2021 in the rear view

The Editor and I had a mild disagreement this evening regarding the title of the blog. The Editor won the round, and so the title is as you find it. I’d intended to title the blog ‘2021 with a bullet’. This would have been a nod to an obscure Australian music reference which few if any people would be aware of, and not simply the act of putting last year out of its misery. The title amused me, but yeah, no.

Anyway, in order to clear up any misunderstandings with the readers, my choice of blog title, which need I remind everyone was stomped upon by the lovely Editor, was a reference to a mixed vinyl album from way back in the day: 1982 with a bullet. Back then, vinyl records were quite expensive and so every summer a mixed vinyl record would be released with a collection of the hit songs of the year. The albums sold well, the record companies made mad cash and royalties were paid to the artists. Winning!

However, I’d picked that year randomly mostly because I could recall the name of the album that year, but also at the back of my mind I’d had the idea of mentioning a song released in 1980 by an English band called The Vapors and their song: ‘Turning Japanese’. The song was quite the hit down here that year and it’s got a very distinctive guitar riff, which you’ve most likely heard. But what I particularly like about the song is that the polite meaning of the lyrics on the wikipedia page, were nothing at all like what I understood the possibly more accurate and far less polite meaning of the lyrics.

Last year was sort of like that mismatch down here. The government said that we’d be in lock down for seven days, and then four months later we were set free like little lost birdies blinking in the strong sunlight of a new day. Credibility, it should be noted, is hard to maintain when words don’t match up to reality. So, I voted to put last year out of its misery, whilst the Editor suggested a more tasteful and graceful approach. The Editor won the round. Kapowie!

Things were pretty crazy last year. The Editor and I rose above all that and just got on with the job of developing the farm. Lot’s of projects were commenced and completed, and here is a review of some of those:

Log pile, cut and split. Done!

At the very beginning of last year, we set about cutting and splitting a log pile which the local earthworks contractor had left there from the excavation of the house site. The logs had sat there for a dozen years. Rabbits found the conditions to their liking. Unfortunately the plentiful baby rabbits became an easy feed for snakes, and I’m candidly not much of a fan of those reptiles. Do they have to be the second deadliest snake on the planet? Apparently so.

Over the year we cut and split the saw logs into firewood sized chunks. They’ll be good firewood this year. And the two young Kelpie dogs worked out that hunting rabbits was a good thing. Rabbits are now nervous and the deadly AF snakes are hopefully elsewhere.

Ruby gets a rabbit

Last year was a crazy year, but it was also a crazy cold and wet year. There had been so much rain that we had trouble getting some farm machinery down into the two lower orchards. The original access path was too steep during wet conditions that something had to be done. We constructed a low gradient ramp leading into the two lower orchards.

A low gradient ramp was constructed providing all weather access to the lower orchards.

By the end of the year, the ramp was mostly completed. There is a little bit more work to finesse the ramp, but at this stage it is good enough.

Plum is impressed with the easy access to rabbit hunting territory

The low gradient ramp project used a huge number of large rocks for retaining the soil. Thus the project taught us heaps about the gentle art of splitting and moving rocks, not to mention how to move the huge volumes of soil which the project ate.

All that soil had to come from somewhere, and that somewhere was a new flat site above the house. The new flat site will eventually be planted out with vines such as passionfruit and hops, but for the moment it is too hot for the plants to survive. During the excavation, we unearthed a Moby (body) rock.

Ollie is sitting next to one of the hardest rocks I’d yet encountered

That was one tough rock, and a few weeks ago I finally cut and split the rock into smaller granite chunks using a very expensive industrial diamond tipped cutting blade and a hired cutting tool. When the weather cools down in autumn (in a few months), the site will be planted out.

A lot of the work around the farm this year has involved improving all weather access. The five garden terraces have been improved by the addition of rock lined paths with surfaces of crushed rock with lime. The additional lime doesn’t hurt the plants either.

Crushed rock with lime paths were added to most plant enclosures

In the above photo, you can also observe that all of the garden beds were supplied with a huge quantities of various soil additives which I mixed up on site. The results have been spectacular, even in a cold and wet growing year like this one.

As well as providing a heavy feed for the soil, we’ve been fastidious in relation to reducing plant competition, either by weeding or increasing the spacing between plants. And a regular commenter (Claire) suggested cutting all of the strawberry plants back hard in the winter months. We did just that and the plants have responded well to the harsh treatment.

The strawberry plants were cut back to almost ground level during winter

The winter was cold and wet, and unfortunately the long lock downs meant that we could not travel far from home. Being the adventurous sorts that we are, we investigated many of the interesting things to see in the immediate area. I recommend getting to know your own local area better.

There are some hidden interesting things to see in this mountain range

The winter was windy, but one particular day was far windier than I can remember for a many a year. And the wind arrived by way of the south east, where it usually never originates from. Trees in the area were not braced for the combination of the wet soils and winds from the south east. A lot of trees fell over that day.

A lot of trees blew over in the wind storm

The farm is in a sheltered vast volcanic amphitheatre and so the damage was far worse elsewhere, but even so a few large trees decided it was time to meet the ground.

One of several large trees which blew over in the storm

After the storm, the electricity to this part of the mountain range was cut off for five days whilst repairs took place. And compared to other parts of the state, that was a rapid response. We offered assistance to neighbours, but nobody took up the offer.

Towards the end of the year we’d outgrown our machinery shed, and due to the long lock downs we’d almost exhausted our stored supply of firewood. With uncertainty about how things will roll this year, we decided to construct both larger machinery and firewood sheds. A machine was hired to assist with cutting a flat site for the machinery shed. My feelings towards that extraordinary machine are not natural, but oh yeah, it’s good!

My one true love! This machine is awesome

Plans are one thing, but materials are another thing altogether. And materials are in short supply, and those that are available are super expensive. In order to save money on the new project, we dismantled a tiny shed and recovered all but a few of the materials for reuse.

Dismantling this shed carefully recovered most of the materials for use elsewhere

It’s been an interesting year due to all of the things going on outside the farm, and here’s hoping that this new year is less crazy.

A hot and dry week is the best time to install the roofing sheets on a shed.

39’C / 102’F on New Years Eve is pretty toasty hot
The hot days have produced some great colour in the early evening skies

Roof battens were attached to the roof frame. Battens are the long bits of timber that the corrugated steel roof sheets are screwed into. And then a quarter of the roofing sheets were attached.

Roof battens. Done! And some steel sheets were installed

After another days work, one side of the shed had its roof sheets installed. On the other side of the shed, the roof truss timbers were trimmed so that they were all the same length. It’s hard to see in the photos, but strong steel mesh was installed in between each roof truss so that birds, bats, rats, whatever, can’t take up residence in the shed.

One side of the roof. Done!

Another day of work had all of the roof sheets on the other side of the shed installed. And ridge capping at the very peak of the roof where the two sheets meet and end capping was attached. It’s looking quite neat. We do neat!

The roof is now completely clad

Observant readers will note that the continued run of hot and dry days has caused the grass to begin to yellow. This is normal for this time of year.

Inside the new shed and it’s looking very spacious. The Editor suggested to me that it looks like the sort of picnic shelter you’d encounter at a National Park! Minus the BBQ.

Lot’s of space – that’s the whole point

And yet another days work resulted in one and a half of the walls clad in corrugated steel sheets.

Not quite weatherproof, but getting there

There’s a big storm headed this way on Wednesday. So before that time I have to install the drainage for the roof and try and collect some of the rainfall in water tanks. There is a heap of work yet to do before that time. Plus it will be a good test to see whether the roof leaks at any points.

In breaking produce news…

The run of hot weather has caused everything to grow! Snow peas have produced a good handful of pods.

Snow peas are producing really well, and they’re very tasty and sweet

The sprawling kiwi fruit vines have yet again astounded me with the sheer number of fruit produced. In the space of two weeks, the vines flowered and set hundreds of fruit.

These small kiwi fruit will grow well with the impending tropical storm

Onto the flowers:

Californian poppies are always delightful
Lavender thrives in the hot and dry conditions
The succulent garden continues to amaze and delight
The roses have gone feral with the run of hot weather
We have a huge diversity of roses planted, and most of them are aromatic varieties
Whilst other roses are planted for their beauty

The temperature outside now at about 7.00am is 11’C (52’F). So far this year there has been 0.6mm (0.0 inches) which is as distinct from last years total of 1,219.4mm (48.0 inches)

58 thoughts on “2021 in the rear view”

  1. Yo, Chris – The Editor is a wise woman.

    You still managed to nerd-out, over obscure Australian rock bands, for three paragraphs. Oh, well, your blog, your nerd-out. 🙂 .

    Thanks for the walk down FGF (Fern Glade Farm) memory lane. I seem to remember there was a lot of solar fiddling. Furniture / plumbing projects inside the house. And who can forget the Great FGF earthquake of 2021? Might be the most productive year at FGF. But how would you measure that?

    The “not quite weatherproof” photo? I though you’d already installed the BBQ in the mead hall. But on reflection, I decided it was your cement / compost mixer.

    The snow peas do look tasty. So, the kiwi? What will you do, with those? Jams and jellies?

    The succulent looks like a daisy crown. The roses, as always, are real knockouts. The Editor and you have quit a touch, with those. Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    Your words have been passed onto the Editor. 🙂

    Man, we worked hard today and installed the remaining cladding on the half finished wall, and then rolled four of the seven water tanks into position. The water tanks received a high pressure wash too as one of them had been attached to the shed with the rats. It doesn’t pay to be too careful with such things. But it was a long day. An epic three day storm is arriving on Wednesday and so we only have one more day to get the water tanks into their final resting place and then connect up the drainage pipes to the roof guttering (which was also made today). After that small landslide years ago, I don’t muck around with drainage.

    The nerd out was pretty fun, and um the underlying message was don’t always believe the narrative. Perhaps it was over subtle? I’d intended to end the blog with the final lines from the original Terminator film: A storm is coming. But there is actually a storm coming so I didn’t want to tempt the weather gods to really turn things on their head here. So far, we’ve been really lucky with the weather for all of this project work.

    The thing is about most productive year, as you get more experience with all of this stuff, you get much better at getting things done. Is this what wisdom looks like? 🙂

    Score! You called it. That machine is the cement mixer, which is used to produce the batches of compost. Such a simple and sturdy machine. It only has a few moving parts.

    No, the Kiwi fruit won’t be ready to harvest until maybe May later this year. It is really hard to time the harvest for them. Too early and they don’t ripen, and too late, the birds will get all of them. It’s a problem.

    Thanks! The two garden terraces with the roses have produced a huge amount of flowers in the past week or two with the warmer weather. Mate, I need to stop and take the time to smell the roses, but there’s this epic storm thing set to hit here on Wednesday. There are times where I feel that I am but one small step ahead of events, and this week is one of those times.

    Absolutely, Sharknado must have been a documentary! Toothy large critters. Someone was attacked recently by a reef shark, and maybe a bit over two decades ago when snorkelling up in Queensland on the Great Barrier Reef, the Editor and I encountered one of those sharks. Sure they’re smaller sharks, but they have big pointy teeth which will do you up a treat mate. I was not cool about the encounter. But possibly that many years ago, the sharks were less hungry?

    I’m in awe of your usual wake up time, and can only add that I would do no differently if given half the chance. Unfortunately, nobody has seen fit to give me half a chance, and so things are as they are and I have to get up every day before my preternatural preference. It’s outrageous, I should ask for a refund? And no nap this afternoon plus hugely long work day means an early bedtime this evening. Me sleepy….

    OK, so how does a person stop themselves from slipping over when the usual surfaces are icy? A few years ago, it snowed here and I took the Dirt Rat Suzuki into the higher elevations of the mountain range and had neglected to engage four wheel drive – and the car spun around 180 degrees at low speed. Small mercy was not encountering another vehicle or plummeting off the steep embankment whilst totally out of control.

    Curious. Do you reckon that you may have become the main benefactor for the food pantry at the Club? Beats being the Club presiding factotum. 😉 From my perspective it is an excellent public service, and you know, they did you a solid in the past so there are obligations you owe them to a greater or lesser extent.

    I’m watching the inflation story play out all around me, and it’s hitting hard, so the food pantry is a great service. As a comparison, I’m simply trying to resolve some of the knots on the farm which have become hard to ignore and the economics are a real pest.

    Hmm. I had not known that vehicle repair databases would have been part of a library collection. Interesting. On a related side note, I happened to bump into one of the farm machine repair dudes last evening, and every time we have a conversation with them, they share some bit of advice which can be chucked into the: why didn’t I think of that category? The funny thing is that they clearly enjoy speaking with the Editor far more than my good self, and I have to laugh at that. There are times I get the impression they’d happily push me to the side… Oh well.

    Way back in the late 1980’s, like very late, my mates used to take me to alternative music clubs and I’d get to hear sad gothic / punk inspired music from bands such as Bauhaus lamenting the demise of Mr Bela Lugosi, and perhaps this has tainted my view of the actor? On the other hand, the bloke was the true original and enjoyed a long career in that art form. But yeah, you know on the other hand I too enjoyed the clunky special effects as they lent a nice touch to a film. Even the original Star Wars film looks pretty clunky nowadays, but that is part of the charm. The original Death Star final scenes were all done with models and they look pretty cool. I’m probably going to end up in hell for saying it, but I always thought that the Luke character was a bit whiney! Anyway, it’s outrageous that monsters would attempt to put an end to a proper sock hop. Something needs to be done. 😉

    Fingers crossed for your mates in Idaho. I’d be a bit concerned about interest rates rising this year, but that’s me and I’m maybe way over in the prudent category.



  3. Hello Chris
    Impressive indeed and I agree that you do ‘neat’, very neat actually.
    I long for a better year in the world but feel doubtful.


  4. Hello Chris and the Editor,

    What a year you had. Highs and lows.
    And indeed it seems that your experience and skills have matured to true mastery this year. A few years down the line, the physical strength will recede, so enjoy the peak productivity while it lasts…
    A couple of years back I was at a presentation by Joel Salatin about farming business, and he was adamant that the most productive and profitable decade is the 60->70 years of age bracket. (He had conducted a poll among his successful peers, and they all bragged about their all-time-high incomes… I am not sure how generalizable this is to you and me, but I have high hopes!)

    As you said last week, the Harari guy is interesting, and a great storyteller. I also think he is far too optimistic about what’s coming.

    I suspect that the word-of-the-year for 2022 will be inflation. Here, house prices went up with 20% during 2021, and other goods are following suit. I am afraid that the stashes of off-shore money will come back into the economy, and increase the velocity of money and put fuel on the fire. I has been good for the rest of us that the rich have siphoned away billions out of the market, but if it is coming back, it will flood us all. Like you, I am no MMT-fan. (Unfortunately, the euro-zone leaders at ECB in Frankfurt do like it very much, and they even increased the monthly money-printing as of 1 January…)

    On a sunnier note, I have been making lots of cuttings of berries this year. It is such a joy to propagate the most delicious berries and fruits.

    Regarding food trees – the most excellent Martin Crawford has opened up (watch for free) all the presentations from the Agroforestry/food forest symposium from last summer, see here:
    I am a great fan of Eric Toensmeier, and his presentation about perennial veggies for health benefits was an eye-opener.

    And to conclude; don’t worry, there will be enough comments for you to read, all through 2022!

    Good luck with the mead hall!


  5. Yo, Chris – Our snow is mostly gone. And out with a bang. It rained and blew very hard, last night. H didn’t want to go out. And, once out, just wanted to come in. Nothing was accomplished. We both got thoroughly soaked. Our usual patch, out back, was a pond.

    The overnight high was 41F (5C), at midnight. Wind gusts to 35mph. It’s about the same, this morning. We have flood watches, flood warnings and now, flood advisories. Whatever those are. We’re supposed to have “mixed rain and snow,” tonight. With “…little or no accumulation.” I’ll hold them, to that. I hope we don’t have another round of weather, like the last week. But, we could.

    4 of 7 water tanks moved. That part of the job is over half done.

    Yes, overly subtle, unless you’re well versed in obscure Australian music, over the last 50 years. 🙂 .

    Someone was killed in a shark attack, on the central California coast, the other day. We never used to get the Great White Sharks, up along our coast. But, with the warming oceans, there have been sightings, and, I think a few attacks.

    OK. Driving in snow. Turn the wheel in the direction of the slide, and gently pump breaks. Have good tires. Or, even chains or studded tires. It is prohibited from going over some of our passes, in winter, unless you have chains on. Weight in the backend, is helpful. I was glad I had a load of wet snow, in the back of my truck. When I went to the grocery, the other night, I thought I was stuck. Couldn’t go forward. Cramping the wheel, didn’t help. But then I found I could back up. So, I did a bit, and managed to find a bit of dry pavement, to get a bit of purchase. Walking is an ordeal. The parking lot at the Club was a skating rink. You move, very slowly, flat footed, and pick your path carefully.

    Every once in awhile, someone slips me a $20 for the food pantry. A bit of food has shown up, out of the blue. One of the Prime Directives 🙂 of The Program is … “Pass it on.”

    Before the automotive data bases, at least one library in every county had huge collections of the “Motors” or “Chilton” auto guides. Gone, but not forgotten. Usually, somewhere in our system, there would be a guide, for whatever vehicle one needed it for. Might take a few days, to transfer between branches. These were reference books, that didn’t check out. But, we were more than happy to copy any pages, for free. That cut down on people ripping pages out.

    Well, the Farm Machine Repair Dudes. You’ll know they’re making a serious play for the Editor, if you discover a cut brake line or a punctured fuel line. 🙂 . Or if the Editor takes an inordinate amount of life insurance out, on you. I’ve been watching too many British mysteries.

    My friends in Idaho don’t have to worry about interest rates. They’ve always paid cash, for any house they’ve bought. The inspection is Wednesday, and they should get the results around Friday. She mentioned there’s a new chimney liner, for the wood stove. That’s encouraging.

    I stopped by the veg store, yesterday. Picked up farm fresh eggs. We are so lucky to have a source. I also picked up some “Aussie White Gold Vintage Sharp White Cheddar.” White gold, indeed. Cost me $7.62 for 0.57 pounds. Very tasty, but a bit crumbly to cut. Had some on popcorn, last night. A layer of the cheeper Swiss, and topped it off with the Australian cheese. One bag of nuked popcorn is enough for two layers, in my Designated Popcorn Bowl. Popcorn, cheese, popcorn, cheese. Then I nuke it again, until the top cheese just begins to melt.

    I saw a trailer for a movie, that’s coming out in March. “The Lost City.” With Sandra Bullock, et all. Looks like a lot of fun. Lew

  6. @Lew
    I’m glad to see it’s gotten warmer by you. Your description of walking on ice made me cringe. I know many people who’ve had serious breaks falling on ice. Just last week we had a bit of snow and I carefully creeped down our driveway as the last half is black top and very steep. I then continued my morning walk with the dogs (Doug who usually is with us was deer hunting) taking great care not to hit any icy spots. Then when I was going out our sidewalk to fill my birdfeeders I forgot about the patch of ice that often forms in one spot where the gutter has a small leak. Well I took a dive and hit my head pretty hard on the pavement. Had a big lump but was mostly OK but think I might have a mild concussion.


  7. Hi Chris,
    Very much enjoyed your year in review and have to say I like the editors choice of title as I would have no clue what you were referring to.

    How often do you have to add crushed lime? We have two driveways – one crushed lime and the other blacktop. Seems every five years ago we need a load of lime to fill in low spots. I wonder if all the freezing and thawing hastens that need.

    The shed looks great – waiting to see how quickly you fill it up.

    Lew’s cold has moved east and we’re in the deep freeze all this week. Had our first real snow which was forecast to be 5 – 8 inches but ended up 2-3. Hard to know for sure as it was blowing. Anyway no big deal.

    Had our usual quiet New Year celebration with our retirement home friends, Bill and Kathy. It was our turn to go to their house and we decided we would celebrate New York’s New Year as we could go home earlier.

    Gwen was able to stay with Marty for about ten days and I visited them last Thursday. To say the place was filled with unhealthy snacks would be an understatement but they seemed quite content and happy to be together. Marty showed off his amazing village under his tree. He spends weeks setting it up and it takes up 1/3 of his living room.

    Hope you’ll get a little downtime during the upcoming days of rain.

    Belated Happy New Year to you, the editor and everyone here.


  8. @ Lew,

    “The World Turned Upside Down”? I remember laughing at Yorktown when the English army was playing that while it was surrendering. 😉


  9. Chris,

    Clouds rolled in again, so that the temperatures stayed about 5C higher than expected. Not quite balmy, but better than “almost frigid”. Sunday morning it was -11C. Monday morning it was +3C. Heat wave. Then the snow rolled in and the temperature neared freezing. Don’t know how much snow this will dump on us.

    The water pipes were never in danger of freezing. Dad’s utility sink in the basement had the fixture to allow a garden hose to attach. Ran said hose upstairs and outside. Detach hose from faucet so it would drain while bring it back inside. Repeat when the ice had been used and needed some smoothing and refreshing. It worked.

    Oh, yes, there was a VERY scientific study done on the freezing booger test. The freezing booger appeared in an old “Calvin and Hobbes” comic strip. https://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1988/02/05
    The author did exhaustive (?) research and decided that that was the first use of the word “booger” in a nationally syndicated comic strip. How’s that for “scientifically researched”? 😉

    Surviving extreme temperatures is “easy” on the surface but takes a lot of preparation and proper knowledge in reality. Wear plenty of layers including something wind proof. No exposed skin. KEEP THE FEET WARM. Move slowly and do NOT perspire. Once you stop moving, the perspiration will freeze and cause hypothermia. Rapidly. And if you stop moving and start a fire, do NOT start the fire underneath a tree with a lot of snow on the branches. “To Build A Fire” by Jack London gets into that.

    Thanks for the review of 2021. You accomplished a LOT. The Princess was especially impressed by two things. First, the work on the new paths. Superb. Second, how quickly the new shed is coming together. However, I AM mildly disappointed that you will not even attempt to catch slowly rolling HEAVY barrels. Something about a sense of adventure?

    The flower photos were superb, as usual. They are extremely welcome right now.


  10. Hi Chris,

    Happy 2022! You and the Editor had a productive 2021. Yes indeed, you do neat, and your farm is very pleasing to the eye. Congratulations on all the work both of you did!

    I do have one small thing to point out … when I suggested you mow the strawberries, I meant to mow them in the summer, shortly after you have picked the last fruits off of them, in order to force them to put their energy into re-growing their leaves instead of into making runners. When you posted that you mowed your strawberries a few months ago, I worried that mowing them at that time might cause them to put their energy into making leaves rather than flowers. As a result I was very relieved when I saw the photo in last week’s blog with all of the lovely strawberries in it. Enjoy eating them and everything else you are harvesting!

    Mike and I had to roll our 500 gallon water tank to its current location because we changed our minds about where to put it after it had been delivered. For the two of us and because the distance we rolled it was level and only about 100 feet or so, it was rather easy to do. But I imagine you had to roll larger and heavier tanks farther and over sloping ground. How did you do it? Hope you get everything done before the rains come!

    Real winter arrived; it was 9F/-13C this morning. A little of Sunday’s sugar dusting of snow remained on the ground. The local weather office is starting to make noises about snow later this week that could be more than a sugar dusting, along with cold enough temperatures to bring the three citrus trees on the front porch into the house for a few days. It’s January; I have to expect that sort of thing.

    Time to start planning this year’s garden. I’ll publish my last blog post in the current series this week; it’s nearly complete. Then, as I work out what I’ll grow this year, I’ll start writing up what I learned from last year’s garden for next month’s post.

    @ Goran – thanks for the link! I’m interested in several of the presentations.


  11. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, belief is a funny thing. I’d believed that the work today would be quick and painless. Yeah, turns out that I was wrong, and we wrangled the four water tanks into position. Then we connected up the drains and pipes so that water collected off the roof now gets stored in the tanks. This was no easy day at all, and we finished up at about 7pm this evening. Just to spur us on in case we disbelieved tomorrows impending three day storm (courtesy of ex tropical cyclone ‘Seth’ – a good name for a cyclone), today was mostly misty with occasional bouts of drizzle. A truly revolting day, but then, things could be worse and the job is now all done. Phew! He says as he breathes a big sigh of relief.

    All I hope is that I make at least some semblance of sense this evening – it’s not much to ask for.

    Tomorrow is apparently set to deliver: Very high chance of showers. The chance of a thunderstorm, possibly severe. Heavy falls possible. Yikes! Oh well, let tomorrow worry about tomorrow.

    If you have a watch, and you have a warning, what the heck is an advisory? I’m all for providing multiple options, but that is just confusing.

    Lewis, I’m doing my utmost to school you in obscure Australian music trivia from the past four decades, but we really do have a lot of ground to cover here. 🙂 Hehe! Just kidding, I add in the music references, just because the notion appeals to me. It really is that simple. But there is always some sort of hidden values chucked into the fluff – I can’t say what I’d actually like to say the laws being what they are down here.

    Possibly also the sharks moving in closer to shore may indicate that the seas have been over fished? Sharks are indiscriminate feeders, and wade into their environment at your peril. How else could sharks and crocodiles survive – unchanged – when the dinosaurs bit the dust 65 million years ago?

    Thanks for the coping with snow and ice tips. Far out dude! Falls are never good, and need I remind you of the almost face planting into a rock incident earlier last year? But you seem to have kept your wits about you in those risky conditions.

    Really? I hadn’t known that about the ‘Pass it on’ philosophy with the Club. Very wise. Is it my imagination or did some individual or other group attempt to hijack that concept a few years ago?

    Technical manuals with missing pages (torn out courtesy of previous borrowers) would be a right pain. Way back in the day, I used to purchase the repair manual for whatever vehicle I owned at the time – and then use the manual to err, perform repairs and service the beast. I dunno about you, but if I’d borrowed such a manual (an impossibility, but let’s just pretend otherwise) and discovered a missing page, it would be a nightmare scenario! I’d imagine that the ‘happy to provide a copy’ response was learned the hard way? Plus such books would get very grubby given the home workshop environment they’d find themselves in.

    Pah! I am merely amused by the attentions they fawn onto the Editor. Well your supposition is always a possibility, but then, they don’t know if the Editor would be using the machine do they, so that strategy could well backfire. Incidentally, the Editor recently has rather enjoyed reading Agatha Christie novels and enjoyed the series Prodigal Son (which you recommended), and no doubts would have learned a few tricks or so and never would probably never make such a rookie mistake. No, if my demise looks like an accident, maybe it was an accident? 🙂

    Well done them. I approve of such conservative and prudent finances. Fingers crossed it works out OK for them. I noted that the wood stove had a kink in the flue, and I don’t really know how well such things work, but the device looked well used, so I dunno. My neighbour has such an arrangement with their wood heater flue. I might ask them.

    Yum! Perfect cheese. On really hot days I have this lunch preference for cherry tomatoes, cut in half, generously salted with pepper, and then plonked on a chunk of vintage tasty cheese and freshly baked bread. So good, but probably a heart stopper. Life is short though so we must make the most of things!

    Hehe! Oh yeah, the trailer looked pretty fun. 🙂

    My plan is to not work on the shed tomorrow – I have to do some paid work, but apparently Thursday is looking clear at this stage, maybe…



  12. Hi Inge,

    Thanks. You know we do try to take aesthetic considerations into account. People can build quite ugly sheds and then plonk them in front of their homes, but I dunno about that as you have to look at the thing. Often it takes just a little bit more effort to produce something that is just that bit better, and the Editor employs the golden meme with buildings.

    I too hope that my darkest thoughts aren’t realised this year. Of course, sea monsters may be more of a problem for you than I! 🙂 Jokes aside, I’m feeling that the crazy narrative has just about run its course – society could never afford such a scam. I dunno, there are times when I simply wished that an honest conversation could be introduced into the public sphere, but can you imagine the whining resulting from that?



  13. G’day Goran!

    Mate, yeah that is how life rolls. It looks much like an inverted bell shaped curve and that curve is reproduced right throughout the biosphere and culture too for that matter. I’m cool with it, how about you?

    Joel gets around! A few years ago he was conducting a talk at a nearby farm and I had a few chance words with him – a really lovely bloke and full of sincerity, enthusiasm and just up for a days hard work. I liked him.

    Oh man, are you testing my thoughts? Far out, just because I dunno about that claim. The thing is ‘productive’ and ‘profitable’ are economic terms, and folks in that age bracket – and Joel is older than I by a fair margin – well, they can sometimes command a lot of assets and enjoy income streams from those assets which can skew that perspective. But mate, we put in an almost ten hour work day today because of the storm which will hit tomorrow. In ten or twenty years could I do such a days work – probably not. Just sayin…

    Plus, so many people confuse money and wealth. Money is a claim on wealth and that’s all. And given the sheer enthusiasm going into expanding the money supply in most countries these days, my gut feeling suggests that it is worth less as time goes on. I’m no fan either. As a policy it doesn’t stack up from an historical perspective – it’s failed every time it has been attempted, except for the current bout. Is that a matter of time, probably.

    You know, when I was a really young bloke it was considered poor taste to speak about money matters. This is not a reflection of your words and thoughts, but just that times have changed and they may have improved. But then as a kid of a single mother, we were pretty poor relative to other families which I knew – and it didn’t seem to matter that much. And that’s the thing, all this stuff that people have and want, what does it all mean, and how would they know if they’d had enough?

    Out of curiosity, how do you propagate the nut trees? Incidentally, the chestnut here has grown massively in the past couple of weeks and is now covered in catkins.

    Thanks for the link and light reading!



  14. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks, and we’ve been busy this past year. But the past two months has really taken the cake. We worked late tonight and only just managed to connect up the roof drainage systems to the water tanks (which are now in place). Me tired tonight.

    Hehe! You know I really chuck in the obscure music stuff because it amuses me. Damo over in the other side of the continent has managed to get quite a few of the references, but yeah, they’re obscure.

    The crushed rock with lime beds down to a really solid surface, but then despite the once upon a time landslide, the underlying clay is pretty firm. Say with the driveway, it’s probably been in good condition for about a decade. It does settle, but then it isn’t subject to heaving processes like your frost and thaw. Mind you, the ground is still active and it does moves around depending on the seasons, but the soil never freezes. I don’t really know, but we do chuck thick layers of the stuff down, and maybe it depends on how thick the layer is you’ve utilised?

    🙂 Well, filling up the shed is always a risk. Actually the quantity of farm machinery has gotten a bit out of control over the past few years, but they’re all used and in working order. The shed is really necessary as we’d outgrown the earlier incarnations. No doubt, you understand this problem?

    Nice. How are they enjoying their now quieter lives? Do they miss the antics of the residents?

    No big deal for you maybe! 🙂 I’d be whinging about such cold weather conditions, a lot! We might get between two and four inches of rain over the next few days…

    Go Marty! He probably feels about his village, the same way that the Christmas lights folks feel about their displays and no doubts he would have loved showing off the village.

    Fingers crossed, Thursday is looking quieter for me. Dunno. At this stage it is a day by day thing.

    And a happy new year to you and Doug as well.



  15. Hi DJ,

    Reading over your shoulder. Upside down land. Hmm, Plum enjoys looking at the world when upside down. It’s uncanny, but she really seems to be enjoying herself.

    Oh, that is hot, if say you were a reindeer. 🙂 Far out, that is so cold, and I’m so summer soft. Did you get much snow? So much fun, unless like an unwanted house guest and it overstays its welcome. Always know when to arrive, and also when to leave is my thoughts in the matter. 🙂

    Hehe! Yes, I can see how a physics professor might work out some arrangement like that. It’s genius really. But what I wanted to know, is how far down underground does the freeze penetrate? Possibly not far given you had running water in freezing conditions? Dunno, I’ve never experienced frozen soil.

    How good is Calvin and Hobbes? And who knew that boogers could freeze up your nose? It sounds horrendous and the cartoon made it look painful, like some sort of weird weather god punishment. I’d reckon that if it happened to you then, surely it is pay back for something you’d done and had not been caught out for? 🙂 And I agree, the sample size is small, but it packs some serious weight.

    Thanks for the hints and tips regarding surviving in the snow. You know, I can get a fire started in pretty damp conditions (knowing which plants are what is the key), but snow. And oh yeah, you’d never consider the tree load of snow, until it was too late. Down here it is unwise to camp underneath trees for continuing good health reasons.

    Thanks, and I appreciate the words of appreciation from your lady. Mate, truth to tell, there are so many folks on holidays right now that the facilities are packed and so we’re getting on with the shed. I could enjoy a day off though which come to think of it, I can’t remember the last day I had off any work. This is not a good thing and should be rectified. But yeah, we’re going hard on the shed project because a firewood shed also needs building before the firewood gets wet later in the year.

    Hehe! I don’t think so with the water tanks. On their sides they were as tall as myself and yeah, don’t let them get away from you down the hill. That did happen once and it was a right pain. A long story…

    Fingers crossed the rain is not as heavy as predicted and that there are flowers to photograph on Sunday. 🙂



  16. Hi Claire,

    Many thanks for the kind words, and we both enjoy getting the aesthetics just right with projects. Of course it is always something of a compromise, but we do OK. Gene Logsdon years ago penned the thought that farm steads have become very unattractive places, when it was not always that way.

    Claire, I’m crashing sorry. Sleepy… We did a ten hour work day today and finished late just trying to get the drainage and water tanks sorted before a three or four day long storm arrives tomorrow (ex tropical cyclone Seth). Will speak tomorrow.



  17. Hello Chris,

    Nut tree propagation is something I do in various ways. Some trees I grow from seed, if I can find good “parents”. The advantage of seedlings is that they are all individuals (as in Life of Brian).

    Other trees I graft onto seedling rootstock, since there are varieties that are popular and desired.

    Chestnuts are my favourites, and I sell both selected seedlings and grafted trees. (There is a bit of complexity when it comes to seedling chestnuts and EU rules for forestry saplings, so my nursery is the only one in the country that sells selected seedlings from good parents of European Chestnut.) I am exploring different species as rootstock (Castanea sativa, Castanea crenata, Castanea mollissima)

    It is possible to do layering of chestnuts as well, but I have not yet tried that method. By the end of January, I will go to France to visit a nurseryman who is layering chestnut trees on quite a large scale (www.l-q-p.com).
    Some people also do in-vitro clonal propagation. That is not so interesting for me.

    I am trialling a pearl chestnut from China, which is a subtropical tree (Castanea henryi) and it is very delicious. In China this is a premium delicacy. My first seedlings are now a year old, and I have taken them into a hoophouse over the winter, but from next year I will try to have them outdoors.

    I hope your burrs are well pollinated and ripe in April or May.

    Best of luck in the rainstorm – may your tanks be full and stable!


  18. Oh, Margaret – Taking a fall like that … well, you know it could have been a lot more serious. I laughed at all the grab bars in the bathroom, when I moved in here. Now I use them … religiously. Being older, ya just gotta think, all the time. Calculate everything. And move slow. Lew

  19. @ DJ – I’d give it an 8. It has a good beat, and you can dance (or march) to it. 🙂 Lew

  20. @ Margaret – Very cool about Marty’s Christmas village. I’ve got one, too. 🙂 . If you ever need a little gift for Marty, check out “Barclay figures” on E Buy. They were made mainly for old train sets. So, I think the scale is HO.

    As of this morning, there were 1.600 and some, listed. Some are pricey. But some are really reasonable. Especially when their in lots, of several. Lew

  21. Yo, Chris – Congrats on getting the water tanks in place, and all hooked up. One more thing off your mind. But how are they situated for your forays out into the driving rain, in the middle of the night, to unstop drains? Inquiring Minds Want to Know! 🙂

    I want a refund! I want my money back! About 5pm, yesterday, it started snowing. And, sticking. I took to cursing, rolling on the ground, and frothing at the mouth. But, no worries. It was pretty much a steady 40F (4.44C), all night. So, no snow, this morning. At least not in town. I had planned a trip out to the cheap food store, this morning. But, decided to put that off for a couple of days. It would have been too tragic, to wake up and hour early, and find more snow and ice on the ground.

    Warnings, watches and advisories. I can’t keep the difference between warnings and watches straight in my head. And now they throw in advisories? I throw in the towel. I’ll just stick with, “It might flood.”

    Well, I certainly pitch a lot of trivia your way. 🙂 I could say mine is more interesting. If I wanted to be cruel. 🙂 . But then, I’m not trying to hide double secret messages, due to differences in politics and laws. If I send a couple of box tops, and postage and handling, is there a magic decoder ring?

    More complex animals just don’t seem to make if very well, through extinction events. Something to think about. I’m glad that turtles made it through. They’ve been around a really long time. And, I kind of like turtles.

    Oh, we don’t mind if people lift bits and pieces of our programs philosophies and practices. Might make the world a slightly better place. I’ve often thought that normies could profit from some of the concepts.

    Well, things are getting a bit more back to normal. Swung by the bank and had biscuits and gravy at the Club. Yummers! The library is open and functioning, again. I picked up Katz’s book, today, but haven’t had a chance to look at it. Lew

  22. @ Claire,

    Welcome to the weather we’ve been having. Alas! Not quite cold enough to make a proper backyard ice rink. I miss the skating in the backyard.

    The City used to have an ice rink with heating areas in the beautiful downtown park, aka Riverfront Park. However, when they got grant money to redo the park, they took out a lot of trees and grass AND the ice rink. They built an ice ribbon instead. I taught my wife to skate on the now disappeared ice rink. We’ve not tried the ribbon.


  23. Chris,

    We got about 2cm on Monday. It left an icy film on the sidewalks after I shoveled it. Then I heard on the telly that we were 2cm ahead of “average.” Naturally, on Tuesday, out of nowhere, 3cm or so fell in 45 minutes when I was at an indoor appointment. I then had to drive in it with the snow still falling hard. It was 0C, so it was solid ice on the roads. Traffic was at a crawl for once. As suddenly as it started, it stopped. Between 10cm and 18cm expected Wednesday night through Thursday evening. I bought more petrol for Big Bertha.

    How deep does our ground freeze? It varies. The worst I’ve seen was in the 1970s. There had been one cold snap to about-20C circa December 10. The ground froze. Without getting above freezing, a similar cold snap hit for Christmas, remaining with us for most of Christmas break from school. Dad chose THAT winter to hand dig a 2 meter deep trench that was maybe 30m long for a water line from a well to the farmhouse we rented out. He said that the ground was frozen 1 meter deep. He also said he’d rather break rocks with a sledgehammer than dig in the frozen ground again.

    The other thing I know in dad’s house, the City water mains were more than a meter underground, so that his annually making the skating pond in the yard would have no repercussions on that front. However, as in my current home, at temperatures below -20C it’s necessary to run a trickle of cold water full time. At my current home, the forecast one night 20 years ago was for a low of -14C. It actually got to -26C! The next morning when I turned on the water to make coffee, some solids came out before the water. The basement was above freezing, so it had to have been from the pipes coming from the City’s water main. At one place that pipe is maybe 0.5m deep. Hope that answers the question?

    I’ve had the boogers freeze way up my nose at about -26C. It hurts. I’m smarter now. If it’s that cold, I wear a scarf over my mouth and nose, breathe through the scarf. It helps a LOT.

    I understand the day off, or lack thereof. It’s not so bad in retirement, but I’m still very busy. The type of winter we’re having, I’m having to do something with snow removal most days. Wednesday should be above freezing before the snow rolls in, so I might have to chip some ice off some places on the driveway.

    Mate, you should almost start Fernglade’s Shed Shoppe and contract to build sheds for people. After this summer, you’ll have more than enough experience. Of course, that’s too much work in the extreme heat.


  24. Hi Claire (the double secret continued, and less tired this evening edition reply),

    The strawberries here continue to produce into the summer, and so I mistook your advice (as you understood) to mean to cut them down in the winter months. Things are a bit different here with the growing seasons, and if I had oodles of free time, I’d yank out every second strawberry plant right now. Unfortunately, for all sorts of reasons I’ve had to concentrate on getting the infrastructure done this year over looking after the plants. I tell you truly, the parrots have enjoyed my absence. Oh well, it is not possible to do everything and there are times where you have to face the facts and just choose a path.

    Hehe! You guessed correctly. The smallest tank we moved was 2,000L or 530 gallons, and the biggest was 5,500L or 1,445 gallons. And they were all moved by the act of rolling them and then we lifted them back onto their bases. After years of co-operative work, the Editor is a strong lass and made the job much easier than it would otherwise have been. On the other hand, we both have a stretch and recovery routine, every single day.

    The biggest water tank we’d rolled is 8,684 gallons and weighs in at almost 750kg. That monster scared me and we had about six people helping slow its movement. I’d never purchase such a large tank again, and it was all down to naivety on my part. The supplier dropped one of the two large tanks off the side of their truck and it smashed through the orchard. What a crazy day that was.

    Yay for snow for you! But far out those are some crazy cold temperatures. And yup, citrus would (as would myself) not survive outside in such conditions.

    I look forward to reading as to your harvest and outcomes from the growing season.



  25. Hi Goran,

    Years ago I’d heard the claim that many fruits (i.e. the seed carrying fleshy tasty things) and/or nuts were grown in such large mono cultures commercially that the trees produced from the seeds were genetically quite similar to the parent trees. I didn’t know what to make of the claim, but rarely in nature would a collection of fruit trees be of a similar species and produce genetically similar varieties (for adaptive reasons too). Have you noticed any tendency with your seedlings towards that outcome?

    I ask because over the next twelve months I intend to double the size of the greenhouse building as it has proven to be such a game changer. And as you know, growing a fruit tree from seed is always an investment which extends into years, so any advantage with knowledge and experience is helpful.

    Mate, this year I’ve been forced by time and energy constraints to choose between plants and infrastructure, and I made my choice and am unfortunately doing the bare minimum with the fruit trees, berries, vegetables etc. I’m still getting heaps of harvest, but, what do you? I’m sure you’ve had such a year in your endeavours?

    There are a couple of small holdings around here which have dozens of mature chestnut trees planted. I look on with envy some years at the nut crop and occasionally to my dismay I note that some harvests just fall to the ground. I have strong doubts that I’d be allowed to pick the fallen nuts – which often at that time have their spikey morning star like casings cracked wide open. What do you?

    Wise. Very wise indeed. I too plant available trees which are considered from outside the area. Of course, you are selecting for seedlings, whilst I’m testing the boundaries of the climate. You never know, and things are warming up. It wasn’t all that long ago that citrus was considered impossible in this cool mountain range.

    By layering, are you referring to hanging the lower branches in the soil, or via an aerial technique? Anything involving a lab is probably not my style and frankly, work out in the field has comparable results from what I’ve heard. I select for resilience to the local climate with seed stocks.

    It’s possible that your seed raised trees will be rather vigorous with all the diversity of genetic material you have growing around you! He says whilst growing something like 26 known varieties of apples… 🙂 Respect.

    The rain did a no show today, but just to the west and east of here, things are looking rather exciting on a weather front. I’ve kept the radar feed up all day long so as to get some advanced warning of the storm. There are still a few days to go yet with this storm, so who knows what might happen?



  26. Hi Dj,

    Always wise to have more fuel ready to hand for Big Bertha. But just in case, have a few spare shovels. 🙂 And oh my gawd! That drive back home would have been an icy nightmare which is way outside of my experience. I’ve seen icy roads a few times, and they were a bad deal.

    An electric jackhammer with a clay breaking bit has much to recommend it during such challenging digging conditions, but then if the season says ‘no’, maybe that was a sign for him to go and do something else with his time – easy for me to say in hindsight. But then I do work around the weather and seasons. A few years ago, it surprised me to realise just how much work we were doing around the property during the warmest times of the year. I’d always thought that it was the other way around, but nope – winters make for great late starts and long sleep ins.

    Ah! A meter underground. Makes sense. For your interest, I believe that the standard here is for 600mm underground (or two feet). And thanks for answering the question by sharing your experiences. The conditions are way outside what I’d ever get to see and it interests me to hear how you’d cope.

    Well, fingers crossed that it never gets that cold again that you have to put your knowledge to the test, but then hey, you’d know what to do. I see many very inappropriately dressed folks around these parts during the winter months and I think to myself: Overly heated home + Overly heated vehicle. Adaption is a cheaper but also more sustainable path.

    Thanks, and I really do need to work in a day off for myself here or there. The work on the infrastructure has pressed down on my spirit and despite that it just needs to be done – now. Fingers crossed that tomorrow works out as a day off work. I have a hunch that many of my clients are laying low due to you know what, and I’m hearing from a lot of them and am having to fend them off. That’s not a whinge, but this time of year is my quiet time of year and I have to insist upon many boundaries lest my time get eaten away. The thing is, I know nobody will cut me any slack later in the year, so this is the time and the time is now and I be takin it. 🙂

    Chipping ice does kind of sound like what you dad was doing work wise, but with the trench all those years ago. Hehe! How do you not break the things that the ice is frozen upon?

    Thanks for the suggestion, but I don’t think so. Most people want the really basic pre fabricated sheds with steel frames where everything gets constructed according to precise plans. I respect that approach, but you know, there are many things I don’t like about them, like a lack of eaves (which I include for purposes of keeping water out of the walls) and providing some shade to the walls. And few of those sheds are constructed with higher pitched roofs, which just look better both from the inside and outside. The Editor uses the one third up (for the roof height) and two thirds down (for the wall height) philosophy and aesthetically it works. Quality I’ve noted is something that many want, but few wish to pay for or put sweat into.



  27. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks mate, and yeah I was stressing out about getting the water tanks connected up to the roof drainage before the storm hit. So far, I needn’t have worried. One tenth of an inch of rain is hardly troublesome. It turns out that here at least I’m living in a rain avoidment area. On the other hand, I had to do a lot of paid work today (meant to be having a holiday from that, hashtag just sayin…) which I couldn’t get out of and so there was no chance I could work on the shed, if had I wanted to.

    Mate, it’s unusual but I’m fending people off this holiday time of the year with the paid work stuff. Not whingeing but this is a marked change from previous years and I’m unsure why it is the case. Dunno. I actually do need a break from paid work, and I really can’t juggle the volumes of work here on the farm, with that other work. I’ve just had to set some boundaries, but yeah something is different, and I’m not sure what it might be. Mind you, the Editor said that the big smoke was quiet, so it is possible folks are staying at home this year due to fear of you know what, and they may have free time on their hands? Dunno, it’s a mystery.

    What isn’t a mystery is that the storm has produced solid rain elsewhere and Ballarat (think dragging bodies from the lake in the Dr Blake mystery series) far to the west of here has had almost two inches. But here it is a total nothing burger! 🙂 Thanks for the phrase, I like it because it is a fun saying.

    And of course you are correct about the water tank inlet filters. However, I have learned my lessons on that front, and each span of the roof has two separate drains each which flow into one of each the four water tanks. That way if one water tank inlet filter fails – which will happen – the other three inlet filters may not. The house system by way of contrast is far too concentrated to avoid that problem, and now way too expensive to correct. And incidentally, the water tanks for the shed all sit on a level surface and are interconnected (or will be shortly) so that they can equalise the water level in height between them using gravity. But any one water tank can be cut off from the others and taken out of action for whatever reason. I’ve thought through and tested this system out over many years and it just works. The house system on the other hand was what everyone else does, and it fails in heavy storms due to gunk clogging up the water inlet filters and there is no real way of getting around that problem. Even if you keep the gunk out of the drains and keep them squeaky clean, strips of algae will be cleaned out of the water pipes during heavy storms, and those block the inlet filters as well. And at the summer time of year when there are heavy storms you really need to collect the water.

    Oh no! Bummer about the snow. Didn’t we discuss that it’s super good if supplied by nature only in small quantities? I don’t recall you mentioning this much snow and ice in previous years? And yes, the getting up an hour earlier and getting stooged by the snow would be a total bummer. 🙂 Just getting up an hour earlier would hurt. That’s been my fate of late. Enjoy your refund, and when you find the name and postal address of the entity you need to send the complaint letter too, I’d suggest keeping quiet about it, such things would not appreciate the address getting out into the public sphere. 🙂

    Hehe! Yes, I too appreciate straight talking in a difficult situation. It is always a pleasure to encounter.

    Pah! Your words in this case carry no sting, and I see only amusement. Others may see something else, who knows? Anyway, I learn too, and now know far more just for one example of Ancient Rome. It’s a bit eerie how much they’re just like us from some respects, and you’d think that the lessons from that fall would be incorporated into the current society, but nope. Here we go again seems to be the way of it.

    Speaking of such classical times, I’ve begun reading Uther of the Camulod chronicles. The book arrived after I’d completed reading the series, and so it was put in the to-read pile, and the time is to-now to to-read. 🙂 I’m quite enjoying the book, but then I loved the series. The grittiness and lack of fantasy elements to the series spoke to my heart and brain.

    Mate, if I wrote some of the essays penned in your country, man the legal fees and settlements would possibly take everything and then I might also get chucked in the slammer. I’m in awe of your freedom of speech. It is an error of some of your countrymen to suggest that being prudent is the same thing as being timid. This is a public forum after all, and I have to keep that at the back of my mind at all times.

    And see, there you go. I had no idea that turtles were reptiles, and that we had a number of species down under (although no real land based turtles). And also that they’d survived the extinction of the dinosaurs. Who knew that before the big meteor smash and run, some birds originally had teeth?

    I tend to agree, with borrowing some of the concepts, and it might be a case of a guide to better living. It is of interest to me that the Club provides a guide to more workable behaviours rather than berating the membership. I reckon that is a wiser path, what do you think about that?

    I’ll be very interested to hear of your opinion of Mr Katz’s latest book.



  28. Yo, Chris – Flash! To Mr. and Mrs. America, and all ships at sea! Mr. Dinklage is coming out with a new movie. The trailer is up. It’s “Cyrano” (de Bergerac). From a screenplay by Erica Schmidt. Who happens to be Mrs. Dinklage. You might not like it, though. It’s a musical 🙂 .

    The article you linked to about the weather. That is one angry looking sky. And judging from what’s going on around you, you’re well out of it. Fingers crossed you remain so. Here, snow is finally out of the forecast, but it’s rain, rain and more rain.

    Boundaries are a good thing. Too many people are run ragged, and wonder why. The inability to say “no” from time to time.

    Things are different, due to You Know What, in odd little ways. Over the last couple of months, I don’t know how many books I’ve read where the author says, “I’ve always meant to write this book, but never had the time, and now, due to enforced leisure, I do.” James Ivory’s book and Mr. Katz’s book (more on that, later), among others. My Idaho friends mentioned they haven’t seen any snowmen, this year. Come to think of it, neither have I.

    I think we’ve got You Know What, in our building, again. Just some odd little things, lead me to that conclusion. Over the past five days, we’ve had several aid cars (used to be called ambulances. Now they’re big square vans) come and go. Our community room and library, we’re locked again, yesterday. When I enquired of management, they said a directive had come down from on high. Due to the new surge. But, odd that. The Centralia Institution isn’t locked down. Hmmm. And the building is deathly quiet.

    I don’t know where I got “nothing burger.” But, I see it was first used in the early 1950s, by a Hollywood gossip columnist named Louella Parsons. And,, it’s been kicking around ever since.

    Ah, I started reading “Urther,” but since you didn’t have a copy, I stopped. I’ll pick it up, again. Inquiring minds want to know! Who killed King Lot, and who killed Merlin’s wife? (I have an idea about that. And it’s not Urther.)

    Well, it’s become apparent that our freedom of speech is a two edged sword. Especially since the advent of the internet, people blurt out, or invent the wildest things. Often, anonymously.

    We have a species of turtle, here in western Washington state. In all my wanderings around wet areas, especially when I was younger, I only saw one, once. They are rather endangered. Most of the stuff you read says that birds don’t have teeth. Period. But I saw an article, recently, that a species of hummingbird, has teeth. Sure enough, they do. The exception to the rule?

    Ok. Mr. Katz’s book. I took a good long skim of it, last night. Turns out, he was in Australia and Tasmania, when You Know What rolled into town. Events and workshops were canceled left and right, and he finally flew back home, to settle in an write his book. “Sandor Katz’s Fermentation Journeys: Recipes, Techniques & Traditions from Around the World.” The layout of the book is interesting. Insted of going country by country, he did it by fermentation type. 1.) Simple Sugars, 2.) Vegetables, 3.) Grains and Starchy Tubers, 4.) Mold Cultures, 5.) Beans and Seeds, 6.) Milk, 7.) Meat and Fish. And the whole thing is lavish with photographs.

    Some of the recipes I thought you might be interested in: Persimmon Vinegar and Persimmon Pickling Medium. Turmeric Mead. Sauerkraut Chocolate Cake. Fermented Olives with Lemon. Whole Grain Bread from Fermenting Beverage Starter. Many Sake recipes. Ginger Chutney. Tomato Chutney, etc. etc. etc.. If I can find a copy used, or deeply discounted, I’d probably pick it up. Lew

  29. @Lew
    Yep, that fall could have been much worse. Luckily I was wearing my coat with a a thick hood.

    Thanks for the village suggestions though I don’t know where Marty would fit much more. My mother had a pretty big village. The houses were lighted, one with a blinking bulb where the bad kid who kept turning the light on and off lived. My late sister, Mary, also went all out at Christmas and her village may have been the largest of all. The kids always loved the villages checking out all the details. One year someone put a few plastic dinosaurs among all the figurines to see if anyone would notice – many did.


  30. Hi Chris,
    We’re having a ground blizzard here now. No new snow to speak of but high winds which is blowing the few inches of snow on the ground into drifts. Road crews can’t keep up and there’s quite a few accidents and spin outs. Days like this when I’m glad I don’t have to go anywhere. Temps are now in single digits F. Cold to stick around for about a week.


  31. Chris,

    Yeah, driving on those icy roads was not fun. Fortunately, almost everyone was on the “Ick, icy roads, must slow down” part of the book.

    Woke up Wednesday to another 5cm of new snow. None was forecast. We are now officially above the average for this time of the winter season at about 65cm so far. (The average for an entire winter is about 115cm.) Wednesday night through Thursday evening is expected to dump an additional 10cm to 20cm, then turn to rain Thursday night.

    You mentioned inappropriate winter attire. There was one Monday I especially remember when I was working and riding the bus to work. An Arctic front, aka Alberta Clipper, had been forecast for over a week to hit on the Sunday night. It did. At one stop on the way downtown, 3 ladies who normally transferred to a different route at that stop, a wait of 7 minutes, begged our driver to wait for the other bus because it was so cold. -20C with wind chills of about -35C, yes it was cold. BUT the people under discussion were wearing light jackets, skirts that stopped at the knee, tennis shoes. Did I mention that this had been forecast for a week? So the bus waited for their transfer. Ditto Tuesday, when it was -15C with no wind. Ditto Wednesday with temperatures about -7C, which was a typical day for January and on a par with the weather a week earlier when they weren’t delaying our bus. On Thursday, with temperatures at 0C and the bus going to wait again, I spoke up. I reminded the driver that “I was late to work for 3 consecutive days because these ladies are too stupid to dress appropriately for the weather. Now that temperatures are ABOVE normal, they need to quit being selfish and forcing the rest of us to be inconvenienced.” The driver agreed when several other passengers backed me up. That’s one of my tales in which I agree with you about adapting to the weather. I’ve always favored pragmatism to looks under those conditions.

    Usually when chipping ice that’s on the concrete, I use a shovel with a flat rather than rounded nose. If the ice has been softened by either temps above freezing or by the sun, it doesn’t take a hard hit to loosen it or break it. I also don’t hit it terribly hard. I didn’t do any ice chipping today, though. Even though it stayed below 0C with clouds, there was just enough solar energy coming through that the icy films melted off the sidewalk. The worst spots on the steps and the driveway where we enter/exit the car? I have a bucket of sand that I’ve been spreading for traction in those areas. Since the sand has a much lower albedo than the snow, it soaks in any solar energy there is and might help start a melting process. It beats using any kind of salt or de-icing chemicals, and I have a limitless supply of sand in the yards.

    I worked with a few of the prefab shed builders before retirement. They seemed like nice people. Their sheds even got great reviews. As you mentioned, however, they’re all the prefab type. Some of them were built with eaves, though. Most sheds are eaveless, which seems stupid to me.

    The Princess and I went on an outing this afternoon. The local City library was undergoing renovation and reconstruction and was closed for nearly 2 years. It reopened in November. Today was our first trip there. It was supposed to feature a coffee shop and an upper floor. Plans changed. No coffee shop, one very tall, very open floor with many windows. A lot of conference rooms of various sizes, and a children’s play area were constructed. Apparently, the bookshelves have some parts missing, and the furniture, such as librarians’ desks, has yet to arrive. Most of the shelves were rather empty of books, too.

    Our favorite librarian was working today, and I got a chance to catch up with her. She started there 16 years ago when she was a shy, 16-year-old kid. Yup, she says she has worked there half her life. It has been enjoyable watching her bloom from shy to competent, professionally outgoing, confident. Her neighborhood was evacuated this past summer due to one of the area’s wildfires. No damage to that neighborhood. She suggested a book for me, so I brought it home: “How to Slay a Dragon: A Fantasy Hero’s Guide to the REAL Middle Ages.” It sounds fun. Some of the chapter titles include “How to Put up with the Bard”, “How to Flirt with the Barmaid”, “How to Slay a Dragon”, “How to Not Get Eaten”, “How to Defeat the Barbarian Hordes”, and “How to Steal the Crown.” The final chapter was apparently suggested by Lew: “The World Turned Upside Down”. I’ll let you know if the book is any good.


  32. Hi Margaret,

    What is meant by the term ground blizzard? Is visibility OK? Probably not a good time to get lost in such conditions.

    But yeah, I hear you about not going anywhere. We’re in the same boat, but for different reasons. The local general store is getting smashed by tourists, and as of midnight the gobarmint is reintroducing limited seating in such venues – what a nightmare for them and it is not as if people wont suddenly stop arriving up here. Plus dance floors are closed. There are times where I feel that I’ve been dumped into a particularly bad re-run of the Footloose film! 🙂 There’ll be no dancing in this here town…

    We’ve decided to just continue plugging away on the shed project. What else do you when the world around you seems to have gone into bonkers territory?

    It was a nice day here today. Warm with a tiny bit of rain. Can’t ask for better than that. Planted out the remaining tomato seedlings and had to provide them with a lot of water so that they survived the summer sun.



  33. Hi DJ,

    Yup, that driving outcome is what experience minus bouts of youthful exuberance looks like. But then it is not lost on me that a lot of old duffers end up toes-up in the morgue when they seek to cross flood waters. I once observed a car stuck way out in flood waters and there was not a thing I could do for them. No way at all. That was a very wet year way back in 2011. 55 inches of rain if I recall the annual total correctly.

    Cool. We’ll know the snow tally outcome when the winter is complete. 🙂 Hey, I was over in the more fashionable western end of the mountain range this afternoon and I watched from a dry and protected situation over lunch whilst half an inch of rain fell in only a few minutes. It was quite the show. Only a little bit of rain fell here, and I’m cool with that.

    Yikes! But also my sympathies are with you in that regard. A little bit of forethought from the ladies in question would go a long way to resolving their winter related issues. Mate, what can I say other than this is but a moment in time. But I observe similar situations during the winter months up here. But what annoys me is that the same people seek to question me, who is attired correctly with heaps of dead sheep gear – need I mention my favourite vintage sheepskin jacket, woollen jumpers or sheepskin lined boots and/or hat? They say: Oooo, aren’t you cold? Nope. So, I hear you man, it is not either of us whom are inappropriately attired for the prevailing conditions.

    Ah. Now you’ve mentioned something that has been of long concern to me. And here I would do no less than you and use sand. It might interest you to know that the trams (electric street cars in Melbourne) use sand to provide extra grip on the steel rails and steel wheels when needed. I’m surprised that nobody seems to wonder what happens to the salt when the snow and ice melts. A toxic brew from my perspective, but that’s me and I would not apply such a chemical to anywhere other than an asparagus bed. It doesn’t simply disappear.

    Eaves don’t really provide much shade to the walls, despite the 1970’s appropriate technology hype. They do however stop water from penetrating into the walls. Most pre-fab sheds I’ve seen try to reduce costs by eliminating eaves, but the corner join between the roof and the top of the wall is a weak point from my perspective.

    Sorry to hear that about the library aftermath. Hopefully they get their act together sooner or later? Anyway, it’s not all about books, maybe… 🙂 Far out.

    I look forward to hearing your review, and yes barmaids, a wise choice, possibly only beaten if the said father owns a brewery, distillery or meadery. Incidentally how are barbarian hordes defeated? It sounds like a big call to me as the Robert E Howard character Conan seemed extraordinarily competent and able to deal with weird and unpredictable situations.

    And Plum appreciates observing the world when upside down.

    Planted out the last of the tomato seedlings this afternoon. I’d gotten to the point that they had to just deal with the conditions because they can’t hang around in the greenhouse any longer.



  34. Hi Lewis,

    It appears that the film was completed before you know what which shall not be named. The conclusion to the tale is suitably French. Looks fade, but dumb is forever, and life is sadly a bit short for that unfortunate life choice and it would make for a problematic existence. 🙂 I watched the trailer, despite the film being a musical, and Peter Dinklage stole every scene. One of the great actors of our time. The movie biz, let alone the rest of the entertainment biz, is doing it pretty tough these days with all of the craziness going on. Thanks for mentioning the film as I have not watched a film for a while now.

    Speaking of watching things, I had a quieter day today and pottered around doing things which had not been attended too in the past week or so due to so much work on the shed preparing for the crazy weather. The crazy weather didn’t arrive at the farm, but not far away as the crow flies in the more fashionable end of the mountain range, far out it rained a lot this afternoon in only a few minutes.

    We had to head out to pick up some minor hardware items for the shed this afternoon, and so decided to enjoy a Banh Mi lunch. There are so many tourists up here from the big smoke that it is hard to get a table (more on this later), so we sat inside, read our books and ate where it was quieter. Most people wanted to sit outside in the fresh air. However, then the rain hit hard and the hordes sought shelter inside the building. I did my best to simply blot them out and continue reading, but it’s easier said than done when they’re occasionally pushing up against the table.

    Anyway, the gobarmine seems hell bent on imposing more restrictions due to you know what, and seating will now be limited as of midnight. It’s doubly cruel because the tourists will continue to arrive, the locals won’t get a table, covers will be reduced (thus profitability) and the staff working there may have their shifts cut. If I was that biz, I’d revert to take away only again and everyone would just have to deal.

    The other restriction being imposed is on closing dance floors. Not sure what the authoritas have against dance floors? I dunno man, it seems like someone watched the film ‘Footloose’ and treated it like it was a documentary. 🙂 I can almost hear the actor John Lithgow standing at the pulpit and saying: “there’ll be no dancing in this here town’. He’d be right too.

    Exactly, I never get an uninterrupted week off work, and so setting boundaries at this time of year is the only way my brain can cope with that reality. Fortunately, I work in the unfashionable end of my profession and have decades of experience, and few others want to occupy that low status niche so I’m kind of hard to replace – but the joke is that from my perspective the need is great in that area. People have been very nice to me of late, so others must have realised that this niche is largely unfilled. 🙂 It’s OK to say no, but I reckon that response is actively discouraged. What are your thoughts in relation to that? Am I off the mark there?

    It ain’t just in your country that things are different: Supermarkets short of supply as up to half of truck drivers absent due to COVID. And if I read correctly today, pcr tests are being phased out. Very unusual indeed given the seriousness with which they were treated up until only very recently. An epidemiologist once explained to me at the start of all of this that vaxxxes can produce false positives and that was a risk – we had a lovely chat too, and he was super chilled out about things. Hmm, strange days indeed.

    Sorry to say it, but your inmates are in a higher risk category than the general population and as such they need to be careful and possibly also attend to their health concerns. What’s the rumour mill suggesting is going on?

    Forgot to mention that with the general level of craziness out there right now, we’re going to spend the next few days getting the shed finished, but at a more leisurely pace. Travelling around and getting caught up in craziness seems like a bad deal.

    Well exactly, we all know Lot came to a bad end, but who did what? And already only a few pages in and antagonists who cause so much trouble later on in the story are getting born with mildly squooshed heads. And yup, who dunnit to Merlyn’s wife was also an unresolved question which we’ll eventually get to discover. That was barely covered in the original series and it seemed kind of important given the events it set in motion, which ended up being a dare I say it, a total nothing burger as Uther met an unpleasant yet unrelated end. At least I know how the book concludes.

    That may be true on all sides from my perspective. And meanwhile decline continues apace. I wish it were otherwise.

    The species of tooth-billed hummingbird is fascinating and who knows, perhaps the big dinosaurs may make a comeback at some point in the future when conditions are just right and for long enough to do so?

    Thank you for the review of Mr Katz’s book. Yes, I’d heard through friends that he was meant to be touring at that time, but had not known of the details. I shall act upon your advice. 🙂



  35. Hi Chris,

    A ground blizzard occurs when there’s high winds but it’s not snowing resulting in drifting and white out conditions.


  36. Hi, Chris!

    Gosh – I remember ‘Turning Japanese”, or at least the version from SCTV, if you ever watched that Canadian comedy show in the 80s.

    Log pile – yay!
    Ruby’s help – yay!
    Beautiful ramp – yay!
    New flat site – yay!
    Rock-lined paths – yay!
    Soil additives – yay!

    Our power was just out for 3 days. We had the little generator going. It was quite cold, with 10 inches (25cm) of snow.

    Thanks for all the sunsets.
    Thanks for the flowers.
    Thanks for brightening our lives with your wonderful essays and photos.



  37. Yo, Chris – First we were snowed in, and now we may be flooded in. See: “Chehalis flood, 1996” or “Chehalis flood 2007”. Check images. I went out this morning, to the cheap food store. It’s about a mile down the road, from here. There was water over the road, in two places. Then I went down to the Club. Water in the streets in several places. A creek I have to cross if very high. Saw a couple of manhole covers, where water was shooting out of the holes. I worry about the Club. In 2007 there was 7 feet of water and mud, in that space. And, it’s supposed to keep raining for another day, or two.

    Yes, the entertainment business has been doing it tough, due to You Know What. Several of the series, and films I have watched address that in their DVD extras. How they adapted, and got back into production, again. One British series had three government safety officers, on set. All the tech people were masked up. Actors had to figure out how to do scenes, and stay distanced. But, they’re managing, and product is back in the pipeline.

    No dancin’! You think they just would have banned slow dancing. With government appointed chaperones to make sure appropriate distance is maintained. How … high school sock hop. 🙂 But, no, I don’t envy those businesses. And I don’t know how they’re going to survive.

    My thoughts? Well, sometimes you’ve just got to repeat “no” with escalating firmness. Past a certain point, one can be rude.

    That article will probably set off another personal paper products rush. Glad I stocked up, when my count fell below the magical number of 42. 🙂 . And, I had no problems finding said product. A twelve double roll pack, for less than $5.

    As there is no one about, there is no rumor mill. But the EMTs showed up at 3am, to haul someone else, out.

    Mr. Katz said, in one recipe. “Because I am constitutionally unable to follow a recipe…” Man after my own heart 🙂 . I made banana muffins, last night. With pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Plumped up dried cranberries. Quit tasty. Gave a few to Elinor.

    I stopped by the library, on my way home. Thought I’d better, in case they lock down, again. Picked up the original “The Stand” series. Two new British mystery series. And the Ray Harryhausen book.

    I picked up the “Urther” book again. I had been up to about page 230 and am now up to 280. I’ll set it aside, until you catch up. If you comment on something, if you think of it, mention the page number. I have to remind myself that a lot of this happened before what we read, later. And, you were wondering how people reacted to the Roman military leaving. There’s quit a section, on that. Lew

  38. Hi Margaret,

    That sounds like horrendous conditions – and easy to get lost in. Yikes!

    We finally had an epic (albeit brief) thunderstorm here earlier today and had to run into the shelter of the new shed. The Editor unfortunately became very damp as she went to discover where Ruby was (at my suggestion – an unwise thing for me to do in hindsight). Dogs, being dogs, didn’t seem to be the least concerned with getting seriously wet.

    But by mid this afternoon my brain was getting cooked by the hot sunshine. Far out. At least the Editor changed into dry clothes and the garden is growing.



  39. Hi Pam,

    Thanks for that blast from another country. Yes, the performers err, performance was quite intriguing, and dare I say it, he had the hand moves down pat! 😉 The song may have been something of a double entendre. I’d never heard of that comedy show before. It had some big names.

    Your list produced a massive smile here. 🙂 The soil in the garden terraces is now about three years old and seems to be hitting its stride. We planted out some tomato seedlings yesterday in the hope that rain fell. It didn’t. But the rain did arrive today, but wow was it hot and steamy when the sun finally decided to poke its head from behind the thick clouds. The tomato seedlings look a bit wilted, but they’ll recover, maybe.

    Sorry to hear that the power was out for three days. Yeah, similar things are going on here too. At least you have a generator and more importantly – know how to use it. You’d be surprised. And clearly you have fuel, which will put you ahead of less well prepared others. Even with the batteries and solar, there are three days every year where the generator gets switched on for a few hours. If the plants don’t grow, the sun won’t be producing much solar energy.

    Thank you for the lovely and kind words. Constructed the barn doors today. Just for a laugh we looked up how much they cost to purchase – and it wasn’t funny. But hey, we made them from scratch. Don’t tell anyone, but it looks like a Union Jack… Ook. Hope nobody gets the wrong impression.



  40. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, I turn my back for but one second, and the next thing I know you’re snowed in, and then comes the floods! Not suggesting that your weather has biblical overtones, but it is kind of sounding that way to me from afar. Hope the Club buildings and contents survive the, is it melt-waters? Have you had any updates today?

    The weather is pretty weird here too. Whilst we were working on the shed this morning I could hear the thunder from over in the direction of the more fashionable end of the mountain range. I might have remarked that it sucks to be them. Anyway, we went about our business with the shed, and holy carp, about half an inch of rain fell in only a few minutes. Mate, it was brutal and we scrambled to get everything under cover before it became soaked. The Editor ended up quite wet and it was all my fault. Ook. A lot of apologising and a change of clothes seems to have settled that ugly error.

    Yet, it gets weirder. After the thick low clouds went somewhere else, the sun shone in the mid afternoon and it was so hot and humid. Anyway, enough of that. We made the shed doors from scratch and they kind of look like a Union Jack flag. Not sure how this came to be, but it did… We made them out of a few sheets of marine grade plywood that we’d managed to nab for just that purpose. Lovely stuff to work with. It turned out pretty cheap to make, but far out those things are crazy expensive to purchase – I had no idea that was the case. Getting the angles just right was a lot of fun for me. I like that kind of detailed work.

    A couple of days more work and the shed will be done. Then we’ll be able to fill it up with stuff and then empty two other sheds and dismantle them. Plans be big here! 😉

    The next shed frame is made entirely from steel, although from the outside it looks the same. I spent an hour or so this evening looking at how people drill holes in steel as I really want to avoid further damage to my arms and/or shoulders. That would be a problem. Turns out there are many different ways of doing this drilling task, and I may have been doing it wrong in the past. Actually I was doing the job wrong. Oh well, better to learn now.

    Well they kind of have to get on with things rather than waiting for a ‘return to normal’ so that doesn’t surprise me, although the government safety officers addition seems a bit over the top. Three of them must be the magic number as I’ve heard similar stories in relation to noise levels at the famous Opera House. Why it takes three people to monitor the situation, is something that is beyond my understanding. It fascinates me that the music industry here has become very local of late, and that is no bad thing as local talent is pretty good and compares well to other countries.

    I don’t know what to make at all of the tennis players who appear to being used as political footballs down here. It seems a touch outrageous to me that things have gotten to their current nadir. Just shows how useless the state and federal government appear to be. This is not a difficult situation to resolve.

    For those of us with two left feet, slow dancing provides a forum where we can hold our own. 🙂 But yeah, that’s banned as well. I told you, there’ll be no dancing in this here town, oh and New South Wales as well, apparently. Perhaps we need three government officials to monitor each pair of dancers just to stay safe? Imagine a rave! There’d be more officials than party goers. Mate, I dunno how they’ll survive either. It’s like death by a thousand cuts.

    Thanks for your thoughts, and yes that sounds like a wise path. Dunno about you, but I’ve encountered people who ignore the ‘no’ and then they try to wheedle an explanation so that – and here I’m assuming – that they can get an edge and drive a wedge into the ‘no’. Very dull people.

    Glad to hear that you are adequately stocked up with such products. As someone who lives on the edge, I have to confess to owning less than a dozen rolls. And I believe that they’re made from waste office paper. Not soft, but does the job. 🙂

    We scored some milk powder the other day, although the Editor nabbed it at a supermarket in the big smoke along with some other items we’d been having trouble obtaining. I’ve noticed that the range of toothpaste products has shrunk of late. The sheer diversity of that product makes my head spin. Yes, yes, I hear the claims – but does the stuff work? That’s what I’m interested in.

    Ook! Nobody wants to get picked up by an EMT at 3am. It’s never for a good reason.

    Mr Katz is an honest bloke, and you have scored some of that halo by being made of the same stuff. 🙂 Sometimes you find out interesting things by neglecting ingredients from recipes. I stuffed up the Anzac biscuits recipe years ago and discovered that they were better without the bi-carb.

    The Editor made a curried cauliflower and cheese pie. The inspiration came from my mates of the big shed fame, and it was good. I suspect that they made their own pastry and added slightly too much vinegar for my taste, but all the same it was really tasty. We cheated and bought the pastry sheets. You and I were talking about cauliflower a few weeks back, and I was disparaging it – turns out that I was wrong. The recipe came from one of their books: Ottolenghi Test Kitchen.

    Interestingly, I reckon we’ll ditch the purple broccoli next winter and plant out more kale. The Editor and I were discussing this earlier this evening and came to the conclusion that kale gives more bang for the buck.

    Your muffins sound very tasty! Hope Elinor appreciated them, and that H got a smidgen of muffin?

    Ah, you recently watched the re-make of The Stand, and I’ll be curious to hear if your memories of the original have been distorted by the re-make?

    Oh man, I’m probably only up to page 60 or so. 🙂 Been busy… Hehe! Dark Druid deeds have cast a spell on the overly sensitive Veronica. It seems like she had a rather extreme reaction.



  41. Yo, Chris – The flooding is from snow melt … and, a lot of rain. Yesterday, the water was pouring off the slope, behind the Institution. The laundry room and a storage room, flooded. The maintenance guy who knows what he’s doing showed up, and worked on the road behind our place. Water is now running where water is supposed to run.

    Interstate 5 is closed, northbound. Maybe until Sunday. All that traffic is detouring up Market Street, just a block down from the Institution. Don’t know where they’re going, as the Sheriff’s Department states that there is no north exit, from the county. From my window, I can see that the valley is full of water.

    But, after spending a lot of time looking around on the web, trying to discover the fate of our Club, I called my mate JoAnn, who lives at the Institution in Centralia. She was at the Club! And, madder than heck. She got to the Club, but can’t get home.

    The rivers are cresting, or close to it. So, I guess we’re going to be ok. Libraries probably closed, today. Sad that. There’s a DVD waiting for me. How did I miss this? “The Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse.” But, no worries. I did pick up the two new BBC police series. “MacDonals and Dodds” and “Wild Bill.” (Starring Rob Lowe). Watched a bit of both, last night. Very good.

    Well, no one will probably notice your Union Jack doors … as long as you don’t paint them the appropriate colors. 🙂 “…next shed frame.” Another shed? How many sheds do you need? Are you collecting the whole set?

    I’ve seen the headlines about the tennis player, but haven’t paid much attention. I could care less. People who try and wheedle an explanation? I generally say something like, “Don’t know why I feel that way. Haven’t given it much thought. Probably won’t. More important things to think about.” 🙂 .

    I saw an article on Australian supermarkets, last night. About rationing some articles that are in short supply. But, they say it’s not so much from panic buying or hoarding (like last year) but more a lot of delivery drivers out sick. I noticed a lot of empty shelves at our store, the other night. The breakfast cereal aisle is pretty empty. So’s the snack aisle. Crisps, and such. The frozen food case, where they keep the bagged veg looks like the Huns sacked it. The tinned veg aisle is very spotty.

    Due to her gluten intolerance, no muffins for H. Doesn’t seem to bother her. She’s filthy for cooked green beans. And she quit likes her teeth cleaning treat, that she gets twice a day.

    I think Veronica was a bit of a pampered young lady. But, if she’s going to run off with a semi-barbaric Welshman, it’s her lookout. As far as the evil Druids went, she walked into a very unusual situation. More politics and power plays, than anything. But, what is seen can’t be unseen. Lew

  42. Chris,

    During our last trip to visit rellies in New Mexico in 2012 spring, we followed old Route 66 from Gallup back to Albuquerque. It was drizzling off and on. The last 22km or so was dirt. Red clay. Up hill, then down into natural drainage arroyos. (There were culverts under the road in the arroyo bottoms.) Red clay is slick. We could see the Mother of All Thunderstorms rolling up from the SSW. The Princess asked me what we’d do if we saw one of the arroyos flooding our road. I told her that was easy. We’d stay at the top of the hill. We had food and water for several days, so I figured we’d be okay. No way does one drive through a flooded road. Good way to get stuck or even capsized and drowned. We made it back to paved roads before the Big Storm hit.

    Okay, The Snow Tally. 15cm of new snow fell, bringing the season’s total to about 80cm. The total lying on the north facing roof of the unheated garage was 35cm accumulated over the season. There were areas in the yard that were over Avalanche’s shoulders due to shading and added snow from Big Bertha. She enjoyed bounding through the deep areas, then diving into them nose first.

    I got out with Bertha just before the snow turned to rain at -4C. Yup, freezing rain. It got to 10cm thick before it got above freezing and turned to regular rain. I told the Princess when I got done that we were housebound until the freezing rain and its icy conditions melted. Woke up Friday to rain, 35km/hour winds at +4C. By Friday evening, ice all gone, including the accumulated compact snow/ice from the brick walk and parts of the driveway. Residential roads still unplowed and a chocolate mess. Garage snow level at 15cm and rapidly decreasing. There is some urban flooding. Most school districts were closed Thursday and Friday. Passes from eastern Washington to west of the Cascade Mountains all closed until Sunday. Too much snow and severe avalanche danger.

    One of the neighbors had bought 2 or 3 bags of “Pet Safe” ice melt and gave some to other neighbors. Some of their icy areas, which had never had the snow removed, are STILL ice even with the warm day and sun and ice melt. Meanwhile, I allowed physics to work (and kept up with keeping the sidewalks clear) and am ice free. Physics works. The City has constructed multiple HUGE drainage ponds for rainwater and snowmelt water from the roads and storm drain systems. It will get “treated” before being discharged into the river. Dunno how they can get the oils and salts and road melts and ice melts out of the water…

    We DID enjoy the library trip. Out of the house, browsing books, sitting and reading for 2 hours. It was nice.

    Good luck to the tomato seedlings!

    Your Union Jack door sounds interesting. Will there be pictures? Will your shed become a tourist attraction or a fad similar to when someone sees the face of a saint in a slice of bread?


  43. Chris,

    The flooding in Lew’s general vicinity looks BAD. Close to record setting. Hopefully these links will work for articles and multiple photos of the carnage so far.


    I recall driving east of Seattle once when there was some minor flooding. It was during salmon spawning season. The water depths across the road were no more than 6cm in slow water, so I crossed 2 flooded rivers. (I wouldn’t cross them today. I’m less unwise than 30 years ago!) I could see salmon swimming across the road. I still wonder if it would’ve been legal to keep a road killed fish!


  44. Hi DJ,

    You got lucky with the flooded crossing. From what I understand, it takes only a small height of water to float a vehicle (for a while at least). As to the fishies on the road, well, I would have given it a go, except that that level of water rush could wash a person away. About a bit over a decade ago I got to experience those levels of flood waters, and it is super easy to lose your footing. But as a general hint: If you find yourself in such a situation again with the fishies, enjoy the catch and don’t post about it on anti-social media! 🙂 Always an unwise move.

    May you not experience a year without a summer. Your mention of drizzle with the arroyos in New Mexico (yikes! and a wise question from your lady and response from yourself) kind of brought to mind that that was how things rolled here today. Cold, damp and the rain drizzled all day long. One long run of foggy weather. We took advantage of the cold weather and moved 1.5 cubic metres of the crushed rock with lime and used it to level the surface inside the new shed. It’s looking good, but due to the rain of late, the stuff was heavy. The bright yellow trailer and Dirt Rat combination can only bring back 0.5 cubic metres at a time, so there were a lot of backwards and forwards trips. I noted that fuel is now $1.75 litre again.

    Thanks for the image of Avalanche taking a deep dive into the accumulated snow! 🙂 Dogs have such a great sense of fun. Tell ya a funny story, the Kelpies when on farm patrol duties now have to regularly check in with me. It’s kind of handy from my perspective, although probably not from theirs. So the summer grasses and plants mean that the dogs are getting bindis in their fur and they have to regularly seek me out so that I can remove them. How good is nature for providing this dog retrieval service?

    Yikes! Those are some unpleasant temperatures, but glad that you could get Big Bertha out to do her stuff. The snow sounds lovely, the thaw – not so much. But some of the more treacherous roads around here are also closed for the winter months too. It’s too much hassle to retrieve stranded vehicles, not to mention the damage the foolhardy people cause to the roads, and there is nothing to see up there anyway at that time of year. If they want to go see it, walk it (hardly likely).

    Physics does indeed work – you called it, although I note that you have inclinations towards practical applications and are not noted as being something of an armchair theorist in such matters (that’s my perspective anyway based on our conversations).

    Mate, removing salts from water kind of involves evaporation, and just going with my gut feeling in relation to the time of year that such waters have to be dealt with. Yeah, it’s not good. And the other impurities, well don’t look too closely and I’m sure it’ll be fine. Processing such contaminated water is super expensive. From what I’ve observed down under, say the waste water treatment plants are located near to rivers and creeks. Most of the time I’m sure they do a great job, but then when it rains heavily, how could some of the water not get washed into the nearby rivers or creeks? That’s life and you know what, the human body seems pretty good at dealing with a lot of environmental pollutants on average, but as individuals, we don’t really know which will cause us personal distress and tragedy. Smokers run that risk, but mate I’m sure that at some point in the past I’ve unknowingly encountered asbestos given how widely the stuff was used in all sorts of products. It’s a risk.

    🙂 Your library trip sounds superb! Ah, the joy of quiet reading for a few hours. Such a pleasure.

    The tomato seedlings were looking OK today, despite the super cold weather. A bit wilted, but I’ve kept the water up all the same.

    Of course there will be pictures – actually I’m going through them tonight as I intend to do some writing soon. Had some strange news, which I’ll recount in the reply to Lewis.



  45. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, the Editor and I were gobsmacked by the images of the flooding in your part of the world provided by DJ’s links. Not good. But the aerial video footage from Chehalis your provided was the next level bonkers. Good to hear that the rivers are now falling.

    One of the odd notions about mucking around with the levels of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere is that the climate will be much the same, albeit slightly warmer. As if people who want to, will suddenly get more sun and warmth during the summer months with which to sunbathe. Except that some places will get more rain, and more intense rain to boot. Try telling people that this is something of a problem and you’ll get blank looks of incomprehension. That seems to be what is going on here and possibly also in your part of the world, except when the frequent droughts get more droughtier. Far out.

    Good to hear that the maintenance bloke who knows his stuff was there to pitch in and sort out the water problems. And hope nothing in the laundry and/or storage rooms were too damaged? If I recall correctly, some of the garden stuff is kept there?

    It was another beautiful day in paradise here today. Pea soup fog and it drizzled most of the day, although little recorded rain fell. It wasn’t too cold at 63’F. You wouldn’t imagine that it is summer here. 🙂

    We took advantage of the cold conditions to bring in three trailer loads of crushed rock with lime. It was mostly used to level the floor in the new shed, although there is still a bit to go with that job. By the end of hauling the third trailer load, I was ready to call it quits. All of the stuff had to be moved manually from the house where the trailer was parked and down below to the new shed. Yeah, life on a slope! Always interesting.

    Heard from a local restaurant that due to you know what, they have so many staff shortages that the menu is down to the mere basics which is pizza. I can handle pizza. Far out what do you do? You have to confront the cooties sooner or later, and the businesses really do need the financial support. Courage and onwards is the way of things! I’ll be surprised to get the cooties anyway given we got dealt to only two and half months ago now. That will be very interesting indeed and very telling if it happens. Oh well. Life was never meant to be risk free.

    Oh no! Have you heard whether JoAnn made it out of the Club again? You did mention that the pantry had been cleared recently. As a pragmatic bloke I do wonder how the sewerage and water system would cope with such flooding?

    The Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse! The story sounds like fun, and so very wrong. Hope you’ve got a stash of popcorn? Wild Bill sounds good too.

    🙂 There’s nothing at all wrong with wanting to collect the entire set. Is there? Nobody told me anyway!!! 🙂 Nah, man, we’re re-configuring the infrastructure because the first iteration was not so good. I told you when I was a kid at school, the report cards often read: Chris is a good student, but could do better. Phooey to peoples expectations. I do what I do, but then occasionally have to re-do what I’ve done. And yeah, that means another shed after this one.

    The tennis player made the rookie mistake I believe of letting his goals be known. Always unwise. Better to be mysterious and flighty.

    Thanks for the response suggestion. I’ll try that when next confronted by such a person and will report back on the effectiveness of the strategy.

    Poor H, I forgot about the gluten intolerance. The Fluffies would certainly consume her share of the muffins and maybe they’d feel guilty, but I strongly doubt whether the emotional state would last for very long. Especially if the muffins were good. Dogs tastes can be unusual and they certainly have food preferences, not that I pander to those.

    Exactly, Veronica should have expected differently, and then perhaps cut her new people some slack when it was discovered that her experience was not the norm. Uther seems to have made a good companion with the King’s Champion who has taken him under his wing. It probably beat working for a living!



  46. Chris:

    15F earlier, but before that we had had the mildest winter that I ever remember in 32 years.


  47. Yo, Chris – All our river’s have now crested, and are on the decline. I think what saved us was that night before last, the rain started slacking off. Of course, the river crest is moving to the coast, and will do damage along the way. As they do. After dire warnings that Interstate 5 would be closed until Sunday, it was closed for only 4 hours.

    I don’t know if JoAnn made it home, or not. I had just restocked the pantry, the day before. So, as I pointed out to her, she won’t starve 🙂 . And, there’s plenty of snack-y stuff, around the Club. After I walk H this morning, I’ll see if I can get down to the Club. And, get home.

    Your local restaurant sounds nimble and adaptable. And, I’d bet there will be a few high profit margin items, to go along with the pizza. Drinks, of any sort, have a high profit margin.

    I’m also going to swing by the library, and hope that they are open. One thing the grocery store had restocked was popcorn. I bought 4 boxes (3 packs per box). I guess I’m just another hoarder. 🙂 . Sadly, “Wild Bill” is just going to be a one season wonder. Not renewed for season two. Oh, well. At least they didn’t end the thing on any serious cliff-hangers. The other series, “McDonald and Dodd” has been renewed.

    LOL. Oh, no serious dis when it comes to shed shuffling. Moving onto a new place, it takes awhile to figure out the “best practices.”

    I’ll check out the Master Gardener’s room, tomorrow. I don’t expect any serious damage. They keep their stuff well up off the floor. There wasn’t that much water, in the laundry room, but I see it’s “closed until further notice.”

    I saw an article last night about a fantastic fossil find in Australia. At a place called McGrath Flat. Wonderful impressions of plants, fish, bugs, etc. etc.. Now, I went down the rabbit whole, to find out exactly where that was. Might be New South Wales. Or, The Northern Territories. One article said, “Southeast Australia.” A committee needs to be formed to reach some consensus. 🙂 Lew

  48. Yo, Chris – Here’s a bit more drone video of the flood …


    I’m pretty sure that’s the Skookumchuck River, which is at the north end of Centralia. That’s the Skookumchuck bridge, which I used to cross almost every day, to get to work out in Yelm. You can see the levee, on the left side of the river. And, how close it is to being overtopped. When that levee is overtopped, or breaks, downtown Centralia floods. Last time it was a major break was in the 1930s. Lew

  49. Hi Lewis,

    Good to hear that the storm didn’t get any stormier. The flooding photos looked bad enough without further rain. It makes you wonder how the folks north of you in British Columbia are recovering from their flooding late last year. Still if the highway was reopened after only four hours, that’s not too bad.

    It was wet again this morning, but by this afternoon, the sun was squooshing my head again. Ouch, nobody really wants a squooshed head. 🙂 We finished off all of the final carpentry details on the new shed today and even installed two windows after lunch (the day was cool enough for such outcomes). Probably might even finish off the cladding tomorrow, but it’s going to be hot so we’ll want to get off to an early start for sure.

    Hehe! Yeah, that was my thought too, as I recall you mentioning that you’d restocked the pantry there. Better than being caught with an empty pantry – you can’t eat them, especially with the glues they use these days… But a person can survive for a while on snacks – and who can forget Woodies love of twinkies (great product placement) in Zombieland? So good.

    Did you get down to the Club? How is H coping with the very wet weather? Fluffies have been known to attempt to wait out rain and overall wet conditions, but eventually resolve breaks and they need to go to the toilet. Rest assured that Kelpies think nothing of such weather conditions, but they sure want to be towelled down and dried off a bit afterwards.

    That was my thinking too with the restaurant, and clearly they want the business, but had to acknowledge that they were having difficulties. I respect that. They need the support and I need the pizza and cider.

    Did you hear anything on the grapevine about the EMT visits? Yeah, never good.

    Hehe! There are times I feel a touch guilty too about stocking up the larder, but still nothing goes to waste here, and oddly enough, the things we keep stocks of I’d be pretty certain that most people wouldn’t know what to do with them. Cooking from scratch using raw materials is a bit of an art form.

    Speaking of wastage, we’ve had very little scrap left over from the shed project. Everything gets used, although it takes a lot longer to do that.

    The tomatoes have plenty of flowers on them now, and if things heat up, or at least don’t get too cold, then we might even get some tomatoes to dehydrate and/or make passata. Unfortunately with things as they are with the overall cold growing season, we’ve had to buy tomatoes. Oh the indignity, but we’ll get over it.

    Hey your weather is perfect for watching DVD’s with popcorn! 😉

    No, I realised you were mucking around with the loose shed talk. It’s an epic job to turn a ship as big as this one around – that’s why the Titanic hit the iceberg I’m guessing. We’re observing a looming metaphorical iceberg off in the distance, and doing our best to skate by it. We might still hit it though!

    Was there any damage to the master gardeners storage area and stuff?

    I see your fossil find and raise you a disaster: Turkmenistan plans to close its ‘Gateway to Hell’. I always assumed that the gateway to that destination was under the stairs? Turns out I was wrong.

    Thanks for the heads up on the fossil discovery. Hadn’t heard of it. Apparently it is near to the town Gulgong which is in New South Wales and on the other side of the national park where the Woollemi Pines are well hidden. Gulgong farmer’s fantastic fossil find uncovers unknown ancient species. It’s amazing that the soft tissues were fossilised.

    Better get writing.



  50. Hello Chris,

    Regarding growing (fruit and nut) trees from seed, there is some nuance and a lot of disinformation on the interweb. Probably unintentional.

    One example is that apples from the supermarket are useless as seed source. The commercial growers have 9 trees of a production variety, like ‘Elstar’ and then 1 wild apple (Malus sylvestris), then another 9 of the production one. The wild apple trees blossom well and spread a lot of pollen. Excellent for fruit set. But… the apple seeds from this kind of plantation contain 50% genetics from the small, bitter wild apple. If you plant those seeds, you get rubbish apples.

    On the other hand, if you take your own apples, from your own orchard, you will have much better success. (Unless you have planted some wild “ornamental” apples, of course…)
    Your own apples will taste different. Some will taste better!
    Steven Edholm has made a whole series of informational videos on growing your own apple trees from seed. (www.SkillCult.com) Interesting and skilled guy.

    As you noted a few weeks back, seeded trees grow much more vigorously than grafted, transplanted trees. The only disadvantage is that it takes a few years longer before you get fruit. For some people with minuscule gardens, dwarfing rootstock is handy, but for your situation that is not necessary.

    All trees have lots of genetics, much more than us. Therefore the variety is large with seedlings, and some of the seedling trees will be rubbish, which is ok, just cut them down.

    Stone fruit (plums, almonds etc) are supposed to be more true-to-type as seedlings, compared with apple or pear, but all Prunus hybridize with each other, so that is not what I have experienced.

    Let me know if you want to have a chat when it is time for you to plan the next phase of your orchard. You have my mail address 😉

    Smart to focus on one thing at a time. Now it is the shed and the infrastructure. You already have a good orchard to enjoy.

    Have a great writing day,

  51. Hmm.. I realize that I wrote the sentence very ambiguous:
    I meant:
    ” One example *of nuance* is that apples from the supermarket are useless as seed source.”
    Not of disinformation…

    Sorry for that,

  52. Yo, Chris – Our weather is settling down, and things are getting back to normal. There still wasn’t any access to Centralia, other than the freeway. Now, the road between the two towns is actually one two lane road running north, and one south. Separated by about a block. So, they’re one way roads. All through the flooding, one of the roads remained open. In past, when one of the roads is blocked, they make the other a two lane road. Why they didn’t this time, I don’t know. But I’m sure people are going to ask. Maybe that Deep Time ancestral knowledge, has been lost. 🙂

    But, Julia and JoAnne each made it to the Club, as did the usual cast of characters. There were some detour stories.

    Haven’t heard anything about British Columbia … or, the northern part of our State. The news moves on …

    Woody and his Twinkie fixation was pretty funny in the Zombieland films. Speaking of which, our library was open, and I picked up “The Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse.” They were closed, the day before, due to flooding. The film was a lot of fun, and well worth a bowl of slightly charred popcorn … with three kinds of cheese! But be warned. Some parts were pretty gross. I think they must have had a couple of 12 year old boys on staff, as technical consultants. 🙂 . 8 year old boys and it would have been a lot of fart jokes. 12 year old boys and you get a lot of sex jokes. Fast zombies, by the way. Or, as fast as a human can move.

    The rain has to be really coming down, to put H off her game. I have a coat to put on her, when we go out. But, we usually swing by my place for a good towel off, before I take her home.

    Haven’t heard what all the EMT action is. They were just here again. Didn’t stay long. Might have just been a quick stop to get someone up off the floor. Happens. Haven’t checked the garden room, yet. Sometime, this morning.

    There it is. The sole cause of global warming. The Gateway to Hell. 🙂

    I was looking through the book on Ray Harryhausen, last night. Ray Bradbury and he (and, there families) were life long friends. But only worked on one project, together. Harryhausen was from a working class background, but his wife was English / Scottish and “to the manor born.” Her great grandfather was Dr. Livingston. Of Stanley and Livingston fame. Looking at the list of his films, I saw just about all of them. Mostly, I think, sitting in the dark of the old Lombard Theatre, in Portland, on a Saturday afternoon.

    Looking forward to seeing photos of the mead hall. Well, publican, you can call it The Union Jack. Lew

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