Giving it a go

Many years ago I had the good fortune to commence working in a senior role at a business which was going through the aftermath of a fraud. Various people at the business had to work themselves through the stages of grief. Fingers were half heartedly pointed, lessons were learned. Before long, recoveries were made. The emotions drained away, and then they all had to get on with the day to day running of the business.

Being new to the business, there was little emotional investment in the previous goings-on. It was weird, and that was the extent of my concern. The disorder of the aftermath, that was another issue which had to be dealt to. A new Sheriff was in town. Within the first day, a head was rolled. Occasionally a firm example needs to be set. Order was soon restored and things were set to rights. Getting on with the job was what mattered.

There are times where I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I’ll give it the good Aussie go. Nothing really prepares a person for a senior role, managing staff, or juggling mind bending and complicated problems. It’s not like you can take a course on how to do any of that stuff! Mostly, you show up and give it a go. The thing to remember though, is to keep the day to day stuff ticking along.

Long term readers will recall that a few years ago the old house batteries had to be replaced. They were failing, and a few times during winter, the lights even went out. Turns out, four of the twenty-four old house batteries had cases which had formed cracks. There’s a story behind how those cracks came to be, however in this instance it serves no purpose to point fingers and lay blame. We’d discovered the damage long after the incident, and the initiative had been lost. There were more pressing day to day issues requiring our energy, so we let it go.

The old house batteries were retired to the shed, and despite the damage, they’ve continued to serve us well. Inspecting the four damaged batteries today has convinced me that those four batteries need to be put out of service and sent to the scrap metal recyclers. Despite what you may have heard, old lead acid batteries are a product where a very high percentage of the materials get recycled. The remaining twenty batteries will be kept in service, and why not? They’ve still got a job to do and years of life left in them.

The problem is, I don’t really know whether to replace those four batteries with new ones. It’s a lot of expense if it doesn’t work out. And there’s no way to discover the answer, until I’ve given it a go, and committed to the expense. I’m disinclined to spend the mad cash, as that stuff is needed for other work which needs doing.

So many issues are like that. There’s no clear way to resolve the issue, and honestly sometimes a person doesn’t know what they’re doing because it may well be a new experience and/or situation. Doing nothing is always an option I guess, but that doesn’t tend to get much work done. All we can fall back on is gut feeling and lessons learned from the past.

We’re happy to dismantle infrastructure, recover the materials and do something else with them. Reusing the old house batteries in the shed is proof enough of that. But there are times when infrastructure fails like those four damaged batteries, and they can’t be re-used or repaired, and that’s when they have to be recycled. And that second last option of recycling, is what’s going to happen to them.

Over the past year, we’ve been busy dismantling infrastructure and putting the materials to a better use. We’ve learned a lot from living here, and many of those lessons are getting put to good use and making the property easier to maintain, whilst also making it more productive.

Ollie is enjoying the new citrus orchard

Some citrus fruit trees grow quite well here, however those are the exceptions. Many of those variety of fruit trees were planted in conditions which were either too wet, or too shaded. This week we moved another six trees to the sunniest spot on the property. An area will be fenced off for them and the tomatoes.

Citrus trees don’t grow tall enough here to escape the vandalism of the wallabies (a slightly smaller forest kangaroo), and so they have to be grown in a fenced off area. The trees will get one more chance to grow and produce under improved conditions. Or else.

Whilst relocating the trees, we also pulled up a few rocks which had surfaced in the paddock. The rocks are hard on various machines cutting blades, so it is worth the effort to remove them. Some of the rocks are quite large.

Ollie poses beside an Ollie sized rock removed from the paddock
Fortunately most of the rocks are smaller

All of the rocks will be put to use depending upon their size. Some end up in the steel rock gabion cages. Mid sized rocks are used for lining paths. The largest rocks are perfect for retaining soil in garden beds. But all rocks have a use.

Another item of infrastructure which is in the process of being dismantled is the raspberry enclosure. The first few years with those plants was very productive. However maintaining the plants – and raspberries produce fruit on second year canes – requires more space and an entirely different system.

Bye Bye old raspberry enclosure

About sixty plants were moved to another location where they should be easier to maintain. Time will tell whether the new arrangements work better for those plants.

Many raspberry canes were relocated to a wider garden bed

All five of the garden terraces have now been cleared of weeds.

Dame Plum supervises the weeding of the garden terraces

The winter weather is slowly but gradually warming up, and I thought that readers might be interested to see the strawberry and red mustard plants in the greenhouse. The soil temperature in the greenhouse has now reached 10’C / 50’F, whilst the air temperature is a few degrees warmer than that during the daytime.

Ollie inspects the greenhouse

The weather has been rather variable this week. It’s to be expected at this time of year. One morning there was a frost.

A frozen Dirt Mouse Suzuki

There was even a thunderstorm which produced a striking sunset.

A thunderstorm produced a striking sunset

Spring is certainly on its way. A Sambar deer stag left its calling card on a Douglas Fir where it had scratched its antlers. Ollie was intrigued by the smell.

A Sambar deer stag must have rubbed its antlers on this Douglas Fir

A few of the very early deciduous trees have decided that the conditions are right to begin producing flowers and leaves.

A Manchurian Pear is beginning to break dormancy
A Plum tree has also begun breaking dormancy

Onto the flowers:

This Bay Tree has produced plenty of colourful flowers
Lavender has begun attracting insects – of which there are a few around
The Succulent Garden is enjoying the conditions
And producing plenty of flowers
The Succulents are very colourful

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 7’C (44’F). So far this year there has been 633.2mm (24.9 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 612.8mm (24.1 inches)

50 thoughts on “Giving it a go”

  1. Yo, Chris – Back in the early 70s, I clerked for Waldenbooks. Less than a year. I went on vacation, and when I got back, I dropped into a new store they were just opening. I was about 23. I asked the district manager, who he had to manage the store. He said, no-one. I laughed and said, “I’ll do it!” And he said, “You’re on.” I did have some backup. The manager of the previous store I had worked in, was a friend. And just a phone call away. I had to roll a head, about two months in. It was a huge store, in a huge mall.

    Giving it a go. As I’ve mentioned, everyone thinks I know what I’m doing in the garden. Nope. I just give it a go. Throw stuff in the ground and see if it grows. While paying attention to the soil, per instructions from Australia 🙂 .

    Citrus trees. Ollie can’t wait! New uprights to pee against! He plans ahead. Ollie in the greenhouse. Seems to enjoy the nice view.

    You’re always banging on about peak rocks. I don’t see it. Note to self: all rocks have a use. In some of the mysteries I watch, rocks provide a handy weapon!

    Go raspberries! Little do they know, they’re about to be managed. Poor unsuspecting raspberries.

    We had an equally stunning sunset, tonight. More pinks, than gold.

    Sherlock Ollie is on the case! The Case of the Rubbed Douglas Fir. Who was responsible? The suspects are many. There will be several (tasty) red herrings, along the way.

    Is that a culinary bay? I had a pretty large one, once upon a time. But it never flowered. Lew

  2. Hi, Chris!

    Ha, ha! I have only started reading – great stuff! – and, seeing Mr. Freckles up top, scrolled down to see if there was more of him. Yay – he’s all over! Thanks!


  3. Hello Chris
    That is a glorious sunset photo.
    Trial and error then lessons learnt, one hopes, seems to be the story of most of ones life.
    At last some breeze today. Did the week’s shopping this morning and everyone was doing the same and saying thank god for this cooler day. It did mean that I had to queue everywhere.
    Checked my bookshelf and noted that the 4 first Dune books were there. I actually think that I read the first volume twice but it will have been very long ago.
    Was it ‘The dragon in the sea’ that got Herbert into trouble. I believe that he thought up something that already secretly existed and was considered to be a spy or some such thing. I am vague about it now.


  4. Hi Inge,

    The sunset was amazing. And that day blue skies reigned over the mountain, and yet that thick cloud dumped rain and lightning over the valley (it is quite a wide valley). The weather really put on a great show that day.

    It does seem to be that way, doesn’t it? Plus the gentle art of just turning up, or worse putting up your hand. 🙂 You’ve started me thinking about all these aphorism’s and turns of phrase, and now I’m wondering what someone who’s first language wasn’t English would make of ‘putting up your hand’. Hmm. Probably not much.

    Yes, booking and queuing has become the norm down here too for some activities. I’m curious, have you noticed that there are more empty shops than before the lock downs?

    Time and memories work that way. Alternatively, it is possible that you bought the books – and never read them. 🙂 Just being cheeky. It is possible I read the original book twice as well, but it was in my teenage years and I can no longer recall such detail, if I ever could.

    Oh my! The authors writing inspired the development of an actual chunk of technology known as a Dracone. Frightening stuff, and hope they don’t mess it up.



  5. Hi Pam,

    Mr Freckles sends you cordial tail wags (and greetings). He loves the attention and is a natural for the camera. He’s happily asleep on the white couch just behind me. His enjoyable evening included a rawhide chew.

    🙂 There is always an outroar whenever there are no photos of Ollie. He’s a real gentleman of a dog, except when it comes to chasing the deer off. He’s not happy that they dared put one hoof on his turf.



  6. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, we’ve had some eerily similar experiences, and you’ve turned out OK! There’s hope for me still. 🙂 Good thinking with just asking for the manager job at the large bookshop. We should add that to the list, not only do you have to turn up, but sometimes it pays to just ask. Seriously good thinking. But yeah, a shame someone’s head there had to roll. People can be weird. The circumstances surrounding the one I rolled was that the person was a creature of the person that did the fraud. Hmm. What was weird about it was that they’d had such a free hand to cause mischief, and they thought I’d let the situation continue. Au contraire! In the early days of a job, you can get unpleasant stuff like that done – quickly. I take no joy in such things, it’s an emotional burden really, but it is easier to act, than not to act.

    Man, it ain’t just you. I dunno either, but am slowly getting a clue – for here. Strangely enough, our climates are not that different. It can be warmer here over summer and certainly winter, but not by much. And I’m guessing the soils are pretty similar given what I hear you grow. Now I’ve got some things to say about soil… Haven’t written about soil for a while now. I’ve noticed as a subject it doesn’t achieve the same reads as say the subject oil – which has come down in price recently.

    Ollie and the kelpies definitely mark off their territory. He was unhappy that the deer had ventured onto his turf. I’m coming around to the point of view that having a big dog to deal with such incidents – is a very good idea. Mind you, Sir Poopy could chase off the deer, but his breed (Swedish Lapphund) was specifically developed to herd reindeer (I believe).

    It’s true, peak rocks keeps getting pushed back due to advanced technologies – such as removal of rocks from paddocks. It’s a gain on the supply side rather than any demand correction (ooo, I sound like an economist).

    Pink sunsets are quite lovely to see. Have you got any fires nearby producing smoke? That’s what usually does it here.

    It’s funny but Inge has gotten me thinking about aphorisms and turns of phrases, and red herring is a delightfully inexplicable choice of words. Obscurity through oddity might be a good way to describe the words? And anyway, what good mystery doesn’t involve good plot twists and turns? Imagine if such stories read like a newspaper article?

    It is indeed the Laurus nobilis! Yeah, it’s a lovely small multi trunked tree. Interestingly, it flowers at the same time as the wattle (Acacia species) and the flowers look very similar. The crushed leaves smell beautiful and maybe a year or so ago during the lock downs I kept a bag of the crushed leaves next to the bed. The smell was a nice reminder of the natural world. I wonder why your tree never flowered? Turns out there are several varieties of bay tree.

    Well, yes that part of your country has an outsized role (I’d inadvertently made a pun by typing roll instead of role) in food production, but then they also have to contend with fires, droughts, earthquakes and mega floods. The potential for danger there is never far.

    That’s a fair concern about the software subscription. I don’t know, I use a few of those bits of software and do wonder about the time span the license will continue to work. Dunno. There’s also the risk of a change in operating systems and / or hardware, so lifetime might not be all that long. Incidentally, I contacted them by email and they replied and apologised for the error, but I had to roll the software back to the version I am familiar with – what does this all mean? Not sure.

    Speaking of which, the master hydraulic cylinder for the clutch in the Dirt Rat has developed a leak. Not good. The thing may have reached it’s practical life. I dunno. Discussions on that subject have begun in earnest here.

    Yeah, the weather forecasters get things wrong. And was there fog elsewhere? It was weird here today too. The forecast sounded miserable, but in between all that misery, there was decent amounts of sunlight.

    So true what you wrote about friends. Man, I feel super bad about last week putting a line under personal health talk, but what do you do? It was one of those moments where I just had to make a decision. I remember years ago you wrote that a little bit of such talk is OK, but too much is risky. And dude, I’m getting to an age where I hear such talk from my mates. I dunno what to do, so I just did something. Who knows? Tell ya a little secret: I’m making the moderating rules up as I go along based on what is going on. I did say the future belongs to the adaptable. 😉

    Actually, I agree with you about using the salad spinner to dry off the berries before you freeze them. Fruit rarely improves over time, and so you don’t really want the off or damaged berries. The old timers used to say: One bad apple, spoils the lot. Although they may also have been talking about people. Not sure!

    It does seem like rather a lot of cheese to consume. What about other dairy products? It interests me greatly that a lady of the manor would be knowledgeable about such things, but then being able to run a large household economically is a real skill – and not for the foolish or spend thrift. And I guess you’d have to understand the kitchen garden and kitchen, which frankly some people take a perverse pride in knowing little about. Hmm. Thanks for the book recommendation.

    What, you didn’t think I’d notice? I look forward to the future recommendation for the Editor. She very much enjoyed Norah Lofts book.

    Class struggles, good fun. What a pairing. In the series did they choose the other, or where they lumped together?

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that the ocean is unkind to ancient sites. Mate, I have no doubts the folks could have come by way of the sea. It is an old trait in our species to crack the sads and head off into the wild blue yonder upon an adventure. Nothing wrong with that! 😉



  7. Hello Chris
    I don’t know whether or not there are more empty shops since lockdown. It is an increasing constant here and has been going on for quite a long time. Shops are simply dying in the town and it looks horrible. Not just the fact that the shops are closed. The windows are dirty and paint is peeling off everywhere.


  8. Yo, Chris – An interesting article on future trends. Some of it is pie-in-the-sky. But some is probably pretty spot on. Some of it echoes what Mr. Greer has been saying.

    Reading over your shoulder, a bit … When I went out to get blueberries, and visit Elinor, I took a route I haven’t been on, in awhile. It runs right through our “restaurant row.” It’s a major highway interchange. It’s a couple of miles of restaurants and fast food places. I’d say, one in four or five was boarded up. Weeds taking over the parking lots.

    Well, in a bit of irony, the head I had to roll was the fellow who was my assistant manager. Turned out he was a raging alcoholic, and not dependable. It was a long time ago. It was, for me, traumatic, and I’ve suppressed a lot of the details. So, for a new assistant, I promoted a young lady. From England, a single mum. She had a major difficulty, to overcome. Even though she was well into her 20s, she looked like she was about 14. When I relocated back to Washington State, I had to talk long and hard to get the district manager to move her up. I wonder what ever happened to her?

    You may get more reads when you talk about oil, as more people (probably) fill up their tanks, than garden. Maybe.

    I think H is redecorating her new cubby hole, under the bed. I hear hammering. I smell paint. 🙂

    Actually, Prof. Mass’s latest post is about how little wildfire smoke we have this year, compared to last.

    Way back in 1968, a book came out titled, “The Last Days of the Late, Great State of California.” (Gentry). It was a survey of what we’d lose, if “the big one” hit. Up to that point, I didn’t realize how pivotal it was to our national economy. It has a GDP (Gross Domestic Product) larger than a lot of countries.

    Was there fog elsewhere? I don’t know. I wasn’t there. 🙂

    As your cohort ages, you’ll get more and more reports on people’s aches and pains. Imagine what it’s like, for me? 🙂 . The best response is, “Oh, that’s so sad” (or, terrible, depending on severity.) “Do you think it’s going to rain?” Come to think of it, I haven’t updated you on that oozing abscess on my back … 🙂

    Old timers seem to often compare people to apples. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Etc.

    The rationing system was pretty complicated. Besides a 2″ square of cheese, per week, there was 4 tablespoons of butter. And three pints of milk. One fresh egg, a week, plus 1 packet dried egg powder, making 12 eggs, every month. “Sausages, fish, vegetables, flour, and bread are not rationed but often hard to get. Canned food, like sardines, treacle, and Spam, are on the new Points Plan, and can only be bought using your extra monthly 24 points.”

    The war widow (with three young sons) and the Lady of the Manor, are sisters. One married up, the other down. Their mother was a good cook, and taught them both. So, the Lady of the Manor, had some skills. And she’s set herself up as a demonstrator for the Ministry of Food. Mostly for the social cachet. Just to make things more interesting, the sisters will both be competing for the BBC slot.

    Well, I’d better get to the blueberries. The next round will put me well into the last flat. Lew

  9. Hello Chris
    I would never have believed that my heart would leap for joy at the sound of rain, but it did when I woke this morning.


  10. Giving it a go- Decisiveness in the face of minimal information is a handy thing to have………in moderation. OODA loops come to mind.

    I’ve been thinking about the homestead life, where we deal with real, physical issues every day, gives one a bit of practice at improvisation, or making do with what’s at hand.

    While I could perhaps be more deft and methodical in formulating a plan, I think the feedback of living with the results gives one a bit of intuition about such things over time. This is good thing to have.

    There will be those times when one has no choice in the matter, and no decision is a decision.

    On the flip side, I’ve come across some who have an air of confidence in their opinions that is wholly undeserved, and are best avoiding involvement with in any joint efforts, if possible.

    We put up 48 pints of apple sauce yesterday, will start pressing this coming week on the earlier varieties.

    FINALLY got an excavation contractor to flatten out the spots for our garden shed and greenhouse. They finished yesterday, so we’ll see how that design that is partly on paper, and partly in my head works out.

  11. Hi Inge,

    Yay for rain! I understand the depths of your feelings and have been through some tough hot and dry years. When it rains, it is a thing of beauty! And everything comes back to life.



  12. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for referring me to the concept of the OODA loop. I can see from reading about the concept that it has wide applicability. Mate, I’m often forced to make decisions with inadequate knowledge, and those are tough decisions. We’re seriously considering the fate of the Suzuki Dirt Rat right now, which is why I’ve had supply and repair issues on my mind of late. And I dunno, sometimes problems just have to be nipped in the bud, but it is hard to act so rapidly in the face of uncertainty. Oh well, sometimes its act or be run over by events.

    Exactly, in relation to homestead life. Neither of us can know the future, other than vague generalities based on experience and supposition, and yet action is what is required. Improvisation and making-do is an art form for sure.

    Totally agree. Yes consequences teach hard lessons and reinforce all manner of behaviours such as care, or even prudence – both of which can be somewhat lacking in the wider community.

    Ah, we may be talking here about the people whom I’ve dubbed: The Armchair theorist. 🙂 Met a few of those over the years, but then haven’t we all?

    Some rough back of envelope calculations suggest that is 22L of apple sauce. Hmm. I’d never seen nor heard of apple sauce before. Must go on a deep dive. Thanks for mentioning it!

    Well done you! And watching the people who know their excavator machines is a pleasure. It’s highly skilled, and can make flat land when otherwise there would be none to be had. Respect. The greenhouse is very good, and I was watching a utoob video of a guy in your part of the world using a hoop tunnel to grow winter vegetables with snow and ice on the plastic roof. Amazing.



  13. Hi Lewis,

    🙂 Some of the predictions were most certainly along the lines of ‘technology will save us’, and that’s fine, it’ll give people something to aim for. But you’re right some of the predictions about shifting populations has indeed had air time on Mr Greer’s blog. The climate is weird and getting weirder. I’ve noticed that there were some articles today suggesting that we’re in for another round of La Nina this coming summer. My thinking now hearing that talk is that shifting the tomato growing rows to the sunniest location on the property, was not a bad idea.

    Mate, the empty shop thing is like a verboten topic down here. I don’t get it at all because someone must own those empty shops, and if they’re getting no income, how is the capital value holding up, and who is funding the empty shops? That story makes no sense to me whatsoever. I hear you about boarded up shops (although nothing so large as what you mentioned), but on Monday I had to go to a nearby town and noticed that their stockfeed shop (which used to be a much needed local hardware store) had closed and was now empty. It looked sad. Weeds can take over such spaces for sure. Thanks for the news from afar. The tourist areas here have been particularly complicated. The funny thing is that the businesses which are open, are getting smashed (i.e. busy).

    Well some folks can be functional and have dependencies. It happens. Your Club would have its fair share of stories on that front. And a very wise choice, as that would be someone who’d work hard. I can speak from my own experience and say that a little bit of hardship can provide some boost to a work ethic. There is also the element of life experience as an outcome of hard times. How you present to the world does have an impact upon how you get treated. Far out, larger and heavier built guys than myself have a tendency to be treated as being more solid and automatically trust worthy in the business world than leaner folks such as myself. Between you and I, I always had this belief that they were all worried I was somehow hungry! 🙂 And her face, ain’t much she could do about that. When first managing staff, who happened to be several decades older than I, I decided to grow a goatee so as to appear older. Have you ever had to adapt that way?

    True about the oil! It’s an ongoing joke between the Editor and I. “Numbers are down, better write about oil!” I’m honestly unsure how much I have to say about that subject that hasn’t been said elsewhere, and better. I’ll stick to my stories.

    Go H, and hope that she doesn’t get the nail gun too close to the mattress, and I trust she’ll use the thing with care and attention. But then she is of a noble pedigree and wouldn’t muck up anything so basic – she’ll do other stuff instead. 🙂

    I can’t even imagine what would happen if the big one hit there. Yikes! The rebuild, and possible lower population might have surprising positive feedback loops? Dunno. After disasters here, there tends to be a building boom.

    🙂 Very funny! Like it. Hey, did you check that the fog hadn’t hidden itself behind the couch? You never know. Or maybe the Tardis sucked it in? Who knows what’s in there?

    Mate, it’s already begun, but I can imagine that your lot take it to 11 on the dial. Hmm. There’s got to be some middle balance in this story, but where it is, is beyond me. More than happy to take any and all guidance with this? Sorry to hear about the abscess, and hope that you are looking after it regularly. Sorry, but I had a flashback to the 50 – 50 film with Seth Rogen and the draining scene where he amusingly suggests: Kwato Lives (a nod to the film Total Recall)! May you think of this the next time you have to drain the thing. In another month and a half I’m booked in to the dentist to get a little bit of repair work done on two teeth. Not looking forward to that. Oh well.

    🙂 There’s a lot of truth to the old timey sayings. And in some ways it is a super polite way to point out the obvious, when it needs pointing out.

    I must add here that 4 tablespoons of butter isn’t very much at all. I’m surprised that the cheese was doled out with a liberal hand, and the butter wasn’t. 12 eggs per month is a travesty. I’d get (and eat) more from the chickens over the winter months. Yikes! Lewis, this talk of food rationing is making me feel very hungry.

    Very good. Hey, I’m getting confused, what time period are the two sisters competing in?

    Preserve away and enjoy! I learned about apple sauce tonight. Never heard of the stuff before. Might be a good way to preserve a glut of apples. I’m assuming that it could be stored in the bottles used in the hot water bath preserver?



  14. Hi Inge (again),

    Thank you for the news from afar. Out of curiosity, does your town service the needs of the locals or tourists, or a combination of both? The tourist areas here – and the CBD – have been the hardest hit. That seems really strange to me because during the last recession in the early 1990’s the economic woes began at the periphery – this time it appears that it is to be the centre. It’s all very curious.

    I’ll try and get some photographs over the next month or so.



  15. Yo, Chris – I think I forgot to answer your question about the “Inspector Lynley Mysteries.” They’re thrown together as a kind of “last chance.” Even though Lord Lynley is a pretty down to earth fellow, none of the blokes and lads in the police department want to work with a toff. The Cockney young woman, well, no one wants to work with here because a.) she’s a woman and b.) she’s smarter than most of the lads. Is prickly and does not suffer fools gladly. If they can’t make their partnership work, it’s probably desk duty for the both of them. Not near as much fun as getting out and solving crimes.

    I noticed something about the crimes. They never get quit all the information they need. Even not the murderer, or people trying to protect a murderer, withhold vital information that would have helped solve the crime, earlier on. Maybe it’s the good old English reserve. But really. “Oh, I forgot to mention my murdered wife’s sister, was raped and committed suicide, fifteen years ago? Just slipped my mind.” “I had to sell the Priory, due to my gambling debts. Didn’t I mention that?” The stories are from a series of books by Elizabeth George. Can’t say I’ve ever read her. But then, I’m not much of a mystery reader. Every once in awhile, I might binge on three or four. And then I’m fine for a few years. 🙂

    Another La Nina year? What’s that? Four in a row? I wonder what Prof. Mass will have to say about that? It’s supposed to be in the mid 80sF, today. Then two days of 90F+. Then back to 80F. I watered last night, and this morning. I’ll water again, tonight.

    Empty shops. Well, there’s always the value of the property. And I think there may be some tax advantage, to an empty property. That you can write off the loss of income. If you have large holdings, I suppose it off-sets some of the tax burden. Large empty buildings are even more … spooky? Our local K-Mart became a truck rental place. The small mall, that used to be a happening place, died, as it was “too far from the freeway.” It’s now mostly government offices. A large local hardware store is now a used and new appliance store. But a lot of free standing stores, sit empty. What is it about the weeds in the parking lots, that really make it look derelict?

    Hmmm. Adapting appearance for a job. Well, twice I shaved my beard, and wished I hadn’t. The people were not worth working for. Once I wore a wig, to cover up my longish hair. But only for a few months. Got tired of it, and got a trim. Did my long hair phase, and got over it quickly. 🙂

    My friend Julia avoids anything to do with the stock market. But, she had a bit of mad cash, and after hurricane Katrina and one in Texas, she bought into some stock that had to do with dry wall. Held it for a few months, sold just before the peak, and showed a tidy profit. Yes, there is money to be made from disasters. There’s a term for it. “Disaster Capitalism.” Naomi Klein wrote two books about it. “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” (2008) and “Disaster Capitalism: Making a Killing out of Catastrophe” (2015). See also: “Carpetbagger.”

    My abscess: See also, “suppurating.” Do not look at the images. You’ve been warned. 🙂

    I should also see the dentist. Probably need a tooth or two pulled. But, I can still chew (on one side). Nothing hurts, or is swollen. So …

    Getting back to the book “Kitchen Front.” It takes place during WWII. I don’t know. A two inch square of cheese, per week, doesn’t seem like a “liberal hand,” to me. Just a taste to make you want more. The book has some recipes and is full of tips and tricks to make the ration go further. Adaption. Substitution. The war widow ran short of butter. Had one of her boys pour a bit of cream off a pint of milk, and shake it in a glass jar, until a lump of butter was formed. Another sub-plot: the shy kitchen maid, at the manor, is also a contestant in the cooking contest. She’s a very good chef, if under rated. She’s just met an Italian POW, at the manor farm. He was a chef, in his family business, in Italy. There are sparks … 🙂 There’s also a bit about the black market.

    You’ve missed the joys of applesauce? It’s a thinner version of apple butter. It’s great with a sprinkling of cinnamon, on top. And, yes, you can hot water bath it, for long term storage.

    I stopped by Sunbirds, the local all purpose store. Their reader board said they had vinegar for $2.99 a gallon. Which is even cheaper than I can get it at the cheap food stores. So, I picked up two gallons, this morning, on the way to get biscuits and gravy. Much to my surprise, there was a sales tax to be paid. I had never bought just vinegar, before. So, hadn’t noticed. Down the rabbit hole I went. Couldn’t get a straight answer, as to reasoning. Food is not supposed to be taxed.

    I have the last of the blueberry flats, ready to go on trays in the freezer. There are ten gallons, but only two of them are what I would consider “full.” So, I’ll start filling in from our patch, here at the Institution.

    I saw our night manager, last night. I told him I was happy to see him back. And left it at that. If he wants to fill me in on the details, he will. H will be happy to see Susie, again.

    Things line up, and I got to thinking about something. I did some laundry last night. I always check the lint traps, on the dryers, before I put my clothes in. We’re supposed to clean them out, after we’re finished. Well, as happens, one was clean and the other wasn’t. As I’m cleaning it out, I thought, “Because I’m a good citizen.” I often say the same thing to H, as I bag up her leavings. Not all people do. And, today, at the Club, I washed up my dish and fork (and washed up a few other utensils that were in the sink) and thought, again, “Because I’m a good citizen.” I don’t litter either.

    But I got thinking about it. Where did I pick that up? And why am I a “good citizen” and other people are not? I think it may go back as far as grade school. Of course, when you’re dealing with six and seven year olds, you’re not banging on about voting, or the three executive branches of government. But I remember “good citizenship” or “citizenship” in general was a theme. But I can’t remember what it specifically applied to. LOL. Maybe just cleaning up after oneself? Anyway. Food for thought. Lew

  16. Chris,

    From last week…the Subaru survived the nasty thunderstorm/hailstorm just fine. The hail was about 25 km east of us. It was sunny here. We could see the storm – the clouds looked impressive.

    Reading over someone’s shoulder about how maybe the fog was behind someone’s sofa. So, I checked behind my sofa. Dust bunnies? Check. Missing items? Check. Fog? No. Somebody’s misplaced Sense of Adventure? Check.

    I’ll echo Lew’s peak rock sentiment…It seems that everywhere you dig into the ground, you find rocks. Is it just me, or do you keep placing the newer sheds and buildings near the new rock diggings? And while on the topic of rocks, you’ve had Moby Rock. Does that Ollie sized rock get named the Ollie Rock?

    I also read this week that we are forecast to have a rare third consecutive La Nina winter. I remember growing up nobody used the terms El Nino or La Nina. Nope, it was “normal winter”, “mild and wimpy winter”, or “Gee, Wally, that was one real nasty mother of a winter!” Then somebody had to go and slap labels on them.

    Anyhow, if we’re going to have a La Nina winter, and you have the La Nina summer, it’s a good thing that you’ve moved the tomatoes and citrus trees to sunnier areas. Tomatoes are so persnickety without adequate sun, aren’t they?

    I might have to move my raspberry area too. It’s at a location that gets a lot of sun AND reflection off of a white garage wall and is fenced off from the rest of the yard. Too much heat for the plants. Dunno if and where they will get moved. Avalanche likes to dig up all the garden plants, so everything needs to be fenced off from her antics.

    The Princess had another family emergency last week, and it will continue starting Wednesday this week. Youngest brother had a heart attack. Open heart surgery this week. Princess is doing ok. She is the support team for his wife and adult children.

    We have another 38C spell of weather hitting us. Summer is certainly making up for its late start by being vicious for an extra long time. I wouldn’t say anything about the relative lack of wildfire smoke this year, as talking about it can jinx us. 😉 But I see that the Professor has already mentioned it. Hope that doesn’t change the trend for the rest of the season!


  17. Hi DJ,

    Mate, you sure were lucky to have missed that car destroying hail storm. Many a car still in good condition has been written off due to excessive panel damage from such weather. Not good. Makes you wonder how the glass on solar panels would survive such a storm. Yikes! Incidentally, and speaking of which I can today confirm that the Suzuki Dirt Rat’s market value is … … ta-da! $1,000 – that’s about US$700. Ouch.

    Actually it kind of makes me glad that the fog wasn’t lurking behind your couch. Imagine the frightful mould from all that moist air. 🙂 And yeah, the dust bunnies lurking there are something of a problem. Don’t they always seem to venture forth whenever visitors arrive? And that’s a goodie about the misplaced adventure – still chuckling about that one.

    It is a rather complicated matter – the rocks and I! Imagine a world free from fear of peak rocks? Imagine abundance, and it shall be yours, for err, maybe a $50 donation to the charitable fund fighting the good cause to forestall the dreaded peak rocks. 😉 However, both you and Lewis have raised a valid point, there do seem to be a lot of new rock finds, and the facts seem to point to the correctness of your theory. On the other hand, theories don’t tend to remove the floating rocks from the paddocks. The subject may yield results from further investigations. Trust me, peak rocks is real, and my needs exceed the local supply without further deep excavations.

    Ollie would be most pleased with the comparison. He also sends cordial tail wags to the notable Avalanche of whom he has heard good tidings. Hey, with your knowledge of history, were there any notable dogs of the Dark Ages, give or take a few centuries? The Romans seemed to have been rather fond of their canine friends.

    Out of curiosity, what does a La Nina winter mean for you? Here such a summer will play out to be cool and wet. And yes, the tomatoes are wary before the growing season has even begun. At least we have the larger greenhouse this year, but yeah, it might be something of a struggle. Oh well, it could be worse.

    Dogs do dig in garden beds. What do you do, and when remonstrated with, they give you this little sad woebegone look of – the wind made me do it, it’s not my fault! You can’t hate that. Sorry to hear that your edible plants are being dug up, but what do you do, and Avalanche is still young. Dunno enough about raspberries, but here they enjoy the sun, but need moisture. I’m confused about how to tell first from second year canes, so have got around the problem by having two garden beds and knocking back one bed each year. It might work. My brain cannot retain such detail as which cane is which.

    Seriously, go very gently upon your lady. She has had a very rough time of it over the past couple of years. Mate, it is a truism that sometimes you’re ahead, and sometimes you’re behind, and it is up to you at this time. And hope that things settle down.

    Oh yes, wise, very wise, and recall to touch wood. Best not to tempt the fates with such loose talk. I dunno what to say about the weather here, other than it is wet, cold and rainy. Yes, very inspirational. I might end up doing a lot of paid work this week trying to get ahead because the weather is so bad.



  18. Hello Chris
    In this country, apple sauce is eaten with roast pork, though not by me.

    Son has just discovered that his entire bed of carrots has gone, taken by rats.

    I am going to ask around about the state of our towns on the Island. I only go to the main one Newport which I described. It is in the centre of the Island; all the others are coastal so awash with holiday makers in the Summer, Newport will have mainly locals I guess although it has the advantage of maintaining most of its bank branches so far. Bank branches are disappearing all over the country. However Newport has lost its central post office which is a major inconvenience for me.
    The Island does not have huge buildings so there are no great office blocks lying empty, just shops.


  19. Hi Lewis,

    Typing away on the laptop tonight, and a phone call just came through and dropped out the interweb connection. Thought I’d lost the reply to DJ, but no, I’d recalled to copy it prior to hitting the post comment button. Yes, technology, so good…

    That’s a great premise with the Inspector Lynley Mysteries. And it sounds consistent with how the characters would have to navigate the world around them. Don’t you reckon both characters would be ever so slightly out of their usual haunts. We’re a very tribal bunch us humans. 🙂 Class is of course I believe a very real thing, and there have been occasional times when people have turned upon me due to class issues, and it’s a somewhat disturbing experience. You’ve piqued my interest, and it is very possible the Editor would enjoy the series. At the moment, she is wading through her collection of Agatha Christie novels, which she is quite enjoying.

    That’s interesting about missing out on some of the details. We of course believe that people are forthcoming with the law, and it may be so. You reminded me of a bloke who allegedly dumped a body in the forest of the more fashionable end of the mountain range, and apparently, he’s kept up silence. Like actual silence. If it was me, I’d just blab, but you know chatty and stuff. Apparently not that bloke though. What I found interesting was that I believe he was convicted and sentenced, and then they added another couple of years possibly just because he kept silent. Ignoring the darker side to that story, to have the resolve from day dot to keep silent is beyond my skill set. Not sure it would make for a good story though, don’t you reckon?

    Wise to get such mystery book phases out of your system. Jack Vance wrote a few of those and they’re in the collection, but I’m unsure whether I’ll enjoy them as much as the sci-fi and fantasy. He won some awards for the novels. I think the big seller was ‘The Man in the Cage’.

    The Good Professor might suggest for me to ‘deal’ with the La Nina weather and be thankful for the reduced bushfire risk. And he’d be correct too. Yeah, wise to keep the watering up in those sorts of conditions. How are your tomatoes enjoying the warmth?

    It’s cold and rainy here tonight, so I’m getting a bit envious of your warmer weather. 🙂

    We headed north today on an errand to secure a replacement for the Dirt Rat Suzuki. True, but sad. It was a hard decision, not to mention an expensive decision. After eighteen years, it’s begun to break here and there, and things are just going wrong. I got a $1,000 for it, sadly. and that’s $700 in your language. I dunno, but I got to a point where the Editor and I discussed the matter and said that we can develop the property, run a business, or do the repairs on the Dirt Rat – pick any two. And the thing is, with the last Dirt Mouse Suzuki, we spent half the cost of a replacement – and it still dumped us in the big smoke one night about four years ago. An expensive taxi ride home. Dunno, what the right thing is, but doing nothing would lead to much pain.

    Anyway, the good side of the story was that we worked out a way to get around the six month waitlist for a new Dirt Rat and from a dealer. The Editor has a unique ability to solve problems, which is a very useful trait. And we took a path that few would think to do. 😉 The bad side of the story is that it left a gaping hole in the bank account. Holy carp, inflation is real.

    I dunno about the empty shops easing tax burdens, because a loss is still a loss in anyone’s books. And if the empty shop has debt on it, wow, that’s a tough story of cash atrophy (said fast enough sounds like catastrophe!)

    But you’re right weeds in empty car parks is not a good look and would make for a good zombie film set, especially with a derelict mall in the background. There was a website from your country with images of abandoned malls, and it’s super eerie. It’s funny that those big box warehouse bulk buildings can be repurposed. I’ve only ever seen that happen once down here, and what is interesting is that there is a failed big box hardware store near to that which is sitting empty. Mate, makes a sensitive person wonder how much mad cash was lost on that endeavour?

    That’s not right. A man shouldn’t be asked to shave his beard for a job, although there are a few institutional type jobs which demand conformity. I can’t imagine that you are referring to one of those jobs? The Editor asked me once early on in our relationship to shave my beard just to satisfy her curiosity and I did so, then regrew it. It didn’t seem too much to ask, and the understanding was that it was a one-off.

    Hehe! I reckon the wig would have been hot over summer. Far out. And hey, we’ve all been there with the long hair phase. Too much like hard work to me, and is impossible to keep as one ages. Time can be unkind to us all, the cheeky scamp. 🙂

    Go Julia. That market provides a forum for such activities, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that, if you acknowledge that that is what you’re doing. And well done to her picking the get-out point near to the market high point. Respect. Easier said than done.

    Thanks for the warning. I really appreciate that. Some things you can’t un-see, as they say. Hope it’s settling down and that it is not painful for you.

    Mate, I found out about the work when I went to the dentist a month or so back. Probably my fault because I said to the dentist: I only go for the regular check up and clean, because I fear what might happen if I don’t. She laughed, but I wasn’t joking! And now they’re gonna get me. It’s pretty minor really.

    Good to hear that your jaw and teeth have stabilised. Hope you’re getting plenty of calcium and vitamin C in your diet? That’s my impression of a dad talk. 🙂

    Ah, thanks for the timing explanation as to the book taking place during WWII. I had this weird notion that it was some sort of re-enactment of that food side of the story? Hehe! I see some Italian cooking in the future for the young maid?

    Seriously, I’d never heard of apple sauce before. It’s not part of the diet down here, and apples are consumed fresh, cider, or stewed – think apple slice. Yum! Stewed and spiced apple chunks sit between two layers of shortbread pastry with sugar sprinkled on top. When they’re good, they’re really good. It seems an obvious way to preserve apples – from hindsight.

    That doesn’t surprise me about the sales tax confusion. We have a 10% goods and services tax. Interestingly it is only levied on processed food, and fresh food is exempt. At the start of it all back in 2000, there was a lot of debate about chicken and when each stage of the chicken processing was exempt, and which attracted taxes. Strange, but true. Your vinegar may have been some sort of issue like that?

    Your blueberry harvest sounds really good and will bring you lots of enjoyment when the weather cools.

    Yeah, people tell things when the time is right to do so. Hope he’s feeling better too. My brain forgets such details, but was Susie part of the Club?

    Shared laundries are a nightmare on that front. And respect to you for doing the good work which needs doing. About three decades ago I was in a flat with a shared laundry, and someone actually removed my stuff from the incomplete wash cycle, dumped it in the laundry trough and ran theirs through instead. Very displeased with such behaviour.

    Your question has long bothered me. It kind of gets back to the unresolved question which I’ve posed over the years: Are the hippies winning? Don’t laugh, I’m being serious here. The funny thing is that it may have been easier for them to win in the past than it is today, but I dunno. You could roughly translate your question into the same format: Are the people who take personal advantage of social niceities winning? It is possible that they are, but do they run short of opportunities? Dunno.



  20. Hi Inge,

    Ah of course. Thank you for the correction. Yes, apple sauce is consumed with roast pork here, although roast pork isn’t a widely consumed meat down here. I’m with you in this regard, and my perspective is that the combination of tastes are better separated, although the last time I ate a meal with roast pork, it was accompanied by an excellent cider (a dry cider).

    And interestingly, the apple sauce is generally made at the same time as the pork is roasted, so we have no tradition of preserving apples that way. And I’m uncertain as to how this difference has arisen? Dunno.

    Oh no! What a disaster for your son, and I’m sorry to hear that. The rats are very clever creatures, and I do my best to limit their numbers. Is it my imagination, or did the rats do this act just after the recent bout of rain for you?

    The loss of the central post office is a serious blow. It would be a nightmare for me as well. Of interest to you was that a major bank is removing it’s branch from one of the towns over in the western end of the mountain range. Is it mean to suggest that banks also have a social obligation to the community, especially given they enjoy some degree of free taxpayer funded insurance for deposits? Hmm, they may argue that my point is moot.

    There are no huge buildings in my area either. Generally the larger buildings are to be found in the CBD (of course) and the inner suburbs. Some of the charm of those inner suburbs has been lost in the rush to build large apartment blocks.

    I checked out a touristy area today, and it does not have the life it once had – and there are many empty shops. Mind you, the restaurants which were open, were busy. It’s like demand has disappeared. I heard some government debate today about increasing migration. Dunno.



  21. Yo, Chris – I see in the news from Australia, that someone has discovered your deepest cave system. Can’t say I can warm to their naming of the different parts of the cave. And, from our “Seemed like a good idea, at the time. What could possibly go wrong” department, an attempt to resurrect the Tasmanian tiger. There was a side bar that someone is also trying to piece together a wooly mammoth. In that case, I suppose you could use the hair for high end jumpers.

    Ah, class. Assumptions. There was a scene in last nights “Inspector Lynley” where his sister (who is very nice, actually) asks Havers if she rides. Havers dryly observes that there’s not much call for that in London’t East End. 🙂 In the “Endeavor” series (young Morris), Oxford Dons and toffs are always talking down to him, assuming he is but a lowly police officer. Not realizing that he’s an Oxford grad, himself. He puts them in their place with a well dropped bit of Latin or a literary reference. Reminds me of when I was slinging hash, and a customer mentioned Naples. I asked if he had made it to Pompeii. He was gob smacked that I knew what Pompeii was. Funny. He treated me with a lot more respect, thereafter.

    Now if this was an English mystery, the guy who dumped the body is silent because he’s protecting someone. Usually, a family member. Or, he’s taking the fall for some organized crime figure … for which he will be well compensated.

    It’s going to be a hot one. I watered last night, and this morning. Even our postie was out early, trying to beat the heat. I was mistaken. I have twelve gallons of blueberries, in the freezer. Two are full. I’ll have no problem filling in from our bushes. I picked a small bowl of cherry tomatoes, last night. Not enough to fire up the dehydrator, so I put them in the fridge. I’m sure I’ll have enough, in a couple of days.

    RIP Dirt Rat. How many miles did it have on it. Given my truck is the same vintage, I’m trying to estimate how long it’s useful life may be.

    I once had to shave my beard for a waiter job. I forget what the other one was. I was asked to shave it, for a security guard job. I refused, and was hired, anyway. They were in a tight spot, and said they’d send me out to the hinterlands, if the big bosses showed up 🙂

    Yes, Dad, I get enough calcium and vitamin D. I also floss after every meal 🙂

    I’m sure I mentioned that I use apple sauce, as a substitute for oil, in baking. It’s a one to one swap. Apple sauce with pork roast? We had to make do with pork chops. 🙂 Your apple pastry thingy sounds like our apple turnovers. Quality varies. There’s a mass produced lot (in many flavors besides apple), where the pastry is reminiscent of cardboard. They generally sell 3 for $1. But the ones made by store bakeries, can be quit good. And the ones from independent bakeries, a little bit of heaven.

    The only thing I could find that hinted at why vinegar is taxed, is some long stretch in reasoning, to associate it with hard ciders and wines. Or maybe that it can also be used as a cleaning product?

    Susie is our night managers dog. At first, there was a bit of a dust up, as Susie had not been around other dogs … or people. But now they’re good mates. Although, H is a bit … exuberant for the more timid Susie. My friends in Idaho said I should worry if H drags a jackhammer, into her cave. I told them your comment about the nail gun.

    I don’t quit get your connection between people displaying bad citizenship, and hippies. Most people I see displaying bad citizenship, bear no resemblance to old school hippies. Maybe, in a previous life?

    Tonight I’ll probably watch “Babette’s Feast.” It’s an old film, 1987. But it’s been added to the Criterion Collection of classic films. When a film gets picked up by Criterion, there’s always a lot of extras. I watched them, last night. The author also wrote “Out of Africa.” I saw it, years ago. On one level, it’s a movie about food. LOL. I’ll probably watch it while eating my beans and rice. Lew

  22. Chris,

    Ouch. RIP old Dirt Rat. May the replacement serve you well.

    Yeah, dust bunnies are funny that way. Invisible for months, but the moment company visits, out come the dust bunnies. And that sense of adventure I found? I still don’t know whose it is. It looks a little worn and frayed. Gadzooks! Hope it’s not mine! 😉

    Ok, I get it. There’s plenty of rocks at your place, if and only if you are willing to start a rock mining operation. I, too, would claim that peak rocks has occurred in that case.

    Hmmmm, dogs. There’s always Cavall, aka Cafall or Caball, King Arthur’s dog. Cafall is featured in the hunt for the giant boar Twrch Trwyth in the story Culwych and Olwen. That story is part of most versions of the Mabinogion. Or there is the story of Gelert, Llywelyn the Great’s dog.
    There’s more on Cafall and other dogs here:

    Supposedly, a La Nina winter means significantly more snow than average. “Average” is about 110cm. Many La Nina winters have 150cm of snow or more. Our past two winters, both La Nina, had about “average” snowfall. Some La Nina winters have meager snowfall, but a lot of rain. The core belief is La Nina equals super snowy. The truth is that La Nina means very wet, and whether it is extra snowy or not depends on the temperature.

    I fenced off the potatoes and zucchini, but Avalanche, the little darling, knows how to get in and out. However, she has ceased digging around the zucchini and potatoes. That might have something to do with the fact that I gently sprayed her for 3 seconds with the hose the last time she tried to dig there.

    Number one rule for the Princess and me right now: be easy on yourself. Number two is to be easy on one another. My job is to stay grounded and calm and be there for her. Non-judgmentally, of course. And totally spoil her when she is home. There are times that I repeat to myself “Shut up and Listen!”

    The Northern Lights are supposed to be visible tonight as far south as Oregon. Naturally, the wind shifted and brought in smoke from British Columbia. Hazy skies tonight, so the light show might not be visible. The northern breeze did have a big benefit, however. There were 3 fires near one another 12 km south of town on the main highway south. The wind direction kept the smoke away.


  23. Hi, again, Chris!

    It was lucky for you – and the business – that you were new and not previously involved. Sometimes it’s hard to know when to act on something – just forward motion can often be very valuable. And then there are those other times when wait-and-see is more useful. So hard to know. Except in the case of falling tree branches. Forward is the best choice!

    I am really glad that you can continue using the old batteries. You are the one that first made me realize how expensive those things are. Thanks.

    Nice rock pile! I am glad Ollie helped. Your greenhouse is looking better than ever. I was thinking about greenhouses the other day as it will soon be time to move some of the baby fruit trees in pots inside. We have been doing that in a spare room, but I think maybe I may need that for my sister. What to do, what to do?

    It’s hard to believe that you are still getting frost. Fingers crossed that there will be no more now that your fruit trees are beginning to bloom.

    Our fall garden so far: Spinach, kale, bush beans, and chard. Will do radishes later. Shall I try beets? I think so . . . The problem is that most of our garden beds are still full of waning summer veg.

    Thanks for the flowers! Always love the succulents.


  24. Hi DJ,

    RIP indeed, and alas poor Dirt Rat, it’d served me well. Eighteen years is not a bad innings, and who knows what manufacturing is like these days, but the replacement is another Suzuki. They do seem to know what they’re doing those folks. That can’t be said for all manufacturers.

    Exactly, dust bunnies lay in wait. As you note they know. And when the time is just right, they rear their ugly heads and embarrass us all in front of guests. Stoicism is pretending they don’t exist. Well, we’re all a little less adventurous as time goes on and that’s part of life. Deal with such, we must.

    😉 Look, next time you’re in the area, I’ll get you to help me drill and excavate some of the rocks in the paddock. Surely it isn’t all that much to ask, is it? Believe me, peak rocks is real. Those rocks were hard won from the unyielding earth. Except for maybe this one, good luck extricating the thing: Mystery ‘Nadir’ crater was potentially caused by a relative of the dinosaur-killing asteroid Chicxulub. Wouldn’t want to have been there that day.

    Seriously, I was trying to work out whether Llywelyn was so unobservant as to kill his best dog Gelert. For a moment there, I’d imagined that the story had been handed down the generations. It’s genius really.

    Thanks for the history lesson. Awesome, and if I had to choose a companion, Failinis would be the finest of canines.

    Gotta go, will speak tomorrow.



  25. Hi Lewis,

    Man, you’ve gotta love those cheeky cave scamps for what they named the cave. Very cool. And oh boy, that is one deep cave, but nowhere near the deepest of them all. And yes, the news of resurrecting the Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger) was all the rage yesterday. They’ve been at that project for quite a while now, but apparently they’ve brought in the big guns. You know, they were eliminated because a bounty was placed upon them. Do you think the woolly mammoths would mind being shorn?

    Another wet and cold night tonight, although it has warmed a bit over the past few weeks. Some Thursday evenings, I go to the pub, but there is a new beast to pay for and so we worked late (actually the truth is, I had a lot of work on my plate). Apparently, people are pulling out of the labour market, and so, err, busy.

    That’s quite a funny observation about horse riding in the east end of London. Yes, so true. I recall you mentioning the story of you dropping in the Pompeii reference, as the guy was a bit of a err, what’s a family friendly word for a presumptive so and so? Still, he met his match and knew. People can be very odd about such things.

    Hmm, well, the conviction suggests perhaps that he did it, but yeah you raise an interesting point. Maybe he didn’t? They don’t always get that right, that’s for sure. I tend to be of the belief that he did do it, due to the financial circumstances, but it’s only guess work on how such a story would play out. One of the saddest subjects on law was corporate law when family members were doing unspeakable things to other family members – and of course there was always the misplaced faith and subsequent loss of assets. A very sad subject that one.

    Did it get that hot? Wise with the cherry tomatoes to store them in the fridge until you have enough to dehydrate. We do that with berries, except we freeze them until enough has been collected that we can make a huge batch of jam. Yum!

    Ah, an interesting question. So it was eighteen years old and had close to 300,000km on the odometer (186,000 miles give or take a few). We’ve been discussing this matter ourselves and believe that that number is sort of indicative – although with a bit more future care and attention (i.e. cost), it might have got another 100,000km (60,000 miles), but I don’t know. With the last Dirt Mouse (you may recall), we’d spent at least half the amount of a new vehicle on repairs – and it was still breaking down. So, dunno, it depends. My gut feeling is that your car will be of a better grade of hardiness around the Dirt Rat’s. It’s a mystery, and what has killed me about this realisation (which dawned a month ago) about hitting the economic end point, there is no right answer. The Editor came to that conclusion this week – which is why we acted. I just could rely on the thing to get me home again, and that was the deal breaker. But we could be acting prematurely too. I dunno. How is your odometer looking?

    New vehicles are thin on the ground – like really thin on the ground here. And the universe threw us a solid – so we took it.

    A waiter job. That’s a rough deal, but sometimes you have to do such things. Hehe! Well done for standing your ground. The security people might have been testing you to see how far you could be pushed. Stranger things have occurred.

    Are you listening to me laddie? 🙂 Hehe! Funny. And whilst you are at it, don’t forget the Vitamin C. Just thought I’d chuck that in whilst in that mode of thought. It doesn’t seem like a nice place to be that mode. Not sure why people would do it.

    Sorry for the misunderstanding as to the hippies. I have nothing against hippies. No, what I meant to say, and poorly achieved, was that the connection was that to do something different from the herd may achieve results far in excess of the effort. Hope that makes sense, and it is something I’ve always wondered about the genuine hippies.

    Ollie sends cordial tail wags to Susie. Good on H for her exuberance.



  26. To those whom remember Elbows Tucked,

    It is with a heavy heart and deep sadness that I inform the readers that one of our regular correspondents, Elbows Tucked, from the troubled corner of Southern Africa is no longer with us.

    Elbows has been a very long time reader and semi regular commenter who shared a love of life and was always generous with her stories from that part of the world and of course, stories of her productive garden. She will be sadly missed.

    Please take a moment to remember her, and know that she will be missed.


  27. Yo, Chris – Duck and cover!!! 🙂 Geomagnetic storm rolling in, today. Strong solar flares and multiple corona mass ejections. GPS and internet may get spotty. The electrical grid may take a hit. Especially due to the load, because of the heat. I think you’re in the clear, given your season. Tipped slightly away from the sun. DJ mentioned the Northern Lights. It’s not so hazy, here, but there are coastal clouds about. Not that that’s helping our temps, much.

    It hit 90F (32.2C), yesterday. It’s supposed to be 96F, today. Then down to a chilly 80F, tomorrow. 🙂 It didn’t cool down much, last night.

    Do I think a Wooly Mammoth would mind being shorn? You go first. Or better yet, given her interest in fabric, The Editor. LOL. Dare I say she’s a “material” girl? In a cloth sense of the word.

    I was wondering why the Master Gardeners didn’t show up, this week. Of course. It’s county fair (like your agricultural shows) week. They set up a booth, to see if they can lure in new pigeons.

    “Family members doing unspeakable things to other family members.” Again, often the set-up for those mysteries I watch. I watched the first episode of the second season of “One Lane Bridge” last night. A series set in New Zealand. Young Maori policemen comes to a small town, where everyone seems to have a secret. There’s been a lot of tragedy around the one-land bridge. Oh, and the young fellow sees ghosts.

    I also watched “Babette’s Feast”, last night. It’s held up, well. It’s almost a fairy tale. “The $64 Tomato” is waiting for me at the library. I’ll pick it up, tomorrow. No, the library is not selling $64 tomatoes.

    Mr. George didn’t show up to repair the bog, yesterday. 🙁 Oh, well. He covers a lot of territory, and there may have been an emergency, somewhere else.

    That’s a comfort. My 04 Ranger is just pushing 90,000 miles, in fourteen years. And I did a lot of commuting for the library, early on. So, I figure, if there are no untoward events, I’m good for another 14+ years. Which will take me up to pushing 90 years old. 🙂 . Almost time to think about calling Frank, for a general wellness check, and any winterization that needs to be done.

    Our commodity box comes this afternoon. Usually, it’s the third Friday. This month, on Thursday. I got to thinking, and wondered if anyone had called the volunteers that bring them to our door. I saw our Community Outreach Person, this morning. She’s on the ball. E-mailed and called the volunteers, to let them know about the schedule change.

    That was sad news about Elbows Tucked. Her reports on that part of the world were always highly interesting. Lew

  28. Chris:

    I am so sorry to hear that Elbows Tucked is no longer with us. I always enjoyed her comments. Thanks for letting us know.


  29. Hi Chris,

    I too am sorry to learn of the death of Elbows Tucked. May she be remembered with fondness by all.

    I’ve dug close to 3/4 of the potato bed and have about 31 pounds of potatoes to show for it. Yay for home-grown potatoes!

    For the last week or so we have enjoyed splendid summer weather for St. Louis, with highs in the 70sF to mid 80sF, below normal for this time of year. I’m doing my best to catch up on garden and yard work while the excellent conditions prevail.


  30. Hello Chris
    I forgot to mention that one of the reasons for the dying high street, is the fact that business rates have shown a huge increase. Charity shops do not have to pay business rates, so we have an increasing number of those.


  31. Hi Inge,

    Yes, that makes sense. By way of comparison, down here the councils were limited to an annual increase of a maximum of 5%. But they can always revalue the property, which is an alarming prospect. The local mob hit me up for about $2.5k per year. Some friends and other areas pay far more than that, and large properties such as farms and / or industrial or commercial properties can be levied extraordinary charges. There is a school of thought which suggests that they don’t get any extra services for the spend. I’d hope they spent that money wisely.

    I tell you what though, the home insurance story is receiving much air time of late. I’m not entirely certain how many 20% year on year compounding annual increases in the premium we can field. It’s a bit of a worry. Is that happening in your part of the world?



  32. Hi Claire,

    I’ll miss Elbows too, and the circumstances were not good. May she rest in peace and dream of gardens.

    Nice one! The recent epic rainfall in your part of the world has been mentioned in a few articles I’ve read recently. Glad to hear that your garden was resilient to the deluge, and such harvests as your potatoes make for inspirational hearing! 🙂

    Your recent weather sounds almost perfect for such work. And it’s enjoyable to work with the weather.

    Looks like down here next week will be another wet week, so we might move another half dozen fruit trees. Dunno, but wet years are good for getting fruit trees established. Visited a local nursery today and my goodness, fruit trees are expensive nowadays. Tree-flation. You heard it here first. 😉



  33. Hi Pam,

    Thank you for the kind words, and we’ll all miss Elbows. It’s hard to fathom the loss as she was one of the very earliest of correspondents. Not to mention the only voice here from that corner of the planet. A mate of mine used to live near-ish to Elbows and emigrated down under a bit over a decade ago. The stories I’ve heard. Despite all the craziness and tragedy that goes on around us, we live reasonably tranquil lives, others are not so fortunate.

    Oh yes indeed. I thoroughly agree, falling branches and / or falling trees are best avoided. Also proving that there is no shame in running away from danger. We had a close call many years ago, and heard the crack and knew straight away what it meant, but others are not so lucky. It’s windy outside right now, and yeah, keep away from being under large trees.

    They really are super expensive. People say that this mature technology will somehow get cheaper over time – and I beg to differ. Oh well. Earlier today I disconnected the batteries with the cracked cases. I’m honestly uncertain what risk they pose, but then, do you tempt the fates? The four batteries will be dropped off at a scrap metal recycler over the next month. Surprisingly they’re genuinely mostly recycled and all but a tiny percentage ends up getting re-used. I don’t really know how that plays out with the newer and fancier lithium based batteries, but the old lead ones are a proven technology on that front.

    The battery pack was halved in size, but it still packs a punch and I now have eight spare batteries which I’ll keep charged up as spares if any others fail.

    Ollie has only just enjoyed a very tasty rawhide chew and has fallen asleep whilst he digests the stuff. He’s had some fun today romping around in the late winter sunshine.

    Just for your interest, we planted a Strawberry Guava into the greenhouse today. Now, I’ll have to keep that shrub well pruned as it will eventually outgrow the greenhouse if unattended. But the fruit… 🙂 The plant would die outside the greenhouse with the occasional snow fall.

    Having your sister at your place will be a good assistance to you and your family – hopefully. 🙂 When we were at the nursery today, I was looking at their greenhouse and you know, plastic, it was ripped. Glass breaks, and I’d have to suggest that polycarbonate is the best of the best. Some greenhouses down here are made from corflute, but I don’t know whether the stuff can handle the UV radiation from that big fire ball in the sky. Dunno. Polycarbonate does from my experience, although the UV here is stronger because we are physically closer to the sun in summer than where you are.

    However, having said all that, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good enough. With that in mind, get thee a hoop house. You won’t regret it. Unless you place the structure in the shade – I had to work around that issue here too. Yes, tall trees, aspect and stuff.

    Pictures tell a thousand words. These photos are from September 2020.

    We’re not out of the woods in relation to frost just yet.

    Ah, Pam, I too suffer from this matter. The more productive gardeners have a level of ruthlessness that you and I have not yet achieved. The waning summer vegetables, must we pull them out? It is a complicated matter. Good luck, and when you work out the answer, please let me know?



  34. Hi DJ (cont from yesterday),

    Oh man. As I was replying to you I received an email in relation to the untimely death of Elbows. I won’t go into the details, but candidly it wasn’t good. And she was one of the earliest of correspondents. The world is a darker place due to her loss.

    La Nina here roughly also translates as a much wetter growing season. Three of them in a row is not unprecedented, but we’re combining that with a negative Indian Ocean Dipole event. You probably haven’t heard about them, but here is a very brief primer: Negative IOD declared. The farm is in the receiving end of that rainfall. Yeah, not good and the soil is already fairly saturated. Oh well, the stoic must deal with the world as it is experienced, rather than the fanciful land of unicorns.

    The hose in that case is a very useful canine training tool. Avalanche knows, she is just testing the boundaries of your relationship. It’s a common affliction of the inexperienced, but I have faith that she’ll learn. Whenever the fluffy’s roll in some particularly pungent, and usually wombat, excrement, they get the hose treatment. Spare a thought for them when they foolishly decide to adorn themselves with an epic stench in the depths of winter. They brought that poop down on their own heads.

    Exactly! Shut up and listen is the best approach – unless you can lend an appropriate insight which may put a peak in the distress. Technically known as lancing a boil and/or bursting a balloon. 😉 But be prepared to talk things through afterwards. Life, it has been remarked upon elsewhere, was not meant to be easy.

    Did you see the northern lights? I will note that the power is still on here, although there is a bit of steel around the battery room.



  35. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the warning on the geomagnetic storm today. The news reports suggested that you may even get a chance to see the northern lights in your part of the world – apparently it was visible in Seattle. Did you head out at night to check the skies? I would, but then the past three years have been somewhat cloudy – and may continue to be so for the next several months at least. Did you hear of any incidents from the radiation?

    The power has been running perfectly today. Although, I did disconnect those four dodgy old batteries with the cracked cases. Sadly, it is probably wisest to send them to the scrap metal recyclers where they’ll find their way to a new life. I’ll do that job over the next month, as such scrap businesses are in the big smoke.

    The Editor was a bit out of sorts this morning, so plans were abruptly changed and we pottered around the property doing things which needed doing, but at a very relaxed pace. A Strawberry Guava was planted in the greenhouse. And!!!! The spare parts for the wood heater finally arrived, and here’s the kicker, the steel was stamped with a well known local steel plants label. Had to laugh about that, and I’d imagine the business had to turn their back on the steel imports, or maybe mix the two material streams – which is probably more likely. Oh, and we fixed up the broken glass panes on one of the cast lamp posts. I used a very thin sheet of UV stable polycarbonate material to make up a replacement couple of panes.

    The glass panes arrived broken a long time ago, but I stored away the lamp posts for almost a year and had not bothered to check if they were damaged. A rookie mistake, but you know, busy. Anyway, I contacted the seller to see if they’d supply some replacements, and heard nothing. The polycarbonate was plan B. And after the job was done, and how could this happen, they finally replied saying they could supply some replacement panes. No need to. How does that sort of timing happen?

    Holy carp, that sure is warm. And not the sort of weather you want to be out in the garden of a late afternoon. Did it reach the forecast 96’F? It was cool and pleasantly sunny this afternoon, but as evening set in, the clouds moved in. At least it keeps the warmth in. 80’F chilly, I don’t think so, it sounds like shorts and t-shirt weather to me! 🙂

    I like the Editor and would possibly get better mileage if she were to avoid such acts of sheer tomfoolery. Me thinks the woolly mammoth would first be upset at being shaved, and then express its displeasure. Wouldn’t want to be there at all to see that. And that’s very funny. Yes, a material girl, and its a material world! Mate, you’re on fire tonight.

    Hope your master gardeners get some new blood with which to hand on the baton? The world does need apprentices. You got me wondering, because I did just that myself back in February 2015 with a local group at a local show. Had fun, and talking to people is hardly difficult work, as you might imagine. Didn’t get any new members though.

    It is a good set up for a mystery story isn’t it? And is unfortunately more common than most realise. You’ve mentioned the show before, and it sounds pretty good. Weren’t you teasing me the other day with another recommendation for the Editor? She’s just about to launch into another Stephen King book, although I’m not sure which it will be. I finished my series of five Jack Vance books whilst at lunch today. Warm winter sunshine, a good book, good food, and yeah, almost puts a person in the frame of mind for a good nap. Unfortunately there was work to be done.

    It would be a rather disturbing thing to hear that your library was selling $64 tomatoes. Fortunately, I do recall you mentioning the book, and I’ll be interested to hear what you have to say about it.

    Hope your toilet gets fixed soon.

    It’s probably got heaps of life left in it. Living in the middle of nowhere does mean that I have to travel. Possibly the reason why more than an hour in the car and I start getting a bit edgy. I see no way around that issue because I’m forced to render unto to Caesar. Ever was it thus.

    Always good to keep up the maintenance, but mind you it was never the motors which failed – of course all things are subject to change without prior warning.

    What did you score in the magic food box?

    Mate, the news wasn’t good. Candidly it floored me, and I’m loathe to share the details. It’s such a violent and turbulent part of the world. Her voice will be sadly missed, but also remembered. A mate of mine hails from near to where Elbow’s lived, and the stories rather shocked me. The news from there is sometimes not so good.



  36. Chris:

    That’s too bad about the batteries.

    I certainly would love to have a greenhouse. My neighbors built some sort of garden structure this past spring and I think they used polycarbonate in it. They are too far down and far back on our road for me to see it, so I will have to ask them how it went next time I see them.

    “However, having said all that, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good enough. With that in mind, get thee a hoop house.”
    I like that!

    Thanks for the photos of the snow and the two young girls.


  37. Hello again
    I was interrupted during my previous comment. Am also sad to hear of the death of Elbows, she was very interesting.
    I don’t know what is happening with home insurance or any other insurance here as I don’t have a vehicle and don’t insure my home. The latter would be crazy expensive as the UK hates wooden homes.
    It has rained and it is causing my tomatoes to split.


  38. Yo, Chris – “…mature technology will somehow get cheaper, over time.” Bait and switch. 🙁

    We have a hill and trees, to our north. So, no northern lights. And cloud cover. More on that, later. Didn’t see any reports on problems, but I haven’t taken a look at the news, yet.

    Interesting about the parts from a local steel plant. So, they were probably shipped some distance and then back to you? Maybe next time, just show up at the factory gates. Maybe they have a factory outlet store? 🙂

    Good going on the lamp post repair. LOL. Maybe the company has a philosophy of, “If we wait long enough, the problem will go away.” And, it did!

    Yesterday, we were one degree shy of the forecast 96F. There was a thin cloud cover, that held the heat in. And the humidity! Anytime I went out, I returned drenched. Things will get better. The next week the forecast is for the low 80s. And, we’re supposed to get an onshore flow going, this afternoon.

    I found the seed savers photo, amusing. A gathering of the faithful. A real “come to Jesus” moment. “And low I say unto you…” Preach it brother! Preach it!” 🙂 . Needs a gospel trio, moaning in the background. In harmony.

    Oh, the possible book recommendation for the Editor, is still on tap. It’s on my hold list. I want to take a look at it, in case it’s rubbish. Well, I suppose the library could sell $64 tomatoes, as a fund raiser.

    Speaking of the library, I made quit a haul, yesterday. The first seasons of two Australian series. “New Gold Mountain.” Your 1850s gold rush, from a Chinese point of view. And, “Firebite”. A vampire infestation, from an indigenous point of view.

    And books, lots and lots of books. The book Claire recommended about her local Native American mounds showed up. “The $64 Tomato.” Something about the psychology of horror films. And, “The End of the World is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization” (Zeihan, 2022).

    The food boxes were pretty good. There was produce, celery, a clam shell of grape tomatoes, a green pepper, a head of lettuce and garlic. Instead of the usual dry cereal, there were two boxes of “Farina”. What’s that? Similar to “Cream of Wheat.” Makes a porridge. Milled from the endosperm of wheat. And what else …

    A bag of hot dog buns, a frozen pound pack of “Chicken Crumbles” (?), a two pound brick of cheese, 2 cartons of shelf stable milk, 2 small bags of elbow pasta, a 1.8 liter jug of orange drink. Then there’s the tinned stuff. Spaghetti sauce (4), salmon (1), peaches (3), beef with juices (1), green beans (4), black beans (3) and a jar of peanut butter. As I also got Elinor’s box, double all of the above.

    For myself, I only kept the tinned black beans, and produce, except for the potatoes. There are a few things I would have kept, but I’m already well stocked. All the rest either went on the swap table, or, to the pantry at The Club.

    And, in local news, you might find this interesting. Since we were talking about willows.,298494

    Also, in the north part of our State, someone saw (and photographed) an Atlas moth. An invasive species, that someone must have brought in, as “they make good pets.” 🙁 . I guess someone in our State was selling them, on E Buy. I hope they track them down and punish them. Severely. Lew

  39. Yo, Chris – You might find this article, interesting. Where real estate meets decor …


    Reminds me of the story you told, about having to strip out all the individuality, of a house you sold. Lew

  40. Hi Chris,

    Was sorry to read about Elbows though good someone let you know. I always wonder what happened when regular posters here and on JMG’s blog kind of disppear.

    Ollie’s expressions always remind me of Leo – they’re so similar and I imagine their temperaments are as well.

    Batteries and the Dirt Rat – you’re not having a good week.

    Like Claire we’re having good weather. The bugs, however, have been doing quite a job on my garden.


  41. Hi Pam,

    The battery situation can’t be helped. The person who broke the four battery cases didn’t own up to the situation, and so we never knew until the cracks began forming – then got larger. Anyway, I could see how the accident could have easily happened. The design of the battery room was flawed from day one. The funny thing about wisdom, is that sometimes you don’t get a chance to fix the things that are wrong, such as the design of the battery room. It doesn’t matter now, the replacement batteries are far smaller and so take up less room. Life, you get good at it, and then, well, you end up doing something else.

    A wise idea to see how the structure worked out at your neighbours place. If it didn’t work, saves you the trouble and expense of constructing such a thing as a greenhouse. Mind you, there might be an element of user error in their outcome, but yeah, equally they may have kicked some serious goals with their greenhouse. A quest for you. 🙂

    Seriously, even a hoop house will give you an edge and extend the growing season at either end.

    Weren’t they lovely? It’s been a cold and wet day today, and whilst we worked on paid work, the canines stored up their energies for when the weather is just right.



  42. Hi Inge,

    A similar cultural trait has carried over from your country to down here. Even when brick buildings are inappropriate due to the prevailing conditions (too hot or too cold), they’re still considered superior. Most of them nowadays are actually timber houses with a skin of brick cladding, so it’s a fine joke.

    That preference is something I’ve never understood. You know, it might get down to the old story of The Three Little Pigs. Seriously. The preference for brick runs deep.

    Youch! That happens here too, and mostly the damage with split tomatoes is cosmetic. However, the soil critters have a field day, because I’m guessing the split makes it easier for them to get an easy tomato feed.

    Frost is forecast for tomorrow morning, but it’s cloudy now so seems unlikely. Who knows? The early variety of almond is now in flower.



  43. Hi Margaret,

    It’s awful isn’t it? I was in the middle of replying to DJ when the email came through, and the details were not good. On the other hand, it was very kind of the person, who was a friend of Elbow’s to let me know. Such a troubled and dangerous part of the world. My friend who emigrated from there over a decade ago, has told me stories of their gated compounds and culture, and recently there has been some massive riots and looting. I’m unsure I’d sleep as soundly there.

    Leo, of course is also from a distinguished lineage. 🙂 He’s a real gentleman of a dog. Sometimes I see one, or both, of the girls grabbing onto his face with their teeth and then hanging off it. It’s kind of stretching his jowls, but he just gives them this sort of long suffering look of affection, and then lifts his head higher. He’s kind of like their mascot.

    Have you ever owned a dog as large as Leo before? Ollie is the largest dog I’ve owned and he’s a pretty relaxed personality. I’m not certain that this is always the case with large dogs. Dunno.

    The expense is what annoys me the most, but you know, we’re remote and so can’t muck around on that front – and things have to work, or be able to be readily fixed. And both the batteries and the original Dirt Rat had fallen into the not easily fixed category. The replacement Dirt Rat is actually a smaller more efficient, but probably even more competent vehicle.

    Yay for nice weather. Bugs can be a drama for sure. How are the birds going with the feeders? And here’s hoping your neighbours plant out a different crop next year.



  44. Hi Lewis,

    Grey flooring, not sure that is to my taste. Those sorts of things are a herd mentality, especially if people, and here I use the word ‘expect’, to make a buck from the sale of a house at some point in the future. I’d find the grey to be depressing. Man, the house is bringing me down, dude – that’s what I’d say to grey flooring. But if people want that stuff, a school of thought suggests that they’re not buying other building products which may otherwise be in short supply, like err, hardwood floorboards.

    And you’re right, the people in that biz probably frown upon individuality. You recall correctly, we had to strip that house back of anything which might be considered ‘quirky’. The word wasn’t used as a compliment. It was a difficult and stressful time.

    What stood out to me in the article was that it included the throw away sentence: “a quarter of all single-family-home sales went to landlords, aspiring Airbnb tycoons, and other types of investors in 2021”. That’s not good and suggests that perhaps the great dream is over? I’d hate to think what the debt binge looks like? Interest rates are rising here rather rapidly, and not a day goes by when there isn’t an article in the news about the financial struggles going on.

    Interestingly, I read an article on a rural football and netball club. But really, the article is about the town. The farms are getting bigger, the machinery does more work, and nobody sort of got around to saying that maybe, houses and rural land in that area are so expensive that local work can’t pay the costs associated with that. The give away for me was the ageing population issue – and that is happening here too. Death of a footy club. Well worth the read. The problem with printing money is that it also concentrates wealth, and absentee or remote property owners aren’t all that great an option.

    Yeah, exactly about the mature technology. It is a bait and switch operation. But serious people keep saying such things, so I hope they know something I don’t know. Probably don’t.

    Oh! A poor choice of words on my part. Nope, I meant an Australian steel plant. It is possible that previously the manufacturer was using imported steel – which presumably is cheaper.

    The lamp repair was tricky because it was a three dimensional problem. The broken glass panes were curved in three different directions. We made a cardboard template and got that just right, before then cutting the polycarbonate. You wouldn’t know that the replacement wasn’t glass. We kept the two cardboard templates along with a spare sheet of plastic. Might come in handy at some stage in the future. It was good we did that job too, because we noticed the drainage problem and got onto fixing that too. Better designed lamp posts probably cost a whole bunch more. 🙂

    It’s a shame you didn’t quite reach 96’F. 🙂 On a serious note, the humidity is awful, and hope you kept hydrated during the day? It was cold and wet here today, a truly unpleasant day to spend outdoors. We ended up doing paid work all day. A fun weekend.

    In between the rain showers, I did get out into the orchard and prune the Loquat trees. Years ago I paid $2 each for about five seedlings, and they’re growing well now. I’m trying to get them to grow faster and out of the reach the pesky wallabies. Never easy.

    Hehe! That’s funny about the local festival. Yes, very true. Mate, seriously, preaching the good gospel of hard work is seriously hard work. It surprises me that more people aren’t receptive to the good news brother. Not sure what I’d expected from the festival, but we sold a lot of seeds, but didn’t get any additional members.

    Fair enough, book recommendations are always a tricky business.

    New Gold Mountain might not shine such a good light upon the folks of the gold fields. They weren’t very nice. It looks intense. Is Firebite good? What a great title for a book: The End of the World is Just the Beginning. So true, people forget that an end is also a beginning. Some horror films are scarier than others, but then the subject matter is a bit subjective don’t you reckon? Wouldn’t it all come down to opinion? Or am I being naive?

    It’s only in these wasteful times that the middlings would be wasted, or considered waste food. What else – a good question – perhaps the squeak, that might be what else. 😉 I used to consume cous cous, and it’s quite good. It could contain potato starch, that’s a possibility.

    You scored pretty well with the box. Did you end up taking any down to the Club? Ah, you’ve answered that question, and the black beans are a good idea. I see bean salad in your future.

    What? That’s an abrupt about-face with the willows. What is the world coming to now? Have the authoritas come to their senses, or is the need so great? I honestly can’t understand what people have against willows. The streams never flowed all year around down here and I’m honestly unsure why people think that they did, but I suspect that is what is behind the pogrom on that plant.

    The moths produce silk, and some people are into that. Probably an escapee if I’d had to hazard a guess.



  45. Hello Chris
    Nothing in this country eats tomatoes apart from humans, so they are usually okay if off the ground. Only mould in overly wet weather is a problem; as happened last year.
    I have just picked a tomato that was growing in a greenhouse. It is the largest tomato that I have ever seen. It weighs one and three quarter pounds. Son gave me 2 seedlings of giant tomatoes for me to plant. But they were different so we don’t know the name of this one. I’ll have to ask him what the 2 names were.


  46. Yo, Chris – The phrase that jumped out at me was “landlord beige.” When That Horrible Woman had our hallways repainted, it’s not beige, but some kind of off-white with a touch of sickly yellow. The halls are now dingy and dark. I was walking down the hall the other night, and thought it reminded me of The Overlook Hotel, in “The Shinning.” Without the trim.

    There are plenty of articles on the internet, as to how to strip out anything quirky in a property you want to sell. Seems like you’re supposed to aim for the ambience of a mid-level hotel. Whatever happened to “cute” or “charming?”

    I think there’s a lot of resentment, building up, due to people being shut out of the buying market. And, the way the rent prices are going up. Those people buying up all the properties either have a lot of money, or a lot of debt. This will not end well.

    That was an interesting article about the end of the sports team. Bowling alone. There was also a realization of the break down of “community.” I’ve seen it in microcosm, here at the Institution. The older ladies had more of a sense of community, and worked at it. But they’ve mostly died or moved on. The younger bunch just isn’t interested. When I first moved in here, not that long ago, there was a lively quilting club, a fall bazaar, weekly Sunday potlucks. That’s all gone. And part of it is because when the PMC (Professional Management Class) took over, they really worked to stamp out any sense of community. Next time Mr. Greer has an “ask any question” I may see what he thinks of my theory. That as part of their “mission statement”, the PMC policy is to discourage any sense of community.

    I saw a flyer at The Club this morning. A room in a “clean and sober house.” There are some bells and whistles, but the rent is $150 per week. I was curious, as if this place ever closes, I’ll probably end up in something like that. Or maybe I’ll just slap a camper shell on my truck, and live out of that. 🙂

    I’d know the replacement wasn’t glass 🙂 . But good job. When I’m out and around, I often tap something with a fingernail, to see if it’s glass, ceramic … or plastic.

    It was 80, yesterday, but still on the muggy side, a bit. But, in the evening, it got cool enough that I opened a window and had the fan sucking in air from outside. Oh, yes. I stay hydrated. I keep a big mug of water, in the fridge, and drink it up, several times a day.

    I finished watching season two of “One Lane Bridge” last night. Twists, turns and surprises. I see there’s to be a season three. I watched the first episode of “Firebite.” Hmmm. Filmed around Coober Pedy. All those underground tunnels for vampires to lurk in. I don’t know if I’ll stick with it, or not. Part of the problem is, the landscape is so darned bleak. I can sit through a movie that has such a bleak landscape, but I don’t know about a series.

    The book on horror films is pretty interesting. Although I skimmed through the part about what happens in our brains, when we watch them. Horror movies have about as may tropes and rules as rom-coms. The author also considers them, decade by decade, and how they reflect what’s going on in society. Science fiction does the same thing. And, mysteries. I think.

    There’s plenty of black beans, at The Club. And I run through a lot, at home. Mostly in beans and rice, in various permutations. 🙂 But, yes, the occasional bean salad.

    We have some State laws, about buffer zones along streams. Basically, to provide shade, to keep the water cool, for fish. Willows provide a cheap and easy solution.

    A few weeks ago, there was some kind of a conference about agriculture, in our county. One of the leading spokespersons was a lady in her 70s. Just about all the points in the article on the sports team, were touched upon. LOL. But I was a bit brought up short, when she referred to Christmas tree farming, as part of our agricultural … profile. I guess it is, and I do see quit a few Christmas tree ‘farms”, around.

    But there is hope. I saw this article, yesterday …,298584

    You may find it interesting, for a number of reasons. How do you like, them apples? 🙂

    Cool enough to get out in the garden and do this and that. I notice my San Marzano tomato, is beginning to show a bit of color. But, other than eating them fresh, really not enough on one plant to do anything with. I’d be better off sticking with the cherry tomatoes. They produce! Lew

  47. Hi Chris,
    Yes, we had one dog, a coon hound named Ubu who was larger then Leo. Leo and Salve are both around 70 lbs (appox 32kg). If I recall correctly Ollie is around 90 lb. Still two 70 lb dogs is plenty.

    Things are quieter at the feeders as the several of the more colorful species of birds are about to migrate. I still have some young bluebirds at the mealworm feeder though. I really cut back in the summer as there’s plenty of natural food but keep two bird baths full. I don’t remember if I mentioned it but I’ve been monitoring a bluebird trail at a nearby conservation area which a bit over 700 acres. There’s a trail of 10 boxes that I’ve been checking weekly since late March and recording what species is nesting, eggs hatched and young fledged. I was warned that many quit doing it as you had to bushwack through tall grass – like shoulder height in some areas, and there are thorny bushes and grape vines that can be unpleasant to go through. Most of the boxes aren’t all that close to the maintained trails. Anyway there’s been a good number of bluebirds, tree swallows and house wrens. I’ve enjoyed watching the progression of flowering plants as well as some of the wildlife. There’s only one box with baby wrens now so this week may be my last visit for the season. I’ll send a spreadsheet to the conservation district and they’ll forward to the Dept. of Natural Resources. Sometimes it’s been quite uncomfortable hot and the mosquitoes were nasty a couple times too but overall a positive experience.

    We got 1.5 inches of rain last night too.


  48. Hi Lewis,

    The cream with a sickly yellow base can sometimes turn a whiter shade of puke (!) due the tint in the glazing. That may be the case at your place? Dunno. We had that very problem with the windows because they included some weird e-glass thing which nobody really explained to me. Anyway, the upshot was the sunlight streaming in the windows reacted in a sort of green way with the original paint colour and gave a shade of bilious puke. Fortunately we’d only painted one room before discovering the horror. Over painted it with a pink based white – Antique White USA to be exact – and the problem disappeared. But it wasn’t good, and your hallways are that colour, well I can understand the depths of your feelings of distaste.

    Mate, it’s probably never a good time to in the Shining! Things will end badly for sure.

    It’s an awful look, but yeah that’s what people want – and that’s exactly it. Hotels are not intended to be lived in.

    The rent situation is happening down here too. And not only is it expensive, it’s also hard to get a place because vacancy rates are way down. The funny thing was that on census night last year, or maybe the year before, there were a million empty residences.

    That’s it, isn’t it? The footy and netball club is apparently going under because the town is getting older. That’s such a weird story. And as time goes on there are less people with any agricultural skills. How crazy is that for a serious societal risk? Hey, it’s possible with your crew that the PMC are employing the divide and conquer strategy? I tend to believe that is being employed on a much larger scale in society.

    Mate, it’s not bad to have some options on that front. Nobody knows the future. The state gobarmint here recently sold off a goodly chunk of the roads authorita dept. and it barely made a mention in the news – and certainly not in the left leaning news where I couldn’t find any talk. It’s not like that mob control our drivers license id and stuff. What could possibly go wrong?

    My error, you would definitely notice that the replacement pane was polycarbonate. 🙂 I’ve got a good before photo, but not a good after photo… Oh well.

    Good stuff, just checking. 🙂

    A police procedural with some super natural elements, interesting. Well, Coober Pedy is pretty warm, and with all that opal mining going on, it makes sense to live underground. We stayed in an underground house there late last century. I enjoyed it, and the house was temperate and quiet. There were a few touristy things to do there, and they were fun. It’s a long way from anywhere though. All those mines and underground houses do sound like good conditions for vampires.

    Yeah, get scared or more likely shocked, is what happens to the brain. I didn’t know that about the tropes and rules. Makes a kind of sense though. I’ve heard the theory that zombies were a reflection of consumer culture, but they might just be zombies too. Dunno. The films do tend to involve shopping malls.

    Willows used to get used for the same thing here too along streams, then ideology changed and now they’re treated as evil incarnate. I’m not sure how that came to be, but it’s there alright.

    The cost of land is so great that it’s not feasible to make a living off the land, especially when the land is more valuable to flip than make productive. It doesn’t make any sense to me. This property was very cheap, had a lot of issues making it unattractive, and nobody wanted it as it was on the market for a few years. I tend to try and find the things that people don’t want. But even so, I don’t expect to use the land to make money, I’ve never viewed property that way. Even when we fixed up houses, we looked for increased returns by fixing the things, like actually sorting out wrecks of houses and restoring them. The expectations of buyers eventually exceeded what we felt was appropriate, so we went off and did something else with our time. But people seem to think that there’s nothing wrong with buying property, and having it magically worth more in the future. Hmm.

    Mate, thank you for the article on the cidery. I would definitely visit such a place. 🙂 And yes, the diversity of apples was once much greater than it is today. Moved another seven fruit trees today. It’s hard work.

    Yummo! May your weather be perfect for tomato ripening.

    Better get writing,



  49. Hi Inge and Margaret,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, however it’s late and no writing has yet been done. The story is only vaguely formed too. Ook! I better get on with that, and promise to reply tomorrow night.



  50. Yo, Chris – E-glass. It’s probably one huge camera lens that records everything that goes on in the house. And stores it somewhere on the net, for gosh knows what reason. 🙂

    Light and color are funny stuff. Throw in texture, just to make things really “interesting.” Natural light, in all it’s permutations. Time of day, season, weather. Artificial light in too many styles to keep track of.

    I get a giggle out of the home and decor magazines. It never looks like anyone lives there.

    That’s interesting about the census vacancy rates. I don’t think I’ve ever seen those kind of statistics, here. Other than, “…% of office space empty.” Selling off government assets or outsourcing never ends well. We’re back to bait and switch, again. But, someone’s pockets will be lined, so all’s right with the world 🙂 . Toll roads in your future?

    I read a bit more of “The $64 Tomato.” Just happened to read the bit about his putting in a small orchard (6 trees), last night. Four were apples. The book is really about their move to upstate New York, and tackling a large old house that had been vacant for a number of years. And once that was under control (as much as such things are), it was onto the yard. Three acres, and most of it slopping. Clay soil. Sound familiar? 🙂
    So, there’s a chapter of his battles with deer and groundhogs. A chapter on his battle with weeds. And all of it is written in an amusing manner.

    Didn’t get to the fiddly bits, in the garden, last night. I picked a large bowl of blueberries (currently resting on trays in the freezer) and watered, and that was about it.

    Each chapter of “The $64 Tomato” kicks off with an aphorism. I’ll leave you with the one that was the lead in to the chapter on weeds. “There’s only one sure way to tell the weeds from the vegetables. If you see anything growing, pull it up. If it grows again, it was a weed.” -Corey Ford, “Advice to the Home Gardener.” Look (magazine), September 2, 1954″ Lew

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