Get me out

My dad left the family home when I was about two, or maybe three years old. I don’t really know the details, but from time to time there are hints and flashes of memories where he appeared to be a grumpy sort of bloke. After he left, birthdays were accompanied by a card in the mail, with a five dollar note. The card didn’t say much, but the five bucks of mad cash, well that sure was something in those days. Lollies at the local milk bar could be had for a quarter cent in the Seventies, and all the while the background music blaring away in the shop was of rock bands such as The Bee Gees, ELO, and not to mention the local mega band Skyhooks. Those bands ruled the airwaves, whilst I’m guessing they made mega bucks.

My mother ended up as a single mother, and I was the kid of a single mother. She was pretty cool, if a somewhat difficult personality from time to time. Anyway, my mother listened to radio station 3XY, and that was way cool back then. During the Seventies that radio station attracted something crazy like a quarter of the cities entire radio total listening audience. Rock music was in, classical music was out, and that was what I grew up listening to.

So the household comprised a single mother, two older sisters and then there was me. As the youngest, and only male in an otherwise all female household, I was at a distinct disadvantage. As well as rock music, my mother was also a fan of bottle feeding.

Eczema has long been a mostly manageable, but recurring problem. At about ten years of age when a spot on my groin became inflammed, I asked my mum for help. She used forceful words to pressure me to drop my pants then and there and submit to an inspection in the presence of my sniggering and curious older sisters. I learned then that words have a power of their own, and thereafter adopted a fierce independence.

My grandfather, who was my mothers father, was no fool. He could see how things were playing out in the household, and each Sunday he took me under his wing and we spent time together. Generally that time together involved him directing me to do work around his epic vegetable garden. It was a bit Mr Miyagi from hindsight, but he taught me the rudiments as to how to be a male of the species. Those lessons could not possibly have been learned at home.

The old bloke was gruff, but otherwise he was OK. He was born in 1924, and grew up on a farm in the inland Victorian township of Kyabram. For reasons unknown to me and probably now lost to time, he was raised by his grandmother, who he recalled to me as a stern disciplinarian. As a child, the area he lived in was hit doubly hard by an epic drought coinciding with The Great Depression. At the age of 15, World War II kicked off, and by his 21st birthday he was involved in the bombing of the city of Dresden. That old bloke, he saw some things.

So it hardly surprises me that the guy was gruff. But despite that he was the consummate networker and knew all sorts of people from all walks of life. When I was a really young bloke, he used to take me camping up in the alpine country with his WWII mates. They were old fellas then, and I had the job of running around and doing errands for them, before quietly slipping off into the surrounding forest on an adventure. They didn’t seem to care that I disappeared, and possibly that was the desired outcome from all of the errand running they put me to.

Those old blokes also exhibited a fierce independence. They’d constructed their camp on a really nice location on a bend of the Jamieson River. They had cleared the site, and even erected a permanent heavy duty tent. It was all on government land, of course. From time to time I’d hear big talk of recriminations, if the government ever dared clear the camp site. And I wasn’t entirely sure that they weren’t being serious.

As I grew into a young adult, my grandfather and I parted ways. I was comfortable with that situation as he’d taught me what I could learn. Obviously there was more that he could teach me, I just wasn’t receptive to the lessons. And as happens with older folks, my grandfathers wife eventually died. In a surprising turn of events, he married a much younger lady with a family of her own. My mother, who could possibly never dare let a sleeping dog lie, was always at pains to remind me that his new wife was younger than she was. I didn’t know what to make of it all, other than it didn’t fuss me.

Within a few months of the editor and I getting married, my grandfather died. Before he died, we met him in his lovely city office, which overlooked one of the oldest buildings in the city: The Mitre Tavern, which was constructed in 1837. Never one to mince words, I recall him saying to me that: “Mate, I’m f!@#$%d!”. We spoke for an hour or two, and he implored me to take responsibility for repairing the relationships within my family. It seemed like a big call, especially given that I was the youngest and there was nothing whatsoever in it for me to spend the personal energy on his project. At the time I believed that the older generation has the greater responsibility for fixing such problems, and I still believe this to be the case today.

I’d been pondering the question of responsibility recently when the other evening I had a chance conversation with a guy I know who works as a chef. For those who may not know, due to the closure of Australia’s international borders due to the health subject which may not be mentioned, there is a shortage of chefs. So the guy was telling me that he was working for a pittance, couldn’t afford to live in the area he worked, and had to travel an hour each way. And apparently due to the staff shortage, he was being pressured to work extra days each week. I’d describe him as being: disgruntled.

The conversation would have surprised me, if I hadn’t been reading of other employee shortages in other parts of the state, and for much the same reasons: There are rural towns where the people who have to perform paid work, can’t afford to live anywhere near the town. It would be funny if it weren’t also a dire problem:

I’ve been a visitor to the seaside town mentioned in the article since I was a late teenager. Many long years ago, the editor and I even became engaged not far from that town. I have nothing but warm feelings for the place. But reading stories like that one, I kind of don’t want to visit the place anymore.

House prices in Australia have produced winners and losers. And there is no getting around it, inequality is rising rapidly. By and large the winners are actually older folks, so there is a good case that they must bear more responsibility and burden for fixing this situation. After all, it is not lost on me that my mother was a single mother, and yet in the Seventies, she could purchase a house and put three meals on the table. I doubt that this outcome is possible today for a single mother. And everyone seems to be so caught up in self interest that nobody wants to back down from their wins.

The weather this week was pleasantly warm and sunny, before turning astoundingly cold and damp. Occasionally on those cold days, the sun would peer between the merest of cracks in the thick clouds and delight us with a rainbow over the valley.

A rainbow forms over the valley below the farm

Saturday morning was rather brisk but frost free due to the rain and wind. Still, 2’C / 36’F is a very cold morning.

2’C / 36’F is a very cold morning

My sore shoulder continues to be sore, but is slowly getting better. Breaking rocks and moving soil is off the menu for now, but that doesn’t mean that we couldn’t clean up the vegetable garden terrace beds.

Ruby admires the plants growing on one of the garden terraces

Most of the vegetation in those garden terraces had to go. The remaining tomatoes had turned red a few weeks ago, but they have an unpleasantly mouldy flavour.

The tomatoes look ripe, but taste disgusting

The middle garden terrace has a path running down the middle of it. The path has proven its worth and is being used as a major thoroughfare. Whilst cleaning out the summer vegetation from that garden terrace, the editor came up with a good idea of formalising the path. We just had to somehow obtain 24m / 80ft of rocks with which to line the path. Sadly for us Peak Rocks is real.

Peak Rocks does not mean that there are no rocks to be had, we just have to use a lot more energy and effort to obtain any rocks we require for projects around the farm.

A day was spent removing vegetation and sourcing rocks for the path

The next day, the now rock lined vegetable beds received an excellent feed of soil food. A half cubic metre (0.65 cubic yards) of compost mixed with hundreds of kilograms (pounds) of various mineral stuffs was then placed into the garden beds. And a half cubic metre of the locally quarried crushed rock with lime was placed onto the path so as to provide an all weather surface.

The garden beds were fed whilst the path in the middle garden terrace was provided with an all weather surface. Plum approves!

The following day another half cubic metre of the locally quarried crushed rock with lime was placed over the surface of the new path. Given the path traverses a terrace used for growing vegetables, the slow release of minerals from lime on the path will do wonders for the soil over many years to come.

Ruby is astounded at the neat work on the new path

Whilst removing vegetation from the garden beds, we also removed every second globe artichoke plant so as to give the plants more room to grow. The plants produce prolifically for much of the year (excluding the winter months) and they are a very tasty vegetable.

Some globe artichokes – harvested and eaten from only a few days ago

The other higher terraces for vegetable beds also require attention, and we began removing the vegetation from them. At this stage, the tomato vines have been removed, but there remains a lot of mess still to clean up.

The tomato vines may have been removed, but it is still very messy

Onto the flowers:

An evening primrose peeks out of an ornamental garden bed
Leucodendron leaves are stunning and almost as good as flowers
Salvia’s continue to grow well, and the local honey eaters love the nectar
We’re adding to the diverse range of Salvia plants growing on the farm
The Roses enjoyed having the tomato vines removed from their presence
Eucalyptus Ficifolia produce stunning flowers
The brief sunny and warm weather produced new Canary Island Foxglove flowers

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 7’C (45’F). So far this year there has been 429.2mm (16.9 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 384.2mm (15.1 inches).

56 thoughts on “Get me out”

  1. Yo, Chris – Re: Groin inspection. The things people do to kids! It’s a wonder you didn’t become a serial killer, or something. (As far as we know.) 🙂 .

    Well, you seem to have turned out ok. Probably due to some serious time with your grand-pap. Running you around the garden and hauling you out to the bush, for some serious bloke time. As far as being delegated Mr. Family Fix-It, well no. Once again, I am soooo glad I’m an orphan.

    Reading about the chef, and Apollo Bay, it reminds me of something I read, decades ago. It was the first time I became aware of such a problem. It was an article about Aspen, Colorado. A very pricey ski area, where the rich, famous and clueless are to be found. The article was about the vast distances, service folks had to drive, to find affordable housing. So, I call it the Aspen Effect.

    But I had another thought, tonight. Towns no longer have “the wrong side of the tracks.” Where working people can afford to live. And even, buy. We’ve apparently hit peak Wrong Side of the Tracks.

    The rainbow picture is VERY pretty. Gives an idea of how high up you are when you can look down on a rainbow.

    So that’s what your bucking for. The Formal Gardens of Fern Glade Farm. 🙂 . It does look very neat, tidy, and stylish. And, in future, will be low maintenance.

    We have primroses, here at the Institution. But they’re very low to the ground. But I see that the primrose family is vast, and comes in many forms.

    The Ficifolia looks a bit like the carnivorous sundew. Does one not want to stand too close? A shame about the tomatoes. The roses, as always, are lovely.

    Here’s a question for you to mull over. I have lime, stove ashes, bone meal and blood meal. But it seems like a bit of overkill, to use all four on my garden beds. What do you think?

    Saw an article about what we were talking about, yesterday.

    The information is out there. One just has to take advantage of it. Lew

  2. Hello Chris,

    We live and we die by the stories we tell ourselves. Since the 1980’s, schools have been pushing the myth of Homo economicus, driven only by self-interest, and a generation later we witness the outcome.
    You really hit the nail about the owner-class, who is comfortable and enjoys the “well earned” luxuries from their “hard work”, not inclined to share with anyone else.
    When I talk to my landed friends in well-paid positions, they all play the meritocracy-card: “I deserve.” (because I work so hard) When I suggest them to go work as a tomato-picker for minimum salary, they of course protest. “That is a *really* tough job! Nothing for me.”
    Often the “academic merits”-card is also played to prove worthiness.

    The gap is widening between the people who really work hard and people to get to enjoy the surplus.

    I think that one of the sharpest observers of the situation is (was) David Graeber. I very much recommend his book “Debt – the first 5000 years”. Again and again, revolutions arose with the cry “cancel the debts, redistribute the land”. Everywhere. The main task of the rulers throughout history seemed to be to manage the rich to force them to share, to ensure that the pressure cooker did not explode.
    The rulers right now choose a different direction, it seems…

    I hope we will come back to telling stories about sharing and love as the foundational values for humankind. Especially in the accelerating resource squeeze. What is better than a good meal together? Bread and wine, someone?


  3. Hi Al,

    Hope that your wife is safely home again and comfy, and more importantly getting better swiftly. It is really nice when people rally around and support you both in your hour of need.

    You piqued my interest in all things steel (and I used to work in that industry many decades ago) as I was previously unaware of the difference between hot and cold rolled steel. For your interest, I only come across hot rolled steel for sale, but rarely do I require precise precision. 🙂 Respect and this talk of neat TIG welds is like catnip to me. But yeah, I need to spend time with someone who knows what they are doing and what the general hazards are of using that welding technique. My arc welds are neat, but they’re not that neat.

    For your interest, the local farm machine repair guys have to fabricate a couple of heavier duty blade covers for the low centre of gravity mower. It will be an interesting job, the standard covers were made from 1.6mm steel and it is too thin for the job asked of it.

    Al, 48 volts at 1224 Ah total from 16 batteries? At near on just under a grand a kWh, your suggested battery would send me broke! 🙂 48 volts at 306Ah total for about 15kWh of storage is in place. The old lead acid batteries were twice that capacity, but only a third as effective. 😉 A puzzle for you to ponder.

    Nope, the system has two 200A shunts which record the flows of electrons in a specific direction. A single bidirectional shunt will produce some very strange data readings.



  4. Hi Goran,

    Exactly, Mr Greer has long made that point, and if we bind ourselves to an impossible future we end up creating an awful sort of psychic tension from which we cannot free ourselves. I can’t say why I see the world differently, but then I have known decline since my earliest memories. I’d imagine my grandfather felt much the same given he lived through the Great Depression and then WWII, but I’ve really struggled trying to convey the difficulties I faced as a young adult in my first job (and then loss of) during the recession of the early 1990’s – and the difficulties weren’t anywhere near as challenging as the Great Depression and its aftermath. I don’t know much, but I do know that fostering self interest over the common good is a very poor choice. Sometimes society just gets things wrong.

    Recently I re-read Michael Lewis’s most excellent book ‘The Big Short’. The film was good, but by necessity it lacked detail – there is only so much you can jam into two hours. One of the many fascinating observations by the author based on his conversations (and personal experience) with people in the finance world was that it was the responsibility of the lenders to exercise restraint, not the borrowers. This suggests that there are always borrowers, but it is the lenders who must not get too greedy lest they sink the metaphorical boat.

    And yup, there are serious class issues at play. I’ll tell you a funny story: The editor and I are the most educated folks around these parts, and if so desired, we can claim much professional status. It far exceeds that of all of the neighbours, and yet they look down their noses at us because we do manual labour around the property. The thing is, if the neighbours thought about the implications of that reality and our example, they might then question their own choices – but I believe that it may be a step too far for them. Only a serious economic disaster may wake them from their slumber, but it may be too late then.

    Yours is the second book referral for the author David Graeber. Simon (a mate of mine and there is a link to his thoughtful blog at the side) also mentioned his book: ‘Bullshit Jobs’. Reading such a book might make me rather grumpy because I work in small business nowadays (by choice) and people working there have nowhere to hide such extraordinary laziness.

    Exactly, the people with their hands on the policy levers decided that they’d like things to continue, and history shows how that eventually plays out for them. You’d think that with better education that they’d know this outcome, but then the MMT people scream ‘this time it will be different’ – and so far they’re correct. But for how much longer is the question?

    🙂 Yes, a decent feed, quality pint and talking rubbish is part of my usual weekly routines – because it is fun.



  5. Hi Lewis,

    Turns out that it was actually very cold on Saturday. Coldest Aussie temp of the year as widespread snow blankets southeast. The images are superb but also at far higher altitudes than the farm.

    Well hopefully your local stores can supply you with popcorn for the impending Kong versus Godzilla cage fight? And I note that you dodged providing a guess as to the outcome – Kong did have a known weakness for the little kid of prophesy, whilst Godzilla seemed unencumbered and had a wicked death ray. The odds are candidly not good for Kong, and the little kid might sprain an ankle whilst trying to flee Godzilla – or put everyone in immediate and very real danger!

    Have you just created a new genre of writing? The revenge obituary! A person might have to fake their demise so that they can enjoy the full spectacle of emotions playing out at the ceremony. 😉 Of course, speculating on the outcome might be more enjoyable than the actuality.

    Did the archaeologists discover anything interesting at Tintagel? OK Must Farm is a truly astounding dig. And also dare I suggest the dig shows that our Bronze Age forebears were far more advanced than most had considered them to be – the textile finds sound amazing, especially as they are made from plant fibres as distinct from animal fibres. Processing flax into linen is no easy technology, and who knows what the source of the plant fibres actually was. Thanks for mentioning this.

    Yeah, the funsters in the litigation and public liability put kids out of work. It may surprise you, but I actually wanted to work, and at one stage managed three jobs per day for a brief while before settling on two jobs (morning and evening runs – papers and chemist rounds). My mother offered pocket money, but when it came to handing over the mad cash she reneged on the offer and so I went back to work.

    You kind of have to take responsibility for your own health. I’ve witnessed diagnoses which were wrong and lead to a person’s death. That was a real wake up call, but the final nail in the coffin (please excuse the inappropriate analogy) was when I went to the doctors four times to get a lump looked at, and on the fourth occasion a much older doctor said: Let’s remove it using frozen carbon dioxide. And then the lump was removed. None of the earlier visits suggested this simple option, but they were dead keen on me getting it checked out regularly. There is a conflict of interest right there. Not a fan, and so now I double check everything, but basically prevention is better than a cure by a country mile. Yup, you called it.

    Hehe! That’s funny about the DeLorean. Yes of course, imagine trying to get parts for the machine… Such concerns are on my mind these days. Earlier in the year I predicted that the supply of new vehicles would become problematic.

    Ah well, hopefully you are not in any hurry to see anybody about the hip. I’m not intending to about the shoulder for a while and am just taking a wait and see approach because it seems to be healing of its own accord. It is possible that the injury occurred when the rock drill jammed and swung back around and clipped my forearm err, quite hard.

    A dollar for a pound of quality oats is pretty good value comparatively. I keep the bulk oats in a large bin – it is not getting far off what the old timers used to do with their steel lined timber bins to keep out the rodents. My grandmother used to have a working root cellar at her house and she used it too. Most houses used to have them, it is only in these enlightened times that people fail to keep stores of useful items.

    I love mixed metaphors and so thanks for that one and the laughs! Here’s one: Success is the thin icing on the lake (takes my mind back to that awful frozen lake scene in the Damian Omen film). We could have hours of fun with this stuff.

    Groin + serial killer response: Yeah, maybe I didn’t become one!

    I included that little episode because I’ve had people tell me the most preposterous things over the years about if the ladies of the species were in control and how nice it would all be. I tend to believe that my mum tested that particular hypothesis out, and sweeping generalisations need not apply.

    Oh thanks, I appreciate that and I’d like to think I did OK in the end too. 🙂 Actually experiencing such unusual and dysfunctional relationships, then going my own way, forced me to evaluate a path forward, rather than heading for the entirely opposite side of that story. Mind you, my first girlfriend had a lot in common personality wise with my mum. That was a real wake up call too. I’m not technically an orphan, but I’m as good as an orphan and I have no time for them and have not seen them for almost two and half decades. They were toxic.

    I’ve noticed that the Elders of the Indigenous folks often take their problematic youth out bush too, so as a general response to a dysfunctional situation, I reckon it works.

    There was a really interesting article on the Indigenous folks fire stick farming, and inadvertently the government had historical aerial photographs recording how it was applied in a particular area of the country: New light in a land shaped by fire. I’m now very certain that the folks operated in this area too. It is fascinating how local the knowledge was required to be.

    Aspen effect, yeah. What is interesting about this story is how widespread the problem has become. Wrong side of the tracks is one way to put it, but yeah when gentrification becomes the norm – where do the people go who don’t want it? When we left the inner urban suburbs and moved up the bush, I had no taste for what was going on there. It was like somehow bohemian transmogrified into high stress expectational people. I’m not saying that to justify my own actions either – it really happened right there in front of my own eyes.

    Hehe! Thanks! When we were in Nepal we stared down from on high into the depths of the: Kali Gandaki Gorge and noticed an aircraft flying way down below (got a photo too). It was a long way down.

    Hey, I planted out the now fertilised garden terrace with two types of kale and purple sprouting broccoli this afternoon. The path made heaps of sense as given that terrace is the middle terrace of five levels and we use it all of the time. We’re considering adding the crushed rock with lime paths to the two higher terraces as well. A lot of rocks are needed though, but we’ll see.

    Oh, I didn’t know that. The primrose is actually a bit weedy, but it requires more fertile soil than what is found in the surrounding forest so I have no fear that it will escape. People have been planting ornamental gardens up here for a century and half and not much has penetrated the rather toxic and too-thickly forested Eucalyptus forests. Sycamores appear to be the worst offenders and they don’t grow that well where the farm is located at. In other parts of the mountain range they grow profusely in under story of the Eucalyptus Regnans (or reigning tree). Oh my there is a specimen of that tree (deliberately planted) which has now reached 264ft. Yikes.

    Sundews are really cool plants and the forest here is full of them when there is a bit of thinning. Any plant that can snack on the devilish ants is worthy friend! Do you get them up your way?

    I’m no expert, but yes I would use all four soil additives – and in fact most of those were incorporated into the compost soil feeding over the weekend.
    – Lime – Depends on which source you use (I’d use Agricultural lime or Gypsum over Dolomite as I’m guessing you already have plenty of magnesium in your soil as from memory you have clay soils?) Lime can’t hurt in the quantities you are likely to apply, and I’m applying it at about 2,200+ pounds a year over a couple of acres. Gypsum also has sulfur which might be useful.
    – Bone meal and Blood meal – Not sure about that as down here we have a product called blood and bone (which I’m assuming is a mix of the two). Here we go: Nitrogen, Calcium and Phosphorus. Yeah, you’ll need them.
    – Wood ashes – Well that depends, and I’d use it around trees and grass, but that’s me as it has a bit of potassium in it and you probably don’t need too much of that in your vegetable beds as there will mostly be a lot of that already. A bit is good, but that stuff doesn’t get leached by the rain apparently. It has some salts in it too. In my mix it was a minor component as I ordinarily spread it around the orchards.
    Claire knows far more about this subject than I do.

    The article just sounded like common sense to me. Michael Pollan’s advice rings true today, and we mostly make food from scratch / raw materials.



  6. @ Lew: have the wood ashes been kept dry, or have they been rained on? If the latter, most of the nutrients have been leached out of them, and they will be close to neutral in pH (neither acid nor base). You can add them to the bed just to use them up; they will have little other effect.

    If on the other hand they have been kept dry, they will be a good source of both calcium and potassium (the K in N-P-K), with a little bit of phosphorus (the P in N-P-K) as well. They are basic, which is fine if your soils are acid, not so good if they are basic. I’m applying about 2 pounds of wood ashes to a 100 square foot bed this year, well under the upper limit the Missouri Extension suggests.

    I recommend you first find out if your soil is acidic (pH less than 7) or basic (pH greater than 7). Then search the Washington Extension site to see what if anything it has to say about wood ashes, and follow their recommendation. Ask the Master Gardener about your soil’s pH and whether they recommend you use them or not. Also, I think you’d want to apply them early in your rainy season, not during the dry season, to neutralize some of their basic nature and the salts they also carry, as Chris pointed out.

    Chris is right, avoid dolomite if you can, unless the Master Gardener tells you otherwise because your soil is low in magnesium. Ag lime and gypsum are safer sources of calcium.


  7. Yo, Chris – I see the Snowy Mountains, are living up to their name. The Hartz Mountains jogged a memory. Back in the early 1950’s there were a LOT of ads on TV for Hartz Mountain Bird seed, for pets. Wonder what ever happened to them? Ah, I see. Family owned for 75 years, and then sold to an investment group. Well, so much for that! We’re in for cooler weather, with “chance of showers”, “slight chance of showers.” Which makes watering, problematic.

    Oh, I’m sure there will be cute kids, kicking around the Godzilla vs Kong movie. Or maybe Steve McQueen, brought back via CGI? Or maybe the bizarre midget twins, that were in many Mothra movies, but had several cross-over appearances in Godzilla films. 🙂

    Oh, revenge obituaries have been kicking around, for a long time. Even the Romans had some pretty pithy tombstones.

    Well, the Tintagel segment was pretty much about what that Heritage Daily article I linked to, a year or two ago, was all about. Elaborate big buildings, built on terraces, in the 6th and 7th centuries. Lots of evidence of trading networks with the Med. All supported by tin mining.

    I had heard of Must Farm, but didn’t pay much attention. As it was billed as “The Pompeii of Britain.” That kind of hyperbole is pretty common, when the media reports on archaeology. Recently, you may have noticed articles on a city in Egypt. “The Golden City.” “The Pompeii of Egypt.” So, I tend to discount those kinds of articles.

    Now 5 roundhouses do not a city make, but it sure was fascinating stuff, when it’s reported in a more even handed manner. With lots of very good areal photos, of the site. Everything is “in situ” as they say in the biz. But I wonder what happened to the people? I don’t think any human remains, were found. Why didn’t they dive into the shallow water, to retrieve some of their stuff? Maybe they were all carried off into slavery? Got sick and made a healing pilgrimage to some religious site? Or …

    The ancient Brits (we are finding) had a habit of decommissioning buildings. There were rituals. There was another segment, about barrows. Oh, well, barrows are burial chambers. Not so fast. It turns out barrows were first large timber halls. And, at one point, were burned to the ground and a barrow constructed around the site. THEN they were used for burials. And it isn’t just one example. They’re finding that progression, all over Britain.

    Then there’s the Scottish Brochs. Ancient stone towers. Several of them were ritually dismantled, and covered over. There’s some kind of ritual dismantling, that winds through the ages, and even crosses cultural groups.

    I worked because I wanted my own money. And I needed my mad money, for all of my mad hobbies. 🙂 .

    That was an interesting article, on the controlled burns. I didn’t realize they evacuated your NE, during the war. I bet there’s an interesting story, there. Of course, I know about Darwin. One phrase jumped out at me. “…populate or parrish.” Err, why? LOL. In one of the photos, I wondered, “Is that the arse end of a camel?” I discovered I had to roll my mouse pointer, over the photo, to get the caption. Yup. Arse end of a feral camel.

    Towns are strangling themselves, if they don’t get more diverse housing. There’s lots of noise made about that, over here. But doesn’t seem to be much follow through. More money can be made by up-scaling, and the tenants are nicer 🙂 . There was a recent article in The Atlantic, that’s a theory of how gentrification destroyed Angkor Wat.

    It’s by the author of “Four Lost Cities.” Which you may remember from last month. 🙂 .

    Looks like Western Washington has all kinds of carnivorous plants. I’ve never been aware of them. I’ve always been interested, and would like to cultivate some, but worry it might attract pollinators. And they’re already doing it tough. I’ve probably never noticed them, as they grow mostly in bogs. A short trip down the hall from where I’m sitting reveals there are no carnivorous plants, in my bog.

    Thanks for the tips on soil amendments. I should also check Solomon’s book on gardening in the Pacific Northwest. I don’t want to overdue it. I worked for quit a few hours in the garden, last night. Pruning and weeding. Got my Patriotic Petunia Planter up and running. And worked on the soil in the communal zucchini patch. Which is very poor. Dug in more kitchen scraps, and the last of the llama and sheep poo. Happy to see lots of worms, in that! I also got my green beans, planted. A run of peas, but they’re not for me. They took up too much space, vs yield. But I had left over seed, and someone expressed an interest, for the communal space. Lew

  8. Chris,
    She’s home and settling in good 👍. She knows it will be slow healing. There were some issues with bed height above floor and side of bed in relation to the leg which has the muscle and tendon damage. Our daughter and her husband and Our older son swapped out a couple different mattresses between houses and made a bed of the right height for my wife’s height. Today she going from bed to kitchen and all around the house on the one floor of course. I just help her help her self with out interfering. Mainly just keep being kind to each other😊works best.

    My interest in welding came about in high school when I had a one semester one hour machine shop class that taught beginner stick welding technology. After high school after one year of junior college, I started my first Apprenticeship as a plant maintenance mechanic called a Millwright. There was some idle time involved in the work. The welder for the multi craft crew was the sole welder for the facility. He taught me the fundamental safety and welding machine use. That grew to include tungsten inert gas welding. Or TIG as it is called.

    I would suggest that you ask the steam club officers if they know any members that have a home TIG Welding shop that might be interested in showing you some beginning TIG welding fundamentals. Even for a fee. Also ask the same of farm equipment repair folks. Ask at local night school vocational courses . You can really make a lot of really nice things. My oldest son would love to teach you How TIG welding works. If you could work it in to son’s busy leisure activity schedule here in the PNW.

    Chris I’m going to continue into the discussion of LiFeP04 battery and some stuff with BMS capability that may be in the future. I’ll close this one now
    Cheers Al.

  9. Hello Chris
    My broadband was down when I tried to come in yesterday.
    That new path looks absolutely amazing, I am very impressed.

    All is well here (I still need to be a bit discreet for a few more days) but it is cold.

    Affordable housing is called non-affordable affordable housing here. We need social housing. The wealthy in London have trouble getting staff because only the wealthy can afford housing there, ditto a shortage of other workers. Cornwall is afflicted in the same manner.

    I have never had mouldy tasting tomatoes, what on earth causes that? Shop bought ones can be tasteless like the other fruit and vegetables that they sell.

    Very early on when I first entered your blog, I mentioned that I grew up in a naturist home. This was not picked up on. I actually lived in a naturist club from the age of 7 to 10. Being stripped off in front of brothers, sisters or whatever, would therefore not have mattered in the slightest. It also has the advantage of meaning that one knows what the human body really looks like versus current media photos. I have remained within the movement all my life.


  10. Hi Lewis,

    The photos of the snowy mountains were pretty spectacular and that is quite a decent snow coverage for this early in the season. Interestingly, my friend who moved down to a farm in Tasmania can probably see the Hartz mountains. The mountains in Tassie can sometimes have bands of differing vegetation, so you can go up in altitude from Eucalyptus forests, to Beech forests, to some seriously ancient plant communities – a few that I’ve seen wouldn’t look out of place in a Jurassic Park movie!

    Oh, yes, private equity sometimes occasionally has that unfortunate side effect. I once witnessed a beast loading an otherwise profitable business with debt secured on the assets of the business, they took fat fees, and then off loaded the mess onto the public. It doesn’t always go that way, you just have to be careful who you get into bed with, but it can end badly. A bit of a shame as it takes a lot of effort to grow a business, but like a house, demolition is often quicker than construction. Yeah, let’s move on.

    Is there a difference in probability between the two weather predictions?

    Steve McQueen via CGI and a Ouija board – computers after all are only so good, and they might need a bit of assistance. 🙂 Bizarre midget twins connected to Godzilla – gotta say that is one of the more unusual digressions we’ve explored over the years, but it is like catnip too! Shobijin, small in stature, but with some serious kick a@# powers. Let’s put those two in the not to be messed with category of entities.

    Oh well, in some respects we’re surprisingly similar to the ancient Romans.

    I suppose the northmen raiders eventually put an end to Tintagel – or they destroyed the trade with the continent? Call it self interest, but the terraces did kind of intrigue me – it is not a bad idea when you don’t have a lot of flat land.

    Yes, using the label Pompeii is a big call, but I guess they needed the funds for the dig, and there was the question of the quarry owners and their interests. Actually I too was wondering what happened to the people? Surely if they survived the fire they would have tried to recover some of the drowned items lying in shallow water. To be honest I was sort of wondering why they located their houses on the water in the first place, and clearly they were at some imminent risk due to the use of the palisade. You wouldn’t construct one of those unnecessarily. And I was wondering how they used their manure whether on land or into the drink? But the level of technology seemed quite high.

    You know, when you mentioned the decommissioning of buildings, one idea popped into my head was that somehow the buildings lead to poor health outcomes for the users / inhabitants as the buildings aged. With the recent wet year down under, there are reports that people are becoming ill from mould infestations in their houses (more to the north in the city of Sydney), so that triggered an association – which may be way off the mark. There’d be a practical need which drives the ritual as it is an enormous undertaking to construct a house or keep etc.

    Hehe! Mad hobbies!!! 🙂 I hear you.

    I hadn’t realised that the NE was evacuated either, but there was a plan to allow the Japanese to move so far south that they’d run out of resources, or the huge crocodiles would get them. The US basically saved our backsides during WWII. The battle of the Coral Sea was off to the NE of the continent – a brutal air and naval battle.

    Yeah, the populate or perish thing has been a mantra for a long time. An early commenter to the blog suggested that the countries population should double to 50 million, but I rather doubt our water supplies would survive that onslaught.

    The camels came to Australia with Afghan herders in the 19th century and they provided a method of travelling in the outback. Camels are feral in the semi arid landscape and are possibly now impossible to eliminate, but I don’t see any pressing need to push for that outcome. Almost ate a camel meat pie – it probably tasted like chicken (crocodiles do).

    Mate the Angkor story is chilling. I’ve seen areas with rich soil which previously supported orchards go under for suburban housing. It is a very unwise act, and the law basically doesn’t support the farm land.

    Yes, wise not to make changes, unless another bug is running rampant and eating your pollinators instead. More flowers might help the story, and sundews are a flower of sorts. Imagine if there were carnivorous plants in your bog (!), you are probably made of tougher stuff than I because I’d be a bit nervous using the facilities. 😉 Thanks for the laughs.

    It is easy to overdo for most minerals – even Calcium amendments. His book on the PNW is I’m guessing not that dissimilar from the south of Australia book (at 2,300ft above sea level, my climate is closer to that island state).

    Went out for dinner tonight and had a very good Indian food feed. The place has been around for decades and they serve organic food and it’s good stuff. The big smoke was quiet tonight and only a few hardy souls were out and about. Oh well. Saw the big issue homeless dude and had a chat. He’d been having a reasonable sales night and had run out of magazines – as you do. We’ll catch up next time, and I know he’ll remember, of that I have no doubts.



  11. @Lew

    I just recently started seeing a chiropractor. So far the jury is out but to be honest I’ve been overtaxing my body the last couple weeks. We’re getting some new floors put in this week and last necessitating much shifting around of stuff at the same time as many transplants are being planted and due to extremely dry conditions much hose dragging. I have sciatica, scoliosis and arthritis in my back and probably some disc issues which have gradually worsened so I decided to try the chiropractor in town who has been highly recommended. In actually I have to just ramp down the activity level.

    Thanks for bringing up the book “Hooked”. I read it and mentioned to my book club and it’s going to be our selection next month. It explained Doug’s relationship to food (basically he’s obsessed with it) while I have more of a don’t care attitude. He lives to eat and I eat to live and this causes some conflict from time to time.


  12. Hi Chris,

    You’ve mentioned your grandfather before and seems he had quite a positive influence. I’m sorry you don’t have a relationship with your mom and sisters but a good relationships aren’t a guarantee just because they’re family. I feel fortunate that overall our extended family is pretty close though there is plenty of drama.

    My aunt has improved greatly and was finally able to come home. Even better it has been determined that she doesn’t need much extra help but has gotten a medic alert. She still doesn’t have all her hearing back and needs to use a walker for now. Her vocal cords are partially paralyzed probably due to being intubated during surgery. It is possible that will improve over time.

    It remains really dry here and no rain of significance in the forseeable future.

    As I mentioned to Lew we’re in phase one of floor replacement which has been quite a lot of work and very messy. Phase two will be after the wedding probably October when we should only have to deal with that.

    Carla’s shower which was given by her cousin was last Saturday and as I figured over the top. My tongue is sore from having to bite it so often.

    My granddaughters got their first vaccine on Saturday and no adverse effects at least this time. Their father is over the top regarding that which we try not to mention so this will be good for them as far as getting their lives back.


  13. @ Claire – Thanks for all the good advice! Our soils here in the Pacific Northwest, have a high clay component. So acid loving plants need a boost. Hydrangea, blueberries, etc..

    Here at the Institution, I have about 100 square feet of raised beds. This will be the fourth season, working on them. They were in pretty poor shape, when I took them over. Hit with just chemical fertilizers, and a bit of mushroom compost. The soil was literally, sandy.

    So, I work in all my kitchen scraps and egg shells. Any organic matter from the garden, that isn’t diseased. Heck, I even cut up my corn stocks, into bite sized pieces. Very zen. 🙂 . Mushroom compost, steer manure compost, maple leaves. I have a source of small amounts of llama and sheep poo.

    When I moved here, I had had a worm farm, running for about 15 years. There was no place for it, here. So, I turned them loose in the garden. Born Free! 🙂 . I’ve noticed more worms, always a good sign.

    I talked to the Master Gardener’s this morning. They tested, year before last. A little low in nitrogen, but otherwise, ok. They’re talking about testing again, this year. Heck, I might get a kit and do it myself.

    They thought adding what I have, bone meal, blood meal and lime, was ok. But go easy. The stove ashes might cancel out the benefits of some of the others. A couple of years ago, I scored 40 pound of ag lime for $20. I’ve kept several coffee cans full, and gave the rest to the Gardener’s. Lew

  14. Yo, Chris – “Probability between the two weather predictions.” Maybe, just playing with our heads? I’d guess it has more to do with frequency and intensity. Maybe.

    When pigs fly. Speaking of the Romans. Greeks, actually. The god Chrysaor. Pegasus’s brother. How come we never hear about him? If your going to worship a god, might as well pick a neglected one. They might be more appreciative. At least, you probably wouldn’t be stuck in phone tree hell, if you petitioned them. “Please hold the line. Your petition is valuable to us. A minion will be with you momentarily.”

    Well, Tintagel was destroyed by Urther. 🙂 .

    Must Farm. So many question. Where did they farm? Bury their dead? Keep their animals? Then up in Scotland, there were also the Crannogs. Again, built over water, but on constructed islands.

    In some of the decommissioned buildings, they found ritual deposits. From the time of the decommissioning. One really interesting one was a whale bone … and a human jaw bone. That was hundreds of years older. Maybe some kind of ancestor worship? Maybe, when a dynasty died out (as they do), that was when a building was decommissioned?

    There was also a segment on the Pictish fort / settlement that I linked to, last year. The one that was on a small peninsula, extending into the North Sea. What’s left of the peninsula, is now detached from the mainland. Just a sea stack. The archaeologists had to do some serious rock climbing, just to get out to it. Athletic bunch.

    I read a book and watched a film, about your camels. About the young lady to hiked across Australia, with camels. Interesting stuff.

    See what I said to Claire, about my soils, etc..

    That neglected house story was awful. About the same condition as one down the street. That they want $300,000+ for. At least ours is big and rambling. And has a bit of yard.

    I hope the Editor doesn’t blame me for putting ideas in your head. 🙂

    Resourceful bunch, up in Alaska. Lew

  15. Chris,

    Life has gotten complicated again the past few days. I’ll likely be away from the computer most of the week. The final complication (of many) is that a relative had a leg removed due to diabetes complications.

    What I CAN say about this week’s post: your pathways are looking fabulous. The Princess says they are fantastic.


  16. Hi Chris
    I would envision that your farm machinery repair folks would be able to roll a cylindrical form to fit the interior curvature of the original cover. The height would be the same as the original cover interior. Something fabricated from 3mm or thicker in mild steel plate cut by plasma arc or water jet machinery . The new inner cover would be fastened to the original steel using heavy steel pop rivets.

    The house battery from Al’ s overreach perch 😛.
    My four times larger imaginary battery bank is a luxury item😁
    Your battery bank configuration is quite popular. I looked at US 12 v @ 300 AH units from three companies. The prices varied widely from $1100.00 to $3430.00 averaging $2277.00ea. $9100.00 for 4. Lots of competition.
    The fact that lithium banks can supply the whole charge to the load makes them a really big advantage.
    I have read about the occasional charge and voltage imbalances between 12 volt units in series for 48 volt service. Have you dealt with such issues in your system?
    The BMS development level appears to be a work in progress.
    LiFePO4 battery technology is now well established. The batteries are safe , reliable , and still costly. BMS installed within the cases of multiple cell battery assemblies protect the cells from operating outside desired parameters.
    I looked around and found there is quite a bit of development work on BMS improvements that well enable more accurate measurements and control of these batteries.

    Our weather here out of whack this week. The nighttime lows are forecast for lower 40sF for the next several days. Also the on going drought. ???

  17. Hi DJ,

    No worries at all, and that is an incredibly serious situation, so best wishes and mate, what do you other than provide support?

    Thanks for the kind words from both of you. 🙂 We may replicated those nifty paths in the other garden beds. Might have to scrounge up some more rocks though.



  18. Hi Inge,

    Thanks, and the path is a delight to walk on in the sort of very wet year we’re experiencing down here. Plus the path will leach lime into the surrounding soil and sub soil for many years. 🙂

    No worries at all and I hope that things with your visitor from the US goes well (and that quarantine wasn’t too horrific).

    Yes, the problem seems to be occurring in many parts of the developed world. I’m guessing that it is an inevitably self defeating problem though and history has a few examples of such foolishness.

    I have no idea what caused the mouldy taste in the tomatoes, but I’m guessing that those very late fruits didn’t produce enough sugars – due to the cool and damp growing season, but I don’t really know. I have not saved seeds from the late fruits.

    It is possible that the tasteless fruit is probably not that good for your health? Years ago I gifted a dozen eggs to a mate, and he complained that they were a bit strong tasting. I recall eating at his house at around that time and the food had no flavour (including rocket leaves, which is an impressive achievement) and that was a very strange experience. But then if that is what people expect food should be like it is not really my concern. There is a certain learned distancing from nature going on there with the bland food.

    Of course, I do recall you mentioning this. Respect. By way of contrast, my experience was probably a bit more one sided than the naturists. 🙂 To be candid, it was a bit isolating being the only male in an otherwise all female household as there were always activities and concerns from which I was excluded, so I sort of adapted by becoming fiercely independent and doing my own things, which does work for me. I’m guessing my mother probably had no idea what to do with this boy child thing she had created.



  19. Hi Al,

    It is good to read that your lady arrived home again, and hopefully being home will speed along her recovery. Adaption is what is required at such times, but I agree, compassion and good grace can work wonders too.

    Hehe! The hippy dippy high school had quite a good shop, although metalwork was constrained to soldering and brazing which was probably appropriate given how young we were. I’m not sure that the more English than the English grammar school I went to for the final four years of high school had a welder. I don’t recall there even being a shop class either.

    You were kind of in the right place at the right time, but also displayed some intelligence by taking advantage of your down time to learn new skills. People are alert to those sorts of things, and not all apprentices are created equal. Plenty would use their downtime to loaf around instead.

    I’m pretty certain I mentioned before that I was actually busy. 🙂 Some people make that claim, I actually am busy during the daytime. The steam club guys would be good to meet, and all in good time. I would love to learn TIG welding as the welds are amazing to see. Arc welding by contrast is not anywhere near as neat as TIG.

    That’s a good idea, but the original covers use 1.6mm plate and it is a bit weak for the job required in the low centre of gravity mower. And they’re also deformed and from time to time the very expensive blades connect with the plate steel. A rebuild will be a better option in this case. I could actually get the replacement steel covers, but most likely we’ll be in the same situation not too far down the track. Best to fix the problem – and the problem is too thin steel.

    🙂 Yes, the editor may not sign off on the epic battery budget request!

    The quality of the cells can vary wildly, but until the battery has reached the end of its life it is really hard to know whether the batteries were any good or not. It really is a case of just hoping for the best – and treating the batteries gently.

    > he occasional charge and voltage imbalances between 12 volt units in series for 48 volt service.

    Yes, this was an issue and the batteries varied readings by around 0.3 of Volt. I upped the charge voltage so that the batteries equalised, and hopefully that sorted out the difference. If left unchecked that difference could kill one of the batteries as it does more heavy lifting than the others. Not many people know of those sorts of difficulties, so kudos to you!

    Droughts are no good. Hope that you get some rain and soon.



  20. Hi Lewis,

    It makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

    Had a super busy day today, but the next couple of days are looking relatively clear work-wise which is good because other than tomorrow with a slight chance of rain, the weather seems really pleasant. On reflection the last year took a bit more out of me than I’d previously understood and it is nice to be able to recharge my batteries, before further weirdness hits. Of course I freely acknowledge that I could be wrong and everything returns to ‘normal’ whatever that is. However, I have it on good authority that the gobarmine are mooting the idea to require passports for the health subject which dare not be named for interstate travel. Ideas are often raised in the media that way before becoming a reality. I don’t know what to make of that, but memories of military checkpoints and ID and papers checks doesn’t leave me with warm and fuzzy feelings.

    Hey, there was a follow up on the snowy mountains: We’re pretty sure this bloke has Australia’s coldest feet. That’s cold. There are groups down here which call themselves ‘polar bears’ and they usually invigorate themselves with an early morning swim – all year around. Not my cup of tea, but I’d imagine you get some groups like that along your coastal areas?

    The Ancient Greek deities sure knew how to party. But you’ve got a good point there, and what was once could be again and you could end up bypassing the minions (you get why I work in small business!) I dunno whether Chrysaor is my kind of deity though as it is hard to get a fix on what sort of character is he? Medusa has an ominous reputation that’s for sure.

    Of course and I defer to your greater knowledge of the Dark Ages. And I had no idea that today the site is owned by royalty. Well there you go – the site has value which extends far beyond its physical attributes. I must read Geoffrey of Monmouth’s history one day. Have you read it?

    Well, I too was wondering where they farmed – it must have been close, but there was also food derived from the river – thus my curiosity in relation to their slops. You wouldn’t have to be too bright to know that it is unwise to eat and poop in the same spot as that can be deduced by observation alone even if the vector is unknown. They may have gotten away from the fire in boats?

    Constructing an island is an awesome undertaking. I’ll have to look up the Crannogs.

    Maybe, but buildings are useful, so I’m sticking with some sort of health related taboo. Granted ancestor worship is a possibility, but then I’ve lived in houses that were old enough that someone must have died in the house, and nobody considered decommissioning the house. Maybe the building materials were re-used and the original site was deemed as having bad mojo? Dunno, it’s intriguing though.

    I read that camel book too, and it was a bit 1970’s angsty for my brain and I had to back away from the mindset as it troubled me in a way I couldn’t quite put a finger on. The book is lauded, I just had a lot of trouble being in that head space.

    I don’t know what to make of the house story I linked to as it made so little sense to me. Sometimes things that are a bit zany can be quite troubling – the result meant something though, that’s for sure. The house you mentioned does seem like the better option.

    No, not at all. This idea has already been discussed as a way out of the timber shortage, and at one stage a neighbour wanted to go shares in such a machine. Years and years ago I met an Asian bloke down in Bruny Island off the coast of Tasmania, who’d married a local girl who had land. Anyway, he had a couple of accommodation units (one of which we stayed at) and we had a lovely chat and turns out he’d milled the timber for the accommodation units. Timber may be in short supply, but trees are most definitely not in short supply here. At the agricultural expo recently, there were a couple of demonstrations of portable saw mills – we looked on with envy. They’re a really clever machine and most of them are locally made.

    You’d have to be resourceful up in Alaska. Have you ever visited there?



  21. Humans- hard to figure out, aren’t we? Behavior generally is predictable when looking at large numbers, but focussing down on the individual? Not so much. Why does one person subjected to adverse conditions slide into dysfunction, and another get stronger from the stress? Too many subtle variables we can’t perceive, and heck, maybe some quantum randomness ( luck) thrown in.

    I’m one of ten kids of an alcoholic father, but the outcomes are widely varied. At some point, you just say it is what it is.

    The spate of odd imbalances brought on by the health subject that will not be mentioned have brought into focus how brittle and fragile our current arrangements are, with some results seemingly as unpredictable as in the case of individuals. I think in this case, it is more the denial and cultural inertia that causes the surprise. I don’t think the right lessons will be learned, and expect we’ll plunge right in to another cycle of dead end patterns. We are still a very young species, so it’s to be expected that we aren’t well settled in a stable ecological niche. If we survive, future social structures will undoubtedly evolve a better balance between collaborate and compete.

    Hmm, that got kind of dark….. In good news, we had friends over for the first time in over a year, for homemade pizza and beers. As it is now late spring, we also made rhubarb pie for dessert. Yum.

    Drought here is SW Wisconsin, and I unfortunately tried a new brand of potting soil for starting our veggies that has not impressed. Our garden is starting out with two strikes against, so will need to be more attentive than ever this year to have a decent crop.

    We don’t have garden paths with flat tidy limestone screenings, but we have been cutting new trails through our dense brushy recovering woods. I opened up little areas for canopy trees, and planted 25 more sugar maples this spring. I promise to do a post later.

  22. Hi Chris,

    Last week the US Centers for Disease Control suddenly announced that fully vaccinated people against that which I can’t name can safely stop wearing masks altogether, even though less than half the population has achieved this status. A day later, the city of St. Louis mayor and our county executive rescinded their mask orders, which had been in effect since March 2020. A serious case of health whiplash has ensued. It’s entertaining in a way to watch the reaction. All of a sudden we are inundated with stories of how people are afraid to remove their masks because they don’t know if the people around them have been vaccinated or not. Most people realize, even if the CDC doesn’t, that many if not most of the folks who didn’t get the vaccine will stop wearing the mask if it’s no longer required. So I wonder what is behind the rapid change in CDC’s position. Maybe they think we need a booster shot of belief in progress? At any rate, the result here is that some businesses still require masks (though it will be harder to enforce that than ever), some don’t, and it’ll be interesting to see the result of that. I’ll be glad not to wear the mask everywhere it’s no longer required, and I’ll wear it if it’s posted to do so.

    While we had plenty of rain in March and April, May has been quite dry and cooler than normal. I prepared two more beds and then waited to plant them until a few days ago, hoping for the promised rain on Monday. Good news: the rain came in, over an inch, and it has gotten warmer though still a few degrees below normal. The cucurbit and legume seeds will benefit from the rain, and the tomato plants should finally stop shivering and get on with growing. Now to dig and plant beds for popcorn. Can’t have too much popcorn in these crazy times. 😉


  23. @ Margaret – When I see a chiropractor, I’m going to tell him, “You can give it to me straight, Doc. Am I just old?” 🙂 .

    I’m glad you found the book interesting. I sure did. And now for the next step 🙂 . I saw a review of a book yesterday. “How to Change” by Katy Milkman. Sounds interesting.

    For your book club, you might want to take a look at “The School of Essential Ingredients,” by Erica Bauermeister. A novel about … food. 🙂 . I’m reading her second book, “The Art of Mixing.” The first book, at least the paperback version, had book club questions, in the back. I don’t read novels, much, anymore. But I sure am enjoying, these. Lew

  24. Yo, Chris – Sometimes, politicians will “float a ballon”, just to test the waters. And, at least here, sometimes they do things to play to their base to look good. Several of our states have (or are trying to pass) pre-emptive bans on “vaccine passports.” Our state legislator is kicking around some kind of gun controls. As is the national Congress. Nothing too onerous. So now you’ve got all these people (including our county sheriff), running around and declaring their patches, “Second Amendment Sanctuaries.” But it’s a risky game. Is all the noise from a small vocal minority? Or is it what the people who actually vote, think?

    Weather here can be described as “unsettled.” It’s playing hob with my planting schedule and general walking around. Last night the temperature was 36F (2.22C). I may put off some above ground crops (corn, etc.) until the correct phase of the moon, next month. After all, last year I planted corn around the 4th of July, and still got a good crop.

    Maybe Chrysaor was Pegasus’s evil twin? 🙂 . One would guess they were conceived before Medusa’s transformation? Maybe? Depends on which Greek myth, you read. They didn’t seem to have much of a mythological canon.

    If I read Geoffrey of Monmouth, it was decades ago. I know I’ve read excerpts.

    Did they escape in boats? Did they swim? Could they swim? Surrounded by water, one would think so. But did they? Even at different recorded points in history, we don’t know. It’s like reading and writing. At different points in history, is it one? Both? What percentage of the population?

    Looking back, people seem like us. And then they careen off in an entirely unexpected direction. I forget what ancient group it was, but they find pits, with headless cows and a horses head, carefully placed on the hindquarters of the cow. No butchering marks, so they weren’t just randomly thrown in a pit. What’s that all about?

    They seemed to have a … looser grasp on previous investment. Or, at a certain point, for unknown reasons, cultural concerns overrode previous investment. We don’t do well with mystery and unknowing. But, there it is.

    There was another episode of “Digging for Britain” where there are caves. Way off the beaten track, deep in the forest. In the caves were discovered burials from, something like, 3,000 BCE. On the slope below, were discovered several burials. But they turned out to be medieval. The slope, the ground, very hard to dig. All ages and sexes. No obvious trauma, to the skeletons. Was there some kind of a memory, that this was some kind of sacred place?

    What I found “interesting” about the housing article, was the 18 year old, whingeing and pining for a house. Well, all she has to do is write her autobiography, make a pile of mad cash, and then she can buy one. 🙂 .

    Nope. Never been to Alaska. According to reports, it’s awfully cold. And they have lots of very large animals that will eat you. Or just run you over and stomp you to death. Moose. Though I’ve had the idle thought to take one of those cruises, up the Inland Passage and take in the view. From the ship.

    To continue my ramshackle, hit and miss, artsy-fartsy, art education, I watched a documentary on M. C. Escher. He was an early to mid 20th century Dutch graphic artist. Or, mathematician (without portfolio.)

    Much to his bewilderment, he was much taken up, by young folks in the 1960’s and 70’s. Your probably familiar with his work. Your likely to see it (or, adaptations), on everything from album covers, tea towels, place mats, tattoos, etc., etc., etc.. An interesting and quirky fellow, who led an interesting and quirky life.

    I’m reading the sequel to “The School of Essential Ingredients.” (“The Lost Art of Mixing.”) I’m quit enjoying it. The author really describes characters, very well. And they do the strangest things. In this second book, there’s an accountant … 🙂 Lew

  25. Hi Lewis,

    ‘Floating a balloon’ is a nice way to put the idea floater methodology. It’s actually commonly used down here and the media often reports on ideas well before they’ve been put into action. Keeping the international borders closed for the foreseeable future was recently mooted in the media. There wasn’t as much outrage as you’d imagine possible at the suggestion, and I have been wondering if people are adjusting their expectations to less international travel these days? Are people still heading out of the country in your part of the world? Keeping the economy on a basis that reduces demands for overseas stuff, such as overseas holidays just for one example which springs to mind, and restricting the movement of people entering and exiting the country does tend to play into the realities of going down the MMT economic path.

    Ah, I see the second amendment will certainly raise passions on the many respective sides of the discussion. As an outsider in an entirely different country, we chose to set some limitations on that story, and that was basically to stop the random use of military grade weapons on the basis that some people just aren’t trustworthy. It is not hard to purchase a lesser machine if so desired. The limitations more or less seem to work and have mostly put an end to acts of public outrage. Every now and then a group will put its head up and make a complaint about the circumstances, but the population has given broad support for the limits – from memory, it was in the 90% range.

    On other topics though, I reckon we are at a point in time where people will say one thing publicly and then something altogether different when they get into the privacy of a voting booth.

    Oh my! That is a cold overnight temperature and most certainly seedlings aren’t going to like that sort of weather. Yeah, you’ll be fine with the later planting. Hey, I’m beginning to think that the slow growth here this most recent cold and damp summer may have been circumvented to an extent by continuing to feed the plants during the growing season – which I didn’t do. If what I’m seeing in the orchard even at this much cooler time of year is anything to go by, the heat was important, but the soil food was equally important. Since the heavy feed of the middle garden terrace last week, some of the Globe Artichokes are now producing new chokes and the kale and purple sprouting broccoli planted out on Monday are now also growing well. Hmm.

    Oh no, turns out that Chrysaor and Pegasus were born during the beheading, which is a trifle macabre. You’d hope that they both didn’t take it too personally given that they were deities and all. No disrespect intended, but they seem like a capricious lot and Medusa didn’t seem all that bad, to begin with anyway. It seems rather harsh to have blamed her as the softer and easier target of the two lovers.

    I would have thought that the folks would be able to swim, especially given their housing circumstances. It would be no small feat to establish pole houses in a river, no matter how sluggish. And they must have known something of preservation techniques for timber otherwise the entire collection of buildings would have rotted in no time at all. What sort of ecological or social pressure would make constructing houses over a river a preferable choice to constructing them on land? Something must have forced the matter? Rodents perhaps? But rats can swim and climb timber poles. Dunno, but it is an intriguing problem. The palisade suggests that the residents were at risk of an attack by either other humans or large toothy animals.

    Between you and I, I have an odd notion that rates for reading far exceed the rates for writing in the population. I guess it was always thus, but still I believe that the gap between the two skills is widening.

    You’re entirely correct and such a ritual makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. Has anyone attempted to speculate on the cow / horse ritual?

    And oh yeah, some mysteries you have to just carry around with you. One thought springs to mind about the looser grasp of previous investment, is that if utter failure was the widespread understanding in the community when faced with the day to day edifices and known facts of the previous investment, then the locals might shrug their shoulders, let it fall to wrack and ruin, and go off and do something else with their lives. What do you reckon about that theory? Another thought springs to mind is that repairing and maintaining the previous investment might make the group doing so a target for plunder. Dunno.

    That’s a good theory about the caves being widely acknowledged as a sacred place. Digging graves would be hard work, and for good reason, especially if my experiments with burying kitchen scraps when we first purchased the property showed me all too clearly.

    The housing article was difficult, and if I recall the person in the article was a student and I don’t recall any mention of work. Mind you, that oddness aside, the article makes a good point. And I’d avoid getting into student debt these days – the return on investment is just not there.

    Thanks for filling in the holes in my sadly lacking education. I don’t recall that the arts were taught at high school, although there must have been music lessons – maybe. Yes, I have noticed M C Escher’s work – it is distinctive. The artist produced an excellent art work of interlocking lizards and it is quite engaging of the senses, and I could imagine that some folks might not notice the overall pattern in the work.

    Lewis, I must be strong, and remain strong in relation to book referrals, for the next book on the to-read list is Stephen King’s: The Stand. And it is the version which has the additional 400 pages which were culled from the original edition – editors, huh, where’s the beer nuts? 🙂 The book you referred to sounds delightful!

    Tried a new food item today: A traditional English pork pie (from the northern part of that countries cuisine). And I spoke with the lady selling them (they were made on site) and received the full background story on the pies. They’re meant to be thought of in a similar vein to a ploughman’s lunch and the pies were intended to be eaten cold. Now a cold pie is a new one to me, and the pies were very good. I had half of a jalapenos variety and the other half was an apple, sage and mustard variety. The second half was better than the first half as the chili’s didn’t have enough zing. Horseradish might have been a better option for the bakers?

    I’m taking it a bit easier whilst my shoulder recovers, and that includes a few rest days smattered here and there. 🙂



  26. Hello Chris
    Bitterly cold here and yesterday we had the worst hail storm that I have ever encountered. I was expecting a window to break as the stones crashed against the glass; fortunately all was well though the vegs that are attempting to grow are not happy.

    Honorary son is safely back in the US, dual nationality is a very useful thing to have. He had had both vaccinations so that he could travel. As a British citizen he was not taken by coach to a hotel to quarantine at his own expense but was able to organise his own self isolation for 10 days. He had to jump through endless testing hoops which due to typical English inefficiency will have been meaningless.

    We had a week of intensive conversations lasting non-stop for 4 to 8 hours each day. Anything and everything was discussed. When we reached maths and cryptography I felt as though I was hanging by my fingertips from an external window sill many stories up. We only disagree seriously on a few things, one of which is therapy which he embraces. He comes from a childhood too ghastly to put out here, until he came to me at 13. I accept a week of intensive therapy but not an endless continuity which makes one overly self absorbed. Unfortunately that is the American way.


  27. Yo, Chris – Given that the motto on our money is “You Can’t Tell Me What To Do,” people seem to be flying here, there and everywhere. Lots of stories titled “I flew to (fill in the blank) and this is what it was like.” But also “Pity the poor airlines” articles, and routes being dropped, here and there. Which even happens in the best of times. Of course, they never mention little things like possible quarantine, at the other end.

    I have no problem with hunting rifles, or even six-shooters for personal protection. But recently a guy was picked up (not here) with four rocket launchers, in his car. Must make him feel very secure, popping around to the local shop. We had a home invasion, here, the other night. We have a bit of a problem, being right on a major interstate freeway. Easy on, easy off. As the crims seem to know. Anyway. The perp pulled a gun, but it jammed. Husband jumped the perp while the wife called the police. So, among other charges, there’s going to be attempted murder. That one will never see daylight, again.,265476

    Good old local newspaper. Always so dependable. Usually, when a crime has been committed, they at least mention of name of the street. Or, sometimes, even something like “300 block of ……” But, not in this case. Seems they always leave out some important bit of information.

    It was 37F (2.77C), last night. When I took H out for her walk this morning, there was a cold wind blowin’. But, it’s supposed to start clearing off, tonight, with a couple of nice days coming up. There was a popular children’s book, a few years back. “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs.” 🙂

    Good fertilizer = stronger plants = better weather resilience. Makes sense.

    Archaeologist seem to have no problem spinning out theories. But the whole horse / cow deposit seemed to have them nonplused. Our ancestors seemed to do a lot of building, with an eye to defensive positions. Says a lot about the general tenor of the times.

    Well, enjoy “The Stand.” I found the end a bit hokey, but, given the rest of it, I can overlook that. 🙂 . I finished “The Art of Mixing”. Stayed up WAY too late. Even so, I read a short essay, in another books.

    Dr. Oliver Sacks’s final book is “Everything in It’s Place.” It’s the last book he wrote before he died, so, it’s kind of a summing up. You may (or may not) have seen the film based on one of his books, “Awakenings.” He was a prolific writer. But, the title of one of his essays, caught my attention. “Why We Garden.” He found in his long career, that the most effective non-drug therapies for neurological problems is music and … gardening. 🙂 .

    I watched a couple of episodes of a new BBC mini-series. An updated version of “Dracula.” Of course, as time goes on, the production values get better and better. But, it seemed to drag in parts.

    You may remember when I worked in the pub, with delusions of Europe, a little Cornish lady would bring us Cornish pasties and pork pot pies, every week. To put on the menu. We heated them up, and served them with sour cream and hot mustard, on the side.

    Speaking of food, I also watched a film called “Love Sarah.” It starts off pretty grim, but is almost a rom-com. Takes place in present day, Notting Hill, in London. There are baked goods. Lots and lots of baked goods 🙂 .

    I injured a shoulder, so long ago I can’t remember where or when. But when I do my daily exercises, I do 5 gentle shoulder rolls, on that side. It … crackles. Doesn’t hurt, and keeps it flexible. Lew

  28. Hi Chris
    My wife’s recovery is going well. It will be slow. Pain level is high. She takes as small an amount of pain meds as she can get by with in order avoid the side effects. Lots to do. The local family members and friends are all very helpful. Thanks for that.

    In one day of poking around on Ewe toob I found a couple of sites on LiFePO4 batteries that you may enjoy.
    One is from a New Zealand resident who is very involved in using and testing the latest in BMS and Charge control technology’s, : entitled: Bused_AsNZ

    The other doing the same.
    Entitled: DIY Solar Power with Will Prowse

    Lots of separate segments. Take a look ! Some of best hands on stuff I’ve seen.

    I think you well enjoy. Even though your very busy in your business now.

    Cheers Al

  29. Hi Steve,

    🙂 Mate, I’m just some dude living in a remote corner of an unpopulated continent known for its rather harsh environmental conditions – what do I know?

    But I agree, outcomes can vary with the individuals – and not even the wise can know in advance how things will turn out? My sister enjoyed the same circumstances and went right off the rails. I took her example as a warning as to possibilities, and was careful not to repeat the same mistakes. But then it is always possible to make new and interesting mistakes. That’s what being human is like.

    And exactly, the past is what it was, the future however is uncertain, and that is how we can express our modicum of free will. Few people realise that – respect.

    Well that’s the thing isn’t it? There are better ways, you may want to explode and ask the hard questions at volume like: What the ….? But you don’t dare make a stand as the weight of opinion points to a dark future, and it is best to work towards a different outcome off to the side where few care to tread.

    Mate, you’re not wrong there… 🙂

    Homemade pizza and beers are a thing of greatness! 🙂 Down here that would translate to homemade pizza and fruit wines, but other than that same, same!

    Your climate is not dissimilar from where I am in relation to temperature highs and lows. Drought is not good, do you have access to town water or a well? And yes, you are behind the eight ball this season, but it is still early days and re-sowing might not be a bad idea? I spent many hours today getting next growing seasons garden beds ready.

    Hehe! Hey, the path was a test which worked so well, we’re beginning to duplicate it on the other garden terraces. I recommend adding more lime to your soil only if in other years you have quite high rainfall – which I’m guessing you do.

    Down here, the forests were never meant to be as thick as they are today, and it indicates to me a complete and utter lack of care for them. Things were not always as they are today, but I’m guessing that in the future they’ll get back to a more stable and healthy state.



  30. Hi Claire,

    I don’t know what to say. Engineers quip that you can do things: good, fast, or cheap – pick any two. COVID is surging in Seychelles, the world’s most vaccinated country. Why? There are no silver bullets here, sorry to say. I’ve heard it said that it is hard to dance with the devil on your back, and I guess that is true.

    Down here we are I guess attempting an eradication strategy by closing the international borders – it’s an option, but even today I still see people wearing masks, and there are apparently no cases in the community.

    Nice score with the inch of rain! 🙂 Always well received at the time of year you’re in. Hope your garden jumped out of the soil with the extra water?

    And yes, popcorn does seem like a good crop to grow in these uncertain times! 🙂

    Earlier today, we began getting the next two higher terraces ready for the next growing season. You’d be impressed with the almost production line looking soil amendment process! Steve is a bad influence, but in a good way. I’m about halfway through reading ‘Gardening When It Counts, Growing Food in Hard Times’, the third book of his that I’ve absorbed in quick succession. Heck, I’ve even increased plant spacings on my winter crops of kale and purple sprouting broccoli!

    Oh well, it was never meant to be easy was it?



  31. Hi Inge,

    With a hail storm and cold weather, your season sounds as if it is doing a repeat of what I experienced down here late last year, sorry to say. A hailstorm knocked the blossoms from many fruit trees – notably the plums and apricots, and yes it has that sort of squashing effect on the vegetables as well.

    Fortunately windows are vertical and so the glass – even thin glass – can deflect some of the force of a hailstorm. At lower elevations than the farm (which is 2300ft above sea level), the hail gains size and it can wreck cars. I often wonder how the glass in the solar panels would fare in such a hailstorm and am not keen to discover the answer?

    My experience has been similar to yours with such storms though in that the vegetation recovers.

    Glad to hear that your honourary (I’ve decided to use the ‘u’ in the spelling) son has safely returned. Did he have to quarantine in the US upon returning? Incidentally citizens down here don’t fare so well and are forced into hotel quarantine regardless, unless I suspect that they can bring serious money to the table.

    Ooo! Inge, you are made of tougher stuff than I, and about 3 hours of such talk is my absolute maximum before my head begins to spin! What can I say other than I am weak. 🙂 Hehe!

    And if it means anything to you, my perspective is similar to yours in that such a course should produce an outcome, not be an ongoing and never ending discussion. I rarely mention my shoulder injury as it is not my way, but maybe a week or so back I woke with the sure knowledge that I had to get back into the fray or experience a new normal. And so I went with my gut feeling – and it proved correct. I’m unsure where such intuition derives, but it was an unshakeable certainty. Between you and I, I believe I fractured my forearm and also damaged a tendon in my shoulder – no small matter, but I’m back to 90% of my former capacity now. The mind is a powerful thing.



  32. Hi Al,

    Great to hear that your wife’s recovery is going well. And it is unfortunate that with medication benefits also come costs. I tell you this, about a week ago I used some half doses of anti-inflammatory’s and the little blighters left me feeling very acidic. Nasty, unpleasant things. It is also good to hear that family are helping out. 🙂

    Thanks for the links, and I tend to defer to people with hands on experience. I’ve noticed, as perhaps so have you that: theory is one thing, reality is an entirely different affair!

    Actually, late May and early June are quiet times for me work wise, so we’re busy getting the vegetable beds ready for the next growing season. Winter may be fast approaching, but spring and summer will be just around the corner.

    The software has only lost one or two comments over many years, so it’s pretty robust.



  33. Hi Lewis,

    It’s not a bad motto, unless important information needs to be conveyed to the population – then you’re up the creek without a paddle! 🙂 Routes get dropped here too, especially if the airlines can’t make a buck flying them. Sometimes, I’ve heard that such unfashionable routes are subsidised by the authorities, but what is giveth can also be taken awayeth and so it is a dicey proposition to base a business on fickle gobarmine handouts.

    I linked to an alarming article regarding the health subject which dare not be named in my reply to Claire. Definitely worth reading.

    No, I don’t have any problems with such tools either. But yeah, and exactly, down here we put a line under such extremes. Like what sort of drama could a person be expecting to have to deploy rocket launchers at short notice? Did they expect that aliens would abduct them and teleport them and their vehicle to the Gaza strip? And only four launchers, my guess is that they’d be quickly overwhelmed. Actually that is one of the odd things about hoarders of such items. Ammo has a shelf life of like ten years, and the barrels might not even last that long if people aren’t super careful with their tools.

    The home invasion thing is a random occurrence but can happen. It is a chancy affair for the perp too as who knows what response they’ll encounter – and the law tends to go easy on people bopping perps who pull that trick. The thing to remember is not to chase the perp down the street and then bop them – that has overtones of intent and then the tables get turned on the victim, so yeah, keep such things in the house so to speak. Incidentally, who has a security system on their phone? Ah, there was an alleged tasering, possibly just for good measure. Do you know how hard it would be if it was your job to confront such perps?

    Lewis, how is it possibly warmer here last night? 41’F this morning, and the day was gloriously sunny and still. Worked on getting the next higher garden terrace ready for next summer. Had to pull out the hundreds of mouldy tasting tomatoes, and then we began putting in a path down the centre of the terrace. The new path worked so well, we’re duplicating it. So many rocks are needed though… We actually began dismantling an older project which used rocks, but was no longer required. Peak rocks is a sad thing. I also began mixing up the soil cauldron of stuff and placed about a third of it on the vegetable beds. Me feeling it tonight after much exertions. The weather for tomorrow and Sunday look equally glorious. At a month out from the winter solstice, such sunny weather is almost unheard of.

    Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs! Hehe! Very amusing – it was an animated film too if I’m not mistaken.

    I’ve never attempted to ferilise garden beds with such a broad spectrum of products before, so we’ll see how things go next growing season. I also intend to continue fertilising during next growing season as well. In some ways it is quite disturbing to think that this is how things should roll with vegetable beds… Of course I’m considering the resting (fallow) periods and crop rotations as well. It’s complicated and mildly alarming.

    The editor said something similar about the ending of The Stand, but that the story was so engrossing that the ending was a minor and inconsequential matter. It is possible that the author in question does not tend to provide satisfying endings? 🙂 I don’t believe this is a bad thing as life rarely wraps up neatly. I read an article on real life crime scene investigators and they were a bit grumpy about the neat endings portrayed in the many TV shows – and may even have said something about the publics unrealistic expectations and stuff.

    That’s a new one: Encephalitis lethargica. You wouldn’t want it, and I hadn’t heard of the film either. Robin Williams was a great actor. The doctor might be onto something with those observations. 🙂 Speaking of zombies, just asking out of pure self interest, have you heard of any recent zombie film releases? The year is err, progressing!

    Excuse the pun, but I would have thought that Dracula has been done to death? I believe that it may now be time to turn the corner on this story and turn it into a rom-com? Yes, that would be a new spin for the undead bitey one. Hey, why are all the undead bitey? Surely there is a pattern there somewhere which someone has written lengthy and learned discourses upon?

    Oooo yeah! Cold pies aren’t really my thing, but I can respect the cuisine and ate the pie cold – it was very good and incidentally the pastry and contents were dry and as such were appropriate to eat cold. A fatty pie by contrast would not be a nice experience if consumed cold. And yummo, sour cream on the side with hot mustard sounds delightful (he says taking notes).

    The Love Sarah film looks delightful – and with plentiful bakery goods. 🙂

    Yeah it is a funny thing how we accumulate knocks and bruises in this thing here called life. If you’re lucky, you start off in good condition and with high hopes. And if you’re especially lucky you avoid accidents. For the rest of us who are but mere mortals, we accumulate clicks and clacks and pops, but we know that the alternative is far more err, quiet! 😉

    The weather is so nice here, that tomorrow I’ll get back into the garden terraces. Peak Rocks, so sad, but they must be found somewhere I guess. I hadn’t realised that the next two higher garden terraces are actually longer than the one we completed last week. Oh well, rock scrounge away me hearties!

    Having a quiet evening tonight which is nice. The editor is having dinner with a mate of hers.



  34. hello Chris
    I don’t know whether honorary son had to quarantine or self isolate on return but I think not. He did have to produce a negative test. He has done very well as he was leaving Beijing just as the whole thing started.

    Terrific wind blowing ever since yesterday evening. Too dangerous for me to walk through the woods and check my post box.


  35. Yo, Chris – Interesting article that you linked to, in your reply to Claire. Prof. Mass had a post about heard immunity, a couple of days ago. He thinks we’re closer than believed, as they count vaccinated people, but not all those who had That Which Cannot Be Named. Those who survived with some immunity. Interesting take.

    There might be a guy out there with FIVE rocket launchers. Which might make four rocket launcher guy feel … small and insignificant. 🙂 Better make that last rocket, count.

    Well, I picked up two bits of country wisdom, when living out in the boonies. “If you shot a home invader, and they fall outside your door, be sure and drag them back inside.” And, “Shot, shovel and shut up.”

    According to what I read, there’s security systems of all types, these days, hooked into your phone. Everything from your doorbell to the inside of your fridge. Just so you can figure out who is launching midnight raids on the edibles.

    Our overnight temperature was back to the mid 40s, F, last night. We’re supposed to have two nice days, then back to the rain.

    So, did you taste each of the hundreds of tomatoes, just to make sure they were all moldy? 🙂 . As far as the rocks go, you could create three or four molds, and make your own rocks with cement. Make them kind of random lumpy, so you can turn them this way and that. For variety. But, oh, dear, I guess there’s a shortage of concrete. Or, you could investigate bowling balls. Pretty cheap in the op-shops. You could go with the basic black, or, they also come in all kinds of interesting swirly colors. Fluorescent?

    Speaking of shortages, my Idaho friends had read that article on saw mills. She commented that the problem was the wood wouldn’t be certified / stamped. Which I suppose would be a problem to building departments and insurance companies. Speaking of insurance and settlements, and stuff, there’s more news from the victims of the Paradise fire.

    Who in the H-E- double hockey sticks is worth $1,500 an hour?

    I discovered a new way to do searches in the library catalog, for BBC, Acorn Media and PBS DVD releases dates. There are nice neat lists for feature films, but not televised stuff. At least that I’ve been able to find. What I noticed is, there seems to be an endless stream of dreary police procedurals. I like a good mystery, but I want it to be quirky in some interesting way.

    Nothing on the zombie horizon, as far as I can see. Other than “Walking Dead: The World Beyond.” Which I have on my hold list. I figure the first season or two might be good. Then they tend to peter out.

    Well, over 200 films have been made, with Dracula as a character. Second place? Sherlock Holmes. You’d figure there’d be a rom-com in their somewhere. I did a brief search for “Dracula Rom-Com”. Search didn’t seem to be able to get past the “Rom” part. Sparkly vampires are not what I had in mind. But there was a mention of a Mel Brooks film. “Dracula: Dead and Loving It.” 1995.

    I finished watching the new “Dracula”, last night. Three episodes. The first two take place in the 1890’s. The last, present day. It was an interesting “take.” And, the slightly demented Dutch nun (a Van Helsing,) quite delightful. An atheist nun. Well, why not? Lew

  36. Hi, Chris!

    I haven’t had enough time to read your whole posts, until this evening. I am glad I got to see this one. It was really interesting. I am still here in Colorado w my folks, but at last we will all be able to leave Monday, all 4 of us. It is a funny thing about family, what you will do when it has to be done.

    I had missed about your shoulder. I hope it is much better. Thanks for the flowers! I suspect I may have some blooming at my house, after 5 1/2 weeks.

  37. Hi Pam,

    Respect for getting (almost) your folks out of there. The fires last year were a bit of a worry, and such natural disasters are not for the elderly.

    Glad you enjoyed the post, and thanks for the kind words about my shoulder. As the English are wont to say: mustn’t grumble – and so I shall not. I look forward to reading about your flowers, and wish you a safe and pleasant journey home again.



  38. Hi Inge,

    Well, your honourary son has been quite lucky to have escaped from such a locale before international relations soured. I too would have, as they say: ‘read the room’, and subsequently hightailed it out of there. He’s a clever bloke to have done so. Over the past couple of years I’ve encountered many families who left Hong Kong, and ended up down here – as you do. There is no way I would have stayed there.

    This morning I was reading about your weather this spring. Whilst you’ve mentioned that it has been cold, I had not grasped the significance of the climate extreme. The words ‘coldest April in a century’ does sound alarmingly cold: Europe has had a cold and wet spring – but will it last through summer? Hope things warm for you, and soon.



  39. Hello Chris
    The weather article was very interesting. The wind we had was 89mph, it has now died down thank goodness.
    I am having a marked difference between the growth of 2 lots of planted potatoes. One lot planted 2 weeks before the other lot are barely poking through the ground while the second lot are leafing out in abundance. At first I thought that this was due to the fact that the second lot get more sunshine but this really had ceased to make sense. Have just had a flash of an idea. The poor lot are planted where previously rhubarb grew. Am guessing that something remains in the soil that they don’t like. Have failed to access any info. on this.

    It is still cold today, my heating bill is going to be horrendous.


  40. Hi Lewis,

    The cynic in me is suggesting that based on the article I linked to, the beast is here to stay and this is now the new normal. If there was another interpretation of that outcome, I’d be curious to learn of it? If the best that science combined with bureaucracy can achieve is merely more of the same, then sooner or later people will shrug their shoulders and accept reality. It’s awful, but if the hypothesis has been put to the test and failed, well that means you have to try something else or accept things as they are. As a species we’ve come through many horrendous historical episodes and we’re still here to talk about it, so I’m guessing that we are pretty adaptable and hardy as.

    Oh yeah, beware encountering the guy with the bigger arsenal! Dare I suggest that the zombies are always unrelenting and they come in countless hordes, so Mr-four-rocket-launcher will only ever gain the briefest of reprieves from the zombie onslaught. They’ll get him in the end.

    And where the heck are these zombie films? I predicted that 2021 would produce at least zombie film, but so far – nada. Just putting it out there, what kind of penance needs doing when the new years zombie prediction utterly fails? Didn’t the ye-olde-timers wear hair shirts? A revolting concept, but I note that not everyone shares this opinion about the fashion statement.

    Had lunch today with my mates of the big shed fame. Lunch was very good and the poor host of the place apologised as he was short of staff. Although, I was happy with both the food and the service, but then I mentioned in this weeks blog about the difficulty in obtaining and possibly more importantly retaining good employees in this day and age. Oh, I digress, the food of course: A thickly cut chunk of bacon (half an inch as an estimate) with greens and a slice of toasted sour dough bread with poached egg. Very nice. Yum.

    We met for lunch up in the town of Bendigo to the north of here. The regional gallery there was running an exhibition on the very successful English fashion designer Mary Quant. My mates had purchased tickets for the exhibition for the editor and I, so I just kind of tagged along and was not sure whether this would be my kind of thing. The exhibition turned out to be very interesting – and here you may recall that I once worked as a manufacturing accountant in the clothing sector before the left leaning government pulled the tariff protections out from under the industry. The rise of the business quite interested me as the designer began with very humble beginnings before what appeared to be an eventual off shoring of the manufacturing and seeking of royalties and licensing fees. I read the story as one of rise, but also with a metaphorical yet out of plain sight concurrent fall. Very interesting, and I was candidly dubious about the exhibition. For the editor who has an interest in such things, the subject matter was like catnip.

    The advice from out in the boonies probably needs to also include the words: Use bleach to clean up the blood trail! 🙂

    Speaking of blood trails, I noticed that in my old inner urban stomping grounds someone has turned the old nearby Milk Bar (think Korean Bodega) into a very swanky house inspired by walled cities – this is why we moved out of there.

    Oh yeah, I’ve got a security system too. It’s called Ollie and he comes and tells me when there are dramas – day or night, his senses are far more perceptive than mine and he has the benefit of being awakened at the first sign of mischief. After all, he warned me of 4am perp about maybe half a year ago, who I noticed in the local paper has now been apprehended and I guess is assisting the constabulary with their inquiries. Before Ollie, there was the faithful Sir Scruffy and he performed the exact same duty to much the same effect. Phones go flat, and electronics fail, but canines can apply their experience and common sense to all manner of problems.

    Incidentally, I’ve heard about this interweb of things and find it to be a disturbing concept.

    Ah, 40’F is cold for your time of year. And here, I noticed this morning that despite the sunny weather that there were a few patches of frozen grass in the orchard – winter is here. But was your April record breakingly cold like Inge’s?

    Given the mouldy tomato suggestion is yours, I suggest that you go first! 🙂 Hey, I did taste enough fruit to get a sense of the general flavour, and it wasn’t good. Incidentally, the kiwi fruit have not yet softened, so I’m hoping that I didn’t harvest them too soon.

    I had not grasped the localised cement shortages, but yeah and sand shortages appear to be wrapped up in that story too. I’ll survive Peak Rocks, the problem simply requires more energy and resources thrown at it. I scoped out some new areas to forage for these hidden gems earlier today.

    Yes, this is true about the certification of the milled timber. And the timber also needs to be aged and dried, just like firewood. Of course if an unscrupulous person used a mix of timbers then I doubt that ruse would be easy to discover. The thing with any resource which is extracted using low energy levels, is that you have to plan years in advance. Firewood here has to be planned many years in advance as green unseasoned timber won’t burn. In fact attempting to use the stuff will cause a whole bunch of damage to the steel in the fireboxes and flues.

    The stock option looks particularly interesting. Lewis, I’m sure they’re worth it, and they earn more in an hour than I get in a week, so they must be good and the facts speak for themselves. As a side story I was cancelled long ago when I politely mentioned that charitable funds should be used for their intended purpose. Who knew that people could get so upset at such a minor observation and that in doing so long held relationships could be severed?

    The English do spend rather a lot of time and effort producing police procedural’s. As an amusing side story, I’ve read that crims treat such shows as ‘how-not-to’ manuals. I guess not all of the procedures are made up? The editor enjoyed the English series you referred sometime in the past year.

    Apologies for the fixation, but did I mention ‘series’ or ‘film’ in the prediction? I can’t honestly recall, and if I was better at politics, I’d go back and edit the new years zombie prediction! 🙂

    The actor Leslie Nielsen was certainly a hard working actor and he was an outstanding comedic actor, but to my mind the snippets I watched of the Dracula film were just OK sorry to say.

    An atheist nun is certainly an innovation. When we visited Peru a long while ago now, we encountered an historical and now abandoned nunnery which had earned quite the reputation. Unfortunately as these things go, someone must have blabbed, and the funsters higher up in the church hierarchy put an end to the fun. Proving that some folks don’t like knowing that other people are enjoying themselves!



  41. Hi Inge,

    Climate can vary wildly from place to place, but I do rather hope that you get some heat from the sun for this growing season.

    By sheer chance, the other day I read a reference which suggested that the rhubarb plant is a very heavy feeding plant. This surprised me as rhubarb grows happily in the garden beds here along with the ornamentals – although the garden beds have been very heavily mulched over the years, and most of the rhubarb plants are near to the crushed lime rock paths.

    Potatoes are a relatively undemanding crop relative to soil fertility, but still if rhubarb is a heavy feeder then who knows what was extracted from the soil?

    Can you top up the potato bed with some of your sons animal manures and then observe if the growth improves?

    Nobody really wants to experience a century record breaking cold month. It was a beautiful and sunny (but cool) day here today.



  42. Hello Chris
    I had already mixed in plenty of Son’s manure (er pig manure) before the potatoes were planted so am really puzzled.


  43. Hi Inge,

    Ooo! A mystery.

    Are you growing the same variety of potatoes? Different varieties grow at different rates and that may explain the difference.

    Also, fresh manure (appreciate your amusing addition!) is not always as good as composted manure, and manure doesn’t contain every mineral which plants require. I’d try adding other sources of compost and/or minerals/additives.

    And lastly, if you are saving your own potato seed from year to year, it is possible that yields will decline anyway, all other considerations to the side.

    Just a few wild guesses, and possibly I’m making many of these mistakes myself. I’d be very nervous about subsisting on this particular plant, but when they grow well, the tubers can contain as high as 11% protein, which is very impressive.



  44. Yo, Chris – Ohhh! An extra added bonus! A Fluffy Collective pic. LOL. Ollie looks like he’s thinking, “Oh, please. Just get on with it.” When I was growing up, we had these big family gatherings, at least once a month. Either collective birthdays or a holiday. I had three uncles that were all picture taking fools. So we all had to submit to all these pictures, before getting to the meal, hunting for the Easter eggs, or opening the presents. Family groups! All the cousins, together! Cousins with grandpa! Cousins with grandma! Cousins with grandma and grandpa! Ad nauseam.

    Oh, I’m pretty sure we’ll survive as a species. Unless there’s a raccoon coup, or something. But individually? Maybe, not so much. But so it goes.

    Maybe we’ve reached peak zombie films? 🙂 . Because of You Know What, it seems all the filming schedules have been thrown off kilter. I really wonder if some of the series, which had promising first or second seasons, will be back? And then there’s the whole move to streaming, rather than DVDs. Applies to films as well as series. Now here’s irony for you. I was looking at the library new, on order list, last night. There was this. “Bookishness: Loving Books in a Digital Age.” From what I can tell, all about the joys of the printed page. But from our library? Only available in electronic format.

    Hair shirts. To be worn hair side in, for maximum effect. Could be worse. Could be hair underwear. Which was probably done. They referred to it as “mortifying the flesh.” A nice turn of phrase.

    Odd you should mention bacon. I could smell it in the hall, when I took H for a walk, this morning. I’m sure it wasn’t as nice as yours. Did yours have a nice coarse pepper rind?

    I’m familiar with the name Mary Quant. But more familiar with her supermodel, Twiggy. Before your time, I know. Carnaby Street. And the song, “England Swings (Like a Pendulum Do), was on everyone’s lips. 1965. I didn’t link to it, do to crimes against grammar. Well, it sounds like the exhibit had something for everyone. Fabrics and construction, for some … the business aspect, for you 🙂 .

    Who wants to live in a house where you’re watched, all the time? Although there’s a whack job, just down the hall, who has her (one bedroom) apartment wired for video monitoring. Swears someone is creeping into her apartment, to put sawdust in the bottom of her cereal boxes. She lives next door to the woman with a fine collection of tin foil hats. She’s always banging on about contrails and how the WWII holocaust didn’t happen. Hope it’s not catching. I do have Elinor and another tenant, between them and me. Although sometimes I wonder about Elinor. The other night, I stopped in, and she had just lost her remote control. Minutes before I got there. So, we spent a good 15 minutes, rooting around (and in) her chair, and the pile of stuff “within easy reach.” Found out the next day that it had managed to crawl inside a box of ginger snap biscuits, she had next to her chair. Which we had both picked up, while on the hunt.

    Prof. Mass mentioned breaking this or that record, from time to time. I can’t keep up. So far, it’s a cool, wet spring. But I don’t know about records. I started reading Solomon’s book, in a serious way, last night. From his discourse on our weather, and growing things, you’d think nothing edible would grow here, at all. I noticed when I walked H, this morning, that our apple and pear tree have had a pretty heavy fruit drop. I chalk it up to lack of pollinators.

    Speaking of gardens, there’s this …

    Indigenous forest gardens. Who knew?

    I see we’re going to have some action in the sky. An eclipse, that will be seen from Australia to our neck of the woods. Here, on the 26th. There, I don’t know. Pesky International Date Line! It’s an eclipse, a super moon (12% larger! New and improved!) and a blood moon. An omen?

    I get a couple of magazines, from an old folks lobbying group. AARP. American Association of Retired Persons. They run articles from time to time, on how to tell if a charity is worth your money. Check their administrative costs. Pretty easy to find, if you know where to look. Donating to charities is kind of like recycling. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, if you don’t think about it, too much. Speaking of recycling …

    Someone’s thrown a wrench in the works, for recycling shipping containers into houses. Who are these people, and why should anyone pay attention to them?

    Well, the nuns in Peru probably couldn’t resist taking all kinds of selfies, and posting of their exploits on social media. When will people learn? Lew

  45. PS: We got one (actually, two) of our food boxes, yesterday. We’ll get the other, next Friday. The one with the produce was pretty good. Bags of oranges, potatoes, apples and carrots. A bunch of celery. One green pepper. A bag of mixed greens. A container of cherry tomatoes. The other box was all the canned and boxed stuff. Only kept the canned salmon, peaches and black beans. The rest, to the swap table.

    Everyone was glaring at me. We have a shortage of able bodied people, around here. So, pitching boxes around and moving heavy tables … I take care of Elinor and my boxes. That’s it. There’s a cautionary tale. Mike was a big, strapping fellow, when he moved in here, a year ago. Now, he’s a shadow of his former self. In and out of hospital, several times a week. They ran him ragged. Lew

  46. P.P.S. – “Army of the Dead” is coming out on Netflix, this week. There. Happy? 🙂 Lew

  47. Hello Chris
    The 2 beds have an identical variety of potato planted in them. The beds were prepared with 2 year old pig manure which had been aged with straw in it. About half of the previous used soil in the beds had been removed and compost added with the manure. The only difference apart from less sun on the poor growing lot was that they had been planted 2 weeks earlier and were in a bed which had previously grown the rhubarb. The good lot are in a bed which had runner beans the previous year. I am very very puzzled!.


  48. Hi Goran,

    Thanks for the update from afar, and apologies I accidentally deleted your comment. If it means anything to you, I would act no differently, so I hear you and good luck.

    For your interest, I’ll put in a bit more on the garden terraces soil fertilisation in tomorrow’s blog. It’s a big job, and I’m no purist and am simply utilising the products I can source locally.

    Hopefully you and your family are getting plenty of Vitamin D and fresh greens, like I do here. What else can you do?

    Better get writing!



  49. Hi Inge,

    I forgot to ask, do you replant your own tubers from year to year. I do that here, but am unsure as to what impact that will have on future yields.

    I’m no expert and frankly have been a bit lax and slapdash with the potato plant – if only because it has yielded well with minimal effort. However, the other day I was reading that aphids are a vector for spreading disease with this particular plant, and it is possible that one batch of your potatoes are struggling due to disease, whereas the other batch have not been exposed. The Fairy Wrens here hunt out aphids through the garden beds and orchards, so they are an insect pest I rarely encounter.

    When I was in Peru, I stayed with a local family for a few days and communication was difficult, but they’d grown potatoes in that area for millennia, so there must be something that we do differently in western countries with that plant. Although I note that their potatoes were sometimes a touch crystalline when compared with the soft and creamy tubers we expect to consume.

    It is an interesting story and I suspect that there is much to discover in that story. It is worth mentioning that the humble potato can readily hybridise, so a bit of plant breeding wouldn’t be a bad idea.

    And um, my Jerusalem artichokes failed to set flowers again this year. Oh well. I spotted a small stand of the tubers in the big smoke and they were far taller than I, whereas my lot failed to reach such heady heights (about two thirds my height). Dunno.



  50. Hi Lewis,

    The Fluffy Collective are forever up to mischief, and today they ran around and around outside in the warm sunshine and are now soundly asleep. Sometimes the two Kelpie girls leap through the air like Gazelles and it is possible that they enjoy running and jumping for the sheer joy of the experience.

    Hey, film was not cheap to purchase or get developed in those days. As a funny side story, people use their phones to take pictures nowadays. However, I have had numerous occasions when people tell me that they just want to show me this picture, except they can’t ever seem to find it. We’ve got a box of photos over a century old, handed down on the editors side, and we don’t know who these people are, and nobody thought to write notes on the back of the photographs. What do you do? Your family photos will be like that in the future.

    Raccoon’s seem to be pretty smart, so I wouldn’t necessarily rule out a raccoon take over. Fortunately there are no raccoons down under, so we may be the last hold out for humanity. 😉

    Thanks very much for looking into the zombie film prediction situation. Army of the Dead, well we can call the prediction a wrap and I really like their use of the Gambler song in the trailer. And zombie tigers, that’s a new one. For all we know it could have been the tiger extra in the Hangover series of films? How much fun were those series of films?

    Really? Surely your library is taking the mickey by providing that particular book in an electronic format? At the very least the format has a certain irony to it.

    Ooo! That certainly takes the hair shirt to 11, with hair-shirt under garments. Talk about itchy. Subjugating the self is hardly necessary, but I guess some people have troubles focusing their efforts and attention and such physical methods are of worth to those folks.

    I’ve never before consumed such thick bacon and it was very good and hardly fatty at all. Bacon is generally sold down here in thin slices which are then fried and that’s good too, but it wasn’t nearly as good as the thick slice. The bacon came with a beetroot based chutney which to be honest was overly complex. Beetroot has a flavour which stands alone. Curiously, there was no pepper rind sorry to say.

    Twiggy made a special guest appearance in the Blues Brothers film (yes, yes it was a musical!) with what sounded like an Australian accent, and so the name is not unknown. Twiggy driving an E-Type. Very funny and kind of awkward.

    What? The thing is if video monitoring is set up, it is very possible that someone is actually watching, sorry to say. To me, the use of technology that way is a touch invasive, but everyone is different. And some folks believe the strangest things. Funny you should mention that.

    Records by their very definition were made to be broken?

    Good to hear that you are delving into Mr Solomon’s PNW book in a serious way. The bloke has a lot to say upon the subject of vegetables. Unfortunately he didn’t say anything about berries or orchards, so I’m just kind of making it up as I go along.

    I really need to do a deep dive into the world of strawberries as that plant is very odd from many respects. Do you have any recommendations? My mates of the big shed fame were growing their strawberries at quite respectable spacings and they were continuing to produce berries whereas my lot had turned to producing runners.

    Well yeah the Indigenous folks were onto something with that particular arrangement of plants. And not to mess with your head, but the entire continent down here had been set up along similar lines. Not just gardening, but hunting, grains etc. It is rather disturbing to note just how much we’ve lost, or not understood that we could have. The farm here is an odd hybrid of those sorts of ideas.

    I’d heard about the lunar eclipse: How to see next week’s total lunar eclipse. The forecast is currently for ‘Showers easing’ so maybe the eclipse will be visible here. Hope you get a better showing? A new and larger moon is just asking to be mined for minerals!!!

    Mate, I really went with what my eyes were telling me in relation to the charity, and the news wasn’t good. I actually intended the observation to be a guide to better optics, and appear to have been cancelled as a result for my temerity. Oh well, lesson learned. And a mate of mine worked in the recycling industry and he certainly dished the dirt to me on that gear.

    Codes are used as a method of preserving the entrenched interests whilst avoiding novelty. Speaking as someone who hand built a custom one off house to a specific design, all I can say is that the system has not been established and maintained with that possibility in mind. Fortunately, I can do complex if need be. Others not so much, and container houses possibly are an affront to entrenched interests.

    True, it was all fun and games for the nuns (many of whom were from high social stations) until somebody blabbed.

    Hope the oranges were good. A few weeks ago I purchased a few batches which candidly tasted a bit off. The chickens enjoyed them. Did I mention that the Tangelo tree produced a few fruits this year? They were very good. It is not quite warm enough here to grow oranges. Do you know how hard it is to grow celery? That is one difficult plant to grow.

    Ah, thanks for the warning, and Mike suffered a brutal fate – overuse is always a possibility. And are the people who did so rallying around Mike now and supporting him in his hour of need? That is the flip side of providing your time – and funny you should mention that.



  51. Yo, Chris – My Fluffy Collective (of one) gets thrown in the tub, this afternoon. Hope she remembers to bring her shower cap!

    The new spectator sport. Watching someone flipping through their device, looking for a particular picture. I don’t have any of those family pictures. Nor, did I want them. They always used to send a set, of whatever gathering, to my great auntie, in Seattle. When I cleaned out her estate, there were boxes and boxes of them. Collect the whole set! I tossed them all. Every other family unit had theirs. I looked at a few, and the one’s of me, just creeped me out. Not a happy time. I haven’t seen any of those people, in decades.

    Probably, the Koalas will take over, down there. Your new Overlords will be rather laid back, and slightly tipsy, most of the time. 🙂 . Speaking of life in the wild … Don’t be startled by the pics. Screaming like a little girl is … undignified.

    Well, I just guess it goes to show, if you can’t be bitey and poisonous, be really, really ugly.

    Didn’t see the “Hangover” films. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. By the way, they captured the tiger, in Houston, Texas. They did a quick head count, and, apparently, no small children are missing.

    Next time I’m at the library, I’ll give them the mickey, about that one.

    The beet root chutney sounds over-the-top. Some chefs seem to think that “complex flavors” are the way to go. Not in my world. I made an apple crisp, last night, and it was pretty much a disaster. Lots of little things contributed to one big disaster. Oh, well. Next time …

    Is there anything better than “The Blues Brothers?” Nice to see Twiggy, with a few more pounds on her. That young lady was too thin. Whatever an E-type, is.

    Well, video monitoring has it’s uses. If someone is watching. Or, not. We have a few video monitors, down on the main floor. The few times they might have been useful, as when someone stole a pie, out of the communal refrigerator. Couldn’t quit lay their hands on that particular piece of film. I’ve made rude hand gestures at the thing, from time to time. Never had any feedback.

    Folks believe strange things. It seems, more and more, these days.

    Strawberries. Just happened to have a bit of truck, this year, with those. When they die back, your supposed to dig out the old plant. Plunge your trowel around them, in a circle. And let the runners … run. When I realized ours needed some attention, it was spring and they were pretty overgrown. But by testing along, with the point of my trowel, I could detect the old, woody, fibrous masses. So, I did the circular trowel thing, and dug them out. Looks like we’re going to get a bumper crop. I read up, a bit, on celery. Our climate isn’t quit right for it, and, reading about all the fiddling around with them you have to do … well, no. Speaking of gardening and agriculture, etc..

    I think I read that in our part of the world, the eclipse is going to be something like 4am. The last time we had an eclipse, I found it was a bit like watching paint dry. But, I will check out the moonrise (earlier) and catch the super and blood part.

    I’ve been circulating the word, that recycling cardboard, at this time, is pretty much eco-theatre. But, they still shove out the separate cardboard bin, and retrieve it, each week. Or, at least, Mike did.

    Mike’s got family, here. And, he has a friend, in the building, who happens to be a lady. I say it in that way, as “girlfriend” is such a loaded term. Elinor and I were talking about that. How some people just don’t “get” that men and women can sometimes be platonic friends. Heck, I knew that all the way back in high school.

    Write on, Garth! Me, I’m going out to pick more chamomile. Lew

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