The Jimny Predicament

Look, it’s probably a bad thing when you purchase your first vehicle at the youthful age of 17, from a wrecking yard. Just before events run their natural disastrous course, parents probably should step in and talk some sense into their wayward children. Alas, my parents were busy with their own dramas, and failed to notice the unfortunate transaction about to take place.

It wasn’t all bad though, especially given the dubious origins of a wrecking yard. The decade old car had the good grace to be cheap, and wasn’t in too bad a condition. A bit of care and attention, some mad cash thrown at it, and the car was brought back to life and registered in my name. Yeah, wheels.

At that age, having wheels made it easier to win and retain a girlfriend. Life was good. Of course at that tender young age, the word idiot may have readily applied. The car was fast, but not fast enough. What to do? Hot the motor up, that’s what! A bit more time, energy, and mad cash was err, ‘invested’ in getting more horsepower from the motor. That snot green machine used to fly. Little wonder the high performance version of the machine dominated car races when first released.

The beast was eventually brought to bay. All very sad, but at least no person was harmed in the head on car crash. The snot green flying machine was fatally maimed thus having its second and final demise. Last seen it was on the back of a tow truck heading back to the wreckers. Probably where it should have stayed in the first place.

The sensible way to learn to slow down, is to not be able to go fast in the first place. A bit of research suggested that one of the slowest cars on the road in those days was a second hand Suzuki Sierra / Jimny. For those readers keen on details, it was a 1982 model with a 1 Litre / 61 cubic inch motor and four speed gearbox.

Thus began my lifelong love of Suzuki vehicles. That old beast of a machine went nowhere fast, but it was a proper no nonsense off road vehicle which could go anywhere. Candidly, on the road it was a dubious machine, but no matter, it was fun.

Going somewhere remote, getting somewhere remote

That was then, and this is now. The current Dirt Rat Suzuki is every bit as capable as that old Sierra / Jimny in the above photo, it just does everything with a bit more refinement. Plus, the roof doesn’t leak when it rains really heavily, and the heater works.

The current Dirt Rat Suzuki is no spring chicken though, it’s pushing on 18 years. It is possible that those were the days of peak manufacturing quality. It wouldn’t surprise me, especially given that conventional oil supplies peaked around that year. The car gets maintained and repaired, but an accident is always a possibility. And given the age of the machine, it would be doubtful that the machine could be economically repaired. It’s a risk.

Here is where the story gets weird. You can’t just head down to a car dealer and order a replacement Suzuki Jimny and have it delivered the following week. There are wait time estimates stretching from anywhere between five months out to a year. Economics is invariably involved in such matters, and there is loose talk of parts problems (supply), and too many customers (demand). Additionally some folks must be purchasing the cars, then reselling them at a very tidy profit to impatient people wanting to get their hands on one now (investment and inflation).

It’s all very curious, but it is not as if this is the only product I’m aware of with long wait times and inflationary pressures. The other day an article suggested that building products had risen 17.3% in price during the last year. That’s well beyond the official rate of inflation and may explain why the sheet of 12mm / half inch plywood cost me $150 a month or two back. Little wonder news of collapsed builders saddled with fixed price contracts have also been in the news.

You don’t have to go far to read about the topic of inflation. People have noticed. Seems like every day there are new articles on the subject. Blame for the situation gets chucked everywhere, except for the most likely culprit: Rapid expansion of the money supply over the past quarter century.

The proponents of this expansionary money supply policy are the Modern Monetary Theorists. Surprisingly, that lot have a theory for tackling inflation: increase taxes and decrease government spending. Sounds good in theory. Yet, it is a naive solution because governments are no more rational than the average person on the street, and they’re hardly likely to want to reduce their sphere of power and control. What the theorists may not have considered, is that when it comes to policy, governments can completely stuff things up. I’m a bit horrified to think where things could go from here, but then bad economic things can happen by accident. It’s a risk.

Long term readers will already know that it’s been a wet year here. The previous two years were also rather more damp than usual. The soil is even slightly slushy (a technical term). It’s an impressive outcome given the farm is about two thirds of the way up a mountain saddle.

This is not frost, but really humid air

With these conditions in mind, we decided to take it a bit easier this week and avoid using machines which are ripping up the paddocks.

Machines are leaving tyre track marks in the paddocks

There’s plenty of other work which needs doing. The soiled sugar cane litter from the chicken enclosure had built up and needed to be removed. Many wheelbarrow loads of the stuff were removed. It’s a potent fertiliser for use in areas with damaged soil.

Soiled chicken bedding straw makes great fertiliser for repairing damaged soil

A couple of weeks supply of coffee grounds was also waiting to be distributed around the orchard. In order to ensure the fruit trees in the orchard extract the most minerals from the coffee grounds, a goodly quantity of lime gets mixed in. Usually Agricultural Lime (Calcium Carbonate) is mixed in, but this week I had a large bag of Gypsum (Calcium Sulphate Dihydrate) to hand, and used that instead.

Gypsum was mixed into the coffee grounds as a fertiliser for the orchards

Another waste product I have access to are coffee husks from the coffee bean roasting process. Plants seem to like that stuff too. It’s used here to repair patches of damaged or bare clay.

Coffee husks are used to repair damaged or bare patches of soil

The garden beds are being prepared in readiness for the coming growing season. The blackberry enclosure received a decent pruning.

The blackberry enclosure before pruning
The blackberry enclosure after pruning

The grape vines were also pruned, and I’ve decided to remove all but a few of the strawberry plants. The strawberries had taken over every bit of growing space, and that’s not good. Too much leaf, not enough fruit.

There is a path in there somewhere

The strawberries were cut back hard leaving only a few small berry patches. The reduction in competition will help both the strawberries and the grape vines.

Strawberries have been cut back hard leaving only a few small patches

We found a table base earlier in the week, and cut a top for it using a scrap of plywood left over which was an almost perfect fit.

A neat looking new old table

As well as a lot of rain this week, there have also been some frosty mornings. Observant readers will note a bit of ice collected on a very tasty Globe Artichoke in the next photo.

There’s a little bit of ice on this Globe Artichoke

Onto the flowers:

Some of the trees in the surrounding forest are flowering like this Silver Wattle
Leucodendrons are lovely almost all year around
This Mexican Escallonia shrub produces heaps of delicate flowers
A very early Rose

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 4’C (39’F). So far this year there has been 579.0mm (22.8 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 557.6mm (22.0 inches)

41 thoughts on “The Jimny Predicament”

  1. Yo, Chris – Well, my first car was a 53 Chevy Bel Air. I have no idea where my Dad got it from, but he sold it to me.

    Mine was a two door. Not snot green, but more of a bilious dark green. Even so, I called it “The Great Pumpkin,” as it had a rather bulbous shape, that really doesn’t show in the pictures and drawings. I got it around … 1965? In about 1968, I bought a VW Bug. After that, it was VWs, for quit awhile. You never forget your first. 🙂

    I keep wondering when car manufacturers will come to their senses, and make something simple and affordable. As far as the whole inflation thing goes, we’ve talked about how my old 04 Ford truck is now worth what I paid for it. But what could I find, that I could buy for that mad bit of cash? I wonder how many people have fallen into the trap of selling off an old beast for mad cash, and then found they could not replace it, with anything comparable.

    Snow is slushy. Soil is … something else. Wet spongy? Sloggy? Keep working on it.

    It sounds like you spent a good part of the week, tossing around good stuff to build your soil. Commendable.

    Blackberries still make me twitch. The last place I lived, they had entirely over run parts of the place. A great deal of effort, in beating them back, didn’t last long. To my untrained eye, your grape vines look as they should, due to the pruning you did. I’d say you did the right thing with the strawberries. Ours are going to need a lot of work, next year. But, they’re going to be put in new stock tanks, anyway. I don’t know if the Master Gardeners will save any of the old runners, or just replant the whole thing.

    The table looks really classy. Going to do anything interesting, with the top?

    The rose is really lovely. A nice kick off to rose season. Lew

  2. Hi Chris!
    I’ve been traveling, we car camped our way to Maine and the rugged New England coast to see that plus old friends who had moved there.

    So I’m catching up now.
    cars- Yes we have lived through the golden age of transportation, and while I’ve enjoyed the ride ( see comment about zipping over to Maine…..), I know it is winding down, at least for personal auto travel.

    My little car- the Honda Insight, is going on 18 years old, and has a one liter engine like your Jimney. It’s plenty enough power for me. The Insight was actually the first hybrid to be available in the U.S. Crossing my fingers, as parts are no longer available if something serious goes wrong.

    We know that we’ll be facing a tough decision when it finally dies, as both new cars and gas are pretty dear lately, and likely to stay that way.

    About cider- Sorry I have not replied sooner. I have used guidance from a fun book for those of us homesteaders who like a little nip now and then. It’s titled “The Alaskan Bootleggger’s Bible”. The book is a hoot, and describes all manner of ways to get adult beverages from whatever happens to be at hand.

    The recipe strays a bit from natural processes, but has worked well for me. Recipe as follows, with quantities for a full batch, but proportion the same for smaller batches.

    5 gallons sweet cider
    3 pounds brown sugar
    3 pounds honey
    2 packets champagne yeast.

    The key is to use campden tablets to kill off any microbes and wild yeast beforehand, and then ferment with the airlock to keep out the little critters that want to make vinegar.

    After fermentation is finished, we charge each bottle with some sugar for carbonation, but still cider is fine also.

    To be honest, I don’t add the honey, and still get a nice dry cider that clocks in around 9% ABV. Leaving the honey in would probably result in a sweeter cider.

  3. Hi Inge,

    Very interesting in relation to the wells. Being attached to much older buildings, you’d imagine the wells have been put to the test of time. Around this part of the world, I’ve only seen one hand dug, rock lined well. It was dry, but was quite deep.

    The water bore drillers around these parts generally offer a ‘no-water-no-charge’ policy, but it is hard to know if any well drilled will continue to supply water for long. Given ground water is out of sight, people can be quite profligate with the resource.

    Thanks for the explanation as to the Jerusalem Artichokes. That makes sense and I’d not considered that aspect. And yes, potatoes do likewise here and they do pop up in unusual places.

    There is truth in what you say, but plenty of the mines down under are owned by foreign multinational companies. It’s definitely a complicated matter. Hope you spotted my quick observation in relation to that bank?



  4. Hi Steve,

    Maine looks stunning! Did you stick to the coast or head inland?

    It does indeed appear to be winding down, but it is hard to tell how fast the fall will be. The lack of supply of new vehicles should be a wake-up call to folks thinking the party will go on and on ad infinitum. Talk of all electric vehicle fleets defies my imagination, now of course if the fleet was ten cars all up, maybe it is a possibility. I have this odd feeling that people are talking about more cars than ten though! 😉

    There’s a blast from the past man! Yeah, the Honda Insight was a worthy beast, and the incorporation of the 10kW electric motor was a stroke of genius. Incidentally the batteries are not too ‘out-there’ and so should be cheap to replace if that becomes necessary. But yes, I’m facing a similar dilemma – the machine works, but what about parts? Fortunately there is always the wrecking yard for parts, but your machine will be far less available at such places due to lower production volumes, sorry to say.

    Thanks for the book recommendation, such talk is like catnip for those who are interested in that subject! 🙂 Rest assured, a copy is now on its way and a review may follow at some unspecified point in the future.

    Ah Campden tablets, of course and I see. I’ve long been scratching my head in wonder at how the old timers used to get around using such items. Dunno, but it’s a journey and not a destination – as I’m sure you’ll agree.



  5. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, so many books, so little time. What’s a person to do? 🙂

    In a rather funny coincidence, some space junk has been discovered down under: More Snowy Mountains space junk found amid visit from Australian Space Agency. Yes, the rather appropriately named town of Moonbah is just the place for space junk to be found.

    That car from 1953 is a beast and is in amazing condition. Loved the story behind it too. What’s amazing about it, is that the machine could be brought back into working life quite simply. Not everything is constructed with that possibility in mind. So, did the wheels up the cool factor for you? That’s what I want to know. The Great Pumpkin! Love it! VW’s were similarly well constructed and I have a deep respect for those machines, although never owned one. At one stage I was seriously considering making a kit car from such a vehicle. It was a pretty nifty fibreglass body over the VW.

    As an interesting related side story, one of the small expensive appliances here required repair. I contacted the manufacturer to obtain the spare part – and was not looking forward to doing the job because it was a bit fiddly, but could be done. Anyway, they said they could fix the machine for $200, or for an extra $100 they’d recondition the machine (which included freight both ways). Sounded like mad cash well spent, so I sent the machine off with low expectations, and holy carp, the thing was returned in better than new condition. I was surprised by the offer to recondition it, because that isn’t advertised. Makes you wonder whether they were doing some sort of assessment of how the machine had held up after almost a decade of use? Dunno. They knew I was the original owner, and a long time customer through their records. The parts replaced would have cost more than the $300. Who knew this sort of thing was going on nowadays? A surprising turn of events.

    Yeah, the whole car story is weird. And down here, the same thing is happening with second hand cars hugely inflated in price. The idea for the story came about because yesterday whilst I was working, someone I hadn’t seen for many years decided to drop-in and was driving a second hand car of which bizarrely I knew the origin of. It’s such a small world. I did say to the person: How did you get that, knowing full well that the second hand car market is very tight right now.

    Interestingly, the Suzuki Jimny vehicle I mentioned in the blog has recently been released with a Lite (presumably a misspelling of the word light?) model which has a few less computers, and it is several thousand dollars cheaper, with a shorter wait time. I thought that move was interesting.

    That’s what I wonder too about selling off an old beast of a car, and then later discovering the difficulties of replacing the thing. It’s a complicated story.

    I like sloggy, but what about smooshy soil? Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite capture the feeling of having a layer of mud stuck to the bottom of your shoe. Hmm. It does need some work.

    Thanks. Improving the fertility of the soil is a project I’ve been at for fifteen years now, and would like to continue at for another fifteen years. Some parts of the property are becoming half way decent.

    Hehe! Yes, A thicket of blackberries is a scary thing to encounter. They can take over, that’s for sure, and if you look carefully at the before photo, the canes had begun tip rooting in the higher terrace up. I put an end to that mischief, but they really are a very tasty berry, and the canes are specifically chosen due to their thornless growth habits. I’ve got a mower which will run down a blackberry thicket, should the plant ever be unwise and decide to emulate their Triffid brethren.

    It was you mentioning pruning methods for grapevines which got me reading upon the subject and then into the enclosure and doing the work. I appreciated you mentioning it, and sometimes people see things that aren’t even on my radar.

    The strawberry runners are something of a mystery to me as I planted out maybe twenty of them in the greenhouse – all have taken. We’ll see how the season goes. Dunno, there is more for me to learn with those plants, so I’ll be very curious to hear what your master gardeners do with them.

    The table is the Editor’s project and I’m not entirely certain whether she will either paint or oil the surface. She did a pretty neat job with the jigsaw, and then bevelled / rounded the edges. We’ll find out.

    The rose was a surprise, but then some of the almonds have begun slowly leafing out. Everything is looking a little bit earlier this year, but then it does vary from year to year. Looking back at the photos of past years it is abundantly clear that August is snow month.

    You learn something new everyday. Horseradish sauce may sound like an obvious product, but no. 🙂 I’ll bet it’s a proper sinus clearer!

    Has it gotten any cooler?

    Hehe! True, accidents do indeed happen. I’m not used to balanced reporting either, but the article did cover all manner of perspectives. And the outrage folks probably didn’t know about the space junk landing in the Snowy Mountains down under. Pretty funny really.

    Sometimes gifts are just gifts, especially so these days when money has usurped social obligations. I can understand why people fear such things, but there is good and bad in all these arrangements, and the money one can be abused for sure. Especially by those who expand the money supply with a liberal hand.

    Have you ever tasted an old school version of pudding, like a Sticky Date Pudding? Just the thing for a cold winters evening beside the open fire place at the local pub. Yum!

    I’m sure gelatin is in heaps of stuff, but I don’t actively go out of my way to use it. Hmm, made a tasty key lime pie many years ago and very much enjoyed it. So good.



  6. Yo, Chris – I see your space junk article, and raise you real estate 🙂

    We’ve talked about this before, as you have the same problem in your costal areas. There’s even a side bar article, that relates, in the space junk article.

    You do have some odd town names. As do we. Sometimes you wonder, “What were people thinking?” LOL. I wonder if the space junk is labeled, “Property of Mars Boy?” Sooner or later, some of that stuff is going to come down in a highly populated area. And that will be a real mess.

    I don’t remember being impressed by the wheels. But then, you’ve got to remember I didn’t get the auto interest gene. I’m lucky to tell the difference between Nash Ramblers and VW bugs. I do remember the back seat. It was constructed like a big comfy overstuffed couch. I did a bit of drag racing, with it. Back rural roads, around our high school. It had some kind of automatic transmission. I’d punch the gas pedal, it would sit there for a few seconds, and then … vrooom! I usually won. As I had no sense of my own mortality. 🙂

    I remember the fiberglass kits, you could slap on a VW frame. Corvette, I think. I was never tempted. If you can’t have the real thing …

    It’s always a surprise when a company has good follow through. As with my missing package, a few weeks ago. There’s so much sloth and inattention around.

    Over here, they apply “lite” to everything from biscuits to beer.

    “Smooshy” doesn’t quit convey the moisture content. Ah, why didn’t I think of it before. “Mucky.”

    Your strawberries will be a lot easier to manage, in the greenhouse.

    I noticed the beveled edge, of your “new” table. Gives it a nice finished look. You know, as with carpet stores, tile shops often have remnants bins.

    The “Ten Tomatoes That Changed the World” book, is a lot of fun. It’s really an amazing history. First, tomatoes weren’t well accepted. Then it was a long time until tomatoes met bread, to become pizza. Tomatoes on pasta, took even longer to gain widespread acceptance. I was reading about the development of the Big Boy, tomato. And learned the difference between hybridization and selection. Instead of crossing two plants, you look around for a plant with the attributes you want. They tend to breed truer, and not have so many “throwbacks” to earlier genes. The way I understand it.

    What’s also interesting is that the tomato, a product of the new world, has become such a staple of other country’s cooking. A lot of people think it’s origin is in Italy, India or China. Because it’s so wide spread in “classic” dishes of those countries.

    But the story of Henry J. Heinz (57 varieties!) is really inspirational. “…Henry Heinz was a self-made man who got his start in business at the age of eight, peddling excess produce from his mother’s vegetable garden to the neighbors. When demand outstripped the family garden, his parents gave him three-quarters of an acre of his own, which had grown to nearly four acres by the time Henry had reached twelve. The precocious lad bought a horse and buggy with his profits, having figured out that being a wholesaler – unloading his produce to grocers and hotels – was a heck of a lot easier than going door-to-door for nickel sales. He also found that he could extend his business beyond the end of summer by adding preserved foods such as horseradish and sauerkraut to his product line.”

    There was a mention that he had “celery sauce” in his product line. I’ve never heard of it. At the time, it was thought to be “brain food.” I took a look down the rabbit hole, and there’s plenty of recipes for celery sauce.

    I don’t think I’ve ever had an old school pudding. I did watch a U Tub video, about Victorian cooking, where the process was demonstrated. LOL. It’s probably fallen out of use, as it’s most decidedly a “slow food” thing to make.

    It was 95F (35C), yesterday. Today it’s supposed to be 84F (28.9C). When I was walking the dog, this morning, it was pleasantly cool, with a nice cool breeze. High scattered clouds. Prof. Mass is saying that we may get smoke haze, from wildfires, further south. But, it will stay aloft. Not seeing it, yet. Lew

  7. Hi, Chris!

    That car made you the man you are today. That, and other things, like that wreck of a house you fixed up. The wrecks we have are what build character – or something like that.

    I haven’t had a Suzuki, but we have several Toyotas (like Mr. Musty the pickup truck) and a Honda. They are great machines. Also, one Chevy, which has not been too bad. All are ancient. One of my favorite vehicles was an Isuzu Trooper that we used to have.

    That’s pretty scary about the wait time for a new car. And I guess there aren’t enough used cars to go around.

    We are having a wet summer, can’t use any heavy machinery; in fact, even Mr. Musty can’t get to the back of the property. Alas – poor Tractorzilla.

    We have some new thornless blackberry plants. How tall did you leave yours after pruning?

    Thanks for the winter flowers. And the roses. I don’t even have roses blooming right now.


  8. Hello Chris
    The cynic may indeed hazard a guess. That bank used to own 3 of our ferry crossings to the mainland. They have since sold them to Canada. All quite nuts.

    Son is growing those round yellow courgettes for the first time. He believes that one of them has cross pollinated with the pumpkins which are growing nearby. We shall see.

    It is still utterly dry here; you seem to have stolen our rain.


  9. Hi Lewis,

    Things are pretty bad on that front down here too. However, the official interest rates are going up, up and away and house prices are like the Titanic, the ship hull has been breached and is taking in water, but the engine at this stage is still going. The money supply down here over the past two decades has doubled, and then doubled again. It’s not just lazy, it’s downright evil, and the article you linked to shows some of the darker sides. I’ll bet those lot don’t pay much either. The story won’t end well. I spotted the side bar article in the space junk article you linked to. The joke of the declining house prices, rising interest rates is that the whole thing is a relative problem and peoples ability to loan is also decreasing. I can’t but help believe that this is a deliberate policy outcome.

    There were a couple of blokes in the UK who travelled around taking photos of all of the stupid and naughty place names there. Some of them were really funny. Oh, others have been at that most important of tasks: UK’s rude place names to be toured by man on moped

    I agree, we’re putting up so much stuff now, that there is ever decreasing room for error. That big space station thing is going to fall too. That’ll make a splash upon re-entry.

    You’ve mentioned the lack of car gene’s in your DNA, and I can respect that. I don’t care either these days, as long as the thing starts, stops and goes (and most importantly, doesn’t give me hassles). Never owned a vehicle with an automatic transmission, but can see how the thing would wind itself up like a coiled spring. Well done surviving the experience, and hey I know what you mean.

    Mate, I was too poor for the real thing, and no insurance company in it’s right mind would have insured me in one of those beasts at that age. 🙂 Mind you, the kit car would have been super hard to insure as well. It wasn’t quite a corvette rip off…

    The word lite got me wondering at its history. Turns out it is a very old English word where the definition has been much changed over the years. Didn’t know that. I’d assumed it was some sort of dodgy misspelling.

    Mucky seems to be the front runner, and I can’t top such word smithing. Mucky it is.

    Exactly, no good came from letting the strawberry plants do whatever it was that they wanted to do. Turns out the plants prefer to produce runners rather than the tasty berries, so they’re now being brought to heel. And there is a school of thought which suggests that a fewer number of very well tended fruit trees will perform better than many more fruit trees than you’ll ever need. Time will tell, time will tell.

    The tip shop has huge quantities of left over tiles. It’s utterly bonkers. People order far more tiles than they need (or the packaging for the tiles forces them to do so) and then dump the left overs down at the tip.

    I have this vague memory that historically people used to dare each other to consume the leaves of tomatoes – which are toxic. I could have made that up though. A hard way to learn. Selection is how they used to do plant breeding, but it requires a person to be either particularly lucky, or grow a huge number of specimens. And local climate and soils can effect the outcome, so what might work in one area, may not in another.

    Really? I hadn’t known any of that. Commerce was in the blood of that man, and talk about path to greater things. Four acres at the age of twelve – as you do. I can only but have respect for such tenacity. He has some interesting family connections, that lot seem like real go-getters.

    I’ve heard said that growing celery down under is a very difficult proposition. Sadly, many years ago I had a chance seedling grow with minimal effort and produce very healthy looking stalks. The plant was not too good on producing viable seed and sadly it’s like disappeared. The old chestnut about celery taking more energy to consume than supplied has apparently been debunked.

    In a weird twist of fate, we almost had an old school pudding this evening. Stopped off to eat on the way home from the big smoke, and despite enjoying a delicious and filling meal, they were keen to try the sticky date pudding on us (at our expense mind you). Mate, I was full up to my eyeballs and couldn’t stuff another thing in, otherwise I would have gobbled the pudding down. They’re very good and the pudding comes with some sort of caramel sauce. So tasty. You really are missing out, although admittedly it is a touch warm in your part of the world for such stodge deserts, but maybe for a Lewis special celebration day when it finally cools down?

    Hehe! Well that is the downside to puddings. I remember as a kid my grandmother used to wrap puddings in some of cloth, and then hang them like curing meat – I can’t recall for how long. They were so tasty, and were generally served with custard.

    Whoa, the wind has really picked up tonight. It’s feral out there.

    84’F is getting into the really nice day band. 🙂 Glad to hear that H is still getting out for early morning walks. The countdown is on to the groomers appointment. She might not need as severe a cut by then?



  10. Hi Pam,

    🙂 Lovely to hear from you. Restoring a wreck is a very good thing for the environment too. What did the old timers used to say: Re-Use, Repair, (and lastly) Recycle. I’d be happy to write about that house, but have avoided doing so because of not knowing how to do so without making it into some sort of Grand Designs thing. There are probably lessons learned to write about? Dunno. Incidentally, the house market tastes and expectations eventually moved beyond what we wanted to provide.

    Toyota’s are very good, and they have a well deserved reputation down under. They used to manufacture Toyota’s in the big smoke. And even today they outsell any other brand down here. Mr Musty is in good company and clearly has a distinguished pedigree.

    Did you know that the Isuzu Trooper was sold down under as the Holden Jackaroo. A Jackaroo being the male version of the Jillaroo. True.

    The car market is just weird right now. But then there a lot of things going on right now which I’ve pondered deeply, but still make little to no sense. It’s a mystery. You have to agree that time will indeed reveal the answers to these questions, and more?

    Hehe! Yes, I know the feeling, because it has been a super wet year here too. Tractorzilla has yet to fire up like the mythical Phoenix and rise again to astound us all with its practicality. Hope Mr Dumpy escaped the awful fate?

    How tall? Hmm. From memory the canes were at least six foot high and could reach about three times that distance. But given they’re thornless, the plants are easier to manage. I have no thorny varieties growing here, but they’re never far away (one of natures truly productive survivor plants – and so tasty). The berries on the thornless variety are much bigger than the wild berries, but that could be due to better feeding and watering? Dunno.

    Yikes! That is a wet summer to not have roses. Having now had two of those in a row, it is with a bit of trepidation I consider the coming summer months…



  11. Hi Inge,

    The nickname is widely known. Many long years ago another accountant was discussing a hugely expensive renovation on a cafe, when he fixed me with a serious look before then saying: “It takes a lot of coffees to pay off that renovation.” The point I took away from the astute observation was that business fundamentals matter. Now other people feel differently about this, but I reckon they’re wrong to do so.

    Globalisation is I believe, in the early stages of unwinding and reverting to a simpler state. Watching manufacturing head off shore was a tough experience for me to witness, and I’ve always felt that it was a bad idea.

    Holy carp! Your son may well be correct, depending. Zucchini can cross pollinate with Field pumpkin Cucurbita pepo varieties. From memory, there are three types of pumpkins that won’t cross pollinate and I grow one variety of each of the three types (after all, I save seeds). Seems to work for me, now if that sun thing up in the sky co-operates life would be easier.

    It rained again this morning. Inge, even I’m astounded at how many days of rain we’ve had this year. We’ve had wetter years, but for sheer cloud and rainy days, this one takes the cake (try explaining that meaning!)

    Hope you get some rain, and soon.



  12. Yo, Chris – Well, that’s odd. Usually, when I come to your site, it takes awhile for the pictures to load. Less than a minute. Everything loads, but there seems to be something running in the background. The little circle keeps chasing it’s tail. Round and round, it goes!

    House prices may decline, but I don’t think they’ll ever get back to “reasonable.” Mr. Bill our Club manager, mentioned this morning that his son came to the realization that he’ll probably never be able to afford to buy a house. I observed, unless he moves to some of our midwestern states. Where the winters can be truly awful.

    That was an interesting article about the weird place names, tour. And for a good cause. I hope he doesn’t stumble across Royston Vasey. “Are you local?” 🙂

    I want a vehicle that will get me from A to B and back again. Doesn’t seem like much to ask for.

    Slapping “lite” on everything was probably some advertising gimmick. “Drink this stuff and you’ll be lite, too!”

    Strawberries? Maybe a whip and chair? As for growing a few well tended fruit trees, what will the parrots eat? 🙂

    Re: Mr. Heinz. And we thought we were over the top, with our paper routes and other side hustles.

    Sticky date pudding. The chef probably beat the waiter, back in the kitchen, for not pushing enough of the stuff. Somewhere, I saw a book on just British puddings. Ah, there are several. The one I probably saw was “The National Trusts Book of Puddings.” The British National Trust puts out several different cook books. I have a couple. I also ran across a reference to a book called, “The Lost Food of England.” I may have to interlibrary loan that, just to have a look. How many British cookbooks do I need?

    It was in the low 80s yesterday, and with a nice onshore breeze, quit pleasant. Outside. I think our building is still shedding heat. At least, when I open a window at night, and put a fan in it, it sucks in cooler outside air.

    I had a busy morning. First, it’s election day, so I had to swing by the courthouse and drop off my ballot. Then to the post office. I had my car license renewal, and car insurance renewal, to mail. Our postie would pick it up from here. But, for such important stuff, the post office it is. I’d trust our postie, but some of his replacements are a bit … flakey. Then to the credit union to get some mad cash. They’re moving on the 15th, and I wanted enough to see me through their move. The veg store … and finally, The Club for biscuits and gravy. I decided to leave H home. All that and juggling a dog? When I got home she told me, in no uncertain terms, that if we played a few rousing games of keep away, with her squeaky toy, we’d be jake.

    Oh, gosh. Toilet problems. It started running, yesterday, but the tank won’t fill. Where I lived before, I repaired the toilet, several times. The old float and chain. Looking in the tank I’ve got now, it looks like Star Trek, in there. I do not need this, right now. 🙁 . It’s almost time to start processing blueberries! Lew

  13. Chris,

    From last week, you mentioned Riothamus. That is a potentially big rabbit hole to drop into. Quite the interesting person who was in the thick of history. Like Vortigern, he’s another whose recorded name might really be a title. I note that the Wikipeida article about him also includes Odoacer and his Saxons in western France, near Angers. Another big adventurer was Odoacer.

    Enjoyed the Jimny history. Thanks for the interesting glimpse into your past.

    This has been a busy week. We’ve gotten some respite from the intense heat, but Tuesday and Wednesday have a “red flag warning” due to temperatures near 33C with 35 km per hour winds. We did hit 41C Saturday and Sunday.

    I noted another of your fine readers has been in Maine recently. I was in Bath, Maine once, a quick overnight trip to get my niece from another relative and bring her back home near Coulee Dam. It was early March over 20 years ago. She was 15 then, looked very Native American. I had long hair in a single braid down my back below my shoulder blades, a different look than some people were accustomed to. Picked up niece and she wanted to have breakfast at McDonalds. So that’s where we ate. We got our food, went to a table. After a few minutes later she nervously said “Uncle, those men are looking at us.” I turned and sure enough, a group of about 8 old fishermen were staring at us but would look away when we looked at them. I guess they’d never seen people who looked like us before. So I told her, “Niece, let’s have fun. Whenever they look at us, smile and wave at them. They’ll get all embarrassed and look away.” So she did that and had a good time giggling every time the group of older gents sheepishly looked away from her smiling and waving at them. When we left, I made sure to look at them and smile and wave before we left. We both laughed when they sheepishly looked away from us.

    The Princess and I ran a lot of errands Tuesday. It was nice having time together, just the 2 of us. We were able to have lunch at our favorite place, a little hole in the wall Mexican restaurant. Their chicken enchiladas with green sauce are fantastic, second only to the green chicken enchiladas I regularly consumed when I lived in New Mexico. It was a fun day.


  14. Chris:

    Ha – Jackaroo! My husband will like that.

    Mr. Dumpy is broken . . .

    Last night I was having a leftover beef hamburger, no bun because I didn’t want to use up my gluten-free bread. I had also cooked some of our beets. So I piled the beets on top of the burger and thought: “Is this what Chris means by a beet burger?” Somehow I think not.


  15. @ Lew:

    Oh – and thus my son and his fiancee live with us. It is a very happy arrangement. We all help each other tremendously.


  16. Hi DJ,

    An intriguing figure out of a dark time. And am I mistaken, but did the Riothamus overly trust Theodoric the Great and pay a hefty price?

    🙂 Always happy to share a tail (sic) from the dark past of misbegotten youth.

    Your weather sounds quite horrendous, and the high winds are certainly worthy of a red flag day. We call those days: Total Fire Ban days, and interestingly the words have a very specific legal meaning, not that the words themselves convey this idea.

    My head is spinning at your story. How does a person from your section of the country do a quick overnight trip to Maine, other than by flying? Now you may laugh, but many years ago I heard a story recounted from a reliable source that a tourist was encountered on the coast line to the south and east of here. Apparently, the tourist had the idea in their head to drive to the far western side of the country in two days. Yeah, nah. I don’t believe that is possible, although probably some strange group of persons has attempted it. Bonkers.

    Tidy work with the response to the stares. Makes you wonder what the gentleman were thinking, other than the more obvious answer of trying to make you both uncomfortable for no good reason. The problem is that sometimes there can be more of them than a person would care to take on. But I like your response. Yeah.

    Hey, some days are like that, and we had a similar experience last Thursday – which also included the dreaded dentist for a check up and clean, although I go more out of fear as to what might occur should I not go, than any desire to go – if that all makes sense. It’s motivating, in a very negative way.

    Seriously, the chicken enchiladas sound good. Yum!

    Man, you gotta keep on keepin’ on. 😉



  17. Hi Pam,

    It’s a pretty cool word, huh? And is also a very serious occupation: Jackaroo (trainee). Note that there is a Jillaroo, presumably after the old rhyme about Jack and Jill.

    Poor Mr Dumpy, hope he recovers?

    I do like how your brain works, but as they say down here: yeah, nah. 🙂 However, the more important question becomes thus: Was it any good? Many of the readers here are dubious of the beet in burger innovation, and between you and I, they’re wrong. Hehe!



  18. Hi Lewis,

    Well that is new to me about the snake chasing its tail on your screen. Makes you wonder what it means. In the event of interweb emergency, I can always be contacted by email at anyrubbish at (any address used with the domain address will reach me – even naughty words!)

    Maybe about a year ago I upgraded the website so that it had more computing grunt. You did warn me that I was filling up the interweb with lots of photos, and you were correct. Anyway, the upgrade went pretty smoothly and nobody noticed, so if anything the website should open faster. But then it depends, and the local server only promises high 99% up time, and frankly they’ve beaten that year after year. Very occasionally there have been a few odd glitches here and there, but nothing really to worry about. Dunno. Your computer may be another one of those mysteries we’ll just have to live with.

    It is worth noting that your country is simultaneously poking the bear and the tiger, and they do seem to produce lots of hackers that lot. But over here in this little polite corner of the interweb, we’re the nice people – maybe. 🙂

    You may be right there. The joke of the story is that as house prices are slowly falling here, lenders are lending less – so the whole entire problem is a relative problem, and the story remains the same. Yeah, I’m beginning to wonder whether your Club managers son is part of the Great Resignation story. After all, if the dream is dead, then what’s the point of it all?

    Hehe! Funny, yes indeed – Royston Vasey! Wouldn’t that make for an interesting day?

    Can’t argue with you there. It isn’t much to ask for, but whether it will be delivered, that might be a problem. Over the next couple of days whilst dodging rain storms (rain is forecast every day) I do have to do some serious investigative work on the Dirt Rat’s electrical wiring. My thinking at this stage is give it a go, and if I don’t resolve the problem, get an auto electrician in to have a look. I got a recommendation for a guy from the farm machine repair dudes. Great people to know, and overall great people.

    Speaking of rain, it is absolutely pounding on the roof right now. I dunno man, I dunno. Had a half of rain last night. Fortunately the sun shone today, but far out it is wet out there.

    Always appreciate your perspective, and you’re right about the parrots needs. Incidentally that is part of my plan to out-produce the forest critters needs. My thinking is that they’ll conduct a turf war which will set the upper limit on other critters trying to muscle in on the action, and also the winter months put all of them to the test.

    I was thinking that too about Mr Heinz. He had a strong work ethic. There’s a young bloke around these parts whom I was reminded of, except he specialises in egg production. When we run low on eggs around the winter solstice, I purchase from him. We’re getting about 3 to 4 eggs per day now. And the rats are being kept away. To quote the philosopher Dirty Harry: Who’s gonna stop us? Me, and Dame Plum, that’s who!

    You know what weird is? Right now, it is 54’F outside at almost 11pm. That’s a super weird warm temperature for this time of year. I almost thought I heard thunder a few minutes ago.

    An intriguing idea, but I believe it was the owners wife who thought that she could push the sticky date pudding onto us. Now if she’d suggested that it was take away for later consumption (i.e. another day), mate I might have been sucked in.

    Taking a literal approach to your rhetorical question, I guess it all depends upon how much British cooking that you do! Not much of that cuisine gets done here, but then who is to say where the origins of a dish may be? What an uncomfortable question. Have you ever read of historians tracking down the origins of various food stuffs and cuisines?

    Nice to hear that some cooler air is being enjoyed. And am glad that your weather is cooling, although I feel bad for saying that due to the ongoing tomato ripening issues.

    Hehe! Toilet problems. I have this vague memory that you were suggesting that my toilet repairs from a year or two back were like something out of Star Trek. I thought that I’d made the thing simpler by replacing several worn and damaged components with a simpler mechanism. Hubris or something like that. Who knows what is inside the cistern? At least you don’t have to deal with Jack any more.

    The rain is again pounding on the roof. It’s almost a tropical downpour – and it is a thunderstorm. So weird for this time of year. The lightning flashes are pretty constant, and some are err, a bit close for comfort.



  19. Hi Chris,
    I imagine today it’s not nearly as easy to repair your own car with all the computer elements.

    Memorable cars in my past include a Pontiac Trans Am which my mother purchased late 1960’s to early 1970’s – can’t remember exactly when. It was a convertible and I think it got 6 miles to the gallon. We used to go out tooling around often trying to drag race people at traffic lights. It was unusual for the time but my mother did all the driving. We had the requisite station wagon as we were a family of 10, her sports car and my dad’s more sedate sedan.

    When I was first married to my ex we moved out to a cottage in the country not too far from my mother/siblings. Problem was we only had one car which he used for work. We bought an old junker for maybe $100 that I could take to run errands (Cecily was a baby at the time) and visit my mom. The back door wouldn’t close property so had to be tied shut with a rope. It wasn’t a car I trusted to drive far.

    Maybe 3-4 years later when I was divorced I purchased a Datsun – can’t remember the model but it was a small front wheel drive that pulled me through the blizzard of 1979 better than most cars.

    When Doug’s mom passed away we inherited enough money to buy two almost new vehicles which we figure will take us through until we can’t drive. Doug has a Toyota Tacoma truck which is pretty small but big enough to haul pigs with the trailer and the like. I got a Suburu Forester, my 3rd Subaru. Being only 5 feet tall I like how I can raise my seat higher.

    I read today my old vet passed away. He had a series of old large sedans that carried all his vet supplies to his clients. He had no office but lived in a modest home in town. He’d arrive at 5 AM and taught us how to do much of our own vet work. Sometimes when he had medication for one of the goats he put it on the trunk of his car in his garage and I’d go pick it up in town.

    Still on the dry side here but tomatoes, cukes etc are coming in.

    Your weather sounds crazy!!


  20. Yo, Chris – You’ve got snakes on the brain 🙂 . Better there, than in the paddock. It’s a little circle that spins, up on the tab. Usually means that I should take a breath and let whatever page I’m on, finish loading. Usually, “graphic rich” ads. 🙁 Which you don’t have.

    Someone at the Club is all in a tizzy, because they think we’re going to be nuked by the Land of Stuff. I don’t know where he’s getting his information. To settle him down, I told him he should be a LOT more worried about The Land of the Bear. That they’ve been doing a lot of nuclear saber rattling, and have a supersonic missile that could hit us before we knew it. I hope it helps him sleep better. 🙂

    Electric wiring: It’s who you know. I had an old 65 Jimmy (GMC) pick-up, once. It had a wiring problem. Turns out, a wire had vibrated and worn through, and was grounding on the frame. Took awhile to find, but, a simple enough machine that it wasn’t too laborious.

    I wouldn’t mind a bit of your rain, but you can keep the hail. The next week we’re forecast for temps in the low 80s. But, by next Sunday, we’re back to low 90s, again. Prof. Mass has an interesting article about why wind power isn’t as effective, in heat. One thing his map doesn’t show (and he fails to mention) is that there was a big wind farm being constructed, due west of us, out toward the coast. I don’t know where all that is. A guy was killed on the construction site, and there was a huge settlement.

    Oh, I remember your tales of Egg Boy. You even linked to a really nice article, once.

    From our “well, that was interesting,” department. I went to get gas, this morning. When I pulled up to the pumps, it was $5.10 per gallon. I’ve started paying in cash. When I got back to the pump, it read $5.00 per gallon. Did I just happen to hit it lucky? Once I was done fueling, the pump reverted to the higher price. Apparently, if you pay cash, you get a 10 cent discount, per gallon. Who knew?

    I also stopped by the “other” cheap food store. The one that looks like it should have rats. I found H’s Very Special Food, at a low price. I managed to get 20 pounds, for $30. Last night, I hit the other two cheap food stores. In the one where everything is $1.25 (mostly), I did pretty well. No mayo, but mustard, catsup, honey, peanut butter, a good hot sauce, tinned lunch meat and tinned chicken. Got the last two cans of beef stew. Pork and beans. Potted meat. Tinned beef ravioli. I buy everything in threes. Except for the meats. I get six of those, and hold half back, for the weekend. Spent $45, right on the nose. At the other cheap food store, I found tuna, a good brand, for less than $1.

    I noticed I have one cherry tomato, that is beginning to show some color. The grapes have gone feral, again, and need to be hacked back. Didn’t I just do that? 🙂 .

    I talked to Elinor’s daughter, last night. Her mobility still isn’t good enough, to come home. We’re talking about a field trip, for H to go see her. They can wheel her out on the patio. If she ends up staying there, we’ll probably go visit, once a week. Lew

  21. Chris,

    It’s hard to say which of the other leaders/rulers betrayed Riothamus. although it appears that maybe the Roman faction set him up for a fall. When you figure that there were some Romans under a Count Paul, perhaps a second faction of Romans, Riothamus and his “British” contingent, the Franks and Odoacer’s “Saxons” working as a team sometimes but not always, Euric and his Visigoths in Spain and much of France, Burgundians, and of course, Theodoric and his predecessor’s Ostrogoths…well, that’s an awful lot of different factions each of whom had different goals. Alliances could be rather fluid.

    The winds and fire alerts continued Wednesday. Some idiot south of here decided to mow his dry grasses on rocky soil. (He must add extra stupid to his coffee.) Sparked a fire, yes indeedy. 300 acres and growing at last count. 40 km per hour wind gusts in that area. They had several airplanes and helicopters dumping water, then had to pull a giant aircraft off of the more than 10,000 acre fire in the center of the state, as this giant plane had retardant to dump in front of the fire.

    Well, yes I flew. To Boston, then drove to Maine, spent the night. Picked up niece, drove back to Boston, spent another night. Then flew home. Then drove niece back to the Rez.

    I think the thing with the curious gents was that they had likely never seen Natives in person before, at least not in their normal course of breakfast with buddies. As niece WAS getting uncomfortable due to their staring, I figured we needed to at least try to have fun with their rudeness. And it worked out fine.

    Wednesday was different. The Princess desperately needed time to herself. So she spent the day away from home taking a break. First time in a long time for that. Her sister, Avalanche and I had a day together. That had never happened before. It was enjoyable in a different kind of way.


  22. Hi Margaret,

    🙂 With the repairs, I’m looking at part of the wiring loom with the Suzuki Dirt Rat which has a minor fault in it somewhere, and trying to figure out how to remove the wires so as to inspect them. You’d think it would be easy, but no. And the computers are a mystery, might as well be magic.

    Cool. The Trans Am’s looked to me like they had authority and believe it or not at one stage I was considering a 455HO right hand side converted model. It was a beast, what with the flaming eagle on the bonnet! Your mum would I’m guessing have enjoyed the sheer spectacle that is one of those beasts. Definitely she would have ruled the traffic light derby!

    Far out, that old clunker would have made for some intriguing experiences like: Is it going to start? Will it get to where it needs to go? And hopefully the door didn’t fall off! Thanks for the laughs, although at the time it probably wasn’t all that funny for you. I remember one old clunker I owned and the floor pan had rusted slightly and you could see the road through the hole. Not good when it rained.

    I have a fondness for the old Datsun’s and had one myself, and old 1600. Thanks for the photos of the blizzard. Wow! It’s epic, and I must say, most of the people in the photos seemed appropriately attired. Not sure that would happen these days. What a thing to experience, and it interests me that in such circumstances community spirit can arise.

    Ah, the Tacoma is known down here as a Hilux, although I could be wrong. They did used to be smaller than they seem to be today. I’m honestly not sure why or how pickup trucks (we call them utes) have gotten so huge. The Subaru is a fine beast and has go anywhere no nonsense potential, although down here they are sold only in four wheel drive form.

    The Editor is a bit taller, but not that much taller, and has a similar concern with car seats. 🙂

    Good to hear that your tomatoes and cucumbers are ripening. Yum! Well, what can I say, the prediction is that it will remain wet up to New Years due to something called the Indian Ocean Dipole. That thing blows really heavy tropical rainfall down from the north west and across to this corner of the continent. Not entirely certain how much more rain the soil can soak up, but am probably going to find out.

    Thought I spotted a super cell rain storm to the west of here last night, but haven’t read any reports so it may have just been a heavy thunderstorm over the wombat state forest. Crazy weather indeed.



  23. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, we sometimes make the assumption that groups acting in concert have the same goals, but you’d have to suggest that until the goals are reached – who knows? Certainly it appears that the Riothamus came to a bad end and taking the British forces to the continent left that island basically undefended. You can sort of imagine that the troops were told: It’ll only be until things settle out on the continent, the Emperor will soon restore order, then we’ll return.

    I was going to say that about our Total Fire Ban days. People don’t realise that steel blades hitting rocks in paddocks can ignite fires in dry grass. And usually people operating such equipment are looking forward – and not to the rear where the fire has ignited. Down here there are legal consequences for doing that on those days, and it is not as if the ignition point is hard to find.

    Honestly, I do worry about that retardant. I’ve heard stories. Hmm.

    Thanks for the explanation as I’d wondered about that. What was your impression of Maine? It is a fair way north of Boston, and so would have been quite the drive through some scenic country. Wise to get back to country where culture is grounded. Hope that Maine wasn’t too problematic for your niece? I’d like to believe that I’m where I’m meant to be, but it would sound weird to explain that to peoples who are rootless. Part of me has always been drawn to the mountains and forests, dunno why, but it just is. Dunno about you, but some places are just more comfortable feeling.

    As I said, it was a good move on both of your parts. If the curious gents were smarter they could have struck up a conversation, but people are what they are. People can be a bit odd on that front, and funnily enough when picking up the coffee grounds I’d say at a guess only about one person in maybe fifty or a hundred will ever ask what happens with the coffee grounds. It’s rare that.

    Hmm, your lady and the Editor seem to be running in parallel. True story, she was a bit prickly this morning, and fair enough too because like your lady, there’s been a lot of heavy emotional stuff going on. And I had to work, so off she was shunted into the big smoke for a day of fun and adventure with a kebab lunch. She seems more settled tonight. But seriously, your lady has had a lot to deal with and needs the time out to recover. Only time cures, and even then we merely form scar tissue. Dunno.



  24. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the battery article. It sounds like a little ripper, which will unfortunately be made in the wonderful land of elsewhere. Being an burdened with an inquisitive mind got me wondering about what exactly is Vandium. It’s not like you find the mineral at the local hardware store. Turns out it is a rare Earth element, so I’m guessing that was part of the problem. Technically, the thing might be genius, practically speaking the word ‘rare’ is a dead give away to me. It did sound like a little ripper of a battery if the reality lives up to the hype. The longevity of batteries is always something which has concerned me. Seems like the longer the things last, the more inefficient they are. Like take Nickel Iron batteries. Super tough and will put up with all manner of abuse and last for decades, but yeah, hard to live with I’m guessing.

    You guessed it. It’s true I do have snakes on a brain. Dealing with firewood has that effect, even at this cold time of the year. I can’t work on that job this weekend because the soil is too damp. It’s crazy wet out there, and another half of inch of rain fell last night. Actually I thought that there was a super cell storm off to the west over Wombat State Forest, but haven’t read any reports of such a thing. It is remote though.

    The hail last night was a bit bigger than I’m used to seeing, so I checked to see if any of the glass on the solar panels was smashed and so far so good – that I’m aware of. The polycarbonate on the greenhouse shrugged the stuff off as a minor annoyance. Now if mars boy’s stuff hit, that would be a whole different outcome, as I’m sure you’d probably agree.

    Ah, of course and thanks for the explanation. Graphic rich advertisements are a nuisance and sometimes are quite distracting. It is worth mentioning that video is a whole bunch of individual image frames, but you’ve read and/or seen Fight Club and the projectionist naughtiness. It all comes back to Fight Club in the end. Did you re-watch it recently?

    I’ve heard that nuked story too, and said yeah don’t worry about it. Then went on to explain that there were other more pressing matters to worry about. See, you tried a similar strategy, and we can only now hope that the someone at the Club now sleeps better. 🙂

    Exactly, one thing I’ve cultivated over the past dozen or so years is acquaintance with people who get stuff done. I’m always impressed with such folks. Had a bash at looking at the electrical problem in the Dirt Rat this afternoon and discovered and fixed two issues, but will have to get in the auto electrical bloke to do the work. And you’re spot on, that’s probably what has happened. The car is eighteen years old and so these things should be expected. Put out a call on a Suzuki forum to see if anyone knows anything about the problem. Can’t hurt.

    Well, yeah that’s the thing, you’ve qualified your desires for rain with the word ‘bit’. Mate, I can assure you, it’s an all or nothing thing down here. Far out it is wet this year. Droughts and flooding rains. The tropical moisture from the north west are the summer storms that can do a lot of damage here, and those have been predicted for the coming summer. People get ready, there’s a storm a comin. Don’t need no ticket, just wait for it!

    The good Professor may not realise, but solar power also de-rates in the heat. But as to wind power, I’d imagine the guts of the machine would develop some serious heat with all of the friction in the mechanism. None of this stuff is cost free. I’ll check out the essay, I’m curious. Wind power was a total flop here. Such a waste of time and energy.

    Cool. The cheaper for cash might reflect the lessened merchant fees charged on each usage of a credit card at a swipee machine. And the different cards are charged at different rates and for different vendors. It interests me that the change was made at the pump. Clever. There was a move to pay at the pump by card a few years ago, but the system was stupid. From memory, you couldn’t fill the tank and had to pay for a preset amount up front. No wonder people didn’t use them, it seemed counter intuitive to me. Do they try that in your part of the world? Most places here you pay at the console operator, next to all the yummy chocolate bars. Fortunately chocolate does not call to me.

    Good stuff with scoring H’s special food for cheap. I’d noticed that mince meat has reduced in price this week to $5.45 per pound, but mushrooms went up to $10.45 per pound (did the metric to imperial conversion to save your brain from exploding. I wouldn’t enjoy that).

    Pork and beans. Thanks to you I know this product to be Baked Beans, and am left wondering: How much pork is actually in there? Anyway, the beans are good fibre, and the stuff is actually quite tasty on toast – not that I ever eat the stuff these days. Be more inclined to cook up a proper batch of lentils from the dry beans. Yum. Of course, some of those do require hours long process of soaking the beans, but that’s all part of cooking.

    That’s awesome to read about the tomatoes. 🙂 And yes, I do recall you taking the chair and whip to your grapes only recently. The naughty plants, they need a proper chastising.

    H would love the visit with Elinor, and Elinor would probably likewise enjoy it.

    Worked today, had a very late lunch and then came home and began dismantling the Dirt Rat Suzuki to see what was going wrong. Had to have a short nap after that work – don’t want my brain to explode from over use. 🙂



  25. Yo, Chris – Overcast and cool here, this morning. Looks like we might have even had a splash of rain, though none was in the forecast. I see you mentioned to someone, that your long range forecast is for pretty wet, through the New Year. Sounds like your spring is going to be wet. As was ours. Super cells are fun to watch … from a distance.

    Hit the jackpot, at the library, yesterday. 7 DVDs and 4 or 5 books. Among the DVDs was “Fight Club.” I’ll get around to watching it, sometimes in the next week.

    As I remember, my grounded wire had something to do with a headlight.

    Here, you insert your credit card into the pump, pump your gas and then it debits your card the exact amount. Has always been like that, as I remember. If you wanted to fill your tank, using cash, you always had to estimate … and, pay in advance. If you didn’t use the whole cash amount, for a fill-up, there was a song and dance you had to go through with the teller, to get the cash balance back. But, when gas prices started going up, I decided to switch back to cash. I pay off my card, every month, and decided I didn’t need big charges on the card. Also, I’m not filling my tank. What I put in the other day will probably take me through until next month.

    If you dig around in a can of pork and beans, you’ll usually find a 1 inch square of pork fat. You probably would find our product super sweet. Used to be, it was sweetened with a bit of brown sugar. Now, I’m sure it’s loaded with corn syrup. Yes, making your own is the way to go.

    I was tempted to taste that tomato, this morning, but decided to hold off til it shows a bit more color. It’s about time to harvest my green zucchini. The yellow is done. Then I can dig under the leaves and stems … and, get most of that bed ready for, I think, garlic. For starters. You know, I’ve been thinking about the stock tanks, I’ll get next year. I’ve been fiddling with the idea of sinking one or two 5 gallon buckets, in the bed. To use as a root cellar. I’ll have to look into that.

    I finished “What Your Food Ate,” last night. Strap in tight, here we go! 🙂

    In several places in the book, they did do soil analysis and plant analysis, comparing conventional agricultural methods (herbicides and pesticides) with regenerative or organic methods. Testing for nutrient makeup. It was startling how much higher the percentages are. For minerals and phytochemicals. AKA: Trace elements. The phytochemicals include three amino acids we can’t make, ourselves. Phenylalayine, Lencine and Isolencine. Those underpinne flavor. Which is why so much of our commercial fruits and vegetables taste so flat. Plants take them up, in an exchange with the mycorrhizal fungi, in healthy soil.

    Herbicides, pesticides, fungicides and tillage disturb this exchange. It also kills, or drives away the worms. So, if you want tasty, healthy food, the best way to go is regenerative or organic farming. Which is low or no-till, cover crops, crop rotation and getting a lot of organic material into the soil.

    There were a lot of other interesting bits, in the book. Tomatoes have a certain amount of umami flavor, stimulation. There may be a sixth flavor, lurking out there. Oleogustus. Turns out there are receptors in our mouths, for fat. 🙂

    There was also quit a bit about the Washington State University Bread Lab, which is north of Seattle. We’ve talked about those folks, before. They’re doing some incredible work with wheat. I didn’t realize, or forgot, they’ve been at it for about a hundred years.

    Well, that about covers it. I may have got some of the details wrong, but you get the drift.

    One of the books I picked up yesterday was “Downton Shabby: One American’s Ultimate DIY Adventure Restoring His Family’s English Castle.” (DePree, 2022). I read the first couple of chapters, last night. Great fun. The ultimate home renovation project. Grand Designs, writ large. If you search “Hopwood Hall”, and check out the images, you’ll get an idea of what he’s up against. Lew

  26. Hi Chris,

    You aren’t the only one having rain. We had another 2 inches of rain yesterday afternoon through this morning. For the third time in a week and a half, the St. Louis metro area received flooding rains. And for the third time, we were not on the axis of the heaviest rains. I won’t have to water for at least another week!

    Part of yesterday’s rain came via a severe thunderstorm, which dropped a tree on a nearby electrical line. We had no electricity for about 15 hours. It wasn’t a problem, as the rain had cooled the air enough to be OK without air conditioning. Mike cooked the pork loin he’d started preparing for dinner on a propane grill instead of the electric stove. We didn’t remove anything from the refrigerator for dinner or breakfast, to keep the cold air in it. We put the dinner leftovers into a cooler with a small block of ice we keep in the chest freezer. Opening the chest freezer lid briefly was no problem; the cold air stayed at the bottom. We have battery-powered lanterns which we used for light after the sun went down. Mike heated water for our morning caffeinated beverages over a charcoal fire. About an hour after breakfast, the electricity came back on. It’s good to be prepared and to have plenty that we can do that doesn’t require electricity.

    Mike and I drive a 1999 Dodge Caravan with 285,000+ miles on it. So far no problem getting parts for it. This past May the gasoline filler tube developed a pinhole leak and was replaced. We intend to drive it till we are too old to drive anymore; it’s the best car either of us have ever had. They don’t make cars as well as it’s made anymore.


  27. Hello Chris,
    Thanks for the stories about your auto adventures.

    On our new farmlet, we have wood heater that looks serious ( and 10+ cubic meters of very dry wood from the previous owner. Solar power is best stored in wood, as you say. A very stable and low-cost energy battery. No vanadium needed.

    Today I have started my first seeded trees of the year in flats, and it is great to be going into a new generation of growth in this new and still exciting place.
    It is a bit overwhelming to learn the ropes of a new place. The oldest building is from the 1800s, and the newest garage was built in 2019, and everything in between.

    I also agree fully with your note at the JMG site regarding giving commandments to other people. Your method of leading-by-example is much more appealing, at least to me.
    Thanks again for sharing your observations of reality, what works and what doesn’t, it is very inspiring and helpful!
    Indeed, clever strategy is a good start, but the real impact comes from observations, adjustments, refinements, consolidation. In other words the classic WE Deming plan-do-check-act-cycle.

    Today we had 33C and a wonderful breeze, so we took half a day off and biked to the beach for our first swim in the North Sea. Glittering water and white sands. But maybe I should also mention the greenish soup of algae from the farm-leach-out of surplus nitrogen and phosphorous? The first twenty meters of ocean looked like minestrone. It is an active agricultural area with lots of potato, grain and rapeseed fields… Some pigs, some dairy. It was great to swim anyway.


  28. Hi Goran,

    At first glance the wood heater didn’t look deep enough to me, but then that’s why measurements help! 🙂 It’s a pretty good sized wood heater and I’ll be interested to hear of your experiences with the device. And on a personal note, having access to a wood heater is a very, very good idea in your part of the world, what with everything going on. Respect, and may you and your family enjoy many a toasty winters evening.

    At a guess, looking at the schematic of the wood heater I’d believe that items 46 + 47 + 48 + 49 and maybe 35 + 36 are the consumable items. The rest of the machine appears to be cast iron, but those parts are most likely sheet steel and fire bricks (but I’m happy to be wrong about that). Might not be a bad idea to get some spare parts of those parts, err, sooner rather than later. The base 40 + 41 will probably be OK as long as you keep a base of ash, thick but not too thick if you get my meaning?

    Hopefully the firewood is a hardwood species, but you have some flexibility due to the heater being cast iron. It’s a very good quantity of firewood – it is such a great heat source.

    Tell you an interesting story about wood heaters. Mine is locally made, and I’ve had a spare baffle on order for some months now. I spoke to them last week, and it turns out their steel supply has been halved and so they are having lots of troubles supplying and the spare part is about another four months away from being supplied. Hmm. At least that part I can fabricate myself if need be.

    Mate, I didn’t even know what type of mineral vanadium was. There’s not a lot of it around. 😉 Probably why it produces such a great battery – it would be the lack of corrosion for sure.

    It’s exciting! Good stuff. Do you have an area where you can raise the seedlings?

    For sure it would be overwhelming, and no doubt you’ll be discovering secrets of the place in two decades time. 🙂 Plus you’ll have to work out what you’ll maintain and/or adapt to your own needs. Does the place have any established fruit trees, and if so, how do they look to you?

    Thank you very much, and it is a pleasure to have continuing dialogue with people such as yourself. Hope you are happy on home turf now, I’m always happier on home ground. And yes, continuous improvement is the name of the game here, but we also test systems just to see what is possible. I’m not born into this role and so end up having to make things up as we go along. When we first moved here I asked a lot of the locals and old timers how they’d go about setting up this place, and nobody seemed to really know. On the other hand, every patch of land is different and has its own unique challenges. Dunno, that’s been something of a mystery for me – why don’t they know?

    Time will sort that beach problem out. The gas situation will certainly impact upon such waste. As a species we can only be wasteful when there is waste to be wasted. Hope you didn’t swim in that muck?



  29. Hi Claire,

    Hope you have a chair and whip handy in case some Triffids evolve and set up shop in your garden? 🙂 Wow, more rain, and you would have imagined that there would be a break after the last seriously heavy rainfall. The air would be very jungle like humidity wise now at your place. Yikes!

    But your garden sure will grow if the heat returns.

    Seriously top work, and testing out your systems under difficult conditions and finding them up to the challenge is always a pleasure. Wise to keep the refrigerator door closed, but you’re right, chest freezers come into their own during such conditions and retain their cool much better due to having an opening at the top rather than on the side where the cool air falls out from.

    The torches are also a good idea, and for your interest we have several ready to hand and charged, just in case. However, I absolutely applaud the ingenuity of making morning coffee over a charcoal fire. Can’t get better than that, and it would be much needed. Did you notice that your area was much quieter once the power went out? There’s always a lot of background noise and there is a beauty with the absence of noise and just taking in the sound of the wind and the birds, and in your case the falling rain.

    Respect. Was there anything you thought of, for next time the power is out?

    Claire, a tidy choice. To my eyes it looks like the vehicle could perform reasonable duties on a road trip where you camped in the back? Or do my eyes deceive me? Incidentally, down here a ‘caravan’ is what they call ‘trailers’ in your part of the world. And here a trailer is something like the bright yellow trailer I use to lug materials and equipment back here.

    It rained here again today, and will do so tomorrow as well. Ook!



  30. Hi Lewis,

    Did you end up getting the rain? How’s the soil moisture looking like at your place? And hope nobody has recovered the dodgy hose sprayer head, what a travesty that would be.

    Super cells are pretty exciting, and the light show is always good with those things. They’re common enough in this corner of the continent and have something to do with tropical air masses from the north west (Indian Ocean) and a low pressure system off the coast. I have this hunch that exciting weather is something fun to read about, but not so much fun to experience. 😉 Had an entire kitchen in the backyard under a tarpaulin one evening a particularly notable super cell hit. After ten minutes I gave up trying to bring the cabinets back inside the house. The favoured material of cabinet makers is Melamine Panels, and I have to say, they’re extraordinarily efficient at sucking up water, and then they swell. For some reason, they never seem to revert to their previous state.

    Oooo, such DVD talk is like catnip to me. Hope you enjoy the film, and I’ll be interested to hear what you have to say about it, and whether the film has stood up to the test of time. Read the book recently – at your insistence – and quite enjoyed it. The book and film were very close, except for the ending.

    Losing headlights is a bit of a pain. Yup. Get you pulled over too, and who needs that sort of attention?

    Wow. Those pay at the pump systems are very rare down here. Mostly, you fill up, or select a preset amount to pay, and then you go and settle with a cashier. And that’s exactly what stumped me about the pre-pay system: What if I want to fill up? When I was a kid, there used to be actual physical people who did that job of filling up the tank and then sorting out the payment. It seemed more civilised somehow, and I do recall the introduction of the first self serve petrol stations. It seemed like a backward step to me, but people are in the mode nowadays of filling up the car themselves.

    Ah, yes, I see. There would be quite the different taste between brown sugar and corn syrup (a product which is rarely seen down here). It’s hard to know about the differences in foods between one country and the next. I don’t recall baked beans being sweet, but I’m sure there may have been some sugar in there… … Turns out I’m wrong, they don’t have sugar added. Who knew?

    Wise to hold off with the ripening tomato lest you are disappointed. I forget, but with your zucchini do you allow them to grow into the size of marrows? Getting the garlic in early is a good idea and will get the bulbs off to a good start. Are you growing garlic from cloves you saved? And I’m always curious to hear about such soil experiments such as digging in the leaves and stems. We usually chuck them onto garden beds as fertiliser for the flowers.

    Mate, I’m strapped in and talk of food and soil, well that’s about as good as it gets! 🙂 Happy days.

    Hold carp, I knew it was not the same, but had not been aware that the differences were as you suggest: startling. Not good. Did the book mention that the difference has become more marked as time has gone on? Didn’t know that about the lack of amino acids, but was aware of the fungi – sugar – mineral – plant exchange which takes place in the soil. Very interesting indeed.

    Doing all of those things, but will get better at crop rotation over the next few years – right now that’s a weakness. There’s some work which needs doing before a proper rotation can take place in earnest. So has your perspective of food and soils changed from having now read the book?

    It’s interesting you mention fat, but I reckon a few years ago my diet was too low in fat – not for any real reason other than the fad many years ago was to reduce fat, and so I thought that this must be a good thing to do. Dunno now, I think it was wrong, and now I get fat through dairy (milk, cheese, yoghurt) and also add coconut oil to my breakfast. I think it is a better diet for me, as I feel better with that lot in my diet and my skin is less dry. Plus I don’t doubt there is plenty of yummy goodness in the food we consume when we eat out. Yummo! Cakes, so good, so tasty. 🙂 But I don’t advocate any sort of diet for anyone else, people have to find their own path. Ain’t none of my bidness.

    I remember years ago we were up north of the country and had just purchased a yummy looking cake from a small town bakery. Chowing down on the cake outside, an elderly lady walked by and said: ‘tut tut, calories’. In between mouthfuls of cake I may have dropped an f-bomb, which in more polite terms was instructing her to decamp to another location. I have to admit to being quite taken aback by the chastisement.

    Oh, it’s raining again. Goodie! Far out.

    Good stuff that Uni folks are doing good work with plant breeding. It is the job which is never done, but seriously should be done. East of the mountains would have some good grain growing areas in your part of the world.

    Thanks for that with the book.

    Your root cellar idea is a very good idea. I have a book on the subject, but with everything going on, I’m kind of in a fiction mindset right now and what better fictional chance companion than Jack Vance. Read an interesting story recently that the author Jack Vance squashed the also now deceased author Stieg Larsson in a taxi cab ride. Very amusing as one author was much larger than the other.

    Ooo. Gonna have a looksie at that now. Should be interesting. Thanks for the tip.

    It’s so wet that I can’t possibly work outside today. So we finally got around to fixing the bathroom. It’s been a while, but just before all of the craziness happened two and a bit years ago, we purchased a custom hardwood bathroom cabinet… I’ve been busy! 🙂

    The Editor completed reading Norah Lofts ‘A wayside tavern’ and thoroughly loved the book. And is now onto Meg Rosoff’s book ‘How I live now’ which was I believe recommended by Inge. I forgot to warn the Editor that the book descended into an entirely different genre, but no matter. The adventurous reader has to be prepared for any eventuality, except maybe for the rather abrupt ending of Stephen King’s ‘The Cell’. Surely the author was bored of the story and may have said to himself on concluding the final page: Yeah, that’s enough for me. 🙂 The cheeky scamp.



  31. Yo, Chris – Saw an article about your space junk.

    I love the laconic comment from the sheep farmer: “Not something you see on a sheep farm, everyday.” 🙂

    I watched a good film, last night. “The Duke.” Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren. Based on a true story, that I had never heard before. Back around 1960, an old duffer stole a Goya painting, from the National Gallery. He was holding it for ransom, but an odd sort of ransom. He was miffed because TV had to have a license. And he thought at least widows, veterans and old people, should not have to pay the fee. It’s mostly pretty funny. A true English eccentric.

    The U.S. went mostly self-serve, for gas, decades ago. Disintermediation. Oregon is one of the few states that still has attendants. There’s something about wheeling up to the pumps and saying, “Fill ‘er up!” Usually, while they were pumping your gas, they’d also be washing your wind screen and checking your oil. Tire pressure. Tire air was free back in those days. No wonder some people see it as a Golden Age. 🙂

    I think proper baked beans, should get their sugars from onions and tomatoes. Maybe a pinch of cane sugar. But not too much.

    It’s that time of year when I agonize over if I should water the garden once a day, or twice? The yellow zucchini is about 8-10″ long, and not too round. The green zucchini are big honkers. 12+” and as big around as a standard tin. Yes, I save garlic cloves, from year to year. They’re getting so crazy expensive. I try and stick with the soft neck, as it stores longer. Including the Elephant Garlic, I’ve got four varieties. Anything that isn’t invasive, I chop up and turn back into the soil. If I get big leaves, from say, rhubarb or zucchini, I might just throw them flat on the ground, to keep down the weeds. But, they break down very fast, and I have a sneaking suspicion that they just fertilize the weeds.

    Is there much difference in plant nutrition, compared to Ye Olde Days? Hard to tell. Testing for nutrition was pretty spotty. And methods hadn’t been developed, yet. Most of the current results are from plants grown one way, and plants grown another. There’s been several controlled experiments (closely observed test plots) and it’s pretty clear that the way you grow plants determines nutritional value. But is it profitable? More and more it seems, it can be. I put in an interlibrary loan request, on “The $65 Tomato.” 🙂

    Dealing with a small area, I have some problems with crop rotation. I don’t have a plan, but just try and not plant the same thing, in the same spot. It’s a bit crazy with the raised beds going out, and the stock tanks coming in. Things will be a bit more settled, when everything is in place.

    Has my perspective changed. Well, I had known or suspected a lot of the stuff in the book. But the other day I was out in the garden and had a sudden … understanding? epiphany?, of how alive and connected the soil is. Or can be.

    I took a quick look at my Rodale book on Root Cellaring. They do have a section on buried barrels. And, several other ideas. Here’s an interesting one. Take an old refrigerator, lay it on it’s back, and bury it. Now that’s recycling 🙂 .

    I read a bit of a new Christopher Moore novel, last night. “Razzmatazz.” It’s back to San Francisco, just after WWII. A kind of very funny noir.

    I read some more of “Downton Shabby.” The author has managed to make a connection, with a mentor. Another American who has renovated another castle. It’s kind of interesting, that the author, was a real Hollywood “creature.” And is about to take his life in a whole different direction. Lew

  32. Chris,

    Yeah, it really looks as if Riothamus taking another contingent of soldiers to the continent gave Aelle and his Saxons a foothold in Sussex. Eventually, along came “Arthur” and the “Saxon wave” was halted, maybe even reversed. Then that ended and we sorta know the results.

    That entire metal hitting rocks in dry weather near dry brush is often overlooked. That’s what started one of the catastrophically large fires on the Rez about 8 years ago. It’s very common, apparently. At least the current local fire is pretty much stopped at 1,600 acres. Maybe a bit more.

    Meanwhile, the town of Lind, Washington, about an hour west of here, was evacuated Thursday due to a fire that threatened the town. It DID enter the town and burned several homes. I don’t know what caused that fire. It’s under control and people are back in their homes, but still on alert.

    Rain. None here. Claire has gotten a lot, as have you. Then there’s Death Valley in California, which averages 2 inches per year and frequently has temperatures at 50C this time of year. But Death Valley just got 1.46inches in a matter of a few hours, causing flash flooding in Death Valley.

    Well, Maine. It was pretty, as were the parts of New Hampshire and Massachusetts we drove through. It was early March, so there was still snow covering the landscape. I was disappointed that we really didn’t get to see the ocean from the main roads. We were able to stop at 2 or 3 historical sites on the drive back to Boston, which was fun. I would’ve liked to have spent an additional 2 or 3 days, but the reason for the trip was an emergency due to complications for niece in Maine, and we really needed to get back to Washington as quickly as possible.

    It sounds like you have a large dose of understanding for Sandra’s situation. Good. The more understanding you are, the better.

    The Princess has a memorial service to attend on the Rez this weekend. Normally, her sister would go with her, but she has not been well this week. So sister will be Avalanche and me. Interestingly, the Princess really needs a trip like this without her siblings that she cares for. She is happy that she is leaving sister “in good hands”. Sister will watch tv. If the smoke stays away, I’ve got some outdoor work to do.

    I’ve been doing physical therapy on a hip this late spring and summer. Aging thing, right? Nothing serious. The tiny piriformus muscle acted up. As this caused a lot of *discomfort*, I refer to said muscle as “Piriformus Rex”. Some new stretches got added to the regimen this week, and they seem to be helping. It also looks like I need some custom-made orthotics for my shoes. Whatever it takes to demote Piriformus Rex back to merely piriformus.


  33. Hi DJ,

    It was a few years between events with the Riothamus and Aelle. 🙂 But yes, the circumstances were invariably linked. I must say that there is much debate about this new historical character you’d introduced: Aelle. The Norse claim one thing, then another for the mysterious – and probably quite hideously competent – character Aelle. Whilst the Anglo Saxxon chronicles suggest differently and that he died in battle at York on 21 March 867. It is hard not to smell the hand of Norse hyperbole here, and the most likely explanation to me was the 867 ending. We can be certain of one thing, he did pass on to Valhalla.

    The steel and rock situation is a real problem down here during the summer months, and I tend to lean towards the explanation that the whole thing is idiotic, and sorry to say. But most people just don’t realise the what can actually happen with that technology. Mate, it is a common problem down here too.

    Have the winds died down a bit? Glad to hear that the fire appears to be under some sort of control.

    Yeah, it’s a bit of worry. Houses by and large are not constructed or maintained so as to withstand fire. It doesn’t take much, and they can burn down pretty quickly (about four minutes from what I’ve been told). We physically built much of this house, and it has some nifty strategies for defeating fire, but do you want to stake your life on the possibility that nothing will go wrong? I dunno. It’s a story that is difficult to ever fully ignore here, and I do wonder how insurance will play into that story, what with 20% year on year increases. That’s what may be politely termed: meaty. 🙂

    It’s kind of difficult to comprehend what a “yearly average precipitation of 2 inches” looks like, but the place names are a dead give-away. Furnace Creek – enjoy the fishing, sometimes. 🙂 Extremes of weather are rarely enjoyable experiences.

    Ah, recovery of the niece from an emergency came first. It happens, and it was fortunate you were able to fly over, sort things out and bring your niece back home.

    It is easy for me with Sandra’s situation, I don’t have to experience the emotions first-hand. But yes, there is fallout, and that’s life and what was meant by the whole ‘for better or for worse’ thing, which we didn’t actually say or had said to us – didn’t need to hear it. Time, that’s what is needed here.

    Wise for your lady’s sister to not venture out when sick, even for a memorial service. You never know what reaction may occur these days with that possibility. Hope your lady is doing OK. And sometimes we all need time alone to heal.

    How’s the smoke going today? I hope you’ve got your air purifier going full blast?

    Hehe! That my friend is known as getting older! Good luck. Did I mention to you the conversation I had last week with another local about chainsaws? The younger lady – whom I’ve known for many years now – mentioned an interest in getting an electric chainsaw. So I gave her a go on the smallest and lightest machine. Hmm. Something, something about a bad back. So have you done your stretches for that I asked? Hmm. DJ, you can’t skip them or miss them, and you have to add to the repertoire, but you already know that! 😉 Good luck, again.



  34. Hi Lewis,

    Space junk getting dropped on Down Under seems to be all the rage these days. The sheep farmer had a very understated and amusing way of putting the situation. It was lucky that no sheep were killed or buildings damaged. Given the thing is 9 foot tall and wedged into the soil, I’d hate to see what such a chunk would do to a house or larger building. Mate, it’s only a matter of time.

    Some more space junk has turned up, this time to the south west of here along the coastline: Space junk identified at Yambuk by Australian Space Agency. Please don’t ask me what the scary dead koala on a motorbike was all about – I can’t explain that photo, but the people do seem to be smiling. I can’t explain why they’d be doing that either. Is it art?

    Ooo! I’d watched the trailer for that film as it was on at the cinema’s only very recently. It still is down here. It looked like fun. It’s a good theory the bloke had, and who knows he might get free TV in the slammer? 🙂 Bills can be annoying for sure. The annual water bill turned up in the mail yesterday. As a little minor whinge, I have to provide my own water, treat the sewage and look after drainage here – and they still send me a water bill. It’s outrageous, maybe I should nick an old painting and hold it for ransom? Did the plan work out?

    Well that’s news to me. Do you have to pay for compressed air to fill up your tyres / tires? Mind you, I’ve got two little machines here that can do that trick – so it doesn’t surprise me. But at petrol stations here, compressed air is usually supplied free of charge. Speaking of stuff getting nicked though, a local petrol station owner once told me that someone had thiefed off with the tool which connects the hose to tyres – I’d wanted to check on the air pressure whilst I was there, but no dice. I can’t even imagine how someone would have done that, but then people can be surprising.

    We are of like mind when it comes to Baked Beans.

    Well, if you’re gonna agonise about something, that’s a worthwhile thing. And I don’t know the answer either. It depends is probably the best answer, but technically that answer doesn’t say much at all. If the overnight temperature is going to be cool, I probably wouldn’t water again at night, or maybe do so only when the sun is still shining on the soil. The water cools the soil you see, and that slows the plant growth. Good luck!

    Hmm, interesting, I had not checked garlic here, but most other fruit and vegetables seem to have increased in price, so it wouldn’t be surprising. Big honkers!!! Very funny. That may well be possible with the rhubarb and zucchini leaves. When the leaves break down, they may also be providing some much needed moisture for your weeds? Dunno, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

    Ah, of course, that does make sense, and it is not as if we can go back in time and perform the current tests on the plants of yore – hadn’t known that nutrition was not easily tested back in the day. That’s news to me. Hmm. You know, on that front, local soil mineral deficiencies would have been more common before industrial fertilisers. I actually have no idea how that situation played out in the past.

    Unfortunately, it is not profitable unless you have customers willing to support the production. When I see a roast chicken for sale and the scrawny thing has a ten dollar price tag, it astounds me how cheap the cooked bird is. Hey, what is a $65 tomato? I’m curious to find out. The local gardening club regularly holds tomato variety taste tests.

    Mate, I’m doing the same thing here with crop rotation – with the same dilemma’s – and use your strategies. It works, but if things ever got serious (theoretically speaking) I’d have to put more brain cells towards the matter. Fortunately I have some very good books on the subject, and read them, but now forget the details.

    It’s a clever use to put an fridge to. That subject is one area which living on the side of a mountain saddle has an advantage.

    Good stuff, and that’s great to hear about the epiphany. And I agree, the soil, the garden, the critters and insects, you, it’s all connected. And I have an odd hunch that plants grown in good soils which are consumed locally when fresh, probably produce good health outcomes, although chance is always lurking around waiting for a moment of hubris.

    Why was Sammy nicknamed ‘Two Toes’? The book is critically acclaimed.

    What? How is it possible that there is a second American who has renovated a different castle? An intriguing story, and such a project would consume your life. Hope the bloke has deep pockets?

    Finished off some more inside projects today, including ta-da! Fixing the earthquake damaged laundry door. Apart from the many hairline fractures in the plaster, the hinges on one of the laundry doors was damaged in the 5.9 earthquake. It was the only other damage (that I’m aware of). The original hinges were a bit rubbish, and whilst I was at it, I changed the type of hinges so that the door can swing open 165 degrees (before it was only 90 degrees). Of course nothing is ever simple and I had to block out the door frame with chunks of plywood. It’s all looking rather neat, although the job took hours and now looks like it used to, except it works. Also began installing the lights in the big shed A.K.A. mead hall. Let there be light, and there was!

    Me tired. Off to bed, sleepy…



  35. Yo, Chris – It’s going to be pushing 90F, today. And Sunday and Monday are forecast for the low 90s. But Tuesday, the temps fall into the 70s, and the National Weather Service states, “Slight chance of showers.” We’ll see.

    Things were a bit upset in my gut microbiome. I hadn’t had yogurt, in awhile. Apparently, the Land of Yogurt and the Kingdom of Fried Eggs, decided to go to war. There were skirmishes. Lots of cannonade fire. 🙂 . They seem to have reached some kind of detente.

    I do hope people messing about with space junk have the brains to check it out with a geiger counter. Some of that stuff can be radioactive. That was an interesting article. Couldn’t see the pictures, though. So, “dead Koala on a motorcycle” was lost on me. Even did a search for that image. No dice. Small meteors tear through people’s ceilings, with some regularity. Always good for a human interest story, on a slow news day.

    Well, the fellow in “The Duke” had removed the coil from his TV, so he couldn’t get the BBC. Like your water bill, he couldn’t see paying for something he didn’t use. The law was changed, and anyone over 75 (or, on a pension card), doesn’t have to pay. That applies to the whole household. The latest rates were £159 a year for color and £53.50 for black and white.

    I’ve seen damaged tire air hoses, but ours don’t show the pressure, so, it was usually some kind of accident. I’ve seen them repaired with duct tape (the handyman’s friend.) I think it’s $2. It only runs for a certain amount of time. I have to step lively. I usually remove all the caps, before starting the air. And then I’ve got to fill, and check the pressure with my hand held gage, from time to time. So far, I’ve been able to pull it off, without inserting more money.

    By garlic prices, I meant the cost of cloves from a seed company. Not that the garlic at the grocery, is cheap. I dinked around in the garden, last night. Neatened up Elinor’s plot, where the nasturtium had spilled over the edge of her tank, and died. Harvested the green zucchini. Got 6 big honkers out of my plot. Left one in our community room, and took one to the Club. I cut up the stems and leaves of the one’s that have stopped producing. Very zen. Got out the whip and chair and beat back the grapes (again.) Roped in some tomatoes that had got a bit of a sprawl. (Tomatoes in bondage.)

    I tried one of the riper cherry tomatoes, last night. Got distracted and wasn’t paying attention to what it tasted like.This morning, I picked out another ripe one. A not so ripe one, fell off the bush. Ate that one first, paying close attention to flavor. Tart, but quit nice. The riper one was tangy, but on the sweet side. I’ll be firing up the dryer, pretty soon.

    “The $65 Tomato” is a book by the same fellow that wrote “Ten Tomatoes That Changed the World.” Our library system didn’t have it. I think it’s his adventures in his own garden. He’s amusing, so it ought to be good.

    “Razzmatazz” is a sequel, to an earlier book by Moore. Though it stands alone, quit nicely. Sammy Two Toes was the hero of that book, too. But I can’t remember how he got the name. Three toes shot off in WWII? In noir, everyone has odd nick-names. In “The Thin Man” series, they played around with gangster knick names, for comic effect. Moore does the same thing. Sammy’s girlfriend is called “The Cheese.” Because her name is Stilton. 🙂

    In “Downton Shabby”, the older mentor that Hopwood has discovered, is in his 70s. And, yes, through business and investments, he had deep pockets. But he’s not only rich, he’s handy, and did most of his own restoration work. Once it was done, there was a fire and 1/3 of the castle burned down. So, he just started over again. LOL. He’s quit an inspiration to our 40 something Hollywood creature, with a spray tan who had a meltdown in a hardware parking lot over bathroom tiles. 🙂

    Hopwood Hall was one of those sad stories. The last two Hopwood heirs, were officers in WWI and both died. The parents threw in the towel about 1923, and moved to London. The local council took over the property. For a long time, it was rented to a group of monks, who ran a college. And then it was derelict for a couple of decades.

    The whole story is really interesting, from a lot of angles. The Hall used to be the monetary center of the whole community. And, they’re thrilled to have a Hopwood interested in the Hall. The council didn’t have much money, to keep up the place. They did hire a cranky old restoration duffer, but could only afford him a day a month. But, he loves the Hall, too, and spends many hours trying to keep the place up, with limited resources. Hollywood Hopwood helps out, as he can. Even if it’s just sweeping floors. We’re at the point where he’s leaving Hollywood behind, moving to England, and throwing his efforts behind raising money to save the Hall. Which is pretty much what he did in Hollywood. Raising money for this project, and that.

    The story reminds me a bit about another book, I read years ago. “Castles in the Air.” About a young couple who tackled renovating a castle in Wales. Gwydir Castle. But they were English, I think.

    As far as Americans going to Britain and buying castles, I was reminded of The Dollar Princesses. During the Gilded Age, many American heiresses married into the impoverished British aristocracy, to gain social status. Over 100, in fact. See: Winston Churchill’s mother. Not all the relationships turned out happy, but some did. There’s actually a book about it. “The Husband Hunters” by de Courcy. Edith Wharton’s last novel, was about them. “The Buccaneers.” Filmed as a mini-series, back in 1995. Lew

  36. Hi Lewis,

    90’F is hot, but not too bad, and that sort of weather will make your garden jump out of the ground. Hope the tomatoes are all rapidly ripening. By the time it gets to say, the mid 70’sF, you’ll be so used to the hot weather that it might feel cold.

    Dry weather here is a bit thin on the ground right now, and fortunately today was one of those days. So far, we’ve cleaned up three of the five garden terraces and spent a couple of hours today on that task. The soil is amazing there, and despite all of the rain, it was well drained and a sort of black loam. The weeds had gone feral though, and needed to be pulled. The weather forecast next weekend, looks filthy wet, so I’ll probably relocate a lot of raspberry canes and a sugar maple and a couple of fig trees. They’ll get a decent watering in if the forecast is accurate. What a year.

    Good to hear that the digestive wars are now over. Yes, very unpleasant and thank you for sparing me the gruesome details. A person has to look after their internal health. Could be dodgy eggs though, do you sniff them before adding them to whatever it is that you’re cooking? The nose knows.

    Actually I was also wondering about whether the stuff was mildly radioactive. Given where the space junk once was, it is a possibility. And some of those materials, who knows how toxic they might be. Glad you couldn’t see the image it was disturbing. Should art be disturbing? Dunno.

    What? No way! They still have to pay the license fee today. Stuff that. Since analogue signals were switched off, the digital television signal doesn’t reach here, so I don’t care about television. I came across a bit of history as to how that worked down here: Licence to… watch TV? Did you have subscription fees for television in your country?

    Wow. The tyre inflators here have a gauge which shows what the pressure in your tyre is. Some of them have a stop setting where the thing will inflate to that set pressure and then stop. It’s usually very relaxed with no hurry. Your system kind of scares me, because a moments carelessness and the tyre could end up over inflated. I’d feel pressured too under those circumstances.

    Ah, of course seed cloves. Yes, I can see that, and they’d be certified free from disease and not be sprayed with germination inhibitors. Not good about the nasturtium, do you reckon it was a heated related demise? They tend to grow very well here, so can’t imagine what might have happened, other than probably conditions and lack of attention.

    Yeah, best to get rid of zucchinis before powdery mildew does them in. Have you got any plans to use the growing space prior to autumn? Your grapes are feral and probably do require chastisement. Good luck! Yes, a very zen practice, although I do have an electric 2hp shredder which works wonders, but isn’t as good as the scary old wood chipper – it’s unnatural what I feel for that machine. 😉

    Let the wild tomatoes run free! Ear worm alert ahead: Born free! I’m considering creating more space for the tomatoes to sprawl during the summer months. I’m too slack to go to the effort of training them up supports.

    Yummo! Fresh tomatoes from the garden are a thing of superlative beauty. And dunno about you, but the cherry tomatoes always have a stronger flavour. I’ll be curious to hear your review on the tomato book, and the blokes ongoing garden adventures.

    Toes shot off in WWII would explain the missing digits. I had wondered about the girlfriends name, but was too polite to ask. Thank you for filling in the necessary details.

    Far out. The Editor and I tend to use tile meltdowns as a gauge to a persons inner abilities. It is very possible I’ve mentioned this to you before, but when in the big smoke I used to walk to work in the city (a bit over an hour each way). Anyway one morning by sheer chance I happened to observe a lady of the house berating several tradesmen about the frickin tiles. What amazed me was the the guys just ignored her and got on with their jobs, but mate I could feel the psychic wall of stress energy from my safe position on the footpath. Meltdowns over tiles are not worth it you know. The only time I ever got stressed with the building of this house was of course the tree, but there was also trying to figure out the order for the various steel flashings used in the roof passive fire protection system. I couldn’t work out the lengths of all the different profiles and started getting a bit stressed. Fortunately I was able to hand the problem over to the Editor who has a better brain for such things. Calm, we can get through this. 🙂 If the place burns down, I’ll build a simpler roof design. Note to self: Don’t let the architect draw stupidly complicated roof angles.

    Dude, that makes total sense. Way back in the day, from my reading of local history, it was the wealthy hill station owners which provided employment for most of the rest of the folks who lived in this mountain range. Other than that, there was forestry work (seedlings and timber getting), and that was it. As the economy slowly frays, I do wonder how some of the folks living around these parts will get by.

    Restoring a castle takes extraordinary cojones or incredible naivety, by I do doff my hat to them. This place is hard enough without heritage folks poking their noses in here and there and making helpful, but possibly rather expensive, suggestions.

    Oh my gawd! You’re serious. There really were dollar princesses. Fun stuff, but it does no great harm, and can probably reinvigorate an otherwise tired line. Being derived from somewhat lesser stock, I might ask impolitely: So how did you lot lose the mad cash? 🙂



  37. @ Lew
    Free television licences for the over 75s was abandoned and I have to pay £159 a year.


  38. Yo, Chris – The cannonade fire echoed from the nether regions. And even though H stood up to the 4th of July fireworks, quit well, she was startled. 🙂 Smelling eggs sounds kind of pervy.

    Some space junk had small nuclear reactors, to keep everything ticking along, while they were aloft. Just think! If you had one of those, you could get rid of all that solar nonsense. 🙂

    I see what Inge said about the re-establishment of TV fees for oldsters. I wonder that the Dusties weren’t rioting in the streets. Storming Parliament. As far as I know, TV was never licensed, here. Of course, when cable came in, fees were charged.

    Tires (or, tyres). “…pressured too…” Pun?

    Yes, that hot spell we had killed some of the Nasturtiums. It didn’t kill them all, but set them back a bit. There were a few other plants that also suffered. Snapdragons.

    I keep forgetting to mention, quit a few of the gardeners this year planted peppers, of one type or another. I have a few, myself. Other than a green bell pepper, that someone else has, no one’s peppers are doing anything. Even with the heat.

    I’m going to put garlic in the zucchini growing space. But, I won’t do anything with the area, other than work on the soil. As, here, garlic should go in next month.

    The problem with tomato sprawl is that the plants shouldn’t get water on them. I’m always careful to water the ground under the plant, but I try not to splash any water on the plant.

    The toffs lost all their money various ways. Gambling was a biggie. Mistresses. And a lot of their stately old homes were money pits. One of the overarching themes of “Downton Abbey” was how to keep the place profitable, through it’s agriculture. There’s a scene in the newest movie, where a film company is let in, to use the Abbey. Because the money realized, will repair the roof.

    Actually, the different historic organizations were quit helpful to saving Hopwood Hall. And the aristocracy, some of them, took Hopwood under their wings. The Duke and Duchess of Darby, stand out. They had done a renovation, of their own. The general feeling among the toffs seemed to be, if someone was crazy enough to take on restoring a historic property, they should be helped along. There’s also a feeling that they’re only caretakers.

    Hopwood tells funny stories on himself, due to language differences. And regional idioms. Apparently, in the area he was in, the standard greeting is, “Ya alright?” He wondered if he looked a bit under the weather. 🙂 The appropriate response is, “Yes, and you?” I watch the “Endeavor” mystery series. Which takes place around Oxford. When parting, people often say, “Watch how you go.” Lew

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