The loan

In my final year of high school, my mother somehow talked me out of my various part time jobs. I loved the cash those part time jobs brought, and for as long as I could recall, I’d never been without work – and cash. The lure for me was the promise of something rare and previously unbeknownst to me – pocket money.

Her angle on the deal was that if I wasn’t working part time jobs, I’d have more free time to devote to study. It seemed like a good idea. My mother, the cheeky scamp, even went so far as to suggest that I was not as smart as my sister, and would therefore have to work harder in order to achieve the same mediocre results that she scored. Well, the challenge had been set, my pride had been questioned, and I leaped for joy at the delicious thought of earning money for doing nothing at all. I was a good student and so had no fear of not academically kicking my sisters ass! Well, maybe just a little bit of fear.

I wasn’t very smart though because I forgot to ask my mother what the specific details of this delicious new arrangement were. I blame it on personal greed, but I forgot to ask important questions as to just how much was going to be turned over to me for pocket money, and how regularly were these payments going to be made. A true oversight on my part.

When greed is to the fore, such pragmatic and boring considerations are quietly put to the side. I quit my part time jobs, learned to enjoy sleeping in, and burned through my stash of cash at an alarming rate of knots. Soon there was no cash and I was broke. The indignity of it all. Me, as a teenager, who had previously rolled around in piles of mad cash was soon left reaching for the last five dollars. Then there was nothing in the kitty at all.

It was a sad time for me, because my mother had reneged on the deal and no pocket money was forthcoming. My demands were brushed aside with vaporous sentences and complicated ambiguities. With no early morning papers to deliver, I’d become accustomed to sleeping in. On the other hand, the work load in my final year at high school was intense. After all, I had to work hard in order to kick my sisters academic ass. And I was stone cold broke. The indignity of it all!

It rapidly occurred to me given my experience with my mother, that these financial arrangement things are agreements that were just made to be broken. I knew about broken because I was flat broke. I was getting a little bit desperate though, and I went through a mental list of all of the people I knew that had cash – and could be relieved of it. Many people were considered, choices were discarded, but it finally came down to a single choice in the end: My grandfather.

Now, my grandfather was a canny bloke and he knew a thing or two about finances and money. He’d never just give me the cash, because he’d put me to work for it. On consideration, he’d probably expect quite a bit of work to be done for only a modest sum of cash. And how could I possibly kick my sisters academic ass if I spent all my free time working? And I’d probably even have to get up early again! Woe was me.

But then, I had this great idea. I’d ask him for a loan and then renege on the loan. It was a brilliant strategy and it followed my earlier experience with my mother that financial arrangements were just made to be broken.

Unfortunately, I had to get up early that day and push bike over to his house. We spoke for a while. And then I shook him down for some mad cash, I mean a loan. I started getting a bit uncomfortable when he began talking about interest and repayments. To be honest he sounded a bit smarter than I’d given him credit for being, and the discussion didn’t make for pleasant hearing. But anyway, being young I was resilient and insolently replied something along the lines of: “yeah, yeah”. Then pretended to act bored and sullen because teenagers are good at doing that. Inside though, dark plans were being woven…

The cash was handed over. Hands were shook. And I pedalled out of that place so fast that day. It was great to be full of mad cash again. Chris was in charge and living large.

For several months, I dodged the old bloke. It was the best. He was like a terrier though and the chase was unrelenting, and perhaps my mum finally turned on me and let him know I was in the house. You know, it’s true what they say, the fox tires, or falters, and the hounds eventually bring him to bay. That was my fate. It was fortunate that when he did finally catch up with me that I had the cash readily to hand (courtesy of some dodgy but mostly innocent dealings). He looked pretty unhappy. And I had to hand back his loan plus the agreed 20% interest. Who would have thought that the old bloke was a loan shark?

On reflection it was a great deal of effort on my part dodging my grandfather, and perhaps it would have been easier if I’d just earned the money from him in the first place. I also learned that day that financial arrangements are not so easily reneged.

As all good stories go, I eventually had my comeuppance. During the recession of the early 1990’s I couldn’t get any other job other than working for a large corporate chasing their debts. For four years during that decade I heard every sad tale of woe, untruth, fabrication, and straight outright lie. And during every minute of those working hours I had the spirit of my grandfather in my ear telling me all about these people and what idiots (he used a different and less family friendly word – which a mate of his recounted to all in a eulogy at his funeral) they were.

To this day, I hate debt, and what it made me and many other people become.

A rainbow forms under dark clouds

Some days this week the weather has been clear and sunny. Other days the clouds were low and threatening. Always the air temperature has been cold.

One morning a frost settled over the farm until lunchtimes when the feeble warmth from the winter sun provided just enough heat to melt the frost. That Sunday morning, it was cold inside the house (12’C / 54’F) and even colder outside (3’C / 37’F). The wood fire had not been lit the previous night and heavy insulation can only do so much. Still, I’d have to suggest all things considered, that it was better sleeping inside the house, than outside in the frost.

Weather station on a frosty Sunday morning

It is not often you get to see citrus fruit trees full of lemons and limes with a backdrop of frost. Those trees are hardy as, and even survived decent snowfalls.

Lemons, limes and a pomello full of fruit in a light frost

Even the composted woody mulch sitting in the back of the trailer attracted the frost.

Frost settled on the composted woody mulch sitting in the trailer

Winter is a good time to bring in new plants. This week we purchased 30 new strawberry runners (Adina, Chandler, and Melba).

We purchased 30 new strawberry runners this week

The runners are all heritage varieties and are grown for their tastiness – or so they tell us. We planted them out in no time at all in the soon to be completed strawberry enclosure.

The soon to be completed strawberry enclosure

We have also begun the process of constructing a path in the land above the house. This path is particularly important because during very heavy rainfall we are attempting to use the slope of the path to send the water back up hill. Doing this will have the effect of slowing the flow of water and spreading its flow across a wider area, as the water moves across the land. Twice now we have had heavy rainfall that appears to have produced one minor and one major landslide near to that area. Landslides are a serious problem and they take a lot of effort to recover from. It is far easier to establish a simple system that may work in sub fluffy optimal weather conditions.

Ollie admires the new path being constructed above the house

When the weather is nice, we have been going about our regular soil building activities. Ollie the cuddle dog (who everyone knows is an Australian cattle dog) is curious about the constant additions of coffee husks and coffee grounds to the orchard.

Ollie is excited at the smell of coffee husks and coffee grounds being added to the soil in the orchard

Usually coffee husks and coffee grounds disappear into the soil within about two weeks at this time of the year. During summer it is much faster. However, sometimes you’ll stumble across used coffee grounds that have been compacted by the espresso machine. They usually have the most interesting fungi growing on them!

The fungi growing on this pad of coffee grounds looks like the colour of arsenic or copper sulphate

Tis the season for fungi! I spotted this cool looking fungi which appears to be happily munching away on this old tree stump. Go the fungi!

A happy fungi munching away at this old tree stump

The wallabies have again been up to their old mischief. This week they ate all of our broccoli plants.

My broccoli – gone!

There are always animals lurking around the farm. During the night time the wildlife runs amok in the orchards and gardens. The other day I spotted a mother and joey kangaroo lurking on the neighbours property just waiting until the fluffy collective were safely in bed. Those two have been at the farm for many years.

A mother and joey lurk at the edge of the farm just waiting for the fluffy collective to be put to bed

The fluffies on the other hand have their own plans where the wildlife is concerned. Despite this, neither the dogs, nor the wildlife get everything their own way – yet everyone more or less co-exists.

Sir Scruffy the charming is forming plans

The Irish Strawberry tree looks as though it is beginning to produce some fruit. I’m not sure these fruit are that edible, but apparently some cultures use the fruit as a basis for an alcoholic drink.

The Irish Strawberry tree looks as though the fruit is beginning to ripen

This fuschia appears to be forming some sort of seed or flower.

This fuschia looks as though it is producing some sort of seed or flower

Onto the winter flowers!

Pink flowering rosemary looks good on a cold frosty day
A bush rose shrugs off the frost earlier in the day
The winter sun sets off the colours in lavender flowers nicely
African daisies are continuing to produce flowers
A lonely echium flower
How chill are the succulents?

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 1’C (34’F). So far this year there has been 465.8mm (18.3 inches) which is higher than last week’s total of 459.4mm (18.1 inches).

55 thoughts on “The loan”

  1. Hi Chris,

    So the electricity went out again tonight (Sunday evening), for no obvious reason. Yes, we had a thunderstorm come through, but not much wind or rain with it. But it looks as if only a few people are affected this time if the utility’s website is to be believed, so with luck the electricity will come back on before we have to drag out the coolers and fill them with ice again. Also it has cooled down a bit, enough to be out of heat advisory territory for the time being.

    Our internet won’t work for much longer. I’ll drop by the blog again when internet service comes back.


  2. Hi Inge,

    Summer humidity always makes it feel far hotter here than it otherwise is. From what I can tell the summers are becoming more humid over the years. Summer here used to be a relatively dry period of time, but the big storms change that and bring with them the humidity.

    Someone local once suggested to me that when the surface clay cracks during summer, it usually allows for any rainfall to penetrate deeper into the soil than it otherwise would be able to. Dunno, the cracks do disappear as the rainfall returns and the clay swells. I don’t generally observe cracks in the soil here, but I know they do in the plains at the bottom of the mountain range.

    Yeah, that can happen here too, where the trees have enormous tap roots and can access plentiful summer water deep down in the soil. And all the while the under story dries up and looks crispy. I really worry when both trees and under story vegetation are looking dry. The under story plants usually bounce back quickly once the rain returns.

    I don’t recall asking you before, but do you have a well? A few months ago, I spotted a very old school well that had been dug well over a century ago. It was a beautiful chunk of farm engineering. You could peer down into it and see the water table which was quite a bit further down than I’d first considered.

    If conditions are optimal (i.e. summer rain) then the potatoes grow all year around. You just reminded me that I need to set up more potato beds. They die back during summer if the conditions are hot and dry.

    Yup, peat fires are a disaster. We had one last summer to the south west of here which is much closer to the coastline. Not good at all. You know, parts of the UK receive less rain than the amount that I would consider to be a serious drought year. It is the heat and winds, because with that combination, a whole lot of vegetation burns. Oaks don’t tend to burn.

    Oh! You might be interested in this novel solution to our peat fires: 4km pipeline built to extinguish Cobrico peat fire burning since St Patrick’s Day. That is what I call proper farm engineering!



  3. Hi Pam,

    Thanks and I use that blog feed service too on the webpage. That sounds all very technical doesn’t it? The old blogger system did that task really well, but other things it did not do so well!

    Some lovely people that I know did me a real solid favour today and helped me out of a jam. I’m just so grateful to them, and it is a real pleasure knowing folks that you can lean on when things go off the rails… They’re rare!

    It is fun stuff isn’t it that blog? Such a good writer. And who doesn’t love a good storm?

    Hope you enjoyed the story this week? You know, I reckon it is a good thing to get these sorts of dodgy dealings out of your system early on when you are young and dumb (of course that was my experience – and may not represent your experience), merely so that we can all turn into a fine and upstanding members of the community!



  4. Hi Chris,

    Good you learned that hard lesson about debt at an early age but not good your mom reneged on the deal. My mother doled out pretty skimpy allowances (and we did have chores) and she’d often wait for weeks until handing them out so they accumulated to a fairly significant amount. Then she’d pull out a bunch of stuff she didn’t want and have an auction. Being the oldest I knew what she was up to and we both got a good laugh. My parents until my father passed away at a very young age (46) were very well off as he was a pathologist and chief of staff at a pretty big hospital. Both parents came from very modest means though and didn’t just hand out stuff. They raised Arabian horses and I very much wanted one of my own so my mother sold me one (at a very reduced price) and I earned the money by mowing our very large lawn with a push mower ($4 each time) and pulling weeds (a penny for six) and she did count and check for roots. Doug’s parents were also very frugal so we both have the same attitude about debt – avoid as much as possible.

    Doug’s mother’s memorial was Saturday and was very lovely. Many commented on how personal it was. The minister at the church even had a recording of her doing a radio broadcast when she was in her early 20’s.

    If all goes as planned we close on this house next Monday and the new house the next day.

    It’s been very hot and humid for the last 4-5 days. So humid that there are puddles on our garage floor. A quick line of thunderstorms yesterday that luckily didn’t produce too much rain ushered in cooler weather thankfully.

    I am very jealous of flowers in the winter. Sorry about the broccoli.


  5. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, down here where it is much hotter over summer, the earliest tomatoes I see are in late January and early February – your late July and early August. I note that there are still several weeks to go before that time! Hehe!

    I used to know a local bloke who’d been gardening vegetables in the area for decades. He was a really good bloke and we used to hang out and talk rubbish. He was a bit competitive though, and would take his tomatoes out during the day and then bring them inside again at night just so that he could have fresh tomatoes by Christmas (your late June). Talk about competitive gardening! I lack such skills. And he also used to mentor me with the bees. I didn’t much like him when I first met him, but then after a while we eventually got on like a house on fire. I learned a lot from him and he was actually quite entertaining, but he was a few decades older than me (as was his wife by the way) and he eventually started getting early dementia. He wasn’t coping with that situation too well, and as some guys do, one day he just ghosted me. And that was that.

    I have a huge number of acquaintances, but only a handful or so of long term really close friends. Looking around me, I reckon I’m doing far better than most guys on that front too. This society we have built is total rubbish on that front. Maybe I’m feeling a bit melancholy because the editor and I went to see a beautiful Australian film today at the cinema. We had a rather unusual and strange friend related car situation over the weekend and had to drop everything today and head into the big smoke and call upon favours with some lovely folks that I know in the car business. The folks I knew in the car business helped us, and I’m eternally grateful for the help. It was really sweet and it is nice to be able to get help from people when help is needed.

    But whilst they were helping us, we had nothing at all to do in the big smoke, and so headed off for a tasty organic locally grown lunch and then went to the cinema. If you get a chance, add this film to the Centralia Australian film festival: Breath. It is a story about two young mates learning to surf – and their mentor – in the south west of the continent in the 1970’s. Good stuff, good story, and beautiful visuals. It really captured the vibe of the time.

    Snow peas are great aren’t they? And I reckon they are the sweetest of all the peas. I can eat them raw straight from the vine.

    Hehe! The wombats and wallabies will leave no strawberry in the fern gully untouched. But the more I think about it, the better the idea sounds to me. I may transplant a couple of dozen plants up there and just watch and see what happens.

    That is a huge thumbs up for Alexi and I will obtain some of his books. Sometimes artists don’t live up to the expectations of the people who enjoy their works. People can create beautiful things, whilst not being so beautiful themselves. Does this affect the beauty of the creation? I dunno. What are your thoughts on that matter? On a completely different strategy, I tend to talk myself down so that nobody has any great expectations! Works for me. Hope you enjoyed this weeks allegory. I was pretty chuffed with it and churned it out in under half an hour. It was like a story that needed to be told. Folks who are now long since dead would agree wholeheartedly with my conclusion. A bit of a shame they’re all long since dead.

    The Cadbury excavations and site are fascinating and I would love to have a poke around there myself (which is not a possible eventuality). Given the Great Hall was twice the size of any other known Hall during that period and also the extensive trade links, and also historic accounts, you’d have to say it is the best guess going around. Anyway, what moron army would dare attack such a place if it was well defended?

    Dedications are a wise investment, and the Romans were no fools. Speaking of which, given you did two years of Latin, well I’d have to suggest that far surpasses my zero years of Latin. I was alluding to: Monty Python’s Life Of Brian – [April Fools’] ‘Romans go home’ Latin Lesson. The Life of Brian film was their high point. I never really understood the flying circus bit.

    Glad to read that the Logsdon book was in. And what a score you got, despite the occasional chunk of mush thrown in to the story. I do love a rom-com – it’s complex…

    Redbeard is a lovely bakery and they serve amazing quality food. My personal favourite is their bread and butter pudding – some of the best desserts are made from scrap materials, and bread and butter pudding is one such. It is interesting that you mention that about the cable cars are they are such an elegant way to get around. We have a huge tram network down here. What interests me was that the tram network survived whilst a lot of the train network was abandoned and dismantled, not in the suburbs so much, but out on country and outer suburban connecting lines. I always wonder if they’ll be reinstated at some time in the future. What do you reckon about that?



  6. Hi Claire,

    That happens with the electricity. In any one street you’ll find several circuits and as happened to you, your circuit may drop out, whilst the next door neighbours continues the connection. That has happened to us in the big smoke.

    I do like country life for the small measure of independence it allows!

    Hope the electricity came back on again before the ice and coolers became necessary? Just for your interest, and I’ve had this discussion with Lewis before, we don’t generally use freezing as a preserving method down here. Given how hot our summers get, I have no idea how this situation came about. Dunno.

    On the other hand, my mates in the big shed are planning a walk in cool room with which to hang their meat. That sounds like a really good idea given how much livestock they have. We’re comparatively soft and stick to plants, chickens, and bees.

    Best of luck with the internet. I keep a plan A (which is used most of the time); a plan B; and a plan C connection. The plan C connection is not so good, but this new website would probably work far better with that connection because the photos are smaller sizes.



  7. Hi Chris,

    Great blog you’ve got here! I loved the story of your grandpa and the lesson on debt. It reminds me of the time I stole a pack of cigarettes from my grandpa –he had cartons & cartons of them and I was a broke teenager -because I never had a solid job until I was 19. I didn’t think gramps would notice. But he knew exactly how many packs he had. And when he figured out it was me, he asked why I didn’t just ask him for a pack?

    In any case, I hear you on the debt. My wife and I have more than we’d like, but it was good to get the roof fixed & front porch repaired. It has always been a goal to get the mortgage paid off and keep debt to a minimum. I have a feeling that ethic will be growing in future communities as we proceed.

    By the way, wombat cordial sounds delicious 😉 and I hope you had a nice Midwinter!

  8. Hello Chris

    Those lemons and limes are fantastic. I approve of your grandfather, but 20% interest! You should have disputed that at the start.

    No I haven’t got a well. There is a small spring fed stream right at the end of my land. This is where the ground is pure yellow sand and the badgers have their setts. If the world collapsed and we needed water, I suppose that this would keep us alive.

    @Lew and anyone else interested

    I also use paper towels and can be seen tearing off squares and folding them into rectangles to go in my pockets and bag before going out.
    I have been really made to think about the question of my lack of need for hydration; this has applied all my life. In Australia I was called the camel. We would go out in the wild for the day; everyone equipped with water except me. I never drank anything during the day. It wasn’t me who terminated the outings due to fatigue and dryness, I was fine.

    Thank your lucky stars Lew that the you didn’t have to face breast feeding. The only word to describe my plight would have been ‘fountains’. An infant would be choking on one side while he/she and I were being drenched from the other. I was told that I could have made a good income if I had lived near a mainland maternity hospital. No thanks!

    I never feel thirsty; only drink fluid with my breakfast and evening meal. I may have a midday coffee but often don’t finish it. All this raises an amazing question; where do I get sufficient fluid from, do I breathe it in from the air? Articles about the amount of fluid that one should take each day are nonsensical in my case, I would just feel sick.


  9. Yo, Chris – Aren’t family dynamics fun? :-). It’s a complicated ball of wax. Can of worms? Debts, obligations, social capital. Well, you learned your lesson, young man! :-).

    The weather here has been quit cool, at night. I forgot to look at the overnight lows, before wandering over here. How low can you go?

    You’re lucky to get your coffee grounds in nice neat little cakes. I’m having second thoughts about my coffee ground supply. The paper filters just don’t seem to break down, very well. I wonder if it’s because they use the bleached white one’s instead of the brown? Maybe the worms steer clear of them? I’ll know a bit more when I start digging around in the fall and see how the white ones have broken down (or not) after a year in the ground. Colors, being what they are on the Net, that looks like you have a nice crop of blue green penicillin mold, going. Might come in handy, later :-).

    The fungi are a source of never ending fascination. The forms, the colors. You know they are ancient because they are so diverse?

    Yup. Gardening can be a competitive sport :-). It’s all about one upsmanship and getting an “edge.” If you look, you see it in most areas of life. I try not to play.

    I think Sherman Alexi’s early things are the best. Maybe because he had more material (his life) to work with? I’d suggest “The Lone Ranger and Tonto….” (a collection of stories) and “Reservation Blues.” Which you might really like as it has to do with music and a band. In both you’ll meet the eternally sunny “Thomas Builds a Fire.” Holy fool or a bit of a trickster? He stands out in my mind as a “most memorable character.” But that might just be me. Mileage may vary. Cont.

  10. Cont. Trams and trains. Mass transit. As we slide down the slope of decline, depending on how bumpy it is, I can see a come back. Maybe. I notice our Twin City Transit is about to make a leap into a county wide service. I’ve been idly toying with the idea of Idaho, again. But I’ve also been thinking about how little there is on offer, there. One grocery store. One bank. I bet (on reflection I know) there was once a train, linking all those little, and bigger towns along that village. The old train roadbed is a hiking trail, now. My friends are of the sort that they’re running off to one city or another, sometimes, several times a week. Even when they lived here, 10 or so miles out of town, it seemed like they’d “head for town” at a drop of a hat. Three and four times a week.

    I finished “Finding Camlann” and am closing on the end of “Land of Giants.” I quit liked the first. Imagine if the “ancient documents” that Geoffrey of Monmouth referred to were found? And if they had a bit more detail? “Land of Giants” has a chapter on a recent widespread DNA study done in Britain. The Romans left very little of their genes behind. But, there’s lots of German genes rolling around. From the Saxons? Or, maybe, quit a bit left over from the Roman squadies who were recruited in Germany? He also had another interesting data point. There is documentary evidence that more than once, a local lord gave a Roman fort to a monastic foundation. They formed the core of a monastery. And, probably provided lots of handy building material :-). Lew

  11. PS: Stuff I forgot to check before I checked in here :-).

    Yup. It did get cold, overnight. 52F (11C). Not to worry. Forecast to get back into the 80sF by weeks end.

    The mechanic in you ought to enjoy this. Tide mills.

    The author of “Land of the Giants” made the point that maybe the “Dark Ages”, weren’t quit so dark as supposed. Not when you had real investment in large infrastructure projects, like these. LOL. A good quote from the book. “That Arthur was a slippery fellow.” :-).

    I quite appreciate all the blue flowers! Lovely. Lew

  12. @ Pam – I quit like Cliff Mass. Oh, sure, he posts a lot about our local weather and climate. But also I learn so much about weather in general. He teaches at the U of W. I bet he’s one of those rare good teachers. Lew

  13. Hi Chris,

    The electricity was only out for about three hours this time. I thought it was likely it would be restored rather quickly, since I saw no new tree limbs down anywhere on the street.

    Before the electricity went out, the limb that had fallen on our neighbors’ and our service drop still had some outer branches entangled in the line that serves the entire street. I was surprised at that, because I thought that the electric workers would have removed the entangled branches while they were fixing the service drop a few feet away. But they didn’t. After the electricity went out, I noticed that the branches were no longer entangled in the service drop. So my theory is that the wind from the storm, though not strong, was sufficient to twist the branches and bring some wires that should not have touched each other into contact long enough to trip a breaker and shut off the electricity. It only took a few minutes to restore electricity once the electric workers arrived.

    Despite the inconvenience of dealing with electric outages in summer, I still prefer freezing as a storage method to canning, because I find that frozen fruits and vegetables taste better. Plus freezing works so well for meats and for bread. We don’t have much in the chest freezer during the hottest part of the year; we are eating the contents at that time so we can store excess in the freezer as we harvest in late summer and autumn. When the freezer is most full, during the winter, all we have to do is put coolers on the back porch and load everything into them if electricity goes out. No ice needed then; nature provides plenty of cold in the winter for free!

    I think you received a valuable lesson from both your mother and your grandfather. Your mother taught you that not everyone lives up to their commitments. Your grandfather taught you that it doesn’t matter whether or not someone else lives up to their commitments; you still need to live up to yours. Both lessons are necessary in this world.

    We have out-of-town friends coming over to visit on the 3rd (tomorrow) and then Mike’s mom and another friend of ours are coming over for a barbeque on the 4th. I expect to hear plenty of fireworks that evening; folks in our neighborhood have been setting a few off every evening since late May.


  14. Hi Chris,
    Sorry to write you over this, since it’s the only way I found to reach out to you. I saw your article and video in permaculture news a while back about your worm farm for humanure. My name is Luis and I’m considering to use the same approach in a permaculture farm I’m building near Barcelona in Spain. Although I may not find the same specific solution here, I would like to explore the warm approach since it really sounds perfect if it actually works as expected over the years.
    Since it’s been 6 years since you wrote the article, I thought it would be really helpful to know (high level) your opinion about the solution. Are you still happy about it and no major issues?
    Knowing that would really help me take an informed decision here 🙂
    Sorry for writing on this unrelated post.

  15. Hi Justin,

    Glad to hear that you are enjoying this little corner of the internet! It is nice to be young and dumb, learn the lessons we need to get through life – and then survive the experience unscathed! Your grandpa sounded like a good bloke with a pragmatic mindset. Incidentally, he posited a great question.

    I reckon you’re right about the debt situation – and I note that for many long years usury was considered a vile sin – in many different religions. The Romans perhaps took things a bit too far! Romani ite domum – according to Monty Python…

    Hehe! Yes, funky wombat cordial, would be sort of funky…

    Cheers and lovely to shoot the breeze with you!


  16. Hi Inge,

    My grand dad was a good bloke – a true alpha male, and despite the story he wasn’t too hard on me. I deserved whatever I got anyway. He grew up on a farm in the Great Depression and was raised by his grandmother. At an early age he flew bombers in WWII over Europe and then came back and ended up in way big business. He was an interesting bloke because he was a great believer in groups and clubs, and he supported a lot of them and funnelled anyone he could get his hands on into one or another club. Some people are just good at networking. I didn’t really know him as an adult which was a lost opportunity, but that is how things go. Of all things he feared, retirement was the Achilles heel, and so he dodged it in a final way – some people have that innate skill.

    20% interest, well as I said, he knew me better than I knew myself, and I deserved everything I got out of that episode. It was a good lesson to learn at such an early age and with so little consequence. He once told me that: Those that look ahead, get ahead. And I can’t say that he was wrong in that assertion.

    Lucky you having a spring fed stream – albeit at a distance. Good stuff. There is not enough land higher than the farm here to maintain springs for long – although they do appear and I take note of them whenever they form. The fern lined creek at the bottom of the property runs underground at points and a well would have to be sunk there. There is also another fern lined creek on the eastern edge of the property – which again runs underground. It is nice to have deep gorges on several sides of the property. The subsurface water surfaces lower down the mountain side and there is a huge privately owned dam / lake down there. They should be paying me for all the water I put into the groundwater table for them!

    You know I reckon everyone has different requirements on a hydration front. We’re all very different in our requirements. As we’ve discussed before I drink a couple of litres of water per day and that ensures that my sinuses stay clear and my ears cope well with the constant change in air pressure that they get bombarded with as I go up and down the mountain in a short period of time. The drop is enough that this is a problem. The altitude drops almost 2,300ft from here and heading into Melbourne. My ears have to adjust to the change in air pressure because it is enough to be noticeable. If I don’t drink the water, I end up hearing through a tunnel of inner ear pressure and sounds become dull to me. Dunno.

    Thanks for the story, and back in the day your services would have been very much in demand. I hear stories of people struggling with that task of breast feeding and people’s expectations of themselves often exceed their capabilities in that regard. I feel that we as a society are very blasé about our low infant mortality rates these days. It was not always such. Birth was traditionally a very risky activity



  17. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! Yup, you nailed that one. Yes, family dynamics are complex. Mate, being an accountant sometimes gives me an inside view into those dynamics but with the BS swept all to the side. Most small businesses are family businesses after all. Mostly I get paid for dispensing good advice, although I always try to seed ideas and then people can take them for their own and run with it. It has been a very long time since I tried to bludgeon an idea into place. No good comes of that and people hate you for it. Ideas are like a good drink (apologies for the reference) but they need time to ferment, age, and produce a fine drop. The early batches are not so good!

    Thank you! Yes, it is best to learn harsh lessons whilst one is young and dumb, because I reckon a person is at their most resilient at a young age. What do you reckon about that concept?

    52’F over night sounds very nice to me, who is suffering in the depths of winter! Far out it was 37’F here yesterday morning and I was feeling a little bit chilly. Such nights are a three blanket night! Sorry for this but: Fatso the wombat was a marsupial, he was a good friend of mine… Today’s ear-worm! :-)! I don’t really know how cold it gets in your part of the world, but here it gets as low as 30’F. I saw 28’F recently in a nearby town, but they’re flat landers and all the cold air from the mountain range descends upon them. Sucks to be them!

    I have no idea what the paper filters are made from that your garden has to deal with. However, being paper, you’d think that they’d break down fairly rapidly? Maybe. Dunno. Some interweb research may assist you in answering this question. The coffee grounds here come with some rubbish, but we collect it and dispose of it. Often I see the corners of soy or almond milk containers which looks to me like some sort of metal and plastic lined paper. A true abomination of manufacturing that stuff, but the material works really good, so who am I to complain? For your interest, now that the staff are aware where the coffee grounds end up, they’re actually really good about reducing any and all waste.

    Stop teasing me. Hehe! Seriously can you actually collect and grow penicillin mold? I have no doubts that it resides in the orchard. I read long ago that the affect of penicillin was originally observed in wounded soldiers who were consuming mouldy bread. Only the best for the wounded!

    Exactly! Whenever I spot a fungi chewing upon an old tree stump like that one, I know that those critters are working hard for the good of the forest. The more I learn about fungi, the more interesting they become. Can you recommend any good introduction Paul Stamet’s books? I’ve listened to him speak on YouTube clips and that guy knows a thing or two – or more likely several thousand things!

    I try not to play that game either. Don’t you reckon turning your attention to such things consumes your energy? Best off setting your own goals and running your own race I reckon.

    A copy of Mr Alexie’s book is now winding its way down into this quiet and remote corner of the planet. You are a born book salesman! :-)! I reckon I’ll enjoy that book too. I’m almost finished Mr Logsdon’s book and I’m impressed at how he weaves a central theme throughout the entire book, whilst having different stories. It is quite awesome to encounter a mind who is aware of its imminent demise, but can still tell engaging tales with good grace.

    Buses are good. You know sometimes when the train is cancelled for whatever reason and the buses replace the train, I sort of enjoy that. Buses are quite comfy really. What is the news on the extension of your service? There is an old mountain range (500+ million years old) to the south west of here along the coastline and it juts out into the roaring forties. They have superb forests which were once logged, native beech trees, blackwood forests, and all manner of hidden creatures such as native marsupial cats (spotted quolls). It is a rugged and very wet part of the continent (given its latitude). Anyway, they used to have a train service running up into a remote town within that mountain range. Crowes railway line. The photos on that link don’t do the wet eucalyptus forest the credit that it is due. I have visited the one horse town (but with a pub) on many occasions and the trains and rails have long since departed, but their ghosts remain.

    Ha! I suspect that you would jump off the wagon to enjoy a beer or four with Geoffrey of Monmouth! I would likewise go hard. He sounds like quite the character. The local lords were quite clever to offload decaying infrastructure to a motivated and enthusiastic group who would re-purpose it and provide local benefits. Very clever indeed.

    Actually I looked up the tidal mills when you first mentioned them and I was very impressed with what I saw. 7 to 8 horsepower on a reliable basis is nothing to sneeze at and it would have been awesome for producing flour.

    I reckon Geoffrey of Monmouth was a slippery fellow too!

    Far out, it is windy as today. I spent the time out with the chickens this afternoon picking up fallen branches. The wind looks set to continue for the next few days too before the rain returns in earnest.



  18. Hi Claire,

    Glad to hear that the power was restored. Down here I am aware that new housing estates have much smaller transformers (sub stations) than was previously required for that number of houses, and so the grid continues, but in a less resilient format.

    Well, yeah that is more or less how it goes. From what I understand, the grid has fault detection systems in that it can operate differently depending on the time of year. In summer, the fault detection devices cut the circuit immediately because otherwise fires can get started in nearby vegetation. Over winter there are more automatic attempts to get the power going again and thus trees and downed powerlines are to be avoided at all costs… It was an expensive lesson to learn that one as I saw the system work when we accidentally dropped a tree onto the powerline and took out the local electricity grid.

    Fair enough about the freezing and I sometimes forget that your winters are much colder than here and so freezing is a good option because the winters provide lots of free cold energy on that front. That makes a lot of sense and probably explains the difference in preserving methods between here and there.

    Claire, that is a total genius summary of the lessons. Yeah, you are spot on. Don’t you reckon that it is nice to learn such tough lessons at a young age when you are more resilient? I really try to live by the “do unto others” credo.

    Oh, a happy 4th of July to you and Mike! Best wishes for a pleasant barbeque. Yummo!



  19. Hi Luis,

    Welcome to the discussion.

    Mate, it works as well today as it did almost nine years ago when it was first installed. The wildlife love the mineral rich herbage that they get to consume over the hot and dry summer months. And if you think about it for a bit, they then spread their manure about the farm and surrounding forest – thus spreading the minerals.

    To be honest, most manures break down fairly rapidly given the right combination of active soil life, bird and animal life, and moisture. Nature does the hard work really.



  20. Hi Lewis and everyone!

    Happy fourth of July folks and my you all have an enjoyable day.

    Thought you might be interested in a delightful article about a little off grid community about an hour and a bit drive north of here (that would be a long way for me – seriously): Changing your life and going off the grid.

    Off grid down here means simply disconnecting the electricity grid. I believe that it has a different meaning in the US.



  21. Hey Chris,
    Thanks so much for your reply regarding the worm farm. This is really really helpful for me at this point.
    Now it’s a matter of finding the way to get it here in Spain.

  22. Yo, Chris – Left over from yesterday… If I had a Latin teacher like the Roman soldier, in “The Life of Brian”, instead of a sweet little old lady, perhaps I’d remember more! 🙂

    Perhaps great ideas are like fine wine? They need to age and mellow.

    Probably not true, but it seems like our winter average is in the 30sF. Which can feel colder, given a breeze and our damp.

    I’m always pulling garbage out of the coffee grounds I get from the Club. Ditto those little plastic tubs for fake creamer. As the Club runs on all volunteer (and often changing) labor, it’s a bit difficult to get the word around. THE worst was an undetected turkey rack that had gently marinated in a plastic sack, in the back of my truck, for a few months.

    I’ll look into the Paul Stamet’s book. I’ve read, that at one point (circa 1900-1910) you could ride city and village street cars from Long Island, New York out to the midwest. Iowa or Illinois. An unbroken chain of service. Out of curiosity, I checked as to if Council, Idaho, and all those little towns along that long north south valley have bus service. Nope. Might be a bit of money to be made, there. Except, given their winter’s, you might have to suspend service for a few months a year.

    Hmmm. A distant memory. During the 60’s, I think there was a regular “hippie” bus that made trips from Seattle to San Francisco. “Turtle”, something or other. We have a steam train, here.

    I’m ashamed to say I’ve never checked it out. I can hear the steam whistle, from time to time. I think there’s another steam train that runs from Tacoma, up around Mt. Rainier, and back.

    Monasteries were often given waste or marginal land. At least early on.

    Yup. “Off the grid”, here, also has a whiff of flying beneath the radar or hiding out. That’s quit a community, north of you. Tales of adaptation. As with the last place I lived, the water problems, you adapt. “The Drill” as I called it.

    The 4th is tomorrow. 🙂 Pesky date line. Lew

  23. @ Inge – In a different time, and given a different inclination, you could have been Queen Victoria’s wet nurse :-). Hmmm. You don’t hear about it, but I wonder if the very rich still have wet nurses. Or, “Wet Nurse to the Stars!”

    I suppose, way back when, it didn’t pay much. But, three squares a day and a cozy place to live were, I suppose, fringe benefits. Lew

  24. Hello again

    There is a well at the old 17th century cottage where we lived from 1958 to 1971. It is only 5ft deep and never runs dry. I think that it is fed from the same spring that runs into my stream. There was a medieval village at the lower end of this stream. Actually there are a number of springs in the area and this probably helps to cause the unstable land.

    My main strawberry harvest is over and I am now eating loganberries. I usually get blackcurrants at the same time but there are none. They didn’t flower at all this year. Something that has never happened before. Am still eating Swiss chard but the French beans are almost ready.


  25. Hi Lewis and Inge ,

    Another day in the big smoke for me, and we got back late… No fun! I promise to reply tomorrow.

    Lewis – That Centurion was a harsh task master, I would have been happier with the sweet little old lady. Although you never know, I have mentioned to you before about my old guitar teacher used to contrast how nice he was compared to the nun that tried to train him on the piano when he was a kid. She brooked no nonsense that sweet little old thing (with a very large stick too – and she was apparently unafraid of using it at the merest error). Some people would do well under those techniques, others, not so much. I’ve encountered a few people in my time who have only one teaching tool in their tool kit – and it usually involves heavy pruning, and that can also mean unearned and unrelenting criticism.

    Had Vietnamese food for dinner – and they do really delightful chicken spring rolls. The Vietnamese mint here is beginning to look a little bit sad due to the ongoing winter weather.

    And, there is a more than likely possibility of an El Nino…

    Far out last night the wind shook and buffeted the house – it woke me up on several occasions. A huge tree branch fell last night from a really big old tree. Lucky there was nothing underneath it.



  26. Hi, Chris!

    You learned your lesson well, young man, and you are now indeed a fine, upstanding citizen – or so I hear. When I was growing up, mostly all I was taught was good manners; most everything else I had to figure out on my own. In an odd twist, money was considered a 4-letter word in my home, which was especially strange as my father (and his father) was a banker. Since I knew zilch about handling money, I eventually got into pretty heavy debt (and bank account got down to zero) and learned a hard lesson. Debt is not your friend!

    Ollie – you are King of the Mountain, and Sir Scruffy – you are the cutest thing I’ve ever seen! And one never gets to see a rainbow in the dark; that’s neat.

    I’d forgotten how lovely the strawberry enclosure is. A couple of years ago I planted strawberries outside our enclosure to see what would happen. Within a couple of days they were all gone.

    Instead of cow “patties” you have coffee patties.

    The rosemary is amazing! And the roses and lavender and daisies and echium. And I could only dream of such succulents. My little fellows have to spend their whole lives in pots. The citrus in the dead of winter gets me every time.

    It is good that you know people who are willing to be of help to you. I suspect it’s at least partly because they know it is reciprocal.

    I have been hearing the strangest noises inside the house the last few days. At first I thought it was coming from the basement, but finally realized it was in the chimney (one of the two flues does run down to the basement). Oh, no! Someone is trapped in the chimney again! But this time it is pretty neat – there is a nest of chimney swifts in there. They are unusual birds in that they cannot perch, they can only hold onto the sides of things and rarely rest from flying in the daytime anyway. They must be the pair of birds that I saw a couple of weeks ago and never could identify. They make a lot of racket in the chimney, what with the way sound carries through its long, hollow length.


  27. Yo, Chris – Forecast is for lower 80s, today and tomorrow. Then back to cooler temps and, maybe, a shower or two. So far, just about a perfect summer, weather wise.

    I guess the most popular Paul Stamets book is “The Mushroom Cultivator.” It’s large, and has lots of good illustrations and photographs. It’s gone through many editions. Make sure you get the latest.

    There are a couple of plants I noticed in the gardens, here, that are interesting. I could remember part of the name (from where I know not). Sea something. I checked with one of the Master Gardeners. Sea Holly. Another common name is Eryngium.

    I didn’t realize how many varieties there are. Boggles my mind. Our’s is about a foot tall. Bluish (which drew my attention). Almost purple. About a foot (12′) tall with upright, almost cone shaped flowers.

    Well, tonight will be the wind up for the fireworks. It’s been gearing up for a couple of weeks. Last night, we began seeing fountains and falling stars. Up til then, just boomers. I enjoy a good explosion, just as well as the next bloke, but it’s all getting pretty tedious. And, I can’t help but think of all that money going up in smoke. Literally.

    The fireworks can effect some dogs and cats (and people) adversely. Princess has been holding up, pretty well. Last night she was pretty much glued to the “walker” that she occasionally rides around in state on. Stuck close to her mistress.

    I should maybe explain the “walker.” It’s a light, four wheeled frame. Has a small basket to carry this and that and a bit of a seat if one requires a bit of a break. They provide a bit more stability than a simple cane. I’ll see if I can find a good pic.

    Off to the Club to have my weekly gas with my mate Scott. The Club stays open on holidays. Sometimes a hard time for the alcoholicly challenged. :-). Big family gatherings and picnics with lots of booze sloshing around. Lew

  28. Hi Lewis, Inge, and Pam,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, but unfortunately I have had to work late again this evening. It is the new financial year down here (began 1st July) after all and I’m getting smashed on all fronts. As a milder interpretation that means that I am swamped in work and there is no way around that, so no fun for me this evening.

    I have cleared tomorrow evening – and there shall be no work done tomorrow at all! Yay for a day off…

    Until then good people!


  29. @Lew

    Our neighbors do a firework show every year. One of our old dogs was so freaked out that the first year when he heard them go off he took off and was missing all night and finally showed up in the morning. He was only a pup. A couple years later we thought the show was over and took him out for his last walk of the night when one stray firework went off – as did he. Again he was gone all night again. There was a lot of corn planted around us that year and we were afraid he was going to get lost in it but he did show up in the morning.

    My MIL’s walker was a hot item at our sale.


  30. Hi all,

    Looks like both closings are going to happen, our house on Monday and the new house on Tuesday. The plan is to be physically moved around the end of the month. I think we’ll just need movers for some furniture and appliances and will be able to move the rest over the next few weeks.

    Just to add to the stress, my brother Michael has been in the hospital since Monday. He had fallen and when the nurse at his facility checked she found his pulse was very erratic and he was very short of breath. I’m just about to call to see if he’ll be released today. The doctor at the hospital is wondering if he has asthma so more tests are in his future. He’s a very good patient though and a good sport. The hospital he’s in is quite small so he gets good attention and I feel OK about leaving him.


  31. Yo, Chris – No worries. You have to finance The Empire, somehow. :-). I’m glad you did a check in. Otherwise, I’d have got the collywobbles :-). Obviously, I’ve just finished watching season four of “The Brokenwood Mysteries.” The word popped up. I also noticed, that I guess, in New Zealand, they say “Put the jug on” instead of “Put the kettle on.”

    I picture of Sir Scruffy and the kangaroos (wallabies?) always catch my eye. I tried to figure out, why? So, I blew them up (4th of July pun?) and figured out it’s how you manage the light.

    (Had sudden vision of Chris “managing” light. “Sit up light! Roll over! Shake hands! 🙂 Lew

  32. Hi Lewis,

    They’re heere… Like the ghosts in Poltergeist. The real question with that film was: what was the kid doing in the TV, and why was that scary? So many questions left unanswered. I guess the main point to take from that film was that it was perhaps a bad idea to build a housing estate upon a cemetery. But then, when you take a perspective based on seriously deep time, the very soils that houses are constructed upon anywhere involves an awful lot of dead stuff. I finished Mr Logsdon’s book this morning, and in his final chapter he describes the little things that he noticed during his final year. I reckon the bloke was onto something with that observation, because I’ve long since come to the conclusion that it is the little things that make the biggest impact upon the folks (and life itself) around us. The grand gestures, and pyramidical (I made that word up just then) constructions are an outpouring of emotions at the disbelief that we borrow these minerals for but a brief drop of time. Even the pyramids will eventually succumb to the fate of time.

    Oh, I’m always surprised given your northern latitude (48’N) that we share such a similar climate. Mind you, I’m at 37’S but add on another 7′ for the elevation above sea level and it doesn’t look that dissimilar. Your winters are slightly colder than here, whilst the summers here are slightly warmer.

    No way? A turkey rack in the compost? Well, I thought that you were referring to the breast bones of the bird which would have eventually broken down into fine soil, but no that rack stuff probably has a half life of several hundred years. I see that sort of thing in the composted woody mulch we bring up here by the trailer load. The strangest thing I find in there are plastic dolphins. For some reason they don’t count as rubbish in the minds of some…

    I can’t even imagine how a bus service would operate in the sort of cold winters that Idaho endures. Such weather is beyond my experience. Hey, that happens down here too as the road network and current tram network was laid over the old: Melbourne cable tramway system. Over the past few decades, every now and then I’ve read about such systems being encountered when excavating or upgrading infrastructure. Don’t you reckon it is amazing how quickly our not too far in the past works have been confined to the archaeologists?

    The hippie bus would have been appropriately named as the Green Tortoise! I read a few accounts of journeys via that business, and yup, the times they’re a different! A notable quote was: “You Call it a Six-Pack, I Call it a Support Group.” Far out. You know, years ago the editor and I had a delightful afternoon with a bloke that had clearly been a hippie in his dark past and had purchased a block of land, started a business and just built a house out of whatever was to hand. It was a nice house and had withstood a fair few decades of the weather – and still remained upright. Not so easy to do nowadays. So what the heck, we traded war stories and drank cider with him. What has become of our society in the intervening years? Anyway, the editor and I are probably a bit uptight for the hippies who inevitably poke fun at us for being that way, whilst not doing much themselves.

    Your local steam train group looked like they were doing some good stuff. There is a local group here who tinker with steam (and old engines) and I often encounter their displays at some local agricultural shows. It is good stuff. Years ago they took their old tractors for a run up into the mountain range, and they dropped past to check out the view. It was fortunate that we spotted them and we all had an enjoyable yak.

    No shame at all is necessary about not checking out the steam train. How many things can you spend your time on? That is the real question!

    Most land can be restored and brought into a productive purpose, and the sort of energy you’d get from a bunch of idealists attempting to setup a monastery with no plan B, is just the trick for marginal land… Sounds a bit like here, really… Hehe! Soil can be sorted out, climate, well, not so much.

    Adaptation is a word that most people don’t want to hear! Yeah, nobody really lives ‘off grid’ as you understand the word to mean, down here. It is basically too expensive to do so and property taxes will catch up with you in the long run. The other word we have to describe that situation is ‘homeless’ and there are a quite a number of those folks in the city, but few if any have the gumption to try it up in the bush. I read an account about a bloke who did just that a long way in the past, but eventually the hospital system snared him.

    Lower 80’F’s sounds delightful to my winter acclimatised ears! Brrr! And yes, it is perfect summer weather.

    Thank you for the reference for the Paul Stamets book. I couldn’t find that book, but I did like the title of his book: Mycelium Running. I’ll have to have a look around.

    Eryngium’s are fascinating plants. I note that many varieties have anti-inflammatory properties. Interesting. Hey, speaking of which the editor is currently reading the book: “The Gut”, which confirms a lot of what I’ve been suspecting. Have you read that book? It is charmingly quirky. Since I’ve been back on home made yoghurt, my eczema has completely disappeared. Yoghurt is a complicated subject in this household as I had to sack the editor from that job. Honestly, it was worse than a sacking because I staged a coup and just took over making the stuff one day. That was a rare occurrence here, and no doubt that it will be repaid in time, but the results have been very good for me. I reckon most industrially produced food is quite ‘dead’ and the effects of the preservatives required to provide some sort of shelf life can’t be good on anyones digestive system – I mean it is not as if the preservatives are indiscriminate in what bugs they kill.

    Hehe! Yup, fireworks displays are pretty cool. I remember once seeing a fireworks display and the band “Skyhooks” performing in the late 1970’s on a barge on the Yarra River and for whatever reason I’d accidentally read “Day of the Triffids” courtesy of the local library, and I couldn’t shake the fear of fireworks… Princess is clearly made of sterner stuff than I as she has little fear of fireworks! Hehe! Incidentally they had a song called Living in the 70’s and the lyrics are applicable today.

    It is nice that the Club provides support during such times. Big family gatherings are possibly best negotiated with a light chunk of sedation – from what I’ve seen and experienced. Not that my dysfunctional lot ever manage to get their gear together and conduct a big family get together…

    Yup, you got that in one! The Evil Empire must be financed and occasionally I am swamped by the demands. Such was the case yesterday and I worked late into the evening. No fun. Actually, I do have to manage workflow and that is one matter that accountants are apparently quite poor at managing. I do quite well on that front most of the time, but of late I had a job that is eating my free time that I could not say ‘no’ to, for all sorts of complicated reasons none of which involve the money.

    Yes, they do occasionally say collywobbles down here, and it usually involves getting close to the finish line – only to then fall in a heap and is a reference to a local football team. Sometimes you hear people referring to kettles as jugs and that depends a lot about who is saying it. Mostly people know what is being referred to. In other jurisdictions, it is a naughty word! :-)!

    Haha! I like your blowing up pun! Incidentally, the charming Sir Scruffy would be most unhappy if that was his fate. I’ll tell you a little secret – I tend to take photos in either the morning or at dusk when the light is good. The sun can be quite harsh here during the day, and cameras tend to reproduce washed out colours which is not really the case.

    Several religious orders have considered it to be a good idea not to pester the sun, but to revere it instead. Speaking of shaking hands, I shook hands with someone this afternoon and they grabbed my fingers instead of my full hand and that just felt kind of awkward, but they shook anyway and just pretended that it wasn’t all very weird.

    Yup, my values have been put to the test this week as the little dirt mouse Suzuki was involved in a minor car accident last weekend. Sometimes I am horrified by the sheer waste in this society of ours and we are walking a fine plank. More on this on the next blog. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll run out of things to write about, but far out it is a target rich environment (as Mr Greer penned) that we live in…

    PS: Longest reply eva! Hehe!



  33. Hi Inge,

    A five foot deep well that never runs dry is an amazing resource and no wonder that a village was set up nearby. Water is a crucial resource that most people in industrial countries appear to have forgotten all about. To be honest, it is within my living memory that the city of Melbourne got close to running very low on water during a prolonged drought, and I can’t imagine how that would work out now that almost a million additional people have been added to the city. They have constructed a desalination plant, but whether that water is enough is matter that is well beyond my understanding. In the mean time, I just keep adding water tanks and collecting the winter rainfall. The water tanks are nearing full – which is almost as good as a shed full of dry firewood.

    Yeah, I reckon you are spot on about the springs and unstable land. I once hand dug a large and deep strip footing which was to be back filled with cement. Anyway, before that cement pour took place I got to have a good look at the underlying rock strata and the fresh clear water that oozed over the layer of rocks. To be honest, I was glad when the cavity was refilled with cement, if only because the adjacent house had not fallen into the hole with disastrous consequences.

    Yum! How huge and tasty are loganberries? Yum! I’m salivating thinking about such berries. Oh, that isn’t good about the black currants. Do you also grow the red currants? They’re usually both early and reliable, sorry to say. Do you have any ideas as to why they may not have produced flowers?

    Swiss chard is quite nice, but the editor remains unconvinced and so we don’t plant it – despite its sun hardiness.

    I picked one of the first lemonades (a citrus variant) today and despite being early, it was very tasty.

    The wind has been feral over the past few days – and it looks as if another storm may arrive tomorrow. Oh well. 😮



  34. Hi Pam,

    Yes, an upstanding citizen, hmm, I’d like to think so. Hehe! Thanks for the endorsement and aren’t we all fine upstanding citizens here? 🙂 Hey, I got that good manners upbringing thing too. You know, I sort of feel that such training was a good way for people to learn to smooth out the otherwise difficult social interactions that we all encounter from time to time. I mean, don’t you reckon ‘good grace’ is not seen often enough nowadays. No doubt, we’re all heading to wrack and ruin, but I sort of suspect that in the long term, such things will make an appearance again. All in good time.

    Hey, I knew zilch about money too, and therein lies the path to the Dark Side of the economy: Heavy Debt. According to Yoda: “Debt is the path to the dark side. Debt leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” I may have disremembered that quote… 😉 Before I checked the spelling I’d actually typed out dismembered – and who is to argue with that choice of word? 🙂

    On a serious note, debt is the ability to sell the future.

    Both Ollie (of no title), Sir Scruffy the charming, and the wombats send their cordial greetings to you. The rainbows are cool, especially when they have such a backdrop of dark stormy clouds. The weather has been feral here for the past few days. Moments of sunshine, and then bam, the wind has picked up and the rain has fallen. Dare I suggest that it feels like the very earliest tendrils of spring?

    Thanks, and the strawberry enclosure may get finished over the next few weeks. We’ve decided not to relocate the strawberries but rather to manage the plants better and pull out the older plants. I’m soft on that front, and this has been our berry downfall (excuse the pun). The enclosure needs a roof to keep the birds off the strawberries.

    Seriously, the soil critters here are addicted to caffeine. I hope they don’t come and get me in a withdrawal addled state should the supply ever stop. Any grounds are gone within about two weeks. It is quite amazing, but I can spread them over a large area, unlike the smaller gardens near the city which would otherwise be vying for them. They can’t take the volume, and I’m genuinely amazed at the sheer volume of stuff that would otherwise have ended up in landfill. I often joke to people that I only travelled into Melbourne for the coffee grounds… Except that I’m not joking! Maybe…

    Speaking of winter flowers, I spotted the first hellebore flower today. Succulents can handle a bit of frost and even snow, but not too much. The ends get frost burned in really heavy frosts and snow, so I can’t even begin to imagine how your poor plants cope?

    How cool are the chimney swifts? I’d never before heard of such a thing. I’ll bet they consume a rich diet to keep up such aerobatic feats. Chimneys can be quite attractive to some forms of life. Did I ever mention the wasp nest that had set itself up in a chimney in an old house in Melbourne? The chimney sweep bloke sucked the nest out with some sort of vacuum device. You could smell the honey. Are you considering leaving their nest in the chimney? Hopefully you don’t smoke them out… I assume the chimney goes all the way into the basement for easy cleaning?



  35. Hi Margaret,

    Congratulations and to be honest, we’re all on tenterhooks here and sending you best wishes for smooth settlements / closures. You are lucky that you are not required to move quite so soon. Down here, things are ruthless on that front, for all sorts of reasons including serious legal matters. Settlement is pretty final here and a person who is left behind becomes a tenant with all of that law behind them. Our laws here are very complex in that regard.

    Getting help with the move is a great idea, especially for larger items of furniture. And a truck can take so much more stuff than cars. I once hired a horse float to help move – and those things hold a lot of stuff.

    Sorry to read about Michael’s turn and health, and I hope he recovers soon. It is good that he has access to a small facility where he is known. Did he end up getting released from hospital?

    Did you get a chance to move any of the ‘wild’ asparagus? I would do so, but that is my take on the world and it may be a bit dodgy… 😮

    Hope Leo and Slave aren’t too upset with all of the goings on? Mind you, you probably can’t move anything until settlement, so those two will be oblivious…



  36. Chris:

    “Good grace” – yes. At the very least, ” a good sport”.

    Ah – I had forgotten that Yoda quote. Though “dismembered” might be in order . . .

    You see spring and I’ll call you on that: I see fall, even though it has been 95F most days.

    My succulents cope because they are sissies; they come inside for the winter. Ditto for all geraniums that will fit. This ark can’t hold much more, with having to leave room for the spring seed starts.

    The chimney swifts are indeed staying. I expect that the nest will be empty in a couple of weeks, months before we need to start a fire. They eat – I think I read – 1/3 of their weight in insects every day. The racket in there in something else, though. I think the chimney amplifies it, but it’s fun. Our chimney has 2 separate flues: one to the living room (ground floor) and one to the basement. The swifts are right above the damper in the living room. No – you hadn’t mentioned the wasp’s nest. I’d much rather have swifts!


  37. @ Margaret:

    You have a very big week coming up next week! I hope all goes as smoothly as possible. I am very sorry to hear about Michael’s troubles. I hope he feels better soon.


  38. Hi Chris,

    Yes, Michael is home now. They suspect he has asthma. He’s very swollen from the steroids to reduce inflammation in his lungs. He’s only on them for a couple more days. Unfortunately I think that there will just continue to be more hospitalizations (he’s had 3 in the last 10 months) as he had a myriad of health issues.

    I’ll just plant a new asparagus bed when we get to the new house and I know exactly where.

    I’m sure the dogs suspect somethings up but until we start bringing them to their new home regularly they don’t know what.

    A former student of mine was just recommended as a mover by someone we trust. He comes from an interesting family as his parents were active members in a motorcycle gang and looked quite scary. The kids all had mohawks and missed quite a bit of school but all but one were really nice, respectful kids. Now the brothers have a construction and moving company and from what I’ve heard they do a good job.


  39. Yo, Chris – Well, as we all know, it’s not advisable to build on an Old Indian Burial Ground. Or maybe the whole “kid in the TV” thing is a metaphoric or sociological comment on plopping a kid down in front of it and using it as an electronic babysitter? 🙂

    One can learn a lot from observing the little things. When we were flogging Ye Olde Sayings, a few weeks ago, one I missed was “Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.”

    I’ve been dipping in an out of the Logsdon book. Quit a good read with lots to think about. I’m also reading “Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer.” (Ehrenreich, 2018) She’s quit a good writer and I’ve been following her since her now classic, “Nickel and Dimed.” Even though she had a round of cancer, she’s decided to stay out of the clutches of the medical / big pharma industries. Her reasoning (a personal one, she believes) is that she’s “old enough to die.” She knows enough, now, to think that staying out of the clutches of “Medicine” her enjoyment and quality of life will be better.

    My friends and I often comment on (and laugh at) people, who when someone, say, in their 90’s dies, ask “What did they die of?” They died of being OLD, for gosh sakes. They died of OLD AGE! I think where that question comes from (maybe) is an unspoken idea. Tell my what they died of, and, maybe I’ll head it off at the pass and live longer (forever?).

    My. Melbourne has a whole Wikipedia page devoted to it’s cable car system? I only have been up close with one cable car system, and that was in San Francisco, years ago. I was quit gob smacked when I realized that the whole thing ran on enormously long cables, laid in a trench, that ran all over the city. Just the scale …

    Green Tortoise! That was it. I drove the highway, quit a bit, back in the day. And often saw their brightly painted buses trundling up and down the freeway. Sigh. I wish I’d given it a whirl, back in the day. But, that goes for a lot of things. I wonder how many people claim to have been at Woodstock, that were nowhere near the State of New York, at the time?

    There’s a steam tractor rally, in one of the small towns near here, every year. Never been to that, either. Cont.

  40. Cont. When I had my major dental surgery, a couple of years back, I had a general (puts you entirely under) anesthetic. It totally screwed up my, what we’ll delicately call digestion, for a good year. Might have been the antibiotics that went along with it. But nothing I did that was anywhere “natural” (yogurt, recommended fruits and veg), helped. It just took (a lot of) time.

    “Sheer waste in society.” I think, it’s all about a buck to be made. Those making the bucks either convince a large chunk of the population, or, get laws passed to create complexity and waste. Which somehow or another, lines their (or their friends) pockets. See: Joel Salatin’s “Everything I Want to Do is Illegal.”

    Of course Ollie doesn’t have a title. He’s a mere squire, at this point :-). He needs to perform a heroic deed. Save a damsel in distress or dig up the Holy Grail. Let us hope it doesn’t involve a quest / journey.

    I stopped by the veg store, yesterday, and was quit startled. The local blueberries are in! Quit early. Climate change? The one’s here at The Home are still quit green. Although I’ve had a report that one variety is beginning to ripen.

    My potatoes are beginning to flower. I pruned back the pumpkins, a bit. I’m sure the Garden Ladies will be startled. But, it worked out just fine, last year. A twist. Instead of just burying the leaves, I scattered them about, under various spots to see if they keep down the weeds. I’m sure it will cause comment, mostly out of my ear shot. :-). Lew

  41. @ Margaret – I’m sorry to hear Michael had an accident. But, I’m glad he’s in a place he’s familiar with, where he’ll get good care. Lew

  42. Hi Pam,

    Yeah, I’d be happy with ‘good sport’, although that situation usually implies some sort of putting a good face on a bad situation. Don’t you reckon ‘good grace’ implies a little bit more something, like, I dunno, charm in the face of defeat? Dunno.

    Yoda also said something like: Do, do not, there is no try. He’s a bit naughty suggesting that, because it seems like an extreme point of view to my mind. Far out, anyway, aren’t we all glad that Yoda isn’t around pointing out our inadequacies? There are plenty of tasks that I’ve tried – like panel beating a vehicle (more on that one later) – that I’m only middling good at. Handling a lightsaber with that little fella looking on would be far too much pressure. 🙂

    Eee gaks! 95’F. Hot. How is the garden coping with the heat? It snowed here this morning – a light dusting with nothing settling on the ground. No worries about chilling hours in the fruit trees this year.

    Funny stuff about the plants heading indoors out of the cold winter. Hehe! Aren’t we all? I’m dodging the winter weather too, and staying inside where it is toasty warm.

    I’d rather have the chimney swifts too. No doubts they’ll leave before the flue needs to be used. Shh! Don’t tell the rats, but we’re planning a frontal assault on their most recent incursion into the supposedly rodent proof chicken fortress tomorrow.



  43. Hi Margaret,

    Glad to read that Michael is now home again. I’m not sure whether it is a new treatment or what, but I’ve recently heard of a few people being provided with steroids for their lungs. The flu season down here was very bad this year. Hopefully he is not on the steroids for longer than necessary, and only a few more day’s sounds like good news. Mate, you can only do what you can do, and then hope for the best.

    It is always exciting planning out a new garden – and you get to implement the things that you’ve learned in the past so as to make life easier for the future. Asparagus crowns are fairly easy to obtain – they usually come from the commercial producers, and I recall that we have discussed this before, but if you want them to spread and multiply you have to purchase some seeds or seedlings as the crowns are usually only one sex.

    Speaking of that, we’re intending to begin fixing up a problem in the chicken enclosure tomorrow. The rats have tunnelled past the outer defences. They’re vicious, because the rats killed the field mice that didn’t seem to cause too much harm. The rats are eating about a third of what the chickens consume every day.

    Dogs get sort of switched on to the vibe in a place, but they readily adapt. You just have to stop them running back to their old home. Good luck! Keeping them inside at night will be a good step in that direction. I mean what else do you do? A mate of mine has a dog that can ride through the pain of one of those electronic zapper collars. I’m not a fan of that particular dog.

    It is the folks that are scary, but don’t look it, that trouble me the most – and some of those wear suits. Folks who choose the image that you described tend to be OK, but then I rarely talk down to folks and am usually respectful. Good manners rarely cost a person, but I have noticed that some people tend to interpret such things as a sign of weakness – or low social status – and they can be a bit weird from that point. If they’re a nuisance about that, I usually stomp them, and that seems to do the trick – why waste precious time on them that is the question! 😉



  44. Hi Lewis,

    Oh yeah, I totally forgot about the book Pet Sematary. It is sound advice to respect such places – and avoid the undead, least of all because they seem to make for unpleasant company. Speaking of which, I just watched the Ramones video clip for that song as I’d never seen it before and barely recalled the song.

    I’d never really considered that the kid in the television was a metaphor in that story, but then zombie films were meant to be a metaphor for the consumer experience – and were often filmed in shopping malls of all places. Hey, don’t you wonder about people using screens as baby sitting devices. Far out, the messages that would be implanted in the kids would be just horrendous – and what a golden opportunity for the unscrupulous.

    Hey, it snowed here briefly earlier this morning. No snow settled on the ground as the winter is just not cold enough yet, but it was nice watching the flurries fall out of the sky and drift. The sleet arrived soon after. The weather has been very sub fluffy optimal, and so we have hidden inside the house for most of today. I did get outside at one point and connect up two water tanks together that needed to equalise their water levels. Gravity is a useful tool in such circumstances. I did that job because I wanted to create some space in the original water tank which had become almost full.

    We spoke about Mark Twain a few weeks back, and I began reading the first of his Tom Sawyer novels this morning. It is a good read and from the outset you can tell that Mr Twain is able to read people and situations like a book. I make that observation because he captures the crucial interactions that describe situations and which also enlarge upon the character of his characters. It is good stuff.

    We did flog a few Ye Olde sayings, didn’t we! Fun stuff, and that one contains a grain of truth, although it is hard to know which little thing needs to be taken care of because we seem to be inundated with lots of little things. I often wonder how people cope with the volume of administrative type complex activities that are required of them. I see some of those balls being dropped by people and it rarely ends well, mostly because nobody wants to be put on the default path which may have unpleasant outcomes.

    You’ve mentioned Barbara Ehrenreich before and I have yet to get around to reading her books, but would like to do so. Hers is a personal decision that we’ll all possibly have to face sooner or later (excluding a serious accident). You know when I was younger it used to be said that pneumonia was the ‘old mans friend’, and I used to recall people unexpectedly dropping dead – it happened. There was less intervention in those days and it wasn’t really all that long ago.

    As far as I understand the matter, nobody has managed to weasel out of the clutches of the skinny bloke who holds the scythe and wears a going out hoodie. He comes for all of us.

    The electric tram network these days is far more extensive and to be honest, it is pretty good. It doesn’t extend out as far as the train system though. I only heard about the old cable car system when repairs were being done to a major road many years ago and parts of the system were unearthed in the process. It would have been fun to have a poke around and see how the cables worked. Like you say, it is pretty amazing for 19th century technology. The public transport system appears to be groaning under the ever increasing load from 2,000 additional folks to the city every week. That is what economic growth looks like.

    Well there you go. I had no idea that Woodstock was in the Catskill Mountains in upstate NY. Interesting as I thought that it was elsewhere – no wonder there were more than a few storms during the event. I read a few articles on the event and it all sounds very rock and roll. I had no idea that the event became free after the barriers to entry came down and there was no stopping the punters. As a bit of an old electronics geek, I did enjoy the stories about the amps and speakers… Big. Plus it was nice to read about the also-ran bands who never quite made it and felt put out. I suspect quite a few dummies were spat. It was interesting that the Rolling Stones were out because apparently Mick was in this corner of the planet filming ‘Ned Kelly’. Ned Kelly probably would have approved of the idea of Woodstock, but he may have been a bit uptight about the whole free love and hippy thing, being an early settler of Irish Catholic descent and hardly a member of the age of Aquarius.

    Exactly, anti-biotics are great, but they kill both the baddies and the goodies, but if you need them, you probably need them. I sort of feel that our food systems these days produce quite dead food. And it has to be that way in the form that it is because otherwise the food would spoil. It comes down to a cost and benefits thing – you never just get one side of the equation without the other sneaking in.

    Haven’t had a chance to read Mr Salatin either, although I have met him once when he visited a nearby farm and the owners brought him out for a talk. He’s a nice bloke, although I didn’t get much of a chance to talk to him. One or two questions was more like it. The story I’ll write for Monday is a humdinger of a conundrum, but the core of it, is as you say.

    No, I hope Ollie doesn’t decide to go on a quest. He’s an interesting dog in that he knows his territory and won’t stray beyond what he appears to be able to handle. Some dogs enjoy adventures further afield, and they’re a nuisance.

    That is early for blueberries – about what we’d see here. Ouch. They may have been grown east of the ranges? Maybe? How are they doing over there, is it a dry summer?

    The potato flowers will eventually produce little green seeds – probably toxic as – and they can be replanted and you may end up with a new variety. Of course, the resulting plant may be total rubbish, but it is always worth trying if you have the space to spare.

    Hehe! Watch your back – competitive gardening is not a contact sport, but you never know…



  45. Hello again
    I am still finding it difficult to keep up, so apologies if I fail to answer a question.
    I have no idea why my blackcurrants never flowered and the problem is compounded by the fact that Son’s blackcurrants have done well. Red currants grow wild in the woods but I never see a ripe currant as they are eaten early on. If I wanted to grow them, they would have to be covered and my fruit cage is given over to the loganberries and blackcurrants. I did have raspberries in there but they did very badly. A shame because they are my favourite, even above strawberries.

    This is the best Summer since 1976 and my tomatoes are in trouble, they are finding it too hot. Who would have thunk it!

    Our financial year starts 5th April. How on earth were these unlikely dates decided upon?


    I have read the Ehrenreich book you cite and thought highly of it except for the last chapter where (if I remember correctly) she was being highly personalised and it didn’t gel with me at all.


  46. And again. I forgot to say thanks for the fact that you have found a way to inform us as to which blogs have posted something new. I am so pleased!


  47. Yo, Chris – Having no skin in the game, I can’t really say too much about other people’s child rearing techniques. My entirely unsolicited opinion is that too much screen time really screws some kids up. Reap what you sow. (sew?)

    Oh, I think you’re going out to fiddle with the water tanks was just an early symptom of the dreaded Cabin Fever. :-). Next thing you know you’ll be braving icy roads to get to the local for a good water and feed.

    Mark Twain can be a real hoot. You have to remember he wrote a lot of things as satire, and didn’t care who he might offend. Another equal opportunity offender? Don’t miss “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.” Quit silly. But has a bit to say about technology.

    I track some little things using the slips the library uses to flag my items on hold. They are ideal size for book marks and grocery lists. Odds and ends to remember. Seems like a lot of people, these days, depend on their little electronic gizmos. There’s much gnashing of teeth when they go down.

    The little illustration on the cover of Ehrenreich’s “Natural Causes” is of the guy with the scythe … on a treadmill :-). Not as good a read as some of her other books. I’m skimming parts. Too much molecular biology. But then, she mentions that she started out her academic life as a molecular biologist. Cont.

  48. Cont. Speaking of the Woodstock Rock concert, I saw this a few weeks ago …

    I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, it makes me feel old that archaeologists are poking about in something I clearly remember. And, it seems kind of silly. Like an 18 year old pop star coming out with a biography. “My Life.” Excuse me, but you really haven’t HAD “A Life,” yet. :-).

    “Haven’t had a chance to read …” Not to fret. Your still young.

    The blueberries I saw are local to this county. I haven’t really paid attention to the weather on the other side of the range, but there is produce coming in, from there. But, they heavily irrigate.

    The local auction is having a “primitives” auction, today. I looked at the pictures and didn’t see anything that wound my clock. It’s all that shabby chic stuff that is so popular in some quarters. Yard art and old beat to heck furniture with peeling / crusty paint.

    There were a lot of kind of mystery items. Of the “What Is It / Ain’t It Cool” variety. Tools or bit of machinery whose function has been lost. It’s always fun when the auctioneer gets stumped as to what he’s actually trying to flog. Usually, some old duffer in the audience can come up with it’s intended use. Hmmm. Things that made our not so ancient ancestors more productive or safer. Labor saving devices that increased productivity. Now it all goes for “decor.” But, might be put to it’s original use, further down the line :-). Lew

  49. Hi Inge,

    Thank you and that is a very sweet thing to say, and no worries at all.

    I have no insights on your black currants because they’ve never not flowered or produced berries here. That would be an extraordinary event. I grow a lot of the red and black currants and use them in wine making (it is a very tasty drop) so it would be a total disaster. Has your son got any ideas as to why the plants haven’t flowered? They’re so easy to propagate. How old are your plants? The plants can get quite huge down here.

    Honestly, it wasn’t until I’d tasted home grown raspberries that I finally understood why people grew them. I hear you! The shop bought berries aren’t even in the same league, and you may notice that I have not discussed that in the same sentence as the one that mentioned home grown raspberries. On the other hand, I’m new to raspberries and am letting them clump and just cutting them back every year, giving them a feeding, and thinning out the weak and dead looking canes. It seems to work, but is probably not ideal.

    Oh no! The tomatoes here love the heat, but I plant them densely and the soil around the plants is shaded as a consequence. Hot weather is a real problem for people growing tomatoes on trellises and wires and they are more productive growing methods, but far out they’re a lot more work and they use a lot more water. Have you considered putting some shade cloth over them during the middle of the day? Plant growth shuts down then anyway, although maybe your UV is not as intense as here? Dunno. I only water the tomatoes for about ten minutes per day in the morning – even in the hottest weather, and they seem to do pretty well.

    5th April for the start of a new financial year all sounds a bit arbitrary to me! I have been beyond busy since I came down with the flu. It is not to my liking and is slowing down the projects here. But I may soon have to suffer a drop in my cash reserves, so perhaps it is no bad thing. That comment may make more sense after tomorrow’s blog gets posted in the morning.



  50. Hi Inge,

    Thanks! The links work pretty well, and they took a while for me to get my head around how that part of the internet works. The old blogger system worked better on that front, but you know, it gave me serious hassles too!



  51. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, no skin in the game here either – unless you’ve heard something to the contrary? Hehe! I sometimes say that to people who are being nosey, and it always produces a fun and startling result. My favourite way of putting it is looking at the person with a serious expression and saying this: “What? Have you heard something?” Anyway, your point is correct, and we should retire our opinions to the bench and let others with more experience discuss the matter. But then, I reckon you’re right about screen time and I totally agree with you. Surely parents can’t believe that screen time baby sitting services are free? Can they?

    Mate, you know me well. Cabin fever indeed took hold. I have to be careful with the Dirt Mouse Suzuki now for all sorts of reasons that will become clear. I feel a bit low about the situation as I’m getting dragged into a system that I want no part of and it is so wasteful. On a brighter note, wait until you see the photos of the storm and aftermath. The weather was feral, and the wind is still blowing strong even now. Not consistently enough to run a wind turbine generator though. Have you ever had any experience with a wind driven water pump?

    I’m enjoying Tom Sawyer and Mark Twain’s voice is quite amusing. I have to concentrate on the words because his form of English is quite a bit more formal than my brain is used to reading. I know you read a lot, but don’t you feel that it is quite amazing the standard of English that was used in those days in what was a children’s book? Mr Twain is using words that I have never before come across and so I’m keeping the dictionary with me as I read it, or looking the definitions up later. No doubts, Mr Twain would have something interesting to say about the average level of public discourse these days. I doubt that he would be much impressed! He visited Down Under back in the day too. Yes, I can see that Mr Twain would have something to say about technology and just slip those thoughts into an otherwise silly story. He’s a slippery fellow, that Mr Twain! (sorry, I pinched that from the discussion of your reading about Arthur of last week). A good line needs repeating, don’t you reckon?

    An excellent use of book slips and it all sounds very organised. I keep no electronic lists here, and use a paper calendar to remind me of future events. What can I say, but it works. I spoke with someone yesterday who was aghast at my lack of a smart phone and they tried to show me functions on their phone. I did mention to them that I don’t enjoy being easily contacted. Is that an old fashioned conceit? Dunno. Hey, I cut up mail and waste paper into little squares and keep them in a box in a couple of locations. When I get an idea, or have a list that needs to be recorded, I write it on the clean unprinted side of the scrap paper. One never knows when inspiration strikes.

    Oh no! It is probably a very bad idea to annoy the guy with the scythe and hopefully he doesn’t take his job too seriously and can handle a bit of ribbing like on the front cover of that book. He always wins in the end you know, so that clearly means he gets the last laugh – which following my very dodgy logic – means that he laughs. But then is he laughing at us, with us, or at something else altogether? I’m not sure I want to ask him.

    Ouch! Yes, being confronted by a treatise on molecular biology would make me go off and do something else. I guess it all depends on who the intended audience of the book was aimed at?

    If the article hadn’t appear in a mainstream paper, I’d assume that it was all some sort of April Fool’s day joke. Hang on, I didn’t check the date… Oh, only a couple of weeks ago. The deep hole looks as though they’ve hit a drop dunny latrine at the Woodstock site. I wonder whether it was all worth the effort? Sorry, I just wanted to add as a total soil geek, the cuts into the layers of the dairy farms soil, shows soil that looks pretty ordinary to my eyes. There is no layer of black top soil which you’d sort of expect just below the grass and soil surface. On the other hand, the clay looks as though it would hold some minerals. Also the root systems of the grass don’t look as deep as I would have expected, but then it is a wet part of the world. Apologies for my geekiness!

    Honestly, I have no idea what they’re attempting to find, and the stage didn’t appear to be a permanent structure so you could say that it was over there…

    Thanks. I read a bit over the past few days due to the combined effects of cabin fever. I feel a little bit bummed out about tomorrow’s story, but you know, I’ll get over it.

    Speaking of irrigation, Mr Twain’s story tells of kids being sent down to the town pump to collect drinking water for the household. Imagine that nowadays. It is easier to grow plants in warmer, sunnier climates where you have access to plentiful fresh water. But I don’t know how sustainable a lot of irrigation processes are given the allocation basis and the sheer volume of energy required to run them.

    No thanks for the shabby chic furniture either. I mean iIt can look good, but I’m a bit too neat to enjoy such pieces. I like your saying too: “wound my clock”. Good stuff!

    Exactly too. Old duffers who know how to get things done in a low tech way are pretty handy folks. I once read about a farm course where people had no idea how to go about digging a hole. Talk about going back to basics. Mr Logsdon covered the difficulty of returning to the land for people in their 40’s. He’s right too. I never stopped regular and hard physical work, and I can’t even imagine what people would feel like if they approached that task at the age of 40. He was very polite about it too, because he was skirting around the issue of ‘mid life crisis’ which is not a topic that polite folks talk about. Fortunately, here we’re polite but perhaps not polite folks because we can freely discuss such matters! I always feel that people try such a move at that time in their life – for all of the reasons that he pointed out – but in addition to that, they overdo it and are at risk of burning themselves out physically or mentally – or they have to abandon a project half finished. Or even worse, they move to a rural area and do nothing, meanwhile the maintenance and problems build up… Dunno.



  52. Hello again

    Son has no idea as to why my blackcurrants didn’t flower. I don’t know how old the plants are. I should have said that the redcurrants don’t grow in the ancient woodland only where woodland has overtaken fields since WW2. I suppose that it is possible that they were deliberately planted for food during the war.

    It is 30F indoors and I find that a bit too hot. The tomatoes that are in trouble are shaded from the sun most of the day, it seems to be the heat that is getting to them.


  53. Yo, Chris – I’ve never examined a wind driven water pump, up close and personal. They really don’t seem to have been used much, around here. But east of the mountains, out onto the plains, they’re kind of iconic. Along with the stock tanks.

    Some of the American Regionalist Artists used stock tanks as background. Religious revivals / baptisms (Curry) or farmers scrubbing up at the end of the day (Wood.) There’s a whole more modern genre of painting called “Country Western Art.” You see a lot of wind pumps in those. “Small” (6 foot plus) replicas are often used as yard art. There were pictures of a couple in yesterday’s primitives auction.

    Wider vocabulary or different vocabulary? Probably a bit of both. Our AA Big Book was written in about 1935. By college educated people. As it is a “sacred text” :-), it hasn’t been messed with. Some people find it slow going. I think syntax (?) has changed, too. Then there’s the whole bible thing. The King James Version is pretty poetic, but bits are getting a bit obscure. I vaguely remember when the Revised Standard Version came out. There was a bit of hoopla. Still is. In the 1960’s, a new “modern English” version was published called “The Way.” It was aimed at the younger, hippie part of the population. Sold those hand over fist when I was in the book biz. Cont.

  54. Cont. I keep a little pile of the book slips next to my computer, next to my primary perch (my comfey chair) and in the kitchen. Being “connected” is often a condition of employment. Or, at least, if you want to be seen as a “team” player and interested in advancement. When I first started substituting for the libraries, I had a little pager. Then, a little flip phone. But, libraries being libraries, the pages and calls I got were mostly within library hours. Not onerous at all. Some people think I’m quit odd that I shut off my phone if I nap or when I go to bed. LOL. Sometimes I forget to turn it back on.

    In Council, Idaho, their Home doesn’t have gardens. I guess the water there is a bit pricey. But, they do have a town community garden. $10 a plot (I don’t know how big) per year. Water provided. I saw it when I was there, but didn’t pay much attention. If I go back in the spring, I’ll take a closer look.

    People returning to the land in their 40’s. Try it at 62 :-). I sure learned fast enough that I had to watch what I was doing. Stay hydrated and keep up those back stretches, even through the winter months. Was that bit by Logsdon in the current book, or in one of his other ones? I’m toying with the idea of Idaho, again, and really wonder if I’m up to it. I’m looking for a sign, from above :-). Logsdon may provide it.

    Well, I’m off to the Club for some chewing the cud with Julia. Got to do some serious gardening, this afternoon. According to Cliff Mass, our serious summer weather starts Wednesday. From then til September, high temperatures and probably not much rain. Lew

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