Coulda Woulda Shoulda

The leaf change tourists have been something of an enduring mystery to me. What is a leaf change tourist you ask? Fair question! A leaf change tourist is a person who travels to an area to witness and/or photograph the autumn foliage, often whilst doing unusual things with unusual props. I freely admit that the autumn foliage looks rather pretty. In other countries such folks are known as leaf peepers, which to my ears sounds a bit pervy.

Five years ago, very few people travelled to this mountain range to view the autumn foliage. You may have seen the occasional photo shoot of a bride, slinky dress and all, trying her hardest to disregard the cold autumn breeze, whilst silhouetted against the reds and oranges of the autumn foliage. All very tasteful, but the onslaught of the hordes these days is not tasteful, and frankly I can’t see how people could enjoy the experience.

During one of the strictest lock downs last year where travel was restricted to within 5km (3.1 miles) of the farm, I discovered that the local general store was it, there was no other business selling food. And these days, the business is really busy. Making heaps of mad cash from tourists sounds nice and all, until you have to actually deal with the unrelenting onslaught day after day. I have nothing but respect for the people who work there and their display of stoicism in the face of the unrelenting hordes.

Long term readers will be aware that I make my living via the profession of accounting. The other day I remarked to some friends that the profession can sometimes take the fun out of experiences. After all, when there are more staff than customers in a restaurant, you know the place is losing mad cash. And when I observe the hordes which are the leaf change tourists, it becomes hard to shake the question: How the heck do all these people afford to do this activity?

It’s not just weekends now that the leaf change hordes descend. It’s the weekdays as well. And I see people of all ages. What are their stories, I wonder? Another side benefit of my professional activities is that I hear about businesses experiencing staff shortages. The Great Resignation is real, so I particularly wonder about the working age people who are masquerading as leaf change tourists during weekdays.

The other day I paid $9 for a small bag of oranges at the local supermarket. That sure was expensive. The Great Resignation may be real, but inflation is realerer (if that is even an English word). As I type this, Oil has climbed to US$119 a barrel and the latest news is that wholesale electricity prices are also set to rise. Prices for most stuff, is on the rise. As an interesting observation, off grid electricity is expensive, and from this perspective the average household grid connected cost of around $1,645 seems pretty cheap.

There’s a lot of bad economic news lately. Candidly I’m reminded of the run-up to the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, and it does make me wonder why people aren’t being more prudent. For those who aren’t aware, the average mortgage (i.e. debt on housing) in this country is somewhere between $500,000 and $600,000 (but closer to the upper end of that range). If you pick the half way mark between those two numbers, a bit of quick maths suggests that for every 0.5% increase in interest rates, a household with that average mortgage will have to cough up an extra $230 a month to the bank. It doesn’t sound like much mad cash, until you have to hand it over. And remembering those expensive oranges, something will have to give. Gawd I hope households cut out the leaf change tourism!

Unfortunately, things are never that simple. About 23% of owner occupied lending, and almost triple that for investors, are interest only loans. I read in an amusing book (which probably shouldn’t have been amusing) by the author Michael Lewis, the opinion expressed that an interest only loan is like a rental, but with debt. The risk with these types of loans is that the repayments are cheaper than they’d otherwise be if you were repaying the loan. But at the end of the end of the interest only period, the repayments will go up something around 60%, meaning the borrower might not be able to afford to begin repaying the loan principal – or possibly the bank refuses to provide a further interest only loan at the end of that period of time. This could be a real possibility if house prices decline, which I experienced in the recession of the early to mid 1990’s.

Inertia is the tendency to do nothing or resist changes. After all, as a society we could have been more prudent. We probably should have been more prudent. Momentum however, is the impetus gained by a mass, and a good example of that is that the volume of the leaf change tourists sure has increased over the years. However, inertia and momentum both come with no guarantees as to the future, and I reckon the economics will be what turns back the leaf change mob.

Due to issues I do not wish to discuss, this has been one crazy week. Sandra and I have kept our cool, whilst others caused much drama. But in between the craziness, we took advantage of the sunny weather. Some days here last week were truly stunning and the sun shone and it was pleasant being outside. Just the right thing to combat the effects of crazy people. Work thus continued on the greenhouse project.

A lot of further carpentry work was done, and the unexpectedly strong sun at this time of year allowed us to paint the timber. Supports for the steel sheeting which runs around the base of the greenhouse were installed. Two doors were hung at either end of the shed. And steel racking for seed-raising purposes was installed on two of the windows which face the sunny north.

Further carpentry work was done on the new greenhouse project

About half of the materials in the greenhouse (and all of the windows, doors and steel sheets) are recycled materials. There are now very few scrap materials left over from the old greenhouse, and the new shed design accommodates the use of these materials.

Ollie hopes the recycled door doesn’t swing shut in the wind and bop him on the nose

More work got the steel skirt installed which runs around the base of the greenhouse. The more visible up hill facing sides of the shed received the better looking sheets of corrugated steel. Some of the colour on the cheaper sheets of steel had faded a bit, thus they were still used, but out of sight.

The weather turned cold and wet but we got the dark grey steel sheets installed

The embankment on the uphill side of the greenhouse was neatened up. The line of clay was a bit wonky and in need of correction.

The clay embankment on the uphill side of the greenhouse was neatened up

Digging generally provides excess clay / soil, and this stuff is very useful for filling up holes in the paddock. For curious readers the holes ended up in the paddock and orchard because we’d removed rocks. Most people would be unaware that mower blades hitting rocks can create sparks which can easily ignite dry grass. Best to remove the rocks and don’t mow on hot, windy and dry days.

Holes in the paddock and orchard have been filled up

Observant readers will note that the greenhouse roof does not have guttering and / or drains. We’re experimenting with this shed design and allowing rainfall to collect on the roof and then wash down into the soil around the building. There will be permanent raised beds inside the greenhouse and the water in the ground will reduce the need to regularly water these permanent beds.

Unfortunately, concentrating rainfall on a roof and then allowing it to fall to the ground may create serious erosion problems during very heavy storms. To counter this risk, we’re putting down a very thick layer of the lime based crushed rock we normally use. Except that this time the individual crushed rock chunks are almost three times larger than the usual stuff and less likely to wash away in heavy storms. And a bonus will be that lime will slowly wash into the soil along with the rainwater. A win for the plants, and the risk of erosion in serious storms is much reduced.

The power wheelbarrow hauls a load of crushed rock down to the greenhouse

The power wheelbarrow makes light work of moving super heavy loads around the farm. And we were able to tip the contents out of the bucket and near to where the crushed rocks ended up.

A thick layer of large crushed rock with lime was placed on the uphill side of the greenhouse
Large crushed rock was also placed on the downhill side of the greenhouse

In the above photo you can also see that the polycarbonate from the former greenhouse has been installed and put to use on this downhill side of the shed.

Earlier in the week whilst we had the table saw in use, we used a lot of scrap materials to create hardwood planks for two garden seats which were in need of repair. We scored the seats at the local tip-shop many years ago and these two have always been in need of repair. In the warmer months, it is nice to have places to sit and just enjoy the activities of the local wildlife.

Planks were sawn for the repair of two garden seats (the frame of one is underneath the planks)

We’ve had most combinations of weather this week:

99% humidity following on from a rainstorm
You can see frost pooling in low lying areas

The other day I noticed that the bright green and orange King Parrots had begun to sample the kiwi fruit. I use the birds as an indicator that fruits are nearing their ripening process. There are a huge number of kiwi fruits, so even if the parrots take half of them, there are still more than we can eat or preserve.

Just one section of the kiwi fruit vines

Onto the flowers:

This mystery flower is a rootstock for a crab apple tree and if anyone knows what the plant is, please do leave a comment?
Not quite a flower, but an Ollie with a Japanese maple in the background
I never expected to find a Nasturtium flower hanging on at this time of the year
Lavender flowers all year around here
A lovely close up of Penstemon flowers
The first of the seasons Forget me nots
Pineapple Sage reaching for the late autumn sunshine

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 6’C (43’F). So far this year there has been 392.2mm (15.4 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 384.2mm (15.1 inches)

56 thoughts on “Coulda Woulda Shoulda”

  1. Yo, Chris – You’re going to have to explain leaf peppers doing “…unusual things, with unusual props.” If they can be described in a family friendly blog. Inquiring minds want to know! 🙂

    Part of the motivation for leaf peppers, I think, is that it’s “free.” Even at the cost of gas, it’s probably cheaper than a trip to the cinema. I finally gave up opening my store on any holiday, or any spasm of civic who-who. Mother’s Day was particularly bad. “Let’s take Grannie down to look at the “free” museums! Won’t cost us a dime. I also had to remember to have the line ready, “Bathrooms out of order. Plumber’s coming on Monday.” (Can you hold it, that long?) Your leaf peppers are probably also hoping to ogle the quaint country folk. In their natural habitat.

    Prudent is saying very firmly, “I want a fixed rate of interest.” They always try to lure you in with speculation that interest rates might go down. And pigs might fly. And what about a hefty down payment? Wisdom used to be, that if you had to plunk down some mad cash, at the onset, you just might be more invested in what you were buying.

    Wow, you really made a lot of progress on the greenhouse, this week. It’s looking very good. So what are you going to plant, first?
    It always throws me a bit, when you refer to the sunny north sides. Oh, yeah. Southern hemisphere. Up here, artists always prefer studios with northern light. I suppose down there, an ideal artist studio would look south.

    Ollie looks truly impressed. Not his usual, “If I look impressed, I might get a biscuit.” “Clay embankment.” Is that a temporary staircase, I see? And I got excited about that rock on the far right. Interesting shape. Would look good as garden art, if you sank one end in a small concrete pad. But then I realized it’s two rocks. Not near so interesting. 🙂

    Good to fill in the low spots. Wouldn’t want to lose a mower, down a hole. Or, the operator. Our Master Gardeners ran across some chunks of sandstone. And, a bit of left over dirt. They filled in low spots in the parking strips, where trees used to be. And, a few of the horrendous potholes, in the road.

    No drains or gutters? Well, we’ll see….

    Looks like a bumper crop of kiwi fruit. I bet they make good preserves. The mystery root stock looks like it might be some kind of fruit. It will be interesting to see what develops. The Japanese Maple is a real knock out. It enhances the rest of the garden. We don’t have too many nasturtiums, around here. But Elinor has a few in her garden bed and they reliably come back, every year. I even pulled a few out. They tend to get aphids, but our lady bugs seem to keep them under control.

    The forget-me-nots are very pretty. And, they’re blue! 🙂 We’ve got them all over the place, for which I might be responsible. I don’t remember there being any, when I moved in here. Year before last, I planted some. Oops! If it was me, I didn’t realize they were so invasive. Oh, well. In the food beds, they’re easy enough to pull out. In the flower beds, they fill in the blank spots. Lew

  2. I am drooling with envy at your gorgeous greenhouse. Ho exciting to get it ready for spring and starting all the baby plants!
    Crabapples are usually grafted onto apple rootstocks, but the one you have there looks very much like a pear to me, from the shininess of the leaves. If it is a pear, the blossoms will smell a little bit like rotting fish. Otherwise it will be an apple. I have never discovered why two fruits from the same family have blossom that smells so different. Pear blossom apparently smells as it does to attract pollinators. So why doesn’t apple blossom smell the same way?

  3. Hi Jo,

    Thanks and we’re super-excited to get the raised beds in that greenhouse established. There are plans to have a bed of permanent sub tropical plants as well as the other bed for annuals. So far the permanent bed will include: Tea Camellia; Babaco; and two varieties of Ginger. There may be more in the future… 🙂

    I hadn’t been aware of that, but yeah I can see how the pear rootstock would come to be, especially given the tree survives in very damp soils. Hmm. The thing is with this rootstock, the tree still has leaves and is producing blossoms now. I don’t get that story at all. We grow a number of European and Asian pears and they’re mostly deciduous now – except for the Snow Pear which is always the last to go deciduous and the first to regrow its leaves. A mystery!



  4. Hi Lewis,

    Now I had to check with the Editor about this story, but apparently… OK, so here goes. A person was carrying an old school ladies bicycle with a basket between the handlebars. The bicycle wasn’t being ridden, it was a prop for a photo opportunity against the autumn leaf foliage. And the basket was full of flowers. That was hard to explain.

    But yeah, there are people blithely all over the roads just trying to get the perfect selfie photo with the autumn foliage in the background. It is a public road, and knowing how you feel about that ride you mentioned, I think you’d understand. 😉 The core issue is that there is no moderation with the numbers, and the area can’t support such numbers of people because once they’re gone, any purpose built infrastructure or businesses reliant on them becomes uneconomic. At least it was very cold this morning and it rained all day, the tourists won’t like that weather.

    Bet yes, the experience is free, it is the locals whom pick up the tab. Mate, I read a line about coming up and having a drink with the friendly locals, and wondered just who had penned that sentiment?

    And the toilets, you are so right. The other evening whilst walking the dogs, I discovered that someone had taken a dump on the side of this road. Nice. There are public toilets in the local picnic ground which isn’t all that far away. I didn’t even get to use your pre-prepared line about that subject, which I must admit is a goodie. One thing this particular council does well is plentiful public toilets. I recall that people used to regularly take dumps behind the local fire station, that was a fun thing to find.

    That’s certainly an option taking out a fixed interest rate. I’ve observed that such arrangements down here are (I believe) for a set period of time, and they restrict additional payments, which have the effect of reducing interest. The one’s I don’t understand are the interest-only loans, I have heard the justifications, but to my mind they don’t pass the pub-test.

    Thanks for saying that about the greenhouse. A good antidote to ignore the craziness was to work, and in between having to deal with it, we worked. It was quite nice actually to do so. I did mention that I don’t want to talk about the craziness, but to give you an indication of what’s going on here think the final few lines in the series Prodigal Son: I’ve always been a good father, and you’ve never been a good daughter. Life indeed imitating art.

    The Tea Camellia’s and Babaco will be planted first. They’re both sub tropical plants and so will do well in the greenhouse.

    That’s why we are the land down under! Everything is upside down here, except Dame Plum, who likes looking at the world upside down, and perhaps it is she who is the right way up? A mystery. But yeah, the sun is in the north and hanging low right now. There was a quarter of an hour of peak sunlight today, and so this evening I had to roll out the generator to put some charge into the house batteries. If I wasn’t required to earn a living, my energy requirements would be much less.

    Dunno about the light being better from the south. For your interest, we do tend to take photographs in the early part of the morning, or in the late afternoon as the photographs produce more realistic colours. The midday sun in summer is brutal and the light has a white-ish hue to it as it washes out the other colours, but we are closer to the sun than you at that time of the year. The farm is actually on a south west facing slope, so the light here is actually reduced all year around when compared to the north – or even worse, the west facing aspects of the mountain range. So yeah, it all makes a difference. The coolest and dampest aspects on the mountain range are the elevated south facing slopes. Yup, wet. I assume that you see similar things in your part of the world?

    🙂 Ollie is a good judge of these things. And yes, that is a permanent concrete staircase between the two sheds. So far it has two stairs, but will probably end up being four or five stairs. The cement is very slow to cure at this cold time of year so we add on one tread per week and hope that nothing leaves it’s paw prints in the wet cement.

    The two rocks used to be one, until I hit them with the jackhammer and split them. Originally the rock was too heavy to move, and fear not, they’ve gone to a good home and are in place now on the low gradient ramp.

    Your master gardeners are an asset, nice work filling in the holes. Why would you have horrendous potholes in the road? I sense a story there…

    Yes, I have no idea whether the idea of no gutters or drains will work. We’ll see, but the experiment is worth giving a go because the plants inside the greenhouse will not be exposed to rainfall.

    I was wondering about what to do with the bumper crop of kiwi fruit. I wonder if you can make a kiwi fruit jam and whether it tastes any good. And I’m still not quite sure when to harvest them. Last year I picked them too early, and that was not good.

    The Japanese maples are one of my faves! So good, and we grow quite a few of them here – they self seed in this part of the world, so that is no bad thing at all. Even now I find a few volunteer seedlings each year. Once a form of balance develops sometimes predators keep on top of the pests. Interestingly I found another rat in the chicken enclosure this evening. It escaped me by diving into one of the steel channels / posts I hadn’t blocked up. Hmm, I’ll get onto that oversight. The campaign will be long, sacrifices will have to be made, but hey, at least I’ve reduced the consumption of grains for the chickens by about a third to a half. Dirty…

    Hehe! Well done you, and they’re all over the place here too. And yup, they’re most definitely blue flowers. 🙂 Exactly, the forget-me-nots are great plants which produce and look after themselves.

    My best guess is that our society seems to be rationing by price. Never ends well, because that policy causes greater havoc for ever larger groups of people. But for policy makers the option has the great benefit of them seeking to push blame elsewhere. And yeah, needs is where it becomes a real drama.

    Maybe, I’d experiment with the blueberry fertiliser to see what impacts it has. The thing is don’t blueberries like acidic soil, and who knows if that fertiliser will lower pH? That might slow plant growth for other plants.

    Hehe! Strawberry jello. Mate, that pie sounds like it is getting closer to a trifle. But yummo!

    Ah, well mate during such times you take up whatever work is on offer. I did four years of debt collection work during the recession of the early 1990’s. It’s not nice work, but it pays the bills and keeps food on the table and a roof over your head.

    Hope that Elinor is feeling better and recovering. With dogs, the litmus test is whether they’ll eat. A dog that doesn’t eat is not well and may get sicker. And that applies to their mental health as well.

    🙂 The soils are as old as the country, and the grape grower and the dairy farmer probably get to experience the reality of that story. Even before the sheep converted the soils to wool and meat for export, there were probably shortages of phosphates. I have no doubts of that. And it’s nice to hear other people banging on about soil. 🙂

    And um yeah, that is my understanding too, but I’m ignorant and know of only a few bush foods in this mountain range. Most of the edible plants I consume come from the wonderful land of elsewhere.



  5. Yo, Chris – The bicycle photo op would have made more sense if they had stuffed the basket with colorful autumn leaves. The quest for the perfect selfie photo, often doesn’t end well. 🙂 Darwin at work.

    I guess they’ve tightened up lending, since my day. Back then, it was more of a negotiation. Fixed rates for a slightly higher interest rate, was no big deal. If you were firm. And there weren’t penalties for early payout or extra payments.

    Yup. Families can be great at trotting out the guilt. Best to ignore and if push comes to shove, say “s-d off.”

    The coolest and dampest aspects of our mountain ranges are elevated north facing slopes. 🙂 A quick look into the rabbit hole reveals that artists like north light, as it’s more defuse and has less glare.

    Pity about the rock being split. I still think it would have made interesting yard art. Tipped up on one end and sunk in a small concrete pad.

    Our city streets condition, is nothing to write home about. But 4th, between The Institution and the alcohol and drug treatment center, across that street, is particularly bad. That facility is our old hospital. I don’t think that one block stretch belongs to the city. Back in the day, the street probably clearly belonged to the hospital, as whatever was in this spot, before us, was probably some kind of hospital facility. Now, I think the responsibility is a bit murky. I don’t think either facility wants to shoulder, even half the burden, of repairing the street.

    A quick look down the rabbit hole reveals many recipes for Kiwi jam. Nothing in any of my Australian cookbooks. Some seem to add lemon juice, others, pineapple juice.

    Elinor’s daughter called last night, requesting I find (was easy) her doctor’s home phone number. I bet he regrets giving that out 🙂 . At the hospital, they took away her anxiety meds. And, as a real corker, they forgot to feed her dinner. By the time that was discovered, the kitchen had closed. But they managed to scrape up a sandwich and some jello.

    I took H down to the Club, yesterday morning. She loves to interact with people. Gave her a bath, yesterday afternoon.

    I saw an article about building (mostly) fireproof houses, down in Paradise, California. Where they had the terrible wildfire. Basically, they’re quonset houses. Sometimes called “Q cabins” or “Q houses.”

    I’m going out to pick more camomile. It’s supposed to be half decent weather, this afternoon. I’ll get out and weed. The weeds sure liked the rain.

    There may (or may not) be a spectacular meteor shower, tonight. It comes around every 5 years. Sometimes, it’s quit a show. Other times, a fizzle. Looks like there might be some breaks in our cloud cover. Maybe. At least it’s happening at a decent hour (10PM), so I’ll take a look. Lew

  6. @Lew
    I hope that Eleanor gets well soon. I mentioned that many family members have or have had the unmentionable but cases have been quite mild and mostly gotten over in a week. The same was true of our friend, Kathy, of the retirement home and she is not a healthy woman.


  7. Hi Chris,

    The tourists must be a real pain but I’m guessing they are around for about a month. We have friends in Ketchikan, Alaska, a major stop for all the cruise lines. We visited there a few years ago. When there isn’t a cruise ship all the gift/ souvenir shops as well as most eateries are closed but the town is crazy once the cruise ships arrive and this goes on for at least 3 months. We witnessed one of the unloading of a huge cruise ship and it would not be something I would want to experience. Luckily they live a bit from the main drag but they said it’s really a pain. Of course it is a big part of their economy.

    Leo had a traumatic experience a couple days ago. Our newish neighbors have 4 rather unruly dogs that have a door enabling them to go in and out at will no matter if someone is home or not. When they moved in they used our chain link fence as one side of an enclosure for their dogs. Over time their dogs had dug along the fence which the neighbors had blocked with rocks. The dog used to bark incessently so we put up a device that emitted a sound disagreeable to them with full disclosure to the neighbors. They understood and have worked pretty successfully to cut down on the barking. Well the other day Doug was over talking to the wife with Leo at his side. Three of the four dogs scooted under the fence and ganged up on Leo very aggressively though did not draw blood. Then they went up towards the our house and did the same with Salve but she held her ground. The neighbors did come over and corraled their dogs and were apologetic and placed cinder blocks at the openings. Leo being 14 was very shaken up even the next day though he has since improved. We had been annoyed about the use of our fence anyway so after this incident we personally gave them a letter stating that they were no longer to use our fence and had to put their own up withing 14 days explaining that Leo had really been traumatized they the attack. They put it up the next day. Hopefully this will be the end of the issue.

    It’s been a pretty windy spring and today and yesterday winds have been sustained at 20-30 mph. We’re still abnormally dry and this doesn’t help.


  8. Hello Chris
    I buy flour, Have never bought a bread mix what ever that is. My bread is made with varying flours, yeast and water. I might put a smidgen of salt and fat in or I might not. The main thing is to knead, knead, knead. These days I tend to make soda bread as it doesn’t need kneading.
    Am in a state of fury so have to try not rant. One of those times when everything goes wrong at the same time. The current worst is the fact that my electricity supply has been taken over by another company. Masses of literature including ‘making life easier for you’. Oh yeah!! Currently (ha ha that was clever) they are declining to accept my meter reading. Phone calls galore.

    Son has just turned up.


  9. Hi Margaret,

    Yeah, it’s been well over two months, almost three months this year. During hotter and drier years the leaf change can be over in a few weeks, but not this year unfortunately.

    In a nut shell, that is the problem with tourist based economies. I used to live in the old rather charming Melbourne seaside suburb of Williamstown, and that was flooded on weekends with tourists, but at least the weekdays were quiet and the locals enjoyed the benefits of the infrastructure and additional services they otherwise would not be able to afford. But this mountain range was once long ago a tourist based economy, but that ended a long time ago and now there just isn’t the facilities to accommodate such large numbers of tourists – and there is now very little in the way of commercial zoned premises as they reverted to dwellings. I dunno, it sounds like I’m having a monster whinge, but the core of the essay was really about trying to come to grips with how there can be so many people, working so little. The story makes no sense to me.

    How’s Leo now after his fright? And go Salve! But yeah, the situation is not optimal. The three dogs are never let out together because they can form a coherent pack, and yeah it’s perhaps a touch irresponsible of your neighbours, although they have mended the fence.

    Out of curiosity, how do you have two fences on one property boundary?

    As a side note, we were visited by a neighbours husky the other day. The dog had apparently gotten away from them and had been on the run for maybe about an hour. The poor neighbour was distraught with worry, but Sandra managed to catch the husky and it seemed friendly enough, although it was a bit skittish with me as I was told the husky didn’t like men. Probably some weird history thing with the dog, and you never know what trauma’s they go through before they’re rescued.

    Met a girle Bull Arab (Ollie’s breed) today. It was a lovely dog and had a charming and endearing personality, and I’d hate to think what other dogs can scent on me what with the three fluffies here.

    Near freezing here, and saw a bit of sleet on the way home.



  10. Hi Inge,

    Of course, soda bread would not require sugar. Makes sense and thanks for the explanation as I hadn’t considered soda bread as an option. Incidentally the mix is not at all dissimilar from scone mixes. I do so enjoy freshly baked scones with proper jam and proper cream. We used to live near to an old Victorian era boat house on the banks of the Yarra River – it’s still there today at Fairfield – and we used to get there early on a weekend morning and enjoy freshly baked scones, and I used to do a hot chocolate, and Inge, I tell you, the scones were the best. Since those days, I have had other scones, and some are pretty good, one is an exemplar, and then there are the frozen and nuked scones. I cannot forgive such kitchen nightmares as frozen and nuked scones, at least dry and warm them in an oven for gawd’s sake! There are standards to be upheld you know. 🙂

    Ah, the change in electricity companies does sound rather convenient for you. Why wouldn’t they accept your meter reading? Down here, that meter reading business is done remotely now. Yes, I expect that some electricity retailers may go bust in the current circumstances. And Oil is now over US$120 a barrel. A shame that people do not understand this issue, but no matter, there is work to be done.



  11. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, it’s near freezing here tonight and we got home late and the temperature inside the house was 54’F, but compared to outside where the wind is blowing, it’s reasonably warm. The wood fire was lit as a priority and the house is slowly warming up. As I type this reply I’m wearing my woollen hat, sheepskin boots (not quite the full dead sheep compliment of gear) and have a natty bright red alpaca fleece scarf strung around my neck. All very Doctor Who, but Tom Baker style! 🙂 The studio sets where that was filmed back in the day were probably warmer than here.

    And Plum has become a menace, she wants to go out in the cold night this evening and hunt rats, and so she pesters me. However, she will have to learn to live with disappointment and wait for a warmer evening. Hey, the other night when out walking the dogs for their evening ablutions, I spotted a white owl sitting up in one of the bare fruit trees. The owl was dead silent as it appraised its domain and woe to any naughty rodents, for they shall be smited with sharp claws and a pointy beak. It is possible the owl was a Powerful Owl, which is quite large. And this is also why we don’t bait the rats as it would poison the wildlife and/or dogs.

    The perfect selfie always has an element of danger to it, and yeah there were plenty of people in the middle of the road trying to get a photograph. It’s not worth it you know! The perfect selfie attracts danger the same way that the perfect car park does. The main road has some very deep drains thanks to the forces of erosion, and unfortunately cars being parked fall into them and have to be dragged back out again. It happens quite often. I see the deep drains and keep well away from them, but others are drawn to them like moths to a candle flame.

    It’s starting to warm up a bit now.

    Yeah, I read that the regulator has moved to restrict lending to something like 6.5 times loan to income ratio. Apparently it was recently 9 times loan to income ratio. And there was even some loose talk about the dreaded negative equity…

    Here we are in total agreement. Your words sum up my feelings in the matter of toxic people. There are better things to do with my time.

    I can see that about the north facing light in your part of the world having less glare. Makes sense, and the artist needs to see the colours at their best. I can’t imagine that there was an art movement for washed up looking paintings. Was there?

    I don’t think so about that rock being turned into yard art. I could barely move the beast. Nope it was dealt to. Actually not all that far away an architect has his home. I believe he is involved in sky scrapers or something like that, but I don’t really know. His property is being filled up with artistic renditions of construction elements, only in metal and on quite a large scale. Whatever will they think of next?

    Ah, thank you for the explanation as to the street. Hmm, murky responsibility does lead to poor consequences. Interestingly down here I don’t believe that there are many private roads (on public property). The responsibility for maintenance falls onto the local council, then the state government and some larger national roads I assume are the domain of the federal government (there aren’t too many of them). Interestingly, recently the fuel tax was temporarily stopped due to high oil prices, and I do wonder how road maintenance at the state level is being funded.

    Thanks for looking into the kiwi jam. It looks like a very simple jam to make. I may try this recipe.

    Haven’t those folks got just one job – caring for the people put into their care? Hate to break it to you, but if they’ve somehow forgotten Elinor’s meal, it is possible that other people in their care missed out too. Once is not a pattern, but it is indicative of something. Hope Elinor is doing OK.

    Was H a hit at the Club? Hey, I encountered someone today with a girlie Bull Arab, and she was a real sweetie of a dog. I must smell interesting to dogs because she put her nose up my crutch. It doesn’t get much friendlier than that – as I remarked. This is the third of the breed I’ve encountered and they’ve all been very charming dogs. Years ago I encountered a bloke who had one sitting in the drivers seat of his van (the bloke had exited the vehicle of course). He was enthusing about Ollie (who happened to also be there) and his own dog. The breed does have a bad rap though, but it is possibly they look more scary than they are, and also it probably much depends upon the owner more than the dog.

    As a response to the risk of fire, it’s not a bad design. I’m uncomfortable with the aesthetics, but that is me as it reminds me of WWII sheds which were / are dotted around the country. It is worthwhile mentioning that metal is a great conductor of temperature, and I wonder about the windows. We had to use double toughened glazing which is almost half inch thick and even then it is covered by stainless steel very strong security mesh screens. But if you had to do something and that was the only option, cool. The walls here are rated to 90 minutes of direct contact with flame without structural failure or penetration. The roof is rated to 30 minutes. The stuff I had to use came out of party walls in apartment buildings, and it had to be tested and certified. Almost took everything we had for a small house, and we couldn’t afford to get someone else to build it. What a struggle, and nobody really knows how this stuff will go in an actual serious wild fire. That’s why you need a plan B and a plan C and work on both of those. Speaking of which…

    Glad that your growing season is plugging along. I’ve never picked and dried chamomile. Does your stuff taste different to the commercial varieties of that tea?

    10pm is a very respectful time for sky gazing. Did you see anything? Those meteor showers are quite fast moving.



  12. Hi Chris,
    Yeah I know the number of tourists weren’t really your point. As far as why I can think of only two reasons. One, if unemployed a trip to see the leaf colors is relatively cheap as entertainment goes and two, those working remotely may have more flexibility now. Both SILs and Carla work mostly remotely though and they are all still working pretty much the usual work week. There is some flexibility regarding start time though as I know they can go out later than usual for the morning walk which in the past might have been foregone totally.

    Leo has recovered and yes the neighbors were irresponsible. They seem to have gotten themselves rather overextended with two full time jobs, three kids, four dogs and chickens. They moved from a suburb with a typical yard to seven acres out in the country and from what we can see are trying to do too much. On the other hand while the kids are young they are plenty old enough to help and we don’t see too much of that at least outside. Yes there is a 2nd fence along their dog enclosure. Our fence is along the entire north property line. The prior owner put it in because several neighbors ago had built an ATV track and were having regular drunken parties and he wanted to be sure they didn’t end up on his, now our, property. It’s been very helpful keeping our dogs on our property.

    Now are you tempted to get Ollie a girlfriend?


  13. @Lew
    That’s terrible that Eleanor didn’t get dinner. What else isn’t happening. I think I’ve mentioned in the past that I have a number of family members in the medical field. They all have said it’s important to have someone with the patient in hospital to advocate and watch out for them and this was well before you know what. This is particularly true if the patient isn’t totally lucid and able to handle their own affairs. We had several incidents with the brothers and this was well before you know what. While we are saddened to have lost Patrick and Michael at a relatively young age we shudder to think of what it would have been like if they had ended up in the hospital during the pandemic when no one was allowed to be with them. It would have been a sure thing with Michael as he was in and out of the hospital the last few years of his life. I used to set up MIchael’s meals if I couldn’t be with him. Luckily he was in two different small hospitals where the staff was not overwhelmed and he had good care so I could leave for periods of time. Can someone do that for Eleanor?


  14. Hello Chris,
    After a dark and wet summer, you have a quite wet winter. Sleet, imagine. Here, we have had an amazing spring, just a few showers last week, but much less than previous years. No frosts since early April. Everything grows like crazy.

    Oil price high -> gas price high -> electricity price high. Here in Holland, the “fixed price” contracts are killing the electricity providers, one after another. Belly up and “new flexible contracts” for the customers. On the other hand, during the previous years, the same companies made record profits, but those have been pocketed and secured by the owner. A classic example of “privatization” that increased “efficiency” according to some metric…

    Indeed, seven weeks from now, we are moving to a small farmlet in Laholm, Sweden. I am looking into how I can share that story, maybe a blog. (You are very inspiring, you know, but the bar is high!)
    There are lots of learnings and mistakes waiting for us to come there, I am sure. Probably some things that would be interesting for others to read.

    It is a small, old farm from the 1800s, on flat land that would make you salivate But it is very, very small, just one acre farmland, which is not much, and it is very fine sand soil, close to loam. Enough for the nut tree nursery, but not enough for a nut orchard. We will look for more land and collaborators/partners in the surroundings when we get installed.

    Europe is, as you mentioned on the Greer site, full of privileged people and empty of most resources, completely dependent on the colonies around the world. It will be a rough awakening when the vassal states stop delivering the goods. One day it will happen, we just don’t know when.
    In the meantime, we pretend that we deserve all the opulence that we have.

    Regarding your surprise regarding people who are touristing instead of working: I see a growing division in three large groups in society – the workers (low paid, low status) and the administrators (high paid, high status) and the pensioners/slackers/rentiers/inherited wealth people (no work, little pay, high status).
    The last groups is very visible and loud. Is that the ones who come to watch the leaves?
    Many small scale farmers here grow and refine specialty products for the third group (exclusive cheeses, organic wines, walnuts hand-picked by virgins etc.). I think the third group are the ones who will take most hits from the inflation. That is how it went last time in Germany 1923.

    At the same time, governments all over Europe look into how to borrow/print even more money. What could possibly go wrong??!

    I have now collected plants and seeds from all over the world, that will also grow in our new location. It is just 100 km from the place where my grandfather was born on a small, poor farm in 1903. We have now amazingly wider possibilities to acquire and grow crops that he and his family never had access to. We try to make use of this diversity, before the window of opportunity slams shut in the winds of change.
    None of the tree seed deliveries from China arrived this year, maybe a sign?
    Of course, in Australia, you are already disconnected from much of international seed trade, but I am sure you get the point…


  15. @ Margaret – Thanks for the kind thoughts. I didn’t hear from Elinor’s daughter, yesterday. I probably will, today. Yesterday being a holiday, any medical decisions were probably postponed. Lew

  16. Hi, Chris!

    What a fun title!

    I shake my head every time I leave home (though, of course, I can find it on the internet, too). Where do they get all that money? And why aren’t people taking all these jobs that companies are so desperate to fill? I always think that I have almost figured it out, but then it doesn’t make sense.

    Realerer: I believe there is just one “er” . . . Or is that realerest?

    We have “employer” and “employee”, as an example, so perhaps it’s “leaf peeper” and “leaf peepee” (peepie?) for the watchers, and then you, the poor souls who have to endure them.

    All that white on the greenhouse is just gorgeous, once again proving that beauty can be functional. Or just gorgeous.

    I was going to ask you if those were steps down the bank, but I see that Lew did. But what are the big chunks under the concrete? That is really interesting about your no-gutter theory. Good luck.

    Yo – Mr. Freckles!

    I think the birds are using me to tell if the mulberries are ripe.

    My nasturtiums are up, but my lavender is dead. All of it, the small bit that I have, dies off about every 3 years. I guess this is the year to start again. I have lots of pineapple sage, but it is not blooming yet.

    I just came in from the garden. It is 98F (36.7C) in there. I spend as much time sitting in the shade as I do working.


  17. Yo, Chris – You had better be careful. If you dress the part, the Time Lords are likely to come and sweep you away! 🙂

    Your Powerful Owl is a very stately bird. When we took family vacations, we’d see owls that we don’t see, around here. Snowy Owls and Barn Owls would sweep up into the car headlights. Startling and dramatic. Interesting how owl species, are found, world wide. There are burrowing owls, so, I suppose their ancestors would have survived the comet.

    Selfies attract danger the way trailer (caravan?) parks attract tornadoes.

    Deep drains? Ditches? Once, I was out rock hunting. I parked just a wee bit to far off the road. Every time I tried to regain the pavement, I slipped a bit further toward a small river. So, there I am, out in the wilderness. A nice couple happened by, threw a chain around my bumper, and hauled me out. After all the drama was over, I told them “Some people (me) shouldn’t come out in the woods alone.” Had a good laugh over that one.

    Here, for the longest time, the down payment was thought to be 20-25% of the purchase price. Seems prudent.

    There is probably an art movement, for every kind of painting. Washed out colors and a scraped look, is probably a modernist niche. Somewhere.

    In most places, here, there are state fuel taxes, and federal fuel taxes. There’s been some wild talk about reducing or temporarily suspending, some of them. Hasn’t happened.

    No word on Elinor, yesterday. I figure I’ll hear something, today. Her daughter asked me to intercept the postman, and collect her mail. Which is, of course, against postal rules. I did catch the postie, today, but wouldn’t you know, it wasn’t our usual guy … or his usual relief. Both of whom I know. But, with a little fast talking, and a bit of a song and dance, he was nice enough to give me her mail. Elinor had two very nice big bananas, that were rapidly heading south, in her kitchen. I liberated them. Made banana muffins. With plumped up cranberries, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Tasty. I’m eyeing an avocado, but it’s not to far gone, to claim it in the name of salvage.

    H is a hit, at the Club. She really likes people … and they like her. H does the same thing you mentioned, to me. When I kneel down to take off her collar or dry her off if it’s been raining. A bit embarrassing. It’s always nice to run across someone who has the same breed of dog, as you. If I see someone walking a Westie, I usually chat them up. We have a tenant who had a dog. Same thing. Didn’t like men. But did she really have to tell me that, every time I saw her and the dog out? Vicious beast. Had a seizure, and keeled over. I feel bad for the owner, but not the dog. Brother Bob the Bachelor Farmer had a rescue dog. It was really sad. She’d come to you, but cringing on her belly. Even after years of good treatment. She must have had a horrible life, before Bob liberated her. Just like kids, some people shouldn’t have animals. We have a recent case in the county where a woman was arrested for neglecting her horses. Dead and emaciated horses, all over the place.

    Yes, Q Huts are not long on aesthetics. I think if I lived in the urban / wilderness interface zone, I’d go underground. Or, at least have a place that was heavily bermed. And windows and doors such as you have.

    I don’t know how many varieties of chamomile there are, but I grow one called “German Chamomile.” It tastes just like the commercial kind. After being dried, it has a slightly stronger flavor, than the commercial stuff. But not overwhelming. As it mellows in it’s canister, over the winter, it loses some of it’s flavor. But not much. I’m still getting satisfying cuppa’s, from last years harvest. Almost gone.

    Well, the meteor shower was a bit of a wash. Per usual. There were scattered clouds, but a haze in between. A few times, I thought I saw pin spot flashes of light. But that might have been a plane’s running lights, high up in the clouds. I bet it will be clear as a bell, tonight. 🙁

    I spent about two hours, weeding in the garden. My plots and some other ones. Took out some volunteer oak. And, was on the hunt for this tall invasive grass, that’s started putting out green seed heads. I also hacked down all the parsley, that was beginning to go to seed. I replanted some of the carrots, where I had rooted out the volunteer potatoes. Pulled a lot of lemon balm, which comes up everywhere. It really smelled nice.

    Our night manager told me something, interesting. His sister lives up on the hill, behind us. He told me that someone has about a dozen hives, maybe three or four blocks away. He noticed because he’s allergic to the stings. Carries an epipen.

    I finished watching “After the Plague.” Interesting stuff. Lew

  18. Chris,

    I saw the teenaged neighbor and another one of her friends today. Their friend who thought about making a mustache out of Avalanche fur? Nope, didn’t do that. She made finger puppets and took them to school to share with her friends. I can appreciate the imagination!

    I can see it now. A Monty Pythonesque skit about musicals and the book of armaments. Naturally, the book of armaments appears in the arms of some bloke singing and dancing!

    Poor Harold Godwinson. His haste to meet William just screams at me that he was not secure on the English throne. He had NO ancestry to the English line of Cerdic. His Danish mother’s brother was married to the daughter of the Danish King Canute who had ruled England also. Tenuous connection there, but the Witenagemot DID elect him to be king legally. Twas weird times.

    In the Welsh history tome, the author noted that in the mid 1300s, language was beginning to be understood as giving rise to national roots. The Welsh still spoke Welsh, the Scots had a lot of Gaelic speakers, France and French. So, it was starting to get understood that the English language denoted an Englishman. It was in 1362 that Edward III addressed Parliament in English, the first English spoken by a king of England since the ill-fated Harold Godwinson. Tha might be the start of the Normans starting to feel connected to the locals.

    We badly need a new desk chair and finally found one on Saturday that we both like and found comfortable. We bought one. I put it together Tuesday. It’s missing a part (the one that adjusts the tilt of the chair’s back) and the cylinder that adjusts the seat height is broken. I get to take it back on Wednesday and hope they either refund us or give us another chair to try. With a minimum of hassle, of course. There are chairs with better rating, but this one we found comfortable. Plus, one option was with purple rather than black or red. For the Princess, purple is like “but that one goes to 11!”

    You should feel fortunate that you’ve still got flowers blooming. This spring has been so cool, the hawthorn trees are finally blooming 6 weeks late. The pink blooms are spectacular this year, so it was worth the wait.

    We’ve had much more rain since I last posted. And another thunderstorm that almost scared the fur off of Avalanche. Our outdoor carving event is this Friday and Saturday. Wednesday and Thursday are supposed to be warm and sunny. It appears that we will have rain during the event. We will have a shelter from the rain, but a good wind could be, umm, exciting.

    The word realerer IS a word. I saw it above in this week’s installment. If it is in print, on paper or digital, it MUST be true and real! Real, realerer, realerest. Thanks to Pam for realerest.

    Reading about your tourists, this came to mind:
    Jeepers, creepers,
    Our mountain has leaf peepers!
    They ramble about with lots of nerve,
    Searching for more leaves to perv.
    Beware! Beware! Beware!

    The crows and ravens seem to have come to an accord of sorts. At least, there are enough ravens in the neighborhood that the crows don’t try to chase them very often. Also, in addition to the many resident Cooper’s hawks in the area, several tiny sharp-shinned hawks have decided to take up residence rather than simply pass through the area. I watched one catch something crawly in a neighbor’s yard, probably a mouse. While walking, I watched another sharp-shinned hawk burst out of a tree and attempt to catch a flying sparrow. The sparrow dodged, then its mate came flying over making a loud noise, so the hawk returned to stealth mode, hiding once more in the maple tree. It’s fun watching the interaction.

    I also pulled my annual stunt with the Princess. I “interrupted” one of my outdoor chores after watching some birds engaged in procreation activities. I went into the house and said, with a large degree of disgust, that I just watched some public procreative activities. The Princess asked which of our neighbors and if we were going to call in a complaint to the police. I said, “No, it was those sparrows again.” 🙂


  19. Chris, I haven’t read through all the other comments yet, and this may have been covered already, but the main reason a fruit tree will blossom and try to fruit in the wrong season is that it thinks it is dying and it wants to reproduce before it goes. Is the tree stressed? Has it sprouted from rootstock because the graft is in trouble? Is it waterlogged or have some disease? It may be plant detective time..

  20. Hello Chris
    So you have what we call smart meters for electricity. Is that the case everywhere in the country? They are trying hard to force us to have them here but it isn’t law yet. Many are refusing so far. There have been problems with them when suppliers go bust, which has been frequent recently and the meters won’t switch over. Also it gives the companies the power to switch off individuals supply whenever it suits them.


  21. Hi Inge,

    Yes, smart meters have replaced all of the old school mechanical meters. They have rather interesting functions (which probably aren’t fun) such as remote connections / disconnections, not to mention remote digital readings.

    Of course, if a household is not connected in the first place, it is very hard to be metered. With freedom comes massive expenditure and very limited electricity. The past three days produced: 15 minutes of sunshine + 45 minutes of sunshine + 25 minutes of sunshine. I hope the batteries don’t decide to switch off this evening. I guarantee that whilst people are pining for renewable technologies, they won’t like the outcome. We’ve settled on requiring a bit under an hours sunshine. Nature of course provides as she will.

    Well exactly, wasn’t that the entire point of the things? Trust me, grid connect bills are cheaper by a country mile.



  22. Hi Jo,

    That’s a good point, but the particular rootstock has never gone deciduous. It’s a mystery. I’m no expert, but you’d imagine that after a decade, some years the rootstock was doing OK? We definitely need to chuck on our tweed wool detective caps to solve this one. I have no idea. Do you reckon a closer photo of the leaves and flowers may assist? I can add such a thing to the comments here.



  23. Hi Pam,

    Words are so much fun. 🙂 Thanks for noticing and I may have inadvertently forgotten to include a music reference this week. Standards have clearly slipped, but then it has been a trying fortnight.

    Pam, I’m so with you about this matter. I too keep thinking I’ve got it all figured out, and then… It makes no sense to me. I tell ya what though, with 34’F temperatures this morning, the tourists were non existent. Softies…

    I defer to your most excellent command of the English language.

    Did I mention the leaf pooper the other day who took a dump on the side of the road? The leaf peepee’s leave much less evidence, although I have no doubts the fluffies are aware of such outrages. Met a girlie version of Ollie yesterday, and she was a fine dog and displayed a similar temperament.

    The roof edge capping and roof ridge capping are also white, but in steel. Hopefully with a bit of luck (and nice weather) I can get them installed over the next few days. It’s sure gonna be cold tomorrow though, so maybe I’m soft in this matter? Brr! A touch of bling never hurts.

    The big chunks are actually rocks mixed into the concrete staircase. They look pretty cool huh? I’d cut them out of the huge Moby Rock which used to be up above the house and the rocks have almost polished surfaces.

    Ollie sends cordial tail wags to you and yours. 🙂

    Ah, the birds are clever creatures. Yes, and they would observe you closely. For some reason down here, they prefer slightly under rip fruits. Birds…

    Go the nasturtium, but sorry to hear about the lavender. There are a number of varieties of lavender, so if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again. And some of them are feral hardy. But is this the same as self seeding like they do here? I don’t really know. The best performing variety here is the Avonview Lavender. They multiply like weeds.

    Hope you enjoy the shade. Is that quite warm for this early in the growing season? It wouldn’t be unusual here, but it would be on the higher end of normal.



  24. Hi Margaret,

    🙂 Yeah, I just kind of wanted to sound like I wasn’t whingeing about the situation, whilst enjoying a thoroughly decent whinge. As you may agree, it’s a complicated world-view, but I knew you got the core issue of the essay. I tell you what though, the 34’F temperatures this morning meant that nary a leaf change tourist was in sight. 🙂 Softies.

    That’s a good point about the working from home folks, and I had not considered that aspect to the story. Running my own business for fourteen years now, working from home (which doubles as the office) means just that – working. 🙂 I have to bill by time and so can’t afford to muck around, or worse, be perceived to be mucking around. Anyway, I keep good records as to what was done and have survived all bill queries (so far).

    One of the benefits of working from home is that there is a level of flexibility built into the arrangement, but then the flip side of the risk is that a person may be competing with service providers in other countries with lower cost bases. In my line of work there are increasing difficulties for such overseas arrangements, and there is a genuine shortage of local people – especially with some of the work I do which I enjoy but is considered low status. Far out. On the other hand, I like going into the big smoke too as it builds upon the existing relationships. Plus there’s coffee grounds and muffins to be had!

    Nice to hear that they’re doing well with the remote work.

    Yeah, trying to do too much is definitely problematic and fraught with risk. Plus they might not be enjoying themselves. As a comparison, you may note that we tend to take on only one or two tasks/projects at any one time and follow them through to completion. But honestly, I really don’t understand how people with kids could develop such a property anyway especially given that there is a societal expectation that the kids don’t contribute and that the parents have to supervise the kids at all moments of the day. Talk about setting the bar too high leading to anxiety and failure.

    Yes, dogs can go a-roamin, that’s for sure. Although I’d imagine Leo wouldn’t be into that activity nowadays, would he?

    I like how you think. 😉 I did drop in the suggestion that if ever the dog needed re-homing… It was a truly beautiful dog and personality.



  25. Hi Goran,

    Mate, what can I say, other than the Big Wet continues. 🙂 Producing edible plants is actually easier in the Big Dry years at least when you have access to water reserves. It was pretty cold this morning 1’C. Brr! No snow though, just a touch of sleet last evening.

    And oh yeah, yours sounds like perfect spring weather. Things may of course be different in Sweden.

    The same thing is happening here with electricity retailers whom are paying market prices, whilst they have fixed contracts. Someone is taking the loss, but that can’t continue for all that long. Hmm, it has been remarked upon elsewhere that boards and shareholders demand their pound of flesh. And it is prudent to put away resources during the good times, but seriously, how many people do you know that do just that? I know a few actually, but inflation punishes them.

    If you write about your experiences, I’ll post a link on the side of this blog and you’ll get plenty of readers for sure. 🙂 Of course, you have to let me know of the URL firstly. Mate, I just pick one thing that is on my mind that week and write about, but you’ll have your own style.

    Flat land is good. Ugg! (Said in best Conan the Barbarian voice). One acre is a good amount of land, and probably closer to a town that where I am. Lot’s of land and resources, but amenities are much further away. And yup, I tell you truly, it takes at least three generations here before you are considered a local. 🙂 But you have the benefit of being able to point to relatives in the area.

    Hmm, so Sandra was reading a blog site from the UK the other day and for the equivalent of about $2.50 the person scored a whole box of fruit and vegetables which looked pretty good to me. How is this possible? A bag of oranges cost me $9 last week. Inflation is biting hard here, but at least the continent is a net exporter of food.

    Your analysis rings true to what I’m observing here also. The thing is, the resource and wealth base can support a percentage of people living that way, but surely it is not possible to support so many people doing that? The historical norm was that 90% of the population were involved in agriculture, and even then when the resource base was over-shot, there were serious wars, famines then followed by plagues which reduced the population. Ecology is brutal, but it does tend to accord to the world as it is.

    Well, your central bankers appear to be supporting junk bonds. The name perhaps suggests their worth?

    Haha! Does your seed and plant selection process not suggest a possible path in the future? Respect.

    Bio-security is a big issue down here and we don’t tend to have too many plant diseases. On the other hand, we do have a lot of birds and critters who want to eat everything in sight. Nothing is ever perfect and we must all make do.



  26. Hi Lewis,

    Holy carp! Imagine that, what a drama being swept away by the time lords, and there’s still so many projects still left to do. Wouldn’t that be typical.

    The Powerful Owl is the lord of the night air, and is probably less hassled than the Wedge Tail Eagles who rule the daytime air. All the smaller birds gang up to send the eagles packing off elsewhere. Eagles will happily consume other birds. So yeah, poisoning rats is easy, but there are ramifications which makes the easy path very expensive for the wildlife.

    Ooo, the owls sometimes sweep through the headlights here too, and yes I agree: startling and dramatic, is a lovely way to describe the experience. That’s an interesting point about the burrowing owls, and down here we have Nightjars which also tend to live in burrows or otherwise hide in leaf litter.

    Hehe! You sure took that one to eleven on the dial with the caravan parks and tornadoes. And you are correct, a trailer down here refers to an open sided small thing (like the 7×5 foot bright yellow trailer) which gets towed behind a vehicle. We call trailers, caravans down here. I’m assuming the word has exotic origins around the ancient Silk Road? I’m getting associations with camels, but maybe it was the mention of Conan elsewhere in this evening’s replies? Robert E Howard produced some very quotable text.

    Well, you said it, and it was probably a fair observation. Although we almost had a similar incident on a very wet and muddy back road in this mountain range. It all seemed like a good idea at the time, as did your rock hunting.

    The tree dudes were set to turn up and work this morning, but the 34’F windy wet weather gave them the idea that another day would be better. Probably right. And there was nary a tourist in sight this morning.

    Originally, deposits had to be 20% or greater, but as house prices went up, the required deposit went down.

    Dude, fuel prices escalated so much – during a Federal Election (hashtag just sayin’ with your mid-terms coming up) – that the tax was scrapped. Made about $1.50 a gallon difference, but prices be getting back up there and will the new gobarmint folks want to raise the price so early on in their term of office?

    Did you hear anything about Elinor today, and that was some fast talking with the postie dude. And also a very thoughtful thing to do.

    Yes, dogs can be very base, but hey, they’re honest. People owning a Westie want the attention for sure, that’s why they own that breed. Dude, the tenant probably is using that dog / men excuse so as not to speak with you – some folks are like that. But having said that, the husky was slow to approach me, and I had to kneel down so as to reduce my height and make the dog more comfortable. But yes, some people are horrid to the animals in their care. And stories like that horse one do happen when feed is short such as during prolonged droughts.

    Mate, I had to look up what a berm meant in relation to housing. It’s not a bad idea as it would reduce the impact of the radiant heat, but the fire could travel up and over such an earthwork. One fire I saw the fire went right down to a ponds edge, and then around the pond. Better to reduce the fuel loads so as to reduce the energy – everything, including the trees and soil stand a better chance of survival when the temperatures are lower. Windows can crack and then the embers penetrate the opening and get inside a building. That’s why we have stainless steel shutters over them during the summer months. It’s not pretty, but it works.

    Oh yeah, that’s the variety of Chamomile growing here. The other grasses and herbs tend to out compete it. Out of curiosity what are the conditions which it is growing in?

    The pin spots of fast moving lights might have been the meteor shower. Those things move heaps faster than shooting stars, which are relatively slow moving by way of comparison.

    Volunteer oak! Have to laugh, I’d be encouraging them. 🙂 Ook! Grass, yes it is a problem in vegetable beds. Lemon balm is beautiful smelling and there are times the two Kelpie girls run through those plants. Surely they’re doing such things for the aroma? Better than dried wombat poop, which I must say is very pungent smelling.

    Good to hear that those bees will be pollinating your garden beds. That’s awesome. Have you noticed many bees buzzing around?

    Was the After the Plague course about the conditions following on from the Black Death? And did you pick up any interesting titbits of information?



  27. Hi DJ,

    That’s funny, but were the finger puppets made from Avalanche’s fur? Hey, how is the drone situation going?

    No musicals!!!! My brain is now exploding… Well, that was messy wasn’t it? Yes, I do recall the spontaneous singing and dancing Monty Python Camelot segments, as I’m sure you do too.

    That’s the problem isn’t it? When you’re on top of the world, and everything is looking peachy, well some jealous noble comes along and plots evil mischief. It should be noted that the jealous nobles eventually didn’t fare so well, so perhaps they put short term interests ahead of longer term interests? But yeah ol’ Harold had a long march and the troops would have been done even before the first blade was drawn.

    Ah, I had not known that language and nationality were entwined so, but yes it makes a lot of sense. Thanks for mentioning that. No wonder people go on about accents and stuff. That isn’t much of a thing down here, but very occasionally you’ll encounter someone with a plum in the mouth put-on well to do accent.

    The chair frankly sounds a bit rubbish, so hopefully you can take it back, and that they have stock. Not always guaranteed. Oh no. Your lady beat me to the punch line. Purple just goes faster. 🙂 Nice one.

    We get both white and pink Hawthorne’s down here. The old timers used to grow them along fence lines as a reasonably cattle resistant natural fence. Thorny plants. The berries have some sort of ancient medicinal use I believe.

    Good luck with the groups meeting and may the weather play nice, or at least the wind doesn’t blow you all away. It’s good to hear you’re getting some rain at this stage of the year. Always handy.

    Realerest was pretty funny!

    Thanks for the poem, I rather enjoyed it. And the softies weren’t around this morning to enjoy the bracing 1’C windy and wet weather. No snow though as there was too much wind. Tomorrow looks cold and cloudy but otherwise nice. The house batteries are down to 40% full. Ook.

    Hehe! That’s funny about the birds. And what can I say, our partners are perhaps long suffering when it comes to humour, but I reckon they’re both enjoying themselves. 🙂 There’s a lady I work with who I do my best to entertain whilst working and we have a blast. From time to time I’ll amusingly say: You see what Sandra has to put up with!



  28. Chris:

    Thanks for the lavender tip.

    I haven’t had time to read Kunstler in a long time, but I did as someone just sent me a link to His Cluster_____ Nation of May 23, 2022: “We’re in It Now For Sure”. One of his best essays, I’d say.


  29. @ Margaret- I think our hospital is either entirely locked down, or, at least a wing. So no one in to keep an eye on things.

    I talked to Elinor’s daughter, yesterday. I don’t know if she’s tested negative, yet. But, she’s got to walk a certain distance, before they’ll let her come home. If she can’t, then it’s off to rehab, for at least a month. Getting a dependable week-day caregiver in, is also a problem.

    Things will sort out. It will just take a bit of time. Lew

  30. Yo, Chris – You can be gone months with the Time Lords, and they’ll bring you back five minutes after you initially left. Maybe a bit worse for wear … And all those projects will have been patiently waiting. 🙂

    I ran across a pretty clear article about bird evolution. Written in a nice clear style.

    “Caravans” probably came into use, due to all the English mucking about in the Middle East. Lawrence of Arabia, and all that. And even earlier. Crusades?

    Sounds like your already missing the leaf peppers. 🙂

    Oh, I figure they’ll do something dramatic, closer to the elections, about the gas prices. I’ve also heard wild talk about just sending people money, to offset the prices. Spin those printing presses!

    I outlined what I know about Elinor, to Margaret. Her daughter is showing up, any time. Probably to check out the fridge. I may have more information, then.

    Back when I had Westies, they really didn’t attract much comment. Back in those Dark Ages, dogs were dogs, and not such status symbols. I hear stories, about a lot of breeds, that have been “over-bred.” Due to puppy farms and puppy mills. Endemic medical problems, behavior problems, etc..

    Here, Camomile will grow anywhere it can get a foothold. 🙂 But it’s not quit as invasive, as some. My Camomile came up right in the middle of my largest raised bed. I’m just waiting to get enough dried, and then will dig it out, fertilize, and plant something else, there. If it doesn’t come up next year, I can just use some of my tea, to give it a start.

    I haven’t seen too many bees, around. I did notice some very small pollinators, on my camomile, yesterday. In previous years. they were filled with honey bees. Might be just a tad to early. The scouts might not have found us, yet.

    So, what to say about “After the Plague?” There were changes, but the kernel of those changes was often beginning to bloom, even before the plague. There had been a few revolts and uprisings, before the plague. But between 1350 and 1400, there were hundreds, all over Europe. And the concepts of freedom, equality and justice were in the air. People were thinking about them. And, they were actually named. See: Britain’s “Peasant Revolt.” Lew

  31. Chris,

    Yes, the finger puppets were made with Avalanche fur. Wish I could’ve seen them. And the drone has been conspicuously absent since that Day of the Dread Drone Debacle. It appears that the local police DID follow through and talked to the culprit who allegedly “worked with” the police with his drone to help cut down on after school bullying. The police told one of the involved parents that they would explain to the culprit that this method of “helping” was unwelcome harassment of the teenagers.

    England was a mess starting about 970. The way the royal family killed itself off, and the way the noble families began serious death feuds with one another surely weakened the country. The reworking of the upper nobility by the King Canute caused some rifts also. The disunity allowed a relatively easy conquest by the Normans after disunity had eventually aided the Danish Conquest in 1013/1014 and then 1016.

    And Harold’s long march followed on the heels of a difficult battle against the Norwegian King at Stamford Bridge, which had followed a rapid and long march north. A dash of patience and recovery and mobilizing the entire country following Stamford Bridge and the Normans wouldn’t have stood a chance. Another example of haste makes waste.

    Yup, I clearly remember some musical Monty Python scenes. I’m sure that if they had done a skit protesting musicals, said skit would have turned into a musical with dancing. Twas the Monty Python way.

    Accents. A good friend of my sister moved to Australia with her parents when she was 20. On a visit to Spokane some years later, she had this “Australian” accent. I started laughing at her, I couldn’t help myself it was so atrocious. She quit the fake accent.

    Of course, accents are in the eye of the beholder. To you, I would have a northwest American accent.

    I took the chair base and hydraulics back to the store on Wednesday. They didn’t even need to look at the receipt from the sale. They went in the back and got me a replacement set of parts for free with no questions asked. That’s what should have happened, but it doesn’t always work that way. I thanked them. The new parts work and we have a functioning comfortable computer chair. And it’s purple, so it clearly goes to 11!

    I needed to mow the front grass. Badly. I got out the electric mower and cord. Started it up, got a small area done and it started raining on one of the 2 days we were supposed to be rain-free this week. (Not that I’m complaining. Rain is good.) I quit mowing. Rain and electric machines in my mind have 3 possibilities, none of them good. 1) The rain interacts with the cord and a circuit breaker gets tripped. 2) The rain interacts with the cord and the electric machine fries and needs to be replaced. 3) The rain interacts with the cord and with the human and the human gets fried and cannot be repaired or replaced. So I took Avalanche for a walk in the drizzle.

    We turn our cell phone ringers off at night. The Princess had a typical slow start Wednesday. She eventually looked at her phone and saw a missed call from a rellie who rarely calls. Some very unprincessy words spewed from her lips. (Not because off who called, but because that rellie usually is the designated messenger of bad tidings from that branch of the family, so she knew something ungood had likely happened.) I’m slowly going through a Welsh language course and noticed that the dictionary at the back of the textbook includes the Welsh words for some of the English words she was using. I wrote them down for her: English word, Welsh word, Welsh pronunciation. Now she, like me, will be able to say what is necessary without anybody knowing what was exactly said. And there’s always my fall back “curse word” if people start to catch on: “Shostakovich”. This word gets out a lot of the necessary sounds without actually being a bad word, but the surname of a classical music composer.


  32. Chris, it is indeed a mystery. Yes, by all means, publish a close-up shot and maybe someone here will have ideas. Question – why is the rootstock flowering at all? Is the crabapple graft a happy tree? Rootstocks can do weird and wild things, they are sometimes a law unto themselves, but if you leave them to flourish they often take over and leave the grafted tree quite weak. Are you planning to cut the sucker off after your detectoring?

  33. Hi DJ,

    The drone incident was perhaps a very strange example of avoiding one form of harassment, whilst possibly creating another form of harassment. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. 🙂

    Ooo, that history is a mess and surely lead to their undoing. Strangely enough, the Norman’s didn’t prevail in the much later Hundred Years War despite early successes, and bizarrely that also lead to them to identify themselves as English. Having now read a good chunk of the history of that island set of warring states, I get the impression that things have rarely been peaceful there. Must be something in the water?

    And I agree, that act of haste with Harold dashing north, then dashing south again pushing huge daily mileage for the troops – and then expecting them to fight a rested army – seems foolish. Sunz Tzu did suggest not to wear the troops out on stupid stuff. Many of our leaders these days would do well to heed that warning. I’ve encountered many a person of higher social standing who appear to have become very good at asking for stuff, real leadership is more balanced than that simplistic approach. Incidentally, I have also noticed that grifters are very good at asking for stuff. Hmm.

    Hehe! Argh… Musicals, can’t live with ’em! 🙂 But yeah, that possibility makes an awful lot of sense and it would indeed be ironic.

    As to accents, people can always give it the good Aussie go. 🙂 There was a final and poignant scene in the film Point Break where presumably an American actor was reproducing an Aussie accent and it was just passable. Interestingly, the scene was meant to be Bells Beach which is to the south west of here, and yet there were pine trees in the background. It may have been Bells Beach, but I didn’t notice any pine trees when last I was there. And occasionally they do get some ripper storms in Bass Strait (the narrow and shallow channel between the mainland and the island state of Tasmania). Here you go, how’s a 15.5m wave for you? Victoria coastline faces giant waves, dangerous surf as Bells Beach hit by big swells. Fortunately it rarely happens, otherwise there wouldn’t be a coastline.

    Mate, I’m not sure that my understanding of US accents would be able to identify anyone’s origins. Sorry…

    Top work with the purple chair repairs. And there is a school of thought which suggests that such things probably shouldn’t happen in the first place, but life is kind of random on that front and I suspect quality checks in some manufacturing processes, ain’t what they used to be. A chair is one thing, but you’d hope such issues aren’t a problem with more complicated manufacturing such as err, aircraft. Ook! That would be a bad thing.

    Much safer to walk Avalanche in such conditions. I also approve of the electric mower. Although, do you guys have an earth cable in your mains electric connectors, or is it just two pin connectors for the Neutral and Active cables?

    Ah, yes we too have set a Do Not Disturb mode program on the phone, but the alarm disables it. Just a friendly suggestion. 🙂 And that function and the call block function are the only thing I like about the phone, the rest I don’t much care for. Hope everything is OK?

    Very wise to swear in another language, and the kids will wonder what they’re missing out on. 🙂 I am under strict instructions on threat of a painful arm pinch from the Editor not to swear at kids. I can only but do my best. Hehe! Pah, kids probably know more swear words than I do, but extending their vocabulary to include Welsh swear words is an act of inspired genius.

    Got the other half of the roof on the greenhouse today. Yay! It was so cold though, by the time the job was finished it was only 5’C. Brr!



  34. Hi Pam,

    Isn’t he naughty with that name? 🙂 I heard the name used many years ago in a Clint Eastwood film, thus also coincidentally proving the author has good viewing taste. The specific definition incidentally is: a disastrously mishandled situation or undertaking. Doesn’t that seem somehow appropriate?

    Yes, the previous two essays have been very good indeed. I always read Mr Kunstler’s blog on Tuesday and Saturday mornings over breakfast (it’s the only meal of the day I consume with a screen anywhere near me – and we’re in the future down here). Sometimes I don’t really understand the political shenanigans, but I enjoy the colourful use of language, and some of the sentiments expressed are outright funny. Although I can see that some folks would be triggered by such words.

    Got the other half of the roof on the greenhouse up this morning. The steel flashings for the ridge capping and roof end edges were picked up this morning, the weather wasn’t too awful, and so why not?



  35. Hi Lewis,

    Ah mate, some blood feuds stay strong over many millennia, and from what I heard, Secundinus deserved the epitaph. The sensitive and refined soul would suggest that the bloke was a right sh%t. 🙂 Thanks for the laughs, and it is good to see such depth of feelings from out of the Ancient Roman ruins.

    It’s the ‘a bit worse for wear’ aspect that doesn’t fill me with confidence at such an unexpected turn of events. Anyway, no good comes from any temporal anomaly. And what if the Daleks got me with their toilet roll guns? Despite their basic visual appearance, the things seem to be effective. Nope, I’d have to politely decline their generous travel offer on the basis that nothing comes for free.

    Speaking of projects, we were able to pick up the steel ridge capping and roof end edging for the greenhouse today. And just as we were about to head off, the tree dudes turned up. I gave them a bit of stirring about not wanting to work yesterday, it being 34’F windy with drizzle. 🙂 They ignored me and instead looked mildly sheepish and got to work. We left them working and picked up the steel, and by the time we got back, they’d done an enormous amount of work and were packing up. So we put up the other half of the polycarbonate roof sheets and the steel flashings. It’s looking slick. But tomorrow, I’ll have to clean up the work the tree dudes did. I’ve been getting them to help me clean up the mess the loggers left. Best to do that work before a big fire comes along and does so.

    Thanks for the bird article, and I imagine the birds would have had a good time of it once the plants and atmosphere recovered. No wonder the species branched out. Hey, did you know about this: Earth’s oldest asteroid impact ‘may have ended ice age’. Wouldn’t have wanted to be there that day either.

    Yeah, that was my thinking too about the word caravan, and somehow my mind has long associated it with the Middle East. So did you enjoy the film Lawrence of Arabia?

    Really? Well I beg to differ on that score. Hopefully the cold weather sends them packing back to Melbourne.

    I reckon the powers that be will most definitely do something about your gas prices closer to the mid term elections, but as a hint, it wasn’t a bet that paid dividends for the former government down here. The new federal government has a majority of just one seat, so I’d imagine they’d be hoping that nothing goes wrong. But yeah, all those lot seem to be enjoying spinning the presses, and honestly I’m not sure that the population cares all that much. I believe it to be a problem, but turns out we’re in the minority with our opinions in this matter.

    Thanks for the update on Elinor, and fingers crossed.

    Hey, that’s so true. When I was a kid, dogs were real dogs and they just kind of were. You’d hear about specific breeds, but there wasn’t the sort of crazy mad cash paid for things like French Bulldogs. And yeah, some species of dogs have serious health issues built into the breed. There is one breed which is quite popular, but at one point in time there were only six dogs of that breed and all others today were bred from them. I like the pleasant natures of those dogs, but they’re not the brightest. And I’d hate to imagine the inbreeding that might go on at puppy farms. Those places aren’t as common as they once were down here, and there have been serious attempts to run them out of town or regulate them. I’ve been unfussy about the dogs which come into my life – and right now, they’re all working dogs – and they all bring different aspects to the table.

    Really? Interesting about the Chamomile plants. They’d probably look good and grow well in the mix of plants in the paddocks. Hmm. Ah, so you get the seeds in with the dried Chamomile mixture?

    Everyone gets worked up about bees, but they’re not the only pollinating game in town. Mind you, European honey bees in my experience are some of the earliest pollinators and can pollinate almond trees when there are few other insects around. If the seasons were flipped upside down, the bees would have been flying around here for many months already. They just might not have discovered your garden.

    I might pick up a batch of new strawberry plants, or do you reckon relocating some runners might work? Dunno.

    Thanks for mentioning the peasants revolt, and I can see how the clueless aristocracy were squeezing taxes to pay for the hundred years war over in France. You would think that about a quarter of that time, they’d give up their ambitions, but no. But also, the local forces were overseas and the local garrisons had been perhaps unwisely emptied. I noted that a standing army was reintroduced at that time in history, and those things are awfully expensive.

    Went to the local pub for a dinner and pint this evening, and it was very pleasant after a cold days work outside on the greenhouse.



  36. Hi Jo,

    Dunno, but it is a mystery and I’ll add a higher resolution photo on the next blog, and hopefully the mystery is soon resolved? It could be some really obscure crab apple rootstock like Malus baccata from really cold areas, and it’s just not cold enough here. Dunno. Often rootstock information is not provided with fruit trees – citrus being the exception. Sometimes the trees are described as dwarfing, or semi-dwarfing rootstock, and it’s not entirely clear how the tree will grow. And with wallabies around, small is not always a wise strategy. I’ll bet Paul has met a few of those bouncy lovely creatures – they’re right little vandals but they do get to enjoy time in the orchards and gardens and I’m sure they have their reasons for acting so. I suspect they try to keep the understory open.

    For your interest, the very cold tolerant Snow Pear here is often the last deciduous tree to loose it’s leaves and the first to regrow them, so who knows what is going on?

    To be honest, with this particular tree I was unsure which plant was rootstock and which was the grafted section. Usually it is very obvious, but not with this particular tree, and before I begin lopping sections of fruit trees, I’d prefer to know what I’m actually doing, which is not always the case – there are after all a wide diversity of fruit trees and each has its own story and requirements.



  37. Chris:

    Why not, indeed? Another job well done.

    I always wondered if Mr. K invented the word.


  38. Yo, Chris – As with DJ’s chair, sometimes the retail stars align. I got a call that my 25 pounds of unbleached Bob’s Red Mill, all purpose flour, was in. Unlike the nursery, and rhubarb, they actually followed through. If I had bought 5 bags @ 5 pounds each, it would have cost me $55. I got the 25 pound bag for $26.99.

    I always thought the Dalek’s blasters were repurposed toilet plungers. “Plumber’s Helpers,” as they are sometimes called. Maybe there was an upgrade? Might explain why their magazines hold 42 rounds. 🙂

    You shouldn’t tease the Tree Dudes. Cast aspersions on their masculinity, and all. Their memories are long …

    That was an interesting article on the impact crater. I had to laugh at bit on the “…corresponds pretty precisely..” Give or take a couple of million years. Looking at the maps, I didn’t realize there are also geophysical anomalies. Maybe Star Trek should take notice. Mix it up a bit, with all those temporal anomalies. 🙂

    I never watched “Lawrence of Arabia.” Didn’t speak to me. Maybe all the hype put me off? There was also another archaeologist / spy, around that time. Gertrude Bell …

    I saw Elinor’s daughter, yesterday. She’s doing well, and may be out of the hospital by week’s end. But then it will be off to rehab. Probably. And then? Depends on mobility. I told her daughter that if worst comes to worst, and she doesn’t come back, to maybe play a bit close to the chest. Our Administration discovers a tenant is vacating, they only allow 10 days to clean out an apartment. And to stay off social media. Some of the Inmates here, monitor those things like hawks. No offense to hawks.

    Yes, some States have come down hard on puppy mills. Oddly, some of the worst offenders were among the Amish. My friends in Idaho breed puppies, for awhile. Litters well spaced apart and raised in a home environment. Not stuck in a cage in a barn or shed. She had a litter pretty much ready to go, when the bottom fell out of the economy in 2008. Where she used to have waiting lists, she had trouble placing the pups in good homes. And, had to offer quit a price discount. 2/3s, I think. That was the last time they raised pups.

    Great. I saw a flea, last night. A first. Time to break out the bowl of detergent water and flashlight. Worked a treat, when I had the cat.

    Just remember Camomile can be a bit invasive. But, it pulls up easily enough.

    I became aware of the many varieties of pollinators, the last place I lived. On the fennel. There were as many as 5+ different pollinators, on one blossom. Most, very small. Same thing happens with the Camomile, in a good year.

    Strawberry runners replant, pretty easy. I just cut the umbilical cord, lift them out with a bit of dirt (because they’ve usually put down a few roots) and move them where ever I want them to go. I’ve been mixing in a bit of composted chicken manure, wherever I place them.

    As an example of the search for justice, before and after the plague, the Professor looked at Robin Hood. Before the plague, the story of Robin Hood was out there, but not widespread. A few pub ditties. But after the plague, his story really took off. Illustrated manuscripts, and such. Translation into foreign languages. The tale of a search for justice, really kicked off.

    Duck! I started reading a novel, last night. A cli-fi. “Though the Earth Gives Way” (Mark S. Johnson, 2021). Due to several storms, the sea starts claiming huge tracts of land, on our east coast. Millions of refugees are set in motion, bringing about the collapse of society. Seven very different people wash up in an old out-of-the-way summer camp / retreat center, in upstate Michigan. After they’ve settled in a bit, they decide that each one will tell a tale, around the campfire, at night. But they can’t be tales of what has just happened to them. They must be tales from before. It’s a good read. Last night, I had a hard time putting it down. Some of the reviews compare it to Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales.”

    Which is the second time Chaucer has entered my life, in a week. The professor that did the “After the Plague” lectures, used Chaucer as the framework, for his lectures. Chaucer was born just a few years before the plague. And in a stroke of luck, his family had just moved out to the coast, from London. His immediate family survived, but several relatives in London, died. Whose properties came to Chaucer’s family. It really gave them an economic leg up.
    And entry into the pan-European court system.

    The professor makes the observation that after the plague, it really wasn’t remarked on that much, in literature. Chaucer only mentions it, obliquely, in his tales. The same thing happened with Boccaccio’s “Decameron.” And our own 1918 flu pandemic. There were probably several reasons for this. People didn’t want to think about it. And, it was everyone’s common experience, so it was just an unstated given. Interesting, no? Lew

  39. Hello Chris
    Have just received yet another welcoming letter from the dreadful electricity company to which I have been moved. It is full of there care and concern. Even informs me that they are going to plant a tree in my name each year! I am trying not to upchuck.

    I always plant new strawberry plants from my runners and they are absolutely fine.


  40. Chris,

    Hmmmm, good point about the British Isles. Seldom were they in a state of internal peace back in the day when I was young, men were real men, and real Dalek toilet guns held 42 rounds. Maybe it IS the water.

    Yes, I have noticed that there is little or no difference between grifters, high level supervisors, CEOS of large companies and politicians. And if I say anything more, Big Brother will give me another “re-education session”. 😉

    Those of us from the Pacific Northwest have been accused by people from New York City and Boston of speaking very slowly and blandly. On the other hand, people from Boston and New York have been accused by northwesterners of talking as if they were on drugs with their mouths full of marbles. That’s a hand wave version of United States accents. I’m sure I’ve not included several.

    Yes, we have a solid ground connection with the electric wiring. Important thing to have.

    Oh, the message from cousin…Another cousin’s daughter just died. Traditionally, the services should be Friday. However, that location has had enough deaths recently (no explanation why) that the funeral home is busy. So the services will be next week. It initially looked as if the Princess would miss this weekend’s “Carving in the rain” event. It turns out she will be at the event. Oh, and the cousin lives in Poplar, Montana on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. That is so far east it’s almost in North Dakota. 12 hour drive from here.

    Glad you’re getting the greenhouse roofing completed. Important stuff, that is. 5C is chilly to be doing that kind of work.


  41. Hi Inge,

    🙂 Please don’t waste a perfectly good meal on such nonsense. Nature is very random, within ecological patterns, and tree planting always has a very artificial look to it to my eyes. It is possible that there is a natural forest in a perfect grid formation, but far out, I’ve never encountered such a thing. But tree plantations which may get harvested in the future, well those sure do look like they’re planted out in nice and neat grid formation. You may have just contributed to such a thing. 😉 And I do hope that you had not just consumed a tasty freshly baked scone with raspberry jam and cream – now upchucking that would a true waste. But hey, at least they care. Out of curiosity, did the letter said what or whom do they care about? It might not be you, you know!

    Thanks for the advice in relation to strawberries, and I shall follow this. I can do better with those berries and this season will attempt to do so.

    Worked in the forest all day long today cleaning up and am very tired this evening.



  42. Hi Pam,

    At this time of the year I have to work around the weather. And the winter weather can be filthy – even the tree dudes baulked at working on Wednesday morning in the windy, drizzly 34’F weather. Too windy for snow, but it sure was unpleasant out there. And they turned up on Thursday, and we spent all day long today right up until dark cleaning up. It’s looking good, but me tired in every bone and joint. Had a nice burn off, and Plum is turning out to be favourite dog. I’d sit down today for a brief rest and she’d jump onto my lap for a pat – can’t get friendlier than that. And she hung around whilst we worked. Some dogs don’t do that and take themselves off a wandering.

    He’s alright, Mr Kunstler.



  43. Hi Lewis,

    I agree interesting times in the old apocryphal curse meaning of those words. Less energy is not that hard to navigate, but I don’t think people want to live on the sort of energy budget I’m used to. And it took a very long time to learn to live this way – and even then you may notice that we’re re-doing big chunks of infrastructure.

    Maybe, I’ve had seventeen or eighteen years now to come to terms with all of this energy drama going on right now. I’d heard about the risks in 2004 and then read up about it all, and understood that conventional oil supplies peaked by 2005. And by 2008 we were ready to rumble and move out of the city. Nobody else seemed all that concerned to me, and it is not as if the stories weren’t there for everyone to see for themselves. I didn’t pick the fracking exercise and financing which fuelled the last decade, but then who did? The chips will fall where they will, but I think fuel and energy will be around for a long time to come, the core becomes though: Can people afford the stuff? And then what? I dunno.

    Good stuff with the flour, and I too received a bulk supply of the stuff yesterday. Because everything goes to the local post office (I’m seriously in a postal black hole – who knew that was a possibility?) so I have to be careful about the amounts I order in case it weighs too much and the staff end up hating me. It is a social risk. And the organic oats are like that story in that I now get four 9lb bags, instead of one 44lb larger bag but for the same cost.

    Your flour is pretty cheap. A slightly smaller 22 pound bag costs me $38. It’s good stuff though, but yours is also good stuff.

    Hey, I finished reading the collection of Jack London’s compendium of assorted stories, and Call of the Wild, was an outstanding story. A truly great take on the narrative of the hero’s journey and the narrative pace and exploration of some of the darker sides to humanity was well told. Some of the other stories in the book highlight the foolishness of some folks in a harsh and unforgiving environment, and examples of hubris is always a warning that something bad will happen to one or more of the characters.

    Sorry, you are quite correct. It was not toilet paper rolls, it was plungers. 🙂 Slipped my mind.

    I mentioned the tree dudes turned up yesterday to do some work. Well, I probably brought this on myself with all of the friendly ribbing, but they must have felt bad because they worked super hard. And we spent all day today right up until the light disappeared, cleaning up and putting their work to rights. Me exhausted tonight, and I feel weary in every bone and joint and will probably sleep soundly tonight.

    That’s funny about the anomalies. 🙂 And you’d imagine that there would have been a little bit of error over a 2.2bn year dating process?

    I do believe that ol’ Lawrence was jealous of Gertrude Bell. Some folks are put on the Earth to make the rest of us look bad, or try harder, and Gertrude was one such person. The link was not available for people down under, but much has been written.

    You know, a whole bunch of people ended up in serious trouble due to stupid things said, or worse, shown on social media during the lock downs. In Top Gun speak such hits would perhaps be spoken of as follows: “I saw my shot and I took it.” People aren’t all that wise to the public domain in which we exist. Fortunately I keep one eye out for such things, but am only human and will mess up sooner or later.

    Thanks for the puppy breeding story from your mates. Yes, that would not have been a good time for them, and any agricultural business pursuit is a fraught and uncertain endeavour.

    That’s really interesting that the Amish would possibly have such a problem in their midst. It suggests something darker for it to be cultural thing.

    Fleas are weird things, and I haven’t had a dog with fleas for at least two decades. And it’s not like I treat them for fleas. Dunno why, but it’s been consistent city and/or country. Up here they do tend to occasionally pick up ticks, but that’s an occupation hazard of this part of the world. As far as I’m aware, no diseases are linked to ticks in this corner of the continent – elsewhere it can be a problem.

    Hey, with your fennel, did you ever consume the, err what is it called, perhaps the bulb? I usually consume the tasty leaves which have an aniseed flavour. Quite nice, but in drier locations the taste has been not as good. And yeah, there are other pollinators. European honey bees are spoken about because we can raid their winter colony feed stores – A.K.A. honey.

    Thanks for the strawberry tips and I’ll do both. The greenhouse is probably another week or two from completion. Then the fun begins and we plant it out. Probably going to stop doing project work in July as it is a good time to clean up the surrounding forest, it being winter and all.

    My understanding of ‘after the plague’ was that resources available per capita increased markedly due to the reduced population. So I’m guessing that opportunities for social and employment progression appeared due to a shortage of people, and yeah, education. Before the plague I’m guessing that society was very rigid and locked in place, and life was probably quite difficult. Are those guesses accurate?

    The book does read a bit like Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” with a touch of dystopian background for good measure. The gentle art of recounting a story is getting rather lost these days, although perhaps the skill was not widely disseminated in the first place? Most certainly I keep an ear open for story ideas, and other people recounting stories, and it is fascinating how much our species thinks and acts in terms of stories. One of the unusual side effects of writing this blog every week is that I sometimes find myself now explaining complicated subject matter to other people in terms of narrative. It’s had a rather soothing effect on my relationships with other people.

    Chaucer certainly had a lucky break with that move, and the inheritance. The flipside of crisis is often opportunity. Some people can run with that, some have meltdowns, and yet others are unable to grasp what is given to them.

    It is interesting isn’t it? And the comparison to today does not look all that good to me.



  44. Hi DJ,

    So true, and I bet the Cybermen have 42 rounds also to spit from their foreheads. 🙂 When I was a kid the Daleks and Cybermen used to give me nightmares, although deep down, you knew the Doctor was on the scene and the natty scarf and robot dog were going to outwit their evilness.

    Yeah, let’s not go there. 🙂 At the level I work at, most of the business people are pretty genuine and survive through hard work and quick wits. Hey, I used the quick maths joke on the Editor today. The answer was not correct, but it was quick! Good jokes can and should get recycled.

    I defer to your greater expertise in this area of accent comparisons. Incidentally, when conversing with other people, I do tend to pitch the accent and words to what I believe they’ll be comfortable with. Occasionally if things need a little bit of excitement I’ll drop in an F-bomb, but otherwise am a very polite person. It is possible that my general polite demeanour does annoy some people and yet others view it as a weakness, and I get that, but some standards must be maintained and so I drew that line in the sand. It costs me little to be polite anyway and mostly it is remembered. As a personal strategy I’m interested in my local, how did they used to call it in the old days, reputation? It is after all a very rural area here and turnover of the population is not that high.

    Ah, of course, yes electrical faults are best if they run to ground – and not via yours or your lady’s good selves. That would be a bad thing.

    Sorry to hear that and you have my sympathies, and I have heard that it is particularly hard upon a parent to bury their child.

    Good luck with the carving in the rain event – sounds fun. The rain looks set to return here in a few hours. Yay for us… Montana and North Dakota look like fascinating places to me, and I hope the reservation is doing OK.

    Thanks. Another week or two (weather depending) will get the greenhouse completed. The wind has really picked up outside and I can hear it blowing through the tall trees. Worked in the forest all day long today right up until dark. It was good for the Editor to be out in the forest today too. Hard work though, but at least this time we had a bonfire so I feel pretty warm tonight, despite it being cold.



  45. Hi Chris,

    I just finished an article from the Washington Post that Yahoo had on their feed about the electrical grid in the Midwest not being quite up to keeping everyone in as much power as they want this summer in case of extended heat waves. Why? Some of the coal plants are shutting down because state and federal guidelines are to reduce coal use as part of the great green transition so many people claim to want. Might be an “interesting” summer.

    Meanwhile, I am picking full sized heads of lettuce and waiting for bean plants to show above ground from the bean seeds I planted a few days ago. At least the garden runs on solar power!


  46. Yo, Chris – This and that. Here and there. When I took H for her walk, this morning, there was a young deer coming out of the forest. To me, it looked a bit underfed. I ran it back. Of course, not a peep out of H to underline the lack of welcome. We haven’t had deer problems, in the last two years. Seen them, but no problems. I suppose I should think about putting up fencing. But it’s such a pain. But if I don’t there may be tears.

    Then I picked another round of chamomile, and made up my next three days oatmeal. The weather the past few days, has been muggy. Overcast, no rain. But high humidity. But, today, you can tell the rain is coming back. The air is freshening.

    I’ve heard it said that the Pacific Northwest is the most accentless part of the country. I think what that means is that there’s no obvious verbal clues. No southern “Ya alls” or New England “Ayhus” Here’s a short film version of New England accents. WARNING! Bad language, ahead. Less than two minutes.

    The North Sea oil, the Alaskan oil, fracking … it just postpones the inevitable. Just about everything hinges on oil. Something most people haven’t woken up to. Or, choose to ignore.

    Yes, you don’t want to alienate the posties. 🙂 . I was talking to ours, Jake, this morning. Retrieving Elinor’s mail. He and his wife are quit the hikers. And gardeners. This last weekend, they did a beach hike, out on our Olympic Peninsula. They happened upon three gray whales, that had beached themselves. They also passed through the town of Forks. Didn’t see any vampires. 🙂

    I think in some ways, London’s books were cautionary tales. Everyone was so rabid to get to the gold fields, around that time. I think a lot of them read London, and thought, “Well, it will be different for me.” I remember some vague story, about a bachelor great uncle, who died aboard a ship, bound for the Yukon.

    LOL. Sounds like the Tree Dudes got you back. Oh, well. All that fresh air and exercise, I’m sure you slept well.

    There was a film bio about Gertrude Bell, done back in 2015. “Queen of the Desert.” I haven’t seen it.

    People have tended to romanticize the Amish. I read a true crime book, a number of years ago. About an Amish guy who killed his wife (housefire), and then hit the road with his son. Who he killed along the way. Then he became a serial killer, who mostly preyed on elderly gay men. For a look at the more serious side of the Amish, see the film “Witness” (1985). For a lighter view, see “For Richer or Poorer” (1997). There have been a few “reality” TV series, on the Amish. Not that I watch those.

    I’m taking a “watch and see” approach, to possible fleas. The one I saw had crawled out of a library book. Might have been a one off. I’m checking her tummy, but so far, nothing crawling about.

    I’ve never eaten Fennel bulbs. But I have used the seeds, in baking. A nice licorice flavor. Someone planted some Fennel, a few years ago. Now it pops up, here and there. I’ve got one coming up in the middle of my Elephant Garlic.

    After the plague, the actual number of serfs had fallen to pretty low numbers. But I think the memory was still fresh. But I think it was the legal system, that really set people off. It was pretty corrupt. Yes, I’d say your guesses are correct. Also, people’s concept of religion, changed. Rather than being dictated to, they sought a more … personal and direct contact with a supreme being. It was the seeds of the Reformation. It was about that time the bible became available in an English translation. People could read if for themselves, and draw their own conclusions. There was a class conflict, too. The Powers That Be thought the merchant class were “getting above their station.” It became harder and harder to look at someone, or listen to them, and figure out where they fit in the scheme of things. Sumptuary laws, were enacted. What you could, or could not, wear.

    I finished the cli-fi novel, last night. I can’t say it had a happy ending, but maybe one that was slightly hopeful. Maybe. Lew

  47. Hi Claire,

    I don’t know what to say about that story, but the same thing is going on down here too. A few months ago, the media announced with great fanfare that the largest coal fired power station in the country was going to be shut down early. Everyone seemed excited, some pundits suggested that it didn’t matter. I dunno, they seem to know more than I do. Exit of coal-fired power station Eraring ‘unlikely’ to hit prices, but grid stability’s a concern.

    Humour me for a second. The closure will take 3,000MW of supply capacity out of the grid. The huge machine can provide that output presumably 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. Now if you read the article it says that “A 700MW battery to be built at the site” with another one of similar size not too far away. OK, that sounds great, until you compare 1,400MW of battery capacity, and that is generally meant to describe what the things can provide over an hour (but usually cannot physically work that way – batteries are not fuel tanks, they work more like a balloon and the supply pressure reduces as the battery empties) and then the thing is empty and has to be refilled – somehow. So, that’s less than half capacity, and possibly covers only an hour. So what’s going to happen for the other 23 hours? Beats me.

    Those huge machines have only a limited economic lifespan anyway, and as they age, the maintenance costs go up, and eventually the companies probably can’t make enough profit to keep them going – they’re not charities.

    My best guess at this stage is that the population will have to learn the hard way as there are too many competing ideologies. And it can take many years to construct replacement large scale fossil fuel generators, and I reckon that will happen. Failure it should be noted, is always an option.

    On the other hand, I have remarked to you before that people settled your area in the past and didn’t enjoy mechanical heating and cooling, so how did they do that? That’s really your challenge. And hey, the area I live enjoys temperatures ranging from -2’C to 45’C and I’m doing my best to work out that story as I go. And humidity here can be pretty brutal too, and some summer over night temperatures have reached 29’C in recent years. I dunno.

    The whole thing is ideologically driven, and utter failure is a good way to dump abstract ideologies, but the pain could have been avoided…

    And yes, I do also believe that we live in interesting times.

    Gardens are lovely. 🙂 Yum! Beans and peas are such givers, so good, and so tasty.



  48. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, underfed deer are probably under pressure. Of course such a critter could provide a good feed for H, but yeah, fencing is easier. The deer have access to the orchards and paddocks here, but then so do the wombats, wallabies and kangaroo’s, not to mention all of the bird-life. It’s complicated to accommodate those critters needs, and you may recall my pogrom on the rats. I’ve just had enough with them in particular because they took things too far. Interestingly, I’ve saved about a third of the chicken grain feed by taking the war to the rats. But deer could become such an issue at some point in the future, and well, much depends upon circumstances. There is no season on deer here in this state as they are considered pest species. But underfed deer suggests to me an environment with a side serving of stress.

    Fencing is a complicated matter, and yeah, I dunno, but we have fenced some growing areas, such as vegetables because they are too tasty for the forest critters. There’s plenty of other stuff for them to eat, but I guess just like us they can be picky. Good luck, and keep an eye on the underfed deer. And I agree, fencing is a pain and is also subject to occasional unexpected failure.

    Out of curiosity, what exactly do you mean by the description ‘oatmeal’? I bake batches of toasted muesli (rolled oats, pepitas, peanuts and honey) every couple of days. It’s good stuff.

    Did the rain return? It rained here most of the day, and by late afternoon the Editor and I used the cover of the greenhouse to repair two garden benches and a garden table. One of the repaired garden benches may end up in the greenhouse. It would be a lovely place to sit and read during the in-between seasons of spring and autumn. In fact it was nice working in there today despite the wind, rain and 46’F air temperature. We might readjust the garden bed design to accommodate a garden bench.

    Hehe! Yes, you have mentioned the lack of accents from your part of the world, and from an outsiders perspective I agree. Although truth to tell I can understand most US accents and few seem strange to my ears. Incidentally a southern “Ya alls” would be interpreted as a “Youse” in some parts of this country. That was pretty funny about the New England accents. Enunciation, it can be a problem, yeah! 🙂 A very good example of an Australian accent being pronounced with excellent enunciation is here: Dr Michael Burry analyzes Subprime MBSs (Feat. Margot Robbie). Margot Robbie has a lovely voice and the scene is both informative and amusing.

    Mate, you’re so right. Years ago you blew my mind when I was banging on about fossil fuels something or other, and you said a similar thing – it’ll buy us a couple of extra days, so what? That’s cool. And I’ve had time to cogitate upon your words, and what do they say, poop happens. A sane society could have used the bonanza carefully over millennia, but nope, we chose different like.

    Exactly, you understand my dilemma with the posties. And fortunately, I’m a gentleman and do my utmost not to annoy them. Not everyone takes that approach, and I recall last year when they unfortunately became a tier one site due to you know what, and had to close for a few days whilst they did a deep clean. I checked their social media and all the messages were lovely and full of concern and support. And then there was one, I forget who, and the person left a message along the lines of: How am I supposed to get my mail? Yeah, some folks can’t read the room.

    Whales do that, and most certainly sharks are moving closer the shores in search of a feed. The big water be dangerous look at Captain Ahab and the effect it had on him. Sparkly vampires sound a bit underwhelming to me, but I do hope that Jake and his lady were rained upon – that would quench the fires of those bitey, sparkly folks. 🙂 Hey, the Editor is rather enjoying Bram Stoker’s book Dracula.

    I can see that about Jack London’s stories being cautionary tales. On the other hand it has been my experience that many folks can’t or won’t take good advice. And you’re right, I suspect that thought is at the basis of it all and hubris does lead to nemesis. Shame ’bout that. The winters here are cold and you can certainly die of hypothermia, but compared to that far northern part of your continent, it’s the tropics. Minus seventy sounds horrendous.

    Hehe! Yeah, note to self – don’t stir the tree dudes. Mate I was done yesterday evening and fell into the deep sleep of exhaustion. Had a nap this afternoon too, and today was very relaxed compared to yesterday, but then it has rained most of the day. The epic burn off was put out by the rain, otherwise I would have continued to feed it.

    I saw a reference to that film about Gertrude Bell. So many things to see, so little time.

    Possibly the Amish are more organised and self sustaining than other sections of the community and this perhaps gives them their X factor. But I don’t see why they wouldn’t be the same as everyone else in terms of character flaws and personalities so that story makes sense. Thanks for mentioning both films. Witness seemed intense and fraught with trouble. And For Richer or Poorer, also seemed intense and fraught with trouble. I’m detecting a pattern here. 🙂 The second film seemed pretty funny though and Kirstie Alley is a good comedic actor. I did like the line from the trailer: ‘It’s like Children of the Corn’, indeed!

    Dogs, who knows where they pick these things up from? A mystery.

    I’ve had a fennel salad, and it was OK, but the flavour was not subtle. I can see that the seeds would be better, or a leaf frond here or there. It is one of those plants that just gets its own momentum, isn’t it.

    There are certainly some parallels with the events today in relation to corruption. I guess that’s the thing, we swing from one side of the pendulum all the way to the other side, and it happens so slowly and imperceptibly that nobody really notices until things have gone too far. But then events intervene and conditions change and the corruption can no longer be afforded. But when that happens is anyone’s best guess. The lack of warm bodies after that plague would have caused an awful lot of social change because power was redistributed probably to people who could get things done.

    Sumptuary laws are fascinating attempts to hang onto a losing proposition in the face of rising wealth? Didn’t the Samurai class reserve the right to wear Katana’s and other weapons such as the Naginata? Wasn’t failure to adhere to such edicts a very unpleasant experience? Ultimately the edicts fail. I believe genuine acceptance of limits has to come from some sort of cultural or religious taboo and it has to be widely accepted and more or less equitably applied. But I’m no expert in such matters. It is at the heart of this week’s blog essay though.



  49. Yo, Chris – The deer also might have been diseased. There’s a lot of nasty stuff, working it’s way through our deer and elk herds. You’ve got a lot of bounty, to share. Me, not so much. If the deer eats my 12 turnips, it’s no turnips for Lew! 🙂 I poured a gallon of self produced nitrogen fertilizer, around the garden, last night. Might help keep the deer away. Maybe.

    Oatmeal. I take my 2 1/2 quart pyrex bowl, dice up two apples, and fill one half. In the other half, I lay down a layer of dried cranberries. I top that up with frozen blueberries. I sprinkle 2 cups of rolled oats, on the top. A drizzle of olive oil, and 2 cups of water. I nuke it for 14 minutes. When it’s cool enough (takes forever to cool), I pop it in a plastic bag, and put it in the fridge. Just about every day, I lop off 1/3, nuke for 2 minutes. Sprinkle with cinnamon, slice up a banana, and drench in almond milk. Somehow, I never get tired of it.

    We’ve been having rain and showers. This will continue, til Tuesday, when we’ll have one nice day. Then it’s back to the rain, again. Something is still eating my zucchini, as it sprouts. All I can see are the rolly pollies. I keep applying diatominous earth, between showers.

    It will be lovely, to have a reading nook, in your greenhouse.

    Here, you hear “youse” in the same general area that you hear “dese, dem, dose.” Mostly, in gangster movies from the 1930s. The Dorsey Brothers recorded an instrumental number, by that title, in 1935.

    At first I couldn’t figure out why you were linking to a clip from “The Big Short.” Ah, the lady in the bubble bath. To my ear, really not much of an accent, at all. Would make a great TV presenter, or news reader. Speaking of Australian accents, last night I watched “Hearts Down Under.” I didn’t realize it was a Hallmark film (Oh, mush.) But, it had to do with the restaurant biz, so, I found it interesting. It was filmed, by the way, mostly around Brisbane. A suburb called Hendron. The restaurant, in real life, was called Hamptons’. According to the Font of Wisdom, now closed. But fans could drop by and take a selfie, in front. 🙂

    In general, I try and make other people’s lives, easier. It’s just how I roll. But I do pick and choose.

    Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” is a classic. Sure were a lot of spin-offs … 🙂

    Awww, the Amish are like any other group of people. Good and bad. If one is willing to go along with the program, it’s probably a pretty good life.

    It’s becoming pretty obvious (and noticed) that we have two systems of law, here. One for the rich, and one for the poor. This will contribute to the eventual unraveling of everything.

    In a way, we still have sumptuary laws. But it’s more custom, than law. I’m gob smacked that some people can spot a fake luxury handbag or watch, at 30 paces. Or that people care about such things.

    I hit the jackpot, at the library, yesterday. 7 DVDs and a book. Our library has reduced it’s hours, slightly. They say due to staffing problems. Well, maybe if they didn’t take two months to fill a position… Lew

  50. Gday Mate,

    Saw you over at JMG.

    We are similarly placed to you, being of the ‘young old’ variety, soon to be of the old – and also offgridders.

    I always thought being offgrid would give you more redundancy, yet I now wonder.

    Think of vital components for solar, supply chains, gravel on roads, fuel, when the fire season returns again, when bodies/things break, etc.

    And then there are the multitude of unknowns.

    Do you respond to this now or in 20 years? Any thoughts, suggestions, path forward?

  51. Hi Glenn,

    Welcome to the discussion.

    🙂 It’s a funny thing to have lived through the experience of being the Johnny-come-lately newcomers, to being some of the longer term residents up here. It’s quiet.

    I’m not sure what you mean by the word redundancy in that context. Can you please explain the concept further? Certainly off-grid provides more resiliency in the more remote rural areas and the mains power was out here last year (around this time) for about five days. It was much worse over in the Dandenong Ranges. We didn’t really notice the loss of mains power – at first.

    The solar power system here – which I wired (the extra low voltage components at least) – comprises about four different arrays, so the failure in any one array does not take down the entire system. I’ve been modifying the system so as to work better in the conditions for the past thirteen years and unlike most solar power systems, it uses a lot of very hardy, basic and locally made components.

    I’m honestly not sure about fuel, but I believe that as the supply dwindles, it will be rationed by price, but I expect availability to continue for many years to come. Can any of us afford it, mate, who knows? But I expect to find out. For many of the activities here I can step down to electricity, and then hand tools. If it was good enough for our forebears…

    Both my lady and I were volunteer firefighters for a few years, and we absorbed much knowledge and experience during that time. The house – which we built – is constructed to withstand direct flame contact for at least 30 minutes under the Bushfire building standards. Truly, I am wondering about the insurance industry and how many body blows it can take, and whether they dump us due to risk – but again, I don’t know. We have bushfire systems ready to go at a moments notice – seriously, and the things get tested and repaired if needed, and they’re simple systems. Plus the Indigenous First Nations folks and historians have begun writing about the subject of fire, if you’re concerned, then there are books. And it is unwise to assume that everyone sits around passively waiting for a disaster. Not everyone takes that path.

    Any suggestions? Well, I can’t say what is right for you. This blog is about our response, and maybe you could profit from hanging out here, but I dunno your mettle or skills. But I do know that you have to walk in both worlds: The world of now, and that demands which it places upon you and yours, and that of the future. The future my friend, is an unknown country, but we get hints and hunches as to where it is headed. 🙂



  52. Hi Lewis,

    Oh yeah, sorry I forget that story about the deer as it has not entered the country – as far as I’m aware. But yes, it could be a problem, and you would not want to be exposed to such diseases. Man, that’s true about the bounty down here too. The rats… Let’s assume that originally there was a population of about 20 rats near to the chicken enclosure. If each day during the growing/ripening season, each of those rats ate 1 chunk of fruit, then that works out to be about 600 pieces of fruit. And my gut feeling suggests that they took far more than that – especially the European and Asian pears which are located close to the chicken enclosure. And I’m estimating they used to take about one third of the chickens grains. That is no small feed. I was careless and believed I’d thwarted them – turns out I was wrong. So yeah, I hear you about the dozen turnip problem. Same problem, different scale.

    I have heard the self produced nitrogen is an effective measure, as long as the season is not too wet.

    Lewis, oatmeal sounds like an awesome meal. I’d never heard of such a meal before. How did you go using up the steel cut oats? I never get tired of the home made toasted muesli + fruit + home made yoghurt either.

    Rain, a piffle. How about: coldest spell this early in the year in more than a century. Thought it was cold… No matter, I can deal with cold weather. I’m a bit suss on those rolly pollies and for quite a while I’ve begun to wonder if they’re consuming tender fresh seedlings. I just don’t know enough about them and their habits, although you do find them hiding in all sorts of weird places in the orchard. The diatomaceous earth is a great idea and at least it will give the soil a feed too.

    🙂 The bench was repaired in the greenhouse so as to escape the incessant rain, and yeah, it demands to be left there and promises future enjoyable reading activities. Of course this changes the layout
    of the garden beds, but what of that? The bench spoke. Hopefully next weekend the greenhouse is entirely clad – it’s still a bit exposed to the elements right now. And rain is predicted every day for the next week, and then beyond into the following week.

    Youse as a word is still very much alive down here. 🙂 It would be used as follows: Youse guys… I can’t say for sure why it was picked up in the Australian idiom, but there it is.

    Hehe! Yes, a surprising and somewhat commanding and rather confident end to the short clip. Hmm, good to hear, and accents from the north west would not be out of place here. In fact to my ear they sound the closest to Canadian accents. Anyway, your film crush secret is safe with me and I’ve forwarded the film recommendation to the Editor, and candidly would probably also watch it. Don’t tell anyone! 😉

    Isn’t it all any of us can do? Hang on a sec, I’ve met some people who do the exact opposite. What’s with them? Best avoided if possible.

    The vampire business be crackin’, and bidness be good. I just don’t get the sparkly ones, that didn’t make much sense. But I did once hear an interview of one of the films were a baby was spawned and the film reviewer said that it should never have been and something about applying fire. Dunno what he was talking about, but the kids seemed to dig the film series.

    Exactly, they’d have good and bad amongst them like the rest of us. But yes, it would certainly provide a sense of purpose which is somewhat lost in societies current endeavours.

    Years ago, and I forget where, but someone wrote something about not getting justice from the king, and that being part of the unravelling of the kings support. Social context of power and wealth is ignored at their peril. But it ain’t my problem if they can’t get off the couch and read up on some solid history. Tells them everything they need to know, but were afraid to ask. The problem is really the cost, they don’t want it, and so they declare: This time it’s different. Well it ain’t.

    Mate, I’m gobsmacked at the general presentation of folks these days. Tracky dacks are not formal attire, and leggings – well pray that the wearers don’t get too close to an open flame heater.

    I assure you that staffing problems are real, but then some employment processes are bonkers. It’s a problem and the authoritas brought this poop down on their own heads. But, top shot with the score. Have you considered getting a lottery ticket? You never know…



  53. Chris,

    Thanx for taking the time with your response. Much appreciated.

    As far as redundancy goes, folk that live/d in the country had neighbors, more kids and relatives to pick up the slack when needed.

    If a (any) component goes awry off grid, it may not always be easy to get a hold of that part. If the grid goes down, you got 20 guys in trucks working on it on the hour. I just wonder:-)

    Ppl were also allowed and able to fix things that were once upon a time easy to fix.

    The beurocratic reach grows by the day, with regulations and permits for everything imaginable.

    And yes, I have read somewhere recently 1/3 of rural folk wont be able to afford insurance in 10 or so years!?

    And then the 1000’s of kms of gravel roads local council needs to patch up, layer, grade, roll in every other year. It cost about $350+/truck load in our corner of Tas which gets you about 30m maybe. Ouch!

    And then there is the reality of aging. Random shite just happens with no rhyme or reason. I put my thumb out of joint six months ago loosening a tent zipper. Go figure. A slip in the paddock perhaps? Im fit, lean, healthy but now in my early 50s.

    Our mate JMG thinks the majority of new ‘back to the landers’ have got it wrong – ???

    And then, I ask myself, if our own bush community burned to the ground, but we didnt, would I want to stay? We largely dodged a bullet in the 2019 fires. We have a new phenomena in Tassie – dry lightning strikes! The fire folk are spread thin.

    In the mean time, the last few years have seemed pretty wet, for now.

    To my mind, it seems better to keep wondering, keep asking questions.

    Chris, when Im absolutely sure Im right about a path forward, everyone should be worried. Haha.

    I like your stuff. Cheers!!!

  54. Yo, Chris – My oatmeal thing evolved over time. It wasn’t some single stroke of genius. 🙂 But the way it turned out, it also was a time saver, as I don’t have to build breakfast from scratch, every day. It also ended up providing four servings of fruit, in one meal. I usually only eat two meals a day, so, I cram as much good stuff in each one, as I can. Sometimes, when cranberries were in short supply, I’ve substituted raisins. Not a problem, right now, as I just received another 25 pounds of dried cranberries.

    I could tweek you, a bit, and say “Cold? What cold?” 🙂 But, we all get acclimated to whatever the norms are, for our areas. And anything that falls outside, seems odd and needs some adjusting.

    Some nice cushions on that bench, and it will be really cozy. Maybe a small table, for refreshments of choice.

    Personally, that whole “Twilight” vampire series, never wound my clock. I didn’t read any of the books. Did watch the first film, but didn’t find it interesting enough, to follow up on. Angsty teens, even of the vampire variety, are not very interesting … to me. But I think the book series had it’s uses. Same thing, with the Potter books. It got a certain age group reading. Which I don’t think is a bad thing. You know, the author of the “Twilight” books, had never been to Forks. Or, I think, not even Washington state. She just picked the town with the least amount of sunny days. Probably NOT a good area for solar.

    History is a funny thing. It gets interpreted many ways. Used. People who approach history usually seem to have some kind of agenda. And, sometimes, try and beat other people over the head with their agenda. Gets tiresome.

    Hmmm. Law and justice is kind of like history. See, above. 🙂 Things reach a critical mass and then something happens. We might be approaching some radical times.

    Yes, there are days when everything seems to fall in place, or there’s this lucky stroke, or that. I do sometimes think, “Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket.” But I never do. Best just accept what bounty is on offer, and not push it.

    Elinor called, last night. A bit of a hard conversation, as her hearing is bad. And the phone connection was not that good. Her voice was strong. But she’s still in hospital. I expect that to change, one way or another, this week. LOL. She seemed mainly concerned that I’d get sick, and who’d take care of puppy? And that the eggs in her fridge, might not be used. Lew

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