The Great Escape

It is a truth universally acknowledged that 2020 has been something of a rough year for plenty of people. At the very least, heaps of peoples travel plans have been seriously disrupted. However, what has captured my attention of late, is that there has been a slow but steady exodus of people from the city to the rural areas. Kind of makes you wonder what they expect to find there? And rural properties which used to take upwards of twelve months to sell, are now being sold within days. Something strange is afoot.

But then sometimes rural areas can become fossilised and the people residing there can be fearful of any change. A few days ago, the editor and I stopped past the local cherry farm in order to avail ourselves of some early season cherries. The family who had recently purchased the farm had performed many changes over the past year, some of which were necessary. It was a true pleasure to see the energy they’d personally invested in their farm, and I remarked as much to them. Sometimes you need new blood in an area.

Way back in 2006, the editor and I purchased the property where the farm is now located. Forestry workers had strip mined the forests and soils on the property from about 1860, and continued to do so on a regular basis for the next century. The forest resources were eventually played out. The soils we were confronted with had a few unhealthy tall trees. The clay had been hard baked by the sun, and the surface had the consistency of pale yellow concrete. Any rainfall ran over the baked clay surface, so it was amazing that any of the remaining tall trees survived the appalling conditions. And yet there the unhealthy tall trees were, proclaiming for anyone with the sense to see, that things could be different, albeit with a bit of assistance.

The property had been on the market for several years, slowly accumulating unpaid property taxes, which candidly was an ominous sign. But all the same we purchased it for $165,000 with a loan. The editor and I are no fans of debt, and so by 2008 at the very height of the Global Financial Crisis, we decided to sell our city house and use the remaining funds to construct a house on this rural property.

Of course nothing is ever simple, and the city house had alarmingly failed to sell due to the awful and highly uncertain economic conditions at the time. And also we had the legal right, but no actual permission to construct a house on this rural property. It was a massive gamble for us to have taken.

When the city house failed to sell at auction, we stayed awake for an entire night and brainstormed ideas to get to where we wanted to go. The next day, after a few brief and fitful hours of sleep and a coffee (or two), we began implementing the ideas gleaned during the brainstorming process. The house sold later that week.

The next hurdle to jump was to obtain permission to construct a house on the rural property. Permission must be sought and received from the local council (local government). As things turned out, during the three month application process, the Black Saturday bushfires occurred and 173 people died and 1.1 million acres of land burned. The state government immediately responded to the crisis by implementing new building codes, as you do. New houses had to incorporate building systems and techniques which made the new buildings less likely to combust in the face of such an inevitable bushfire. That’s the theory anyway, as none of these hastily implemented codes were tested in their entirety.

The building code changes were problematic and seriously expensive, but not impossible to address. After the three month back and forwards process with the local council, and a couple of expensive consultants reports, we were granted permission to build this small house. And thankfully it was a small house, because with all the changes to the building codes we couldn’t afford to have a builder construct the house. We ended up physically constructing the house ourselves. After 18 months of construction by the two of us, the house was given the legal tick of approval. Mind you, we moved in to an unfinished house well before the 18 month mark, but that is another story.

Soon after completing construction of the house, we became a very polarising force in the area. Some locals liked the changes we’d made, and others wished that we were dead. In fact, many upset locals made formal complaints to the local council about the changes made to this property. The local council investigated the complaints and found everything to be in order. However, strangely enough, and not all that long after the dust had settled on the melodrama, other locals began putting some efforts into their own properties.

The thing is though, a lot of people living up in this part of the country are either retirees, or they have to commute to a distant job. That’s an economic reality baked in to the larger social arrangements which we all live in. The result of those two circumstances is that many rural properties are financed by off-farm incomes, and the prices of rural properties reflects that reality. In order to escape that, a person has to move ever further outward and away from a large city, and this makes a long commute longer and much more time consuming.

It should also be remembered that high property prices mean that attempts to make rural properties pay for themselves is a fraught proposition. Also the further that a rural property is from a ready city market which can pay for any farm produce or farm services, means that it becomes just that much harder to produce an income from a rural property.

Speaking of time, in order to live at this location and undertake the work that the editor and I do around the farm each and every week, we can’t possibly work full time. And working less than full time nowadays means taking a serious hit to income. How could it not? But then on the other hand, I do not believe that it would be possible to work a full time five days per week job, and then spend two days per week developing a farm. Only a mythical human could keep up such a punishing work schedule, and even then I suspect that the mythical human would burn out before too long. It’s just not possible, which I suspect is why a lot of rural property appears to be massively unproductive.

It is something of a mystery to me as to what the new people moving into this (and other) rural areas will do. Outside a few rare examples, most people moving into rural areas will possibly do nothing. That opinion is based on the simple observation that the newcomers are either too old to have the energy, or they are too time poor to achieve a great deal. All I know is that the increased demand is driving up prices, so if people want cheap rural property, if that still exists, they will have to seek it further out from the capital cities.

On a regular basis people badger me about the possibility of them purchasing a glorious rural property. Mostly such badgering is just good natured talk tinged with wistful feelings of never-to-be-achieved half formed goals. But, if I’m badgered persistently enough, I have been known to counter such talk with examples of actual rural properties which are potential purchases. The conversation generally ends at that point, mostly because those properties end up being deemed unsuitable for one reason or another. Fair enough too, it’s not me having to do the work. But then what becomes abundantly clear, is that city life provides a very comfortable and also sometimes well remunerated existence. Moving out to a rural areas can mean abandoning those creature comforts.

It is worthwhile considering the larger economic context in which these movements of people are taking place. Printing money, i.e. governments taking on ever larger sums of debt to pay for their day to day obligations, has historically ended badly. The role of the Modern Monetary Theorists is to shout as often as possible the mantra: “It doesn’t matter. This time it is different”. I don’t necessarily agree with the central tenets of their beliefs, but I hope they recall that time has a neat way of wrapping up loose ends, and will provide the answer to that story.

One of the ingenious ways, and credit where credit is due, that the story is playing out is that the expected inflationary pressure are being directed into economic asset prices increases, and property is one of those. Generally this policy outcome favours people who own more than one property and/or people in debt for their property. Basically if property prices rise, debt on the property does not also increase and so the process is a form of unearned wealth creation. But then, printing money is also a form of unearned wealth creation, which is why as an economic policy it ends badly.

The main problem that I can see is that the longer the policies are pursued, the more instability gets heaped onto the edifice. The costs mount up as people are excluded from the system and/or become over committed and are unable to service the debt due to unforeseen circumstances. The thing to recall is that if unearned wealth is sloshing around the economic system, then people, even the ones excluded from the property market, are probably enjoying a slice of that action through their wages.

Finally, one of the simple concepts that economists don’t seem to want to tackle is that as economic asset prices rise, and wages remain stagnant, we’re all getting poorer. It really is that simple.

The reactions to the predicament sort of reminds me of peoples reactions to bushfires. Research on peoples reactions to bushfires shows that people generally fall back upon three strategic responses: Prepare beforehand and evacuate early; Take a watch and wait approach and react as new information becomes available; and Clueless. Which camp do you fall into?

We broke the first ground on a new project this week. It may be hard to believe, but we’re a bit short on shed space on the farm. Thus a new project has commenced which will eventually lead to a shed being constructed up above the house and next to the garden terraces.

Ollie poses next to the end of the middle garden terrace

After about five hours of digging and moving soil, we’d excavated about eight feet back into the side of the hill.

Five hours of digging and moving soil produced this flat space

Observant readers will note that in the above photo, there is a new pile of rocks to my right hand side. Over the next few weeks a steel rock gabion cage will be placed at the end of the garden terrace (where Ollie is sitting in the above photo).

The soil is all being relocated to another part of the farm where it will be utilised in a new and very gentle ramp leading down into the orchards.

A new ramp is being constructed with the soil excavated from the project

The smaller rocks are being used in the final steel rock gabion behind the recently completed greenhouse project. Once this is full and sewn up, that marks the end of gabions being utilised in that area. A new gabion home had to be identified.

The steel rock gabion cage behind the greenhouse is almost full

Two trailer loads of the locally quarried crushed rock with lime were placed on the surface in front of the house. Recent bouts of heavy rains had indicated to us that pools of standing and moving water meant that the surface had compacted over the past decade and needed to be replenished. That particular resurfacing job will take a few weeks before it is complete.

The surface of crushed rock with lime in front of the house has begun to be replenished

The Globe Artichokes and some of the Chilli’s raised from seeds in the greenhouse were planted out. Globe Artichokes are one of my favourite vegetables and we have dozens of plants.

Globe Artichokes are in the rear row and Tomatoes are in the front row
Some of the Chilli seedlings were planted out

Other summer crops such as the Corn are growing really well.

The Corn appears to be growing well

Last year the Corn was planted where the Raspberries now grow, and the berry canes are producing extremely well this year.

The plants in the Raspberry enclosure have established well in under a year

Most days now we are enjoying a good harvest of berries. Most of the berries are collected and frozen and when enough have been collected we’ll convert the berries into jam.

Not a bad haul of berries for only a few minutes work

The Apricots on the trees have put on some size over the past few weeks. I doubt any of the fruit will be ripe this side of New Years.

It may be a good season for Apricots

There are more Apples on the trees than in any previous year that I can recall. Of course the birds take a share of the apples so I’m not sure how much of the fruit we’ll harvest. Much of the harvest will be converted into Apple wine.

The trees are producing a lot of Apples this season

And the ground cover in the paddock and in the orchards looks amazing for this summer time of year.

Plum admires the lush green paddocks

Onto the flowers:

The smell of Citrus flowers is heady
The Kiwi fruit vines were incredibly productive last year, and so fingers crossed
Comfrey is well established in many of the garden beds. It makes great chicken feed
Sage leaves are excellent for treating mouth ulcers, and the flowers are very pretty
Roses continue to delight the senses
Salvia’s are a favourite plant
This shy pink Penstemon was hiding in a garden bed
Cat mint is very cheery in the hot summer sun
How amazing are these Canary Island Foxgloves?

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 7’C (44’F). So far this year there has been 1116.2mm (44.0 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1096.2mm (43.2 inches).

83 thoughts on “The Great Escape”

  1. I can confirm a similar change in the real estate winds here in rural Wisconsin, and have heard of stirrings in other parts of the hinterlands.

    A weird confluence of trends is happening. You allude to the cash injection shenanigans as the financial wizards are pushing all the buttons and yanking all the levers in desperation. Low low interest rates being prime for home buyers.

    In addition, the plague that will not be named has led to the realization by both businesses and their employees that stare at screens all day (please no one take that personally, I did that for many years) that they can do that from anywhere with internet of reasonable baud rates. (does anyone say baud anymore? Does that even mean anything if you are hooked up with fiberoptic?)

    So, a quaint cottage in the countryside suddenly sounds great to those that are still employed and want to escape the microbe infested urbanscape. Market prices and number of available lots have reacted accordingly. Even ramshackle fixer uppers are getting a second look. If a property has actual productive farmland, only the wealthy will be able to afford it, as farmland gets more dear each year. ( At the same time it gets harder to make a living on).

    Where will it all end? I’m speculating here, but I think you are quite correct that many if not most newcomers will not know how to best care for the land they now steward, or foster and enjoy the potential productivity.

    On another topic, with all your digging, I was hoping by now you might have come across something fun like procoptodon bones.

    We’ve had nice late fall weather this past week or two, and making good progress on trail building in our woods. Last batch of cider should be carbonated by now, and ready to sample. The root cellar is chilling down, ( BTW- you should build one! but design may have to be different than here, where we have much cooler soil temps year round) Overall, things are going well right now in our quiet corner.

  2. Yo, Chris – I just read an aphorism from Carl Sagan, that still has me giggling. “It pays to keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out.” 🙂 . Words to live by.

    What do they expect to find, making a move to a more rural setting? Your title says it all. “The Great Escape.” People think they’re leaving the problems of the big city, behind. Or, their own personal problems. Surprise! There are rural problems. And a great internal psychic change doesn’t necessarily happen when you move house. You might be able to put up a good front of being a different person, but that wears over time. The cracks show. I did hear something interesting, in relation to Hollywood, a couple of weeks ago. “No one cares who you were, when you come to Hollywood. It’s who you become.”

    I thought so. The soil (or lack thereof) when you moved to the farm is called (as you probably know) hardpan. But, as your lush paddock picture shows, it can be dealt with, through a lot of hard work and planning.

    I remember when your city house failed to sell. Or, your tale of it. How the things you valued, no one else did. Or, at least, no one who showed up to take a look. And you had to “bland” it up, to get it to move. Oh, that must have been painful! It’s like me realizing that no one loves my tat, like I love my tat. Sad, but true.

    So you polarized the locals. That must have been interesting. Well, you gave them something to talk about, and I’d guess any division had already been there, beneath the surface, all along.

    Off-farm income, commutes, income from rural property … it’s a real Catch 22. What will people moving to rural areas do? Well, they’ll plant permaculture gardens and pluck all they need, off the trees and bushes! (He said with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.) They’ll raise a few chickens, for protean. Well. That’s all fine and good until the first round bills for the chicken feed come in, or, foxes wipe out the flock. When rats start chowing down on that very expensive feed. When the parrots eat all the cherries.

    I’m a little confused. In one paragraph you mention “…enjoy a slice of that action through wages…” and in the next, “…wages remain stagnant.” I’d go with the second. The buying power of wages has been stagnant, since about 1978.

    It’s good to see Ollie. H is all aquiver. 🙂 . Did he dig out that wedge, all by himself? I noticed the enormous boulders on the right of the picture, right off the bat. But didn’t notice the smaller ones, to the left until you mentioned them. Actually, with that shape, it’s not a bad start on a root cellar. Many are slotted into hill sides. Unless it gets too much direct sun?

    That’s a good start on the ramp. The long and winding road … (todays ear worm.) Do save enough rocks to line it with. I’m sure you’ve thought of that. One of my conceptions of an afterlife is a winding country road that dips and bends and disappears … somewhere.

    The Globe Artichokes are really putting on some size. I saw one growing in a greenhouse, once, and was surprised at the size of the thing.

    So, do you do any kind of prep, before freezing the berries, to attain enough to make jam? Not to count your apricots and apples, before they hatch, but it looks like your going to have a great crop. As I’m sure you know, comfrey makes a great soil amendment. The trick is, to dig it in before it goes to seed. Otherwise, you have it everywhere. Even more than the way it usually aggressively spreads. We have a lot that pops up, here and there, and I just cut it off and dig it in.

    The turkey stuffing I was talking about, last week. Traditionally, the go-to spice for it is sage. Lots of sage. Here, if you buy a pack of stuffing bread cubes, there’s usually a packet of sage spice, inside. All that cat mint, and no moggy, to enjoy it!

    I spent about an hour in the garden, today. Doing much clean up. Going to try and hit it, every day. Anything that wasn’t an obvious weed, I dug back in the soil. A lot of it had to be cut up. Since I don’t have a fancy wood chipper, 🙂 I do most of it with a hand pruner. In our climate, most stuff is too wet to hack it up with a shovel. But it’s ok. Taking big bits and turning them into small bits, is very Zen. 🙂 Lew

  3. Hi Steve,

    Firstly, an apology. In all of the crazy mucking around in the back end of the software for this website the other night, I accidentally deleted a link to your excellent blog. Between you and I, the blogger platform you’re on is a whole bunch simpler than ‘go it alone’ software. Life’s a bit like that, don’t you reckon? All fixed now though.

    I hear you about that, and likewise have to spend days staring at paper and screens. When first I started my professional journey, everything was on paper, and um people resources are about the same as way back then, and reporting is only slightly quicker now than those days. However, the minutiae has become that much more complicated, but that may not necessarily be an advantage.

    As an old school geek – like your good self (respect!)- well, back in the day it was all about baud rates. The connection to the interweb here is via the 4G network so it’s pretty fast given how far away the towers are. Mind you, it helps having line of sight to them. But the copper network was not even a consideration as the nearest exchange is about 6 miles away and way back in the day there weren’t even available slots at the exchange. All up I must be enjoying the world’s most expensive interweb connection, but you know, what do you do? Honestly, all respect to fibre optic connections and bonkers fast 4G / 5G connections in the big smoke, such things will never roll out to remote rural locations like where I am. I don’t need them, it is good enough here.

    But exactly, even ramshackle fixer uppers are getting a look in here too. It won’t end well you know.

    Far out, I’ve encountered a few bones over the years and Ruby snatched one away to who knows where, but nothing the size of a Procoptodon! Walks in the forest would be less comfortable knowing they were around, and I suspect they were eaten despite the arguments both for and against. The Diprotodon was biggerer, and I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the Naracoorte caves which are a true treasure.

    Glad to hear that the fall weather has been pleasant, and yes it is on the agenda, although someone here has to reach the conclusion. The soils are fairly cool here, so it is not so much of a problem.

    And it is nice to live in an out of the way corner of the world. 😉



  4. Hi, Chris!

    A few years before you and the editor proceeded with your great rural adventure we were doing the same. Having moved to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia from the city and very flat land of Dallas, Texas, we began looking for a country property. We, too, left behind a house for sale that would not sell. Let it also be known that we had financed that house when interest rates were 18%, and we had a very small budget anyway.

    So, we could only afford a 5 acre property (which is actually a pretty nice size) on the very steep side of a north-facing hill in a forest. The house took a year to sell, at a loss. We paid someone to put up the shell of a log house kit and we did most of the interior ourselves. But not all, including the plumbing and wiring.

    Why did we want a rural property? For the same reasons that everyone does. To live amongst nature (it’s not all sweetness and light, my dear). To have plenty of privacy and room. Animals! Wild and domestic, we have had them all. And, sort of generally speaking, to be where nobody, within reason, and not counting local bureaucrats – bless ’em! – would tell us what to do.

    We live down a private road, with a dead end, which is great. But this means that all of us on this road have to cooperate at least on maintaining the road. And we had a to-do over mailboxes once, but that turned out very well as everyone kept their tempers in check. My point about this is – not for Mr. Chris, who knows these things – but for others going rural – to keep in mind that you don’t escape people by fleeing the city. But there are a lot less of them, and I have found even the well-to-do ones (and there are some extremely rich people up here) to be more low- key.

    We did this on one small income. I quit work when expecting my first child and only did volunteer work after that. We forwent a lot of stuff. We never had a new car after we bought the property. We took itsy bitsy vacations. And etc. Would we do it all over again? You bet!

    How much does Ollie weigh these days? Boulders, boulders, everywhere. And you win, as usual, with the rocks. You always have more rocks than we do.

    Look at those berries! Do you “prune” your raspberries? Do you ever bottle applesauce? Questions, questions . . .

    That lush green paddock with the beautiful dog is a dream.

    Sage – especially pineapple sage – is one of the few things deer don’t eat. And it can take some shade.

    Oh – the roses, the roses! Thanks! Our catmint flowers are white, with maybe a touch of pale purple. Yours are such a striking color.

    My father has a saying: “Motion is lotion.” Which I am trying to remember, as I am stiff from working in the garden yesterday.


  5. Hi Lewis,

    What? Well ya learn something new every day. A corn product? For some reason I’d envisioned salted peanuts fried in beer batter. It would probably work. Some fish and chips down here are deep fried in beer batter, although I’m unsure what that actually means. It’s been years since I’ve tucked into a bag (as in butchers paper) of fish and chips. As a kid the standard go to fish was flake, which is actually shark, and it was a very tasty fish. I believe Whiting took the place of shark, but it has been a very long time since I’ve consumed fish. Possibly fish stocks are not what they once were.

    It’s been reported down here too that rehabilitation can be more cost effective than confinement, but then there are vested interests and all that. Near to one of the maximum security jails, I was driven off the road by someone driving on the wrong side and who had clearly given up. I no longer use that road.

    Mate, I’ve encountered some bosses like that, and they do your head in. They’re rare, but at the same time they are out there. Most people do like you or I would and just leave. It surprises me that such people aren’t brought to task and that alone speaks of a very dysfunctional system.

    Well, the editor has made her mind up about the bookcases, and I see no reason to argue the matter. We might wait until mid next year when a lot of the government support currently being enjoyed evaporates. Mind you, it would not surprise me to see it extended in a different form.

    I didn’t know that about rubber bands and sulphur and the impact upon the books. Interesting. Do you know, I have a suspicion that rubber bands no longer last as long as they used to. You’ve given me much to ponder, and maybe I’ll replace only my favourites.

    Oh no! You dodged the entire zombie-mad-cash-truck question. Respect! You’re good. Hehe! The 2067 film sounds intriguing, and I hadn’t even heard of it before you mentioning it. The film industry (and most entertainment industries) are in a bit of a shambles right now. Yes, they are doing it especially tough.

    Who would have thought that someone else could be so thoughtless to a customer? To be frank, the uncomfortable bookseller question has put me off returning to that bookshop, and the seller had a very good collection. It is possible that the seller enjoyed the company of books and felt awkward in the company of humans, but if that is the case, say as little as possible as a strategy might work.

    You know I haven’t met too many trust fund babies. I would worry for their mental health as it is an unnatural outcome which would create more problems than it would ever resolve. I’m reading Cesar Milan’s book ‘Cesar’s Way’ and he talks around that subject a lot. An old school chum came from a very wealthy family although he had an extraordinarily difficult and old school father, and a few years after we fell out of contact I’d heard on the grapevine that he gassed himself in his garage.

    Your ex-President Harry S. Truman was a character. I tend to be of the opinion that former politicians should be paid a pension, not too much, nor too little, just to keep them quiet. At times down here they can be like ghosts ineffectively haunting a mansion. On a positive note I see that he was very well read in history, and I applaud that in a leader. And he had some great insights, and appears to have upset some criminals. Yes, a real character and leader.

    You are so busted! Hehe!. Hope you enjoy the Crown, I have heard nothing but good about the series, and if the kids are talking about it, you’re in good company.

    The situation with masks down here is confusing, and there are no cases, anywhere outside of quarantine. Oh well, strange days. Use your best judgement in the matter.

    Hehe! Yes, the Carl Sagan quote was seriously funny. And who thought that scientists were ‘stick in the mud’ folks? 🙂

    Glad you liked my sneaky title reference. When folks come to my door to complain, I advise them of a course of action regardless as to whether the folks find it distasteful or not. And I rarely provide advice on things that I would not do myself. That gives it a double whammy of kapowey. 🙂 Then I don’t have to hear about the complaints any more and a certain catharsis is achieved. That is called a win-win, whatever that means.

    Actually the complaints along with one or two other notable episodes ended up with me earning a ‘reputation’. News gets around these parts, and um yeah I may not live that one down, but at least people have stopped poking me. The old story of the boy called Sue was a larger lesson than just the stupid name the kid was given.

    Exactly too, blanding up the house in the city which failed to sell, gutted both the editor and I. And all the little details put into making the house easy to live in weren’t appreciated. But you know if required we can fit in and give them what they wanted. The thing is, sometimes they have fixed second hand stories in their heads about what they want. This is not a good thing.

    The divisions are there all right – even today. Most of the people around here have the belief that the editor and I are poor for doing the manual labour on the farm. It is a bizarre conceit, but I see no need to correct them. And many of the people who complained to the local council lived on properties which they’d purchased, but other people than them did the work on. Like what? How do they not see how it is?

    Well, yeah I can’t argue with the stagnant wages, but worked very late this evening and have only a short window of time to reply. I’ll take their word for it, as I see such things playing out in the economic world.

    Ollie sends H cordial tail wags! 🙂 H is a sensitive personality to recognise a true gentleman in the form of the massive Bull Arab who is now quietly asleep on the green couch behind me. He enjoyed a massive marrow bone today, and his two girls were fighting him for it. Of course Ollie prevailed until he got bored of the bone, and it kept Plum and Ruby entertained for most of the day in between bouts of rain.

    Yes, the root cellar in that area is one idea floating around in my brain.

    The Globe Artichokes which are mature produce chokes every few days and they’re almost six foot tall now. They cook about as fast as boiled eggs, and the taste is superb.

    Other than a wash and cutting off any green plant chunks, that’s about it for the berries. They get boiled up in cane sugar with the jam making process so very few nasties could survive such a process. I noticed that there had been a run on raw sugar as I picked up the last two bags today at the super market. Not sure what is going on there, but it might just be the time of the year. I saw some old bloke with about half a dozen bags and he looked like a proper moonshiner.

    I’m not fussed about comfrey spreading as many of the plants I grow are like that, and comfrey makes for excellent and reliable chook feed. The borage plant I grow here (Alkanet) is far more weedy, but even that is great year-round chook feed. Comfrey dies back in the winter and so it is not as good a plant in my mind.

    Hey, I forgot to mention, but the mysterious moggy story has been solved. The neighbours have a new cat which is busy hunting mice around the chook pen. No wonder the cat failed to drink the milk I left out for it. Ruby and Plum have discovered the cat and they’re going: “What kind of dog are you?” The cat, being a cat, is not amused.

    Well yes, your method works just as well and the stuff breaks down. Actually we do that with all of the hedgings and trimmings and the stuff just makes good soil, and yes it is as they say: Everythings Zen. And I have a 2.5 horsepower electric chipper which works pretty good too. The scary old wood chipper machine is not the only way to do that job and I only use it for larger chipping jobs.

    Gonna head to bed. Too much work and demands are high this year. One recently acquired problem child is being evicted from the good ship – as needs to be occasional done every now and then. Yes, a true time waster and walk the plank me hearty! Ooo, I feel good saying that. Anyway, maybe something good will come of that? Dunno.



  6. Hi Chris
    All is going ok with our family. Some food stuffs supply is sketchy off and on for what ever reason. The increased occurrence of That which is not spoken of. Is of course a concern for us oldies.
    My wife misses the regular lunches with her lady friends But she is ok, presently getting regular morning river walks with friends and sees all her favorite furry friends and their people doing the same. All people masked up for the most part😁
    Weather is chilly boring high 20’s F every morning for the past week. Forecast for the same in near term☹️
    My Christmas solar tree lighting project will go to the sil and daughters place this week. Solar will be waiting for the sun 12 volt power subbed from a house power source until Mr Sun returns.
    I’m planning on lighting two recently professionally trimmed Alberta Spruce bushes at the back of the property.
    I have a 16 Ah LiFePhor 12 volt and a 20 A charge controller to match that I get to play with. I have a couple of 400 watt precision dc variable. Regulated power supplies both at 0 to 20 volts at 0 to 20 amps which can do a good fake for the solar panel which I get after I get the charge controller happy with a fake resistive load fun when there is no real life consequences.😅
    As usual thank you and the Editor for the always interesting and informative blog and great peak summer pictures.

    Sympathy for our friends that are dealing with the loss of treasured love ones during this season.

  7. @ Lew,

    Yeah, a 2nd degree burn from spilling the piping hot tea that I made made that day extra special, although not in a good way. The Princess asked me if I cried. Ummm, no, but I said a lot of words that refused to repeat to her.


  8. Chris,

    I was wondering where you were going with the title to this week’s post, knowing that it likely would not be about the classic Steve McQueen movie. I’ve worked with a lot of people in the rural areas of this county as a major part of my job. My view is that there are 2 main types – those who will adapt to the rural nature of things, including washboarded and rutted dirt roads, and those who decide that they want city services in remote areas. The former are typically respectful and down to earth. The latter, well, the proper words to use will violate some of your guidelines for posting.

    Some in the latter category move into actively farmed areas, then complain about the dust from the farmers’ plows, the crowds of people who drive to the area to pick fruit at the “you pick” orchards, or the smell of cattle or other critter pooh. Oh, and the endless demands that their remote dirt road get paved for free because the entire family has asthma and they didn’t realize that the dust from the dirt roads would bother them when they moved there. Seriously.

    I nearly got in some moderately serious trouble once. A call was shipped to me by a distraught receptionist. It seems in an extremely remote part of the area (so remote it ight as well be in the Yukon), a newby called and was very cranky. It had started snowing there, and they demanded that we immediately send out snow plows. It was October, it was above freezing, just a flurry, but they got rather nasty with me. I started humming “Send in the Clowns”, while thinking up new lyrics “Send in the plows, there’s got to be plows, now send them right here”. I did NOT sing those words aloud, fortunately, although my boss at the time had a good laugh when I mentioned the new lyrics to him later.

    The burned hand is healing nicely. Still gotta keep that area dry for a few more days, but healing is progressing nicely. And yes, as I mentioned to Lew, I made the tea. I actually did have the thought as I was icing the burn with snow that, “hmmm, tea is supposed to be hot, but is it supposed to be this hot?”

    You nailed it about economics. Asset prices increase, wages remain stagnant, we all get poorer. There’s really no getting around that.

    Having to renew the lime and crushed rock speaks volumes about rural living. Maintaining things never ends. Don’t maintain and there will be a problem somewhere. It’s true for me with a home in the city, too, but there’s a huge difference of degree. A lot of people who choose the Great Escape don’t understand that.

    People do NOT understand risk, probability, etc. “But look at the great result if I WIN!” totally ignores the probable catastrophes if the person doesn’t win. Or if the 10% chance of that plane crashing occurs, or… Sometimes I think too many people are either hardwired or brainwashed (or both) into being overly optimistic rather than noticing and working with reality. I try to look at potential risks and maintain a margin of safety.

    I finally started learning in the past decade or so that relating to people and everyone else is foundational to everything else. Numbers and maths are abstract tools to aid in how to relate, hard as that is to say for one with my math/science background. The basic fact (which my university professors mentioned but didn’t emphasize) that these are models gets totally lost by most people. It’s the relating to people that is key.

    Getting swatted by my own hat was, as you said, not rational but WAS necessary. We can’t know everything, which means that reason has limits. Total Perspective Vortex, indeed. 😉


  9. Yo, Chris – Most of the fish, in fish in chips here, claims to be cod. Sometimes, halibut. Beer batter is also a “thing,” here. Has been for a long time. As I don’t deep fry, I’ve never given it a whirl. But, it adds another subtle layer of flavor, and, perhaps, makes the dip batter a bit fluffier.

    Some one driving on the wrong side of the road? Probably some clueless American 🙂 .

    Bosses like that are around. The head of the current regime, here at the Institution is like that. I recognized her “style,” right off the bat. They generally have the instincts of Machiavelli. Know where the bodies are buried, and, sometimes, have bed hopped to the top. For some reason, are usually petite and blond. They usually come to a bad end. But it just takes so darned long, and a lot of damage is done, in the meantime.

    Old time book dealers were sometimes, musty, cranky and off putting. But, I noticed in the documentary, “The Booksellers,” that they were remembered with a kind of fond nostalgia. The thing is, they really knew their stuff. Ah! “Cesar’s Way.” I thought it was dog training. But I see he says he does more people training, than anything.

    I see there’s a new study out of Denmark that masks aren’t very effective. I’m just waiting for someone to mention it to me, so I can say, “They’re Socialists, you know.” 🙂 . The big bug-a-boo. Here, it’s what you use to scare small children. And, the feeble minded.

    A certain amount of “reputation” is a good thing. “Steer clear of that one. You never know what he might do!” I cultivate my reputation, quit carefully.

    Well, it seems like a lot of people want bland houses that are pretty much “turn-key.” I think they have some idea that a house is an empty canvas, that they can impress their “personality” on. Maybe. By the way, in a strange quirk of fate, I ran across this, last night.

    There’s actually some good stuff in here, and I’m sure there’s a lot people don’t consider. And, even if they read this article, will ignore.

    H goes to the vet, today. She’ll probably get a shot! I told her, this morning, to just shut her eyes and think of Ollie 🙂 .

    It takes a lot of sugar, to make good moonshine hooch. 🙂 . Or, jam for that matter. I keep a back up, of cane sugar. Right now, I have four, four pound bags of the stuff. Those bags used to be five pounds. I also pick up dark brown sugar, when I run across it at a good price. In baking recipes, if it calls for sugar, I usually use half white and half dark brown. I don’t know. I think it gives baked goods a little extra depth of flavor. I just have to make sure that the white and brown are well mixed together, and any brown lumps broken down.

    Moggy Mystery solved! We have a couple of cats from across the street, that seem to regularly patrol our gardens. Go, cats!

    Problem children. “We think you’d be happier … somewhere else.” They never seem to learn, do they?

    Well, I had a surprise, last night. I had got a film from the library called “The Broken Hearts Gallery.” I thought it was a documentary. Turns out it was a Rom-Com. You might check out the trailer. It wasn’t so bad. A look at how young people live in New York, at present. A bit of the art scene. Lew

  10. Chris:

    We finally got a bit of winter – a brief snow shower yesterday and freezing temperatures, as you might figure from the snow shower. So it is a pleasure to view you and Ollie in the sunny photo of where you are building the bowling alley.

    That is interesting about the cat. So far, he seems to be a level-headed cat, and aren’t you lucky to have him working for you where he provides his own pay and doesn’t even have to be hosted in the house? Just don’t let the dogs eat him.


  11. @ DJSpo:

    Boy, does a burned hand hurt. I am glad that it is getting better. Last weekend my husband was cleaning some stuff with straight bleach and did not wear gloves. His hands are now very sorry.


  12. @ Lew:

    I have to laugh at these “monoliths”. When I hear “monolith” I think of Stonehenge.


  13. Hi Pam, Al, DJ, Lewis and Damo,

    Thanks for the lovely comments. However, ’tis the mid-week hiatus when all through the night, not a creature was stirring not even an epic Christmas light display. Banned apparently due to the health subject which dares not be named.

    2020, can’t live with it – pass the beer nuts!

    Will speak tomorrow.



  14. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, it is cold here today and especially tonight. 48’F outside and after a few days of such weather the inside of the house was 59’F. Please forgive my summer softness, but we lit the wood heater tonight for the first time in weeks. Brr.

    Had some delightful Mexican food tonight. Not much meat, but absolutely stacks of fresh salad ingredients and beans and sprouts of various descriptions. So good. And finished off with a proper gelati. Yum! Masks are no longer required to be worn outdoors or in hospitality business, but retail yes masks are required. It interests me that many folks, none of whom are old, were still wearing masks.

    In order to dine in you have to register using some sort of block code thing so that the restaurant knows who you are and where you were. Of course, smart phones are not my thing and so I had to pull out the old duffer technical incompetent card and ask for assistance. And turns out that there are old school ways of handling the registering and ordering process. The truth was that I actually do have little technical competence with the smart phones and mine probably wouldn’t work too well anyway because it is locked down tight with most functionality switched off. Just cause I had to have one or lose my professional standing, doesn’t mean that all the features have to be active. I am uncomfortable with these devices.

    I can see that with the beer batter being fluffier. Back in the day, batter used to be thin and crunchy. Yum. Potato cakes smothered in white vinegar and covered in salt were a fave treat as a kid – went well with the Space Invaders machine. They’d probably not be that advisable, but far out they were tasty.

    Hehe! Oh yes, you do drive on the wrong side of the road. Forgotten that. I guess that difference arose due to the UK – US rivarlry way back in the day. And I suspect the guy driving on the wrong side of the road was angry, very angry – or had possibly have given up.

    It wasn’t that long ago I had a mate with a Machiavellian streak. Never turned that skill set on me, but yeah he could just play people. You know, it took me a long time to keep such people at arms length, but still maintain a friendship. One of the tricks was never giving them an angle. In some respects I find such people easier to deal with than people just ‘ask’ for stuff. Never quite understood that personality type. But good to hear that you’ve picked the personality type – how good is having some experience under your belt to even work it out in the first place?

    The old booksellers had to know their stuff because actually obtaining information not even that long ago required a skill set that has now been lost. One of the problems of just searching on the interweb is that people often have the belief that the data set on the interweb is complete. Not so, and even worse the results could theoretically be filtered or skewed. This is a bad thing, but people love this here net of webs. I dunno.

    Good stuff. Hey, have you ever encountered anyone in your place discussing you, without them being aware that you were within earshot?

    Thanks for the article and I’ll check it out tomorrow. Almost 11.15pm and need sleep… 🙂

    Stay strong H, and don’t get as nervous as Ollie would. Oh no, now everyone knows his secret in that he’s fearful of the vet. Imagine what such a place would smell like to a dog? At least he wouldn’t barf up his breakfast like the two girls did in the back of the dirt rat on the way to the vet for their shots. So very brave! H would no doubt show them all how things are done all proper like and stuff. 🙂

    Bed time!



  15. Yo, Chris – 48 and 59F? Our daytime highs! 🙂 . As Al mentioned, it’s great to see your peak summer pictures. Nice to know that it’s summer … somewhere.

    “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.” Albert Camus (!)

    Tech just keeps trying to hem us in, what with dumb phones, 5G, block chains (I have no idea what those are. And seem to be getting along ok, without knowing. Maybe it has to do with those funny little blocks (squares) with the arcane scribbles, that are appearing on everything?), and who knows what else. Sometime, a long time ago, I read something that said most people that get computers, don’t use about 75% of the “functions.” Sounds like me. Across the bottom of the screen, I have all kinds of nifty little icons, and I have no idea what they do. Nor, do I care. This beast does (mostly) what I want it to do. But you did remind me that I hadn’t checked my little flip phone, for voice messages (which I pay an extra $3 a month for) in about a week and a half. Nope. Not a single one. I’ve found that leaving the phone off, for extended periods, the robo calls have dropped to nil. Friends have my e-mail address, and I check it a couple of times a day. That’s as accessible as I want to be.

    The Mexican food sounds very good. And, it looks like they use meat more as a condiment. Which seems to be the standard for a great deal of the world. The potato cakes with vinegar and salt sound yummy. And if it were malt vinegar … But I do pity the poor fellow who had to clean up the machines. 🙂 .

    Well, back in the day, there were actual books that gave you a leg up, in the book biz. There were also periodicals. First editions sometimes add value, to some books. Mostly, literature. Every publisher (back when there were more than four or five) usually had a arcane secret code (usually on the obverse of the title page) to indicate which edition you had in your hand. And, just to make the game interesting, over time they would change it. 🙂 . And there were always exceptions. Someone even published a pocket guide, so you could refer to it “in the field.” I’ve got a copy kicking around, somewhere.

    I remember one “true first” that depended on the price, on the dust jacket. Another, if the dust jacket had a picture of the author … or not. I had a small Twain book, one time, that I wondered if it was a first, or not. Depended on the color of the cloth binding, and if it had a final page of ads, for other books from the publisher. It was a true first. But don’t get excited. It was a very minor work, and, there must have been a lot kicking around. Think I got $85, for it.

    I have discovered the root of the expletive “Ofdaa!” I always thought it was some kind of Scanda-hovian thing. Nope. its One F____ Drama After Another. That was H’s trip to the vet, yesterday. Eleanor and her care-giver were all packed up and ready to go (H, being a sensible dog, didn’t think the overnight suitcase was necessary) when it was discovered people were tinkering with the elevator. So, Eleanor had to stay home. Lots of phone calls, back and forth, between her and the vet. She’s healthy, but the vet said she was getting heavy. Which I think is a load of horse apples. Under all that fur, she’s a bag of bones. Then there was the drama that the caretaker ran into Safeway, for a moment, to get one item, and LEFT THE DOG IN THE CAR!!! This causes concern, because H is soooo cute, that someone is going to smash the window and kidnap her! It’s why I don’t take her for rides, anymore. I once casually mentioned that I’d run into the plant nursery, and LEFT THE DOG IN THE TURCK!!! A trip that took all of three minutes, was early in the morning, and the street was entirely empty of people or traffic. There’s also the dog drama, caused the the Institution. Even though Eleanor’s yearly certification isn’t until March, they’ve already given her the paperwork, and want it by December 15th. Part of it is stuff about the dog. As she lives in an apartment, and is never off the leash, she hasn’t been licensed, recently. If she’s licensed this month, there’s a late fee. And then, the dog would have to be entirely re-licensed in January. I told her to turn in all the paperwork, except the dog stuff, and just tell them they can have it in January. But, she seems loath to do so. Don’t know why. And, the EMTs were here three times, last night, for the woman down the hall who was in the hospital. Don’t know why. Didn’t haul her out. Anyway. Enough whinging.

    I see you had a tumbleweed outbreak, in your Melbourne suburb of Hillside. (Sniff) Not a proper tumbleweed outbreak. Just a bunch of hay (a lot of hay) that had blown in from a nearby horse paddock.

    I also saw an article where California water, is to be listed in the commodities market. Along with wheat, and things. One could make millions! Or, loose your shirt. People will gamble on anything. Lew

  16. To all,
    Have had some internet issues for past few days (all good now) so am a bit behind. Just wanted to convey my condolences to all that have lost family and/or friends recently. The hits just keep on coming this year.


  17. Hi Chris,
    Yes people are trying to escape the city and even suburbs. I may have mentioned that my sister and BIL who loved living in the city are seriously considering selling their condo and moving out to one of the farther out suburbs or even another state. They aren’t looking for property though just a small house and lot as they know they can’t physically take care of anything much bigger. My BIL is unable to fix anthing though. In fact of my family members only Doug and I have practical skills. Many though have great computer skills and that’s really all you need isn’t it.

    DJ’s description of the two kinds of rural newbies is spot on. It’ll be interesting to see what type our new neighbors will be. Oh yes, the family with the many children has lived here for about six years. They are from the area and the husband’s family has farmed around here for a long time. He seems to know what he’s doing for the most part. Another neighbor, a long time resident, was telling me he’d like to have the money to buy up the 5 acre wooded parcels so he and friends would have some place to hunt as most of the newer owners won’t let someone pass through their property to get to a hunting area.

    One would think that a potential buyer could have a bit of imagination and be able to look past some features in a potential house not to their liking. We would have never gotten our first place out here if we hadn’t been able to do that. It was a small house but in decent shape but the kitchen counters were a bright orange paired with avacado appliances. The living room was graced with bright orange valour drapes and a three tone shag rug of orange, beige and brown. We didn’t have the money to change any of that for quite some time. Anyway the first priority was to fix up the shed (the only other building) for chickens and get an area set up for a garden. I’m just in awe of all you and the editor have accomplished.

    An interesting observation lately – there are more and more goats. My hope is the new people will decide to have some that I can visit as I love goats. Sadly it just isn’t practical to have some now especially as we’d have to put up a new building and fence a new pen.

    We’re supposed to have our first snowstorm on Saturday but we’ll have to see if that materilizes.


  18. Hi Pam,

    How much fun is to be on an adventure, and to then settle in a fine locale such as your part of the world? The images of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia are stunning and they remind me of the alpine country in the central parts of this state. Even the summer tree heat haze is similar. No disrespect to Dallas, but I would have left such a place too.

    And far out, those 18% days of the mid 90’s were horrendous. In many ways things are as bad nowadays, but whilst the interest rate is lower, the principal is much biggerer. Yet the song remains the same.

    5 acres is a nice size, and that more or less is about the reach of our abilities (with 17 other acres in reserve). If I had to work on the land full time, I could extend my reach, but (and I’d be curious as to your perspective) if that was the case I wouldn’t have access to the machines I now enjoy and so, 5 acres is probably about as much as you could intensively control by hand. I recall a story about an old timer farmer who grew grain crops, but the story went that his 1/4 acre vegetable patch kept the family fed all year around. Dunno, but the other day I did work out a way to extend the old sapling fenced former-tomato enclosure.

    Yeah, tip of the hat to you and your family for making a shell of a house a home. It’s complicated work and I respect your efforts. We’re not allowed to do plumbing and wiring down here. There are exceptions such as the rural plumbing around the property, and the extra low voltage solar stuff is OK, but yeah it would be trouble to do the other stuff.

    Yes, I agree and also sought rural property for the exact same reasons.

    Forgoing a lot of stuff and also making-do is a theme I may bring up in future weeks. Yeah. Is there any other way? Maybe, but I’m stuffed if I know what it may be.

    Ollie is a very large and very powerful dog, and he is most certainly more than half of my weight. As to exact numbers, well is that a polite question to ask of a gentleman? 😉 Hehe! I don’t really know the answer as Ollie is Ollie and has to be dealt with on that basis. He has such a lovely personality.

    Rocks are precious commodities and some of the larger ones I look at and imagine drilling and breaking into smaller chunks. Of course this is a lot of hard work.

    The raspberry enclosure is in its first year. OK, so we pull the dead canes from the bed, and use a hedge trimmer to take all of the remaining canes down to about 2 foot in autumn at some time. That sounds very inexact because I don’t know enough about the stories of the plants, but am learning.

    Applesauce is not a thing down here. Now apple wine…

    Plum and Ruby’s days are full of delight and exploration. Puppies.

    It’s early days for the roses, and soon, very soon, there will be a string of days above 30’C / 86’F. The heat is a curse as the plants need it to grow, but at the same time it is hot. Perplexing!

    Your father may be wrong and there are times when one has to take some time out. We’re shutting down the office for a couple of weeks over Christmas. In other years that has not been the case, but this year has been special…



  19. Hi Al,

    Good to hear from you. The supply of stuff story is a truly remarkable story going on in the background all unspoken about like and things. It began last year in about November… Yes, I have heard some remarkable supply chain issue stories, and have yet to nab my spare 300Ah 12V lithium battery which has been on back order for many long months now.

    Mate, it is a concern and if you are in a high risk category, well just like the influenza virus, you have to be vigilant and exercise caution. The lengths gone to down here to eliminate that virus have been extraordinary. It is akin to waking up one day and finding that you are in a dystopian book such as: Day of the Triffids. Pesky things, Triffids.

    Not that long ago, masks were compulsory attire down here, and even today they are compulsory in large retail and other spaces. What interested me about that story was that it was generally the older folks who pushed back on wearing the masks. The younger folks by and large complied.

    Ah yes, when Mr Sun returns is a real winter dilemma. 🙂 You probably already knew (as a wild guess) but the reasons for me being on tenterhooks for three weeks either side of the winter solstice are perhaps rapidly becoming only too clear to you! Where is that pesky sun? It may be hiding behind that Triffid over there…

    Like your style with the variable voltage and current supply. Respect (and I also have such a unit for up to 30V). And those devices are very good. When charging the battery, and bear in mind I have no idea what the exact chemistry of your battery is, but at a guess it may contain cobalt – dunno. Anyway, my advice is that in order to get the charging profile just right, watch for a slow and steady increase in the voltage. A choppy voltage would suggest to me that your charger and the battery management system inside the battery are working at odds.

    Thank you for the kind words, and look for even more flower and glimpse-into-summer photos over the coming months.



  20. Hi DJ,

    My education has been sadly lacking and heretofore I have not heard of the Steve McQueen film. I note that in the film plot, the Aussie escapes, but historically things did not end so well for FLTLT Al Hake. The European winters are harsh, the gestapo were perhaps harsher.

    Exactly! Making do is an important skill in the mental tool kit, and plenty of people have forgotten that story, sorry to say. It is a harsh lesson to learn. But your observation also hints at the need to be grateful when things do actually go well when otherwise they might end up in the toilet of failed projects and failed ideals… And I salute your abilities to hold back, hint at the feels (well that is what the kids call feelings nowadays), and just tell it like it is.

    Most of the people who caused troubles for me had not actually done the work on their properties, and so – and here I’m only guessing at half hinted at motivations – they had no idea how hard the work was that we’d actually done which annoyed them so. They saw the work done and so extrapolated that out to a false degree, and I can’t be responsible for their understanding of the matters which they failed to discuss with me. Most of the old timers had nothing but respect and words of encouragement, and that disparity of opinion was quite surprising to encounter.

    You’ve captured the essential essence of dealing with the public. Have you noticed how some people use words in order to get what they want? Doesn’t always work! 🙂 But that is essentially the thing, if you choose to live in a very remote area, sometimes you’re kind of on your own. It is not possible to have things both ways. As a society we can’t afford that outcome, but individuals might get by.

    Ouch, and am glad to hear that your hand is healing. I guess given it was you who made the tea, you’ll be able to enjoy the lifetimes free supply of tea, without all of the legal hassles. 😉

    Maintenance is such an odd thing of a subject, because not everyone takes the matter seriously. Even in places like up here, people let their infrastructure slide, although it beats the stuffing out of me as to why that might be. Of course that could be an economic choice being made to live that way, but I dunno… Supply lines are being stretched right now. Oh yeah, is it wise to neglect the capital base?

    Yeah, I’ve heard people make that astounding claim with insurances. The thing is most people who neglect basic insurances and cheer on the savings, also happen to unfortunately be the same ones who don’t put the savings to much good usage. There is a conundrum in there somewhere, but alas it is beyond me.

    DJ, you’ve had a road to Damascus moment with that realisation all those years ago. Takes one to know one!!! But yeah, numbers are great and all, but what weight do numbers have in the face of a human chock full of emotional energy waiting to burst forth upon our otherwise happy existences? Your job forces you to deliver realities, as does mine – and numbers don’t cut it in that instance.

    I always try to sneak in a Hitch hikers reference, but tonight I’m running out of clear thoughts after having dealt with numbers (and people) all day long. Incidentally one of the numbers which kept repeating was 42. Must be something in the water. Hehe!



  21. Hi Damo,

    Thanks. If the season continues, that paddock might have to be cut and dropped maybe three times. But who knows what the future holds in store.

    An old mate of mine who moved back to NZ, told me that I should be running dairy cows on such lush paddocks. So much fencing, and the early mornings would play havoc with my finely tuned senses. And the editor would not be up for such early mornings either.

    I see you’ve been getting some rain over your part of the continent. Hope the garden is growing well – and our orangey looking passionfruit tastes like cardboard. A sad thing. Only good for the parrots, and they are picky and enjoy the apples and pears instead.



  22. Hi Pam (again),

    Your snow sounds really lovely! Stay warm, and glad that you are enjoying the summer photos.

    Bowling alley!!! Thanks for the laughs. Hope to get to some more excavations over the next few days.



  23. Hi Margaret,

    Well that would be a turn around in lifestyle for your BIL and sister. There sure has been a lot of talk like that of late – even down here where the lock down was bonkers. The epic homeowners annual display of Christmas lights in the nearby town was cancelled. Not happy, but what do you do? And there are apparently no cases – anywhere…

    No disrespect to your BIL, but I take no pride in not being able to fix something, and have only respect for those who can do so. The thing is though, it is really hard to be across all things on a farm. I have a good relationship with the local farm machine repair dudes and I booked the low centre of gravity mower in for a major service. There’s a five week wait time. That’s exciting, and good for them to see their business thriving.

    Like your sarcasm! Hehe! Computers are nice and all but they are a tool, out of many tools.

    Yeah, it will be a bit of pot luck to see what your new neighbours are like, and time has a way of resolving that curiosity. They’ll probably be fine. Things must be different in your more fertile country as 5 acres down here would produce very little to hunt. I can sort of understand the reluctance to allow someone to move through your land, and mostly that reluctance is borne of the folks so wanting that access to not provide anything in return and/or being largely unknown. After living in the country for a dozen years I sort of now understand that being ‘known’ is a passport. And that hints at how ‘reputation’ works. Dunno, probably haven’t been around long enough to really understand how it all works. It’s complicated!

    Not so sure about that with the buyers being able to look past things. It sure didn’t work out that way, and a large self storage shed was utilised. Dunno. But it made a difference.

    Hehe! Loved the descriptions of your place upon first encountering it and having lived with it for a while. 🙂 Ah, yes who can forget the delights of orange counters and shag pile carpets! Yes, leave good taste at the door thanks very much. Oh, but I so hear you and get that story. One house we moved into had only the single power point. The electrician who finally finished off the wiring gave me the third degree as he couldn’t believe what he was seeing – but it was there all the same. I think he thought I’d done the work, but no.

    Goats are good. I like goats too, but have never kept them. The wallabies fill in the exact same niche, although aren’t anywhere near as friendly as goats.

    Good luck for Saturday, and may the snow be with you – or not as is your preference! 🙂



  24. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, it is crazy cold right now, and in other parts of this huge continent people are possibly frying eggs on their car bonnets in a heatwave. Looks like Saturday through Tuesday will all be over 86’F so I guess I should enjoy the brief foray back into winter. I have my woolly jumper on right now. Brr! And last night I really needed to run the wood heater and piled on the wool blankets. Dunno about you, but I sleep better in the cooler weather.

    The poetry was lovely, and who was the poet (apologies for my poor education, which is being amended one poem and book at a time)? Oh my, he was a character who lived an extraordinary life, and I suspect that he’d be pretty annoyed right now with some of the current ideologies being thrown around. Where is such a character to be found these days? Wow, that author has some serious depth.

    Well block chains are… Far out what are they? Sounds like something that uses a lot of energy and resources to me, and can possibly produce hobbling like effects. Think of the book ‘Misery’ without all of the blood and gore and stuff, but the same outcome. That’s what a block chain is. Pesky things. Hopefully you are now elucidated on the subject? Or is that illuminated? Actually have you ever read the satire: The Illuminatus! Trilogy? An intriguing title, and possibly also a fun read. I keep stumbling across references to the work.

    Speaking of which I am so impressed that trials are taking place on your prison population. Thus proving that all old ideas are new again in the day and age.

    Have you ever thought of poking some of those icons at the bottom of your phone screen? Mate, I was seriously annoyed that I had to sit down and learn how to use these devices if only because the lost life minutes (or hours in that case) were precious and might not be refunded. There have been times I’ve called up friends to have a chat and they act as if: what’s wrong, nobody calls these days! It’s all text apparently. And my ear has been known to set off functions on the phone. Ears and touch screens are just made right for setting off mysterious and unnecessary phone functions during a phone call. Call me old fashioned but I hold the phone to the side of my head when making a call. Not sure how other people use the devices, but possibly not that way. Might have to observe others, but can you imagine the other side of being observed situation. Hey, what’s that creepy guy over there looking at! Hehe. Far out.

    Yes, exactly, you summed up the Mexican food as it was presented to me and it was so good and very tasty with very little meat. Just the thing for a summer’s evening.

    Cleaning up the machines in a fish and chip should would be a nightmare of a job. Actually cleaning a commercial kitchen would be a nightmare of a job. High pressure steam cleaners would do the job. Makes you wonder about kitchens and their hygiene in the Middle Ages. Ook!

    Ah, that’s good to hear about the books that give a person a leg up in the book biz back in the day. Did they ever used to use microfiche? That was a standard tool in larger libraries back in the 90’s, although some businesses used to sell CD-ROM’s of collected newspaper articles with searchable indexes. The sort of rubbish that people key into interweb search indexes these days displays a classic lack of understanding as to how electronic databases actually work. I’ve noticed that quite a number of people seem to have troubles with stating basic search parameters.

    Good stuff scoring a “true first” edition of any book, especially of an author as noted (and quoted) as Mr Twain. Shame it wasn’t worth thousands, but the whole thing is a bit like a lucky dip game.

    Never heard of that expletive before and thanks for improving mine and incidentally also the computers vocabulary. The rotten vet. It is winter after all, and reserves must be stored for the winter in case of dog treat emergencies. I’ve had that too from the dog police in a local park. Someone unknown to me looked at the former boss dog Old Fluffy and said: Your dog is fat. If I was at the peak of my game – which I wasn’t I would have told them to F!@$ Off! But no, I said like an idiot: She’s not fat, she’s fluffy. And then because they were obsessive they said: She’s fluffy and she’s fat. What the… Who are these people? Dogs don’t care about such things.

    Imagine someone smashing in the window and trying to kidnap Ollie. Anyone with half a brain would be crazy to do that – he’d be most unhappy about that situation and could possibly do something about it. But yeah, I can see the concern with H, but I’d put it on the possible but unlikely pile of concerns.

    Do people really do that? I’ve heard of people doing the smashing the window thing when babies are left in hot cars on hot days – they kind of die during that scenario. And sometimes pokie machines are involved in that story.

    Hope the lady down the hall is doing OK? That’s all not a good sign.

    Saw the tumbleweed outbreak but it was nothing like a proper road stopping tumbleweed smooshing. 🙂



  25. Yo, Chris – Yup. I prefer cold weather to warm, for sleeping, and just about anything else. I worked in the garden a bit, and got all the sunflowers cleaned up. The squirrels and birds had done their worst. Not my sunflowers, and, they’re the decorative kind, rather than useful. They’re to the point where they volunteer, here and there. While I was out, it was misting, slightly, and I found it quit refreshing. I chopped up all the smaller branches, but the trunk was too daunting. Those I just pulled out and trashed. I noticed when I pulled them out of the ground, that there were fat, happy worms. Good to see. That big of garden plot had pretty dead soil.

    Block chains. Still in the dark, and quit happy to be so. 🙂 . I have a vague recollection of trying to read “Illuminatus!”, and giving up on it as a lost cause.

    It’s my big beast of a desk computer that has all the mysterious icons. If I haven’t used them in 15 years, I probably don’t need them in my life. My low-tech flip phone has no icons. Just a scroll through menu. Half of which I don’t use. There are 22 icons, lined up at the bottom of my computer screen. I maybe use five of them regularly, and maybe another three or four on rare occasions.

    When I lived next door to the cafe, they’d steam clean the ducts every six months. And, as quit a bit of the duct work ran through my space, on it’s way to a roof exhaust, I had to be “on the scene” if the job was to be done, properly. As I squatted there, it was no big deal. It was a late night job, and the crews were always fun and entertaining.

    Oh, yeah. I’ve worked with a lot of micro film and microfiche machines. Different functions, different jobs, different places. Our library system has many electronic data bases, on offer, to library users. Genealogy and auto repair seem to get the most work out. And telephone directories. Some would be pay sites, but are free, if you access them, through the library.

    Unsolicited dog advice. Everyone always has a better idea. I think the same applies to children. So I’ve heard.

    Eleanor has piles of “possible but unlikely concerns.” Generally, I just give her the side eye, but, have on occasion, hooted at her.

    I happened to see our Inmate down the hall, yesterday. I’d guess she has an advanced case of COPD. The first time she called the EMTs, it was because she had trouble breathing. The second time (at 2am) because she had fallen out of bed. Not that that’s an unusual, around here. I often wonder what the EMTs think about getting rousted out in the wee smalls, to get some old lady, back in bed. Nothing within ear shot, of anyone, besides themselves. They are professionals. 🙂 .

    There’s a new film out. “Arthur & Merlin: Knights of Camelot.” Trailer looks pretty good, and it’s filmed in Wales. At least they got the scene right. Our library has it on order, and it’s on my hold list. Lew

  26. Hi Lewis,

    Dunno about you, but it is a difficult thing to get into the mind-space as to how other people see the world. So there I was this morning reading the book Cesar’s Way about dogs, and the bloke really gets into the head-space of a dog and interprets what is there for us humans. It is an interesting read and provided insights as to why some people call dogs ‘fur babies’, when they are dogs. Heard that claim before and thought to myself, really – so you think that, huh? Made no sense to me.

    Anyway, the author was describing how dogs see interactions with their pack leaders. And after a while the words sunk in and elucidated something that I’d long believed, and also possibly the why of it.

    So I grew up in a dysfunctional household which left me with the ability to hear the implication of the words spoken, and then compare that meaning to the persons actions – and then make up my own mind, whilst artfully dodging whatever rubbish was accompanying that act. So in a dogs world, the pack would be judging the ability of the pack leader to lead the pack. The role of pack leader would thus be earned and then have to be maintained. The result produces leaders which have the interests of the pack at the back of their minds.

    In our society, at the upper end of town, we don’t generally operate that way thus I suspect that there is a crisis of credibility there. In some respects it is a bit like how infrastructure can be cannibalised in order to keep it going, and yet people recall things as they were – and not as they are. Things are a lot like that now. I guess the process can be seen playing out in the final days of the British Empire when clueless folks were promoted in their military with disastrous results for the troops on the ground. Yeah, it’s not good and one of the reasons I prefer working with small business in that the honing process sharpens the wits and minds of the people working there.

    But it is possible that I also have an authority complex! 🙂

    Oh, I thought all sunflower kernels were edible? Interesting… … The flowers are a right pain to grow here because the parrots strip the tasty and oil containing seeds. Hmm. There is a small patch of Jerusalem Artichokes growing this year and I’m giving them a little bit of help from time to time. People say they’re invasive but I’ve never seen that down here. I wanted to see what the kernels in the flowers are like. Could be good chicken feed.

    Isn’t it beautiful when the air slightly mists and the conditions are cool but not too cold? You can get a lot of work done in such conditions. Ah, yes the electric chipper might get that job done, but then so does nature, but for free (I’m a bit impatient and want to speed things up a bit). And the worms are an awesome sign. Nice one!

    Me too, I read enough about block chains a long time ago to realise that they’ll eventually get biggerer and slowerer and then possibly fall over in a heap of dysfunction.

    Fair enough and some books are like that. I avoid angsty 1970’s literature and there was that one book I picked up reading only to put down as the central character was too angsty and continually made poor decisions. Actually the decisions made were surprisingly at odds to the sort of choices I would have made, but then it was that person’s story I guess.

    Of course, if the software is unused and deemed unnecessary, it probably is unused and unnecessary. Sooner or later the software companies are going to begin pulling the plug on Windows 7, but it just works and I never asked for anything better. The constant need to learn new software is a pain and I’m not really sure that it benefits myself. It kind of grates on my ‘good enough’ philosophy on life, and hints at diminishing returns don’t you reckon?

    I’m always very polite to work crews and just try to have a laugh with them. Doesn’t hurt, but I’ve seen some expectational folks over the years act very poorly with such folks. Not good and it speaks volumes to me about the people who act that way.

    Never knew that about libraries. Speaking of vehicle repair information, did you hear anything more on the outcome of the ‘right to repair’ vote put to the population during the recent election?

    Hehe! Yes, unsolicited dog advice can be wearisome. I guess it makes them feel better about their own failings? Hey, the book on dogs also hinted at why kids seem to see me as some sort of magnet. It is because I roundly ignore them when everyone else is fawning over them. I’ve inadvertently set myself up as the pack leader. Ook. I guess that maybe also why part of being cool seems to be to effect an air of detachment?

    Your task should you choose to accept it, is to fend off Eleanor’s: “possible but unlikely concerns”. 🙂 Good luck. Mark Twain had a great quote about that, and it is difficult but I try to keep myself in the here and now – not always easy don’t you reckon? A lot of people have concerns which they believe need addressing and I try to respond with: Yeah, so what are you doing about it? This week’s essay was a bit like that. Usually all you hear is silence by way of reply, when engagement with the concept is possibly not a bad approach.

    That’s not good, sorry to say.

    Oooo! The film looks and I will add it to the ‘to-see’ list. The cinemas down here are a bit weird at the moment unfortunately… Last week the cinema was like the Marie Celeste. Far out.



  27. Hi Chris,

    I think the biggest cost of spiraling real estate prices is the opportunity cost. Racking up enormous debt for what is really a basic necessity is just a waste. If the same debt was spent starting a small business at least there would be some potential payoff for the economy.

    On a completely different subject, I wanted to ask a strategic question about chicken coops. Other commentators please feel free to jump in.

    I’m almost set with turning my 3m x 3m tin shed into a coop. The shed has a metal bench already in there that is perfect for the coop itself and that’s where I’ll put the nesting boxes etc. In that case, the floor of the shed could be used for the run and the whole thing should comfortably house 5 or 6 chickens.

    However, I’m worried about heat. The walls of the shed are well shaded but the shed is still out in the sun and has a flat roof that just gets hit all day long in the middle of summer. It’s not going to be pleasant in there on a 44 degree day.

    There is an area between the shed and the fence that I could turn into an outdoor run. However, this wouldn’t be much cooler on a hot day as it will still be mostly in the sun. Also, if I do that, I don’t like my chances of keeping out the rats. The shed itself is on a concrete slab and is well clad so I’m as confident as I can be that it will keep out rodents (although, of course, they always seem to find a way in).

    So, I can either turn the space between the shed and the fence into an outdoor run which will give the chickens some outdoor space but increase the rodent risk or just stick the shed. Either way, I’m not sure what to do on a really hot day. I could just let them out under a tree when it gets hot but that won’t really work if I’m not home.

    Any suggestions most appreciated.

  28. Dear Chris,
    Thank you for this weeks essay on the great escape from the cityscape. In the coming year, I am hoping to make a move to a more rural environment, mainly to access more land and on longer term than we have in our current small-town location. (Furthermore, our teen-age boys are moving out soon which opens up many possibilities. ) And, as Chris suggested a while back, we are trying to move before Amsterdam becomes Atlantis…

    It has been an interesting experience until now to work out with my wife what we want and what we dream about. During the last 18 months we have been looking at properties and talking to potential neighbours. Not in a stress, but in a curious exploration regarding what life could/would look like if we moved there. We have changed priorities several times, based on inputs and ideas and observations. It is already an adventure to explore each others’ dreams and wishes. Even after many years together, there is always something new to find. (At least for me. Maybe I had been too preoccupied with myself before?)
    So, again, thanks all of you for sharing your out-of-town experiences, it adds another flavour to our meal.

    Money and property are of course tightly linked, since feudal times. We live in a strange time when currencies are blown up, one after the other, so money and wealth is more elusive and effervescent than ever. I lived in Russia for a while in the 1990’s and I saw from close up how “unfair” hyperinflation is. Fixed income people (pensioners and the police) suffer greatly while traders, dealers and cash-flow-intensive businesses can thrive. And those who sits closest to the legal decision-making process reap the largest rewards.
    I suspect that turbulent times allow for more graft opportunities… When things are slow, there are all kinds of checks-and-balances in place.

    It was also very interesting to hear about the sharpness of small businesses. Would you please consider to share more about this one day?
    The school system where I grew up and where our boys are in, is completely tailored to the needs of bureaucracies and large corporations, beating subordination and loyalty and uniformity into the children.
    The sad thing I see is that the most loyal followers end up as government leaders, cementing this culture of conformity, implementing policies that discourages small businesses.
    More than half of my professional experience was in multinational corporations, where internal fights are endemic. “Mason’s law” that “Where you stand depends of where you sit” accurately predicts most positions in discussions.

    The quality most lacking is free thinking and creative problem solving. I think this is the main vulnerability in our society now that we allow for monopolization and oligopolies in more and more sectors. We have fewer and fewer, and more rigid organizations, that are utterly unable to adapt to the changing circumstances of the long descent.

    An example of rigid thinking is the money printing of the central banks. It “worked” in 2009, so now every problem looks like a nail to the printing-press-hammer…

    I hope we will be able to move before the currencies completely break down.

    Have a great week,

  29. Chris:

    The only block chains that I knew of are among the cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin. Haven’t heard much of those things in quite awhile. What kind of block chains are you referring to?

    I had to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles yesterday. It is all by appointment now, instead of just walking in the way it used to be, and I made that appointment 3 months ago. I got up to the entrance and a lady with a clipboard told me that the system had crashed and to go to Window 3 and make a new appointment (for 3 months from now?!). Miraculously, as I got up to the window, the teller exclaimed: “It’s back!” so I was able to go ahead with my transaction.

    Why was I in the DMV? Because the registration tags on Mr. Musty the Toyota pickup truck had expired in August and, unlike all previous years, they would not let us renew them by mail. So, since August we have been driving with expired tags – because of them!


  30. Chris:

    I just cleaned out the ash from the fireplace. We had a fire two days ago, none yesterday. The ash was till warm. Neat!


  31. Chris:

    One more thing! A young friend – age 32 – and his girlfriend, have just bought a 2-acre property with a house in a rural area in another part of my county. They have always lived right in the middle of town.


  32. Hi Chris,

    My sister and BIL have had several houses in the past. They inherited the Chicago condo from BIL’s mother when she passed away. They were about ready to move back closer to family so it all worked out. However my BIL never was handy even when he had a home so hired out whenever anything needed to be done. In his defense though he had a pretty hectic schedule as a cardiologist. He’s been retired for at least 10 years though and I haven’t seen any upgrade in skills.

    I’m reading a book of Wendell Berry essays including “Why I’m Not Going to Buy a Computer” (and he still isn’t)

    The amount of snow has been downgraded but that can change. Snow is fine as long as you don’t have to drive in it.


  33. Dear Ollie, Plum and Ruby,

    We don’t want to make you jealous (well maybe a little) but we’ll bet you don’t get this where you live. Our UPS driver provides the dogs on his route with treats. As his truck has a big door and a low step we jump right in when he gets here. Since it’s near Christmas and a pandemic Doug and Margaret have been ordering more than usual so more treats for us. We are so happy when we see the big brown truck backing up the driveway.

    Your friends,
    Leo and Salve

  34. Yo, Chris – I discovered another reason why I like to wear the masks. You can stick your tongue out at someone, and they don’t know it! 🙂 .

    Well, then, pack leaders should be paragons of virtue. But how often does that happen? Well, as far as recalling things as they were, it depends. As we have found, sometimes the older ways are better. But not often. What was that open mind quote, again? 🙂 . Better an authority complex than a narcissistic personality disorder. 🙂 .

    Oh, the ornamental sunflowers have seeds that the birds love. But, they’re just too small for humans, to use. I’ll be quit jealous if your Jerusalem Artichokes, bloom. Another year, with no blooms on mine.

    I just don’t think I have enough worms and soil critters to rapidly break down larger pieces. Although whatever lives down there seems to rip through kitchen scraps and tea bags in short order.

    Noticed a news report (under 3 minutes) about five books being banned in the Burbank, California School district.

    There was a Twain and Steinbeck on the list. Neither your favorite, or mine, is on the list 🙂 .

    Not many people are happy with pulling the plug on old Number Seven. And, your right. Nobody ever asked for anything “better”. They just want a product that works. I keep having these fantasies that some minion will speak up and say, “People aren’t interested in innovation. The new and “improved.” They want a product, that works.” Of course, he or she would soon be sending around their CV.

    The Right to Repair bill, passed. Here’s a short article about it.

    The section on opposition is interesting. Funny, fear mongering usually works.

    I’ve often heard that if one wants to assess a “date”, best pay attention to how they treat service people. Of course, stars in the eyes, often get in the way.

    I still haven’t mentioned the rats, to Eleanor. She’d throw fear of traps and poisons on the concern pile, and I’d never hear the end of it.

    Even before “you know what” I went to a Thursday matinee, at our local theaters. And, was the only person there. I chose to think of it as a “private screening”, rather than the Mary Celeste. Less ominous.

    Well, I walked to the Safeway, around 11 last night. It is the same distance as the library. I count houses on either side of the street, and they’re about the same. But the walk to Safeway is level, all the way. I just have to remind myself that it’s a leisurely stroll, and not a marathon. Lew

  35. Chris,

    I ceased to be amazed by it long ago, but still find the “I live in the country but demand city services” attitude to be repugnant. Especially since the people with the most attitude want things for “free”. One especially snowy winter, a teenager got on the bus here in town. The major arterial on which he lived had been plowed again and again, etc, the snow getting plowed onto the sidewalks. He remarked that “somebody should clear the snow from that old lady’s sidewalk”. Twas his next door neighbor, so I suggested that maybe he could do it and help his neighbor. He looked horrified and said “City should do it.” I remarked that the City couldn’t keep up with the snow on the arterials, much less the side streets, so how can City do sidewalks too? Who’s gonna pay for it? He replied that he’d never thought of that.

    Oh yes, the Great Money Transfer due to my scalding myself with tea. Unfortunately, I am poorer due to that episode. As the reparation money was being transferred from one pocket to the other, the household attorney made a fast grab and ran off with nearly 40% of the award. Only the lawyers win, alas.

    A neighbor on the next street over works in my department. Good pay, etc. He owns his home. His roof has been falling apart for years, but he does nothing, even though there’s a largish hole in the roofing down to the plywood. His plumbing backed up a few years ago, so he rented a “port-a-potty” and put in in his back yard. Back yard is full of trash, too. I don’t understand that mentality at all.

    Agreed, numbers sometimes don’t cut it. A portion of my job requires that I do quote numbers. Often that is enough, but not always. In a lot of instances I need to express sympathy with the bad numerical news. Sometimes I have to take things to a neighborhood vote before people understand the the potential project is more expensive than their neighbors can afford. If nothing else, 2020 has been an excellent lesson about what can happen if the numbers don’t match peoples’ emotional expectations.

    I have a relative whose apartment unit is #42. Alas, he’s not into The Guide. Uncle lives nearby, and his unit is #314, or the very beginning of pi, which starts as 3.141592. Alas again, as their is no interest in math. The gent who hired me for my current job had an address of 31415. He asked me to visit his house once, and he told me that his address was Pi on Whatever Rd. That was fun.


  36. Hi Simon,

    Others will disagree with me, and much like Tolkien’s elves, I offer no advice, or take any responsibility either way. But, I am a fan of letting the chickens run free during the day. This was how we did it on the farm many years ago. I am sure the odd bird went missing to an errant eagle or harrier occasionally, but our flock seemed to take care of themselves during the day and I would just lock them up at dusk to keep the foxes out.

    More recently, in Tasmania, bordering remote forests full of quolls, devils, large tiger snakes and the like, our 3 hens looked after themselves no problem. If a wedge tail was overhead, they made funny little trilling noises and hung out under the ferns.

    I will note, in both cases, our chooks had plenty of cover, and seemed to be pretty sensible birds. I think aerial attack is the risk during the day, so if your property has minimal cover, maybe not a great idea….. At night, no question they would all be taken out if not secure!

    As always, YMMV, and I am sure there are useless breeds out there that will stumble onto death no matter what. Plus, dogs etc etc. /shrug 🙂

    The high property prices is a feature, not a bug. A very smooth transfer of wealth (and cashflow) to those clever enough to be born at the right time! In the end though, as we turn productive farms and factories into estates and apartment blocks, future productivity might be impacted – buy no one seems to care about that. I guess long term, what can be done can be easily undone. In the meantime, forget about starting a business. How can you make a profit when land rents are so high. The mind boggles.


  37. PS – apologies for the lack of line breaks in my last post. For some reason, I have to show two line breaks in my comment window for one line break to appear in the public comment…


  38. Hi Lew & Chris,

    Windows 7 is a bit of a workhorse, and arguably the first “great” Microsoft operating system. But my personal favourite for peak Microsoft is Windows 8.1. Not many people liked Windows 8, the Microsoft design team tried to force a tablet interface on everyone, even if you had a normal computer. A lesson they seem to need to learn every few years (hint: people don’t like new interfaces forced on them, just keep the old one as a transition). But, once you got past that, Windows 8 was fast (very fast, indeed it runs better than 7 on the same hardware), and it doesn’t have all the internet phone home data collection that Windows 10 is full of… Also the onedrive client works better than the new one, and you can control updates etc etc

    But, in their defence, it costs money to hire the army of programmers to write security updates for old software, so I get why they kill the old stuff eventually. I mean, you can still run Windows 7 (or even XP), but chances are, you will be over run with bots and trolls before the day is out once the updates stop.


  39. Paragraph update, it seems no matter how many times I press enter, my paragraphs are not coming through. Profuse apologies – no doubt there is an update I have not applied yet!


  40. Hi Chris,

    You are of course a paragon of politeness in choosing to not comment on my lack of comment towards the topic at hand 🙂 For many people, I think it just comes down to a wistful thought of living in the country. This quickly turns to disbelieve when you find out the country prices are not substantially cheaper than the city. When you factor in the lower income from country living (or possible zero income), it actually becomes less affordable to live on a rural property then in the city. As you allude, there are still ways to do it, but they all involve pre-existing capital, a capacity to commute long distances or a reasonable paying job with flexible hours, ideally available in regional towns. I would also point out, there are still *very* cheap land and houses available, even in Australia, but you will be several hours from a hospital and other services (e.g. West coast of Tasmania is actually not bad, get yourself a big house in a high rainfall area for 50-100k). For anyone else, like myself who is looking at other options that don’t involve debt servitude, I would offer the Elvish-definitely-not-advice suggestion of looking at investment portfolios. If a low-cost ETF is good enough for Buffett and the rest of the 1%, it is good enough for me! With conservative assumptions, and a saving rate less than most mortgage repayments, even starting late at 40, I can have something that will generate free cash flow from my early 60s matching my current salary. More than enough to pay the rent and get some chickens in my declining years. Is it risk free? No, but you make the best out of the choices available to you. And there is something to be said for flexibility, so it is not all sadness and moping. If I am being honest, I still would like my own place at a modest 3-4x annual income, but worse things happen at sea. I am happy with my lot (he asserts). Cheers, Damo

  41. Chris – PS, I updated my blog finally with the highlights reel of the fantastic trip to Japan just before Covid hit. Can’t remember if you saw it already or not.

  42. Hi Simon,

    Small business can be risky too if a person was not prudent and keeping abreast of well, everything… Far out! A nice way to describe the small business world would be the word: exciting!

    Chicken coops. 🙂 Yes, heat will be a problem, and the heat really builds in sheds here over high summer. Can I suggest cutting some large squares out of two sides of the shed, and then attaching strong welded mesh (the sold as aviary mesh available at you know where). If you wanted to save some cash, attach the aviary mesh to the outside of the shed’s sheet metal with hex head tek screws. Strong stuff. My thinking is that foxes and cats (your most likely problem critters) will try to get into the chicken coop, whilst the chickens do not have the strength to push the aviary mesh outwards. The door likewise should open outwards (rather than inwards) and have a steel door jamb stopping it being pushed inwards. Hope that all makes sense?

    If there is adequate ventilation I doubt that heat will be too much of a problem over summer. There are times over summer that the shaded chicken coop and run here feels cooler than the house.

    Chickens won’t use runs that are open to the sky for fear of hawks and eagles, and over winter it will get too wet. The birds enjoy dust baths and evolved for that, so they really do prefer hot and dry conditions, than wet and cold. If you can chuck a structure with polycarbonate roof sheets, or even colourbond zinc sheets, that will reduce the sun and rain and the chickens will spend all day long in the run all year around. Otherwise they’ll hide in the hen house when conditions are sub fluffy optimal making one epic mess of it.

    The first chicken run had bird mesh over the roof and during winter you could smell Clostridium bacteria and what happens in the chook run doesn’t stay in the chook run, it ends up in your kitchen. Just sayin…

    Oh, and I prefer sugar cane mulch to pea straw because the chickens are less likely to kick the sugar cane straw around. And the pea straw has introduced sweet peas into the orchard.

    The local Kyneton poultry group is selling chickens directly from their members rather than their usual quarterly auction, but I note that the Seymour Alternative Farming Festival has been pushed back to April. It’s exciting, as the Seymour Poultry Group runs a chicken sale.

    If you choose Isa Browns beware that you have to feed them a very high protein diet (unlike heritage breeds) as my experience is that things can turn ugly and they begin eating the other chickens. It’s brutal out there.



  43. Hi Goran,

    Mate, let’s make no bones about the matter – Global warming is a problem. However, my gut feeling tells me that it will be more of problem in some areas than other areas, and you know when you’re only a tiny little bit above that unforgiving monster that is the ocean, well the future might not be so good. And oh yeah, Atlantis – true or not – is perhaps best accepted as a cautionary tale. For all we know, the story of Atlantis was a narrative from the future transmitted into the past like say John Carpenter’s horrific film: Prince of Darkness. That film scared the daylights out of me. You are receiving this message from the future…

    But you know, everyone has a different tolerance for risk, and hey I live in an area prone to epic scaled bushfires since the European peoples (of which my heritage is derived) upset the indigenous practices. It kind of puts the inherent nature of risk into perspective for me. Slow and inexorable is one way to describe the changes.

    Glad to share the experiences and I’m pleased that you were able to incorporate them into your worldview. If it means anything to you, I have heard the fairer gender posit the theory that in a rural location a person will be ‘socially isolated’. To be frank I am unsure what that actually means. And our lived experience in a rural area has been the exact opposite – everyone knows the editor’s and my own business. I can assure you that in such a locale you have to be concerned with how you are known, and way back in the day (in the English language mind you) the word was known as ‘reputation’ with all of the baggage that the word entails. Mate, I go into a local shop and I am known in advance. I have interactions with neighbours and I am known. This afternoon we spoke with a neighbour and shared news about some nefarious activities going on in the area. It’s known. Only in a city can you expect to be anonymous. In a rural area you will be known, and thus I have no idea where the concept of ‘social isolation’ even derives from? Beats me, for it is not true.

    Haha! Well as to your general level of preoccupation with your own concerns, well only you can answer that question! Good luck!!! 🙂

    You’ve had some interesting times, and I’d have to suggest that if the system is stacked against you, why play the systems game? There are always other options, however unpalatable.

    It is hard to share more on the small business story as I am unable to provide examples due to having signed confidentiality agreements. As a general note, they live or die by their wits and there are less layers of hierarchy and thus feedback is communicated swiftly. It is probably one of the reasons that failed societies generally revert to a feudal based system where everybody knows everyone and there are mutual obligations. Mr Greer wrote about the matter here: Hagbard’s Law.

    By way of contrast I’m reading about the inner lives of dogs, and rather than: subordination, loyalty and uniformity, our canine friends seem to want purpose, structure, limits and finally affection. When people ask me about retirement, those are the sort of replies I give, but also chuck in friends.

    The whole thing is inevitably self correcting and thus I don’t really worry about it. That sounds a bit flippant, but if people in huge corporate interests and government can’t learn from history, or back away from self-interest, then it is no business of mine to worry about their short comings.

    You’ll be fine. From what I’ve seen everything is getting thrown at that particular problem which you mentioned. I’m genuinely impressed that this is the case.



  44. Hi Pam,

    Sorry, I was being a bit silly as I was referring to crypto-currencies. Although not too long ago talk on the street was that the block chains might get used in banking and also property title matters. Maybe it is just me, but electronic property titles sounds like a recipe for disaster. I liked the old days when paper copies were the way of the world.

    Was that a 3 month wait? What could the good folks at your department of vehiculars be up to that they were so busy that it took 3 months to process a simple form? In other news earlier today I was pondering the weirdness that apparently 50% of office staff can now head back to their offices. But somehow public servants have scored a sweet deal of only 25% of staff returning to their offices. I’m assuming that possibly public servants are more vulnerable to the health subject which dares not be named? Poor dears.

    Imagine the future when you have to log into and check such gobarmint and cuperate systems in order not to be excluded from such systems? As far as I can see things, we end up administering their systems and the costs are ours and the savings are theirs. Tis the way of the world me thinks.

    Have been incorporating many of the lessons learned from Cesar Milan with the fluffy collective and it has been fascinating. Who would have thought that sweet little Plum and Ruby were attempting to out alpha the editor and I. Such little sweet faces, so full of mischief. We walked for about an hour today as a pack with the editor and I as pack leaders, and the difference was remarkable. The two cheeky scamps, they gave it a go, but we have the ability to read and learn! 🙂 Ollie was always a gentleman and submitted to us as the pack leader.

    Oh yeah, the warm ash happens here too. We can have a burn off and like what you experienced, a couple of days later the ash is still warm and can possibly re-ignite new fuel. It’s something to keep at the back of your mind! 🙂 And also the reason we don’t burn off in the forest during the summer or restricted fire season. Tree stumps have been known to burn for months.

    Well done to both of them, and 2 acres is not a bad amount of land. Have they spoken to you of their plans for the land?



  45. Dear Leo and Salve,

    For many years we have followed your exploits. And now it comes to this – dog treats from the UPS driver. We are seriously jealous and puddles of drool are even now forming beneath our maws, sort of like that scene in the 1980 film Alien. And the hardwood flooring is possibly dissolving like the steel deck of the mighty and very dark spaceship under our combined drooling efforts.

    We have heard of the excellence of your owners Doug and Margaret, and can only but hope that Chris and Editor rise to the challenge. We doubt that this is a state that is achievable for them.

    Alas, all those two could do today was take the three of us on an hours long walk through the forest, and they were the great pretenders as they set themselves up to be the alpha pack leaders.

    Pah! We collectively decided to submit, only but for a while. The years are long, the road is hard, and the conditions are challenging and we shall await any minor deviation from their mettle. Then shall we regain the upper hand, and the fluffy collective will be ours to control.

    In the meantime, we salute your increased number of dog treats, and can only look forth from here in envy.

    Yours sincerely,

    Plum, Ruby and Ollie (the Fluffy Collective)

  46. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks for the words from Leo and Salve – the cheeky scamps! 🙂

    There is an element of necessity to the story. And I’m sure that even in the Dark Ages there were people who were super-handy and way hands on and could fix any of the technologies and tools of the time, and then there were others. It’s like a continuum that we all fall somewhere upon and basically it doesn’t matter, until it does matter. But until then, it doesn’t matter.

    We are really programmed nowadays to specialisation. And whilst a cardiologist could operate their profession to the umpteenth degree right now, the question I always wonder is what would their profession look like without the tools they currently have access to? I straddled that weird in-between world of paper based systems and computer systems, and people slightly younger than me may have missed out on that story. I can’t really understand their stories, but can see how their worldview came to be.

    Thanks for the Wendell Berry essay, and he’s alright that guy. 🙂 Like his style. And it is mildly heretical to pick and choose what technologies we burden ourselves with.

    Hehe! So true about the snow. Last time we drove in the snow I forgot to engage the four wheel drive in the dirt rat Suzuki. The car spun 180 degrees and it was pure luck that we didn’t hit any other vehicle or fall of the steep incline at the side of the road. Yeah, who even knew that was a possible outcome?



  47. Hi DJ,

    Oh far out, but yeah – wanting the services for free kind of sums up the situation for me too! It is like people getting upset about the realities of renewable energy systems when I tell them that batteries aren’t cheap. Whaddya mean they ain’t cheap? Well, they’re not cheap and they might last only two decades – if a person is careful. And your service provision is kind of like that. As a wild guess we’re kind of made to believe that society can be one great homogenous endeavour, when in reality the farther you get out from the core, the less stuff you get to enjoy. That was part of this week’s essay.

    The very damp year has meant that the local council has been unable to keep up with all of mowing of the rural road sides. The locals in this little area (ourselves included) have been keeping on top of that job instead – and for us it is about 400m long so it is no quick and easy job.

    Woe is you, not only is your hand burned from the scalding hot tea, but also your pocket has been burned too from the disastrous legal settlement. I thought you said that you were going to win the case hands down? 😉 Down here this sad state of affairs is known as the double whammy.

    Mate, me neither. I just don’t get that at all. Sometimes I have a suspicion that some folks down here kind of hope to have their houses burned out by a bushfire in the belief that an insurance payout will resolve the entire problem of maintenance and they’ll get a new house. The thing is, insurance is a legal matter and over the past decade I’ve noticed that a lot of policy changes have been made combined with building code changes and thus the understandings such as new for old – well let’s just say that it doesn’t mean what it used to mean. Yes, you might be able to get the funds to replace your basic cottage, but the building codes are such now that you might not be able to construct the same structure – and people bemoan the significant difference in cost. And they get grumpy at me when I inform them of the difference in advance of the disaster. I’ve stopped talking about it, and life goes easier for me.

    Words are nice and all, but if the numbers don’t stack up, then I have long since noted that the numbers triumph. Some people I have noted use words to their advantage so as to get free stuff and/or advantage, but there are diminishing returns to that policy and yes 2020 (and I reckon also 2021) will put a dent in such fantasies.

    Hehe! Pi on Whatever Rd! Hehe! Fun stuff.

    Just wanted to say thanks for mentioning Cesar Milan and his most excellent book on dogs. We’ve been getting into the head space of the two young Kelpie’s, and today we all walked as a pack for about an hour with the editor and I as the pack leaders. All three dogs are now contentedly sound asleep. It works and we adapted all of the insights gleaned.



  48. Hi Damo,

    Actually I reckon the line break thing is a built in and undocumented feature of the WordPress software. The programmer literalists out there, and I do applaud their software as it is good stuff, but they just never really considered line breaks between paragraphs like say Word does. It possibly harks back to the underlying realities that text and comments are really basic ASCII text so as to reduce the website overheads. I mean it is not as if you can easily format comments or text on the blog to different fonts and sizes.

    Do you know, but I have never encountered Windows 8 anywhere? Windows 7 just works, but yes its days are numbered. I’ve encountered many fine examples of Windows 10, and it works slower with machines with limited memory, and the updates can take hours. It is kind of disturbing to experience a software update which goes on for a few hours in that you wonder what was so wrong underneath the guts of it all?

    WordPress has undergone some software updates over the past few weeks, so at a wild guess you might have to clear the cache on your browser. All of the software updates meant that I had to spend a couple of hours last Saturday simplifying the website and sorting out the various add-ons. At one stage I couldn’t even log on to the website. Not good, but I’ve learned heaps about how websites work. Did I really need to know such arcane knowledge?

    Hehe! Can’t work out whether I’m so busted or you are merely being polite or even sarcastic! Does it matter? Possibly not, and like dogs, let’s move on to the topic at hand and the subject matter before us.

    Yeah, I agree and perhaps your observations and words hint at an inbuilt function in our society. Hmm. Anyway, the function could possibly be described as: The closer you are to the city centre, on average the better standard of living that you enjoy. Dunno, but looking at your words from afar that concept stands out to me. I read that during the bonkers lock down which went on down here only recently and you and Mrs Damo missed out on enjoying (only kidding, you two did it tough for weeks), people in the middle and outer suburbs got to experience the actual services and amenities that they had access to, due to restrictions on movement, and there was a bit of hue and cry going on. Yes.

    Mate, even up this way there is still cheap land to be had, but every step further out from a major city, and the amenities and facilities evaporate – and how long a commute can be easily handled is anyone’s guess and a really individual question. We really enjoyed the wildness of the west coast of Tasmania, but there would be no work in our profession, and then how would we pay the bills? It is a real predicament, but between you and I if we had to do so for some unforeseen circumstance, we’d move further out rather than head inwards.

    We’ve spoken about ETF’s and I dunno my gut feeling is that financial assets are being supported as inflationary pressures are fed into those, but that’s just a general observation. Some of them return capital, and yeah that raises some interesting questions. It is possible that incomes sourced from investments are on the decline due to the general level of craziness, but that is a wild guess. Like why would China slap a ban on coal exports? Strange things are afoot. Dare I mention 90’s music and the label: Titanic Days?



  49. Chris:

    I had always meant to read Cesar’s book when we had dogs, but never got around to it. I did watch his TV show. He’s alright, that fellow. I think that Cesar crossed our southern border illegally when he was only a young teenager. How scary is that? Though maybe not as much for a teenage boy as some of the others.

    If you had to deal with the public, you might be fragile, too.

    I don’t know yet what my young friends’ plans are for their property. We are going to offer to give them – and plant – some berry bushes and a couple of fruit trees.

    Do you have any jujube trees? I have to keep our 3 small ones in pots watered, even in winter, unless it rains. We have 2 much larger jujube trees in big pots and they produced a bit of fruit the past summer. Very sweet and much like dates.

    My son is repairing our wood burning heater in the basement. The steel liners inside are warped. He also has to replace the ceramic fiber blanket inside and had a bit of trouble finding those with a high enough heat rating (3200F – 1760C).


  50. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! Some people do need to be addressed by having a tongue poked out and towards their general direction. If it’s good enough for Einstein. The other night the editor proudly recounted a dodgy dad joke in relation to that super-clever dude: We all know Albert Einstein was a genius… But his brother Frank was a monster. Shocking huh?

    The other day someone was telling me about the time they sneezed into their mask. So very wrong, and a little bit wet and icky.

    Went into the big smoke yesterday and stayed overnight at a lovely old Victorian era hotel. It was all very regal and I kind of love the place for its understated elegance. I was hoping to get to the paperback bookshop in the big smoke, but turned up too late yesterday and left too early this morning. Oh well. Had a really nice dinner at Hardware Lane and it was just really lovely. The big smoke is quiet, although there are no cases of the health subject which dares not be named. At a wild guess I reckon about 30% to 40% of the retail space is currently empty. It gives the city a mildly 28 days later kind of feeling. On the other hand, I loved the quiet and it reminded me of how the city used to be a quarter of a century ago. The food was good, the coffee was good and other than missing the bookshop, it was just really nice. The state gobormine is trying to get people to visit rural areas with some sort of weird voucher deal, but I dunno people could stay in the city too.

    Thanks to DJ’s book referral, I’ve absorbed a lot of information on dogs via the words of Cesar Milan. His style really resonates with me and we’ve instituted many changes with the dogs, and it is amazing to see the difference. I mean the dogs were OK beforehand, but now it is a little bit eerie. We took them for about an hours walk tonight as the pack leaders, and far from feeling oppressed the dogs loved the experience. Who knew?

    No, pack leaders are hardly a paragon of virtue – never expected that at all. Far from it actually and I doubt virtue should even enter the discussion. What they need to be is leaders and navigate the pack towards food, water and shelter. I have a suspicion that our current lot aren’t managing those basics very well, and possibly when corruption and graft becomes a lifestyle choice for them, well they might lose sight of their primary objective – which is to lead the pack. My gut feeling is that the side dishes of graft and corruption are generally tolerated if the pack is lead well and has the basics delivered of food, water and shelter. And nope I don’t have a basic assumption that old ways are better – I mean the facts speak for themselves and the British Empire fell and the Roman Empire fell, and if those two colossus’s couldn’t get their acts together, well I doubt others will.

    And incidentally, when merit falls second, third or twentieth place behind influence and connections, mate, let’s just say that it ain’t good.

    Hehe! So true. I still sometimes recount your words from the 60’s in that: It ain’t paranoia if it’s true.

    Jerusalem artichokes sometimes flower, but most other times I don’t know what is going on with that plant – and people tell me with serious expressions on their faces that the plants are weedy. Not so sure about that myself. I suspect that like your part of the world, it is just not hot enough for the plants to flower. The gardening club catalogue has photos of epic sized sunflowers, but I dunno. We purchase sunflower kernels and they’re tasty, but they’re just hard to grow.

    Note sure, but I reckon fungi are the soil critters which break down the larger chunks of organic matter. If the food scraps are disappearing then you probably have a reasonably active soil life population of critters.

    What could possibly be wrong with Twain or Steinbeck? Ouch and seriously crazy. Did I see To kill a mockingbird as well? It sounds like a re-writing of history. There is an old saying about folks who ignore history are most likely to repeat it. I rather enjoyed the adventures of Huckleberry Finn and the sequel.

    I won’t mention the book, if you don’t mention the other book… 🙂 Mind you, I’m not going hell bent to ban it either, if people want to be bored to death, well that’s their problem – it ain’t mine.

    Yeah, well if the vehicles aren’t connected to the interweb have wifi or bluetooth connections, how the heck would some nefarious person remotely take advantage of the electronics of a vehicle? Currently the electronics have to be accessed via an actual plug. Down here the independent mechanics have had that right to repair access for many years, although the manufacturers do their best to retain customers at the dealerships. I know some independent mechanics and I’ve heard the stories as to what goes on at dealers. It is kind of like the difference between a production line and an artisan who has to fault find and know the full product. Yeah. Good-on-’em.

    I am not so easily deceived with the forces of starry eyed lust, as I would be horrified to date someone who treated other people serving them badly. Plus who can forget the lessons of Fight Club?

    Wise, avoid telling Eleanor about the rats – no good will come of it and the rats will remain doing their rodent like thing. And yes, I agree private screening.



  51. Alco44
    You may be able to get ceramic blanket easily from an industrial insulation contractor in your region. They usually save remanent pieces for later work and even for us little people. Look on line , and yellow pages. Ask local business with boiler and kilns and such.
    Good luck Al

  52. Hello Chris
    I’m back but haven’t had time to read everything. My laptop is still playing up and the fellow who looked at it, is as puzzled as I am. He has given it a good clean i.e. de-dusted it and suggested that I go on using it. If things get worse he will order a new part which would take 8 – 10 days to arrive,

    The race to the country is the same here. Many reasons why it tends to be a disaster. The worst is the belief that you can do what you like with your land or house. The second one is the fact that not all properties are classed as residential. Some can be used for most but not the whole of the year. Some only from March to October and some only for 28 nights. There may well be some other edicts of which I am unaware. Do you have this in Australia?

    The monoliths are fun. A man has confessed to putting up the Island one. Amazing that this sort of thing can be done without anyone seeing it go up.

    Weather has warmed up and potatoes that I have missed, are sprouting. I don’t remember this ever happening before until there are hints of Spring in the air.


  53. Al
    If your finished Japan travel video was the one linked in a previous fernglade blog.
    My compliments ! That was memorable and fun.
    You and your lovely Mrs Damo are two of the happiest people I have ever seen.
    Thank You for sharing

  54. @ Margaret – Thanks for the Wendell Berry interview and article. On the other hand, without computers, I never would have met any of the fine folks I meet here! Lew

  55. Yo, Chris – Einstein had a brother? 🙂 .

    She Who Falls Out of Bed has developed the bad habit of hocking loogies (translation: expectorating sputum) all over the place, outside. I’ve got to keep a sharp eye on H, when we go for walks. I guess I’m H’s pack leader. Can you have a pack of one? I’m gentle with her, but firm. By the way, I discovered what her “huge weight gain” was. She went from 10 pounds to 11. Oh, my gosh, ship her off to the fat farm! Eleanor explained some long involved theory that she feels boney, due to loose skin, or something. Well, whatever lets you sleep at night.

    That sounds like a very nice trip to the Big Smoke. One would almost think you had a very lavish expense account. 🙂 . We all know how hard you and the Editor work, and your respites are more than well earned. Now get back to breaking up rocks and moving tons of dirt!

    In archaeology, I’m always amazed by how much earth and rock the ancients moved around. There are always formulas to figure out how many man hours, it took to build a structure. I’d say there was either a lot of devotion, or a lot of fear, involved. Which brings me to…

    Last night I started watching “The Unxplained” (spelling is correct. I guess they’re pushing the “X” factor, or something.” Hosted by William Shatner. Yup. Good ol’ Captain Kirk. I watched two episodes (Evil Places and Strange Structures.) But I don’t know how much I’m going to be able to take. Shatner’s presenting style is over the top scenery chewing, larded with Ominous Overtones. Can places be inherently evil? Well, probably. At least that’s the way we perceive them. The strange structures was a bit interesting. Winchester House (Fresno, California), of course. And a place in Florida, that I had heard of, but didn’t know much about.

    I always find it interesting, in zombie apocalypse films, or whatever, the scene where it’s decided “Who is going to be leader.” Always a fraught moment.

    Well, sunflowers. If you look at seed catalogues, there’s usually varieties of sunflowers, that aren’t so tall (maybe 6 feet, or so) that produce many good sized seeds. They may not be as showy as some varieties, but they’re more useful. I think. The work horses of the sunflower tribe.

    Every year, most libraries have a “banned books week.” They usually trot out a display of books that have been banned, at one time or another, for various reasons. I’d say the most often cited reason, is that some book is going to corrupt minors, or something. I think the little beasts do a fine job of corrupting, themselves. When I was taking some library classes, on-line, the classes in Children’s Literature, and Young Adult Literature, had a week or so’s discussion of banned books. I always like to watch the video of school board meetings, and such, when banning books is on the agenda. I quit like it when someone breaks down, and begins weeping, while moaning, “The children, the children…” I usually start hooting, at that point. I really think the resistance, to one book or another, is due to the possibility that children may ask Difficult Questions. Which the parents would rather not deal with.

    From our “Well, That Was Fast!” department. The Arthur and Merlin film, is on it’s way, to me. It’s somewhere between the service center, and here. Might show up today, maybe tomorrow. Maybe next week. Courier deliveries used to be pretty standard, but due to You Know What, they’re a bit spotty. When I ask the pretty straight forward question of “when does the courier deliver, these days?” the library workers get rather vague.

    Bad news from Idaho. The wedding is a week away, and, yes, the good reverend and his wife (somehow or another, she has a role in the festivities) have come down with That Which Cannot Be Named. So they’re scrambling to find a fill in. As with other things that are drawbacks to rural living, clergy are not thick on the ground. Lew

  56. Hi Al,

    It was the same video, and thank you for the kind words! I don’t know if we are the happiest people ever, after all everyone has their demons and foils. But life is certainly too short to do anything else but enjoy it 🙂


  57. Chris,

    Methinks I’m getting credit for a book recommendation that isn’t mine: Cesar Milan. I can be Dog Whisperer with most dogs, but I never saw his shows or books.

    Something I’ve learned in reading history: there is no human homogeneity. There might be regions in which people spoke similar languages and had related beliefs and cultures, yet go from one river valley to the next and there were differences, not all of which were subtle. The urban/rural differences are even more pronounced and have been a source of human angst for millennia. I’ve even said, regarding my job, that I’m glad that my work group was never on the same floor as the Big Boss, much less in the same building as the elected officials. The “downside” is that opportunities and information trickle slowly to the “provinces”, those areas further from the capitol, from the core. I tend to view NOT being housed physically close to the Big Boss as a bonus. The culture closer to the Big Boss is always different than what I wanted to experience.

    Once an elected official had somebody pen a pamphlet “The Code of the West”, which was made available to people new to the area and who moved into rural areas. The gist was that you need to do a lot of things yourself, not rely on the snowplow to show up at the first snowflake, etc. Sorta like you and your neighbors helping with the mowing. I’ve had some people gripe about how they are on roads that our guys don’t maintain, we’ve never formally “established” the road, but they’re not supposed to work in the government owned right-of-way. They then wonder what to do in the winter. I can’t tell them to plow the “nonroad” themselves, but there are ways to guide a conversation until the realization hits them that if they don’t wanta be snowbound for 2 months, they better plow it themselves. There’s a definite need in rural areas to have a much higher sense of independence and just doing what needs to be done.

    Funny! But I DID win the case hands down. And up. And sideways, and handed over to the mythical attorney. Got to remove the dressing today for good. That stuff the doctor gave me was great, and the new skin has come in nicely. No pain, no tenderness.

    My home insurance allegedly increases the payout amount to take increased material costs into account. The premium changes a bit here and there, but is still affordable. It helps that I have most of our various insurance needs with one place, as that gives us discounts. But color me skeptical about how a total rebuild would actually work in case of a catastrophic event.

    I’m glad the dogs are getting it together. Pack rules are the rule of the roost.

    It has been snowing all day. We got maybe 5cm. It IS December, after all. Now I need to go outside and move it off the sidewalks. Some young kid, maybe 10, knocked on the door and wanted to get paid to do the job. I may be aging, but I’m not decrepit!


  58. Hi Chris,

    Like all great issues of our age, we often circle back to the same topics here at the fluffy collective 🙂 As you hinted, I believe the stock market indexes are an actual reflection of the “true” rate of inflation (on average – 10% a year). And up until the ‘Rona hit, all of our money printing went into share and property inflation. After the ‘Rona, I notice a sharp uptick in the price of “real” goods and services. Combined with a disengagement from China, what could it all mean???

    I notice a tendency, in the Green Wizard/Greer space of the internet, for a general reluctance to engage with financial investments such as ETFs. It seems many prefer instead, bank deposits, or even worse, precious metals. Whilst a distrust of financial instruments is wise, what is a bank deposit, or a slip of metal under the bed, but a financial instrument? Wealth preservation is a noble goal, but these decisions guarantee the erosion of purchasing power (or in the case of precious metals – just a pure speculative play).

    On the other hand, many don’t even know about ETFs, and think it is all about buying Telsa or Amazon shares (or even worse, Bitcoin). These people inevitably lose and get cleaned up by the big players. Meanwhile, buying the index just keeps returning a steady 10% when averaged to include your dot-com bursts and GFCs. The corporations keep winning and making record profits, might as well get on that train and try and stay ahead of the inflation curve. Such is my thinking anyway.

    For anyone interested, Mr Money Moustache writes about ETFs – and the associated lifestyle choices of the FIRE movement – which has significant overlap with GreenWizards/Greer. Additionally, is a great daily blog from an insider (former cabinet member of Canada’s parliament) on financial independence.


  59. @ Damo

    I had considered letting them free range. I do have a couple of very nice shade trees in the backyard which is exactly where I sit on hot days. However, I also grow veggies and I’m sure the chickens would be delighted to help themselves to those if I let them roam around. I could fence off the veggie areas but that would be a pain.

    @ Chris

    Fortunately the shed already has a very sturdy and thick metal door with a big metal lock. It also opens outwards. Whoever built the sheds was obviously very handy with a welding torch. I’m quite sure they were repairing cars in the two sheds here back in the day as there were some interesting winch and compressor hose setups when I moved in.

    I’m probably over thinking the heat issue. I have a pink lady apple tree providing some good afternoon shade to the shed. It’s about 3.5 metres tall and still growing so will help cool things down.

    Anyway, I’ll go with the mesh ventilation idea and see how it goes.

    How big do you think the dust bath should be for 5-6 chickens?

  60. Hi Inge,

    Glad to that you’re back, albeit with a sort of limping along laptop. If it means anything to you, my laptop is now about a dozen years old and of course I’ve repaired it and upgraded various components, so there is no reason why these things can’t keep going. It’s a bit like the story of granddads old axe where the head and handle have been replaced so many times…

    Haha! Oh no! Yes that is a bit of a problem down here too, although it wasn’t that many decades ago when the legal side of the rural zoning and usage story was a bit more lax. I’ve met a bloke who just built his house on rural property back in the day, and there didn’t seem to be any consequences for him for having done so. The paperwork for permission for this house was extraordinarily complicated.

    We don’t have the timing issues with living on rural land, although I’m aware that camping on your rural land is discouraged where there is no dwelling. Yes, that can be a problem however the main goal with that is not to annoy your neighbours.

    Oh no! You really do have a monolith on your island – and I liked the photo of the dog sitting quietly next to the monolith in its fallen state on the beach. Good fun.

    Hey, I see that Banksy has made an appearance in his old stomping ground. He’s good.

    Do you normally get an Indian Summer? The weather here has been one day hot and the next day cold. Today was hot and we dug soil for many hours.



  61. Hi DJ,

    Well I sure got that one wrong with the credit for the book recommendation. Surely an early sign of dementia on my part? 🙂

    To sum up your perspective, it is possible that you are a ‘hands-on’ kind of person? I acted that way when working at the upper end of town, and even eschewed the corner office so as to sit out with the troops. Communication is faster, and I could put a rapid end to bouts of spontaneous singing. The folks worked in an accounts department, not a choir, and anyway ofttimes they were off key. But yeah, I never wanted that upper floor experience, and it mystified the people who employed me and candidly I suspect they trusted me, but treated me differently than if I were one of them. A good argument could be made that it is you and I who are in error here.

    Exactly. With few or no services in rural areas comes greater freedom to act, but also a far higher degree of responsibility than people have become accustomed to. And whingeing does not clear the road! My mates of the big shed fame have almost a kilometre of private road which they have and their neighbours have to maintain – and that’s no small matter.

    We’re slowly bringing up loads of the locally quarried crushed rock with lime in order to repair the surfaces around the house. And we do the job a bit here and a bit there and eventually it is done. Dunno about your experience, but people tend to forget that option. It’s a bit like the old story of the rabbit and the tortoise.

    Good stuff, and I’m really glad to hear that the burn healed well. You must be a good patient too. I assume that good patients have plenty of patience?

    The insurance issue is an odd story, and having originally done the work ourselves with the construction of the house we reckon we’d be OK with a rebuild and probably make the building simpler at the same time. It is an idea that we’ve had to chuck around and ponder due to the risk. Affordability of the policy is an interesting question – the higher it goes, the more people drop off the radar, and then the higher the premium goes. It is a negative feedback loop. And your grasp of math is way beyond mine, but a 20% compounding increase is a bit scary.

    Thanks, and yes I agree, house rules also have to be pack rules and the dogs have to deal. You may have noticed that the dogs are included around here, but I don’t pander to their whims. It is an unpopular and old fashioned perspective, but it works.

    I salute the canny 10 year old, despite what his work offer indicated about his general opinion of your abilities! Hehe! The cheeky scamp. 🙂 Mate, I wouldn’t worry about it, I get the tree dudes up regularly to help me, and community comes with obligation.



  62. Hello Chris
    The Island monolith is now on e-bay though it is damaged.
    The people with the new Banksy on their home had been selling the house. They have had to hastily withdraw it from the sale as its value has surged.


  63. Hi Damo,

    The fluffy collective does have a certain propensity for discussing certain topics. An astute observation on your behalf and I’ll ponder the meaning of that.

    Dunno what it all means, but I have noticed that the land of stuff has stopped taking much product from this here land. Coal has been the recent no take no stuff no more from down under land. Yeah strange days, but hey, they have no choice with the iron ore or gas, so things will just get weird I guess. Certainly stuff flowing out of the land of stuff has slowed down and I keep encountering really bizarre supply shortages. You don’t see anything about it in the news of the day either. Beats me what the end point of all this is, but it is not good and I have a suspicion that we are being made an example of. Like why did Victoria sign on to the belt and whatever policy of theirs? Surely that is a national concern which looks like it will soon be vetoed? Strange days.

    I quite like calling the health topic which dares not be named ‘Rona’ – the kids do and that makes us cool. 🙂 Gives the whole thing a bit more personality don’t you reckon? Anyway, I was at a business a few weeks back and a guy had lingering hay fever, and at one point he says: “Mate, I’m having trouble shaking this Rona” – and it sure was a good tension breaker.

    Well yeah I do have a problem with ETF’s and other managed funds in general. I can’t legally give financial advice – period. So, that is where my dithering and dathering comes from. Yes, I have opinions, no I cannot share my opinions. I am just not allowed to talk about them. It really is that simple. I can’t even say to you that I’d be happy to sit down over a few beers with you and talk about the things. It is a no go zone. My profession was hijacked in that regard a few years ago, and the penalties are unpleasant… I do hope that you are understanding as this is a serious limit I have to live with?

    Dunno much, but free speech is not a thing down here and I’m not free to say what I think without possibly facing consequences. A sad state of affairs.



  64. Hi Simon,

    Ah, all is now clear. For some reason I had a mental image of a cheap sheet metal shed, but yours is different. Solid.

    No, the heat issue is a concern and chickens evolved in forested environments and prefer shade from the sun. I do wonder how those chicken tractors go that are left out in the full sun in paddocks and have low roofs? I’m not sure I’d want to be in such a construction on a hot summers day.

    But yeah, the ventilation will work, you’ll see. Don’t go cheap on the welded mesh though and use aviary mesh. Sir Poopy the Swedish Lapphund was able to break chicken wire and I use really heavy duty gauge chicken wire. But aviary mesh has really small squares and the critters don’t stand a chance.

    Dunno, but I have nine chickens in a 5m x 2m all weather run attached to a hen house and they do fine. That space could cope with sixteen chickens although there are perches and also the attached hen house they can spend time in too. About half of that space the chickens can scratch around in, but even if your shed has a concrete floor, just put the sugar cane mulch over the concrete and the chickens will be fine and it will smell better and easier for you to walk around in. If you can smell ammonia, then you either don’t have enough ventilation or the litter has become too dirty. Chuck it on the garden or on a lawn when you need to replace it, the plants love that stuff.



  65. Hi Lewis,

    Apparently so and the brother was a bit of a monster: it’s alive! It’s alive I tell you! 🙂 Hard to forget that scene.

    Ooo yuk. A very unsavoury habit which we made socially unacceptable during the Spanish Flu outbreak way back in the day. Yes, before that such things were in the realms of acceptable behaviour and I understand that many people coming from the land of stuff are culturally attuned to freely doing so and have to be told that it is not OK down here. Personally, I prefer the more technical name: Lung biscuits! I’ve seen spitoons which kind of look disgusting to me, but I guess back in the day they had their uses. Imagine having to be the unfortunate young bloke who’s job it was to clean the things out. Oh, this chunk is particularly sticky…

    Mate, I don’t care at all about weight. I’m more interested by far whether people are healthy, and a lot of very unhealthy people believe that they are healthy so long as they are thin. This is a false belief, and so many people do strange things with their food intake these days to get to that outcome, that around half the population apparently has gut issues. Should they ever encounter a more serious bug than the current health subject which dares not be named, it is not going to be good. I see the future, and it involves a whole bunch of high quality garden fresh ‘rabbit food’ (AKA salad greens and vegetables) and some cakes. Cakes are good and I’m doing my utmost best to grow old disgracefully. I think I need to make a proper example. 🙂

    Haha! More true than you know. And something, something about work Christmas party. 🙂 Why not?

    Thanks for the guidance, and today we actually did spend about four or five hours digging and moving soil. This afternoon was pretty warm and so we constructed a new steel rock gabion cage and placed it in the newly excavated site. And we found an epic, but so far in the right location – Moby Rock. Hooley Dooley, it is one big rock. Who even knew that it was sitting right there under the soil?

    Did you see the new Banksy work? Very amusing, and I applaud the artists style.

    I would have thought that people would be better motivated and produce better results if they weren’t fearing the lash? If someone was driving me on with the projects here, I’d probably think to myself: Stuff this! And then proceed to go on a work-to-rule go slow. Why would you try harder?

    The ancients would give me and the editor a run for our money when it comes to moving rocks and soil around. We use some machines and the electric jackhammer is a ripper for breaking up heavy clay. In one of the bridges which Julius Caesar had constructed, the pile driver they used was an amazing construction. I was very impressed at the sheer ingenuity.

    William Shatner has a lovely voice. I watched him and his mate Leonard Nimoy in an interview with Whoopi Goldberg (who was on Star Trek herself), and old William appeared to have a bit of trouble empathising and he might also have missed a few social cues to. Leonard stepped in to assist him with that, but I dunno.

    What, can’t they spell? You may recall that Leonard Nimoy was on the awesome show (and I read a few of the books way back in the day) “In Search Of”. They could spell, for example: The Loch Ness Monster. Actually I really liked pondering all those mysterious things, and Loch Ness is an epic locale for a monster. Stonehenge got a look in too.

    Coral Castle is awesome, and I loved the story of the eccentric bloke who constructed it. He would have known a thing or two about moving large rocks. I note that he has particularly leery of providing details as to the rock moving operation.

    Ruby may be the zombie attack dog leader – she has the personality. Although by 5pm this afternoon the editor and I and the three dogs sat in the living room after a hard day’s work. I lay back on the couch for but a moment and closed my eyes. An hour later and the washing machine was beeping and it woke all five of us up! Such are the downsides of working out in the hot summer sun.

    Actually the dogs have made great strides now that we’ve incorporated what was learned from the Cesar’s Way book (and I can’t recall who recommended the book now) and they were already good dogs.

    Thanks for the suggestion about the sunflowers. Next year I’ll give them a go. I might have to start some melons and squashes in the greenhouse ASAP as those seeds have failed to germinate. Seed starts out in the garden beds have not been good this year and I don’t know whether it was the medium or the weather conditions. I can rule out the seeds as I made a comparison with direct sow versus the greenhouse. The greenhouse project has been a life saver.

    Hehe! Yes, that makes sense. Keep the kids having expectations or whinges, but don’t for a moment let them think for themselves. And unfortunately due to the lack of social filters, they do often ask hard questions…

    I look forward to your Arthur and Merlin film review.

    That’s seriously not good. Well there is always a Civil Celebrant, but on a positive note, at least the reverend didn’t introduce the health subject which dares not be named to the wedding ceremony. That would make the ceremony memorable but for perhaps the wrong reasons…



  66. Hi Chris,

    No worries at all – I am just as happy not discussing that sort of thing, and wasn’t trying to convince anyone, yourself included, I am far too Elvish for that sort of caper. Finance discussions often go poorly, steeped as they are, in vast dollops of fear and greed! But I did want to point out in a world of limited and shrinking opportunities, there are *still* options that don’t completely suck. Based on your observations on the typical experience of a “tree changer” – I would posit the smallholder existence is actually a poor choice for most people.

    RE: China
    Their leadership needs to maintain an iron grip on the population to keep central control. Historically, this has always being Chinas problem, and I will note they have being around for 5000 years and have gone through this song and dance between central and provincial control many times. The noise and bluster coming from Beijing is a distraction to keep the nationalistic fires burning at home, lest the population start getting uppity thoughts. Now that the west is dialing down the stream of hard currency, expect these tensions to rise, and possibly some sort of lash out to occur. War is a possibility, and China has nukes, so they may consider it “safe” to fight a little war on the side without risk of home soil retaliation. Taiwan has to be feeling antsy right now…(and Australia will be poorer until we find other markets, this has happened before with the UK and Japan, so we probably can do it again)

    RE: Rona
    Was there really any doubt we were part of the cool club? I have a sticker and everything…


    PS: At the risk of teaching you to suck lemons (apologies if this is the case), I will timidly point out for other readers that an ETF is most definitely not a managed fund. The latter funds the expense accounts and cocaine habits of BMW leasing, North Shore private school graduates, and the other is a simple market or index tracker.

    PPS: I think my paragraph problem is fixed, it also happened on another wordpress site – so it wasn’t just you!

    PPPS: Nope – not fixed. I will continue the experiments…..

  67. Hi Chris
    The discussions this week are interesting. The urban to rural migration phenomena and adaptation by those involved really is broad spectrum. My area has several areas of smaller parcel say, one to twenty acres with wells or system irrigated plots. Over time the people move back and forth depending on all manner depending on their interest and ages and life style preferences. There are a fair number of urban chicken keepers. Some following ordinances on roosters not allowed.
    Also quantity limits. When I was growing up almost all of the Richland folks had some form of veggie plot if just a few tomatoes. Much rarer now.

    There are a lot of the Hanford workers who live on places with horses and large cattle and or goats. Hogs are very tightly regulated ( the smell) along with sheep ( the noise).
    When my family moved to Washington in 1949 my parents spent a lot of time looking for small rural plots. Finally, settling on and purchasing the Government house and making it home for life with garden, fruit trees, grapes, nut trees, flower , berries and such.
    A lot of land put under irrigation with large us gov. money was granted to war vets in 160 acre plots. At low or no cost with homestead improvement requirements. Unfortunately the ensuing farms where aggregated into larger scale farms and developed into suburban sprawling residential housing. Which may never grow anything but green lawn. Unfortunate.

    My Yuletide solar lighting may end being mainly powered from from house driven battery charging 12 volt. Mr Sun can’t seem to get any purchase in our sky for more than a day of partial sunlight at a time. It’s good experience and with a lesson about alternative energy viability.😁

    I’m glad to see that Caesar’s dog work has taken hold finally.
    I have preached Caesar’s word to many with poorly behaved dogs as if I was Brother Job Hee Hee.

    Happy Holidays, Out Damn Rona Out With Yee!


  68. Yo, Chris – I’m surprised they let you mow, ’cause of, ya know, Health and Safety! Their liability lawyers are sleeping on the job. 🙂 .

    I think your confusing Einstein, with Frankenstein. 🙂 .

    Back when I was fiddling in the tat trade, every once in awhile I’d run across a ladies spitton (interesting. Spell check doesn’t recognize “spitton.” Ah! two t’s and two o’s. Spittoon.) I never bought or sold one, but I’d see them around. Usually, pretty glass or china. Something that would look nice and dress up the front parlor.

    Re: weight. I thought we were talking about dogs?

    With all the rock breaking that goes on around your place, you probably scared Moby Rock into the right place.

    I hadn’t heard about the new Banksy work. What a hoot. I like how the old ladies false teeth go flying.

    I perceive Shatner’s voice as … phony. Interesting that he did a series almost identical to Nimoy’s. Flash! Nimoy did it better. I just watched a couple of parts of episodes. The Centralia, Pennsylvania coal fire, something about a survivor of the Titanic. A haunted amusement park. Short shrift and toss it back to the library.

    Speaking of which, I forgot to mention I got Kunstler’s book, “Living in the Long Emergency,” from the library. I pretty much skimmed over the first part (I get it … oil has peaked) and am just starting the personal stories.

    That must have been quit a sight. All five of you passed out in the living room. Maybe naps are contagious? Like yawns?

    Camulod found?

    I also did a shallow dive down the rabbit hole, to see about the nearby town of Cirencester. Looks like they also continued into the 5th century, with some sort of organization. Lew

  69. @Lew
    “On the other hand, without computers, I never would have met any of the fine folks I meet here!” Too true. You got to say that Mr. Berry certainly “walks the walk”.

    Wanted to say that I love your descriptions of the “inmates” at the “institution”.


  70. Hi Chris,
    Well Leo and Salve (especially Leo) were quite miffed this morning as the nasty weather postponed our usual 7 AM walk for about six hours. Leo spent the morning whining and crying. Then when we did finally go out he decided to run into the field which is now quite muddy and make quite a mess of himself. We have trained the dogs to come to us and sit at the side of the road if a car is coming. Salve is great in that regard but Leo – not so much. We believe he knows full well what to do but chooses not to. He also has very selective hearing.

    Just ended up with a little wet snow but quite a bit of rain.


  71. @Simon

    I was going to comment about chickens but Chris and Damo have given you a lot of good advice. I just wanted to comment about gardens. Now my chickens had quite a bit of room to roam but they were attracted by the garden but for the most part a short wire fence kept them out.


  72. Marg, Damo, Chris

    Thanks for the chicken advice. Seems the consensus from discussions here and elsewhere is that I will need to let the chickens out on hot days as the shed will be too hot even with proper ventilation.

    If that’s the case, I might as well just let them free range all the time, so, I’ll be reevaluating my plans based on that strategy.


  73. Hi Simon,

    I guess it all depends. Next time you are up here you can check out how the chicken shed works and test out how the theory about ventilation works in reality.

    Hey, began reading your novel earlier today: The order of the secret chiefs. It’s very amusing. 🙂



  74. Hi Margaret,

    Ah, mud, dogs and the joys of winter appear to be upon you! 🙂 Some dogs do try it on, don’t they? But I hear you about that – and good luck with dog bathing in freezing cold temperatures. You’d think that would make an impression on Leo, but I kind of doubt it.

    Actually the editor is now reading the book Cesar’s Way and we’re changing many of the habits that we’d gotten into with the dogs and the results have been very positive, although we have to be more vigilant with the fluffies than previously, and this requires more time and attention. Oh well, if it works…



  75. Hi Damo,

    Do you know once I actually ended up in an argument with an old mate over beers and dinner at a pub in Melbourne regarding your PS note. Word for word, he said what you wrote. He looked very grumpy with me too, and so this is perhaps another reason for me not to discuss ETF’s – if the soothing notes of a fine craft beer enjoyed among friends can lead to such disturbances… I should have gone for the spirits instead…

    But yes, I agree when all the options are poor what is one to do? Yes, a more important question than it first appears to be. And it ain’t just wondering that story.

    Yeah the land of stuff’s length and sense of history would make for sobering reading for their leaders. And yes I’ve read that us being on the outer is all part of some nationalism campaign. With a huge population, sooner or later they’ll need stuff from us.

    Of course we’re cool! It’s nice to be cool. 🙂



  76. Hi Al,

    Glad you are enjoying the discussions, and your voice is always welcome.

    Actually water and access to it is a very complicated matter and one that I think about a lot. The use of wells over in the US is something that is not as commonly seen here. And I really wonder about the pumps and energy required to lift the water. At an old farm not too far from here, way back in the day in the 19th century, the original folks sunk a proper old school well. It is a construction that fascinates me, but I have seen it dry in a drought year and that was a sobering realisation.

    It is odd how people have turned their backs on home scale vegetable plots – and that is the case down here too. I wonder about that, as my granddad who has long since passed on grew up in the depression era, and despite eventually being quite financially well off he grew a huge vegetable garden. Nowadays the houses appear to have eaten the land and even really old Victorian era houses in the inner city have had so many extensions that you could hardly grow a single lettuce in the backyard.

    It takes a lot of skill and upfront capital to farm 160 acres. Not something you could easily achieve in a few years. The same thing happened down here too, but for some reason the land holdings weren’t as consolidated. History is fascinating and full of lessons. Some of the best soils in and around Melbourne were replaced by housing estates. Not a smart move in my book…

    It matters not about the success of the solar powered lighting project. And you have learned the basis for my discomfiture about outlandish claims with this technology. Yes, claims are one thing, reality is another. Glad you’re enjoying the project, and I would too!

    Apologies I believed that it was DJ who gave the nod to Cesar’s fine work on dogs. I was wrong, and I thank you for introducing me to this body of knowledge. He’s good, and he really gets into the headspace of our canine friends. Thank you.



  77. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! The local council perhaps talks a big game, and one year, and it may have been last year with all the epic scaled bushfires in the far east of the state, but they pronounced that they were fire ready. Now looking around the forest I couldn’t really understand what they meant by that, but it is possible that they are smarter than me? So yeah, if they see the local road has been mowed, they’ll probably give themselves a big pat on the back at the cost savings, and then go and do something else with their time. Actually there really is a lot of fuel in the forests. It’s not good.

    The state gobermint was meant to conduct a back burn earlier in the year, but they used the health subject which dares not be named to put off that work. I guess they had other concerns. Honestly I have no idea how many times these collective numpties have to learn the same lesson over and over again before they change their ways? Possibly I will have to wait until they are unable to extend any reach whatsoever.

    Speaking of which, on the road up above the house a large rock was in a dangerous location next to the road. It isn’t dangerous for the locals, but my neighbour gets the bin service and I can see by the tracks left on the road that the truck driver is occasionally very careless. So I moved the large rock this afternoon and put it to a much better use. The rock was probably one of the heavier ones that I’ve moved and the dirt rat Suzuki was brought to bear upon the problem as the rock had to be moved about 30ft up the road which was unfortunately also uphill. Dunno about you, but 100 horses can pull a large rock like that one easily. 🙂

    Am I confused? I applaud people who have a better command of math than I do, but seriously the concept of infinity sounds like total bollocks to me. On the other hand it is possible my brain is way too small to wrap itself around such an epic scaled concept.

    Well it is good to see that hocking up a lung biscuit was an equal opportunity affair. Honestly, the more I think about these things – and I may also have spelt the word with a single ‘t’ – it sort of makes my guts feel a bit unsettled. If only because somebody has to clean them?

    Had a house mate years ago who used to smoke. He never cleaned his ashtray and after a while the small volcano used to self combust and a trail of smoke climbed to the ceiling from all the discarded butts. I was glad he didn’t burn the house down, as we were uninsured for the contents. Don’t reckon he smokes anymore and sometimes the most outspoken anti-smokers are those who have sailed that wild path.

    We’re we talking about dogs? I defer to your point, but also note that the same argument applies equally to us humans. 🙂

    I’d like to believe that Moby Rock was scared, but I dunno. Unconcerned with my concerns might be a more accurate way to describe my relationship with the huge rocks around here. However, it might be a good opportunity to blow some stuff up if things turn out not so well in future excavations? That would be heaps of fun, but getting the idea past the editor might be difficult. Hmm.

    I can understand your point of view and voices can be trainedand read about how that worked with Sir Richard Burton the actor. Incidentally the Sir Burton the explorer’s book arrived a few days ago, but I have chosen to read Simon’s book instead (it’s heaps of fun). A few years back I heard an interview with Sir Mick and he didn’t sound his age at all, it was quite startling to hear him speak. Honestly, who can tell whether the two of them were ‘frenemies’? The captain has lead a charmed life, that’s for sure. I’ll leave you with this: Ben Folds and William Shatner – Common People. The words of the song are both insightful and emotional.

    My gut feeling is that the Nimoy version of the series would be better. Captain Baldy was the better Captain of the Enterprise.

    I really enjoyed Mr Kunstler’s latest book. The chapter on renewable energy matched my personal experience so closely. I wish that folks would give the technology a go themselves and find out that it is good, but fails to live up to the hype. And I enjoyed meeting the folks included in the chapters you mentioned and have heard KMO before but none of the others. Having only one dominant story is a recipe for disaster, but it also indicates to me that that particular story is a bit against the ropes and in danger of falling to the mat and enjoying the awful count to ten.

    Yeah, well all five of us crashing out on a hot day was an unexpected thing, but so very necessary after hard work in the hot summer sun. You wait until you see the photo of the Moby Rock. Him huge.

    I might get to the Merlyn film before you do. Not that it is a race… Maybe!!! Hehe!

    Wow! Nuff said. Perhaps the Dark Ages weren’t all that dark after all? I guess the unrelenting onslaught from the north east and the east eventually hit them hard and took them out, but still it does suggest that decline is not a linear function.



  78. Yo, Chris – “…unable to extend any reach.” (The Council). Well, yes and no. Kunstler posits that perhaps we’ll be saved from a techno nightmare future, by declining energy and resources. I started watching season three of “Westworld.” I don’t know how much of the back story you know, but in season three, they move beyond the (amusement?) park, and out into the real world. It’s 30 years in the future, and the techno … invasiveness has moved far beyond where we are now. Frankly, made my skin crawl. On the other hand, the end of Council reach and collapse of a shiny techno future, may not be very pleasant, for a lot of people. You and I, included. But more on Kunstler’s book, later.

    One hopes the giant rock likes it’s new home, and is where it wants to be 🙂 .

    Maths? Infinity? Now I’m confused. Who mentioned maths or infinity? 🙂 .

    I lived in a share once, where someone emptied an ashtray into a paper garbage bag. Said flaming bag had to be kicked down the back stairs, and hosed down in the garden. Can’t remember the details, but something similar happened, to me, with stove ashes. Although I know I wouldn’t have been so dumb as to put them in a paper garbage sack. Then there was the flaming box fan. Flames shooting six feet into the room. Different time and place, but that also got kicked out the back door.

    Sure. I was talking about dogs, but, yes, it applies to people. But we were talking about dogs. 🙂 .

    Ohhh, I did like “Common People.” I’ll have to check out some of the other covers. I guess what bothers me about Shatner is that he can’t say the simplest thing, (“I’m stepping out to the bog.”), without lapsing into “profound pronouncement” mode. Captain led a charmed life? Well, I suppose, if you don’t take his marital problems, into consideration. 🙂 .

    Kunstler’s book. Haven’t got to the KMO part, yet. A couple of my general impressions are that, on first glance, a lot of these people seem to lead rather lonely lives. On the other hand, perhaps they’re more like me, who has made a certain kind of piece with a more singular life. Or, maybe more accurately, I need a good deal of time to myself, and can have a bit of interaction, with other people, on my terms.

    The other thought I had was that people cobble together a life. Not a bad thing, I think. But easier to do if one is unencumbered.

    Took a walk to the library, yesterday, but no joy. Probably won’t be doing that again, for awhile, as the rain has moved back in. But, I figure the Arthur and Merlin film will show up, next week. Not a bad thing. I’ve got plenty of books and films to slog through.

    Last night, I watched “The Vampire Cleanup Department.” Maybe I needed a break from zombies? It’s a film from Hong Kong. The vampires are just as gruesome as the worst zombie. But, they have an interesting mode of locomotion. With arms stretched out to the front, they hop. Like bunnies. Parts were quit funny, and, of course, there were the pretty good martial arts bits.

    Well, as far as holding a bit of Roman life together, besides the hoards coming over the hill, they had a plague. And then, a lot of climate problems due to a volcano and/or comet. Complexity just unraveled.

    Ran across a reference to a book. And, yes, it’s real. “How to Raise Your I.Q. by Eating Gifted Children.” (Frunkes.) Actually, it sounds kind of interesting. But, my library doesn’t have it 🙁 .

    Eleanor is beginning to feel a bit apartment bound. She can’t stir out without being accosted by our maskless wonders, and it makes her feel VERY uncomfortable. Three of them cornered her in the hallway, yesterday. Of course, she’s too polite to yell at them. Some of the problem is that H is a magnet. She gets her bath today. Good fun. Lew

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