Another week has gone by, and somehow another insurance bill has increased. This time the increase was 17.4% over last years bill, which at least wasn’t as bad as the 20% increase in that other earlier insurance bill. Mathematics isn’t my forte, possibly due to the constant interruptions from the school bully in year nine. And for all I know, I could have been a Nobel laureate in the field of mathematics, but alas for humanity, that possibility vanished in year nine.

Even so, and despite the school bullies best intentions, I picked up at least some semblance of skill in the area of mathematics. And so the spectre of a 20% year on year exponential bill increase, scares the absolute daylights out of me. A simple spreadsheet hints at the dark possibility that it won’t be all that long until the insurance companies demand all of my income. That’ll be fun.

Of course, the simple option would be to quietly ditch the insurance policies. And I’m guessing that was how things used to be way back in the day, when few if any people were insured against any untoward event. It is worth mentioning that people probably had less stuff back then.

In my travels around this large country, I’ve noted that over the front doors of some very old houses, there are plaques declaring that the house was insured by some particular company or other. Back in those days, the insurance companies apparently used to fund the fire brigades, and woe betide the house that was unfortunately on fire, and was also uninsured.

Fortunately, I’m not in any immediate danger of being unable to afford these escalating insurance bills, but I’m guessing plenty of people will be quietly ditching their policies. It’s a gamble, which for all I know, might pay off for them. Who knows, that outcome is built into the very nature of what it means to gamble. And it should be mentioned that rationing by price is always an option, after all it keeps out the riff raff. But it’s awful to consider that one day in the future, you yourself may well become the excluded riff raff!

Some insurance policies in Australia are mandated, such as Medicare health insurance. Surprisingly, that insurance is pretty cheap, and it is fixed at 2% of a persons taxable income (i.e. the income on which they are taxed upon). Economists suggest that we are heading towards stagflation, which hints at the possibility of rising prices and stagnant income. So with that insurance price fixed on stagnant incomes, at least it won’t be rising any time soon. Winning!

The government also tells me in no uncertain terms to pay for workers injury insurance for my business. Who knows what awful and uncomfortable workplace accident situations may ensue in an accounting business? Imagine cutting a hand open on the sharp edge of a piece of photocopier paper, only for the wound to become septic. The hapless accountant would then have to be rushed to hospital where they recovered, but during the recovery they were then infected with an antibiotic resistant super bug. That would be an expensive insurance claim for sure. Barring that unlikely circumstance, I’d have to suggest that my workers injury insurance policies are perhaps subsiding other more risky businesses.

This line of inquiry into insurances, began me thinking about other ways that goodly chunks of my income are commandeered. The Federal Government asks for about 25% of my income in taxes. The State Government enjoys 10% of the value of most purchases. The financial industry demands a bit under 10% of my income which may possibly be funding someone’s retirement. And let’s not forget local Government property taxes. Far out! Looks like all that lot are taking about a bit under half of everything that I earn.

It’s a bit sobering really when you sum it all up over the population, and you can only hope that the good citizens of Australia are getting value for their money. Except that alarmingly, prices for basic items are increasing, despite what the official inflation figures suggest. Earlier this week mince meat was priced at $17/kg (2.2 pounds) at the local supermarket and petrol (gasoline in US parlance) prices are bouncing up and down, like a yo-yo. This is not a good outcome for citizens.

For reasons known only to themselves and their political masters, The Reserve Bank of Australia is apparently expanding the money supply by something like five billion dollars per week. And my understanding is that expansion will continue until February next year. I’m not quite sure where all of those dollars are going, although candidly I would like the opportunity to assist with disposing of some of those dollars. I acknowledge that that is an unlikely circumstance.

The economics all look a bit crazy to me, but then events and circumstances have been rather strange over the past almost two years now, so perhaps this outcome is all nothing new. And I’d be almost certain that in another two years time, things will be stranger again.

Fortunately, there are some items of production that aren’t subject to taxes, such as home scale production of food for at home consumption. Can you imagine the advertising campaign if that home based and consumed production was somehow taxed: “Thinking of growing food at home? Think again! A message from your friendly tax collectors.” A frightening message.

There is just so much that people can do to live on the cheap or produce things at home. I’ve been met with silence when I’ve suggested to people living in small apartments with no access to garden space to at least try making some soap or raise some sprouts. It’s not that hard, unless you’re preternaturally careless, and then I’d suggest perhaps soap making is not for you. How about making meals from scratch using raw materials, which you’ve hopefully bought in bulk? Impress your friends by upping the cooking ante! Give second hand purchasing a go. Some seriously high quality stuff is being sold for peanuts and few if anyone ever seems to notice. The dogs sleep on a proper leather hide couch which would have costs thousands when new, but only cost us a hundred bucks. It’s crazy.

But then, it’s been my experience that people baulk at these very basic and easy to do ideas. It’s almost as if we’ve had so many decades of good times now, that in the school subject of ‘lessons for hard times’, the school bully sat next to the vast majority of the population, keeping them distracted whilst demanding a huge cut of whatever they’ve earned. It’s bonkers, and it makes the curious mind wonder, if hard economic times do arrive, what will people do then?

The masterpiece that is the new master plan for the farm is being aggressively implemented. Regular readers will recall that last week we had hired a front end loader digger machine in order to excavate a flat site. The excavation stage of the project was completed after another days work this week.

The excavation site was completed and is looking super flat

Whilst we had the hired machine, the editor asked me to remove an unusual large mound in the shady orchard. The machine ripped up the mound and moved the soil and I was grateful not to discover any bodies, as that would have been awkward.

Mound, there yesterday, now gone. And Ruby’s nose did not discover any bodies

Later in the week, we hired a cantilevered post hole digger so as to drill some holes on the excavated site. It was a rather large and cumbersome machine that was seriously hard work. And we had to dig the auger bit out of the first hole, as it had become stuck in the clay. We did not make that mistake a second time around.

Ollie is impressed by the neat and orderly holes

Then the heavens opened, the weather cooled and everything became seriously wet. During a rather damp and unappealing day, we moved many of the materials down to the site.

Plum admires the many materials moved to the very wet site

The wet and cool weather was quite good for planting out many different varieties of peas and beans. All of the seedlings have taken and are now happily climbing up the chicken wire support.

Peas and beans seedlings have now been planted out

The huge effort fertlising the growing beds earlier this year have produced astounding results. The garden row soil was full of worms. And speaking of worms, of late I’ve noticed that there are more bright yellow worms lurking about the place.

Bright yellow Canary worm – looks toxic to me

The early fruit season will be challenging again this year, for much the same reasons that last year was also challenging. A very late frost accompanied with a hail storm damaged many of the very early blossoms in the orchards. Some apricots survived the frost and storm:

Apricots! Yum!

Unfortunately, the King Parrots have decided to consume all of the very unripe apricot crop which survived. I guess it’s good to be the King.

A King Parrot with an unripe apricot chunk in its beak

Onto the flowers:

An almost perfect Bearded Iris
A very early, and very wet Rose
Chives are one of my favourite onion family plants
Nasturtiums climb through a Wormwood
Hellebores are having a great year this year and are self seeding
Rhododendrons are great and they get bigger and showier every year

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 6’C (43’F). So far this year there has been 1,085.2mm (42.7 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1,042.0mm (41.0 inches)

52 thoughts on “Masterpiece”

  1. Yo, Chris – Save for the bully, you might have been a Nobel laureate in maths. “I coulda been a contender!” (Marlon Brando, “On the Waterfront,” 1954.) And if the dog wouldn’t have stopped to pop … something, something, rabbit. 🙂

    Private fire brigades are making a comeback. Especially, in California. There are some hard feelings, when one house is saved, and the one next door allowed to burn down. You get what you pay for. Sometimes.

    Death and taxes. Last week I mentioned that it’s to the point where any vote on any bill with “tax” in the title, gets voted down. In a knee jerk reaction. Even for things that would benefit the population. Hmmm. Wonder if that’s calculated?

    Another 8cm, and you would have found the body. 🙂 .

    Ollie’s a neat and orderly dog (wonder where he gets that from?), so, of course he appreciates a neat and orderly building site. It really does look like the archaeology sites, where they clear the ground and you can pick out a mead hall.

    Dirty bird! Bad parrot! There are several recipes for parrot pie, on-line. Mrs. Beeton seemed to think the best presentation was with the claws sticking out of the crust, around the edge, and a few jaunty feathers, shoved in the top. Maybe roasted, stuffed with (not green) apricots? But I must say, that sure is a gorgeous photo of a very plump naughty bird. Calendar worthy.

    The iris is really a beauty. And the rose, a promise of things to come. We have rhododendron forests, out on our coast. Under the right conditions, they can get really large. Can’t beat chives. We have clumps that have volunteered, here and there. Nothing better than finally chopped and sprinkled on a nice baked potato.

    Another great find, from Pompeii. Just off the room where they found the ceremonial chariot, last year, what appears to be slave quarters. I really like the brick work, in the wall.

    I started watching a docu-drama, last night. “Captain Cook: Obsession and Discovery.” 2013 from Film Australia. 2 discs, four episodes. 220 minutes. Didn’t do bad for a lad, born in a two room cottage on the Yorkshire moors. Lew

  2. Hi Goran,

    How have I lived as long as I have, and not come across the great works of The Shovel before? Proving that education is not all that it once was. The Shovel.

    It appears that ‘The Chaser’ folks have some sort of link to this website.

    Incidentally, and possibly you may not be aware of it, but I’m guessing that the website name refers to an old joke about shovelling smoke.

    Yes, I had heard this news. And brace yourself for it is not limited to nitrogen fertiliser. Mono Ammonium Phosphate is also on the restricted list. Things are not good, and I note that the supplies of gas to your part of the world from Africa are also facing difficulties. Down here, we’re good for gas, but not so great for oil. The future is a mixed bag. And I absolutely agree with you. It is beyond time that this practice is taken up.

    The household is in a bit of chaos today as we took the two Kelpie pups to the vet this morning to get desexed.

    Cheers (if that is even appropriate?)


  3. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, I’m a bit traumatised tonight as we took the two Kelpie pups to the vet this morning so that they could be desexed. The decision to do that was fraught, based on new information, and involved a lot of anguish. They’re both pretty groggy tonight, but if looks could kill… Even in their drugged state, the two girls are using their collars like battering rams.

    Yeah, maybe I could have been a contender? 🙂 But for what was the contention all about, that seems to be the central question here? I dunno, the higher on the social ladder I climbed as a young bloke, the higher the ultimate goal became. Maybe it is just me, but it is akin to running a hurdle race, and every time a hurdle is jumped, the next is ever that much higher. It appeared to be a race that you could not win, so why even join such a race?

    Private fire fighters, who knew that they’d made a comeback? I guess everything old is new again. But there is also the unstated issue that some portions of the population believe that they are necessary based on outcomes. If proper land management went on in the first place, only a few of them would be required, but there are so many conflicts of interest in the entire story. What do you do, when every turn except no turn at all, is blocked?

    And the taxation story is much the same. On the other hand, there seems little accountability for the funds that are spent, and so with each poor turn, a lack of trust becomes entrenched in the population. I’ll bet your fellow citizens don’t expect that half of all they earned gets garnered one way or another?

    Hehe! Possibly so about the body. What a carry on that would be. Do we invite trouble where no trouble previously exists (that we are aware of)? Your observational powers are waxing my friend.

    Oh that’s especially good! I know the Club would frown upon members attending a proper mead hall, and I understand that exceptions are likewise frowned upon, but here we can divert from the present day events and circumstances, and suggest that at some long distant time in the past, we shared a couple of glasses of mead before heading off a raid. Who knows how this may have turned out? All I know is that the event would have been entertaining, and also possibly fortified our nerves.

    It is worth noting that Mrs Beeton may not have called for a pre-stuffed bird, but in this particular case, I may be able to oblige the chef. A subtle yet unripe apricot flavour would suffuse the parrot pie. And perhaps I’ll then harvest some apricots. I’m down to the very last bottle of last years preserved apricots. There is zero chance of bottling apricots sourced from the trees here this year. Fortunately Plums do just as well. And yes, the bird is extraordinarily well fed.

    I agree regarding the chives, and most of the Allium family when planted for the correct latitude, they happily self seed and seem very undemanding. I must say, that Plum (the dog) is continuing to give me total groggy stink eye. The veterinarian described Plum and Ruby using the word ‘athletes’ and we’re going to have to keep them constrained for the next fortnight whilst they heal. The iris is a stunner.

    The Pompeii find is fascinating, and it interests me that bedroom dimensions have not changed much since those days. The measurements were given in metric incidentally.

    Captain Cook was a giant that’s for sure, and by all accounts he ran a neat and orderly ship. If I recall correctly, it was he who popularised sauerkraut on board ships as a preventative for scurvy for the crew. I’ll bet the stuff was rough tasting by the time it was consumed. A diet of ship tack, salted meat and briny water would be pretty awful and not particularly good for the crews health.

    I am indeed curious as to the Rialto pattern, from National Stainless. Out of curiosity, was the gold / tarnished metal popular? I recall seeing such items as a kid, but assumed that they were not stainless steel, but some other metal alloy.

    Yes, schools did generally have tuck shops that were run on a volunteer basis during lunchtimes. The prices were reasonable from memory, but for some reason it always felt like buying from the commissariat. 🙂 True. The shops didn’t do a lot of trade, but on a cold winters lunchtime, some hot food was an occasional treat. The treats unfortunately had to be funded from my filthy early morning earnings and sometimes after school work, and Space Invaders and Donkey Kong were something of a problem in that regard… Oh well. By the time I did retail at Tandy Electronics, I’d managed to kick the habit, but those machines ate so much mad cash.

    I agree about birth rates and declining life expectancy. Hey, thought you might be interested in this: They helped build a ‘solar village’ after Cyclone Tracy. 40 years on Pam and Peter still live off-grid.

    Turns out the interweb browser software has a restore previous closed session option. Those words basically mean, re-open the stupid window that you (referring to myself in this particular case) accidentally closed. How cool is that.

    Hehe! As big as horse apples. A useful phrase.

    Far out, the things that folks would dig out and find in this here blog would most certainly ruin mine (and yours for that matter) chances at high office. Fortunately, we are not at risk of this possibility. Honestly, I don’t really know whether anyone would have the time to read through not only the blog essays (700,000+ words now), but the millions of words in comments. And who knows, we might win them over. It would be a hard person who could read so much and not be left unchanged.

    I like how you think. Yes, karma. I’d forgotten about that.

    Emperors appear to have lived a fraught life. The flip side to the red cape is that the Legionaries provided a solid target, although I’d imagine that after a while arrows were not used in a melee as both friend and foe would have suffered equally.

    Yes, I’d heard that about the film Pig and appreciate your words of praise. It’s received glowing reviews. I’m intrigued, and Mr Cage is an outstanding character actor.

    Hehe! 🙂 Very amusing.



  4. Hello Chris
    Your photos of work done are most impressive.
    It is 24 years at least since I have had any insurance apart from obligatory vehicle insurance and even that is long gone now. So I may well be quids in. My income is below the level at which one pays tax as well. I really enjoy being as little involved with conventional ways of living as possible.

    Have always understood that the little green seed apples of potatoes are poisonous.

    Very cold here today.


  5. Frugality and making do- The great depression was not all that long ago, less than one hundred years. (At least I don’t think that’s very long ago for the severe and abject lesson it was). It’s weird how the ripple effects down the generations have waned so much more in some families than others. Our grandparents lived it, my dad was much inclined to model thrift and we to a fair bit have passed that to our kids, even though they lived in the suburbs.

    Have you written about any passed down habits in your own family? It sure seems like you’ve taken the lesson to heart, whether passed on by direct relations or not.

    While I know I still am deeply connected to the global economy and the good end of the wealth pump we enjoy here, I still have plenty of thrifty habits, and am always looking for more. My wife and I have a catch phrase we use whenever considering an expenditure, or what level of perfection to bring to a project. “We live in the land of good enough”.

    Another observation, though maybe not quite PC- We have noticed on many occasions that people don’t know how to be poor anymore. Eating carry out all time and not cooking, having the latest, largest television, other things that don’t fit well with a small income. As a kid, I didn’t quite realize we were “lower middle class”, but did assume scrimping and hand me downs was just naturally what you did to fit the budget.

    I’ve got some big dirt moving projects looming, and have been delaying, as it’s a big commitment to altering the land, but also not sure of my operator skills being a good match for minimizing the rental cost duration. Your gung ho example might serve to trigger the move.

    Hellebore- By coincidence, I was just reading an old horticulture article on pest management for fruits ( Currants to be specific). Extract of white hellebore root was recommenced as a natural insecticide. It intrigued me, as the extract is supposedly poisonous to us, but the compound breaks down quickly on the plants, so is “safe” if used wisely. I just might have to buy some seeds, for the blossoms if nothing else.

    As always, kudos for a well done weekly dose of reflection and sharing.

  6. Yo, Chris – The trauma is worse when a bloke has to take in a male dog 🙂 .

    Why join the race, up the social ladder? Because it’s there? 🙂 .

    We have a state and local tax, on just about everything that’s sold. The state tax is 6.5% … and then there are local taxes, that can vary from place to place. Here in Chehalis, the local tax brings us up to a total of 8.20%. Food isn’t taxed … except for restaurant food, prepared food, soft drinks, dietary supplements and liquor.

    There’s an odd way of figuring out how much tax we pay, per year. Number of days you have to work, to cover taxes. It varies from state to state. In Washington State, you have to work 110 days, to cover your taxes. 77 for Federal and 33 for state and local. I’d say it’s higher, with all the sneaky taxes added on, here and there. Our electric and phone bills have line items for state and local taxes. It adds up.

    Yes, you wouldn’t want archaeologists crawling all over the place 🙂 .

    Some of the recipes were “take a dozen budgies …” The apricots, I was thinking more of when you roast or bake a bird. Not much different than all the things you could do with a pigeon.

    The Pompeii find was pretty interesting. What with the one short bed, it might have been a family group housed in there. Given the one short bed. I wonder if they’ll find more people, as they continue to excavate the villa?

    Capt. Cook was a genius navigator and cartographer. Some of his charts were used well into the 20th century. Unusual for the time, he came up through the ranks. His advancement was due to talent. And his crew mostly supported him, as he had been in their positions. The pickled cabbage story, was pretty funny. From his writings, he was very concerned about the health of his crew. They wouldn’t eat the cabbage. But rather than beating them into submission, he just started serving it in the officer’s mess. The crew took note, and thought, “Well, if the toffs are eating it …” WARNING!!! Myth smashing ahead. I see you have a Capt. Cook’s house, in Melbourne. Moved stone by stone from England. Well, Capt. Cook never lived in it. It was his father’s house, built long after he left home and took to sea. Such are myths made.

    Stainless came in many “finishes.” The slightly tarnished look allowed the patterns to really stand out. I think I picked out the Rialto, as it (to me) had a slightly blokes look to it. With that twisted cordage pattern, maybe a slightly nautical flavor.

    The article on the solar village, was very interesting. a.) times were different then and b.) it sounds like just the right mix of people (and talents) came together at just the right time.

    Funny how you forget things, and then remember as winter comes on. Froze my ears, for two days, before I remembered I have a stocking cap, in the hall closet.

    Looks like we’re going to have a nice day, today. Late this afternoon, I’ll fiddle in the garden. Put that extra hour of daylight to good use. Lew

  7. Chris,

    Delivery of stuff is interesting. Things that I think would be cheap cost a fortune. You get a box of parts, delivered, at bargain basement prices. It defies logic.

    Moving the rocks is on standby. Raking leaves and trimming hedges are higher priority for the moment. Leaves because I don’t want them trampled on and ground into the grass. The trimming? I can load the trimmed hedge material into a green bin that the City adds to its composting project. Said bin will NOT be collected after November 30, so it’s get as much of that done now that I can. Then onto the rocks.

    Viking raiding ceased mostly due to one reason that had two sides. The early raids were small and led by the head of a family or small region. The earliest larger raids, such as the Great Army that overwhelmed most of England, were led by various independent smaller groupings who joined together. The smaller groupings were all independent and could leave to raid elsewhere or even settle and start farming whenever they chose to. It was this type of loosely organized Viking “army” that repeatedly attacked Paris, even capturing and sacking it once.

    Meanwhile, Denmark, Norway and Sweden were each trending away from a plethora of small kinglets toward more centralized larger kingdoms. England, northern Germany, Flanders, Normandy and France south of Normandy were also gaining more stable and somewhat centralized governments. This had 2 effects. First, the raiders were finding that their targets had somewhat better defenses in place due to the more unified ruling system. Second, none of the Scandinavian kings wanted potential rivals to appear fresh from a series of overseas raids that gained the potential rival riches and an effective, experienced fighting force. So a lot of the kings or relatives of kings began leading their own raids in the late 900s. Think Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark and Olaf Tryggvason of Norway. These, due to their size and unified leadership, could just as easily turn from a large scale raid into a conquering army at the drop of a hat. So, the centralization of governments was a large change that led to the downfall of widespread Viking raiding.

    Sorry about your lack of a Nobel level maths career due to bullying. You’ve done fine despite that. Ironically, I turned to maths as an escape from bullying. To each his own.

    “Can you imagine the advertising campaign if that home based and consumed production was somehow taxed: “Thinking of growing food at home? Think again! A message from your friendly tax collectors.” ” Hey, careful now. Don’t give them any ideas! After all, it can be argued that some governments have been using Orwell’s “1984” and “Animal Farm” as guidebooks. 😉

    Cutting back on superfluous spending to get to the basics of basics is interesting to watch. Meaning…I know people who struggle to pay for electricity and good food and to pay the rent, yet…they all have high speed internet, cable tv with all the extra channels as well as every streaming service available, while upgrading to the latest iphone as soon as it is introduced. Priorities are sure screwed up.

    That’s a nice, flat looking area you cleared out. That was one awesome machine, wasn’t it?

    Ok, the excavated mound. Which probably looked like a burial mound before it was dug up. I see that Lew suggested that another 8cm of digging could’ve resulted in the discovery of a body. But what if it didn’t? Then maybe an additional 8cm would have. But what if not? Then maybe another 8cm, and another, and another. Heck, do that enough and maybe you would’ve dug all the way through the center of the earth, only to arrive at an actual cemetery in Poland or somewhere. That’s a lot of digging just to find some bones for the Fluffy Collective to chew on. 😉

    So, I see you’re still being bullied! Those darn King Parrots are bullying you out of having any apricots at all! Ya know, the other day, I was sitting outside watching Avalanche do puppy explorations and a Cooper’s Hawk swooped into the yard, attacking the sparrows in 2 different hedges, eventually leaving with a sparrow in its talons. Maybe I could loan a few hawks to you, maybe discourage the parrots?

    Chives are wonderful. Thanks for the photo. The nasturtiums blending with the wormwood is an interesting study in contrasts. That’s the type of thing that makes gardens extra enjoyable.

    In other news…I was outdoors with Avalanche about 6:00 a.m. Monday. Too early, but we just gained our hour over the weekend by setting the clocks back an hour, so this would’ve been 7:00 a.m. last week…Anyhow, it was -2C and cloudy. And there were a few brief showers of snow pellets, aka graupel. First snow I’ve seen so far this season. Didn’t last long and never fell hard enough to accumulate, but…winter is coming.

    Oh, the desexed Kelpies. They will not forget or forgive. Beware, lest they bite the hand that feeds them. Again and again and again. And in the meantime…they will make full use of the wonderful battering rams they were fitted with!


  8. Hi Chris,
    Those are terrible year to year increases for your insurance. All ours goes up annually but not nearly that bad. I’ve never actually figured out what percent of our income goes to taxes. Our income now that we’re retired is less and pensions in Illinois aren’t taxed so we save there. Just over the border in Wisconsin they are. Food is taxed 1.75 percent in Illinois and not taxed at all in Wisconsin. As so it goes.

    Hope the girls recover quickly. It’ll be hard to keep them contained.

    Work on the new shed site is coming along nicely.

    Gained an hour this weekend and it’s dark so early. Kind of depressing really. Went to a huge flea market this weekend which was fun. Wasn’t in the market for anything really but found a couple odds and ends as well as toys and dishes we had as kids. Was a beautiful day in the mid 60’s as was today. I see snow in the forcast later this week 🙁


  9. Hi Margaret,

    Those sort of price increases are basically unsustainable for the vast majority of the population. Honestly, if it were only a single policy I could write it off as an aberration, but it’s four different policies. Crazy stuff.

    Yeah similar tax free arrangements are in place down here for people over the age of 60. I doubt very much that the arrangements will be in place by the time I reach that venerable age, but you never know.

    Interestingly, unprocessed food (i.e. the raw materials) are generally exempt from the 10% consumption tax, however, processed food gets caught up in that tax. Way back when it was introduced there was a whole discussion on chickens. I believe a frozen chicken is consumption tax free, whereas a roast chicken attracts the tax, and I presume a frozen roast chicken would also attract the tax as well. Complicated, but a deal was made at the time of the introduction of the tax. What fascinates me about the consumption tax, is that it has turned many small, medium and large businesses into regular tax collectors, and I doubt many people noted that shift in responsibility.

    Sorry I geeked out there for a bit! 🙂 I personally blame the chickens.

    Margaret, I’ve taken the two Kelpies individually out for about three walks today so that they can attend to their doggie business. Then the editor and I decided to walk the three as a group tonight, and yeah, seeing them pull on their leads, you wouldn’t imagine that they’d been under the surgeons knife yesterday. We turned around and came home, and the three are now soundly asleep. The thought of restraining those two free spirits for two weeks leaves me feeling cold. It’s going to be something of a trial not for them, but for us.

    Thanks, and hopefully on Thursday I get some posts cemented into the ground before the next epic bout of rain arrives.

    Well, all I can say is a gentle reminder to look after the extra hour, and return it in a few months time in the same condition in which you received it. I hear you about the depressing side of the story though and it galls my soul to wake up in the dark. Winter is the time for deeper sleep and shorter work days, yet our civilisation does not recognise this basic natural progression. Oh well.

    Flea markets are heaps of fun, and you never quite know what you’ll discover. Ook! Snow already. Ouch. I’m looking at the weather forecast for next weekend and all I see is rain and more rain. It’s a complicated old world we live in.



  10. Hi Inge,

    Thank you very much for saying that, and I was far more impressed with the front loader / digger machine than the post hole digger machine. In point of fact, the post hole machine has left my shoulder feeling rather sore as we had to lift that rotten thing out of the holes every single time. Oh well, mustn’t grumble, and the shoulder feels better today. However, I won’t use that machine again.

    Yes, I absolutely 100% hear you about the insurance policies and you’re really just a bit ahead of the curve from my perspective. Honestly, at the unsustainable rate of premium compounding annual increases, I won’t be far behind you. And I reckon the Big J bloke said it all when he proclaimed to render unto Caesar. The crowd thought to back him into a corner, when the escape path was just so obvious. Mind you, the forest risk surrounding the farm is going to take a lot of work. But hard work, I can deal with that. The impossible however, might just take a little longer to accomplish. 🙂

    And yes, once the concept of intermediation became very clear to me, I followed in your footsteps. It’s an obvious approach, but I tell you, it’s not the tried and true path to ruin.

    Solanum plants are real givers, but they also extract a price for their gifts. Those little seeds have always appeared to me to be toxic.

    Winter is approaching for you. Another epic rain storm looks set to dump a whole lot of rain here next weekend. It’s been a remarkably wet year (but not record breaking).



  11. Hi Steve,

    Cultural memories are sometimes lost or diminished. The thing is that in my particular case, with no dad to speak of, my grandfather took me under his wing and inculcated that particular lesson. You see, he grew up on a farm during the depression era and was somehow raised by his grandmother (I have no idea as to the circumstances, but can kind of guess), and so I heard about those times when he was a young lad. And then saw that despite his good fortune at surviving WWII and later wealth and status, he still retained an overall lack of trust in the system. Maybe his extensive vegetable garden was a hobby, but having seen his diligence when it was not a necessity, you could see that it was an important matter to him.

    Mate, just like you, I’m also deeply interconnected to the global economy. There is simply no escape as far as I can ascertain. Your catchphrase does you credit, and I have heard other cultures describe this as: Don’t let perfect become the enemy of the good. It’s true too.

    The same goes on down here too. People cry poor and then you discover that they are driving an inordinately large and expensive vehicle. How does that work exactly? I don’t really take anyone to task over such things, because it puts you between the hammer and the anvil of dreams and reality. And nobody wants to get smashed, do they?

    And exactly the same thing was true here too, except that I reckon we were lower in the social pecking order. Without a dad in the household, we were probably just scraping by, but hey, back then a single income could buy a house and put three meals a day on the table. It’d be a really rough path these days. The thing with being broke, and not knowing it, is that you don’t know that you are, and life just is what it is. I’ve travelled now to a lot of different countries and that story is really so true. I have a gut feeling that there is so much terror about the future, because people know that outcome, and it scares the daylights out of them.

    Hehe! I will note that it took maybe an hour or two to work out exactly how to use the machine properly. And then we made massive progress. But until then it was a slog and there were a few discussions about the choice of machine. It might be cheaper in the long run to hire someone who has a machine and operates their machine. It saves a lot of trouble. I have something of a knack with machines though and that is why I persisted.

    Oh yeah, those plants are pretty toxic. On the other hand, the plants thrive in the damp shade when few other plants enjoy such locales. I’ll be curious to hear how it goes. The plants are self seeding right now, so that would be in six months time for you. And they really like shady conditions.



  12. Hi DJ,

    The story of stuff is a mystery to me, and I’m guessing that all anyone can now do is simply be grateful if stuff actually arrives. That is sometimes not entirely guaranteed these days.

    Fair enough, tasks have to follow their natural progression and the rocks can wait. Anyway, sooner or later they’ll be covered with snow, or frozen in place (that doesn’t happen here very often, but would be my excuse if in your part of the world).

    What do you mean that the said bin will not be collected after November 30? Surely someone will at least collect the no longer collected bins after that time? There is mystery in your story and you’ve merely hinted at unfolding events. As a disclaimer I have no garbage service here, so have learned to adapt to that.

    Ah, to summarise your thesis. The earlier raids were effective because the fellows could easily adapt as circumstances permitted. The latter raids, were initially equally successful, and yet the sheer scale produced unintended consequences. Thus the raids were a victim of their own success and thus eventually self limiting?

    Exactly to each his own, and yeah, some folks can be idiots, but I’ve noted that their behaviour is generally self limiting. The successful ones are really scary people.

    Ook! Yes, a wise suggestion and let’s drop this subject, just in case. Always wise not to feed the beast.

    I also mentioned to Steve your observation and I’ve seen people purchase vehicles that they really can’t afford, but you know they really want the trappings of the dream. Trappings of course can also become a trap. Best to be a bit leery of such things, although for some reason I’m just not wired to worry overly much about status.

    Hey, I’d imagine that the phone improvements are now way past diminishing returns.

    That loader / digger machine was awesome to use. The controls were super easy too, although occasionally when a bit tired I’d managed to use them accidentally in reverse. Always a touch exciting! Mind you, I kept very alert and ran slowly whenever there was a possibility of a risky situation.

    Hehe! Mate, I’m hearing both you and Lewis in that excavation dilemma regard and politely not getting involved. 🙂

    Yes, you called it correctly. The parrots and I will probably never be friends the way that I’m on good terms with the magpies and kookaburras. Actually the late frost and hailstorm did most of the damage to that crop, the King Parrots are the clean up crew. But without fruit to swell and grow, the tree itself will put on size, so that is some consolation.

    The Cooper’s Hawk is an effective looking predator. I dunno, the King Parrots are of a size with a very strong looking beak. In a cage fight, who would win? I’d have to suggest that the outcome might be best described as uncertain. Yeah. The biggest birds we get here are the wedge tail eagles, but the bulkiest are the Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo. Massive birds and a family of them moves into the area every summer.

    The garden beds have sort of worked themselves out, as all we do is simply hack back the over hanging vegetation away from the paths. The rest of the story is the plants business. It is fascinating to watch which plants dominate, and it all depends.

    Brr! Thanks for the descriptive word. Did Avalanche decide to bite any snow pellets?

    The two Kelpies are doing better today. I’ve taken them out for a lot of walks today, although watching them, you wouldn’t imagine that they’d been under the surgeons knife only yesterday. They most definitely have their protective collars on though. I once had a dog that opened up her stitches a tiny bit and it was so late in the healing process the vet just said don’t worry about it. It healed just fine too, although left a huge scar like a belly button hole. That dog was a bit crazy, before we showed her who the boss actually was, and then she became an awesome dog. You can’t tell, although Avalanche sounds pretty good.



  13. Hi Lewis,

    Oh yeah, but I tell ya, I must be getting soft as I get older. Decades ago I just didn’t worry about this sort of thing, now I’m left with the uncertainty that I might have done the wrong thing with the dogs. But who knows, for what is done, is now done. Anyway, the vet won’t be able to put the bits back now.

    That’s a profound question, which few if anyone actually ever asks. Why indeed? The truth is I don’t exactly know why I did. I know why I stopped doing, I just can’t really explain how I got sucked into that story in the first place and for so many years. I’m sure you know the feeling? It is possible that the path was deeply programmed in all sorts of strange ways.

    The food tax issue is kind of similar here with basic ingredients not being taxed, but the 10% consumption tax gets lumped on as food items get processed. The unfortunate thing about the consumption tax is that it turns most businesses into tax collectors. It’s genius really because you have to do the collection job – for free. Few people seem to have noticed this situation, or remark upon it.

    Hmm. 110 days you say. So, I’m not entirely sure that you are referring to business days in your comment (i.e. Monday to Friday excluding weekends). But if you were then 110 days is not that far off half a year of business days. And you’re right, it all adds up. I’d heard once somewhere that historically folks in feudal systems kept far more of their produce than that near half percentage?

    Can you imagine archaeologists lurking all around the place making a nuisance of themselves? The folks interested in bodies would at least be quicker when going about their endeavours.

    Of course, I was being amusing when I suggested that the King Parrots would at least arrive in the kitchen pre stuffed with apricot flavoured contents. There would be a lot of bones in a dozen budgies. In Peru I observed a compatriot consume a guinea pig and whilst the meat was apparently quite good, there were a lot of bones.

    Poor Plum and Ruby are looking quite itchy tonight and hopefully the two clever dogs don’t work out a way to assuage those scratchy feelings?

    I noticed the observation as to the short bed in the excavated area too. I assume that the Romans allowed their slaves to produce families? The short bed sort of suggests that this was the case. I can’t recall now, were any bodies discovered in that room?

    Had to laugh about Captain Cook rising up through the ranks. In these days of degrees this is not the usual path travelled by professionals. However, it was the path that I took as I began work as a lowly accounts body and did most of the jobs up along the way. It was an apprenticeship of sorts. The higher reaches were not all that they were cracked up to be though and I found them to be not to my tastes. Alas, we never discovered whether Captain Cook would have made a good Admiral. I suspect that he dodged that situation by continually heading back out to sea and not hanging around port for too long. He usually carried a few extra interesting persons along with the more usual crew, Such as Sir Joseph Banks.

    What? Oh no! Oh well, the cottage has an amazing amount of charm.

    I had not known that about Stainless having other finishes. Fascinating, and I intend to read up about that subject.

    And exactly, the times were different. The people just cobbled something together and there seemed little oversight. I’d met a bloke in Tasmania many years ago who just built his house and didn’t have to do anything else other than simply build it. It may have been that back in those days, many people had hands on skills that they might not have these days. It’s very possible.

    Make sure those ears don’t freeze – they might fall off. Yikes. You’d possibly look like Mark Chopper Read then.



  14. Hello Chris et al.

    What a great week! Beautiful pictures. Suspicious mound.

    Regarding your shed – how will you deflect surface flow water on the up-hill side of the shed? Or just let it flow through?
    I have never lived on a hillside, so I have no clue how to do this in a robust way. A moat? Off-contour “swale”?

    @DJ – the delivery story is well described in the movie “Sorry – we missed you!”.

    @Inge – potato “tomatoes” are indeed toxic, but interesting. The seeds can be used to grow out new potato varieties.

    Regards sales taxing your own veggies – here in the Netherlands, this year the government introduced a new tax law for newly installed solar-PV: Pay sales tax on every kWh that you produce! (or rather pay a sales tax that is based on the nominal power of the installation) Every solar-PV owner has to register as a “electricity producer” and pay sales tax yearly…

    Another book recommendation for thrifty life (and therefore with low ecological footprint) is “Early retirement extreme” by Jacob Lund Fisker. No concrete tips, but strategies. He wrote the book to inspire more people to live with low ecological footprint.
    I think that the “consumer lifestyle” is mainly based on commercials and advertisement – brainwash and propaganda to shift values and norms. Ads work, that is why companies continue this psychological violence onto the populace.
    I was lucky to grow up in Sweden in the 1970s and 1980s, without ads on TV and radio. Those were the days…

    I realized today that the political leader that has done most for the transition to a more sustainable society here in Europe, is actually Vladimir Putin. Since he throttled the gas supply in September, lots of people decided to insulate their homes. Now that he is restricting export of synthetic fertilizer, many farmers decide to switch to organic practices. More impact than any of the locally elected “leaders”. Tragic. Comic. I don’t really know.

    Cheers, anyway!


  15. Chris,

    I’d love to use the excuse that the rocks are frozen in place. Alas! Tis not true yet. Sometime in December is likely for that to became valid. It’s not cold enough to freeze the ground. Yet.

    The Bin Situation. We get 2 bins automatically from City Solid Waste: a brown trash bin that is collected weekly and a blue bin for recyclables that is collected every other week. We are charged a monthly fee for these, dependent on their size. The green compost bin is available upon request for an extra monthly fee and is collected weekly from March through November. (By collected, I mean the appropriate City truck dumps the contents into the truck.) Yard/gardening season can’t occur here for several months due to winter. Yard clean up can start in March most years, and leaves and late trimming can last into late November most years. So, the green bins do not get their contents collected starting in December and ending at the end of February. It is not cost effective for the City to remove said bins in December only to deliver them again in February for March use. If I don’t want the green bin, I call them and they’ll take it. I have enough yard stuff that won’t efficiently compost that having the compost bin for weekly collection makes sense.

    Nice summary! I have an overlying theory about many things: overly organizing something sucks the life out of it. The raids worked until they were led by “institutions” and overly organized. I’ve noticed the same thing happening with religious movements and many civil rights movements.

    I had a coworker whose family inherited a nice home. Then they decided to buy a much larger house, renting out the one they owned outright. They had 4 children. Then they bought a large RV/motor home. And a large pleasure motorboat. So they needed to build a large shed for these. All of this was bought via loans. Then husband decided he needed a new large truck, so wife had to buy a new car too. On credit. Then came his and hers motorcycles, which meant that they “had” to buy 4 wheelers for all four offspring. So, house payments, boat, RV, 2 cars, 2 motorcycles, four 4 wheelers ALL being paid for at once. Then hubbie’s job reduced his hours…They absolutely refused to sell anything, wound up losing the new home, most of the new vehicles/toys. Oh, and the marriage blew apart and ended messily. Drinking champagne on a beer budget doesn’t work out very well in the long term. There is a LOT to be said for living within one’s means.

    Isn’t that interesting about birds? Some species sorta work out a truce with us. Others are just plain greedy buggers. Around here, the starlings fill the role that your king parrots fill for you.

    There wasn’t enough graupel on the ground for Avalanche to have a trial taste. The way she plays in the leaves and the leaf piles, though, makes me excited to see how she’ll play in the snow. It was raining this morning – about 8mm again – and Avalanche needed her outdoor time. It matters not to her whether it’s sunny or rainy or whatever. When it’s time for her to play outdoors, she will play outdoors. And papa must accompany her and join in the fun or else!

    I feel for you with the Kelpies and the aftermath of their surgery. Let’s hope that they don’t enlist Ollie to be the one who licks the healing areas! I’m assuming that the special collars they’re wearing are those cone shaped things? Those are effective battering rams, as you’ve said. Some of our past dogs have had them at times, providing me with extra amusement when they try to shake a toy to death and instead bang the cone collar into everything and scare themselves silly.

    I’m impressed with Avalanche. We’ve had her for less than 4 weeks, but she is learning the ropes rapidly. Her human vocabulary is growing rapidly, as is her ability to follow several commands. She automatically sits before coming indoors and before being fed, no prompting necessary. While she has a large independent streak and can be stubborn, she also understands and accepts her place in the pack. She’s very close to being well enough trained on the leash to be taken for short walks in the neighborhood.


  16. Yo, Chris – AARP (American Association of Retired People) had an article, in their newsletter, about a study that found that older people worried, less. There’s probably a tipping point, along the way. I probably worry less about “stuff.” But then you have outliers, such as Elinor. Who worry about everything 🙂 .

    Why climb the social ladder? Peer pressure, advertising … the list goes on. It actually takes a bit of fortitude, to ignore all that stuff. But, I think, eventually it becomes a habit. I’ve noticed for a few years, when offered candy or baked goods, I just say “No, thank you.” It is, by now, an ingrained, knee jerk reaction. Requiring no thought.

    Sure, people have to collect their own taxes. But on the other hand, would you like to have the tax man, hanging about? Poking their nose into everything? I know of very few small businesses, that don’t fudge, a bit.

    LOL. Only an accountant would ask if the 111 days, to pay your taxes, were calendar or business days. 🙂 . Without delving into the matter at all, I’d say, calendar days. If it were business days, that would take us far into the year and people would be rioting in the streets.

    That’s why I said pre-stuffed (but not green) apricots. Apricot pits have a chemical, that turns into cyanide, during digestion.

    The Roman villa they are excavating, is the one where they found a.) the two dudes in the corridor b.) the ceremonial chariot and c.) now the slaves quarters. One of the dudes was probably a slave (judging from the wear and tear on his bones.) One of those beds, might have been his.

    Captain Cook got a bit crazy, during his third (and last) voyage. He was looking for the Northwest Passage. 20,000 pounds was riding on his finding it. And, probably a knighthood. But, it’s speculated that he also had some disease, going on. Maybe, TB of the bowel. Who knew?

    Sir Joseph Banks. Now there’s an interesting story. He was to go on the last voyage, but wanted to add a deck to the ship. To house many servants, musicians, and his mistress disguised as a man. Which would have made the ship dangerously top heavy. Cook kept his mouth shut, and just let the Royal Navy tell Banks, “You can’t do that.” Banks threw a giant snit, withdrew from the voyage … much to Cook’s relief.

    “Cook’s” cottage is a nice little place. Wouldn’t mind living there, myself.

    Mark Chopper Read, wrote children’s books. Who knew? “Chopper” is also slang for a motorcycle, here in the States.

    Reading over your shoulder a bit, about thrift, and all … it’s interesting that unprocessed food (raw materials), isn’t taxed. It seems people would do more cooking from scratch, to avoid the tax and be, well, more thrifty. There seems to be more of that, going on (cooking from scratch), but I don’t know if the momentum will continue, after You Know What passes by.

    Yesterday, the weather was glorious. So, I pulled the tomatoes out of my patch, Jodie’s patch, and Grandma Gen’s patch. Did a lot of weeding, along the way. Did a bit more seed saving (beans) and dug up some garlic. Turns out there were quit a few potatoes, mixed in with the garlic. A two for.

    Went to the Club, this morning, for biscuits and gravy. The pantry is looking pretty sad. I’ll probably hit the cheap grocery store, Thursday morning. Which is a federal holiday, by the way. Veteran’s Day. I get my booster shot, in a couple of hours. Walk the dog. Go to the library. “Like sands through an hourglass …” 🙂 Lew

  17. Hi Goran,

    🙂 And yes, beware of suspicious mounds, you never really know what lurks beneath the surface. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to discover a body buried somewhere up here. People have been in the area for tens of thousands of years, so it is only a matter of time. But so far, none discovered.

    Ah, an excellent question. I’d be curious as to your experience with rain, but here, 100mm per month of rainfall makes for a very wet year. However, the benefit of sighting a farm on a slope comprised of volcanic loam during such years, is that the drainage is usually very good even in worse case scenarios. It’s actually the manmade chunks of infrastructure around here which pose the biggest challenges when it comes to rainfall. The compacted surfaces tends to slow rainfall infiltration causing the rain to flow across the surface, so that for example, on the road up above the house I have to ensure that the water is guided away from the house and then that the large trees do not get inundated by too much water repeatedly during heavy rain events. It’s something of a balance and if you correct one issue, you can create another issue. The systems here in that regard have been tested for more than a decade now, so I’m good with them. The shed site will redirect water into a bank of water tanks – 27,000L storage, and rain falling above the site will infiltrate the soil. I haven’t gotten to that stage of the project yet with the water tanks, but it will happen. I have no choice in the matter.

    Yeah. Mate, the PV thing is happening here too. I’m no expert, but I have a good working knowledge of electrical systems. Basically, the massive grid system has been established to allow electricity to flow in one direction – from the generator to the end user. Obviously electricity can flow in either direction (usually from high voltage to low voltage), but the grid system has difficulties with this. So to simplify the story, the big generators supply electricity at high voltage. At various points along the way, the grid network reduces the high voltage to household mains voltages (around 233V to 240V here or bigger supplies such as the 415V supplies) using transformers. The grid tied solar power systems has to feed into that household side of the system, so in order to do that, they feed a slightly higher voltage on the household side of the transformers so that the electrons move away from the household. What we’re discovering with huge uptake in rooftop grid tied solar down under is that the voltage on the household side of the transformers can sometimes be rising way too high, or fluctuate too wildly. High voltages can be a real problem for household devices that aren’t designed with those tolerances in mind. The grid was never envisaged with the grid tied solar in mind, and it is like the escalating problem with electric vehicles – a few here and there, doesn’t matter. But a whole bunch of them actually does matter. Hope that makes sense and isn’t too technical? I’m happy to discuss this issue in greater detail. And there is the problem of frequency too. Oh yeah, a mate’s grid tied hybrid inverter packed it in when the frequency changed too rapidly – yet it shouldn’t change at all.

    Down here, the same outcome is occurring.

    Thanks for the book recommendation. Please Goran, lead me not into temptation! 🙂 I now have more books piled up in front of me than I could feasibly read any time soon.

    That use of techniques in order to change others will with advertising and its ilk, won’t end well. You see, the built-in problem with those techniques is that they reflect energy back upon the people making the astounding claims. You and I know that unicorns don’t in fact exist, but the problem with making unicorn actually live style claims is that the people doing so eventually fall under their own spell. And some of those folks have their hands on the policy levers. Yes, it’s a problem, but a self correcting problem unfortunately. It needn’t be this way, but sadly it is.

    Yeah, it’s pretty funny isn’t it? Mate, you have to laugh and just get on with what needs doing. Your part of the world is getting squeezed for sure, for that is what it looks like to me. If you think of it as a pay cut, then things won’t be such a drama. Unfortunately many think of it as a right, and therein lies the main problem.



  18. Hi DJ,

    It’s a goodie excuse isn’t it? 🙂 I only know this excuse because at some parts of the year, the volcanic clay around here holds onto rocks like a glue. And need we overly exert ourselves when faced with such predicaments? There is a time for moving rocks, just like the changing seasons, and we have to know when the job is best done. I can only but recommend a power wheelbarrow. Sometimes I feel like a bad influence, but here I must mention that I have two of these beasts. The best machine for rock moving has a bucket that mostly reaches the ground – any distance from the ground requires rocks to be lifted up – this is not a good thing. Rocks can also be rolled onto platforms and I use a couple of very thick chunk of timber to further reduce the gap between the ground and the bucket.

    Oh! That makes a lot of sense with the seasonal access for the green waste bin. I’ve noticed down here that the trucks which pick up those green waste bins locally and in the big smoke have huge advertising stickers on them which suggests that should any untoward non-green waste in the truck means that the entire load may get dumped into land fill. People can be very careless with such matters. And I note that the land of stuff stopped taking plastic waste from western countries because we were too slack to break up the plastic into its component waste streams. On the other hand, a good argument could be made that it is very weird to supply society with too many different types of plastic. As a policy it is just asking for trouble.

    Thanks, but you may have noticed that the problem is far greater than just those two examples! 🙂 In miniature I watched those sorts of dramas do all sorts of strangeness in the corporate world. I suffer from a bout of straight talking, and it has won me few friends in those circles. However, it does work at the level I now work at, so I’m cool with that.

    Just reading that story of escalation raised my blood pressure. Yikes. Serenity now!!! And yes, living within ones means as a strategy never goes out of style.

    Hey, my mates of the big shed fame sometimes get starlings (I’m not 100% certain of this) living in the higher reaches of the shed. With 6.5m ceilings, there is a lot of higher reaches.

    Avalanche need but only bide her time, and then before not too much longer, there will be plenty of falling snow flakes with which to bite. Can’t wait to hear how it goes! The two Kelpie girls are very difficult to restrain. On the other hand with 18mm of rain today, and the wood heater running all day long (on low without throttling the oxygen supply like people tend to want to do), the wood heater was an appealing prospect for them. They seem to be recovering quickly.

    Ollie is a gentleman and would never get involved with such surgery defying antics – unless he could guarantee he wasn’t caught, then all bets are off. But so far he has shown no interest in their wounds. Yup, ramming speed has become something of a thing, but Mr Toothy had that trick down pat. Oh, he never earned a title that dog, for good reason.

    That’s great news about Avalanche, and you’ve got a good dog there. All dogs love walks, although I have heard rumours that some wolf hybrids are notoriously strong willed. Ook!



  19. Hi Lewis,

    Man, worked late again tonight. These days work comes in waves, and some days are just flat out. It’s good though, I’d rather be busy than that weird lock down quiet. And the last lock down (the sixth, I believe) I could see that people were losing hope, it was brutal and so I’d just go around and make my clients have a laugh.

    It looks like a huge storm is approaching here, although this morning three quarters of an inch of rain fell. I’m trying to work out whether I should cement many of the posts into the ground tomorrow or not, and I don’t really know. Flood Watches stretching 2,500 km across Australia. The farm is located in a little spot that shows red on the map. I need to think about this a bit before acting tomorrow. Red is never a good colour to see in any rainfall forecast.

    Thanks for the news from Sri Lanka. Holy carp! Yeah, maybe I would have phased in the change over a few years, but then supplies of fertiliser are in fact becoming less available. It’s a bit of a worry really, and organic agriculture is all very good and stuff, but the yields are lower in my experience and societies systems are not set up to return minerals back to the soils in which the food originated. Yes, I’d have to suggest that that story won’t end well.

    Glad to hear that worries evaporate over time. This is good news indeed, and something to look forward too. Oh incidentally, I managed to secure supply for the sheet metal for the new replacement shed, but don’t look too closely at the cost. I reckon the cost was 20% higher than I’d estimated, and fortunately I don’t have to front up to some TV show where the presenter is discussing financial outcomes versus budgets – always embarrassing. Way back in the day, it was considered good form to avoid discussing money when at table. Manners these days leave much to be desired.

    And wherever you go, there is someone who is more extreme in their behaviour. This is a fortunate thing, because it can sometimes provide guidance as to whether our own behaviour fits within the goal posts of normality. You’d hope so, but who can really be certain? So many questions…

    Out of curiosity did you refer to social climbing as the habit or resistance to that call a habit? My gut feeling was that you were referring to the resistance to the call. And if that is the case, I’d have to add that it is always the first few tentative steps away that are the hardest to actualise. You know, and again I’d be very curious as to your thoughts in the matter, but having a knee jerk reaction which has been of long use, hints at an ability to reprogram bad habits. One of the things that gets me are new situations in which I’m ill prepared to counter, but fortunately with some consideration and discussion after the event, the way becomes clear. This was what I meant the other week when I suggested that it was an unwise move to display that persons inner moral compass for such a trivial matter – because next time I’ll be far better prepared to act decisively and dispassionately.

    I see that the mysterious mound which I levelled has also intrigued other readers. It was once stated that loose lips sink ships, or on land it was more darkly remarked upon that ded men tell no tales.

    Ah well, here I have to suggest that things are on the up and up down under, and such stuff does not go on. 🙂 At least not that I know about.

    Hehe! Well, you do have to acknowledge that the question had a certain validity? All up it seems to be about half here, which is frankly not congenial to spare mad cash.

    Yes, I’d heard of the pits. Did you know that almonds are not a genuine nut, but more something of a flat peach I believe. Some of those kernels are actually edible, but which is which is beyond my knowledge. And anyway, the King Parrots got most of the few apricots which survived. It’s a bit like the one that got away, but the ones that survived the late frost and hail storm were kind of looking pretty good.

    Oh! Did the slaves bones survive? What a horrid ending, but it was probably quick and painless. I wasn’t sure looking at the photo of the two dead dudes as I thought that they may have been merely the plaster cast bodies.

    TB is one of those diseases that will probably make a comeback in time, unfortunately. The old sanatorium was located not all that far from here actually, but I doubt other than the water supply reservoir and some of the plants not much else survives to this day. But a lot of those communicable diseases back then caused neurological damage. I still haven’t had a chance to watch the Robert De Nero film ‘Awakenings’.

    I thought that Sir Joseph Banks would have acted better than that, but oh well, I’d quietly set sail and leave him behind too if that was the case. What a boor. Certainly an epic case of cracking the sads.

    Actually the cottage really is quite lovely, although folks back then may have been somewhat shorter than they are today given the ceiling heights.

    Yeah, he was a children’s author. And at one time had the notoriety of having his books stolen more often than any other author. Dunno why that was the case, but some facts do suggest obvious answers. Eric Bana was in a film about the blokes life. It was quite amusing and probably worth your time. Speaking of which has film: The Dry turned up yet?

    I wonder about that too with cooking, but you never know. Part of the great resignation was that people have had a chance to think about their lives and some have clearly found them to be wanting. I was listening to the complaints on the youth news program this afternoon about people moving to the country and discovering that the interweb connections are not all that great. It’s good enough here, and that is all that it need be. Apparently it is the second most commonly posed questions to real estate agents in country areas.

    Nice score with potatoes and garlic. You won’t be far away from replanting cloves.

    Sorry to hear that about the pantry at the Club. But on the other hand, stuff there isn’t going to waste either. Inflation in relation to food prices is a serious social problem, which probably should be dealt with. But don’t worry about it, we’ll all go organic… Yikes! It’s a great system, it just might not be good enough to replace the current system.



  20. Yo, Chris – I noticed your weather report mentioned problems with “already saturated ground.” Same here. And, multiple colors on a map are not a good thing. The colors, the colors … 🙂 . We’re having another atmospheric river, coming in over the next two days. Most of western Oregon and Washington is under flood watch. And, landslide watch. Snows levels are going up, rain is coming down. They’re pretty sure there will be flooding. But where, when and how much are so far, a mystery. There was a tornado alert, up in Kitsap county. That’s across the sound from Tacoma. Didn’t materialize. Prof. Mass has a post about it.

    Social climbing. Embrace of, or resistance to. Either, both. 🙂 . I think both can become a habit. Yes, I agree the first few steps away can be uncomfortable. Yes, bad habits can be reprogramed. But the brain is going to be uncomfortable, for awhile, until the change becomes the new normal. Not to be confused with the dreaded “brain freeze” from eating ice cream. 🙂 .

    As they say in some parts of our county, “Shot, shovel and shut up.” Unlike some game poachers, recently. Who splashed their kills all over social media. That did not end well. Eye watering fines and jail time.

    Yes, those were plaster casts of the two dudes in the corridor. But if you look at other more detailed photos of those (and other) plaster casts, there’s bits of bone sticking out. But I’d guess a portable x-ray machine, of some type, was probably in play. Often, archaeologists are presented with a block of something, and they want a non- invasive look inside, just to see what they’re getting into, and how to handle it. I’d guess the box they found in the slave quarters, was also x-rayed. Looks like it’s horse tack.

    Seen on a classics / archaeology blog, the other day. “Technically, we’re all half centaur.” My thought was, yeah, some more than others. The horse’s a___ came to mind. 🙂 . I’m still wrapping my head around the idea that centaurs have two rib cages …

    Odd you should mention “Awakenings.” The doctor in that is Dr. Oliver Sacks. I just read a book about him. And, the library is getting (because I asked) a documentary on his life.

    You think the cottage ceilings were low. Quit a bit of the Cook documentary was filmed on the replica that was built (in Melbourne) of Cook’s ship. A comment was made about the low ceilings, and how Cook and Sir Joseph Banks were both over six feet tall. Interesting how later famous people crossed paths, with Cook. Captain Bligh was a captain of one of the ships that went along on one of the voyages. Capt. George Vancouver (who explored a lot of our coast) was a twelve year old ships boy, on two of the voyages.

    “The Dry” has not been released on DVD in our country, yet. NRD. No release date. It is available on some streaming services.

    I finished “Peak Everything,” last night. There was an interesting bit about WWII victory gardens. At first, the Department of Agriculture, did not champion them. Thought it would hurt Big Ag. Then the first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt dug up the White House lawn, and put in a vegetable garden. It became the thing to do.

    I got my You Know What booster, yesterday afternoon. Immediately after, had a bit of lunch and took an aspirin. Took another aspirin, before bed. No real side effects, to speak of. Other than feeling a bit “bubble off plumb.” Decided to put off going to the library until this afternoon. Lew

  21. Hello Chris
    Went to the smallest room this evening only to discover that water was pouring everywhere. Flushed the cistern (obvious first move) and it made no difference at all! Placed a bucket underneath and organised turning the water supply off. Then rang Son who arrived at once. Thank goodness we were both at home. I have no electric light in there so held torch for Son He will buy replacement parts tomorrow. I filled up some saucepans as the water has to remain turned off.


  22. Hi, Chris!

    I love that parrot, especially how orange it is from underneath.

    Our insurance, all sorts, goes up each year, too – or maybe it’s twice a year; I’ve lost track. I don’t think it goes up as much as yours does, though. My husband went on Medicare last year when he became eligible and we are signing me up right now. It has been quite a chore, but the two of us will save, with me on it, about $1,200 a month.

    You have excavated that site beautifully. Do you want your own backhoe now? Tractorzilla – my son prefers that name over Godzilla – is now allover a bright, certified John Deere (remember the last “e”, dear) Green.

    I thought that worm was some wire that had been uncovered. And it is a most unusual color.

    What a perfect iris. Thanks for all the flowers!


  23. Chris,

    Today was busy. Normalish morning routine, meaning a lot of activity for Avalanche, then errands. With Avalanche. She loves to ride in the car and does well when I’m in the store. When I return to the car I usually find her sleeping in the driver’s seat. She knows I have to return to that seat.

    The afternoon turned to raking. I’m getting tired of raking, I moved two loads of rocks. I’m having to line the brick patio with rocks or else somebody will dig where I don’t want holes, spraying dirt all over the patio. Avalanche, of course, continued to “help” by diving into the leaf piles. That is fun to watch. AND, Avalanche got to meet the neighbor’s teenage daughter, who absolutely adores dogs.

    The next 2 days will be breaks from yard work. We’re supposed to get 25mm of rain or more.

    Oh, straight talking doesn’t do well in government jobs, either! Although one good thing about being known as a straight talker is that people know that you’re telling the truth. Learning how to be tactful when giving the straight story was always the challenge for me.

    If Avalanche is anything like Rakhi and Cheyenne, she will love the snow and run around the yard with her nose under the snow trying to sniff things. She already prefers to be outdoors. With her husky fur coat, I imagine that will be even more true in the winter.

    Good for Ollie. Tis a rare dog that will mind his own business when there’s interesting wounds to sniff and lick.


  24. Hi Lewis,

    Four inches of rain per month over the year will have that kind of effect. Some of the lower lying areas around these parts look quite boggy. The drainage here seems OK, and the soil is sort of warm, so I planted out all of the corn this afternoon. If I’d had more time I would have bung in some more peas and beans – the seedling germination rate from the saved seed was excellent as every seed germinated. The corn wasn’t as good – which is what you’d expect. Longer term I have to create more growing space so as to ensure that there is enough genetic viability, but that is a job for another time.

    About the soil drainage though, I’d mentioned putting in some of the posts today for the replacement shed, and some of the holes had water in the bottom of them, so I gave up on that job. Did mowing instead and already this is the second cut. If the rain keeps on delivering this season, it is possible that there will be four cuts. The flip side of creating a very fertile soil is that things grow in it, and the process accelerates.

    Has the atmospheric river begun? Remember that in those wet conditions, H is far closer to the ground and may become rather damp. 🙂 There are flood warnings all over the country. In fact the Todd River in Alice Springs flowed very strongly, and that water course is usually quite dry. Tornadoes not materialising is actually a good thing. They seem to do a lot of damage from what I’ve seen, although I’d imagine your tornadoes are possibly similar to the lesser variety which we get around this part of the world? Tornado Alley, yeah that would be scary. Have you ever seen a tornado up close and personal?

    Interesting, and I can see that about the habit forming part of that story. So much of what we do is almost a reflex or afterthought. It takes considerable effort to peer past those reactions and then act. Hehe! That’s funny, and down here those brain freezes are known as ice cream headaches. That stuff can sometimes hurt.

    Oh yeah, like if you were going to do something nefarious, why would you allow it to be filmed, and then why would you upload it to social media for all the world judge? It seems weird to me, and we’ve had some whopper examples of that going on down here recently.

    Plum is very itchy today and I wouldn’t take her cone off her head. What a disaster that would be. Ruby seems to be healing much faster. Rang the veterinary practice for advice and have applied a bit of medicinal cream to her red and inflamed skin. I’ve taken them on a couple of long walks today and their spirits are pretty good all things considered. I mean, they had some internal chunks cut out – never good.

    Ah, of course, the bones themselves would have left an impression. That makes sense and I wouldn’t have considered that would occur. And that’s what it looked like to me too, it was as if the slave had been working in their room. I guess the carriage would have required bridles.

    Nobody wants to encounter a centaur, but that joke is also very amusing. The second rib cage goes without saying. I’ll be they’re hungry and would eat like a horse. 🙂

    I’ll be curious to hear what you have to say about the documentary, and at least the bloke had some success with the patients, albeit for a brief period of time. From what I understand, that disease is very poorly understood. And some people get it even today. It’s a bit eerie, and I do wonder why it flared up in that earlier period of time. I guess travel due to WWI took place on a scale that had not previously occurred – maybe that was one path.

    I do recall the replica ship of the Endeavour and had seen it from a distance. It’s a fully working sail ship too which has sailed around the coast, and might come in handy one day as a template. 🙂 I wonder if Damo has ever seen it as that would be in his realm of interest. He did some work on a sailing ship in Costa Rica I believe.

    No good, the film will turn up eventually.

    Given peoples general level of disdain for edible gardens, I can see how a high level champion of the concept would work wonders. Makes a whole bunch of sense. Funny thing is though, my parents generation generally disdain them, but my grandfathers generation who grew up in the Depression era had a very different perspective on the matter.

    Hope you’re feeling OK. Hey, I’m still not out of the short term danger zone for that stuff, and the whole thing makes me feel a bit ooky (if that most technical description makes sense). The panic thing a week or two back was not a reassuring incident. Oh well, moving on.

    Incidentally, that is a lovely turn of phrase. I learned a new word today: syncretic. It’s a goodie.



  25. Hi Inge, Pam and DJ,

    It is the dreaded mid week hiatus, when all good people, I dunno, maybe they do something good. Although frankly what that might be is a bit of a mystery. Perhaps we should dwell upon these mysteries and then reconvene tomorrow? What say you? The I’s have it! We shall speak tomorrow.

    PS: Poor Plum is a bit itchy tonight.



  26. Yo, Chris – I you had four cuts of hay, you’d be dancing in the street 🙂 .
    Or alfalfa. After a fairly nice day, yesterday, the atmospheric river arrived in the evening. Still pouring, outside. H and I both got quit wet, on our morning jaunt. I generally stop by my place, get her out of her coat, and towel her down, a bit. Give her paws a good squeeze with a towel, to see if I can wring some of the water out. We’re under a flood watch, for the next few days. Still no hard info on which rivers might come up.

    I’ve seen a few tornados, but they were small and had no staying power.

    “Ice cream headache” sounds so much more … polite and civilized, than “brain freeze.” Must be Australia’s British roots. 🙂 .

    Some people haven’t “got” that there’s very little privacy left, anymore. When I saw early footage, of that dust-up in our nation’s capitol, on January 6th … well, when I saw all those folks waving their phones around and taking selfies, I thought, “This is not going to end well.” And, it didn’t.

    So, your girls have joined the Cone Heads. See: Saturday Night Live. “We’re from France!” 🙂 .

    It will be interesting to see what they find, as they explore further into that Pompeii villa. What’s been excavated so far, is mostly “service” areas.

    Dr. Oliver Sacks was an interesting guy. Probably had quit a few mental quirks of his own. He was intensely curious just about everything. I think his operating overview was “I wonder …” One of his early books was “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.” Which was a collection of case studies. He also did a lot of work with people who have Tourette’s Syndrome.

    “Ooky” about covers it. So does “feeling puny” and “malaise.” 🙂 . I did not feel well, yesterday, but really couldn’t tell you why I didn’t feel well. Other than some hip pain, which may be from having worked in the garden, the other day. I was going to go to the regular grocery store, last night. And the cheap grocery store, this morning. Decided to put both trips off. No problems eating or sleeping.

    I did make it to the library, yesterday. Picked up some DVDs and a couple of books. I see “The Stand” mini-series, is in route, to me. But, what with the holiday and spotty courier delivery, I don’t expect to see it on the shelf, until next week.

    “Syncretic.” Use it in a sentence. “In their attitudes to other religions, the Romans were very syncretic.” Similar, in some ways, to the word “catholic.” The non-religious definition. Your on notice. We may have to perform an intervention, and take away your word-a-day desk calendar. 🙂 Lew

  27. Hi Inge,

    Did your son manage to obtain the replacement plumbing parts and then install them? When plumbing goes wrong, sometimes it can go wrong very quickly and unfortunately to ill effect.

    Today was an utter write off as it has rained, and then rained some more. It is almost as if winter has returned. The wood fire has run all day long, and the rain shows no sign of easing any time soon. What a season.



  28. Hi Pam,

    Is it polite to discuss the avian’s orange pantaloons in public? 🙂 Well since the subject has been broached. The King Parrots are absolute stunners, but need they consume what remains of the meagre apricot crop?

    Yikes! I must say that yours is an incredible saving. You know, maybe it is just me, but I have strong reservations that many families in your country could not afford a $1,200 a month bill. Even from my perspective, that is one heck of a bill. Perhaps it is a truth universally acknowledged that the sensitive person does not dare become ill in your country. Had to take poor itchy Plum back to the vet late this afternoon.

    Not at all. Tractorzilla is an impressive beast and with minimal electronics, however I am unsure that I could put such a beast to enough work to justify its upkeep. What a dilemma. Your son it should be noted, clearly has plans.

    Hehe! Hey, the canary worm looked like some sort of weird broken chunk of line trimmer cord to me. Whenever we bring in composted woody mulch, the stuff also contains its fair share of plastic. The plastic flowers I find in the stuff always baffles me, because you kind of get an insight into the thoughts behind the people chucking that stuff into their green waste bins in the first place. And it’s not good.

    🙂 There are of course more flowers to come.



  29. Cook at home using bulk ingredients should be a go too for almost everyone. You would be amazed at just how cheap somethings are in bulk.

    The most amazing one I have ever found was bay leaves. Usually about $3 for about 10 grams in the supermarket. Or at my local Indian wholesaler, $15 per kilogram! Literally 200 times cheaper by weight. What you would do with a kilogram of Bay leaves, well I have no idea but it always good to know just how cheap these things can be. Other great rates for instance. Flour $0.93 Kg. Lentils, $0.80 Kg. Salt $0.40 Kg. Why pay supermarket rates when you can fill the garage with savings!

  30. Hi DJ,

    Hehe! Hey, had to laugh, the dogs here train me too and sometimes you find yourself doing some weird routines with the dogs, just because. After a while, you wake up from the stupor, and then it occurs to you to ask the awful question: How did it come to this? Well, the road to perdition it should be noted, is lined with good intentions. And all fluffies know deep down that once is indeed a pattern. Our role as the humans in the relationship is to discover some sort of workable set of patterns. Avalanche it is possible, may always want more.

    Or, it may well be that Avalanche is attempting to out-alpha you by seating her backside on the drivers seat! 🙂 And there isn’t a darn thing you can do about it, for you are now outside the vehicle. I wouldn’t discount that particular theory. Years ago we took Ollie on a three hour walk which concluded at a very pleasant place to eat in a town to the west of here. Ollie had enjoyed his long walk and was on his best behaviour when some bloke parked nearby in a van. The owner decamped from the vehicle and that was when I noticed an Ollie like dog now seated in the drivers seat. Need I add that there was much banter between the bloke and I about how good the Ollie species (Bull Arab) of dogs are? But all the same his dog was I reckon attempting an out-alpha manoeuvre, and Ollie would surely pull the same trick.

    Let’s hope that Avalanche is not reading over your shoulder.

    That’s good news about Avalanche and the neighbours. Some people are just frightened of dogs regardless of the dogs temperament, and that is always a problem. It’s not hard to say hello to a dog and establish the pecking order, but lots of people do not have this skill, and some other folks are just plain old frightened of dogs. The dogs have to inhabit this world where people act strangely around them. I dunno. When I was a kid, and doing the early morning newspaper delivery rounds, some small yappy dog used to terrorise me. After about the third time, I rolled up a newspaper and gave the little terror a mild bop over the haunch, and then we had this sort of mutual understanding thing going on. It was better than being chased and barked at.

    I’m thinking maybe about trying one of those invisible electric fence zapper things for the fluffies. They don’t roam, but still neither do I want them to be nuisances in the area. Anyway, it’s not nice, but do I want to put fences up all around the property? And the fluffies have to respect boundaries because sometimes people can be a bit super weird about those.

    Mate, did the inch of rain arrive? That much rain has already fallen here today, and it looks set to continue overnight and into tomorrow. Working outside is an absolute write off in this sort of weather.

    Ah yes, and I agree reading the social setting and temper before delivering the straight talk is always difficult. But also sometimes I just did not care too much for their feelings in meetings when other people were being particularly problematic, careless or foolish. It’s a really difficult path to navigate as sometimes (not all of the times) you have to act, but don’t really know of the outcome. When I ran the graduate program, I always gave the young graduates enough rope to hang themselves because sometimes they needed to learn a lesson because they were too headstrong, but then was also ready to hand should they need some tempering and not take things too far. Mate, it’s really hard that stuff, and plenty of times you can’t save people from themselves. I dunno, but did the best I could and that was just enough.

    Hehe! Sir Poopy the Swedish Lapphund likewise loved the snow. You might have to get Avalanche clipped during the summer months?

    Took Plum back to the vet late this afternoon, and she’s doing mostly fine, but now has a much bigger collar and some more pain relief medication. I was surprised that they only provided 3 days worth given how extensive the surgery was. Mind, Ruby is really stoic and has fared much better. Go figure?



  31. Hello Chris
    The water problem has been dealt with. Son arrived the following morning to cut the pipe and put in a valve so that the system could be isolated. He doesn’t know why he didn’t do that in the first place when he installed the toilet. So at least I had the rest of my water supply on while he went off to shop for replacement parts.

    Oh dear, I agree that Oliver Sacks books are worth reading.

    It is raining here and the leaves are finally changing colour and falling. Very late in the year for that.


  32. Hi Lewis,

    Well over an inch of rain fell today, and it is still raining and looks set to keep going right into tomorrow. Far out, it is wet outside and there are even pools of water about the place, which is a very unusual circumstance. It was no day to work outside, and so we did paid work inside and just kept the wood heater ticking along. It genuinely is like the depths of winter outside today.

    Anyway, ducked out late this afternoon to pick up some milk, the mail, a coffee, Bahn Mi, and a very excellent lemon drizzle cake. After the brief foray away, we arrived home to see Plum looking very ill and distressed pressed up in a corner just sort of looking very weird. Thinking the worst – that she’d had some sort of internal issue, we took her down to the vet to assess the situation. Turns out that she is healing OK, but we weren’t given enough days pain killers and her cone was too small. So she’d been in serious pain (and her back was arched as she walked, albeit walked strangely) and had been just able to scratch at her guts due to the small cone and cause further inflammation. Fortunately, it does not at this stage appear to be anything more serious, and she is now dosed up and sound asleep. It’s no small thing to cut heaps of her internal bits out and three days of pain killers was a bit too brief. On the other hand Ruby is just super tough and hardy, and was using her cone to attack Ollie and smother his head. Poor Ollie, but I reckon he loves the attention. He’s hanging out now with the more sedate Plum.

    Exactly about the four cuts. Some people may consider that quantity of work to be, err hard work. I instead consider it to be a vindication of the soil and land management practices. At this stage, I let the cut grass (which includes herbs and yes, alfalfa) fall where they will, and the soil critters come up and eat the stuff. It’s pretty feral out there.

    The whole farm system works as an investment in the future really. Current yields aren’t that great, but then they don’t need to be, and I never expected that outcome for many years. Compared to how the land originally was, it’s now well beyond good, and I’m hoping it will just get better as time goes on. Although I acknowledge that after a certain point, I’ll be into diminishing returns as there are other aspects limiting productive yields such as climate and available sunlight and neither of which I have any control over.

    I noted that in the article, plenty of responses involved bringing technology – such as irrigation – into play. As a response, I’d have to suggest that it smoothes out the peaks and troughs, but costs are increased and even such systems fail under worse case scenarios.

    Some of the corn planted out yesterday has floated out of the soil due to the sheer quantity of rainfall, but I’ve just been poking them back in the ground. It’ll dry out eventually. Actually this year I’ve planted the corn seedlings about two feet apart on the basis that the root systems will have more soil in which to grow, and they’ll require less water if and when it does possibly get warmer and drier.

    Mate, dogs coats are like giant sponges for rain, so I hear you about H’s foot sponge situation. 🙂 When we were coming home from the late lunch outing, I noticed that a neighbour had left their dog out in the rain, and the poor thing was huddled against the garage door trying to stay dry (unsuccessfully from my perspective, although the dog may hold its own counsel in this regard). They usually keep that dog in a dog run, which is sort of like a mesh cage with a concrete floor with part of the roof solid. I don’t get those dog runs, but plenty of people seem to have them. H and the Fluffies are doing it super tough by comparison!

    Any news on the floods in your part of the world? I reckon by tomorrow I’ll be able to link to some photos from this part of the world. The local creek which runs from the bottom of my property was flowing pretty fast when I saw it late this afternoon, and the local river / creek (depending on who you ask) is flowing very strongly. I doubt it will flood down below in the valley, although I noted that most farmers had moved their stock to higher land.

    Yeah, tornadoes are much the same around these parts, although they can be worse in other warmer areas of the country.

    I believe ice cream headache may have originally been a surfie term, but am not sure. Hey, it has a very technical description: cold-stimulus headaches and a very Latin sounding description.

    The same process has been under way with the people involved in the riots and protests down here. What fascinated me about the protests / riots drone footage, was that there were quite a number of photographers taking snap shots of the crowd. This was not for posterities sake, or even journalism and I thought to myself at the time that this would not end up well. On the other hand, if a person stayed out of, and off the interweb and also off official identification, it is possible that they might be very difficult people to control by the authoritas. Such is the laziness and predicament inherent in such recognition approaches.

    Hehe! That’s funny, and yes it does explain everything. The French are none too happy with us down here right now. There was a film about the Coneheads, although I had not seen it.

    I always enjoy the updates on various archaeological digs. Always stuff to be learned.

    There’s nothing wrong with being curious about the world around you, although a person would have to temper their enthusiasm so that it matched what people around them could deliver by way of reply. Isn’t there a meme about the kid who always asked the question: But why? Not everyone takes kindly to such probing curiosity, although I’m always pleased to encounter adults and kids who seem genuinely interested in the world around them.

    Yeah sorry to hear that you were a bit off your game. Mate, I felt seriously tired for a few days after that shot, and I’ve been wondering of late whether my blood pressure has been higher than normal – but then I have had a lot of personal challenges recently and there was that surprising panic attack. Oh well. Probably wise to put the trips off until you feel better. Oh, and I used to hear as a kid: If you don’t eat, you’ll die. Blunt, but possibly also very true.

    Cool. Now I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about the new The Stand series. Trashcan man was a really good pick from the trailers that I’ve seen – suitably crazy.

    Ah, the use of the word ‘catholic’ is often only ever heard in the world of twitchers / bird watchers / birding etc. I’d wondered what it meant in that context. No, not all. Desk calendars are not to be found here, although I do keep a very detailed diary, and also a calendar with events marked upon it. Here you can blame Jack Vance and the Dying Earth series of stories – in point of fact: The Eyes of the Overworld. It’s a really fun romp and I kind of like the anti-hero protagonist Cugel the Clever.



  33. Hi Michael,

    Welcome to the discussion.

    Heck yeah! I’m with you there. We buy ingredients in bulk, especially items we can’t grow well, like flour from bread wheat, or spelt, which will never grow well here due to the climate. But most meals begin from scratch. It’s funny too, but in order to do that you’ve constantly got items cooking away in the kitchen. Yoghurt is like an 11 hour cooking process, but hardly takes much time at all to prepare. Or toasted muesli is again so easy to make, but it’s an hour and a half of cook time. Stuff like that goes on every day here, but it takes a bit of forethought. But hey, at least you know what is in the stuff you’re making. 🙂

    Bay trees grow pretty well in this environment and yeah, spices dried herbs and other stuff have some solid margins. Yeah, who knows, but at least the house would smell nice with all those bay leaves.

    I’ll tell you an interesting side effect too. Because we’d been buying in bulk from the same people for years and years and were known, when supply issues first hit early last year, all those suppliers looked after us. When people were getting their sour dough on and running down the stocks of available flour, we got looked after.



  34. Hi Inge,

    Ah, of course. Down here I’ve heard those valves being described as a mini-stop, but don’t know whether that was plumbing slang, or their actual description. They’re really handy items in a system and can save a lot of trouble. But then what is a bit scary is that they’ll eventually fail too. I often wonder about how much longevity there is in all of our societies built infrastructure. But on the other hand, you son has good skills being able to identify the problem, and then not only repair the problem, but improve upon the system. Not everyone can do that level of fault diagnosis – or want to pay for it to take place and then correct upon the original system. When things fail here I try really hard to work out how to improve upon the system so that it doesn’t fail again. Of course the system may then fail in new and possibly more exciting ways. That could be a problem!

    Wow. Actually that is very late in the season for the leaf change. You may end up having a short winter this year? Has anyone speculated as to the coming season?

    It’s still raining here, and well over an inch has fallen today. There are actually puddles of water around the farm, and being on the side of a mountain saddle, that rarely occurs. It’s like winter today, and we’ve had the wood heater going all day long.

    And the ground is now so sodden that a few of the corn seedlings I planted out yesterday, have floated to the surface and then fallen over. Who knew that was possible? I hadn’t seen such a thing before.



  35. Chris:

    I missed Plum’s itch. My sister’s dog developes an itch with some kind of spring allergy each year. She’s never figured out what it is, but gives her dog a bit of a certain people’s allergy medicine.


  36. Yo, Chris – We’ve had 1 1/2″ of rain in the last 72 hours. We’re in the middle of one atmospheric river, and another is rolling through, over the weekend. It’s official. All our rivers in the county, are going to flood. How bad? Time will tell. Already a lot of road closures (the usual suspects), and I see plenty of signs around, “Water Over Roadway.” Lots of standing water around. Great weather for ducks.

    It’s great that you noticed Plum’s problems, and had them attended to, at speed. Wishing her a speedy recovery. Really, Chris? “Heaps of internal bits?” Is there anything left inside? 🙂 .

    Kudos on your soil and land management. A lot of planning and hard work is beginning to pay off.

    Some seeds are real floaters (“They float.” Tip of the hat to S. King, “It.”) Corn, squash and sunflower, seem the worst. Always seem to be keeping a sharp eye on them, and shoving them back in the ground. Piling up more soil around them, when they finally get a grip 🙂 .

    Not exactly my area of interest, but news from Yorkshire. The National Trust was renovating an old manor house, and when they pulled some plaster off a wall, discovered Tudor wall paintings. There are a few bits and pieces, scattered around. But this is almost an entire suite of them. At least three walls. Not much figurative. Mostly scrolls and leaves and such.

    I don’t know if you see it, down there, but Elinor often has a program on called “Escape to the Chateau.” An English couple are renovating a French chateau. Turning it into an events venue, and lodging. ‘They’re both very “handy” and are always tackling one interesting project after another. This week, they bought an old British canal boat, to float in the moat and turn into another suite.

    Felt a lot better, late yesterday. So, I made the trip to the regular grocery store. Finally found where they’ve been hiding the ham hocks. Got three frozen one’s for $5.38. Seems high. Made a trip to the cheap grocery, this morning, and hauled 6 sacks into the pantry, at the Club. Someone slipped me another $20 to cover costs. Also, my friends in Idaho are sending a bit of jingle, to go toward pantry purchases. How kind of them. Lew

  37. Chris,

    Indeed, one time makes a pattern for Fluffies. For many humans too. We got a good sized snow Halloween 1971. My Big Boss from 2000-2015 started proclaiming in 2005 that “It snows on Halloween every year.” I asked him to cite, with evidence, which years since 1971 it had snowed on Halloween. (Spoiler: none at that time.) He wouldn’t even attempt it, but continued his claim. So, the first work day after Halloween, I would ask him “If it snows every year on Halloween, where was the snow on Halloween this year? Huh, where?” After 5 years of that, he told me to shut up about it. Yes, I cheekily replied that I would if he would. 🙂

    I thought about your Avalanche/front seat/alpha challenge idea. It has merit. However, I ran an errand Friday with 2 stops. Coming back to the car the first time, she was in the driver’s seat but jumped into her area in the back seat as soon as she saw me near the car. At the second place, she was sound asleep in her area when I returned to the car. Conclusion? None, more data needed. It should also be noted that we had a battle of wills regarding a digging location most of Friday morning, and she was in the mode of maintaining a low profile for awhile so that she could plot her next workaround to enter the Forbidden Dig Zone.

    Avalanche doesn’t need to read over my shoulder. I think she can read my mind.

    Avalanche is pretty sociable. And neighbor girl used to have a dog. It could escape from their back yard, and her step father wouldn’t patch the holes in the fence through which it escaped. So they gave the dog to a friend of theirs.

    When I was 8, a neighbor’s ankle biter bit me in the calf muscle when I was riding my bicycle. Mrs. Owner was shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, that the little beastie was running loose in the street. (Hint: That dog ALWAYS ran loose and eventually was mowed down by a car. BEFORE I was driving.) Several years later, I worked for Mrs. at the family’s shop. Her husband was a good guy and a great boss, but she was a bad boss. Two or three years later, I was walking Rakhi the Samoyed near their house, on her leash. Rakhi was normally friendly to others. Mrs came out of the house and Rakhi immediately had her hackles up and was pawing at the air in total attack mode. Mrs wondered why I had such a vicious dog. I replied, “Rakhi isn’t vicious. She’s just a good judge of character and only attacks those of questionable integrity.”

    Fences around 20 acres or so??? Ouch! That’s a lot of work and expense. And work. But you make a good point about the lack of understanding some people have. A coworker lived in the country. Her dog wandered onto the edge of the neighboring fallow field. Coworker heard the rifle shot that killed her dog. Neighbor said that he “thought it was a wolf.” It was a cocker spaniel.

    The rain. Mist most of Thursday. Then it rained hard all night, starting about midnight. By 10:00 a.m. Friday, there had officially been about 2/3 of an inch with maybe another 1/4 inch expected through the afternoon. After 3 hours of mist and fog, it started raining again. Might not quite get the entire inch, but it should get close. And I have to go outside and move rocks in the foggy, misty rain. It’s that battle of wills thing with Avalanche. The large rocks and small boulders will be placed in the Forbidden Dig Zone.

    Agreed. Sometimes being blunt is the only way with some people. The last “Morale Enhancement Campaign” at the job, which was still ongoing when I retired was one of those. After sitting through the introductory sessions, I knew right where it was going: some people would get all excited about it, but the people who needed to change, wouldn’t, so no real change would happen. So, big waste of time and money. Upper management asked me to be a non-management employee on the steering committee. When I got done laughing, I bluntly but calmly gave my prediction about where the entire thing would go. I said that I wouldn’t work to undercut the program, but would not be on any committees. They accepted that. If I hadn’t been blunt, they would’ve continued to push.

    Clip Avalanche in the summer? Nope. The way her 2 layers of fur work will help keep her somewhat cool in the summer. There’s shade, damp dirt to dig and in within shady areas and an air conditioned house.

    Is Plum suffering from “Primadonna Princess Big Dog Syndrome”? Or did she actually react worse to the surgery than Ruby?


  38. Hi Pam,

    Oh, unfortunately Plum’s itch is not from allergies. Incidentally, we call those skin issues by the most technical term: ‘casserole dog’, which was so named after a Sir Poopy incident.

    No! If the itching were only but a simple allergy. Alas, both Plum and Ruby had surgery a few days ago to get fixed up, and they’re now in the recovery phase. For female dogs this is no small procedure.

    It is worthwhile pointing out that the male of the species has a much easier time of that option than do the females, not that it is a competition. The Kelpie’s are both doing well though.



  39. Hi DJ,

    CLM’s, that’s the acronym for what those correcting-incorrect-thoughts-in-bosses are called. What does this mean you may ask? It’s a good question, and the answer is ta-da: Career Limiting Move! 🙂 Mate, made a few of those myself over the years. The thing I’m left wondering about, did the guy ever disclose how he came up with the snow at Halloween belief in the first place, or was it somehow all based on a memory dating back to 1971? But I like your style, and that sort of fast and loose talk would have frustrated me too.

    I hear you about more data being required. Hmm. Harking back to statistics, doesn’t the Avalanche drivers seat data set require at least 30 samples before you can disprove my out-alpha-ing hypothesis? This means that more trips will be required before you can claim the intellectual higher ground. Although, to be candid, if it turns out that I am incorrect here with the supposition, and I’m not suggesting in any way that your counter theorems have any standing whatsoever, I may have to pull plan B out of the hat. 🙂 Everyone needs a plan B.

    To Avalanche – Beware Avalanche, there are places in which you should not dig. Retaining walls are off limits. Asparagus beds are off limits. In fact all garden beds are off limits. Fence lines are probably a no-no too. That’s some words of wisdom to you my fine furry friend from your Uncle Chris. If in doubt ask first or seek advice before commencing a digging operation.

    DJ – I dropped that little bit of advice to the young rapscallion, just in case her powers of mind reading failed. It’s possible.

    Yeah, fences can stop dogs for a while, but for how long remains the question.

    I respect the fact that you felt the need to add in the disclaimer that it possibly couldn’t have been you behind the wheel during the ankle biter incident. Your alibi stands up to some prodding and so I’m guessing that you’re on safe ground there. Dogs are usually pretty good judges of character, they kind of know, although I have no idea as to how they know. On the other hand, not all dogs are to be trusted either, and you have to sort of know the owner and the dog and that isn’t always possible. I tell ya a funny story on this front. Both Plum and Ruby were sisters from the same litter, and we got them at about 12 weeks of age. Obviously I can’t vouch for their experiences prior to the first 12 weeks, but they have remarkably different personalities so I’m assuming somehow that this is hard wired into them and that aspect can actually be deduced early on (which is why those two ended up here). But in the past we’ve always taken on older dogs and they always come with let’s call it politely: baggage. So I dunno, I’ve never had a trio of dogs before that were so cohesive as a pack, and yeah there is something to be said about taking on puppies, although all three of the current lot were mentored by the former fluffies. Pack dynamics and dog behaviour is very complicated.

    No! Oh my goodness no. They want a fence on their adjoining boundary and they can deal with the remainder. It seems like a lot of hard work to me, but if a fence they want, a fence they shall have. The problem with the spaniel – wolf story is that the favour can be returned at short notice and without warning. I may have mentioned previously a long time back that a distant neighbours hunting dogs escaped and killed another neighbours goats. I’m unsure how all that eventually worked out.

    Glad to hear that the rains have returned for you. And yes, where unwanted dog excavations take place, a few well placed rocks saves a whole lot of trouble. Nice work.

    Mate, you can do subtle. But some people just don’t get it, or just don’t want to think about the consequences. And that is where blunt comes into play. A wise move on your part to cut things off at the pass. I’m unsure of the specific need to improve morale anyway. Like do you win any points for having better morale? Yes, you’ll own nothing, be endlessly mindful, and also brainless. Somewhere I heard that story, but for the life of me I cannot but think where? I’d rather be artless.

    Of course, I mention the clipping of the double coat only because the occasional summer day here can slightly surpass the worst that you may experience. Poor now sadly departed Sir Poopy fox and rabbit bane, had such a thick double coat that the summers were a sore trial on him.

    Female dogs get the equivalent of a hysterectomy, whilst male dogs get a snip. The surgery was pretty serious for both of the Kelpie girls. There is a story there with Plum and Ruby, but to cut a long story short, which I may recount this week, Ruby was over dosed whilst Plum was under dosed – and both had the wrong sized cones. Hmm… Last night was a drama, and think Apollo 13, two lone scientists, some duct tape and…



  40. Hi Lewis,

    Far out, the good Professor does not paint a pretty picture for the forecast weather events for the next few days for you. Did I read correctly, 7 inches of rain in the mountainous regions? That is an astonishing volume of rain to fall in a short period of time which will most likely lead to flooding. Remember the gum boots.

    Well, hopefully the ducks do enjoy the additional water. And we’ve said it before about driving through flood waters, and the subject need not be broached again. 🙂 Old duffers or something like that.

    The rains lifted here today about lunchtime and we even had some brief bouts of sunshine this afternoon. I’d like to get outside tomorrow and do some work, but until the day arrives, I won’t have much of an idea as to what the weather will actually bring. The forecast storm tomorrow looks more intense to the south, but we’ll see.

    What a carry on with the dogs. Turns out that Ruby received more pain relief medication than Plum, and then their cones were both of insufficient length. It’ll make an interesting story. Far out, we sorted out Plum late yesterday afternoon thinking that Ruby would be OK. But by late last night, she most definitely was not OK. But we drugged her up and rigged up a workable fix using a lot of duct tape. It wasn’t a flash fix, but it worked. Apollo 13 jerry rigged style. Back down to the vet this morning.

    Actually the vet is a long way from here, and so we made the most of the trip and ran some errands that needed doing – like taking the scrap steel collected for the past year and a bit down to the nearby tip for recycling. I know that stuff at least gets recycled, everything else I’m kind of dubious about. The sheer volume of scrap metal made a lot of jangling noise from the back of the Dirt Rat Suzuki. And the roads are looking worse for wear due to the recent epic rainfall. Some clay downhill sections of road actually looked pretty slippery and required four wheel drive in order to navigate.

    Dunno, but possibly the surgeons left some other necessary chunks in there, although I hope not to see whatever is left should the two dogs somehow pull out their stitches. Those two dogs are super hard to restrain and slow down, and spare a thought for us in that this has to take place for two weeks. The dogs are super high energy, which normally isn’t a problem…

    Thank you for saying that about the effort put into the soil here. I tell ya what, it might become more important again in the future. Strange things are afoot. You may not have caught this chunk of news: Fertiliser prices boom as Incitec Pivot plans closure of Gibson Island plant. You’d hope that it is not an ambit claim for gobarmint mad cash? But what a time to make that decision.

    Pennywise is indeed your friend to play with the balloons, although candidly friendship with the fictional psychotic clown character would be somewhat difficult and possibly also a fraught experience.

    An excellent suggestion and I have done just that with the corn seedlings which kind of fell out of the very damp soil. They’ll probably be fine. We’re now in the transition time between the winter and summer plants. I could probably begin planting out some tomato seedlings and probably should get onto that task soon.

    With all of the never ending excitement lately, I decided to have a slower and less exciting day today. Ordered the replacement components for the first of the two FM tuners that I intend to refurbish. Just for a laugh, the cost of the replacement components including delivery was about $65, which is pretty cheap really and I’ll dare not bore you with the superlative quality of the radios. So, when I was at the tip this morning dropping off the metal for recycling, I noticed a family hauling a monster huge TV from their large vehicle. The tip dudes stopped them from chucking the device into the pit as e-waste goes elsewhere. And I was left wondering whether something simple had gone wrong with the huge device – which is the most likely possibility. The waste in society is epic, but that I’m guessing will soon slow down and eventually will reverse. Anyway, the replacement components on order will probably keep my radio going strong for another maybe two decades. One can only but do their best.

    Also did a few chores around the house that needed doing, and also fixed up gas blowtorch which had a stuck valve. Had to pull the entire torch apart just to fix it, but got there in the end. Putting it back together again in working condition was a challenging experience. It works great now.

    But generally I’m just taking it easy. I’m trying hard to as they say, keep a cool tool. I’m not wired for too much excitement.

    The Tudor period is of course outside of my experience being in the colonies and all. But it intrigues me that the National Trust house had survived for something like five centuries. That alone speaks volumes as to the original workmanship and materials. I must say though, that Henry VIII’s early domestic issues proved that one can never be too certain as to knowing outcomes in advance based on previous experience.

    Hey, French Chateau’s are often quite well priced, relatively speaking when compared to say, the Australian property market. The show looks like good fun, and the couple are delightfully eccentric but also respectably competent. Mate, tourism down here has been smashed so hard, that I really don’t know about the economics of such plans. Why not chuck an English canal boat in a French moat? Delightfully fun stuff. Dexter new blood, hashtag just sayin…

    Glad to hear that you now feel better. It’s no good any of that story from start to finish. Did I read that correctly? Three ham hocks for $5.38!!! Holy Mackrel Lewisman! That’s so cheap that I do not even begin to understand it. The last time we got that shot, the editor made a special pea and ham soup (fluids, salt etc.) It was a very tasty soup, mostly comprising lentils with the ham hock. But mate, get this, the ham hock was maybe about $13 or $14, although fresh and not frozen. The previous one at the market was almost $20, although it was a very good looking ham hock, but still. And I hear rumours of food shortages in the future.



  41. Hello Chris
    I don’t know whether or not anyone has speculated about the coming season’s weather. Speculating about future weather in the climate here, strikes me as a complete waste of time. They can’t even get the following 24 hours correct. I am told that this is a problem with islands.
    I hope that both dogs finally recover well.


  42. Yo, Chris – Well, we got a little respet. It stopped raining last night, and the next atmospheric river won’t start rolling in until this evening. So the water will go down, a bit. But still, there are road closures and rescues up in the east end of the county. Yup. 7 inches of rain, up in the mountains. In some areas, maybe 10. I wouldn’t say it’s not unusual, but, it’s not unheard of. There was even a bit of fog, last night.

    Please. No pictures of surgery scars. 🙂 Unlike a former president of ours (Lyndon Johnson) who thought everyone would be interested in his gall bladder surgery scare. Made the nightly news.

    “Duct Tape … the handyman’s friend!” Thank you, Red Green. If the fluffies break their stitches, slap a bit of duct tape on it. 🙂 .

    There’s been a lot of news over here, on fertilizer shortages. Even once the corn took hold, it seems I was always mounding up more dirt, around the bottom. Don’t know what they were doing with it … I finally got around to watch a movie, last night. “Percy vs Goliath.” It’s based on a true story. A farmer up in Canada, well, a bit of Big Seed got into his fields, and Big Seed wanted $20,000. He took them to court, and it went up to the Canadian supreme court. It’s well worth a look, if your curious about how Big Seed operates.

    With all the changes in technology, those big sets don’t operate, anymore. Might make a good boat anchor.

    The husband in “Escape to the Chateau”, is an ex-army engineer. There’s not much he can’t do, or figure out how to do. He’s also a super chef. And, brews a lot of concoctions.

    Well, much to my surprise, the library delivered, today. A pile of DVD’s, including “The Stand.” I see many nights of popcorn and ice cream. 🙂 . I gave it a quick test, just to make sure I wouldn’t see the dreaded “Will Not Play In This Region.” No worries.

    The ham hocks were three small ones. Looking at the package, the total weight is 1.78 pounds. And it sold for $2.99 a pound. Lew

  43. Hi Inge,

    I defer to your knowledge as I have little experience with island weather patterns. Although the climate here is likewise something of a mystery as the small mountain range which sticks up out of the earth like a sore thumb here, does tend to do some strange things to the local weather. And there are times where it rains here when it rains nowhere else, and that is an advantage when on such a dry continent.

    Thank you for saying that about the dogs and incidentally I share your lack of enthusiasm for that particular procedure which was performed on the two Kelpie dogs. I tell you, there are times in which a person does not have nearly as much free will as they’d prefer, and this was one of those times. Oh well, I can bend with the winds if need be. I just hope those same winds don’t knock me flat to the ground. Always a possibility.

    How are things in your part of the world? Things are now less strange than they only recently were, but I have a hunch that this is something of a short term reprieve.



  44. Hi Pam,

    Thank you for the lovely thoughts, and the girls are doing mostly OK. As super high energy dogs they are chafing at the bit to get back out into the farm life and run around like crazy and leap like gazelles. They really do that leaping thing too. It’s astounding to see. And they have very cheeky senses of humour because there are times in which they leap out from behind plants just so as to startle me. Yes, fun for them.



  45. Hi Lewis,

    Glad to hear that you and H had a brief respite from the atmospheric river. Ten inches of rain in only a few days in the more extreme occurrences is a true horror movie right there outside someone else’s window. What would Elvira say about such occurrences? Mate, I experienced ten inches of rain over five days back in January 2011, and I have never before seen so much water everywhere. A truly crazy experience and the options for getting out of this part of the mountain range reduced from three to two. Nobody wants to attempt to cross the flooded path number three at that time, except that I saw someone stranded way out in that waterway and there was nothing I could do to reach them. They made it out, although how they did that is something of a mystery. Actually, I fully expect to see such conditions again at some point during this summer.

    Lewis, I hereby promise not to display images of the Kelpie’s sore bits. Mate, the girls are doing it hard right now, but it looks as though they’ll recover just fine. And they’re now past the worst of it.

    Lyndon Johnson was perhaps what they nowadays describe as something of a sharer? As I said before, there are limits to sharing and surgery scars are way outside those limits. So never fear, probity is here. You can quote me on that!

    On a serious note, it is no small matter to remove one’s gall bladder. There are costs related to that choice. Far out, that dude was tall.

    Your country has at least some domestic supplies of phosphate. Down here, things are different and plants grow slowly due to a number of mineral deficiencies. You may note that there are 13 of your compatriots for every 1 of mine. I noted the other week that there are plans to mine a known deposit of phosphate in the Northern Territory. New fertiliser plans for Ammaroo Phosphate project in the Northern Territory . At a wild guess I’d suggest that the mineral deposits here are probably expensive, but if that’s all that we’ve got, then that may be how the price is set. One of the risks with industrial agriculture is that the farmers become reliant on the miners and processors and distributors. But that really is all that allows the minerals to ever flow in one direction only, which usually leads out into the ocean. It needn’t be that way, but that is how it is.

    Actually, that particular GM seed story also happened down here, although the outcome was very different. Organic farmer Steve Marsh loses bid for High Court review of genetic modification contamination case. Ouch. It is a very unlikely prospect here on this farm due to being surrounded by forest and stuff, but I would just mow such things down if discovered. They’d probably make fine mulch.

    You’re probably right about the big sets, but one can only but spend time where they believe it necessary to do so. Time is alas short.

    Hey, I’ve previously worked with ex-army engineers and I could listen to their stories of blowing stuff up for quite a while. Actually, those blokes were super handy, so yes I agree, it is an outstanding apprenticeship. Brewing is considered a dark art these days, however, here I must disagree. The art of brewing is a rather handy skill. It is actually one of those arts which I suggest to people living in apartments can take up. A carboy of fermenting stuff hardly takes up any space at all.

    Have you watched any of The Stand yet? The book was really enjoyable despite all the death, flies and stuff. And curious minds want to know: Do you have any pumpkin spiced ice cream left? Actually, by sheer chance I was gifted a small pack of popcorn. What the heck does one do with these seeds? Popcorn is not part of the culture down here.

    Mate, whatever else you say, your ham hocks are very cheap.

    Better get writing!



  46. Hello Chris
    Oh, life here is completely nuts. I try to pay as little attention as possible. Most people that I know, have stopped paying any attention to the news, I can’t quite reach that level.

    At the moment I am hearing that a new quarry is opening on the Island. It is on land that runs next to mine. People in the village have received letters about a local council meeting on the subject. Strangely those of us who live out here have heard nothing official. It has made the local paper at last and friends had informed me. I doubt that anything will stop it.


  47. Yo, Chris – This atmospheric river doesn’t seem as intense as the last one. There are actually a few periods of no rain. The local rain gage, is recording less. But, there’s a wind warning, tonight into tomorrow. Here, low to mid 20s mph. Further north, a lot worse. We may actually get a bit of clearing, on Tuesday and Wednesday. We’ll see.

    I’m happy to hear the Kelpie’s are on the mend and on the road to recovery. Soon, they will once again be practicing their pouncing. Just to keep you on your toes.

    Gall bladder surgery, isn’t such a big deal, anymore. It’s now a micro surgery. My Dad had it, and he was in at 8 and out at 4. Next Wednesday, my friend Ron over in Idaho, is going in for some micro surgery. Heart. Basically, they’re going to run a small camera, inside his heart, and take a look around. They may put in a stint.

    Interesting. Your sitting on one of the world’s largest supplies of phosphate. Keep it or sell it to the highest bidder?

    Here’s how the Canadian GMO case played out …

    Big Seed said it didn’t hurt their business. But it sure put the breaks on their selling modified wheat, in parts of the world.

    I watched about 2/3s of “The Stand,” last night. Pumpkin ice cream and popcorn with melted cheese was on hand. 🙂 . So far, the original series has a slight lead over this version. The book and the original series followed a very linear time line. The new version chops up the incidents and reveals what happens, with a lot of flashbacks. I didn’t care for that. The original series seemed to have more small telling moments, to move the story along. Such as, The Monster Shouter, though brief, is an actual character in the original series. In the new series, he just a voice, off in the distance. Compared to the original, I think some of the casting in this series, is weak. Particularly the Tom Cullen character, and … the Trash-can Man. Both were much better in the original series. I watched the “extras”, and I see King wrote a new “coda” to this series. I’m interested to see what that involves.

    I’ve always kind of wished King would write more about “The Stand.” Not necessarily a sequel, but maybe another story entirely, with different characters. But, with the same background of apocalypse. Maybe he’s got something stuffed in a drawer, somewhere. One can hope.

    So, you’re gift popcorn. Is that popcorn to eat, or popcorn to plant? Lew

  48. Chris: if you want to grow your popcorn seeds, you grow them exactly as you would any other corn seed. But you must let the corn dry completely on the plant before you harvest it. Once the corn is completely dry, harvest the cobs, remove the kernels from them, and there’s your popcorn.


  49. Hi Chris
    No, Al Wasn’t lost in flood, wind, leaf piles, and so on, just life details. All ok. Our fall season has so far presented above freezing weather..

    1.10 inches of rain fell in our area in one 24 hour period. I guess Lewis took the 7inches of rain that he wanted for his own folk and generously left that1.1 inch for his east side friends.

    Taxes: Our property taxes collected by the county have risen a couple of hundred Dollars every year for some time. Luckily we don’t have State Income tax in Washington State. Our state ,county ,and City general sales tax in our county is almost 10 percent on all purchases except food and meds.

    Your new project excavation looks nice. In the next picture, which looks like it might have been an operator machine operation practice area. Right in front of where you and Ruby are located I see portion of the scene which has two lengths of tree root that are crossed forming an X image . The Editor surely must have noticed it. It would only appear to someone holding the camera due to the position of the roots. Possible location for a missing body.

    Im look forward to the reveal of the final form for the new shed.

    The King Parrot has cheated you out of your whole crop of apricots! Do growers don’t under use the shiny streamers tied to branches. The slightest breeze will cause the bars to leave the area when the sunlight reflects in the moving streamers. It’s cheap bird repellent that will not harm the bird but often scares them away.

    In addition to watching other people do interesting work recently I was able to sign a contractor to replace my house roofing.

    Today we are having 60 degree F temps and mostly pretty sky. Very windy and a lot of blowing fallen leaves .

    Cheers Al

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