The Sweet Spot

The yellow powered wheelbarrow is beyond economic repair. It’s always a tough decision to walk away from a farm machine, especially when the thing has performed sterling service over the years. Some of the blame can be placed upon the economics of the situation. Blame however is also shared with the design and construction of the machine. My gut feeling suggests that the thing was never intended to be heavily repaired. And we also share part of the blame. The thing was serviced, but at times we could have been more gentle with it. And here we are today with a near dead machine. What to do?

The machine still has work to do, but alas in its present condition that is impossible. A decision was made to replace it. Turned out that there isn’t much of a market for these types of small farm machines. Most farms employ much larger machines, and there are plenty of those to be had, but they’re way beyond our needs – not to mention budget. And yet, the property here is too big for hand tools, given the distinct lack of hands available to do work. We looked around, discovered a paucity of options, and purchased the next model up of the yellow power wheelbarrow. The older machine will be retained for spare parts.

With any machine purchase, we tend to purchase the cheapest, no frills thing that will sort of do the job. It’s really hard to know how and when you’ll use a machine, and even when cheap, neither are they free. So, it makes little sense to start with the best, especially if you don’t know where the weak points are with the machine. It’s one thing to have to replace a fairly cheap unit. It’s another thing entirely to explain to Sandra that you’ve unintentionally destroyed a very expensive bit of equipment (fortunately in this instance, Sandra was there at the time!)

We have a rule of thumb to guide decisions when faced with this predicament. If there is a continued need for the machine, but the original item wasn’t much good and didn’t last, get a better version, if you can.

That’s what being prudent looks like.

But even with the best of intentions, the greatest of attention, and the nicest of care, things still just break. And there is always an economic dimension to the predicament.

Speaking of economics, there’s been a lot of talk in the news of late of things breaking and changing. It needn’t have been this way, but that’s the way of predicaments.

Some moments are pivotal, events turn around them. Over a quarter of a century ago, the country seemed to be dragging its sorry carcass from the depths of a five year recession. The statistic: 10% unemployment, strikes fear into my heart. By 1997, things were on the up. Part time study at University had been completed. The debt collection job which was utilised to get through the tumultuous times, was two years in the past.

The day was sunny and cool, it may have been early spring. A house auction in the up and coming, but in reality gritty inner urban industrial suburb of Yarraville, was being held. The weatherboard house up for auction had two street frontages and an enviable garden.

Crowds have an electric vibe you can almost sense. The auctioneer held the attention of all. Bids were made, then accepted. The sun shone on the quiet, tense in-between moments. ‘Going Once’ was called. ‘Going Twice’, then ‘Sold!’ The crowd applauded the performance. The house sold for $215,000.

In between work, friends, study, fixing old houses and having fun, we didn’t have a lot of spare time. Certainly there was no time for television. Late at night we used to walk the dogs around the suburb. We knew every nearby street, and the dogs sure knew every street too.

Late at night the streets were quiet. Despite the recent claims to pretension, it was a working class suburb, and most people who lived there, had to work. We had to work too, there was just no other free time. But those quiet late night walks were the perfect time for hatching plans and discussing ideas. Why did that house sell for more than it was worth? And what did it mean? The ideas were pondered, explored and debated.

A quarter of a century later that same property is probably worth around $1.5 million. We’re now at the beginning of the end-point of that story. The system looks broken, with no easy fixes. What to do?

Now that the greenhouse project is complete, we’ve been toying around with the idea of establishing a much larger vegetable garden. Inside the soon to be created fenced and gated larger vegetable garden, there will be two rows of citrus trees. The local wallabies (a slightly smaller forest dwelling kangaroo) destroy citrus trees, and the trees themselves don’t grow large enough to escape the marsupials reach. The wallabies can’t accept any reasonable middle ground for their activities, so we’ll fence those trees off.

This week, we began the process of moving about half of the citrus trees to the new area.

Six citrus fruit trees were relocated

The trees are planted 3m / 10ft apart, which should be fine for the small shrubs which they are. And the rows will incorporate a 1.8m / 6ft path going up and/or down the slope. Such a path will be wide enough to get any of the machines into the area, for whatever purpose. The fencing and gates will be installed over the next year or so.

Plus the area has the benefit of being sunnier around the winter solstice when the sun is very low in the sky.

Tall trees cast long shadows when the sun is low in the sky around the winter solstice

We have an enormous amount of available land in that part of the property, but to date we haven’t used it. Basically, the mountain range was logged from around 1860 until the 1960’s, and the loggers have left a right mess in that part of the property. We’re in the process of cleaning it up.

Rocks are being removed from the paddock. Old tree stumps left behind are being ground out. It astounds me to see that the guts of the stumps are pristine after so many decades.

Grinding out an old tree stump

I’ve said it before, but it really is hard to fathom what the loggers were thinking to themselves when they left the mess behind. No natural process can explain a tree stump left in this position:

A cut, upside down tree stump. Hard to explain

I suspect that they had two bulldozers and chains, and maybe they intended to burn off the stumps but discovered for themselves what a hard job that is. Dunno, a true mystery. Here’s another:

This tree stump was dumped here. Dame Plum asks why?

I tend to treat trees with the respect they deserve, after all, they can kill you. Near to that area are a couple of 30m / 100ft trees leaning on a complicated angle. They were knocked off vertical in the crazy wind storm mid last year. There wasn’t much damage here mostly because the property is sheltered from the south east where the unlikely winds originated. Not much damage does not imply no damage though, and these two trees are now very dangerous.

Not the usual angle for tall trees

The clean up work is hard, but fortunately there is no great hurry to do the work. It can be taken at a leisurely pace (leisurely for us anyway!)

Dame Plum gets towelled down before being let inside the house. Ollie looks on

Onto the flowers:

Hellebores the delightful winter rose
This Daisy seems intent on out competing the Sage
Pineapple Sage is hanging onto it’s autumn flowers, but for how long now?
A few days of sunshine produced new Lavender flowers
Canary Island Foxgloves are a stunning plant

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 4’C (39’F). So far this year there has been 549.2mm (21.6 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 524.8mm (20.7 inches)

37 thoughts on “The Sweet Spot”

  1. Yo, Chris – No frills? No GPS? How will you ever find the new machine, if you happen to mislay it, around the place? 🙂

    Cleaver and thrifty to part out the old machine. But what will you do with the carcass? I suppose you could dig a big hole. Or, there’s always “yard art.”

    Best have, as a witness to the break down, the person most likely to say, “What did you DO?” Saves a lot of explaining, and eye rolling 🙂

    The loggers intentions, will always be a mystery. Best learn to live with the unknowing. This constant ruminating, well, that way lies madness!

    The leaning trees would make great ship’s spars. Which was one of the reason your fair country, got settled. Due to England losing the source of ship’s spars, because of all that unpleasantness, around 1776.

    Ollie looks like he’s thinking, “Why does SHE get all the attention?”

    8,000 bike riders, rolled through our county, this weekend. And I didn’t see a one. No well packed spandex, on display. I suppose tomorrow’s newspaper will carry an account.

    I may have detected a slight stirring, in the corn / sunflower mounds. Or maybe it’s just a weed. We have two 80+ days coming up. That ought to goose things up, a bit.

    I must go. The new “Downton Abbey” movie, and a bowl of popcorn, beckon.

    Heard from my friends in Idaho. I’ve mentioned their daughter got her real estate license. She has to take periodic classes, to keep up her certification. So, off she went to Boise. And came home with a case of Big City Cooties. You Know What. Everyone else is holding their breath, to see if they got infected. Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    Maybe I’m taking things too far, but I’m guessing the end of the Roman Warm Period would have coincided with a decline in agricultural output. Hungry troops don’t tend to fight in the same league as do well as fed troops. And Goths backed into a corner facing the Huns on one side, and Roman’s in their sunset years on the other, picked the easier path and smashed them.

    When I was a young bloke and working in my first adult job, a mate used to work in a claims department for an insurer. He confided to me that they got bonuses for finding reasons to knock back a claim. Honestly, the guy used to talk a lot of rubbish, but I was never entirely sure about that story and kept it at the back of my mind when dealing with such entities. He didn’t work for them for very long because the job posed a moral dilemma for him. Dunno. Some people tend to confuse them with charities, and that’s an option, but plenty of people have been beaten around the head with bits of paper they’ve signed. Never a pleasant experience.

    Wise to save as you go. Most people tend to spend as they go, which is a different and less effective strategy.

    Mate, you have a tidy system going there with the food swap table. Nice one. And everything gets cleaned up prior to the dreaded Monday morning. Good to see that nothing other than the cardboard is going to waste.

    Thanks for the confusingly titled film reference. The trailer looked fun, but you know, the central premise of going to the red planet seems like an overly complicated goal which is unlikely to take place any time soon. I can’t for the life of me imagine why anyone would want to travel there? Now if we had a working hyperdrive, and you could get there and back in a few hours, sure sounds like a plan, but otherwise I’m not into it. And in a weird coincidence, many years ago there was some sort of youth news report about, oh here is a brief article: One way trip to Mars. Anyway, you don’t hear much about that story these days. Technically the concept is possible, I don’t reckon we can afford to make it possible.

    Hehe! How would the machine be found? You ask the tough questions!!! 🙂 The machine would be put back where it belongs. I’m a devotee of the school of thought which suggests: a place for everything, and everything in it’s place. Saves me having to think about your question. But GPS tracking, far out. Next you might suggest a phone app?

    Parts are a complicated issue, and the flow of stuff is not nearly as fast as it once was, so best keep a few spare important odds and ends ready to hand. You never know when they’ll come in handy. The carcass of the machine is a good grade of steel, so it will be recycled if needed. The farm machine repair dudes are helping me out with the replacement.

    I didn’t mention it in the blog, but when the yellow machine failed, it rolled over the Editors foot, so that kind of assisted the program of ‘get rid of this, thing’. The Editor was annoyed but unharmed, fortunately. Leather work boots come in handy on a farm.

    True, I shall follow your advice. However, for the essay, it is a well known fact that people can be down right odd about anything to do with trees, so I may have to keep repeating myself on this issue. Sorry, if there was another way. But know that whilst Dame Plum may be cogitating upon the problem, I’m working on a solution. I’m comfortable with mystery, and there are heaps of things I know absolutely nothing about, although I may hazard an opinion, like how rubbish would life on the red planet be? Cold too.

    Yes, the trees probably would make great spars. Lot’s of flexibility in the trunk, but possibly a bit far inland. I hadn’t known that about your country. Didn’t the British burn through their forest resources before that time? I have a vague memory that they faced a similar problem in the early Middle Ages?

    How did you know, but that is exactly what Ollie was thinking to himself.

    Yes, it’s true, spandex leaves little to the imagination. For the life of me, I cannot fathom the popularity of those garments. Very unflattering.

    Oh yes, the 80’F+ days are well received in the cooler summers. Did you ever obtain a soil thermometer? Which do you reckon will germinate first: The sunflowers; or The corn? I reckon the corn will be first to emerge from the soil.

    Hope you enjoyed the film. It’s what I would call a special treat. I aim to watch the last episode of Dex after replying to your good self. They’ve still got it, you know. But we have discussed that matter before and no good will come from pushing the issue.

    Dude, like I said, it’s getting around. 🙂 Far out. What to do? Down here with greater public experience, the tide of opinion is turning.



  3. Yo, Chris – Yes, I think there was quit a decline in agriculture, toward the end of the western Roman empire. At least as far as Britain, went. In the Arthur tales, and monastic records, there’s references to famine years. A volcano (probably) kicked off the cooling. There was a bad plague. North Africa, where the Romans got a lot of grain and olive oil started drying out, due to changes in rainfall patterns. Britain (and a lot of other provinces) had great imperial farms. Talk about Big Ag 🙂 I suppose a lot of those collapsed, when oversight collapsed. But, like us, it all didn’t happen in a day. It was a slow, grinding decline.

    Well, that’s interesting. I checked my old check register, and there was no increase in my truck insurance. Of course, it maybe calculated for a year, and this is the off six month payment. I might see a big jump, next spring. Maybe I should up my monthly insurance savings, a bit.

    I think your friend might have (for once) not been talking rubbish. Seems like it’s pretty SOP (Standard Operating Procedure), these days, to reject insurance (all kinds) claims, out of hand. In the hope that the client will either go away, or die. As far as bogus claims go, that’s what insurance investigators are for. Though I wonder if they work on a quota system, too?

    Yes, the swap table works out, pretty well. Of course, I am willing to keep it rolling along. Friday night, I generally turn my neurotic on, and get things organized. Sort the stuff and line it up. Ever play “store” when you were a kid? 🙂 And, I break down all the boxes and get them hauled out. Sunday night, I box up what’s left (not too much weight in any one box) so Suzanne’s care giver can take them down to the Mission. Or, the Women’s Shelter. Someone slipped me $50, yesterday, at the Club. I’ll probably go shopping, tonight.

    That was an interesting article, about Mars. Our desert SW looks similar, and, although pretty, I’ve never had the urge to visit. I’ll look at pictures. Mars might be more interesting, if they found some kind of civilization, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. There’s been some headlines about Mars Boy. Seems like every week, some new child of his, pops up. He was asked about that, this week. His reply was that, “Mars needs people.” Oh, well. I guess he can afford them.

    What? Your new machine might not have an app? How … primitive 🙂 . It’s good you’ve been cultivating the farm machine repair dudes. They’ll guide you to the optimum machine, for your needs. I’m glad the Editor didn’t do any serious damage. Steel toed work boots?

    Maybe, someday, you’ll run into an old logger, and all will be revealed.

    Britain did manage to maintain quit a few of it’s Royal forests. But they weren’t up to the job of providing all the timber necessary, for a fleet. It’s interesting, I watched a documentary on the restoration of Notre Dame. The French have enough forest preserves, to provide the replacement trusses.

    Well, I suppose Spandex is ok, if you have a nice body, and want to show it off. But perhaps a second opinion should be sought, before putting the goods on display? 🙂

    I think I’ve got a soil thermometer, but it’s somewhere in the pantry … where all the garden stuff seems to wash up. Sorting and organizing the pantry (food goods and gardening stuff) is on my list of things to do. Soon.

    Well, if my eyes don’t deceive me, the sunflowers and corn are both pushing up. I should know more, in a day or two. It’s going to be a kitchen day. Besides the usual rice and oatmeal, there were some clamshells of “Sweet Grape Tomatoes” (Product of Mexico), in our food boxes. I’ve got those washed. They’re going into the food dryer. I’ve got to get a start of freezing some green peppers, which were also in our box.

    I’ll be interested to see what you think, when all is said and done, in “Dex.” I watched the “Downton Abbey: A New Era”, last night. I thought it was very entertaining. A lot going on. And, more of the long time characters got a happy ending. Lew

  4. Hi Lewis,

    Argh, it be frosty in ‘dem hills tonight. 🙂 Brr! 34’F now, and the day began at 32’F. Nothing unusual for this time of year. And the wood heater is cranking along, although it is only 57’F in the house – we got home late.

    The slow ragged decline has a horror to it that a faster collapse lacks. Yes, famines would definitely be part of that horrific experience, so yes I can well understand how all those combined events put the nail in the coffin of the Western Roman Empire. Very amusing about the way back Big Ag.

    I probably expect people to critically analyse circumstances far better than they can in reality. There were two competing items of interest in the news today. The demand for gas in this state has exceeded supply and we’re in danger of being short of supply. And the condition of the environment is not so good.

    As an interesting side story, I’d read about the possibility of a gas shortage quite a number of years ago, and here we are today. And the ongoing decline in the health of the environment may be shocking, but it is hardly new news. Anyway, the journalist was interviewing the new federal environment minister, and they’re talking about the problems as if it were somehow a legislative matter. The argument came down to a single question: Will there be new coal or gas mines? On the face of it, the question appears quite simple and appealing, but questions often send unspoken messages. The first message is that everyone is OK with the current coal and gas mines. The second message is that there is a weird belief that the current crop of coal and gas mines will continue to provide forever. I don’t believe anyone is having the discussion: What sort of future do we envision given the present circumstances? And because that conversation is never had, or is had but at the equivalent of pixie dust and unicorn farts level, we’re in actual danger of really stuffing it up as a society. I’d have more faith cargo cults at producing the goodies. 🙂 I guess it’s easier not to have the conversation.

    Not all bills are increasing, but most of them seem to be. Check registers are a nifty place to record expenditures over time, and I tell you, businesses down here hate having to deal with cheques. I’m fortunate to have a few bank branches in the nearby town, but in some parts of the big smoke it is hard to find a branch to deposit the cheque. Interestingly, we call those things, cheque butts, but it sounds a bit dodgy. I keep a spreadsheet of the large bills and their changes over the years. It’s quite eye opening, and everyone seems to want extra. Possibly not a bad idea to put away a bit extra each month, inflation is getting up there in the western world.

    🙂 That’s kind of what I thought too. He used to talk rubbish, and even had a saying: They don’t muck around in the crematorium. Yes, indeed. I couldn’t see why he would lie about such a thing though, especially he seemed to be doing ok financially from the job. He didn’t like the stress of the job. There would be a lot of emotional content in explaining to people that they weren’t insured, but he was probably ok with the money side of the story. That’s possible about the investigators, and I’ve heard strange stories of those folks in the area of workers compensation insurance. My understanding from what he told me was that it was a salary + bonus arrangement.

    Nothing wrong with being organised. 🙂 The big J mentioned something about: Blessed are the organised for they shall know where things are. Surely you heard that line? Good stuff, did you score anything for the Club in the hunter gatherer expedition?

    Ooo, the similarity with the desert SW is uncanny. What’s that horrifically hot place? That’s right: Death Valley. Do we really need to see this? Mars Boy certainly seems fecund. He can afford it. He does have a sharp mind, and that was a pretty clever response.

    I put effort into maintaining local connections, and for the life of me I can’t understand why a lot of other people don’t do so.

    The Editor was fine, more surprised than anything else, and fortunately the bucket of the machine was not loaded at the time. We use leather work boots, but I’m not much of a fan of the steel caps. Of course, they could save a lot of hassles and a lot of the machines we have tend to employ a cutting action of some sort. Yeah, wouldn’t be good.

    Your vision of the future interaction with the old timer logger, may have something to it. I’ll certainly let you know how it goes. 🙂

    A tree would have to be quite old to provide the sort of spans used in the Notre Dame. Hmm, how is the restoration going? Interesting. Dunno about you, but I enjoyed the carvings of the Strix, Gargoyles and Chimera’s. They seem a touch out of place, but perhaps they lend balance to the building?

    That’s the problem with clothes, where are second opinions when they are necessary? The standard of presentation and deportment leaves much to be desired these days. Of course, the way a person presents themselves and acts can significantly impact upon the relationships and interactions they have with others.

    There’s always more work to be done, so take your time with the sorting out. I used to annoy people by pointing out: People make time for the things they want to do. Although, now that I’m older and somewhat more mature, I have these thoughts, but don’t tend to share them. 🙂 The path to wisdom is hard, and many a pitfall will there be. The military and police checkpoints last year weren’t that much fun, and I did wonder who the military people had annoyed to end up on that thankless duty. Of course didn’t say it, there were a lot of guns, so it seemed like the wisest path.

    Good luck with the corn and sunflowers. Both plants grow very fast. Yup, preserve whilst there is food stuffs to preserve.

    Dex was good, and the ending was appropriate and consistent with the character. I had this vague notion that people criticised the end of the original series because they were looking for a redemption story. The very nature of the character is irredeemable so why people expected that is beyond me. But yes, the latest series was good, and he got taken down by a small town cop, that’s the problem with patterns, they can be identified. Even the author Jeff Lindsay killed off the character. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the latest instalment, which obviously is the final. So, do you have any thoughts as to the story?



  5. Hi Inge,

    Hope you are doing OK?

    The reports down here are suggesting that 40’C / 104’F was recorded far to the north east of you. Hope the garden is revelling in the warmth.

    It was 32’F here this morning, and about that temperature again right now. Brr!



  6. Ah yes, the perennial goal of all thrifty bargain hunters- life cycle cost analysis at its finest.

    Back when you first shared about your power wheel barrow, I was quite captivated , and googled quite a bit for one that would help with our similarly hilly patch of land.

    I simply could not find one that hit the sweet spot here in the land of throw away convenience. Not too expensive, not too big, not too small and flimsy. There were all kinds of bigger ones meant for contractors, but quite pricey. Lots of cheesy little toys as well. Turns out I am part of a rather small market, it would seem. Importing from Oz didn’t appeal to me either 🙂

    And as we slowly return to the muscle powered lifestyle, I shudder when I think about how often I need to move heavy stuff, and how that will go in the future. As one old farmer remarked, “An awful lot of farming is just moving stuff from place to place”.

    I applaud the bigger fenced food production area. Personally, I think you’ve been much too accommodating of the wombats. The deer here have miles of lush natural landscape to nibble on, but are predisposed to piss me off and eat from our small patch. I suspect malevolence in both species.

    Bigger things than farm kit are breaking these days, best to keep planting.

    Looks to be a good apple crop this year, hopefully lots of cider and apple sauce to preserve this fall.

  7. Yo, Chris – And, in local news, someone stole 14 live chickens, from the Sally Mae (Salvation Army.) Now why do they have live chickens? Got me. Our local Salvation Army, has a pretty large building close to downtown Centralia. I don’t know exactly what they do there. I think they do some things for the homeless, and they feed people. Though the cost is sitting through a sermon. 🙂 . The Salvation Army also runs op-shops. Though we don’t have one, here. Which reminds me. When I was at the local post office, the other day, I heard something from the back. And finally figured out it was a shipment of chicks. Noisy little blitters.

    We’re having a run of 80+ days. Still in the 50s, as night. But, I now have little green nubbins on all three of my tomatoes. The sunflower has broken ground. No secondary leaves, yet. I got the tomatoes through the dryer. And the green bell peppers are all on parchment paper, in the freezer. I’ll bag them up, when I’m through here. They’re so nice to put up. They’re one of the few things that don’t need to be blanched. Lots of Spanish rice, in my future. 🙂

    I think I prefer slow, ragged decline. It’s more like whack-a-mole. More time to figure out plan B’s. A lot of people can’t seem to get outraged about more than one issue at a time. They pick a topic to get excised about, and get excised about it. At least you know what topic to avoid, in their presence.

    There were some Congressional hearings, a few years back, where some woman from the insurance industry was weeping on the stand. She was pretty sure she had killed people, by denying or delaying, coverage. Not that she was charged with anything. I know you have similar hearings, but I can’t remember what they’re called. Generally, there’s a commission, a report is issued … and that’s the end of it. Done and dusted. Next! Michael Moore had an interesting documentary, a few years back, about our “health” and insurance system. Now if someone wants to get excised by something, there’s a good topic. 🙂

    They use parts of our SW to train astronauts. “We’re going to see how you do here, as we’re sending you somewhere even bleaker. With no air!”

    “Blessed are the organized…” I thought it was from the “Sermon on the Mount,” but it’s from the “Sermon on the Flat.” It’s part of the metaverse. In another part of the metaverse, you’ll find “The Life of Bryan.”

    Old time loggers are pretty crusty. Not so many of them around, anymore. When I first moved here, I noticed that a lot of loggers jeans, were raggedly ripped off at the calf. It was for one of two reasons. 1.) There’s no toilet paper in the woods, or, 2.) they play chicken with chainsaws. Take your pick.

    There was a documentary (Nova?), not long ago, about the progress of the restoration of Notre Dame. It goes well. Luckily, not long before the fire, someone had done a three-D scan of the entire inside and out. I told you, they managed to find appropriate trees. And, some of the stonework was damaged. But they figured out where the original stone was quarried. Deep beneath the streets of Paris, in the catacombs.

    I quit like gargoyles. I do believe you’ve got one lurking, in your garden. They eat triffids. And, zombies. But, on churches, of course, they are rain spouts, to move water away from the foundations. But their form, was to remind people of what they might encounter in the afterlife, if they don’t behave.

    Sharing thoughts. There really may be a second childhood. You may have mastered the art of circumspection, now, but as you get older, you’ll find yourself blurting out all kinds of things. Patience with fools wears thin.

    Up next: “Harrison: Son of Dexter: A New Era.” 🙂 The ghosts of Dexter and Debra can both nag at him. I really can’t tell you why I liked the first series, better than the last. I just did. Maybe it’s my lack of sympathy for angsty teens? In the old series, you were dealing with mostly adults.

    Shopping went well, last night. Kind of. At the dollar + store, everything is $1.25. The other cheap grocery store, well, they’ve moved up the base line price, a bit. It used to be I could find thing for a dollar, or less. Now, I don’t see anything for less than $1.29.

    It was an interesting morning. I went to my credit union, to turn in some coin. And, take some unused alternate savings accounts off my record. Empty accounts that just sit there. They have to remove them. And, I thought I’d better, because all these savings accounts seem to totally throw our building manager. I asked about the ATM. As I suspected, they’re so close to the move that they’ve decided not to replace it, at their old location.

    Then it was to the Club, for biscuits and gravy. And, to drop off my booty. Then, onto Safeway to see if I could get my loyalty card sorted. They were in the middle of some crisis, involving the police. But gave me a number to call. So, I did. The young lady spoke pretty good English 🙂 She ran me through the usual trouble shooting … was I connected to the wi-fi … were my caches and histories cleaned out … at least, she didn’t ask me if my computer was plugged in 🙂 But, in the end, no joy. She’s punting to their IT department. So, I should give it a few days, and try again.

    By the way, I took a quick look down the rabbit hole, and, yes, there is a canned baby shrimp shortage. For two reasons. They can’t get cans. And, the farmers are hesitant to put in a new crop, as getting food for the little creatures is iffy. But in their fresh seafood (which I can’t access at night) there were plastic trays full of baby shrimp. Score! So, I brought them home and threw them in the freezer. Now to decide what else to put on the corn chips (crisps). Cheese, of course. Tomatoes, garlic, and maybe some chopped up chives. Sour cream? Maybe. Suggestions? Lew

  8. Chris,

    I’m back. I think. I hope. The Princess attended cousin’s funeral last week, said cousin being the daughter of the 93 year old aunt who was buried 3 weeks earlier. Meanwhile, I spent several days just north of Seattle with my friend. He DID have 1/3 of his leg removed. I was able to help him move from hospital to a rehab facility. I’m glad I was able to be there. Now, no visitors, as the corvids are breaking out in that area. Here, too. And the funeral Princess attended has seen at least 15 attendees get the corvid. So far, not us. (Knocking on wood and remembering to tap on a door or a tree, not my head.)

    Then the internet provider has been “doing scheduled maintenance” this week, which means that I frequently lose my connection. I’m glad I retired. I’d be pretty grumpy if I were trying to work from home and the internet company kept breaking the connection. Yes, their maintenance work and accompanying interruptions have been during normal work hours.

    Sad about your yellow machine. What colour will the new replacement be? If it’s a step above the yellow one in ability, it stands to reason that the color will be a step above yellow also. So, what colour is a step above yellow?

    Looking at the photo of the 6 citrus trees that were relocated, I couldn’t help but noticing something. One of the citrus trees looked remarkably like a Kelpie. I would expect any fruit from such a tree to be somewhat furry?

    I’ve noticed a lot of stumps and other oddities left behind by loggers in this region, too. There appears to be no rhyme nor reason for where and how stumps etc., are left. Maybe it’s the logging version of crop circles.

    I’m glad the Editor avoided serious injury from Old Yellow. Some jobs still suggest steel toed boots, but many require “solid footwear” and look down on the steel toed boots. Apparently, solid, sturdy leather footwear provides nearly the same degree of protection as steel toed boots. However, there have been occasions in which the steel portion of the boots has caused more severe foot damage than would have been experienced from sturdy leather footwear. At least that’s how it was explained to me.

    We had several thunderstorms when I was away. And a few after I returned home. They seem to be over. It’s just hot. Next week *might* get to 38C or higher for a few days. Better than last year’s 4 days of Death Valley heat.


  9. Hello Chris
    I am having trouble here as my laptop doesn’t like the heat. Yesterday was the only really bad day 90F outside 88F indoors + high humidity. The barometer has started to go down.

    Haven’t had a chance to read this week’s offering yet but wanted to comment on something said between you and Lew last week. This was ‘his, theirs etc lookout’. It is used a lot here but it is used with ‘own’ in the middle e.g. That’s his own lookout.


  10. Hi Inge,

    Glad to hear that you have stoically endured the worst of the heat. 88’F is about as hot inside this house as it ever gets. In the survivable, but unpleasant category perhaps? Hope the house has cooled down now? The forecast reports here were suggesting that a cool change was due. You might get used to the heat, it is possible.

    It was 32’F here this morning, without a breath of wind, clear blue skies and frost on the ground. Many patches where the days sunlight had not reached remain frozen. It’s icy crunchy outside again tonight. I’ve read that a solid frost sweetens the kale leaves – the theory is that the starches in the leaves convert to sugars so as to adapt to colder temperatures. Isn’t nature amazing?

    Thanks for the history of the saying. I’d never before heard the phrase. To my mind the word ‘lookout’ used in that context brings to mind the activities of crims on high alert. Essentially the phrase suggests a person needs to take care of their business, but I’m unsure of the correct meaning.



  11. Hi Steve,

    🙂 True. However, it is a truth universally acknowledged that funds are of limited scope, and purchases are often unknown leaps of faith. It’s really hard to know how long any of this stuff will last, and also how to be careful with the machines. I’ve destroyed a few machines over the many years through not comprehending the risks, but experience tends to create a more thoughtful hand, don’t you reckon?

    The new machine is ready to go, apparently. The capacity of the new machine is far greater than the previous machine. About 1,100 pounds / 500kg (versus 660 pounds / 300kg), although I have no desire to load that much stuff into the bucket as the machine would be unwieldy. Mate, that original machine has been a game changer here, and for moving loads up hill, well even Sisyphus would have appreciated the assistance. You may note that we have another silver Honda powered machine, and that’s good too, but it won’t move the heavy loads uphill like the yellow machine. As a comparison, the silver (5hp) can move two full hand wheelbarrows of stuff uphill, whereas the yellow (6.5hp) can move three to four full hand wheelbarrows of stuff uphill at a time. Hope that makes sense?

    It ain’t just you, we’re both part of a very small market which is basically not provided for. There is a definite push for bigger is better, scale-up or get out. I disagree with that concept, but trying to find the sweet spot is not always easy, as you yourself know.

    The old farmer is right there, sorry to say. We’re trying to get the place sorted out so that it is easy to maintain. But even so… I too shudder at that thought. Might eventually have to get some apprentices in to do that work?

    An interesting point, and I did ask the wombat what the f%^& it thought that it was doing. They’re grumpy, but at least the wombat had the decency not to lie, and muttered something darkly about enjoying mineral rich rocket leaves, before then waddling off about its business. That’s wombats for ya. But I reckon you’re right. 🙂

    Exactly. Keep planting. When finished planting, plant some more.

    Oooo! Good stuff. Do you have a favourite cider recipe which you could recommend? My cider has always failed, and I have no idea why.



  12. Hi DJ,

    Mate, I think too. Consider it exercise for the brain. I’m sure you’ve encountered many people over the years that don’t think? 😉

    I hope the cousin was laid to rest and that your lady’s family finds some peace in their loss.

    Far out. Well 1/3rd of the leg is perhaps better than 2/3rds of the leg? Ouch. How is your friend coping mentally with the loss? You did mention that the risk was that there would be loss.

    Yep, those corvid birds have been on the wing down here too mate. For some folks, they can be massive birds blotting out the sun, but for most they cast a shadow, and then the sun shines again, after a while of course. Touch wood is an important ritual, and one I find myself doing from time to time.

    Maintenance is an important thing to stave off the awful awfulness of entropy. But to put your observation into some context, a few weeks ago the interweb modem packed it in, and I had to scramble with plan B and plan C connections just to keep on the air – for the business, with side benefits for the blog. In the end, after much hassle and work, we had to re-do the entire way we connect up to the interweb and network here, and I didn’t make a big deal about it, but it set me back about $1,300. An expensive week, so yeah, maintenance is better than replacement. 🙂

    The yellow machine is being replaced by, a yellow machine. Truly! It’s ready to go, apparently. Ah, I see, well, the new one is clean. Does that count?

    Mate, I was a bit unsure about breeding Kelpies, because we got the two girls fixed up after the new neighbours had an unfixed up Australian terrier, think Wizard of Oz dog. A very nice dog, but do I need to find out what a crossing of the two dogs would look like? It was a real quandary that problem. And here’s the joke of it all, after getting the dogs fixed up, I’ve only seen the new neighbours about maybe twice now. I do wonder how the rising interest rate story will be impacting upon them?

    Crop circles are fine and all, but when I was a kid, the Bermuda triangle mystery seemed a lot harder to explain, although it was probably just really bad weather and dodgy aircraft (maintenance again?) To have a mysterious part of the world where the best efforts of technical mankind fail to yield any gains, now that would be something.

    Actually, I’ve never been a fan of steel capped work boots, although there would be advantages when accidents get serious. I find that whenever I kneel or squat to do some work, the steel caps bite into the top of my foot. And that’s not good as it reduces the flexibility of the foot and can cut off circulation to the toes. So, I’m not into them, but also acknowledge that I then bear risks, especially with hand pushed mowers.

    Glad to hear that you are having a more reasonable summer this year. The name Death Valley should be warning enough. Frosty this morning, and some of the frost did not thaw. It’s icy crunchy outside again tonight.



  13. Hi Lewis,

    I’ve heard of rustling livestock (cattle raiding in this country), but fourteen chickens from the Salvo’s? That story has a great level of weirdness to it, and just begs for further questions to be asked. Your local news is suggesting that the matter is under investigation, so perhaps more questions are going to be asked? It was like the recent activities of the alleged grave robber – so weird and unexpected. People sure can be strange. Never heard of that phrase, but I thought that Sally Mae was this thing: Sallie Mae. The text is pretty cynical, but possibly factually correct.

    Our postal service probably wouldn’t take the chicks. They had some thing a few years ago about handling perishable items, and chicks would fall into that category. What people do is get fertilised eggs sent through the mail (although I heard that story several years ago). The eggs are fine for a couple of days without a hen. The egg would want to be well packed.

    Such nice weather. Sounds delightful, and makes for easier summer sleep. The plants would be enjoying the weather, no wonder the sunflower seeds are off and racing. Good thinking getting the Mex tomatoes into the dehydrator. I’ll bet your kitchen is smelling pleasant – I quite enjoy the smell of dehydrating tomatoes. It smells of summer. And yes, peppers are good in that they don’t require blanching. Do they defrost OK? I’ve never tried freezing them.

    Plan B’s are handy to have ready to hand, and if events conducted themselves faster, no doubts we’d all get run over, and I for one am uninterested in that version of the future. I do wish our leaders would get off their backsides and evince a clear vision for the future. It’s probably too much to ask for, and no wonder they make so much noise, and achieve so little. It’s embarrassing.

    Over the past two years I have had to navigate some very complicated conversations with people. And I have heard some outrageous claims which I politely listened too with good grace. It’s not entirely unknown that things are a little bit, how to put it? Err, off. People are reacting. I read a fascinating article on the second hand car market. It really is an interesting read: LandCruisers ‘better than money in the bank’ in hot second-hand market, but European badges in the dumps. The old timers advice is exactly what I’m expecting – there is a hang time. And we’re in it, right now. Not that anyone seems to notice.

    Ah, those things. Right. We have Royal Commissions down here. Expensive things, but sometimes necessary to clear the air. For a while a few years ago, the air was thick with them. They cost a pretty penny, and like your observation, some recommendations are implemented, some are ignored. Again, economics plays into the story, and the media and legal profession probably love them.

    Your health system kind of scares me, sorry. What can I say, I’m soft, and would feel very nervous stepping inside any of the system. It’s the not knowing how much the thing will cost.

    I’ve no doubt that there would be people who’d enjoy Death Valley. For them, it’s probably a great place, but I don’t get it. There’s a town up in the north west of the continent which holds the worlds record for number of consecutive days above 100’F (160 days): Marble Bar, Western Australia. There is a hotter town not too far from there: Wyndham. I’ve been there late last century.

    Oh no! There was actually a book with the title Sermon on the Flat. Some sort of long essay on the subject of economics I believe. Who knew? Life of Brian was so good. Very pithy and the work was a coherent whole. I’m old school in that I believe that the narrative form should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. I hear and now refer to Mr King’s otherwise excellent book: The Cell.

    Hehe! The old timers were pulling your leg. For sure. They would most certainly have known how to go, when in the bush. 🙂 What interested me about the old timer forestry worker I once spent two days out in the forest being trained on how to use a chainsaw, was that he was genuinely concerned at how to drill us in doing the work in a sustainable manner. Plus he was a genuine alpha character. Rough as old boots, but he’d clearly earned the right. And I shouldn’t have been let near a chainsaw before the course. But I had used the machine for years and had developed a few poor habits with the machine – soon corrected under his barking commands and he had eyes everywhere, noting every detail.

    Ah, I believe Damo who occasionally comments here, has experience with 3D mapping. It’s clever stuff.

    Yes, indeed there is a gargoyle in the garden. It lends a certain balance between the east and west. Both are equally potent forces, so they must be balanced, and the gargoyle does a fine job. Fearsome looking creature. One can only hope that the gargoyle will consume wandering Triffids and Zombies. A handy function. 🙂 Really about the reminder? I’d never taken the reminders in the literal sense, but yeah I can see what you are saying. It seems a touch prescriptive to my mind. Peoples imaginations can be worse.

    True, fools are tiresome, and candidly there aren’t that many of them around. I tend to be more troubled by mentally lazy people. Sloth does not impress me. But then that’s probably some very deep cultural programming, and I could well be wrong, or worse, thinking someone else’s thoughts.

    Mate, it could be one undocumented benefit of ageing?

    Ah, no worries at all about the series. Tell you what though, the story flipped the focus from dear dead ol’ Dex, and instead began to display the effect he has on the people around him. It was a good was to recount the story, but sympathy certainly diminished as the body count began stacking up. And in an amusing twist, he was taken down by a small town cop – probably the characters worst nightmare. 🙂

    Inflation is real. No getting around it. Where ever will it end?

    Sorry to hear that about the ATM. Is the new place much further? Account fees here are usually around the $10/month mark per account, and that quickly sorts out unused bank accounts.

    They way you casually chucked in “in the middle of some crisis, involving the police” was almost unintentional comedy. Clearly, other than the inconvenience to you, you were mostly convenienced! I just made that word up to describe the act of avoiding a scene. 😉 Overseas call centres…

    I’m scratching my head here. How does one put in a new crop for baby shrimp. Deep dive ahead…

    Do you know that I still see people ordering take away coffee containers and food stuffs and then sitting down at a table inside a cafe. How does that work? If they fear the health subject / you know what, then they’re probably more at risk from whomever was on the table prior to them. People just can’t seem to evaluate risk.



  14. Yo, Chris – Interesting what Inge had to say about “their own lookout.” It was a deep dive, down the rabbit hole. The search engines just didn’t seem to be able to get past lookout towers, military lookouts and, as you mentioned, criminal lookouts. No, no, no. Search for what I asked for, not what you think I asked for. 🙂

    That report came from the “Sirens” section, of our newspaper. Which is kind of a police blotter. Details are always maddeningly sketchy. Overactive privacy concerns, I suppose. There’s way to much of, “…a business in the 1200 block of S. Market Blvd.” Of course, we can always figure out which business it was, but why not just tell us? Our Salvation Army has a Face Plant page, but all that said was that the chickens were missing, please help. There were comments, but I would have had to sign in. Might, later, as time allows. Ah, I forgot about the other Salle May. But I think the old homeless guy’s reference, is far older. I run across it in literature, from time to time. Ahhh! It goes back to WWI. But was referred to as “Sally Ann”, back then. The Salvation Army canteens were thought of fondly, by the soldiers, as they provided warm coffee and donuts. Etc.

    Years ago, the Centralia Post Office’s back area loading dock, was off limits for a time. A hive of bees had broke open …

    It was 82F (27.8C), yesterday. Today it’s supposed to hit 86F (30C). Then we’re back to mid 70s, for awhile. Now next Tuesday, the forecast is for 95F (35C). But that’s a ways off. Things could change. Might be worse. 🙂

    I’ve never frozen green peppers, before. As I’ll be tossing them in casserole type things, to nuke, they’ll probably be fine.

    “Clear vision of the future.” I saw an article, last night, about a “State of the Environment” report, in your fair land. According to the article, it was done in 2021, but the previous coalition government choose not to release it. But, now, the cat’s out of the bag!

    It is speculated, that due to wide spread illiteracy, cathedrals and churches were tricked out as visual aids. I’d guess the preachers, giving a sermon, might reference a stone carving or stained glass window. Just to drive home a point. “And Noah built him an ark … as you can see in the stone carvings, in the arch of the north doors …” Or, something like that.

    That was an interesting article about the Land Cruisers. And, it’s pretty much the situation of find myself in, with my truck. Now worth about as much as it was, new.

    There are some new laws being passed, that hospitals have to start posting their prices. So when you’re bleeding out, you can shop around 🙂 . I talked to Elinor’s daughter, last night. Mobility is still a problem. I don’t quit understand all the details, but soon, her insurance for the rehab part of things, will run out. If she’s not able to come home, at that point, another insurance kicks in, and she becomes a resident of the assisted living end of things. If that happens, she can’t keep her apartment. She’s assessed, weekly. So what will happen, is still up in the air. But decision time is approaching.

    The location of the new credit union, is not on any of my usual routes. Though, it’s close. Not far from the cheap food stores. But there’s a horrible intersection, and a couple of round-abouts to negotiate, to get there.

    I watched “Sleepy Hollow,” last night. It’s an old Tim Burton film, starring Johnny Depp. 1999. I think I saw it, when it came out. The library got a fresh copy of it. It’s good, but any resemblance between the film, and the original story (Washington Irving: “Knickerbocker Stories.” 1840s) is purely coincidental. 🙂 The Disney 1949 animated version is more true to the original text.

    Checking, savings, alternative savings … credit card … are all on one account. So, even though part might be inactive, the account, as a whole, is pretty much alive.

    I think most baby shrimp are farmed. Aquaculture.

    By the way, “knickerbockers” were a kind of Dutch pants. From them, we get our term “knickers.” 🙂 . Lew

  15. Chris,

    Oh, don’t get me started on the many I’ve met who don’t think. There’s about 42 of the nonthinkers per thinking person. 😉

    My friend was in the doldrums until I arrived, so it was good that I visited. He has had to be the strong one in his family, as his wife and adult son can’t/won’t deal with it. I think some unpleasant things will slap him in the face once he arrives home.

    He was supposed to be released this Friday. That has been indefinitely delayed as he is at least the 5th patient in his rehab unit to contract the corvid. Things are rather unsettled to say the least.

    I remember your interweb issues. Plan A, then Plan B, then Plan C…In my recent case, I spent time talking to the call center with a phone connection that was iffy at best. Set up an appointment for a tech to visit this evening. Then got a call this morning that they had discovered the problem was on their end and had repaired it overnight. Having dealt with similar issues before, and as making an appointment can be a grueling process, I didn’t cancel the appointment until late in the afternoon, by which time it was obvious that the issue had, indeed, been repaired. I’m expecting my rates to increase because they performed routine maintenance on their system. 😉

    Ohhhh, so New Yellow replaces Old Yellow. At least New Yellow is clean. It will stay much cleaner if you don’t use it.

    I took my car through an automated car wash today. Avalanche was with me. She did NOT enjoy it. Too much noise and weird things. She was upset enough that she broke the car rule and jumped into the front passenger seat. I let her stay there, and she returned to her usual place after she had calmed down some time later.

    I remember the Bermuda Triangle. We, too, got inundated with stories and theories about how nasty that area was. Turns out, well, just about any area of that size has about the same number of missing ships and planes. Nothing to look at there.

    Your discomfort issues with the steel capped boots get to the nub of what the problem with them might be in industrial settings. If something heavy lands at the back of the steel cap, it could conceivably cut into the foot. Badly. I’ve actually got 2 pairs of them that are relatively comfortable. I’ve had several pairs that had the same discomfort issue you mentioned.

    Unmelted frost gets frosted upon. Crunchiness ensues while walking. Careful lest you become victim to a Paul Simon song, which is often our unofficial anthem during icy road conditions.


  16. Hi Lewis,

    Ah, the interweb search engines can lead you on a merry chase to unknown destinations, where you had no intention of ever setting foot. That’s algorithms for you. Incidentally, I’d never before heard the phrase, so the search sent me to similar places which you travelled, but alas enlightenment was not to be found. The whole giant mess of a thing is simply a humongous relational database, ’tis not very interesting in and of itself. However, it does allow us to continue our regular chats and I’m happy for that.

    That was where I read the report on the nefarious chicken rustler. When you think about the deed, it is not as easy to do as you’d imagine. A person would have to have a large number of boxes or crates, otherwise the chickens would get away, and the feathers may fly. And all those boxes would make a difficult get away, or at least preclude the ability to be inconspicuous. Although many long years I heard a singer in a rock band proclaim that out front of a rock ‘n roll band is where I hide. It’s quite an interesting tactic really to hide in plain sight. I suspect that such tactics are used quite often in society.

    I see, Sally Ann is a gospel-response to the poor and those in need. Yes, very practical, and the big J did mention doing that work.

    Far out. Mate, that is one thing I never want to experience – a swarm of angry bees. My mates of the big shed fame told me that they knew of someone who had a hive of bees get loose in a car when being transported. They used to do bees too early on, but they’re an interesting insect.

    Speaking of bees, they may have been flying around today because the sun was shining beautifully and the air temperature was 55’F. The tree dudes turned up this morning for work, and candidly it was frosty earlier on. So I set up a small bonfire near to where they were working, and they loved it. In between working I could hear them sitting around the fire and having a yak before then getting back into it. I reckon they worked super hard today too.

    Yeah, could be worse. 95’F for only a day or two is not so bad, and think of the tomatoes! 🙂 They’ll love it, if nothing else.

    I’ll be curious to hear how the pepper experiment works out. Freezing them is a good idea because they’re hard to preserve otherwise.

    Hehe! Yes, the naughty former government sat on that report on the state of the environment. Bizarrely the report was due to be released during an election campaign, so I did wonder about the timing and who signed off on that. Now we have a new government, the same old problems exist, and I doubt anything will happen on that front. There was much hand waving and emotionally charged noises on the news about this report, and then people just went back to what they were previously doing. My understanding of deeper time is that this problem will self correct, however, we as a species might just not like the outcome. That’s a clear vision of the future. As a species we’ll be fine, things will not be the same as they are today.

    Of course, that makes so much sense about the carvings. The particular institutions would have wanted to get a certain message across, and maybe it was also a reminder to the priesthood not to step outside the line? There would have been temptations to depart from doctrine. Dunno. I’m thinking that faerie tales were quite well known and traded, so imaginations would have been quite well developed.

    The interesting thing about the article regarding the Landcruisers was that the old timer suggested that consumption went crazy six months after interest rate hikes, and then abruptly dumped. That’s kind of how I remember things working out back then. Already I’m seeing a slowing of consumption if only because things seem quieter, although I do not know whether this is an effect of the winter months. Dunno.

    Hehe! Stop it. Thanks for the laughs. Yes, an extreme unlikely set of circumstances. A person is hardly likely to stop and ask for a quote when their lifeblood is oozing out onto the hospital floor. But for less urgent matters, it is probably not a bad idea for them to provide quotes which they have to abide by.

    Fingers crossed for Elinor.

    Ook! Yes, not all intersections are the same. Double lane roundabouts are a pain.

    Gothic horror stories can be quite good, and thanks for mentioning the author. Ah Rip Van Winkle, well I never. Hmm. The Editor is reading Norah Loft’s A wayside tavern, and rather enjoying the romp through British history. And I’d heard of the term knickers, and assumed that the word was related.

    Hmm, I’ve heard that a lot of damage is produced by that methodology.

    Went to the pub this evening for dinner and a pint. They had the fire going, and it was a very pleasant experience. Said hello to a few locals. You get known around here.



  17. Hi DJ,

    Went to the pub this evening and so have to call the dreaded mid-week hiatus. Will speak tomorrow, but until then! All I can say for certain was that the dark ale was good, just the thing for a cold winters evening.



  18. Hello Chris and Lew
    I am slowly (too slowly) realising that because I know what something means, doesn’t mean that it is obvious; so back to ‘his own lookout’. Substitute the word ‘problem’ for ‘lookout’. Does that help? In other words it means I don’t care about his problem, let him deal with it.


  19. Yo, Chris – I wonder if the chickens didn’t just wander off? Time will tell, I suppose. Maybe.

    It was a balmy 84F (28.9C), yesterday. Today will be a lot more chilly. 80F (26.7C) 🙂 . That was thoughtful of you to build a bonfire, for the Tree Dudes. I bet a lot of the other people they work for, are not near as thoughtful.

    Speaking of reports, I picked up a DVD from the library, and watched it, last night. “The Power of Big Oil.” It was a three part report, that was televised, last spring. It was a Frontline program. They’re a slightly left leaning investigative journalism program. They’re pretty good. What Big Oil knew, when they knew it, and how they responded. Knew a lot, about impending climate change, over 40 years ago, and how they responded was by all kinds of misinformation and political fiddling. Oh, well. Water under the bridge.

    The Church controlled the narrative, for quit a long time. They rode pretty tight heard on their priests. And if you wanted to get along, you went along. But that’s why they tried to suppress the Bible, in English, and other languages. As literacy spread, people wanted to know what was in there, and draw their own conclusions. And, once the printing press came along, the cat was really out of the bag. Of course, straying from the company line, could get you charged with heresy, and being burnt at the stake, was the penalty. See: The Reformation. 🙂

    There were times when I was in business, when there just didn’t seem to be a lot of money, moving around. And, I think, when times get iffy, some people, more people, hold onto their money, tighter.

    Elinor’s daughter stopped by, yesterday, and gave me some mad cash to get H groomed. So, first the rabies shot, then the groomer. I’ll probably make an appointment, today.

    Yup. Two double lane roundabouts. I figure I’ll nip down, mostly late at night. The Christmas season will require some planning. To get to the Credit Union, well, that’s a pretty commercial area. The Store of Walls, is down there. The Depot of Homes. Many drug stores, restaurants, and other retail outlets, in strip malls. And, just as an aside, it’s in the flood plane, which they keep filling in, filling in.

    I’m happy the Editor is enjoying “The Wayside Tavern.” Sometimes, I pick a winner. 🙂

    Elinor’s daughter also told me that the frozen green peppers, need to be double bagged. Otherwise, everything in the freezer ends up tasting like green peppers. So, I popped the two quart bags, in a gallon bag. I may try making some “Spanish” rice, tonight. So, I’ll toss in a small handful of the peppers.

    I stopped by the Club, last night, to say high to Jane. Most of the stuff I took in, is gone. My, that was fast. Someone had brought in 7 boxes of Krusteaz cranberry orange muffin mix. The ingredients list wasn’t too grim, so I decided to give it a whirl. Krusteaz is a family run business, out of Seattle. They started their business, during the Great Depression. They make a number of baking mixes. Thought I ought to check my facts, and ran across this interesting article…

    Anyway. The box I got, you just add water, oil and two eggs. Of course, I substituted almond milk for water, and replaced the oil with apple sauce. And tossed in a dash of vanilla and a sprinkle of nutmeg. As they used to say, “…tasted as good as store bought.” 🙂 The cranberries and orange zest, were in a little tin, in the box.

    Oh, boo. My back abscess is making a reappearance. Someone must have been asleep at the switch. I didn’t have a problem, last year. I probably won’t go to the doctor. I know the drill. But it’s just such a hassle. A month long ordeal. Lew

  20. Hello again
    I should have written ‘potential/possible problem’ instead of ‘problem’ hence ‘lookout’. The subtleties of language are beginning to get me down.


  21. Hi DJ,

    It is very possible that the ratio is far higher than the magic number of 42. Sorry. Our education system revolves around repeating information in ever more obtuse modes, and critical thinking is frowned upon. Dunno about your experience, but my worst subjects at Uni were the law subjects. I kept looking for the angle, and that was where the problems began. Uni was a disappointing experience because I’d thought that things would be different, but no, they were the same. Brings to mind a mental image of a Drill Sergeant yelling at the troops: You’re not paid to think soldier! Alas, woe is us who could peer through the noise and make up our own minds, still beats the experience of those who are asleep at the wheel. 🙂

    People can rise to the challenge, you may be surprised? But then you know the people and can guess at the way the wind may blow. Whatever the case may be, change is afoot in that household. It was thoughtful of you to lend a hand when your mate is in a time of need.

    There’s a lot of it going around, and I encounter people most days who look unwell due to it. Our society is not well set up to accommodate such situations, and I can understand why people are out and about in the community when they probably should be at home getting better. And the community as a whole is becoming more experienced with you know what.

    Interesting indeed, and maybe the rates won’t go up for you? The network around here was upgraded, and rates remained the same. Mind you, dunno about your experience there, but I was fine with the previous service. It was in the not exciting, but reliable category. Are they pushing you to upgrade your hardware?

    True. Alas machines tend to fail quickly if not regularly used. You’d be surprised, although you may have seen such outcomes in your former workplace? Dunno. However, it is better to get the Big Bertha machine serviced now, when it is not needed, than when it is needed in a hurry. 🙂 I’m considering ways to ensure that all of the machines get regularly run for at least five minutes every couple of months. And not to mention how quickly fuel goes off these days. It’s not good, but may not be as much of a problem in your country as it is here? I’d describe our fuels these days as something of a blend, but I could be wrong there. Anyway, got the big yellow machine out for a spin today hauling firewood around the property, the machine is big and feels super safe.

    Poor Avalanche, it’s probably a case of sensory over load. Mind you, it is but a short jump from front passenger side, to front drivers side. 🙂 Possibly an act of social climbing up the hierarchy?

    What? Really? I didn’t know that about ships and planes disappearing elsewhere being of a similar or greater risk profile. Ah, I see that you are correct. Thanks for the correction. Turns out there was allegedly some pressure applied behind the original missing five aircraft in order to possibly shift blame. Hmm. Still, you have to admit that it makes for a good story?

    Yeah, that sort of damage to my toes is exactly what I want to avoid. However, here is the dilemma: You remove one risk, and open yourself to another risk. There is no easy path through that risk story. But overall, because of the nature of the work around here, the steel caps tend to bite into the toes, so I’m not into them.

    I hadn’t realised that that particular song was attributed to Paul Simon. I’d thought that it was a Simon and Garfunkle song. Well there you go because it was on their classic album Concert in Central Park. I grew up listening to that album, and the live version sounds better to my ears. Art had the better voice, just sayin… But Paul was probably the better song writer. A complicated relationship those two.

    Wise advice too! 🙂



  22. Hi Lewis,

    That’s a good theory about the chickens, although they do come home to roost being creatures of habit, and you’d imagine at least one of the chickens may survive? Another theory is that a four legged predator took them, all of them. That’s equally possible. But, if it was a two legged thief of the human variety, I’d have to suggest that it may well have been an inside job. It would take a lot of preparation to pull that job off. I’ve carried maybe four chickens in two boxes for a fair distance, and it is no small feat. Even a new yellow machine doesn’t have the capacity to carry so many live chickens, and um, err, processing the chickens would leave some residual trace I’d imagine. But you’re right, time will tell.

    It was another, and even nicer winters day today. With warmer spring weather approaching on the horizon, we decided to begin tackling the firewood job for the season. There’s probably about five or maybe six days of work in it, which is not bad really. We split and hauled firewood for about five hours today. The stuff is being left in a sunnier locale on the farm so as to use the suns rays to reduce the moisture content down to a useful level. It’s nice of the sun to do the hard yards.

    Mate, seriously, a bit under twenty years ago, peak oil was being discussed in various corners of the serious and alternative news. Nobody listened, well that’s not entirely true, some people listened and understood, then came the GFC and fracking. What did big oil know, well, they probably knew all about that. There was a lot of hoopla about carbon back in the day too. And I recall one amusing err, is perhaps advertisement or paid content the correct description, anyway, not sure (but no free speech here remember), but the catchphrase was something artless like: Carbon, some may call it pollution, but we call it life. I always wondered about the narrator of that thing, a lovely voice, well enunciated, and hope it paid well. Man, I dunno. I’d read about the original reactions to The Limits to Growth study, and the general response seemed to be something like: Yeah, but what do you expect us to do about it? Exactly, ’tis water under the bridge.

    Being burnt at the stake for heresy sounds like a particularly unpleasant demise, especially for an entity that promotes the concept of love and humility. It doesn’t seem like an act of love to me, but maybe I expect too much. Sounds closer to the demonic side of the equation in reality. But I was thinking about the religious debate held in the Camulod series of books, and what that meant. Of course it all boils down to power and control, but even that lot can over do it, and here I cite Henry VIII’s demolition job on that lot.

    True, peoples spending habits can change quite rapidly from my experience. Where they’ll come un-stuck this time around is that there are now so many regular claims upon peoples income, which weren’t part of the background way back in the early 1990’s recession. Take vehicle purchases. Back then, vehicles were generally paid for out of savings and it was very rare to come across vehicle financing, but nowadays things have changed – and people have optioned that stuff up too so that the underlying expense is quite a good deal bigger than it was. And that is merely one stream of payments, there are more.

    That was very thoughtful with the extra cash for H. How is Elinor’s daughter going anyway, from memory she had her own medical issues?

    Wise to dodge peak hours with those things. There is something counter intuitive about double lane roundabouts when you have to turn right (left in your case) and someone can undercut you. Not good. Yes, you’ve mentioned the most recent flood, and floods are one of those things which can be put into the category: If it’s happened once… Fires are similar, but at least you can mitigate the risk somewhat.

    🙂 The Editor is very much enjoying the book. You called it!

    Did you try the frozen peppers in the Spanish rice? Hmm, paella! Yummo! And not to lead you astray, but baby shrimp would make a fine addition.

    Krustez! What a great name, and glad to hear that the product was good. A paywall got me. When looking up references to the Bermuda Triangle, more than a few paywalls got me there too. What did I say about companies looking for streams of mad cash from consumers? And I must say that it is the confident person who would set up a new business in 1932. Makes you wonder if a lower cost base produced positive outcomes for some entrepreneurs?

    Yikes! Look after yourself, and do what needs doing. Best wishes that you sort it out and the thing goes away.



  23. Hi Inge,

    Please bear in mind that I live in a country where people have been heard to say: Yeah, nah. The sentence is perhaps more complicated than it first appears, but my interpretation is as follows: I have considered your perspective and/or request, and dismiss it out of hand.

    Language is a complicated topic, and also one that is subject to change at short notice. Your explanation helps define the meaning of the phrase. Ah, and the word ‘lookout’ to me, implies a future tense which may or may not occur.

    My head is spinning too. Has it cooled down at all, and how did the garden fare in the hot spell? I’m particularly curious about your tomatoes.

    Today was a glorious winters day, and with the winter solstice now a month in the rear view mirror, the sun felt as if it had some energy to impart. There are signs that the momentum towards spring is building, and one of the early varieties of almond trees is beginning the early process of producing leaves. We decided to get on and do the firewood processing, which involves a lot of splitting and hauling. Hard work.



  24. Hello Chris
    Yes, it has cooled down today + a bit of rain; however it is supposed to warm back up.
    My tomatoes are doing well and some have begun to ripen. I hope to start eating them tomorrow. Cucumbers are growing in size as well. The stunning thing has been my Swiss chard. I have never had such incredible growth before; Son is coming down to help himself and I have begun to freeze the stalks.


  25. @ Inge – The subtleties of language are sometimes maddening, and sometimes fun. And, when you get into slang and idioms (looks like they are two different things,) all bets are off. 🙂

    I remember a language teacher, who taught English as a second language (where? when? Got me,) said teaching idioms to English as a second language students was the hardest thing. Because in direct translation, they make no sense, at all. The example I remember was, “Beating about the bush.”

    Of course, other languages have their own idioms. I remember a French assignment, where our first task was to translate the title of the book. It turned out, the closest English equivalent was, “The Chips are Down.” No one got it. Lew

  26. Yo, Chris – The Great Chicken Mystery of 2022. Inquiring Minds Want to Know! 🙂 Of course, to get right at the root of the matter, why did the Salvation Army happen to have 14 chickens? Questions, questions.

    Handy that the sun’s rays will reduce the moisture in the fire wood. Beats having to wring it all out, by hand. 🙂

    The documentary on Big Oil had a few of those ads. It was all part of the disinformation campaign. Carbon in the atmosphere (never mind how much) is good for you, and the planet. There was a whole riff on natural gas. It’s being touted, now, as cleaner energy. Well, yes, compared to oil, it is. But, the plants that make the stuff leak a tremendous amount of methane, which is a worse greenhouse gas, than even CO2. But we won’t talk about that ….

    I wonder if the Pope ever regretted not giving Henry VIII his darned divorce? But the Pope thought he had a big stick. The Papal Interdict. It had worked great, in 1208. But times had changed …

    Yes, there’s more things to spend on, and for a bit of security, more things you might want to have. I forget if I mentioned that I’d like to have a.) roadside assistance, b.) supplemental medical insurance and c.) and extension on my government medical insurance that would cover drugs. Not that I need drug insurance, now. But if I got all of those things, I would have no “cushion” in my income. The other alternative would be to save like mad, and hope for the best. Which is what I do. But, with rising costs, there’s less and less I can chuck in savings.

    I had an interesting conversation, about Elinor’s daughters knee. As one does 🙂 . She’s having trouble negotiating the medical system, to see this and that doctor, who will sign off on this and that. But, I mentioned to her that my friend Scott has about the exact same problem, with his knee. And that he gets periodic steroid shots, that enable him to feel better, and postpone the knee replacement. The light dawned. She had some kind of a respiratory problem, and as part of the treatment, was taking a number of steroid pills. And her knee was doing better, but she hadn’t made the connection. So, she’s going to look into that.

    I made an appointment for H to see the groomer. My, the first appointment is a month out. If they get a cancellation, they’ll give me a call. I saw a headline that 75% of American households have a dog or cat.

    The frozen green bell peppers were fine, in the “Spanish” rice. Not quit as crunchy as putting them in fresh, but the texture and color, were fine. And the flavor was the same. LOL. According to our night manager (who may or may not be of Hispanic extraction), it’s not Spanish rice, if it doesn’t have some meat in it. Beef or pork. When I think of it, the tinned stuff my mother used to get, occasionally, did have little pieces of pork in it. But, I don’t eat much meat, so …

    That’s a shame, about the pay wall. The original founder of the company, had slipped into myth. But, the author tracked down who she was, and that her name was Rose. She had the idea, and developed the recipe. Her husband (along with some investors), founded the company. It’s still kind of, in the family. Rose and her husband were childless, so, it was bought by one of the investors, and has descended through his family. Rose was listed as a board member, into the early 1960s.

    I think it was, in some ways, easier to start a business in the 1930s. Less oversight and regulation. Heck, you could build your own house, then. 🙂 Or process your own animals, for sale.

    I’m working up to making current jam. I think I’ve got enough picked. So, I took a look at my canning jars, last night (in four different places) to discover I have no 8 oz jelly / jam jars. Plenty of pints and quarts. So, I went tearing down to Sunbirds, this morning. With visions of snatching up the last case. Well, they had pallets of the stuff, in all sizes. So, I got a case of 12 (with bands and rings) for just under $15. The last two years, canning supplies have been in short supply. But everything looks well stocked, this year.

    Here’s an odd thing, about the currents. The two bushes are loaded with tasty looking, bright red fruit. And there has been no bird damage. I covered them in netting, last year, but didn’t bother, this year. I may dry some, too, for holiday baking. Lew

  27. @ Lew
    Fascinating. I wept with laughter at ‘the chips are down’; how could one ever explain!


    @ all
    Oh dear, here is a book recommendation. I first read it many years ago and am having a re-read. ‘The diary of a nobody’ by George and Weedon Grossmith.


  28. Hi Lewis,

    Yes exactly, that indeed is at the core chicken mystery, and one question I was wondering about too. Perhaps there is an element of mission creep in there with the groups activities? It takes us back to the beginning of the story, thus also inadvertently proving that the road to perdition is lined with good intentions. Do chicken’s souls need saving?

    Very funny! 🙂 Using the sun to reduce the moisture content of timber is a very old school technique which works. The old timer timber millers used to mill and then stack the timber with little wedges separating the planks so that the sun and air could do its thing. Nowadays, the stuff is dried in kilns I believe. Can’t be a cheap process. People with access to small portable timber mills still do the old school air drying process, although it requires a person to consider their needs many years into the future. Not much different from firewood really.

    Mate, it is odd that natural gas (the name is also suggestive, but there is history to that name) is now considered a clean and green alternative fuel. I had not been aware of the methane issue, but yeah, not good. When we lived in the big smoke, there was a large park nearby which was once the home of a town gas facility. I’m not entirely sure of the process, but coal was converted into town gas for nearby lighting. One or two of the old gas cast iron lamp posts were still around but obviously not in use. Dunno, but I’ve always assumed that the ‘natural’ referred to being somehow less processed than coal to gas fuels? It’s an interesting problem.

    You’d imagine that in the dark hours of the night, the Pope did indeed ponder the question: ‘what if’. It’s an eerie thought. It did seem to be like a foolish hanging on to doctrine, but then they probably thought of themselves as the power brokers, and possibly took things too far. You mentioned that at the time, the Church constituted an inordinately sized chunk of the economy, so they may also have made themselves into a healthy target for an asset raid?

    Ouch! Sorry to hear that, but unfortunately – and it is true for me as well – those who save and live within their means during times of inflation, get punished heavily. But in the longer term, the punishment is perhaps less than those who splurge without a care in the world. Things are changing all around us, and I can’t really tell how things will be in another twelve months time. It’s another mystery, but with this one, we’ll probably find out the answer. Easier than the chicken mystery I say!

    Well done with the suggestion for Elinor’s daughters knee. I tend to also sow the seeds of awareness in such matters. What else can you do? If people are receptive, that’s cool, but more often they are not.

    Wow! One month wait for a dog groomer. Yikes, that’s some serious demand. Dunno about your country, but the great resignation is real, and employees are hard to come by. I hear stories which I can’t recount here.

    Thanks for letting me know how the green pepper defrosting experiment worked out. Ooo, that’s a big call about the Spanish rice, and I don’t eat much meat either. Hmm, the versions I’ve tasted generally have either seafood or some sort of sausage meat like Chorizio (which is quite tasty). But by and large, the meat is a minor component of the dish as it is mostly fried rice and vegetables. Interestingly, they do grow rice in Spain. That surprised me. They produce about 20% more rice annually than we do down here, but here it is a minor crop compared to other cereal crops due to water requirements.

    I’ve noticed that links in your country seem to be increasingly behind paywalls. The whole free content thing never made much sense to me, but it depends upon the purpose of the policy – was it to make a profit, or squoosh competitors until they went out of business – like traditional print media. I can’t say for sure, but I’m observing more paywalls as time goes on. There are no plans for such things here.

    Hey, I’ve met and spoken with people, candidly they were much older than I, who just built their house without permits or whatever. And the thing still seemed to be standing. Experts sometimes get things wrong. Hmm. What’s that leaning building in San Francisco? Ooo, that one. It makes me feel queasy reading about the thing and I doubt I’d sleep well if I lived near to it. This is fun, some daredevil climbed the outside of it almost a decade ago. Hope they don’t get a major earthquake there.

    I remarked to someone the other day that cutting red-tape for small business is most certainly not happening. One process in particular is now extraordinarily complicated, with further layers of complexity being heaped onto. And I was scratching my head wondering whether I done the process correctly for all of the businesses I look after. I can see why a lot of older accountants have recently retired from the profession.

    Tidy work with the currant jam, and I’ve never tried solely using the berries that way. Although now I think about it, we have added currants as a fill in other jams, and it worked out pretty well. On a health scale, the berries are pretty good for you. I’ll be interested to hear how the jam works out for you. I can’t tell what is going to be in short supply either. The problem is akin to the old saying about herding cats, don’t you reckon?

    The birds much prefer elderberries – which are much later in the season, and sort of similar. Currants are early berries, so I’m guessing they are lower in sugars than later berries. I could lend you some parrots if you want? 🙂 The King Parrots here seem to get stuck into currants. The easiest thing to do is keep planting more of them, and I’ve noticed that hardwood cuttings banged into the ground at the end of the growing season, tend to take.

    Had a quiet day today. A gourmet chicken, bacon and leek pie was harmed in the process, as was a lamington. It’s raining again, but tomorrow looks set to produce some nicer weather.



  29. Hi Inge,

    Had to laugh about the ‘chips are down’ idiom. Definitely a keeper, and sadly is a phrase which is not often heard these days, when perhaps the chips are indeed down – not that most people seem to notice. 🙂

    I’m not sure, but I always imagined that ‘beating around the bush’ came to be as groups would have been walking around whacking at bushes with sticks trying to scare game out into the open. Dunno, but again it is another phrase now rarely heard. Mind you, a lot of funny talk does seem to be going on. Is ‘calling a spade, a spade’, the opposite phrase?

    Hopefully it doesn’t get quite that hot again for you, but still get hot enough to ripen all of your tomatoes.

    Speaking of which, the idea of creating a sunnier area for the tomatoes was discussed today. Probably needs to happen.

    Did you end up being able to eat some of your tomato crop? So yum!

    Actually Swiss Chard enjoys hot weather from what I’ve observed of the plant here. Most greens don’t enjoy hot weather, but that one is an exception. Dunno about your part of the world, but horseradish also does well in the hot weather as does the thin leaved variety of rocket. We’re eating fresh mustard greens (well, more correctly reds) from the garden now, however the summer sun kills them rather thoroughly.

    Freezing is a great idea. We don’t use that method however as power is limited at some points in the year.



  30. Hi Chris,
    Just a quick check in. Today I’m throwing a 70th birthday party for Doug. It’s not a surprise but details are. His friend is here for four days so is spiriting him away in a couple hours so the girls and I can prep. The party has a bee theme and the girls have come up with many creative ideas for decor. Of course it’s the hottest and most humid day maybe of all summer but what can you do. Monday is the last day of almost three weeks that we’ll have overnight guests so things will thankfully settle back to normal.

    Glad to hear that you can replace the wheelbarrow. I will say I’m jealous when I look at your pictures of flowers in the middle of your winter.

    We’ve gotten some rain but not enough – better than last year though. Tomatoes and cucumbers ripening along with raspberries and blackberries. It’s a bad year for Japanese beetles and they’re even eating the raspberries. The definitely prefer them to the blackberries which I planted right next to them.


  31. Chris,

    You are probably correct. The ratio is much much greater than 42 to 1. I must have been in the throes of a rare optimistic moment. 😉

    I hope my friend’s family can rise to the moment. Pleasant surprises are always a good thing. He IS recovering from his corvid attack and called me on the phone Friday. He sounds okay.

    Meanwhile, the Princess just had another cousin die. Ugh. 23 years old. Nobody knows why, but it was NOT the unmentionable illness. The Princess is close to the deceased’s father and is taking it very hard.

    I think that not only did the Princess and I board the wrong train this lifetime, but we were at the wrong station. 🙂

    Oh, the cable/internet rates rise a dollar here, 3 dollars the next month. Explanations are in the microscopic print included with the billing statement. They are NOT directly related to the recent maintenance snafu. It has to do with “additional programs” available via the television service – things that I will never watch as these new programs are always in Vietnamese, Russian, ancient Hunnish or other languages I’ll never speak.

    Thanks for the reminder. I need to fire up Big Bertha snow machine soon. Just because. Maybe I’ll do that when it is 40C next week, and maybe running the snow machine in that heat will trick me into thinking it isn’t hot. 😉

    Nah, Avalanche chooses to remain in the back when we’re travelling. As soon as she calmed down, she returned to her usual place. She’ll sit in the front only if I’m in a store. No coup attempts there.

    Yes, the Bermuda Triangle thing made a great story. Or group of stories. Life can be more interesting whenever there are supposed mysteries like that.

    The only time I like wearing my steel toed work boots is if I’m running my weed trimmer. I have a knack for having the cutting cable hit my toes. Yes, you can see the steel toe caps through the cuts in the leather. Otherwise, there are other shoes I can wear while working.

    You summed up Simon and Garfunkel quite well. Art could sing well and had a great voice. Paul could write wonderful songs and had a very weird voice. Not as weird as Bob Dylan’s, but not what is normally considered to be a great singing voice.


  32. Yo, Chris – The Salvation Army feeds a lot of people. Given the cost of eggs (and the problem sourcing them, due to bird flu), maybe the birds were donated. Or, purchased. Feed, or money for feed may also have been donated. Or, given they cook for a lot of people, they may be subsisting on kitchen scraps. The Salvation Army may have tricks in their arsenal, that date back to the Great Depression.

    The natural gas industry has been caught out, by whistle blowers traveling around with gas spectrometry cameras. The methane shows up, very clearly (the colors, the colors … 🙂 . Coal gasification has been on the radar, for quit some time. At times, when petrol was in short supply, cars were adapted to run on it. Of course, when petrol was short, even wood was pressed into service, to run vehicles.

    The Church were power brokers, for the longest period of time. Occasionally, they did good. Settling civil wars, and such. They also developed, and pushed, the knights codes of conduct. “With great power comes great responsibility.” 🙂

    I had a chance to read Mr. Greer, this week. And, some of the comments. Several people mentioned that the touted signing bonuses, sometimes, aren’t all their cracked up, to be. I was talking to a young lady, the other day, about dog groomers. We have a national pet supply chain, that also does grooming. She was telling me that they had a signing bonus, and training. But if you didn’t sign on for two years, you had to return the bonus … and several thousand dollars for the training. She decided to take a pass.

    We grow rice in the US. But, it only accounts for 2% of global production. Which is still several billion tons of the stuff. 1/2 is consumed in the US. Which accounts for 80% of domestic consumption. And I don’t think that includes the wild rice industry, in the northern US.

    I can’t say I’ve noticed more pay walls. Our local newspaper (which still publishes a hard copy, three times a week), has tried pay walls, on and off. I think they finally crunched the numbers, and figured out that they can charge more for advertising, based on numbers of viewers. Which plunged, when they tried a pay wall.

    Back to Mr. Greer, again, several posters asked when the PMC (Professional Management Class), will go away. I think what will happen first is, enforcement will weaken. But will always be hanging over people’s heads. Like the Church, sometimes the PMCs can do good. Once the college educated reached critical mass, in our state environmental department, composting toilets became possible. They weren’t for a long time. The same thing happened with rain water catchment. For a long time, every drop that fell out of the sky was owned and regulated, by the state. That has changed. If you don’t overdo it. 🙂

    I’ve read that currents are high in pectin, so, that’s one less thing to buy. Putting it in other fruits probably helps them jell. Do you add pectin to any of your jams or jellies?

    Keep your parrots. On the other hand, given the cost of King Parrots, over here, sure, send my a couple of dozen. It would be like winning the lottery. 🙂 When I think about it, there seem to be fewer birds around, than earlier in the season. The jays have all disappeared. There are a few robins, but not many. I wonder if they’re being killed off. We have a lot of crows, a few ravens, and the hawks and eagles. Owls. Must be tough, being a bird. 🙂

    Last night, I decided to give the shrimp nachos, a trial run. Chips, covered in garlic, mushrooms, shrimp, peas and spices. Swiss cheese. I was going to put on some of those dried tomatoes, but forgot. Not exactly like the restaurant variety, but tasty. Very tasty.

    I picked up two books from the library, yesterday. “What Your Food Ate: How to Heal Our Land and Reclaim Our Health.” (Montgomery & Bikle, 2022). From the dust jacket. “…marshals evidence from recent and forgotten science to illustrate how the health of the soil ripples through to that of crops, livestock, and ultimately us.” I read a bit of the introduction, and there’s a lot of “regenerative farming,” slung about. Looks like it will be a good read. I might learn something.

    I also picked up “Ten Tomatoes That Changed the World: A History.” (Alexander, 2022). I read the introduction, and skipped ahead to read the chapter on San Marzano tomatoes. Which grow best around Pompeii 🙂 . The author is informative … and amusing. He also wrote a book called “The $64 Dollar Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden.” Sounds like fun. I’ll have to see if our library has that book. Lew

  33. Yo, Chris – Ah….The Salvation Army chicken mystery, becomes clearer. Do a search for “Salvation Army, chickens?” There are several articles, from different parts of the world.

    Sometimes, the chickens are part of a “If you give a man a fish…” kind of philosophy. You’re probably familiar with it. It ends with, “If you teach a man to fish…” LOL. And sometimes, they use the chickens, to proselytize. Lew

    PS: Do chicken’s souls need saving? Well, some chickens are downright evil. So, maybe so. 🙂

  34. @ Chris and @ Lew,

    As a person who studied chemistry, I can’t help but chime in on the natural gas / coal gas question that the two of you were discussing.

    Natural gas is used as it comes out of the ground if it’s to be pushed into natural gas lines, such as the line that supplies our furnace with natural gas. It’s mostly methane, with a small percentage of heavier hydrocarbons such as propane. If you have a good natural gas deposit, the extraction process amounts to sticking a straw into the deposit and sucking on it with a pump. 😉 Such deposits – which have been drained dry by now – had a very high EROI. These days, most of the natural gas supply comes out of fracked fields. In that case the rock has to be fractured so the gas can collect into spaces large enough for the straw. The EROI of such natural gas is much lower.

    The “clean” designation for natural gas compared to coal or wood as a fuel isn’t entirely a creation of company advertising. The chemical formula for methane is CH4. When oxygen is added to it through burning, the two products are CO2 and H2O. The former is carbon dioxide, of climate change concern. The latter is water. When coal or wood is burned, both of which contain other elements like nitrogen and sulfur as well as carbon and hydrogen, the addition of oxygen forms carbon dioxide and water, and it also forms oxides of nitrogen and oxides of sulfur, which react with water in the atmosphere to form acid rain, which is hazardous to surface water through making it more acid. Particulates (smoke) are also formed, which are hazardous to breathe. In that sense, burning natural gas for heat and electricity is cleaner than burning coal or wood, though not that much cleaner these days because of the lower EROI.

    As you pointed out, Lew, natural gas lines aren’t maintained properly, resulting in methane leaking into the atmosphere. Methane, molecule for molecule, results in more potent warming in the atmosphere, but it doesn’t last as long in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide does. It’s susceptible to chemical changes from UV light in sunlight that carbon dioxide is not subject to.

    Some of the natural gas that is removed from the ground is liquified through compression (LNG). LNG can be shipped long distances and and can be pumped into a tank and then burned in an internal combustion engine, similar to gasoline. The compression lowers its EROI. It is cleaner to burn LNG than gasoline because gasoline also contains some sulfur and nitrogen.

    I think most of the propane for propane tanks comes from petroleum rather than natural gas, though natural gas contains some propane. According to my general chemistry textbook, circa 1970, the petroleum is first distilled to separate it into fractions which boil at higher or lower temperatures. Some of the higher-boiling fractions are cracked, meaning the large molecules in them are broken down through heat into smaller molecules like propane. The propane can then be collected, compressed to fill propane tanks, and shipped and used. Burning propane, like burning natural gas, produces carbon dioxide and water.

    Coal gas is formed by first heating coal in the absence of air to form coke, which is needed and used to smelt steel. In addition to the coke, two volatile byproducts are formed, coal tar (used as a source material for a number of industrial chemicals) and coal gas. IIRC, coal gas is largely composed of hydrogen (H2) and carbon monoxide (CO). Coal gas can be burned; it forms the same products as the burning of natural gas, but the EROI is lower because of the previous processing. Still, since coal is going to be coked, one may as well use the byproducts.

    It’s 104F / 40C right now, and late enough in the day that it probably won’t get hotter. I hope. We received about 0.8 inches of rain a week ago, which at least kept the abnormally dry conditions from further deterioration. I am pleased to report that the heat is expected to break by Monday and we should get some rain as well. Yay for cooler and rain!!


  35. Hi Lewis,

    It is quite telling that an organisation as well established as the Salvos have decided to reintroduce the idea of ‘show a man how to fish’. I guess they’d know their own history well enough to be able to know where things may be headed. And I absolutely agree, some chickens are very naughty indeed. At one stage we had two roosters, one was named Brian (after Dexter’s fictional brother) whilst the other was named Miguel (after another Dexter fictional character). Brian was a real pain, he’d attack the Editor and was killing off the smaller chickens with his amorous ways. His final mistake was turning on me and thinking that there’d be no consequences. He was wrong. Miguel on the other hand was a very pleasant rooster who took his job with the hens seriously and learned from the failings of his former compatriot.

    I could see that with chickens surviving on kitchen scraps. If there were enough scraps, the chickens would do quite well on such a diet.

    Me tired tonight, and intend to write. I moved the last of the citrus trees today to their new and sunnier location. Moving half a dozen trees doesn’t sound like a lot of work, until you’ve spent most of the day digging holes, turning soil, lifting trees from the ground, fertilising the soil, replanting them and fencing. Phew. The next five days in the weather forecast promise rain, so that’s a good time to move the trees. I couldn’t provide as much water as the rainfall promises.

    The authorities in your part of the world are trying to do some novel work with the giant sequoia forests. About time they recognised they got it wrong. US authorities take emergency action to save sequoias from wildfires. We have the exact same problem with the giant trees here (they’re the second tallest on the planet – nothing wrong with being the second tallest).

    Thanks for the link to the wood gas cars, and I was aware of the technology, but not how it worked. There’s a lot of firewood. Not sure how well such systems would work with modern vehicles with computers managing emissions and fuel injection systems.

    You’ve mentioned that the Church did good works, and I’ve no doubt that the Chivalric codes were a great idea. And that’s true about power and responsibility being intertwined. From time to time, they may have to bend a little. Dogma can be rather dull.

    Hadn’t noticed the comments about the signing bonuses, thanks for bringing it to my attention. The flip-side of that story is that it can be rather difficult for a business of that size to economically recover bonuses, and each step in the collection process becomes more costly. But yeah, it does seem to be a rather stringent condition. You’d think that it would be easier to simply make the business a better place to be employed at, rather than playing upon a persons desperation for mad cash.

    Rice is a fascinating grain, and there are wild rice varieties, and even ones that will grow well in drier hillier conditions. My understanding is that those grains don’t contain the same levels of sugar as the paddy grown rice. The statistics from your country don’t surprise me at all. And whilst looking up details about grain production I came across the interesting statistic that half of the world’s organically certified land is down under. Makes sense when you think about it, lot’s of land, not much fertiliser, why not go organic? Hadn’t realised the toe hold was that widespread.

    Yeah, you’re right about the paywall effect and subscriber revenue over advertising revenue. Makes perfect sense, it is possible that the paywalls are thrown up for me as I’m outside of your country? Dunno.

    The composting toilet and rainwater catchment story was very interesting in that a tiger can change its spots. And that’s a good example too. When first I learned of the issues in your country with both of those arrangements, it quite baffled me as I never understood the reasoning behind the stance. And that’s the thing too, don’t overdo things, but of course people being whom and what they are, boundaries can be tested for sure.

    Nope. We tried adding pectin to a jam mixture and um, the result had an odd jelly like texture. We’ve gone right back to the science of jam making, and old school instructions, and the results seem to set well. It’s a complicated process though where rules of thumb don’t necessarily apply due to the differences between various fruits and berries.

    🙂 I’d get into a lot of trouble. Sorry, no parrots for you! It is pretty tough in the world of bird, it’s a bird eat bird world.

    Your shrimp nachos sound pretty tasty. Yummo!

    Nothing new to me about that soil story, although the Editor says I can’t write about soil, much. 🙂 But it’s also very true, if you eat plants grown in rubbish soil, you can’t expect the plants to produce good health outcomes. So did you learn anything interesting from the book?

    OK, I’m curious, how does a person fall into an existential crisis in an edible garden? Although, I did notice the very scary word: perfect. What could that even possibly mean?

    Better get writing!



  36. Hi Margaret, DJ and Claire,

    Thanks for the lovely comments. Unfortunately I set aside Sunday evenings to write, and so writing shall be done – hopefully.

    Will reply tomorrow, but until then, there’s writing to be done.



  37. Yo, Chris – In no particular order … I saw a headline that Star Trek has two more spin offs, in the works. Overkill? Geese … golden eggs, etc.. Most of this week our temps will be 90F+. Night time lows are finally going to be over 60+. But the upcoming heatwave won’t be as bad as last year. According to forecasts …

    Ohhhh! I found out why are local Salvation Army had chickens! All is revealed, in this article.,8278

    Basically, they’re running an urban farm! How cool is that?

    Moving a half dozen trees sounds like a lot of hard work, to me. Especially since you don’t have the really heavy, specialized machinery to move the trees.

    I’m glad they’re cutting through some of the red tape to save the Sequoias. When I started reading the article, I thought, someone, somewhere, with no skin in the game and a comfy armchair, will object. Sure enough …

    Dogma. Great movie!

    Well, maybe the Editor will let you get away with talking about soil, in the comments? 🙂 . The book is very interesting. There are statistics on how the nutritional value of some food plants, has declined. It’s actually known in the ag world, but not talked about much. It has a name. Dilution effect. And do you know, they’re working on a gizmo (bionutrient meter), that you can actually use to scan vegetables, to get a nutritional reading.

    Given the author’s humorous take on things, I think his use of the word “existential” was very tongue in check. Our library doesn’t have a copy of his book. I might interlibrary loan it. Lew

Comments are closed.