Nowadays, everyone seems to have an opinion on politics. With that in mind, I thought to myself, I better get one of those opinion things too, otherwise readers may believe that I'm some sort of intellectual lightweight. And who wants to be identified as the dumb kid in the class?
Sometimes the best opinions are other peoples opinions, so in order to learn what opinions were out there, I fired up my favourite internet browser and went to a news website to check out what political opinions were being offered up to the public for consumption. Well, we have had a fun time down here, although perhaps it was more fun for some than others. A notable family values politician down here appears to have liked families so much that he couldn't stick to just one family at a time.
Oh! Other countries appear to have much more complicated politics than ours. Certainly there were more than a few articles about the President of the USA, and something to do with US intelligence agencies and Russia. I don't know much about any of that stuff and it all sounds a bit complicated to me, but I do want to sound as if I have an opinion, so I better form one based on what I read. Here goes: How come so many intelligence agencies couldn't detect Russian meddling as it was happening? By way of contrast, if Ollie the Australian cattle dog couldn't chase off a band of rampaging marsupials out of the orchard before they ran amok, then I'd wonder if he was worth his breakfast.
As for Russia, I don't really know much about them at all. Although to be fair, I was sitting in the pub a few weeks back and enjoying a pint of locally brewed 'Russian Imperial Stout', and I can confirm that it was an exceptionally good dark ale. I feel that it is important here to clarify that this dark ale should not be confused with the outstanding 'Rye Imperial Stout', which is nothing short of astounding. This brew is the work of a co-operative effort between the local Black Dog brewery and the US Eel River brewery. It is a heady brew, and just goes to prove that co-operation between nations is a better strategy than whingeing about something or other in the news.
As I was consuming that excellent dark ale, my mind clarified a bit and I recalled a titbit from Australia's early history. You see way back in 1866, the Colony of Victoria, as this state was then known, feared a Russian attack. The city of Melbourne in the Colony of Victoria had an epic gold rush, and rapidly became the second wealthiest city on the planet, after London, of course. And we were unfortunately a very long way away from the UK.
In those days, the ruling elite didn't waste time whingeing in the newspapers about Russia, they simply constructed shore-based fortifications of Port Philip Bay, and ordered the battleship HMVS Cerberus from the Royal Navy. In short order we had an iron clad battleship with ten inch main guns patrolling the bay. The ship had fore and aft turrets which at the time the was considered superior to any other warship operating in the Australasian region. It was a lethal bit of kit.
The public on the other hand were less than impressed with the expense, and the ship was nicknamed the: 'Floating Gasometer'. That was not a compliment and it was referring to the sad fact that the ship could only sail for ten days before requiring refuelling. Incidentally, the ship never fired a shot in anger, and at one point the entire crew had to be detained in quarantine because one of the ship's company began to show symptoms of the bubonic plague. By 1924, the ship was sold for scrap, and by 1926 the remains were scuttled at Half Moon Bay to serve as a breakwater for the Black Rock Yacht Club. And there it sits today performing a useful function.
The Russians never appeared, which may have had something to do with them losing a goodly chunk of their navy to the Japanese. Instead of the Russians, on the morning of 29 August 1908, sixteen white-hulled battleships (part of the Great White Fleet) carrying fourteen thousand sailors and marines of the United States Atlantic Fleet docked at Melbourne. Only a few years earlier the Colony of Victoria had joined with the other colonies on the continent to form a state of the newly minted country of Australia.
There was no whingeing in the newspapers of the time about a foreign force docking at the wealthiest city on the continent. In fact the exact opposite took place and apparently: 'Melburnians laid out the red, white and blue welcome mat for the new Pacific sea power. The records describe months of preparations by state and city officials to celebrate the visit'.
'Fleet week' as it was known was no doubt an epic occasion for the sailors and marines and I read all sorts of accounts of the entertainments that week including an intriguing reference to sailors ‘with a girl on each arm’. No doubt more than a few glasses of locally brewed 'Russian Imperial Stout' were consumed, although for obvious reasons I am unable to confirm this.
Anyway, the US sailors and marines eventually departed after declaring Melbourne the ‘best port of call’ in their 14-month, 20-port call, round-the-world, two-women-in-every-port voyage. We must have partied the sailors and marines pretty hard, because 221 deserters jumped ship in Melbourne, and whilst half of those deserters were eventually recovered, the other half weren't. Which all just goes to show that we know how to do politics and partying properly down here!
There wasn't much partying here this week. The weather was cool to warm and sunny for most of the week. We continued the job of excavating soil from the area below the potato terrace. The soil was used to correct the too-steep-slope around the nearby firewood shed. The soil excavations took another days labour following on from last weeks efforts.
After that job was complete, we were able to begin constructing a new steel rock gabion cage. The rock gabion is to be eventually filled with rocks and it is used to physically retain the soil on the potato terrace from sliding downhill. I reckon rock gabions look great.
|The author constructs a new steel rock gabion cage|
Once the cage was completed we placed it in position and put some rocks in it. The rocks help weigh it down.
|The rock gabion cage is in place and is perfectly level|
|Local crushed rock with lime was placed over the excavated soil and will provide an all weather surface|
Since late January, very little rain has fallen. Over the past few days, I took the opportunity to climb up onto the roof of the house and use a very old, but very reliable vacuum cleaner to remove any organic matter from the roof and/or guttering. It was a very dirty job and I was rapidly covered in a thick coating of black dust.
|The author uses an old vacuum cleaner to remove any organic matter from the roof and/or guttering|
|Ollie is also impressed by the amount of gunk removed from the roof and/or guttering|
|Some of the very tasty vegetables that we have harvested this week|
|The corn stalks and husks were spread on the ground for the wombats, wallabies, and kangaroos to feast upon|
On Saturday evening the weather turned and a storm threatened. I knew the storm was serious because Scritchy the Storm Detective was hiding under the bed. The sky looked great too:
|On Saturday night a storm threatened|
In case anyone reading this underestimates the sheer mischief that wallabies (which are a mid-sized forest kangaroo) perform, it is worth contrasting these two Mop Top trees which were planted on exactly the same day.
|Mop top number one!|
|Mop top number two was planted on exactly the same day!|
|The birds and insects enjoy this pool of water safely high up on one of the water tanks|
|A European honey bee seeks pollen and/or nectar from this rosemary flower|
|Geraniums are a reliable summer flower for the bees|
|Geraniums are a reliable summer flower for the bees|
|A small red ladybird enjoys this cluster of flowers on a curry plant|
Despite the hot and dry weather there are still plenty of flowers:
|Gazania's are tough as|
|A local indigenous wax wildflower|
|Feverfew flowers growing among the rosemary|
|Buddleia flowers look and smell great|
|Salvia and mint scented geranium|
|Basil mint is hardy as and the bees love the flowers|
The temperature outside now at about 6.00pm is 21’C (70’F). So far this year there has been 112.2mm (4.4 inches) which is slightly higher than last week's total of 109.8mm (4.3 inches).