We saw the condors flying in Peru at about 3,900m and the bus trip up there from around 2,200m was an interesting experience. The local milk bars sold cocoa leaves which you chew upon to help ward off altitude sickness from such rapid climbs. I guess there’s no milk bars in your country, and I doubt such leaves get sold over the counter. Did the leaves work, yes. Did they taste disgusting, absolutely. Did the people who refused to take local advice suffer, you betcha! Sandra and I were giggling, whilst the abstainers were suffering. Hmm. More on this story tomorrow. Drugs are bad, OK?

    12 inches of rain does not support a forest, sorry to say. Dunno really, my best guess is that depending upon the timing of the rain, it might support a very fertile arid grassland. Maybe. Lovely to look at. Dude, the wet and cold weather calls to my caveman origins blood. It’s a personal failing for sure… 🙂

    I thought the Viking alterations were an improvement too, after all doesn’t history suggest that Vikings are more likely than good Kings? Man, swapping one ear worm, for another ear worm is a truly fine super sneaky fluffy strategy number five. Respect. It hadn’t occurred to me that someone else had access to the play book!

    Well, my thinking is that lot will be hungry, thirsty and in need of a clean and probably some assistance. I think what the western world is facing, is a shortage of peasants.



  27. Hi Lewis,

    The blob comes to take us all… Maybe… I’ve got friends who shop there, and they all get this weird look to their eyes and say: “You get so much, for so little.” Cult leaders couldn’t ask for a better response. If I were an investigative journalist, I’d look into how much all those things are paying in income tax. But like other things, I believe this is one which is officially tolerated because you know, so much, for so little. I shop at little locally owned independent.

    Oh my, the most recent article suggested that it was unclear if the owner of the space junk would pay for repairs to the home! Not good. I’d missed that one.

    Did I mention that Dame Plum had a seizure last week? Well, there’s been some animal weirdness here of late, including the hapless marsupial – Ollie interaction last week. That just doesn’t ordinarily happen. Being the crafty and alert person that I purport to be, we looked back over the records as to when Dame Plum had her seizures. Now bear in mind, Ruby had some weirdness too the other week. So, I cogitated upon the timing, and also the recent multitude of incidents. That was when the little light went on: It’s mushroom season. The seizure date records tell that story. Those little idiots are all out getting stoned on magic mushrooms – all of them, except for Ollie who took advantage of the stoned marsupial. This idiocy has to stop, and so the dogs are all grounded until further notice… Far out, those idiots. I’m seriously beginning to think that my grandfather was right when he used to call people by that family unfriendly name. It’s funny, but it’s also stupid and dangerous.

    Hmm, we now resume normal programming, whatever the heck that is! 🙂

    You scored a hole in one there. It appears to be an academic background issue. Hmm. All the same, I’m persisting with the book and just trying to take from it whatever I can. The chapter on genetics is perhaps more clearly written, and that’s when you start getting the idea that the bee industry brought this entire mess down on their own heads. The honeybees will survive I reckon, but probably not in the form we know it now. Reading between the lines, the trick is to establish a colony which swarms a lot, but also can store enough feed to over winter and produce just enough brood to be sustainable – i.e. a more natural bee. What did all these people expect from their tinkering?

    Hehe! Yes, underground is always an option for such cabins, but I’ve stayed two nights in underground buildings (in remote desert areas) and they were really temperate. The ground here however would be too cold for an underground house, and trying to moisture proof the building would be a total nightmare. I’ve never quite understood the water pump situation with houses in your country that have basements? A mystery to me, but then very few if any houses down under have basements, so it’s not something I’ve ever really thought about.

    Brr! Frosty nights can be a five blanket extravaganza! Maybe the rest of the plants will be OK? I’d be foliar feeding them, just in case. It’s 41’F outside right now, with clear skies. Went out looking for the comet, but was unable to see it. The moon was two thirds full and very bright, so the stars took a back seat.

    It’s true! 🙂 Burning off is a national past time down under with a long history. Even the most observant Captain Cook noticed this activity. Mind you, they probably didn’t have mega-fires in those wiser days of land management. The fire continued again today, and we just kept slowly adding stuff to it. It’ll probably be burning tomorrow as well. And any underground fire is a problem, people get serious burns from stepping in those. And you don’t sometimes know that they are there. A thermal camera might help spot them. Hmm.

    Probably the night manager dude became involved in early breeding techniques for Queen bees, and given the current state of affairs with bee health, the bees are now coming for him. You read it here first! 🙂 I don’t have problems with bees either, you just have to remain calm around them.

    You hit that one out of the park with the ‘snap shot in time’ observation. You see what we’re dealing with here? It’s like people talking to me about indigenous plants. I try to speak with such people about the origins of the plants they so love eating. You can’t have it both ways, can they?

    Thanks for the brief book review. 😉

    A fine whinge, and man, I feel for you with that library business. And would do and act much the same. You can fight that one, but it isn’t worth the aggravation. I’d imagine that in time the persons interest will wane, and then after a respectable time, you can step back into the breach, if you still want to. You didn’t ask, but that’s kind of how I’d play that drama.

    Nice work with the strawberries, and hope they produce well. Dude, the runners with those hybrid varieties sent me loopy. 🙂 We ended up producing only runners and no berries. Must have been something we were doing, but I ran out of free time to consider the matter. Other issues bug me, like those freakin’ mushrooms!

    Cornflowers are really nice, and worth the effort. I presume yours were blue? Hey, it could have just as easily been a critter. That cat you mentioned may be using the raised beds like a huge kitty litter tray? Then there are rats, birds etc.

    Did the food box arrive? Any goodies for the Club?

    It’d be a fun job that, but you’d have to be able to (as the old timers used to quip) think on your feet. Everyday would be different too.



  28. Yo, Chris – According to the article, food stuffs are quit a bit cheaper, at the grocery chain mentioned. Maybe, because they just concentrate on food, and don’t try and be “all things to all people. As with, the Store of Walls. I’m waiting for the Winco, to come here. They also only concentrate on food … and, frosting on the cake, are employee owned. Yes, the big box stores often get lavish tax breaks, AND free infrastructure. So, why? The powers that be always shout about jobs, jobs, jobs. Never mind that they are low wage, no benefits (such as health insurance) and, sometimes, “on-call” positions. Try and work a second job, under those conditions. Never mind child-care.

    If you read the fine print on a lot of home insurance policies, probably, space junk and meteor strikes are not covered. Some even have clauses that state there’s no coverage, due to damage from civil insurrection or revolution. 🙂

    Psychedelic dogs. Well, it’s a theory. I know I have to keep a sharp eye on H, when the mushrooms start popping up in the grass. She’ll Hoover up just about anything that catches her fancy. Years ago, I had a couple of roommates in Southern California. They had a couple of cats, that they brought out from Ohio. Mama cat, had ingested a huge amount of cannabis, while pregnant. She was always very strange, after that, and so was her kitten.

    There’s been so much genetic tampering, with animals. Not only bees. Turkeys that can’t even reproduce themselves. Chickens that burn out in short order. And, how about weird dog breeds that have numerous problems. By the way, I was working in the garden, and someone from the neighborhood walked by with a dog. I said, “That looks like a dingo.” I was corrected. The owner said it was an Australian cattle dog. Well, a dingo by any other name …

    Yes, underground houses have problems with water. And, basements do to, due, sometimes, to a high water table. Although the way we’re pumping out the aquifers, that might not be a problem much longer. There are springs. The whole hillside, here in Chehalis, is full of springs. Which have caused problems. The old library had a very musty smell, in the first floor, back end. Skylights were a big deal, for a long time, but most of them leaked. New materials and techniques, helped, but you really had to know what you were about.

    I had to glance into the rabbit hole, to see what “foliar feeding” was. Probably would be easier to throw a floating row cover, over it.

    I don’t think I could see the comet, unless I drove out of town. From the Institution, there’s a hill and a forest, in the way.

    Tis the season. Yesterday, I opened up my truck door, and there was a hornet, busily building his mud nest, in the door frame. Usually, I can knock them to the ground, with my key, and step on them. Didn’t work, this time. I had to run around the back of the truck, jump in, and slam the door. I did not roll down the window, until I was blocks away. Still spry, for an old fellow. 🙂

    The few strawberries that did ok, from last year, now have blossoms on the runners. Sometimes, the first year establishes the plant, and then they produce the second year. Depends on the variety. Also, you need to cut the cord, between the mother plant and the runner plant. Then it can become its own individual. Kind of like people.

    I must have had a dozen forks, among and around those bachelors buttons. Nope. A human did it.

    Well, food box. Didn’t show, yesterday. According to the Night Manger, who I saw this morning, it won’t be here until next Friday. Wrong date on the schedule, apparently. But, no worries, as far as the Club pantry goes. Two of Elenor’s daughters showed up with three boxes of tinned goods. They’re cleaning out, to “Give mother a fresh start.” If she comes home. I think, though unspoken, they’re also beginning to clear out, to get a leg up on that task. Maybe. When I drop off the mail in the apartment, I’ve notice a lot of stuff getting boxed up. So, I was able to take two bags of groceries down to the Club, this morning. And I’ll probably have another two or three bags to take down on Monday evening.

    I stopped by the general store, last night, and picked up another bag of good soil. Mostly, for a spot or two in my beds. Also, the Petunias were in. So, I picked up some red, white and blue blooms, so I can put together my Patriotic Petunia Hanging Basket. I got some thrip (leaf borers) traps, in the mail, yesterday. The first year I was here, they were a problem. I got the traps, and things have been fine, for a couple of years. But, thought I ought to get them again. I’d like to get some nematodes. Those little land sharks will clean up a number of “bad” insects. But they don’t hurt the worms.

    I also swung by the library and picked up a new Blu-ray copy of an old film, you may have seen. “They Live.” (1988). It’s a John Carpenter film, and kind of a cult classic. It’s a sci-fi about a fellow who finds some glasses, that reveal the world as it really is. Run by subliminal messages and lizard people! 🙂 I probably won’t get to it for a couple of days, but I think it might be worth a bowl of popcorn. Lew

  29. Hi Chris,

    That visit to the small farm event was quite awhile ago but I don’t recall too much livestock. There is an annual fur and feather swap not too far from me in Wisconsin where I picked up some chickens once.

    I had two uncles who were priests and they must both have been monks early on as there’s pictures of me as a very small child visiting them at a monastery. One moved on to be a parish priest for the rest of his life. The other became a Trappist monk some time later and in between taught at Notre Dame. A Trappist is rarely allowed to leave the monastery perhaps for a parents death so the only way to see my Uncle Dick was t visit him. He was very conservative religiously but was a fun guy with a great sense of humor. My memory of our visit was how simple and regimented their lives were. They made money for the monastery by selling fruitcakes which are sold by Williams-Sonoma among other places.

    The Catholic mystic, Thomas Merton, was a Trappist Monk.

  30. Hi Margaret,

    That’s a great name for a swap meet! I guess Wisconsin isn’t far from you. It’s funny the difference between your country and here, because your country is about 1.3x larger than this big island, except there are only six states here. So the idea of crossing into the next state just isn’t even on my radar – it’s a long way to go! 🙂 We don’t really have anything like a fur and feather swap. Mostly farm animals are sold at auction, or shows – that I’m aware of.

    For some, the life of a religious order calls. How would you feel about a living a life of such regulated order? I don’t reckon that would be for me. The fruit cakes are amazing looking, although I’d skip the glacé cherries, but that is a personal preference. I’ll bet the cakes are in high demand!

    Thomas Merton appears to be a very complicated, but also at the same time, a simple bloke. A real contradiction that one. And he left us all on a mystery, as you do. 🙂 Nothing wrong with a hermitage.



  31. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, that’s what people say about the place. I don’t really know the answer as to the ‘why’ of it all, but the stuff from there doesn’t seem to taste right to me. Maybe I’m being overly sensitive? The employee owned store should be pretty good I reckon. The employees will be motivated to ensure that the business works. Dunno how such things are done in your country, but down here in the health industries, graduates have to do I believe a placement of a 1,000 hours – that’s 25 weeks, for no pay. Honestly, it baffles me that anyone would want to work half a year for free. I’d say something ungentlemanly to such requests, but it would also be rather pointed, and then go and do something different with my life. It seems like an excessive hurdle to jump, but then I had to deal with hurdles too of restricted poverty line revenue for three years. Not a fan.

    Exactly, how does a person navigate child care, and work an on-call position. Student teachers have to deal with that for a few years. It doesn’t seem right to me somehow.

    I’m aware of those other serious exclusions. I’d imagine if there was civil disturbance then the insurance companies would be stuffed.

    Thanks! It’s a good theory, because it fits the facts on the ground. 😉 Oh yeah, the cat could have a psychotic episode. Nobody wants to see that.

    I’d forgotten about the tampering of the chickens, but yes. My experiences with commercial breeds lead me to observe one of those chickens having a psychotic episode. The nutter bird actually killed (or mostly killed) my favourite chicken, and I was very, very annoyed. A public example goes a long way to ensuring such things don’t reoccur. Dead psychotic chickens aren’t much fun. Nowadays we stick to heritage breeds, and the chicken flock is a much calmer environment. Now that I’m reading about what the commercial folks do with bee genetics, well it hardly surprises me that there are all the problems. As far as I can scry the future of that industry, they have to go right back to basics. Even the authors appear to be poking at the hives all of the time. They blew it.

    Ha! The shelter called Ollie an Australian cattle dog, and they were wrong. Go with your gut feeling there, if it looks like a dingo, it probably is a dingo. I’m not sure they’d make great pets.

    Dude, water bores here get drilled down a very long way. If my neighbour runs a water bore for his own house and garden purposes, then he’s kind of stealing from everyone’s water table. What’s to stop anyone from draining these things? I wouldn’t know it was happening beneath me.

    I’ve put some skylights in long ago, and they were fancy Velux double glazed units. I agree with your point, holes in a roof can be a problem for water ingress. It never leaked, but I was always mildly concerned.

    Sorry, foliar feeding is a technical term for mixing a seaweed solution into water, then pouring it over the plant leaves. And you’re probably right. I tend to feed plants that way when I want them to grow fast, like right now. In another month, most plant growth will slow to a crawl.

    🙂 Nice one, and that’s what I’d call an action move. Imagine having an annoyed hornet in the cabin with you? Yikes. Did you check the mud nest when you got back home again?

    Thanks for the strawberry advice. Hmm. Many berries fruit in their second year. Interesting. I’ll have to cogitate upon this information.

    I see that you put on your detective hat with the disappearing cornflower mystery. No doubts, like space lizards, or pod people, the miscreants walk amongst you.

    Have you even heard from Elinor? At least the daughters handed over the groceries for the Club. Makes you wonder why they didn’t use the tinned goods themselves? Clearing a house is a task I’ve done, and it was not an enjoyable task. It’s also a reminder of the future.

    With raised beds, one needs more soil! 😉 It’s true here too. Ah very good, if I recall correctly, it’s an annual thing that patriotic hanging basket, isn’t it? What do you mean your soil doesn’t have nematodes? I’d imagine that you bring in enough plants and soil for your raised beds to have such soil critters, maybe? Some species are a problem for plants, but most aren’t.

    Oh yeah, go John Carpenter. That guy knows horror films. I’ve seen that film decades ago, but may have to do a revisit. I’d also say the film is popcorn worthy, yeah. Did you break and watch the film?

    Spent another day burning off, and that area is looking mighty clean now.

    Cheers and better get writing…


  32. Yo, Chris – I have to watch the frozen veg from one of the cheap food stores. A time or two I’ve forgot to check (or, forgot my reading glasses), and have got stuff from distant foreign lands that tastes “off” to me. Fresh produce in regular super markets can also be a problem. I’ll not forget the grapes that, even after a good wash, had the faint taste of petroleum.

    Unpaid “internships.” They make the news, from time to time. Often, only the children of the idle rich can afford to take those positions. I was going to mention your profession, but you beat me to it. I’d like to know the reasoning, behind that. If it even exists, other than gatekeeping. I think a lot of it is to insure “the right kind of people,” “our crowd (tribe?), is able to enter some forms of work.

    Of course, I was an on-call substitute clerical, for the library. I made it work for me, much to Human Resources chagrin. 🙂 But then, I have no family, or much of a life, for that matter.

    There’s a lot of chatter at Mr. Greer’s this week, about the decline in insect and bird populations. It didn’t cross my mind to check the wasp “nest” when I got home. It was very small. Just one wasp and only a couple of “cells” created. I’m not driving anywhere, today, but if I remember, I’ll check later, to see if any others are making the attempt.

    I’d guess there was more tinned stuff, at Elinor’s, than they could haul out of here. She’s very much a food hoarder.

    Yes, I do that hanging basket, every year. Just another uncredited thing I do around here. It was very much neglected when I moved in. I think I’ve figured out what to do with it, during the winter. The Petunias play out, and for a few months there’s nothing in it. I have a Vinca, that I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with. It’s a ground cover. I had it in a corner of my garden, but it started to take over. It’s in a pot, now. It stays green all winter, and is something that flowers very early. Around January.

    I probably won’t get around to watching “They Live,” until mid or late week. There’s some other things from the library, that are more pressing. IE: the due date is rolling around.

    There’s a new bell or whistle, as far as our library catalog is concerned. One can give a star rating for items, and even write a short review. I watched a documentary on the Knights Templar, last night. It was pretty ghastly. The narration was repetitive. The visuals didn’t have much to do with the narration at all. For instance, there was a lot of banging on about the double headed eagle being used as a symbol, for the knights. And not a double headed eagle to be seen, on the screen. A lot of the visuals appeared to be stock footage of reenactors from across history. Heavy on the Romans. I’m surprised they didn’t throw in a few of our American Civil War reeanactors. And, I said so, in my review. Lew

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