A rose is a rose in a row

The gripping conclusion to Modern Grain Theory has to wait for another week. (Editor says ‘wrap it up, it’s getting old’)

Regular readers will recall that for obvious, and mostly weather related reasons, the blog last week focused on snow and winter rain. During such weather conditions, it is very hard to work outside. And just in case you missed last weeks blog, the snow was epic. This is what the snow on the solar panels on the roof of the cantina shed in the courtyard looked like.

Snow obscures the solar panels on the cantina shed roof

Needless to say, solar photovoltaic panels produce no energy at all when covered in snow, despite peoples crazy beliefs. Leading up to the snow, the farm had enjoyed three continuous days of very wet and very cloudy weather. The solar panels barely produced much power during those cloudy days either, so I decided that it was a good opportunity to test out my new petrol (gasoline) powered battery charger arrangement.

Testing out the new emergency battery charger

The battery charging arrangement works very well, but it is not lost on me that it is an extraordinarily expensive way to produce electricity. I recall long ago when I lived in the city, being outraged at the connection charges for water. My thinking during those urban days went along the line that: As a household, we used very little water per day, especially when compared to the average household, so the $200 per quarter connection fee was a bit of an outrage.

My outrage at the quarterly connection charge was an act of hubris, because in these enlightened times, I now know that with no services at all connected to the house, a years worth of urban water connection charges would be just enough to cover the cost of a 4,000 litre / 1,050 gallon water tank (excluding delivery costs). Nope, I now know that them city folks are enjoying some very cheap infrastructure.

But anyway, last week the snow was heavy and the rain was persistent for days. Those sorts of weather conditions are not conducive to getting outside and doing serious work, so we didn’t do anything. At the end of the previous week before the snow and rain, the new garden terraces (upper and lower terraces) project looked like this:

How the new garden terraces project looked two weeks ago

In between the snow and the thick clouds and heavy rain, the sun has occasionally shone and the UV is now moderate (up from low). The sheer variability of this winter has confused my senses, but I’m not alone because the plants are likewise confused. Earlier today I noticed that the many almond trees have begun producing leaves. Little do they know that snow is predicted to again fall to 400m  / 1,320ft above sea level early tomorrow morning (Monday morning).

Almond trees have begun producing leaves

Almonds are a very early fruit tree. Rather than being a true nut, almonds are actually a variety of peach. Almonds produce blossoms at a time when the only insect pollinator flying about is the European honey bee (bummer about the perilous state of the European honey bee. Sucks to be an almond tree). I have a bee hive, but after many years of working with the bees I’ve acknowledged that they know their insect business better than I do, and we seem to have arrived at some sort of acknowledgement of mutual interests. That means that I don’t pester them and they don’t sting me – and everyone is happy.

This week brought a break in the winter weather for a few days. The editor and I set ourselves the goal of completing the upper new garden terrace this week. We didn’t achieve that goal, but we sure got close to achieving it. Two days of digging, moving and compacting soil on the upper terrace produced this result.

The upper terrace after two days of digging, moving and compacting soil

Not a bad effort at all if I may say so. During the excavations we unearthed an unfeasible quantity of small rocks. We’re using those small rocks to fill a steel rock gabion cage (and as fill in concrete steps).

An unfeasible amount of rocks were uncovered during the two days of excavations

However, not all of the rocks that we unearthed were small. Some of them were true behemoths and we’re using those to construct a rock wall on a path leading away from the lower terrace. The rocks are excavated using an electric jackhammer and hand tools. And the rocks excavated this week were at the upper limit as to what we can handle and move.

Ollie is impressed by the epic rock wall on the new lower terrace project

Also for the first time in a very long while, during the excavations on the upper terrace, we unearthed the remains of an old tree stump. The tree stump will have to be ground out during a future week.

Ollie notes that this tree stump will take a while to grub out

Despite not quite finishing the upper garden terrace, we were very chuffed at how it now looks. The project has moved a long way from where it was only two weeks ago:

Toothy is impressed with the new upper garden terrace project

Observant readers will note that there is a rock in the middle of the highest concrete step. The rock was not meant to be there, and the not-yet-dry surface of the step was marked by the rock which had inadvertently blown there in a strong gust of wind overnight.

The reason for the haste with the upper garden terrace is that on the downhill side of the terrace we intend to plant a long row of roses. Like the almonds, the roses are also beginning to produce leaves (and a flower!) and so we wanted to get the roses in the ground on the upper terrace as soon as possible.

Roses, like most plants usually have to be planted in holes in the ground, so early Sunday morning I began digging holes for the many roses. When digging holes I sometimes use a hand auger.

The author uses a hand auger to dig holes for a row of roses on the upper terrace

The upper garden terrace is quite long and as such it can contain quite a lot of roses. Unfortunately, that also meant that I had to dig a lot of holes!

All up twenty holes were dug at regular intervals

Before all of the roses were planted, the heavens opened and about 17mm / 0.7 inches of rain fell. There was water everywhere, and we retreated into the house where the wood fire was keeping the place toasty warm.

The newly planted roses received an excellent watering in

There was no need to ‘water in’ the new plants because nature had done the job for us for free!

Working on the new upper garden terrace was unpleasant after the heavy rainfall

Just before the rain hit, we could see the band of heavy rainfall sweeping in over the valley below the farm, and so we had to rush to put a temporary cover over the slowly drying rock-marked concrete step leading up from the new lower terrace to the upper terrace. At this wintry time of year it takes about two days for a cement step to dry into walk-able concrete.

It takes about two days at this time of year for cement steps to dry enough so that they can be walked upon

A trailer load of 1 cubic metre / 1.3 cubic yards of compost was brought back to the farm so that it could be used to fertilise the new rose plantings. Long term readers may recall the curse of Cherokee, which is the unfortunate situation where we bring back a huge load of organic materials (usually at my instance) and then something awful and unexpected happens, like Sunday afternoons heavy rainfall, and the trailer is left full of undistributed organic matter. Of course, wiser and cooler heads (e.g. the editors) suggested at the time of purchase that we only bring back half a trailers worth. However, unwise heads such as myself suggested that we could always use the organic matter elsewhere and breezily dismissed the wiser path. Well woe is me, because in this instance I was wrong and the bright yellow steel trailer is now half full of very damp compost. Promises for better decision making in future have now been made…

Still, we used some of the compost to fertilise the garden beds in the corn enclosure:

A thick layer of compost was added to the corn enclosure

The remainder of the trailer load of compost will hopefully end up in the corn enclosure over the next few days (if the weather holds).

Anyway, it wasn’t just me that was grateful when Sunday’s rainfall ceased. I spotted Big Daddy wombat cruising through the orchard once the rain had stopped. Wombats are very sensible creatures, and they wait out the rain (just like hobbits) in their toasty dry underground burrows.

Big Daddy wombat cruises through the orchard cropping the grass after the rain

I noticed that one or two of the non deciduous fruit trees lost their leaves and most likely because of last weeks heavy snowfall. However, fruit trees are reasonably hardy and when the sun shines, they rapidly recover lost growth.

This pecan lost its leaves in the snowfall last week but is now producing new leaves

Onto the flowers:

Over the past week the Hellebores have produced their late winter flowers
Hellebores come in all manner of colours like this purple variety
The very first yellow Daffodil of the season
Alkanet (Borage family) is a reliable source of greens for the chickens

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 1’C (34’F). So far this year there has been 527.0mm (20.7 inches) which is the higher than last weeks total of 501.4mm (19.7 inches).

63 thoughts on “A rose is a rose in a row”

  1. Hi DJ,

    My own repertoire of cuss words is sadly lacking. The ones I know are often not fit to print! It is one of the hazards of my profession in that upon occasion you’re caught saying either: “How the f… did this happen?” or even worse: “Why the f… did they do that?” I’m sure there are more useful words to express my disbelief, but I’m left grasping for them in the emotions of the moment. All I can say is that my education must be sadly lacking maybehaps? 🙂

    Well, generally that is how I obtain eggs for lunch. Princess Fiona was onto something! The chickens are the most eggsellent providers.

    In the past two weeks I listened to a youth news story about dieting and the researcher made the observation that ‘any diet carries risk’ and he said for the record the risk was greater than he would take on board. Mate, I see the same story playing out in the soils, but for some reason it suits our human nature to break complex systems down into as simple a process as we can understand – and then we grasp onto that whilst forgetting that a forest comprises an entire community of plants, fungi and bacteria (as well as all of the other critters living in the forest). Out of curiosity how long did it take for you to restore some semblance of balance to your gut?

    Has a decision been made in relation to the bank? I too would consider changing providers given your circumstances. The other thing that jumps to my mind is the possibility that this is the thin edge of the wedge and such ‘virtual’ services may end up being supplied through a third world provider.

    It is not a good situation. I recall the days when we used to make things.

    The snow never materialised today, but it sure was cold here. Although this is a relative concept as my cold weather is probably your shorts and t-shirt weather.



  2. Hi Damo,

    You know, I’ve never been to a B&S ball, but the sentiment is a goodie. I dunno mate, I’ve been to a couple of festivals and the crowds and the lines for the toilets were enough to put me off them. My mates loved them though, so it was probably more my perception of the festivals. The hippy ones were the worst of the lot as I felt the look did not match the culture. Oh well, sometimes ya just know some things aren’t for you…

    Mrs Damo displays a keen sense of perception in being able to discern between the two states. If I may proffer some advice: Blame the early mornings. That always seems to work for me!

    I’m so busted, but yeah, you called me out in a ‘dad talk’ moment. Hehe! Someone needed to do the awful task of taking you to task. Ah, of course, the old expense account. Surely they sell ‘wagyu beef’ and top quality vegetables at a supermarket along the way? Are the invoices any less claimable than a restaurant meal? Car refrigerators are very cheap and excellent these days. Plus during our long trip around this big island, we kept a small bag of crockery and cookware. No meal was out of the realms of possibility, although recipes requiring 90+ steps are probably a bit out of order. I’m looking forward to hearing how your adventure goes.



  3. Hi Lewis,

    Yup, Thus Spake the weather Gods who were Over (!) my head at the time. But yeah, plans went awry and I looked forlornly out the window knowing full well that the editor was indeed correct. The very damp compost is still in the trailer, and the dreaded steel worm will be having its evil way with the steel. Oh well, tomorrow should sort that mess out.

    White vinegar has such a sharp tang to its taste. I’ve always enjoyed the taste of the stuff, and when I was a kid you could splash it on chips that were served wrapped in butchers paper. If you were walking home from the fish and chip shop, rather than unwrapping the butchers paper, you’d rip open one edge of the paper and the aroma of hot chips, salt and vinegar would over power your senses and make your eyes water. It was a heady scent. And the chips were hot enough that you’d burn your fingers and then only a short while later, you’d burn your mouth. But far out, those chips were good. 🙂

    The fish and chip shop back in those days also had an unappealing looking jar of pickled onions on the counter. I reckon they were brown onions and the vinegar was discoloured as a result of the pickling process. The fumes from the pickled onions still made your eyes water. Like your ‘bottle of mixed pickled veg’, the pickled onions tasted great. How has the sharing and distribution of the remainders of the ‘magic food box’ worked out? Has it gone underground?

    An astute observation about the houses and land, because I too wonder about their longevity. Most of the ones being constructed down here are built upon a concrete slab, and can you imagine the effort involved in breaking those forms up? I reckon it will be a real nightmare. Thought that you might enjoy this investigative article: 667,000 apartments in 18 years. What could go wrong?

    Our hero Merlyn copped one in the scone and went down like a sack of spuds, and also lost his memory in the process. The story takes unexpected twists and turns. I was expecting Lot’s army to wipe out Camulod, but no, Merlyn went down with his flail toy wielded by some barbarian. And then went on to survive brain surgery… It must have been a thing back in the day because I recall that human remains pulled from the black sarcophagus had a hole drilled in their head. It makes you wonder how they stopped the brain fluids from leaking out. Yuk.

    I take you point. Industrialism hasn’t been that many generations when you think about it. And the repair and maintenance question is one that always troubles me. It is the things that you don’t think about that end causing you to become unstuck.

    Yum! Pumpkin muffins. 🙂 Warm out of the oven with a bit of butter spread on the muffins. I’m salivating at the thought. Hehe! Well yeah, one must occasionally rummage through the items at the bottom of the freezer.

    We do the same thing with berries in that when picked they go into containers waiting to be filled which we also keep in the freezer until there is enough that they can be processed. It makes sense. How commercial berry growers produce so much volume may possibly be due to them picking the berries green or slightly under ripe. The strawberries here don’t travel very well, but I like to sun ripen them for the full flavour experience.

    Inferences are tough aren’t they. As a species I’ve noticed that we love a good gossip and speculation upon our fellows, but sometimes we can be wrong and that is a poor outcome and perhaps does not reflect well upon our good selves.

    Emily Dickinson was a truly fascinating, and slightly scary person. What was your view?



  4. Hello Chris
    I agree with the editor as I am losing touch with the story.
    Your ground looked amazingly wet where the snow had melted plus rain.
    Here there are hazel nuts all over the ground; I have never seen this before. I cracked a few open and they have no kernel inside. Can only assume that this is due to the dry weather that we have had.


  5. @ Damo – From last week: Every Friday night, our library puts up lists of new things, divided by subject. Last Friday night, there must have been 15 or 20 books (divided between “cooking” and “health”) that had “Keto” in the title. :-).

    Should have got on the bandwagon, but I think that ship has sailed. Too early for mixed puns? Just call it a groaner, and let it go. :-). Lew

  6. @ Inge – From last week: The kipper tins look like sardine tins. Flat and oval. They contain 3.5oz (100g).

    Not being a sports fan, of any sort, cricket is beyond me. You’d think with all the British movies and TV I watch, I’d be more up on the game. That section of “England, Their England” may be skimmed.

    Years ago, I saw (I think my first) Bollywood movie, “Lagaan.” I found the film delightful, but it involves a long, very long cricket match. I think the fast forward button on the remote, was deployed. Lew

  7. Yo, Chris – Crazy Solar Belief #1: Snow is white, it reflects light, therefore, light is reflected into the panels. (Never mind what all those pesky dials say.)

    Confused plants, confused people. Cognitive dissonance. I think there’s a pill for that. What I’d call an “I Don’t Care” pill. Possible side effects may be dissipated by the careful insertion of an ear worm. And, I just happen to have one handy! The Temptations, “Ball of Confusion.” (Do you know, when I was looking around for this vaguely remembered tune, that there are over 20 songs, with “confusion” in the title? And, in the first few seconds of the music video, if you don’t blink, Simon Pegg makes an appearance.)


    LOL. Ollie has a talent for sidling into the frame of a picture.

    That rock was flipped onto the concrete by a errant gust of wind? Really? Are you sure some other agency wasn’t at work? Little people? Wombats playing Nine pin?

    The roses will be lovely. Any scheme to the colors? Keep track of the varieties, for when you post the pictures of the blooms. I hear elephant poo is quite effective on roses. It’s on offer in the Portland zoo’s gift shop.

    Speaking of corn, my corn is up about 10 feet (3+ meters?). The tallest stalk is beginning to show a bit of a tassel. No cobs yet, but there are suspicious swellings of the stalk, here and there.

    Wombats are so large. What must their burrows, be like? Cont.

  8. Hi Damo,

    Enjoyed the Granola Shotgun link. My bank is a local one and still has tellers and will take your coins without charging. I pay in cash most of the time and have no ATM card.

    Eating out is a sure way to gain weight. Some years ago I was 25 lbs heavier so I did weight watchers online until I got into the habit of keeping track of what you’re eating. Have kept the weight off so far.


  9. Cont. Any time I’m out eating, and have fish and chips, I always ask if they have any “Old English Malt Vinegar.” It’s a brownish, color. Usually, a rummage around in the kitchen produces a crusty old bottle. That stuff is good!

    Well, our Magic Food Boxes show up on Friday. The inmates generally run wild, on weekends, when administration isn’t around. There’s a long table and counter, and people put what they don’t want, and pick up what they do want. I check every hour or two, on Friday. Stuff comes and goes. I also pick up stuff that I know a couple of my neighbors like.

    Sunday night, Susan (Who Always Has a Better Idea) packs up whatever is left, and it goes to the Women’s Shelter and the Gospel Mission. Seems there’s always an over abundance of canned carrots, peas and green beans. :-). Bags of white rice. More kinds of cheap pasta, than you can shake a stick at.

    The article about the apartment boom was interesting. The phrase that jumped out at me was “private certification.” Outsourced. Sometimes, not a bad idea … if the jobs done right. All will go to rack and ruin, sooner or later.

    It’s interesting what happened to a lot of the Roman villas, in Britain. Roman McMansions? Their are signs that sometimes, people just temporarily camped out in them. Digging fire pits, into the floor, through the mosaics. Some kept functioning as farms. But whole wings were turned over to animal stable or work rooms. One villa, the end wall of a wing, with gable, tumbled over, but lay flat in one piece. That bit of luck (?) revealed details of roman construction techniques.

    Brain trepanation. Practiced even occasionally in prehistoric times. World wide, and many cultures. Of course, the reasoning was to “let the evil spirits out.” Given the number of examples with bone regrowth, survival rates were pretty high, given the primitive state of medicine.

    Well, I did a good rummage through the freezer and discovered … 3 more gallons of blackberries! Won’t be picking any, this year. Think it’s time to make a big crisp. Or two. Or three.

    Well, I’m finding the Emily Dickinson book quit interesting. Though I must admit I’m skimming large parts. So many interesting things combined to make up her personality. She lived in a small town, and a lot of the movers and shakers were related by blood or marriage. Sometimes, both. Contrary to some reports, she had a good family, and was close to all of them. But, for one reason and another, they were over protective. There was a religious mania, sweeping the country, at that time. The pressure to be “saved” was unrelenting. Neither she (nor, her father) caved into all the pressure. There was the (not very good) roll and expectations on women. And a constant all encompassing awareness of mortality. The death rate was very high. Just to add icing to the cake, her bedroom window overlooked the town cemetery, and she could observe the daily comings and goings. She was fairly well educated, for a woman of her time. Women could attend lectures at the local college. There were women’s academies, but the courses were pretty watered down. But she managed to get in four years of Latin. The family was always boarding a student or two. Her brother was quit educated and always brought by buddies from school. Not so much different from students today (I think …. at least in my time …), sitting up late and solving the problems of the world :-). Any-who. So many currents that made her who she was.

    Unexpected rain, last night. Don’t have to water, today. Lew

  10. Chris,

    I’ve had to find alternate curse words due to my work with the taxpaying public. My female coworker, however, does not see the public very often and uses the “f bomb” like punctuation. And the Dragon Warrior Princess (my counterpart of your Editor) really dislikes much foul language, so I’ve had to be creative for her, too. Of course, sometimes those Anglo-Saxon epithets are the best choice?

    Eggzactly. Princess Fiona rocks!

    My gut biome seems to have gotten behind the 8 ball in late 2007. The reasons are numerous, but a poor diet for a few months probably was the final straw. That is when I figured I’m celiac, and changing to a celiac diet has helped, but there are still times that I don’t think things are quite back to normal. But, that does seem to go hand in glove with celiac. But, in general, it probably took me about 3 years to get things moderately normal, although the final 6 months of that is when I was becoming aware of it.

    Then in January 2018 I was on a course of antibiotics for 3 weeks and it was time to start rebuilding everything again. That round took 15 to 18 months of concentrated effort.

    The bank? Visited 2 today. The first one, well, something felt “off” when I walked in. Staff wasn’t very friendly until I mentioned that I might want to open an account there.

    The 2nd one was much better and I nearly had to drive away the horde of helpful people with a big stick! Well, not really, but that bank has the reputation for being very friendly and wanting to be your bank for generations. They are conservatively run, too, and avoided the bad home loan pitfalls that fell apart 11 years ago. I’ve got to call someone from a different department and ask a few other questions. If the answers are close to what I hope for, that’s where we’ll end up. Oh, and they also told me when I explained my current situation that several customers of my current bank have been in talking to them about transferring accounts.

    Mate, the coldest I’ve ever been was near Spokane in December, a day on which I was outdoors all day and dressed appropriately for the weather. It was +3C with 10 or 15cm of snow on the ground. And raining hard. The wet cold just got into my bones and wouldn’t leave.

    Good work on the digging and clearing. Even with the power tools, that is not easily done! The new digs are taking shape.

    As someone else already noted, Ollie discovered his talent for getting into the pictures. Either that, or there’s a mobile rock that has the same coloring that Ollie does.

    Oy! The dread dirt auger! A very useful tool, but that had to be beyond a chore in the wet clay.

    Nice looking daffodil. But, wasn’t it supposed to be “Daffodil in Yellow Snow” per last week? I still haven’t decided if that is the name of a modern band or if it’s an Impressionist painting.

    I’ve also made many dubious decisions, the worst of them being when the Dragon Warrior Princess disagreed with my idea. I’ve learned that when she says the idea is wrong, I’d better listen to her. No maybehaps about it, either.


  11. Hi Inge,

    Well, you and the editor are on the same page! Upon occasion I disappoint even myself. I worked too hard and ran short of time with which to write the fiction. Just for your info, it takes me twice as long to write fiction than my normal writing style (which is far more practiced). Ordinarily I can write at about 1,000 words per hour, so the blog usually takes about two hours to write.

    Hey, anyway, I’m curious as to your thoughts on this little economic gem currently being proposed: Paying more than $10,000 in cash could make you a criminal under proposed law. Did you notice how the holding of large amounts of cash was also a criminal penalty? Truman the Turkey would applaud such tactics.

    Yeah, the soil here is odd in that the clay is part loam and the water moves through the soil, but it also readily holds water. I guess that is how the really huge trees here survive the summer months. I’ve been digging a lot of late and the soil moisture is quite deep from what I’m seeing. How does that compare with your part of the world? I assume you’ve never seen the Oak trees drought stressed? I’ve seen the over story trees here get drought and heat stressed, but that was about a decade ago and I’ve put a lot of effort into getting water into the ground since then.

    That was my thinking too about the hazel nuts. Dry summers tend to produce smaller fruit and nuts, at least that is what I’ve observed here.



  12. @Pam

    It was the perfect spot. I already have three great nephews but they all live in Portland so I rarely see them and subsequently they don’t know their extended family here too well.

    I am at my daughter’s now waiting for her to get up.


  13. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, I’ve never heard Crazy Solar Belief #1, but it has the sound of authenticity to it, which makes it a devastating body blow for the light weight champion: Mr Reality. Interestingly, and on a serious note, thin high altitude clouds (on a cold day) can actually bounce the light around and produce an output that is greater than the rated output from the solar panels. Early on, that particular situation actually knocked out the fuses and I had to go back, and over rate all the different components. Crazy belief’s and humour to the side, it has been a steep learning curve this technology.

    This morning I read a fascinating proposition that is before our Federal Parliament. It involves restricting the size of cash payments as well as also apparently restricting the amount of cash held. Paying more than $10,000 in cash could make you a criminal under proposed law. A fascinating insight into the future options of negative interest rates.

    Oh my! It really was Simon Pegg sporting an unfortunate singlet. What great voices those guys and gals had!

    Ollie loves the camera, but it helps that he is my shadow and freely follows me around. Old Fluffy used to do that too, perhaps they’re suggesting that I need looking out for? Anyway it is a bit like the Hibernian, Donouil in Camulod, although I can’t imagine sending Ollie off on a quest. Incidentally, Uther messed up big time, but he has Lot’s Queen. A nice chess move when you’re on the losing side of a gambit. I’m nearing the end of the book… Gripping stuff. What a story, and my life would be lesser had I not encountered this version of the story. As a well read chap, have you felt that way about any books?

    Best not to offend the Little People, or Elders of the Forest – they may have interweb connections you know, and rarely do they let a bad turn go unpunished. The rock was sitting on a sheet of polycarbonate which was protecting the surface of the step from the rain. The wind gusts were strong. Imagine if the Little People worked mischief on you in your garden? They might tweak the Garden Goddesses nose causing all of you serious consternation. You never know?

    The editor arranged the planting of the roses and honestly I was bit weary after all of the previous days of digging and lugging and forgot to ask if there was indeed a pattern to the planting. From what I recall, most of the rose varieties are aromatic. There are labels, but I hope that the wind has not sent them flying.

    The Melbourne zoo sells exotic poo too. As a funny side story, the bags are labelled: Zoo Poo! It has a nice sound to it, don’t you reckon? I distributed the remaining compost from the trailer this morning into the corn and also the blackberry and raspberry enclosure. The trailer was required to perform the task of bringing back the fencing steel earlier today, so it had to be emptied. Then when I got home and unpacked from that job, I had to do many hours of paid work. I have done something very bad in a past life to have to work so hard. What do they say about no good deed goes unpunished? Or something like that?

    10ft corn stalks! We’re getting into Triffid territory here – watch your back. My lot last year were about five to six feet tall. Incidentally, I have a suspicion that the wombats here are larger than I see elsewhere, possibly due to dining upon a good paddock. I have no desire to accidentally corner a wombat just to see what happens. They bite pretty hard from what I’ve heard. The burrows are large and deep. Wombats often reuse old burrows rather than digging out new ones, and each new inhabitant tends to extend and clean the old burrow.

    I’ve never encountered: “Old English Malt Vinegar”, but I’m definitely intrigued by your description and will keep an eye out.

    It is very thoughtful of you to pick up items that you know your neighbours will appreciate. No admin on the weekend sounds like party time to my ears! Hehe! Pasta, rice and vegetables can be turned into quite a tidy meal. Not all pasta is the same though, and some varieties taste better than others. The stuff is ridiculously easy to make, but like everything it takes time.

    One of those private certifiers has allegedly been de-registered today. It had something to do with OK’ing flammable external cladding which is apparently quite flammable. If you’d left me to contemplate the problem for a hundred years, it never would have occurred to me to use some sort of polystyrene based product in external cladding. Talk on the street is that the State Government intends to pick up the cost for replacing the allegedly flammable cladding. Apparently there are over a thousand buildings covered with the stuff and lists are not published because I’m guessing it would be like catnip to arsonists.

    I independently tested all of the external cladding materials for fire, and they seem pretty hardy.

    Roman McMansions!!!! Camulod appears to be the biggest of the lot! Some parts of your country over on the east coast were hit pretty hard by hurricanes. Have people moved back into those areas along the coast?

    Oh! Brain trepanation. I noticed in the book that Lucanus the surgeon reputedly used beeswax to seal the hole that he drilled into Merlyn’s skull. What a rabbit hole I just went down… And I’m left feeling mildly uncomfortable. I’m guessing that the procedure may have been a last ditch effort when all other knowledge had passed.

    Did you begin making those crisps?

    Actually, I found that her poetry was quite good, and I wouldn’t suggest that I was a fan of the method. I wonder how heavy handed the latter editors were with her work? I hear the meme to be ‘saved’ (whatever that means) in popular music today. In fact I heard those exact words used. Goodbyes – Post Malone

  14. Hi Chris,

    The weather has interfered with your plans this winter it seems. I’ve never had much luck with roses. There were two small plants in the flower bed in the front of the house that didn’t make it through the winter but truth be told none of the plants other than hostas have done well there.

    I’m at my daughter’s new house now writing this on my little tablet which is slow going. Seems like a very solid house on a low traffic street but it’s not quiet as it’s close to the expressway and airport. They also have a pool and hot tub – a money waster in Doug’s and my opinion but I believe they’ll use it a lot so perhaps won’t go out as much and will save on that end. I can still take the train here but it’s a different station.

    Interesting article about cash. I believe a bank has to report to the government if someone withdraws $10,000 or maybe even less.

    Well everyone is up now so it’s time to get back to work.


  15. Hello again
    I really don’t know about moisture depth here, due to the roots it is virtually impossible to dig down far. I have seen oaks stressed by lack of water as everything is shallow rooted due to the clay. They deal with this by cutting off moisture to their lower branches which then die.
    It is wise to keep all pay ins to banks here, under £10,000. If you are at or above that total, you are subjected to queries as to the source. Cash or cheque, it makes no difference. I don’t think that a large cash sum is illegal or not yet anyhow.


  16. @ all who swear or don’t like it
    I came from a family where no one swore. Then I met my husband and he did. I didn’t like it but objections made it worse. So I took up swearing and oh boy was I creative! My output was inventive and seriously nauseating. Husband stopped swearing.
    Regret to say that I do now swear occasionally in a conventional manner.


  17. Hi DJ,

    Your talk of Anglo-Saxon epithets and their appropriateness started me wondering as to what would make a previously unacceptable epithet, fit for use at table? When I was a kid, nobody used F-Bombs in polite discourse or in the business world that I can recall, but then that may have been because I was a kid and not intended to be influenced by such language (which I would have unfortunately repeated).

    Ouch. Incidentally as a strange coincidence, three years is about what it takes to recover degraded soil and improve its soil flora and fauna. There is probably something in that. Good for you working out which foodstuffs were causing you grief. Three weeks is a fair amount of time and that can kill off a lot of bugs good or otherwise. Double ouch. Yup, with benefits come costs. Sir Scruffy was once placed on a course that went for several weeks and after about the third week he became very ill, so I’d hate to think what was going on inside him. He bounced back after we stopped the course. Honestly, I thought that it was going to kill him off he became that ill. Still, the course did what it had to do and he enjoyed maybe another two years with us.

    Hey, I have a useful rule of thumb for such times: If they can’t get the sale right, the after sales service will be a far less pleasant experience. 😉 Good luck!

    It has been 11 years hasn’t it? Still, as they say memories fade, but having a low appetite for risk is a good sign.

    As you note, the snow was dry and it didn’t matter much that I was covered in the stuff. However, upon returning to the inside of the house, the snow melted rapidly and my woollen jumper (which dare not leave the property – although it did today, but that was a steel sales yard and so such things are expected attire) became quite damp. The rain would get into every weak spot or join in your clothing in your conditions. And all day long too. Did you recover quickly form the chill?

    Incidentally, my dodgy attire was always in force whenever I went to pick up materials when we were building this house. I’ve noticed that charges can go up, whilst discounts dematerialise, if a person looks too clean.

    Thanks very much about the digging. How are you going with carvings? Or is that a winter project?

    Yup, the big freckly ginger loves barging into photos. He follows me around like a shadow that dog, and I’m happy about the situation. I used to have a dog: ‘Old Fluffy’, who was the first of the fluffy’s, and she used to follow me around too. Everyone needs a familiar. He’s keeping a sharp eye on the Little People, that dog. You never know when they’ll play tricks on either of us! 🙂 Lot’s of tweak of noses seems to be part of that story. Now that you have no dog watching your back, watch out that your nose does not get tweaked!

    Yeah, I was a bit tried after two days of digging and then the holes for the roses plus hauling around all of the compost. The editor was right, half a cubic meter would have been just fine. And yes, maybehaps she was correct in the assertion. Alas for me I blithely invited nemesis into my life on that occasion.

    Hehe! Maybe it is just me but I’d vote for the name being used for a punk band.



  18. Hello again
    Oh my goodness! I hadn’t yet read the financial article when I replied before. What is an ABN? This really does sound like a prelude to negative interest rates.


  19. @ Lew – my corn is about 10 feet high too, but it already has ears and the silks on the ears have dried out and gone brown. The ears are huge this year. Now all that’s left to do is wait for the kernels to complete growth and dry down, hopefully before a severe thunderstorm pushes the stalks over and the ears into the ground to rot. Considering that winds have already knocked a fair fraction of the stalks to some orientation nearer to horizontal than vertical, things could still go wrong.

    @ Chris – not only am I picking raspberries and lots of them, but I’ve picked my first large ripe muskmelons this year. Plus the peppers have gone into overdrive, and ripe peppers nearly filled one vegetable drawer in the refrigerator before Mike started making salad. Even with the excessive rain, so far it’s a good garden year.

    @ all – about 40 years ago, when I and two of my siblings were young adults and my youngest sibling was not yet in his teens, my mother became so frustrated with the cursing the older three of us were doing that she instituted the cuss cup, in an effort to get the three of us to clean up our acts so the youngest wouldn’t take up the practice. Any time anyone used a curse word, that person had to pay 25 cents into the cuss cup. Naturally we siblings were quick to enforce each other and our parents to pay the charge. The cuss cup collected quite a tidy sum at first … until each of us got tired of contributing to it and stopped using those words. I didn’t pick up the cursing habit again for some years after that, and I still only use such words in very informal situations with people who I know aren’t bothered by them.

    @ Margaret – about three years ago Mike wanted to lose weight, so he used a calorie counting eating plan which included weighing and measuring food intake and writing everything down so he didn’t go over a 1500 calorie limit. This plan groups food into exchanges including starch, vegetables, fruits, meats, dairy, and fat, with exchanges allotted among the different groups to make a balanced diet. It worked really well; he lost 50 pounds. Then I went on it too and lost some extra pounds that had crept on. We still write down everything according to the plan, but we can eat more total calories now and stay the same weight as long as we stay active.


  20. Yo, Chris – Before I forget, James Kunstler is pretty good, this week. One comment of particular interest is from latestarter (8/19 10:25am), which I think relates, directly, to your observation of folks getting “shirty” when the card reader was down. Another phrase that jumped out at me was “asset inflation.” In relation to real estate and the stock market. Interesting turn of phrase. I can see it, in all kinds of things. Perhaps asset inflation leads to value of previous investment?

    I think officials have watched too many movies where attache cases, stuffed with cash, change hands. Not that it doesn’t happen. We have similar laws, here. But, they change from time to time and from bank to bank. I really had a laugh when I read the comment from the royal commisions that banks had “a dubious record in servicing customer interests.” What was their first clue? :-). Well, given all the nefarious things Al Capone did, they finally nailed him for tax evasion.

    I saw that Simon Pegg movie. But, you don’t hear much about it. “Run, Fat Boy, Run.” I’d say, right from the title, through the subject matter, it gave the Social Justice Warriors, fits. “Look-ism”, body shaming, etc. etc. blah, blah, blah.

    That Mo Town, sound. “Dancing in the Streets,” “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”, etc.. Part of the soundtrack of my youth. Gave a certain … bounce, to the 60’s.

    Gee, books that changed my life? LOL. “The Big Book of AA?” :-). It’s hard to separate “books I liked” (for one reason or another) and books that had impact on my life. Sometimes bits come back to me. I can’t remember the title, or the author, but it was a story of a woman struggling with hoarding. And, that bit about is she holding onto something because of who she is, or who she wants to be? Years ago, I read quit a few books by Jan De Hartog. A Dutch writer and Quaker. He wrote a novelized trilogy about the history of the Quakers. I found it well written and fascinating. Would I like it now? I don’t know.

    Keep in mind that Lot’s wife is the mother of Arthur. I found Merlin’s tour around Britain to be pretty interesting. The deterioration of the towns. What was that awful movie, from a few years ago? A “retelling” of the Arthur story. Something about Arthur being raised in a London brothel? About the only thing I liked about the movie, was the depiction of a deteriorating London, which I thought quit accurate.

    The Portland zoo calls there’s “Packy Poo.” A play on words from pachyderm.

    So, the wombats live in Hobbit houses? :-). I always fret about your not having a fire shelter, on your place, but I suppose a wombat burrow would do. You might be surprised. They might share, for a short while. Thee was a story from the Paradis fire about a man and wife who survived in a stream … along with snakes, deer, coyotes, rabbits, etc.. It’s not an unknown event. Peaceable Kingdom … Lions laying down with lambs. And all that.

    The pasta and rice are pretty poor quality, in the food boxes. And there’s usually quit a few boxes of the mac and cheese with the mystery packet, with the powder that’s an orange, not found in nature. I have a problem with throwing back stuff, I probably shouldn’t eat. The lure of free food. Hard to turn down. Sometimes.

    I only see occasional stories on NPR about the aftermath of the hurricanes in the east. Small towns with little tax base to begin with, that have even less now. So much for replacing infrastructure. Problems with collecting on insurance, or re-insuring. Questions as to if they should re-build, or be bought out and told to move elsewhere. With climate change and not a lot of money sloshing around, it’s between a rock and a hard spot. Varies from place to place and person to person.

    Both Dickinson’s letters and poems were heavily edited. Usually, by “well meaning” relatives. Either to enhance the poets “legend” or to bury family secrets. But often, the printed form can be compared to the written form, and changes identified. Sometimes, given modern technology, words or lines that have been struck out, can be restored. New letters and diaries, from people around Dickinson, keep surfacing.

    You may find this interesting. It’s kind of long, but the section on “women” is particularly interesting.


    No crisps, yet. Other things attract my attention. I spent a couple of hours in the garden this morning, mostly weeding. I have a trip to make, to the east county, on Thursday. Up to Packwood. About an hour and a half trip. I’ve been advised to watch for elk on the roads. It’s going to be warm today, but we’re due for a round of cooler weather (See Prof. Mass.) So I’m putting off firing up the oven. Lew

  21. Chris,

    My recollection is that there just wasn’t very much cussing back when I was growing up. None on the tv nor in the movies I watched. That has all changed, unfortunately, the change starting in the 1980s but going exponential in the past 2 decades. Having a general sense of decorum in a society is, to me, a sign that there is still surface respect for other people.

    That’s interesting about the soil fauna time frame. I’ll have to contemplate the two similar time frames. Very interesting.

    My risk appetite started decreasing in the build up to the dot com bubble that burst in 2000. It decreased further during the build up to the 2008-2009 recession. Nowadays I’m getting more concerned with return OF capital rather than return ON capital. I really do not understand how to invest for return any longer.

    Prior to 2000, the entire US stock market was represented by the Wilshire 5000, which was a pretty good representation of the nearly 7000 publicly traded companies on the major US exchanges. There are now less than 4000 publicly traded companies, including some (mostly) large foreign stocks of companies such as Shell oil. And there is still a huge amount of money pouring into them, so it follows that there is asset inflation. Not to mention some arguably shady dealings: stock buybacks by a company mean there are fewer traded shares, so that it can look as if the company is increasing profits, whereas the profits are flat or even slightly decreasing, although the profit per share can increase due to fewer existing shares. Just one example, that.

    Oh, I recovered fine from the chill. I bagged hunting before noon and slowly made my way back to my car. If I got cold, I’d spread my high quality space blanket (not Mylar) over a tree branch to form an A-Frame shelter, then light a candle. The heat would reflect and I’d warm right up. Hypothermia was never an issue, plus I had on good rain gear so remained dry. Warmed right up in the car.

    I’ve noticed that, also, that if one looks too clean and “spiffy” in certain stores, the discounts disappear or the level of service decreases. It’s best to speak and look like the normal clientele in these places, unless one already frequents the place and they know you.

    Carvings? I’ve really needed to add some balance back to the normal good weather “work too hard” mode I’ve been in. I have a new style of carving I wanted to try, obtained a book about it, and was fortunate that one of the club members had a lot of precut patterns for one of the beginner projects in the book. He was giving them away, so I scored 3. So, the first horse I ever carved turned out okay and my wife is enjoying looking at it, as I gave it to her. I’m now working on a “Welsh Love Spoon”. This might take awhile, as I need to carve some heart-shaped holes in the spoon, which is an easy way of breaking the spoon and ruining the project. Much patience required!

    I miss having the dogs. They really shadowed me, and when I wasn’t home, they totally took care of my wife. And they kept the feral (and not so feral) cats out of the yard and garden, so no dug up veggies or errant cat poo to step in. Contrary to popular belief, cats do NOT necessarily poop in the dirt and cover it up. I find a lot on the surface of the grass. Give it a few more months and the local urban coyotes will make a pass through my neighborhood and sort things out.

    Unscientific poll results, including your vote: Punk band 6, Impressionist painting 1.


  22. Hi Margaret,

    The winter has been very changeable, and one week will have mild warm weather, whilst the next brings a surprising amount of rain and cold. I quite enjoy the winter months though. One of my Wyandotte’s is looking a bit unwell over the past few days and may not recover. I suspect that the chicken didn’t handle the change from the warm to the bone chilling snow.

    Roses enjoy the summer heat from what I’ve seen of them, but I’m really not certain how much cold weather they can tolerate although they brushed off the snow. It will be good to see the terrace in full flower. I’ve read that roses are gross feeders and so the more you feed them, the more they’ll grow. It’s a bit crazy how fast time flies, but another six weeks I’ll have to be watering them, so I have to get the sprinklers going up there. So much to do (as I imagine you have to do with the new place).

    The city is a noisy place, although near to expressway’s is perhaps a noisier experience than rural areas. I’m unsure if I would be happy living in such a place now, but with the noise comes convenience and amenities and I assume proximity to work? I’ve never lived in a house with either so I don’t have any opinions. On the other hand, people install pools up here and I guess they discover that without heating, the water is too cold. They don’t get used as much as people believe. Up here I’ve been told on a few occasions that the pool makes for a good reserve of water for fire fighting – and who can argue with that logic? 🙂

    Hmm, yes, AUSTRAC does that monitoring down here and who knows who they report their findings too. Best not to poke such agencies. But yeah, it is interesting to see that the practicalities of negative interest rates are being considered – although the response appears a bit draconian to me.

    Hope you are getting some relaxing time in there too?



  23. Hi Inge,

    Of course, I forget, that is why you use raised tubs and pots with which to plant. I’ve never encountered a forest as undisturbed as yours. Thanks for the explanation and I’ll keep an eye out for the oaks response to dry weather and see whether it happens here. The huge Eucalypt trees here drop their leaves when they become drought stressed. It can rain dead leaves in those times. Not quite what you want because of the risk of fire. That response has been less apparent as I get more rainfall water back into the ground water table.

    Yeah, I thought you were quite non-nonplussed about the article, but all is now explained! It appears to be a practical response to negative interest rates, although at the same time it seems rather draconian to me. It will be interesting to see whether it gets through Parliament. The suggestion that holding large sums of cash is a criminal offence seems rather unusual to me.



  24. Hi Lewis,

    Absolutely! I regularly read Mr Kunstler’s blog on Tuesday and Saturday mornings. This latest essay was excellent – and you are the second person to have recommended it to me over the past day. Getting shirty indicates being caught out for a lack of fore thought and planning i.e. being careless and expecting someone else to pick up the tab. 🙂 Asset inflation nailed it. Expanding the money supply always results in inflation. MMT folk are just praying that it stays in certain asset classes PLUS wages stagnation whilst costs escalate is a natural way to reduce inflationary pressures. But the whole thing looks to me like a giant game of ‘whack a mole’ and who knows where the beast will escape and be felt. Certainly you guys discovered the upper limit of the housing asset inflation story. You haven’t quite got there on the health price inflation story yet, but I’d be nervous to step one foot in one of your hospitals. The thing is, the excess money supply could have been channelled into new assets or businesses, but no. Or we could have acknowledge the loss and responded to it.

    Hehe! Yup, that sounds about right. Personally I enjoyed the mysterious suitcase in the film ‘Repo Man’. A modern classic that movie! I reckon it happens although I’m not privy to any examples, and the sort of people who do such things aren’t going to worry themselves overly about such laws. The findings of the Royal Commission were alarming, but I do wonder how much of the story was grievance airing? I can’t recall anyone being sent to the slammer.

    Simon Pegg can do that! Good for him, and the SJW folks take themselves far too seriously.

    Well, yes, that book is probably extraordinarily relevant given the circumstances. And it is funny what the mind recalls, you just never know what scenes can strike a chord in your memory. No doubt, research has been done on this subject? Maybe. Although tastes change too, so maybe it is a moving target sort of thing? Subject to change at short notice and without warning.

    Uther and Lot’s wife copped it bad (as did Lot), although the baby Arthur appears to have survived and is now all at sea! I enjoyed the description of the dilapidated towns too and I wonder whether the author had visited some just to provide a feeling of decay (Dare I mention Detroit?) The body count sure is piling up in the story though.

    Packy Poo! Thanks for explaining the joke – very amusing!

    The house is an above ground bunker, although it doesn’t much look like it. A wolf in sheep’s clothing is a good way to describe the situation. I’d prefer not to put it to the test, but well, time will tell. It is funny you mention fires…

    I’ve heard the sharing story too during natural disasters. I’ve heard a story a long time ago about someone surviving a fire in a wombat burrow. Quick thinking on their part. I’ve heard stories of the Peaceable Kingdom, they sound exactly like stories to my mind – and I don’t believe them.

    Gotta bounce, will speak tomorrow!



  25. Hi, Chris:

    What a nice emergency battery charger – aka generator? Our internet has been out again – off and on, off and on – and the power was out yesterday all day. It is so nice to have the 3500 watt petrol generator after having gone for so many years just camping out at home with the frequent power outages in our neck of the woods. My husband calls it the frontier power company.

    There is something I am glad to know – that almonds are related to peaches. Peaches grow well here – except at our house. I have always wondered if almonds would.

    That terrace is just monstrous and it is so far above the one below it. You have it all over us with rocks. Also with wind! I say: Phooey on peak rocks! The big rock has freckles like Ollie. Goodness gracious – that’s a lot of hand-dug holes.

    So nice to see Big Daddy. It’s been awhile.

    The hellebores and alkanet are lovely, but it’s hard to beat a daffodil in the – Spring?

    The summer garden is winding down. We did really well with cantaloupes and watermelons – until squirrels discovered them, ditto for blueberries. We got to eat about 5 tomatoes – out of 60 plants, thanks to the squirrels, also. I tried everything (remember balloons and forks and mosquito netting . . .) but shooting them, which can never be with Charlene the Sacred White Squirrel and her blonde children around. We have plans for next year . . . Cucumbers and beans and peppers did really well; apparently squirrels don’t like them. I have been canning jalapeno peppers and banana peppers. And my flowers beds have been wonderful; bees all over them all summer and even hummingbirds.


  26. @ Margaret:

    We use a local bank, too. Even the bank itself has it all over the big national one. Lovely, peaceful lobby, with plenty of chairs and really nice, helpful people. We pay cash, except for bills (checks used) and have no ATM cards either. Occasionally we charge something to keep our card (one) active.

    You are an early bird? I am.


  27. Yo, Chris – There’s been several articles, over the last couple of years, about creeping inflation and wage stagnation. Hence the push, here and there, to raise the minimum wage. To quote an old saw, “a dollar doesn’t buy what it used to.” When you look at a 20 or 30 year period, the trend is startling. Things may look ok, but everyone feels poorer. And, actually, the situation is worse than it appears, as the Cost of Living Index is a bit bogus. Due to the things it leaves out, inflation appears lower than it actually is.

    I’ve heard some real horror stories about foreign visitors, to our shores, who don’t take on sufficient travel medical insurance.

    I take it your finished with “Eagle’s Brood?” As the Merlin on the beach / Arthur in the boat scene is the last in the book. So we’re agreed to skip “Urther” (a stand alone novel) and move onto “Saxon Shore?” I think I told you that I dipped into the first chapter of “Urther” and it’s a repeat of the last chapter of “Eagle’s Brood.”

    Now, I really hope that’s true. As there are two mysteries that nag at me. Who killed Merlin’s wife? And, who killed Lot? I think Merlin’s speculation that Urther didn’t kill Lot, is perhaps true. Too tidy a job. I think that makes sense. But removing his hands and feet. Very symbolic. Lot was always running away and leaving his minions, hung out to dry. Hence the feet. And, I’d say, he always had his hand in someone else’s pocket. Hence the hands.

    Pay attention to the man on the beach, wearing Urther’s armor. He pops up again, later. Maybe two or three books in the future :-).

    I’ve been sorting through some boxes of tat and junk. Always, a strain. What to turn loose of? But I figure I’ll be moving about 3 boxes, out of here, to send onto Idaho. I’ll post again, before I make my trip up to Packwood. I’ve been advised to watch out sharp for elk on the road, between Randal and Packwood. There about twice the weight of a deer (if not more) and can really make a mess of your vehicle. A few years ago, a sheriff was killed, because an elk hauled himself out of a ditch and into the road.

    Well, our change in the weather, is here. Raining this morning. Don’t have to water :-).

    Here’s an article on plastic recycling from NPR.


    There will be another, soon to follow. Lew

  28. Hi Chris,

    I was never one for festivals either. So many people, close together, not my cup of tea. Can’t I just listen to the music at home?

    On the next work trip, that is pretty much what we are planning to do. I have claimed supermarket purchases before and no one has commented. The majority of staff seem to claim macdonalds. It is not very hot here in NZ, so thankfully a car refrigerator is not needed! Will find report back how it goes next week.

    That terrace is quite large. In other news, sales have being pretty quiet here the past couple of months. You may have heard that the NZ central bank cut rates by 1/2% a few weeks back. There is talk of recession, although activity is still very high so I don’t know what to make of it. Unlike Australia, NZ actually had a recession during the GFC and the timing is right for another one soon.

    Outlawing $10,000 payments. You know, most cultures have a problem with debasing the currency eventually. Did you hear that you can get homeloans locked in for 25years at -0.5% in the Netherlands now? It would appear plenty of people are now happy to take a loss on existing capital, rather then risk it for any chance of a return. I would have thought it would be better to own productive enterprises and land, but I guess they are bidded up as well.


  29. @Lew and Chris

    Simon Pegg sighting in the new series “The Boys”. A very gory and funny “realistic” take on how superheros would fit in society. e.g. owned and managed by a large corporation. How does the government deal with a superman type figure, if he is a bit of an asshole and occasional murderer? Good stuff, although being on Amazon I don’t know if it will come to DVD?

    I also saw a trailer for Zombieland 2. Will it be good? Was the zombie thing over 8 years ago? Still need to see that Bill Murray one..


  30. @Pam

    My cauliflower cheesy crust tasted good, but unfortunately somehow merged with the baking sheet I put down. If I do them again, it will be straight onto a greased tray.


  31. Hi Marg,

    I think the biggest thing so far with this diet is tracking what I am eating. I can see value in doing that after I stop the keto (2 1/2 weeks to go, but who is counting) to make sure there are no rapid over-indulgences.


  32. @Merlyn

    I am maybe 3/4 the way through of Eagles Brood. Merlyn is doing his road trip across England now, finding desolate towns and poorly kept roads along the way.

    I loved the little diagram of how he laid out the camp each night. Using the horses as a sort of “wall” is a great idea.


  33. Hi Lewis,

    There is a push down here too to increase minimum wages as well as the dole (new start allowance). As far as I understand things, neither are linked to the CPI increase, so each year that inflation goes up, the benefits from either source decrease. Interestingly, pensions are linked to the CPI and that says something about our societies priorities. But in general, even a raise of the CPI doesn’t keep up with reality, just from what I can see. I mean, my house insurance has risen between 15% and 18% every year for the past few years. Insurance costs are one of the whack a mole pop ups I previously mentioned. Education, health care and energy are some of the other whack a mole pop ups. I should trademark that terminology! 🙂 Thought you might enjoy this article which discusses the metrics of inflation down here and has some official quotes on the subject: Inflation may be very low but our cost of living is rising much faster. The graphs in particular are very good.

    I wonder if any foreign tourist has tried to skip the country after receiving one of those medical bills? I wonder if they are somehow barred from leaving the country? Dunno. Did I see somewhere that your Democrat political party intended to provide free health care to illegal immigrants – and not the people who are footing the bill (the taxpayer)? Not sure that is a good look. That does happen down here, but everyone gets charged a couple of percent of their income to cover medical costs so there is no disparity of equality.

    Yes! I finished Eagles Brood yesterday morning and then began reading the Saxon Shore whilst on the train into the big smoke. I had to do some shopping and stepped inside a mall (shock horror). Actually, I’m not much of a fan of such places and it was so hot in there (it was quite a cold and windy day outside). Anyway, I had to pick up a couple of pairs of jeans and I prefer bricks and mortar stores and don’t generally purchase clothes over the interweb (very hard to test for proper fitment). Given I was in the big smoke, the editor and I went to the cinema to watch a film which had: Emma Thompson, Mindy Kaling and John Lithgow. It was titled ‘Late Night’ and I rather enjoyed the story and it seems that these days only comedians can be politically incorrect! It is essentially a buddy film, with bouts of subtleties and nuance, and it also explores what happens when a persons career is near to the end. Plus there was the burger and chips. We got home quite late and I fell asleep the moment my head hit the pillow.

    The mystery as to who killed Merlyn’s wife may never be resolved. The flail stuck in the water was a clue, but who’s flail was it and why would it be placed in such a spot so that it would be found? Oh yeah, Lot’s demise was personal and it may not have been Derek of Ravenglass because he did not know of possibility, although he is a shady character and may well blow wherever the wind travels. Thanks for the explanation of the symbolism as I may have missed that. And from the state of the final stand of Uther, it looks as though he was caught napping and unprepared for the final confrontation. Connor is an interesting character too.

    Speaking of err, collections, I picked up another seven bare rooted roses today. The collection may well be complete? 🙂 We went to a large town north of here and it being warmer further inland than here, they were getting rid of their roses at bargain prices. Such is the collectors dilemma – as you well know! Plus we visited the old botanical gardens and the flying foxes (marsupial fruit bats) in the trees were amazing to see perched high up in old Elm trees. It was a nice day today, not warm, but sunny.

    You’ve stated the collectors dilemma concisely: What to get rid of? Whilst you are in Packwood do you have any intentions of visiting Mount Rainier? Looking at the temperature records, I feel that you are visiting the area at a hot time of year. Although it may also be said that you might be escaping the cooler and moister western climate? Good luck with the elk and keep your wits about you!

    Thanks for the recycling stories. Yes, it is like the renewable energy future that people talk about. It is technically possible, I just doubt that we can afford to do it. What a predicament!



  34. Chris:

    I had meant to thank you for the 2 hours that you put in on writing this blog. But now tell the truth: It’s a lot more than that, photos, and etceteras. Thanks!


  35. @ Claire – Had to rope my corn in, due to high winds, yesterday. Luckily, I easily found last years rope! Oh, I’ve just got a small patch. No sign of cobs, yet. But as I remember, I fretted about that last year. I think the heritage breed (Jimmy Red) produces a late crop. But then, we’ve had such a cool and overcast summer. Lew

  36. @ Damo – I’ll keep my eye out, for “The Boys.” There’s a new movie out on DVD (on my library hold list) called “Brightburn”. Super hero comes to earth, but isn’t good. LOL, as far as plots go, that’s not much of a stretch. “Zombieland 2”? I wonder if Woody’s, in it? Will they re-unite the merry band? Will it be as good? Well, sequels, you know.

    Oops! Thought you were through with “Eagle’s Brood.” Ignore Chris and I’s posts. Spoilers. Lew

  37. Yo, Chris – Trip Cancelled Due to Ill Omens. :-). Cloudy with a chance of ill omens? I wonder into the Club, yesterday, and the local newspaper is sitting on the counter. There, on the front page, is a memorial for the Sheriff, killed by the elk. 10 year anniversary. Hmmmm.

    I read the article about inflation and the cost of living. “Best effort?” Try harder. I get occasional cost of living (COLA) increases, on my pensions. But, being small pensions, they are small increases. Part of my retirement medical insurance (Medicade) is free. Part A. But there’s an add on you can opt into. (Part B). Which I have. The last two increases in the Cola, were matched by an increase in the cost of the medical insurance. Almost to the penny. Funny how that works.

    Also, my rent is based on 30% of my income. So, if my income goes up, 30% of it vanishes into rent. But they only refigure the rent in the spring, so, for about 9 months I get to “live large.” :-). On the $20 dollar, or so, increase in the pension.

    I’ve never heard of anyone foreign visitor being tackled at the airport, for unpaid medical expenses. I suppose there are some who ignore our outrageous medical bills. I doubt there is much of a downside, to that. Other than the fact that they may not want to visit America, again.

    The Democrats want free (or, at least low cost) health care for everyone. Basically, they want to extend Midicade (pretty much like the Medicare I’m on, except for disabled and families on the dole) to everyone.

    My Medicare is pretty complicated. You really have to watch your step, as some things are covered, and some not. And, the rules change, all the time.

    Got to hit the road. I’ll pick this up again, when I get back. Lew

  38. Hi Chris,

    I’m sorry to hear about the chicken. How old is she?

    The flower bed where the roses were planted seems to have rather poor soil as many plants aren’t doing that well other than hostas and yarrow so I’ve been adding a lot of organic matter throughout the summer.

    My daughter’s new house is closer to both her and boyfriend’s jobs. They plan to keep the hot tub going year round but we’ll see once they get their utility bills.

    I am back home. Yes there was time to relax in the hot tub. My other daughter and granddaughters came over to help some and then enjoy the pool.

    In another comment you mentioned rising insurance premiums. It’s crazy how much they’re going up. So glad TPTB tell us that inflation is low or I might believe the opposite.


  39. @ Pam

    I am indeed an early riser. I find my most productive hours are before noon. By 2 PM I’m ready for the couch, a book and maybe a nap.

    We have two local banks here but one recently was purchased by a somewhat larger one. We had our mortgage with that bank and they had the old fashioned passbook that recorded how much of each payment was interest and principal. They also never sold their mortgages.



  40. Yo, Chris – Home safe. No untoward adventures. The weather was quit nice. Dry pavement, all the way. Scattered sun with fluffy white clouds or fogy mist. It’s generally cooler, up in the mountains. Straight shot up and back is about 90 miles, so, no side trips to Mt. Rainier or Mt. St. Helens. Could see neither: see clouds/mist above. As the road follows the Cowlitz River, plenty of craggy scenic granite cliffs. But as my eyes were glued to the road edges, I did little sight seeing. Starting elevation in Chehalis is 243ft (74m). Packwood is 1053ft (321m.). No nose bleeds, but my ears popped, several times.

    I rendezvoused with my friend, Debbie. We hit the library, at the same time. Good timing. The library, though closed, is interesting. In a log cabin. There’s a giant carved bear, eating a salmon, in front. Packwood, though on a major road, looks a bit run down, to me. Several businesses, for sale. We hit a small op-shop and a small flea market. Prices, for the area, were pretty cheap. I found two treasures. Note to self: Find a gray market outlet for this stuff!

    The place we were going to eat, was closed and for sale. So, we ended up at a pizza parlor, that also had some standard cafe fare on sale. I’ll see your burgers and chips, and raise you a gluten free, phony cheese pizza. Extra toll, for both. Glad my friend was taking me to lunch, as the price, to me, was eye watering. She said the same, but said it was the best of that kind she had had. And, they went heavy on the toppings. No skimping. Not the flavor I would have ordered (she and her husband are big meat eaters. So, this one had 3 kinds of meat on it!) but, as she was buying, I sussed out what topping she preferred. As is standard, with gluten free crusts (most) it was pretty tough. But not unmanageable.

    Another thought about the road up there. Although it’s a major highway, it’s two lane blacktop, all the way. No center divider. If it’s not elk, there are still a lot of head on accidents and also accidents involving cross road traffic.

    Shock and horror, indeed. I saw a reader board at one of our local stores, today. Levi 501s, on sale, for $35. Sometimes, having a long memory doesn’t pay off. I HATE trying on clothes in stores. Pants and shoes are always a problem. But I now hope I have enough pants hanging in the closet, to see me to the grave. :-). Mortality has it’s silver lining.

    Yup. It’s a shock to Merlin to discover flail sticks are thick on the ground. Which throws more uncertainty as to if Urther did in his wife. Ravenglass was a real place. There was a Roman fort, near there. It figures in later :-). A book or two down the line.

    Collections are never complete :-). Of course, the theory is you always upgrade. Nice theory. My friend was thrilled with her three boxes of tat. Lots of beads, peaces of costume jewelry, damaged and undamaged. A few tin type photos I had picked up along the way. And just lots of other small bits and pieces of this and that. Visions of future art projects danced in her head. And, sorting through all the stuff will occupy a few winter evenings.

    I didn’t realize it, but, apparently, NPR (npr.org) is running a series of articles about recycling.

    Well, I’m glad to be home, and now maybe I can get down to the real business of life. Cooking and gardening. Lew

    PS: Council, Idaho, just got appealing, again. I guess they’re having a weekly farmer’s market, now.

  41. @ Damo – You may already know, but sprinkling corn meal on the pizza pan helps to keep pizza and pan from melding together (let no man put asunder…:-). At lease it works a charm with regular dough. Lew

  42. Hi Claire,

    Just for your comparison, the raspberries here would be done (unless it was a very damp summer) if things were turned upside down. And melons! Well, that is a March item for me. Thanks for mentioning a couple of months back about how your warmer summer nights tend to speed up and compress your growing season, the soil cools here overnight during summer. I hope the muskmelons are tasty! Yum! I’m going to stick to watermelon this year given how the past few years of experiments with melons have turned out. Hey, the first frost of the year struck hard this morning 1’C / 34’F and some of the early fruit trees are in blossom. One of the fruit trees is a very well established plum-cot (plum – apricot hybrid) and every year the frost gets the blossoms…

    Thanks for the story of the cuss cup! Your mother was a wise woman to have instituted such a penalty. I only cuss around people who I know are OK with it too. My mother on the other hand could make a sailor blush with the words that spouted from her mouth. A very old mate is fond of reminding me that she introduced a colourful pastiche with which augmented his language skills.

    Did many hours of forest cleaning today and am feeling very weary.



  43. Hi DJ,

    Cussing has become more common in recent times, so yeah I agree. I recall an incident on a train when I was very young, and a couple of youths were playing up and being a nuisance. Eventually one of the other passengers had had enough told them off, and copped a bit of lip from the youths. He then opened the door of the moving train and kicked their school bags out. They looked crestfallen and were quiet and got off and the next station. You can’t open doors on moving trains these days…

    It can’t be a coincidence with the time frame of three years for the soil flora and fauna. I know somebody who works in research in the area and they used the words: “re-training the gut”, to describe the process.

    Haha! Well yes, I see distribution statements and note that there is often a return of capital for unit holders. Your concerns may be well founded. It might be that there is an expanding money supply and not enough productive enterprises to invest the stuff into? Dunno.

    I don’t really know about your countries methodology in relation to 401K’s, but down here employers have to by law transfer 9.5% of an employees gross income into retirement savings (not managed by the companies paying thank goodness). Now all that money regularly flowing into the shares, bonds, derivatives, property or whatever markets just inflates the prices. But at the same time the money is removed from real world of goods and services. It is of no benefit to a shop, or a manufacturer. And the money is not put into new enterprises as far as I am aware. It is all passively invested and the inflation benefits some sectors of the community at the expense of others. I’m not a fan, but hyper-inflation is no joke either.

    I’ve never personally experienced hypothermia, and from all accounts it is a rather unpleasant state of being. I’ve experienced the early stages of heat exhaustion though. Years and years ago in the mountainous alpine region of the island state of Tasmania, I met some people walking in shorts and t-shirts in a remote area and the weather had turned feral. The couple had ‘crazy eyes’, and they were determined to reach the nearest alpine hut for shelter. And I looked at them and implored them to turn around and head back to the car park. They ignored me due to being overly fixated on their goals. I checked the local news websites for a few days and didn’t see any reports about fatalities. They surely must have been very cold though.

    When in Rome, is the order of the day! You can do chameleon too. 😉 I try not to disenfranchise other people on a day to day basis, but there are occasional downsides to that program and I have noted that people who don’t much like themselves can often be left floundering as to why anyone would be civil to them. Yeah, they can be a real nuisance because the lesson I learned with them is that it is foolish on my part to expect people whom are careless to be careful with anything.

    ‘Work too hard’ mode maybe catching! Hehe! Clearly you and I have done something very bad in a past life to have to work so hard. Hashtag, just sayin…

    Best of luck with the carving of the Lovespoon for your lady. Incidentally, it is a very thoughtful gift. My lady is fond of telling me that it is the small gestures rather than the grand gestures – and who can argue with such logic?

    Dogs are charming creatures. We spent most of the day cleaning a patch of the forest. Lewis has made me concerned about the fire risk, and well, concern can lead to action. The dogs were plopping around all day and generally keeping large kangaroos elsewhere. Ollie is now sound asleep behind me on the green couch. All in a working dogs day. I’d miss having dogs around and maybe when you retire, it might not be a bad idea to take on a young canine apprentice?



  44. Hi Damo,

    Festivals remind me a little bit of the problems with international travel: Where the heck is the next toilet? And so many people! Have you seen photos of Venice these days? Far out. Most of my mates went to festivals to get smashed, so whenever I attended with them, it left me feeling like a true buzzkill. Yeah, CD’s are relatively affordable and the things they can do with production now is amazing and best of all there is no queue for the toilet. 😉

    I’ll be curious to hear your report regarding: ‘cooking on the road’. Honestly, it could become a personal challenge! And hopefully Mrs Damo can provide for some honest feedback on your efforts? We became very inventive after several months of being on the road and kept a bag of cooking implements and crockery and cutlery. The barramundi up north fried with potatoes and spices was something else.

    Hehe! Yeah, the terraces are big. I hope to finish the higher terrace tomorrow. The economic ripples from cutting the NZ official interest rates were felt here. If easy surpluses were there to be gained, would I be digging soil? Probably… Returns are low thus the desire to reduce ‘official’ costs. Well, we’re on the slow ship heading down, but it is going to take a long while to fall and strange things will happen in the meantime.

    Damo, I don’t actually understand negative interest rates. We live in a society that uses bits of paper to beat people over the head (try getting out of a commercial lease for just one example). I can’t say that I’m excited about the prospect of negative interest rates. What is the end game for the story? Dunno, but it might be a lower standard of living.

    Thanks for mentioning the series! A Simon Pegg sighting is always good. Have you heard anything else about the new Picard series?

    Zombieland 2!!! Go Woody! That film is marked in the calendar. A shame that Bill Murray can’t make an appearance. The Bill Murray zombie film isn’t released down under until late October. Go figure, it was released in the US in July, I believe.

    Using the horses as a wall was a great idea. A bit of a shame that Uther over reached… Keep an eye out for Derek of Ravenglass.



  45. Hi Pam,

    Thank you. It’s a labour of love, but I do so enjoy all of our ongoing conversations.

    Well, my mum told me not to kiss and tell. So sorry, I have to be all mysterious and stuff and keep you in suspense and not disclose the truth of the matter! 🙂 She said a whole bunch of other stuff too, but memory gets hazy with time, and I probably wasn’t being very attentive. My report cards from school probably read: Chris is a good student, but is easily distracted!

    We picked up another seven rose plants yesterday, and with a bit of luck I’ll get them all in the ground and finish the upper terrace tomorrow. Fingers crossed.



  46. Hi Margaret,

    From memory, the Wyandotte is about seven years now, which is pretty good for a chicken. I’m always a bit torn about the issue of quality of life with them, and she’s still eating and going about her business, but still I doubt she’ll recover. I forget, have you harvested your birds yet? I recall a few weeks back we were discussing the processing guy, but have the processed birds been returned?

    Ah! That may explain something about your roses. The local gardening club describes roses as ‘gross feeders’ (whatever that means) and apparently they grow as much as you can feed them. I purchased a 12 pound bag of rose fertiliser and have been chucking that around on the terrace as well as the huge amount of compost. They’ve grown just in the past week. We picked up another seven roses yesterday, and so one row of the upper terrace will be full. The plan is to complete the digging on that terrace tomorrow. I spent most of the day cleaning up a section of the forest and am feeling a bit tired. Lewis reminded me of the fire risk, and time is getting on with which to do something about it.

    Good for them, and being close to a job is not a bad idea. Hehe! Thanks for the laugh. Yeah, it’s a good theory, until the bill turns up of course.

    Nice. Glad you weren’t working all of the time and had time to enjoy with the family. Hope they appreciated you settling them in?

    The house insurance premiums increases are a real worry. A year or two back I did some numbers and because of the compounding effect of the increase (15% to 18% per annum) I worked out that it wouldn’t be too long before I wouldn’t be able to pay for the premium. You may note that I spent most of the day cleaning a section of the forest. I dunno about that story at all.



  47. Hi Lewis,

    Better ill omens than, I dunno, stinkbugs? But yeah, I get that about the elk risk. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut feeling. Is that a normal state of being with you? I recall discussing the author Conrad Richter recently and he may have taken the policy to an extreme.

    I saw that too about the index being a ‘least worst’ option. As you quite rightly suggested, doing better was not considered. Ah, you are experiencing the feeling of: what can be giveth can also be taketh – it sounds more technical than it actually is. Enjoying the breathing space between the cracks in the facade is where the light can be seen.

    You mentioned the other day about the Paradise fires and the fire risk here. That idea must have been bouncing around my head, because we spent most of the day today cleaning a bit of the forest. It all looks very neat and orderly now. I was amazed at how good the soil was in that area of the farm and I’m unsure why it would be that way. On the other hand I am nuked, it is hard work – that is why nobody ever does it. Hard work, I can do that, I guess. I had the dogs out with me running around the area keeping an eye out for the forest animals and they too are exhausted tonight.

    Yeah, I was wondering about that, and I’ll bet the cheeky little scamps who dodged their medical bills by fleeing to another country, aren’t allowed another entry visa until the account is settled.

    You mentioned the Motown sound the other day and at the cinema there was a trailer for an Aretha Franklin documentary. And far out she had a great voice.

    Well it is a notable goal, although I doubt with the health system that you have whether it will be affordable. What is the general consensus about that? I do wonder about the parlous state of national finances and the easy hand with which the printing presses are spun. It doesn’t seem to make much sense to me. Damo was discussing the possibility of negative interest rates, and they don’t make much sense to me either.

    A bit of a shame about the clouds. But you’ve probably seen both mountains before? Maybe? Haha! Yeah, you know that is something most people don’t think about with the change in air pressure. I regularly travel from sea level in the big smoke to 2,300ft here. I have to keep myself well hydrated otherwise the air pressure builds up in my ears. It took me a while to work out the hydration solution, and people that know me wonder why I often regularly drink water… Try doing that trip with a cold or flu and you’ll soon know true pain in that the pressure does not abate.

    The library sounds really cool. Well, I mean what was the original purpose of the town? I wonder what this place would look like if the economic support flowing out of the big smoke faded away. It is a fascinating question and area for speculation. Nice work with the two finds.

    Gluten free and phony cheese pizza. Mate, you are in the realms of the interesting food stuffs. Was it an almond pizza base with a coconut based phony cheese?

    Ouch, yes, two way roads are quite common down here, and mobile phone use whilst driving has not improved matters. How much excitement does a person need? I see cars veering out of their lanes and onto the wrong side of the road quite regularly. It’s not a good situation.

    For your info. The Levi’s jeans 516’s cost me a few cents shy of $100 each. On the other hand, the quality seems pretty good and the denim weight is heavy. I’m no fan of synthetic materials for jeans. Haha! Well, who really knows when their time is up? You may run short of jeans… You never know.

    Derek Ravenglass was honest in his scoundrel-ness. Yeah, I can see that he would be a survivor. The Roman fort near to his area was mentioned in their original journey.

    What? This is news to me. Collections never complete. We picked up another seven roses yesterday and hope to get the upper terrace completed tomorrow. But should there be more space set aside for roses? Hey, this is how winter evenings used to be spent. Your friend might be onto something.

    I liked how the recycling article casually dropped in all these great things that could happen, but it just costs three times what using virgin materials cost. What did they expect? The manufacturers are externalising their costs. A sane society would use only a few varieties of plastic and then stick to that.



  48. Yo, Chris – Re: Your conversation with DJ about small gestures. Occasionally, some bloke will be kvetching about his relationship with his Lady, and I gently ask, “When’s the last time you left a rose on the pillow?” That’s usually a show stopper. Even an old confirmed bachelor, such as myself, knows a bit about the fairer sex. Or maybe I just know a lot about minimum effort for maximum effect? 🙂

    LOL. Sorry I got you all stirred up about fire risk. You know, everyone is banging on about our mild, wet summer, and how there were very few wildfires, this year. Well, the downside of that is that a summer such as this, the underbrush (also called fuel) goes feral and the next time we have a hot dry summer …
    But, these respites give one time to prepare … theoretically.

    The Aretha Franklin documentary is set to be released on DVD, here, any day. I do hope our library gets it. I don’t know how much you know about her background, but she was raised in a religious preaching and musical family. That is the backstory of many African American pop singers. And, the decision to switch from religious to pop music is always a bump in the road of their biographies. But, maybe, not such a barrier in Franklin’s family, as several other relatives had made the transition. And, there was all that money ….

    The documentary might not be to your taste. I really like the soundtrack. Which has been around for years. Just about wore out the vinyl, and now have it on CD. It was filmed over two nights at the biggest black Baptist church in LA. And, she’s backed up by an enormous chorus. The music is all traditional, old spirituals. Sometimes, I throw it on the player on a Sunday morning. Really gets one going. Speaking in tongues and rolling on the floor, optional. Think, the wonderful scene in the “Blues Brothers”, film. :-).

    So, how could health care for everyone be funded? Well, it’s a drop in the bucket, compared to say, the military budget. Maybe get rid of those 200+ golf courses the military provides, world wide? That would be a good start. I listened to part of a interview with the head of Cedar-Sinai hospitals. He mentioned that government financed healthcare’s administrative costs were about 3 or 4%. Big business healthcare runs about 15+%.

    I forgot to mention, that in some places, finding a doctor that takes Medicare or Medicaid, can be difficult. Some doctor’s say they don’t because the government reimbursements are too small. Other’s, that it’s already onerous to keep up with all the different insurance plans. I think in some cases (though never mentioned) it’s a class, thing. And then of course, as all thinking people know, government health care is a commie plot :-).

    There’s a saying, around this part of the world. “Is the mountain, out?” From behind the clouds, that is. And, it can be applied to any mountain, under discussion. The mountain(s) were not out, for my trip. But that’s ok. As you surmised, I’ll just catch the next show.

    I stay well hydrated. But, for trips (even long shopping trips) I’m always a bit nervous due to OMB (Old Man’s Bladder). So, it’s a bit of a balancing act. Of course, a fringe benefit is that OMB can be used as a handy excuse for breaking away from really boring conversations :-). Luckily, my OMB is not too severe.

    Well, the original purpose of Packwood was a pass through the mountains. It’s the major route to bring produce, over from the Yakima Valley. Forest products came later. In fact, on my trip I saw several loaded logging trucks, and, a truck loaded with corn. Tourism. Skiing. National Forest Service employees. Wikipedia has a pretty good, short summary.

    I have no idea what constituted the crust or “cheese” of the pizza. Best not inquire, too closely :-).

    I’m a Levi 501 guy, myself. Button fly. It was a “look” when I was a wee small lad. Couldn’t pull off that one, either. Usually involving plaid shirts, boots and a porn stache. :-).

    Only a few varieties of plastic? Anathema!!! What would become of “new” and “improved?” The economy would collapse (as if it’s not headed south, already.) Sounds like a commie plot :-).

    I detected a tiny spike, emerging between a corn stock and a leaf. A cob? Time will tell. We’re going to have three days of low 70’s, and then a run of mid 80 days. No rain. Things will get interesting, in the garden. Lew

  49. Hello again
    I am around, just stressed as I try to buy a piece of land prior to it going to auction. Not prepared to try via the auction as previous dealings with that auctioneer have not inspired confidence.


  50. Hi Inge,

    No worries and nice to hear from you. Good luck with the purchase.

    Finished excavations for the upper terrace today and now there are 24 roses planted all up. One of the roses looks a bit dodgy, but we planted it regardless. I suspect that the heavy frost yesterday morning was not good for the rose. Oh well.



  51. Hi Lewis,

    It’s true, because small gestures work. The large gestures such as immense holidays, flash cars, epic parties etc. all soon get forgotten about. Now of course there are people who demand such large gestures, but I studiously avoided such partners knowing they’d quickly send me broke. 🙂 And who wants that? No doubt, after wreaking havoc on my finances, such a lady would soon move on to greener pastures. Nope, I’d much prefer, how did you put it? “minimum effort for maximum effect”. Exactly, and to the point. I myself don’t seek grand gestures.

    Oh, well I sort of appreciated the reminder about the fire risk. We’ve put so much effort into the two new garden terraces (plus extending the corn enclosure) that other, but no less important, activities had fallen by the wayside. It is a hard balance, and you might not be aware but the two new garden terrace projects are part of a much larger project that addresses how to channel heavy rainfall around the property. It’s complicated, but sometime next year the vision should make a bit more sense. And fingers crossed that a super cell or tornado doesn’t make landfall here in the meantime during the coming summer months. The likelihood is unfortunately rather high of either of those occurring (plus the fire risk is not small), but anyway, it makes for an exciting existence. 😉

    We finished excavations on the upper terrace today. Yay! Plus all 24 roses have now been planted on the terrace. Three roses were relocated there from other parts of the garden. That reminds me. Do you want to hear a groaner? What kind of bee likes eating roses? Answer: A wallabee… Hehe! Well I thought that it was funny…

    I let Ollie outside for a quick toilet trip this evening, and the stupid dog thought that it was a good idea to tangle with a wombat. He takes wildlife encounters as a full on contact sport. Sir Poopy was a much better dog on that front. Ollie will get there given time, as he is still very young. He seems unharmed but the wombat was growling and grumping at him. They pack a serious bite and there is always the chance he won’t recover from an infection from the bite. Some of our animals down here deliver more bacterial punch than just their combination of teeth and a strong jaw.

    The theoretical preparation story is a lost opportunity. I’m seeing how that plays out in the Camulod series of books. Our hero, Merlyn (is this a usual spelling for the great mage that the author uses?), is having to deal with factional in-fighting among the competing power blocks in the colony. Go figure, Uther’s army was wiped out, and they’re busy in the colony bickering over ‘power and control’. I quite like the Lucanus character too, he’s extraordinarily perceptive about all manner of aspects of the colony for a Roman military trained surgeon.

    I had no idea about Aretha Franklin’s background, but her presence at the head of the choir was extraordinary to see and hear. I’ll be very interested to hear your thoughts about the documentary. The soundtrack was spine tingling to hear in the cinema. Yeah, the people were in the moment, and I can’t quite be sure, but at one point in the filming, I swear I spotted Mick Jagger bopping along.

    Thanks for the correction, and yes I bow to your greater knowledge and firsthand experience with your medical system. It is funny you mention the military, but I read a really strange article the other week: US officials reveal there aren’t enough spare parts for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Now I’m all for an open media, but you know, doesn’t the military and government realise that our enemies may also keep up to date with the latest bungles over the interweb?

    Far out dude! I’ve heard talk about commie plots, but whenever I hear such talk my mind keeps thinking about The Rocky and Bullwinkle show. Not sure what that means. Down here we never really worried about the ‘reds under the bed’, and I seem to recall at one time there may have even been a communist political party. They didn’t poll well in elections. From time to time in the big smoke I see posters on traffic light poles proclaiming the latest Marxist conference and I’m slightly put off by the angry young lady with her fist in the air. Clearly, the young lady in question expects grand gestures? 😉 But yeah, every year I see the same sad posters and wonder who goes to such events – and whether the intelligence agencies track who does. They do need something to do after all. Apparently back in the day they did used to monitor people going and coming from the commie embassy – even those with proper and legitimate business to conduct there. Well, a bloke needs a job I guess, and it sure beats digging soil. Hang on, that is what I was doing today! I’ve definitely done something bad in a past life to have to work so hard.

    Thanks! That is a great saying and I’ll pinch that for use here. Over spring and summer, the forest over the mountain can produce a thick blanket of cloud when there are no clouds elsewhere.

    Good for you, and keep on top of that OMB! Funny stuff! Hey, part of the reason I wasn’t much of a fan of travel was that I often wondered where the next toilet would be – and then it could be an alarming experience in third world countries. Sometimes you’d have to pay a toilet supervisor for the use of the toilet, and the bank notes probably should come with a health hazard warning. 😉 Yuk! What doesn’t kill you, or something like that… I was trying to work out a funny acronym too, but the best I could come up with was MAD-B (Middle Age Dude-Bladder). The hyphen I feel is a bit of a letdown. Hehe!

    Oh yeah. My money is on almonds for the pizza base, but discretion is the better part of valour. I once fed one of those pizza bases to the chickens and they didn’t eat it. I had to then feed it to the less fussy worms.

    Respect. 501’s are cool – and as they say, quality never goes out of style. Hehe! Thanks for the cheeky mental image. You put me in mind of the grunge days of my youth. I used to do the jeans, flannel shirt and boots. But I differed from you with the facial hair in that I went with the goatee. I was channelling the Klingons from the original Star Trek, but I had to dump the goatee for a full (but trimmed) beard when all of the IT folks began sported goatees. They stole my style, and now that I mention it, I was wearing skivvies (turtle necks) long before Steve Jobs decided to take the look for his own. Don’t all these IT folks have any imagination? Hehe!

    The commie plots are coming thick and fast this evening! I can only dodge and weave so much… 😉 I guess that is how I would have organised things with the plastic. We have too many hybrids and varieties of plastic and then we mix them altogether and expect them to be readily identifiable and recycled. Yup, failure is always an option.

    Best of luck with the corn. The cobs develop amazingly fast. Last year, I have to confess that I left them on the stalk for a little bit too long before harvesting and some of them ended up being a bit starchy. Who knew?



  52. Yo, Chris – Lew is VERY grumpy, this morning. Well before 7am (a Saturday) there was this tremendous sound like someone shaking a box of rocks. That went on, and on. When I staggered down to water, I discovered the source of all the noise. Someone is tearing down a small building, a block away, down on Market.With an enormous piece of equipment. Think of Mike Mulligan’s steam engine … without the steam.

    The building was a small gas station. But not the kind old enough to have any architectural interest. I wonder if there are already plans for the parcel, or if the owner thinks clearing the old building will make the plot more salable? A lot of those old stations have trouble with leaking fuel tanks. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) takes interest in those kinds of things. Also, I wonder, given the vintage of the building, if there’s problems with asbestos or lead? But, the owner may be wise to take the building down, now. Under conservative administrations, all kinds of regulations go by the wayside. That’s always part of their battle cry. End regulation and government oversight. Sure, some regulations are over the top and expensive. Other’s, however … where to draw the line?

    Do Wallabys have wings? :-). Speaking of roses, you may not have to worry about frost, too much. Once established, they’re pretty hardy. Portland (City of Roses) has ice storms and frequent frosts. Rose mortality is low. Of course, roses should be pruned down to a few inches, each fall. And, perhaps mounded up with a bit of mulch. You might want to Google around, “pruning roses.” Some of the hybrid roses may be a bit “precious”, but most varieties (once established) are tough as old boots.

    Speaking of wings, I saw a trailer for a series, something called “Carnival Row.” Looks interesting. But, being an Amazon original, I don’t know if it will ever make DVD. The way things are going.

    Given Ollie’s penchant for terrorizing the wildlife, you might want to keep some doggie antibiotics, on hand. You know, given our health system, some people resort to doggie antibiotics. Fish (!) antibiotics are also popular. Same stuff that humans get, but much, much more accessible and cheap.

    Oh, the spelling of Merlin is all over the place. I’ll stick with the standard. As long as we know who we’re talking about …

    The Franklin documentary has an interesting history. It was done by an untested documentary film maker, and, the sound sinc was totally botched. Franklin didn’t want it released, so, it sat on a shelf, for years. Well, new technologies come along and the problems were fixed. But, she still drug her feet. Who knows why. Artists, you know :-). But, once she’d passed on, the family took a look and decided to let it be released.

    I think the F-35 fighters are the one’s Mr. Greer is always banging on, about. A huge gaping hole to pour money into. And, they just don’t work very well. Yes, it doesn’t seem wise to display all your military hardware. But, some people just can’t keep their mouths shut. I suppose the justification is “deterrent.”

    I think “Rocky and Bullwinkle” were great at making fun of the whole reds under the bed, thing. At least among the younger set, all that stuff became a bit silly. Of course, governments often rally the troops and pull together the citizens by declaring a common “enemy.” There was a lot of flailing about, when the Soviet Union collapsed. There was no “them.”

    Here, there’s a simmering tension between fellows who wear 501’s (a biker vibe) and Wrangler jeans (a cowboy vibe). I guess everyone needs a “them.” :-). Interesting. Here, “skivvies” is a generic term for any kind of underwear.

    Sometimes, IT folks have way too much imagination. See: AI and … what is that techno rapture called? Speaking of that whole set, I saw a trailer for a new film called “Jexi”. View at your own risk. The language (and some of the concepts) are pretty raw. I think it’s supposed to be a comedy about one of those speaking devices, taking over a young man’s life. Well, you’ll get to see a lot of present day San Francisco.

    Speaking of DVD’s, I was mucking about in the library catalog, last night, and hit a triple quinella (horse racing term). I’m number one on the hold lists for “The Dead Don’t Die”, “Anna and the Apocalypse” and “Star Trek Discovery, season 2”. Then it was time to walk the dog. More catalog slogging revealed “American Horror Story: Apocalypse” and “The Professor and the Madman.” All number one on the hold lists. I think there were a few other things. “Tolkien” and “Amazing Grace” have not made an appearance, yet. I had to take a few things off my list, to squeeze all this on. I figure all this stuff will be straggling in, from now til Christmas.

    I also saw the trailer for “Zombieland 2.” Looks like a lot of fun.

    There’s been a lot on NPR about the Amazon rainforest on fire. (You know, I’m losing patience with NPR. Yesterday, the term “sob sister” came to mind. Agony aunt?) But, any-who, they were banging on about the forest being the “lungs of the world.” Which joggled my memory. Years ago, there was a book called “Nature’s End” (1986) by Strieber. He wrote a lot of sci-fi and horror (Wolfen). I had a vague memory that it was about the worlds oxygen, running out. Yup. There’s also a sub plot I had forgotten about, the reduction of the world’s population by 1/3. I’d say, it was a cli-fi book, before that was an official genre. Well, leaving you on that happy note .. Lew

  53. @Lew and Chris

    Almost done with Eagles Brood, our hero made it to the religious conference and helped restore order. I will probably not keep going with Saxon Shore for a little while as I think I need a break from the internal monologue of Merlyn (who sort of reads exactly the same as Varrus do you think?).

    I don’t know which book to read next for the work trip tomorow… Julian by Gore Vidal is calling out to me. But there is also a book by Kim Stanley Robinson I had never heard of before, Galileos Dream. Or I can go for non-fiction with Longitude, The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time by Dava Sobel. All sound good, but which to pick?

    There is also the larger problem of an excellent second hand book shop in Napier. We visited 2 months ago and came back with a box of books. I suspect we will have to visit again, but this means our shelves bulge and grow faster than we can read. I don’t know how to solve this predicament!


  54. @Lew

    I have used the cornflour trick before, but it never occurred to me at this time, I sorta thought the baking paper would be non-stick enough. I think the problem was the cauliflower “dough” was relatively moist, and the paper soaked a little of that up and sorta merged with it. If I just put it on a normal greased tray it would have been fine.


  55. RE: Picard series
    I haven’t heard anything else beyond the trailer that was released a few weeks ago. However, my expectations are severely lowered by the choice of show-runner and writers. I suspect it will be another flashy, but *very* empty spectacle like Star Trek: Discovery 🙁

    RE: Negative Interest Rates
    I was thinking about your comment yesterday, worried as you are about the future prospect of negative interest rates and came to a realisation. Anyone fortunate enough to be a saver in the past 10 years, has already chosen to accept negative interest rates.

    “High interest” bank accounts have only just kept above the official rate of inflation. Factor in the “real” cost of living increases of the past 10-20 years, and anyone who kept their money in the bank has paid for the privilege.

    So I don’t see the appearance of official negative interest rates as some momentous shift, but merely the continuation of a trend of falling rates of return on bank deposits and government bonds. People and institutions that see large risks ahead, will continue to pay a premium to preserve capital.

    The broader philosophical question, what does this mean for the future? Is it due to policies of monetary expansion and the explosion of debt? Or maybe due to limits to growth and falling rates of return on energy production? A little of both?

    I don’t know, but history does show us plenty of examples of what happens to economies with debased currencies. At least back in the day, your 100 year old coin actually increased in value due to the precious metal content. Nowadays, with electronic bank accounts and paper notes, there is no escape. If you hold money in the bank, or under the bed, you are losing purchasing power. Maybe the answer is to become a banker? They always seem to do well!


  56. @ Damo
    There is one heck of a psychological difference between negative interest rates and rising inflation causing ones money to devalue. In the first case you can see your money loss; in the second case you can pat yourself on the back as your capital remains the same even if it is illusory.


  57. Hi Inge,

    I agree with you regarding negative interest rates in that the concept forces an active concern, whereas inflation is a passive concern. The difference is quite marked.

    PS: I promised to the exasperated editor that I’d complete the story this evening. I better get a wriggle on…



  58. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, I hear your concerns – not literally of course, as that would be difficult, but I speak in the metaphorical sense. When I was a kid, all of the stores used to close sharp on midday Saturday and reopen on a Monday morning. I understand that it presented difficulties to many people, but it left a day and a half with little in the way of background noise. I sort of liked that state of affairs. On the other hand I used to live next to a Yugoslavian neighbour who used to pound the meat for their roast at day break every Sunday morning. It used to drive me bonkers, but then I couldn’t be angry with them because they used to bring around trays of homemade biscuits and the editor and I who were busy constructing the house next to them (and also making a lot of noise) enjoyed every single one of the biscuits. All up, I feel that the scales were roughly in balance.

    Ha! Gas station! Yeah, good luck with cleaning that site up. I’ve seen the demolition of such a building and the effort that has to go into remediating the site is quite astounding. The tanks leak, because steel is only so good and eventually the steel worm tolls the bell. It is sort of like what you’ve said about the terraces in that eventually, they’ll end up where they end up. The Roman’s may have had a better sense of deep time?

    Nice one, and fortunately the answer is emphatically: No! Like deer, wallabies can jump alarmingly high fences so wings would just give them the ultimate advantage (there are marsupials with wings). Thanks for mentioning the pruning of roses – and yeah, we did a bit of that when we planted them out. Some of the roses were purchased bare rooted and so we could examine the root systems and make a guess about how much plant material to remove. Mostly, roses here are as you quite rightly say: Tough as old boots. I feel that in the distant future cobblers may be able to earn a very good living. I used to work in as an accountant in footwear manufacturing and the making of footwear is a real skill which I was sad to see depart to cheaper shores.

    Carnival Row sounds rather interesting. Thanks for the heads up!

    It is a bit of a problem because they are the same medications, but down here you can’t just trot off to the local store and obtain them. They’re affordable at the chemist, you just have to have a prescription. A few years ago I spoke with a veterinarian who alerted me to the situation and I have been keeping a sharp eye out ever since, but alas…

    Well yes, dead people rarely offer contrary opinions, and from seeing the trailer, I feel that the footage matched the brilliance of the audio. It was astounding, but as you say, artists can be a fickle lot and they surely have their reasons. Aretha had been ripped off on more than a few occasions.

    I guess there is the element of deterrent, but if we don’t have enough spares for the existing F-18’s, F-22’s and F-35’s and the situation is being openly discussed, then perhaps the forces have gotten to the point where embarrassment is a reasonable option. There seems little point in purchasing aircraft that can’t be maintained.

    Hey, Rocky! 🙂 Even as a kid I understood the subtext of the jokes in that show. Maybe, what ‘them or they’ contemplated became ‘them or they’. It happens…

    Ah, well, the tension is easily resolved down here because Wrangler may be sold somewhere, but they’re not common. I didn’t know that about skivvies, but thanks for mentioning it. Did you know the same thing goes for ‘thongs’ which down here are summer footwear which you may know of as ‘flip flops’?

    As always your library system amazes me! I feel that the Dead don’t Die will be every bit as silly as Zombieland 2. Although, sometimes sequels can out perform the original film, and one of the silliest films that I have ever seen was Harold and Kumar 2. Woody is usually performing at his consistent peak best work. He’s good and has been around so long that he offers consistent surprises and depth of performance.

    Agony Aunt! You put in mind of a slightly sordid story. I had a housemate for a while that used to purchase all manner of eye-popping newspapers. Anyway, one of those newspapers was titled: The Truth. And oh boy, was the newspaper a hoot or what? Older gentleman used to purchase the newspaper on the pretext that it had the best form guide for the horse races – and who can argue with such displays of logic? Hehe! Funny stuff. One section of the newspaper had an agony aunt section, and far out I used to piss myself laughing at the – most likely entirely fabricated – situations that erstwhile readers had sent in. And the answers were hysterical. The editor tells me that when she used to work in a milk bar (i.e. general store) as a kid, she used to wait around until the owners were elsewhere and she used to read the same rubbish but very funny stories. 🙂

    I believe that oxygen makes up about 18% or 19% of the atmosphere, so yeah they’d have to use an awful lot of it up before it disappeared. Thanks for the sneaky book reference – you’re good! 😉 Yes, and with all the concerns that the European leaders have, I’d like to ask them: Where are their forests?



  59. Hello again
    80F indoors and 85% humidity; it is the latter that makes it almost impossible to do anything useful. I did freeze some tomatoes but had to go outside to pick a few more to make up the weight that I wanted. Made the mistake of standing barefoot on some black rubber matting in the sun. Yikes!


    @ Pam
    Land is for my son, it has a huge barn on it.


  60. Yo, Chris – Ran across an interesting article, yesterday. Between 2015 and 2018, insurance companies dropped 340,000 home owner’s policies, in what they deemed wildfire areas, in California. I guess there’s a State backed insurance plan, but it’s three times the cost.

    Well, things were different, then :-). I can remember that weekend openings were mostly for “amusements.” And, things got awfully quiet, most evenings. Back when more folks worked a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, some businesses resorted to being open Saturday, but closed Sunday and Monday. But, there was a slow creep, and now we live in pretty much a 24/7 world. Have it your way. :-).

    Re: Franklin. I suppose it can be pretty rough watching extensive footage of your younger self. Top of your game, certainly in better physical shape. Fashion faux pas. Would you really like to revisit extensive footage of your goatee? 🙂

    I can remember when flip-flops were called thongs. Back before the fashion world co-opted the term for something else, entirely different. Skivvies, i.e. unmentionables.

    Woody is a bit of a outspoken liberal, and all that lounging around the oval office of a White House ruin, might be ripe for political commentary. Wonder if a certain orange haired zombie might lurch into view, to be put down? :-).

    The doyenne of advice columns was, of course, Dear Abby. Her daughter has acquired the crown and mantle (scepter and orb.) Ditto Dear Abby’s main competition, Anne Landers. Got to keep the family firm, going. Abby (and Landers) always had a knack for keeping slightly ahead of the social curve. What was acceptable and what wasn’t. She was also willing, to change her mind, about some topics.

    Seems like there were a lot of lesser lights, doling out Advice to the Lovelorn. (See: West’s novella, “Miss Lonely Heart.”) There got to be a bit of specialization. Doctor Ruth for sex. Emily Post for manners. And, later, Miss Manners, for modern manners. Oh, some of them were made up letters (at least to get a column off the ground.) But once they got rolling, most was real. Never forget what a freak show, humanity is. 🙂

    It was 77F (25C) yesterday. Supposed to hit 90F, by Wednesday. I DO have two corn cobs forming. Sent off for some pea seeds, yesterday. I’m going to try for a late crop. Territorial seed had something called “Alaska” that has a very short growing season.

    I watched “Brightburn”, last night. Well, I watched about 1/4 of it and fast forwarded through the rest. It takes the Superman origin story (crashed space ship on a Kansas farm, etc.) and turns it on it’s head. What if the “strange visitor from another planet” was a little psychopath?

    I may be watching “All is True”, tonight. I also finished my trip to New Zealand, “Brokenwood Mysteries” series 5. Quirky and entertaining. More like movies. Four episodes of 1 1/2 hours, each.

    I finished the Dickinson bio, and am well into “England, Their England.” Great fun. I’ll probably start “Saxon Shore” this afternoon. After picking blueberries and green beans :-). Lew

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