Modern Grain Theory

We now take an intermission from our usual programming…

Sitting Duck had done all the right things so far in his life. As a young duckling, he’d studied harder than the other ducks and achieved good grades. Eventually, he’d attended University and earned himself an undergraduate arts degree majoring in journalism with honours. Of course at the same time he’d taken on a lot of student debt.

Eventually he scored a place as an underpaid newbie cadet for the major newspaper: “The Daily Swine”. And mostly he kept his quacks to himself (or at least only quacked very quietly) and that meant keeping his head down and his tail up.

However, in this fox eats duck world, Sitting Duck knew that he was a sitting duck. In quiet reflective moments he dreamed of owning a duck pond, with a little island of his own where he could canoodle with his lady hen and raise ducklings. The reality was that as a journalism cadet, Sitting Duck rarely had any spare money after the rent and utilities were paid, and so he declined from joining in with his peers at the pub after work on a Friday night. Little did he know that that was where all the major decisions were made and relationships often formed and were broken again by the following spring. Sometimes, in his desperate and lonely impoverished hours after working on his journalism cadet-ship he’d troll the dating app, Ducker, on his dumb phone and swipe right on some hot hen. Always was he declined by the hens, for the simple fact that he did not own a pond, with an island.

All the same he was a hard worker and never hesitated ingratiating himself with his superiors by using his scant resources to bring back coffees to the newsroom. As time wore on, probably because of the regular caffeine, Sitting Duck became an accepted member of the team, despite still being lowly remunerated.

Sitting Duck spent most of his cadetship days writing opinion pieces, and boy did he have to churn them out. One day, his editor pulled him aside. “Sitting Duck , I’ve got a job for you, if you can handle it?” Sitting Duck was initially surprised by the offer, and timidly asked if he was required to continue to also provide the opinion pieces. “Of course you do. How do you reckon this place runs? I’ve got six piglets in private schools you know, and that ain’t cheap. So do you want this job or not?” The editor looked meaningfully past Sitting Duck at the other hungry cadets. Needless to say, with no better alternatives, Sitting Duck jumped at the opportunity.

The editor said that word on the street was that some pigs at Utopia farm had developed a brand new economic theory: Modern Grain Theory, and the editor set Sitting Duck up as the lead investigative journalist. Sitting Duck was chuffed, and that Friday night after work he spent some of his meagre earnings getting raucously drunk with his colleagues. Later in the wee hours of the morning in a drunken haze he was further rebuffed by the hot hens that he had swiped right upon.

The next morning, with his beak hung low due to an epic hangover, burdensome student debt and a mostly empty wallet, he looked in the mirror of his bathroom, suddenly puffed his chest out, straightened his ruffled feathers and said to himself, “Yeah! Let’s do this! But maybe tomorrow when I’m feeling better”. With his bowels now empty after the visit to the bathroom, and his head still aching, but now with a new shake in his tail feather, he took himself back to bed for a few hours.

Later that afternoon he felt more duck like, and after a particularly strong coffee, he took his notebook in foot, a phone in the other foot and dialled the number for Utopia Farm. “Utopia Farm. How can we help you?” came the friendly reply at the other end of the line. Sitting Duck stated his requirements and was promptly put on hold. As an intelligent and ambitious duck longing for his own island, Sitting Duck was not idle and immediately began to take notes even whilst on hold.

Notes: Hold music: 17th century Baroque music played one note at a time by a computer. Questionable taste.

The music abruptly stopped and Sitting Duck heard: “Boss pig here. What do you want?” Sitting Duck was every bit the professional and his feathers were unruffled by the brusque response. He restated his requirements for an interview on behalf of the newspaper. “The Daily Swine you say. Hmm, I thought you were from The Dogs Daily Breakfast. Why didn’t you say so earlier?” And so the conversation began with Boss pig. A time and date for the interview was agreed upon and the phone conversation was soon at an end. Sitting Duck went back to bed.

The day of the interview arrived and Sitting Duck presented himself at Utopia Farm at the allotted hour. The farms reception was in a nice barn, which looked very solidly constructed. The receptionist hen sitting at desk just inside the door wore an accommodating smile along with a pink bow.

Notes: Solid construction on the reception barn. Pink bow on receptionist.

The receptionist broke the silence with a friendly, “Hello”. Sitting Duck introduced himself to the hen and stated his business at the farm. A very cold and business like expression washed over the receptionists face as Sitting Duck was told that he was not booked in today. A thought flashed through Sitting Duck’s mind that an investigative journalist should not be so easily deterred, and he replied: “I’m here to see Boss Pig”. After a short while, the hen gave ground and contacted Boss Pig to let him know that some scruffy journalist was here to see him. And then Sitting Duck had to sit for a while and wait.

Notes: Pink bow on receptionist hen is camouflage for a feisty personality

Eventually, Boss Pig bursts into the office larger than life, like everything you’d expect from a big pig. “Sorry mate for the mix up. Our motto here is, ‘Don’t worry about it’. So you’re here to discuss Modern Grain Theory are you? Better get into the office before I show you around the place and meet some of the folks. But I haven’t got all day, I’m a busy pig you know.” Sitting Duck meekly followed Boss Pig into his office where they both took seats.

Boss pig spoke long and movingly about his new theory Modern Grain Theory and all the while Sitting Duck took notes.

Notes: Modern Grain Theory advocates argue that the pigs should use fiscal policy to achieve full employment, creating new grains to fund the farms purchases. Theory seems more complicated than I thought.

To be continued…

The winter weather this week has been filthy. There really aren’t better words to describe the cold, wet and windy weather that has persisted over the farm. Several consecutive cold fronts originating from the Southern Ocean brought with them Antarctic weather. You could say that this week was a polar (!) opposite of the warm spring weather of the previous week.

Successive cold fronts brought cold, wet and windy weather over the farm this week

As a consequence we did no outside work at all. The situation is almost unprecedented. The recent excavations have withstood the wet weather without any perceptible damage.

The recent excavations have held up well under the cold winter weather

It is nice to take a break from the excavations because we uncovered several large rocks last week, and this has forced us to take time out and consider what the project will eventually end up looking like.

This large rock was uncovered last week. We can probably break it up and move it
On the other hand this large rock on the barely excavated terrace above Moby (body) rock, may be bigger than Ben-Hur

There is plenty of fresh rhubarb growing on the farm. Some of the dozen or so plants were a gift from a local lady who told me that they were originally from her grandfathers garden.

Rhubarb is plentiful at this time of year

We use rhubarb to make rhubarb wine, which is very tasty.

A batch of rhubarb wine was racked out (put into bottles) this week

We regularly make sake (rice wine) and it is quite good. However recently we encountered the work of a Japanese sake master, and frankly his wine was better. We’ve been experimenting with producing a slightly sweeter sake so as to replicate his efforts, by adding back a small portion of sugar water extracted from rice using fungi at low temperatures.

Sugar water extracted from rice using fungi at low temperatures

As part of the blog I don’t hesitate mentioning systems that fail on the farm. However for every system that fails, there are dozens of systems that are working really well. Like the firewood. We have access to very dry firewood and despite the recent intense rain, the inside of the firewood shed  is toasty dry.

Despite the recent rain, the inside of the firewood shed is toasty dry

And the path leading to and from the secondary firewood shed is working beautifully given all of the wet weather.

The path leading to and from the secondary firewood shed is holding up really well in the winter weather

Sometimes the proximity to the mysterious Hanging Rock means that the area provides mysteries. As a prime example I present this next road sign:

An unusual local road warning sign

Kangaroo – check

Koala Bear – check

But what is the rat like thing with the fluffy tail? I have never seen one of those animals around here. Perhaps it is a composite cartoon animal created by a bunch of kindergarten kids, but no, apparently it is the highly endangered Brush Tail Phascogale. I guess that’s why I’ve never seen one!

The previous week was so warm that it produced some strange activity in the plants:

A couple of confused asparagus spears poke their noses out of the soil
Daffodils are certain that the winter solstice is now behind them
Potatoes are doing really well despite the deprivations of the occasional wallaby
The soil in the potato beds has some very strange fungi
A close up of the strange fungi
Fungi are everywhere at the moment now that the soil has become damp again

Onto the flowers:

Lovely geraniums provide a splash of winter colour in the garden
Lovely geraniums provide a splash of winter colour in the garden

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 5’C (41’F). So far this year there has been 428.6mm (16.9 inches) which is the higher than last weeks total of 390.6mm (15.4 inches).

56 thoughts on “Modern Grain Theory”

  1. Hi DJ,

    I’m a bit in awe of the rats. They’re a bit like the Borg in Star Trek in that for a while I get the edge over the rats, and then they adapt and go all Sun Tzu on me and something entirely unexpected. We’re not friends, but I can certainly respect them. So yeah, they’ve got my vote for being the football on a foosilball game! 🙂 I dare you to pit your own wits against them!

    Pain and grief can have that effect, but not always and in many ways the strengthening was fortuitous for you. And it really takes a whole lot of time to process. I’m not sure that it ever goes entirely away (wherever that place is) but time does deaden the sharpness of the emotions.

    What is this talk of a normal climate year? Hehe! Yeah, I’ve had one or two of those and despite the occasional dry and windy patch, it sure beats the alternative. You’ve got town water and the snow pack seemed pretty good the previous winter, so that makes it all pretty good. In another six weeks time, you may be wondering where summer went! It sure ain’t down here…

    Funny stuff. At least you guys have hydro, and that is a good source as it works like a battery, until you have a drought. I was reading an article on the latest Volkswagen electric car platform that is soon to begin churning off production lines. The chargers come in 7.2kW, 11kW and a whopping great 125kW! Too many of those 125kW charger on any one circuit in the grid and the system will pop for sure. The system here can deliver a maximum of 9kW for about 5 minutes… Sometimes you know certain technologies are not for you!

    As an alternative perspective… But then, you won’t be working there and the concern will be someone else’s. Unfortunately, you personally have to work your head around the grief that entails from letting go. My grandfather could not reconcile himself with the grief, and unfortunately it cost him his life. I can assure you that his choice was not a good one, but you are always free to choose from the options presented to you. Sorry for the kick up the backside. Actually, I’m not really sorry as you have years with which to your improve your gardening and also hone your wood carving skills. 😉

    The cloud will collapse bit by bit as the energy and resources required to continue it becomes untenable. At this very moment it is a great idea, but those electric cars pose more than just a little challenge.



  2. Hi Damo,

    If I were a snake at high altitude (for down here at least) in the alpine areas of Victoria, I’d most certainly be grumpy. It is snowing up there right now, and reptiles are not particularly comfortable with such cold weather. It is like if you got annoyed by having a cold shower. Well the poor snakes are not just getting a cold shower, the water went through a snow maker along the way and dumped a whole bunch of cold on their sorry skins. So yeah, tiger snakes are grumpy as… Incidentally, snakes hibernate under rocks and logs which adds a certain element of excitement to the sort of activities that we do here on the farm.

    All this talk of striding blissfully unaware through long grass produces very complicated emotions for me to hear. Hehe! Mate, down here, such activities would no doubt invite a few ticks onto your skin. I’ll bet they’ve never heard of ticks on your side of the Tasman?

    Hey, I read Shogun the book years ago and I loved it. The captain really enjoyed himself too and got deep into the culture. The contrast scene in the book where he caught up with his old crew mates was deliberately quite horrifying. Hope you enjoyed it! I’m looking forward to reading the Earth Abides, and spare a moments thought for the book as it is just sitting there sorrowfully in the ‘to read’ pile.

    Yeah, we went to the cinema and saw the NZ film. It was OK, so I hear you about the rating, and I enjoyed it as a buddy film, where despite the odds two friends go through the highs and lows of friendship. And the scene with Germaine from Flight of the Conchords, well let’s just say that there are some things that you cannot un-see.

    Mrs Damo might be onto something with the high humidity and coughs. Interesting. Funny stuff! Hope your travels are adventurous.



  3. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for the correction about the clay. It is a complicated material and until I became involved in repairing and building houses I had no idea about just how different one patch of clay can be from another. Digging down into the earth is akin to a form of time travel if a person was to observe what they are un-earthing.

    I’ve noticed that too about the depressions made from fallen trees, in that the tree can be long gone whilst the depression in the soil remains long after the fact.

    For your interest, as a comparison, down here the only hot weather arrives by way of the winds blowing down from the north and north west of here. They derive from the centre of the continent. I hadn’t considered that aspect about Europe before, but I can see that the land mass of Africa might provide such a heat source. I’ll bet it was worse in Africa where the heat originated? It is certainly far hotter in the centre of this continent. Nice to read that your weather hasn’t yet broken records.



  4. Hi Lewis,

    I’ve never seen the video footage before. Thanks! It was nice to hear a bureaucrat – even a fictitious one – not dissembling for once. It was quite a candid series of responses, which is frankly refreshing. Interestingly, such folks rarely front the media these days from what I can see. And the reactions of the crew were priceless. Oh yeah, it ain’t good. What was also interesting was that the interviewer pressed the bloke about whether his was a personal or official position, and the response: Does it matter? An interesting question that the bloke posed.

    Jay and Silent Bob were two funsters weren’t they? And who can forget Clerks I, and the even more irreverent Clerks II. So much wrongness in a film is quite an achievement. 🙂

    I’d never thought about the scientists, just like Cassandra, making promises to a god with no intention of keeping them. Fascinating and I’m going to have to cogitate upon that. Thanks for the thought, recently formed cobwebs are already being blown from my mind. The Pre-Raphaelite’s painted a great image of Cassandra (by the artist Evelyn De Morgan, 1898). She looks like a wild lady with her flaming red locks, and her eyes are cast down and to the side which is suggestive of greater thoughts but difficulties of expressing them. Call me a naysayer, but if Cassandra could see the future, why would she risk future dire consequences (which she would have known about) by knowingly defying Apollo – other than it makes for a good morality tale? I don’t feel that being able to tell the future would be a liberating gift. In fact I reckon it would be an outright burden. What do you reckon?

    I’ll see what I can do about getting Ollie to get into the stone circle for a photo. It certainly isn’t big enough to dance around inside for more than one or two people, but it is big enough to hold a roasted wombat in its entirety – with room to spare. At my instruction (unknowingly of course) the excavator operator years and years ago knocked one rock into the circle, and that misplaced another, but I can see what was meant to be where and will fix it.

    How do you deal with the spines on your Christmas cactus? I’d imagine pruning it would be a complicated task. For the cleaning process with the leaves and branches I used a kitchen scratchy (which I’m unsure what you would call) which very mildly abraded the sooty black mould. Unsurprisingly, the process doesn’t smell very nice.

    Exactly, gallows humour is appropriate under such circumstances. The bloke in the article seemed pretty good about it really. The thing is what I was left with at the end of the article was that nobody was really sure how the flesh eating bacteria was spreading, although mosquitoes were shaping up as the most likely vector. Did you note that from the samples that have been conducted so far, apparently one in five mosquitoes apparently carry the bacteria? Incidentally, the sheer number of mosquitoes makes me feel that there is more to that story than meets the eye. I have a gut feeling (excuse the pun) that many people fail to encounter a wide range of usually harmless pathogens due to an over use of crazy strong cleaning substances in their homes, but I’m no expert.

    I can’t see why your Jerusalem artichokes won’t reappear next season, but I could be wrong. Incidentally, I meant to comment upon the subject of potatoes, and the plants this year are a result of the tubers left in the ground after harvesting last year. Now whilst down here is a different climate to your part of the world, from what I can see, the tubers certainly don’t all disappear every season so it is possible that something else is going on in your soil.

    Ah yes, Hansel and Gretel. Appreciate that.

    I keep torches charged and ready to go for such excursions during power outages. I’ve lost the power twice in ten years and had to struggle around in the dark setting up a generator and charger, so, you know torches are good! HRH was very polite to come to you under such circumstances and submit to the lead. The fluffies might be inclined to take advantage of such a situation and run amok, but then again they might not do so and just kick back and say: “What? Me Worry?” 🙂 They did that last time the power went out. I hadn’t heard about the NY power outage. I’ll bet that their grid wouldn’t cope with too many electric vehicles…

    I have a few brief words for you regarding your pancake concept (for it is a food concept): Prepare for ignition!!! Hehe!

    No way at all with the rice. It wasn’t a problem at all to work out which rice varieties have the most sugar. We just got onto the diabetes website and looked up what variety of rice was really not recommended and was advised to avoid. Why not let other people do all the hard research yards? 😉 You may think that we are half asleep, and it may be true at some times, but at other times it is all systems go. 🙂

    Forgive me my foray into fiction. I wanted to talk about the hazards of MMT and my mind told me that in the tradition of George Orwell, anthromorphised farm animals would do a far better job at telling that story than I. Incidentally, the story popped into my head mostly formed in the dark hours of Sunday morning. It woke me up, so I am displeased at the story and the best way to purge my system of it, is to write it down.

    Nice work with matching the monk book end. I do recall the ceramic jocular monk, he kind of reminded me a bit of Friar Tuck although please excuse me if I am wide of the mark in my memory. Ah, lessons learned – always a gratifying experience.



  5. Hello Chris
    I enjoyed the story and look forward eagerly to its continuation.
    Watched a programme on tele about the aggressive vegans in Melbourne and further activities at farms.
    How strange that your rhubarb is at an identical stage to my rhubarb! As with yours, my potatoes are okay when accidentally left in the ground and reproduce themselves okay the following year. This seems to be the case so long as they don’t get frozen.
    Ditto with the Jerusalem artichokes.


  6. Hi Chris,

    Up until now July had been a hot, dry month for us, unlike the rest of the year. Now the remnants of Hurricane Barry are favoring us with rain. If we get enough rain, I can go another week without having to water the garden. I’ve never gone this long without having to water the garden with municipal water in any past year.

    Neither have Mike and I gone this late into the summer without using the air conditioning even once (though as Margaret pointed out some time back, it would have been helpful to reduce the humidity in the house). But given the predicted heat for later this week, after Barry is done raining on us, we will turn it on by Wednesday or Thursday. I’m sure the local weather service office will put us under a heat advisory for a multiple day period around then, so our condition for turning it on will be met.

    Our hot water heater stopped heating water a week ago, the same week our plumber went on vacation. Summer is a much better time to be without central hot water than winter would be. The incoming water isn’t that cold to start with so I don’t mind washing my hands with it. I only needed one teakettle of nearly-boiling water in the kitchen sink and cold water added to get the right temperature to have enough water at the proper dish-washing temperature. Because it was sunny this past week, we could use camp showers (big plastic bags with a clear side and a black side, filled with water and laid on the ground with the clear side up) to heat up enough water for bathing. I dumped the water into a plastic tub sitting in the bathtub, cooled it with a little cold water (the water from the camp showers is a little too hot without adding some cold water), and used a plastic cup to pour it over me, making a decent shower. Plastic does have its uses. The plumber was here earlier this morning and told us the water heater needs to be replaced; not too surprising as it is 14 years old. He’ll replace it on Wednesday.

    I’m enjoying your story so far and will look forward to the elucidation of Modern Grain Theory.


  7. Yo, Chris – Ohhh! I can’t wait to hear more about Modern Grain Theory! It sounds like a wonderful investment opportunity. Sounds to good to be true! What could possibly go wrong! If I put a second mortgage on the house, and dip into the kids college fund, I’m sure I can swing a sizeable investment. Thank you for tipping me off to this investment opportunity, so I can get in on the ground floor!

    Your cold front picture looks like what I’m seeing out my window. Only, not so cold. Our forecast didn’t say to much about rain, but, before I went to bed, last night, it was really coming down. So I didn’t have to set the alarm to get up at some god awful hour, to water with a little peace and quiet.

    Of rocks and rhubarb. I wonder who brought the first rhubarb, over to Australia, from England? Your variety looks a lot more “skinny” than ours. I suppose, somewhere along the way, someone started breeding them for thicker stocks.

    The Brush Tailed Phascogale. Soon to be the pet du jour. Wonder what they bring on the open market?

    Those are odd looking fungi. Fungi dazzle with their multiple shapes and forms.

    Your lucky to have so many flowering plants, in your winter. Unless we have a very mild winter, flower wise, things can get pretty bleak, here. Cont.

  8. Cont. Yup. I guess past a certain point, official or personal opinions don’t matter much. Not if something is in your face.

    Real wrongness is Jay and Silent Bob in “Dogma.” George Carlin has a cameo. You have to have a sense of humor about organized religion, not to squirm, through that one. I enjoyed it, thoroughly. :-).

    I guess it would be a burden, to know the future. Might come in handy for playing the ponies. Or, planning next year’s garden.

    There’s no spines on Christmas cacti. I think they’re more of a succulent.

    We have mosquitos, we have possums. We have occasional cases of flesh eating bacteria. Probably a different variety.

    Potatoes are a mystery. I usually keep several small LED torches around. For slug hunting. For peering into dark closets. Didn’t think to grab one when having a go at HRH. She’s very good about me getting a leash on her. Unless she’s distracted. She knows I’m either going to take her for a walk, or, to her Mum. Most nights when we sit out, she’s in my lap for a good half hour, being petted and scratched. And if she rolls over on her back, next to me, she knows I’m always good for a good belly scratch :-).

    Checking the diabetes site for rice sugar content, was a stroke of genius. As I always say, “Google is your friend”, (mostly.)

    The monk is some kind of base or pot metal with copper plate. Details picked out in colored enamel paint.

    More news from the ship burial in Old Uppsala, Sweden. The fellow was buried with his faithful dog and favorite horse. I hope they died of grief. I think there’s been some ship burials where they chucked in a serving wench, or two. Lew

  9. @Damo

    Glad to hear you enjoyed “Earth Abides”. It’s one of my favorites.


  10. Chris,

    Hehehe. Rats as the “projectile”. If they’re not quite exactly round, then they would behave somewhat randomly and unexpectedly, like, well, rats. That could make the game very interesting.

    Agreed, there was no guarantee that we would make it to this side of the worst still together. It wasn’t easy and it took a lot of work by both of us. The processing of grief does take time. My experience agrees with yours: it doesn’t go away, but it does lose its sharpness, mostly. Life would be unbearable otherwise, methinks.

    Yes, we have hydro. It supplies roughly half of our electricity, natural gas about 1/3. Hopefully this will get you to the utility’s “mix”:

    125kW charger? OMG! As you said, it wouldn’t take many of those operating at once to crash the system. This electric car business may be our demise, even though it is *allegedly* green.

    The work thing is simply bittersweet, no more than that. The kick up the backside is appreciated; in this case probably not required but I’ll keep it in reserve as a well placed warning to not let the place drag me down. If that doesn’t work, I’ll let you know and you can start kicking me in earnest – after my wife is done earnestly kicking me. 😉

    Modern Grain Theory? Nice touch! I’m enjoying the story. Economics can be so dry, so a story helps…

    Rocks, rocks and more rocks. So the rocks get broken enough so they get loaded into the cart, where you roll them to where you want them. So, since you keep finding more rocks and rolling them around, ahem: Rock and Roll is Here to Stay…

    I really got enthralled by the photo of the path to the woodbin. It shows some of the other paths in the background. I had She Who Has More Votes Than I Do look at the picture, and she was amazed at 1) how well the paths held up in the rain, 2) how many paths you’ve got. We were both impressed by the sheer amount of labor those paths obviously took. I also note one of the Fluffies properly using the path.

    Those are some seriously strange fungi.


  11. Hi Inge,

    Thank you and that is high praise indeed. The story woke me up in the middle of Saturday night, but honestly I could see no better way of writing about the fun that is the economic theory MMT. It could use a bit of a send up! Maybe?

    Apparently the aggressive vegan meme is a thing, although why I have no idea and who these people are is a bit of a mystery. I have never met these people, and to be candid their activities seem rather pointless and counter intuitive. Do you have them up in your part of the world? It would not surprise me at all to discover that the angry vegans were possibly paid agitators.

    All of the people I know who enjoy a vegan diet are really very lovely people and have consumed such a choice of foods for a long time, usually because it suits their health and they wouldn’t dream about being involved in aggressive activity.

    Thanks for sharing your observation about the potatoes as that thought about the tubers freezing would never have occurred to me. The potatoes are a crop that just regrows every year in the same spot.

    Do you stew the rhubarb stems? The plants are real survivors and I actually enjoy the taste of the stems (stewed of course).

    And in an err, very unusual cute dog article from the tourist riddled suburb that the editor and I used to live in near to the old shipyards of Williamstown: Dogs save woman from sexual assault in Melbourne’s Williamstown cemetery. The crim learned the hard way not to mess with fluffies. The editor and I used to walk the dogs late of night around that suburb about two decades ago. There are some shady folks in the area, but the editor never walked alone without me. I reckon Ollie the cattle dog would take a bullet for me, he is exceptionally loyal. Dogs are great.

    How has your son been coping with restraining the youthful Ren and his cohorts?



  12. Hi Claire,

    What an amazing year – weather wise – that you are having. Has the possibility of flooding gone away? It is a strange feeling to have a full tank of water stored, but with no practical use for the water. Despite the set-backs, during such years I always remind myself that things could indeed be worse. Just for your interest, if the seasons were turned upside down and I’d experienced the sheer climate extremes that you have had this year, the tomatoes would still be about a month away from the beginning of the harvest. I’ll be very curious to hear whether you have had a longer summer or autumn? I suspect that you might.

    Yup, good luck with the heat and humidity later in the week. Even at low temperatures, such weather makes things feel far hotter than the thermometer indicates. I’m eating dinner whilst replying tonight and I just sucked back a huge chunk of last seasons chilli. My mouth is on fire… The editor has decided to dry the chilli’s and add them to food.

    Exactly! Thus the need for some spare parts, although the hot water heater is a biggie spare part. But I hear you, and it was a fortunate time of year and I applaud your adaptations. To share a story of such problems, when we lost the power a few weeks ago due to over use of the batteries and minimal sun, I realised that the hot water pump at the back of the wood heater failed due to no electricity. The hot water jacket at the back of the wood heater also operates by way of siphon, but some hot water was caught in the radiator pipes that send hot water to the wall mounted radiators throughout the house. Despite the lack of power and it being well past 10pm and pitch dark, the wood heater continued to add more hot water into the pipes and they began loudly complaining as they rapidly turned into a steam pressure cooker. We sure had incentive to get the electrical power back up and running rapidly whilst simultaneously rapidly dampening down the combustion inside the wood heater. It is at such times that you realise the system needs to be slightly more robust to failure than it is.

    Thank you for the lovely words.



  13. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! And many thanks, everyone has been most kind! You might get a laugh out of this, but one of the characters is suggesting to me that he may indeed suggest that things are ‘at a permanently high plateau’. 🙂 But you are very smart to want to get in on the ground floor and ahead of the pack with the investment. I employ a rule of thumb which suggests that anytime someone is telling me that I’m ‘smart’, they’re pulling one over me and I may indeed be acting very dumb. Hehe!

    I read a story that a friend sent me recently, and all of the characters were so terribly earnest. As I was reading the story I thought to myself: Where is the artful dodger? Where is the nincompoop? Where is the obstructer? I shared my thoughts too and we had a meaningful discussion, but my friend may not re-write the story, although it had an excellent plot device which I suggested could stand on its own. Stories are usually not harmed in the process of shrinking. I do quite enjoy the character of the artful dodger, although I do hope not to encounter such a person in the flesh. Damo wrote an excellent story for Into the Ruins with such a character. Jack Vance always littered his stories with such characters, and this quote sums the situation up nicely: “Cease the bickering! I am indulging the exotic whims of a beautiful princess and must not be distracted.” Think on that quote the next time that HRH demands a patting or grooming!

    Have the clouds cleared a bit? It is warm here too tonight 46’F outside at almost 10pm. Last night was another warm night and I guessed otherwise and placed too many blankets over the bed and woke up an hour or two before the alarm went off and I was way over hot. A rookie mistake. It just didn’t cool down inside the house.

    Speaking of the power of words. Mate, yesterday I was reading of the death of Varrus, in the early morning whilst at a cafe enjoying a coffee and a tasty muffin (orange and poppy seed!), and something must have blown into my eye in the strong wind, because my eye started watering. The epic stoicism that the character displayed was just, well, you know… Anyway, nobody noticed. You can’t be all rugged and stuff at a café all of the time… Hehe! It was beautifully written. Uther is a bit of an idiot, and Merlyn appears to be lifting the average.

    We were importing plants at about the same time as you guys. But people are a bit funny about such things nowadays. The rhubarb is probably a bit on the skinny side because it is so early in the season. During autumn the leaves die away and leave only a sort of stump. By summer, the plant will be producing leaves in abundance.

    Haha! Well, they might have to find a Brush Tailed Phascogale first! I had no idea such creatures existed around here. I’d imagine that they have problems with dogs, cats, cars and foxes.

    The fungi are pretty cool, and there are so many varieties. I’d imagine that some of them are edible, but the consequence of getting the test wrong is just too great.

    It is a strange climate, because I suspect during August, the weather may turn feral cold (for a few brief days) and there may even be some snowfall. But it looks to me as if snow is becoming less common of late. No doubt the frosts will continue, so planting sub tropical plants is always fraught with risk. Years ago I lost a coffee shrub to a snowfall, and the frosts still damage sensitive plants.

    Hehe! Yeah, thanks again for the video link. What did the old timers used to call it? Was it called splitting hairs? I’m not sure what that means though.

    I’ve never seen Dogma, and it wouldn’t offend me at all. I feel that if I was involved with religion I’d be a bit more like the character Alaric who had a casual approach, but at the same time was more sincere than his peers and sought to build bridges and not get overly worried about… dogma… Dogs are most certainly not dogmatic and they get a bad rap through merely being associated with the word. 🙂

    Yeah and knowing the future would make for a dull existence. Would you want to know the time and date of your own demise? And out of curiosity as you are far more learned than I, why would Merlin have seven deaths? Although I note that it is an auspicious number, but also it is a somewhat impractical and difficult to achieve prophesy.

    That makes sense about the Christmas cacti. The tiny invisible spines are a real nightmare which I have not had the pleasure of experiencing although the editor unwittingly has. Have you ever encountered those little tiny monsters?

    Inge has a very good theory about the potatoes and soil freezing which I agree with. The soil does not freeze here and the potatoes grow back reliably every year. From a cellular perspective, if the cells in potatoes freeze, then they expand due to the water content, and when they defrost, the cells splodge. That is the technical word for leaving behind a collection of defrosted, but once frozen cells that are now a pool of yuk. Didn’t the well financed Walt bloke freeze his head after departing this mortal world? I’d always worry that the power failed in such a storage place. And would they tell the relatives if it had?

    Hehe! We thought so too. Incidentally word on the street is to possibly avoid medium grain rice, although it could be a different variety in your part of the world. 80% sugar content apparently.

    Do you know, from the images I assumed that the book end monk was entirely ceramic. It must have some weight behind it if the monk was made from base pot metal.

    Thanks for the link and I’ll have a look. What an abominable waste of a perfectly good serving wench. Little wonder the Vikings eventually ceased raiding if that was the sort of things they were up to. 🙂



  14. Hi DJ,

    Oh yeah, the rats would indeed be a fine random element in the game. They sure show such outstanding talents here.

    It is nice that we have the gift of forgetting because otherwise, we’d recall every memory of pain no matter how far in the past it was. It would be a heavy burden that would stop us in its tracks.

    Not a bad mix of sources of electricity. You do rivers big in your part of the world. 🙂 You’d laugh if you saw what we call a river down here. Hint: Sometimes they’re big, but most of the time…

    Seriously that amount of electricity in the 125kW massive charger could do some seriously interesting things to steel if anything were to go wrong, so I can’t even begin to understand how the electricity will be transported across the countryside. Some of the longest wires here are twin 25mm2 cables just to carry the huge DC solar current over a fair distance. Anyway, the whole story makes no sense to me, but I do hope that someone gives it a go with the electric cars if only because the ongoing system failures will raise huge red flags that will be hard to ignore.

    Hehe! No worries at all about the work thing. I have had to consider what aspects of life can be controlled, and what aspects I just had to let go and hope for the best. Letting go is good for the soul though, you just have to have other interests in place to cushion the loss. Not that hard really, but people struggle with it.

    Thank you very much! 🙂 The economic animal spirits are talking to me.

    Hehe! Thanks for the link.

    Yes, paths are everything as the winters can be over 99% humidity for months and months on end. I have this strange belief that if it’s mud, it ain’t working – but it is born of a story. The path from the wood shed to the house took three days to construct and it had to be built up so as to reduce the incline and decline.

    I shall leave you with a Jack Vance quote: “While we are alive we should sit among colored lights and taste good wines, and discuss our adventures in far places; when we are dead, the opportunity is past.”



  15. Hello again
    We have the angry vegans here as well.
    I stew rhubarb with dates and dark sugar.
    Son only lets one dog at a time run free. He cannot let them go free as a pack.
    I would like to know the date and time of my death. It would enable me to decide when it was probably safe to stop going to the dentist.


  16. Hi Chris,

    I am now picking the first of the tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini. This is late for St. Louis; if May hadn’t been so rainy and cool I would have planted these plants two or three weeks before I did and would already have had quite a few to eat. I could be picking green peppers too but I leave them in place to turn ripe and red because we like them better that way.


  17. Yo, Chris – Stories of the Great and the Good, can be a little … boring. Where’s the one fatal flaw? The clay feet? Little Mary Sunshine and Goody Two Shoes, aren’t very interesting. And, can descent into the insipid. Unless they go two falls out of three. Maybe some mud, or jello wrestling.

    Clouds, again, today. But, I harvested two varieties of garlic (more Elephant, and something else). Cut back some of the horseradish leaves, to throw in a pottage. Thinned the carrots, so, I’ll have baby carrots to add. Planted more basil, and will hope for a late crop. I’ve only got one little patch that looks promising, and that’s not enough to get me through the winter. AND, I think the blue potatoes are (finally) breaking ground. There’s little leaflets, and, if nothing eats them off, I might get a few.

    Yup. Glad I was in the privacy of my own home, when Varrus checked out. Well, that’s what you get when you ride your horse up a hill, in the dark. When you’re over the hill.
    None of the old guard left, except Luceiia.

    Maybe Merlin took a lesson from the cats. They have nine lives. Might have slept through the part about 8 and 9. Part of Celtic myth (we think) was the idea of a three fold death, usually involving sacrifice. A good bash to the head, strangling and drowning. Or was it a slit throat? Some of the bog bodies, were treated that way.

    Hmmm. Invisible spines. How to keep this family friendly. Do not take a wee in the garden, after harvesting squash or pumpkin. There’s little spines on the stems. I had problems for about a year. Maybe wouldn’t have, if I had gone at it with scotch tape, early on.

    Ahem. Be careful with that technical word. Means something entirely different, here. As a slang term. You can blush, now. :-).

    Well, if marauders ever kick in my door, I hope I’ll have my monk bookend, close to hand. Lew

  18. Chris,

    Ah, yes, forgetting. It can be a good thing, it can be a lifesaver. It can also be difficult, as this song attests:

    In Spokane County, there are two primary rivers, the Spokane River and the Little Spokane River. When I lived in New Mexico, I once saw the Pecos River, which was a major obstacle in west Texas during the Old West era. I laughed at it, as it was filled with snow melt water and looked similar to the Little Spokane River at its flood stage. And a friend of mine walked across the Rio Grande in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and the water never quite got to chest level. Granted, he was about 5cm less than 2 meters tall, but still. The Rio Grande was just WIDE. I like our Pacific Northwest rivers.

    Good idea. Sitting back and watching what may become an epic fail with electric cars could be entertaining.

    Oh, yes, letting go can be hard. After all, we get taught while quite young that we can control everything. Knowing the impossibility of that is important, but sometimes letting things go is still hard. Human nature, I suppose.

    We got rain today. A storm system came through overnight, so it was wet when I woke up. It rained off and on until early afternoon. Officially, we got nearly 8 mm of rain. Really GOOD for mid July.

    Thanks for the Jack Vance quote. That’s a good one. I put quotes on an erasable board at the job, and that one will be a good addition.


  19. Hi, Chris:

    I was so engrossed with your story that I over-boiled my eggs. I like your animal choices for the characters and you have – wisely – left us with a cliffhanger. Looking forward to next week.

    It is so dark there at Fernglade.

    I guess a road sign where I am would have a deer and a possum and a squirrel – all of which are prolific and in no way endangered. Your sign is so funny to include an animal that probably almost no-one has ever heard of. It could be taken as a deliberate attempt at a bit humor, but I guess being in danger is nothing to joke about . . .

    We are still battling squirrels for tomatoes. As a last desperate attempt I chose one of the 24 foot (7.3m) beds and covered it with mosquito netting. On the north side of it I had to use old sheets as I ran out of netting. It is all held together with clothes pins (so I can open it easily) and has worked so far. The problem is that trapped inside the net are stink bugs and hornworms and who knows what else (though not squirrels) and the pollinators can no longer get to the flowers. Yesterday I caught a squirrel looking at it and walked right up to him and told him to get his scruffy little hide out of there. Wherein he proceeded to amble around the garden with me 4 feet behind. You might say: “Cheeky little scamp!”

    It is like living in a bowl of water here. Heat is high and the humidity stays so high all the time that we are breathing water.


  20. Hi Inge, Claire, Lewis, DJ and Pam,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, however it is the mid-week hiatus and I’m feeling dreadfully sleepy after a very long working week. Will speak tomorrow.

    Lewis – Exactly, the flaws make for more interesting characters, and honestly more akin to real life stories. We’re all flawed in our own ways. I’ve often thought to myself that marketing sets unattainable expectations on us humans exposed to its nefarious message that end up making us pliable to the flogging of miscellaneous products and/or services. I’m doing my best to age disgracefully, and just do the unthinkable and try to be myself, it seems like a worthy goal. Anyway, some the marketing these days is so esoteric that I can hardly even understand it – but it is probably not directed at the likes of me. It does however make me wonder what the people were doing at the time they came up with the idea? But it has been more than a few years since I’ve watched television. What are clay feet?

    Your garden appears to be going nicely. Did you enjoy the horseradish leaves? I quite enjoy them, and they even have some of the kick that the roots have. Horseradish root is really tasty and very zingy! How easy is the stuff to grow too? 🙂 I hear you about thinning the carrots, and it does produce larger carrots, so it is worth the effort and the thinning results are usually edible. Yah, your basil will be late this year. Basil is a funny plant and we now grow it in the full shade of the asparagus spears and it does really well because the sun scorches the leaves otherwise. Blue potatoes! 🙂 I found that the blue potatoes were some of the more hardy varieties and I’m really unsure why.

    It is tempting to take short cuts, like Varrus, but often they don’t end up so well. I find myself being more considered as I get older, and taking more care with things, but such activities run counter to the prevailing culture which see us all as work units. Not sure that I’m ever going to get the chance to retire, and strangely enough people have begun talking to me about such matters. I do wonder whether Luceiia steps up into her role as elder statesman?

    Had a gumbo for dinner tonight and it was excellent. The restaurant had a really nice atmosphere and a delightful name Miss Katie’s Crab Shack (not a promotion paid or otherwise!) It is nice to have access to such a wide variety of cuisines down in the big smoke, and I usually eat over in the edgier side of town. I’m unsure that I’d feel comfortable over in the snootier parts of town as I’m a bit casual for such enjoyments.

    Ouch! Mate, half a world away I am feeling definite sympathy pain. Yes, sticky tape would have been a good idea, but hard to explain if you were caught in the act! Hehe!

    A bit of weight in the book end is a good idea – sometimes you need a bit of extra authority. 🙂

    Me off to bed. Tired.


  21. Yo, Chris – I haven’t seen TV, in years, as a steady diet. When I used to go visit my uncle Larry, it would remind me WHY I didn’t have TV. But the ads … sometimes, I couldn’t figure out what in the heck they were flogging.

    Aging disgracefully is a worthy goal. I work at it, all the time.
    Waiting for me at the library today, is the new John Waters book. The director. “Mr. Know-It-All: (something, something) of a Filth Elder.” (2019). Also, two DVDs. “Rapture-poloza” (looks like fun) and some straight to DVD zombie flick.

    I had a touchy tummy, yesterday, so have foregone the horseradish leaves for oatmeal. Maybe tonight. Or, tomorrow night.

    Caught in the act? Not a problem. The joys of living alone.

    Maybe the blue potatoes are closer to their Peruvian roots? Which is, or is not, a very bad pun.

    “Feet of clay.” Old Testament. King has a dream about a very fancy statue, except it’s got feet of clay. Prophet says kingdom is going to collapse. It’s the whole dodgy foundation, principle. Right up there with “house built on sand.” Which is also from the bible. Both are often referenced in literature.

    It’s pretty breezy here, this morning. Incoming rain. For a few days. Then back to 80F on Saturday and Sunday. Good for the garden. Phoenix, Arizona hit 115F (46.11C). Set all kinds of records, for time of year. Your talk with DJSpo about rivers, reminded me of what they used to say about the Platt River, in Nebraska. “An inch deep and a mile wide.”

    I was down at the Club, yesterday. We have a TV, but it’s usually off, or, turned down low, to be unobtrusive. I got two episodes of “Building Off the Grid.” There are a few episodes over at YouTube. You might want to check it out, just for poops and giggles. :-).

    I was only watching with half an eye, but in the first episode, the nice young couple have built an enormous straw bail house, and go to plaster it. In January. When it’s only 8F. To plaster, temperature should be no lower than 40F. Oh, dear. Back to the drawing board. In the second episode, a family, with two teenagers are building a more conventional home in the Ozarks (Arkansas.). The Mum is rhapsodizing about how they’re going to meet all their water needs, by catching rain water. Proudly displaying an artists rendering with two 50 gallon drums, at the bottom of a downspout. Oh, well. They’ll find out. Lew

  22. @ DJSpo
    Fascinating! So you were taught that you could do anything. As a female, now 84 years old, I was taught the exact opposite. Not necessarily bad as it meant that distaste caused me to walk my own road.


  23. Hi Chris,

    Great story! Looking forward to the next installment. Naked Capitalism is one of the few sites I visit regularly and they seem to be quite supportive of MMT which surprises me.

    In animal news here, Salve and Leo chased a family of raccoons up a tree when Doug took them out for their last walk of the day. They were after the seed in my bird feeders. Luckily they weren’t around when the chickens w were in the chicken tractor.

    We’ve been leaving Salve out of her crate when we’ve been out lately and she was doing well – no sign of chewing until last Sunday when we found she had chewed another corner of the desk.

    It’s turned hot and humid again but no rain so back to watering. Getting a lot of beans and zucchini.

    Doug is off to Canada fishing with a friend, something he hasn’t done for years. I’ll have plenty of company though, granddaughters, oldest daughter and a sister.

    My youngest daughter and her boyfriend are buying a house in the city. It’s in a good, safe area where many police and fire fighters live. I don’t think they’re very handy so I have a feeling there will be many requests for help. It’s nice that we actually have time to help them. It’ll be a little closer and still accessible by the train.


  24. @ Inge,

    Yes, I was taught that the only limits on what I could do were whatever limits I imposed on myself, so that I could pretty much do anything and everything. The version of Evangelical/Charismatic Christianity I was brought up in added to that fantasy by saying that because we were the chosen children of the King of Everything, not only could we do anything, but that God would help us control it. The cognitive dissonance became noticeable to me soon after I turned 20 and was very traumatic for the next decade, by which time I began to figure it out and fled from it.

    I am much happier knowing that I cannot do anything and everything and that I’m really not in control of anything.


  25. Hi everyone,

    Ah har me Hearties! Alas the mid-week hiatus continues…

    Lewis – Enough pirate speak, but they sure knew how to rip out a good phrase. Incidentally, when looking for the exact wording of the pirate speak phrase I was amazed at the sheer diversity displayed. I’d imagine that pirate crews originated from all over the globe and took their respective cultures with them. It would have made for an interesting ship.

    Glad that Uncle Larry provided a solid example of why it is not a good idea to watch too much TV (I’m assuming that that was the case?). Some people get addicted to TV and I recall that the author that we spoke of a few years back, David Foster Wallace, was apparently addicted to TV. I’d never heard of such a thing before. Do you reckon there be a club for people with that particular addiction? Many ads go for the emotional response, but a lot of ads I frankly don’t get. I saw a huge billboard advertising something today – and it must of cost a packet because it hung over a freeway – and I didn’t know what it was advertising and had no inclination to find out. Bit of a WOM (Waste of Money) if you ask me.

    I salute your good sense for aiming for such a worthy goal! 🙂

    Sorry to hear about the touchy tummy. I have a dodgy home remedy for such situations, and it is consuming fine charcoal and a bit of mint. Works a treat for me. I read long ago that the Aboriginals used charcoal on their teeth and also that it is used medically in cases of poisoning via the gut.

    Hehe! Funny stuff. Years ago I recall an Eddie Murphy story (this was on cassette tape) where he recounting a similar story after having applied after shave to said regions. Ouch.

    You’re on fire! Nice pun.

    Ah, I guess the metaphor for ‘clay feet’ is sort of like ‘house of cards’? Kings do it tough, back in those days someone said something about ‘eye of a needle’ – and strangely enough I have encountered people debating whether it was a sewing needle or an actual physical place that was large enough to actually fit a camel. It all seems like a neat rhetorical trick to me because if the camel could get through, then it is not a problem for anyone. Although I could be over simplifying the story…

    Such weather records strike fear into my heart. I wouldn’t want to live in such a place because, the human built environment there would grate on my nerves. I wouldn’t want to live in such a place if ever water or fuel became scarce. Things would get very ugly, very quickly.

    Thanks for mentioning the Platte River. Hmm. Interesting. I see it flows out of Colorado and Wyoming. The painting by Worthington Whittredge of the Encampment Along The Platte is awesome. He really captured the feel. The land itself there is pretty flat.

    You’ve intrigued me that anyone could attempt to plaster strawbale walls in such cold weather. Truly bonkers. The medium would have been very gluggy at best. It is cold and moist enough here over winter that I wouldn’t attempt such a feat, but you know…

    But two 50 gallon drums to supply water to four people is ludicrous – unless all they wanted the water for was for drinking purposes. As a little comparison I believe that we keep about 33,000 gallons of water stored – and it is enough for us and the garden and that is about it. We could use less though if such a choice was required to be made. I hope they do a follow up to see how it goes for the family?



  26. @ DJSpo
    I admire the fact that you managed to pull away for it is incredibly difficult to do so when one has been so thoroughly inculcated. I had 2 friends who were brought up as Plymouth Brethren. One came away but great trauma first and the other didn’t. The second one was an incredibly gifted girl and was rendered unable to make proper use of her gifts.
    You is not completely helpless where fate is concerned as you have control of your internal reaction to what happens to you. This is me being sententious, something I am prone to be.


  27. Yo, Chris – I often lapse into pirate, parrot speak, here at the Institution. “Awwwk! Health and safety! Health and safety! Awwwk!” They beat us over the head with H&S to justify, any new indignity.

    Well, as was often found at Uncle Larry’s, 300 channels and nothing to watch. There were 5 or 6 “educational” channels, that occasionally had a good program, or two. But even those have descended to the lowest common denominator. Reality shows, ancient aliens and shark weeks. “Couch potato” is a very real affliction. Usually involving mindless watching and channel surfing, and snacking. As Mr. Greer often urges, throw out your TV.

    The John Waters bio is a lot of fun, but recovers a lot of old ground. “Rapture-poloza” was absolute ca-ca. Shock-your-mama” endless profanity and sexual innuendo. There were some zombies, about, fairly coherent, and rather benign. As they were all pot-heads.

    There used to be an old joke involving, body lice, partial shaving, setting things on fire and an ice pick.

    Good grief! It’s a parable (or an allegory, or something). The needle is your standard needle, the camel is a regular old camel and the rich man is standard issue. Well, some people will argue about anything.

    There’s a place along the Platt River, where the cranes stop for awhile, on their migration route. Hundreds of cranes. We were never there, at the right time of the year. National Geographic did several articles, and, I think, a documentary. At one point, they were endangered, but protections were put in place and they bounced back.

    Well, the couple working on the straw bail house seemed to have done no prior research. “Let’s build a straw bale house! We’ll figure it out as we go along!” They finally got the place sealed up enough, that the interior temp was above. 40F. So, they start plastering. Nothing sticks. Oh. You have to spray down the walls, a bit, to get it to stick. As I said, watching with half an eye. There were some references to a competition. I suppose at the end of the season, they check back with everyone, call in a rating board, and award someone, something. That’s the way the preppers series worked.

    They’re going to power wash our building, tomorrow. In preparation to paint it, next week. Out to be interesting, and generally disruptive. Lew

  28. Hi Inge,

    Sorry to hear that angry vegans are a thing in your part of the world too. The un-angry vegans that I know are really lovely people. However I do wonder what they are angry about, but more importantly I don’t quite understand why vegan food attempts to reproduce the look and flavour of meals derived from animal products. You have to admit that it is all a bit weird? A few weeks back the editor and I became curious about the phenomena and dined at a vegan burger restaurant just to see what it was all about. The food served up to us made me feel as if the establishment was serving vegan food for people who had grown up consuming fast food and thus had no idea what raw ingredients tasted like. I quite enjoy consuming vegetables and was hoping that the establishment forged their own culinary path, but no.

    Rhubarb with dates and sugar sounds pretty tasty to me, and I would never have considered adding dates (or sultanas) to the stew. Thanks!

    Ouch. Your sons canine arrangements would entail a lot of hassle for him and the dogs, but I’ve encountered that situation too. At one stage I could not let Toothy and the now deceased Sir Poopy out at the same time as they’d run off into the forest on a canine adventure. Ollie fortunately is too intelligent to fall for Toothy’s adventure siren call. Has Ren recovered from his drubbing at the paws of the older dog?

    Hehe! Funny, but I believe that dental health – like gut health – is now understood to have a far greater role in overall health than what was first considered. In traditional Chinese medicine, I believe that the gut (of which the mouth is at the head of, please excuse the tooth pun) is sometimes referred to as the second brain.

    A truly superb day here today! Not quite spring, but not quite winter either.



  29. Hi Claire,

    Welcome to my world. Incidentally, if the seasons suddenly turned upside down, it would be exactly the same and only very early for tomatoes would be available. You usually enjoy a strong growing season, and as you mentioned that is probably due to your warmer summer nights. I told you that you’d be OK though with the plants, despite the heavy rains and cold weather. 🙂 The plants are all far hardier than we can ever possibly know. It is still very much winter weather here, but I noticed that one of the recently planted elderberries, which I intend to use as the basis of a hedgerow, is now sporting tiny leaves… Bonkers, as it might get cold enough to snow next month. Oh well, I’m sure it will be fine, maybe…

    We’re going to move the tomatoes to a new area next growing season onto one of the new terraces. There is a lot of work to do between now and then.



  30. Hi DJ,

    Haha! We’ve got both kinds of music – country and western! I don’t mind a bit of country music, and the artists rarely shy away from a sad theme, but my music tastes are an eclectic mix indeed and I have strong doubts that you’d enjoy the national youth radio broadcaster that I so enjoy! 🙂 Sometimes the two genres impact together as evidenced by: Johnny Cash – Hurt (Official Video) HD. Mate, he had pain and some to spare that bloke. The original song was written by Trent Reznor of the band Nine Inch Nails.

    The little Spokane River looks more like the sort of rivers that exist down here. Some of the images of the nature reserves around the rivers (big and small) looked really nice. The country is sure dry for the summers. Swap your pines for eucalyptus trees and it wouldn’t look that much different to here.

    Well that is the thing isn’t it? The energy requirements do not stack up. If too many heavy duty battery chargers for electric cars get connected up to the grid, then I suspect the first things to fail will be the various sub stations that provide power for small sections of the grid. The way it works is that a section can fail whilst others continue to operate – but it all depends. The response to such a circumstance of repeating failure will be very interesting indeed. The house here has a tiny micro-grid and I’m fully aware of the limitations of such technology. It is complicated because we have hard limits that can’t be worked around. I’ve had to come to terms with the batteries and the dismal amount of solar energy for three weeks either side of the winter solstice and today hocked for a large generator and charger. The thing is, if I draw the batteries down too low, their lifespan will be far shorter than it otherwise may be. There is no winning either way. None of this stuff works like people generally believe it will.

    The upside to letting go is a lifting of the weight of responsibility and that’s cool. A mate of mine has a belief that work should be a fulfilling experience, and maybe I have a bad attitude to that but I don’t see it that way. Work is work, and fulfilment is something else, although that is not to say that the experience can’t be found in workplaces.

    Nice one! Summer rain is the best rain of all. Are you getting much smoke from distant fires this year?



  31. Hi Pam,

    A couple of fluffies would happily make short work of a couple of over cooked eggs! 🙂 Hey, the chickens have now laid three eggs. Yay! Two months without any eggs at all is about as long as they have ever gone off the lay. Glad to read that you are enjoying the story, it was fun to write, but took much more effort than my usual fare. Only the animals can tell the story like it is.

    Last week the weather was filthy cold and wet. Today, the weak winter sun shone from bright blue skies. I took it easy today as I’ve worked a bit too much of late and needed a bit of recuperation.

    Strangely enough your road sign would cover the same ecological niches! A housing estate is being constructed near to the sign, so my gut feeling for the brush tailed phascogales is not good. The road sign is over at the western end of the range, and I’ve never seen one of the animals up here, but it may not be their niche either.

    Hmm. I hear you. Your son, who has never met a project that he didn’t like (incidentally, I loved that turn of phrase) may have to construct a fruit cage much like the one I made for the strawberries. The pollinators get into such a cage really easily. And the fairy wrens have no trouble with getting in and out of the chicken wire. Way back when the old strawberry enclosure was a thing, the day that the fluffies were in the strawberry patch gobbling up sun ripened strawberries was the day I knew much hard work was ahead of me. Squirrels are highly intelligent creatures. Err, good luck! 😉

    I may get back to doing some digging tomorrow.

    When do you reckon the cooler weather will arrive for you?



  32. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks very much! It was a bit of a gamble writing the story because at first I intended to write a critique. However some theories make so little sense that you need farm animals discussing the subject matter. 🙂 Really, well I guess depending on where a person fits into the economic order, MMT pays out pretty nicely and shoves the cost onto future generations (or the currency flames out through a lack of international value and/or hyper-inflation). Actually, it is the end point of the story that concerns me the most about this particular theory, but you know, I give them credit because I never would have imagined that such a theory would ever be implemented. Sometimes paradigms can shift and things make little sense, although we can believe that they still might make sense despite the shift. Dunno. I’ll be interested to see how this one all plays out.

    Ouch! Your raccoons are frighteningly intelligent creatures, please keep them. How do they react to Leo and Salve? And yes, I’d imagine that they might be able to get into a chicken tractor by digging under the sides.

    Speaking of chickens, my oldest chicken – Mum silky – died a day or so back. She got to ten years old which is pretty good for a chicken and she had a good life. She was a white silky with an unknown mix as she had a brown patch on her front, and the lady that sold her to me said that it was most likely a rusty water stain. I never believed a word of it, but it sure made for a funny story, and clearly the lady thought I wasn’t the brightest spark. Hehe! I have no idea what caused the chickens death as she was healthy one day and dead the next. I’ve lost five chickens this year so far and we’re only half way through the year. My mates of the big shed fame breed chickens so I’ll see whether they can provide a few replacements – otherwise I’ll wait for the next poultry association auction. Sugar! The auction was Sunday a week and a half ago. Oh well. My mates use an incubator to raise their chicks. A few years back they used to raise chicks in the barn, but some of the other hens were not very nice, and because the chicks were so small, the dogs could occasional grab them if the chicks accidentally ventured through the wire surrounding their chicken enclosure.

    Salve. Mate, don’t do it. I had to cover Ollie’s eyes so that he couldn’t read of Salve’s intransigence ,lest he follow in the path of the dark side of the furniture tooth.

    Mmm! Yummy produce. I’m enjoying reading about all the summer garden produce. How does the new place compare to the old place on that front? Do you feel settled in yet?

    Definitely sounds like a ladies weekend! 🙂 Have fun!

    That’s cool and being accessible on the train line is a good thing. Out of curiosity, how do they know who the neighbours predominantly are before buying in the location?



  33. Chris:

    I’m sorry to hear that Mum Silky is gone, but how nice to be healthy one day, then gone the next when one is her age.

    We can have very changeable weather here, so a big Canadian blast could come down and change things – if only briefly – quite suddenly. It won’t be reliably “nice” until September, though.

    My son does have squirrel deterrent ideas involving chicken wire, though he may not be able to get to them until fall.


  34. Ahoy Lewis,

    Shiver me timbers! The landlubber administrators will give you no quarter me old salt. Bring out the Man-O-War and fire some salt into their rigging! Nice one and I’m still chuckling to myself imagining you parroting the pirate lines about occupational health and safety. You have to laugh, but yeah I hear you. In my professional capacity I’m often swamped with the authorities new ideas and systems. I’m at the point now that I feel that I spend a portion of my time administering and updating all of the various systems that are forced upon me. A bank sends statements to my street address despite having previously gone into a branch so that they changed it to my postal address. I live in a no go zone for mail deliveries and any letters that get sent here, mostly disappear. So I’m having to spend time maintaining the banks system, which is a bit of a waste of life.

    Has anyone ever scrawled any graffiti in or on your building? I’ll bet that would contravene the OH&S regulations? Many long years ago someone had scrawled on the back of the lift door, ‘ heart break city’. I always thought that there would be a sad story there. Speaking of which, it looks like young Uther may have been up to some undesirable activities, but I’ll wait to see how the story plays out.

    I mentioned in an earlier comment tonight that a mate of mine has this story in his head about his paid work being also a fulfilling experience. When did work become something more than work – it’s not just a job and all that!!! Dunno about that, but yeah, I do wonder if couch potato-ing fulfils the same inherent need to fill the empty bits? Dunno, what do you reckon? As a kid my mum often used to spend most nights in front of TV and I was a bit put off by that and chose to do something else with my time.

    John Waters sure is a fascinating character. I’ll bet the biography covered some ground. Of particular note was “My life is so over-scheduled, what will happen if I give up control?” Have you ever read the book Carsick?

    Very amusing. I actually thought for a while that young Uther was going to lose it in the rather dubious scene. It was a very foolish thing that he did, but Uther is there to act as a character foil to Merlyn, and so far he seems to be pretty good at the anointed role.

    Good grief indeed! Hehe! I was rather bemused to hear the theological discussion. At the very least it was extremely earnest, but the argument seemed counter intuitive to me. Thanks for the correction too. I like mixing my parables with my metaphors, so that a bird in the hand is worth more than a camel caught in a needle. 🙂

    Thanks for mentioning the Sandhill Cranes. Amazing birds, and the migration is something else, and would have been amazing to witness.

    The weak winter sun shone strongly today. Blue skies all the way, and I took it very easy today and whilst I still had to do a lot of stuff, I took it all at a very relaxed pace. I did a lot of work during June and early July and am recuperating today. Yay for a slower day!I Might dig tomorrow as the weather is meant to be quite nice again.

    Further north, the drought is getting to epic stages. Murray-Darling Basin in ‘most severe’ two-to-three year drought conditions in 120 years of records, BOM says. The weather patterns are hitting hard on the drought front from three different sides of the continent. I’m grateful for the winter rains and am about 2,000 gallons off having a full supply of water stored. I spent a bit of time today considering the longevity of the batteries for the house and am trialling a way to occasionally use fossil fuels over the depths of winter so as not to over use the batteries because doing that really cuts their lifespan down. There is no silver bullet with this renewable energy technology, you just have to muddle through and learn as you go.

    I guess that is one way to learn with the strawbale house construction. Err, 10 out of 10 for enthusiasm, but perhaps 3 out of 10 for pragmatism. I always reach for a book on the subject before starting something complicated like constructing a house! Far out… I’ll bet you reach for a book on a subject too so as to get a feel for the subject matter? Incidentally, I actually did that with the solar power system, but details such as what to do ten years down the track were a bit scant in the many books and sources that I scoured. They were generally full of enthusiastic claims which I wanted very much to hear. Forums helped a lot on that subject and the people mostly provided good advice.

    I’m not sure that anyone wins anything by getting good at this stuff – unlike the competitors who may indeed win something. Mind you, if people were helpful and tried to get the DIY builders and off gridders across the line without mishap, that would probably make for very dull TV. Co-operation as strategy is not often promoted in our culture. Sometimes I feel that the dramas of such choices are over stated and they play the role of the morality tale in our culture. Dunno, what do you reckon about all that?

    Hope the power washing doesn’t show that your window seals are less than impressive! A nice coat of paint sounds OK, although I’m not much of a fan of the smell of curing paint. I once ate a restaurant where the kitchen had been painted and the food tasted of the fumes of curing paint. Revolting stuff.

    Hope the disruptions aren’t too problematic?



  35. Hi Pam,

    Thanks and that was very sweet. Mum Silky did OK, had a long life for a chicken, and she was exceptionally healthy right up to her final day where she just sort of unexpectedly dropped dead. You’d think that Silky chickens would be at the bottom of the pecking order, but no way, those birds have pluck. Not many eggs though.

    Ah, autumn weather provides more pleasant conditions for you. I assume you mean still warm but not as humid? Interesting. Autumn for some reason is quite short lived here and it is the summers that are getting longer. A blast from the north doesn’t sound that nice to me, although I’ve heard it said that a change is as good as a holiday and they may be right, but then they may also be wrong.

    Good on him and I look forward to hearing about how the project turns out.



  36. Yo, Chris – Hmmm. Graffiti. Early in the new regime, here at the Institution, someone penned something about “Nazi” in the elevator. Susan Who Has A Better Idea, was accused. That Anti-Christ said the handwriting looked like hers. (And how long have you BEEN a handwriting expert?). They pick at Susan, for this and that, as they’d rather she move on. As she’s the center of The Resistance. But, she writes letters, makes calls, sends e-mails and lawyers up. So, they generally back off. I’ve often thought of it,

    The whole concept of work … the philosophy of work? Hmmm. It’s a rather fraught topic. There’s a fine line, a lot of gray area between doing a good job and being exploited. Or just not being generally treated with respect. I think you remember the boss I had who’s philosophy was that employees shouldn’t be too comfortable or have too much fun. I mean, we busted bottom. So, it wasn’t that the job wasn’t being done. And, done well.

    My friends in Idaho, had a friend who took a job in mining (of some kind.) Started out with him and a crew of six. Later reduced to three. He finally bailed when his nose started bleeding and he thought his head was going to explode. America has this big “productivity” thing. Biz speak for doing jobs with as few resources and employees, as possible. Efficiency is all well and good, but there’s a certain point where you start getting diminishing returns. Accountants (sorry. of the corporate kind) and HR, sitting in their offices with no idea of what goes on in the trenches, just looking at numbers, don’t cut it. I’ve had a few of those nose bleed jobs, and finally got to the point that I could recognize them, early on, and started looking around. Sometimes, I walked with nothing in the offing.

    Just to change the topic, I really wonder what’s going on, in the books, here at the Institution. Under the old building head, well, she told me before she left that we were in fine financial shape. Making money. Hefty prudent reserves. And now they’re crying poor, all the time. What changed? I think a good audit or before and after look see, might be interesting. But, from what I see in the news (and hear) HUD (Housing and Urban Development) is in chaos. The head of the agency, has moved family on board, and does things like buying $30,000+ dining sets for his office suite.

    Well, I’ve seen most of John Waters films, somewhere along the way. And read most of his books. Be warned. Not family friendly. R rated, all the way. “Car Sick” had an interesting format. He decided (in his 60s) to hitchhike across the U.S.. So, he’d have a chapter, describing what really happened, and then a fantasy chapter, as to what may, or may not have happened.

    Conversations about camels and needles and such, bore me to tears. I won’t worry about angels and pins, either. Not until a gaggle of angels show up. Then, it might be of academic interest. Maybe.

    Your drought continues to be awful. Here, the headlines are blaring that most of our country is headed for triple digits, plus, F. Here, we’re in for at least a week of 80F+. Not bad. Prof. Mass has something about a jet stream, which is passing right over us. But it brings an onshore flow, which probably keeps our temps in a fairly comfortable range.

    The power washers have shown up. The way the Ladies are constantly throwing open windows, around here, there’s bound to be a disaster, somewhere along the way. There are rumors that the new color will be lighter. Might help a bit with the high internal temperatures, in summer. More reflection. Maybe.

    Yeah, I reach for a book, if possible. But Google is my friend. :-). But I take anything on the Net with a pound of salt. I want print backup, for dicey or dodgy things. Mr. Greer gave you a shout out, yesterday, in one of his replys. Said he was more interested in people’s take on solar, that actually live with the stuff. Not armchair amateurs.

    I watched a zombie movie, last night. “Dead Trigger.” Stars Dolph Lundgren. Not bad, if you can see if for free. I’ve never followed Mr. Lundren’s career, and didn’t know it was him, til the credits rolled. All the way through, I kept thinking, “Is this guy serious?” Over the top, iron jawed leader. I think he’s too the point where he’s playing a parady of his rolls. Lew

  37. Hi Chris,
    Raccoons can be very aggressive so it’s best not to let the dogs tangle with them which they would very much like to do. The coons generally go up any nearby tree which these did. I probably lost more chickens to raccoons than anything else. They don’t generally dig but if any part is not flush with the ground they can get in surprisingly small places. Over the years we’ve fortified the tractor with hardware cloth and have a couple of boards to put in any spot where they might get in. However, a large one could probably move the board – they are very smart too. I’m sorry to hear of your loss but then to be fine and just go – we should all be so lucky. I’ve incubated chicks and had some hens raise their own. The hens get really nasty if any chicken or person comes anywhere near them. The chicks would be right with the rest of the flock.

    We were pretty disappointed in Salve. She had stopped chewing the rug in her crate and had, in fact, been left lose quite a few times but just out of the blue she decided to chew the corner of the desk.

    My biggest issue here at the new place is having a water source near the garden as most sunny places are far away from water. I have managed to hook up several hoses to reach almost all the plants and as I keep the garden well mulched I don’t really have to water more than once a week. I did put my new asparagus bed way in the back of the property where it is sunny since once the bed is established it doesn’t need all that much attention. Just this week I hauled many jugs of water back there as there’s no way any hose will reach. That took the place of my 2 mile morning walk. I have planted all around our deck which is pretty sunny and the peas and cucumbers are climbing up the rails. In fact the cucumbers seem to be taking over. I would say we are pretty much settled. I’ll probably make a few changes in planting next year but not much.

    I believe my daughter’s realtor told them about the neighborhood. Police and firefighters in Chicago have to live in the city so any neighborhood that borders the edge of the north or south sides of the city is sought out by them. The seller is a retired firefighter and he’s moved to a suburb not far from his old house.

    Between the night before last and yesterday we received 3 inches of rain quite unexpectedly as there was only a slight chance of a small amount of rain in the forecast. I had just completed a good watering of everything.

    Well the guests will be arriving soon.


  38. @ Inge,

    Thank you. It was very difficult to pull away, but very necessary for a lot of reasons.

    “You is not completely helpless where fate is concerned as you have control of your internal reaction to what happens to you.” Well said and very true. Finally being able to learn that and work with that as a foundational truth has been refreshing and healing.

    As far as being “sententious”…I don’t view comments as sententious from people with whom I interact and who have earned the right to be sententious. You have earned that right, as far as I’m concerned, and your comment was appreciated. Nor did it appear to be preachy to me.

    20 years ago, I ran into someone on the internet who turned into what I call a “Pompousticator”, aka a “Pompous Pontificator”. He drove several of us absolutely crazy on an old forum I frequented. When I called him a pompousticator, he calmed right down.


  39. Chris,

    Thanks for the Johnny Cash song. I’ve long enjoyed his music. Some is very funny, some allows the pain to blast through. Always entertaining.

    The Little Spokane’s nature areas are very nice. The main Spokane River has a LOT of public access and a very large park. I grew up right uphill from that park (Riverside State Park) and spent a lot of time wandering there.

    Your adventures with solar remind me of the adage: “In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they’re not.” With the electric cars, people are entirely ignoring the amount of energy required to manufacture one car and its battery system. Also ignored is, well, where does the electricity come from that will power said electric car? And electric transmission is far from efficient. By the time all of that is included, I’d guess that my 2005 Subaru is more “green” than a new electric car.

    I’ve been fascinated reading some of the comments to Mr. Greer’s post this week. The very same arguments are being made again, some by a few of the same people, some by new visitors. And they are all so certain that they are right. I found your reply to sunnnv to be spot on. I’m avoiding posting, as I fear that what I have to say would irritate even Mr. Greer. The one bloke who said that heating in the winter is trivial (my paraphrase) needs to be here for a few weeks when it’s 5F, 25 mile per hour wind, snowing heavily and no sun for 3 weeks or longer. Our house is pretty well insulated, but heating it under those circumstances is far from trivial.

    I agree: work is work. I look for fulfillment and “adventure” elsewhere. Tossing my program’s files has been an interesting experience, as it truly brings home the point that we as humans are very unimportant from the point of view of the universe. I’m enjoying the resultant change of perspective, as it is actually rather freeing for some reason.

    Tuesday’s rains were wonderful, and it sprinkled off and on all of Wednesday. I had watered everything Sunday and Monday so I thought that I wouldn’t have to do much watering until maybe Sunday. Hahahaha was I wrong. Thursday was maybe 23C but we had fierce wind all day, with the humidity dropping to 20%. Still windy today (Friday) 25C with 27% humidity. Parts of the grass have turned brown and crunchy, the water bowl I keep filled for the birds and other creatures was empty this afternoon. We’re supposed to hit 32C Sunday and be near 35C for 2 or 3 days before dropping to a more comfortable 30C. And the humidity will stay very low. These radical swings are hard to work with, but that’s the way it is, so slog along with it is best.


  40. Hi Margaret,

    Dogs can sometimes over estimate their abilities and you’d hope they’d be smart enough to know not to tangle with the wildlife, but I guess that isn’t always the case. Raccoons sound formidable and I do hope that I never encounter one. It might be a bigger dog thing (rather than small dogs), but Ollie when he first arrived here, well he thought interacting with the wildlife was a full on contact sport, but he’s learned to chase them when required and not make contact with them. I suspect he was bitten or scratched once or twice and then learned to treat the wildlife with a degree of respect. Sir Poopy alas was a gifted dog when it came to the wildlife as he never hesitated and always engaged from the rear, loudly announced his presence, and left the animals an escape route.

    Good to hear that raccoons can’t dig unless sufficiently motivated, but I can see that they’d take advantage of any weakness in the chicken tractor. How are the birds going? And thanks for sharing your experiences with breeding chickens.

    Salve, well it is on her mind 24/7 and most of the time she can obviously restrain herself. I just chuck Ollie outside in the dogs enclosure regardless of the weather and he just has to deal. Chewing furniture is probably on his mind 24/7 too!

    Yeah, I hear you about the watering. Have you ever used an automatic timed water system? Not many changes next year sounds like you did pretty well with the planting this year. 🙂 I’m intending to change some of the garden watering system over the next few weeks and relocate taps (spigots) and sprinklers.

    Ah, that makes sense and such rules don’t apply down here – other than to politicians who must have an abode within their electorate.

    What a summer you’re having! I’d be reasonably happy with such a summer as the alternative is not so good.

    Hope everyone had a fun time.



  41. Hi Lewis,

    I had a gut feeling that someone somewhere would write something poetic, witty, or otherwise observational on a wall in your digs. You have to admit that it is an activity that seems hardwired into our species. Is cave painting any different? It’s a very big call by the powers that be to suggest Susan may be the culprit based on hand writing alone. Painting over the ‘scribbled note on wall with feelings’ is probably the best idea, unless it escalates. I do hope the persons calligraphy skills were up to the task? I see that Merlyn is also having to grapple with the concept of unknown, unknowns in the book – and it is not dissimilar in concept, despite being very different circumstances in detail. I was quite amazed to see that both Picus and Lucceia introduced different narratives to the incident – and the magic has rebounded upon Merlyn who is now in thrall to the smile. What a fascinating and complex story. Not to mention that Daffyd the Druid has alerted young Merlyn, that Lot has over extended his reach and under provided for his people and will be soon be making an unofficial visit. To be forewarned may sometimes lead some people to being prepared. You’re right though, the story is about ex-Roman preppers.

    Lewis, I now dub you: Lewis of the clear sight! Exactly, you’ve hit the core of the problem. In some respects I related more to the culture that I read about in the book on Edo era Japan because they sought a slow but constant improvement in systems and conditions. In the west we see that activity through an entirely different lens and it is a subject that I have to ponder regularly for all of the reasons that you mentioned. As a suggestion, I feel that the replacement of social obligations with monetary obligations adds to the confusion on the topic.

    Yeah, it is not just the US, economists down here decry the lack of increases in labour productivity. I tend to feel that increased labour productivity is an expression of the concept of ‘more for less’, but the benefits I’ve always noted are not equally shared so where is the incentive to provide more for less? It must be a real conundrum for executives on boards that worry about how to increase their own remuneration. I noticed recently that one of the big banks increased the CEO’s salary, but announced 6,000 redundancies. I can’t say that it is a good look.

    It is interesting that you mention people moving ‘family on board’, but there was a politician that did that down here recently – and there was a bit of an outcry. I do wonder about how these things go as one of my favourite charities that I regularly donate to seems to have been taken over by some zealots. If rules aren’t in place and enforced, then asset and cash rich groups can potentially get stripped to the bone.

    Oh yes, I understood the ‘not family friendly’ nature of the books and films. The bloke liked to push the boundaries and ‘shock yo mamma’ and I read that there were interactions with the censors (what a dull job that would be). The contrast of the fantasy chapter is a very clever idea. I would like to note that for the record, your recommendation of the Camulod series of books has eaten up all of my reading time for the next few months! 🙂 And in turn, I’m happily eating up all of the authors words.

    I hear you, and agree. It is a rather dull topic that has no end point in sight and is designed to consume your life force for no real benefit or gain. Still, I reckon the answer might just be 42 angels! Hehe!

    Far out those are strong winds, but you may recall that I only enjoy a mild and damp climate due to the roaring forties and this mountain range sticking up like a pimple on the underside of the planet. To me your jet stream in the Cliff Mass blog looked a lot like that. Add in more energy to the atmosphere and fun things can happen.

    Yeah, painting the building a lighter colour will reflect some heat – you may notice that the house walls here are a glossy white colour. The roof is a nuisance of a colour because it is light grey. I wasn’t able to use a shiny metallic finish because apparently people down below might be occasionally dazzled for a few minutes by the sun reflecting off the roof steel. You know, you just work with what you’ve got sometimes and I do try to not rail against the strangeness of our societies systems. Hope none of the ladies kept their windows open during the power wash?

    Gogle is pretty good at providing references. It is an amazing facility to have access to. And yes, I spotted the shout out on Thursday which is why I replied. But yeah, the true believers have turned up to comment and I’m happy to leave them to indolently dream their dreams. I’ve had interactions with the person who dismissed me before. He would do well to understand that I receive spam emails that read like that response every single day. I am more impressed with real world experience than multiple interweb links. I call such folks armchair theorists. I have had people seriously suggest to me that the solar PV panels here should produce power even though they be covered in a layer of snow… I enjoyed the occasional snow fall as did Sir Poopy. I’m not sure that Ollie will be a fan of snow given how thin his coat is – his breed was created up in Queensland which has a notoriously hot climate (think Florida).

    Dead Trigger looks epic. I’m always impressed that you have a handle on all the zombie films, and that one had a boss zombie – although I note George Romero used a boss zombie in Land of the Dead 2005 and Dennis Hopper played a great role. How hard was the boss zombie to take down in the film? What was he called again? Subject One?

    Dug and moved soil all day today. The new terraces are coming along nicely and I reckon another four or five days digging will be all that is required before fences can be installed, stairs formed and plants, well, planted. Late this afternoon, we finally got our heads around how the terraces will be fenced off from the wildlife. I blame the coffee and cake hit after a long days hard work that provided such clarity. You may note that I am now using the plural when referring to the terraces, because we’re now constructing two of them at the same time.



  42. Hi DJ,

    Oh yeah, he’s good isn’t he. Such gravelly notes and he hits the pain-o-meter.

    Out of curiosity, given there is a lot of public access to the rivers, do people build dwellings in the flood plains associated with the rivers? Generally that isn’t allowed down here other than along the coastlines (same, same but different).

    Thanks for the old adage, I really liked it as it got right to the exact core of the problem. I’m with you entirely on all points. The whole electric car thing makes no sense to me at all. Already over summer the electricity grid hits peak output and some areas drop off, so what is adding a whole lot of new homes and electric car chargers to the system going to look like? And anyway, most roof spaces on houses aren’t constructed so that they can be useful for installing lots and lots of solar panels. I believe that not many of our coal fired power stations are expected to have a lifespan past 2040, and I haven’t heard of any replacements in the pipeline.

    But yeah, maintaining an older vehicle is much better for the environment than constructing a brand new one. Says he who got rid of the older dirt mouse late last year as it finally bit the bullet! But on the other hand, the dirt rat is a 2004 model and like you, I keep it very well maintained.

    Yeah sunnv pops out of the woodwork occasionally to spruik something or other, but I’ve tried in the past to have a dialogue with him, but yeah I dunno. Belief systems are funny things to encounter in the flesh. Mate, I hear you, if the panels are covered in snow, they aren’t going to produce anything, and if the winter sun is low in the sky and the plants aren’t growing, how can solar PV be expected to perform better than the plants? I have noticed that the sun feels differently in different seasons, but try telling people that! Hehe!

    Good to hear that the experience is cathartic. If you’ve ever wondered how we feel about making our own say, black currant wine, well it is the same thing. The word misplaced may apply to misplacing your feelings of fulfilment and adventure where others may seek to trash it. Sorry for the dodgy tie back to the central theme, but you have to admit – it sort of works! 🙂

    Out of curiosity, have you ever used a timed (or one with a timer) watering system? Compared to last summer with the smoke and all, you seem to be having a pretty good summer from my perspective. As I’ve noted before, and may do so again in the future, things could always be worse! 😉 How is the wind in your part of the world? Cliff Mass wrote that it is not just strong, it is record breaking by a considerable margin.



  43. Chris:

    Yesterday was our third day with a high of 102F (39C) and I watched the thermometer off and on through the afternoon and it stayed there a long time. The last 3 nights have “cooled” down to 80F (26.7). We do have air conditioning – one window unit upstairs and one down – so it’s fine in the house. My son waters part of the garden in the morning; I water the other part in the late afternoon. He has a nursery of small fruit trees started in pots – dozens of them – and they have to be watered twice a day. I moved some of the tiniest ones into the basement temporarily. Apparently about 2/3 of the U.S. is having these conditions.

    In early summer my son mulched most of the vegetable plants with a thick layer of sawdust, having collected lots of it from his timber cutting activities. This was fresh sawdust, not aged at all, that he put around the plants and I was very sceptical of this being a good idea. Now in this excessive heat some of the ground around the plants has cracks the size of the Grand Canyon. I can’t figure out why (as I said, we water every day).


  44. Yo, Chris – The whole flinging about the word “Nazi” is getting to be kind of a cliche. Sad, but there it is. I would have come up with something like: “Given the history of the 20th century, “I was only following orders,” doesn’t cut it.” ( ™ Lew). Soon to be a bumper sticker, near you. :-).

    “Clear sighted?” Naaaw. Crank out enough verbiage, and I’m bound to stumble over something, from time to time. A stopped clock tells the correct time, twice a day.

    Let’s lay off a lot of people, and watch our stock and bonuses go up! Something like 12,000 retail outlets, are going to close, this year. Sure, a lot of that is because chains overbuilt. But I wonder how many of the stores were profitable, just not profitable, enough? What is also politely called “labor unrest” is another popular reason to close a store.

    And, the word for the day is … nepotism! Hiring your relatives. We had an interesting situation, at the library, yers ago. About the same time, a building head of a large branch was hired, and a new head of HR. A few months later, it came out that they were hubby and wife. There were nepotism policies in place, but they were let slide. I had a feeling, at that time, if it had been rank and file, instead of “professional” class, it wouldn’t have been let slide.

    Hmmm. 42? “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?”

    Oh, the power wash seems to have gone, ok. No news of any big disasters. They did our side and floor, early on. So, I even got a descent nap in.

    Well, I don’t actively look for zombie films. The Universe, provides. This last one, I either just spotted in the library catalog, or, maybe I saw a trailer. “Patient Zero.” Always seems to be the Holy Grail of whatever plague, is going. Really didn’t have much of a role. Rather a sidebar or cameo. Dispatched pretty easily with a small hand held thermal (nuclear?) device.

    Two terraces at once? Now that’s productivity! There will be a certificate. Or, we’ll name you employee of the month. Something, anything, that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy, but not take a dime out of our pocket. And put it into yours. I think I’ve been reading too much Dilbert. Somehow, it put me in mind of a Young Adult novel (later a movie), titled “Holes.” (Sachar, 1998.)

    Interesting. I left a couple of horseradish leaves out, by the stove. They dried to a parchment like, and easily crumbled consistency. Instant flakes and easy to pick the ribs out. I threw a handful into a potage, but too many contrasting flavors, to pick it out. I’ll have to do a test run with just rice, and see if it imparts any flavor. Lew

  45. @ DJSpo
    I really must proof read my comments, ‘You is’ is making me flinch.


  46. Hello again
    It rained heavily last night and there is water in my pond at last. It will soon be gone as the weather is supposed to return to very hot and dry.
    Gut bugs do seem to be interesting. I have bugs in my gums which can’t be got rid of. This means that I feel very unwell a day or so after going to the dental hygienist. There seems to be no answer to this.
    Am currently inundated with runner and French beans. I freeze the runners and try to eat the French ones as I don’t like them frozen. Still having to freeze some of them though as there are too many for me to eat straight away.


  47. Chris,

    Flood plains? Supposedly, buildings are allowed in the 100 year flood plain, but not for the shorter terms, such as 10 year and 30 year flood plains. On the Little Spokane and smaller streams, there are a lot of houses. Theoretically, none are in the 30 year flood plain, but I know from actual observation, maps and reality, that they are within the 10 year flood plain. There is one area of the Spokane River that has apartments and houses and commercial buildings within the 30 year flood plain and they get flooded about every 7 or 8 years. One small creek has homes and the regional Mormon Temple right in the annual flood plain. The main floor is fine if constructed correctly, but any basement needs a sump pump running for half of the year or more. I shudder at the expense of those buildings’ flood insurance rates!

    I’m really questioning the entire PV idea in addition to electric cars. The problems being the amount of energy required to construct them, the toxins released into the environment by some of the materials, and the relative rarity of some of the minerals. Didn’t Mr. Greer say once that technology can’t fix “it no longer exists”? Every discussion of PV and improved battery technology ignores these ideas.

    I hadn’t thought about plants vs PV, but that is a very good point. Attempting to engineer something more efficient than what has evolved for millions of years seems bound to fail, doesn’t it?

    “The word misplaced may apply to misplacing your feelings of fulfilment and adventure where others may seek to trash it.” Well said. And sure as wombat poo, somebody will try to trash any feelings of fulfillment and adventure at the job just because they can.

    I’ve not tried timers for watering. Well, I do use an egg timer so I don’t forget to turn off the water and remember to move the sprinkler around. The wind and the lack of humidity and this sandy soil are not a good combination for growing grass.

    The smoke? I am reluctant to comment on that because that will jinx the situation and the smoke will get very bad and then I will have trouble breathing…

    The wind situation is interesting. I wasn’t aware of the record jet stream speeds until you mentioned it. But the wind rarely quits blowing here. It didn’t use to be that way; in fact, we used to beg for even the slightest puff of breeze in the summer. Winter cold spells were mostly windless, too, but not now, although the air temperatures are noticeably higher now. This near constant wind has been occurring for about a decade now. Yes, we’d get the rare wind storm with high winds, even in winter when escorting in a cold front. But now it’s the daily hours of double digit (USA units) wind speed. Perhaps our surface speeds reflect the excessive jet stream speeds?

    Today is a good example. Windless when I got up. Windless when I went to carving club, leaving at 8:30. Windy when the meeting dispersed at 11:00 and still blowing at 4:00. It will likely stay at 12 mph or so winds until maybe midnight. 27% humidity and 27C.

    Oh, yes, the sun. Good observation about how it feels different in different seasons. I don’t know how people ignore that/don’t get that except that it contradicts their quasi-religious beliefs about solar.


  48. Hi Chris,

    This week’s story brings up an uncomfortable admission. I have never read ‘animal farm’. There I said it. In my defense, I have read 1984, and thought it was pretty good. I am sympathetic towards MMT, but only in the sense it will (force) send economies back to more local production once the currency inevitably crashes. Maybe not what proponents think will happen?

    Apologies if I revealed too much in my comments on the story for ‘earth abides’. For some reason I thought you had already finished it. I hope they were appropriately vague! Shogun is coming along nicely, what a great page turner! And the author takes great effort to give even minor characters detailed motivations and goals. I read another of his novels, “escape”, recently. It is set in the Iranian revolution and was very good. I see it at almost every op shop as well.

    Thank you for your kind comments on my story (the cupertinians). Any reader of Vance will see the influence immediately. Who doesn’t love a good rogue like character? Perhaps because they live in a way we don’t quite dare? You welcome their inevitable comeuppance, but can laugh when they get away with it as well. I know nothing of Varrus and Merlyn so must skip that discussion for now 🙂

    At the moment I am watching hummingbirds dart among flowers, and a squirrel is investigating a nearby tree. Common creatures for the locals, but for me, i could watch them for hours. Tomorrow, Mrs Damo and I must get up at an unseemly hour so we can go to Monteverde cloud forest at the 7am opening. We must be early for the best chance to see the resplendent quetzal bird! You will also be happy to note our mode of transport is a slightly beat up suzuki jimny.

    The past week we have being very busy at a unique shipyard in Costa Rica. The full story is a bit involved to type in my phone, but I will put the whole story up on the other blog in a few weeks when I get back. If you go to you can see a bit more for now.


    PS Lew and Chris
    New top gun trailer just out. I am not ashamed to admit my love of a good Tom cruise movie 🙂 this one hits all the beats and looks to have a bit of drone commentary as well. I wonder how much of the piloting Tom did himself? (check YouTube for a behind the scenes of Tom learning to fly helicopters for the last mission impossible movie, he is dedicated I will give him that!)

  49. Hi Pam,

    You have my sympathies because I am all too familiar with such hot weather. The plants wilt in the scorching summer sun only to rebound at night. I tend to water at night during such weather, but you have a well and access to more water so twice a day is pretty optimal. Kudos to your son for his orchard project. If I could be so bold as to suggest trialling some summer grafting techniques when the trees get bigger? If you have access to known varieties of trees, it is a pretty simple process.

    I don’t really use sawdust as a mulch here due to not having access to much of it. What I’ve noticed with sawdust is that it forms an impermeable mat and fungi does eventually break it down. As a wild guess, I’m guessing the mat of saw dust has formed cracks as the moisture is lost due to the seriously hot days that you are experiencing. When the rain does return, I suspect the mat of sawdust will expand again and the cracks will disappear. Clay does the same thing. Over late autumn when things cool down, I’d probably break up the mat a bit so that air can get in which will give the fungi a leg up and speed up the decomposition. You may feel that the mat is receiving enough water, but I suspect that things may be otherwise. Dig into an area and see how damp the soil is. What do you reckon about all that?



  50. Hi Inge,

    We do like to maintain high grammatical standards here, however I’m as guilty as the next person of the occasional slip up! 🙂

    Good to hear that you received some decent rain at last. How many inches constitutes: ‘good rain’? Your summer weather is starting to sound a lot like summer weather here (hot weather with the occasional very heavy rain).

    Have you ever considered trying activated charcoal? Not only is it good for your teeth, I find that it also settles the gut, although it is very unusual that I experience an upset stomach. It is worth giving it a go. It was traditionally used as a treatment for flatulence. Seriously.

    Enjoy your glut of summer produce! Yum! Do you use frames for the beans to climb upon?



  51. Hi Lewis,

    I hear the label getting chucked around. What interests me about the ‘nazi’ label is that I never hear anyone in day to day conversation talking about them. Mostly the talk is on the interweb which doesn’t follow normal social norms and customs so I don’t put too much concern into such talk. However as a further thought, it is possibly I suspect your national boogeyman? Hope that doesn’t sound too far fetched? The stupid thing is that so many people are fixated on the ‘right’ that they tend to overlook the pretty epic body count on the ‘left’ side of the equation. It seems like a blind spot to me, but then I have walked in the killing fields in Cambodia and saw some very gruesome things there courtesy of Pol Pot and his merry band of ideologues. I guess referring to a problem as being only of the ‘right’ means that other people can count themselves as among the ‘good people’ when they’re on the left. I tend to feel that humans can go to extremes if given the opportunity.

    Interestingly too, whilst in Cambodia I read some of the histories of people who had no option other than to work in the S-21 Tuol Sleng Prison. And well they were in fact under orders of death themselves if they failed to comply with orders. I honestly have no idea what I would do if confronted by such a moral dilemma. However, they survived when plenty of others didn’t. Dunno. What do you reckon about such a moral dilemma? How does a person even navigate such a choice? The stories about the individuals were not written as a morality tale, it was more of a tale of normal people being chucked into very abnormal circumstances.

    I love that saying! Hehe! Yeah we both chuck enough ideas out there and sooner or later one of them will be correct. Funny stuff.

    Exactly, when I saw the closure of some manufacturing in my professional capacity, the businesses were making money, just not enough relative to the capital. The real joke about rising property prices is that every time they go up, the returns from running a business look worse relative to the possibility of selling up the property that the business is located upon, or the rents go up. Either way money gets funnelled in funny ways when the growth in the money supply exceeds the growth in the underlying energy and wealth (and it gets even stranger if the energy and real wealth are in decline).

    Yeah those examples of nepotism don’t look that good to me either. Although, I’m entirely aware that most small businesses revolve around the family unit and I see a lot of that. It can work really well too if everyone is working in the same direction. But large corporates and political offices are a whole ‘nother matter. Did it work out for the husband and wife working together? That is not as easy a situation to work through as it may seem to be.

    Hehe! Yeah, I was being silly about 42, but you have to admit that it is as good a guess as any other guess?

    Does the building look any cleaner for the power washing? They’re handy machines those power washers.

    It is a shame that patient zero (gotta love the nomenclature!) went down so easily. I noticed that in the trailer, as a group, the heroes seemed a bit fixated on their own unique abilities and I’m not sure how such a tactic would work against err, patient zero (aka Boss Zombie). To be honest, the boss zombie looked a bit like the ‘Toxic Avenger’ so I had a lot of trouble taking the boss zombie seriously. Have you ever watched the Toxic Avenger? Would you call Toxie an anti-hero?

    Thanks, I’d like to feel warm and fuzzy because I feel quite cold now, although today was another superb winters day. Even got my ugg boots on and I still have cold feet. Anyway the place will warm up shortly. Hey we moved a monster rock today (Boss Rock?) using a trolley. I’m spreading out the task of moving such monsters because I have no wish to injure myself and the risk goes up because they are really hard to handle on an incline. I was feeling a little bit sore and tired after the three days of digging two weeks ago. It is nice to know your limits.

    What a story! I am in awe of such story telling prowess. Thanks for mentioning the book. Did you just sneak in a sneaky book recommendation? I’m impressed at your audacity! 🙂

    I’ll be curious to hear what you have to say about the dried horseradish leaves. We use a lot of dried seasoning and spices in the kitchen.

    Better run, Sitting Duck is not sitting around… And fiction is very hard for me to write, it doesn’t come naturally. Today he meets Truman the Turkey. Truman is something of a cad but the story is not yet clear.



  52. Hi DJ and Damo,

    Thanks for the comments, but I gotta write tonight. Sitting duck is not sitting around and the clock is ticking away (well it is actually silent) but you get the metaphor.



  53. Chris:

    What I reckon about all your thoughts om sawdust as a mulch is that you are right on the money. Thanks!


  54. Yo, Chris – Moral dilemmas and collaborators. Of course, if you pick the “right side,” that all goes away :-). “Sophie’s Choice.” And, of course it helps if you don’t have family, to be held hostage. One would be lucky to make it through life, and not have to face a moral dilemma, of one sort, or another.

    Yeah, if you’ve got a business, best own the property, if at all possible. There’s still escalating maintenance, taxes, utilities. But at least you don’t have a landlord, constantly jacking up the rent, on you.

    As far as I know, the husband and wife team had no problems. They didn’t even work at the same site, and had entirely different jobs. Still, being head of HR, he would have overseen her evaluations, etc.. The thing is, it set a president. Provided a slippery slope. But, when the Mennonite mother daughter team started working in a branch, there wasn’t much admin could say, could they? That worked out, pretty well. Given they never worked the same shifts.

    Oh, the power washing did spiff up the building, a bit. Not that it was that bad. I really think it could have gone a few more years. There was no peeling paint, that I could see. Onto the brush swinging,this week. I’m curious as to if the painting contractor is local. I’ll have to check into that :-).

    Really, the boss zombie didn’t have much screen time. Less than a cameo. I watched “Shazam!” last night. Now that was pretty good. Typical super hero fodder, for the younger set.

    It was 81F (27.22C) yesterday. Supposed to get to 90F (32.22C) today. Then a cooling trend. A week of lower temperatures with scattered clouds. Works for me.

    Well, I picked the first gallon of blueberries, this morning. They’re drying in the colander, right now. Soon to hit the freezer. Looks like a good crop, this year. I was going to pick every three days, but I think a lot would go to waste. But, I worry that I’ll get flack. “Lew’s picking All the blueberries.” Probably from someone who won’t turn a hand, to pick any. I generally pick from the back of the bushes, and a lot goes to waste. Soooo …. I picked four small bowls and tossed them on the table in the community room. Will do that from time to time. That might head off, any nonsense.

    Read a good chunk of “Eagle’s Brood,” last night. Well, Merlin almost stuck his foot in it, as far as Urther goes. Lew

Comments are closed.