Social Debt

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. When new behaviour rears its head, you begin to wonder what exactly is going on. Had a couple of different people phone-bombing me and that’s a new thing. This is the gentle art of calling a lot, over a very short period of time about a single issue. It’s been my experience that the people doing the calling generally brought the situation down on their own heads. That’s cool, except they expect me to help them out, and aren’t afraid to nag me to get what they want. It doesn’t hurt to ask, a refusal however, often offends. And phones can be switched off.

The past couple of years of crazy lockdowns hasn’t been good for people’s mental health. And things here were worse on the lockdown front, than pretty much anywhere else on the planet. A dubious achievement. All that time stuck alone in their own heads has produced some weird outcomes in the population. It’s expressing itself now as a not-so-quiet self absorption. Quite the cultural shift. Makes the sensitive person look on in horror at the goings on and wonder what the future holds in store.

It’s a truth universally acknowledged, that everyone has problems of one kind or another. Can’t be helped. The thing is, part of my paid work which keeps this juggernaut of a farm afloat, involves helping people. In that situation, people exchange mad cash for the assistance, and the relationship is well understood and functions reasonably well.

Then, of course there are relationships with charities. That’s a different kind of relationship. Less personal and not as clearly defined. Long term readers will recall that many years ago, when Sir Poopy, the large Pomeranian (who was actually a Swedish Lapphund) died, we visited a dog shelter and sought a replacement dog. We’re not fussy about such matters as to a particular breed, age etc. We’d had a long term relationship with the shelter, and they’ve benefited financially from that relationship. Weirdly and despite the good record, the numpties made it super hard to get a new dog from them. Ditched that idea, and instead went to some pro-life animal shelter and ended up with the pup Ollie. No, despite their claims, he wasn’t a cattle dog, he is an Australian pig hunting dog, more technically known as a Bull-Arab. Not a dog breed for everyone. However, he’s a true gentleman of a dog, despite his fearsome looks. The thing not understood was, why was the original dog shelter acting so ‘too-cool-for-school’? Makes little sense to me, but it was up to them to manage that relationship, and they were reminded of it. And now we have the delightful Ollie. The shelter is now complaining that they have too many dogs. Hmm.

Friends on the other hand, rarely ask me for help. Happy to help, but there’s a price for that help. And experience has suggested that it saves a lot of problems if that outcome is understood up front. Don’t hassle me for the small stuff is the message, and it ain’t gonna be free. That’s a social debt.

Money does weird things to a relationship. The Big J said that the meek shall inherit the Earth, and he might be right about that, haven’t seen the will details myself. But, four years of working in debt collection back in the recession of the early 1990’s (when there was no other work available) showed me in no uncertain terms that when it comes to money and debt, meekness doesn’t stop people from lying their backsides off as to why the debt isn’t being repaid.

Nope, after that experience, not even friends can get a loan out of me. Won’t end well, that’s for sure. An acquaintance on the other hand, has even less chance, but that was the case with one of the pesky phone-bombers over the past week or so. Talk about a nuisance. Even wanted to leave some item here as surety that the loan would be repaid. Those were the words used. However, in my head the concept looked like: So you’ll leave this piece of garbage which isn’t worth much in exchange for mad cash? Don’t think so, do I look like a pawn shop to you?

That loan ain’t gonna happen, it’ll only end in tears. Probably mine. The problem though is that in the future we might have to have interactions with the acquaintance. Not sure how that will all work out, but time has a way of sorting these problems out. People sure can be difficult.

I haven’t had a break from paid work for longer than a couple of days, going on for about three years now. Recently we made arrangements to shut the business down for about a month whilst we take a well earned break. The phone and emails were switched off. I’ve had a few days off now, and can report that other than a few minor hiccups, it’s quite pleasant.

Work around here doesn’t stop though. The final two cement steps were poured on the new staircase leading into the garden terraces. It’s nice to have completed that staircase, if only because it had been begun over a year and a half ago. What can I say other than, we’ve been busy!

The final two cement steps were poured for this concrete staircase

The fencing near to the new staircase is also in the process of being constructed. Two fence posts were cemented into the ground, and the area was landscaped (i.e. excavated) so that the ground matched the existing terrace. Clods (also known as Sods) were used to build up the height of the upper fencing terrace.

The author uses clods so as to build up the height of the uppermost terrace

A new concrete staircase was begun at the far end which links one terrace to another. Three cement steps were poured this week, with one more yet to be constructed before the staircase is completed.

A new staircase was begun. The fencing is not yet completed

In the above photo you can also see that two rock walls leading to the new staircase now line the garden beds. Crushed rock with lime was applied to the path so as to give an all weather surface. It looks pretty neat.

Looking downhill, the new staircase can be seen curing in the summer sun, as well as the new path and now wider access gate.

The new wider access gate can be seen on the very right hand side middle of the photo

There’s only a day or so of work left to complete the garden terraces. A bit of fencing, one more cement step, plus sorting out the upper path. Looking forward to getting this job done.

A few days ago we harvested the first of the seasons ripe raspberries. It’s been something of a cold and wet year, so expectations of the raspberry harvest are low. However, the ever reliable blackberries look set to produce another epic harvest.

Blackberries look set to produce another good harvest

When the sun shines, the insects are out in force and the air hums with life.

A butterfly enjoys the flowers on this Balm of Gilead

Onto the flowers:

The Roses are beginning to perk up this week in the sunshine
The garden beds produce lots of enjoyable colour
Ixia’s produce quite bright flowers
Geraniums really love the sunshine

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 18’C (64’F). So far this year there has been 1,408.6mm (55.5 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1,392.2mm (54.8 inches)

41 thoughts on “Social Debt”

  1. Yo, Chris – “Neither a borrower or lender be.” I thought Ben Franklin might have said that. He did. But he ripped it off from Shakespeare. Hamlet. Not to be confused with small pigs. But old Ben did have a lot to say about borrowing and lending …

    You are a true cement maven. At least when it comes to stairs. You just knock those puppies out. Ever dream of cement?

    More a rock border than a rock wall. Don’t want the rocks getting ideas above their station 🙂 .

    Yup. Looks like you’ll be rolling in blackberries. Just remember to give the clusters a little bump, before you pick them. In case there’s any wasps or bees hiding in there.

    The butterfly is really pretty. As are the roses. Geraniums come in so many forms. Ever counted how many different species you have on the place? New Years Day can be a day for different kinds of nature census. You could count Geraniums. Or, birds.

    I took H out for her walk at 5:30pm. It’s dark, by then, these days. And guess what? Snow was coming down. Looked very pretty in the street lights. But it’s so far, a wet snow. I got quit damp, due to SOMEONE lollygagging around and not attending to business. 🙂 Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    It’s a good quote isn’t it? Definitely the Bard himself penned that one in Hamlet. Wise advice too. The quote from old Ben which resonated the most was: “If you know how to spend less than you get, you have the philosopher’s stone.” That’s how it rolls here, and not many people can ditch the spend if things get really tight. Speaking of inertia, I hear that in your country car loans are what, seven years now? Down here, that form of financing can be paid out early, but the whole lot has to be repaid – interest and all. I tend to have the gut feeling that hard times are coming, but the complexity of the debt and difficulty of extracting oneself from, may act as a break on sending asset prices plummeting. Could be wrong though, but that’s my best guess at this stage.

    Hehe! We have two timber form-works for the cement steps now (another was made only recently) and so we can do two steps per day (albeit on different staircases). Finished that latest staircase this afternoon and did the upper garden border (thank you for the correction, and yes I agree) and path. It’s funny you mention rock walls, but there is a project soon to be embarked upon which should be a proper rock wall, although opinions may vary. I’m trying to work out whether we should hire in a machine to assist with the job or not. Probably give it a go using the machines we have and see how it goes. Best to try first.

    You may notice that we’re tidying things up and getting some unfinished projects finished. Maybe it is just me, but I don’t really enjoy having too many half done projects hanging around. Makes me feel slightly uneasy…

    Went to the pub this evening for pizza and pint. It’s a really lovely night tonight and we’re letting the fresh warmer air into the house. Shame about the plentiful elderberry flowers as they’re a touch err, fragrant, but you can’t have everything can ya? The sunset is awesome, all oranges and deep blues.

    Yikes! Yeah I’m acutely aware of insects and many of them are rather formidable little critters. Truth to tell I’m feeling it right now because last weekend the weather was bonkers cold and Ollie and I sat on the grass enjoying the feeble efforts of the supposedly summer sun (which felt hot today by the way). Anyway, a fricken’ ant bit me on the backside and I’m a bit sore and itchy. Yes, tiny little things can spray and inject formic acid. I don’t recommend the experience.

    Thanks! I can’t really say for sure in relation to the geraniums because they do flower at different times of the year, but they really do form part of the backbone of some of the garden beds. Super hardy plants. And there’s heaps of variety. I’m hoping to see if any form new varieties, but so far no luck. One of them when the leaves are brushed against smells like lemon sorbet. Quite pleasant.

    The sun seems to be setting here at about 9.30pm, the horizon is an ominous burnt orange colour now, and strangely the blue is now a lighter shade. Just saw a bat do a fly by.

    H will require a serious talking to after such a recalcitrant display. Hope you weren’t too harsh on her? That’s a new word! Never heard that one before: lollygagging. Dawdling, yes I can see that. Seems that back in the day it had another definition along the lines of: nookie. Isn’t the language full of fun?

    Thanks for that insight as to how the Club operates when untruths take place. I have to say, it’s quite wise to call a person out in private. Very wise indeed, the more public form of that is an exercise in public humiliation and people do that for different outcomes.

    It is a great sonnet isn’t it? Really quite something. And yes, not much of a poem that act of graffiti. Sent me on a inteweb rabbit hole on Marcus Aurelius, yes, yes, must read meditations one day, and the Antonine Plague.

    I see, the Japanese form has been converted into haiku in English with similar structure and tempo. Interesting.

    Hehe! Good guess, and what a decision I have to make here. Not sure I’m up for any history at the moment. I’ve begun reading George Orwell’s book 1984. He either had a vision, or made some damn fine guesses. Such a strange book. I read it during high school as an English class text, and after some honest soul searching, I was probably a bit young to really understand the contents of the book – as most people probably are at that age. It is truly astounding how many of his ideas came alive, or are being mooted as the way of the future. There was even a reference to meat which isn’t quite meat, and you’re left unsure as to what it was. The book is littered with all manner of odd notions which are taking shape around us. It was hard not to chuckle at the reference to sentences not beginning with a capital letter, whilst punctuation and spelling are abysmal. Yes, a person can’t be too certain, but I’d imagine the author intended the book as a warning, and not as a how-to manual. Maybe?

    Loki is a complicated fellow to talk big in that mead hall. But then perhaps the fool can say things to the king which need saying, yet nobody dare do so. Judas got a bad rap.

    True. I watch very infrequently and so any pay-per-view is small change. It astounds me that the utoob service is mostly free. Ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

    Very thoughtful for your future executor. Hey, what a strange word. After typing it out, I did a double take and checked upon the spelling. The little word ‘execute’ lies within that word, which of course has two meanings. Bit grim really. Respect, having a plan B is a good way to sleep soundly at night. And that is a risk. Having experienced a 5.9, I now have a very different view on earthquakes.

    That’s true, there is something in the survivor mentality. Doing what needs doin’ and getting on through during rough times. The brain is a funny old organ isn’t it? Plenty of people don’t know how to do that from what I’m seeing.



  3. Yo, Chris – That quote from Franklin jumped out at me, too. And a lot of those seven year car loans are for used cars. How many used cars last seven years? As with a lot of other things, this will not end well.

    A proper rock wall, and not a gabion? I’m sure it will be functional … and quit pretty.

    Peek-a-boo snow. We got about a half inch of all that wet stuff. But by the time I took H out for a walk at 9:30pm, it was all gone. Before I went to bed (quit late) I took a look, and we’d had another inch fall. When we went out this morning, it was all gone. I think that’s how it’s going to be, for the next couple of days.

    I’ve given up on giving H stern talking to. Now I just hang her by her ears in the closet, for awhile. That seems to get her attention. Sorry about your bum. Maybe, cast iron pants? Bats are so cool. We have a few around here. Along about sunset, they zip by, going about their business.

    To me, it sounds more like choking on a lollipop.

    Translating a Haiku out of Japanese, into English, and keeping the same syllable count … pity the poor translator.

    I saw a headline that “1984,” is finally available in Russia. And has become a best seller. Yup. Orwell was pretty prophetic. But then, so was Star Trek 🙂 .

    Speaking of which … I’ve started watching “Star Trek: Discovery” season four. We have a new anomaly. Gravitational anomalies. Also in library news, the book “Best Food Writing, 2022” is in transit, to me. I should pick it up tomorrow or Wednesday. Weather allowing.

    I’ve been reading “Chasing Plants.” I could have skipped the first 50 pages. The author is enamored with parasitic and carnivorous plants. All well and good. But in the first 50 pages, he travels all over the UK, looking for different species of broomrapes. Which I don’t find very interesting. I see toward the end of the book, he’s going to go in search of different kinds of pitcher plants. Much more interesting. But, I must say, his photography is quit good and he’s quit the botanical illustrator.

    There’s been quit a bit of play, in our news, about the skyscraper in Sydney, that was upcycled. Interesting stuff, especially the time lapse photography. I don’t know if you’d be interested, but Atlantic magazine has had an article about the newish needle skyscrapers. I know you have problems with links to The Atlantic. The title of the article is “Can a Building be too Tall.” An alternative title is “How Tall is too Tall?” Author’s name is Bosker.

    A lot of these structures are residential. So … you pay millions for an apartment, only to discover it sways a good three feet in a stiff wind, and the water sloshes out of the toilet bowl. Interesting stuff about the property market for these things. And the engineering, which seems pretty slap-dash.

    I saw a headline that some mechanical engineer is working on a robot, that can harvest raspberries. Lew

  4. Hi Chris,

    As a long time reader, but infrequent commenter, I just wanted to say thanks for your weekly pieces. They truely are a highlight of my week. We share many points of view, particularly around the decline of society in the West, and it’s a catharsis for me to resonate with your words.

    I’m still baffled/astounded/angry etc etc by the actions of voters in our state to return to power the party responsible for corruption and human rights abuses of the last few year. Perhaps there’s truth in the saying the people get the government they deserve.

    Anyway thank you again for another year of notes from Fernglade farm. I hope you enjoy the rest of your break, and have a great festive season.

  5. Social debt- yes, rules aren’t so legally binding or quantified as monetary debt, but entering social debt from either direction should be done with caution.

    I think that some of the jarring disconnects on social norms here are partly because of the rural/urban divide, and of course, fossil fuels have enabled all of us to live in our own solitude (American rugged individualism ) and think we are independent. As fuels go away, many will relearn just how connected they will need to be. The Amish around here lead a tough life compared to the rest of us, and they have decidedly more mutual aid and trading favors than us “English”. But then they’ve been doing it for generations, and all know where the line is.

    Other more recent sellers are trying to figure out a gift economy or doing more bartering, but the “rules” are not commonly held yet, still being worked out, so I’m only slowly doing those sorts of transactions.

    And no matter where, all communities have a few jerks.

    Stone walls- I took a class at the local folk school a few years ago on dry stack stone wall construction. There is some knowledge and some details that will make for a very long lasting structure if followed. I also learned that the bigger the stones the better, and it can be exhausting work. Also hazardous for fingers.

    We are not fortunate to have the vast selection of nice stones on our farm that you do ( peak rock- pfft, not happening at Chez Chris), so I used some discarded tires to build my one decent sized retaining wall. It’s a lot of work too, but cheaper than buying stone from a quarry or landscaping supplier.

  6. Hi Matt,

    It’s been a fun ride hasn’t it? 🙂 Just for some fun light reading I’m delving into George Orwell’s book 1984. Here’s a quote you might find to be interesting: It was inevitable that they (the Party) should make that claim sooner or later (the potential claim was that two and two made five): the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. Thought you might appreciate the quote. Those who know the soil, know reality and have to deal in the world of common sense, plants of course, deny abstractions. 😉

    That’s my take on both the recent Federal and State elections as well. My take away from both of those elections was that the things which concern me, concern only a few. And whilst the results surprised me, the background noise has to deliver the goodies. And when that’s no longer possible, who knows what might happen. Dude, you just gotta roll with the punches.

    Thank you. And if I may be so bold as to mention that I have a bunch of good mates who talk about this stuff once a month online, and once a month in person. You are more than welcome to drop by and say hello, it’s a good fun time. If you’re interested drop me a not for posting comment and I’ll send you the details.

    Hope you have a lovely festive season too and that you can get some time out as well.



  7. Hi Steve,

    You’re a canny one to realise that. 🙂 Of course, it is difficult navigating the realities of a social debt, I hear you. Dunno, but I’ve long suspected that this is why the uptake of monetary debt was embraced so thoroughly – people are looking for an edge with which to gain an advantage when social arrangements can be stretched and twisted. What is of interest to me is that culturally, we revert to social debts when the monetary system comes under severe strain and/or fails. That I believe is why the feudal system keeps popping up time and time again over history. Nothing to worry about in our lifetimes, but it will most certainly make an appearance in the future. I have no doubts about that.

    True, and this afternoon we refilled 30L of jerry cans with petrol and added in the fuel stabiliser. Spent many hours today storing away about a quarter of next years firewood. It’s a system which we’re getting more proficient at and can use electricity for if so desired, but it does require spending some fossil fuels to bring the firewood back up the hill. Those invisible horses (horse power) aren’t without their feeding needs!

    Honestly, that is one of the issues I wonder about up in this remote little corner of civilisation. There are some neighbours who’d and do happily co-operate, and then there are the others. Some of those have some pretty good equipment and know how to use it and that’s a good thing, but then there is another lot which it kind of looks to me as if their ideas as to their capabilities exceeds reality. And I have no idea as to why they act the way they do given the complexities of living up here. I’ve said to one of such folks: One day you might need my help. Sounds like a curse, but it was merely a statement of reality. Dunno, a real mystery. Maybe the challenges aren’t all that great – at the moment. Hey, if Amish were living around these parts, I’d go out of my way to get to know them and see what arrangements could be made.

    Wise to wade in slowly with those sorts of transactions.

    Far out! I so hear you about that. It’s how things have always been and always will be.

    Courses like that one can be a lot of fun, can’t they? Years ago I did a course with a real old timer orchardist, and wow it was amazing. And you always learn interesting things with the old timey skills. We’ll be beginning the new rock wall soon, and the idea is to incorporate the largest rocks lower down in the retaining wall – I’m onto that common sense aspect of the use of rocks! 🙂 Mate, I have no idea whether we can even move the rocks with the equipment we have, but we’ll give it the good Aussie go. And if that fails, I’ll hire a machine to move them. But they will be moved and the rock wall will be built, of that I have no doubt.

    Used tires are a great idea and economics plays into things here too and you may note that every failed chunk of infrastructure involves having all of the materials recovered and then re-used. I assume you had to pack the tires out with clay / soil etc? I’ve watched houses made from such material rise up out of the Earth, and they look great. Hey, I’ll have you know that peak rocks is a real thing here. 🙂 We do have to go further afield and expend more energy to get access to quality rocks. And splitting the granite is hard work, no getting around it.

    I just hope that the volcano which provided all these nice rocks really is extinct. Imagine doing all this work to have it swamped by a layer of lava? Ook!



  8. Hi Lewis,

    Well the serious folks do have to maintain a serious air about them, lest we see the gritty reality. 🙂 I thought that they were all great finds and discoveries, but I must say that the nod to the 30,000 year old long deceased girlfriend rather amused me the most. To think that the figurine survived after so many millennia, when fabled swords and enchanted amulets were melted down for their base metals, quite tickles my fancy. I have a hunch that our predecessors had quite the sense of humour about them.

    What? Well that’s news to me, I’d not heard that seven year loans applied to second hand cars and had only believed that they were used for new vehicles. Ouch. Not good. Over the past decade or so I’ve formed solid theories based on experience as to how long a vehicle should last.

    The edition I’m reading of George Orwell’s book 1984, was printed in 1981 and today during a late lunch, a few yellowing pages fell out. Oh well, might have to do something about that. It’s kind of ironic given the story. The Editor has only just realised we don’t own a copy of John Wyndham’s book ‘Day of the Triffids’. Yes, yes, all very inexcusable, or more correctly put: doubleplusungood. 😉 I must say 1984 is a fine read, and I was just too young when first I read it. Nowadays as a crusty old cynic, with a very upbeat personality, it’s an intriguing read, let’s put it that way. And I agree, Star Trek did likewise insert ideas into the culture. I quite enjoy a good Trek story.

    It’s getting on dusk and the magpies were cracking the sads. Ollie and I went out to investigate, and he chased off a fox. I don’t mind the foxes because they, like the dogs, keep the rabbit population in check. But I also have to keep in good with the magpies who alert me to other goings on. It’s a complicated bunch of mutual obligations, but so far it seems to work. The foxes know that they have the night and that is theirs, whilst the dogs have the day. Talk about pushing boundaries.

    Thanks! I’m looking forward to beginning the new large rock wall. It’s a project which has been on the to-do list for quite a while, and the time has now come to get ‘er done. A lot of other projects feed materials into that rock wall, so it’ll take shape over the next few months. No major hurry, maybe. Over the next few days we’ll test if the machines we have can do the work. Dunno. And weirdly I discovered that the plough blade will fit onto the super grunty yellow power wheelbarrow. Never thought to even look whether it was an option until this morning when I noticed the holes in just the right place on the machine. A mystery because the yellow machine is not sold or advertised with accessories. Weird that the plough blade will fit.

    Put away into dry storage about a quarter of the years firewood needs today. A big job, and the air was cool, but the sun sure did have some bite, being extreme UV and all that.

    That’s funny about the peek-a-boo snow! I can see that, and your environment is slowly cooling down. I reckon you might get some snow sticking around in the next month or two. Hmm. August is always the month we get the coldest snaps despite it being on average warmer than July.

    Sure you do! 🙂 H would complain, loudly at such treatment. Hehe! Dogs don’t listen, do they? All this wisdom stuck in our heads and the canines look at us and go: Human do’ ‘no nuffin’ anywhoo! 🙂 I’m sure H is very well behaved, most of the time.

    I brought the whole ant bite business onto myself, so mustn’t grumble. Thought I should mention it in case any distress comes through in my writing. Blame the ant. Nothing here will rip you limb from limb and eat you, like in your country. Nup. Everything is small and super venomous. Same, same, but different. And the ants are little warriors.

    I agree, it does sound like choking on a lollypop. A very strange euphemism.

    Ook! The art of translating is not a skill I can lay claim too, and can but merely look on, admire and applaud the skills of others.

    Hope the food book is good. I’m sure it will be.

    Not saying that an image of a broomrape close up resembles a Triffid, but there is something in there. Certainly inspired by. Thanks for mentioning the plant, and I’ll eradicate it if ever it dares show it’s toothy face around these parts. But yeah, does such a plant require 50 pages? The collector and enthusiast has to navigate the world and find the middle ground when communicating about such matters. It’s there to be found and most people work it out.

    I hadn’t heard of the upcycled skyscraper in Sydney. Watched the time lapse of the construction, but will add that cantilevers make me feel very unsettled. I just don’t trust them. What’s wrong with putting some solid supports like posts under heavy structures? It’s like those floating cabinets in that I do wonder if they’ll pull the supporting wall over. A couple of feet supporting the weight under the cabinet, wouldn’t hurt.

    Did you know that there are limits as to how tall trees can grow? Turns out that the biology of the trees themselves means that they hit an upper limit before the tree is able to pump water up into the highest reaches. Wow! The article blew me away, although the Atlantis did not allow me to read it. I must confess to feeling mildly nauseas as to the entire concept. Seriously, such a place I could not live in with any ease. And I could not trust that there had been no major faults with the construction, but that is a belief rather than reality, after all the things are standing… And the window washer story…

    Mr Kunstler wrote, I believe, that we construct the biggest things, just prior to the biggest fall – or words to that effect. I really feel queasy reading about the supertalls.

    Can’t imagine how a robot would pick raspberries, and could it be cheaper than actual human pickers? Dunno about that.



  9. Yo, Chris – Those discovery lists are kind of fun. I thought of a few things, that didn’t make the lists. But then it turns out they were discoveries from 2021. Time flies …

    They don’t make books like they used to. Or, not that often. I wouldn’t feel too bad about not having a copy of “Day of the Triffids.” I can’t say I’ve ever run across a copy, anytime, anywhere. Of course, the next boot sale, and there it might be. Ya just never know ….

    Yes, best let the magpies know you pay attention, to things. Your notice is their payoff. Well, that was a pleasant surprise about the plow blade and the wheelbarrow. Someone must have slipped up :-).

    No more snow, overnight, or this morning. H and I will head down to the Club and see if there’s any biscuits and gravy. I’m going to need to be well fortified. Elinor is coming home (again), today. Looks like I’ll be sucked into some of the drama. Then it’s live on edge until the EMTs haul her off, again. Sigh.

    Big buildings with no supports make me nervous, too. Luckily, I don’t have to deal with them. And all that waste space. You know, they say that about some people, too. “No visible means of support.” 🙂

    Well, that’s been cleared up. I never know quit what to call a store like Sunbirds. I mean, it’s got a lot of stuff, but it isn’t exactly a department store. And, I generally think of general stores, as smaller. But I ran across a term the other day, that I think fills the bill. “General-merchandise store.” That “feels” right. Lew

  10. @Pan and Claire
    Thanks for the kind thoughts.
    Yes, Pam, this definitely comes with our age.


  11. Hi Chris,

    Yeah loaning money in general isn’t a good idea especially to friends and relatives. My sister, Kathleen, the one who is so sick now had a large settlement from the construction company her first husband worked for. He was killed when the trench for a sewer he was working in caved in on him. Kathleen is way too generous and loaned many people money much of which to her deceased husband’s family. Very little ever got paid back and no one who she loaned money to has anything for her now when she needs it.

    Doug and I borrowed money from my mother for a car loan when we were young. It was a good deal for all of us as she got a higher interest rate than the bank and we got a lower interest rate than a conventional car loan. She had the payment schedule all printed up and we paid on time throughout the loan. We also borrowed a small amount from Doug’s parents when we bought our first house which at that time carried a 13% interest rate on our mortgage and that was a good deal. We also paid them back on time. When Doug’s mom passed away a few years ago she had appointed me as executor of her estate. She had documentation from the loans that all three of her sons but only Doug and I had paid it back. Her will stipulated that the outstanding loans of Doug’s brothers be deducted from their third of her estate. I think Doug and I are exceptions though. We’ve never wanted debt and whenever there was any extra money we paid off more debt so by the time we were in our early 40’s the only debt we had was our mortgage.

    Speaking of my sister, the steroids have helped but not enough so her doctor is trying to find something else.

    We are on a winter storm watch. Last night it sounded like Thursday through Saturday were going to be horrendous and dangerous. Twelve to eighteen inches of snow, winds with gusts to 50 mph and rapidly falling temperatures to below zero. Today it doesn’t sound quite as bad so we are crossing everything. Still it could change. When I was teaching students and teachers looked forward to snow days with great anticipation. The day before a predicted heavy snow kids and teachers alike were talking about how we’d spend our day off. Often the storms didn’t materialize but on the other hand a surprise one would materialize which was even better. I’d get up in the morning waiting for the call from the principal who would call and say “go back to bed, school is called off.” There were always 5 snowdays built into the school calendar each year. If they weren’t used we’d get out sooner. Now that everyone spent a year teaching remotely snow days are a thing of the past. Too sad.


  12. Hi Chris,

    Happy summer solstice! I wish you many lovely summer days with enough heat to ripen bushels of tomatoes!

    The same storm that Margaret mentioned will hit us on Thursday and Friday. While we won’t get as much snow here as she and Doug will, we will get enough snow, coupled with strong winds and extremely cold weather for December in St. Louis, that we could see near blizzard conditions at times on Thursday. Here’s a link to Climate Connections, the weather blog I like the best, describing the storm that will hit Margaret and I:

    It includes some information about the storm’s expected impact on Chicago (near Margaret) and St. Louis. Mike and I had been married less than a year when the 1989 storm he mentions was forecast, and we were planning to drive down to Florida to visit my parents while the storm was raging. At that time he was working nights and I was working days. On my way home from work the day before we were to leave, I heard enough about the storm to realize that we needed to leave that evening and drive as far east as we could, to get ahead of the storm. I told Mike that when I got home and we went into action. It was the right decision; when we woke up the next morning a few hundred miles east, it was cold but not snowing. We made it the rest of the way to my parents’ house staying ahead of the storm the whole time.

    The local weather office is comparing the expected low temperatures to those we received in January 2014, the last time the lows got as cold as they are supposed to get. Our glassed-in front porch hadn’t seen temperatures that cold in the few years we’d had it. I made the mistake of leaving my citrus trees in containers on the porch during that cold wave. All but the Meyer lemon tree died. Knowing that, today I brought the three remaining citrus trees, including that same Meyer lemon, into the basement, where they will live for awhile, perhaps until February. The porch stays pretty cold for a month or so past the winter solstice, and the citrus trees are dormant, so they can deal with the low (but above freezing) temperatures and dim light in the basement. It’s easier and safer to keep them in the basement until the sun gets high enough in the sky again to reduce winter’s grip.

    It’s times like this when I am really glad we have a wood heater. We put a small rack on the back porch and moved some wood from the wood shed to the rack, so we don’t have to venture outside during the storm. If the electricity goes off, we’ll still be warm and we can make a hot meal and hot drinks in the house.


  13. Chris,

    Congrats on a month away from the paying job. Enjoy.

    I’m tired. Lots of snow removal again. The Princess headed to her brother’s a day early to avoid the storm. She still got stuck in its leading edge Monday. The normal 3 to 4 hour drive took 8 hours. UGG.

    We officially got something more than another 10cm of snow this round, forcing the city to send out the plows for all roads for a third time. And that’s before winter has “officially” started.

    Can’t get from here to Seattle without going through Oregon. All the Washington passes are closed due to the snow. And the Seattle-Tacoma airport is cancelling and delaying flights. Not that I was thinking about travelling there…

    And the deep freeze arrives tonight. Even I will agree that it is getting cold. -19C tonight. -25C Wednesday night. Winds on Thursday with wind chills to about -40C (-40F). Time to get out my moosehide mukluks and the parka I wore in Alaska. It also means keeping a trickle of water running so that the pipes don’t freeze.

    Tired. Time for another senior nap. 😉


  14. Hi DJ,

    Sadly, as I read your comment and clicked on the approve button, I was doing paid work and not taking time off. There are some jobs I just can’t get out of, and today was one of those. Oh well, life wasn’t meant to be easy. But I have things down to the absolute bare minimum.

    You’re getting quite the workout with all that snow removal. Dare I suggest (light heartedly) that you can dump the gym membership! 🙂 Hope Avalanche assisted, or at least made the job less onerous?

    Mate, an 8 hour drive would be my nightmare, and your lady is made of stern stuff to have stoically endured it. I do wonder if at some point in the drive, your lady thought about turning around and heading home?

    The city coffers are perhaps emptying as fast as the snowploughs are returning to the same scene, to face similar quantities of snow. Resources can only stretch so far. My advice given it is this early in the winter season. Have some firewood. Have a system for burning said firewood. Keep the pantry well stocked. Natural fibres are a good thing. And have some way to cook and/or heat water in case the power is out for an extended period. Hashtag, just sayin…

    It was quite a pleasant day here today. 25’C up in the mountains and about 29’C in the big smoke. Went out and did a final dash into the big smoke to stock up on supplies and pick up the coffee grounds. Lunch was a tasty pie and Christmas mince tart. So good. Next week, we’re set to face a 36’C day followed by the first warm overnight. Candidly, I’m a bit winter soft – but not your winter, that’s feral cold.

    Flying! Hehe! Escape to Florida… Or would it be Escape from Florida (hard to tell from here – think the old film Escape from New York).

    On a serious note, I hope your lady and her relatives are OK. Those are no conditions to be out and about. 36’C with no wind to speak of is like a walk in the park by way of comparison.

    Ugg boots wouldn’t hurt either. Are they an Aussie thing? One of my fave winter footwear options. Sheepskin lined, so good, so toasty.



  15. Hi Margaret,

    We are of one mind in this regard, and my experience has lead me to believe that it never ends well. How I interpret the situation is that people ask for a loan, but what they want is a gift.

    I learned the lesson the hard way as a really young teenager. I sold an amplifier to a friend of a friend. When the time to swap the amplifier and the cash came to be, the friend of a friend was short and asked if he could pay me $50 the following week. I asked my mate if he was good for the cash. Turns out my mate misjudged and I couldn’t collect on the lost cash. Better to learn such pain at a young age when it matters not.

    Margaret, I’m so sorry to say this and can only hope that we have enough history that you don’t crack the sads, however… It’s been my experience that many (and not all) folks who come into possession of large sums of mad cash, inevitably lose them. The old timers have a saying about: easy come, easy go. And they’re right, for I’ve seen that play out. Now if you stand way back from that perspective and apply it to the larger civilisation, well let’s just say that it’s not a good look.

    Your mother had a good dose of common sense and wisdom to have arranged matters just so. And I applaud your concern and respect for the arrangements. I would do no less. In a really weird twist of fate, it was me who lent mad cash to my mother, and then had to insist upon the repayment of said loan. She lived beyond her means, but a deal was a deal. Truth to tell, she left me nothing and gave all to my two older sisters. It was a smack in the face.

    But I hear you, the interest rates back in those days were crazy. Sandra and I had a mortgage at a crazy 18%. It was bonkers and we both earned a pittance. One week we sold scrap copper to a scrap metal merchant so as to pay for the weekly groceries. Fortunately I don’t have to worry about such matters these days, but what is interesting was that Sandra saw today a line of cars with trailers lined up waiting to sell off scrap metal. What was once old, is now new again.

    Exactly, we are the exceptions. Respect.

    Oh my gawd. What a nightmare, it’s not good from my perspective. How is your sister holding up under the circumstances?

    Hope your firewood supplies see you through the storm, although I’m sure Doug would have put away heaps. I’m feeling cold just reading about the storm, which seems to have affected a good swath of your country.

    Incidentally, I too would have enjoyed getting that call with those words. It’s funny how as a society we do our best to pretend that sometimes the weather is not as extreme as it is.



  16. Hi Claire,

    Happy summer solstice to you and Mike too! 🙂

    It was a really delightful cool summer’s day down here today. Not a breath of wind, 25’C and very humid, and all round pleasant. Your weather on the other hand sounds like a total nightmare. Once in a generation, and off-the-charts, are not conditions you want to experience on a thoughtless and possibly unnecessary day trip. It sure will be cold, and hope you both stay warm and can avoid unnecessary travel. Not always easy to do so at this time of year.

    Thanks for the sharing your experience of the storm. It certainly leaves a marked impression. I’ve heard similar stories of people fleeing bushfires, and you can almost feel the palpable urgency of just staying ahead of the worst of it.

    Ouch! And it’s hard to know, and with those citrus trees back then, they would have at least been protected from the winds, but even so such cold temperatures are challenging for the plants. I can see how the Meyer Lemon would have survived, but the others, not so much. Citrus aren’t all that cold hardy from my experience and whilst many here have survived -2’C and snowfall, it hasn’t done many of them much good either. We bit the bullet this year and moved all bar three of them (a Meyer Lemon, Pomello and Imperial Mandarin) to the very sunniest spot on the property. And plenty of those have since died, but some have recovered and are now just beginning to show new signs of life so I’m hopeful they’ll do better there. I’m having to face the decision as to whether to pull out the dead ones or not – and do I really need to grow citrus rootstock?

    Putting the trees in the basement is an excellent idea. They’ll be mostly asleep at this time of year anyway. I’d keep an eye on them all the same. Some of the marginal citrus here drop leaves over winter and then regrow them once the summer sun shines with energy. They’re adaptable plants.

    Yes, exactly. So true. Have your firewood handy when you need it. Did I mention to you, that we actually ran out of dry firewood this season. A few days short, is short no matter how you look at it. We have made the decision to do something about this situation. We had plenty of firewood, but nothing left of dry firewood. Burning damp firewood is bad, not only because of the lower energy output (it takes energy to dry the firewood out before it can combust), but the steam produced is very harsh on steel surfaces. Not good.

    Good luck! And I’d love to hear how it goes with your winter weather. A white Christmas sounds nice, until it arrives in the form of a blizzard! 🙂



  17. Hi Lewis,

    Time does fly, that’s for sure. I regularly work with a really lovely lady and we chat a lot during the workday (whilst working, no slack for me) and from about January onwards I begin making the same old joke: It’ll be Christmas soon. I put it to you, does the joke fall into the ‘groaner’ category? It does seem to elicit that response.

    Had something of an admin day today. Went into the big smoke to pick up the coffee grounds and say g’day to the people working there and wish them a merry Christmas and stuff. Then stopped off here and there running various errands and picking up supplies. One of the stops was a big box store hardware. I’m quite the fan of the place, it’s good, and is often described as ‘much loved’. Hardware stores were a real pain before that business kicked off, trust me on this as I had a lot of experience with them. Anyway, I was having a lovely chat with the lady who operated the teller, when another lady working at the store helped me pack up all the stuff. Had to laugh, the cashier said to the other lady who helped out: “You don’t normally help customers!”. It was spoken as an accusation, to which she replied: “I help out some customers”. I must say this was all very good for my ego, because I was well turned out, neatly shaven, wearing my grey rabbit felt Akubra hat. The hat has mojo. Just for a laugh I said: “Ladies, please. And thank you very much, you’re both lovely.” Doesn’t take much to shine in these enlightened days of poor manners and even poorer presentation. When I recounted the story to the Editor, she muttered something about me being an idiot, but it was said in a friendly jovial manner. What a laugh. Glad to finally get home to the quiet of the forest and surrounds. Had to do a few hours of paid work, but that is it for this week. Holidays aren’t what they only once were.

    Hey, and talk about inflation. The copy of 1984 which I’m reading has a new sticker price of $4.95. I’d probably struggle to find a second hand copy of the book for that price nowadays. And new it would be around $20 at a guess, maybe a bit extra for postage, although books are quite cheap to post down under.

    The original book is now 41 years old, and despite the few odd pages disconnecting from the binding, it’s not doing too badly at all. I mentioned to you that the Editor bought me the back collection of Jack Vance books, and that was a very special one-off gift. She was intending to spread it out over a few years, but supply lines being what they are, she made the decision to splurge, and future gifts will probably be much smaller. Anywhoo, the books are reprinted on very low acid paper and so they will hopefully have a very long lifespan. I must say the book purge written about in the book 1984, was very alarming. Not a fan of such actions.

    Thanks. You’ve seen the beeb version of Day of the Triffids haven’t you? I thought that it was a pretty good rendition of the novel. Scared the daylights out of me as a wee young kid in the 1970’s. You are probably made of sterner stuff than I, but we have mentioned War of the Worlds before, so yeah, maybe not! 🙂

    The magpies are switched on and can tell the difference between the dogs too. They hate Ruby, but she did bring that issue onto her own head – and deserves everything the birds can chuck at her, which is a lot. They may lead her into mischief, I have little doubt about that possibility. Oh well, but Ollie, Dame Plum and I, they’ll leave well enough alone, although they keep a close eye upon the activities of Dame Plum. It was Ollie who chased off the fox, and the magpies observed the interaction after calling for assistance.

    Yeah, being able to attach the plough blade to the big yella machine is a bonus I’d not expected. The universe might be trying to tell me something… And you’re right, someone might have slipped up, somewhere.

    Did you get any biscuits and gravy, and did H score any sausage? And curious minds want to know: Did she linger out in the cold, wet and possibly snowy conditions?

    Oh Lewis, mate, I’m so sorry to hear that. I reckon based on your words, we both know how it will play out. You wish it were otherwise, and maybe. But you know. Mate, there have been times I’d set out to help people from themselves, and I dunno, I wanted otherwise, but it just didn’t. And therein lies pain.

    Me neither. Thankfully. Buildings that move around too much make me uncomfortable. I used to work in a tall building which did that, and it also shook from time to time. There were times I felt like this was going to be it, but no, it’s still standing today. And after the earthquake, I have a whole new appreciation for just making these things a touch more solid and less edgy. I mean those super talls have an underlying ethos: Let’s just hope that nothing was stuffed up in the construction and/or design and/or engineering. Humans aren’t all that great at getting things exactly spot on, but you know it’s only an opinion and I’d like to be wrong in that regard. What worries me are the circumstances that you don’t consider.

    General merchandise store sounds good to me. A bit more than a $2 shop! Up here we have a genuine old fashioned general store. I like it, and living rurally suits me to the core.



  18. Yo, Chris – Since everyone is talking about the weather (and no one is doing anything about it … 🙂 It’s supposed to get down to 17F (-8.3C) tonight. And tomorrows “high” is 28F (-2.2C). We’re supposed to maybe get a dump of snow, tomorrow … and freezing rain on Friday.

    The lady you worked with could probably get off with “justifiable homicide.” Groaners. Probably why so many people run amok on the job. 🙂

    I think you just go to the Big Smoke to get your ego stroked. 🙂 Speaking of said Smoke, I caught a bit of some Australian train travelog, at Elinor’s last night. There was quit a segment on Melbourne. Such a lovely city. I put the third season of “My Life is Murder” on my hold list, this week. I see they’re still stuck in New Zealand. I was hoping they’d move the series back to Melbourne. Just another consequence of You Know What.

    I’m not sure if I saw the Beeb version of “Day of the Triffids.” After all, it did come out in 1981 … that was over 40 years ago. But I did see the feature film from 1962. Probably a couple of times, as it was also run on TV. Yup. Pretty scary stuff.

    Yes, H got her sausage from the biscuits and gravy. She’s developed a bad habit of begging for food. I may have to try giving her a “time out” in the truck, to see if I can change that behavior. The last couple of days have been cold, but not wet.

    Elinor came home yesterday, and seems to be doing well. But then, she always does, and then it’s all downhill from there. She’s her own worst enemy. But at 95, I doubt we’re going to see any miraculous character change.

    I baked lemon cookies, and orange cookies, last night. Two dozen of each. I wanted to take some to the kids at the library. The staff rooms are usually awash, with goodies, this time of the year. But the last two years, no, due to You Know What. I measured out the dry ingredients, in two bowls, at the same time. So that saved a bit of time. I’ve tried this recipe before, and it didn’t seem tasty enough, for me. Even with the zest and juice. So I added a few drops of lemon and orange extract. That really jazzed them up. I don’t frost them. Just sprinkle on sugar, before and after baking.

    I started reading the “Best Food Writing 2022”, last night. I think there may be a few gems, in there. Though two of the essays I read were about eating disorders. But there was one I thought you might find interesting, and funny.

    It’s from a blog. I had no problems accessing it last night. This morning, I got “bad gateway” notices. Now, it’s back again. I hope you can access it. Might even provide a solution to a problem you have, from time to time 🙂 “Haterade” is the name of the blog. Lew

  19. Chris,

    Say it isn’t so! I post and you had to work. Jeepers. If you decide that this was my fault rather than a coincidence, please double my membership dues. 😉

    Gym membership? What’s that? I’ve never had one of those. Maybe I should join a gym so I can quit?!?

    Naw, the Princess was not about to even contemplate turning around. We both knew that travelling the next day would have been worse. Much worse. As it turns out, the main highways out of town in any direction were ice rinks and countless accidents the day after she travelled. She might never have made it out of the County before getting smashed by someone driving too fast for the conditions.

    I guess I could burn a wood fire in my barbecue thingies in the doorway to the garage? Seriously, if the power were to go out, the natural gas fireplaces would still provide heat, as would the natural gas stove top. And I could still heat up coffee, tea, food on the stove top. There are also some COleman burners and propane canisters that I could use outdoors if the need arose. I’ve got a LOT of candles, so I wouldn’t be more in the dark than I usually am. 🙂

    I’ve seen Ugg boots here. I prefer my mukluks. I’ve worn them at -30C and my feet were toasty.

    I notice that several of your regulars are going to experience severe winter this week. We’ve escaped (so far) with only light winds. The blizzard conditions Marg and Claire might experience are another story. Scary. I’ve experienced a few of those here: when it IS a blizzard, the temperature drops like a rock and the newly fallen snow is deeper than deep. Not fun. Hope they make it through this ok.

    We’re over 45cm of snow on parts of my garage roof now. UGG. Depending on the forecaster, we’re expecting between 3cm and 25cm of snow Friday and Saturday. Thursday will be too cold to work outside, but Friday will be warm enough that I can get out the roof rake and pull some snow off the garage and also the eaves of the house. Add another 25cm to what’s there, then the expected rains Sunday and Monday and the weight on the roofs will be approaching a bad place. 75cm depth is the maximum with which I’m comfortable and we could be nearing that by Saturday night if I don’t do something first.

    Interesting essay this week. Social Debt. I’ve tried most of my life to build relationships with the businesses I frequent the most. As was your experience with the dog shelter, I’ve been disconcerted when there’s a large downward trend in the business’s attitude toward the customers. Makes no sense…

    I have “loaned” money to a few relatives and friends with the suggestion that if they are unable to pay me back, then they need to help someone else when they’re able to. I treat the “loans” more like a gift to them and don’t expect anything back. Such gifts are NOT routinely given.

    “Money does weird things to a relationship.” Yup. The Old Norse poem for the “F” rune reads “Money causes kinsmen’s quarrel: the wolf is reared in the forest.” It seems people have been making this observation for a long time.

    The new stairs are looking good. A lot of work, that.

    Thanks for the photos. The purples and reds and pinks are always a joy to see. Nice picture of the butterfly, too.


  20. Hi DJ,

    Very funny, yes, consider your membership dues doubled, or was that tripled? 🙂 Nah, there was irony to the situation which was not lost on me.

    Gym membership you ask? Well, I don’t rightly know, but it seems to me to be a place where people drive to, so that they can pay mad cash, so as to spend time on things like walking machines. I can’t confirm this, but if you want to do research for the blog and make a definitive investigation, well, you won’t get paid for your efforts, let’s put it that way.

    Your lady did well to avoid the worst of the storm, but then you two probably can read the weather forecast, and know what to expect. You’d be surprised how many people don’t and can’t know.

    Speaking of weather extremes, we went to the pub for a pint and feed this evening, and there was quite the brief and heavy monsoonal downpour. 13mm today. Will we break the annual rainfall record? Probably not, but it’s getting closer. There’s a couple of 36’C days next week, followed by rain. Looks like a monsoon to me.

    At least you’ve thought about it. The smoke from the barbeque would be a problem, and clearly you understand that. When the power went out for five days around these parts last year, I was amazed by the responses. It was cold, being late winter and all. Out of curiosity, does your natural gas fire require electricity to ignite it?

    Had to look up exactly what was a mukluk and how did it differ from Ugg boots. I see, mukluks are perhaps better in many ways in outdoor conditions, but they have a lot of similarities in the design.

    Dude, how is your -25’C, not severe weather? 🙂 I may need some further insights here because the conditions are so far outside my experience. How bad can it be?

    Do you have a snow rake to remove the load from the roof? I assume that some roofs are not up for the job of supporting heavy snow loads? As something of a handy carpenter, I do wonder about some of the roof designs would handle snow loads. As a very long term fan of Grand Designs UK, I look on at the propensity to use flat roof designs with a sense of horror. I mean, the roof here had to deal with a brief, but very heavy monsoonal like rainfall. Flat roofs, I dunno. The airport just had to deal with 40mm in 20 minutes! Yikes.

    Like you, I follow a similar path with social arrangements and are baffled when people take a big dump on them for sometimes only minimal gains. Still, I have a philosophical outlook which appreciates people giving their hand away for stupid things. Makes life easier. Hey, just in case you thought I was kidding: WA animal shelters issue Christmas plea with record numbers of surrendered pets. WA being the state of Western Australia, but it’s the same over here in the south east. Decline always begins from the edges, and pets are sadly one of those.

    I understand your perspective about the loans, and yes that makes a lot of sense. It’s gone, best to let it go. Letting go can be a strength of character that few people possess. And exactly, sometimes there is charity and that can be what it looks like too.

    I’d appreciate if you gave the poem a bit of explanation. I have my own ideas, but reaching back over such length of years, meanings may be otherwise. In that poem I see the wolf as the rugged individualist who by way of comparison disdains the quarrel by living from it’s wits and innate abilities. Not sure really though.

    My pleasure, and I took some photos of the storm this evening, and the light was almost perfect for photos of the pears and apples etc.



  21. Hi Lewis,

    That’s true, and it’s so slack and unforgiveable. Now, I can recall watching the Back to the Future film franchise, and there were technology promises in there for sure. Like controlling the weather, and hoverboards! Cool. Where’s my hoverboard, that’s what I want to know?

    But holy carp, mate that is some cold weather. And it does sound rather unpleasant. Stay warm, and don’t let H talk you into going out for a walk in that weather. We’ve got a couple of 97’F days next week, and whilst at the pub this evening for a pint and dinner, the brief and heavy monsoonal rain pounded upon the roof. The lights stayed on, and that sure wasn’t the case in other parts of the state where the rain and flooding from the storm was far worse. Should be hot and dry for the next week. Another two thirds of an inch of rain and we’ll equal the highest recorded annual rainfall total here. Will we make it? Let’s find out! The forecast however, is not looking promising. To get this close. It’s not fair, you know.

    I’m going to tell the long suffering lady who regularly puts up with my stupid humour, your amusing quip about justifiable homicide. Hopefully it gets a laugh. I thought it was funny. And there was always the cautionary tale from the series Six Feet Under with the husband who got clopped over the head with a frying pan because he was boring. Not to be lightly forgotten.

    That’s very true about the stoking of the ego, and it’s nice to be appreciated. 🙂 The Editor said something very unlady like about a couple of trolls from the hardware store. Sour grapes anyone? It seemed like a brutal assessment of the circumstances, thus also proving that opinions can vary.

    Some of the train journeys here can be epic. There is one that goes up the centre of the continent, and another which crosses from east to west along the south coast. Not something you’d want to endure in a seat for a few days, no matter how comfy. I would go sleeper cabin, no exceptions. Train travel is a very civilised way to get around. If I ever decide to travel anywhere again, I’d be tempted by a train trip. I’ve never had troubles sleeping on trains or ships, but aircraft, I hate aircraft. So uncomfortable, and do they really need to pack so many people in, so closely? And of course my grandmother programmed my opinions early by taking me to see the film Airport 77, you know the one where the 747 crashed into the ocean and was refloated at the end. Only a few people died. They didn’t count, or weren’t serious actors.

    The Editor has told me similar things about that series. Auckland ain’t Melbourne. For one thing, that NZ city is super hard to get around easily. And yup, that was definitely a you-know-what thing.

    It was a long time ago wasn’t it? Hey, have you ever watched a film after many years and was horrified at how not good it was? I watched the film Caddyshack a few years ago that was a standout. Bill Murray, was of course genius, but the rest, it wasn’t good.

    Dogs can get bad habits. I saw someone at the pub this evening surreptitiously feeding their dog at the table. Not something I’d do, but then I wouldn’t take my dog to the pub in the first place. Imagine Ollie, but then if people were annoying me: My dog don’t like hows you looks. Compared to that, H is probably a true little lady. Dogs beg for food if they have a chance of scoring it. What would be interesting, is to observe if H does so with only certain people. Dogs are good at learning and she’ll figure out which people to beg from based on their actions. That could be useful for other aspects of the Club. H, pet detective. You read that here first. 😉

    Mate, it probably is a bit much to expect change from a 95 year old. The problem with poking the ‘system’ is that there will be a default path response. I’ve long noticed that people seem distraught by the default path response, but the system doesn’t have your back, and the system is set up to provide a default response which is economic. Those are two different outcomes.

    Well done! And did you taste the cookies? I would have. Yum! Hey, that’s a really thoughtful thing to do, and it’s not just the library, from what I’m hearing things are stretched. The Editor went past the scrap metal merchant a second time, and again there was quite the queue waiting to get mad cash for scrap metal. Things are tight in a lot of corners. I’m making a bold prediction as to next year: After the Christmas break, people will begin the process of unloading their positions (or assets etc.) in order to reduce their outgoings in response to the suddenly higher costs of money. It was of interest to me that in the book 1984, the characters are rarely allowed free time to just sit and think and that was tacitly acknowledged. Who knows what dangerous thoughts might pop up? And people are getting some time out over Christmas, unless some crisis intervenes. Thinking time is always good, or possibly bad depending upon your perspective.

    The essay. THE ESSAY! What can I say, we are but in the presence of genius, or possibly crazy, can’t be entirely certain either way. But it was good. Really good. I’m in awe at such writing.

    I’d call that a gem, yes. 😉



  22. Hi, Chris!

    I remember your strange experience with the shelter after Mr. Poopy’s death. I have noticed, as often as not, that shelters guess wrong about the breeds and mixes-of-breeds, but it is easy to see why with the puppies. We have brought home puppies that have turned out to be mighty interesting. As for the too many dogs at the shelter: All during the current unpleasantness I kept hearing of people who were taking home puppies for companionship and something to keep busy with and maybe that is partly what is happening. That happens here in our college town when university lets out after the spring semester. Some of the pets get returned to the shelter.

    On a couple of occasions we loaned money to people and it turned out well. The other times, it was understood by all that it was a gift – so not a loan, no.

    That terrace is a super addition to your garden. We are in the process of shutting down an upper part of the garden, by taking down the fence, that has become all shade. We are building a new section at the back of the property, which has been largely cleared of trees. The trees shading the garden near the house cannot be removed because they are on a slope on a neighbor’s property.

    I am so glad that you are getting some berries.

    Thanks for the flowers, especially the geraniums.

    Merry Christmas!


  23. Yo, Chris – Hover boards are available at your nearest Store of Walls 🙂 Or any on-line outlet. Last year, there was a young man, zipping around our neighborhood, on one. I must say, he did look cool.

    Prof. Mass has an article about what we’re facing over the next day. According to our local forecast, snow might start dumping at 4pm and then turn to freezing rain / ice storm. But, by tomorrow evening, we’ll be back to our usual. Warmer temperatures and rain. Last night it only got down to 21F. When I took H out for her walk, this morning, it was cold, and very dry. No condensation on the car windows, at all.

    If I took a long train trip, I’d also get a compartment. Things are just getting to uncivil and weird “out there” to put up with the Great Unwashed. Speaking of which, Atlantic Magazine had an interesting article. “A National Tantrum at a National Park.” A look at the new incivility through the lens of our iconic national park, Yellowstone.

    “My Life is Murder” is still good. Just not as good as when it was in Melbourne. I started watching a new mystery series, last night. “Magpie Murders.” It’s a little complicated. In the present, a book editor is about to get a book from a famous mystery writer. He dies. Accident, suicide (he had terminal cancer) or murder? The books last chapter is missing. But the book, which takes place in 1953, may provide clues to who murdered the author, in the present. So the film bounces back and forth between the present, and 1953.

    I watched a film way back when, called “Eat the Rich.” (1987.) I ran down a VHS tape, a few years later. And insisted a friend watch it with me. I had to apologize. It wasn’t near as interesting, or funny, as my first viewing.

    I really am going to try and give H a time out, in the truck, next time she starts begging for food. She often begs for attention, but that’s ok. That’s more saying hello to everyone.

    Elinor had some kind of a melt down, yesterday afternoon. Her daughter was there, for quit awhile. But by the time I walked the dog in the evening, she was fine. Better Living Through Chemistry. 🙂

    Sure, I tried the cookies. And once again, they just didn’t taste lemon-y or orange-y enough, to me. I blame the artificial flavors in commercial baked goods. Which make me expect a blast of citrus flavor. I’m going to have to experiment with more extract. And, probably, my taste buds might be a bit old and worn out. I’ll have to see what feed back, I get.

    I read some more of the “Best Food Writing 2022.” An essay about the trauma immigrant kids go through when they take foreign food to school in their lunches. An essay on who really invented Flaming Hot Cheetos (because Inquiring Minds Want to Know … I guess.) And an essay about The Disgusting Food Museum, in Sweden. Which was also about what and why we find some food disgusting. And, an essay about the Japanese practice of mokushoku … silent dining in restaurants. Which was an outgrowth of You Know What.

    I wonder if we’ll lose our power, during the ice storm? We might. But, being in town, it probably won’t last too long. Lew

  24. Chris,

    Irony. Yes, it is good. Life tends to bring us such comic relief if we’re open to it.

    I know someone who has a gym membership. Hasn’t used it for years, but still pays the monthly fee “just in case”. Whatever. There are plenty of ways to get quality exercise without going to the gym. I dare say that muscles from the type of work you do on the farm are better quality than “gym muscle”.

    It is surprising how many can’t or won’t read/listen to/understand a weather forecast. Or at least take proper precautions. The number of people I regularly saw shivering in very light jackets and office attire when the weather was like it is now always astounded me. Ummmm, dress appropriately for the weather and change clothes at the office?

    That’s a lot of rain. And it’s your summer. Wow. Looks like we might duplicate that amount of rainfall equivalent Friday into Saturday in the form of more snow. I will get out the roof rake Friday and remove some snow from the potentially problem areas. Should be warmer Friday, too. Hit -23C overnight, but Friday should be above -15C when I awaken, and that is warm enough that I can get out and be active. -23C with wind is conducive to sitting indoors with a good book and a cup of tea. Even Avalanche spent Thursday morning indoors of her own desire.

    Yeah, smoke getting into the garage could be a problem depending on wind direction if burning at the garage door. I could also rig up an array of tarps to block the wind under the patio roof. Get 2 fires going that way. However, the gas fireplaces do not need working electricity to start – battery controlled. The gas stove top burners can ignite via matches, too. I’ve tried all of this out before just to make sure. But I’m sorta weird that way. Most people would have no clue how to make these things work in dire circumstances. Look under Mukluks and men’s.
    Here’s the men’s mukluks from the place I bought them. I have the “Arctic with Ribbon”. Allegedly the “CamuksXtreme” are rated for a bit colder, but I like the Arctic style moosehide over the toes rather than rubber. My normal cold/snow boots have rubber over the feet and can get cold at the current temperatures, even though they are rated to the same -40C as my mukluks are.

    Our weather is severe. Could’ve been worse, but the only nasty winds were overnight Thursday. A big blizzard is more severe. It’s a sliding scale type of thingy. 😉 I’ll take what we’ve got here any day if it means not having a blizzard. Cold temps can be survivable. The wind totally sucks the heat away from anything and everything. And blizzards can mean zero visibility.

    Our country had a large influx of pet ownership when the corvid started. Now that people are going back to work, they don’t know what to do with their pets so are “discarding” them. So we’re seeing much the same thing as you are.

    The poem. Okay. Think in the cultural context of a 7th century Norseman. Money meant cattle usually. The wolf liked the easier pickings of domestic cattle, thus eating the Norseman’s “money”. You’ve properly (in my opinion) included some basics about the wolf. Then put that and the cultural thingy of “cattle equals money” into the context of the first bit of the poem. After that, there’s no single correct answer; it’s similar to a Zen koan. Your conclusion is along the same path that I’ve come to.

    I hope you’ll post some of the storm pictures. And the pears and apples. They’re always fun.


  25. Hi Inge,

    Thank you and wishing you a lovely Christmas too. Hope it warms up a bit for you. Hope your son puts on an excellent Christmas feast for you both.

    It was very humid here today, and although overcast, it sure felt very hot and muggy. Of course that may have had something to do with moving large rocks up the hill.



  26. Hi Pam,

    Dog shelters are not pleasant places for dogs to be. The people were pretty weird too because they wanted me to bring in old Scritchy, at nineteen years of age, to see whether her and a new dog would be best mates, or otherwise. That experience would have been too stressful for her, although when Scritchy first met Ollie the pup, she bit his face, and thereafter studiously ignored him. That’s boss dog material for you!

    Really? Dogs aren’t a piece of furniture to be discarded at the end of the semester, but then people can be very callous. It must be a problem though, because I recall from years ago that there used to be a sticker: A dog is for life, not just for Christmas. I expect that the economics are playing into this story too.

    I get that about the gift, sometimes ya just know, and it saves a lot of heartache and puts the relationship on the right footing. Hey, I had to pester my mother for the repayments. What do you do? Honestly, it was a problem. And nothing was left to me in the will. Some folks have a bad attitude.

    Thanks and we planted out the tiny new bit on the garden terrace with two roses today. A bit of warm weather next week might produce a lot of flowers.

    Wise to bow to reality. And hey, the neighbours trees here are so tall they throw shade onto the solar panels over the very depths of winter, so I hear you about accepting reality. Although, please excuse me if I’m wrong, but I sense that you have plans for that area?

    The weather has been a bit weird for strawberries, but raspberries are now beginning to produce yummy berries. Picked a container this evening which gets chucked into the freezer. When we have enough berries in the freezer, a batch of raspberry jam is made. The commercial stuff doesn’t hold a candle to home made raspberry jam. Yummo! Blackberries will produce very well, as per usual.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family too.

    Hope the cold snap doesn’t impact upon the fig trees.



  27. Hi DJ,

    🙂 I do so try to see the amusing side to life. We can only but do our best.

    Mate, if people want to throw money away on things they don’t use, well I could be open to the possibility of subscriptions! 🙂 After all, it would save the person you know the moral quandary as to what to do with their excess mad cash. There’s a parable about that, and it was such a weird story which didn’t quite ring true to me, but maybe that’s my radar. A good role model would be Radar O’Reilly, and often with paid work I’m like that with clients. Between you and I, there’s no radar, just a foreknowledge as to where things will go. I get the impression in your work, you too knew that end game. That’s called experience in my books.

    We broke ground on a new project today. A west facing low gradient ramp (the other ramp faces east). It’s needed, especially during the long wet winter months. Anyway, we brought back up the hill six huge rocks and then placed them. Over the next week or so we’ll bring down soil and slowly build the low gradient ramp. Need I mention Sisyphus?

    Mate, I see the lack of concern for the weather during the winter months at the local general store. People alight from their oversized vehicles and they’re wearing only light synthetic clothes. Meanwhile, we’re rugged up in layers of natural fibres, lot’s of dead sheep stuff. I do wonder, what sort of house they left, how was the car heated etc…

    Oh my gawd! You’re getting quite the workout with all that raking of snow off the roof business, and whatever else you say, -23’C is so cold I have no comprehension as to your experience. If at this end, there’d be a lot of whingeing, so clearly you have a stoic disposition. Good to see that even Avalanche has limits, as did Buck in ‘Call of the Wild’.

    Exactly, you have to test systems in order to know how they’ll work in the worst of conditions, not the best. Many folks have it the wrong way around. I dunno why!

    That was the website I went too. Oooo, yes, your shoes are the biz. They’re the real deal. I assume you got the liners (inner and outer)? What can I say, I’m in awe. And also glad I don’t experience such cold weather. At -40’C, I’d die. Ook!

    Thank you for the explanation as to the weather. And the wind chill also wreaks havoc here too any time of the year. It was overcast and very humid here today, despite only reaching 22’C. Moving those rocks uphill, I sweated buckets. I’d like to give a nod to rehydration salt solutions after such a work day. The photos didn’t do the rock wall justice, but we created about 11 feet today, and will hopefully do the same tomorrow.

    The old timers used to say: A dog is for life, and not just for Christmas. It’s hard on the dogs, and the people are callous.

    Ah, the poem makes more sense, and incidentally a person can loan cattle and/or pasture. I have heard of such goings on, but had not equated it with money, but of course. Hmm. No matter how things change, they still stay the same.

    The images are in the bag. 😉 Hoping to write this evening.



  28. Hi Lewis,

    Ah, nice one but mate those are electric skateboards. 🙂 But yeah, in some senses they do fly. When in the big smoke I used to see a bloke on one of those things and he looked like he’d just stepped out of a Daft Punk, Robot Rock video clip. He had the helmet and everything and used to zip in and out of traffic (it wasn’t moving fast in the inner big smoke due to speed limits). He even used to hold some sort of music player and blasted out techno music, just because. Not sure what happened, but a month or so back I spotted him walking and he’s been doing that ever since. It probably wasn’t good. I’d lack the competency to get onto one of those machines. For some reason skateboards never worked for me. Braking seemed to be something of a problem, but then rollerskates and rollerblades all suffered from similar issues.

    Prof. Mass’s weather blog made for alarming reading. And I’d never before heard of freezing rain. Yikes! Not something you want to encounter. Mate, I’ve not experienced such cold weather before, and the lack of condensation of windows would be slightly eerie. Was it as cold as was forecast? And did you experience the freezing rain?

    With the long train trip, I’d find the rocking motion would put me to sleep, and on sleeper trains in other countries I’ve always enjoyed them and slept soundly. India had some lovely train journeys, but we got told off for making too much noise on one occasion. Ook! So yes, very uncivil so you’re correct and I agree with your assertion. I blame the entire incident on the Nepalese rum. The toilet was fun on the train because you could see the rails and feel the speeding cool air wooshing up from underneath.

    Thanks, and I got to read about maybe a third of the throwing an epic tanty article. The funsters at the Atlantis seem to be chucking an internet wobbly themselves. On a more general note, good grace appears to have become unfashionable. We went to the general store today and I watched on in horror as some older local ladies were quite horrid to the staff. And I have no idea as to why they would act so. My best guess is that they’ve spent too long in their own heads over the past couple of years, and have lost some semblance of civility. But then, it is hard to ignore the rising inequalities. Those inequalities would create monsters. It won’t end well you know.

    Ooo, that series sounds right up the Editor’s interest alley. I shall forward on your series recommendation, and a review will follow sooner or later.

    Ah yes, that film. I watched it too back in the day, but can see what you mean. I do know someone who worked front of house and might like to have treated patrons that way as in that film, but err, dunno. Maybe a year or so back I watched the film Repo Man and quite enjoyed it. It held up well, but the premise of the film was always a bit silly, and the end was outright bonkers. Part of the fun though. It’s intense being a repo-man.

    OK, well you’re setting boundaries with H, and she has to accept them. A bit of time out for her in the truck wouldn’t hurt, unless it was either super cold or super hot. Dogs actually do die in hot cars. And it isn’t a good look to be at the Club whilst telling off H.

    A mystery with Elinor! Good luck, and I’ve known people on meds who’ve had flip-outs. Not a pleasant experience for the people around them. Best not to muck around with your brain chemistry is my thinking. And meds aren’t usually cost free. No way.

    Oh well, who knows, the intended audience for your cookies may have better sensory organs on their tongues than you. Age is an issue on that front and I’ve never heard of anyone acquiring more taste buds as they age, always seems to be on the down, that story.

    Mate, I’ve seen fresh food markets in the back blocks of Asia, the Disgusting Food Museum is probably for more civilised folks than I. However, I kind of like the concept of moku-shoku. This afternoon it would have come in handy as a group of very loud ladies sat near to us and proceeded to be quite rude to the staff as previously mentioned. I can well understand why it is hard to get staff in these enlightened days when they are faced with bad attitudes like that. There is nothing more embarrassing than encountering the nouveau riche who lack social graces and are insecure in their social status. I came from humble origins and never forget that and do my best to treat the people I interact with as I would expect to be so treated. Other people, well, the come down will be hard on them.

    Did the ice storm eventuate? And even more importantly, did the power stay on?

    We broke ground on a new project today. That involved getting up early. Who knew that the sun was up already at 6am? We began work on another low gradient ramp leading in the opposite direction from the existing low gradient ramp. This one is going to require a lot of large rocks, and we brought six of them back up the hill today. Now, you might think that six rocks wouldn’t go far, but they were around two foot long and weighed far more than I do. Candidly I wasn’t sure that the new yellow power wheelbarrow could bring them back up the hill, but it worked flawlessly, but is still very hard work. The project will take a lot more rocks than that, but I set six large rocks as a limit so as to avoid injuries. Man, it was so humid today, despite being cloudy, and I sweated buckets in the heat.

    Might do some writing now, not sure where things will go on that front. A mystery!

    Stay warm and cheers,


  29. Hello Chris
    Yes, it is warm and wet here 13C at the moment. My computer switched suddenly from giving me Fahrenheit to giving me Centigrade and I can’t be bothered to change it. Son and I do assorted cooking for each other at this rime of year.

    Heard a story that I liked about the vast number of imagrents (can’t spell it) streaming into El Paso. Some people my sister knows, live very neat to the frontier and were constantly being broken into. They realised that only food and water was being taken and sometimes money was left in exchange. So they started to leave food and water in their porch and husband, who can speak Spanish, left a sign up saying ‘good luck’. They were no longer broken into. These small stories tend to be so different from the hysterical media.


  30. Chris:

    I have no plans for the shady discarded area because one can’t grow anything there because of the deer. In fact, there are a lot of plants that will have to be moved into the fenced area and some cages will have to be built around some shrubs until they get taller than the deer. My son may have plans; he always has plans.


  31. Hello Chris,

    Social debt, as in giving each others favors, are important to strengthen relationships. And I think a key to having it work is that everyone pretends that there is no need to pay back, but that everyone secretly keeps tabs of who they owe a favor for later return. Those who don’t return the services will be shunned or ostracized.
    The domain where I have met most confusion is in the business setting. Some people play the same social game at work as they do in a private setting, but many don’t. When expectations don’t match, conflicts are inevitable.
    Anyways, a book recommendation for the Amish experience of helping each other and how hints are used to help people offer their help: “Better Off” by Eric Brende. (I think he lives not far from SLClaire – did you meet him?)

    Here in the North, the dark wings of the corvid let it’s shadow fall over our dwelling this week. Both M and me are down with the kung-flu.
    So we will have an unusually silent and small-scale holiday dinner this year…

    Anyway, to get more sunshine in my soul, I ordered a whole crate of Summer books from Melliodora Publishing from your side of the world. I hope that there will be some sunshine left in the box when I open it a few weeks from now.

    Merry Christmas and all kinds of well wishing to all of you!


  32. Yo, Chris – It was pretty much a steady 27F, all night. When I took H out, about 9pm, tiny pellets of ice were coming down. It was weird. Couldn’t see them in the streetlights, but could hear them hitting the withered leaves. It was sticking on the walkways. My coat didn’t even get wet.

    This morning, all the walks are a solid sheet of ice. But, it’s all supposed to clear off, about 1. The freeway is moving. I can hear tires spinning on ice, here and there. Looks like most of the staff made it into the treatment center, across the street. Few or no caregivers have shown up. I’ve got something to pick up at the library (X-Men marathon boxed set), and the website says they’re opening at 12. I hope so. They’ll be closed the next three days. I’ll see how the roads look, around 3. We are to get wind, gusts to 30mph. It’s already picking up. Prof. Mass had another post, this morning.

    I did a bit of rollerskating, when I was a kid. I forget if it was before or after an interest in bowling. 🙂

    Incivility. Those people need to be slapped down, and slapped down, hard. Those “ladies” should have been shown the door.

    Maybe the silly films hold up better? As far as past favorites falling flat, one ages and perceptions change.

    I guess Elinor had a go-around with her caregiver, yesterday. Well, when you send one to the chemist for baby aspirin, and they return with adult aspirin, and then they argue with you about it … and lunch was an absolute fail. Due to not listening and following fairly simple instructions. Sigh.

    I sat down with my cookies, yesterday, closed my eyes (eating mindfully?) and just concentrated on what I was tasting. The lemon cookies? Yes, I could detect lemon. The orange cookies? No.

    I read a few more essays in the “Best Food Writing, 2022.” There was an essay on bubble tea. I’d heard of it, but really didn’t know what it was. And how bubble tea reflects Asian identity. Whatever. One titled “Let Them Eat Fakes.” Which was about foods that don’t look like the foods they actually are. Through artifice. Think flowers made of frosting on cakes. An essay (I think it was a book review) of our old friend, plant hunter David Fairchild. Which segued into ruminations about the current state of the fruit industry. Monocultures of disease resistant, difficult to damage and visually appealing fruit. Taste comes in a distant fourth. But we know that. Next up: An essay about peaches.

    I had a chance to read Mr. Greer’s post, last night. I found it quit interesting. Especially the bit about wokeness. Most of these essays at least tip a hat to that. You can’t mention sugar, unless you mention the slaves that grew the cane, back in the day. Reminds me of an exchange I saw on an archaeology website, recently. Someone was commenting on a Roman wall painting and referred to the “servants” in the painting. One commenter felt moved to say, “They weren’t servants, they were SLAVES!!!” Hope it made them feel better. Just made me think, “Oh, please.”

    Dual ramps. Well, that ought to balance everything out, on your place. Create the Japanese sense of Wa. With a nod to the Chinese system of Feng Shui. The new ramp will probably be useful, too! 🙂

  33. Hi Chris,

    The worst of the winter storm is past. All we are experiencing now is wind. Epic wind chill values, in fact. It didn’t get quite as cold here as it got for DJ, and I’m sure Margaret was colder yet, but -7F/-22C as our overnight low is respectable cold. The wind chill was as low as -35F/-37C. Not as cold now, currently 2F/-17C, but still very windy, with the wind chill at -22F/-30C. We received about 1.5 inches of snow. Needless to say I am staying inside. Let the sun melt the snow under these conditions, I say. The sun doesn’t have to worry about getting too cold. 😉


  34. Hi Chris,
    Well we didn’t get the worst of the weather with only 2-3 inches of snow. It’s now very cold with winds of 25-35 mph. As I write this at 2 PM it’s -6 with wind chill of -33. This morning it was -12. The few inches of snow is really blowing around though Doug went into town and said roads were passable. It’s bad but we’ve certainly had worse. My nephew actually got in from Nevada last night with only a slight delay. My sister had arranged an Uber, the driver living in her neighborhood. Unfortunately he got the unmentionable and had to cancel. Luckily my nephew was able to secure another ride share and made it to his parents. Gwen also got to Marty’s so people are were they had planned to be. Tomorrow will be warmer about 10 but till windy. By the end of next week we’re supposed to be in the mid 40’s with 4 days of showers.

    I’m making a raspberry crisp for dessert on Christmas with raspberries from my garden.


  35. @ Goran: yes, I’ve met Eric Brende. In the late 1990s, after his book was published and while voluntary simplicity was a thing, he and I, among others, were guests on panels discussing the concept and practice of voluntary simplicity. His family still sells handmade soaps and we use them. His book is one of the best, well worth reading.


  36. Chris,

    Didn’t get as much snow as the worst forecasters thought we would Friday. Whew! Thus, I didn’t have to do as much raking of the roof as I had feared. We could get between 10cm and 20cm additional snow Christmas Eve before it turns to the dread freezing rain and then rain. Looks as if we’ll have a few days of mild thaw, with one day at about +5C, the others near +2C or +3C.

    The lower 70% of the snow I was trying to rake was ice. I finally got a long fence post and was able to poke it into eventually crashing to the ground. It has been cold enough that much of the moisture had sublimated away, so it was much lighter weight than I had expected. That’s a good thing. Now, the north side of the garage has a clear path for the melt off to run down and create ice on the patio. 😉 With the forecast, by this time next week everything will be turning to ice. Then we’ll be back to freeze, thaw, freeze, thaw, snow.

    I’m glad I didn’t have to drive anywhere today. Killian the Doberman’s human had to go out. Twice. She said that everything was a sheet of ice. It was weird snow: 2.5cm at -15C is usually very dry and has very little slippery character. This had a lot more water content than is normal for that temperature and made everything nasty. At one point, there were 7 different accidents on Interstate 90 freeway within about a km of one another. And cars weren’t slowing down. People must have added stupid to their coffee.

    It sounds as if Marg and Claire survived the storm. Their wind chills rivalled ours for coldness but surpassed ours for how long the higher winds have lasted. Harsh stuff when the winds are added in.

    Well, maybe I’m stoical about the weather. Dunno. I’ve always enjoyed being outdoors mostly regardless of the weather. (I’ll stay indoors during high winds, blizzards, dust storms, and the worst of the smoky season.) So, I have a sense of proper clothing, limitations, etc. After 6 weeks of winter weather already, and averaging 2 to 3 hours outdoors daily, I’m pretty acclimated to the cold. For now. Tell you a secret. I’ve always preferred winter to summer. In the evenings I’d wander the nearby woods for hours in the snow with Rakhi the Samoyed. My dad always said that I was the family barbarian and was living in the wrong millennium.

    I have the proper inserts for the mukluks, yes. I need to order a couple more pair of the felt liners one of these days.

    I hurt for you working in the humidity. That’s painful. The rehydration solutions are a necessary thing, aren’t they? Surprisingly, I’ve seen people have serious dehydration issues in the weather I’m having. Because it’s cool, people forget to drink and hydrate, then get very active while moving snow or walking, and voila! dehydrated.

    Since the Princess is with her brother, I arranged to have Christmas with Killian the Doberman and his owner. There might be one or two others there also. Should be enjoyable, and the Princess is glad that I won’t be alone.


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