Reader numbers were down this week. Way down. Proves you shouldn’t whine about your work. At such times, the sensitive-to-statistics-person tends to write about the subject of Oil, for that’s sure to boost reader numbers. Always worked before! That’s something of an ongoing in-joke between Sandra and I. Fortunately, writing out there in the public sphere tends to dull sensitivities, and Oil is a rather uninteresting topic, after all what more need be said about what is essentially a rapidly depleting finite energy resource?

Nope, what piqued my interest this week was the restaurant where we dined out for dinner was packed full of happy well fed people. It was hard to explain, not the food bit, but the packed restaurant. The food was very good. What was weird, was that earlier that day the central banksters had raised official interest rates on debt another 0.25%. Except they mystified the entire process by using the technical terms: Twenty Five basis points. It’s hard to even know what such tech-talk means. Probably the (basis) point of the exercise.

The long dead English bard Shakespeare, penned to paper the words: “Neither a borrower, nor a lender be. For loan oft loses both itself and friend. And borrower dulls the edge of husbandry”. Wise words, and you have to wonder whether the central banksters worry if all the cheap loans issued in recent years do get repaid? One of the central themes of debt being that it is repaid, otherwise it’s a gift. And what a fine gift it would be if it didn’t have to be repaid. Bummer about that part of the arrangement.

The subject of debt has made little sense to me this last decade or so. I just don’t get it. In some ways it’s sort of like one of the last few television shows I watched, Breaking Bad. For those who don’t know, the show was something of a cult classic where a humble chemistry teacher progresses to big time meth manufacturer and dealer. About half way through the series I had to stop watching because the characters did the exact opposite of what I would have done in the same circumstances – every single time. It did my head in. They chose badly, so perhaps the name of the show was suggestive of the narrative. It really did stress me out though, and who needs that? So I stopped watching and did something else with my time, and this blog is one of those things.

Debt for me, produces a similar reaction to that show. What the… Why would anyone do… You know, those sorts of searching questions. One of the hard lessons I took away from my experience with the recession of the early 1990’s is that debt can take you down, and then out. Interest rates got jacked up back then to something crazy like 18%. And over the last decade or so with cheap debt all the rage, there was a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that this latest incarnation of the story might not end so well. It’s not like the same sort of numpties aren’t pulling on the policy levers as way back then.

Back in the early 1990’s as interest rates went up, people dumped their assets. Holiday houses, expensive cars, those sorts of nice to have, but unnecessary things got dumped whilst they still had some value. And the mass dumping of assets drove down prices at the exact same time that the cost of debt increased. The result was an economic bloodbath. I recall at the time attending a mortgagee auction for a double story Victorian terrace house where the bank had taken possession of the house and wanted to recover it’s funds. The house had a really weird layout, mostly because it had been used as a brothel (inexplicably lots of spa baths), and the banks auctioneer was begging anyone in the crowd to purchase the house. Anyone. It failed to sell for $49,000. If I were smarter…

Nowadays, I’m not entirely certain that we’ll see the same sort of asset dumping in response to suddenly higher interest rates. It’s not lost on me that back in the 1990’s it was the over-supply of assets which drove down asset prices. There’ll probably be a bit of that, but to the same extent, nope. Don’t think so. With a 100,000 additional people added to the state each year (and that’s consistent over the past decade and a bit), there’ll be someone who wants to buy whatever is being sold, regardless of the costs. It’s a truth universally acknowledged, that bad as they are, things might be worse elsewhere on the planet. And here might look pretty good to those folks.

Managing the costs of debt and supply and demand that way looks pretty brutal to me. The average mortgage in this state is now around $600k, and at the previous low interest rates of around 3% that’s $18k mad cash per year just to come up with the interest. And I’d hate to imagine how many of those el-cheapo loans were interest only, because those arrangements come to an end after only a few years. Right now, interest rates are heading up to around 6% which is double that amount of mad cash, plus possibly now the debt itself has to be repaid – no easy feat for a household to manage. But what’s the alternative? That’s the unpalatable bit. With 100,000 extra people every year, selling your house might be easy, but getting a rental property is bonkers due to the high demand and lack of supply. From what I’m reading, it’s a nightmare out there. Nope, people won’t be selling their necessary assets, they’ll be staying put. What they won’t be doing, is going out for dinner and all the other unnecessary extras. And there will be consequences for that. But right now, before those el-cheapo loans revert to the norm over the next year, people are still heading out and about. I doubt that circumstance will last.

What was amazing this week was that there were two warm-ish days. The other days were so cold that we sometimes ran the wood heater, and one overnight was so cold the bed was covered with four blankets and the alpine areas of the state had significant snowfall. Brr! But the two warm-ish days were nice.

Warm days, beautiful sunsets

The combination of lots of regular rain and summer strength extreme UV radiation from the sun, despite the cool air, means that the grass is growing. Lots. We partly mowed the place again this week. There’ll probably be five cuts this growing season if things continue as they have been. The grass in the orchards looks almost manicured like a golf course.

Another week, another cut of the grass in the orchards

The two days of sunny warm-ish weather brought a break in the rain, and we poured a couple of cement steps on the new staircase leading up and into the garden terraces.

A new cement stair step was poured onto this new staircase

Observant readers will note in the above photo that there is a timber post where the cement staircase will eventually lead. That timber post was installed last week, and it was a mistake. We’d misjudged where the staircase would end, and then had to remove the timber post. It didn’t take much effort to remove, and an electric jackhammer with a rock breaking bit was used. A much wider four foot wide gate will be installed over the next week or so.

The timber post seemed like a good idea at the time

With the post removed, we poured another cement step.

Squinting into the sun whilst trying to stop Ollie from signing his paw prints in the slowly curing cement

We’d recently decided to finish the garden terraces, thus the work on the new staircase and gate leading into it. The fence for the western end of the terraces had never been completed as we had a vague idea we’d extend the terraces. The extension idea has now been killed off and instead we’ll fence the western end. But first, all of the vegetation which had grown in there over the past couple of years had to be cleared out so we could see what we were dealing with.

The new gate and access to the stairs is just behind Ollie
The vegetation at the western end of the terraces was cleared up

We’ll probably get to the fencing job over the next week or so depending upon the weather. The forecast for the next week does not exceed 18’C / 64’F and most days rain is forecast, so hopefully it warms up, soon. It’s raining heavily as I type these words. Far out, what a year!

We have a long established rule that I’m not allowed to write about the subject of soil, despite it’s many fascinating aspects. Oh well, the occasional mention of soil won’t hurt anyone! Long term readers will know that for about a decade, most weeks I bring back a huge quantity of coffee grounds to the farm. According to wikipedia, dry used coffee grounds contain potassium (11.7 g/kg), nitrogen (2.8 g/kg), magnesium (1.9 g/kg), and phosphorus (1.8 g/kg) (edit: and yawn 100.9g/kg). Basically, it’s a lot of potassium and some other minerals, and so in the past couple of years I’ve added agricultural lime / calcium carbonate into the mixture to provide a better balance. With that addition, the growth in the fruit trees has been astounding, and far exceeds my expectations. However, one or two fruit trees which should have fruited this year, didn’t, and that was something of a mystery. Looking into the matter further, I noted a reference to an over supply of nitrogen relative to phosphorus. With this in mind, and for economic reasons I’ll now cut back on the agricultural lime by about half, and instead substitute blood and bone meal, which is a very useful source of phosphorus. We’ll see how it goes for the next growing season, it should be exciting!

Ollie believes that it is a waste mixing blood and bone in with lime, ash and coffee grounds. He’s wrong!

The farm jumps with life. There are insects and birds and a whole bunch of other critters, everywhere. The other day I spotted a stick insect sitting on top of one of the timber fence posts used in the fencing for the garden terraces. Stick insects are cool.

A stick insect on the hunt

Onto the flowers:

Delightful Ixia’s
Salvia officinalis or Common Sage
Catmint, and it’s blue!
Foxgloves have established themselves in the fern gully

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 9’C (48’F). So far this year there has been 1,392.2mm (54.8 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1,366.4mm (53.8 inches)

49 thoughts on “Inertia”

  1. Hi Chris,
    As a US of A frequent reader I have to say your readership from this direction may be suffering from the flu (H3N2) and not as dogged or determined as Lewis. I use the CDC Fluview to watch the details.
    Also all those Christmas duties, like choir, band and orchestra concerts, not to mention The Nutcracker. And shopping because we are a “consumer” economy. Keeps a country busy, well most of them… 😉

  2. Yo, Chris – I agree with Ann. It’s the holidays. That’s why you’re readership, is down. Everyone is so distracted. As I often say, no matter what you try and do, it takes twice as long, because everyone else is nuts. Bah! Humbug! 🙂

    Maybe everyone is counting on a debt jubilee? They were a real thing. And run back 4,000 years.

    Anyone who borrows money (say, for a house) that doesn’t have a fixed rate of interest, is nuts. Can’t get a fixed rate? Walk away.

    Newly cut grass is so nice. All neat and tidy. Pity it doesn’t last. I always got a real feeling of accomplishment. For awhile …

    Stick insects are so interesting. I look at them and wonder, “How can these things be alive?”

    The Ixia are very pretty. I’d grow cat mint, just for the color. But I have a hard enough time keeping the kitties from using my garden beds as a litter box. Lew

  3. Hi Ann,

    Thanks for the explanation, and candidly I had not heard of the impact of the seasonal flu on your population, but had known about the holiday season, although not fully appreciated the duration of the season. It may interest you to know that clearly there are health problems down here too. I linked to an article a week or two back about one major children’s hospital asking parents to: Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne advises families to seek alternative care amid ‘unprecedented demand’.

    Not good. The website you mentioned was fascinating and full of statistics. They sure make for alarming reading, but I have no sense as to how they usually look. Fate can be a funny thing, and you never know when the end will come. Don’t you reckon it would be a weird thing to know exactly when the end will be?

    Ah, of course, and thank you for taking the time to drop by and say hello! It’s the wise person who learns to pace themselves and take the time out to smell the roses. After all, they do smell nice. 🙂



  4. Hi Lewis,

    A stable climate is a fine thing for agricultural pursuits. However, if you find out what that means, please do let me know? From my experience, one year is very different to the next year and all I know is that I have to adapt to a far wider variety of conditions than I’d previously considered. Today was like the depths of winter at some points. The rain hit the house almost horizontally, and wow the wind blew. Then the storm would pass and the sun would shine, and off in the distance the next storm wave inched its way across the land. The rain was icy.

    You’ve got a sharp eye, because I too wondered about the price and thought to myself: easy enough to make. I did enjoy the conclusion of the article with the comparison to the economics of a microwave. But then a lot of people enjoy ding ding cooking, and some of it is pretty good. I reckon it’s good that the ideas get reintroduced, and it’s a nice organic way to do that dissipation of knowledge. The energy policies in that part of the world make less sense to me than what we’re doing down under.

    Yes, tinker, observe, adjust etc. Rinse and repeat. There’s possibly no correct el-perfecto ratio of minerals to add, because they’ll produce different outcomes.

    Man, the fencing gods smiled upon you that day for sure. Getting an old bloke with access to a mill – and not to mention the old sturdy timbers – is rare, but him being able to pull together a work crew to do the job. Score. Fencing is hard work, but when it is done well, it’s a thing of beauty. Did it end up looking good?

    Exactly, if I’d only planted out stone fruit, and grew long season tomatoes, the harvest this year would be soul destroying. Doing the opposite of that is a workable response to an unpredictable climate. There are no stone fruit out there (of any quantity), but apples and pears are looking good and putting on size. If the parrots don’t work their usual tricks, it should be a decent harvest. And raspberries and strawberries haven’t had enough heat, but blackberries don’t care about such matters. Diversity of plants is a useful response.

    I hadn’t heard that about your longest fall on record, but it did just keep going on and on, and then one day winter appeared. It was quite the sudden change wasn’t it?

    And a friendly holiday Bah! Humbug! to you too. 🙂 I hadn’t appreciated that your holiday season went for a couple of weeks. By contrast, we tend to do the holiday season around Christmas time when it is summer (or at least it is meant to be summer). Families can certainly send a person crazy, but fortunately you and I deftly dodged that business. Truth to tell, my lot did used to put a strain on me, the cheeky scamps. Walking away is not for everyone, but sometimes it’s necessary.

    Hope the vibe at the Club was unhurried?

    You might be onto something there with the debt jubilee. Of course if the system pops, or gets inflated away into irrelevance, then that’s kind of like an unanticipated debt jubilee. Mustn’t grumble, but one annoying thing about societies bingeing upon debt, is that those who are prudent don’t tend to be rewarded for their careful husbandry. Not very nice.

    Mortgages don’t work like that down here. Fixed interest loans are generally for a fixed period of time, say three years. At the end of that time they roll into a variable rate mortgage. And often those fixed rate mortgages are interest only as in no principal is repaid. Hmm, looks like a rental with debt perhaps? And I have reservations that people over extended and might begin getting burned. Also a major difference is that mortgages are sticky here and attach to the house, and also the person who took the thing out. A lot of heartache to come.

    I see what you mean about the accomplishment, which soon turns back into work. The hardest bit of the job is cutting the grass away from the fruit trees.

    And what are they hunting? Went to a comedy show a few years back with a lady who worked as an animal trainer, and she had a pet stick insect. It was a very good show, most unexpected.

    Good advice and I’ll have to watch out for frisky cats in the area sniffing the plants. Who knew? And yes, wise to avoid planting the mints, the felines do tend to use your raised beds like a giant sized kitty litter tray. And it would annoy me too, all that digging. The wildlife does that trick here too with their scats. Found some rather large deer scats today and Ollie was fascinated by them. Yuk.



  5. Yo, Chris – Well, that’s the trick, isn’t it? Grow enough variety that no matter what the weather throws at you, you won’t starve. And, I’d say that’s the place you’re at.

    Your weather sounds filthy. It’s all sunshine here, today. And should be for about a week. But the overnight lows are in the low 20s.

    Actually, I pulled together the work crew. 🙂 I wanted the fence, as, a house was going up in the vacant lot, next door. So, once the line was cleared, everything measured up and wood delivered, I just went next door and yelled at the guys pounding away on the place. “Anyone interested in a week-end side job?” Three or four guys, were.

    The Christmas season used to kick off on Thanksgiving, which is the 4th Thursday of November. But there’s been constant Retail Creep. Now, it seems the holiday kick off is Halloween (Oct. 31st.). I actually saw some Christmas tat out, before Halloween.

    Well, that is interesting about mortgages, down under. I found this …

    …which pretty much explains it all, for my simple mind. I wonder if all those folks who are wild to immigrate to Australia, know this? I also wondered if I’d rather have a fixed rate mortgage … or, decent reasonably priced health care. My friends in Idaho’s kid’s got a bit of charity help on their medical bills. It’s now down to a paltry $300,000 +. I got my notice the other day, as to how much my federal retirement will increase, per month, this year. To keep up with inflation. Just over $90 a month. Actually, a pretty hefty increase, over the past. But keep up with inflation?

    I took a glance into the rabbit hole, to find out about stick insects. They are strictly herbivores and eat leaves. There are 3,000 species of stick insects. Their enemies are: birds, rodents and reptiles.

    Maybe Ollie likes pre-digested vegetarian fare? 🙂

    You asked if I had finished “Flush.” Almost there. It’s pretty amazing how much poop is being utilized for useful things. And, a lot of it here in the Pacific Northwest. Everything from generating power (mostly, methane digesters), to fuel briquettes, to, of course, fertilizer.

    I’ve been watching an American series called “Ghosts.” A young couple inherit a big old pile of a house and decide to turn it into a B & B. She gets hit on the head, and can see and talk to the ghosts that inhabit the place. From all periods of history. If it sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a direct rip-off from a BBC series, of the same name. I think the Beeb did it better. But, it’s still amusing.

    I finished watching all the Harry Potter films. Guess I can strike that off my bucket list 🙂 Lew

  6. Hello Chris
    I love stick insects and wish that we had them here.
    Your concrete steps always make me flinch, it wouldn’t take much of an injury to yourself to make them unnavigable. Certainly impossible at my age. They need a handrail.
    Mortgages have always struck me as dangerous. Isn’t it odd that they are not regarded as debt? I am so lucky that we managed to have enough to buy our first home outright. Admittedly it was a ruin. There don’t seem to be so many abandoned ruins these days.
    It is bitterly cold here which is early. Usually we don’t reckon on this till about January. No snow on the Island so far.


  7. Distant rumblings- The bigger the storm, the longer you can hear the thunder before the rain front hits. Maybe it’s the same with financial crashes? Anyhoo, seems like lots of economic craziness, but no collapse yet.

    No doubt you’ve got all the doomish links one could ever want, but one I follow focusses on just this financial aspect, where everyone seems to be blind to the link between finance and the real economy, the one with food and water and raw materials. Talks about debts that will never be paid back, and once the rush to the door begins, Yikes!

    Kind of more focussed on the finance side of things, and way less chaos in the comments than say Gail Tverberg’s site. Same conclusion though, things can’t keep going the way they have.

    One specific recent post argues that we are on the cup of a sharp decline in discretionary spending. (For us lucky wealthy nation inhabitants that even have discretionary money)

    Ah well, enough of that.

    Had our first decent snow this week, around 5 inches, actually had to plow the driveway with the tractor. (Our driveway is over 100m long, so a bit of a chore).

    We are eating all things squash these days, as the winter squash will only store so long before they start fading. I went through the bins are grabbed those looking bit off, and cooked them down, then made leather of them in the dehydrator. (Freezer is way too full the way it is). Anyway, it worked out quite well by using the silicon sheets, as the dried squash leather doesn’t stick. One more way to store food without continual refrigeration.

    Those extra snakey Rossby waves are causing big swings in temperature and weather up here as well. Expect it to continue, and yeah, gardening will not be routine. We’ll need to plant lots of variety, and be extra nimble at reacting to the weather forecast.

    Good luck!

  8. Hi Inge,

    Not to stress, there are ramps as well. The stairs just makes access quicker, but I hear you. This getting older thing is not all that it’s cracked up to be, you know! 😉

    Whenever I spot a stick insect, the word ‘stately’ springs to mind, they’re very dignified in the way they take up a position in the garden, and from there reign. And Lewis has corrected my thinking, they’re herbivores. I had not known this.

    The Great Bard’s words sound an alarum! And respect, for I too share those thoughts, values and actions in relation to that subject. It was a necessary evil, but like you I bought dumps and wrecks and poured my own efforts into them. Work, this was not shirked, as no doubt was your experience. It is a subject for which I feel a touch of passion, and I must confess to be mildly annoyed because the tree dudes tried to hit me up for a loan today. The Great Bard also made reference to husbandry. The truth is, that working in debt collection in the recession of the 1990’s cured me of any fuzzy feelings with the subject of debt. Looking around me, and I’m sure you see much the same, people tend to believe otherwise, and that’s fine. It’s a subject which is OK, until it is not OK, and then it’s not OK, but people I believe have to learn the hard way.

    Yikes! Not good, and it continues to be cold here too, and rainy. People keep telling me it’s warming, but it isn’t, maybe it will later, but right now things are far colder than I can recall for this time of year.



  9. Hi Lewis,

    If there was a better strategy with a small holding I’d be interested to learn of it, but experience is leading me to believe that a wide diversity of edible plants will work better than specialising in one, or just a few crops. The sensitive person wonders whether the push to specialisation is more efficient, but less resilient? Dunno. It does tend to reduce a persons ability to see the bigger picture, and there is something in that.

    The weather is filthy here. It was another cold day today, and for something different, it rained. This current batch of rain is coming from Antarctica, so it’s cold. Yesterday felt positively icy. Enjoy the sunshine, I’ve heard of that thing… 😉 Man, that sounds like sour grapes, but it has been a super weird summer so far weather-wise.

    Speaking of super weird, the tree dudes tried to hit me up for a loan today. I’m not cool about that and politely and firmly refused. It disappoints me. And having worked in debt collection for many years, the Great Bard’s quote (in this week’s essay) has significant meaning for me. There is a book titled ‘Debt the first 5,000 years’ and a friend was recommending it. I dunno whether I could read such a book comfortably. Probably not. Have you ever read that book?

    Mate, that’s thinking out of the box with the work crew. Nice one. Some folks can spot an opportunity and then do something, or get something done, and yours was a goodie.

    That’s a confused cultural message having Christmas tat and Halloween tat on display at the same time – if not the same place. Hey, it might be some sort of cultural war? (almost typed cultural wart… kind of amusing). I’ll bet someone, somewhere has done a line of warped Christmas iconography for the purpose of Halloween. Rudolph the red nosed reindeer skeleton, anyone? I reckon it would sell. And if they were really clever, the marketers could have like a covering which then converts Rudolph back into the Christmas mode. You wouldn’t have to move the display, and you could promote the greenness of the designs (re-use)! Our fortunes are made for sure. 😉

    Yes, the article on mortgages was excellent and described the situation as I understand it to be. There was one minor quibble with the article, was that it painted the picture of a tussle between shareholders and mortgage holders. This is not correct, as there is a further party to the punch-on, the employees. Admin jobs where people are paid six figure salaries are not unheard of, and quite common in that industry. As I remarked to someone today, it takes a lot of mortgage holders to pay for those salaries.

    But yes, that’s true. A house in this country involves considerable financial pain. Your country is different in that you chose the medical industry to fulfill that economic niche. That bill would scare the daylights out of me.

    Score! It’s not a bad increase, and if you live tight… However, you’re right, and I don’t know the answer to that question. If I had to take a guess, I’d suggest that inflation will get worse and will be far more prolonged than what the pundits are suggesting – and they probably have as much idea about the subject as I do! i.e. not much, the old crystal ball is a bit cloudy right now.

    Thank you for the correction in relation to stick insects as I had not known this. I wonder what the insect was doing on the timber pole then?

    It’s true, Ollie enjoys sea food, he sees food and will do his best to eat it.

    That’s true, a lot of the solids down here are being redirected back onto the land, which is a good thing. The liquids, well they’re hard to recover in any great scale. I recall reading somewhere a character in a book using urine to make matches.

    Oh! Is that a remake of the UK series Ghosts?

    You’re a brave man, and truly I hope you did not watch them all in one sitting? One of the worst days of my life was years ago when a mate asked me over to watch the Lord of the Rings three films – the directors cuts. I loved the book, but it wasn’t far into films when I kept wondering: ‘Are we there yet?’ And then later: ‘Just chuck the fricken’ ring into any old mountain!’ It’s probably just some deficiency in me because I’d previously enjoyed the films, just not in one setting. I must have worked myself up into a state, because I came down with a cold afterwards… What a notably unpleasant day.



  10. Hi Steve,

    What a delightful way to put the situation, yes, exactly! That’s the thing isn’t it? Maybe it’s enough to see trouble coming. Maybe the trouble is already here, and we just haven’t noticed? Inflation is insidious and it favours those who have been reckless.

    Ah, thank you for the link. I tend to agree, energy and resources is what underlies the financial economy, and they can get out of whack for sure. I’ll have a deeper look over the next few days.

    As a general rule, I don’t tend to comment on websites that are poorly moderated and/or a bit on the feral side and have not read Gail Tverberg’s website. Sure, interesting things can come up in such places, but rather than dialogue which explorers, it can kind of descend into point scoring. And it drives away the more thoughtful analysis which is what all this stuff requires. The other thing I do wonder in relation to possibilities is that it can end in a whimper, as easily as it can end in a bang. In fact I tend to lean towards the whimper outcome as being more plausible because it allows for some positive outcomes which correct some problems, which is as likely as any other possibility. And interestingly, one thing I noted about the recession in the early 1990’s is that I did particularly poorly, but some people sailed on through.

    🙂 It being nice to have a little fat to consume in the bad times. A very strong case can be made that discretionary spending will contract before the more core spending does. The essay I wrote this week spoke about my curiosity as to why this is not happening as yet. And I don’t rightly know. A mystery for sure. Are you seeing that taking place in your part of the world?

    Hehe! Yes, 40m here, but for 100m long and 5 inches deep, a tractor would be a thing of beauty. Having the right tool for the job is a beautiful thing.

    Wise indeed! Does the dehydrating concentrate the flavour of the squashes? And candidly I do wonder about preserving using the freezer if the power become less than 99% reliable. I tend not to use that device for those reasons, but then the winter here is not as harsh as what you experience.

    Absolutely! The shifting climate is a real problem and we’re all learning as we are going. If I must say so, it does tend to force greater resilience into the systems we all rely upon, if we but take up the challenge.



  11. Yo, Chris – I just got a new book from the library, “The Age of Resilience: Reimagining Existence on a Rewilding Earth” (Rifkin, 2022). I’m taking it back, without reading much of it. Just too “thick” for my dim little brain.

    Weird summer weather-wise? First I’ve heard of it. 🙂

    I’ve heard of the debt book. Haven’t read it. Doesn’t appeal. Doesn’t sound long on entertainment value.

    I got lucky with the fence. Everything just fell into place.

    Warped Christmas iconography? See: Tim Burton’s “Nightmare Before Christmas.” Collect all the action figures! Also, Edward Gorey did a series of Christmas cards, that are pretty off-beat.

    Inflation, at least here on the ground, seems to be slowing a bit. I don’t know if I mentioned, but last time I got gas it was $4.30 per gallon. Down quit a bit from the previous.

    Maybe the stick insect was catching some rays? Was he wearing little sunglasses? Or, getting a drink.

    H and I are heading out for the old biscuits and gravy watering hole. Our Club manager, Mr. Bill, says there will be biscuits and gravy. Even if he has to make it, himself. That ought to be … interesting.

    Yup. It was a re-make of the UK “Ghosts.” Good, but not as good as the UK version. I really don’t do viewing marathons. I watched the Harry Potter movies over maybe a month and a half. I’m thinking of tackling “Northern Exposure”, again. But the library is missing one season. Last night I watched “Clerks III.” It was rude, vulgar and crude. I loved it! 🙂

    I started watching a new crime series, last night. “Recipes for Love & Murder.” Set in South Africa. Watched the first episode, and it didn’t quit grab me. But, I’ll watch a couple more and see. There’s food. Lots and lots of food. Lew

  12. Yo, Chris – You might find this interesting. We’re getting toward the end of the year, and it seems there a lists upon lists. Top ten … whatever. Well, here’s the top ten archaeological discoveries, of 2022.

    Of course, this is just one sources opinion. But, it’s a pretty good source. I did notice that quit a few of the discoveries were announced late in the year. Maybe you want to hold back announcing your discovery, to have a better chance of making the list? Lew

  13. Chris,

    A relatively quick update. We got pounded with wet snow Friday and again Saturday. Total of over 20cm new. Shaded areas of the yard peaked at 40cm on the ground.

    So Friday was Big Bertha’s day. It was above freezing when I got done, meaning Bertha got clogged by the wet sticky snow. And threw a sheer pin. I replaced it. Saturday turned to rain so it was mostly shovel work. I was more than exhausted Sunday.

    Naturally the snowplows came by, the ones with no gate, and plugged the driveway shut. It was still above freezing and you do NOT let those snow blocks freeze in your driveway under any circumstances. So Avalanche and I dug us out. She actually helped dig some of the berm.

    Tuesday night and I am starting to get back to normal. Maybe.

    Meanwhile jury duty. The instructions were to call a phone number each evening and listen. The jury pool is broken into groups. My group’s number was not needed Monday. Yes! Ditto Tuesday. Nor Wednesday.

    Time for another nap.


  14. Hello Chris,
    “Soil, not oil is the future”, as Vandana Shiva puts it.
    I think that the dance with the biological world and the diversity it offers is the most meaningful and challenging task for the coming era. Thanks for sharing your hands-on experiences with soil amendments and why you think certain things are working. But I thought coffee was heavily anti-yawn?

    The “debt”-book by David Graeber is imho his best one. He has a very interesting take on small debts and favours as a glue that binds communities. One of the main points in the book is that debt preceeds money.
    Large debts were often connected to slavery in the past, and I guess that tradition will re-emerge.

    I have been allergic to large debt all my life, and the last twenty years that has been an economic “mistake”, since I have not made spectacular financial gains on real estate. On the other hand, I have never stressed out due to payments, and I could almost always walk away from a job if I didn’t like it. Many of my friends have debts in the order of several yearly salaries. I think that the word mortgage used to mean “noose”.

    The “sovereign debt” situation is a farce in Europe. Several countries are well above 100% GDP level and will never be able to pay back the loans to pension funds and the ECB. Our betters who man up the money printing computers seem bent on repeating 1923-1924 from Germany, but on a global scale.

    I like the writings of Ugo Bardi on the topic of resources. Have you read his book “The Seneca Effect”? It shows why growth is slow and decline fast, from an energy and dynamic systems point of view. A bit technical, but good insights. His blog with the same title is more provocative, but often insightful.

    I also like the comic book “Un monde sans fin” by Jean-Marc Jancovici. A book about Ironman and how civilization is just like Ironman. He made an excellent presentation in English this summer at INSEAD:

    Here in Southern Sweden, we have had two weeks of snow, which is quite uncommon for this region. The last decade, the snow cover usually lasted for only a day or two. I think like you that the variability of weather will increase, so we need to adapt and enjoy whatever the gods throw in our direction.

    Thanks for your advice on the rodents. I am consulting with all the farmers around and they all have different ideas regarding what works and what doesn’t. From research literature I learn that the rodents love open fields, with few dominant tree roots, so I need to get lots of brush roots and tree roots into the ground faster than they can eat them all. And as you say, invite other wild life to enjoy the fresh flesh.


  15. Hi Goran,

    Some people are put on this planet to inspire the rest of us, and Vandana Shiva is one such person. You know, that point is one of the lost opportunities of our civilisation, but no matter, it will be sorted out sooner or later. We don’t have much choice in the matter of soils, although we probably pretend that we do.

    As your fruit and nut trees age, I’ll be curious to learn your experiences with feeding the soil. I’m no purist or dogmatist, and will happily pursue any strategy which works. Years ago I used to believe that compost and mulches were enough and many authors suggested that it was so. But down here where the soils are minerally deficient, the composts and mulches are likewise minerally deficient. So that was a problem, and a hard lesson for me to learn years ago. It’s good to be able to learn this stuff with plenty of time, resources and slack for making errors. Not sure how our descendants will cope with that predicament, but you and I can only do our best.

    That’s an interesting perspective from the debt book. I’m in a rural area and there’s a mixture of social obligations and social niceties, then there are the other more usual forces at work. I don’t know what to make of it, you seem to be navigating things pretty well on that front based on what I’m reading in your excellent blog.

    It’s not just you who has that reaction to debt, and followed a similar path. It’s nice to sleep soundly at night, not sure other people are doing the same. Hmm. And I agree, debt to GDP ratios exceeding 90% used to be considered indicative of a failed state. I don’t know what to make of things, but I hold a belief that the debt will not be repaid, or it may be inflated out of existence. That’s an option too. But I also agree as to the scale, however I have read that a difference in scale is not a difference in kind.

    I have not read Ugo Bardi, however, he comments on my mates, Simon (the dissenting opinion) blog. I comprehend the ‘Seneca effect’, but expect no fast collapse, just a slow grinding descent into poverty. Our leaders lack vision.

    Thanks for the link and I’ll check it out later tonight. 🙂

    Exactly, a stable climate is a commons, which if I dare point out, has been abused. The future is uncertain, but planting out a diversity of edibles is one way to enjoy productivity from whatever the weather gods are throwing at us. 😉 If you discover another better option, please don’t keep it to yourself!

    Yes, what a great idea. Ask, then ask some more. I did the same when I first moved here, and won some respect from the old timers. The new comers have their inherited opinions and that’s fine. The locals will be able to discuss local problems better than anyone else. Then take the information, experiment and produce useful results. The Goran Resistance Strikes Back Against the Evil Rodent Empire! 🙂

    It was 8’C and raining today. How is that for summer?



  16. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for the quick update. And not that it is a competition or anything like that, it was 8’C and rainy here today. How is that for a crazy summer? Has the planet flipped it’s orbit around the big old fusion reactor? Probably not… 🙂

    40cm is candidly not enough snow for Avalanche to hide beneath and sneak under only to surprise you moments later. Where is Avalanche you’d ask? And just like the Loch Ness monster ascending from the depths of a murky massive tarn, she could explode forth from the snow and startle you. It’s my opinion that she would enjoy such silly snow business, it’s in the breed. 🙂

    Ouch! Like Dirty Harry, a machine like Big Bertha, gotta know its limits. By the way, I’m impressed that you have spare shear pins ready to hand. Not everyone is that well equipped. Did the machine come with spares, or was carrying them part of your previous experience?

    Mate, I’m feeling exhausted reading about all that shovelling work, but well done. Out of curiosity, how do fences survive interactions with the snow ploughs? My mind suggests that the accumulated snow would place quite the load upon a fence, and they’re not usually constructed with that outcome in mind. And letting a huge block of ice freeze solid in your driveway would be something of a major drama. Are there any local work crews willing to do the shovelling work for mad cash and/or social obligations?

    Glad to hear that you and Avalanche have somewhat recovered. It’s quite the ordeal you put her through with all that digging! Hehe! Mate, I dunno, I hope you’re not in for one of those super cold and snowy winters. Did I mention that it maxed out at 8’C today and was rainy? It’s like winter out there.

    What? No way. Well that is an innovation. So jury duty can be done from home? May you dodge being called up.

    Respect. I’m looking forward to finishing the work year, and have only a little bit more to get through. Me tired too and would appreciate a nap!



  17. Hi Lewis,

    The top ten discoveries of 2022 was fascinating. Truth to tell, I couldn’t pick one as being of greater interest than the others. It was quite the interweb rabbit hole and has consumed a considerable period of time, but enjoyably so. One interesting side journey was that of Ötzi, also called the Iceman. Wow, what a find. Not the sort of thing that’s expected to be found each year, but they may need to just try harder. Unsure as to your thoughts, but if you pressed hard for an answer, I might suggest Shackleton’s mostly preserved sunken ship. They did it hard, that lot. Did you have a favourite? Noting the difficulty of choosing. And yes, I totally agree with you. After many decades of enjoying the annual national youth broadcasters countdown, it is hard to escape that entries later in the year are higher in peoples memories. I’m sure many a dissertation has been penned about this most human of foibles? No, oh well… A rich source of research funds! 😉

    Ook! Ouch, life is short and some books don’t speak to us. I really appreciated your advice in that regard. It’s funny, but the Editor, you and I finalised reading the Rummage book about the same point in the book. Were more examples of human foolishness necessary to read? I thought not, as did you and the Editor. The author made the point then continued to do so. The Greatest Estate on Earth book was similar, but then maybe cultural beliefs run deep. Many years ago there was a spurious claim that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The usual evidence should suffice, and who is to decide what is an extraordinary claim? So much logic employed, so poorly.

    Hehe! Hey, alright fair enough. I might start telling you when it doesn’t rain? 🙂 Far out, it was like winter here today. Shocking, how is 46’F for a summer day? I’ve had the wood heater running on low all day. And we’ve run through our dry firewood stores. Yay! I pulled a wheelbarrow load of seasoned, but damp firewood up the hill today. Gets the blood pumping that does.

    A mate suggested the book was very erudite and cautioned me from reading it. But then other people have other opinions. Unfortunately my brain is fried so I’m sticking to light reading for the moment.

    Sometimes life is like that. You had a vision as to the fence, and then put that vision to work and achieved something. Mostly people struggle envisioning, it does require effort.

    It’s a musical, but I did quite enjoy the ‘This is Halloween’ song from the film. The animation is astounding. Edward Gorey is great, the cards were a lot of fun. You’d hope the artist had as much fun making the original art works?

    Yes, petrol prices have dropped a bit down here too. I can’t say for sure why prices for oil per barrel would have dropped, but there you go. A mystery! Mysteries are exciting, sometimes in a bad way. Here we go round the mulberry bush! Whatever that means.

    Haha! That’s funny about catching the rays. I ripped that line from the actor Donald Sutherland in the film Kelly’s Heroes, as no doubt you did? A rather unusual film, but it left an impression upon me when I saw it as a child. Who can forget the character Oddball? What was weird about the film was that it was almost as if the characters were acting in a different genre of film, and yet the stories overlapped. It was a very well done piece of story telling.

    Yikes! Let’s just say, a surprise may await you and H. If I were you, I’d test the product upon H, and if she doesn’t barf it up, or turn her nose up at it, you might be fine, maybe. How did it go? The surprise may be that the biscuits and gravy were pretty good.

    Yes, Clerks III is on the to-see list. It’s wrong but I still get a smile out of the line: Kelly is the donkey. So very wrong, but somehow so right. It’s complicated. And I’m inching ever closer to an extended paid work break (albeit an interrupted one) and there may be time for movie watching in there. I did watch a film from the 1980’s the other week: Doc Hollywood. Had a very young Woody in it. A fine actor.

    The food is OK, but if the story isn’t great. Dump and run. It’s a workable philosophy.



  18. Hello Chris
    2C outside this afternoon.
    Sorry to tell you this but a ramp does not necessarily help elderly progression. I can walk up a ramp but need a handrail to walk down one unless the gradient is very slight.


  19. Hi Chris,
    Week has become more busier than I like so hope to get back on here tomorrow or Friday.

    One of the unexpected events was a 4 hours in the Emergency Room with my sister – the one with Crohn’s. She took a turn for the worse and was down to 77 lbs. She’s home with a treatment plan – steroid treatment which she really didn’t want but not much choice at this junction. She, at least, is already feeling better.

    Heavy rain today but we missed the worst of the storm hitting much of the country and as it really hasn’t rained much this is a good thing. Also good that it wasn’t snow because it would have been a blizzard.


  20. Hello Chris,
    Indeed, the choices we have taken as a civilization are not very flattering. I think the whole point of the Dark Mountain Manifesto was to give a positive connotation to the word “uncivilized”.

    I also want to point out that I love your point about the basis points. Maybe the high priests of Economism have to utter multisyllable words in a holy order to placate the wrath of the Market?
    (While their minions are busy printing money to give to the selected few.)

    8C is not summer in my book. You are just one week from Summer Solstice, so I would expect it to be strawberry and haskap time!


  21. Yo, Chris – I think my favorite archaeological discovery was the statues from the Roman / Etruscan health spa. And the Anglo-Saxon lady’s bit of bling necklace was pretty interesting.

    I’ve been following Otzi’s discovery, all along. All kinds of interesting things have been melting out of the glaciers in Europe. Weapons, shoes. But so far, nothing near as interesting as Otzi.

    I finished reading “Flush.” Must admit it got to be a bit of a slog. How much can you say about poop? 🙂 The last chapter was about commercial buildings, that have put in composting toilets. And composting toilets, in general. Still a lot of bugs to work out, and sometimes, the bugs are real bugs.

    Our weather has been overcast mornings, sun in the afternoon, and cold nights. But that’s all going to change on Sunday. Rain is coming back, and there’s snow mentioned in our local forecast. But that’s pretty far out.

    Did Gory have fun? Hmmm. I’ve read quit a few books about him, both biographies and about his working methods. The last one was about where he got his ideas. But all that cross hatching. A bit compulsive? But I think he occasionally got a sense of accomplishment.

    I probably saw “Kelly’s Heroes” decades ago. But all the details escape me. “Doc Hollywood?” Same, same.

    Biscuits and gravy were fine. The usual cook pulled herself together and it was tasty. H got her portion of sausage, and was happy.

    I noticed the web site for the New Year’s Day auction is under construction. Once it’s complete and up, I’ll send you a link. Lew

  22. dehydrated squash- Haven’t tried it yet to see how it tastes, or how it will rehydrate. It actually went beyond leather to more like crisps. I agree that counting on the freezer too much is a risk. We have started fermenting veggies from the garden more this year, and less freezing. My wife has honed in on a kim chi recipe we quite like. There are several veggies that rehydrate quite well, but I have no ideas what nutrition is lost versus freezing or fresh.

    Spending patterns here are weird, and I don’t see a big drop in discretionary spending, but of course it is shopping (er..Christmas) season here, when card balances go up regardless. The jerky jerk emergence from the pandemic jolt has altered patterns as well.

    I think you are right, collapse is here, it’s just so big and lumbering, it doesn’t look like the scary image from the books and movies. It’s also like the future- it’s here, just not evenly distributed.


  23. Hi Inge,

    Your weather is on the cooler side of things. That’s winter for you. I would have thought that your island climate might have shielded you from the worst extremes that plague more northerly locales? But I could be wrong too. And you went all metric on me. My brain is now hurting! 🙂

    It was another cold summers day today. Rain, lot’s of mist this morning and for a few brief moments it reached 59’F. When heading off to the general store I wore my sheepskin jacket, and when doing paid work this morning the sheepskin boots came in handy. I dunno about this growing season. The forecast is suggesting that there will be six days of dry and sunny (but cool) weather, before the rain returns in force. We might break the recorded annual rainfall records this year. Candidly, it’s getting close to that.

    Oh shoot! Well, thanks for the heads up, and I guess living on the side of a mountain saddle is not all that it’s cracked up to be. 😉 At some future time, it may get to the point where things are too much. However, on my mothers side of the family (the lowland Scotts) they tend to not live as long as say, Lewis, and on my dads side of the family (the highland Scotts) they tend to reach into their mid 90’s and are mostly quite hale right up until the very end. Truly, the future is up in the air for me and my physiology is closer to the lowland mob. Fate, I can accept that, dunno about how other people face that.



  24. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks for taking the time to drop by and say hello. And yes, it is a very busy time of year, so I doubly appreciate our chats. 🙂

    Oh my! Margaret, I’m so sorry to hear that, it’s not good. There is little option at this point, and I’ve heard from a researcher into that area that it can take upwards of three years to retrain a gut and supply better flora and fauna to assist with such conditions. It is no easy path, a lot of hard work, and a dire warning not to mess with such bodily functions in the first place, all other considerations to the side. Out of curiosity, had the err, infusions or I forget the exact details, recent treatment assisted? I’ve heard mixed reports about such paths, sometimes it works, and sometimes not so much. It’s a mixed bag in terms of outcomes.

    Yeah, exactly, heavy rain after a prolonged dry spell can cause huge erosion. You see that in action down here after large forest fires. In such conditions even the plant roots in the soil combust and nothing holds the soil together when the next heavy rain hits. Err, nobody wants to experience a blizzard! Yikes, he types whilst quailing in fright at the thought of such extreme weather. Apparently, the rain looks set to give us a break down here for six days before returning with a thud. We’ve run out of dry firewood – how is that? And to think I thought that that situation was in the unlikely to occur category.



  25. Hi Goran,

    Ah, I have not read the Dark Mountain folks work, but the following words resonate: Dark Mountain began as an exhortation to leave the comfortable citadels and find the small paths that lead into the unknown, beyond the horizon of the world as we have known it.

    The citadels are comfortable places, and like many of my fellow inhabitants coffee is a wonderful stimulant grown in far distant warmer climates. Plus, dare I say it, coffee grounds are important minerals to get back into impoverished soils – plus adding in some other minerals too, wouldn’t be a bad idea.

    Mate, there is a certain sense of wonder that we live at a time where the agricultural products of far distant places grace our kitchens in bulk. Why not get those minerals into local soils? There’s worse things you could spend your time doing. In the big smoke there are some very interesting vaults and wharfs dating back to the 19th century where sailing ships offloaded their cargo’s of exotic fruit, like bananas: Banana Alley. Our species is highly adaptable, my thinking is that it will be civilisation itself which might not appreciate the backwards adaptions. 🙂

    Hehe! Truth to tell, I came across the obscuring using overly technical jargon concept in the writings of the author Michael Lewis. He had first hand experience with that crowd, and wrote about what he saw, knew and ascertained from interviews with the folks involved. A good couple of reads. And yes, that is so.

    Very funny. So far we have harvested two sort-of-ripe strawberries from the hundreds of plants. It’s not good. A run of six days with no rain is approaching, but the rain will follow directly afterwards. You really don’t want to experience a year of no-summer. And this is the third in a row. In the past few days we’ve run out of dry firewood and are now burning damp firewood, and the last of the previous seasons preserved tomatoes. It’s a worry. I’m adapting.



  26. Hi Steve,

    Interesting indeed, and I appreciate learning from your experience with the dehydrating. Most pumpkins, squashes and zucchini keep pretty well over winter here, but by late spring they can turn to a revolting thin skinned watery ooze. Not something you want to discover in your stores, and they do create quite the mess. I’ll be very curious to hear how the err, crisps, taste. I find that the tomatoes end up like crisps in the dehydrator, and the flavour is seriously concentrated – and that’s a good thing in cooking. My understanding of that dehydrating process is that the less moisture, the longer the produce will keep.

    Nice work with the fermenting and finding a recipe which works for you both. Really good stuff, and when I was a kid such produce was more commonly consumed than it is today. Some vegetables were stored in a strong white vinegar, and I recall they tasted very good indeed.

    It’s very difficult to get a grasp on what is going on down here too in that regard. You hear stories of the luxury car biz hitting the poop, and second hand car values have been inflated of late, but that also appears to be going down. I can’t really say for sure, but what I noticed during the last period of economic ructions was that contraction took place first at the extremities. And crypto has been under fire of late. Hmm.

    That’s a great quote about collapse, and so very true. A mate who is a bit older than I had a very different experience during the recession of the early 1990’s to me, and that quote sums up how things work at ground level.

    Hey, it rained today, but there are six days in a row forecast with no rain. An epic stretch of time, if I may say so. 🙂



  27. Hi, Chris!

    Yes, what more can be said . . . though I suppose that reminders never hurt. That is true for a lot of things.

    My husband and I were just talking about what will happen when the many people who are about to max-out their credit cards do so – buying even food on credit?! – because they will not only have to find a way to purchase with cash (or debit) which cost they had previously been putting off until the future, but they will still have all the debt to service as well. Been there, done that – never again! I guess they will learn, also.

    I wondered at your narrow gateway. Ollie might have dashed up and knocked his noggin on that post. We had a dog once that was always in so much of a hurry that he would sometimes run into trees. And that’s a funny picture of Ollie with the wheel barrow. He looks like his father was a Bassett Hound.

    I was thinking, as Ann commented, that your readership just might be too occupied with other things right now. By the way – seen any good Christmas lights?

    Thanks for the flowers. Delightful!


  28. Hi Lewis,

    They’re were all good choices, it was hard to choose, but the recycling of the Roman glass into an Anglo-Saxon lady’s bit of bling necklace was a stand-out. It’s a pretty clever re-use, and the old timers did used to suggest: re-use, re-pair (probably not an option in those days), and only then re-cycle (which would have meant dumping under quantities of clay via. natural processes, which I have no idea as to how they work).

    Interestingly, the soil here is not a constant, and you can see around really large and old trees that the soil level was once higher. The trees responding by consuming the minerals which are the soil and producing interesting buttressing. I reckon it also swells and ebbs with moisture, or lack thereof.

    Rats. They dug another entrance under the house, and I awoke last evening in the wee hours of the morning (not wise to wake me at such times) to hear a rat trying to break into the kitchen. The war will be long, sacrifices will be required, but we shall prevail. I guess the super cold and wet summer is leading to some drastic actions on behalf of the rodent empire. They have persistence, but then so do I. We’ll do something about it tomorrow.

    And in breaking fluffy news… Insert dodgy news hype music… I’m now on holidays and have switched off the phone and email. It is a truth universally acknowledged that some folks push at boundaries, and I’m watching for that. Already a few have tried, seriously. I’ve learned over many years that it is us who train others as to how we wish to be treated. Hmm.

    The Otzi find is amazing, and who knew that such things could lead to possibly stressful protracted legal battles? I’ll bet Otzi didn’t think that people would be discussing him several millennia into the future? And I noted he had some sort of mushroom which apparently acted as a vermicide. How clever were the ancients to have worked out that use?

    I get your point, and perhaps this is why the Editor forces a ‘minimal soil talk’ policy? 🙂 There really is only so much that can be said about using poop. I mean, it’s not a complicated subject. Oh really? No way. A composting toilet in a commercial multi-story building without access to fresh air would be a drama – from my perspective. It is weird that someone would try that, because where are they going to store the poop so that it composts for long enough? And then what are they going to do with the compost? Bonkers, but if they want to give it a go, it’s no business of mine. The other week I saw some proposal to green the roof of tram shelter stops in the big smoke. I dunno, cities as they are now, can never be green, so why all the pretence?

    A bit of snow won’t hurt, and you might even enjoy the spectacle, as long as it isn’t overly prolonged and too deep. I’d be lost if faced with such conditions. Good luck! Hey, there is a rare run of six days in the forecast now with no rain. The weather is still on the cooler side, and the rain will return with force looking at the forecast after that time, but until then… Might do a bit more cement work whilst the weather is free of rain. And in sad news, we’ve now completely run out of dry firewood and are having to burn mildly damp firewood. That’s not good for the steel in the combustion chamber, and the firewood doesn’t put out as much heat as some energy is lost to drying the timber out. We’ve made the call to let the sun and extreme UV dry the firewood over the next few days, and then we’ll start packing it away in the shed. It’s not good and will require some very hard work to overcome. Oh well, better learning now, than later on.

    Hmm, thanks for discussing that aspect of Edward Gorey. Yes I can see that. Anagrams huh, very suggestive. You know, I read a lot of rubbish this evening about the artist and his personal life, which hardly seems appropriate, and you know what? I think people were annoyed about that part of the artist, because he was his own person and failed to conform to the interviewers ideals. They need to get over it.

    Hehe! Mate, a photographic memory would be a bad thing. A trailer popped up with Woody for a show early next year. Something to do with Watergate.

    Truly, the usual cook might unnecessarily stress me out, but then the biscuits and gravy might be top notch. That’s the very nature of a predicament. What? H is onto a winner there. Mind you, I make a special Anzac biscuit for the dogs without the sultanas (and occasional chunk of chocolate, so good) so yeah, guilty. Hehe! Go H!

    Thanks. I’ll be interested to see what’s on offer. I appreciate that it would be hard for you to send your items off and out into the world and wish you all the best with the auction results.



  29. Hi Pam,

    The reminders serve a purpose, but truly I don’t know how great that aspect of things is. I am of the opinion that our society deliberately squelches the gentle art of quietly remembering and pondering the past. Times past has a lot to say.

    Ouch! Well, first hand experience is as good a way to learn as any. Hey, some folks enjoy your experience, and then go on to repeat it again at some future point, or the present for that matter. Dunno about your part of the world, but back in the day, the pay day lenders were like the lowest of the low. Nowadays, they’re on an app and making heaps of mad cash. Surely, you’ve noticed the proliferation of pay-in-four profferings? It won’t end well, but how it will end is something of a mystery. Probably with a whimper.

    Towards the end of his life when Sir Poopy was losing his sight, he also failed to slow down, in between bouts of extreme laziness. Such a great dog, a real character. Running into trees at speed would hurt, and I’m not entirely convinced that dogs rely as heavily upon eyesight as us puny humans. Ollie is dirty for posing for the camera. He loves it. The two Kelpies on the other hand are a bit more of a handful, they’re very high energy you know.

    I had not appreciated the holiday joy in your part of the world and thanks for mentioning it. Hey, I’m on holidays now for a few weeks, except for some paid work which I can’t get out of during that time. Oh well, nobody said life would be easy.

    Noooo! I was thinking about that too the other night, but have been working too hard of late to take the time out and check them out. This situation must be remedied, purely for research purposes for the blog of course. 😉 Photos to follow, sooner or later.

    My pleasure to share a little bit of the so-called-summer. It rained again today. Hey, I’m beginning to think that it might be better to say when it doesn’t rain? And you can assume the rest of the time that it is raining. 🙂



  30. Chris,

    I didn’t have to go in for jury service Wednesday. The Wednesday evening call in message said that my group is NOT needed, and I am no longer on call. Yup, done for this round but credited with service. That means that this particular court system can’t call me up for 2 years.

    Now the snow can’t hide any sized critter under it. It is frozen solid after 2 or 3 days of thaw followed by weather well below freezing.

    Big Bertha came with a dozen spare shear pins. I also knew from watching neighbors that having some on hand was a requirement. I gotta purchase some more cotter pins, though. Most of the ones I’ve got are too big for the shear pins.

    City and County both have “set back” requirements that theoretically prevent fences from being built too close to the roads. If there were snowplow versus fence, the snowplow would win. Spokane drivers are so wonderfully sane (that was a very sarcastic comment) that even in good weather, a car occasionally crashes into a house. Now that the roads are iffy at best? At least one or two car versus house events per week. Nobody wins in those events.

    If there’s no school on any particular day, there are some teenagers who wander the neighborhood with shovels looking for work. I might have to hire some of them at times. There are also yard care companies who will do snow removal in the winter for their clients. They’re expensive.

    We have company. Nieces came in late Wednesday night. We’re taking them to breakfast/brunch later this morning. They are in town for a Thursday night concert.

    Fog. Freezing fog. Precipitating fog that looks like snow. Fog at -5C does wonderful things.


  31. Yo, Chris – “Archaeology Magazine” usually does a list of top ten finds. It will be interesting to see what they come up with.

    Rats! Storming the house? Well, I’d say they lost the battle of the chicken house, and are in search of softer targets. Hmmm. Kind of like Russia’s withdrawal from part of the Ukraine.

    Congratulations on the beginning of your long hiatus. Be interesting to see how many bogus three alarm fires you clients will work out on their own.

    Poor Otzi. There was quit a bit of back and forth as to if Austria or Italy (I think), “owned” Otzi. Even with GPS, tracing a border over rough mountain terrain, was a bit of a drama. A few other bodies have melted out of the ice, but those turned out to be lost mountain climbers from the 1920s and 30s.

    The commercial building worked pretty well, at first. But the lockdowns threw a kink into things. And having more men in the building, than women, also was a problem. They finally took them out, I think.

    We’ve got sun and blue skies, this morning. And frost. I’ve got a bag of kitchen scraps, to dig in. Including some pistachio shells. Which I had to wash, due to the salt. 🙂

    Edward Gorey was a true eccentric. And also, very private. Which drives some people wild. Everyone is after the smoking gun. Apparently, in his case, he never pulled the trigger. 🙂 I used to have a friend who’d often say, “I lead a rich and varied fantasy life.” I think Gorey did, too. And sometimes, it spilled over onto the page. I think a lot of his art was for his own entertainment and amusement. And if other people were entertained and amused, it pleased him.

    Well, I got a look at the auction page, last night. Lots of pictures. But not a single one of anything I sent to auction. As yet. It’s still a work in progress. And they don’t have the on-line bidding part up, yet. This year’s auction looks a lot more interesting than last year’s auction.

    Score! I picked up 7 DVDs from the library, yesterday. A couple of series, a few movies and some documentaries. There’s a documentary about the documentarian, Ken Burns. That was pretty interesting. When he was working on his first film (Brooklyn Bridge), it got too expensive living in New York City. So, he had friends in a small town in New Hampshire, and moved there. Then his film won an academy award, and New York and Los Angeles, beckoned. But he decided to stay in that small town. So, he had a lot to say about small towns and the sense of community. Lew

  32. Hi Lewis,

    You’d imagine that there would be certain problems coming up with a 10 ‘best of’ list after another website had snuck in early and posted their own list? Given the field, there would be some overlap. All the same, the website might surprise us all.

    Hey, I’m on my first official day of an extended break from paid work. The first in three years, I might just add, in case that little fact had been forgotten! Although candidly I have been mentioning it often of late. It being on my mind and stuff. Switched the phone off. Put on a message that I won’t listen to voice mails, read texts and/or respond to emails. Still, some folks may see this as a personal challenge to overcome? I’d hope not, although some have already tried today and enjoyed radio silence. I must say I’m rather enjoying this less responsible state of mind! 🙂

    Finished off the new staircase today by pouring the final and ninth step. Began another staircase, this time inside the garden terraces. Installed the timber posts for the fencing at the western end of the terraces. We noticed that the new arrangements in the garden terraces left space for two new roses. What to do? You may well guess the answer!

    You’re absolutely spot on. We defeated the rats at the chicken front, and they’ve now come for the house. The rats were read the riot act, and we sealed up the hole they’d made, and perhaps the rodents read the room and that was why they made a new escape hole? We blocked that hole up too. I’ll have to finish laying the larger rocks around the house. Rats are very clever indeed.

    Thank you, and you might be right there. I’ve already had a number of clients push at boundaries in relation to the break. It’s unfortunately a human nature thing to do so, and I can’t control others, but all I can do is show them that I mean business about this hiatus. Incidentally, there are three days of work during this break that I can’t get out of. Oh well. We’ve put a lot of brain cells towards managing this situation, but it is always the things you don’t expect that can be problematic.

    One of the long term commenters here is a surveyor and we probably need to put that Otzi is it Austria or Italy question to him? Funny the new neighbours who I’ve barely seen, were super excited about putting up a fence when they purchased the empty bush block, but that idea quietly got shelved. I wonder how they afford to keep the block empty? Beats me. And interestingly, they’ve recovered bodies of earlier climbers from Mount Everest too.

    You have to give them credit for vision. It never occurred to me that anyone would try and use composting toilets in a multi-story building. The lockdowns would have been something of a problem because the worms, or whatever biology they used would have dried up and died from lack of feeding. Composting toilets are a very simple technology. I noticed the building captured rain water for re-use and was quite heavily insulated. Like what we’re doing here, except scaled up and more techno.

    Hey, do you ever accidentally dig up the kitchen scraps and see the worms in action? What amazes me about your process, is how quickly the soil flora and fauna eat the stuff. It’s at an amazing speed, and such a great idea. Salt is a bit of a bummer, but then asparagus would love the extra salt. I fed the three raised beds of the asparagus plants a couple of bags of rock salt. You’d think it would kill the weeds, like oxalis, but no. And dill keeps coming up like a weed in those beds.

    Hehe! Yes, that was my impression in relation to Edward Gorey. People are very excitable about the eccentric, although truth to tell I would like to have enough mad cash to be considered eccentric. Mate, the things people have said about me over the years, sometimes to my face, far out. What the heck? Are they bored? Have they nothing better to do? Mr Gorey did tease the media mercilessly, although the journo’s might not have understood that. Your friends quote is pretty good. Like it. I can see that. A person must set their own standards and challenges. To challenge others risks certain defeat for there are always other folks who are better, and the fall from the top can be great, so why push for that outcome, good enough is OK by me. That’s life. 🙂

    Setting up a website would be a lot of work. Hey, one of the good things about having the auction online is that you reach a far wider collection of collectors. It’s gotta assist things, maybe?

    Ken Burns lives in a beautiful part of the world, and did you note that he is a collector? I recall that you once sold one of those items, or equally I may have also misremembered that. Might track that down. Mate, I’ve lived in the inner big smoke, the outer suburbs and then is this remote rural fastness, and by far I much prefer my present circumstances. It gets under the skin so to speak.



  33. Hi DJ,

    Nice dodge, and I recall that back in the day down here, you had to actually attend the court and wait it out. Thanks, but no thanks. Hey, what’s the chance they’ll call you back in 2 years?

    Hehe! Spare a thought for the commenter Goran who had voles living under the snow at his place, and digging tunnels and trenches, and even worse, consuming the roots of fruit trees. Dame Plum would have her work cut out for her – and we only just returned from a night time ratting hunt. She has her patterns that dog.

    Cotter pins take a lot more resistance than shear pins, although I’ve seen them perform similar functions. I’d be tempted to install heavier duty pins, but then that would transfer loads to bearings, axles, drive chains/belts etc. Probably best to have the pins break don’t you reckon?

    It’s kind of funny, but the folks around here have all sorts of different levels of get-out-of-trouble machinery like your Big Bertha, although I doubt anyone here has a snowplough. There is very little overlap and most houses are like little islands of individuality when it comes to such matters. Haven’t you always thought it a bit odd that machines don’t have more standardised components? I try to ensure that the machines can be repaired locally.

    There are set back requirements here too, but for different reasons. And I agree, the snowplough, not to mention any vehicle, would win against most fences. On that front I’ve seen some strange things in my time and some cars have even been driven into shops plate glass windows. I’d heard drivers claim that they confused the brake and the accelerator pedals, and if that is the case, there is a lot going on there… Exactly, nobody wins.

    Had a good deep dive into the repairs for the FM tuner this evening. I might even chuck some modifications into the machine, suggested by other people who know more than I. Might get stuck into that job later next week when it’s raining. But right now, there is a run of dry days. Make hay whilst the sun shines, and put away some dry firewood. We’d run out of dry firewood…

    Enjoy the family and hope everyone has fun with the visit. 🙂

    Never seen fog that’s in freezing air before. What the heck happens?

    Thought it was cold a few days ago: Victoria’s lowest summer temp on record



  34. Yo, Chris – Really? First extended break in three years? News to me. Bet you can’t hold your breath that long 🙂 .

    Some people like to test boundaries, but I think a lot of it is just an incomprehension of people not going along with the crowd. People are often gob smacked that I leave off my phone (and, just a little flip phone, at that) for great periods of time. That I haven’t had a TV for decades or do streaming.

    I went to the grocery, last night, and, one way of looking at it is they screwed me out of $2. I needed to buy some ground pork for biscuits and gravy. If you had a loyalty card (which I do), you got $1 off each pound (I needed two). But if you had a device, you got another dollar off each pound. Of course, I don’t. When I hit the check out, I mentioned it to the checker. But, when I got home discovered she had not taken the additional dollars off. I happened to think, what I might do it rip the bar code thing, off the shelf talker (that’s the paper thing, that lets you know about the sale price), take that to the check stand, and see what happens. 🙂 But on calmer reflection, perhaps I should look at it as the cost (much lower) of not having a “device.” A dollar here, a dollar there … much cheaper than buying and paying the monthly fee on one of those things.

    You could always tell a white lie. Say you’re going away to someplace wonderful … with no cell reception. 🙂

    Two new roses. Given the season, maybe you could splash out on something really special. A gift to the (collective) “you.”

    I dinked around in the garden, for a couple of hours, yesterday. Buried the kitchen scraps and did some general clean up. Lots of hacking stuff up and adding it to the soil. So far, when I dig into where I bury the kitchen scraps, all I find is very rich soil. No worms. I don’t know where they are. But something is breaking down and consuming all those scraps. Might be a lively, no-see ’em collection of soil bacteria?

    Re: Gorey. See above. People who don’t follow the crowd or go with the flow. Some people call them eccentric, just to make themselves feel better.

    The local auction uses a national, on-line auction service. They do send out “alerts” to anyone who’s ever bought, through them.

    What does Ken Burns collect? It wasn’t mentioned in the documentary.

    H just cruised in and out of the bathroom. She does that every once in awhile. I don’t know if it’s some kind of boundary patrol, or if she’s just checking to see if it’s still there. Doggie mysteries. Lew

    PS: Rain’s coming back, tomorrow night. And there’s lots of “chance of snow” in the forecast. We’ll see.

  35. Hi Chris,
    My sister never got any of the newer biologics as her insurance wouldn’t cover most of the cost which runs tens of thousands monthly. She now on steroids which she’s done in the past and suffers the side effects of the treatment but now there isn’t much of a choice. She’s doing better but said they are making her crazy. Steroids can really mess with your head. It’s only for two weeks and hopefully she’ll go into remission for awhile.

    Last week we also lost two friends, one a friend of many decades to ALS and the 2nd our neighbor who we’ve only known for 4 years but became a good friend and wonderful neighbor. Both were kind, gentle, generous souls.

    Looks like we’ll have a white Christmas as there’s snow on the ground – maybe a couple inches and it’s turning colder – quite a bit so no melting. There’s also a more significant snow the middle of next week.

    Last weekend another sister and I went to downtown Chicago to visit our aunt. My stop is the end of the line and there weren’t all that many people. My sister’s stop is the 2nd stop and she texted me that the station was mobbed. Well that was an understatement. What follows might be an example of your or especially Lew’s worst nightmare. Many, many families with small children piled into who knows how many cars. One woman thought it would be a great idea to set up her phone with a speaker blasting bad Christmas music so loud my sister and I couldn’t even hear each other. My sister asked her to please turn it down but she said she was moving and move she did to the next car. Well the car with filled with the shrieks of excited children and some other woman passing out jingle bells. She failed to give me one when I put my hand out. Anyway it was bedlam but the good news we only had to endure it for about 1/2 an hour as they all got off well before Chicago. Apparently there was some big Santa event. The father across from us with a very small baby sleeping on his chest and two other small children looked less than thrilled. So here’s the funny part. As you can imagine the isles were clogged with people waiting to disembark. A boy about 7 was standing next to our seat looking at us and said to his mother, “Why aren’t the two grandmas getting off?” The mother looked mortified but we thought it was histerical. However the thought occured to me how sad it is that being old enough to look like grandmas was something of an insult.

    Enjoy your time off. I hope you and the editor take some days to just goof around.


  36. Hi Chris,

    Just a quick hello this week as I am quite busy. We had rain and plenty of it earlier in the week, over an inch. Now the door to the Arctic is open and winter ran through it. We might get a little snow on Monday and then even colder air and maybe some more snow by about this time next week. I’ll keep you posted. Enjoy your break from work!

    @Margaret – my condolences on the loss of your friends.


  37. Chris,

    Dunno if they’ll call me back for jury in 2 years. Either they will or they won’t. We used to have to attend court and wait it out. After serving on a jury, we were still on call during any remaining time on the 2 weeks service but could call in for instructions each evening. IF we had been on a jury. Otherwise, sit and wait in the courthouse. Now, due to a dearth of parking and some corvid experiences, they prefer to have as many as possible call in rather than have irritated people circling the car parks like vultures, then descending En masse on any empty parking spot.

    Poor Goran. Voles under the snow? That’s just harsh. Maybe we need to breed a new predatory bird that can tunnel through the snow: the vole-ture. 😉 Seriously, losing trees to undersnow varmints seems uncalled for.

    Nope. I’m sticking with the normal shear pins. These actually are standardized across many models of snowblowers. The cotter pin simply holds the shear pin in place. Most of my cotter pins have too big a diameter to fit through the appropriate hole in the shear pin.

    I think maybe if you designed a snowblower, and then I designed a snowblower whose parts were interchangeable with your machine, well, wouldn’t my design actually BE your design and thus a patent infringement? So I might have to have a smaller petrol tank, a slightly different engine so the spark plug is a different size and gap, etc. Otherwise, you could take me to court for patent infringement and put me out of business.

    That said, certain things should be standardized. The port to charge a cell phone should be compatible with any phone charger, for example. That is one thing that HAS gotten better with time but could be improved still.

    There have been several of those cars going through a business window thing here over the years. The excuse here is the same as what you’ve heard: “I confused the brake and accelerator pedals”. I guess that maybehaps that could possibly be true once a century or so.

    Glad you’re looking at the FM tuner. I used to enjoy that type of activity too, once upon a year. Fun stuff.

    The family visit was from 3 young nieces. They know the Princess a little, and they know who I am but haven’t been around me much. One is 21 the other 2 are about 15 or 16. They came into town for the Snoop Dogg concert, a Christmas gift from their mother. (Yeah, the younger crowd likes him. I don’t.) I drove them to the concert, dropped them off. Then I went to get them when they called after the concert. They spent two nights with us. I figure that there is hope for the 3 girls: they laughed at my wry humor. 😉

    -5.4C? Mountains can do that any time of year, but that’s like the temperatures we’ve been having again. Although next week should bring a bit more snow and some temperatures near -15C for 2 or 3 nights. -5.4C IS NOT WARM!

    Fog at -5C? Well, three main things can happen. One, the fog is just sort of there and is fog and lowers visibility. Or it can precipitate, sorta mimicking snow in how it falls and accumulates, but isn’t really snow. I call that “precipitating fog”. Or it can turn into the dread Freezing Fog. This quirk of nature coats things with a layer of icy rime. This collects on everything, and makes trees look like they’ve gotten a thick frost. It can collect on power lines. If the freezing fog lasts for too long, the weight on tree branches can cause some breakages. Worse, I’ve seen freezing fog rime 10cm in diameter on power lines. That can cause powerlines to break or can overburden transformers. About 10 years ago, we drove from here to Omak, WA one cold winter’s evening in thick freezing fog. The entire towns of Wilbur and Creston, Washington, as well as other areas, had power outages due to the fog snapping lines. It made for eerie driving, what with towns with no lights, thick eddying fog, and white white white rime everywhere. Eyes eyes eyes reflecting from the car’s headlights. Were they deer or were they zombies?

    We took a back road one summer evening from Othello, Washington east to a main highway. It wasn’t far, but it was through farming country. After dark. Lots of wildfire smoke. And a full moon. The smoke swirled in the road’s barrow ditches. The moon rose red as blood. The Princess inquired about any local vampires, werewolves or zombies. The road took a zigzag that I didn’t remember from a previous trek there. The smoke swirled thicker. Eyes reflected in the headlights through the swirling smoke. (Deer? Zombies? Sasquatch?) The blood-red moon rose higher and leered at us through the smoke. Did I mention that the smoke was swirling? The Princess inquired if I knew where we were. (I did.) I replied that over the next rise we would either see the main highway or we would find that we had jumped through a portal eastward 150km and that over the next rise would be a sign that said “Welcome to Idaho”, the sign surrounded by a gang of blood-hungry vampires. The smoke swirled thicker as we crested the top of the rise to see…the highway.


  38. @Marg:

    I am so sorry that your sister is having so much trouble and that also recently lost two friends. What a time it is. I tell myself it must be partly my age; I don’t know. Several weeks ago I spent 5 hours sitting in the hospital ER waiting room with my mother in a chair after she had fallen. She was in so much pain in that chair (she’s 85).

    Enough of that. I loved your train story. Merry Christmas to you and all of yours.


  39. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, hurry up, sit and wait was how things used to be down here too, but I guess corvid changed some things and being able to call in is not a bad idea at all. My opinion is that they are very free with other peoples time when most of the workers in that setting are earning a pretty penny.

    I know, I’m dealing with rabbits and rats and who knows what else, but even Dame Plum (or Dame Avalanche) would struggle detecting life getting up to mischief under a thick layer of snow.

    Of course, cotter pins come in all manner of thicknesses and I faced a similar dilemma a few months ago with a log splitter and simply drilled out the hole so that it took the larger cotter pin. 😉 Probably not the thing to do with a snowplough, but as a plan B it would work. The thing that troubled me was how soft the steel was on the pin. Mind you, Cobalt enriched high speed steel drills make mince meat of metal. I use such bits very differently these days, best not to heat them up.

    Exactly, a civilisation seeking genuine longevity would look different than the silly business going on all around us. Standardisation – even of our waste – would save a lot of headaches. Far out, how many plastic compounds and designs, or small engines for that matter, do we really need? There’s a lot of different ports for the USB standard, but you’re right it is better than it was.

    It is weird that people would confuse the pedals, but then brains can fail. My gut feeling always suggested that it was a ‘cry for help’, or possibly a ‘cry for attention’? Dunno, all I know is that it isn’t good on many fronts.

    Thought you might have enjoyed the FM tuner refurbishment project once upon a time. The thing with it is that I have to use a magnifying glass to read the tiny writing for the values on the electrolytic capacitors. Maybe it’s just me, but there are times I wonder if the manufactures of said parts aren’t laughing when they print the labels. I can’t imagine the boards are hand soldered nowadays, although in the 1980’s and 1990’s they would have been. The solder sucker is a great innovation.

    Hehe! Well done, and yes not everyone enjoys a wry sense of humour. They do say that the children are the future! Snoop dog, well, he’s been enormously successful, can’t say I know any of his music, but by all accounts he is an outstanding performer.

    Usually not down here, that was why it was notable. I have seen snow up in the alpine areas further east in the state over the summer months, and it is a bit jolting on the senses. But -5.4’C is pretty extreme given the latitude and altitude. Wouldn’t want to have been camping out in those conditions. -15’C is feral cold! All hands brace for impact!!!! Brr.

    Thanks for the explanation as to the freezing fog. Yikes! And your experience driving when the power had been taken out, would have been harrowing. We get thick fogs here too, real pea soupers, and that’s when you discover how well you know the local roads. And cars come up from nowhere out of the murk. Fortunately you get warning of other cars. Had to many years ago get a taxi ride home (the car had broken down in the big smoke) and the driver dropped us off in the forest in thick fog. He seemed rather alarmed that we might get lost in the forest… I don’t think so, but he enjoyed the huge tip. I was grateful just to make it home that night and wasn’t sure the driver would even bring us up here. Ware, the little zombies! 🙂

    Idaho, full of vampires and werewolves. This is common knowledge! What an eerie scene. Hey, on a serious note, smoke can conduct electricity, so it’s not wise to hang around electrical stuff when there’s lot’s of smoke. Best, hope the car kept going and got you out of there. Not sure which would be worse, vampires or werewolves?



  40. Hi Claire,

    🙂 Thanks for taking the time to drop by and say hello. And winter is a time for rest in the garden, but then it can get busy too. Hope you’re having some fun in all that busyness and get some time to enjoy the snow (if the forecast plays out).

    It’s great news you’re getting some decent rain and that it’s warm enough to get into the soil before it freezes.

    Hey, I’ve begun chucking in blood and bone meal into the coffee grounds soil feed, and it will be very interesting to see what the results are in future years. The fruit trees are seriously growing this year. Apples and pears are the best crop this season – as long as the parrots hold off.



  41. Hi Margaret,

    Oh my goodness! Bills of tens of thousands a month are basically unaffordable, and I’m guessing the regime would have to continue for a prolonged period of time? Yikes! Hope your sister is OK and responds to the treatment. I have little experience with steroids other than a brief treatment for eczema, which I got on top of by reading about dog skin allergies. True story, and it worked. Steroids on the other hand are not something a person can use long term, but I could be wrong.

    Sorry to hear that, and you have my condolences for the loss of your two mates.

    Hope you enjoy a white Christmas, as a bit of snow does set the scene (it being summer down here, that’s not an impossibility, just very rare and you have to be at much higher elevations than here). At the moment, the weather forecast is suggesting cooler and rain, but other parts of the continent it will be quite hot.

    Thanks for the fun story of the ‘A Very Christmas Train Trip!’ with loud music. You’re probably right about my reaction, but then I would have enjoyed the general merriment and abandoned the book I’d been pretending to read. 🙂 You no doubt both enjoyed it! Hehe! It’s funny you mention that, but Sandra and I were discussing that very subject the other day, and turns out you don’t have to be that old to be a grandmother. Her grasp of maths is better than mine, and anyway, the only good bit of advice I ever got from my mother was that whatever age you believe a lady is, if asked, deduct at least a decade. 😉

    It didn’t rain here today. What the…


  42. Chris:

    Wet firewood – say it isn’t so! And at our house think we have so many years worth of cut wood, but we have not had your summers – yet. Besides cooking. I only cook on wood during power outages and now we are so fancy that we have a hot plate to hook up to the generator for that. Me sissy.


  43. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the link to the 15 hottest discoveries of this year. There was a bit of crossover with the top 10 list, and I must add that the mud bath find did not appeal. Mud… I’m amazed how much of this stuff ends up underground. I reckon my favourite from this list was the Iron Age era complex. Now, maybe it is just me, but who has a secret chamber nearly 100 feet beneath a home which is raided by looters? There is a lot going on there, but the artwork was amazing in its detail.

    Yes, a dozen is not nearly enough. 🙂 Way back in the day, bakeries used to advertise the ‘Bakers Dozen’ which was I believe thirteen. In these cost conscious times of rising inflation and cost of mad cash, such things don’t get a look in.

    You’re probably right about not holding my breath for that long. I’ve never seen the Avatar film, it just didn’t appeal, but for some reason I saw the title for some article about an actor having to hold their breath for several minutes whilst on the set of the new film. Have they not heard of computer graphics? I’d probably pass out…

    Nice work with the lack of TV, and it does save you being bombarded by advertisements. You might get a laugh, but I’ve got a saying I use with people to kind of get them thinking about such matters, and the saying is: They’re not your mates. 🙂 Dunno if it does any good, but it does make me feel better and often puts and end to being on the wrong end of an epic whinge. Phones are tools, the question is that most people miss is: Are you the tool, or is the phone the tool? Hmm. No streaming here, it sounds like something which should be in War of the Worlds. The martians are streaming in… Maybe, might need some more work on that word.

    Quite the quandary, and sometimes I don’t know what to do in such situations. It depends whether I really feel strongly about the injustice. And the pressure to conform with a device was pretty feral down here, so you have my understanding. Basically it got down to me losing my business if I didn’t get a device. Hmm. I often wonder if devices will also be hit by the supply line shocks? Dunno, but things will get interesting if that happens, don’t you reckon? Mate, it is part of the cost sometimes. And I’m thinking long and hard about how we respond and the ability to contact us using devices when it comes to the business. It would have been better if the technology was not abused, but that’s how things roll sometimes.

    Hehe! It’s funny you say that, but that’s one of the options which was chucked onto the table in relation to this matter. As a general rule I believe that lying is a slippery slope and can lead to further trouble, so I’m reluctant to pursue that path. I realise that there is such a thing as a social lie in order to smooth the social waves, but I really don’t know about this. What’s your thoughts in the matter?

    Worms are funny like that. It’s possible they’ve done what needs doing, and then scampered off to better pastures? Dunno. But then there’s a lot of other life in the soil, otherwise the kitchen scraps won’t get turned into top notch soil. Raised beds tend to encourage worms to dig deeper anyway, and that’s probably really good for the drainage in the soil in those beds. Dunno.

    Ah, the contacts list. Wise! Are you tempted to add to your collection now that you’ve freed up some space?

    Apparently quilts. Who knew? Such a hobby would take a lot of space. The part of the world he lives in looks idyllic.

    She might be checking for rodents? Dogs have their habits and patterns. The lot here were running around for most of the day and are now out cold asleep. We continued work on the garden terraces, hung the new wider gate, did a lot of landscaping (i.e. me digging and moving soil) and poured another cement step. It’s all looking good. And confirmed: There’s space for another three roses. There was some minor disagreement about the roses today, but all happily now resolved. Hey, I pulled a few strawberry plants out of the greenhouse and replaced them with some seedling chilli and eggplants. Had the first raspberries today. Picked a good hand-full. So tasty. It’s still not warm, but at least the sun shone with force and the rain held off. The rain looks set to return Thursday, but until then. Sun, sun, sun, sun, woo, ooo, woo, sun. 🙂

    Hey you might get a white Christmas with that sort of weather forecast?



  44. Hi Pam,

    Sorry to say, it’s true. We actually emptied the firewood storage this year. It’s been a bit nippy this year, that’s for sure. There’s heaps of cut, split and ready to go firewood, but it’s not 100% dry (or more technically down to a moisture level of about 14%).

    Hey, at least you can cook using firewood. During the depths of winter, it is quite nice to have a wood heater roaring and a fresh bread loaf cooking away in the oven powered by the firewood. I miss the wood oven and stove top.

    That is a super fancy arrangement. Is it one of those fancy induction cookers? We use one of those and they’re amazing, although they don’t work with every pot, something to do with steel. A science hot plate, no doubts? 🙂 The last gas cylinder 45kg / 99 pounds I think cost about $200, so best not to use the stuff, although it is an option for cooking during the depths of winter when there isn’t much sun.

    A person does so enjoy their creature comforts in life! 🙂



  45. Yo, Chris – We have drivers hit buildings often here. Usually, they’re drunk on their a____. 🙂

    Things pile up. If you’ve got a good spot for a city, and it gets destroyed, sooner or later someone else comes along and builds another city, on top of the ruins. In the Middle East, that’s called a “tell.” The city of Troy has 9 major layers, and 46 sublayers. In Rome, you have to dig 7 to 11 meters deep, to get to the Roman layer. I liked the article about the farmer who found a mosaic, under his olive orchard in Gaza.

    James Michener (now a rather neglected writer) wrote a book called “The Source,” which told a great chunk of the history of Israel, through the excavation of a fictional tell.

    Baker’s dozen. I suppose to avoid mentioning the unlucky number. In our Louisiana, there’s “lagniappe,” which in Cajun-French means, “a little extra.” Laissez les bons temps rouler! (Let the good times roll.)

    Sure you have streaming. Any time you watch a U-Tub video, it’s streaming.

    Oh, I’m sure sooner or later I’ll be backed into a corner (as you were) and will have to get a device. Unless I die first. It will probably be some reason that is small and dumb.

    I think when I’m caught in a social lie, my response is to just shrug.

    So far, I’ve resisted the temptation to add anything more to my collections. And, it hasn’t been much of a strain. There are a few things I need to round off this and that. Replace some of the stainless I bought in 1968. I’ve got two lamps that need the correct finials. A few other odds and ends.

    Ken Burns collects quilts? Who knew. Well, New Hampshire can get quit cold. 🙂

    Lucky you! Raspberries are just so nice. And the jam! Sunshine in a bottle.

    I picked up two books (imagine that), at the library, this morning. “Chasing Plants: Journeys with a Botanist Through Rainforests, Swamps, and Mountains.” (Thorogood, 2022). Looks interesting. Lots of photos and illustrations. The other book I got was “Nagasaki: The Forgotten Prisoners.” (Willis, 2022). There were “…hundreds of British, Australian, American, and Dutch prisoners of war were working as forced labourers close to the weapon’s detonation point.” I’ve heard bits and pieces of that story, over the years.

    Yup. There’s snow in our forecast from tomorrow (Sun.) through Wednesday. White Christmas? Still a bit far out, to predict. I feel sorry for those who feel they “must” travel, if we do get a white Christmas. Lew

  46. Hi Lewis,

    Who’d have thunk it? I guess dodgy artful stories based on total untruths are easier on the people making them up, than ‘yeah, sorry mate, was drunk as a skunk’. Does your Club deal with the intersection of reality versus what goes on in a persons mind? I’d be curious to hear about that aspect? There’s a song from many years ago about this very subject. Dunno whether you’ll be up for hearing it, so no stress, but the band was Cold War Kids and the song was We Used to Vacation. It’s honest.

    Thanks for that, I’d not heard of the word ‘tell’ used that way before in archaeology. Gotta say, reading about it and looking at the photos produced goose bumps, and in the background I couldn’t quite shake off the echo’s in my mind of Percy Shelley’s, “Ozymandias” sonnet. Yikes! Guess there won’t be much left of the stuff we’re doing now, in another millennia or so. Time is a hungry beastie. Best to enjoy, whilst we can – a workable philosophy if I may say so.

    I recall James Michener’s novels. Real door stoppers, you know I’ve never read one. If you had to choose one book, which would you recommend? Time is kind of in short supply here, sorry. There was a film we discussed many years ago, and it had a weird time travel element to it, and one of the characters used his extra time to read the classics. All of them. There are worse things a person could do.

    Is thirteen really an unlucky number? I’ve heard such stories and never quite understood how they came to be. Makes little sense to me.

    Well, yes that’s absolutely true and I appreciate the correction. utoob does provide streaming services, the behemoth behind it must make mad cash somehow otherwise the service wouldn’t be free. I do wonder about the future of such business models. Anyway, I have noted that they do charge for movie length clips, so yeah.

    Thanks for the French lesson, and makes the sensitive person wonder whether hedonism is in? Did it ever fade from view?

    Well yeah, man they sure got me that day with the ‘get device, or lose income’ gear. What do you do? The thing with pushing that agenda is that the authoritas set the seeds of their own destruction. Now if they listened to me, I’d have some good advice for them, but they don’t. And you’re spot on, the reason will be small and dumb seeming. You know, you can shut those babies down, and switching them off is no hardship, believe me – but you already know this.

    Fair enough, I was just curious as to your thoughts as to the moral and ethical concerns of social lies? I really don’t know and hold no fixed opinions in the matter.

    Your strength in resisting the temptation to collect is admirable. I was wondering if you cleared out space in order to lend a touch of focus to what you already had, but that was a vague sort of guess.

    Hehe! Yes, indeed, and truth to tell, I wouldn’t have a clue as to how to navigate such cold winter weather. All the stories of snow inches this and that, make me feel summer soft. It’s been a cold and wet year here, but it wasn’t that cold.

    We moved about sixty of the raspberry canes, so I’d hope we’d get enough berries to make jam, but reality suggests that things may be otherwise. Raspberry jam is a fave, but blackberry jam is no slouch either. And blackberries are more reliable plants.

    That I can imagine! 🙂 Plant collectors are a special breed of person. Yup! I had not heard of the story of those POW’s before. Historically it is not unheard of for combatants to use POW’s as human shields, best not to become one in the first place. Did any survive?

    People put a huge bunch of stress on themselves at Christmas time. They bring that poop onto their own heads. It kind of reminds me of the inability to properly plan for farm succession planning. Ya can’t please everyone.

    Headed down into the forest today and ran about half of the stuff the tree dudes did through the scary old wood chipper. I love that machine. Yesterday I noticed in the nearby area that someone’s burn off had gotten out of control. I don’t need to be told a second time, although plenty of people seem to want to.



  47. Yo, Chris – A person’s sponsor might call them out on untruths. In private. Open meetings tend to be more unconfrontational.

    “Ozymandias” is a great piece of literature. Often cited. The emperor Hadrian visited the Colossi of Memnon. A “noble” lady in his party wrote a poem and had it engraved on the foot of one of the statues. Talk about ugly tourists. Not such great literature. Basically, “we were here, the Emperor is a great guy.” 🙂

    You jogged my memory. I meant to comment on Mr. Greer’s post, from last week. About poetry. And the importance of editing. I read a selection of the comments, and wondered if anyone had gotten around to mention Japanese Haiku. Much easier to tackle than a sonnet, but it still has structure. Three lines, with a 5, 7, 5 syllables structure.

    LOL, I knew you were going to ask me about which Michener book to select. Oh, gosh. Which part of the world would you like to know more about? Poland? Ireland? Alaska? Colorado? Texas? Mexico? Hawaii? The form of his books are often like Lofts “Wayside Inn.” The history of a place told through following two or three families, down through history.

    Thirteen became an unlucky number, according to some sources, due to “…famous but undesirable dinner guests.” Of course, most often cited is Judas, at The Last Supper. But in Norse myth, Loki was the 13th to arrive at a feast.

    Although U-Tub has a lot of free movies, many of them have small rental fees … which really pile up.

    So, why am I getting rid of a lot of my stuff. Well, I’m 73 … 🙂 Less for my executor to deal with. Also, if they close this place up, or, I get bounced out due to some infraction of the rules, I’d probably end up in a studio apartment. Or, renting a room from someone. There’s also the possibility of an earthquake. We haven’t had a good shake in over 20 years. I’d rather get some money out of all this stuff, rather than it all be broken on the floor. So, that’s my thinking.

    Not seeing any snow, yet. The forecast is snow (maybe), this afternoon or evening. And for the next four days, it’s in and out of the forecast. We’ll see. This morning H and I are headed down to the Club, so I can put the pantry back together.

    Quit a few of the Nagasaki POWs, survived. Even though one camp was just a mile from ground zero. And, another was just five miles away. Several of them just happened to be working on underground structures, that day. The author also speculates that by the time anyone made it to a prison camp on the Japanese mainland, these guys were real “survivors.” Had a survivor mentality. Several of them lived into their 90s, and a few even topped 100. Lew

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