Watch your step

Earlier this week found me recounting the story of the end point of my first adult permanent job during the recession we had to have in the early 1990’s. The words: ‘Don’t come Monday’, holds something of a special certain dread for me. The unemployment rate was 10%, and only the dark fear of losing the roof over my head and the food upon the table, landed me in a job where I collected debts for a corporate. The experience was an eye opener that’s for sure. And excuses, well, let’s just say that I’ve heard a few.

Those days are now thirty years in the past, and the music of those days now sounds angry to my ears. Take a listen to the rock band Nirvana’s massively epic album Nevermind, and the emotion of anger shines through clearly. I guess young folks back in those days were pissed-off. All we wanted was a good job and a chance of living a decent normal life – whatever that was. What we got instead was unemployment and uncertainty, but hey, at least the houses were cheaper to purchase back then.

Nowadays I’m an old fella, and I respect the music from those angry days, but neither do I wallow in the memories and sounds of those times. To hear the music from that time played over the speakers at a supermarket kind of makes me feel uncomfortable, if only because the anger is in the past. A sort of sullen acceptance has replaced the anger of those days. And for all I know, it is possible that with age, this is how things should be. After all it is not an act of wisdom to stay angry forever, and a person must move with the times, or risk being swept away by the winds of fate.

And moving with the times is a good strategy. Most of my friends no longer listen to the Australian national youth music radio broadcaster (Triple J). Candidly, I’m unsure as to what music they do listen to, but given their reactions when the subject is mentioned, it hardly seems to me to be a topic worthy of pursuing without argument.

Anyway, it amuses me to hear the cheeky young lady combination of Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion outraging the notables, whilst singing about their naughty bits. And just to mess with a persons head, that song could be followed by UK metal band Architects, singing their power song Animal. The heavy metal dudes have a good point though as they are singing about how they’re afraid of the outcome, and whether they should just pull the pin? It’s an important question to ponder, because after all the combined actions of the young folks can have real world consequences, just ask the hedge funds who were slammed recently in the GameStop short selling squeeze story.

The uncertainty of the outcome is actually an important issue right now. As an old fella, the outcome is not clear to me either, but my crystal ball suggests that we’re possibly becoming a more authoritarian state. After all the state of emergency declaration which provides extraordinary powers was recently extended for another nine months to December this year. What worries me about this state of affairs is that it is a truism that whilst power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

People living outside of Australia, might be unaware that one consequence of beginning the current nation as an offshore penal colony for the English, is that the local population was never endowed with a vast array of enshrined civil liberties in the first place. Nowadays there is even less liberty and you don’t have to go far to see videos of some recent abuses of power, where cooler heads migth have acted differently. It is hard for me to forget that it was only a few months ago that I had to regularly display my identification and papers to the police and military personnel, before being allowed to move on. An unsettling experience.

The current craziness began at around this time last year when it could be said that things were more or less normal. A diary entry from a year ago records the editor and I as having visited a local open garden and enjoying a serving of most excellent scones, jam and cream. A week later, the state was kind of shut down for months and months on end. The lockdown here was like nowhere else on the planet. It made me wonder if the state had gone rogue, it is not as if they hadn’t quietly signed up to the belt and road initiative, so who knows what else that lot have been up to?

Listening to the talk on the youth music radio leaves me with the distinct impression that the youth nowadays are hoping that things soon return to normal. Back in the day that was what I longed for, although what I ended up with was continuing uncertainty and hard work. But you know, was the recent before-craziness times even normal? History suggests that this most recent experience of normal, was not what the average person could expect from their life at all. Perhaps it was only ever just a moment in time? I don’t really know.

Another day of excavations took place on the new shed site up above the house. A further five feet of soil was excavated by hand and then relocated.

The author loads excavated soil into the trailer

Towards the end of the six hours of work, our worst fears were realised and we uncovered an inconvenient Moby (body) rock. So far, we’d been very lucky on that front, but eventually luck runs out, and then you have to deal with circumstances as they present themselves. Still, things could be worse and at least we have the tools to deal with the Moby (body) rock.

Ollie casually rests next to a recently unearthed Moby (body) rock

The excavated soil has been pretty handy as we have relocated it to another part of the farm where it is being used to construct a flat utility area and a low gradient ramp leading into the orchards. Both of those projects are progressing nicely.

The flat utility area is extending each week
The ramp leading away from the house and towards those two new projects also received some soil this week, just so as to level the surface

It is really nice to undertake all three projects at an easy pace. We still don’t know the full extent of The Moby (body) rock, but over the next few weeks we’ll gain a more accurate understanding. None of the projects are super-urgent and we’re enjoying doing the work in an unhurried manner.

And the low gradient ramp, whilst far from finished, is still a very useful part of the farms infrastructure and so it gets regularly used.

Each week, about 50kg (110 pounds) of coffee grounds (as a minimum weight) is added to the soils in the orchards. Thanks to the low gradient path (even in its unfinished state) it’s not hard at all to move those sorts of quantities of materials by wheelbarrow down into the orchards.

The author moves materials into the sunny orchard using the low gradient ramp

Observant readers will note that the grass in the orchard is far greener than the ground covers just outside the limits of the orchard. This difference is hardly accidental, because for over a decade we’ve been regularly bring back soil minerals in the form of mulches, composts and fertilisers. After a century and a half of extractive practices on the property, there was no top soil to speak of when we first purchased the land.

Up until very recently, I’d believed that the soil mineral additives we’d brought back over the years were good enough to produce really fast growing healthy fruit trees with nutrient rich fruit. Turns out that I was incorrect. Long term readers will know by now that the farm receives decent rainfall most years. The problem becomes that the regular rainfall over the long millennia has leached a lot of Calcium from the soil. Calcium after all is a mineral which encourages growth and fruit production, and that accounts for the slow fruit tree growth and poor fruit set. You can have the benefit of regular and mostly reliable rainfall, but the cost is that the rain washes away minerals from the soil – it’s a problem.

The materials we brought back to the farm over the past decade don’t really have a great deal of Calcium in them. Now, I’m on a mission to get more Calcium back into the soil in the orchards, and the coffee grounds are being supplemented with Garden Lime (Calcium Carbonate), Dolomite (Calcium Magnesium Carbonate) and Blood and Bone (Nitrogen with a bit of Phosphorus and Potassium). It is worthwhile noting that the soils here probably have way too much Potassium (it is less likey to be washed away by the rain than other minerals) and whilst the Blood and Bone and coffee grounds contains this mineral, it is only in small quantities.

The author mixes up the soil food before throwing it around the orchard

It will be very interesting to observe what impact the application of those minerals has in the orchards over the next few years.

Early Autumn produce update:

You know autumn has arrived when the Persimmon fruit begins to show their final colour. And this week the colour change began.

Persimmons begin to change colour

The ginger tuber we grew in the greenhouse has produced six leaf stems, and we’re thinking about transplanting it to a larger container. If anyone has any experience in relation to this plant, please speak up as we’re not even sure how to over-winter the tubers, let alone harvest them!

Ginger has gone feral in the greenhouse and even one of the sugar canes continues to produce leaves

With the descent into Autumn, the raspberries and strawberries are again producing delicious berries which are perfect for breakfast.

A usual days harvest of ripe and tasty berries

Onto the flowers:

Nasturtiums have enjoyed the cooler summer and provide plenty of fresh greens for the chickens
A number of Salvia plants are grown in the garden beds
Some of the Salvia plants have become quite large over the past few years
In some of the garden beds the Salvia plants duke it out with the Geraniums
Geraniums form the backbone of many of the garden beds
Geraniums are always a cheery site and they compliment the Agapanthus

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 13’C (55’F). So far this year there has been 211.8mm (8.3 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 211.2mm (8.3 inches).

64 thoughts on “Watch your step”

  1. Where is the anger? A good question to mull over.

    Well, I’ll see your Nirvana and raise you a Rage Against the Machine. A little “Killing in the Name” or “Wake Up” will curl your hair and maybe even rekindle that anger at TPTB. They saw the injustice and tried to cal it out.

    But yes, where is the anger today? It’s not like things got better.

    As we age, we see how the game is being played, get a semblance of perspective, and having been disappointed a few times, maybe even move on to resignation at seeing the repeated inequities. But of the younger folk who will be taking our place? Where is their head?

    In some situations, anger is a useful spark to trigger energy enough to overcome obstacles, but in other situations, it is wasted, as the die is already cast and can only fog judgement.

    As the slow decline plays out, maybe the younger generations are showing a deeper understanding of the inevitability of society’s fate, and are slowly figuring out a way forward on the fly. Hard for me to say whether it is a defeatist resignation or a wise shifting of goals and avoiding worse outcomes.

    I don’t have a finger on the pulse, don’t know what general sentiments are in the youngest minds, so can just hope.

    I like to think I’ve channeled any anger I’ve had in the past into a more practical effort at creating an offering to the future. A small portion of the land that has been tended and made fruitful in a sustainable ways seems like a reasonable response to the dysfunction that we have not figured out how to fix.

    Dirt work- well, I am facing a bit of badger work myself this coming spring. Bought a used greenhouse from a friend who is moving. 20 ft. x 24 ft., ( 6m x 7m) with no flat ground of that extent anywhere near the house. We aren’t quite as sloping as your place, but some dirt will need to move.

    That whole powered wheelbarrow idea keeps hovering in the background.

  2. Yo, Chris – “Now that I’m an old fellow…” Oh, please. To quote Eleanor (who’s over 20 years older than me … and I’m old), “Just you wait.” Well, if you’re going to have a mid-life crisis, listening to Triple J sounds pretty benign. Could be hot cars, or something. Though your fondness for power this and that, could be suspect 🙂 .

    “…more authoritarian state.” But don’t you feel safer? (He says, with his tongue firmly in cheek, snort, snicker and 🙂 . The vast majority of the population is willing to put up with it, to feel “secure.” Whatever that means. And over here, well, since 9/11, we’re a heck of a lot more “surveilled.” So it’s not real obvious, until the powers that be come down on you with both feet.

    You are right. Since the 1950s on, what we’ve experienced has not been normal, when looking at history. We were sailing on a vast, black ocean of cheap energy.

    Gosh, another Moby Rock. Is it my imagination, or is it bigger than the previous Moby Rocks? Nice touch, Ollie for scale. I suppose it’s out of the question to just leave it be, and call it a garden feature?

    The new super highways are looking very good. Each addition reduces the grade a bit. I’m sure the power wheelbarrow (an you) appreciate that.

    Tell me about rain washing minerals out of the soil. Looking at some neglected corners, around here, a few years and all you have left is impacted, dead soil. Won’t even grow weeds.

    Go ginger! And, sugar cane. The ginger looks like it will be quit a pretty plant. As far as care, a few shallow dives down the rabbit hole, would probably answer your questions.

    The berries look yummy. It won’t be too many more months and we’ll have fresh strawberries.

    I didn’t realize nasturtium made good chicken feed. I didn’t have any, where I lived before, but had I known that, I would have planted some. My chickens pretty much just ignored any fresh greens I cut for them. Spoiled rotten. And who’s fault is that? 🙂 . Eleanor has quit a few nasturtiums, in her garden box, every year.

    Ran across an interesting article, about the aftermath of the Pompeii eruption. Relief efforts.


    I hope you can see this, and it’s not behind a pay wall, or something. I can. In one of those coincidences, the author of this article”s new book, “Four Lost Cities,” is sitting on the local library hold shelf, waiting for me to pick it up. Lew

  3. Hi Al,

    No worries at all about the link, and hey, the plants have clearly enjoyed some attention over the centuries from the plant breeders. 🙂

    I hear you about that and likewise enjoy time spent out in the forest working. Despite what most people would think, it is actually quite pleasant work as long as nobody is in a hurry – which they should not be, even for one moment.

    Hand files are a pretty fast way to keep a chain sharp (and I too was drilled on exactly how to do that job) and mate you’d hear about it for sure if you’d stuffed it up. A sharp chain makes the world of difference. In order to ensure that the various teeth have worn consistently I sometimes run the chain through an electric chain sharpener and that grinds consistently for each tooth. It is actually quicker to sharpen by hand using a file, but there are times when a chain needs extra attention.

    The portable saw mills are often seen in action at the local agricultural shows and I’ve long wondered about them too. Lucas Mills is the best known brand down here. Years ago I purchased a log roller (peavey) from one of those shows and just to tease you, it is made from high tensile steel (Bisalloy). Had plans last year to purchase another, but then the world kind of went crazy. Anyway two of those log rollers would work far better than a single tool that’s for sure. And with the portable saw mills just two people used those tools to roll quite large logs onto the milling frame. Handy tools in a forest.

    Ah, Calcium Chloride is not seen or readily available down here, instead for agricultural lime the compound used is Calcium Carbonate which is applied to the soil, but I’m no expert in these matters.



  4. Hi Steve,

    Mate, I really don’t know where the anger is. I’ve got this vague belief that by way of comparison between now and with the early 90’s, even now things are pretty comfortable for a lot of folks. And the Modern Monetary Theorists seem to be pushing the levers (which nobody seemed inclined to do back then, and possibly for good reasons) and from what I’m observing that has produced a great deal of support. As a policy it’s not a bad option, if you ignore the rapid consumption of existing capital and the very real possibility of inflation.

    🙂 Killing in the name is an anthem of sheer anger, it must be one of the angriest songs ever written, and it’s a personal fave. 150 million views can’t be wrong! Wake up is great too.

    But yeah, anger ain’t enough. Sometimes you have to take a step backwards and away from the madness of crowds. Years ago I marched against the wars for oil, but you know I used the oil as much as anyone else, and despite hundreds of thousands of folks turning out in protest who probably did too, in the end the protest made little difference to actual events, or my own choices at the time.

    Much later of course, and like your good self, I put the talk to the test and discovered that this stuff is seriously hard, but not impossible, and also you get better as time goes on. It would have been nicer to have begun the journey earlier, but the resources just weren’t there – and this was, and still is, a gamble. I can produce about half of what we eat in a year, but this is not all, not by a long way. And there are diminishing returns.

    You nailed it. How can we know whether it is defeatist or a deeper understanding of the inevitabilities, or even just sheer inertia? Beats me, but I also wonder about it, and have done so for a long while. After many years of cogitation it occurs to me that the system pays dividends, until it doesn’t. Then who knows what people will accept, before abandonment?

    A most excellent purchase, and from my experience in these really odd cool summer years, a greenhouse provides a significant advantage. 20ft (add in a couple of feet at either end) on less of an incline and without having to move the soil far, three days of digging and that job would be sorted!!! Of course you could get in an excavator. 😉 But between you and I, the growing season is coming to an end here and we’re seriously in no hurry with these projects and work as the weather and mood takes us.

    You won’t regret it, either the greenhouse or the powered wheelbarrow. However please recall my advice with the powered wheelbarrow and get a repairable device with a known brand motor and transmission. Using the machine today I get the distinct impression that I’ll have to replace it sooner rather than later.



  5. Hi Lewis,

    You nailed it: ‘How bad could the eruption be, let’s just wait a bit and see’, was probably the sentiment which kept those now plaster cast folks in Pompeii. It happens here with bushfires too. And no doubt floods and tsunami’s also are greeted with similar responses.

    Plotina from reading of her history sounds like a thoughtful person who walked with a sense of her own consciousness and was educated enough to be wary of the mistakes of predecessors. Epicureanism as a philosophy has some solid ideas, but it would be only the strongest of wills that would not take such a philosophy to its extremes, or cherry pick the concepts which suited their desires. To be candid, there is a bit of that gear going on in society right now and that particular school of thought has perhaps cast a long shadow.

    I hear you about that. Let’s not waste the air time discussing such a person. 🙂 Best not to feed the beast.

    Exactly with the cats, and little did they know what they were doing. Winter is coming here and the rats are on the move looking for a comfy and warm place to spend the winter months. Spotted one yesterday and it was full up to its eyeballs and was waddling along. I suspect it had been consuming elderberries. Anyway, your mention of rats sent me on a interweb rabbit hole which ended at the Great Famine of 1315-1317 which I note is a few years prior to the Black Death, but how could it not be possibly be related? The shadow of that disease hung over the population for the next several hundred years.

    The weather turned cold and rainy again today, but despite that we spent the morning splitting and hauling larger rocks for the low gradient ramp and utility area projects. Peak Rocks is real as now we have split rocks. Anyway, we discovered a slightly different type of rock which has red in it and those rocks split far more easily than the grey-ish rocks which are super hard granite. We’re now on the hunt for the red granite rocks of which we’ve found an outcropping and are plundering. 🙂

    Oh, so towards the end of that job the heavens opened, and it had been about four weeks since we’d experienced such rain, but yeah fingers crossed that the tomatoes ripen. It looks like it will warm up again next weekend. It was a public holiday here today! Labour day.

    Fortunately for Sandy Creek, it runs through steep-ish forested ground so the estate idea might not happen. On the other hand where we rented in a nearby town when we built this house, rumour was that the housing estate was constructed on an old duck farm and the road was placed in the bed of an old creek. Sure enough, I got to see the road disappear under a torrent of water.

    That’s an eerie thought about losing your tat in an earthquake. It’s a bit like the bushfire risk here, some things won’t get replaced for sure if the worst happens. Might not be a bad idea, especially if the items have little meaning to you which you may have attached to them over the years.

    Your master gardeners have embarked upon a turf war. One can only hope that their halberds are super sharp?

    🙂 Thanks for another interweb rabbit hole. Have I not dug enough dirt already? Hehe! Possibly not. There is a local author down here who I had not previously heard of. He has a lovely article on how he goes about the art of writing: Nine Stages of a Novel. Good stuff and whilst writing I too employ many of those suggestions.

    Hehe! You’ve got a point there about age, but seriously I am an old fella nowadays. 😉 Happened last year, but due to the craziness and general lock downs the event just kind of was quietly enjoyed, which was kind of nice. There were plans, but the plans were scuttled by events. The editor and I sat on a park bench in the dark under shelter whilst the cold rain drizzled, and we ate take away pizza and drank craft brews. Things could have been worse though, at least we weren’t under strict curfew as many others were.

    My fondness for power this and that, is part of who I am! 🙂

    I hear you. Most people feel safer. But I don’t know about feeling safer, as I sort of felt safe beforehand, and now feel less safe. There is a conundrum in there, somewhere… And having to regularly display identification and papers really left me feeling very unsettled. So yeah, the changes occur slowly and quietly and then one day you wake up living in an authoritarian regime.

    Given production of oil has declined in your country recently and the economy is in lockstep with that, things aren’t possibly that good now relative to only very recent times. And, well let’s just say that economists talk a great deal of rubbish. The exploration side of that story does not make for good listening.

    Ollie is very accommodating when it comes to posing for photos – he basically loves doing that. Mate, that rock, we can’t leave it and it looks like it will be the hard sort of granite. Oh well, drill and break seems to be the way of it. It’s pretty big too, and may be bigger than we now know.

    The ramps are a long term investment in the infrastructure of the farm. We need to be able to get around the place easier.

    Our rainfall patterns are pretty similar to yours despite being half the planet away. Oh well, no patch of land is perfect and at least now minerals can be brought in and applied to the soil. Given the huge amount I chucked around only a few days ago, you’d be hard pressed to see where it’s all gone. I’ll re-apply the same quantities every week for the remainder of the year. Who knows what will happen?

    Dead soil is tough, and yeah it hardly grows much. But there was no soil here to speak of when we arrived and it’s possible to restore life to soil.

    Thanks for the suggestion regarding the ginger.

    Fresh berries! Yummo for brekkie. 🙂 The berries have been a highlight this summer. Over the next month we’ll clean the beds up and give the soil a good feed. I’ve got to learn about strawberries, although Claire has already made a suggestion which I might try.

    Nasturtium is an awesome plant, and the chickens eat the leaves and seeds – not the stalks. Your chickens were clearly in a good paddock! 🙂

    Thanks for the article and I read it this morning over breakfast. The author may have been drawing a long bow with suggestions as to current events, but I’d be certain such talk would not be in the book waiting for you. What was with the authors title?



  6. Hi, Chris!

    Well, we all know that the future belongs to the young, but I have wondered if the present might not be – or could be, should they choose – theirs, also, as they have the energy to take it over. Then I think of the fine brainwashing that they have generally had, from videos and media and public (ie government) schools and I can see why so many are complacent. But not all. Unfortunately, the ones who see what’s wrong have to use all their energy to keep from sinking, though so far (thank you government for our 3rd, and upcoming, stimulus check, which by the way, I have enjoyed immensely; oh, and easy-to-get unemployment), welfare helps a lot. I wonder how long this pacification can last?

    Your latest Moby rock looks like it might hatch out something about the size of Ollie.

    What a glorious ramp (we hill folks love flat!). But “not hard” to move 50kg of coffee grounds? Easier, maybe. Not “easy”!

    Had anyone lived on your property before you?

    Beautiful berries. What an interesting salvia the pink and white one is. It makes me think of a mid 18th-century court dress. How any female could wear such an absurdity is beyond me. And think of the cost!


  7. Hello Chris
    Very interesting. I feel that we are living in a dictatorship here. There are a large number of words which I never want to hear again and the list keeps growing. ‘Safe’ is one of them.

    I agree with Lew, you have yet to know the meaning of ‘old’.

    Am puzzled by your mix of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. Here the strawberries are finished before the blackberries begin. June is our peak month for strawberries.

    At the moment we can’t get compost anywhere which is very strange. I am wondering whether it all came from Europe. Aha, I bet that it came from Eire; certainly the decent stuff, by which I mean peat compost, does. Anything else is useless although it seems to be unobtainable also. Thank goodness for our pig manure.

    Woke to a white frost this morning. The temperature in a room where I had no heating overnight was 36F. Still very cold outside though the sun is shining.


  8. Yo, Chris – I wonder if we’ll always be “in the shadow” of You Know What. Barely contained, due to mutations, and, like flu, a yearly shot?

    The red in the rock may be iron. You can set up a forge. 🙂

    “The smith, a mighty man is he,
    With large and sinewy hands;
    And the muscles of his brawny arms
    Are strong as iron bands.” (Longfellow. “The Village Blacksmith.”

    We had a frost, last night. Just a degree under -0-C. Duly recorded on the calendar, so I can keep track of this year’s last frost.

    I watched “Freaky,” last night. Yup. Horror / comedy. The deaths were, er, inventive. But, the one’s who were done, were people you weren’t sorry to see go. 🙂 . Not for the squeamish. Buckets of blood. Best thing I’ve seen all week. A two bowls of popcorn, movie. 🙂 .

    My tat has meaning, but, setting up a bolt hole, or, just a place I can go to get away from the Institution is gaining more meaning.

    The article “Nine Stages of the Novel” was interesting. And kind of fun. The lesson seems to be, if you want to get published, become a literary agent. 🙂 When I was at Eleanor’s last night, a film came on, and I told her she HAD to see the opening. “The Letter.” 1940, Bette Davis. As the credits were rolling, I noticed it said it was written by Maugham! So, down the rabbit hole I went (so you don’t have to.)

    “The Letter” started out as a short story, by Maugham. It was filmed as a movie, at least twice. Was dramatized on TV, several times. Even became an opera (!) and …. a musical (!). Was the book you read on Maugham “A Writer’s Notebook?” I see our library system has one copy of it. I might have to get around to reading it.

    Best to make a “long term investment in infrastructure”, around the farm. Now that your an old fellow, and heading into your dotage. 🙂 I never thought I’d desire reclining chairs or grab rails around the tub. But, needs must.

    I’m just working up to giving the soil a good feed, of this and that. Here, spring seems better, as, it would wash away in the winter. Other than burying kitchen scraps, all winter long.

    Here you go, what “Four Lost Cities” is about.

    “Newitz explores the rise and fall of four ancient cities, each the center of a sophisticated civilization: the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Central Turkey, the Roman vacation town of Pompeii on Italy’s southern coast, the medieval megacity of Angkor in Cambodia, and the indigenous metropolis Cahokia, which stood beside the Mississippi River where East St. Louis is today.”

    I gave H her bath, yesterday. Didn’t trim her up, much. Got tired of Eleanor’s whinging about how she wants her to look. The only way to attain the look she wants, is if H went to the groomer, every two weeks. Not going to happen. So, I’ll give her her bath and clean her ears, but as far as trimming? Let the chips (and mats) fall where they may.

    I keep forgetting, I’m still reading Winchester’s “Land.” A chapter or two, a night. Speaking of iron ore, in the chapter about people who own god-awful amounts of land, a certain Australian iron ore heiress, was discussed. There was a chapter on how the early European settlers of Australia wondered at how “kept” the land looked … and then ignored indigenous land management practices. But that they were slowly coming back. And, a chapter on the New Zealand / Maori land wars. Interesting stuff. Lew

  9. Hello Chris,

    Thank you for a beautiful post. I have to think about the anger. I remember the waves of rage and anti-immigration violence of the early 1990s. However, I think disappointment, demoralization and disillusionment are the dominant moods of the teens today. I will check in with my own teenagers…

    I grow ginger every year in a pot in my living room. Outside it is too cold. The bigger the pot, the bigger the harvest, but it is in no way sufficient for the quite significant ginger consumption in our household – especially for “ginger tea”.
    My process is like this: Just pull out the whole plant out of the pot and break off what has grown onto the original tuber. You will probably find one tuber with a vertical root going further down – I usually keep this one for next year. Then I just fill the pot with new soil and place the remaining tuber in the pot with moist soil over the winter. In the spring the new green shoots shoot out.

    And “safety” based on surveillance is sickening. When we lived for three years in the Land of Stuff, I felt a low-intensity stress all the time. Every time we left the country I felt a de-tension relief that we were allowed to leave… That is one of the things I miss the least. That and the smog. And the polluted soils. But I do miss the Zhejiang hickory nuts, ma-la-tofu and my friends there…

    Many people think that democracy is that you are allowed to vote. But I think that the most valuable rights are related to privacy and rule of law. Freedom from surveillance.
    Our grandparents fought hard to make that happen. It did not come by chance. But our parents, and our generation has not fought a lot for our freedoms. I suspect that we have been lured into the house-ownership trap and bribed by handouts and toys to accept ever more gobirnment and corporate power.
    Panem et circences?
    One of my favourite thinkers here is Timothy Snyder, e.g. “on Tyranny” and “The road to unfreedom”.

    It seems that you prefer power tools above tools of power…

    And don’t you eat the nasturtiums yourself? We enjoy the “pepperlettuce”-effect in salads. Both leaves, stems, fresh seeds and flowers are great. Just clear off the slugs. I like to combine with little-leaf linden leaves and tomatoes.

    Enjoy the end of the Summer!

  10. Hi Chris
    If I was still in the chainsaw game There would be a good electric sharpening station on hand. Also a broken in oiled, sharpened and ready to go replacement blade. In a moisture proof bag.

    You need another Au made peavey hook for you and a pair of the shorter ones for the Editor. It’s only money!!😁the older son has all that stuff here.

    The “tree” link has a long paper covering soil mineral and amendment additions with citations for deeper research. Applicable in general.
    Washington State University is our premier Apple and other fruit industry information source. This state has very varied climate and soil conditions due to volcanic and geological and hydrological chaos in the past. At WSU they have agricultural developmental facilities widely spread around the state. The tree fruit online info was pretty interesting.

    The events and direction of our new gubermint is quite disturbing to me. I see a lot rights and privileges being trampled here at rapid pace.


  11. Chris,

    ‘Don’t come Monday’ Those are dreaded words. Why do you think I jiggered my work schedule so as to NOT work on Mondays? 😉 I don’t think my bosses were ever smart enough to say “Don’t come Tuesday”. Somehow, I had no trouble finding employment during the economic fracas you were discussing. Only time in my life I didn’t have to scratch and claw for a job.

    You are NOT old. I’m told that I’m no longer “middle aged”, but I’m still too young to be old. “Unyoung” is the term I prefer. Methinks you are entering “unyoung” years.

    Something I noticed from the youngsters at the office the past few years prior to retiring…they have a more realistic view of the world than we do. Well, at least the ones that I got to know, and they seemed to be smarter and more knowledgeable than average. But concepts such as peak oil and climate change were an accepted part of now and the future for them. Some even came to their own conclusions that we are in the midst of a long descent. So, I was encouraged, but also see a lot of others of that age group on up to the truly old who believe that “they will come up with solutions.” That latter (and large) group is the one in which I detect the most anger, which I think is due to cognitive dissonance. We need more people who “move with the times”, as you put it.

    I see that Ollie has made his peace with the latest Inconvenient Moby Rock. The pathways are really shaping up well, also.

    The salvias look good. I found in my collection of seeds to plant this year, I’ve got a packet of salvia seeds. Let’s hope they turn out.

    I enjoyed your sake story and how wonderful that you got to talk to a master sake brewer. I bet that really inspired confidence.

    So, principle of least action. You came to the conclusion: ‘Nature is thrifty in all its actions’. Brilliantly said!!! You are hereby awarded a coveted and exceedingly rare Platinum Star from the Joe Physics Foundation. (A fake organization a physics friend and I formed in university circa 1984.) Seriously, you summed up the concept quite well. My physics friend states it thus “Nature is intrinsically lazy.” I prefer your version.

    A great example is viewing a streambed as it flows generally downhill. It will usually follow the most advantageous and most efficient path. Or the path of the Union Pacific Railroad as it was being constructed, form the east westward to the Rocky Mountains, in the 1860s and 1870s. Due to steam engine limitations, the upward grade couldn’t be too steep. The surveyors noticed that they were almost always within sight of the Oregon Trail, which had steepness limitations being pulled by oxen or horses or mules. And the Oregon trail itself generally followed animal trails. Yup, the deer and buffalo, etc, already knew how to cross the mountains using the least steep paths possible. Principle of Least Action at work.

    In the late 1800s, a lot of leading scientists thought that we knew everything that we could, and that we could do little more than add precision to our calculations and measurement methods. Then along came Einstein and the Curies, Bohr, Plank, Heisenberg and others, leading to Relativity and Quantum Theory. Do we know everything that we can? I don’t think so. Will we learn knew things? Gotta have people who have imagination and the ability and willingness to think out of the box and be able to prove their ideas. Now that’s something that might not happen during a Long Descent. And the fact that common sense and a lot of basics that we as a species knew forever, well, I am doubtful that we will develop new lines of knowledge.

    The nasal issues are due to allergies. Allergies are a side effect of living for me. And after this type of winter with no real deep freezes, long dry spells between storms, well, I’ve seen it before and March can really wreak havoc on my allergies. Fact of life to accept and cope with. Friday was forecast to be 62 F. The record for the day is 61F. We only got to 60. That was officially the first 60F day this year, and only either the 6th or 8th time we’ve hit 60F on March 5 or earlier in recorded history here. It’s warm and dry and that means a worse springtime allergy season than what we often have.

    Thanks for asking about the pole saw purchase. My answer is two words: “Not yet.”


  12. Hi Pam, Inge, Lewis, Goran, Al and DJ,

    Ti’s the mid-week hiatus. Promise to speak tomorrow. Chinese dumplings called to us this evening like the siren songs of old. Come sample the yummy dumplings they sang. And we were weak and succumbed to the siren song.



  13. Hi Lewis,

    I’m sort of thinking that things will run along those lines for the foreseeable future, and if that threat fades away, another existential threat will rear its ugly head. We’ve talked about power and control in the past, and if decline were ever seriously mentioned, what do you think would happen to those two variables?

    Hehe! Actually it was sort of a dark pink, sort of red colour in the granite. I might try and get a photo as there may be some geologists reading the blog, and they might be able to shed some light on the granite story?

    Forgive my ignorance but some reason I’d believed that Longfellow (you’d hope that he was tall) was an Englishman. Education these days! Shocking that he would have the temerity to write specifically for the masses. Well done him. Why should poetry not be accessible to an audience? Should poets therefore write specifically for themselves and their tiny coterie? It’s funny that you should mention this topic as I’ve often thought of this in relation to music and status. 🙂

    Thanks for the review of ‘Freaky’ and it sounds good. Vince Vaughan is a good actor. It’s now added to the ‘to-see’ list.

    Wow, mate it is a tough call and candidly things are a bit ever so slightly weird all over the place, so it isn’t just your crew. But I can well understand the desire for a bolt-hole.

    It’s not a bad strategy to take over the market, by becoming a literary agent. I sort of ignored that bit and instead read about how the author (who takes a similar approach to myself) mentioned that ideas are the minor part, then there is the slog of producing. I noted that the author treated his writing as a set task and then worked at different speeds, which suggested to me that his flow of words varied. Also he broke up the larger task into smaller chunks, which is inline with my own personal philosophy in relation to work.

    Maugham was a successful author that’s for sure, and honestly without Inge’s mentioning him I would never have come across his delightful book ‘The Summing Up’. It was a true pleasure to be in the authors company for the book. He has a sharp wit, and an even sharper tongue, but in a very English understated fashion. You’ll see! 🙂

    Ah, it is fellow in your country and also the UK I believe, but down here it is for some reason fella, although either is probably grammatically correct here. So yeah old fella. Hey, I heard some poetry from you land today on a podcast on Johnny Appleseed with Mr Greer. Lovely podcast, and I had to laugh because for some reason I began thinking about Waltzing Matilda, which is both poetry and song I guess (is the technical word verse?) Anyway, so down here we’re singing about an itinerant agricultural worker forced by brutal economic circumstances to hit the road, and who was presently camped out in the bush enjoying a cup of tea under a eucalyptus tree (not always a wise thing to do due to the risk of falling branches) and adjacent to a pond. A bucolic setting. As he was broke and hard up against it, he’d pinched a sheep from a nearby landowner, and was presumably about to cook and eat it. When along comes three of the local constabulary who put him to the question, and instead of being jailed he jumps into a pond and drowns. It’s funny the difference in cultures between countries.

    Grab rails and chairs, I hear you. Well it is not lost on me that the older dogs I’ve known prefer ramps to stairs, so I see no reason why this won’t also be of major concern to me at some point in the future.

    Went for dumplings tonight. They were pretty spicy and for a cool Autumn evening there were still plenty of people about. There’s a lot of empty shops, and I can see that some businesses have relocated, presumably to obtain cheaper rents. But vacancy rates are noticeable. It beggars belief that serious people suggest that we’ve somehow recovered economically – such talk sounds like lies to me as it defies even a casual observation. But then maybe people don’t get out much now and maybe they don’t see it. Dunno.

    Yeah, that makes sense about feeding the soil. It’s warmer here over the winter (although still very cold on average) and the soil critters do their thing 365 days of the year, except for leap years of course and then they’re working that tiny little bit harder. Your scraps might encourage rodents too if chucked out over winter.

    I’ll be curious to hear what you have to say about the book on Four Lost Cities. Was there any reason the author chose those particular cities? Been to Angkor in Cambodia, the buildings are amazing and they’re quite spread out so the scale is hard to see from photographs. I’d imagine the intricate carvings and constructions beggared the kingdom. It was very quiet when the editor and I visited, but tourism there was feral only recently. Not sure I’d enjoy that. Have you ever seen the photos of the hordes at Venice? Yikes!

    Lewis, did you attempt to cut the pompom on H? You’re like super-bad. 🙂 The dog groomer got really persnickety if I cut the pompom on Sir Poopy. I was brave though and applied the scissors, and sometimes even suggested that the editor take Sir Poopy instead of me delivering him to the groomer. H is a dog, Sir Poopy was a dog, they need to ease up a bit and just chill – the dogs don’t care. Hehe!

    Ah yes, the heiress. Hmm. A formidable person.

    Funny about how those historical references are studiously ignored. The Indigenous folks call aspects of the the land management practices ‘cleaning up’, and I agree with the wording and the goal. It makes sense to me, but most others feel differently and it is really a bit of a problem. Oh well, they’ll all come around eventually because there might not be any easier way.

    Don’t know much about the New Zealand situation, but the Maori’s sure put up a fight.

    Hey, I’m reading Naomi Mitchison ‘Travel Light’ and ‘The Varangs Saga’ – if the introduction is anything to judge the book by, it should be very interesting and entertaining. I like the idea of a Princess being rescued by a Dragon. Very clever indeed.



  14. Hi Chris,
    Another week, another Moby rock – it never ends.

    Never found anger to be too effective. When teaching I observed that the kids eventually just ignored the teacher who yelled consistently. I rarely raised my voice and on the occasion I did they paid attention. One of the best ways to get a class to settle down was to just stand there saying nothing. Pretty soon most of the kids figured it out.

    Still can’t get over the restrictions in your country. It sure wouldn’t fly here. On the other hand though any request to restrict behavior just results in many screaming about
    “their rights”.

    Marty got his first vaccine without a hitch though the line at first looked daunting. You had to wait outside until you were close to the first registration table. Marty being Marty had to add some humor to the situation. When the woman looked at his ID he piped up “I’ll bet you’re surprised I’m 67. Most people think I’m in my 50’s.” Last week was a “Marty” week as he had a trip to the emergency room from the dentist office when he said he was short of breath and felt clammy and weak. Well as usual all was fine. As he’s quite out of shape I wasn’t surprised that he was short of breath. After some questioning I found out that not only had he not eaten that day but hadn’t eaten the day before. Well no wonder he felt bad. He has some GI issues that have on a few occasions caused him to not quite make it to the bathroom in time but he really overdid the prevention this time. I was a bit taken aback when he was wheeled out to my car and the nurse not only deposited the very large backpack that he always travels with but also a folding chair. He explained once he got to the dentist early and the gate wasn’t open and he had to sit on the ground so he brought the chair (on the bus) just in case. The staff at the dentist office having known him as well as my other brothers for decades took all this in stride – said they offered to keep the chair when the ambulance driver came in but the driver said no he’d be happy to take the chair.

    About 75 percent of the snow is gone and we have two days in the 60’s so that should take care of most of the rest. Some of the spring migrants are back on the scene too.

    I agree with Inge – I would be happy to never hear the word safe again.


  15. Yo, Chris – Hmmm? Power and control and taking decline seriously? Sounds like a question for Mr. Greer. You go first. 🙂 .

    Well, one would suspect that somewhere in Longfellow’s genetic woodpile, there was a very tall fellow. 🙂 . One would suppose. Poetry has (mostly) gone the way of modern “art.” It’s just not as lucrative. Unless you set it to music 🙂 .

    Well, our library system has “Writer’s Notebook,” but not “Summing Up.” Which would be preferable, as it’s a much smaller book. 🙂 . But then, I can’t say Maugham “inspires” me, so do I want to read either? Last week there was a new documentary on the libraries new DVD list. On Hemingway. I hesitated, over putting it on my hold list. And, didn’t. I don’t care for his writing, and, what I know about his personal life, doesn’t interest. Maugham, at least, had a more interesting life. I’d watch a documentary about him. If I do, do I have to read the book?

    Oh, we use “fella”, over here. But, to me, it just seems slangy. Though conventional wisdom on the Net, seems to differ.

    The dumplings sound really good. I haven’t been out and around in awhile, so, I don’t know what our business districts look like. Never good, even in the best of times. “…somehow recovered economically.” Yeah, they’re playing that tune, here. Wishful thinking? Bright siding? Whistling past the graveyard?

    Well, so far, buried scraps haven’t attracted rodents. I keep an eye on the burial mounds, and, it hasn’t been a problem. Of course, we also have neighborhood cats, that I’ve noticed patrolling the gardens, at night. That probably helps. My friends in Idaho are having a problem, at their new place. A cat peeing on their door, and pooping on their welcome mat. In the rental side of their duplex, they had to rip out the carpet and treat the floor, due to cat odor.

    Not knowing the author personally, I have no idea why she chose those four cities. Maybe when I read the book, she’ll spill the beans.

    H is on my poop list. Half an hour before my alarm was due to go off, she went into some kind of a tizzy. Robbed me of half an hour sleep. Last night’s Concern of the Evening was, had I enlarged H’s collar. (No.) But did it seem looser? (No). Might she, by some fluke, in some parallel universe, quit possibly catch her loose (it’s not) collar on something, and choke? (Probably not.) What’s interesting is, due to all the whinging about trimming her, I didn’t trim any of the hair, around her collar, as I usually do.

    In an interesting coincidence, there was this, about land use, today.

    He had a few paragraphs in the book, “Land.” He did an old fashioned, Scottish land clearance, in Texas. Tossed off a lot of pensioners and indigent folks, who had leased for 50 years, or more. Seems like there’s always some land use hoop-la going on. Usually, it’s access to ocean beaches. Theoretically, everything below the high tide mark is supposed to be public access. Something that rankles rich folks with ocean front properties. Then there’s the whole grazing rights, can of worms. The US government owns vast tracts of land in the West. The government leases grazing rights to ranchers. Some ranchers don’t think they should have to pay grazing rights. There have been several armed stand-offs, and other unpleasantness.

    Mitchison’s books sound like fantasy. I’m allergic. Fantasy books give me hives. Lew

  16. Hi Pam,

    Yeah I too wonder about that. And candidly I’m not sure what to make of the thought. The thing is I recall being a young adult and feeling pretty powerless, but I sort of knew where I wanted to go. How to get there was a bit difficult, but if I had to give any advice to such folks, it is to accept limits then focus their efforts. An unpopular perspective, but hey it was equally unpopular when I was a young bloke too. People used to tell me when I was a kid and with a straight face too, that I could do anything, well they sure lied about that. But the greater point in all that really, is that don’t try to do everything, because you’ll generally end up doing nothing. Just pick a few things and satisfy yourself with that.

    I’m with you, if mad cash is to be thrown around by madmen, why not us? If I had to grade us, I’d reckon we’re good and worth the free mad cash! 🙂

    An eerie thought about the rock being a dragon egg hatching something the size of Ollie. Yeah, I’ve seen the films and know that we’d come to a bad and rapid end if that was the case and something crawled from the Moby rock.

    Us hill-folks dream of flat land, other folks dream of sports cars, those dreams are not ours – it is flat land all the way. Wheelbarrows are an elegant technology. Speaking of which, has Mr Musty recovered from his bout of rodent induced illness? Dare I suggest: The Black Wiring! (as in Black Death and rodents and stuff in the Middle Ages)

    I don’t really know the history of the land that well. Near to where the chooks are nowadays there used to be the remains of a burnt out shed. It may have been a potato shed for an itinerant potato or forestry worker, but I picked through the wreckage and cleaned it up. There was also a mostly burnt out old vehicle below that, but for all I know someone dumped it there. Dunno. Timber workers from your country began working the forests here from about the late 1850’s onwards, thus the native Indian name of the little hamlet where the farm resides. After the timber was stripped out, the area was put to potatoes and berries, and by the end of that run, the soils were flogged to death and the forest regenerated. The last big fire came through in 1983 and it affected different parts of this property differently and I’ve long observed that difference.

    Ah, a fine and lovely comparison for the Salvia.



  17. Hi Inge,

    Yes, it is crazy here too, and our state Premier (a US governor equivalent) is now apparently in hospital after a fall and will be for a while. How that lot ever signed up for the belt and road thing at a state level is well beyond my understanding. It is now in the process of being unwound at a Federal level. Crazy days.

    That particular word ‘safe’ is a really strange and misused word. It embodies some very odd emotional content too. And between you and I, the actions which people take with that word as their stated goal, is actually counter intuitive. But who am I to argue with such deeply held beliefs? And over the past year and a bit, I have heard that word used overly much. It makes me very uncomfortable to hear it to be so used, but there is little to be gained from arguing with a vast array of people.

    Hehe! Well, old fella is a relative concept, and there was a significant milestone last year which slipped past quietly due to the truly bonkers circumstances. A lot of things disappeared last year.

    The climate is different down here – even in these crazy cold and wet summers (may you not ever experience one). The berries produce in this order: Strawberries – Raspberries – Blackberries – Raspberries + Strawberries. Autumn here produces a mini-Spring and the early berries again begin to produce berries. Some of the fruit trees even produce blossoms if the weather is just right, so I suspect that despite what people suggest about climate change, the plants may have some neat tricks up their sleeves.

    Inge, for the record I have never encountered peat compost! Oh my, the thought of such heady stuff makes me pine for the lowly compost which is available down here. The thing that most folks do not understand is that to produce compost from minerally deficient soils, is to produce minerally deficient compost. I’ve had a real wake-up call about this matter recently and am taking it very seriously indeed and doing something about it.

    The coldest I’ve experienced inside the house during winter is about 50’F, so your temperature would be akin to me spending the night outside in a tent in that particular unheated room. Brr! But I hear you, when I was a kid, there was only a single room which was heated, and that was that and you just dealt. I can’t recall ever feeling cold during those days, and candidly I sleep better in the colder weather. It is a common problem nowadays to over-heat a house, but I’m a bit biased in that regard.



  18. Hi Goran,

    I’m reading a book which inverts Norse mythology from your part of the world, and it’s quite a fun read.

    Ah yes, you’re onto something there, and I keep a sharp ear out for the music of the youth (mostly because I enjoy the music and also because we have such an amazing vehicle for that art form) and over the past two years there is a note of melancholy which stands out in many of the songs. Even the English metal band I referred to in the essay had the note. It is possible that the note is a taught note, but I don’t really know of its origins.

    Ginger is a delightful tuber which sadly will not grow outside here. Thanks for the growing hints and tips. 🙂 We make a delightful ginger wine which is slightly stronger than a ginger beer. It’s good stuff, but yes we also produce ginger tea as a soothing tonic. Mate, we needed that last year, and I’ll bet you did too!

    You and your family were brave to have lived in the land of stuff. A mate of mine lived in South Africa before moving to Melbourne and he reported similar feelings which took a while to come down from. But yeah, basically the concept of safety is but an allusion.

    The story of loss is very sad indeed, and who knows where it will end? Last year was super crazy, and this year is only slightly less so. And different parts of this continent are handling the craziness differently, and friends have been only too willing to inform me of this difference. There is an old saying about exercising hard won rights even if it inconveniences others.

    Nice one! 🙂 Bread and circuses, indeed!

    Thank you for the tip and I’ll check it out later this evening.

    Well, there’s the thing isn’t it. With power tools a person can accomplish something, with tools of power, a person must get others to do their bidding.

    Yes, I also quite enjoy consuming Nasturtiums but many long years ago we had a failure with the leafy greens during high summer. We then had to painstakingly trial different plant varieties. Basically, from that experiment, we have fresh leafy greens to eat all year around, although they grow very slowly in the winter and we have to have a lot of them to harvest. The trick is to grow far more than you think you’ll ever need – and the chickens help out with the excess produce.

    Thank you and enjoy your forthcoming Spring weather!



  19. Hi Al,

    Yes, the electric chain sharpener is an ingenious machine as it brings any abused chain back to a shop-sharp and consistent finish. The last time the tree dudes were here I brought out the sharpener and sorted out some of their very old and presumed to be dead chains. The bar oil often keeps the old unused chains well lubricated. The tree dudes preferred hand files for more general sharpening which I can understand as it is a faster process.

    Tell ya what though, even with over a decade of sharpening experience using a hand file, it is hard to ensure that the teeth are exactly the same – from a remaining steel on the tooth perspective. That is where the electric sharpener shines.

    Another log roller is on the cards, but we’re keeping fingers crossed that the country agricultural show is even on. You never know.

    Thanks for the info about fruit trees and minerals. So much lore to take in – my brain might pop you know! 🙂

    Mate, I have to be really careful as to what I say, or let be published here. People were actually dragged from their homes by the authorities for foolish things they’d said on the interweb. Yes, things are very bad on that front here.



  20. Hi DJ,

    You took that whole not liking Monday thing to the next level. Respect. Never thought of doing that myself, but it’s genius.

    I won’t argue with anyone here on that matter, but I will state for the record that a milestone birthday occurred last year. What with the crazy lock down and serious curfew in the metropolitan area, we celebrated outdoors on a park bench under shelter with delightful gourmet pizza, winter cold and rain and all, and some quality craft brews. I’m pretty certain that Napoleon’s retreating army would have begged for such an evening.

    More realistic is what I’m observing too, and maybe there is mixed into that an air of resignation? Don’t know about being smarter, as I have this odd notion that the folks ten millennia ago were just as smart as us. 🙂 But yes, the younger folks do seem more mentally able to accept that things are not as good as they once were. It’s been a while since I’ve encountered anyone who suggested to me that ‘they’ll come up with something’. But maybe I can point to the circumstances of my own childhood and compare that to today, which is a tough one for people to ignore. But then they might not want to engage in the discussion either, so I don’t really know.

    Ollie may have made peace with the latest Moby rock, but I fail to share his feelings in this matter. It’s an inconvenient rock that’s for sure.

    The Salvia’s here seemed to survive -2’C and snow and they didn’t really seem too troubled by that experience. So who knows what their upper limits are?

    The sake-master actually suggested that we were making sake like how the folks went about the process (obviously without the electricity) back in the day. The weird thing about our process is that it is replicable, but it lacks a certain sensibility in relation to aesthetics, and whenever people are told the recipe in detail, they always attempt to improve upon it – and then fail. That is really weird, but I don’t push in such matters and let people find their own way.

    Actually I have to fess up as I read the ‘Nature is thrifty in all its actions’, concept elsewhere, and presented it to you in that manner as I’d imagined you knew that definition. Oh well. Despite the crossed wires, the sentiment is very true.

    Even in a long descent, there are going to be game changing moments of greater comprehension. But here’s the thing, when I read the first edition of The Limits to Growth, it mattered little how the variables were manipulated as the outcome was the always same. The timeline of course often varied, but the outcome, nope. But that story does not mean that we won’t have a blast on the way down again. Why would it? Hard times are in the future, but when I was a kid I lived through hard times, and my siblings and I mostly never even knew it.

    Allergies! Sorry to hear, what a pain. The heavy smoke from the epic scaled bushfires last year would have played havoc with your sinuses. Yes, and your winters are dry, the winters here are almost continually humid for months on end, but that too can dry a person out – I guess like osmosis? Not sure of the exact cause and effect, but yeah it is complicated.

    Right. Not yet. Of course, been busy, huh? Well, if you go climbing trees young man, don’t you come complaining to me when you fall out of them! 🙂 Hehe! All in good time.



  21. Hi Margaret,

    Unearthing that latest Moby rock was a nightmare made real in granite form! Given the new shed will be located in that terrace, the rock has to go – somehow. We had a crack at it last week, but I was tired after the hours of digging and it didn’t seem like an easy to crack rock. I tell you, I’ve done something really bad in a past life. 😉

    You’re good! Recently Al, tipped me off to a book recommendation for dog training ‘Cesar’s Way’ and your method of displaying yourself as the alpha in the classroom, kind of exactly matches the ‘Calm Assertiveness’ that all good leaders can wield.

    Candidly it is super-weird down here and will remain that way until December I guess, and the authorities powers are kind of a bit frightening really – I haven’t told you the half of what they can do if they so choose. Best not to make oneself a target. If I may dare suggest, keep your rights exercised, even if it inconveniences others – as it probably will. Best if the rights aren’t taken away, and we had little of them to begin with anyway, but still things have err, progressed on that front, but in a bad way.

    Go Marty! On the other hand his humour could be misinterpreted, but I doubt he’d care one way or another. Oh Marty, oh Marty, whatever where you thinking?

    Margaret, you are a saint. You just have to laugh along and hope Marty doesn’t have to interact with too many new people. Given how things are going he might get to catch up with Gwen soon?

    If your weather was in the mid 60’s, well it wouldn’t feel much different to down here – although the next three days look slightly warmer. Fingers crossed that some additional tomatoes ripen.

    I’m reading a lovely book right now which your book club might enjoy (maybe). Someone here recommended it, but it is now so long ago that I forget who – possibly I should write these things down when the memories are fresh? Stale memories probably don’t smell that nice. 🙂 Oh well, anyway the book is a charming and delightfully told story: Crossroads And Coins: Naomi Mitchison’s ‘Travel Light’. Is the group still catching up?



  22. Hi Lewis,

    You’ve got a point there about asking Mr Greer, but candidly in my dotage, the old memory ain’t the sharp and finely honed tool that it used to be – and what were we talking about again?

    Hot Cross Buns. That’s right, that’s what we were talking about. In the ongoing quest to discover the most excellent of the excellentest of bakery products, Hot Cross Buns have their own sub-category. Now you may laugh, but this is serious business, even as serious as who produces the best sausage roll? Some cheeky politician got slammed by the bakery trade group for the temerity of suggesting that a sausage roll was a layer of fat in a layer of fat (or some such disparaging words). But back to Hot Cross Buns. So this week I have so far sampled two. They were both good, lightly toasted with fresh butter. With Easter early next month, that leaves the remaining chunk of the month to conduct further samples, purely for research purposes of course.

    A few years ago I baked a batch of Hot Cross Buns and although they were good, but – somewhere out there – there are better ones to be had. 🙂

    Surnames can be quite telling, even down the ages. Yup. The market here for poetry is probably tiny, however, like you aver, chuck in some rhythm and melody and poets might be onto a winner. No shame in making a buck, after all render unto Caesar and all that. I don’t believe that it was always that way with poets down here, but people enjoy watching television so who am I to argue with them. There is actually no television signal in this area due to the surrounding mountains – they block the signal.

    The interweb is not always right in these matters, but I sort of like the word fella. And you certainly hear it used far more than fellow. That word might have acquired some bad juju as it can be heard in the following example: He’s an unpleasant fellow. So maybe the word has attracted negative connotations? Do you hear that word used in your part of the world?

    The editor and I are both accountants and so we notice things such as empty shops. And we kind of have a feel for what such stories mean. The whole recovery story is probably easier to slip past people if they are gainfully employed and not scrambling to make ends meet. I have friends both older and younger than I, and the editor and I are of an age where we were hit hardest during the recession of the early 90’s. My younger friends missed out on the excitement, and my older friends were possibly more valuable employees at the time than us two. But the people I know who are of an age, did it really tough. I know another accountant my age who stacked shelves in a supermarket during the years I collected debts for the corporate. Strange days.

    Your cats are a great idea for controlling rodents, and they probably have a future here. I like cats. You might not have seen this graceful bird: Albatross chick can’t believe how badly its parent fluffed its landing. 🙂

    Cats spraying is pretty rank, and a mate had a cat break in through their pet door and spray all over the house, which was of course meant to intimidate their cat. It would have intimidated me. Had a large cat shred the ear of a cat I had long ago. Took the cat to the vet, but there was not much that could be done.

    Has anything more been nabbed from the library hold list?

    Oh, H is foolish to muck around with your sleep. Hey, my money is on the parallel universe suggestion. Fluffies such as H are sensitive to such matters – they know things. I’d take the hair off, as it seems easier than losing sleep.

    The Canadian land story was kind of sad and an odd outcome. It is funny you mentioned that though as I was reading about dragons today. I tend to believe they fill that role in society, although most dragons inevitably have a fall.

    The laws about leasing are pretty tough. When the editor and I lived in South Melbourne, the nice electricity company who owned the land kicked us out and sold off the house. But the neighbours had been there for about four decades and that was traumatic for them and the nice company sold off that house too.

    At the time a lot of the old timers were moved on as property taxes were jacked up, and they couldn’t pay them. The area changed after that, and I’m not sure for the better. Things got kind of expectational if you know what I mean. But then change as they say, is a constant. But they might also be talking rubbish.



  23. Yo, Chris – There was a film called “Safe” (1995). I remember seeing it when it came out.

    Didn’t have a very definitive ending. Was she nuts, or, was there something really going on? You decide 🙂 .

    Well, you’ve been really cagey, about your “milestone” birthday. What? The BIG Five Oh? Half a century? Big whoop. I sailed through mine, due to a tip I picked up from Frank Sinatra. When I turned 49, if anyone asked, I just said I was 50. So, when the big day arrived, it was … meh. Of course, waking up on the big day, and finding all my hair on the pillow was a bit disconcerting.

    Ohhhh, hot-cross buns. Tis the season. Along with chocolate and Peeps. I suppose they’ll start showing up at the local grocery. Which has a pretty good in-store bakery. I might give them a whirl. I hope the cheeky politician was voted out of office, the next go-around.

    How about, “He’s a pleasant fellow.” Where I usually hear fella, here, is “Millie has a new fella.”

    I saw the article about the albatross, but the video didn’t work. Old software, on my part. About 75% of the videos work, the others, not so much. But speaking of poetry and albatross (we were, weren’t we?), there’s always this …

    Coleridge, 1798. In the first place, why invite such a crazed Debbie Downer, to your wedding? And can you imagine having a stinky dead bird tied around your neck, til it rots off? Not my idea of a good time. Lesson learned. Don’t mess with the albatross.

    I’ll probably nip down to the library, after finishing up, here. I have five items to pick up. I watched a DVD last night, that I spent about 15 minutes on. “Battle in Space: The Armada Attacks.” I was a bit leery, when I read, “Space wizards from another dimension.” I don’t think whoever reviewed the thing, actually watched it. By the time I figured out it was a collection of short stories, I had kind of lost interest. And, in parts it moved very slow.

    I worry (but not too much) from time to time, about this place being sold out from underneath us. Could happen. Might not. But best prepare, in a low-key way.

    Daylight Savings Time starts Sunday. I hope you have our (a collective “our.” Like, co-parenting) hour, packed and ready to go, and it’s not too much the worse for wear. Had the usual conversation with Eleanor. Should we adjust H’s walk times, an hour forward (or, is it back?), to reflect reality. I said I thought we should just stick with whatever time is on the clock. That she might as well be just as confused as the rest of us, for a few days.

    Well, exciting news. I had a memo slipped under my door, this morning. The vaccine will be administered, Friday evening. The first shot of two. I happened to see the Community Outreach Person (quit pleasant, and doesn’t answer to the front office) later, and asked how many have signed up. About 14. What with people who are getting shots from their doctor’s, or other places, I figure we’ll be a little over half vaccinated. I wonder if there will be anti-vaccine demonstrations? Some old babe, throwing herself across the community room door? That could be exciting. I’ll have to have a few good one liners, on tap. Lew

  24. Hi Chris,
    All three brothers have/had no filters so they just said whatever they were thinking. It was rare that anyone didn’t respond positively to them. Hopefully Marty will be able to see Gwen once he’s what’s considered fully vaccinated. She has a state appointed guardian so she would have to approve as well as the agency she’s with. I’m guessing it’ll be a go for them though. My sister, Nora, talked to Marty on Monday and he divulged that he let a homeless friend of his stay at his place for three days. Nora, who has been overly afraid of the virus imho, was not pleased though understood his motivations. Apparently this friend’s tent was destroyed in one of the snowstorms. Marty kicked him out after three days as he wanted to smoke pot in Marty’s apartment. Never a dull moment as they say.

    That’s an interesting looking book. How did you come upon it? Yes, our bookclub has been meeting on zoom and there’s actually been some book reading going on as well. Much of the time, though, is just spent catching up. The last time we met in person was October and we anticipate meeting in person again in April.

    Last Friday we went out to dinner with our retirement home friends which hasn’t happened in quite some time. The sign when we entered said “We practice social distancing.” but that was certainly not the case as every table was full as well as the bar. Maybe the tables were farther apart than they used to be but not much. As Bill and Kathy are fully vaccinated and Doug and I are well past the first one and supposedly are quite protected as well we did stay. Restaurants are limited to 50% capacity here now but as you can see these restrictions aren’t followed nor are they enforced so quite a different situation from yours.

    The snow is just about gone.


  25. Hi Lewis,

    Long ago you mentioned the film ‘safe’. Must put that on the to-see list as it sounds intriguing. Mate, you wouldn’t want ‘multiple chemical sensitivity’ as life would become very difficult, very quickly.

    It impressed me that the critics tended to fixate on the ambiguous ending for the lead character (which is something you mentioned although I note you made the observation and not the critique) – and I’m guessing that they wanted a neat and tidy end, which would make no sense given the condition. It was a bit like the end of Dexter when people were griping about how the lead character turned his back on his own kid, what did they expect – the character was a psychopath – and the actions were consistent with the character. It would have been super weird if the character had done otherwise. People project onto fiction and it would be a real drama to pen a seriously popular fictional character.

    Sometimes I’m a bit horrified at the chemicals I see used in places in everyday circumstances. The really troubling ones I believe are the hospital strength cleaners – that stuff should be reserved purely for hospitals, but that is merely an opinion.

    Hawaii Five-O man! 🙂 Last year I had to be super-cool about missing such things due to the health subject which dares not be named, because a lot of other folks were losing their minds. Is this an act of stoicism? I’d like to think so. I accept such matters as I’m just happy to be here and in mostly good health. The truth is I don’t want to give away detailed information about me on the interweb – this is a public forum after all, and crazy stuff like identufcation (sic) theft is a real possibility, so I act more cagey than I am outside this public forum.

    Years and years ago someone got me into a lot of trouble because they got into trouble with the constabulary, and said they were me. That is a harder problem to resolve than you might imagine.

    Half dozen hot cross buns are sitting in the refrigerator waiting to be consumed! The baker used a mild sourdough mix, so they have a slight tang. A most excellent idea! What are peeps? Yes, do get onto this batch of Easter yummy-ness. The cheeky pollie copped a caning in the media – I believe he overstepped his role.

    Ah, I see and you have the support of Inge in this matter. Although I might stick to the use of the slang in this particular instance.

    The poem is good, and yes don’t hassle the birds or hang out with folks who take it upon themselves to shoot the lucky Albatross. The mariners act did seem a bit graceless. But whatever was the mariner doing at a wedding? As far as I can understand things he had a lot of haunting of the Earth to do, but that did unfortunately involve harassing folks who would otherwise have little to nothing to do with Albatross. You make a solid point too, stinky dead Albatross’s hardly make for enticing ornamentation.

    Space wizards from another dimension sounds kind of cool, and it was sad to hear that it did not deliver the goods. Actually if they were from another dimension, how would we know? Our senses may be too puny to comprehend such creatures.

    Well that is the risk inherent with renting, sorry to say. I’ve had a few places where the lease either finished or the agent/landlord tooled around with us. One house they decided to sell it with us in it, and just expected us to keep the place up to scratch and have strangers walking through it. We got out of there. Only you know what the risk is there. What does Eleanor think about the possibility?

    I know someone who mentioned that they co-parent, and before I had the opportunity to ask what that meant, the opportunity was lost. Honestly, I have no idea, but remember such things aren’t exactly on my radar due to growing up in a single parent household for most of my youth – so what is normal anyway?

    Like your style with H. Yes, share the pain. 😉 H will deal just fine, although she may want a second walk, and a second feeding etc…

    Yeah, it’s all cool – you just have to have enough that you reach herd immunity, and if a person isn’t vaccinated well it’s all about risk at the end of the day.

    Did another six and half hours of digging today, and it’s looking good. The latest Moby rock now looks like an egg. It’s a big rock. It wasn’t hot here today, but far out it was humid and nearby there was another burn of forest, so there was a bit of smoke too.

    Went to the pub tonight and still able to sit outside. It’s getting darker earlier. It’s forecast to be 86’F tomorrow, so that will feel strange, especially given that earlier in the week it was cold enough to have to run the wood heater (under 60’F).



  26. Hi Inge,

    Thank you for the information. For this particular word, I believe I will continue to use the slang form when referring to myself. However, when referring to other people, I may just switch over to using the more formal use of the word. That usage sounds correct to my writing ear.



  27. Chris:

    Yesterday – as in the few days before – was a gorgeous day and I spent some time just sitting in the garden where it was 80F (26.7C), though not as hot up near the house. The back of the garden is our hot spot. There is a downside to this, though, as today is a “Red Flag Warning”, meaning high temps and high winds, and when about in the woods yesterday I was already thinking that myself as the whole place was a thick carpet of dry leaves.

    When young I wasn’t told that I could “do” anything I desired, I was told that I could “be” anything I desired. To me, this implied that all I had to do was wish and it would happen (we had servants for most of my youth). Thus, I was trained for nothing useful, and wasn’t smart enough to realize how hard life would be if my wishes didn’t just appear. I’ll have to admit the learning of skills has been a wonderful thing, but would have been easier early on.

    Thank you for asking about Mr. Musty. He is in fit and fighting shape, except that there still appears to be a mouse living in his cab (thought we had sealed all entrances in the engine). I hadn’t driven him in a long time, but did so Monday on my weekly trip into town as my son had driven the car I usually drive up to Long Island to visit a friend. All along the way I rather hoped that Mouse was having a long nap (she was). I guess we’ll have to get the Havahart trap out.

    Timber workers from here, eh? I always wondered the why of “Cherokee”.


  28. Hi Margaret,

    Of course, most people are generally very forgiving in those circumstances. But it is also equally possible that your brothers also may have intuited this knowledge, and possibly amused themselves by being a little bit cheeky.

    Never a dull moment indeed! They do say that the best guests know fully well to leave before three days are done. 🙂 I would also not have been happy about those circumstances either.

    Oh my! What a tough question. Well somebody here recommended the book, but as to whom it was. I’d suggest that there are some mysteries we might have to carry with us. It is a really fun read, so I believe that you’d enjoy the book.

    Groups are part discussion, part social, and this is how things should be and the ones I’m involved with are like that too, and I kind of really like that as I’m a bit of a chatty sort (you may have noticed 🙂 ). But it is good news that the books are actually getting read by some members of your club. I can’t quite be certain what is going on in other parts of the planet, but being in lock down does provide opportunities for book reading.

    Thanks for the comparison. Fascinating. There are sign in books here and QR codes on walls and signage with instructions. And the tables are actually further apart. When we went to the cinema a few weeks back, it was kind of nice to have a bit more space around us (a seat separated people and the seating was allocated).

    Far out, if the restrictions weren’t followed somebody would complain… I’d like to believe that it isn’t the case, but it is.

    How are your mates enjoying retirement from running the home?

    Any plans to start your spring seeds?



  29. @ DJSpo:

    We had a winter somewhat like yours, and with a wood fire in the open fireplace all winter and the dryness, and now the tree pollen is already out, I have had sinus/allergy troubles galore. I find that Stinging Nettle helps a lot, especially an extract. And the tea is very nice, too. I could tell you a commercial, but natural, preparation that I have used for 30 years if I am allowed to do so.


  30. Hi Chris I don’t know the units for measure of Social credit but you earned a bunch with the Tree Guys for the chain saw sharpening for certain!😁

    Your Reoccurring appearance of the Moby boulders in your path is maddening 😬I have recently viewed several episodes of similar rock busting . Similar in size and mostly hard Granite type. Pure mechanical to explosive. My favorite and most inappropriate in your setting of course. Some time ago Steve c suggested and I seconded expansive grout which you tried and failed at due too over wetting the product and frustrating your selves. I have recently watched a number of experts in mechanical methods. Wedge and feathers seem to work very well when lubricated. Powered W&F with matching tools work better even

    If you still have the neighbor with the young black smith you might get him to make you some tools out of recycled auto axle or other form of high carbon material which I’ve noted Is used on our television shows on metal forging completions .

    First though lather up you present breaking tools with plain ole gooey bearing grease and see if it makes a difference . If so buy a tube of food grade machine grease which is Greener.

    One video was about a professional, who cleans up a site of a basement construction ,probably 40 by 60 feet filled with huge Granite moby rocks shaped similar to yours . Much larger mostly. After they all uncovered and cleaned he maps them out and engineers his break strategy. He then marks, drills , loads , connects electrics and the covers everything with graded soil and rock for blast control. The blasting and clearing is the started and cleared out from one end to the other using a proper sized excavator . Broken rock debris was piled on the excavation sides then removed by dump truck.

    The recording was all done in time-lapse fashion which made it watchable and interesting. The main rabbit hole was Breaking large granite rocks. Then on into wedges and feathers or some such. One of the stars of this was nick named
    Demolition Dave. He gives lots of handy hints along with good explanations

    There maybe stuff that will be of help in your battle😊
    Cheers Al

  31. Wow Chris
    I just lost a fairly long comment that had a benign description of highly controlled blasting of rocks like yours. In a construction setting. It was an aside to the rest of the comment covering mechanical breaking. Humm seemed to take the comment then jumpe to Blog beginning and not moderation gone,

  32. Yo, Chris – I agree, chemicals are overdone. “Better Living Through Chemistry.” Ha! I stick with the basics. Soap, water, and white vinegar. Once in a great while, a drop or two of bleach or ammonia. Like a sensitivity to gluten, I’m sure chemical sensitivity is a real thing. But I think it’s over claimed. Aren’t I special? I’ve got a sensitivity. I’d like to see a doctor’s note, please. Your paper’s please? 🙂 .

    I saw an article headline that early in the pandemic, a lot of antibiotics were prescribed. Doctor’s should know better, so, I figure it was patient pressure. I hear stories, of such. Hmmm. I think placebos should be prescribed, more often. 🙂 . Had a friend once, who was quit proud that he pressured his doctor for antibiotics, for colds. Which, as all thinking persons know, are virus. He’s dead, now.

    And here I thought all the cageyness was just vanity 🙂 . But, I can see how your concerns are valid. A lot of places (my bank, etc.) used to be able to sign on with a user name and password. Now, they want a two step verification. Go somewhere else to get a code to crack open my account. I don’t know. Just seems like another point of access that a crim, could access. And, it’s a song and dance. Opening windows, closing windows, etc. etc.. At the same time, flashing all kinds of disclaimers, that they’re not responsible for, well, anything.


    Nothing I have any truck with. I think they’re supposed to evoke marshmallows. The only marshmallows I’m interested in (and, not much) involve a stick, and a fire. Maybe, some graham crackers.

    Well, the space wizards were pretty easy to spot, as their faces were these tentacle appendages, that sucked your brains out. No, they weren’t zombies.

    It’s the old “rental risk.” I’d say it’s pretty far down Eleanor’s list of worries, but then, the list is long. I’m sure rental problems are well below will the dog strangle to death on it’s collar, or will the dog get psychotic over the time change. 🙂 .

    Co-parenting, as currently defined, is shared responsibility for children. But, I think the definition is broadening. (Isn’t language wonderful?). I think it’s getting to a place where it’s any shared responsibility. When I mention to people that I’m co-parenting H, everyone seems to “get” it.

    Moby laid an egg, for Easter. That it were the same consistency as Peeps.

    I noticed yesterday, that the depressed looking Toohey bird has a friend! I hope if they build a nest in that rose, that the cats don’t find it. But then, the thorns are sharp. So much for pruning it back from the blueberry.

    I went to the library and picked up “Four Lost Cities.” Not a clue as to why the author (who prefers to be referred to as “they.” Whatever.) picked those four cities. Access? Interest? I know there are some areas of history, that I don’t care a fig for. Of course, the author bangs on a bit about laborers and slaves. O.K, O.K, we get it. Your “woke”. Good for you. Now let’s get back to digging in the dirt. There’s enough archaeology, to hold my interest.

    I also picked up a new series, “A History of Scotland.” BBC2. Presented by an archaeologist, Neil Oliver. Pretty good, but, disappointing, to me. He did go on a bit about the Romans, but didn’t mention Septimius Severus’s campaigns in Scotland. And he completely skipped 1100-1200, a period I was particularly interested in. I don’t know how much more of it I’ll watch. But, I thought you might be interested, given your heritage.

    Also on tap, is another book, “The Secret Life of Groceries.” How does all that stuff get on the shelves? Lew

  33. Chris,

    Thanks. Having been allergic to Mondays since I was a wee bairn, I figured that not working Mondays was entirely called for.

    Ah, the milestone birthdays. Understood. I started noticing the difference at the age 50 milestone. Pace had to decrease and recovery time needed to increase. Hehehe, yes I’m sure Napoleon’s army would’ve relished the weather you experienced during your celebration.

    I tend not to get into long descent discussions unless I know the other person(s) quite well already. I think you hit on it – the younger set and an air of resignation is a good summation. As to our human smartness? Absolutely, we today are no smarter than our ancestors from many millenia ago. Probably no dumber, either, maybe, but definitely no smarter.

    I noticed that you spent another marathon session digging out Inconvenient Rock. Seems that this was a good year for you to not have a blisteringly hot summer?

    I’ll plant the salvia seeds and then find out what their limits are. Some will be near the house, others not so much. Time will tell what happens to them.

    Okay, so you read something that was perfectly pertinent. That might downgrade you from the coveted and rare platinum star to a coveted and rare silver one. Fessing up is good for the soul, or so I’ve been told. 😉

    My friend and I sometimes called ourselves Jack and Joe Physics, as in:
    Jack and Joe walked up the hill without the force of friction. Jack fell down and slid back down: is this a contradiction?

    We never did sort out who was Jack and who was Joe. When his brother was around, the 3 of us called ourselves the Normal brothers, Ab, Sub and Para Normal. Who was which and what was who tended to be rather fluid.

    Hey, I promise that if I fall out of a tree or off the ladder and break my leg, I will NOT come running to you for assistance and/or sympathy. Too far to run from here, and I no longer remember how to run on water. 😉 I’ve stayed on the ground so far, as there is a lot of trimming and pruning to do near the ground. A lot more can be done on a shortish ladder that is very stable.

    I had to remove a lilac bush Wednesday. Sad. But it has had no leaves or flowers or shown any signs of life for a couple years. I could grab a branch and tug and that part of the bush would break off from the root with little effort on my part. Roots ball is rotting an decayed. I still have several other lilac bushes though.


  34. @Chris
    It looks like the comment got there ok. 🙂
    The last word in the black smith paragraph should be:competitions not completions.

  35. @ DJ – You win. Nice song and video. I remember it from way back when. Amazing what they can do with CG, these days. 🙂 . Lew

  36. Hi Pam,

    Lovely to hear that you are already enjoying some nice Spring weather, and for most of the week it wasn’t even that warm here. Have you ever thought about mowing up the dry leaves? When we get that sort of weather and there are a lot of dry leaves around, the mower chips them up into smaller pieces and then the soil critters can break them down into useful soil food that much quicker. When the summers here are hot, dry and windy, the dead leaves fall like snow flakes and collect on the ground and are a serious fire problem. Of course the Indigenous folks would have known this and waited for the right days and then burned small patches of land which wouldn’t have burned too hot unlike a wildfire. As everyone knows, wood ash is a great source of Calcium Carbonate and the lower temperature burns concentrates this useful plant mineral and puts it back in the top soil. Higher temperature burns produce a different compound of Calcium.

    Ah, of course and thank you for the correction. That story was told to me as well, although I’d forgotten the details. Could either you or I be advanced physicists? I don’t think so, and often the folks pushing that particular story weren’t doing so great themselves, despite their soothing words. Hmm. It is possible that the folks believed those stories, but at other times I had the distinct impression that it was some sort of unfulfilled wish thing on their part. Dunno really.

    Lucky you, although as you aver, such conditions do not endow a person with the ability to have basic life skills. I too have known both low and high estate, and candidly prefer the current conditions, which most would find to be appallingly hard work. And as to learning, I tend to believe that people have the desire or not, which you did. As you know, the skill has to come from within a person, it can’t be forced, but it can be nurtured. And occasionally circumstances can force that matter.

    Mr Musty’s mouse may require a special feed! Some rodents don’t get the message, and from time to time in certain circumstances we do have to call upon additional assistance. Although I respect your views in this matter.

    Yes, the timber workers arrived with the gold rush during the 1850’s and didn’t fare so well in that endeavour, although they discovered other varieties of gold in these mountains. And the mountain range is unfortunately located close to the train line running between the gold zones and the big smoke. There are now only a few trees which pre-date European settlement and they are something to see. The loggers ignored them because the trees had hollow cores.



  37. Hi Al,

    Yeah, the tree dudes and I have had the very occasional difference of opinion over many long years, but most relationships are like that, and nowadays I suspect they enjoy spending time up here! After they’ve finished working they sit in the shade and just enjoy the surrounds. They were up here earlier today working.

    Well, your words worked their way into the crawl spaces of my mind. Today has been a crazy busy from the moment I woke up, until I sat at the computer a little while back. Without boring you with all the details, I discovered something interesting yesterday with the jackhammer, and then today trialled a new technique for rock splitting. Oh my, what a difference the new technique has made.

    Yes, feathering works as the best and easiest technique for splitting hard granite. After about two hours of labour this afternoon, I split two large rocks into, still large, but more easily handled rocks which I can move in the power wheelbarrow. Success, and I’ll add some photos and explanations on the next blog, but basically it was a feathering technique which has, dare I say it, cracked the rock!

    Just to send you on an interweb rabbit hole which I know you’ll thoroughly enjoy, there is a bloke not too far from here, who puts up videos as to how he works with this sort of rock in various locations (it is his business after all): Demolition Dave Drilling and Blasting. I’ve learned heaps by simply watching how he goes about doing each job. There is one massive rock I might get him in to blast – maybe, I have to get budget permission from the editor for that job before it gets the OK…



  38. Hi DJ,

    Thank you for the language instruction and it is a useful word indeed. Way back in the day, outcomes were far less certain than people believe they are today, and that lesson has been lost.

    It was not vanity that urged me not to mention this event. I’m not by nature a vain person and give little thought to such matters. Years ago when I ran a graduate program a discussion was had with a young assistant accountant that his behaviour fell outside the goal posts of normality and he might want to reconsider his actions – which he didn’t. The advice was good though.

    Napoleon led his army on a fools errand. My gut feeling was that the bloke had one trick up his sleeve, and he discovered the upper limits of that trick. The stories of the retreat read like a horror story to me.

    Me too, and if people hold closely held beliefs as to progress, up, up, and away, well it is not for me to burst their happy thought place. There is little upside to doing so, and if it makes them happy, well it is not ours to burst. And many of the youth I speak with have incorporated the possibility of decline into their world view mostly because the dreams don’t deliver outcomes, and that kind of makes them more resilient when hard times arrive – as they have.

    There are a few more days of excavations to go. Probably about four days of digging, then the upper terrace needs excavating as well. If it means anything, I’m seriously enjoying the work and despite getting seriously exhausted, I love it. And today I cracked the rock so to speak and worked out the exact methodology with which to break the bonkers hard granite. Feeling pretty pleased with myself as a result!

    It seemed only appropriate to fess up, and that does not in any way diminish the lesson which you taught. My nature is a truth teller – as far as I understand that matter to be. Over the years I’ve encountered people who lie and eventually they become tangled in their knots of deceit – how could it be otherwise for them? No doubt, you too have encountered such folks over the years?

    Without friction, how did Jack climb up in the first place before then falling down? So many questions, so few answers! 🙂 In the past twelve months I reckon I’ve taken about three nasty falls, one of which I almost glasga-kissed a rock. After that incident, I’m now more sure of my footing before exerting myself. A nasty incident which I walked away from shaken but unscathed.

    Lilac is a beautiful shrub and a nearby botanical gardens grows them and the aroma is delightful. Yes, if the plant is dead with no sign of life – pull it out of the ground. Life is waiting to form there.



  39. Chris:

    I used to have my husband or son mow the leaves for me as I cannot start the push lawnmower that we have right now, but they have been too busy. That mower is tricky to start even without the cord that is so hard to pull. I did used to do the mowing when we had a mower I could run. What I would really like is a leaf shredder, but it hasn’t been in the budget yet.

    I have never figured out how such huge, old trees can still survive with hollow insides. We have a couple around here like that.


  40. Hi Lewis,

    Better living through chemistry is pretty funny! Alas, I get contact dermatitis nowadays from a single use of a particular so called plant based detergent which we’d used for years and years before I had to stop using the stuff. It really annoys me and hardly makes me feel special, so mention of the ‘safe’ film really struck a chord as to encounter such a barrage of health reactions would be horrific and possibly short lived. We now make our own soap and at least we know what is in it. And over the years we’ve begun ever so slowly backing away from that chemistry lab of stuff, one item at a time.

    Whilst I’m on an epic rant and whinge-plus-factor-seven (whatever that means) the required use of hand sanitiser is seriously drying. Oh well, it was a good whinge, and kind of cathartic.

    The antibiotic over use is a bit of a worry actually. I have no direct experience, but I have heard anecdotal reports that animals in feed lots are dosed up with antibiotics. It sounds farcical, and who knows what the veracity of the claims are, but if it is true, it is not good. And yes, I’ve heard such claims too. Years and years ago, a mates partner was boasting to me how she pressured a doctor into supplying antibiotics for their infant who was sick. They were in another country at the time too, in northern Europe, and the hatred for the medical profession was palpable in my mates partner. My gut feeling suggested that my mates partner was struggling bringing up an infant in a far distant country where she was possibly isolated and didn’t speak the language.

    No, not vanity. Far from it, my reasons are actually quite pragmatic as it is possible that some of the folks reading the blog are opportunistic people – best not feed the beast me thinks. The identufication theft occurred when a flat mate had gone through my stuff without my knowledge and stolen my identity. He was later caught speeding by the police at license losing speeds – and said he was me. That was a real devil of a legal problem to resolve, so lesson learned. As a result I’m now shy. 🙂

    Yeah, the two step authentication is a thing down here too, and many gobarmint agencies demand it, and so the requirement filters down to ever lower levels. Well if they provide the service, what are they responsible for? We may never get to the bottom of that question.

    Peeps almost gave me a fright! They’re all little bunnies and stuff but marshmallow and Easter themed. Well, I never knew. Chocolate Easter eggs and hot cross buns, yes, but not a peep to be seen.

    I had a crazy busy day and didn’t stop other than a few breaks to grab some food (possibly involving hot cross buns and a lemonade spider) and earlier in the day the editor headed into the city. With a couple of hours left to my own devices I did some stuff like picking up the replacement stump grinder. The tree dudes dropped by to do some work about the farm. And at lunchtime I grabbed the rock breaking tools and finessed (I like that word very much, well today that is) the technique for breaking the bonkers hard granite rocks here. I’d been watching utoob videos as to how a local bloke went about the job of doing just that for a living, and then applied some of the techniques. Success! Although his hydraulic drill obviously is a lot more powerful than my little electric solar powered machine. But still. Spent a couple of hours doing some good work, and then felt pretty pleased with myself – if I do say so. And created another five large – yet moveable – rocks for the low gradient ramp project.

    The thing is, now that techniques and use of technology have improved, we might be able to defeat Peak Rocks for a little while. It’s exciting! Opportunities for future projects suggest themselves.

    But yeah, I agree with you, and marshmallows are things you can put on a stick and roast in a fire. They’re good too! Yum!

    Out of sheer curiosity, did the film go into the details as to why space wizards would want to suck brains out? When I was a kid we used to play this game where you’d find some unsuspecting person and put your hand on their head and say either ‘brain sucker starving’ or ‘brain sucker feasting’. Of course mileage would vary as to the outcome and often you found yourself at the wrong end of that joke, but then kids can be cruel.

    Ah, thank you for the clarification as to Eleanor’s immediate worries. As a side story, I’ve heard parents telling me in all seriousness that they were very worried that someone would kidnap their kids. Apparently it is a real fear. I’d like to reply by suggesting: ‘I’ve met them. Why would anyone want to do that?’ But then the whole conversation has one person being serious and another being flippant, and this is not a good mix and people get upset without seeing the amusing side. Most risk to kids comes from people known to the kids, but the media loves to play up the odd occasion when this is not the case – and it strikes fear deep into peoples hearts, so it is a real fear I guess.

    Anyway, let’s just hope that H doesn’t become psychotic. Dame Scritchy had dementia in her final few months and she went from lovely to downright horrid – as I’ve heard that some folks do. No doubts you’ve encountered some over the years?

    And yup, language is a wonderful thing. And I enjoyed your joke, and I wondered if others got it?

    Moby is clearly a bad egg! Too true indeed. Mate, I’ve done something seriously bad in a past life to have to deal with such dense and hard granite. Is obdurate the correct word here?

    Possibly the Toohey bird has other plans for the rose which don’t involve you getting a blueberry crop from that particular plant?

    Is it technically the job of the historian to bring attention to themselves? Monty Python had a skit about such things in The Life of Brian, so perhaps everything old is new again, or it is a sign of decline such as the Roman’s once experienced? Stan Wants To Have Babies. Good to hear that there is enough archaeology to keep you interested.

    Thanks for the tip, but that history is all in the past and my roots are here, for good or ill. They might not actually know that much about that particular era, or the history was destroyed at a later date. I know my lot claim they have a Fairy Flag which sounds eerie. I didn’t believe that the Roman’s had that much success in the north – or that the costs of the campaigns far exceeded the benefits?

    Good luck with that book. Do you really want to know? 🙂 Although you may recall that my earlier background was in manufacturing so I’m interested in how stuff goes from raw materials to finished goods. People tend to believe that it began life as a finished product. Au contraire!



  41. Hello Chris
    Husband was and Son is allergic to biological washing powders, both got eczma (can’t spell it) when clothes or bedding were washed in the stuff.
    Son failed to put one of his chickens away the other night. It emerged unscathed the next morning. Ren promptly caught and killed it. He then ran off and returned in a few seconds without it. Son laughingly said that Ren must have a vixen girlfriend.
    Huge storm the night before last 84mph winds. I heard a dull thud which means that a large tree must have come down but it wasn’t close.
    We have finally managed to get hold of compost.
    Elder daughter went to post office to send me a parcel for my upcoming birthday. She was given a card and told that she had to go home and go online. She declined, not very politely I think, and it was posted at the post office. The woman there said that she was dreading Christmas. Has this become the new norm everywhere in Australia for parcel posting?


  42. @ Lew: I can tell you why the author of Four Lost Cities picked two of those cities by reading only the title. The first city in the title is the earliest urban center for which we currently have any archeological evidence. The fourth, Cahokia, is a 20 minute drive from my house and features the largest mound, Monks Mound, built by the mound cultures of North America. At its height, around 1000-1200 AD, it had a higher population than any urban area in Europe. It makes for an interesting story, including indications of human sacrifice. I’ve been there a few times and walked up Monks Mound. A good book on Cahokia, by one of the archeologists who has worked there for years, is Cahokia: Ancient America’s Great City on the Mississippi, by Timothy R. Pauketat.


  43. Yo, Chris – Well, a chemical company used that motto, from 1935-82. In 1999, they switched to “The Miracles of Science.” Hmmm. Wonder what they did in the mean-time? Maybe they hit peak mottos, for awhile? Any-who, when I was a wee small lad, that motto was tacked onto a lot of TV advertising and magazine print ads. Of course,the Hippies picked it up in the 60’s, and gave it a whole new twist 🙂 .

    Dermatitis – Well, as one ages, the skin thins … 🙂

    I looked around the grocery, for hot cross buns, last night. No joy. Might be a bit early. We have to get past St. Pat’s Day, first. Just out of curiosity, I checked some of my older cookbooks for HCB recipes. I had to explore a bit as to what form citron took, in the recipes. Candied, I think. Some of the recipes also called for a bit of mashed potatoes …

    I’m glad you finally figured out the best way to tackle the rocks. The right tools (and techniques) for the job.

    Oh, I think the Space Wizards just did the brain sucking, to keep the humans in fear and trembling. Some dehydration may also have been involved. The Space Wizards also kidnapped kids. Though for what purpose, was not made clear.

    Well, keeping people stirred up about a random kidnapper on every corner does make a lot of money, for a lot of people. It’s a growth industry. Ought to go public, and put it on the Big Board. There’s been a few articles lately, about sweeps to “liberate” trafficked kids. I think, out of 60 recovered, there was one who was actually “trafficked.” The rest had either run off on their own (maybe they had good reason), or, were pawns in messy custody battles.

    But, your right. Who’d want the bother. In case of alien invasion, or zombie hoards, all they do is not follow instructions, do a lot of pointless wailing, and endanger everyone around them. Which brings us to Today’s Rabbit Hole …

    You don’t hear too much about O. Henry, these days. Though they still give an annual award, and issue a yearly collection, of short stories. Back when I was a wee small lad (again) in the 1950s, there were a lot of half hour or hour dramatic series, on TV. A lot of theatrical types (James Dean, etc.) got their start on those series. But, they needed material. O. Henry, was heavily mined.

    Is “obdurate” the right word? Got me. Is your Net, down? If so, there’s always the dictionary 🙂 .

    The Toohey bird and his lady friend have disappeared. Maybe she didn’t like the digs and wanted to upgrade? If so, maybe I can get a good whack at the rose bush. Ouch, ouch, ouch. I worked in the garden for a few hours, yesterday, and I’m feeling it. Even though a stretch and exercise, daily. And, walk a lot. Using different muscles, I suppose. Or, as one ages, muscles atrophy. 🙂 .

    Monty Python. So politically incorrect. I’m amazed they haven’t been canceled, yet. Well, the list is long, and I’m sure the Woke Brigade just hasn’t gotten around to them yet.

    Well, I’ve got a book, “Septimius Severus in Scotland.” And with the drought in Britain, and Lidar radar, they’re discovering many forts and marching camps, north of the Wall. Some occupied for a long time, even after there was a general pull back, to the Wall. As far as the period 1100-1200, there was a long civil war in England (Matilda and Stephen) , and King David of Scotland was involved. I’m interested because one of my favorite historical figures (who knows why) is St. Aelred of Rievaulx, who spent a lot of time at King David’s court, before leaving the high life, and running off to be a Cistercian abbot. He was also quit the diplomat, and spent a lot of time running interference between all parties involved. So, leaving all this out of “A History of Scotland”, seems … neglectful. Lew

  44. @ Pam,

    Stinging nettle? I’ll see if I can find some tea locally. However, if you could drop the name of the product you use into an email to my yahoo dot com account, I’d appreciate it. thordog42 would appreciate it, too. 😉


  45. Chris,

    Agreed on Napoleon. He knew how to do one thing and he could do it very well. The Russian tactics were superb, allowing winter to take over. Harsh way for his men to discover the limits of Napoleon’s ability.

    Bursting someone’s bubble doesn’t do any good, does it? They get angry with you, and they don’t change their perspective. So, why waste the breath and effort?

    Good on you for “cracking the rock”! Now that you have a better strategy, future Moby Rocks beware! That should make things easier on you, too.

    Like you, I don’t mind digging. I find that digging, properly done, is a very good full body workout while also allowing me to process events and enjoy being outdoors. I dug some leaves into the vegetable area Thursday while enjoying interacting with some ravens. Need to finish digging on Saturday. These are the leaves that normally would’ve been dug into that area in November if the ground hadn’t frozen too early. I’ll do the spring round of digging in leaves in about 6 weeks.

    Yup, I’ve encountered a lot of folks who’ve built their lives around lies. They’re unpleasant to be around. I’ve got several relatives who are like that, those being the relatives that I will not interact with.

    “Without friction, how did Jack climb up in the first place before then falling down?” That, of course, is the entire point of the poem. Those natural forces like friction and gravity have a way of slapping us around when we’re not careful. When in the 3rd grade, one of my classmates seemed not to understand that gravity existed. We’d be on the playground playing basketball. He would wait for the ball to come through the hoop while he was standing directly under the hoop with his back to those shooting. Naturally, he got hit on the head with the basketball after every made shot. And several missed shots. And a few, ummm, well, direct hits, shall we say? He eventually figured it out.

    I’ve got some succulents in the area of the now removed lilac. My guess is that it won’t take them long to spread into that spot.

    This weekend is the weekend in which we lose an hour. The curse of Daylight Savings.


  46. Hi Pam,

    Ah, yes your engine troubles sound much like my only fossil fuelled, albeit quality brand chainsaw troubles. Him hard to start, and makes me want to grab the electric chainsaw (also a quality brand) instead. Nuff said. Fuel is not what it once was, and stabilisers you must seek out as additives. Said in best Yoda voice. 😉 Fuels these days, rapidly goes off – whatever that means.

    After years of mucking around with this technology I have a distinct preference for Honda powered small machines. Those engines just keep on going. Leaf shredders are pretty handy bits of kit too and dunno whether you remember, but a few years back I picked up a second hand locally made electric unit with a 2.5 horsepower electric motor for about $50. The machine is not much to look at, and I had to make some modifications to it to make it work properly, but it’s good.

    Respect, those huge old trees are irreplaceable and they’re also true survivors. After years of observing the local forest, I can sort of pick which trees are going to grow old and prosper. No doubt, you can see that too?

    A week or two back there was an article about the disappearing Snow Gum. Spare a thought for these ultra tough Eucalyptus tree species as they alone survive above the snow line. On the very highest and most exposed aspects of this small mountain range they grow. Anyway, the trees are now under insect threat: The sudden death of the snow gums. Most folks nowadays see those higher altitude (although nothing like as high as your country) parts of the country as wilderness areas that don’t have to be maintained and will just somehow sort itself magically out, but I very much doubt that this the case historically. I suspect that over the long term the trees will be just fine.



  47. Hi Inge,

    That’s not much good to hear, and I empathise with their plight. Fortunately there are plenty of alternatives that work much the same and probably aren’t a bad idea to implement. The main problem with contact dermatitis is that once you have a reaction, that’s that, and that is how things will be going forward as far as I understand the matter. The reaction is your immune system reacting to the chemical – from what I’ve read, but I’m no expert. What do you do?

    Naughty Ren, but your son makes a fine point. The chicken carcass didn’t disappear, and such an opportunity would not be ignored by the many critters and birds in your forest. It is a rare day now that I let the chickens free-roam in the orchard, although the downside is that I now have to take the greens and additional meat products to them, whilst keeping their run super-clean. It’s a compromise but like your sons dogs, most of the dogs I’ve known seem entranced by the thought of chasing and eating chicken. There must be something in the water?

    Did you discover where the large tree fell?

    Well done with the compost score. 🙂 It is a distinct possibility that such compost will be less available as time goes on – and I’d point to the price of Diesel fuel as an indicator. Each week I’m now adding about a mix of about 66 pounds worth of garden lime, dolomite and blood and bone to the hefty quantity of coffee grounds. It all gets mixed up in a wheelbarrow, and after a day or two, you wouldn’t know that anything was even added to the soil surface. The soil life is hungry. It will be interesting to observe how this plays out over the next year or two. And apparently, the additions might not be able to be stopped, although I have a plan B if necessary.

    No, your elder daughters experience was very different to my experience with the local post office. The folks there have been nothing but cordial and getting on with their jobs and business for the past crazy year and I have nothing but respect for them. The local post office is a bit of a hub for the mountain range.

    Now the local bank, I had a similar experience to your elder daughters. To put it mildly I was annoyed, but calmly and assertively ignored them and went about my business. It appeared to be the actions of one person working at the branch and the other employees seemed fine and relaxed. Candidly it was a strange experience, but then the past twelve months have been strange.

    After a warm overnight, it rained quite a lot here today and outside it is only 50’F.



  48. Hi DJ,

    What a rabbit hole you sent me upon. Let’s face it, Napoleon was candidly something of a problem. In this matter, and after much reading I defer to the dead military genius, Carl von Clausewitz, who wrote: “huge mistakes, sheer recklessness, and, above all, overreaching ambition that exceeded all realistic possibilities, were the true causes (of Napoleon’s eventual defeat)”. Sums the situation up quite succinctly don’t you reckon?

    Exactly, why burden yourself with people’s anger, when you can just get on and prove them wrong by living a good life. 🙂

    I hope so with the recent refinements and improvements with the rock cracking technique. Peak Rocks is of course all too real, and there are current and future projects which require rocks both large and small. But to gain access to rocks which were previously considered items of the most dreaded unobtainium material, well it’s a good thing. There are ancient flows of granite which are just asking to be utilised.

    The work is like meditation, and it is the same for me where I just get into the zone and get on with the job and just-are in the world going on all around you. Of course, the other day of digging went on for about an hour longer than I’d ordinarily dig so I was a bit done by the end, but oh well. Ravens are smart birds, and their cousins the Magpies keep an eye out when I’m digging and they score plenty of tasty grubs. Good stuff with getting the leaves into the vegetable bed soil.

    Yeah, I hear you and likewise keep such folks at arms-length. It is not for you or I to correct their thinking. However, when common sense is lacking, one must sometime point people in other directions which don’t involve their heads getting bopped by basketballs. Always gentle redirection though, and sow the seed of an idea which they’ll eventually believe is their own idea. Example: “Hey, watch out for the basketball!” Note no instruction was provided as to where to go, that’s up to them to decide if they wish to continue pain free incidents on court. 😉

    Spring forward, Fall back. Good luck and I always feel mildly jet lagged when the Spring change over takes place.



  49. Hi Lewis,

    Respect to the hippies, although candidly the ones I’ve encountered tend to be a bit of a mixed bag. And there is always the eternal question as to whether the hippies are winning? It is possible that they are winning although I’m unsure. However, the conversion of the motto for the hippies own usage is pretty funny.

    Peak motto? You might be onto something. If all the regular daily offers of kind assistance to promote the blog website is anything to go by, I do’ no’ nuffin’ anywhoo about marketing. Or maybe their marketing just isn’t all that good and I ain’t buying?

    The problem with science as far as I understand it is that the word no longer describes a set of tools with which people use to solve problems. It’s become something far greater than that, and once things become too exclusive, well let’s just ask the hard questions: how’s poetry going these days?

    I linked an article in my reply to Pam regarding the demise of the Snow Gum trees up in the alpine areas of the continent. There are lots of concerned looking people in the article, but has anyone thought to go and ask the Indigenous folks their opinion and how those high alpine areas should be managed – and then try it out? Probably not, because they might not be in the right clique, and therein lies part of the problem with science.

    The other day I heard a scientist, whom I quite respect by the way, suggest that the only way out of the climate change dilemma was to continue pushing for collective action. Well, he’s wrong, because to pursue actions which have been tried repeatedly for many decades, whilst all the while, pollution continues to increase, might possibly lead to failure. At this stage, to do something else is not a bad option. But on the other hand maybe the persons perspective is a tacit acknowledgement on the part of that person that he can’t or won’t lead by example. And maybe the hippies are right? 🙂

    Really? Well I didn’t know that about skin getting thinner as a person ages. Thanks for the tip. Hey, if the dermatitis ever gets bad the only thing that has repaired it is steroid cream and that is a worry that stuff. Best to manage the reaction in the first place, and if that means making proper old school soap, so be it.

    What? No hot cross buns? You are lucking out there. Nabbed another four today – two of which were halved, then toasted before having butter applied upon them late this afternoon. Yum! And there were some scones, raspberry jam and cream earlier this morning. Lewis, I had to, you have to understand! There was an open garden not too far away which we visited and they have a restaurant which serves morning tea for an hour before the place is cleaned up for the lunch sitting. Their garden is looking very beautiful too, it is a real credit to them. Anyway, I guess the thing to take away from the discussion is that if ever I stop the continual physical hard work and rabbit like food when at home, I might have to give up such nice treats. 🙂 But then that is an aspirational goal only and I might not!

    Waiting until St Pat’s day (respect to St Pat) before selling Hot Cross Buns seems sort of mean spirited. Down here they usually turn up about a month before Easter, but I have it on good authority that a major supermarket chain begins selling them from new years onwards (although I have not confirmed this). Mate, don’t talk about the potatoes! 🙂 I doubt very much that the result would be good, but yeah why not give it a go, but you go first. Hehe!

    Thanks, it was a real relief to crack the rock code, and it really did come together when I went through all of the various jackhammer bits we had to hand. Having the knowledge is not enough. Having the tools is not enough. Having the techniques is not enough. You need all three, and then the willpower to give it a go.

    Well, if the Space Wizards do have to suck brains, I just hope they do it elsewhere and are quiet about their awful habits. 🙂

    I can see how that came to be with the kids. Remembering back from my own broken home days, hmm, there wasn’t a messy custody battle from memory, although it was the 70’s and a very unusual family outcome. But one thing I notice they do with kids nowadays during divorces, is that they shuttle the kids backwards and forwards between either parents houses – continually. Just from my experiences of moving around a lot as a kid, I believe that the shuttling would be a destabilising experience for the kids. Yeah, so not a fan, but have like zero involvement in such matters, unless you’ve heard anything to the contrary? 🙂 Primarily at one or the other house and maybe something different over the holidays if yet another family isn’t involved is OK. That is just a personal feeling thing based on my own experiences which honestly weren’t traumatic as the parents could have their ongoing dramas, and I could just ignore it as best as can be and get on with my life without continual disruptions to routines.

    Thank you very much for the story of The Ransom of Red Chief! I almost spat my breakfast all over the keyboard because the story provoked a good chuckle.

    O. Henry is a very interesting author. And I’m really impressed at some authors work ethic and ability to churn out the written word, and make it interesting. And also where inspiration arises, although perspiration is needed far more. I might see if he has a collection of short stories? Can you recommend any? He was a character alright, and um yeah, keep your checkbook away from him. He did his time though and lived a bit rough, but kept the work flowing.

    Now don’t be obdurate… 😉

    Hey, I spotted this article which I thought you might enjoy – and it is in working condition and set to head off on journeys. Historic ‘Locomotive 3801’ makes comeback in Sydney after being out of sight for a decade. Very civilised and used until only very recently. I’ll bet the work crew learned some interesting skills in the rebuild.

    Well that can happen with a lady bird, and you may note that the digs here keep on diggin’. Mate, stretching and walking are as good as it gets, but you are only now coming out of winter, so it takes a while to build up to such work.

    I noted that the beloved author Dr Seuss was in cross hairs. Bizarrely enough it has done wonders for the second hand book market for the author, and if it gets people reading, well this a good thing. Monty Python, so naughty – even the name was a dead giveaway as to the level of cheeky. I really loved the Life of Brian film, and maybe saw it really early on – lots of fun. Brian’s Latin language lesson still makes me giggle.

    I noticed some articles from the UK back when they were in drought where ancient sites were becoming visible from the air. And ground radar is an amazing technology.

    Aelred of Rievaulx is a very interesting Saint and historian. You’d imagine that his historical writings of the time, including upon the matter of King David, and his intimate knowledge of the court, would sort of be appropriate source material?



  50. @Pam

    We have lots of stinging nettle on our property. It’s almost a stinging nettle plantation. I use it for tea and a cooked green though we do have way too much. We’ve found we can control it though by mowing so at least it’s not spreading anymore. I didn’t know it was good for allergies so will keep that in mind. Fortunately we aren’t plagued by such allergies but then they could always pop up.


  51. Hi Chris et al,
    Wanted to mention that I make calendula cream and have found along with others it helps with almost any skin condition. While it doesn’t cure psoriasis or ezcema it does keep in check with regular application. I soak the flowers in olive oil for about a month strain and add some shaved beeswax – that’s it.


  52. Hi Chris,

    I’m having a hard time buying the Peak Rock story when all you have to do is dig a site for a shed or terrace and there they are. It’s as if you called them into being by commencing to dig. 😉 At least now that you’ve cracked the rock cracking code you need no longer dread the appearance of Moby (body) rocks.

    I wish to report a success I experienced this week. Last autumn my Very Large cellphone service provider texted my phone with the unwelcome message that it was ending 3G service this coming autumn, rendering said 3G phone inoperable. Naturally I directed some well-chosen words that I cannot repeat in this family-friendly blog in the direction of said service provider. Then I waited, because I was busy with other things, and because extra restrictions were put on us in mid-November by the county gubbermint. The restrictions are now being eased, though still present. Meanwhile I finished some other projects and it rained on Thursday, so I couldn’t work outside. It was time to woman up and accept my fate, so I took myself to one of Very Large provider’s stores where I have received good service in the past. I had thought I would be stuck with a smartphone this time, but no! As I rejected the expensive smartphones, the wise salesperson took me to the one 4G flip phone they carry! And it accepts my current cheap flat rate plan! And the salesperson set up the phone for me! When it turned out that the provider has changed cards so he couldn’t put the card from the old phone into the new phone, he also set up the phones so I could export all the contacts and the photos I wanted to keep from the old phone to the new phone, and showed me how to do the export and import process! The only sad thing about the experience is how surprised I was to receive such excellent service. But I am very pleased I received it.


  53. @ Claire – I remembered that you lived close to Cahokia. I just happened to be reading that section, last night. The author of”Four Lost Cities,” interviewed Pamketat. Lew

  54. @ DJ – I’m sure you remember the cultural blip, where a great number of people wanted to run off to Key West, and lay on the beach. Thank you Jimmy Buffett. Year’s ago, I knew someone (Rabbit. Oldest living hippie in the world), who would hitchhike down to Key West, every fall, and hitchhike back, every spring. A migratory hippie? He bar tended, worked sports fishing boats … and lay on the beach.

    Ah, Napoleon’s retreat from Russia. Seems like every few months, on the archaeology news feeds, there’s an article about finding another pit of bodies, in central or eastern Europe, from that retreat. They can tell by the buttons. It happens so often, it’s all rather ho-hum. SSDD. 🙂 Lew

  55. Hello Chris
    The winds are still too strong for anyone to take the risk of hunting the fallen tree. No doubt Son will come across it sometime.


  56. Yo, Chris – We had another light frost, last night. Interesting. The temperature went from just under -0-C to 46F (7.77C), in three hours. The rain is coming back, tonight, so it will get warmer. I don’t know if you noticed it, but on 3/7 Prof. Mass did a nice article on our founding fathers (Jefferson, Franklin, et all) and their observations of the weather. Due to a confusion in the shipping schedules (my bad), it’s us who should be shipping an hour back to you. I’ll pack it up and hustle it down to the docks. 🙂 .

    Science and anti-intellectualism. Something that I’ve become interested in (as one does), as of late. I’ve seen references, to a new book, “A People’s History of the Classics.” I’ve requested it through Inter Library Loan. As near as I can figure, it explores 19th and early 20th century interest in learning, by working men and day laborers. Working men’s clubs often had extensive libraries, and encouraged their members to explore … and maybe “better” themselves. Down the rabbit hole, I’m also looking at things like the concept of “low-brow, middle-brow and high-brow.” There was quit a bit of kicking those ideas around, in the mid-20th century. I’m guessing that “culture” got so arcane, that people with a reasonable amount of intelligence, couldn’t access it anymore. I’ll see.

    I read the article about your Snow Gums. I’ll see your Snow Gums and raise you …

    What I wonder is, what will replace your trees, and ours? Ecological niches, don’t stay empty for very long (in a geological sense.) Something else may move in and flourish.

    My friend Scott is having a terrible time, right now. Shingles, in his eyes. He’s taking oral steroids and using eye drops.

    Oh, I’m sure any hot cross buns I can find around here, will be rather gooey, and underdone. Probably, a bit disappointing. But, I must remember to check the baking section at the grocery, and see if they carry citron.

    Dealing with rocks. Cheap, fast or good. Pick two. 🙂

    Oh, the Space Wizards performed their brain sucking in front of the populace. Just to keep everyone in line.

    Kid’s shuttling around gives them massive opportunities to play one parent off, against the other. They’re not dumb … in a feral sort of way.

    Gee, I don’t know which collection of short stories by O. Henry, to recommend. He wrote so much and there are so many collections. There’s a 10 volume “Works”. And, a one volume “Complete Works.” Wonder how they did that? The single volume is 1,692 pages, and weighs over 3 pounds. See also: Damon Runyon. 🙂 .

    I liked the article on the train. Yup. Art Deco. Even has speed lines. And, I like the option of private compartments. We have this …

    And there’s one that goes up around Mt. Rainier.

    They’re even arguing about Dr. Seuss on the floor of our Senate. Cooler heads have pointed out that perhaps there are more pressing matters, at hand?

    Well, I got my first vaccine, last night. Per usual, it was chaotic, noisy and disorganized. Took four times longer, than it should have. Comforting to know they’re keeping up standards. And, as there were only ten of us, they really had to work to muck things up. I don’t wear short sleeve shirts, but I have an understated gray plaid, that I keep for just such occasions. Couldn’t find it. Now, I only keep shirts in two places (winter / summer), but it was no place to be found. Not even behind my nonexistent couch. So, my only other option was a quit loud Hawaiian shirt (blue! with genuine bamboo buttons!). I opted for the black face mask, that I keep for special occasions. I quietly sat in a corner and read. Everyone left me alone.

    Most of us had not seen the inside of the community room, in over a year. The once beating heart of the Institution, is now a burnt out husk of it’s former self (now, that’s hyperbole!) used mostly for storage.

    The actual injection didn’t hurt, at all, but the arms a bit sore, today. Otherwise, nothing to report. Lew

  57. @Chris

    It’s good to see that you got on the right path to find the process and tools for the of cracking the giant granite Mobys😊

    I have watched several of Demolition Dave’s excellent individual u toobs in the past. Your link put me on the main site where all of his skill and knowledge videos are brought together. Surprise ! Right in your back yard in Melbourne at that.

    One video that really demonstrates his limited force techniques is the one where his apprentice young daughter is drilling and preparing the charge holes with Dad Dave setting and wiring and directing the blast dampening soil and rock installation. Then pushing the actuator to blast. That really shows skills he and his people posses☺️ I have not previously seen that level of effectiveness in blast limit and safety. I have seen a few episodes by others that turned really bad. My involvement was only in the aftermath. No deaths or injury. Just property damage😅. To quote I believe it was Margaret: “Not my Clown! Not my Circus”😃

    One new thought. You might find out from Dave about cost of Ground Pentrating Radar survey of future Fernglade proposed project sites to identify lurking subterranean menaces. Mr Damo may be of help as GPR is in the skill set of professional land surveyors though a specialty.🙂

    Cheers Al

  58. Hi Inge,

    A wise course of action. The tree is down and hopefully it has nowhere further left to fall, so it will still be there when the weather calms. I tend to avoid being under the large trees here when the wind blows – as it occasionally does.



  59. Hi Lewis,

    Oh my goodness, I’ve started writing far later this evening that usual, so I better get a wriggle on. 🙂

    Thanks for mentioning the good Professors essay and I’ll check it out over the next day or so. Way back in the day, a person had to be able to read the weather. It’s a bit like the old saying of knowing ones onions – onions being a typically fickle crop with varieties developed for particular latitudes.

    It is possible that the barriers to entry and bonkers specialisation that go on nowadays were not a thing in the past and the area of knowledge was a bit more inclusive. The literature was probably pitched at a wider audience, and so it gained a wider audience. Mate, I’ve known a few people over the years whom have earned a PhD, and not one of them could explain, or were even willing to explain what their thesis was about. That reluctance was very telling.

    And it is also possible that flights into abstractions with everyday education doesn’t really help that cause either. When education was a touch rarer it had a higher perceived value – thus the mechanics institutes which were a thing down here too. You can still see some of the small buildings in rural townships. What does the word ‘culture’ even mean nowadays?

    Ooo, thanks for the bark beetle report from your part of the world. Ah, same, same, but different. Of note to me was the sentence regarding “have left forests unnaturally dense and uniform”. Dense forests also mean that the trees growing there have limited access to water and minerals when seasons are good, and when they’re not good, it’s a disaster. The trees are continually stressed regardless of whether it’s a good or bad season. No wonder the beetles are running amok. Something will come along to eat them sooner or later. With the snow gums I noticed that the ground cover plants seemed to be dominating the areas where the trees grew, but nobody asked my opinion. The whole mess is essentially self correcting, but what a lot of pain until we get there.

    Well yeah, something will turn up and grow. Eucalyptus trees have the knack of utterly adapting to new conditions within three generations, and to have developed such a response to the environment kind of tells you how dynamic the environment is.

    Oh my! Best wishes to Scott for a speedy recovery and that he his taking the risk seriously.

    Like your engineering analogy with the rocks. I’m sticking with good and slow and will be writing more about rocks this evening.

    Absolutely, kids are whip smart and observant, so that hardly surprises me. I distinctly remember being a young kid and thinking to myself that when I’m older I won’t be talking to kids the way adults were talking to me at the time. The problem with the adults is that they recall having to wipe poop from your bottom as an infant, and they don’t wish to lose power and control, so they treat kids like idiots. Of course being an idiot is also part of being a kid. But there is middle ground between the two points.

    Thanks for the book referral. The editor still reminds me of the time when the book of the month was the leather bound complete stories of Conan the Barbarian. You could kill someone with the heft that the book brought. Conan would be pleased, but the editor refused to put it in her bag. Oh well…

    Damon Runyon was also a character! What a writer. 🙂 Thanks for mentioning him.

    The steam train looks like fun, and I note there is a St Pat’s ride. Used to live near to an Irish pub (The Dan O’Connell Hotel) and was raucously drunk there one St Pat’s day whilst drinking green beer and listening to a U2 cover band. Had a blast, and was able to walk home without incident.

    Your politicians are avoiding work by talking about such matters. What are you paying them to do? If people had half a brain they’d bring them to account, because after all they are paid to serve the public, not their own ideological agenda’s.

    Good stuff and I respect the blue Hawaiian shirt. 🙂 Did you check that the plaid shirt hadn’t fallen behind the desk? I’d have to suggest that the Elder folks took it thus forcing your hand with the cheerful and notably less sombre, Hawaiian shirt.

    Mate, I have my nose deep into a book whenever a wait time is called for. Life is precious and the moments are few, and the books are many. 🙂 As an anecdotal observation, since I’ve been studiously reading whilst enjoying a coffee and fruit toast (or hot cross bun at this time of the year) at the local general store, others have taken note and are likewise burying their noses in a good book.

    Good to hear that you haven’t turned into an Alien after the shot. That would be a bad thing especially if in your Alien form you decided to come for me. I never said who this would be a bad thing for either, you might just have to chance it. Hehe!

    Shoot! I really better get writing.



  60. Hi Margaret, Claire and Al,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, but earlier this evening I sat in a hot bath tub and looked out the window into the far distance and fell into a torpor. Yes, I am slack and the hour is now late and far out, I seriously better get writing. Ook!



  61. Yo, Chris – I’ve read a few places, that warmer winters, which prevented winter die off, gave the bark beetle a leg up.

    Well, I checked my bank account, last night, and my pile of filthy lucre from the government is to be released, to me, on Wednesday. Why they have to hold a government check, for three days, is a mystery. Or, maybe not. All that nice interest …

    Most of it is going in savings. But … a couple of years ago, I got a shingles shot. Which was covered by my Medicare, insurance. Then they came out with a new two shot, which is more effective. But, I discovered that Medicare doesn’t cover the more effective shot. Even at the cheap chemists, it’s $200. But after Scott’s go-around, I think I’ll spring for it. After we get past the current unpleasantness.

    I await this weeks rock report, with bated breath. 🙂 . Of course, you could have just run in all those extra crim rock breakers, from “O Brother, Where Art Thou.” 🙂 Care, feeding and oversight, might be a bit much. Reminds me of tales of building your Great Ocean Road. Actually, I’m curious about your new rock breaking technique.

    Laraine Newman (one of the original cast of Saturday Night Live) has come out with a new bio. Her mother always used to tell her kids that they could do anything (which we knew was a lie) … except entertainment. 🙂 . The exception that proves the rule? She’s been quit successful.

    I was tempted to pick up some corn beef and cabbage, for St. Pat’s Day. But my cooler head (I’ve got two, now. They constantly argue) prevailed. I reminded myself that I’ve already got meat in the freezer, most of which I probably won’t eat, anyway.

    Well, apparently half our population desires politicians with ideological agendas. Either half. Pick one. There’s this in from Idaho.

    Australia figures in.

    Well, so much for 14 million in educational funds. Maybe they can make it up by selling Mari-hoochie, or something. I had to tweak my Idaho friends about it, a bit.

    Arm is very sore, today. Had another go-around with Eleanor about the time change. It wasn’t until I actually changed my clock that I realized that I was taking H out, an hour earlier. No, she didn’t have to wait an extra hour, crossing her little legs. There’s lots of loose talk around, that they’re finally going to get around to just keeping on Daylight Savings Time, and stop all this ping pong nonsense. Maybe I should write my Congress critter? Lew

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