Revenge of the birds

I ran into Toothy at the Lost Dogs Home, way back in July 2006. By the time July rolls around down under, it is winter, and that was a particularly cold day. Or maybe I was just upset because I’d only recently had to get the old boss dog put down. She was a tough old girl that boss dog, and she became increasingly grumpy as she got older. Some people do that trick too. Anyway, the old boss dog was nicknamed: “The Fat”.

The Fat earned that nickname too, because she once almost starved her little buddy, a charming Jack Russell, who was nicknamed Denver (because he was picked up on a country road – nuff said). So the Fat was grumpy, but not particularly hungry because she had been systematically eating Denver’s food. We discovered her kryptonite (greed) because we took Denver to the local veterinary to find out why he was so sickly. Clearly the vet thought that Denver’s malnourishment was caused by us staving him, and ever since then we feed all of our dogs separately. As a postscript, Denver rapidly regained his health once he got some regular food and lived to a ripe old age. The Fat was closely monitored thereafter…and also lived to a ripe old age.

The Fat was a large Dachshund – Corgi mix known as a Dorgi, and she was a very intelligent and affectionate dog, despite her predilections to kill off her little buddy through starvation. Dachshunds are quite nice dogs, and after her death we found ourselves at the Lost Dogs Home looking at this sad looking little long haired Dachshund huddled for warmth at the back of an enclosure in a coat that was clearly several sizes too large for him.

The editor and I conferred for a minute or two (outside of Toothy’s hearing) and then decided that he’d do fine. An hour or two later, Toothy exploded into the household. And I mean that in the energetic sense of that word, he really did explode into the household.

A young Toothy in the City

At that time we had cat which used to believe that The Fat was his mum, and the cat used to sleep cuddled up with the Fat every night. The cat had a broken heart when she died, and then having an explosion of Toothy into the household was the final nail in the coffin for the cat, because he then promptly died about a week later.

It was an emotionally tough time but, you know, Toothy was just a puppy, and puppies are hard work. Did I mention that the Lost Dogs Home had desexed Toothy, so when he exploded into the house, he was wearing an Elizabethan collar. That collar was lethal because he’d spot the cat and Old Fluffy the long since deceased Pomeranian, announcing his intentions of: Ramming speed, engines on full. And then ram into either of them, or preferably both at the same time if he could manage it. He even used to stalk us, but we were like Old Fluffy and we rapidly taught him the errors of his ways.

Eventually he settled down and stopped being such a nuisance, and he is now a respectable elder statesman of the Fluffy collective. Mind you, like The Fat, he is getting a bit grumpier as he gets older. But he may just be expressing his opinions, because no animal here puts up with his ramming speed trick.

You see long haired Dachshunds are fast runners, although Toothy is slowing down now that he is an elder statesman. The problem is, some of the birds and animals on the farm live quite a long time, and some of those – particularly the birds – have excellent memories. A family of magpies (of the Corvidae bird family) lives on the farm, and they are wonderful birds because they will alert me to the presence of all sorts of predators in the nearby area. Once they alerted me to the presence of a fox who was trying to steal one of the chickens. Plus the magpies have a beautiful song. If ever you’ve heard it, you’ll know what I mean.

In the past Toothy felt the need to chase the birds on the farm. The birds are all too fast for Toothy, but he gets good exercise and the birds get annoyed. Did I mention that the magpies in particular have good memories? Well, this week, they’ve taken their revenge upon the hapless Toothy because somehow they managed to take a dump on his head. It was an impressive achievement, and Toothy, well, he earned that one.

Revenge of the birds

Spring is really starting to, I don’t know the right way to describe it, maybe Spring into gear? 🙂 Last evening the setting sun produced the most spectacularly dark blue sky that I can recall seeing. #no_filter #don’t_own_a_filter #no_photoshop:

The setting sun produced an amazingly deep and rich blue sky

Some mornings, fog fills the valley below the farm. There is something to be said about living above the fog line:

Thick morning fog hides the valley below the farm

We’re a bit pressured for time at the moment because soon we will have to get into the summer projects such as mowing, harvesting, and firewood. So we are in the process of trying to finish off the various infrastructure projects that we currently have on the go.

Not all infrastructure projects have to be completed before we change over to summer activities. One example of that is the path to the secondary firewood shed and chicken enclosure. Recently we have discovered a new source of rocks on the property, and we’ve been exploiting it. We are adding large rocks to the downhill side of the path and this week the rock wall was extended by quite a few metres.

The rock wall along the path to the chicken enclosure was extended by quite a few metres

Observant readers will note that we have added a fresh layer of the locally sourced crushed rock with lime to the surface of the path. During winter, when the ground is cold and very damp, it is a real pleasure to use such a well formed path.

We also began placing a layer of the locally sourced crushed rock with lime onto the newly constructed terraces.

Local crushed rock with lime was added onto the surface outside the strawberry and corn enclosures

Four posts were also cemented into the ground. The posts are 100mm x 100mm (4 inch x 4 inch) Cypress Pine (Callitris species trees) and they’re apparently very resistant to rot due to their natural oils. It is a beautiful smelling timber when it is cut because it smells like soap. The posts will form the corners of a new small garden shed which we’ve begun constructing.

The corner posts for the shed were cemented about two feet into the ground

The round holes were dug by hand using a hand auger to a depth of about 3 feet. We then back filled the holes with cement so that the posts only sat about 2 feet deep in the ground. We ensured that the posts were exactly vertical and then filled the remainder of the hole to ground level with cement.

Really observant readers will note that at the very top of the above photo you can see a timber pallet protecting a new step on the concrete staircase leading up to the next level. Ollie the Australian cuddle dog (who bravely chases off herds of deer and is actually an Australian cattle dog) loves imprinting his paw prints into  curing cement and so any cement work has to be protected from him.

It is fortunate that Ollie is good at chasing cattle because the other morning a herd of deer were discovered down in the bottom of the orchard. Deer have no place here, and they have not endeared (endeered!!!) themselves to me because they strip the bark off my apple trees. Anyway chasing off herds of deer is Ollie’s job. It is what he gets paid for.

A herd of deer in the bottom paddock
The author and Ollie the Australian cattle dog are alarmed at the presence of the deer
Ollie the Australian cattle dog races into action and chases the deer off into the forest

It is not only the deer who turn up here looking for a free feed. I scared off these two Sulphur Crested Cockatoos because they were rummaging through the raised vegetable beds. Those birds can live for up to eight decades and apparently also have excellent memories.

Two Sulphur Crested Cockatoos take flight after having sampled the raised vegetable beds

In breaking plant news: The plants are springing into activity with the mildly warmer spring weather.

The gooseberries that only two years ago were originally just sticks shoved into the ground, look as though they may provide a bumper crop this year
The thornless blackberries also look as though they’ll provide a bumper crop later in the season. The plants are right little Triffids because they’re barely sticking within their blackberry / raspberry enclosure

Onto the flowers:

How nice are the daffodils with the lemons as a backdrop
Echiums are some of the most reliable food for the bees
We have a diverse collection of daffodils
The very early flowering apricots look as though the blossoms survived the -2’C / 28’F frost
We have daffodils and snow drops
And jonquils
Few flowers smell better than daphne
Rosemary flowers enjoy the spring sunshine

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 9’C (48’F). So far this year there has been 655.8mm (25.8 inches) which is higher than last week’s total of 641.4mm (25.3 inches).

93 thoughts on “Revenge of the birds”

  1. Hi Lewis,

    It’s funny but pre-fab buildings aren’t really a big thing down here. However, now that you mention it, I do know of someone who lives in a house that is constructed of shipping containers. I believe she used 3 x 40 foot containers, and the land is a little bit north and west of here on acreage, and although I have not seen the construction with my own eyes, we regularly swap convivial notes about living in a rural area. It was one of life’s chance encounters. Nothing ever happens swiftly in rural areas thus I have not invited myself up to check out her abode. Things just take the time they do and I’ve long since come to accept that. The Ents would approve of such occurrences, although even our rural time line would be a bit hasty for them.

    Shipping containers are enormously strong and they’d probably work well as the bones of a house. It is funny you mention log cabins, but over in the eastern side of the mountain range I have spotted a log cabin with mud daubed into the spaces between the logs. It is an impressive construction and I suspect that it is the real deal and was constructed way back in the day. Over in that part of the mountain range I’ve also spotted the ruins of an abandoned house. I suspect that at one point in time, they ran out of water over there and people walked off the land. The frame for the house is more or less there, as is the brick chimney but the shingle roof could do with a bit of work as could the cladding… There is perhaps a bit too much airflow in the house for my comfort.

    It is strange but driving around the countryside you often spot chimney’s poking out of the ground with no house around it to speak of. Clearly the house was either deliberately dismantled, or a fire did the same job to the same effect. There are more than a few of those and it is a salutary warning.

    You know, higher up and in the more fashionable end of the mountain range, I’ve actually visited a house (which opened their beautiful and historic garden to visitors, which included myself) and it had terracotta cladding. I’d never heard of that cladding used before, but it was an old house and originally built for a wealthy person who sought to escape the heat and disease of Melbourne during the summers, but way back in the day.

    Nowadays some of the very remote mining situations use portable buildings which are about the size and shape of shipping containers for the workers to live in during their stay. It is quite common. Some schools use similar buildings to house sudden increases in the number of attendees. There is a business just north of the mountain range and just outside of the next major town which has several acres of the buildings. Interestingly I suspect that they refurbish them too. You can sometimes encounter trucks carrying those portable buildings (and they’re slightly wider than a single lane) on the freeway. I’ll bet they’re expensive to move.

    It is interesting that you mentioned the pre-fab construction crews because I read once somewhere and honestly I forget where that the first nations folk down here used to have a few crews that constructed bark slabbed huts and they moved between tribes doing their thing and were apparently much valued and above most conflicts.

    And while we are discussing it, you can purchase houses which are cut into smaller chunks and then transported and reassembled in new locations. It is sort of the ultimate in recycling! And because the houses are put onto new concrete stump foundations, it extends the life of the materials in the house by a very long time.

    Best wishes for your procedure and a swift recovery and also that you are not in too much pain or discomfit. Fingers crossed!

    Yeah, you are correct in that assertion, and it is hard to fathom how an area can be as remote as this place can be whilst at the same time just under an hour from the centre of a major city. The mountain range here does scare people.

    Oh my! That was the situation down here too with tomatoes. It was complex, and the old timers used to suggest that you had to have them in the ground on or before Melbourne Cup day (the first Tuesday of November). Nowadays I just don’t know as last October it was crazy hot. I spent an hour or so today reading Gene Logsdon’s book about small grain growing, and I reckon the corn seed has to be in the ground by about mid next month (along with the tomatoes, capsicum and eggplants). I’m not sure though because, well, I just don’t know and am going to have to go with my gut feeling (and a soil thermometer). And you are correct too, the longer growing season makes us hacks look good! 🙂

    The folks doing the selling need to first know what is a diamond and what is a diamanté and sometimes the good stuff falls off the radar. We see that happening all of the time and it is really indicative of how much stuff is being chucked into the system. The railway stuff auction was a big call wasn’t it? I sort of feel for the bloke who for whatever reason could no longer house and maintain his precious collection. Lewis, lead me not into temptation with the sign, but I did like the suggestion! The gullies here are lined with tree ferns (among other ferns) so it is a great idea, but it would also confuse the locals because that name has been taken by suburb.

    Thanks for the correction and I too have heard ‘dish the dirt’ being demanded. Certainly there seems to be more than a bit of dirt being scattered around the public sphere of late. Actually quite a lot of it to be precise. I have made no such addition to that mess, if only because dirt is too precious here to waste! 😉 Again, I reckon a person has to be a familiar in order to be able to make such a demand of them.

    Haha! Is a security jumper for Princess a high-visibility yellow or orange colour? Curious minds would like to know?

    We have a lot of answers at our fingertips, but sometimes people struggle asking the right questions… And then they shy away from the implications. It is a complex story that one.

    Hey, I put another five timber posts in the ground today and constructed the penultimate step on the new staircase and managed to keep Ollie off the curing cement. That is no small achievement and I am feeling very tired, but also quite satisfied this evening.



  2. Hi DJ,

    Yes, you are correct. So here’s the thing. You’ve commented here a few times, and I note that you have a tendency to speak in terms of authoritative observations. I appreciate those, but I do wonder about who you are and what is your story? Like why are you commenting here, what are you doing etc. What do you hope to achieve with the observations? Dunno, but I am interested in your story.



  3. Hello Chris
    You come across as sniping at DJ. Why? Perhaps he just likes the interchange here.
    Wow! All those deer. I didn’t realise that you get so many invading you.
    I have had the best tomato harvest ever. Surprising because the late Spring meant that we were way behind with them. Hurrah for this wonderful Summer and they are still coming along in quantity. I am actually giving them away.


  4. Yo, Chris – Before I forget, there’s a new book (actually, a two volume set) on climate change. If nothing else, the author is pretty interesting. I took a look at what our library had of his (lots) and Amazon (overwhelming.) That he has wide ranging interests doesn’t even begin to describe his output.

    I’m not old and grumpy. I prefer old and cranky :-).

    Spring has sprung, the grass is riz … (etc.). Fall is on the way, here. My pumpkins are bright orange and the foliage is dying back. Time to harvest. All two of them. But the Hubbard Squash just keeps banging along, sending out runners here and there. Huge green leaves. The forecast for the next week is scattered clouds, scattered showers and no temps above 70F.

    That picture of the sunset is almost a perfect (Maxfield) Parrish blue. Another one for the calendar.

    My friend Julia was wondering if the deer were native to Australia? I speculated that they were imports, all part of the “make Australia look like England”, push.

    I couldn’t figure out in one picture what was yellow growing behind the daffodils. Yellow roses? The later picture revealed all. A profusion of lemons. My northern cool climate mind just didn’t go there. :-). Cont.

  5. Cont. Here, the classifications seem to be trailer (mobile) homes, manufactured homes (pre-fab) and then stick built homes. Some of the manufactured homes are quit nice and sound. Much to my chagrin, I discovered that banks here won’t finance manufactured homes, no matter how nice. Won’t even consider it. Odd, given the general shakiness of our loans system.

    Yes, I go under the knife, this afternoon :-). Getting as much mileage out of that as I possible can. The only stress I have is that they don’t take care of it, today. I hope it’s not a look-see/postpone or referral.

    As I remember, Princess’s security jumper is black and white.

    “Struggle asking right questions…” Sigh. Internet and product searches can be like that. I was at E-Bay, the other night, just looking for burlap bags for my potatoes and squash. Over 3,000 entries came up. There were sacks for sack races, sacks for growing tomatoes or potatoes. And, apparently, there’s a new craze for involving nifty little burlap bags for gifties as weddings. So, I kept trying different searches to narrow down the list. I think I finally had success with “jute feed bag.” But, it was a long trip.

    I was wondering if I could dehydrate green tomatoes. Oh, sure. Lots of articles telling you exactly how to do that. But as what to do with them? Not much. Several message boards has people asking that exact question. But answers quickly veered off into drying potatoes or bananas. Well, I learned that you really can’t dry bananas. Banana chips are mostly plantains. Who knew? Something to keep in mind. Not that helps with the green dried tomatoes. See, cranky. :-). Lew

  6. @ Margaret – Thanks for the link to the exhibit. My next internet stop is to Google up some images of Charles White’s work. I always appreciate a good realist.

    What with winter coming and maybe having a bit more time (given your recent move), you might enjoy a new book. I did. “Old in Art School” by Nell Painter. Nell Painter was an academic historian. Tenured at Princeton, no less. At 63, she decided she wanted to do something else. Be a painter. And, not just an amateur or Sunday painter. She wanted to be a REAL painter. So, she went back to school and got her BFA (Rutgers) and MFA (Rhode Island School of Design.)

    I was a little disappointed that she caved in to Art School and the Art World and gave up her realist interests and moved in a more abstract direction. But, such is the Art World, these days. Your local library may have the book. It got good reviews and was in the media, for awhile.

    I took a recent, long look at the Chicago Art Institutes holdings. Not to criticize, (but just to criticize) their collection has a lot of width … but not much depth. Oh, yeah, they’ve got art icons, masterpieces galore. But not much else by those same artists.

    I was looking at the American Regionalists (Grant Wood, et all) and some of the other American realists (Hooper, etc.). and they usually have one or two paintings. And that’s it.

    Hmmm. Maybe I’m spoiled by all those traveling retrospective shows where they borrow heavily from a lot of sources. Lew

  7. Chris,

    Fair questions! Your directness is appreciated, as I often miss subtleties in both written and oral discussions.

    My posting here was mostly to reply to a comment you made to me at Ecosophia . Having been a long term reader there and in its previous incarnations, I gained a large amount of respect for how you live and your observations of what really works and doesn’t work, especially with the solar and wind power off the grid.

    Once upon a time, I was a regular contributor on a discussion forum that went very sour and actually closed down due to the verbally violent contention. I appreciate the well regulated and friendly approaches that both you and Mr. Greer have. After 16 years of internet silence, I’ve regained enough confidence in 2 people’s forums to feel comfortable in making occasional posts.

    Background: I grew up in a household that Mr. Greer might today consider to be filled with “Green Wizards”, although after the Reagan Revolution that was diminished. I’m less than 3 years away, most likely, from retiring early, aka collapsing now to avoid the rush. Physics degree and graduate school in various technical fields. Needing to put food on the table, I’m allegedly underemployed in government, but I don’t consider it that way.

    More to follow.

  8. Continued…My job has changed a lot in recent years, now requiring me to be authoritative at times, both written and oral. Rereading my posts here, I understand your comment about authoritative observations – so you’ve brought to light a blind spot I’ve got, which is appreciated. I tend not to make comments about things that I’ve not directly experienced, which often leads me to sounding authoritative.

    I have no agenda here, other than perhaps this is a place on the internet in which I can get to know a few people a bit and maybe hang out some. My free time for this type of thing is erratic.

    I’m really groping for ways to increase the food production in my garden. Climate change is creating havoc here: things that used to grow, don’t. Other things might grow great one year, not so well the next, etc. Doing a lot of trial and error, I suppose, in an attempt to adapt.

    Anyhow, I hope that helps to explain my presence here and a bit about me? I’ll gladly answer more questions if necessary. 🙂


  9. @ Lew
    Z Nation? I think I watched 2 or 3 episodes, mostly to see how Spokane looked in the series. I really don’t enjoy that genre, so quit watching. However, I enjoyed seeing familiar places on the tv.

    Large chunks of the show were filmed in Riverside State Park, across the Spokane River from where I grew up,. I used to hike from the house to the park a LOT. The first episode I saw, I knew exactly where they were in the park, for example. That was fun.


  10. Hello again
    What a gloriously courteous response you have had from DJ. I could take lessons from him.
    One of the things that surprises me about blogs on the internet, is how little really good interchange there is. It is fine if one is a fanatic on just one subject as there will be others of the same ilk. There are also many blogs which just indulge in mutual comfort and or praise.
    Your blog offers a much more interesting interchange as does Greer. Also Kunstler if one cuts short on the comments.
    Anyhow, thanks.


  11. Hi Inge,

    It was a delightfully courteous response wasn’t it? Please understand that I had my reasons for writing what I wrote, and some of those reasons I’m happy to disclose, whilst others not so much. There are plenty of blogs on the interweb where people recite sound bites, however I try hard not to do that or encourage that practice here. The sound bites get in the way of the actual stories which reveal what those sound bites mean. I mean the sound bites themselves are simply social displays and it reminds me of way back when I was kid people used to wear black woollen duffel coats, which sported miscellaneous hand sewn patches. The patches displayed icons, but they actually said: I belong to this tribe or that tribe. And once the sound bites get thrown around, well at that point conversation stops and peoples heckles get raised, and in the process we miss out on the stories of how other people see the world. And there is real beauty in those stories and you never know what insights might spring forth from the text. And generally I reckon that we have more in common than is considered. I’ve travelled to a few third world countries in my time and as far as I can tell, most people just want to get on with their lives, and deep down humans are pretty good at communication, although it may not always appear to be the case.

    To be honest I offer no comfort with the blog stories, and in fact part of my professional paid work is in telling bad news. It is nice to get paid for that! 😉 But mostly, I feel that the people that participate here on the blog are for life, not just for Christmas, and that can work out to mean that we all roll with the ups and the downs which are part of the usual human existence. It also means that I have to recognise the social obligations of those whom have been commenting and contributing to the story the longest.

    Thank you and that is very high praise. Anyway, I could stand to use some of those lessons too! Let’s see what we’ll learn.

    Yeah, the deer travel in small herds and the orchard is not old enough to stand up to too much of their attentions. That particular pack stripped the bark off a six year old apple tree. I was pretty grumpy about it, but I am learning to live with them and am considering future responses. Other than humans they have no other predators.

    I’m noticing that global warming is extending the growing season on all sorts of plants. In all seriousness, authoritative and learned folks used to claim that it was not possible to grow citrus in this mountain range – and that was only two decades ago. I reckon by the time I’m ready to hit the grave it will be possible to grow coffee here. I would not be surprised at all if your tomato harvest does not continue into October.

    I’ll tell you a little secret: I reckon the future belongs to the generalists.



  12. Hi, Chris!

    That is a lot of deer. They seem to be increasing, Ollie notwithstanding, though I can see that he is doing his best! Our deer move – and eat – at night. Do you think yours are doing that?

    Toothy, you were a charmer then and you are a charmer now. Those Elizabethan collars are a nightmare and I do not fault you one bit for losing your head while wearing one. I’ll bet you did not much appreciate having bird poo removed from your head. It gives a canine gentleman rather a certain air . . .

    What an incredible blue sky. As with Lew, I immediately thought of Parrish blue.

    Three-foot post holes – amazing! And hand dug – more amazing! We are inspired!

    What gorgeous cockatoos in a gorgeous view. I just don’t know how your photographer does it.

    Ah – the flowers. Ours are all soggy. I am having a bit of trouble collecting seeds from them. We have our generator tuned up and full of gas and all our gas supplies filled as there is suppose to be a hurricane in a few days, but our local weather forecast only shows average rainy days with a bit of wind.

    A bunch of deer just walked by and looked in the window at me . . .


  13. Hi Lewis,

    My thoughts are with you. I do hope that the procedure went smoothly and the doctor got the little sucker. Definitely go hard on the mileage and the sympathy. You’ve earned it. One does not always get that opportunity, do they? How did it turn out? And I do hope that this was not an exploratory probe.

    Just for the record, I would like to enjoy a beer with William Vollmann. What a review, and what a story he has apparently written. Not many folks consider the future at all, and I suspect that humans are very bad at planning – despite claims to the contrary. What interests me about Mr Vollmann is that he has taken the story of his topic and poked at it hard. When I read the Limits to Growth, and no disrespect to the authors, but to me it read like a science project which was to be presented for other people to make decisions upon. Mr Vollmann brings it all back into the home, which is incidentally where the story has always belonged. Mr William Catton Jr’s book “Overshoot” did exactly the same thing with perhaps a little bit more clarity and conciseness, but perhaps also a little bit less humour. I had to read the book twice in quick succession just to make sure that I had not misinterpreted his words. OOOOoooo thanks so much for the book recommendations. 🙂

    Old and cranky has a certain amount of social respectability to it, don’t you reckon? Hey, I’m an old fella too nowadays. And I’m proud to be called grey beard (which is partly the case these days). 🙂 Although it would not be as scary a pirate name as say, red beard. Did you ever fancy that you might have a pirate name? Cranky beard is not working for me…

    Actually the grass is starting to riz, and I walked around the orchard today admiring the bees doing their business in the strong spring sunshine. The ground felt soft under my feet. I must confess as to having got it wrong with those insects because they collect pollen and nectar far earlier than their indigenous brethren, and I suspect that if I removed them from the farm, I may not get much fruit set from the apricots and almonds which are both early flowering fruit trees. It is also interesting that both fruit trees names begin with the first letter of the alphabet. Although it may be a coincidence.

    Go the pumpkins! And orange too. I grew a grey pumpkin last year, and the official name was Queensland blue, but well, somebody took some liberties with that name because it sure looked grey to me. Well your two pumpkins beat my one pumpkin. Although I’m hoping that you’ll discover that your home grown pumpkins tasted superior to purchased pumpkins? Your weather sounds ideal for powdery mildew which is the usual demise for that family of plants down here. Fingers crossed though because for you it is still early days – and we had an extraordinarily long autumn this year, so you never know. Incidentally, I’m discovering that the daffodil bulbs are producing smaller leaves and shorter flower stems this season which is quite odd and probably a result of that autumn.

    Thanks and I was quite startled to see such a rich blue in the sky. Although I called it Royal blue, but I could be wrong. I once saw the inside hallway of a neighbours house painted that colour and it must have been a nightmare to paint and taken at least six coats to get an even finish. Still, it looked impressive.

    The deer were introduced by folks wanting to hunt them. To be honest, the deer do fill a role in the ecosystem and that is cool. It is probably not a bad idea to reduce their numbers from time to time given that they have no predators. Starving cannot be a pleasant experience for them. Don’t laugh but some wealthy squatter way back in the day set up a hunt club (which is still there today, although it is an arts and craft community centre) and named the area ‘Deer Park’. The suburb which has grown around that hunting ground still bears the name. We scored foxes and rabbits for much the same reason. This year for the first time I have noticed rabbits trundling up one of the nearby fern gullies. They still look as though they’re running for their very lives.

    There are just so many citrus. Whatever was I thinking when I planted all of them? Nothing good. At least scurvy is a very remote possibility. I give them away to people I know.

    Yeah, that is so weird about the banks because the same thing happens here too. They are apparently very reluctant to finance an owner built house. I have often speculated on why that may be, but then owner built houses have an unfortunate reputation for never being completed and that may be part of the story. Dunno. I reckon manufactured homes are a good idea, and tiny houses (whilst being a planning problem) are an excellent idea and lend themselves to being manufactured offsite.

    Oh, I wouldn’t have picked those colours. Down here, Princess the Pomeranian would be confused for a Collingwood supporter (that is an AFL football team) and the fans have a dubious but perhaps well deserved reputation. Imagine poor Eleanor getting into conversations with rabid football fans over the dog support of their team? Umbrella’s would be handy in such an occasion because they have good reach with the swing, and also the pointy end which could also do a bit of damage.

    Exactly, sometimes it is hard to know what things are called. I had to take a trip to the local plumbing store recently and that was hard because they called them one thing and I called the parts something else and we all looked at each other and tried to get around the language barrier. I also have a suspicion that they don’t enjoy retail customers and prefer the trade… Dunno.

    But then, a lot of people have no idea how a search engine works and how it builds an index. The number of times people try to show me something on the interweb and they just can’t find it. Anyway, it ain’t for me to tell them how a search algorithm works. I wrote a basic software indexing tool for a computer a long time ago – and to be honest the things are faster, and biggerer, but they’re mostly still the same.

    You know, I don’t know that about green tomatoes, and have never tried to do that. You know they still have all of their sugars, so they’re pretty good and it would probably turn out ok. I generally turn them into green tomato chutney. Which is quite a tasty treat in the depths of winter.

    Ha! It will take a bit more global warming before I can get plantain growing here, but that doesn’t mean that the option shouldn’t be considered. And I was unaware that banana chips were actually derived from plantain. I’ve seen banana species happily growing and fruiting in Melbourne so you never know. Plus sadly, I haven’t come across any of the red bananas again at the market. They were much better tasting than the yellow bananas.

    Good luck and we are all thinking of you here.



  14. Hi DJ,

    Thank you for the courteous reply. I’m very impressed.

    No worries at all, I sort of went with my gut feeling and I’m glad that the directness worked for you. 🙂 In some respects I grew up with people who saw the world the same way you do, and I can empathise and relate with your perspective in the matter, although I make no claim for myself.

    Thank you for writing that. I gave it my best shot with the technology too. There are of course local environmental reasons why the renewable energy technology doesn’t perform slightly better than it does, but you know, I’ve mucked around with it long enough that it is, how do they say it? Splitting hairs (not atoms though, as that would be uncomfortable and perhaps also unpleasant). I’ve reached the point of diminishing returns with further investment in the systems.

    Well, you are welcome here. Mr Greer, provided a moderating model which is worthy of emulation (and of course adding my own touches). I have learned a lot from that most excellent gentleman.

    Thank you for sharing your story. But yes, pragmatism must be the order of the day. To be honest, there is little point being a purist and going hungry or cold. The world as it stands is very unforgiving on those who choose to take a step back from their monetary obligations to provide flows of funds to others. It is how it goes.

    That’s alright too. In my dark past I managed teams of people and was quite good at commanding others. It is perhaps not so useful a skill when you have to communicate stories and share ideas. It is like everything in that some tools are good for one thing and other tools are better suited to other uses. What do you reckon about that?

    Aren’t we all! How is your soil in your garden? Yes, I too am experiencing a lot of variability in climate between one season and the next. It is inordinately complex. Have you considered selecting plants? It is an old school skill that isn’t much practiced these days, but I reckon there is something in that.



  15. Hello again
    Generalists are certainly better at surviving when things are difficult but specialists make the big discoveries. Doesn’t that sound sententious?
    Curiously enough the area where I live, was once a deer park for an aristocratic owner but there are no deer here now, thank goodness. Deer without a predator sounds like bad news unless one is allowed to freely cull for food.
    I still don’t know about climate warming; I haven’t really seen it in my lifetime. What I have noticed is more violent wind and rain storms.
    Son has injured his back trying to move concrete blocks into a restricted place. He says that people happily build extensions and conservatories ignoring the fact that they have cut off access to parts of their home that may need future work. This injury reminds one that good physical health is a necessity if one is to survive living off grid etc etc. Unfortunately he has to go back and continue this job when fit to do so.


  16. Hi Chris,

    That’s quite a herd of deer. I’ve only seen two deer at our new place so far and that was down the road but I’m sure they’re here as there’s plenty of hay fields and areas of woods as well. I never had them eat bark but they did do a number on the branches of our new fruit trees one year. The Christmas tree farm across from that sustained quite a bit of damage from them rubbing their antlers on the trees. There was one very harsh winter several years ago when herd of 50 or so would be seen in the tree farm. The deer came right up to our neighbors house to eat the bushes. Seems like Ollie has become quite useful. Some of the names of your dogs are self explanatory. Maybe you said – but how did you pick Ollie’s name? Poor Toothy suffering such indignity.

    We are finally getting a stretch of beautiful weather so the wild cucumber removal has started in earnest. This wasn’t a good year for tomatoes around here at all. I’m thinking part of the problem was the almost constant high humidity. Light blight is also pretty endemic here too.


  17. @Lew
    Thanks for the book suggestion. I’ve added it to my list. I do have quite a bit more time now and that’ll only increase in the winter. As I said my art education is sadly lacking but I did find your criticism of the Art Institute interesting. I’ll have to pass that on to my aunt, sister and BIL who have spent a great deal of time there.

    The book by William Vollmann also looked interesting though intimidating. Our book club that only reads one or two books just got done discussing the long article in the New York Times Magazine, “Losing Earth” which chronicled the history of climate change activism during the period 1979 – 1989 when (he feels) we could have actually done something about it. He felt that human nature was the reason we weren’t successful. It’s a very long read – at least several hours. I’d include the link but I’ve only got three more nyt free articles this month. The author is Nathaniel Rich.


  18. @ Pam – Peeping Tom deer? :-). Naughty deer!

    Are you doing ok? Looks like hurricane Florence is bearing down on you. Stay safe. Lew

  19. @ DjSpo – Glad you’re here! Always nice to run across another Washingtonian. Even if the “wet” side of the mountains, and the “dry” side of the mountains are SOOOO different. In so many ways. Every once in awhile, I run across the idea that western Oregon and Washington and eastern Oregon and Washington make more sense to be separate States. Not that I see that happening unless there’s some huge political or economic upset.

    Weather wise, things are pretty nuts in the gardens around here, this year. Local blueberries and pumpkins are coming in a month earlier than usual. And no one seems to be able to put a finger on exactly why.

    I’m pretty new at the larger scale gardening, racket, too. There are probably gardening books out there, that are more specific to the Spokane area. You may have a bunch of Master Gardeners in your area. Might be worth a look see. Your local County Extension Office might be helpful. And, as always Google (can be) your friend :-).

    What is the impulse to get excited when somewhere you live or have lived shows up in media? Portland is my hometown and I spent some time living in Seattle. So, I am intregued with series that are shot there. Been here in the Chehalis/Centralia area since 1982. We don’t see a lot of film crews, here. :-). But there was a movie, recently, that had a panning shot along our freeway. K-Mart, the Home Depot. And I got soooo excited! Big whoop.

    One of the “extras” on the DVD of “Z-Nation” mentioned that they had picked Spokane because they could head off 30 minutes in any direction and get a completely different kind of terrain, to represent other parts of the US.

    I’m toying with the idea of moving to Idaho. Not far over the border from you. Adams County. South of McCall and north of Weiser. We’ll see. Not rushing into anything. Lew

  20. Yo, Chris – Well, the trip to the Doc was a non-event. I’m to slap hot packs on it, three times a day, and it will be taken care of next Monday. I can see the doc’s reasoning. Right now, it’s pretty diffuse and she’d like to see it a bit more localized. Which is what I did before when I wanted the whole nasty mess to come to, shall we say, fruition. :-).

    Nope, never fancied a pirate name. Though I like parrots. Well, you need to build a persona for Gray Beard. Branding. An on-line presence. Twitter followings, etc.. :-). Facebook. You could “friend” a lot of other pirates. I could do the same for Grumpy Beard.

    When we moved to Vancouver, Washington, I painted my bedroom Wedgewood blue and white. Dad was a bit skeptical. I was shooting for an Adams neo-classical look. Now what 15 year old boy … I was a strange kid. Still a strange adult. :-). Then there was the bedroom I had in Seattle. Jungle look, there. Snakeskin pattern foil wallpaper, lots of green and bamboo accents. A parrot would have been appropriate.

    Right tool for the right job. Right search term for the right algorithm. But some algorithms seem so … sloppy. Not very tight. In the library catalog, recently, I was looking for books on “class.” Well, it did cough them up, but also included every book on “glass.” Hundreds of them.

    A recent trip to the big box “Home Depot” store web site, well, I was looking for, I thought, “door stops.” “Door wedge” was more like it.

    For gosh sakes, search for what I’ve asked for, not what you think I’m asking for. I appreciate the sites that have a “search only” function. Keeps me in as close to “right mind” as I get. Lew

  21. Chris,
    Thanks for the welcoming. Yes, different tools are appropriate at different places and settings. I’ll get that figured out one of these years. 😉 I’ll get on board with the culture here pretty quick, I hope. Being wired similarly to Mr. Greer, I find conversation, written or oral, can be challenging at times.

    The soil here is naturally sand. I’ve really increased the composting in the past 5 years and it is starting to have benefits. One of the problems is that the growing season is starting earlier, much earlier in some years. Next year I’ll try starting vegetables in containers under the patio roof. Any late frosts might not kill them under cover near the house.

    The other problem has gotten to be the heat. And smoke from what is becoming a plethora of annual large fires. 100F used to be rare. It’s getting to be several days annually. We hit 109F this year at my house! Both the heat and the smoke are causing problems with the vegetables. This will require more research.

    The non edibles plants are mostly appropriate for the climate and summer arid conditions. I liked a comment you made on a Magic Monday (?) about how someone’s lawn was constipated due to being a monoculture. I’ve discovered that adding thyme to my lawn requires less water than either individually and looks and smells nice.

    I’ll look into your plant selection idea more. Thanks for that.


  22. @ Pam,
    Thanks. When I slow down and think about it, I can get eloquent. The rest is politeness in somebody else’s “home”.


  23. @ Inge,
    I’ve read a lot of Chris’s comments elsewhere, as well as his blogs here, for several years. As a result, I guessed that he had very valid reasons for his questions. It’s actually refreshing to see a host do what is needed to protect his regulars! And he read me correctly. If I’d had nasty intents in posting here, that particular post of his would’ve chased me away.


  24. @ Lew,
    I’ve gotten plants from the Extension Office in the past. They’ve done well, except for some chokecherry trees that just wouldn’t produce. I neglected my raspberry patch for awhile, and they’re still thriving. I’ll get back to working more with them this fall or next year.

    The other experienced gardeners in my part of town have been having the same problems I ‘ve had. Nearly identical. Most of the Master Gardeners are in parts of town with totally different microclimates and better native soil. Even some of the Masters have had problems the past 3 years, however. It’s challenging, trying to figure out HOW to adapt.

    Getting excited about seeing your town on tv or in the movies must be akin to being at a sporting event and seeing yourself on the arena screens and monitors. Although the only time that happened to me, rather than going crazy pointing at myself on the screen, I pulled my hat over my face.

    Oh , yeah, Spokane is close to different climates! 30 minutes from the desert, 30 minutes from mountains, 30 minutes from lakes. A recent motto of Spokane’s was “Near nature, near perfect”. That got dropped when the annual smoke started and some of us said that the smoke was the “near nature” bit rolling in.

    The Weiser/Caldwell area is pretty. I’ve enjoyed that part of Idaho the few times I’ve driven through it.


  25. Hi Pam,

    It is a lot of deer, but I was reading a grains book today (second edition) by the author Gene Logsdon, and he wrote that deer in his part of the world used (I’m sad that I never had the chance to make his acquaintance) to travel in herds of up to thirty deer. Stories like that fill my heart with dread, but on the other hand the chickens and dogs will perhaps feed upon some good protein in years to come.

    OMG! I recall that you are rather a long way inland, but I do hope that Florence is not too destructive in your part of the world. Just to take your mind away from the fast encroaching monster storm, I thought you might enjoy this story which is about the same magpie birds that live on the farm here. I do my very best not to annoy them. Here goes (it is a delightful story): Magpie swooping a playful game of cat and mouse between boy and feathered friend. The magpies are amazingly smart and communicative and I owe the magpie family of birds that live here a debt of thanks for saving the life of fluffy head the silky-Australorp mixed chicken. Of course, I repay that debt by providing the magpies with excellent feeding grounds and a continual supply of fresh water in which they bathe and drink.

    How fast was Ollie? They reckon Australian cattle dogs are mad as, but deep down he has a very sweet nature. I reckon his eyesight is not as good as it could be and may get worse over the years, but you know, like all of us, he has to take the good with the bad and just get on with life.

    Well Toothy was not a fan of the Elizabethan collar and because he was a puppy, he used the collar for ill ends and not for good. But yes, you are correct and the collar probably weighed heavily upon his dignity and mojo and perhaps he was trying to make up for those difficulties? Toothy in fact loves being groomed and would be happy to sit there all day long whilst I dragged a brush through his hair. Now Sir Scruffy the charming can stand only but the briefest of minutes or two of grooming and then he is done with that foolishness – thus his name. Old Fluffy used to lick the young Toothy’s face almost to the point that I was worried that she’d wear out one of his eyeballs… And he loved every minute of the attention. On the other hand, Toothy is a lovely dog and I am pleased to know him.

    Two out of three votes certainly tends to point towards a quorum, so Parrish blue it is! 🙂

    Thank you! And I won’t mention that on Monday I dug another five holes and cemented in the remaining posts for the new shed and made another step (one more to go). It is now Wednesday evening and I can still feel a little bit of soreness in my shoulders, but that will pass. I do rather hope to get the frame of the shed constructed over the next few days, but we’ll see how things pan out. And I cannot complain about the weather here given what you may or may not endure…

    I couldn’t believe that the cockatoos were just about to rip out the remaining stalks of broadbeans that the wallabies had reduced to only a single stalk. The outrage. Did I mention that those birds once chewed right through a really thick copper cable for the solar system? I’m sure the copper wire sharpened their beaks in the process… Naughty birds, but I’m sort of sure they’ll outlive me. Now the cables are all in conduit.

    At such times it is nice to be inland and away from the coastline. I’ll be anxiously waiting to hear your report on the weather, and I do hope that you are OK.

    Venison steaks? I’m a mostly vegetarian and would plant out and eat beans well before I consider harvesting the local herbivores. There are just not enough of them, and something else needs to convert the local plant material into manure (other than fire which will convert it into ash – potash and lime).



  26. Hi Inge,

    Yes, you are absolutely correct. Generalists only make minor extensions of existing knowledge, whilst the specialists can make leaps and bounds in knowledge. However, specialists have to be fed by the generalists and that requires a surplus which is generated by the generalists. It is a really complex problem, and what do you think about my line of thought in this matter? I don’t quite know whether it is sententious or not, if only because specialists tend to stake out their turf because they have very few other strategies available to them with which to provide for continuing support. It is a really complex problem. I’ve never really identified as a specialist as I try to know a bit of this and a bit of that. I’m curious as to how you see yourself along those lines? I’d have to suggest that there are diminishing returns to increasing specialisation and not many folks make great leaps which add to the fields of human knowledge in their latter years. Although I have sometimes wondered whether that is a factor of the burdens that they have taken upon themselves during their lives? Dunno.

    Exactly, there is no balancing tool here with the deer population. On the other hand it is nice to be able to walk around the forest without the fear that a mountain lion would enjoy nothing more than consuming me for its dinner! This is clearly a case where there are both benefits and costs and us humans have to manage the landscape down here whether we know it (or acknowledge it) or not.

    I can’t really speak for your part of the world, but here month in and month out, it is on average warmer relative to the long term observations. However, what I also see is that the weather extremes extend in all directions and not just the heat. People feel that it will be a nice linear change, but I don’t think that it will work out like that at all.

    Ouch. I do wish your son a speedy recovery. His story is one that I too have endured here (although not the back) but when it happens it is so fast and there is much that you could have done before time to avoid it, but after the moment has occurred it is too late.



  27. Hi Margaret,

    There were so many deer weren’t there? And they stripped the bark (almost ring barking) one of my six year old apple trees. I’m most displeased with them, and Ollie faithfully delivered my outcry of displeasure. Two would be fine and not a hassle, but eight. Dunno. The marsupials and other critters here that live in the forest (other than humans and their canines) and eat here are not pack animals and they all turn up individually and don’t act in concert. The deer are something else. I once witnessed them coming to a halt on a nearby road and it was impressive to see because the entire herd acted as if they were one and their action created a visible wave through the herd. I’d never seen such a thing before.

    Losing branches on fruit trees is a pain too because it slows the growth of a fruit tree down by several years. When we built this house we rented in a nearby town. The neighbour ran over one of the two Manchurian pear trees planted in the nature strip. It was an impressive achievement. But as the run over tree recovered, it was about a third the size of the tree that had not been run over. The neighbour was not the brightest spark and the facts speak for themselves. The wallabies perform similar tricks here with branches – as do your deer.

    How did Ollie get his name? This is serious too. I looked at him, thought about it for about a second, and said your name is Ollie. It really was that simple. The shelter had called him Charlie. Not my first choice by a long shot. 🙂 Do you think he looks like an Ollie – and I have to inform you that it is not short for Oliver. It is just plain old Ollie. And Toothy has earned his name too.

    Yeah, you had a lot of heat and humidity, and do you know, sometimes I reckon it is easier growing edible annual plants in hot and dry weather – when you have the water to keep them growing through such weather. The humidity turns plants into a jungle and all the little critters that want to break your plants back down into soil again get their day in the … humidity …



  28. Hi Lewis,

    Not to put too fine a point upon the matter, but nobody wants to have a doctor suggest that something that you are suffering from is interesting / fascinating – or worse difficult / problematic. Boring and pedestrian visits to the doctor are things to be celebrated, if only because eventually things end badly for us all. I feel that it will be best to delay such matters as long as comfortably appropriate. Is this self interest? Perhaps so! Your doctor has taken a reasonable approach to the circumstances and is your ‘fruition’ an example of minor medical procedures undertaken at home? Hehe. Oh well. The heat packs would probably feel quite soothing given your forthcoming bout of cooler weather. Apparently yesterday here was the warmest day this early in spring for many decades.

    Can you imagine the rapid increase in reputation such activities would generate? I for one could not keep up, and then I’d get grumpy and perhaps act like a real pirate and take the social media websites to at least 200km off shore so that they’d then be in international waters. The Crazy Rich Asians film featured that story as a minor part of the larger story. They’d somehow setup a massive bachelor party on a container ship in international waters – as you do… Not a fan of destination weddings or parties. A polite refusal on my part would most certainly offend regardless. I had to decline upon a mates birthday party in Perth recently because that is a four hour plane flight away. Probably the last time I’ll speak with him, but you never know and hopefully he’s forgiving. Oh well.

    Anyway, perhaps pirates are actually naff after all. Take the Dread Pirate Roberts of the dark web fame for example. It didn’t end up so well for him did it? He was hardly that dread if he could be taken down so easily… I’ll bet the actual red beard way back in the day took a bit of killing.

    Wedgewood blue is a very commonly seen colour with porcelain. The colour reminds me a bit of the antique pieces that turn up from time to time. Dad’s can be a bit sceptical, that is their job after all! 🙂 I get the jungle look as that would have been very cool. We’re all a bit quirky really, some of us are just a bit more honest than others about the situation. You reminded me of a story that I once heard a comedian recite about camouflage. I don’t know whether you recall the days a few years back when people used to wear camouflage gear as street wear? Well the comedian made that the joke that he used to bump into people wearing that gear and then immediately apologise and say that: “sorry mate, I didn’t see you”. Very naughty, but also very funny!

    I’m not really sure that you’d want the very clever parrots that I have floating around here in your garden. They keep me on my toes those birds, but not quite as much as the magpies. I put a link to a story about a magpie that made friends with a kid in the comment to Pam above this comment. The magpies are scarily clever birds and they’ll now hop about me whilst maintaining a discreet distance when I’m out with the chickens. The chickens are very grumpy with the presence of the magpies…

    That is true about the search algorithms, but it is generally true of programming too. It is hardly artificial intelligence when a computer sacks somebody and can’t admit that it has made an error. Mind you, I’ve encountered a few people in my time that have trouble admitting that they have made an error. And if they make an error of such magnitude, well the lesser programs of search facility for everyday stuff may well be slightly bonkers! I heard a radio story about that story on Monday were one of the presenters was saying that they were looking for stories on the young Phil Collins and ended up getting recommendations for catheters. Yes, hard to explain that one… I’m not sure of the connection myself!

    Hey, door wedges used to also be called draft stoppers down here as they fulfilled more or less the same function. I have seen quite a number of them that are made in the shape of Dachshund dogs! But back in the day the tools were much heavier, probably because they were full of lead.

    I may take the day off work tomorrow. I haven’t stopped working for the past ten days and need a break. Unfortunately, there is work to be done even still. It is a crazy time of year and seems to be getting more so.



  29. Hi DJ,

    No worries at all and thanks. Hehe! I’m sure you’ll get it all sorted out in time, or then again, the question remains, do you actually need to get it sorted out in the first place? Dunno. I reckon it may make little difference one way or the other. 🙂 I’m sure if any corrections are required we’ll be gentle about it, so plough on and we’ll see where this here ship takes us all. Actually I’m guilty of over subtlety and sometimes that is not a tool that works particularly well for some folks. I hear ya!

    Ah! Sand is difficult due to being so well drained and then having to have large supplies of water on your part. On the other hand with those difficulties come benefits such as reduced number of plant diseases. I reckon you are spot on with the composting. Are you noticing that the soil whilst being sandy has slowly become darker as the organic matter gets incorporated into it? I have some areas of the farm that are almost like a black sand and it is extremely fertile.

    Yeah, I see that sort of weather too, and can have upwards of about ten days per year over 104’F in the shade which is really quite hot for this part of the world. Such weather can make it difficult for short lived and shallow rooted vegetables. Over the past few years, I’ve been experimenting with letting them wilt during the day and then giving them a 10 minute drink in the cooler evening. They mostly bounce back. The orchard gets very little if any additional watering. Have you considered changing your watering routines and slowly making the plants less dependent upon lots of regular watering?

    And smoke can present problems too, especially with berries and grapes which can take up some of the flavour of the smoke. Hopefully the smoke is moving away from your part of the world? Maybe?

    I recommended selecting (i.e. seed saving and replanting) because the varieties of annual plants that you are growing may adapt to your climate conditions faster than you’d consider possible if only because you’ll inevitably select from the survivors. That has been the case here and it really is worth the effort.

    Thanks and it is good to hear that your gardens are well suited to your climate. I try to show how the gardens here stand up to such heat in summer photos because it is interesting to see how the well established plants perform.

    Hehe! Yup, the fertility has to be a cycle of minerals and our civilisation has completely forgotten that. I’m sure you’ve seen folks carting trailer loads of grass clippings to the local tip? Everything organic (and I mean that from a mineral point of view) that arrives here ends up in the soil.



  30. Chris:

    We have herds of 30 or more deer in the winter. The rest of the year they break up into groups of 5-7, all does and their children. I don’t often see the bucks in the summer, undoubtedly they are down the road in a pub.

    What a wonderful magpie story – thanks so very much! That is one lucky boy and it is so great that his grandmother took photos and video.

    I wouldn’t worry about Ollie’s eyesight. We had a dog once – Baby Sue the Cheagle – who had bad eyes her whole life. It never slowed her down and she was all over the country around us, catching bunnies and such. Baby Sue was built like a 30 pound Mack truck and could run full blast down a hill, trip over something, roll like a fluffy orange ball, and land on her feet at the bottom running. She did become cautious when older as she was always a wise girl, and she stuck close to home then.

    Thank you for not mentioning the other holes you dug.


  31. @ Chris and Lew:

    All is quiet here. We’ve been through a lot of these hurricanes. The only really unfortunate thing during one – besides losing hundreds of dollars of food each time before we got the generator – was when a big tree crashed onto the dogs’ trampoline (a full-sized human one) and crushed it like a tin can. Rex was inconsolable for weeks as a new one was never forthcoming.

    As you know, it never floods at our house. Mountains have their good points.


  32. Hello again
    Thinking about generalists and specialists made me consider Greer on the subject of civilisations going up and down again. It seems to me that when a civilisation is collapsing, generalists become extremely important to enable some to survive. However on the upward swing, specialists have an interesting position. What do you think?
    I have areas where I am interested but these are many, I could never be a narrow specialist.

    Son has a problem; his back is recovering but he can see no other way of doing the job in hand. This bodes ill for when he returns to it.

    @ Lew
    That sounds a real problem. I feel sorry for you and hope that you can manage. How will you when it is an area that is hard for you to reach? Plus the annoyance of thinking that something was going to be sorted and then finding it being postponed. I wish you well.


  33. Yo, Chris – Back when Dad would deer hunt, he always preferred the deer from near farms. Grain fed deer :-). There’s a real difference in the flavor.

    “I know a little bit, about a lot of things.” I ripped that off from somewhere. It’s the line I trot out when someone throws a bit of antique or collectible tat at me and expects a curbside identification and evaluation. Another favorite of mine, to throw a damp towel on things is, “Just because it’s old, doesn’t mean it’s valuable.” To those who say, “Well, my brother-in-law told me it’s worth a lot of money.” I say, “If he offers cash, take the money and run.” :-).

    Speaking of mountain lions (cougars) we had another hiker killed by a cougar just 40 miles out of Portland, up by Mt. Hood. Hiking alone. Not advised. Though, that didn’t help the fellow up north who was killed. Two fellows were running from a lion. The one fellow said to the other, “I don’t have to run faster than the lion. I just have to run faster than you!”

    Make Mark Zuckerberg (sp?) walk the plank? The idea appeals.

    Camo is still a very au courant fashion choice, in this part of the world. No one I know, however …

    “You deserve a break today.” Said breaks can usually be found, according to reports, at your nearest fast food drive through window.

    Found a couple of good books for The Home, library. $1 per. “Alone in the Wilderness”, about a guy to went up to Alaska, built a cabin on a lake and pretty much lived by himself. The other was a big pictorial about an artist named Grandma Moses. She was a primitive/folk/outsider artist who was pretty “hot” a few decades back. As renowned for living to 101 as for her art. Lew

  34. @ Margaret – I’ll take a look for that article from the NYT. If it’s behind a pay wall, I can probably get it whole copy through my local library. Some of our larger branches carry the newspaper, magazine AND the book review. Take that, pay wall!

    The more I think about it, the more I think I’ve been spoiled by traveling retrospectives. Unless a museum starts early, and guesses right, I can’t really expect them to have an in depth collection by one artist or another.

    I was pretty miffed, a couple of years ago. The Seattle Art Museum had the traveling Wyeth / Helga exhibit. Well, there’s another museum in Seattle called the Frye. They have an extensive holding of Wyeths. All the Wyeths. Did they play off the Seattle exhibit and trot them out? No. I made quit a scene at the admissions desk. Security was called… Lew

  35. @ DjSpo – I don’t like to be photographed, either. When I moved into subsidized housing, a year ago, they had a photo board of all the Inmates. I refused to participate. I told them it would compromise my witness protection program. Had them going for awhile. Great fun. Then there were endless (to me) discussions of what to put in place of my picture. I suggested that a ruined barn would be appropriate. I think they settled on some generic trees.

    Hotter summers and frigid winters. You have a rough go, over there. As another thought, you might also look into the ethnobotany of your area. What plants the First Peoples, ate. Some could probably be cultivated. I bet your library has leads. Lew

  36. Chris,
    You’re right, I probably don’t need to figure it out. Just do and things will work out.

    Oh yes, the composted sand is getting darker each season. Very noticeably so, in fact.

    Watering routine? I quit mowing the lawns between late May and sometime in September so that it grows taller and protects the roots. 30% less water usage which is always done during cooler parts of the day, often when the lawn is noticeably drying. The veggies I let wilt during the day and water in the evenings. That’s working for some things, other things it’s just too hot or too many bugs or something.

    The smoke has gotten fabulously worse the past four summers. This increase in fires and smoke is part of the climate change forecast. So it will remain on this level more or less for some time. The fall weather pattern has come, though, so the worst is over for this year.

    I hear what you’re saying about saving seeds, etc. It makes sense, for sure. It’s on my list of Things Needed to Learn.


  37. @ Inge,
    Or perhaps you have different life experiences from me, different way of thinking than I do, so you see and know things that I don’t. In my experience, that make neither of us naïve, just different from one another. If that makes sense?

  38. @ Lew,

    A ruined barn would’ve been cool!

    My wife is Native American. So, for dietary reasons, I’ve tried to incorporate as many things that are at least similar to her People’s traditional diet into what we eat. (I enjoy cooking, so I get a lot of input into this as the cook.) Putting Natives on the Typical American Diet (TAD) is asking for diabetes and other nasty health issues. TAD is bad for everyone but worse for some groups.

    Your idea of growing some of the traditional plants for food is great. I’m ahead of you in this thinking. However, some things just won’t transplant. Huckleberries, for example, may be hundreds of subspecies that can only grow where they sprout. And they won’t sprout where their parents weren’t. They’ve been trying for decades to domesticate huckleberries at Washington State University. I’ve heard that there may be a domesticated variety, but I’m not sure.

    Camas and bitterroots were staples, also. My studies on those seem to be definitive that what I’m suspecting about huckleberries is true for these things. Service berries do great everywhere around here, but raspberries are just as easy to grow and taste better. I have a chokecherry tree and add these to breads, stews and chili.

    That said, I am exploring your idea more. Combined with what I’m finding with my containers kept under the patio roof and Chris’s ideas, I’m getting a glimmer of some paths to explore.


  39. Hi Pam, Inge, Lewis, and DJ,

    I had to do another day of work today which makes it an impressive eleven days in a row. That is a lot even for me. I reckon my brain has entered the land of grumpy as a result. Too much work and not enough fun makes for full brain and a dull Chris. I’m heading off to the pub this evening and promise to kill some brain cells but more importantly I promise to reply to your lovely comments tomorrow. 🙂

    Pam – Top thinking. Sticking to higher ground seems to be very good advice during such times. Stay safe and best of luck. And please don’t keep us all on tenterhooks!

    Lewis – I have no idea how so much work poured into the place in such a short period of time. As they say, it never rains but it pours.

    I did have a small win today and also a small loss. The water tank that was repaired recently under warranty has begun leaking again. Ouch. I’ll get onto them tomorrow when my brain feels clearer.

    I may have mentioned the ongoing problems with the garden water pumps over the years? Well over the past few months I’ve been using interweb videos to see what other people do and I noticed that a lot of places use a very basic spring loaded device which switches pumps on and off based on the pressure in the water.

    Anyway, I purchased one to have a look at and see whether I can modify it for DC power. Most of those devices are used with AC power – and where switching of power occurs, the difference is an entirely different beast. DC can arc with disastrous results. So it turned up in the mail, and lo and behold – the clever switch is rated for DC at low voltage for upto a quarter of a horsepower (about 185W). Was that mentioned anywhere in the specifications? Nope. But the notes under the lid of the device clearly suggest that it is possible. And best of all it is entirely mechanical so I can poke around with the device and watch and see how it works. Simple as. I took a break this afternoon and plugged it into the water line and it just worked beautifully. I call that a win because the pumps never fail – just the switches fail and that has driven me bananas because of the sheer waste. I’m going to get me some more of those devices. 🙂 Happy days. Problem solved.

    Now if only I could get the new water tank to stop leaking. I have a plan B with the leaking water tank, I just don’t want to have to implement it.



  40. Hi Chris,

    Busy again around here; been reading as usual but holding off on commenting. Hope to be a little more regular as the weather cools and the growing season winds down.

    We received about 3 inches (close to 80mm) of very timely rain last weekend due to the remnants of TS Gordon being brought into the area. The lawn greened up, which means I have to mow it again. More importantly, the autumn crops woke up from the rain and the cooler weather and are putting on good growth. I am most pleased with the lettuce seedlings. I had reseeded them late in August when we had a cool spell and they took reasonably well. They are still small but are growing quickly.

    Meanwhile, I am harvesting apples, persimmons, pawpaws, raspberries (I won’t tell you how many pounds I’ve gotten, you’ll probably ban me from commenting 😉 ), winter squash, and popcorn along with the tomatoes and beans that I’ve been harvesting for several weeks. This is when all the work over the past six months or so pays off in a big way.

    I began experimenting with wood ash in the garden when I planted the popcorn and the fall greens. Eventually I’ll have time to write it up for the blog, but other writing projects have intervened.

    I am fortunate to be in an urban enough area that no deer come in. Nor, so far, any bears or cougars, although both of these are found in Missouri. Frankly, I think one of the compensations for living in a city should be freedom from animals that prey on humans. But then again humans prey on each other … can’t get away from that.


  41. @ Inge – regarding your not noticing a warming climate so far, that may be because your climate is so heavily influenced by the ocean. Water can absorb a lot of heat while changing temperature only very slowly. The Atlantic Ocean acts as a climate buffer, creating a much milder and less varying climate than you’d otherwise experience at your latitude in an inland location. Any warming will therefore be less noticeable where you live for a longer time than in most any other location.

    I’ve been in St. Louis for 34 years, long enough to experience notable warming in the form of spring coming 2 to 3 weeks earlier than it did when I first moved here and autumn lingering 2 to 3 weeks longer. I see it in earlier flowering tree bloom and last frost in the spring and later leaf coloring and first frost in autumn. Because I live near the middle of a large continent, this area is among those where the effect of warming will be noticed early.


  42. Yo, Chris – Win, loose. The Universe is in balance, again :-).

    I had to wash a sleeping bag, for the retreat, so, that meant a trip to the (insert ominous music, here) laundromat. :-(. I hit the doors when they opened at 8am. There’s one not far from The Home. Carting along a book so I didn’t die of boredom.

    I had a delightful time! It was the guy who owns the place and then a young fellow came in (young to me. Of course, everyone is young to me.) and, in the course of our conversations, it turns out he’s In The Program. So, we had a rousing good time and conversation. Ever the optimist, I figure the day can only go downhill, from here. :-).

    I finished a book last night that was quit good. “The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World” (Brusatte, 2018). Brusatte is one of the younger, hip and with it, new breed of paleontologists. Quit informative and entertaining. Not overly academic. If anyone out there is looking for a Christmas gift for a dinosaur crazed 12 year old (and up), it might fill the bill.

    Speaking of dinosaurs, in the next week or two I should get, from the library, the new Jurassic Park movie, “Lost Kingdom.” That will be a real popcorn evening. It’s got volcanos! Lew

  43. @ Inge – Several of The Ladies, here at The Home have offered to change my dressing. Keeping my guard up and stepping lively, I graciously declined :-). I figure I can swing by the clinic or stop by The Club and find someone without too grubby of fingers willing to do the job.

    Not doing my due diligence. I heard part of an interview on the radio, yesterday, with an English woman author. Someone from your generation. She is quit well known, I think, as she has written several well received biographies of 19th and 20th century women. She’s finally got around to writing her own autobiography. I’ll rummage around and find more information. Lew

  44. @DjSpo – They might domesticate huckleberries, but how will they taste? Time will tell.

    I go to the occasional potluck. Every once in awhile, a Native American woman shows up and makes fry bread. Oh, so good and oh so bad for you. Especially smeared with homemade jam!

    If you’ve been lurking here, for awhile, you may have picked up that I also cook, a lot. I have about 300 “cookbooks.” But not just recipe books. Also books just about food. History and origin. What was going on in the kitchen and on the table at different times in history.

    I’m the kind of a cook that tries to stick to the recipe (really, I do!) the first time around. And then, I’m liable to improvise. Experiment. Fool around. Hmmm. Jazz cooking? Lew

  45. Hi Chris,

    I think he looks like an Ollie. Leo had his name at the shelter and we thought it fit plus he was already 5 years old and was quite used to it. Salve is the word “save” in Spanish. You may recall she was dumped on our road in the middle of winter and was in pretty bad shape. One of our daughters named her.

    I don’t think dogs’ eyesight is very good in general. Our dogs have barked at me as I was coming up the driveway until I talked to them. They quite often miss rabbits, chipmunks and squirrels if they aren’t moving.


  46. @Lew

    The article isn’t behind a paywall but you only get 10 free articles a month. I get kind of picky with them. Our library in town is pretty small so we don’t have many newspapers or periodicals at all. I get most of my materials through inter-library loan. I recently joined “friends of the library” which is made up of a bunch of older ladies. The library does a pretty good job with limited resources.


  47. @ Claire
    Thanks for interesting info. on climate change not perhaps showing up where I am. I have been puzzled by the fact that it doesn’t appear to be happening here.

    @ Lew
    I am glad that you can get your dressing dealt with without one of the ladies potentially over invading.
    Believe it or not, I don’t actually know what a podcast is but I do know of Claire Tomalin; I shall investigate further.


  48. Hi Pam,

    The bucks are perhaps very wise to take the pub option. It is not a bad call on their part. 🙂 Some species are just like that. Mind you, I went to the pub last night but also took the editor, so that doesn’t quite count as being the same. I reckon the buck was in the group in the photo as there was one deer that was just a lot bigger than the rest, but I couldn’t spot the antlers. It doesn’t stop them from eating the bark off my apples trees…

    Hope the storm isn’t too bad?

    It is a lovely story! I have interactions with magpies most days and they’re very intelligent birds. And I’m also really careful not to annoy them because they do swoop people in Melbourne (the inference being that they have somehow clearly annoyed them) and live for twenty years. Bike riders are particularly likely to get swooped, although I have no idea why the birds would be annoyed with bicycle riders?

    I’m not worried about any of the fluffy collectives eyesight. Dogs experience the world through their olfactory senses and the now deceased and sadly missed Sir Poopy managed to somehow kill two fox cubs only weeks before he went totally blind and then promptly died. Ollie is a happy dog and he is currently luxuriating on the green couch behind me. Every now and then he’ll make a little noise just so that I recall that he is there and I give him a little pat. He sure does look happy. Sir Scruffy is reclining at ease on a sheepskin on the floor. He too looks pretty happy. It is a dogs life!



  49. Hi Inge,

    I have no idea either, but perhaps for other reasons. I grew up without a dad and well you know, I just did my own thing. But having no instructions or guidance, I did have to observe other males quite closely to see how they negotiated situations. As an adult I still had a lot to learn, but read some very strange – but not unrelated – books on the marketing and the advertising industry and one notable book written by the US author Neil Strauss titled the Game. To be honest it appeared to me that that particular book was about people with very dubious goals pursuing them relentlessly. And I enjoyed the book because it gave me an awareness of the sort of social techniques that some people use in order to play social games – and I use that knowledge as a form of self defence. Those sorts of games are surprisingly common in all manner of circumstances, and I just ignore them, call them out, or don’t engage with them. Easy enough and confusing for the people who employ them.

    I agree, when there are surpluses sloshing around the societal feed trough, then specialising provides a distinct social advantage for those whom practice such a stance. Look at Carl Sagan making the dubious claim that Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. Why wouldn’t they just require ordinary evidence? Could Carl grow a turnip? Maybe? Possibly not now anyway. But he introduced a concept that gave him social leverage and prestige all the while handing him a sort of role of knowledge gatekeeper – and it went largely unchallenged.

    But then, when a society falls into deficit spending, then generalists can possibly keep a roof over heads and food upon the table. I fail to believe that our ancestors were that specialised. I read a story once about the number of plant identifications that people were historically required to be able to achieve, and not that many people these days could point to a plant, name it, and give some of its uses.

    Your son is facing a predicament. Way back in the day people used to confront that problem by taking a step backwards and taking on apprentices. It is a complex problem.



  50. @ Lew:

    I have tried and tried to figure out why you need a dressing. I missed something somewhere. At first I thought that the ladies there were going to help you dress, and by your previous descriptions of them I thought that that might not be to your taste . . . Perhaps you have had a skin thing removed? In any case, I hope whatever it is heals quickly.


  51. Chris:

    Yesterday was a lovely day, partly sunny and breezy. Today calls for rain – and the next three days, but it just looks to be regular rain, a bit of wind. Thanks for asking.


  52. Hi Lewis,

    No doubts the deer prefer the grains – and mineral rich produce here – too (it ain’t just you or your dad)! A lot of birds and animals that feed on the farm live in the nearby forest, but there just isn’t that much for them to eat and drink there, so they eat here. Mind you, there isn’t that much space for them all to live here, so they have to sleep in the forest. It is a winning combination. I just wish the deer would keep off the bark on my apple trees. And I hear you about the flavour as I’ve always felt that venison is a little bit gamey tasting for my palate. Kangaroo is quite tasty, but it must not be overcooked as it is a very lean meat and it can get a bit rubbery.

    Don’t we all? Hehe! It is a great line and I plan to rip it blindly in the future. 🙂 The advice about the Brother in Law’s advice is outstanding. Mate, I get people telling me that they took advice from a taxi driver and so it must be true. Long ago I learned that people appear to be comfortable when any advice – valid or otherwise – concord’s with their preconceived opinions. It is quite amazing to behold, but I’ve seen it in action on more than a few times.

    I’ve heard the joke before about the mountain lion. Bad Lewis, but it is pretty funny! 🙂 Mate, you can seriously keep those animals in your part of the world. The editor and I were sitting in the orchard this evening monitoring the chickens and remarking upon the difficulties of having to confront bears, cougars, mountain lions etc. whilst just sitting out in the orchard. Fortunately all we have to worry about are deadly snakes, spiders and scorpions. They’re all equally lethal, although the thought of being ripped apart limb by limb by a grumpy bear is quite frightening. I expect that the range of deadly wildlife will extend markedly should humans ever let their guard down for but a brief moment.

    What a laugh. I’ve seen advertisements about the place suggesting something along the lines that fake news is not our friend. Whatever the heck that means.

    As a suggestion, don’t bump into folks wearing camo gear in your part of the world. They may take umbrage at the joke that you didn’t see them. You rarely see it worn down here. For some reason during winter the majority of people in Melbourne wear black clothes. It is more true than not for some strange reason. Even I wear a black woollen jacket during winter. I can’t wear the vintage sheepskin jacket in Melbourne because, well the reasons are complex and mysterious…

    Ha! I’ll look for the mythical break from work which may have fallen behind the couch along with our misspent youth! 🙂 Far out, we made the final concrete step this morning, and then went to pick up the timber for the shed from a hardware store in a nearby town. Timber yards are very blokey experiences. Lately I’ve struggled sourcing second hand timber, so I went with engineered glued and laminated beams. Those are made from scraps and I’m cool with, but more importantly they’re treated for termite resistance, and there is an ant colony near that new shed. Needless to say that the ants are grumpy with us. Ants here are always grumpy and will attack even if not provoked.

    Alone in the wilderness sounds like an interesting read. Is that actually a possibility in that part of the world? There are remote places down under where it might be possible in a less extreme climate than Alaska too, but the authorities may still flush such people out without prior warning all the same.

    As they say down here, it is a good innings (a cricket reference for the batsman who has scored a goodly amount of runs generally beyond eighty and well into the nervous nineties (another cricket reference, sorry)) that Grandma Moses achieved. I took a good look at her works and there is something of the air of the enjoyment of life sketched into that art. From all accounts she did it tough in her early years.

    It is nice that balance has been restored to the Universe because now I can rest easy again in the comfort that no system is perfect and every single one of them will break down sooner or later. The trick is trying to delay the breaking down bit! That is not easy. On another note, having minor problems with the water system is an easier situation than what two of the semi-regular commenters here are dealing with in terms of drought. If they travelled here they’d claim I was in the middle of rainforest compared to their situations…

    Ominous music is appreciated – as are the large gas dryers at the Laundromat! Hehe! I’ve had plenty of Laundromat experience in my life as that is part and parcel of living in small flats. But what a social score in meeting someone you can have a good conversation with. I reckon you have touched upon the usual communication channels in rural areas as I get a lot of conversation like that. It is good fun! It is also nice to read that the experience was enjoyable.

    I’m curious about the dinosaurs because they’ve found evidence that dinosaurs lived down in Antarctica with special adaptions to the cold. I wonder how much we actually know about the diversity of dinosaurs that lived all those years ago. I can’t quite recall where but someone made a suggestion that the dinosaurs weren’t doing so great when the meteorite hit the planet all those millions of years ago. Is that thought one that I should eject or does it have some basis in fossil evidence? Mind you, the chickens often look as though they have an alien intelligence, and if you ever observed them encountering a colony of field mice – wow, it’s brutal, but you can see the chickens sizing the situation up before moving on in.

    Go the popcorn and I do hope that no children endanger the rest of the humans in the story line? I saw a preview for the film and it looked awesome. I look forward to an entertaining review.

    When is the retreat? And you were perhaps very wise to decline the offers for help with the dressings. Unless of course you wanted to reciprocate the assistance at some point in the future? It is a complex situation.



  53. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, I reckon it is a bit late in the game for figuring things out, and I can’t speak for your part of the world, but nothing is safe or sure – that I know for sure! 😉 Do you have risk from wildfire in your part of the world? I may be wrong but isn’t it a bit drier where you are than along the coast, and that can be a problem.

    Good stuff with the darker sand. Yeah, nice work. I’m finding that the more organic matter I get into the ground, the more the topsoil looks like a sort of black loam/sand. Most plants love that stuff, and are you noticing over time that your plants require less water? I find that hard to remember because I keep adding more water storage every year.

    I like your grass watering routine because that is how it works in nature. A bit risky during high summer because of the fires, so I chop and drop it in late spring / early summer and let the soil bugs have a good feed on the surface organic matter, as well as the roots of the plants (plants drop off roots in the soil when they’re cut above the ground). Down here the first nation folks used to do what you’re doing and then burn the grass on a three year cycle. I’m watching a local farm which has done that and the results are better than what I’m getting here despite adding the compost and other mineral additives (coffee grounds in quantity) etc…

    I’ve been reading the Cliff Mass blogspot about the smoke you’ve endured this year and it sounds epic.

    Hey, with the seed saving, I can’t speak for you, but we work out what plants we want to eat and also grow well here, and then begin slowly with each plant. Don’t laugh, but plants tell stories and if you’re interested in saving seed, you sort of have to know their story. But then, you could just save the seed too!



  54. Hi Claire,

    Your words and photos show that you have a delightful and productive garden, and I totally hear you, they take do work! 🙂

    It is amazing to watch everything grow when there is a good dump of rain at the tail end of summer. I reckon the warm soil and huge volumes of water just kick start everything growing. Glad to read that you are going to get some fall crops.

    I’m a bit worried here, because the weather report says snow down to 500m tomorrow (I’m at 700m) and today was like the perfect warm spring day. I worry for the almonds and apricots which are in full bloom today…

    Hehe! Stop it! Hehe! Raspberries are indeed good berries and I’m now salivating thinking of your excellent harvest. Do you freeze them or preserve them in other ways? We turn a lot of the berries into wine which is tasty stuff – and blackberry or even blackcurrant wine is outstanding. The raspberries here are just beginning to put on leaves over the last week. What a delightful sounding harvest. Great work. The work does pay off doesn’t it?

    The wood ash is a great idea. Out of curiosity, did you get another soil analysis done this year?

    The animals are clearly interchangeable! Far out. The stuff here is small and deadly, but your lot is really hands (or should that be fangs and claws on?). At some point in the future, wildlife will surely extend its reach. No doubts about it.



  55. Hi Margaret,

    He does look like an Ollie doesn’t he? I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I spent less than a couple of seconds thinking about his name. 🙂 All the same, he doesn’t care one way or another. Sometimes I reckon shelters make animal names up for older dogs and I have had more than a few that don’t recognise their names so called them what suited me, mind you dogs are really quick to learn new things when it is in their interests to do so.

    What a nice story that was about Salve and his naming. 🙂 Lovely!

    Exactly, that is what alerted me about Ollie’s eyesight, in that from a distance he didn’t recognise me and then like your dogs he ran at me. Fortunately his brain, nose and ears seem to operate slightly faster than his legs (marginally) because he heard me and had to slow his pace. No wonder he gets into contact with the local wildlife. Oh well. Yours in good advice: Call out to them.



  56. Hi Pam,

    That is a relief and yes there are benefits to living on the side of a mountain! What a change from last year as you are enjoying some very good rain this summer. Hope the garden is going well.



  57. Hello again
    I assume, that in the distant past, intelligent (specialists) took up a religious role e.g. seer/witch doctor.
    With regard to plant knowledge these days, I am horrified at the ignorance of the urban young.

    I thought that Carl Sagan had been challenged or maybe he wasn’t considered worthy of challenge.


  58. Yo, Chris – The Club has opened (as a fund raiser) a spot in the neighboring flea market. Apparently, I’m the unofficial Appraiser of Treasures / Smasher of Dreams of Great Wealth. They came up with a book by Byron, that they had great hopes for. $3. On a good day. There is a Dali lithograph from the Literary Guild. I think they’re hoping for thousands. Mmm. Current market value is about $100. I did, quietly, pick up a first edition of “Neverending Story.” I don’t know if it’s worth anything. But, for $1, I can take a flyer. Hmmm. I may be presented with a moral quandary, from time to time. Quietly score or tip them off to real value?

    All that black in winter. Maybe they’re in mourning for summer? Were there black arm bands involved?

    The meteorite theory is pretty well established and accepted.

    They figure it was about the size of Mt. Everest. The author has a great narrative of what it would have been like from a dinosaur eye’s view. Not a good day for the dinosaurs.

    The retreat is the last weekend of the month. I’ll go dark for about three days. I’ll let you know when I’m pulling the plug.

    My neighbors dog, Princess, has quit the wardrobe. Mostly gifts from the other Ladies. Besides the security tat, she has tartan winter coats, Halloween costumes, Fourth of July kit and even a little black Motorcycle Mama bit of black leather. She doesn’t “do” hats, but apparently likes to play dress up. Lew

  59. @ Pam – Cyst or abscess (boil?) on my back. No big deal. Have had problems, in the past. Finally having it attended to, properly. Lew

  60. @ Margaret – Friends of the Library groups can be quit effective. It was odd, when I worked for Timberland, some branches had Friends groups that were dynamic and had rolled on, for years. Other branches just never seemed to be able to get them off the ground.

    Friends groups can be great for funding things on a libraries wish list. Things they would like to have, but can’t afford. Everything from maybe, giving the furniture a good clean to subscriptions to magazines, to prizes for kids summer reading programs. Friends groups have even pulled off funding new library buildings. Lew

  61. @ Lew: I was that dinosaur crazed youngster many years ago, so when I read your comment with the title for the new book on dinosaurs, I promptly requested it from the library system here. And they actually have a couple of copies so I will receive it soon.

    @ Chris – yes, I got another soil analysis and put the wood ash on in an amount to accord with it. I am planning a number of different blog posts, including a five year look at the soil analyses and how they have and haven’t changed. Have to finish the other writing projects first, however.

    We have eaten most of the raspberries but I am making raspberry cordial out of two quarts/liters of them.

  62. @Pam
    Glad things are OK where you are. My BIL lives near Charlotte and another friends lives near Charleston SC. The friend in Charleston is in for a rough time.


  63. Hi Chris,

    We have most of our venison turned into sausage. It’s mixed with pork and other spices – very tasty. Keeps well in the freezer so it’s handy when we have to bring a snack to someone’s house. We spent several hours with our new neighbors across the street. They’re a bit older than us – mid 70’s and have been there for 19 years. They seem pretty nice and friendly. They have over 40 acres and have even put in a couple ponds. Our neighbors next door have six kids and the oldest is nine. They are very well behaved. As they are home schooled I wonder if that is at least part of the reason. These are the only two homes close to us.

    After all the rain we had recently the mosquitoes are terrible. I went over to the apple orchard nearby and picked some raspberries and blackberries this morning. It wasn’t too pleasant as I was constantly battling mosquitoes. Then I thought I’d do another hour or two pulling down grapevines and wild cucumber out of the trees – same thing battling mosquitoes. Much to my joy I have also found we have quite a bit of stinging nettle too. I wasn’t familiar with pokeweed but I am now as we have a fair amount of that. Not sure what to think about it as there are varying opinions. It’s apparently native but can be quite invasive. Berries and roots are poisonous but not to the birds who love the berries. I think I’m just going to watch it and try to not let it get out of control.

    Do you think Ollie’s hearing is worse than your other dogs?


  64. @ Lew,
    Agreed, the flavor of domestic huckleberries, if any, may not be what’s hoped for.

    Jazz cooking? Love the name! A close friend is nearly a gourmet chef. My cooking gets a lot of enhancements from him, to say the least. His mantra? “I like to play with my food.”
    One of my wife’s favorites is something I call “Who Hash”. Ya know, “The Grinch stole the last can of Who Hash.” It’s leftover meat, chopped up veggies, heated together with whatever herbs I feel like adding, served over rice. It’s never the same twice.


  65. @ Chris,

    One of my mottoes is “There is one immutable law of the universe: change happens.” Adapting, however, is the constant challenge.

    Forest fire danger where I live is minimal, as I live in the city. However, I grew up 2 miles west of here, on the edge of town. There’s a large natural park just down the bluff from there on both sides of the Spokane River. There was a big fire through that 18 years ago? The neighborhood was given a mandatory evacuation order when the fire jumped the river. Flying embers from a fire in that area could possibly ignite dry areas or rooftops in my part of town maybe.

    My soils improvements haven’t quite gotten to the point where less water is required for the vegetables. I’m hoping…

    I like Cliff Mass. The greater Seattle/Puget Sound aka Salish Sea region did have an epic year for smoke. Over here on the dry side, it’s about what 3 of the past 4 years have been like. Although air quality set a record for badness 1 time this year, 2015 was worse. That year over 400,000 burned up in two fires that converged in the mountains east of Omak, Washington. We had 3 solid weeks where it was difficult to see more than 200 meters or so, often less.

    Spokane averages 16.5″ of rain per year. The change is that we rarely get thunderstorms after June, so really no rain from the middle of June, or even late May, until sometime in October. The November through April rain and snow season is wetter, though.

    I figure with seed saving, the story is at least as important as the technical aspect. Listening to the plants and the earth is required, in my opinion. Hard to learn but very necessary and rewarding.


  66. Hi Inge,

    I reckon you are onto something with that thought and I’m not really sure at all myself. I have heard Mr Greer suggest that the outsiders of a group often take up those roles in society and you may be both talking to the same observation. But, I don’t see those roles being filled these days so I can’t really speak for that story. It is a bit of a loss to us all really.

    Me too. It is a total disgrace. And nothing more or nothing less than that! On the other hand agriculture is often presented as far harder work that it actually is. My experience is that it is financially unrewarding, but I pursue it because there are other metrics that the economists fail to take note of. Now I did spot an interesting article about an old orchardist down this way which I thought you might enjoy: Propagating a dream.

    I’ve got more than a couple of dozen apple trees all happily growing here and none of them have ever gotten me out of bed at 2am, so I’d have to suggest that there may be a possible element of the insomniac to that story? Dunno. I sleep soundly and require at least eight to nine hours sleep per night, but other people differ in that regard. I would not work well with such people. But also people can often present these stories in unappealing ways in order to get rid of the tyre kickers and that maybe a form of test by the old guy? Dunno.

    Yeah, Carl was a good and enjoyable presenter and I really enjoyed his series Cosmos and I salute his use of the turtleneck, but I baulked at that particular claim and I reckon he was smart enough to know what he was doing.



  67. Hi Lewis,

    Many thanks for the introduction of the most outrageous character of Lord Byron. My education in the classics is sadly lacking. Ah, I see that he himself embodied the mythos of the ancient Greeks themselves as he not only travelled and lived there whilst taking up their causes, but was a larger than life character that would have formed an excellent Greek tragedy story of his own, if only because hubris lead him to the sad state of nemesis. His passions were clearly many and varied, and I note that he formed strong attachments to animals. I could not but help read about those animal references feeling that he had known those animals souls well. Far out, but did he burn bright or what? Of course that would have left others behind to wonder what the heck had just happened! 🙂 What a character.

    Salvador Dali’s work to my eyes is an indirect swipe at a particular message and perhaps his subtler motifs are beyond my understanding in his artworks. I quite enjoy reality.

    Hey, that Never-Ending story had a seriously catchy ear worm of a theme song. I don’t know, but for some reason – and for much the same reasons that I ignored the Harry Potter stories – I avoided watching that particular film. But, I tell ya, I heard the ear worm of a theme song played on the radio more than it perhaps merited. And I can hear it in my head right now! 🙂 Noooo!

    Ha! The answer to your moral quandary could thus be expressed in the crude and base language of: “what’s in it for you? And are their downsides to your opportunities?” If there are only upsides, well, go for it, but rarely is this the case… Hehe!

    I doubt their thoughts run so deep. Now, a quick interweb search produced a few comments upon the winter style of Melbourne black, but then there were also articles about crims, football clubs and gangs. Needless to say winter is a dark time down here, and so you may well be right and the population is in mourning.

    I’m in mourning tonight. The temperature outside right now is 34’F and I really hope I don’t lose any almond or apricot blossoms to the inevitable frost tomorrow morning… Agriculture is a tough gig.

    What a rabbit hole all that meteorite business lead me into. And what surprised me was how small the meteors were to have such a big impact. Mind you Mount Everest falling out of the sky would be the final thing that you would see – if you were around to see it. Many years ago I was in an outdoor cinema watching the film ‘Deep Impact’ and little did I know that the cinema was in the direct flight path of a nearby airport. Now I never know whether the cinema owners did this deliberately or what, but at one point in the film with the meteor crashing towards the Earth, a large plane suddenly flew low and overhead. Talk about making me jump out of my deck chair.

    Absolutely not a good day for them at all – anywhere on the planet. And consuming sludge and detritus for the next few years would have been a bit yuk. I suspect that the surviving herbivores were eaten by the carnivores who then promptly died of starvation. But animals that could survive on any old sort of rubbish – and I note that the dogs and local birds can happily consume manures – well they may have fared much better. Certainly takes the phrase: ‘doing whatever it takes’ to the whole next level.

    Thanks for letting me know and I do hope you enjoy the retreat. Such things are good for the soul.

    Princess (and her human) sounds as if she were quite the character which is befitting of the breed. I get the tartan, but motorcycle gear? In a strange twist of fate, I have ridden upon the Christmas motorcycle run (which is a huge mass motorbike charity run) and I have seen some owners with dogs sitting on non-slip covers (whilst being suitably chained) over their petrol tanks and the dogs didn’t seem to care at all. I gave up the motorbike after having commuted for over a decade in the inner city and having used up my nine lives during that time. Sometimes like the gambler, you gotta know when to run…

    I picked up some second hand building materials for the new shed today and talk about second-flation, some materials are very cheap, and others are more expensive than new. And the quality difference is not that great between new and old. The experience has left me scratching my head. It maybe like the recreation buildings at Pompeii in that they probably cost more the second time around… There may be less of them around as people find it easier to junk stuff than resell it, or maybe people buy the second hand stuff to create a look. Dunno. What do you reckon?



  68. Hi Claire,

    I’ll be very interested and look forward to reading your essays about the soil analysis over the years. The wood ash is a good idea. The temperature has now fallen to 34’F / 1’C and I’m nervously waiting upon the morrow to see how the almond and apricot blossoms fare. At least the wood heater keeps me in a good supply of wood ash (potassium and lime they tell me).

    I caught mention of your endeavours and I was very impressed at the initiative. It is good stuff and something to be proud of. 🙂

    Enjoy your raspberries and they are one of the tastiest of all berries. Shop bought ones are only a minor experience of the home grown varieties.



  69. Hi Margaret,

    That’s clever mixing up the venison with pork and spices. I’m salivating thinking about the food. Yum! Had a pie with beef cooked in amber beer for lunch today and that was excellent. And just the thing for a cold day. Yesterday was a warm spring day, today it hailed and sleeted… Weather! Good to see that you’ve met all of the neighbours now and that they all seem nice and respectful. Acreage has that effect on people I reckon, but yeah, home schooling can be a good experience. Like anything home schooling depends I guess. I think it is a good option. The problem I always see in such a scenario is at the end of the day, how does one family split the farm? I really don’t know the answer to that story and haven’t seen too many good examples.

    40 acres is a good amount of land, and ponds are always excellent. Ponds are a problem here due to the soil being too well drained. I saw a local using an excavator to line their dam with clay bentonite which is pretty good. Some people use plastic liners for ponds, but they have a short life span. Do you have any ponds on your property? How are the bees settling in and do they have much to eat?

    Ouch, mosquitoes can be pretty bad. Yup. In bad years I keep an insect spray which you spray on your exposed skin readily to hand. Fortunately there are few bad years, and maybe this one is an exception for you? I often wonder about mosquitoes in the aftermath of storms like the sort you are seeing along your east coast. Dunno. I’m not aware of any diseases spread by mosquitoes here, but from the border north and upwards where it is warmer, yup they can bring fevers.

    On a positive note, stinging nettle soup was considered to be a good early spring tonic… It takes time to learn the land and its plants and then work out which parts of it you want to control. I struggle with that too and have no idea, but am getting clearer thoughts on the matter as I spend more time here.

    All that organic matter is probably the sign of good soils and that is a good thing. How does the place compare to your previous digs?

    Nope, Ollie’s hearing is good, it is just his eyesight isn’t as good as the other dogs that I have known over the years. It happens. Toothy is deaf as and it doesn’t seem to bother him much at all…



  70. Hi DJ,

    Don’t you reckon it is hard to know when to change? Most people are pretty comfortable and so what we do here looks pretty unappealing to most people, just from what I’ve observed anyway.

    Wow! West of Spokane is pretty heavily farmed. Interesting, and I can see the reserve on the map that you described. Despite the river it looks like pretty dry country in that part of your state to my eyes and the average rainfall number that you quoted does not make for encouraging reading. You might be interested to know that down here there are evacuations but they’re voluntary rather than mandatory. In fires people have to make their own choices here – and preferably well before hand – as to whether to stay and defend or go early. It would be hard to enforce a mandatory evacuation.

    Embers are a real risk, and they’re what usually ignite roofs and burns houses. I’ve heard people say that houses explode, and that may be occasionally so, but generally they burn from the roof down – and it only takes a few minutes.

    Go hard with the organic matter and you will be rewarded. The more the merrier too. How much do you reckon is a lot of organic matter over what sort of area?

    I assume you mean 400,000 acres of land burnt that year? I hear you though as we get smoke down here during summer too, and some of the fires in some years can be epic in size. I for one wish we would manage our forests better, but you know ground is slowly being gained in that regard and I read some interesting things recently about the far east of the state: Traditional landowners to take on park management in Victorian first.

    Exactly, knowing the story of the plant tells you a lot more about the plant than simply knowing the technical side of things. And don’t you reckon that stories are more visceral and lasting ways of preserving memories?



  71. Chris:

    Hail and sleet – my goodness! You are having a weird season. Weather here same as yesterday, bit of wind, bit of rain. I don’t even want to look at what it is doing in the Carolinas.


  72. Hi Pam,

    The weather sure went from one warm extremity earlier in the week to another today. 34’F outside right now… Brr!

    Glad that the storm hasn’t brought much more than a bit of rain and wind. 🙂 There hasn’t been much reporting from there, but that can mean much and not much. I read that one location received 76cm of rain which is I believe 29.9 inches. That is so much rain in a short period of time that I wouldn’t know what to do. It is way outside my experience, but I know that it can’t be good.

    The most I’ve ever seen here in a short period of time is 4 inches of rain in one hour – and that was epic. Over about 5 days I once experienced 10 inches of rain – and that was like Noah flooding epic, and this part of the mountain range was cut off because the local river which drains this area flooded a bridge and road. I saw a car stuck in the water and there was no way I was going in to help them as I couldn’t even see where the road or bridge was. They didn’t seem in any danger (as they were far over on the other side) other than flood damage to their car and of course damage to the ego…

    What sort of epic rain have you experienced in your part of the world?



  73. @ DjSpo – I also call my, whatever-I-do-in-the-kitchen, vibration cooking. If it looks right, smells right and tastes right, well, it’s ok by me. I’m not so much a gourmet cook (I don’t think) but I’m well aware of the classics. The stocks and some of the sauces are valuable. But the cookbooks I gravitate to, no matter what culture or time period, seem to be about what the “just plane folks” are cooking up.

    Quit a few years ago, there were a couple of books that came out called “White Trash Cooking.” In a probably misplaced spasm of political correctness, I always avoided those books. Recently, another author commented that the motto (?) of those books was “Give it a whirl and see if it works.” Sentiments I could paint on my kitchen wall. Or, maybe a nice embroidered sampler :-). Of course, now that I want to take a look at them, after years of seeing piles of them at used book sales, they have disappeared off the used market. I’ll stumble across a cheap used copy, in good shape, sooner or later.

    You’re wife’s hash reminds me of what the bulk of my cooking is. I always keep a big bowl of long grain brown rice in the fridge. (Doesn’t everyone?). I’ll take a bit of that and start tossing in “stuff.” Whatever is in the fridge, freezer, or kicking around the kitchen counter that look in danger of “going south.” Sometimes, I’ll whip in a few eggs and fry it up as patties. Before I went on a weight loss kick, I’d top it with cheese and plane yogurt. Now I use half a can of diced tomatoes and hot sauce.

    It’s just a relaxed, “fooling around in the kitchen”. Chris has a video of bread making, over at YouTube. Anyone who’s leery of bread making should watch it. It’s just so … relaxed and meditative. Dare I say, Zen? :-). Lew

  74. Yo, Chris – Before I forget, I ran across an article on the economy, 2008 and present, and why we may have another go around of same, maybe worse, this time. I found it pretty clear and well thought out. Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) and bundled loans. Worth a look.

    Byron was an interesting fellow. A celebrity, before Twitter. It can be done, without Facebook. :-). And his circle was interesting. You may have heard of the famous “haunted” summer of 1814. There’s been a couple of movies. Byron rented the Villa Diodati near Lake Geneva. And, invited in a lot of “fun” friends. That date may ring a bell. The Year Without Summer. It rained, they were bored. So, Byron proposed a contest. Who could come up with the best Gothic/horror story. Mary Shelly cranked out “Frankenstein.” A Dr. John Polidori came up with a vampire yarn. Not much known now, but Bram Stoker later ripped a good bit of it off for his “Dracula.” Byron was too busy corridor creeping to come up with anything. There’s a new Mary Shelley movie out. I’ve got it on hold at the library.

    I don’t care much for Dali’s art, either. But, he was a real self promotor, and knew how to really “work” the media. One of the first. And the Art World took notice of his methods. However, years ago I saw a Dali designed jewelry exhibit. Jewelry and “precious objects” of little use. All bejeweled and valuable metals. Three items stick in mind. A gold mesh and rubies heart … that beat. Bejeweled (everything was bejeweled) enamel flowers that slowly opened and closed. And, a large elephant (well, the body and head) on stork legs. Cont.

  75. Cont. Speaking (writing?) of things that stick in the mind, I never had trouble with the theme song of “Neverending Story” sticking in my head. So insipid and vapid. I’d suggest a good dose of Kenny Roger’s “The Gambler” to knock it right out of your head. Listen twice and call me in the morning. :-). The first edition of NES, by the way, is only $25 on the open market. On a good day.

    I hit a few of the Op-shops, yesterday. Found a few books for The Home’s library and a few for me. No “treasures”. Except I picked up a small pottery owl. It was marked Pigeon Forge Pottery. Which rang a small bell, somewhere in my head. So, as it was only $1.50 and would look good in the avery in the corner of my bedroom, I took a flyer. Turned out to be ok. They were in Tennessee from the late 1940s to 2000. Owls, like mine, sell on E-Bay for between $25-$50.

    We’ve had 3″ of rain in 72 hours. An inch and a half of that came down in one hour, yesterday afternoon. Quit the deluge. After I walk Princess every night, her owner and I sit out for awhile. To use that fine old Victorian term, “take the air.” Sometimes, some of the other Ladies come and go. But last night was really interesting, weather wise. Banks of fog would come and go. Quit interesting and pretty. If we stay out too late, Princess gives us “what for.” I think a translation would be, “I’m bored, I’m tired, it’s time to go to bed!”

    The second hand market is very … what the traffic will bear. Or plane deluded. I’ve noticed the Op-Shops have been jacking their prices up, a bit. Some of them. But that can be a dangerous game. I noticed one that has been through a spasm of price increases, recently, was closed yesterday. Patience pays.

    My friend in Idaho sent me a picture, yesterday, of two really nice turned wood newell posts. She rescued them from someone’s burn pile. Free is the best price to pay. :-). She’ll incorporate them into one of her art projects.

    I was looking at a book, recently, on Arts and Crafts Style in the Pacific Northwest. Old pictures of show rooms stuffed with furniture, pottery and lighting fixtures. And, I wondered, “Where did all that stuff go?” A lot to the dump and burn pile, I’m sure. Things get broken.

    Yesterday, I got pretty excited for a minute. I found a large, Brayton Laguna pottery vase. I was excited until I noticed the big crack right down the side. Later on, I was checking out a couple of interesting pottery birds, trying to make out the impressed mark with the magnifying glass I now have to carry with me. Then I noticed a wing tip was broken off. Back it went on the shelf, and I could dismiss the mystery from my mind. Lew

  76. Hello again
    Thanks for the article ‘Propagating a dream’; what a story! Specialist or obsessive? Though I expect that they are often one and the same thing. I was left feeling admiration for his wife.
    I have been having trouble with my landline phone and it has finally been sorted and I have a new line. So that was great; but then, as is the way of life, bang a very unwanted phone call. There is endless talk of a complete coastal footpath here and they have been looking hungrily at my land. So on Wednesday someone is coming to look. There was a reference to the letter that I had supposedly received; I have had no letter. The glorious Summer is now a bad thing as the land is nice and dry, usually anyone looking would be wading through a swamp. I am not happy.


  77. Chris,
    Yes, knowing when to change IS hard. Then it seems like many people overdo the change to an extreme; so knowing how much to change can be just as hard as knowing when to change. Another of life’s adventures, I guess.

    Most of Washington east of the Cascade Mtns is agricultural or else forest. A large part of the area, say from Grand Coulee Dam south to Oregon about 70 miles in width is irrigated via projects that take water from the Columbia River. The Moses Lake area is the nation’s largest producer of potatoes. Get 30 miles west of Spokane and the annual rainfall is about 10 inches. No Columbia River water, no agriculture.

    That 400,000 acre set of fires (thanks for catching the typo) burned a lot of homes and about half of the town of Pateros. A lot of people chose to ignore the mandatory evacuation orders, including a lot of my wife’s family. It was very scary for several weeks, to say the least.

    Thanks to the link. Interesting article. More of that needs to happen, IMO.


  78. cont. As to amount of organic matter needed hereabouts? What I’ve read is that for every pound of harvest, a pound of added organic material is required in order to replace and keep even. That means 30 pounds or so to stay even. Between a few grass clippings, a plethora of leaves, plus vegetative matter from the kitchen, I figure I’m adding 60 pounds to the compost pile every year.

    That said, I’ve found that digging half or more of the autumn’s leaf “harvest” directly into the garden patches is necessary, with additional amounts of compost from the pile added at planting time.

    My physics background leads to an interesting tidbit. A conclusion of Quantum Physics is that relationships between whatever the physicist is studying are important. But this is sort of an underlying fundamental idea to, say, Taoism as well as with most indigenous cultures. It also appears to have been fundamental to our early Celtic and Germanic ancestors. Thus, relearning what was lost some 1,000 years ago, give or take, is needed. My gardening is better when I relate with the earth and the seeds and plants, etc. Ditto with cooking.

    I was talking to one of the master carvers in the local wood carving club today about a project I want to do. He said to set the wood where I can see it, like maybe next to the tv, and just look at it, touch it, listen to it, so that the wood and I will work together on the project. Basically, relate to the wood, not simply know how to use the tools.

    Relating leads to knowing the story. As you suggested, the stories are better ways of preserving knowledge, true knowledge, than simply knowing the technical parts. At least I’m finding that’s the case for me.


  79. @ Lew,
    The jazz cooking or vibrational cooking, well, I think maybe it works because you understand the food and the ingredients, etc. It’s a relationship. Sometimes something doesn’t work, but a lot of new attempts at cooking do because of how you or I relate to the ingredients, and have related to them for decades.

    Rice patties with eggs? Yummy. It’s the time of year I try to keep slow cooked dried beans in the fridge. More experimentation with them is in store this year.


  80. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the link to the article and I was aware of the situation and most of the details, although offshoring the transactions was a new one to me. It is quite clever really. However, it is funny that you mention such business, but I was going to write about economics this evening. I had an original thought about the situation and wanted to mention it to you, but then it slipped away before I could put it into text.

    I’ve never been on Facebook, but in a weird turn of events I was apparently once stalked by a relative on Facebook – albeit they tried to chase me down through that method via a friend. It was all very strange, they could have just sent me an email, but then that would be normal behaviour…

    Yes, I can see how such a character as Byron would be easily distracted and spend time getting up to mischief rather than writing. But then, his works sure did shock the public, and whilst I have not read Don Juan, the work itself carries cultural weight and I am aware of the tone of the content without having even read it. And it is reputed to be amusing. That bloke had powers and he used them, but I do wonder whether he got to a point in his life where he said to himself: “How the heck did life get so complex all of a sudden?” Although on reflection, he may not have been that self-aware? I was aware of his relationship with Mary Shelley, but did not know that about Dr. John Polidori and Bram Stokes. Interesting!

    I feel bad about writing that about Salvador’s art too because I could not achieve such greatness, but then I look at the work and my mind says that he deliberately blends disparate motifs and it jars with my mind. I don’t enjoy his work. So, not a fan either. The media is for sale, so I guess it can be worked if one knows how, or could be bothered learning.

    Haha! I shall take your advice and stick to the honest tale of the gambler and blow the fluff of the NES out of my brain. But then, you ended the paragraph with a sentence about the NES, and now the ear worm is continuing… 🙂

    Mate, the second hand market is confusing down here, and I suspect that it is because items are getting thrown into landfill and there may not be that much stuff around in the first place. Way back in the day there used to be businesses that dismantled houses and recovered as many materials as they could. But the land required for such an activity, then the labour to get the materials back into saleable condition, and then being able to re-sell the stuff at a profitable margin appears to have become a questionably economic activity. The last place I visited, the guy tried to charge me higher than new prices and that story makes no sense. I did note that he now has a business for sale sign up on the gate.

    What a deluge in such a short period of time! Taking the air is a bit like the old school act of Promenading. The editor and I used to promenade around the streets of the inner city at night with the dogs (and we still do from time to time minus the dogs of course for practical reasons), and it was like a ghost town – still is. But you sure could see the flicker of blue emanating out of some of the houses… I’m not into that story, and never acquired the habit in the first place. Life seemed somehow more interesting to me. No doubts it is I who is wrong on that score.

    Free is the best. Remember the free song: If it is free, it’s for me, and I’ll have three! Can’t go wrong with that song unless you are a hoarder and then things can go wrong badly. And turned and carved timber posts are a real art form. I’ve seen them covered in all manner of carved little creatures. I could take up such an art form if I suddenly ran out of projects here…

    Yup, nothing lasts forever, and like your supposition, I suspect that some of those items were broken, dumped or burnt. I recall the cultural cringe about all things in the past which reared its ugly head in the late 70’s / early 80’s. It was a bit sad. I picked up a second hand (never used) window today from an old bloke and I reckon he felt a bit embarrassed to be selling it. Of course it was in a new housing estate so I guess appearances have to be maintained…

    A true find for you which was just out of reach because of the damage to the wing. Oh well, better luck next time.

    I wired up the new water pressure switch today and I must say I’m very impressed with the item. Unfortunately, I now know that there is another problem with that particular water system. Yup, tracking down problems in complex systems is a real skill… I now have another step though, and can rule out one aspect of the water system. 🙂

    I better get writing…



  81. Hi Inge,

    It was a lovely story wasn’t it? I agree with you, and the line is a fine line indeed and very difficult one to understand where the boundaries may lay.

    I know an old couple around here who run a small holding and they told me once that their kids weren’t interested in the place. I buy produce from them in season. The inference was that the kids planned to sell the farm off once the parents were, well, elsewhere. The thing is how do you replace several decades of growth on productive fruit trees? The economic value of such things is simply not there in peoples minds. But it is real and cannot be easily undone.

    Glad to read that the problems with your landline were finally sorted out. That story has been ongoing for a few years now.

    Ouch. It all depends upon what obligations you have to that path, and honestly if you don’t ask what is in it for you, the local council will think that you are a sucker. They’ll happily take from you and I’m no fan of that lot down here because they jack up their property taxes as high as they legally can every year. If I could vote myself a pay rise, I probably would too.

    That track may also mean that you will have people traipsing around your land. I once had an encounter with local trail riders who thought that walking their beasts through my orchard was cool. It wasn’t cool.



  82. @ Inge:

    Your land issue is very bad news – maybe. Tricks up the sleeve? A lawyer? Muster other neighbors affected by this?

    “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

    Benjamin Franklin


  83. Chris:

    I am discombobulated. Last night my son went out the basement door and nearly stepped on a copperhead, one of our poisonous snakes. He called me (!) to look at it because it was almost white, though with the usual markings. It was coiled up and striking at the light as it couldn’t see. I had to look it up. Apparently young ones can be especially light colored instead of copper. It has to be found and killed because it will be lurking in the woodpiles at the back and front of the house, looking for mice (a worthy occupation, alas) until it gets cold and then come back out after hibernation.

    There are often families of them . . .


  84. Yo, Chris – Some of the salvaging out of houses is now done by junkies. They salvage out the high profit used stuff (copper wire, etc.) and sell it to scrap dealers. So, it’s not as profitable for people that used to do it as a business. The stock of Victorians and Edwardian houses is finite. And, dwindling.

    There are all sorts of new market forces at work on the second hand and building salvage businesses. Craigslist and Freecycle. In our little towns of 25,000 or so people, I can think of 7 Op-Shops without straining my brain, too much. Then there’s the enormous, perpetual flea market. Garrison’s does at least one weekly auction. We are awash in the second hand. The trick is to get around and find the deals.

    Given the chance, I’m could (was) be quit the tv junkie. But, once I moved here (not much reception over the airwaves) and lost patience with early cable, I lost (or abandoned) the habit. When my Uncle Larry was alive, weekend trips to his place (He of the 300 channels) just reenforced my feeling that there wasn’t much value there. And, I’ve never picked up the habit of watching much “stuff” on my computer.

    So, that just leaves what I pick up from the library and watch on my DVD. Interestingly, I haven’t thrown anything in to watch in over a week. Just in a more reading mood. I had got the new seasons of “The Flash” (season 4) and “Supernatural” (season 13) and ended up tossing them back to the library without a peek. I guess, for me, they’ve jumped the shark. I even took a look at the episode descriptions on Wikipedia, and couldn’t work up any enthusiasm. As a general observation, like junk food, if I keep it out of the house, it’s generally not a problem. Cont.

  85. Cont. I did watch the new movie “Ready Player One”, last night. Much to my surprise, our old friend Simon Pegg had a small cameo. But, what did I think of the movie? Well, for spectacle and just plane entertainment, not bad. But, I think, some of the deeper implications are a bit disturbing. To me. Life in 2045 doesn’t look very comfortable. (After the corn syrup crop failed and the bandwidth riots). And, I’ve always been a bit skeptical of virtual reality. That level of escapism (for me) isn’t healthy. I can’t judge (or shouldn’t) other people. Is getting lost in hand held devises any worse than toting around a book?

    I’m getting green beans! Freeze? Dry? Both? Lew

  86. @ DjSpo – When I look a lists of Healthy Foods One Should Regularly Eat, I do pretty good. Except for beans. I really need to figure out where to squeeze them into my regular round of foods. So, tell all :-). Looking for inspiration, here.

    I occasionally make a big batch of three (or more) bean salad. I used to do a riff on humus (no tahini. Too expensive) but since I’m off bread, crackers or chips until I achieve my weight goal, that’s kind of off the table. Hmm. Maybe I need to rethink a riff on rice and beans? Might be possibilities, there. Lew

  87. @ Pam – Poisonous snakes, oh, argh! On my list of reasons NOT to move to Idaho is rattlesnakes. My friends in Idaho laugh at my concern. But over here on the wet side of the mountains, we have no poisonous snakes. Not anything I had to concern myself with when fooling around with wood piles, plunging my hands into a tomato jungle or picking blackberries. Lew

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