The Fear

Standing room only. The place was packed with people. Sandra and I stood among them, just off to the side. Someone came to the microphone, spoke words, left, and they were then replaced by others and their words. Rituals took place. Outside the windows, rain fell over the green landscape. Cold winds moved the trees. Grey skies hid the sun. A perfect metaphor for the feelings.

A couple of weeks ago, Sandra and I picked up a machine and a spare part at the local farm machine sales and repair business. We’re well known there and looked after. And the spart part, well, it may have been a locking pin, but who can now recall? Whilst Sandra waited patiently at the counter for service and to pay, I headed outside and loaded the machine onto the bright yellow trailer. What ensued inside the shop was just strange.

On my way out, an older lady entered the business. I’d seen her somewhere before, but couldn’t place the where, and so didn’t think any more of it. More important things demanded my attention, such as loading the machine onto the bright yellow trailer. Turns out, the lady had something of a commanding manner, and wasn’t afraid to use it. And once inside the store, the older lady began to set herself to the task of being served before anyone else in the queue. Talk about uncomfortable.

Some expectations don’t get delivered upon, and to accept such situations with good grace is a marker of emotional maturity. Of course in these enlightened days, that isn’t always guaranteed. Uncomfortably for everyone in the shop, the older lady then began to complain loudly about having her plans thwarted. Apparently you could feel the tension hanging in the air.

How could things have gotten so weird, so quickly? That was the question I put to Sandra after she described the awkward incident which had only just taken place. It was bonkers. Long ago I’d read a book by the English author Annie Hawes. It was a good read about life in a small community in the hilly coastal country of Northern Italy. The author made a very astute observation, the gist of which was, that with a small community of limited resources, any gain often came at another persons expense. So true, and a glimpse into the future.

That was a couple of weeks ago, and it sure was a whole lot of unnecessary stress, and for no good reason. A few days after the carry on, I spoke with the owner of the business. That was Friday, two weeks ago. It was no hardship finding some pretence to pop my head in and have a chat. We spoke business, life, the universe and stuff. Always shared a few laughs in between the more serious talk. We were of an age. He looked after Sandra and I, and that’s sometimes what you get after fourteen years of interactions. On that Friday though, I thought he’d looked a bit ill. Saturday he was dead.

Life sure can be strange. People can be even stranger. It was only a few weeks ago another older local lady whacked me around the back of the head in front of Sandra. Said there was a mosquito there, but I believe she lied. However, divining her motivation was hard and produced no reason for her having acted so. It was something of a surprise, and all hell would have broken loose if the situation was reversed.

Then a further two incidents occurred recently at the local supermarket. It’s enough to convince me that something new is going on. What is it though? And why did I get slapped? Clearly neither Sandra or I are having a good run with some of the older ladies in the local area, and it is not as if we present ourselves to the world poorly, or act as though we’re timid little rabbits.

I really don’t know what’s going on. It’s possible that all the bad news of late is stressing people out, and they’re acting all weird and stuff. But underneath it all, I detect the stink of fear. There’s plenty to be fearful about. The fear of getting older, being ignored, poverty, losing mojo etc. I’d just hate to think that many such small incidents stressed out the local bloke who only recently died.

There’s no getting around it, this has been one cold and wet year. Not quite record breaking, but then there are two months yet to go. It’s exciting! The new and much larger greenhouse is working really well in these challenging conditions.

Like all of the systems around here, if there is a need to modify them, and we can do so, the system gets modified. Then it works better. Inside the greenhouse are two racks for raising seedlings. Turns out I’d installed them about half a foot too high. Not only was it difficult to observe what was happening with the seedlings, but the thick timber lintel which runs the length of the structure, and supports the roof timbers, was casting a shadow onto the seedlings.

The author lowers the height of the seed raising racking

It was an easy fix to lower the height of the racking. Earlier in the week I cut some timber chocks out of scrap timber, then painted them. Despite much of the week being rather cold and wet, the paint eventually dried. Once the chocks were installed on the greenhouse timber frame, I could simply lower the height of the steel angle brackets which support the racking. Done.

Ruby wonders whether she can jump onto the seed raising racking

As you can see in the above photo, the plants in the greenhouse are growing really well. The only work required each day is to supply each of the raised garden beds with about 10L / 2.6 gallons of water. It’s a job which takes only a few minutes to do.

In the greenhouse, we’re experimenting with growing turmeric and ginger. In the above photo to my left are two large black pots on the shelving. The pots contain a tuber each of turmeric and ginger. However, there are also tubers of turmeric and ginger in the raised beds. At this stage, we believe that the tubers in the pots will sprout earlier than the ones in the raised garden bed. The reason for the belief is that the pots will probably be warmer than the cold soil of the garden beds. And, we are also trialling a Japanese variety of ginger, Myoga, in one of the raised garden beds, and that plant is winning the race.

Japanese Ginger, Myoga, is growing faster than the more traditional ginger variety

It is worthwhile mentioning that snow is forecast to fall at higher elevations in the state later this coming week. So, the greenhouse is kind of important. Despite the bonkers climate, most of the seedlings in the greenhouse have germinated in about a week. It’s not a bad effort at all.

Beans and tomatoes have germinated. Chilli’s are yet to germinate
Peas, basil and pumpkins have germinated. Eggplant and melons are yet to germinate

The greenhouse is watered by hand using a watering can, and like I previously mentioned, it is no great effort to do so. At one point there were some discussions here about using a hose to water the plants, but we discovered that the hose occasionally draped over the plants causing them damage. The hose had to go, but where? Just outside the greenhouse is the very sturdy steel solar panel frame. A couple of hose hangers were attached to the steel frame, done. The hoses are now stored off the ground, and in the shade.

The steel frame for the solar panels now is used to hold a couple of hoses

It’s been so wet, and the forecast suggests that the wet will continue. What, me worry? Such weather is the perfect time to move fruit trees. Another six trees were relocated this week.

More fruit trees were relocated this week, such as this Olive

Hop vines can be a bit weedy from what I’ve read, although they might not be, but do I want to find this out the hard way? Whatever, an area has been set aside for growing these most useful of plants. It was only recently where I’d learned that the hops flowers used in brewing have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. So obvious from hindsight, but the old timers must have used the oils in the hops flowers to stop the fermentation process (i.e. kill the yeast and other things in the brew). So clever, but in these enlightened times people think it’s in there for flavour.

An area has been set aside and planted out with hops vines + a future rockwall

Depending upon the weather, over the next week or so we’ll install some sort of climbing structure for the hops vines. And may even plant a passionfruit vine or two.

The most important machine we have is the coffee machine. It’s a really simple and easy to repair machine, and has been manufactured the same way for many decades. That’s what proper technology looks like. We’ve had the machine in daily use for over fourteen years, and can perform all of the repairs on it ourselves. A rubber o-ring needed replacing this time around, and fifteen minutes later, the repair was done and the machine was as good as new again.

An o-ring on the coffee machine was removed and replaced

The continuing wet year has had a remarkable effect on the landscape. It’s just so astoundingly green. There are times where I feel as if I am experiencing an entirely different country, not the usual sort of arid and infertile country which this continent sometimes is. I must say, the green is more pleasing on the eye!

It’s astoundingly green here

Onto the flowers:

The many Apple varieties sensibly produce blossoms when the chance of frost has passed, maybe
The forest is full of native orchids, but I refuse to say where!
Forget Me Nots look great when massed
Bluebells grow around the base of this Olive tree

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 16’C (61’F). So far this year there has been 1,210.8mm (47.7 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1,161.0mm (45.7 inches)

55 thoughts on “The Fear”

  1. Yo, Chris – The big question is: open casket or closed? I’ve sworn off funerals and memorial services, years ago. I remember people, who have passed, in my own way. But, given your mountain community, it’s best The Editor and you went to “show the flag.” You’ll be thought of well, for putting out the effort.

    I’m surprised someone didn’t say, “Oy! Mrs. Muck. Back of the line, you silly cow!” I saw a bit on a series, recently. “Evil.” Mr. Business man cuts to the front of the line, in the grocery store. Our heroine marches back to the frozen food case, picks up a bag of something, reconsiders, picks something with more heft, marches to the front of the store and clocks him in the side of the head. A very satisfying moment.

    You’re probably onto something. One of the tenets of my faith 🙂 is that a lot of negative emotions (anger, etc.) are fear based. When you peel off the layers and get right down to it.

    I think you’re enjoying puttering around in your greenhouse. Fine tuning it, so it runs like a well oiled machine.

    You may remember I had an old hop vine, the last place I lived. Oh, yes, they do climb. The one at my place had climbed up a good 18′, and had a trunk as round as my arm. Here’s some vintage photos …

    I see you’re going to have to get some stilts. 🙂 I think of hop cones are so interesting looking.

    You know, the Challenger Disaster was due to a failed O-ring. Your lucky your coffee maker didn’t go flaming across the kitchen.

    I hope your apples know what they’re doing. Ours didn’t, this last year. Nor the pears, either. The orchid is … well, I don’t see what anyone would get all excited about. Not near as interesting as hop cones.

    The Forget-me-nots and Bluebells are lovely. And, they’re blue! Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, I recall your preference for avoiding funerals, and it’s your choice, and not anybody else’s to make, or force their will upon you. A guy’s gotta know where to draw the line. 😉 I dunno really, but I reckon funerals are part of the beginning phase of the grief, loss, closure, or whatever you want to call it, process. It has a place in life’s journey, but mate, I’d be the last person to suggest that life has to be travelled in any particular decided upon in advance journey. There are plenty of people wanting to do that, and it ain’t you or I!

    Mate, I’ve been to both open casket and closed casket funerals this year, and on a purely pragmatic front, I found the open casket ceremony a bit weird because the deceased looked like they were a wax mannequin. If people choose to do that option, well it really is their choice and nothing I think about it will make any difference. I was uncertain what was to be achieved by an open casket, and unfortunately because I’ve watched Six Feet Under (a brilliant series) there was that Sistine Chapel reference…

    Oh, I had not answered your question, and the casket was a closed casket.

    Yeah, well, I’m gonna miss the guy too. We left the big smoke and rooted our lives here in this locale, and I’ve made a lot of connections, but I guess as time goes on, the linkages slowly fade out one by one. It’s an eerie thought, huh?

    The interesting thing about the episode was that the lady did not in fact get her way. Once understanding had dawned on everyone, the queue was acknowledged and that was when the lady loudly sulked her socks off. Unfortunately, the legal code down under is such that such acts would be assault, as is unexpectedly whacking me around the head by the way. It’s just not cricket, ol’ chap! 🙂

    Exactly, when you peel off the crusty outer coating that is being faced with people in a high state of emotion, what’s left underneath, the dirty bits, that’s fear. Pure and simple. I just wish they weren’t so active and/or vocal! Need it be that way? I respect your faith, and also note that it has many practical applications. Just avoid the example with the hefty freezer items applied to annoying side of head. That could end badly for you dude!

    You guessed it about the greenhouse, and that is the plan. A single melon germinated today. A few years ago I used to be able to regularly grow and harvest dozens of sweet and super tasty melons, in these cold and wet years, even the Siberian varieties don’t do all that well. Must be something in the water!

    Thanks for the photos of the Kentish hop pickers. I really enjoyed them all. Did you notice that many of the images showed people enjoying themselves in a combined social activity? Thanks for the stilt suggestion, but err, I probably lack the competence for such activities. How about you? The cones are very interesting aren’t they?

    Last year during the epic and never ending lock downs, we did manage to discover some mature hop vines in flower. Me being me, tasted them, and the oils were very complex and enjoyable. That’s when we tracked down some vines, and we’ll see how they go. In other news we tracked down two seedling passionfruit vines to plant out. I’ve tried the grafted variety, and the graft died and the rootstock took over. It was Simon who on a visit pointed out to me that we were growing passionfruit rootstock. I’d wondered why the fruits were orange and tasted like cardboard!

    Oh no, and you’re right, the difference here is that I noticed that the o-ring had failed because water was oozing past the cup-handle. You see, possibly the difference between me and norsa, is that I understand how the machine is meant to work in totality, so when it doesn’t work, repairs and modifications take place. Expecting the machine to work when it doesn’t, that’s for other people. 🙂

    Don’t tempt fate, those orchid snatchers are possibly worse than the dodgy old sci-fi: Invasion of the body snatchers. Nobody wants that. I suggest the 1978 remake over the original, but then I’m a Gen-X and have my foibles.

    Hehe! Mate, I’m having trouble recalling what I did last week, let alone decades ago. Far out! Between you and I, I reckon a photographic memory would be a curse. Forgetting some things and events is a blessing. I quite like Douglas Fir trees and have a few growing here.

    An intriguing thought about marking the solstices in the greenhouse. Given I’m a totally naive dude about such things, what time of day would you mark on the solstice? Such esoteric knowledge could be handy.

    It’s a bit of a mystery how that business will go over time. I don’t know, but I do know that there is a market for the business. Worse comes to worse, I’ll do the necessary maintenance on the small machines myself, but I’m unfortunately already busy and spread thinly. We discussed that worst case scenario this afternoon. Still, it’s early days and I’m prepared to be surprised. I have someone removed from the entire situation, I can ask for help if need be.

    Oh my gawd! Using a generator to supply electricity is a super expensive source. Hope Frank gets the power back on, or something gets sorted out.

    Life rarely is glitch free. At least you have the truck to store the stuff in. Here I feel the need to add that being ‘neat and tidy’ does come with some unexpected side benefits! Just sayin… Hehe! Man, I hope the inspection just goes smoothly.

    The whole oil / peanut butter thing passed me by. I just make a small supply of the stuff every couple of days. Doesn’t need the oil, or other… Maybe it is just me, but the stuff is very easy to make. I hear you, the oil serves a purpose.

    It’s a good thing that a bird / rat alliance is an unlikely possibility. The rats after all climb trees and try and eat the smaller birds and/or eggs. And the owls and other carnivorous birds would love nothing finer than a rat. The two are at odds, and keep each other in check.

    Respect. I don’t eat much meat either. A bit here and there. Good enough for me, and clearly yourself.

    Mate, there’s a lovely lady I work with, and not a month would go by where I’d suggest that ‘like ourselves, some people as they age are like a good bottle of wine. They just get better. Then there are those who turn to vinegar.’ At least I think it is amusing, and it is also true with all of the lovely people who comment here as well. 🙂 Boundaries, hmm, people do so love to test them.

    The bad weather held off today, and I’m taking a long weekend due to the public holiday for the horse race tomorrow. We cemented in the corner and gate posts for the future fencing for the new and epic sized vegetable and citrus patch. A gardener always needs more space! And um, this one is possibly bigger than some peoples houses. But is it big enough?

    I put in six posts (corners and two gate posts) and it was fascinating to observe the differences in soils over the large area. Despite the bonkers wet year, and I’d suggest that 12.5 inches of rain during October was quite a lot, the soil was holding together quite well. Me tired, the digging and mixing was all done by hand. Who needs to go to the gym?



  3. Yo, Chris – I can do without the public orgy of grief. I suppose some people think it’s a denial of reality, or, a lack of respect. How many movies have we seen, where the prodigal returns, and someone, sooner or later says something like “You didn’t even come home for mother’s funeral!” There’s usually a lot more going on than a single faux pas. Me, I note the person’s death date, in my daily meditation book.

    As linkages fade out, you make new ones. LOL. Sooner or later, you get people saying, “The Editor and Chris? Oh, they’ve been here forever. I think they were born here.” 🙂

    LOL. I’m glad the old bag didn’t get her way. And I hope everyone in front of her went into slow mo mode. 🙂 Our heroine whacking Mr. Businessman in the head with frozen produce was such a satisfying moment. Of course, someone caught it on their phone, and the next thing she knows, she’s become an internet meme.

    But think of how handy stilts could come in. Clearing the water catchments, cleaning the gutters … painting that roof gable. 🙂

    It’s going to take you awhile to live down the passionfruit disaster. Yes, why do these things taste like cardboard? Sometimes light dawns at a later date. The Night Manager and I were puzzling over some spilled green crystalline substance, between the side door and our dumpsters. Next time I see him, I’ll have to tell him I figured it out (I think.) Cat litter. Took awhile for the light, to dawn.

    Ah, our machines. In the Australian series “My Life is Murder” one of the ways our heroine copes with widowhood is to bake bread. She gets good enough at it that she even sells to a nearby cafe. But there’s an ongoing “joke” of her going two throws out of three with her very expensive, high tech, German bread dough mixer.

    Hmmm. Solstices. Everyone seems to go bonkers when the sun rises, sets, or hits high noon. I think I mentioned when I was camping out in the old theatre, downtown, on two days a year a sunbeam would shot from one end of the building to the other. Then there’s Manhattanhenge in New York City …

    Ought to be interesting if my apartment gets inspected. Wonder if the two 25 pound bags of grain, sitting next to my toilet will attract comment? Usually, they sit in the hall, just outside my kitchen. But that’s “against the rules.”

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the vegetable / citrus patch. You’re very good at adaptions and expansions. Lew

  4. Hello Chris,
    Stress-testing the population is the name of the game. The last couple of years have been interesting. As were the years around 2009-2010. Stress brings out different aspects of people’s personalities, and I have not figured out in any way how to predict: who will bend and who will break. Have you?

    When I lived in Russia in the 1990’s, plenty of people just gave up. Disillusioned. Feeling cheated. Living with the realization that they had invested a large part of their lives into charades that now were exposed to having been just charades. I expect the same to come to many of our friends in the overpaid managerial job category. They will walk around with a disgruntled air, mumbling “Who moved my cappuccino?”

    Thanks for sharing your experience of wetness and mud. Here, we had one of the driest years on record, and a wet summer sounds fantastic. Until I remember that lots of rain means very little sun. No sun, no fun.

    Regarding a question that I sideways noticed on a parallel blog, I would like to share some observations after my first six weeks in recycle-city. It all boils down to the obvious (afterwards) realization that we conflate value and price in our market economies. Extremely valuable plastic packaging (e.g. food grade bottles) usually costs next to nothing.
    Almost all plastic is made from polymerization of natural (fossil) gas. A couple of dozen factories produce the raw granules that are used in the plastic industry in all of Europe. The raw material is dirt cheap. 1300-2000 euro per ton of super-clean plastic pellets to make anything you want.
    The only plastic that is “worthwhile” to recycle from a material cost point of view are PET bottles, which bring in 200 euro per ton. All other plastics is recycled due to legislation.
    “Do it, or else!”
    And “recycling” means many different things. 10% approx is used to make a new product. The rest is burned (“energy recycling”) or landfilled or seafilled (when we fill the sea with plastics).

    I suspect that the weakest point in the chain is the legislation. As soon as the landfills are no longer policed, in the long descent, our landscapes will fill up with trash just like in most Asian countries today. And later we will have less and less pellets as input for new products.
    When I was on Bali ten years ago, kids were scouring the local landfills for PET-bottles, which would bring in a little cash in the city, but all other plastic was left out for the rain to wash away. I fear that that reality is coming closer to us every day.

    Another time we’ll talk cables. Brominated flame retardants. Phtalates to make the cables more bendable. Polyvinylchlorides. Mmmm…

    I go back to my trees. And realize how much goodness they give. Both in life and in their composted death. In four weeks time I will go down to Holland to pick up a load of trees that are in the loving care of a friend in the meantime. Just waiting for the leaves to drop and their winter sleep to arrive.


  5. Hi Goran,

    That’s a possibility about stress testing the population. It’s also equally possible that ideology is being pursued over common sense. Or that our leaders are dumber than we give them credit for. Or perhaps a mixture of all three? I suspect that in the distant future, the historians will tell it like it is, but for now, it’s a fog.

    That’s a great question, and I don’t have a clue how to tell in advance. Dunno about you, but I tend to expect a little bit of strangeness only because nobody human can ever be at the top of their game, but then if things get too weird that’s a bit of a red flag. Working out the response, there’s the challenge!

    It’s interesting you mention that about the former Soviet Empire, but there’s a new relationship term which I’ve only heard used recently: Quiet Quitting. Have you heard of that? It sounds much the same to me.

    Hehe! Yes, you recall correctly. Too much rain is as bad as too little rain. And don’t worry, it’s raining right now. Far out. Getting work done has been a juggling act.

    Man, glass is the exact same problem. A mate and I were discussing this very recycling issue the other day. If we were actually meant to recycle products, the products would look different than they do. For one thing, there would be only a few compounds used, those would be easily identified, and then they’d be chosen for their abilities to be re-used. Many plastics can only be re-used once or twice from what I understand. I believe the resulting products become brittle.

    Legislation is part of the problem for sure. After all it is a reflection of the society we live in. However, the problem I believe extends further than that: A lack of vision. I think that people are pretty cool with the waste, the facts of the scale of the waste suggest that this is the case. I read a book on the history of the subject recently, and it seemed that people recycled heavily, when economic circumstances forced them to do so.

    I find the trees here to be soothing balm too. 🙂 Enjoy your tree adventure! And may the trees thrive in their new location.



  6. Hi Lewis,

    People will think what they’ll think regardless. As far as I’m concerned, it’s your choice to go or not. From what I’ve observed over the years is that people grieve differently, and hey, some people treat funerals like a closure rather than a beginning of the process. Better to be there for folks afterwards, quietly, when the crowds have gone their way. Can’t say that I’ve ever heard anyone complain about not enough, or certain, people coming to their funeral. 😉

    Exactly, your remembrance is your path, and it is a lovely thought to regularly remember those who’ve touched us with their lives and since passed on.

    That’s the hope with the new linkages, reality however may differ. But in this particular instance, we have to eventually do something. Something, something, three generations! Hehe! I have a vague notion that around here in this locale, services will either disappear, or become exorbitantly expensive, or a combination of both. People may get shaken out of the forest due to lack of comfort, but then other more adventurous sorts may arrive to replace them? Always possible. This area used to be a potato and berry growing region, not to mention the timber. It’s a difficult place to live, but there are natural resources.

    As well as the Editor, there was a guy waiting in the queue too. The outburst embarrassed everyone, and seemed unnecessary. The ‘Evil’ series sounds quite amusing, and that’s the thing these days: Cameras are everywhere. You never know. And such evidence would make the court case easier for the prosecution.

    You go first with the stilts! I’m not up for that trick. The funny thing is though that I was contemplating getting a proper orchard ladder in order to do higher up pruning and fruit picking.

    Whatever will they think of next? Cat litter material that tests little kitty’s wee wee for pH. That’s amazing, useful, and bonkers all at once. Why would anyone miss the dumpster with that toxic green mess? Be careful about touching it, do you want to end up as the next Toxic Avenger? Do you lot have a rubbish chute leading down into the bin?

    That’s funny, and people sure do love their gizmo’s – and in-jokes. But a bread dough mixer has to be super strong in order to mix the dough. Anything less than commercial is bound to give troubles sooner or later – well that’s been my experience anyway. And I found it is easier to mix by hand, but that depends upon volume too.

    Oooo! The shaft of light from one end of the building to the other would be an interesting reminder of the turn of the seasons. Manhattanhenge is a remarkable chance, and who knows, at some point in the distant future, it may become a quite useful indicator of the station of the year. Thanks for mentioning the effect.

    We put up aviary mesh in gaps in the greenhouse today. Took ages to install the wire mesh. It didn’t take long for the birds to work out how to get inside the greenhouse for an easy feed. Oh well, they can’t do that now, maybe. Anyway, you see what I have to deal with here? Hey, do you want any parrots? 🙂

    Wise indeed. And what would they be doing inspecting the toilet anyway? So, did you get the place inspected?

    Thanks. Today, we had to work out how to do the fencing around the larger enclosure. As things scale up in size, so too do the costs, and so we came up with a unique idea to re-use a lot of scrap chicken mesh from old wallaby proof tree guards. Wallabies…

    And now it is both cold and raining.



  7. Yo, Chris – Keep an eye on that storm center. The path of our Columbus Day Storm was erratic … and fast. Prof. Mass is pretty excited. Several of the weather models are predicting lowland snow, for next week. And, a lot of it. Lowland snow in early November would be historic. But he cautions that the forecast is pretty far out there, and things may change.

    It didn’t get as cold as predicted, last night. Still in the mid 40sF. I was out and harvested my hot peppers, both red and green. Sweet Basil. Tomatillos. There were a few tomatoes. And, I found one (1) strawberry in the strawberry bed. Tasty.

    You were talking to Goran, about recycling glass. This just in from the Wonderful World of Archaeology.

    Speaking of plastics, there’s been some excited headlines the past couple of days that we ingest or breath in a credit cards worth of plastic, every week. 5 grams. But, poking about a bit, there’s more to the story.

    You think if, over a year, you had 52 credit cards worth of plastic kicking around in your system, it would be, well, noticeable. Oh, I’m sure we have bits of plastic in our innards, but none of the articles mention anything about how much plastic we, err, expel. Maybe “they” are saving that aspect, for another study.

    We have a garbage chute, but the apartments on the first floor have to walk there’s out. I always walk mine down, anyway. It piles up under the chute, so I place mine at the end of the dumpster, away from the chute. Good citizen, and all. Or, a little forethought.

    I’m more than happy to take some of your parrots. I’ve mentioned the prices they bring here. Maybe start with half a dozen? 🙂

    Well, the inspection was a non-event, for me. I happened to see our building manager in the hallway, in the morning. She told me my apartment wasn’t on the list, to be checked. Neither was Elinor’s. So that’s done and dusted. Maybe they’ll leave us alone until after the holidays. Sure they check the toilets. Make sure they flush. As if something like that wouldn’t be … noticeable.

    Not that my day wasn’t exciting, anyway. I took Elinor to an appointment with her doctor. Once she gets a caregiver (in the works) they will take her to her appointments. So, it was exciting times, juggling walker, wheel chair and puppy. I have a new official title. “Official Booty Pusher.” To get the last bit of Elinor in my truck. The nurse at the doctor’s office thought that was pretty funny.

    Well, Halloween is over. I drove Elinor past the house with the giant skeleton. There are two! I’d missed the other one. It’s done in brown bones, so doesn’t show up during the day. But it’s one of the lit one’s, at night.

    We also made a slight detour, past my old little house, that almost flooded. And then did flood. It’s gone! It’s been replaced by quit a nice looking little pre-fab cottage. My bamboo is still there, but the plum / prune tree is gone. Lew

  8. Hello Chris
    People are indeed strange; however England is the home of the queue and it seems to function in a very courteous fashion here.
    I am another one who never goes to funerals, Dead is dead and i prefer to grieve in solitude.
    We had one heck of a storm last night. The Needles on the most westerly point of the Island, had a gust of 115mph. I could hear things banging over. Lots of branches down but no whole trees so far.


  9. Hi Chris,

    We received about 3 inches of rain in the past week. Yay for rain!! It’s a lot easier to pull out daikon radishes and dig out leeks when the soil is moist, so I did that this afternoon, after a 1 1/2 hour walk with Mike and a neighbor of ours. It was a beautiful sunny day with a high temperature in the low 70s F, so a walk was in order. The next three days should be similarly pleasant, so I will prepare the small area for the garlic and plant it. Then I’ll be done with planting and go on to completion of the harvest and gathering of fallen leaves for mulching and composting.

    Around here we notice how drivers are more impatient than I’ve ever seen. It’s becoming almost routine for some drivers to illegally pass us when we are driving the speed limit on a city street. The fact that they are passing on a blind curve doesn’t stop them. Sooner or later a collision might, however. I just hope I’m not there when it happens.


  10. Chris,

    What a strange situation you and the Editor had at the store! Be grateful that you live in the hinterlands. I experience similar events often enough that it’s almost unremarkable unless it’s a new form of tension. When I was at the electronics store when I was computer shopping, there were TWO older women who were making a scene and/or cutting in line. Another retired gent and I were first and second in line. We just looked at each other, shrugged, and said in unison “I’ve got all day. I’m retired.” So we had an enjoyable conversation that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.

    I was in line to give my order at a fabulous sandwich shop on my lunch break a few years ago. A lady jumped in front of me. It was our local Federal Congresswoman. Three other elected officials, including the County Sheriff, were sitting and eating. I was thinking that there’s no way I was letting this slide, but how to say anything to “nobility” without getting arrested? Then she saw her party in the back of the eatery and joined them. No cuts took place. Whew!

    The dog fur joke from last week? I read it in a modern mystery, part of a series that takes place in Montana. Written by a Montanan.

    Asphalt patches sorta suck. When the pothole is at its worst, the weather is cold and wet and wintry. The asphalt plants are closed. Thus, the potholes are filled with “cold mix”, which really doesn’t adhere well to the surrounding material. Potholes are something that we deal with regularly hereabouts, as in much too often. I’ve seen some potholes that probably could’ve swallowed a city bus!
    (Okay, not quite that big.) I’ve heard Spokane referred to as the Pothole Capitol of the World.

    Garden is ready for winter. 🙂 The trees are changing color. This has been a rather spectacular year for the autumn colors. Soon they will fall, I’ll rake them up and throw them into the garden.

    It has been raining for 16 hours. 13mm so far. A large cold and wet and windy storm is forecast for Friday into Saturday. Heavy frost Wednesday, so the temperatures might be cold enough to bring some snow. And snow is in the forecast for the next 2 weeks intermittently. As Lew said, it’s early for snow there, and early for much accumulation here.

    Thanks for the photos of the wonderful blue flowers. When we were planning our flowers, we decided to go heavy on blues, purples, pinks. Blue flowers are cool.

    Per Lew’s comment, I’m imagining your coffee machine flaming around the kitchen, escaping to the outdoors and soaring into space. Would the machine then be known as Australia’s Space Force?


  11. @ Lew,

    I’ve seen that Lora Irish book on pyrography. It’s not bad, but I’ve got a better pyrography book or two. I do own two other books by Lora Irish, however, and have used some of the patterns and ideas in them to good effect.

    Wonderful comment you had about Chris’s coffee machine, the bad o-ring, and flaming across the kitchen. I had the good sense to swallow my tea BEFORE I read any comments this week.


  12. Hi Inge,

    The culture down here is a subset of what was derived from the UK, altered of course with local influences. However, maybe since my teen years, US culture has wormed its way in, and so in a strange way we have a very mixed culture. It was not always thus. One aspect we inherited from the UK is a tendency to queue and respect the process. I am unsure why there has been a recent change in that aspect of our culture, it certainly means something. I don’t know. The people in question acted quite haughty, and put out, as if their time were of the utmost importance, which may in fact be the case? Who can argue with them?

    I understand and respect your perspective. Everyone grieves differently as I have mentioned elsewhere this week, and I for one prefer a quiet and introspective grief. There is a time to remember, a time to heal the wounds, and another time to consider the scars.

    Holy carp! 115mph is a strong wind gust in anyone’s language. The wind is natures pruning tool, and if I may be so bold as to suggest: Natures gift of free firewood! And good to hear that you and the forest survived the blast in tip top condition, albeit with some minor wear and tear. 🙂

    Yesterday the wind picked up here too, but not to the same extent. Anyway, in late afternoon there was a resounding crack, tear, crash sound. A large branch plummeted to the Earth gravity being what it is. Poor Ruby was startled and sat in the clearing barking at the forest. Took a photo of the large tree and fallen branch, and we’ll see how it turns out. With everything being so wet in the forest, I fear the winds.



  13. Hi Claire,

    I hear you about it being easier to dig in damp soil. 🙂 You may have noticed the large number of fruit trees relocated in this very cold and damp spring? Like your Daikon radishes, they’re easier to relocate when the soil is damp.

    Out of curiosity, what do you mean by ‘dig out leeks’? Here they tend to produce rather large root systems, but mostly we just lift them out of the ground and shake the soil off the root systems. For your info, I’ve been trialling varieties so as to discover the variety with the mildest taste. And leeks self seed prolifically.

    Your weather sounds glorious. It was freezing here today. Honestly, outside was 3’C whilst inside the house was 14’C this morning. We appear to be enjoying what is amusingly known as: Snow-vember! Fortunately the orchards didn’t display any sign of frost this morning, or snow for that matter. We got lucky, this time.

    Sorry to say, but I’ve seen just that ‘blind corner overtaking on the wrong side of the road’ trick take place. It didn’t end well, and we came across the encounter scene a few minutes or two after it occurred. Fortunately nobody was killed, but far out, something you don’t want to see. I really don’t know what is going on, but the ether! The ether is rotten. At such times people spoil for a fight or some sort of release from the tension. The tension is the quiet bit. Oh well.

    On a more positive note, warmer weather here is on its way. Yay! Finally. But of course it is accompanied by a monsoon, as you do.



  14. Hi, Chris!

    “The author made a very astute observation, the gist of which was, that with a small community of limited resources, any gain often came at another persons expense. So true, and a glimpse into the future.” You also have also made an astute observation. Of course, in a small enough place, those with prestige will be honored with being first served. I am not sure that you and I live in a small enough place. Is Lew’s “Mrs. Muck” known to have prestige? I know about old ladies. That is my life now. And I know about talking to someone one day and finding out the next that they have died; it happens a lot. Life goes on. Or not, as the case may be.

    “Let not your hearts be troubled. Do not be afraid.”

    Your greenhouse must be a nice place to be on a cold and sunny (sun – what’s that?!) winter’s day, like a Victorian conservatory. Ginger is a lovely plant to grow. Here, it can only grow outside during the summer and we have no room inside to keep it going the rest of the year.

    Ruby has been a big help!

    I didn’t know that about hops. I have taken hops as a sleep aid in the past. That is, without the beer . . .

    That is a very fine coffee machine. It makes me wish I liked coffee.

    Beautiful, beautiful green. And blues! We finally had an inch or two of rain. It was enough to help the garden, but not the rivers and streams.


  15. Hi DJ,

    Seriously? Mate, we’re in a rural area and such niceties as queues are observed and generally respected. There’s something going on to produce such a change, but it isn’t what I’d describe as being an improvement. It’s not nice. There I’ve said it.

    So are you suggesting that I should shrug my shoulders and do like you did and turn lemons into lemonade (as the old timers once suggested)? Citrus references may be lost in translation due to your winters being super cold and stuff.

    Maybe I’m now in the past? I tend to believe that social rules are there to allow our species to live in close confines. But then some people do believe that wealth and status gives them greater equity than others. After all, some are more equal than others! 🙂

    Maybe we need to start an activist group: Save the dog fur! I have heard that some folks have used dog fur to produce clothes, and certainly many a trusty (sorry for the reference) err, pack pooch, has been consumed down in the Antarctic. An awful thing to do, and need I mention the 1912, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen? Not much to eat down there on that cold frozen continent. It sent a goodly blast of air in this direction today, and can’t say I can recommend the icy experience. However, compared to Mars, it would be a walk in the park.

    Oh, I didn’t know that asphalt plants closed. You learn something new every day. I guess in your cold winters it would be nigh on impossible to keep the stuff in liquid form? Honestly, it did sound rather like a rather bold claim about the bus, but yeah it certainly sparks the imagination. I’ve seen parts of the road disappear here. And that is usually in a downward direction. Not good. Fortunately only a few minor sections of the roads around here have steep drop offs. One section was recently remade using compacted fill, and I do wonder about that particular part of the road, and am careful never to put any wheel upon it.

    Lucky you, being at the epi-centre of potholedom. 🙂 I had a conversation with someone today and suggested that if everything worked out neatly, our jobs would be taken over by robots. Celebrate the problems is my motto on that front. Share and enjoy perhaps?

    Don’t speak so loudly! Beware the leaf change tourist hordes. I warned you!

    Awesome at least to hear that you’re getting some rain. What I’ve noticed of the climate down here is that autumn as a season has become rather diminished of late. I could be wrong in that regard, but it feels that way.

    It’s almost Rhodie time, so we must put the blue flowers behind us and head into bonkers showy Rhodie territory. But I agree, the blue flowers are delightful, and massed Forget Me Nots are lovely.

    Hehe! It was pretty funny that about the coffee machine.



  16. @ Margaret:

    Thirty years ago, when my husband and our two sons – ages 4 and 7 – moved out to the country from a rented house in the suburbs, there was no cable or satellite TV available. “Hallelujah!”, I cried. We could get one local, fuzzy channel with an antenna, and I let the rest of them have that. It made family nights watching an anticipated show very special. The rest of the time nobody much wanted to fool with the thing.

    Then satellite TV became available and there was no holding my husband back. Or my sons, as since dad could have it, so could they. Before that they had had to impose on friends.

    About a year and a half ago, as the cost of satellite TV – and its problems here in the woods – increased, my husband gave it up. He did switch to watching just as often online, but at least he seems to choose better content.


  17. Hi Lewis,

    It seems like the storm has moved east of here, which is nice. A large tree branch fell yesterday, and poor Ruby was outside with us at the time and she didn’t know what was going on. She stood at the edge of the forest and just barked, as if the trees care. We got a photo of the fallen branch and tree, but we’ll see. So far, it’s just been cold and damp here with the occasional strong gust of wind. Over in the much higher alpine areas, snow has fallen: Spring snow blankets Australian ski resorts as Antarctic blast snap freezes south-east.

    I’m keeping a watch on the radar and looking at the charts though, just in case. Possible lowland snow for you will probably mark the end of the growing season, but you’ve had it pretty good. And your haul of tomatoes which you’ve dehydrated is impressive. I can only but dream of such harvests. A friend gave me some tomato seedlings which I’ve planted in the greenhouse. Might have to keep them pruned.

    Top work, you’ve had a great season in the garden. A tidy end of season haul too. It was the disappearing strawberries which forced me to install the aviary mesh yesterday across the gaps in the greenhouse.

    How clever were the Vikings to re-use the Roman’s glass? Makes you wonder how the current batch of glass will get re-used at some distant future time? Did I see a side article about Tutankhamen’s dagger made from a meteorite? So many rabbit holes, and well after the Camulod epic… 🙂

    I’d have to suggest – as you rightly posit – that the old theory about rubbish in, rubbish out, is probably quite valid in relation to plastic pollution. Mate, I don’t doubt it. If I bring in compost or woody mulches here, I have to sift through the stuff to remove the plastic. And that’s the stuff I can see. Probably best to burn the stuff for the inherent energy, but no doubts that process has problems as well. I tend to believe that like was pointed out repeatedly in the book ‘Rummage’, that we as a species are only wasteful, when we can afford to be wasteful. It’s a heady mixture of economics and energy.

    And anyway, with that much plastic up our guts, you reckon we’d rattle a bit, well maybe a lot after a few years of that. The exit process might be worthy of further studies. Of course that also suggests that we’re possibly concentrating plastic waste in sewage systems. Hmm. Out of the pan, and into the fire.

    That’s not good, and I have some vague mental image that if the bin gets moved, the piled up in the bottom of the chute stuff, all falls onto the ground. And has to be picked up somehow. It’s a bit of a tragedy of the commons sort of story, don’t you reckon? And respect for taking your stuff down to the bin. We haven’t had access to garbage pick up service for at least a dozen years. You adapt, and try not to produce much rubbish. Plastic wrapping is always the biggest nuisance material.

    Hehe! We might have to come up with some sort of arrangement? 🙂

    Well done, and that was good news to have escaped the inspection bots. Nobody wants to see them. And exactly, the non working nature of such a device would be noticeable from a considerable distance. I’ve heard of hoarders having issues on that front. Hmm. You brought back a memory from the days when we did a census collection round and there was the dead meat dude. I reckon the dude was dead in the apartment. I’m sure he didn’t mind. It felt like being in one of those crime shows where the detectives were saying to one another: Can you smell the decomposition? I doubt with such a frightful stink that the matter would have been left unattended for very long.

    Hehe! Oh Lewis, you are like super-bad! 🙂 Mate, sometimes you just gotta do what ya gotta do. And glad that everyone could get a laugh. Was Elinor impressed by twin the 12ft skeletons? Those things would give me nightmares!

    Sometimes you can’t go back. Years ago we visited a house for sale that we’d poured sweat blood, tears and bonkers late nights on fixing up many years beforehand. The new owners had not been kind to the house and it was all a bit sad really. It’s hard to compartmentalise the places though, but we can but only try. And yes, at least the bamboo is still there. A most excellent plant too. There’s a local bamboo nursery which I’ve never visited. Probably should do something about that.



  18. Hi Pam,

    Thank you for the additional perspective, and I agree, some are more equal than others. A bit of a shame that, but I guess always was it thus, hey? I recall a 2015 film, Brooklyn, which showed how that observation of yours worked.

    As a polite gentleman and usually careful of the social niceties, I generally have very little social troubles with ladies older than myself. It troubles me that I have had some recent troubles from that direction. Is it them, or me? I must ponder this question. Of course, it is possible that it is me. However, I really believe that I did nothing at all to warrant being whacked around the back of the head. It’s put me all out of sorts, truth to tell. And boundaries will be set with that miscreant.

    Pam, it’s all our lot nowadays! 🙂 Life is rather short, but we must make do with what we have.

    Thank you, that was a beautiful sentiment and so true. Between you and I, that is not one of my fears. It happens, we can choose to accept.

    It is a lovely place to be, and it’s warmer than outside the greenhouse. The plants seem to be enjoying the inside conditions. I’ve never had access to such a large greenhouse before. There are three melon seedlings today. Yay! Only the most heat loving seeds are yet to germinate.

    Is it possible you might consider a greenhouse for your place?

    Ruby is lovely, although she disappeared into the forest today for about fifteen minutes. Not happy, she promised not to do that. I guess the wind may have blown and she heard something…

    I did not know this about hops. Thanks for mentioning it! I’ve enjoyed chewing upon the seeds and they’ve got quite a lot of essential oils.

    It’s very appropriate technology that coffee machine, and with a bit of care, it can be maintained and repaired. Not all machines have those attributes.

    Yay for you for the rain! 🙂 I’ll bet the rain produced wonderful smells from the garden?



  19. @ DJ – I doubt much slips by you, from the Wonderful World of Pyrography. But just in case, I thought I’d mention Irish’s book.

    I’m glad no tea (or keyboard) was harmed in the attempted execution of humor. 🙂 Lew

  20. Yo, Chris – Maybe Ruby thought the trees SHOULD care? Ah, the smashed and trampled expectations of youth! 🙁

    Our forecast for an overnight low is 29F (-1.7C). Freezing fog or a foggy freeze. Take your pick. But, just for one night, and then the overnight lows bounce up again. I have three ears of corn that are just showing silk. So much for them. But I’ll get out and pick some tomatoes, this afternoon. Enough for a couple nights dinner.

    Snow, this late in your year. Sounds like the skiers, walkers and bikers are joggling for space and a slice of weather. But, I see, no fears: the pub is open! 🙂

    King Tut’s dagger being a meteorite is old news. Meteorites were a little easier to find, in Egypt. Due to the desert. The shifting sand covers them, uncovers them. The folks picked up pretty early, that if you see a rock, sitting out in the middle of the sand, it might be worth checking out.

    Same with the coffee grounds, I get from the Club. Sift out the coffee stirrers, little plastic cups of creamer, etc.. Eventually, I get some nice grounds.

    Managing the dumpster is an ongoing task. Which usually falls to the Night Manager, and me. If I see the bags piling up under the shut, I’ll give a couple a tug toward the emptier end of the dumpster. Since I deposit H’s poop bag, two or three times a day, I can keep an eye on it.

    Sometimes, around here, someone will say, “Have you seen …., lately? And I’ll say, “Well, I haven’t smelled anything.” Often, a comment not appreciated. But in the interest of keeping things real … And, frankly, I don’t care.

    I’m tempted to steal one of the skeletons, haul him down here and have him peer into someone’s second story window. I have a few people in mind. Maybe the owners would just rent him out, for an evening? I wonder if the skull detaches? I could have a lot of fun, with just that.

    Well. What a surprise. We got a commodity box, this morning. The agency our Night Manager works for, is taking over the delivery of the boxes. So, there’s to be schedule changes. And the holidays will wreck havoc on any regular schedule. Take it as it comes, I guess. Nothing startling. The produce was a melon (cantaloupe?), a head of Romaine lettuce, a bag each of Brussels Sprouts, small red potatoes and apples. Four large baking potatoes.

    A package of elbow macaroni, a packet of shelf stable mushroom soup and a two pound brick of processed cheese product. A one pound pack of frozen ground beef. A two quart jug of apple juice. 2 boxes of corn flakes cereal, a carton of shelf stable milk and a package of dry non-fat milk. 2 l lbs. bags of “enriched” rice. A jar of peanut butter. The tinned stuff: green beans (5), peaches (3), yams (4), black beans (2). One tin each of salmon, beef with juices and chicken. There’s not a thing I’m keeping for myself. Except some of the produce. The rest is going on the swap table, or down to the Club. Lew

  21. @ Pam
    I loved the history, mystery, present/gift. Playing with words after that, I came up with ‘If you are present, I will present you with a present’. Language is weird. Son tells me that a Czech friend of his told him that her language would alter according to feeling. The result being that she had 3 names and her mother used the one that fitted the emotion of the moment.


  22. Chris,

    I agree. The change is NOT nice. Not at all. In fact, I find it rather abhorrent.

    “So are you suggesting that I should shrug my shoulders and do like you did and turn lemons into lemonade (as the old timers once suggested)?” (I like citrus references.) Far from it. Standing up for oneself is important. Situational awareness is key regarding whether, when and how to stand up for oneself. When these things first started to happen to me here, I was aghast and had no idea how to respond. Now I’m not surprised and try to respond as the situation warrants. Some examples…

    The event at the computer store, well, the louder of the two ladies truly may have been first in line. Due to current national events that have made the news, confronting the second was a losing proposition due to ethnicity issues. So, make lemonade from the lemons.

    I have been known to get rather loud in the check-out queue at the local grocery store. Something along the lines of “If you bang that cart into me again you’ll eat it for dinner!” bellowed rather loudly.

    While awaiting my turn at the pharmacy once when my beard went to the middle of my chest, a lady asked if she could touch my beard. I said “No” and moved several feet away. She followed and attempted to touch my beard. I did a martial arts block, which really hurt her feelings. I also said just loudly enough that staff and the other customers could hear, “Do NOT touch me or try to touch me again!” She was in tears, people were glaring at both of us, and the waiting room was somewhat tense. I would do the same thing again. She had no business whatsoever trying to touch me, especially after I had said no to her request.

    Sometimes it also helps to have practised a few phrases. Many years ago, an event ended and a crowd in a large auditorium had to exit through a single door. Slow going. An older lady was behind me and kept pushing me in the back. I finally stood still for a half minute, then turned and calmly said, “‘Ya know, I can move faster if you keep your hands to yourself and quit pushing.”

    Regarding the woman who hit you in the head claiming there was a mosquito, the Princess suggested to loudly say “Hey, quit hitting me! Keep your hands off my butt! Why are you assaulting me and molesting me?” (It doesn’t matter if she never touched your butt. Turn up the heat. She had no business touching/hitting you for any reason.) If she then claimed that there was a mosquito she was trying to swat, then also loudly ask her “Hey lady, so if I see a mosquito on your head can I hit you too?” Saying things like that doesn’t come naturally to me. I’ve had to spend some time learning the mentality and the skills. And the important skill seems to be to be watchful and wary when in public, expect weird things to happen, read the situation and respond accordingly. It sucks.

    Some people ARE more equal than others. It’s true. Why? Because they are legends in their own minds, hence much, much better than you. So they act like bullies. Sometimes they get taken down a notch and reminded that they’re not so special after all.

    Ohhhh, nice slogan: Save the Dog Fur! Eating the dog team was also not uncommon in the Yukon and other places in the North. Some Native American tribes also ate dog. Yup, dog stew and frybread is a delicacy in some regions. Save the Dog Fur! Don’t Eat Your Packmate!

    Exactly, the asphalt won’t have the proper consistency when it is cold outside. The spring of nonending rain, the year that we had road graders stuck in mud up to their hubs, there were about 18 roads in the County that were closed due to the roads getting washed away by the huge volume of water. Twas a memorable year.

    Robots taking over sure is the dream some people have. Never gonna happen. Think peak oil. Think peak other minerals. What to do when the robot breaks down and starts to annoy? Share and enjoy indeed.

    The dread four letter word that begins with “s” and ends with “W” is in the forecast for the next 10 days or so. Ugg. Winter is coming. Autumn just started. A diminished season autumn again.

    Did I mention winter is coming?


  23. Hi DJ,

    Glad you enjoyed the citrus reference. The local gardening club sent me a catalogue in the mail today and it had a members only long season pack of selected orange trees. I’m tempted. Can’t recall that I mentioned it, but err, oh well, these things happen: So last weekend moving the various fruit trees around and I looked hard at two citrus trees. The Editor then also looked at the two citrus trees. We both came to the same decision. They’re dead, Jim (as in Star Trek reference – we should try to work either a Star Trek or Hitch-hikers reference in somewhere once per week. Is this the gentle art of sharing and enjoying? I rest my case and retire from the field with full honours! 🙂 ). Anyway, as you do, I yanked both of the so called dead citrus trees out of the ground only to discover that they’d formed tiny little green nodules on the trunk. Yeah replanted them, but they’re not gonna like that treatment. Oh well.

    What were we talking about? Oh that’s right, changes. Mate, I’m not into it either. And I agree absolutely, it is sometimes necessary to respond, but knowing how to in advance is the challenge. A person cannot anticipate every strange incident, that’s why the lady caught me out unawares and stuff with the whack around the back of the head. And the funny thing was that on the next encounter I was just about to set some boundaries – and she got me a second time. Told me that the local bloke we both knew had died. I may have met my match here, but the next encounter I shall prevail, maybe…

    Ah, yes I see, your country has its own special issues on that front, and tread warily my friend, tread very warily. Which you did.

    Years ago I had experienced that cart pushing into me situation, and its hard on the ankles. I took a slightly different approach, but regardless it is a confrontation, and suggested (with meaningful eye contact) to the cart pusher: “Easy Tiger!” Whoa! That sure got a response, but then some folks are spoiling for a fight. Tiresome (and frustrated) people.

    It is hard not to notice that many people express frustration using the anger emotion. If you’re ever feeling like living on the edge, and I don’t recommend this, but you can always say: “What? Are you like two years old? Are you gonna stomp your feet next?” Be prepared for a reaction, be very prepared. 🙂

    I agree about the touching, and asking doesn’t make it OK. If the shoe were on the other foot, you would have been in serious deep dog poop. Bigger than what Avalanche and Ollie combined would ever produce. Some people don’t understand boundaries, or simply want to test them. And in another side note story, I know a lovely local bloke who is a trained diesel mechanic and used to sport such a luxurious beard. Yeah well, he told me that long ago it got caught up in the workings of a truck and there was no great injury, but the beard had to be cut out. The universe occasionally tries to tell us a thing or two! 😉

    Like you, I also retain a few choice phrases for such unusual occasions (he says taking notes of your good phrase), but honestly it is hard for me to be switched on all of the time. I’m just not wired that way, unfortunately. Some people have better natural practised (or perhaps hard wired) responses and mine exist as a layer over the more usual chilled out Chris-ness. I dunno, it’s hard.

    Exactly, I am watchful as well, but sometimes we all bring our C-game to the table when an A-game is called for. Generally those incidents occur in places where I’m most comfortable, and thus the guard is lower than it would otherwise be. How does that compare with your experience?

    Actually, I’m quite fond of my pack mates, and the thing is there is the awful question of return on investment. If a serious crisis ever occurred, well the pack mates would work pretty hard for the common good of the pack. I don’t doubt that, and the opportunity for them to scavenge treats from the forest is probably better than my own skills. So yeah, they’d earn their keep. Now if we were in the Yukon or the frozen continent of Antarctica where food is scarce, all bets are off. Mental image number one: Have you seen fluffy? Nope, not for a few days. What are you chewing upon there? Nothing (insert guilty expression).

    I hear you about the memorable year, and yeah, that’s kind of what it looks like here too this year. It isn’t always this way… Must be something in the water.

    Last weekend a mate and I were discussing self driving vehicles. And you know, like you, and for all of the reasons you mentioned, it ain’t gonna happen. My friend has a more optimistic point of view though. I reckon the economics of that story makes no sense. How could a robot be cheaper than a human who does the same driving job for free? That aspect of the story makes no sense to me whatsoever, but if people want to believe in technology that hasn’t been developed yet, I see no harm in that belief system. Just don’t bet the farm on the belief system. That could be a problem.

    Don’t mention the word, lest ye bring the dread white flakes down upon ye head! And thanks for handing over the spring weather. Far out, you hung onto it for a bit long this time. Sunday forecast is for 25’C and it only gets warmer from there. I’ve forgotten what it feels like to feel warm from the sun.



  24. Chris:

    Choose to accept. Yes. In most cases.

    A greenhouse here? Certainly – someday.

    Even though we had not had rain for many weeks, the garden has stayed quite damp. The plant leaves are always wet in the mornings. I wonder if this is because the nights are often 30F degrees less than in the day, and those night temps can be near freezing. Also, there is the north slope in a forest setting, not all that far from the winter solstice, that we have (a lot of leaves are still on the trees). So, yes – the dampness makes for a lot of interesting smells. A couple of years ago I dug up some ground ivy (glechoma hederacea) on a property near us. I wanted to try it as a ground cover in the garden paths. It has performed way too well and has started to crawl into some of the beds. Want to talk about Triffids! Anyway, it has an interesting smell as I walk on it, must be part of the mint family.


  25. Hi Lewis,

    Two days with only a very minor chance of rain in the forecast. It’s exciting! Might head outside and do some stuff with cement. We’ve been building a concrete staircase between the long shed and the greenhouse, but rain pock marks the surface of the stair treads and so the project has been on a more or less permanent hiatus. But with only minor rain forecast, maybe, it may be an opportunity to add in a stair step or two? We’ll see.

    Ruby is sadly the least well behaved dog in the pack. She has her own opinions on things and stuff, and isn’t afraid to share them. The other dogs look at her from time to time with something akin to horror at her behaviour. She could be the best dog, and has the potential for it, but well, what can I say, I disappoint people too, so the dog is probably in the right pack for her. 🙂 I can assure you on this score, the trees care not a whit for Ruby’s opinions.

    Is there a difference between freezing fog or a foggy freeze? 😉 You know, it is very possible that we’ve just snatched back the warmer weather from you. True. Sunday looks set to bring 77’F weather and each day afterwards is slightly warmer. Don’t worry, rain is forecast on those days. So, I’m thinking it might be a monsoonal build up? That happens here over summer. Dunno. And, brace yourself, like the borrowed hour, if you have not been nice to the warmer weather whilst you had it, there might be some whingeing! Brace yourself! Hehe!

    Far out. I noticed that one eggplant and a chilli germinated today, and it was a cold day here. By late afternoon I broke and set the wood heater going. I had to do paid work all day today, and the Editor took a break and jumped onto the ride on mower and cleaned up about half the farm. I won’t mention that on one incident there was a call for help. The machine ended up being bogged. And it is a very capable machine and not easily bogged. I hope not to be creating peat in the soil, as that might be a problem when next a fire tears through here. I’ll have to think about that risk and how to manage it.

    Candidly, and just to spare your feelings: The corn has like zero chance of producing decent cobs. It was too late. Sorry. I could be wrong, and would love to be so, but yeah, gut feeling is not good. But then, your tomato season was surely a massive triumph? I can only but dream of such tomato harvests.

    Hehe! It was funny but there was snow in many parts of the state, and some had a lower elevation than here, and I’m simply just grateful that the snow missed here. I didn’t need it. Seriously. Already the early season stone fruits like: apricots, almonds and plums, have all been hit hard by the cold weather. Oh well, as long as the trees keep on growing. I noticed the kiwi fruit vine had somehow managed to climb into an adjacent apricot tree. The tree should be fine, maybe.

    Going to the pub this evening sounds like a fine idea. Just didn’t much feel like it tonight. It sure is cold out there though. There’s some big auction thing going on in the southern end of council area and um, yeah, they seem to want a lot of mad cash for the houses. Some sort of reality show thing: ‘The Block’. Apparently, the word on the street is that it’s cold in this part of the state was something of a problem. Plus I’ll bet they had to deal with a lot of mud, a whole lot of mud. What a year to build.

    Lewis, that is so obvious about rocks in the desert sands being something which had fallen from the skies. So obvious, but unless it was pointed out – and you know, if I found a meteorite here, I might inadvertently use it in a gabion or rock wall. Maybe the thought would pass across my consciousness: Hey, this here is an interesting looking rock, but then it’s so useful in the gabion cage. And that might be where it all ended.

    I’m glad that you’re getting the coffee grounds again. Out of curiosity, do you mix them in with the vegetable scraps you bury in the raised beds? How do you use them? I tend to mix Agricultural Lime into the coffee grounds and then just throw the stuff around, but then I’m dealing with over a large wheelbarrow load of the stuff each week. It disappears, which I always find to be a bit strange. I have no idea what soil critters eat it, but it doesn’t last long. But yes, the soil critters don’t eat plastic – maybe, that we know about. What a disaster that would be, huh?

    When I dug the post holes last week for the fencing, we uncovered a huge number of worms. I was really pleased to see that.

    That’s a very thoughtful act on your part. I’ve noticed that people can be really filthy with bins, especially when the bin is a shared resource. So I’m guessing your act saves a lot of drama and mess?

    Hehe! That’s a funny thing to say, although yes, I could understand that it would provoke some unusual and possibly highly defensive reactions. You just reminded me though, your grasp of the English language is better than I, so is it OK to write ‘I think’, or should it be written as ‘I believe’ instead? I’m leaning towards the ‘I believe’, but aren’t entirely sure as to the correct grammar here?

    Oh no! Lewis, you are like super-bad! I’d get a start looking out the window of a morning to see some huge skeleton peering in the window, but with your lot, let’s just say that ambulances might need to be called. 🙂 But it would be funny too. Mate, I’m so torn here. It’s complicated.

    Is the new agency movin’ on in? I’d assume that demand is up in your part of the world? From what I hear of such matters down here, it sure is up here too. Take it as it comes is a workable philosophical stance, unless of course circumstances aren’t all that agreeable? Funnily enough the word used down here is either melon or cantaloupe – either is acceptable. Although, I do prefer the canary melon, and did you know that there is a Fonzy variety? Hope it doesn’t jump the shark!!!

    Sounds like a pretty decent score with the boxes. Did any end up heading off to the Club?



  26. Hi Pam,

    It’s a worthy goal that state of mind. You may have noticed that people aim for mindfulness, consider that to mean emptiness, but probably would be better off with acceptance? 🙂 True.

    Oooo! After three cold and wet consecutive years, I’m unsure what I’d be doing without the greenhouse. Probably purchasing seedlings, but then seed saving is so much more interesting.

    It may be warm, but your sun has less energy to give at this time of the year due to being lower in the sky and stuff. And you’re on a northern slope (oh, I hear you about that!) Makes for an exciting time when it comes to solar photovoltaic panels. 😉 But that happens here too. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure, but I’ve heard that the process has something to do with the trees in your surrounding area transpiring water vapour at night. The grass is damp of a morning as if it had rained overnight. Of course, down here this year, that is a distinct possibility.

    When I first read your comment, the word ‘ivy’ struck fear into my heart. That stuff can rip apart houses. But what a delightful plant you nabbed, and yes it would work very well. Many of the mint family are Triffids! Good luck, and if you can’t beat it, eat it. 🙂 I grow heaps of varieties of mint here, and am particularly fond of common mint if ever my guts feel a little bit acidic. Regularly, the dogs crash through the garden beds of geraniums, mints, wormwoods etc. and I suspect this is why they all smell quite neutral (unless they’ve rolled in something unpleasant – you know what I’m talkin’ about with that trick) and don’t have fleas. Ticks are however a problem. Oh well, can’t have everything, can we?

    It looks like there may be a run of drier and warmer days here. Still each day promises some rain. I don’t know what to make of the conditions.



  27. @ Inge:

    ‘If you are present, I will present you with a present’. That is lovely, Inge. What is better for the mind and soul than wordplay?

    Were those nicknames that your son’s friend had, and not given names? I do that, make up nicknames, for many humans and others.


  28. @ Pam
    As I understood it from Son, it was the given name and the emotional feelings changed it. I got the impression that this was common in the language for many words. If correct, it would make it a very difficult language to learn me thinks.


  29. Yo, Chris – Watch the cementophilia. 🙂 You’ll end up like the Winchester House. Or just Brutalist Architecture. But I must say, so far, you’re efforts in cement have been quit pleasing to the eye.

    Well, if you have 3 or 4 of anything (kids, dogs), one is bound to be a problem. I had a good laugh over the other dogs looking on in horror over some of Ruby’s behavior. 🙂

    Looks like we’re going to have a ripper of a storm. Starting tonight and lasting about 24 hours. Even though Prof. Mass is pretty excited, our local forecast is for winds of 25-30mph. We’ve had that before. Might be some power outages, etc.. but nothing totally unmanageable. And in our part of the national weather forecast, the possibility of snow has made an appearance, about 7 days out. Subject to change.

    Oh, your probably right about the corn. But even if I get a handful of seed for next year, I’ll be happy. As with the green beans. Due to the deer (I think), none to eat, but enough seed saved, for next year. Unless we have a famine, and have to eat our seed. Or, the rats get it. 🙂 I picked another couple of handfuls of cherry tomatoes, last night. I had a nice salad, with that Romaine lettuce we got in our box.

    I think the ancestors payed a lot more attention to things. And especially things “out of place.”

    Oh, I just sprinkle the coffee grounds on the ground. There may be kitchen scraps under it … or not. Then I sprinkle on a bit of lime. Eventually, it all gets turned over and worked in. Dealing with such a small amount of square footage, I don’t have to get too elaborate.

    My keeping an eye on the bins and fiddling them a bit, well, as I tell H, it’s all about being a “good citizen.”

    “I think” vs “I believe.” Got me. Not invested. Don’t care. 🙂 A glance into the rabbit hole, yielded this …

    Hmmm. They even manage to work in “I reckon.” One of your turns of phrase. Inge might have an opinion.

    I think the lot taking over the delivery of the boxes is bucking to become a mega church. They’ve shown a lot of growth, and seem to have a finger in everything from homeless issues to drug and alcohol treatment. I’m leery of those outfits. Especially when they start preaching to their congregations as to who to vote for. Or getting politically involved in general. We do have this thing called “separation of church and state.” And, they get tax free status, due to it. Often violated. Never, as far as I can remember, enforced.

    Oh, I took a sack down to the Club, last night. And will take more down, over the weekend. I don’t like cantaloupe, so I took it down and it was snapped right up. Someone slipped me $20, so, I can do a bit of shopping for stuff that never shows up in our boxes. Or, in not large enough quantities. Condiments, for sure. Tinned meat and fruit. Lew

  30. Chris,

    “They’re dead Jim”. Heartbeats suddenly detected. Been there, although not with citrus.

    I bow to your combining a Star Trek reference with a Hitchhiker’s Guide reference in one paragraph. I’m in awe.

    Prevailing is unimportant. Not getting gobsmacked is important. And yes, absolutely, the worst experiences I’ve had were in favorite places where I thought I could relax and let my guard down. For me, it’s become a matter of balancing martial arts type awareness with being relaxed. Also, think Sun Tzu…Or there’s always Havamal 7 from the Poetic Edda: “The wary man to wassail who comes, listens that he might learn; keeps his ears open, casts his eyes about, thus wards him the wise man ‘gainst harm.” Like you, I much prefer being mellow and calm, so having to maintain a higher level of situational awareness goes against my typical nature. It bites.

    Frustration, fear, desperation – a nasty combination that a lot of people have. Thus, lashing out and not caring. I do rather like your quip about 2 year olds and foot stomping. I may use that, or something similar…perhaps “Dang, you’re doing a wonderful imitation of a toddler’s temper tantrum. Gonna stomp your feet and hold your breath next?” Might be worth it just to see the reaction. While prepared to run, of course. 😉

    One evening near my beard’s peak length, I was at woodburning class. Suddenly there was a nasty odor in the room, clearly not from lightly charred wood. I looked down and a loooong whisker had detached itself from my face and landed on my hot wood burning tool. Not only did it stink, but it stuck to the wood burning tip. Took quite a while to clean it off. “Fortunately”, later that same evening, another guy fell asleep with his burner on and burned a hole completely through his thin board and also burned the table. THAT is the mishap people remember from that class. Usually.

    Back before I met the Princess, her nephew had a pony, Stu. One day Stu got loose and wandered off. They searched for him all day but didn’t find him. When nephew returned home, one of his uncles was visiting and had just sat down to dinner. “Whatcha eating uncle?” asked nephew. Uncle replied “Frybread and stew”. Only nephew heard “Stu” and burst into tears.

    Self driving vehicles? Don’t even! Getting me started on that rant is not good. Not gonna happen tonight for sure.

    We’re supposed to wake up to some wet and heavy snow on the ground Friday morning. Winter is coming.

    Hehe. Our temperatures are supposed to be near 25 also most of next week. 25F. Felt chilly today with the clouds, breeze and +3C temperatures. Had to break out the ladder and get on the roof. A vent needed cleaning, as it was getting plugged up. The Princess supervised, thus making certain that I wouldn’t fall off the ladder and land on my head or something. Her supervision was superlative and I returned intact to terra firma.


  31. Hi DJ,

    The citrus trees are marginal here. Sometimes they work well, sometimes they die well. But they’re always interesting, and nothing else produces fresh fruit in the depths of winter, so the experiments continue, and the bodies pile up, sorry to say. The citrus varieties which are most on the edge tend to go into a bit of shock towards the end of winter. If I had more time, I’d experiment with getting some seedling varieties of citrus growing just to see what happens. I’m of the opinion that commercial fruits which have seeds, probably don’t have a great deal of genetic variation in the seeds due to the trees being grown in a monoculture and stuff. So they might grow truer to type than we’re lead to believe. But it’s an opinion only and may one day be put to the test. Got a bit on my plate right now and am a bit busy for such niceties. So, until then, the grafted varieties suffer a bit during the winter months. Some of the citrus trees have only just begun to show new signs of life now the warmer weather seems to have finally arrived.

    When I was a kid, my grandmother had a lemon tree which was so old and huge, you climb the thing. It was a monster of a tree.

    Almost ran out of stored firewood this year, so thankfully the weather appears to be warming. Bonkers.

    Thank you, and a person can only but do their best. 🙂

    Exactly, and I agree, if you prevail, what is it you win again? That’s the thing, I keep an eye on what is going on around me, and some situations demand more attention, but overall like you it would also wear me out if I had to keep switched on the err, threat assessment program number six. You know the one which whispers quiet advice: Threat or not threat? Far out, some folks can be super difficult for no good reason.

    It’s true though. Often we consider that everyone’s ability to express emotional states is equal, but I reckon that’s an incorrect assumption. Some folks have a limited repertoire of ways to express their emotional states and so you can see them getting frustrated, but instead of expressing that and implementing a learning mode, they can only get angry. It’s very tiresome for the other people around them.

    And yup, ain’t no shame in running – thereby living for another day!

    Hehe! Sorry for laughing at your misfortune, but it is pretty funny, and with such luxuriant growth a person has to be super careful. When we do burn off’s here, sometimes the wind picks the embers up and you get showered with them. Some of my work gear is a bit pockmarked due to such ember attack activity, and I only wear natural fibres which are resistant to hot burning embers. Sadly, the last time the tree dudes were here (last week) it was super cold and we all wanted to get a bonfire going to keep them warm, but the wind was blowing and their plastic high visibility work-gear would not have fared well. They looked crestfallen at the news, but better that than having to shell out for new work-gear. Embers burn holes in plastic clothing faster than you can say: did you see… Too late, the plastic melted.

    I’ve actually got some plastic burns on my arm right now from the last bonfire we had. Totally 100% my fault, and that’s what you get from being careless. Picking the plastic out of the burns was interesting.

    That’s kind of funny, but also sadly unfortunate. Was the errant pony Stu ever found?

    It’s so weird how the warm weather left the building (like Elvis, huh?) in your part of the world, only to arrive here. The switch over was within days. 25 sounds quite nice to me. Oh, you meant Fahrenheit, well sorry to say, but it sucks to be you! Hehe! Bad Chris… Man, we’ve had such a long and bonkers wet winter season, and for the next week there is a reprieve, and then you know what? The rains are forecast to return. Yay, for us! Apparently the reprieve today is almost continent wide, but don’t worry, like your winter, storms are looming on the horizon.



  32. Hi Lewis,

    If memory serves me correctly, I did at the time of the Tongan eruption suggest that the warm and wet climate here would continue for a few more years. Of course, it was only gut feeling which lead to that suggestion, but it did come off the back of the 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires down here. They only burned 60 million acres. And that put a huge quantity of particulates into the atmosphere. Since then, the climate here has been warm and exceedingly wet. In a further predication, the future of course being difficult to ascertain, but with the oceans surrounding this continent becoming warmer increasing evaporation, it might get both hotter and wetter on this continent. Maybe I’m simplifying the process, and that is probably the case, but in geological terms, it wasn’t all that long ago when a third of this continent was covered in rainforest.

    Speaking of which in a nice sheltered spot I’m growing one of the two local beech species Nothofagus cunninghamii. That tree is loving the conditions this year and has produced heaps of copper coloured growth. I should start some more of them. The seeds are not hard to germinate. And of interest is that the current eucalyptus species (Dry sclerophyll) forest giants are duking it out with the rainforest species. It’s very interesting to see that process taking place. Who will win? Probably neither.

    Does the good Professor have anything to say about your possible floods due to excessive rainfall? Always something of a risk with rainfall, trust me in this! 🙂 Oh, I see that the good Professor sees. Stay warm. Holy carp, what a sudden descent into winter. Bonkers. A stable climate is something us humans have not quite appreciated, me thinks.

    Hehe! Well, that’s entirely possible about the ever expanding growing spaces here. Don’t tell anyone, but I visited a medium and she suggested that in order to delay… Far out! She also said, don’t say any more than that, otherwise the Winchester deal would be over. You see what a bind I’m now in? 😉

    Concrete has it’s place, and with the reprieve in the bonkers wet weather (for a few days at least), we constructed another concrete step on the staircase between the long shed (AKA mead hall) and the greenhouse. The ground being cold meant that the cement was very slow to dry and is still sort of damp. Oh well.

    Also, we fixed up the fencing on the sapling fence enclosure. With the installation of the new gate, we had to remove some rocks, and so 25 sapling pickets had to be replaced with much longer sapling pickets. It was a fiddly job, but is now done. And the day was sort of warm and sunny, so we got the mowers into the enclosure and blitzed up the tall weeds in there. Candidly it was a bit wet and slippery in there. Leeks are extraordinarily slippery when mulched up. But fools tread where angels do’-wanna-go, and we then hit the enclosure with the new scary old rototiller. Whoo Whee! That was super fun that machine, or what, but also very dangerous all at the same time. All of the blitzed (mulched) up vegetation was thus turned into the soil, and wow, it looks super-fertile in there. The soil ended up being a rich fluffy looking tilth. I don’t usually like to turn over soil, but that particular enclosure had been very difficult to attend to due to the poor access (thus the new gate) and yeah, it wasn’t good.

    Also the old PVC overflow water tank pipe which was bypassed last week and ran through the middle of the enclosure was dug out. Not saying the positioning of the overflow pipe was stupid, but it kind of looked that way to me. Anyway, I didn’t put it there.

    It’s pretty funny that dog. Even at 12 weeks of age, you could tell that Ruby was going to be something of a handful. I guess that’s why she was available… Should have called her by the name: Spicy! She’s fine though, and fits in well here, she just wouldn’t have been very good for the sort of work that breed of dog was developed for. Keeps the rest of us on our toes (or paws as the case may be).

    How is the storm tracking in your part of the world? Stay warm, and the sudden change in temperature would be hard on people sleeping rough.

    Fair enough about the corn. Perhaps I worry overly about genetics with those plants as they’re a bit more delicate than people might generally consider them to be. I’d suggest ordering some extra open pollinated corn seed, just in case, but that’s me. This year, I’m a bit busy for the corn. But I’m creating larger growing space for them. Might do a bit more on that project tomorrow. The old timers were fond of suggesting to make hay whilst the sun shines.

    My money would be on the rats. I doubt they often go hungry. I watched Dame Plum chasing one this evening.

    I agree, and um, yeah, I’m working on that skill too. It’s quite valuable to notice when things are different, and sometimes, it’s paid dividends. To expect the same day in and day out, is an error.

    Oh, your methodology with the coffee grounds sounds very workable. Due to the huge volume of the stuff, I have to spread it around a bit. Still, you’d be hard pressed to know where the stuff has gone.

    H is a lady of the finest breeding, and would understand the concept of Noblesse oblige. Those nouveau riche folks though, what a menace! 🙂

    What a great answer regarding the grammar question. Stuff to ponder. Maybe I’m uncomfortable using the phrase: “I think”. Somehow, it doesn’t quite sound right to my word ear.

    Hehe! Can you imagine the cries of distress: ‘Don’t take away our tax free status!!! It was only a lot of political instruction, I mean suggested outcome for the congregation’. Mr Greer long ago alerted me to the fact that the separation was in place to protect the church rather than the state. Constituency capture is always a problem for any group. The state seems pretty well set up to handle violence and take over any groups.

    Home grown cantaloupe is actually quite nice tasting – when it’s a bonkers hot summer and the melons grow. 🙂 It happens. The commercial stuff is picked a bit green and sometimes then tastes mildly fermented to my palate, but that might be me. That was very thoughtful of the person to slip you the mad cash to help out the Club. People are gonna need that help.



  33. Yo, Chris – You probably commented on the Tonga volcano, and weather. In fact, I’m sure you did. I can only claim age and advancing senility. 🙂 That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. But isn’t it nice to have scientific confirmation? And, the pictures … wow.

    The beech must have been identified by some guy named Cunningham. Or some student memorialized their old professor. Given how soggy the ground needs to be for a rain forest, I’d say a lot of those eucalyptus are coming down.

    It’s been a steady drizzle, since yesterday. The local weather radar is solid green (rain.) It’s been pretty windy, and is supposed to get worse, this afternoon. On one hand, since we haven’t had a frost, the leaves are pretty much staying on the trees. So, no plugged drains due to leaves. On the other hand, a lot of leaves on the trees might catch the wind, and bring them down. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

    I will not link to Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” 🙂

    You wouldn’t want to slip and be mulched up. The Editor: “Where’s Chris? He was here just a minute ago … oh!” The scary old rototiller sounds like a lot of fun. And a good initial mix-up is probably a good thing. Yes, fluffy soil is what you want.

    Maybe next year I can get by with old corn seed. Or, not. Might have to buy some more Jimmy Red. Before the worst of the weather set in, I went out and cut quit a bit of fennel seed heads. My apartment reeks of licorice. Not an unpleasant smell. And, yes, poof! and the coffee grounds are gone. Same with the kitchen scraps I bury. Temporal rift? Behind the couch?

    Ah, for the days of Alexis de Tocqueville, when the clergy stayed out of politics. Because if they didn’t, they’d lose their credibility. And, among some of us less faithful, they have.

    I called the local auction house, yesterday. I knew I had missed their Halloween auction, so that stuff will have to wait until next year. I thought I could make their Christmas auction, and had drug out all my stuff and was going through it. Nope. Day late and a dollar short. They’ve already had that. But, there’s the big annual New Year’s Day auction. They wanted me to send pictures, and I played the senile card, again. “I’m 73 and computer illiterate.” So, they’re coming week after next, to have a look see. I’ll be getting stuff packed up and packing lists made. Inventories. The thought of unloading my stuff made me feel a little stressed and dizzy.

    And … directly after that, there’s a knock at my door, and it’s Elinor’s daughter with H. “Elinor’s going to the hospital. Here’s the dog.” I really didn’t know what was gong on all day, but had settled in with popcorn and a movie, when Elinor returned at about 9 in the evening. She had worked herself into another frenzy over high blood pressure and low heart beat. The local hospital bounced her to Olympia, and her kids had to bring her home. No one was very happy. Once they got her settled in, she wanted me to stay, but I begged off, and went back to my movie. The poor dog is suffering from whiplash. So am I. Lew

  34. @Pam
    I remember the days when we just had a few channels and they were often fuzzy. I think we’ll get rid of satellite due to the cost but there’s the streaming services. We have a couple and our son in law has set up his password on our tv for others (sigh).

    I went on a short trip with my daughter this week. We never turned the TV on – a fact that surprised Doug :).

    How is your mother doing?


  35. Hi Chris,
    Glad to read that your weather is getting a bit better.
    Been a busy week. Cecily and I went on a trip to Dubuque, Iowa this week. It’s only about 2 hours west of me on the Mississippi river right where the states of Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois meet. We spent three days there and enjoyed quite a bit of hiking, the National Mississippi River Museum and general wandering around. The weather was in the low 70’s and sunny. There were many great views of the river from the bluffs. As it was the low season it was a great time to visit.

    On the family health front, Marty will be having hernia surgery at the end of the month. The hernia isn’t dangerous now but the surgeon said it was in an unusual place and would most likely become an issue in the future. Here’s the fun part. You’ve heard of our lovely health care system here. Well the surgeon does surgery in many places, in the town Marty and my sister live, in the town I used to live and another hospital in Wisconsin. Marty has a Medicare Advantage plan and even though all three hospitals are in the health system the surgery will only be covered in Wisconsin.

    My sister with Crohn’s has finally been able to find a way to get the expensive treatment she needs as long as her bloodwork comes back OK. Also it will be done close to her home.


  36. Chris,

    I was laughing at my beard misfortune while it was happening. What else can you do?

    Awoke to +1C and 5cm of wet and heavy snow Friday. It was still snowing, but it turned to rain rather quickly. It’s early evening and it’s now +10C. The snow is rapidly disappearing. This time.

    Stu? The neighbors found him. Didn’t know who Stu belonged to, so they took him to another uncle across the highway from mom and nephew. He knew all the horses in the area, so Stu was returned to a grateful nephew.

    Winds are supposed to pick up tonight, gusts up to 70km per hour. Ugg. There were pockets of power outages this morning. The leaves are turning color late and are normally mostly fallen by now. Between trees laden with leaves and the soggy and heavy snow, a lot of branches drooped and sagged. Others broke. Some of the breaks and sags adversely affected power lines. Dunno what’s gonna happen with the high winds.


  37. Hi DJ,

    You have to laugh at such times, that’s misfortune for you. Hey, for some reason when first I read your comment I’d read the words ‘bread misfortune’ – must have been hungry! 🙂

    Installed two 6ft wide gates on the new larger vegetable and citrus enclosure. Farm gates are very well designed and sturdy items. And the hinge systems are quite clever, although you have to have the tools to do the job, otherwise I have no idea how people would install them – probably get someone else to do the job. Plus I hand dug five post holes and cemented in five posts. Three of those posts were used to create a climbing frame for the hops and passionfruit plants. Yum!

    Holy carp! You weren’t joking around, winter is coming, it’s there already… Stay warm. Won’t mention that it was a really lovely day here today, and for once the rain appears to have held off.

    Some people have a real knack for horses don’t they? It’s something of a real skill. Dunno about you, but I’ve never much been into horses just because they’re so huge. And I’ve heard people tell me that the little Shetland ponies are really sneaky creatures (large brain, small body relative to a horse). They’d be handy for ploughing, but grains are a no-go plant here, or only on a small scale. Most of the growing areas around here are set up to be maintained by hand, but scary old rototillers are super fun, and super awesome machines.

    Ugg indeed. Did the power hang in there? And unfortunately the same thing happens here too, although most of the forest is ever green and that increases the risk, especially if the winds arrive from a direction which the trees haven’t braced themselves for. Inserting yet another Star Trek reference: All hands brace for impact! 😉



  38. @ Margaret:

    My mother is doing well. She had
    gotten very thin with all the things that had happened to her over the last half year, but I have gotten her eating pretty well again. She is quite deaf, only I will make the effort to get right by her ear and shout, so I have to be at the assisted living place about 6 hours a day, seven days a week, to keep her from freaking out. We did buy her extremely expensive hearing aids, which she won’t wear.


  39. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks, and today was a superb spring day. The sun shone, the wind was absent, and better still, there was no rain whatsoever. 🙂 We worked from early morning to late afternoon. Did I mention the much larger vegetable and citrus enclosure? I forget, anyway, we added two 6ft wide farm gates to that enclosure – it still has a lot of work to be done before it is completed.

    Margaret, I’m so slack with the tomatoes I let the vines crawl over the ground and so the plants need lots more growing space. How else to manage this than create a much larger vegetable enclosure? And I moved all of the citrus trees in there because the dwarf varieties we have growing here can’t seem to grow past wallaby height.

    But please don’t fret, more rain is due in the forecast within 24 hours.

    Your trip sounded like fun, although my mind is having troubles trying to work out how to pronounce the name of the city. Sounds like dub-step, which is probably a music genre you haven’t heard of! Hey, did you get to the Arboretum? The images look really special.

    In all the years I’ve walked this planet, I can’t say that I’ve experienced a river museum. I’m undecided, is it a more usual museum located near to a river, or a museum dedicated to life on the river? And low season is the best! Nice work. Respect.

    What? Wasn’t Marty having to face the dentist? Does he know how he ended up with a hernia? Oh my gawd, Margaret, your health system scares me. Truly, I’m frightened of it. Hope both Marty and your sister survive it’s loving ministrations whilst weasling out the least-worst amount of economic pain. Seriously, from my perspective, the economic pain would be greater than the physical pain.

    Always wise not to have to rely on such a bunch. And yeah, eat like a rabbit, get some regular exercise, keep stress on the down-low and just hope for the best, and insure against the worst. 😉



  40. Hi Pam,

    Out of curiosity, do you have any idea why your mom won’t wear her hearing aides?

    Tell ya truthfully, it was stories like that which made me stop listening to loud music, and wear ear protection when using machines. What did Joni Mitchell sing: Don’t it always seem to go, but you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone… Or words to that effect.

    It didn’t rain today, and this is an event of significance! 🙂



  41. @ Margaret:

    I have often wondered how you coped with all your brothers and their physical and mental problems. I had not had to do so until my parents came to live with us. I wonder if there are any similarities between their various situations and dealing with the elderly? Did any of them have memory problems?


  42. Hi Lewis,

    Hey, I enjoyed the satellite photos of the eruption too. Nature is very cool, but can also sweep us away unthinkingly and stuff, with less than a moments notice. Pah! I can barely recall last week, let alone a chance conversation from over a year ago. 😉 You’re doing fine, and better than some, I can assure you. The only reason I recalled the conversation was because I knew the event would have an impact upon my life. It took the scientists a little bit longer to realise that impact. It doesn’t seem like that difficult a thing to understand: Chuck a bunch of minerals into the atmosphere, and things are going to get weird.

    Interestingly, I read recently of the discovery of an asteroid, 2022 AP7, but it isn’t nearly as big as the dinosaur killer one and doesn’t seem to pose much of an imminent threat.

    Just had to head outside in the dark, and smooth off the rough edges of the concrete stair we poured earlier today. No rain today, means the curing cement surface won’t get damaged (pock marked). And warmer weather means they stand a chance of curing before the forecast rain late tomorrow.

    We worked today on the yet-to-be-completed, but much larger citrus and vegetable enclosure. Installed two access farm gates which were 6ft wide, and they’re a really clever design, and easy to install, if you have the tools with which to do so. Also did some work on the area we’d recently planted the hops vines, and added a couple of seedling passionfruit vines. I mentioned to you previously that I have an aversion to the grafted varieties because they grew rootstock, and I’ve spoken with other people who have had that experience.

    Hehe! Yeah, that was my thinking about the Latin plant name too. Plant hunters, possibly like to stamp their names to plants! 🙂 You’d have to suggest that rainforests are very difficult environments in which to eke out a living. I’m truly uncertain that many of our edible plant species we culturally enjoy at table originated in a rainforest.

    Did the power stay on during the storm, and did the rainfall get heavier? Winter is fast approaching at your place, as is summer here.

    Mate, it’s a classic! A truly genius piece of music. Although I much preferred their song: Kashmir. Such a soaring and spiralling melody.

    That was what I was thinking at the time as well. And if the scary old rototiller machine didn’t kill me, you’d have to say that it would hurt – a lot. Limbs are kind of necessary, and they do assist with navigating the world we find ourselves in. And that’s my thinking too, an initial mix-up of the soil is no bad thing. Longer term, we’ll be able to more easily manage the sapling fenced enclosure and so won’t need to rip up the soil. The enclosure was 10 out of 10 for aesthetics and 1 out of 10 for practicality.

    Getting some more Jimmy Red seeds is not a bad idea at all. Fennel in small quantities is quite nice, and the smell from all of the drying seeds would be lovely. They sell actual licorice root down here, and they might grow in the greenhouse. But I dunno, they were a traditional remedy.

    You’d hope the kitchen scraps didn’t end up behind the couch. What a drama! Personally, I’d blame the rats. 🙂 But yes, such stuff disappears quickly here too, and as time goes on, it disappears faster. I dunno, but I reckon that the soil critters get used to eating what you regularly feed them. But then, you might be onto something with the temporal / spatial anomaly. Always a risk. Have you checked upon H (said to the spooky telephone voice from the 80’s horror film ‘When a stranger calls’)?

    It ain’t just you, I reckon it’s all good if they critique society, that is part of their job after all, but they should keep out of politics, entirely. What business is it of theirs? Are their flock in spiritual danger due to some weird goings on in the strange world of the politicians?

    Well done you playing that old duffer card. A mate of mine pulled that exact trick to order food, and I was left in awe – I after all was forced to use some strange chunk of technology instead to do the same thing. So, out of curiosity, why are you unloading the stuff? Won’t the collection then be incomplete? Or are you eyeing off buying it back for penny’s on the dollar? You don’t have to let me in on your strategies, you know your business. And the feelings, you know. It would be hard to do as you are doing.

    Just had a listen to Stairway to Heaven with headphones, and the mixing and timing is extraordinarily complicated.

    Yikes! Hope you three are doing OK and that the situation has settled somewhat. At least H is familiar with you. Age can be not very kind.

    I won’t tell you that it will be 77’F tomorrow. Oops, broke my own rule there!



  43. Yo, Chris – The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs was a “perfect asteroid.” If your intent was to pretty much wipe the slate clean, and start over 🙂 . The trajectory (coming in at just the right angle), landing in a shallow sea, the composition of the rock it hit (high in sulfur). I don’t know if you’ve seen the news reports on the meteor that hit Mars, recently. The scientists got pretty excited as it blew a lot of the underground topside … and included great chunks of ice.

    Yes. Right tool for the right job. Although sometimes I think they make things, that need special tools, just so they can’t be repaired. Looking forward to seeing pics of the new farm gates.

    There are rain forests, and then there are rain forests. Tropical or temperate, such as we have on our State. I think if you know what you’re doing, either can be abundant. As you know, chickens originated in the tropical rain forests.

    Well, we did have a bit of weather. Each time I took H out, yesterday, we got thoroughly soaked. Lots of wind. Lights flickered a few times, but we didn’t lose power. It began dying down, last night. I talked to my Idaho friends, last night. Their weather is pretty much like DJ’s. Not too much distance separates them, “as the crow flies.” We’ve got a “slight chance of snow” in our local Monday night forecast. And, it looks like that night will be our first frost.

    The old conundrum. Aesthetics or practicality. Sometimes hard to hit a balance.

    A lot of churches, these days, seem all about power, control and lots of mad cash. I choose not to participate. And I hope to continue to have a choice 🙂 .

    So, why to decide to get rid of a lot of my stuff. Let’s say, the planets are aligning. 🙂 . I figure sooner or later, I’ll end up either in a studio apartment, or one room. Best divest on my own terms, in my own time. And, we’re well overdue for a good shake.

    Also, living here is driving me crazy. Yesterday, the fire alarm went off, right in the middle of my nap. We have these devices in our apartment. A combo strobe light that fries your retinas, and a siren that blows out your ear drums. Turns out, we had a roof leak, that got into the fire detection system. Luckily, the building manager and night manager were both on-site (a rarity), and were able to round up the maintenance guy, in pretty short order.

    We also got a notice yesterday, that on Monday, they’re checking the sprinkler system. Got one of those graceless notes. “This is your legal notice. You don’t have to be home. We’re entering your apartment, no matter if you like it or not.” I thought maybe they’d leave us alone, after the HUD inspection. At least for awhile. I just want a little peace and quiet, and to be left alone.

    I was teasing my Idaho friends, last night. Said I was going to sell everything, slap a shell on my truck, live out of it, and become a road nomad. Said I be camping out in their driveway, and using their bathroom, when they’re not home. 🙂 . Lew

  44. Hi Chris,

    Dubuque is pronounced duh buke (rhymes with puke).

    Marty did have dental work done. He has been obsessing about a hernia for years. I mentioned his is quite the hypochondriac. Turns out now he does have a small hernia. He thinks he has many medical problems which causes us to not take him too seriously.

    Daughter, Carla, SIL and Ruth their dog are here for the weekend. We have very high winds today but not as bad as. DJ.


  45. @Pam

    Six hours a day. That’s quite a burden.
    Doug’s parents also lived with us after my brothers. His dad suffered from dementia and also wouldn’t wear his hearing aids. Turned out he had cancer and was only with us for about 4 months and physically was pretty good until almost the end. We didn’t realize how bad his dementia had gotten when they moved in. We asked Doug’s mom why she hadn’t told us how bad he was and she said she didn’t want to worry us. Doug’s mom lived with us three more years. When she developed some pretty bad physical problems she moved to a nursing home for another two years. She was sharp as a tack until the day she died.

    My brothers didn’t have any significant physical or memory issues. Marty has autism, Patrick and Michael had relatively mild intellectual disabilities and Michael also suffered from schizophrenia.


  46. @ Marg:

    That is the same thing I heard from both my parents: They “didn’t want to worry us”. It is amazing what they were able to hide from us since I only talked to them over the phone (though twice a day) for a couple of years. I couldn’t get out to Colorado because of ill health. My father’s dementia was so bad, yet he had pretty good health and boundless energy, so that he was a constant strain on everybody; in fact, he would get into very dangerous situations. Also, he never had any idea that he had a memory problem.

    I am sorry that Marty has to go further away for his surgery, but I am glad that your sister is finally getting help.


  47. Chris:

    My mother will not wear her extremely expensive hearing aids because they seem strange to her, suddenly being able to hear noises again after being deaf for a few years. I have had the company out to adjust them umpteen times, but they – and every nurse and person that has experience with hearing aids – tells me that a person has to wear them consistently to get used to hearing again, especially to block out the background noises that they are no longer used to. My mother does not want to make that effort.


  48. Hi Pam,

    Ah, thank you for the explanation. That makes a lot of sense, and it’s a perfectly valid choice to refuse that option, or any treatment for that matter. Hard for everyone else around them, but your mum might like the quietude? I’d miss the noises of the forest, and I’ve worked for many years to develop good relationships with some of the birds here. They sought me out today to help them with something. Didn’t manage to catch what it was, but I suspect that it was a fox. The magpies called their alert call and swooped to show me where the problem was. I wasn’t clear as to what was there, but I hefted some good sized rocks in the general vicinity and the problem headed away and down the hill. It could have been a snake, feral dog, feral cat, or a fox. Not sure, but senses are kind of handy, but the quiet is nice too. Far out, what do you do? If I were in your shoes, I wouldn’t really know, but for me it would depend upon the nuisance factor of the situation and whether everyone acted with good grace. Dunno.



  49. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks for that as pronunciation of obscure place names is a difficult thing. You know, you get the impression that the locals there had heard all of the jokes before.

    That’s kind of the downside of the whole ‘boy who cried wolf’ story, and it would be difficult to ascertain where the truth lay?

    Hope you are having a lovely girlie weekend! 🙂 And hope that poor Salve and Leo aren’t run off their feet?



  50. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, that was how I understood the cataclysm to be, it was a complete storm of, err, poop? So many bad things lined up in a row that day. I mean if such an asteroid impacted in the ocean deep, sure it would be super bad, but planet species resetting? Probably not, although you wouldn’t want to have been anywhere near such an event. A massive towering wall of water is not generally a survivable incident, but then, there’s always weird exceptions – like the people who’ve fallen from aircraft err, incidents, at extraordinary heights, yet survived. The odds are candidly not good in such a scenario, but survival is not improbable. And life on the Earth continued to fight for another day, then some more, after that dinosaur killer asteroid contacted the planet. I’ve always wondered what the reverberating ‘bell’ sound would have been like when the monster hit? Probably not good.

    I did notice the excitement about that particular asteroid hitting the cold planet further out from here which some people would like to visit. Makes you wonder if the atmosphere of that cold planet was altered by the impact? I’d read sci-fi books where icy asteroids were shunted in the direction of that cold planet. The radiation hitting the surface would be unfortunately sterilising and possibly fatal, but if people want to go and find out for themselves…

    There’s a lot of things which require special tools in order to be repaired, but the farm gates were not one of those things. You just needed to have the right sized drill bits and then a large enough wrench to screw the steel into the timber, and neither of those beasties are cheap.

    I stand corrected, and yes, that is true. Tropical rainforests are perhaps faster environments than the sort which would have been in either yours or my neck of woods. Although, such a place would be good for dairy. Hmm, going to have to think about this a bit more.

    Hope DJ and your friends in Idaho are OK? We had a bit of wind last week, and what with the recent very wet year a few larger trees went and toppled over. Oh well. I’d honestly thought that pears could handle wet feet.

    Yeah, true and we aim to find the mid-point between aesthetics and practicality. There’s no point being on either end of that continuum – makes no sense.

    Thank you for not dissembling. If it means anything, that’s my take on the larger events too. And, funny you mention that…

    It was quite warm here today. Maybe 75’F for a brief moment, and I’d been working hard out in the late afternoon sun. Anyway, like your good example, had a quick nap late this afternoon so as to recharge the batteries, and far out, the King Parrots were banging around and kicking up a proper squawk. Not nice behaviour, as they woke me up after only twenty minutes. Oh well, mustn’t complain, but you know, they’d fetch a good price in your country! 🙂

    Need I remind you that good grace is in short supply these days? I refuse to even dignify the lack of good grace I was exposed to last week.

    I like your idea, but those kind of living environments suffer from a dearth of insulation, and the winters are cold here, but they’re bonkers cold in your part of the world. Mind you, if global warming continues, you might be onto a winner? But then, the summer months might become excruciatingly hot – whatcha gonna do then?

    Better get writing…



  51. Chris:

    You are probably right about my mother enjoying the quiet. The assisted living place is very noisy and she is probably one of the few that enjoys a good night’s sleep, or a nap.

    No telling what kind of predator was lurking – there are so many! We are enjoying a respite from being ravaged by deer since the friend of a friend has been hunting on and near our property this deer hunting season.


  52. Yo, Chris – I seem to remember some sci-fi movie, where it’s the end of the world, tsunamis are coming in, and surfers are thrilled. Cowabunga, Dude! 🙂

    Hauling astroids around makes about as much sense as towing icebergs to desert countries. But, someone with more money than sense, will probably give it a whirl. Another fairly common sci-fi trope: mining the astroid belt.

    Aesthetics and practicality. “Art for art’s sake.” Quit the rabbit hole. Here’s a sample …

    Well, we fell back, last night. Ouch! Or the clocks did. End the madness! I guess our national Senate has passed that resolution. But our House of Representatives is fiddling around with it, and hasn’t passed it, yet. Gosh knows why.

    The weather got fairly decent, late yesterday afternoon. Or, at least, it stopped raining for a bit. But, we got another blast from the fire hose, over night. Looks like we might have some nice weather, next week. Our winter “usual.” Clear, but cold.

    Yes, King Parrots fetch a good price, over here. And don’t forget, they taste like chicken. 🙂

    Well, you can always add more insulation. Or just bundle up. They’re doing wonderful things with sleeping bags, these days. As far as too hot, sleep on the roof, under the stars. Under a bit of mosquito netting, of course. 🙂 Lew

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