Ghosts of Christmas Future

My grandfather was a major male influence in my early life. My dad left when I was so young that I can barely remember him, whilst my mother and sisters were so busy with their feminine intrigues and business, that I was basically left to my own devices and had to fend for myself. Of course, this had the positive effect that the adults accidentally forgot to indoctrinate me with right thinking.

My grandfather was an odd bloke himself. He’d grown up on a farm in the drier north western part of this state and was himself raised by his grandmother during the Great Depression. At that time an epic drought gripped this country and the conditions must have been appalling. Still the old bloke was nobody’s fool, and perhaps due to the exigencies of the time, adults also forgot to indoctrinate him with right thinking.

The old bloke died when I was a young adult, and we never really spoke as equals. Life works out that way sometimes. But after surviving the Great Depression, he sallied forth as a bomber pilot operating out of the UK. He mentioned once to me that he’d been involved in the bombing of the city of Dresden, but mostly he was silent upon the deeds done in those times, unless he was drinking a weird concoction of whiskey and milk with his WWII mates. But if memory serves me correctly, I did not hear regret from the old blokes voice when he spoke of that time.

He was something of a contrast, because after the war he’d returned home and trained as an accountant (it clearly runs in the blood), and then rose through the business ranks to become quite successful (the comparisons to me stop here), eventually working as a director for very large business. I still have the newspaper article upon his life which was published after his death. But despite the wealth and status he commanded, he grew an extensive vegetable garden in his back yard. In fact he’d converted the tennis court at the rear of the house into neat rows of vegetable beds. It was all very orderly, and he had me working hard upon them every Sunday morning for many years.

One day, he remarked to me out of the blue that: ‘those who look ahead, get ahead’. I was probably too young to really understand what the old bloke was going on about, but the words were not lost upon me as I grew older. And the distant echo of those words can still be heard even today. Some incidents in life are like that and the weight of the moment presses down hard upon your existence and the moment becomes impressed upon your soul.

It is worthwhile considering the advice the old bloke gave, for it is as prescient and relevant today, as it was back then.

The land of stuff recently closed the world’s third busiest container port due to the health subject which dare not be named. It’s only just re-opened, but the backlog of stuff would be extraordinary. I’d imagine that the land of stuff was under serious international pressure to reopen the container port for business, but then they had that pesky health subject which dares not be named.

Globalisation has never held much appeal to me. As a policy it seems lazy and entitled. Like my grandfather, I too trained as an accountant, and in my younger days I was employed as a manufacturing accountant. Back in those days the treasurer of this nation described us as a ‘banana republic’ before then lowering the protection tariffs on local manufacturing. Slowly but surely, the manufacturing sector drifted over seas and I had to move to a different area of accounting. It should be noted that the treasurer had a penchant for Ferrari’s, antique clocks and pigs which is perhaps suitably eccentric, but possibly also suggests that he didn’t have to work on a production line in order to put food upon the table (possibly except pork) and a roof over ones head.

These days, in Australia we still manufacture some things, but certainly not as much or as broad a selection as we used to. Thus the shut down of the world’s third largest container port should be ringing alarm bells down here. Due to our dependence on this source, our supply lines of stuff are extraordinarily vulnerable. Unfortunately, the media down here seems vastly more interested in the health subject which dares not be named.

The world seems full of interesting events right now. Like, it’s not every week that your country and it’s allies lose a two decade long war, but that’s what appears to have just happened. Plenty of Australian’s died or were injured in that war and I have no doubts the services folk gave it their all. The problem is that folks in other countries observed that outcome, and the forces arrayed against us, and possibly came to their own conclusions, after all, they are not burdened with right thinking western beliefs.

Speaking of interesting circumstances, our major ally is expanding its money supply at an alarming rate. In less polite terms, expanding the money supply is achieved via printing money out of thin air. And the rate of the expansion of the money supply is alarming and nearing record rates of increase not achieved since my grandfather was a bomber pilot in WWII. Many more learned folks than I suggest that this minor detail doesn’t matter. Here I must politely disagree, it does matter if only because folks in other countries are taking notice of this economic policy, and can effectively counter it.

The other day whilst at the local general store waiting for my take away coffee, I noticed that in the financial newspaper there was a minor article suggesting that a major listed electronics retailer had downgraded its profit forecasts because of the concerns that the land of stuff would not supply the ordered goodies due to the health concern which dares not be named. In fact the article went so far as to suggest that there would be serious supply shortages within months (eg: just in time for Christmas).

It is worth mentioning that the land of stuff takes payment for their goodies with money denominated in a certain allies currency. If the land of stuff wanted to cause economic mayhem, all it need do is throttle the supply of goods – and that was put to the test only just recently with the closure of the container port. One of the main risks with expanding a money supply is that if the amount of stuff doesn’t also increase, then individual people slowly but swiftly begin bidding up prices for what remaining stuff there is to be had. In less polite terms this is known as inflation and historically, it can get out of control pretty quickly. And controlling that beast and expanding the money supply at the same time are really two contradictory economic policies.

The joke of it all, and it isn’t funny at all, but I’m guessing that the land of stuff will quietly off load certain of their foreign currency reserves in order to keep afloat during this time of confusion. Already the Russians have ditched trading in our allies currency, and that was no small matter. Others I guess will follow.

We’re sure set up for some crazy days ahead. For all I know what I’m guessing won’t take place, but it sure looks like one heck of a perilous knife edge to me. But then I was never comfortable with the concept of globalisation. And my grandfathers ghost has been quietly whispering to me of late: ‘those who look ahead, get ahead’.

Some cheeky wag sprayed this notice on the local bus shelter. It used to proclaim: “Love Life’

15 thoughts on “Ghosts of Christmas Future”

  1. Hello Chris,
    Thanks for sharing your perspective on the madness in this clear and personal post. I think you look well ahead.

    I lived for 3.5 years in the land of Stuff and they are known to be patient and ruthless, in contrast to our Ally, who is only ruthless.
    Their main weakness for the last 50 years has been the lack of transparency and poor information quality, due to their authoritarian political system. Bad information leads to bad decisions.
    Unfortunately, it seems to me that the West is copying this peculiar habit. As Ugo Bardi has written, the Western University system looks more and more like the medieval Catholic Church and many of the main stream media outlets are indeed choke full of the “chattering classes” who were mentioned last week.
    Even the well-intentioned of our elected leaders get worse and worse quality information to base their decisions upon. Positive direction it is not.

    Regarding changing currency for international trade, it has been tried before. Colonel G. of the north African country L. asked to be paid in gold instead of greenbacks in 2010. 2011 he no longer did so, and his country was left in ruins. Even my honorable Scandinavian home country participated in the aerial attacks on the desert nation. Shameful.
    If the Colonel had known what we now now, he could have waited for a decade, and kept the hospitals and schools operating…

    The future will be local, as Helena Norberg-Hodge says, but in the meantime I enjoy the weekly communication with you on the other side, and all the participants in the discussions here. I enjoy it as long as it lasts.

    Take care and start knitting a scarf for a heart-warming Christmas present!


  2. Yo, Chris – Well, well, well. This is a surprise. Is your head clear? Sinuses drained? 🙂 . Now here’s the conundrum. Reply here, or over there? Both, I guess. Comment on what’s here, here, and what’s over there, there. Settled. I’m glad I had my first cup of tea, under my belt.

    But, seriously … You’ve dropped bits and pieces about your grandfather, and it’s good to see it all kind of pulled together. Did you ever read Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse – Five?”

    On December 22, Vonnegut was captured with about 50 other American soldiers.[23] Vonnegut was taken by boxcar to a prison camp south of Dresden, in Saxony. During the journey, the Royal Air Force mistakenly attacked the trains carrying Vonnegut and his fellow prisoners of war, killing about 150 of them.[24] Vonnegut was sent to Dresden, the “first fancy city [he had] ever seen.” He lived in a slaughterhouse when he got to the city, and worked in a factory that made malt syrup for pregnant women. Vonnegut recalled the sirens going off whenever another city was bombed. The Germans did not expect Dresden to be bombed, Vonnegut said. “There were very few air-raid shelters in town and no war industries, just cigarette factories, hospitals, clarinet factories.”[25]

    Dresden in 1945. More than 90 percent of the city’s center was destroyed.
    On February 13, 1945, Dresden became the target of Allied forces. In the hours and days that followed, the Allies engaged in a fierce firebombing of the city.[22] The offensive subsided on February 15, with around 25,000 civilians killed in the bombing. Vonnegut marveled at the level of both the destruction in Dresden and the secrecy that attended it. He had survived by taking refuge in a meat locker three stories underground.[8] “It was cool there, with cadavers hanging all around”, Vonnegut said. “When we came up the city was gone … They burnt the whole damn town down.”[25] Vonnegut and other American prisoners were put to work immediately after the bombing, excavating bodies from the rubble.[26] He described the activity as a “terribly elaborate Easter-egg hunt”.[25] (From Wik – Hoopia.

    (As an aside, Dresden was a transportation and communications hub. Can’t find it now, but they also had had a major optics industry. One of their products were airplane bomb sights.)

    Not such an odd experience, in wartime. There were several allied prisoner of war troops, in and around Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But we don’t talk about that much. There’s a lot we don’t talk about …

    Your grandfather’s saying were true words of wisdom. I’m sure many would find it as opaque as a zen koan. Those folks will either wake up, or fall by the wayside. The way I read it is, concentrate on what’s in front of you, today. Ignore as much of the “noise” as possible. But speculate on the course of the future, and take appropriate steps. But don’t get crazy. One can’t plan for every possible eventuality, and to try and do so … well, that way lies madness. Staying loose to accommodate possible shifts. And not feeling bad if you get blindsided, by something. Just deal with things as they are. At least, that’s my take.

    I see I’m also going to have to read Vonnegut’s “Player Piano.” Didn’t know that’s what it was about.

    As far as Afghanistan goes, the world “quagmire,” comes to mind. Or maybe “boondoggle.” Everyone from Alexander the Great to the Great Bear of the North, came to a bad end, there. We thought we could do better? Hubris and Nemesis, also come to mind. Someone had an interesting analysis, over at Mr. Greer’s. That it was great for business interests. A lot of people made a lot of money, out of that. The term “war criminals,” comes to mind. (An as an aside, we don’t have to worry about nuclear war, as, no one makes any money, out of that.)

    Personally, I feel a lot of national shame, as, once again, we have abandoned allies. And you may, or may not have seen an article, that two of our senators (bipartisan) chartered a plane, and flew over for a “look-see.” Reasons, unknown. It wasn’t mentioned in any of the articles, but I hope their return flight was stuffed full of fleeing people. Probably not. But I hope so.

    I can’t see any fault in your reasoning over MMT (Modern Monetary Theory) and globalization. Not that we can do anything about that, on a personal level. Will it all unravel? Yes. But now or later? I see this as another of those stair-steps, down. Like 2008, but probably worse. There will be some kind of recovery, but a lot of things won’t be the same. Best keep your grandfather’s koan, in mind. Thanks for sharing it. Lew

    (and, now to channel surf, back to another part of the forest …)

  3. Hi Goran,

    Thanks for the thumbs up regarding the essay! Truth to tell, I had a really weird incident on Tuesday morning, which I’ll write about for the next essay on Sunday night. That was the impetus for spelling out my thoughts yesterday.

    Patience is a frightening virtue, or as the Klingons put it: “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Yes, I have no doubts that their unique view on time and cycles would create vast cultural differences. Certainly, they are out to cause carnage, for their own gain, and I can’t blame them for acting that way. Candidly, we’ve done no better.

    The thing is though, I tend to believe that populations can shoulder the burden of a shared sacrifice. Historically this has occurred umpteen times and we’re comfortable with that. And Peak Oil can be dealt with on that basis. The awful thing is that it appears that our leaders and policy makers don’t wish to suffer any loss, and in so doing they are the instrument of their undoing. It needn’t have been that way.

    My hunch is that your part of the world will do OK in the short term as the land of stuff has to offload the goodies they produce in order to pay for the stuff they don’t have within their own borders. But mark my words, there is an old saying about: ‘there but for the grace of god go I’. And basically, what it refers to is that things will be OK for a while, until they are not OK. We on the other hand are surely in for an interesting time. The land of stuff has been courting the Brazilian’s so as to cut their dependency upon our iron ore – and they appear to be making headway.

    Yes, Colonel G of L was an early adopter and so paid the price. I am fully aware of that story. The thing is, the more impotent you look on an international stage, the more other countries tell you to go and get stuffed. And it really is as simple as that.

    I too enjoy speaking with you, and feel the need to mention that many of the fruit trees are just beginning to burst forth with post winter vitality! Fingers crossed that any future frost has the good manners to not visit. 🙂

    Exactly. The future will indeed be local. How could it be otherwise?



  4. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for providing the information on the hazelnuts, and that talk of moderate climates suggest that they’ll do really well here. At this stage I have two shrubs and they seem to be growing well, if slowly. The soil feeding efforts of the past year appear to be paying off, and the orchards are generally growing really well and much faster than in previous years. I reckon I’m putting down about 2,500 pounds of agricultural lime and about three times that of coffee grounds. It’s a heady mixture, and also an utter experiment with an unknown outcome!

    Actually today was really lovely and we mixed up the final batch of soil additives which we placed in the strawberry bed and also the old sapling fenced tomato enclosure. It is a massive job, which is now done. With the strawberries I removed all of the runners which had established themselves in the path and then as an experiment I took the brush-cutter to the remaining plants. Claire has long suggested that I should simply mow the plants, and so I thought – why not? It will be interesting to see how the plants recover. Also there are plans to discontinue using woody composted mulch for the paths in the three berry enclosures and instead use the crushed rock with lime. The farm is actually getting easier to maintain each year, but it takes a lot of work and resources before it gets that way.

    Dare I suggest that as you coyly aver, some pumpkins may now be of uncertain parentage? Such things are ordinarily not discussed in polite company – which fortunately we are not! 🙂 Yeah, I was aware of that ability with pumpkins and now stick to only producing a few varieties which for one reason or another can’t interbreed. Actually over the past decade and a bit we’ve really narrowed down the question: what the heck grows well here most years. There are some varieties I’d really like to grow, but they’re really marginal and will do well some years and then nothing other years. Watermelon is like that, and despite the pleasure I gain from eating them fresh from the garden, they’re not reliable enough – even the really cold tolerant varieties.

    I hadn’t known that pumpkin carving was an Irish custom. Makes sense though. Mate the orange ones really are never seen here. Our locally bred pumpkins are known as Queensland Blue, and they really have a very unappetising blue-grey skin. The meat of the pumpkin however is quite orange. I wonder why there is such a difference. Hmm. … … Oh! Turns out that there are some orange varieties. Here is a link to the local gardening club: Pumpkins. Maybe I need to get out more? 🙂

    Lewis, what is the definition of hubris? Not many slugs indeed. If memory serves me correctly, it has not always been thus. Although, you might have gained the upper hand on those pesky slimy critters.

    I’m with you and Josh (well done too!) garbage disposal units in sinks are a bit of a waste of time. We collect all of the organic scraps that can’t be fed to either the chickens or the dogs, and then I just simply chuck them in the worm farm sewage system via the lid. The worms then perform their magic on the stuff. There might be a simpler system, but I’m unsure what it would be. Having said that though, your digging the stuff into the garden beds is pretty much the same system. It just works.

    Ah yes of course, and thanks for the correction: The Good People. Seriously, I feel the need to watch the Gladiator film. Not sure where that came from, but you guys do keep mentioning the film.

    Yes, and I reckon you’ve hit the nail on the head. So the author comes from out of left field and writes a book that finds a wide audience and in the process manages to upset the well established apple cart. And so the criticism kind of looked personal to me. There is an old adage about: Don’t attack the idea, attack the man. And I kind of saw that playing out in the criticism. The author has an interesting story to tell, and it’s all about food. One point that interests me is that there is a discussion about the differences between areas where root plants were consumed versus grain plants. And there is a native rice which sounds super interesting. I might have to get some of these plants growing.

    Hey, nice one with the customer. Good stuff. It is always fun surprising people with knowledge.

    Not to put too fine a point upon the subject, but I’m down to one light bulb in this room this evening, and utterly forgot to replace the other blown globe. Hopefully no harm comes of all of this. Incidentally I always purchase ‘warm white’ globes which put out a more pleasing yellow light. The glaring bright white/blue light hurts my eyes.

    Blessed are those trucks with simple electronics, for they shall endure. 🙂 The dirt rat Suzuki is now 17 years old and is super-hardy. There will be tears the day that it can no longer be relied upon, for the valiant steed has performed many a miracle. Dare I suggest that you could always add in an electric window winder kit! 🙂 Bad Chris… Hehe!

    Great to hear that your Currier and Ives print arrived intact and is as good as you’d expected. Truth to tell, I’m relieved the spare modem turned up in the mail yesterday.

    Mate, I’ll really try to get to the International dog day video.

    You make a solid point, and well I did need to vent my spleen. The incident on Tuesday morning, really troubled me. My thought at the time was: right, so this is where we are at. And whilst time does provide a certain amount of distance, I kind of feel that something odd has changed in the level of public discourse. The problem is that pointing at one area, does not removed my natural curiosity from taking a peek at what is going on in other areas. It would be nice sometimes to lack curiosity, but then there really is a lot going on right now, and if ya blink, ya might miss it! Hey, how good was the graffiti? Some cheeky scamp sprayed that at the local bus stop a few days ago. And the graffiti previously used to declare: Love Life. Something has changed.

    I have read Vonnegut’s most excellent book and the connection was not lost on me. Mate, as far as I can understand things, the problem with being in an experiment, is that you might end up an experimental subject, and there are times that our fellow humans can do the most horrid of things to other folks, just to see what happens. It makes for an exciting and uncertain experience.

    The Germans are hardly in a moral position to complain about the outcome.

    That does happen, no doubts about it. That occurrence was a minor side story in a Clint Eastwood film I watched a while ago: Kelly’s Heroes. The Allies mistook the heroes for Germans and shot up the heroes transport, whereupon they then had to walk the remainder of the journey. And yes, there is an awful lot we don’t talk about. Oh yeah.

    Hey, I really like your take on those words of wisdom, and candidly follow a similar route through the quagmire that is today’s civilisation. Not getting crazy is not as easy to achieve as you’d imagine. One can but only do their best in trying times. And thanks for the advice about not worrying about getting blindsided. Mate it happens. What did the old timers say about the best laid plans of mice and men?

    Far out, if Alexander the Great (the name implies an awesome level of competency) came unstuck in those far distant countries, then why ever did we imagine that we could do better? There are consequences for losing a war. It is not lost on me that not long after the US pulled out of Vietnam (or around that time), the oil crisis took place. Always the vultures are circling looking for a weakness.

    Well the lack of nuclear possibilities in that field were probably a good thing. As a wild hunch, they’d pull the trigger.

    Mate, our gobarmint had a lot of trouble pulling out the last of our citizens and their families. By all accounts it did not sound like an orderly retreat.

    I’m with you, this MMT gorilla is far larger and tougher than you or I, and it will wander doing its will until it tires and promptly falls flat on its face. And yes, I expect 2008 to be a mild pre bout warm up. A cheeky scamp might also posit the unusual theory that 2008 was but a fluffer incident. I hope we are both wrong in this regard. But change wends its way through our lives and does what it will.

    But until then… 🙂



  5. Well said, Chris, well said. I think our friend Lew (hello!) mentioned the word “Boondoggle”.

    Hope you are well in this strange weather of contemporary reality & keep on looking ahead.

  6. Yo, Chris – Late, today, as …. I got my truck back! More on that later, all in good time, don’t want to loose the plot. 🙂

    Sounds like you have a good start, on your Hazelnuts. Some Australian guy said, “It all starts with the soil.” 🙂 Looks like they grow in a wide range of climates. Originally native to eastern and southern Europe. Of course, now you need to find the nutcracker and picks.

    At an op-shop, near you.

    We have woody mulch, between some of our beds. Generally, a mess. I’m beginning to wonder about the overwinter care, of our strawberry bed. Last year, digging out the old root balls, worked a treat. We had a good crop. So, I should do that again, and, maybe a bit of fertilizing.

    I notice one of the gardeners has what looks like a cantaloupe. Quit small. Melons, of all kinds, really don’t do well, here. Just a climate zone, or two, too cold. It’s the Garden Thief’s patch. Maybe I should … no. Bad Lew! I don’t care for cantaloupe, anyway. That’s quit a selection of pumpkins, down there. I see they have one of the mammoth varieties. One of the nurseries, in town, has a competition every year. I’ve seen some real monsters, out front. It’s just a competition thing. As I’ve been told the flesh tastes like ca-ca. But I really don’t see the intense orange, we have (might be the pictures), except, some of the little guys. You know, if you grew some of the little one’s, and saved the seed from the largest one or two, I bet in a couple of years you’d have good sized, orange pumpkins.

    I didn’t mention to Josh what I do with my scraps. He probably wouldn’t care, but a misplaced comment might bring the Regime down on me. I can hear them now. “Draws rodents!” Well, not so far. I’ve never seen a burial site, disturbed. They said the same thing when they did away with our food pantry.

    The author of “Dark Emu” had the same problem as the Shakespeare guy, I read about a few months ago. Not the right degree, from the right place. Tectonic plate theory went through the same, long, process. But is now generally accepted, as all the old buffalos, died off.

    We also have a native rice, but it only grows around the lakes of Minnesota and Wisconsin. They do, or did, grow some commercial varieties, in our SE. I need to look into dry land rice.

    The truck. Now, I know bumpus, about things with wheels. But second hand, Frank pretty much laid it out. Initially, it was the battery. Dying. Beyond a certain point, the relays stop working. And, the computer shuts down. So, there was that. All four shocks, were shot. Frank always shows you the parts, replaced. They did look pretty sad. But the big crisis averted was, the fan clutch (whatever that is… a round gray wheel, with teeth) was on the verge of failure. It would have flown apart and probably punctured my radiator. It also looked very sad and worn. He also changed the oil and filters … a general tune up. So. All told, with the towing charge and new battery, it was just under $700. Which I don’t think is bad at all. I was surprised when he called, yesterday, to say it was done. Said he had a cancellation, and a job that got finished, sooner than expected. But I wonder. I always pay cash. Might have got me moved up the queue, a bit? 🙂 . Not that I expected that. I was fully prepared to wait til the 17th.

    I can still drive. Kind of. I stopped by the Club, and had a cuppa. Didn’t really know anyone there, but talked to a few people. Went to the library. I’ll go to the Club, tomorrow morning, and hang with JoAnn, while she works the counter. There will be some serious grocery shopping done, next week. At one point I was down to one (1) roll of toilet paper! All will not be right with the world, until I get back to the optimum, 42.

    The guy who’s selling all the Currier and Ives lithographs, has quit a few listed, right now. But most of them aren’t subjects I’m interested in. Luckily. Racing and trotting horses. Sporting prints … hunting dogs, fishing, etc.. Clipper ships. They can be quit pricey, especially the large folio lithographs. I jotted down some prices. Now, E Buy auctions can be listed, you may have noticed, with a starting bid price. But there may also be a “buy it now” price, which is generally more. Some of his prints he lists with both. Some are bid only.

    There’s “Train Scene – Danger Signal.” Bidding starts at $1,500. Trains are popular, and I guess this is a rare one. “Life on the Prairie – Trapper’s Defense.” Starting bid, $5,500 … Buy It Now, $7,500. It’s a scene of a fur trapper, and his trusty indigenous guide, being borne down on by a prairie fire. They’re lighting a back fire. Fire’s are always hot sellers. Who knows why? There’s another copy of this, in poor shape. Bidding starts at $750. “American Forest – Maple Sugaring.” $2,000 starting bid. “Winter in the Country – Getting Ice.” $550 to start. “Winter in the Country – Old Grist Mill”, $550 to start.

    I got to wondering if, when some of these country scenes were published, city people bought them, from a sense of nostalgia? Seems like there were a lot of country scenes, and country cottages.

    I should have just posted a picture, of the Alexandrian dog mosaic. A video is overkill. 🙂 So, here …

    By the way, just out of curiosity, I checked out how much a vintage RCA Nipper store display, are going for. $1,000+. Vintage salt and peppers can be had for around $10. They made a lot of them.

    The new graffiti is a show stopper. Something the Monster Shouter, in “The Stand,” would come up with.

    We got a food box, today. I think they’re trying to poison us. 🙂 . A bag of fried pork rinds, a box of Ritz crackers (palm oil) and a bag of candy bars. But there was some good stuff, in there. Canned wild salmon, some good canned soups. A bottle of a good brand of dill pickles. Canned black beans.

    The ending of your post, to me, made me quit blush (well, not really, being a sophisticated man of the world …). A fluffer is an occupation, found in the adult entertainment industry. I’ll leave it to you, to figure out their job description. Then you can blush, too. 🙂 . Lew

  7. Hi Justin,

    Nice to hear from you. 🙂 And also thanks very much for your words of support. One of the things which I find to be rather alarming at the moment is that voices of dissent are quashed and deplatformed. If truths were self evident, this outcome would be superfluous and even unnecessary, but alas it happens.

    Yes, I have one eye upon the past, another on the present, and another which is considering the near future. Contemporary reality indeed! Mate, a person can but only do their best in trying times. Respect for your work too. 🙂



  8. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah that bloke down under seems to know a thing or two about soil, and I respect that. He’s alright that bloke.

    Hey, so and thanks for the antique nut cracker rabbit hole, there was a vintage Australian Mulga hand cranked nut cracker comport which attracted my eye. A few years ago I heard of a film titled ‘bush mechanics’, and the indigenous folks cleverly fashioned a clutch plate out of Mulga wood and then drove their vehicle using that. Now the Mulga species exceeds the hardness of my local variety of Eucalyptus trees by almost 50%. They’re a species of wattle (Acacia) rather than Eucalyptus and are super hardy and live in semi-arid environments where annual rainfall is as low as ten inches. Ooo, I just discovered on another rabbit hole that the local species of Acacia tree was used to produce an analgesic from the tree. Who knew?

    You may be amazed at the photos in tomorrow evenings essay, but we have quietly ditched the use of composted woody mulch in between garden beds. And replaced it with… well I can’t reveal all of my secrets in advance now, can I?

    My mates of the big shed fame showed me in no uncertain terms earlier this year that my management of the strawberries was less than ideal. I observed their widely spaced plants producing tasty berries long after my more densely planted specimens had given up the ghost. Things needed to change… Yes indeedy, did they need to change. And the change took place yesterday and today in that enclosure.

    Your strawberry system has much to commend it, and candidly is not that much different than the system we’ve swung into action.

    Yeah, cantaloupes and water melon – I’ve heard the stories, tested the varieties, and then got smacked down hard by reality. If your soil doesn’t get warm enough, then mate you’re stuffed. And some seasons here it gets warm enough for those plants, but do I waste the growing space on the off chance that the varieties produce something worthwhile? It is also possible that I have not allocated enough growing space. There are plans to correct this, but time, energy and resources are limited and we all move through a life of just picking and choosing (some more than others, that’s for sure) and can only ever but hope that we got things right.

    Yeah, I hear you about the misplaced words and we can only ever navigate the social scene that we find ourselves in – and possibly also tell Josh that you chuck organic stuff in the bin instead.

    Bruce Pascoe the author does seem to have suffered more than the ordinary level of criticism for daring to pen the book: ‘Dark Emu’. Hadn’t realised that Shakespeare had ruffled feathers for moving outside his lane, although truth to tell most people can name him, but who now cares as to his detractors. I suspect whomever was Shakespeare, the person was probably well aware of the currents they upset, and from another perspective altogether, the bloke allowed us to rise beyond the day and glimpse a greatness which would throw light into dark places.

    Dryland rice is not a bad idea. The varieties here were apparently a purple colour, very tasty and grew in semi arid areas. What a plant. I don’t even know where to start with such leads.

    It is an honest mechanic which shows you the worn or damaged parts. In my experience the bill supplied to you by Frank seems like good value, so yeah, not bad at all is an excellent outcome. In some areas, cash does have an allure all its own. Most businesses though grow beyond that point, and I don’t deal with any whom would be so tempted by the filthy lucre, and honestly there are times when I suspect gobarmint folks believe there is more of that stuff going on than there actually is. The systems are such that to go outside the system, then you are outside the system – with all the problems that brings.

    Hope you enjoy your chat with your mate at the Club, and in these days such things are more important than you’d guess at. Oh my gawd! Mate, the lack of 42 rolls may have put you at serious risk. Stay safe, and get that larder stocked up. A more important aspect of the problem than you may at first recognise. 😉

    The buy it now auctions always give me a rough idea as to what sort of ambit claim the seller wants. The thing is though, stuff is only worth what someone can and will pay for it. We’ve had this conversation before and people have abstract notions as to the value of whatever, and well, it’s abstract. Reality is someone handing over the readies at an agreed price. Abstractions can be distracting to such a negotiation.

    Earlier this morning your words: Train Scene – Danger Signal, in relation to the Currier and Ives prints brought to mind a rather distant but fondly remembered memory of: The Railway Children (1970 film). A blast from the past, man.

    Some of those prints are candidly a bit pricey for my tastes. And that is the thing. You know I’ve read that in times of economic hardship that there is a ‘call to the nostalgia of the past’. I recall during the recession of the 1990’s that somehow lace and country simplicity became a bit of a design thing. Beats me, but it was. And as the economy warmed up again, this movement was ditched for what I describe as the ‘glass and chrome’ era (which I wasn’t a fan of). In only recent times, people sought to turn their homes into a replica of a hotel suite, as if nobody actually lived in such a place. That was weird. The editor and I just took from whatever physical arrangements pleased us and was easy to live with, and then just went and built that. I have this odd notion that other people would find this house to be too quirky for their tastes, but I don’t really know.

    Mate, I really tried with the video, but ended up working late around the farm yesterday and then by the time that was done and I replied to your lovely comment, I was done and fell asleep. I’d previously fallen asleep in a super hot bath after the work day was done. To be honest, I have had too much mental stimulation of late and have had to take corrective action and am now on the other side of that inverted bell shaped curve.

    The mischievous dog mosaic is nothing short of astounding. The detail is exquisite and even the most casual observer of the mosaic knows the mind of the dog. Oh my, that is a work of excellence, but beyond.

    Nipper looks like a smaller version of Ollie. What the… I’ve known a Jack Russell many years ago and she was a superb dog. Like the recently departed Scritchy, but perhaps better mannered and more responsive to suggestions. Nipper is however a more distinguished and accomplished canine than those rapscallions.

    Ooooo! The graffiti is pretty creepy though, and yes the comparison with the fine works of the Monster Shouter, in “The Stand, is very apt. When I first noticed the graffiti a week or so back I did wonder what was going on in the mind of the person who penned it. The bus stop is incidentally a kids school bus stop, and the previous graffiti really did proclaim in large letters ‘Love Life’. How the dark storm clouds have gathered over the land since those only recent days.

    Hehe! Yes, you may be right there. Stay safe, and keep alert for mischief. 🙂 I’m sure I’ve told you the story of the dietician who made the quip that her grandmother killed off her grandfather with an inappropriate diet? Mate, the box sounds like a mixed bag to me, so did you partake in the bag of fried pork rinds? Not even sure what they are, although it sounds like the basis of a tasty dish.

    OK, so here I’m busted with introducing obscure career paths. 🙂 So I learned of such a career option when I was rather startled whilst also blushing when reading upon the realities of horse breeding. Who knew that there were fluffer stud horses? And I let go an epic laugh at the line in the article: All he wanted was a bit of action… Who knew such things went on? It was all very amusing. Ah yes, life on the farm where everybody knows your business and there are no secrets!!!

    It was a really lovely and sunny day here today. Spring is on the way. Had a really long catch up with friends this afternoon. And this morning planted out the replacement Lemon Meyer. Best to hedge one’s bets in this case, and the original decade old Lemon Meyer doesn’t appear to be suffering disease after its recent heavy prune, but I guess time will tell. Mostly I’ve been pruning the citrus tree branches away from the ground these days, but it was a bit late for that particular decade old tree. Oh well.



  9. Yo, Chris – I’ll keep that in mind, about the Acacia tree. But if I need a good analgesic, I’ll probably stick with white willow. 🙂 .

    The Big Shed fellows, might have had everbearing strawberries. As far as a “system” goes, I just followed the advice of the Master Gardeners. I’m always surprised when something I try, works. 🙂 . Just feel around with the point of a trowel, for a woody mass, dig it out, and leave the runners, behind.

    Well, Josh didn’t ask about kitchen scraps, and I wasn’t going to volunteer any information. I think it’s off his radar. They just go to the Land of Away. Or, maybe he woke up in the middle of the night, and wondered “What does he do with his kitchen scraps?” Probably, not.

    Well, small business. Claim as little income as possible, claim as many deductions (legal), as possible. Hope for the best. I think I mentioned that any restaurant, or bar I worked in, any time there was a new employee, they’d be quietly taken aside and instructed in how much to declare of their tips. Just so everyone was on the same page. 30-50% seemed standard.

    I went to the grocery store, last night, just cause I could 🙂 . I find that in the 9 months I didn’t drive, I’m more night blind, than before. In well lit areas, I’m fine. But in dark areas, not so much. Oh, well. I seldom go out at night, anyway, and the path to the grocery is well worn. Stopped by the Club, this morning to gas with JoAnn. Had a cuppa. Dropped off several boxes of canned stuff, for our pantry.

    I remember the “Railway Children.” I could never quit get into the books, but did watch, and enjoy, the film. When I was at the library, I was talking to one of the employees about “The Station Agent.” She mentioned she’d seen “I Think We’re Alone Now.” That’s the end of the world film, with Peter Dinklage, that came out about four years ago. They happened to have a copy on the shelf, so, I picked it up to watch again. Resonates more, now.

    Speaking of strawberries (we were, weren’t we?), the print seller just listed a Currier & Ives called “Strawberries.” Quit nice. It’s a small folio, only $25 to start. But, there’s still 8 days to run, in the auction. I really like it, and, will probably bid if it doesn’t go much higher.

    I was curious as to why the maple sugaring lithograph, was so expensive. Well, there’s more to the story. It’s a double sided print. Which is rare. On the back is one of the clipper ships. The seller speculates that one of the prints didn’t sell, well, and so they just printed something else on the back, to save paper. It’s also large folio, in good shape. Still, $2,000 … If he gets no bids, he’ll probably re-list it, for less.

    A new listing is for “The Famous Trotting Horse Dexter.” 🙂 $65 to start, but it already has one bid, and there’s six days to run in the auction. There are several nice snow scenes, but the Currier and Ives one’s start at $100+. I like them, but not that much 🙂 . There is one by another company, same time period, that starts at $35. Currier and Ives also did a series called, “American Fireman.” The seller listed three in the series, all starting at $250. Anything to do with fire seems to bring a premium. Pyromaniac collectors? 🙂 Also listed one called “Prairie Fires of the Great West.” Small folio. A train, a fire, buffalo. Starts at $250. No bids, yet. Train and fire. Dual collectible. Bet it goes high.

    I think your place is quit nice, what we’ve seen of it. Interesting decor, here and there, but nothing overwhelming. Things that look like they have interesting stories.

    Maybe the graffiti artist was trying to say, “I despair, therefore you should too.” Or, maybe, “This will shock Mum.” 🙂 .

    To add insult to injury, the pork rinds were barbecue flavored. To the swap table, they went. I think I forgot to mention, we also got a dozen pretty good eggs, and, a big bag of nice looking cherries. Think I’ll make a crisp, from those. Maybe add some plumped dried cranberries.

    The U.S. Department of Labor keeps extensive lists of occupations. A brief look, yielded no information on the occupation, under discussion. 🙂 . They also do an “Occupational Outlook Handbook.” No joy there, either. So I guess it’s an occupation with no future 🙂 . Lew

  10. Been rather hectic here of late, so have not chimed in much. But this midweek post is a rather rare event! Something must have really jarred the routine. I’ll find out tomorrow. Have you ever before done a second weekly post??

    Globally, as well as locally, tensions keep rising, and the chatter is getting a bit pointed. Many factors besides the health subject that will not be named are in play. I can see why people are wound tight lately.

    I left facebook a couple years ago, but social media is indeed a power we don’t fully comprehend or realize how difficult it will be to avoid its influence.

    The annual cycle goes on regardless, as you well document in your posts. We are in full harvest and preservation mode in the northern hemisphere right now, and I start picking our hazelnuts Monday.

    Didn’t read all the comments, but wondered if anyone commented on the graffiti as possibly referencing the Terminator 2 movie and its dark warnings?

  11. Hi Steve,

    You’re at the business end of the growing season, and thanks for taking the time to drop by and say hello. It is a rare event, and a one off essay. I don’t usually discuss the big issues of the day, mostly because other more learned people than I take the time to do just that, but mate nobody is talking about this stuff. And down here the crazy factor has been taken up to 11 on the dial. I always knew that things would get strange as things strained towards a breaking point, but what is going on today is way beyond my imagination. Probably I just need to get out more! 🙂

    Mate, not to put too fine a point on it, but we (and we were up to our eyeballs in that affair as well) just lost a twenty year war. It surprises me that nobody seems to think that there are no consequences for that loss. I guess what I’m learning is that things don’t matter, until they do matter, and then you’re in a whole different world.

    Exactly, the annual cycle ploughs on and us who engage with that get to learn and grow along with the crops. It is a lovely way of living. 🙂

    Loved that film, and the first instalment was great too. I sometimes think of the final scene where the Mexican bloke pronounces that ‘a storm is coming’. A great film and made on the smell of an oily rag – although you wouldn’t know it.



  12. Hi Lewis,

    Truth to tell, I’d stick to the willow bark as well. I grow a number of varieties, and the small trees grow really well here. The thing is, it is nice to know that the Acacia produces an analgesic, but the knowledge of how to extract that is beyond my ken.

    Hey, the neighbours property is now under offer. Rural property is selling like hot cakes right now, so I’m guessing the mood in the big smoke is not that great – which is hardly surprising. I’ll be interested to see if the next owners can engage with the land, and there is a part of me which suggests that their property was more easily sold as people could peek down and seen for themselves what we were up to with their own eyes. The thing is though, will the people cope with the long slow slog and the many compromises? Maybe, but time will resolve that question.

    What are ever bearing strawberries? I doubt they had such a variety as their winters can get slightly colder and more exposed to the winds than here, despite this farm being at higher altitude (it is a more protected site). The guys are in the process of growing a wind break, but such a project takes time and years. I have suggested to them that a wind turbine would work very well where they are. Even solar PV would work better there than here as their aspect is quite good and as such they have a longer growing season, despite the exposure to the winds. Land is such a mixed bag and every single chunk of land has its benefits and pitfalls, and until you’ve had the years of experience under your belt, I don’t really know how a person would understand what needs to happen. The cultural knowledge has just been kind of forgotten as our population became more urbanised, and few think to go as far as to ask the indigenous folks as to their knowledge – and then engage with that.

    I’ve heard people suggest that with land you have to start with a design, but I politely disagree and retort with the old adage that: ‘few plans survive engagement with the enemy’, and also Mike Tyson’s quote that: ‘everyone has a plan, until they get a punch in the face.’ He might have been onto something with that quip. 🙂

    Hehe! Yes, probably not is the way things went. Ah, isn’t the land of away a beautiful place where unicorns dance and frolic amongst the refuse?

    I don’t ever recall being involved in the accounts of a food business. Before the current craziness, when the editor and I were actually allowed to consume food at small and quirky restaurants in the big smoke, I began leaving cash tips for the business when I settled the bill. It is none of my affair how they managed that side of things, but it was appreciated. They had a tough time of it back then, and now things have only gotten worse. The thing with the food delivery platforms is that I’m guessing they take the margin of the small businesses. A casual discussion I had maybe a year or so back with a lady who owned a fish and chip shop alerted me to the situation. I have strong reservations as to their survival given the current situation – which is extending far and away into the future.

    Time can be unkind. I dunno about you, but newer vehicles have these brilliant arctic white headlights which dazzle my eyes late at night. It is one of those technologies which seems super selfish. It wasn’t all that long ago when car lights were a softer yellow light. As I once heard recounted that an elderly lady quipped: Nice for some. Very cutting, but probably made little impact on the situation.

    Out of curiosity, how was the food bank going? I’ve heard accounts from the big smoke that those services are struggling, and some have been shut down due to fears of the health subject which dares not be named. I guess it is preferable if some folks and their families starve.

    OK, I admit defeat and can only acknowledge your prowess as well as the great actor: Peter Dinklage. The film has been added to the to-watch list. Actually I really enjoyed the other film and the utopian view of that fictional world kind of gave me the creeps.

    Best of luck with the err, strawberry auction. You know, it’s kind of nice to surround yourself with things that are pleasing, and most of the walls here are adorned with art which we’ve picked up along the way. Most of the art is not high end, but they are simply there to bring pleasure and enjoyment. Plus there are the memories of the acquisition and the times associated with that.

    I’d never heard of Dexter the horse: “The famous trotter “Dexter,” and his driver Budd Doble, were two of the most sensational racers of the day.” I see your Dexter (not the other more blood thirsty Dexter, but the horse) and raise you: Phar Lap. Poisoned, apparently. What a furore.

    Currier and Ives kind of performed the services that a photographer might perform today. There are times where major incidents – or nay, achievements – of note demand that they be recorded, and thus the flexible artist might earn a tidy living in a downturn.

    Thanks, and we do aim for a sort of understated pragmatic pleasantness about this house and the immediate area. Other folks may desire other things and I’m good with that. As you would well know, the things we surround ourselves with gain a certain sort of mojo, and we live with that.

    Not sure really what to make of the graffiti artist, but here is the thing. Today I just happened to be on the other side of the mountain range and noted that at a bus stop, the same words were spray painted. It gave me the chills is what that did. Mind you, it was kind of cold and damp here today.

    Your impending crisp sounds delightful and has now set my mouth to salivating. Yum!

    Well, there is truth in what you write. The tech moguls do love a goodly dose of intermediation, and for all I know they may be correct. Time will reveal the veracity of that supposition. Mate, I dunno, some folks get into that industry and try to make a living from it. My gut feeling is that they are up against the ropes. Even the earliest of film technology was used to take naughty pictures. It happens and I’m guessing that it is a primary driver of us humans.

    Better get writing.



  13. Yo, Chris – That’s interesting about the neighboring property. “Sale Pending,” as they say, here. But then, “There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip.” (Old English Proverb.) Maybe it will be a nice religious family, with a dozen free range children. You can teach them the way of the Bush. Uncle Chris and Auntie Editor. 🙂 .

    If you want the gods to laugh, make plans. The land has it’s own dictates and agenda. It has “bones”, that kind of give you a place to start, if one pays attention. Things like a stream or slope, in your case. Then there are more ephemeral things. Fauna … weather. It’s all quit complicated.

    Everbearing strawberries flower and fruit two or three times in a season. A shallow dive down the rabbit hole mentions they don’t have as many runners.

    “Cash is king.” I wondered where that had come from.

    Yup. The Powers that be, in a lot of quarters, would rather do away with cash. So much easier to track those ones and zeros, rather than all that filthy lucre, sloshing around. There has been resistance.

    Food banks do the best they can, with what they’ve got. As I understand it, not only do they take donations of food, but also use cash donations to buy things. Our food boxes have got a bit thin, in some areas. Both of them come from different food banks. I haven’t seen canned diced tomatoes, in at least three months. Same with canned garbanzo beans. Our one food box is what they call “government commodities.” Some of that is food the government has bought, to prop up prices.

    Poor Phar Lap! Ended up stuffed, like Roy Rogers horse Trigger.

    Maybe your graffiti artist is just a religious nutter? Now what gave me chills, was this …

    I noticed some bees were at my Siberian Mammoth Sunflowers. I picked some tomatoes, yesterday, and have two and a half racks in the dehydrator. Filled in the last rack with zucchini chips. Borrowed a cherry pitter, from Elinor last night. Thought I had one. Nope. Lew

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