Grifting Away

An undocumented side benefit of writing this here blog, and having delightful ongoing conversations with people living in distant countries, is that new words enter my vocabulary. One such useful word originating from the United States of America, is the word: Grifter. In Australia, which prides itself upon the abstract concept of: ‘mateship’, there’s no real equivalent word for such a person. But all the same, they’re around.

Over the past few decades down under, we’ve moved away from our roots in UK culture and edged ever closer to US culture. Possibly we’re a weird mixture of the two, with our own special blend thrown in, just to confuse the tourists! As a child who stood in neat lines at attention in primary school and sang the anthem: God Save the Queen, we were trained not to ask for things. Nowadays, times are different, and I see grifters lurking about the social landscape. It’s been something of a culture shock.

An old mate way back in the day, might be described by that word. In the early 1990’s during the summer break in between University years, I loaned him my computer. It was the recession we had to have, and 10% unemployment was a real thing. He said something about the need to write and send resumes. Back then, computers were real computers, and they were also real expensive. I had access to the computers at work if needs be. We were good mates and had been for many years, and so with ‘mateship’ in mind, I helped him out by loaning the computer. My expectation was that this gift would strengthen the friendship. Didn’t think to specifically ask for anything in return.

I was an idiot. When I asked for the computer back, it wasn’t forthcoming. Far out! Talk about a friendship ending power move. That possible outcome had never even occurred to me. After repeated requests which rapidly descended into threats, my old friend bizarrely began getting all legal on me, even quoting contract law. It was a surreal experience, but a good was lesson learned: Friends and business don’t mix.

The other lesson I took away from that experience, is that you have to be very careful as to who you decide to give your time and energy to, and judge them beforehand by their actions and how that person treats others. It’s been my observation that if a person treats other people poorly, you can hardly be surprised when they turn that behaviour on you!

Had to go visit the doctor the other day for an eye thing. Never a fun day. It’s one of those big impersonal clinics, but at least you can request which doctor you want to see. There’s a doctor working there, and I’d swear an article in the local newspaper said he was retiring. Anyway, he’s alright that bloke. So, booked an appointment, and went to see him. At the appointment, he asked me if I was stressed, to which I replied: “No, but you’re starting to make me feel stressed”, and we shared a good laugh. He was curious about what I did for a living, and how that was working out. I mentioned something about working with a lot of A-type personalities, and you have to fend off people pushing responsibility downwards. He looked thoughtful at the observation.

I have no idea what is actually meant by the term A-type personality, having heard it used long ago and thinking that it sounded important. You kind of get the gist of what the description means. And in my days working at the top-end of town I’d heard words which were intended to push responsibility downwards onto me: So you want me to give you a guarantee which negates your directors fiduciary duties. Look, I’ll have a think about it, but I’m not keen to provide the guarantee. It doesn’t hurt to ask I guess, but it’s been my observation that a refusal often offends. Yep, grifters use words to get an advantage, and words can be powerful weapons.

Recently, someone I’d known for a long time, asked me to perform a regular task for them, with no benefit. You want me to do, what? – was what I thought at the time. From my perspective, the task was that persons responsibility. The request kind of floored me, and when uncertain about any matter, saying nothing is a valid option. Anyway, other more important matters demanded my attention. At a later date, when considering what the request meant, an unflattering picture was emerging. It was hard to work out whether the person thought I was either stupid or needy, or perhaps both? Candidly, it wasn’t good. A polite refusal was sent. Haven’t heard from that person since then. Tells me everything I needed to know.

An old timer, who was more experienced in these matters, told me many years ago: Chris. You’ve gotta nip problems in the bud. Wise advice, especially where grifters are angling for an advantage. But do you have to instantly react when pushed around by other people? Nope. I’ve known some people who’ve poked me seeking a reaction. Always unwise to feed such beasts. Anyway, Sun Tzu, the long dead ancient grand master of strategy (and everyone needs one for guidance) suggested that in war, take the initiative, do something unexpected, whilst remembering to leave an ‘out’ for the grifter. Actually, it’s possible Sun Tzu didn’t have grifters on his mind when writing his ancient treatise, but you never know! My interpretation of the masters words: Deal with grifters in your own time, and on your own terms – they don’t expect such a reaction. Then nip that problem in the bud. And that’s how it rolls.

Summer has officially ended, whatever that means. In between the occasional hot day, the cold and rainy weather has returned. On the very last official day of summer, the outside air temperature at about 6.30pm was 12’C / 54’F. Brr!

The final official day of summer a chilly 12’C / 54’F

The rains have returned, and in the early mornings fog collects in the valley below.

Fog collects in the low laying areas in the valley below

A pair of Pobblebonk frogs decided that the return of the rains was a thing to celebrate by taking a long swim in the dogs water bowl.

Two Pobblebonk frogs enjoy a long swim in the dogs water bowl

Toadstools have also begun to pop up.

Toadstools can be seen growing now that soil moisture has increased

With the prospect of cooler work days, we tackled the job of removing two mounds which were in the paddock. The steep mounds had been impossible to easily maintain and provided excellent coverage for rabbits and snakes.

The mound of soil was well over three feet tall

The first thing to do was remove the grasses and other small plants growing on the mound. The self propelled slasher did that job, and the next photo gives an idea about just how steep the mounds were.

The self propelled slasher works its way up and over the mound of soil

The scary old rototiller was then used to scratch up the soil which ended up as a fine clay powder. The soil was loaded by hand onto the power wheelbarrows, and used elsewhere around the property on various projects and smoothing out the paddocks.

Digging is hard work, but at least the weather was cooler

After two days of work, the mounds were both flattened out.

The two mounds were both flattened out. Ollie wonders where they went

It’s amazing how much material those power wheelbarrows can bring back up the hill.

A heavy load of soil in the bucket

Some of the soil was used to build up the new low gradient ramp project. Living in hilly country, paths and ramps take on a special significance, especially in the winter months.

The new low gradient ramp project took some of the soil relocated from the mounds
The project is beginning to take shape

After some consideration, it was apparent that the large white drainage pipe which runs under the path, sat too high in the ground, and was too far downhill. With a couple of free hours on Sunday morning, a new much deeper trench was dug, and the pipe now sits about two feet lower in the ground.

The drainage pipe now sits much lower in the ground. Dame Plum assists with the digging

Near to the mound was a small rock poking out of the ground. Rocks sticking up out of the ground in paddocks are something of a fire risk when mower or slasher blades hit them. Best if they weren’t there. So we decided to remove the small rock.

Turns out, the rock was bigger

Turns out the rock was bigger than expected, so we brought out the rock breaking equipment. The rock was even bigger again than we’d imagined.

The rock was a monster thing. At least we could easily refill the hole

The rock was a monster and we’d eventually split the thing into three large chunks and lots of much smaller chunks. The rocks will be used on the low gradient ramp project at a later date. And the hole left behind after the rock was removed was filled it with soil.

We spotted one of the largest stick insects we’d ever seen before.

A very large stick insect hangs off the side of the house

There is plenty of produce to eat right now, and the tomatoes are continuing to ripen.

A quick whip around the garden produce this haul. Yum!

We’ve even begun dehydrating tomatoes which are then stored in olive oil.

A good quantity of tomatoes were run through the dehydrator this week

And the harvest of this seasons blackberries was turned into a very tasty jam (conserve). Like the raspberries, we’ve avoided all use of pectin, which I believe changes the colour, taste and consistency of the jam. Not a fan, and we can thank the science of jam making for the consistently excellent results.

Blackberry jam – so good!

Onto the flowers:

Geraniums come in many different colours
And Geraniums are always cheery looking
This Rose is a small climbing variety which grows in one of the garden beds
The Succulent garden is soon to be expanded
Oregano is lovely to look at and the bees love the flowers

The temperature outside now at about 9am is 11’C (52’F). So far this year there has been 102.8mm (4.0 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 71.4mm (2.8 inches)

49 thoughts on “Grifting Away”

  1. Yo, Chris – I usually think of grifters, as criminals and con-men. See the films: “The Grifters,” or “Paper Moon.” There’s usually cold hard cash, involved. The others, I think of as “users,” or, even plain old garden variety socio psychopaths. Those are the one’s where no blood or bodies are involved. Just lots of psychic wreckage. Any-who. That’s my take. Your mileage may vary. Variables may (or may not) depend on time and space. 🙂

    Not to ask for things. Dickens. Oliver Twist. “Please Sir, I want some more.” (soup). Look where it got poor Oliver.

    A person who treats other people poorly. Always, when courting, see how the suitor treats the service folk. Maybe head for a museum, around closing time. 🙂 I had a boss once, who was nice to everyone’s face. And tore them down when they were out of sight. I occurred to me, that he probably did the same, to me.

    Yes. I don’t have to respond to everything I see on the net. Or, blurt out every random thought that crosses my mind, while in company. Or try not to.

    The Pobblebonk frogs are cuties. Do the dogs know the frogs bath in their water? Might add a certain zest. What are those worm like things in the bottom of the water bowl? Drowned slugs? See: zest, above.

    It took me a minute to “see” the toadstools. Ever been out in nature, looking for something, and it takes awhile for the eye to adjust and hone in? Not only mushrooms, but I’ve even noticed it rock hunting.
    What are those two berry like things, in the lower left quadrant? They almost look like olives.

    The mound of soil looks like it might have been a small stand of timber, at one time. The drainage pipe. Does one dare say culvert? 🙂 Are you sure it’s the proper diameter? Rocks are like icebergs. A lot can be below the surface. LOL. You seem to have a use for everything. You just have to move it around, a bit.

    Stick insects don’t get any less cool, as time goes on.

    Looks like your big tomatoes came through, in enough quantity, to put some by. Whew! That’s a load off your mind. I’m still pitching dried cherry tomatoes, into many of the dinners I make.

    Geraniums. That’s one big family of plants. I noticed today, that the wild geraniums are coming back. Not my plot, but it’s been weeded several times, and the soil disturbed, but they just keep coming back.

    I’m not sure of the scale, but those roses look like they would make fine boutonnieres. Pin one to your collar button hole, and head for the Big Smoke. You’re sure to arouse comment. 🙂

    I attempted to obtain bagged soil, this morning. Again. Mission accomplished. There was only one Girl Scout around, and a scowl and growl sent her packing. Lew

  2. Hello Chris,

    Trust is like WD-40. The more we can trust each other, the smoother life runs.

    A lot of the Northern European literature from early 1900s was about moral dilemmas and trustworthiness and honour and “name” and “face”.
    Nowadays, it seems like the morals of principles have been replaced by a transactional calculation, a benefit/loss tradeoff analysis, and conflicts are more often framed as a clash of important feelings.
    Even politics has moved from principles to purchasing power and virtue signalling/”family values”.
    I don’t think this development is good for trust.

    Sweden is a country where most people trust others. The World values survey ( indicates that trust levels are very different in different countries.

    In my own experience, I often trust people and share quite a lot of things. Once in a while I get “owned” by a grifter, and cut the losses and move on. It has been worth it to me, since the openness in all other relationships have been so much more beneficial and fun.

    Indeed, it all hinges on a low frequency of “grifters” in my surroundings, and that I don’t bet the farm on any single transaction. Now that the griftlyness is increasing, I am not sure how long this strategy will hold…

    In our modernistic culture, concepts like “honour” and “face” and “character” have been relegated to the trash heap of history and progress. I think this is a mistake. Maybe they will come back, when external arbitrers (legal system) weakens?
    What do you see in your parts of the world?

    To a more concrete work – what a great work on the new low-gradient ramp. The infrastructure you build will generate value over many, many years. I think that this was the original meaning of “capital” – things that keep generating value.
    I think you are the best kind of capitalists – investing in your future!


  3. Hi Pam,

    It’s pretty funny isn’t it? And I’ve heard some reports that if engaging in dialogue for too long with the bots, they tend to get either angry or inappropriately amorous. All a bit sordid really. Makes you wonder what was going on in the minds of the folks who programmed the things? 🙂 Crazy days, huh?



  4. Hi Göran,

    I agree with you, social capital is as important as other human endeavours. After all, we survive day to day in this complex civilisation through the gentle art of co-operation, mingled with some other factors such as competition and allocation. But essentially, things will go very badly if the social capital side of the story is ignored. In some respects, the arrangement involved in simply turning up to work on a Monday morning is an aspect of social capital. The social contract down here is being rather abused right now due to widening economic inequalities. I’m not excited about that prospect.

    Hey, it wasn’t just the Northern Europeans on that score, which is why I mentioned the traditional values of ‘mateship’ which has a distinct cultural definition. That used to be the case when I was a younger bloke, but over my lifetime the value has become more ‘lip service’ than actuality and that is a sad thing.

    I’m with you in that regard, although I believe that the change is driven in some respects by the strategy of driving a wedge into society. All part of the very old and well tested, divide and conquer strategy. The English were masters at wielding that particular strategy, and here we are today.

    Your standard of trust is much higher than my own. Of course I suspect that griftlyness (thanks for that word! 🙂 ) is probably seen more often down under than in your country. But I am unable to make a valid comparison. An old timer once advised me to: Never lend either my chainsaw, or my wife, because they’ll both come back f!@#$d! And that actually happened to me years ago – the chainsaw side of the story. An annoyance. I really don’t know what is going on, but a real meanness of the spirit can be seen down under. People are sometimes quite odd and lack social graces, whilst some are downright aggressive. That’s what serious economic inequality looks like. I suspect that the problem will resolve itself, after all the economy looks like it is tanking to me, and fallen people are usually more humble for the experience.

    Likewise, I agree with your observations regarding the modernistic. The alternative to a system constructed upon monetary exchange is one in which social capital has far greater value. Probably why people fear such a change, because they then become personally accountable for their social standing. It’ll happen sooner or later, maybe not in our lifetimes, but that is what the great reset actually looks like. Not such a bad place from my perspective. 😉

    Thanks! You’re doing the same at your place too. And one day in the future after the next couple of infrastructure projects are completed here, I’d appreciate having a long conversation with you about raising fruit trees and your experiences with that, if you’re amenable? However, that’s way off in the future, and there are some big projects to complete first. Mate, I dream of flat land! 🙂



  5. Hi Lewis,

    I’m not sure about how things are in your part of the world, but that also used to be the case with the word: “users”. You don’t hear that word in that context these days because somehow the word became applied to drug users. And that was that. As a word, it was spoken way back in the day and applied to people with very negative connotations. Not a good thing to be perceived to be. So, I’ve taken the word ‘grifter’ from your country, and given it a distinct spin for the Aussies. 😉 And you thought that we were half asleep down here! That’s only half true! Hehe! I told you that we did things with culture to confuse the tourists. Exactly, time and space has great impacts upon the spoken word. Oh yeah.

    Speaking of which, the Editor is rather enjoying Mr King’s book ‘Fairy Tale’. The two days in hospital with the compound fracture was an insight into your lack-of-care system. Best not to be involved, and from our perspective the bill was horrific, but that drug cartel gear… Hmm. When I lived in the inner big smoke, I had a neighbour I used to chat with and he had throat cancer. It was quite the ordeal, and for a while there, he was dependant. Yeah, troubling to hear.

    You’ve scared me off reading Charles Dickens! 🙂 Little Oliver got lucky when plenty of his peers came to a bad end. Imagine the job of chimney sweep in those days. Talk about a short lived career.

    Yeah, that museum closing story resonated with me. In my role, I can provide good advice and excellent work, but there are some who only see: ‘the help’. This is a fairly new shift in the culture down here, yet, I’ve heard it also said that the nouveau riche can be insufferable.

    And man, I’ve seen other folks who pull that boss trick too. An excellent point, beware those who relentlessly bag off others. He probably did that. There is nothing inherently wrong with criticism, but as a general policy it can be taken too far.

    Do you reckon that ‘blurting out random thoughts’ is a symptom of poor communication? I do encounter folks who seem unable to recount an engaging tale in a concise manner, and sometimes I do tend to alert them to the fact that they need to get to the core point of the story and quit rambling. It may be harsh, but I consider the act to be something of a community service – after all, if they’re communicating that way to me, they might well be pulling that trick with other people? Dunno. A mystery!

    Hehe! The dogs attention was easily diverted away from the frogs, and the canines have a bowl of fresh water inside the house. No need to upset the happy frogs. 🙂 The worm things at the bottom of the bowl are the remains of Portuguese millipedes. The name suggests that they’re not locals, except they are now. They arrived down under during the 1950’s, and some of the early photos are horrendous. Great piles of the dead things being swept out of houses.

    Absolutely, and it is always of interest the things which visitors see. No doubt, I’ve done the same thing elsewhere. Hey, what’s this rock hunting business about? I sense a story there?

    I can’t believe that you stirred up DJ with such loose talk of culverts. It may not end well you know, and in a cage fight between H and Avalanche, sorry but my money is on Avalanche, although H might surprise all of us! 🙂 Had an old Pomeranian who was the toughest dog I’d ever encountered. Other dogs would simply submit to her, except for the Crunchy Beagle. Called BS on Old Fluffy the formidable Pomeranian.

    Nothing goes to waste here, not even the rocks. And that rock was like the iceberg which hit the Titanic – most of the rock was below soil level.

    Out of curiosity, once you dehydrate your cherry tomatoes, how do you store them? And doesn’t the process concentrate the flavour. Yum!

    We have an indigenous variety of Geranium too. It’s not as impressive as the imports, and they’re very showy and love the sun and heat. Disturbed soil has that problem. Yup, lots of seeds in the soil.

    Funny! I do my best to be pleasant to others and fly below the radar in plain sight. The ornamentation of the rose would upset the overall balance of the composition, then the patterns wouldn’t be right. And do we want this? Hehe! Anyway, you go first – it’s your idea!

    The knack of digging fast trenches is using the right hand tools for the job. Speaking of which, I have to purchase a replacement handle for one of the axes. Not so many places sell such things nowadays. Might have to look around a bit.

    Thanks. Implemented the back up plan as advised.

    Hehe! Yeah, those young whipper snappers at the other end of the phone have all day and are cheap enough not to have seek a resolution of any problem. Sucks to be on this end of the phone. 🙂

    The Menu film looks bonkers! Well, they did want the full experience package – probably easier working as a dish pig and yelling ‘Yes Chef!’ when so requested. And probably safer.

    Wow, that is a brutal story, and an abuse of the social arrangements. The departing shot was very telling, and most likely the guys own fears being realised. The book is an early or pre-release, so who knows what the guy is up to nowadays. Authors are often pressured into using social media from what I hear.



  6. Grifting- yes, we’ve been well above Dunbar’s number for quite a while now, enabled by the luxuriousness afforded by oil energy. Anonymity and the disintegrating social contract mean watch your back and extend trust very carefully. Even in more stable times, trust was slowly gained and quickly lost.

    Recently read E.O.Wilson’s book “Consilience”, and one topic he explores is group evolution. We will forever be a species which is at its most successful when competition and cooperation within social groups are in good balance. Excess energy has tipped the scales more than usual, and so chaos results. ( this was not a book recommendation, unless you take it as such, as you get so many the way it is. Since I recently joined a book club, the stack has gotten even higher here).

    There remain small, sometimes interlocking local networks of trust, but in general, nah.

    Just curious, from your last blog post title, were you a Cold War Kid?

    Planting our onion seeds today, sunroom is decked out in trays and pots, even though fresh snow is on the ground. The longer daylight hours mean we are getting eggs again, the gals have been perking up for a couple weeks now.

    Will be pressing more hazelnut oil tomorrow, and have been tapping the trees and cooking down maple syrup. For everything there is a season……….

  7. Hello Chris
    Very interesting this week. I usually trust, which hasn’t always ended well. One of the advantages of now living in an extremely rural area, is that the badies are known and talked about. Odd that they don’t seem to realise this.
    With apologies to those who live in the US, I dislike the increasing Americanisation of things here. I had already noticed it in Australia on my later visits.
    We are supposed to be getting very cold weather tomorrow. It is always so difficult to know when to start planting.


  8. Yo, Chris – “Users.” Generally, you catch the drift from the context. Or maybe I’m just more attuned, given I’m kind of on the edge of that subculture. I’d say, half the meetings at The Club are NA (Narcotics Anonymous.) In polite Club society, sometimes there are questions as to if someone is “AA Folks”, or “NA Folks.” (Or, both.) Of course, there’s the old tried and try “junkie.” 🙂

    I’m glad The Editor is enjoying “Fairy Tale.” Funny. I didn’t even consider how the medical aspects, of the early part of the tale, might appear to foreign readers. Yup. That’s what it’s like. Mr. Bowditch was lucky to have the mad cash, to pay for it all. Of course, if our medical system wasn’t as it is, Charlie wouldn’t have had to travel to shady pawnbrokers, setting in motion parts of the story.

    Funny, a couple of times I’ve heard Elinor’s family refer to her caregivers as, “Your girl.” Not that I commented on it. Not my place to. 🙂

    That boss I had. Well, here’s a rambling tale 🙂 I lived next door, and could hear quit a bit through the wall. Which I kept to myself. When I started volunteering at the library (to get my foot in the door), I once heard him tell someone how stupid I was, as I’d never get a job there as, “…he doesn’t have the education. And besides, he’s too old.” LOL. One of the sweetest days of my life, was when I gave my two weeks notice … to go work at the library.

    What did the Portuguese, ever do to you? 🙂 I guess some kind of a balance, was struck, between the natives and the foreigners?

    Rock hunting. Lapidary. One of those hobbies that really took off. In the past. There were lapidary clubs and “rock shops.” Magazines. Lots of equipment. Everything from rock tumblers (to polish agates) to rock saws. There are still rock hunters, around, but not like the old days. (See: “Bowling Alone.”) Did a bit of it, myself. Even when I moved here (in the early 1980s), I’d go out and do a bit or rock hunting. Generally, drive around and look for a steam with promising gravel bars. That wasn’t fenced or posted (posted is having a lot of “No Trespassing” signs on boundaries.) Lewis County has a lot of interesting rocks. Carnelian. Petrified wood. Agatized petrified wood. Amethyst. Etc.. I haven’t done that in years, but it was fun at the time. Get out in the woods.

    I just put the dried cherry tomatoes in a quart plastic bag, and suck all the air I can out, with one of those plastic, hollow stir sticks. I keep them stored in the pantry, out of the light. I don’t overfill the bags, so, they’re kind of flat. So far, no problems with spoilage.

    LOL. Like Grandfather’s ax. It’s had two replacement heads, and three replacement handles, but it’s still Grandpa’s ax.

    No one was safe in “The Menu.” I watched much more pleasant fare, last night. “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Held up remarkable well. I really enjoyed it, and much popcorn and melted cheese were ingested. Now I’d like to see Mr. Spielberg’s “AI,” again. But, of course the library doesn’t have it, and I’d have to get it on an interlibrary loan.

    I finished “All the Beauty in the World.” A good read. I thought. Well, at the end, the author was interviewing for the tour company, and, I guess that’s what he’s still doing. Author’s still do book tours and signings. In fact, there were a few pictures of him doing such. I’m surprised he doesn’t seem to have made any of the major best seller lists. But then, I can’t believe some of the carp (that’s a typo) that does make the best seller lists. Lew

  9. Hi Inge,

    I understand your perspective, and likewise once trusted, however you may note the past tense use of that word. Nowadays people have to earn my trust. I wish it were not so, because it is not my natural inclination to act so, but my experiences on that front have been harsh enough for me to correct my thinking in this matter.

    That is a fascinating difference between where you are located, and here. We’re still at that point in time where people are moving around (arriving and then going again) a little bit too often for such social networks to hang together. However, your experience is most certainly where we are headed in this little corner of the planet. Yes indeedy! I have little to fear on that front because the Golden Rule of ‘do unto others’ guides my behaviour. How other people guide themselves is none of my business, until they cross my path in a bad way.

    And I absolutely agree. Those folks up this way know, and yet don’t care. It is also something which is an enduring mystery to me too. Have you had any further thoughts in this matter? Although, if they have crossed me, and a few have attempted the feat, they discovered unanticipated consequences, and now leave me well alone. But I know who they are.

    Yes, and likewise, no disrespect to the American readers of the blog, but that valiant country rescued us against the Japanese invaders during WWII, and all debts must eventually be repaid. The culture looms large, and fair enough too, but the land here is strong and ancient and has her ways. I’m assuming the same is true of your country?



  10. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the reference. Yup, Dunbar’s number is a real thing. I have to say I particularly enjoyed the definition described as: “the number of people you would not feel embarrassed about joining uninvited for a drink if you happened to bump into them in a bar.” Says it all really.

    Your words exactly resonate with the principles which guide me in disbursing ‘trust’ onto others nowadays. Even in more stable times, trust was slowly gained and quickly lost. I’m guessing your words are backed up by sheer experience? Mate, it is a hard way to learn, but the alternative is far worse.

    That aligns with my thinking too, co-operation and competition have to be in some sort of balance where the mid-point between the two extremes is reached. Too much in either direction is something of a disaster. And I appreciate your book recommendation caveat! Those things come thick and fast here and the ‘to-read’ list is already groaning. Are you enjoying your book club?

    Exactly! And double and triple exactly! This is what I’ve been working towards for so many years now here with the interlocking local networks of trust. It may pay no dividends, but sometimes a person has to set an example for others.

    😉 You guessed correctly. Well done. And there are moments where I feel that we may have enjoyed the same music, whilst in totally different continents. How good is Miracle Mile?

    Good stuff, and when next you comment, I’d be very interested to know whether those are your saved onion seeds? I’ve read that the plant is very sensitive to latitude and so local varieties of onions really have to be very locally bred.

    The chickens here are going off the lay as they go through their annual moult and then regrow their feathers. They pick up laying again after the winter solstice. Such are the ways of the chickens annual cycle. Fresh eggs are a delightful addition to the larder at your time of year.

    Ah, the sap is rising. Of course. Respect. The two sugar maple trees here are growing very well, and also reasonably fast. They seem to cope well with hot weather, but need a feed. They’re quite cheap to purchase as seedlings, so I suspect they’re very easy to grow from seed?



  11. Hi Lewis,

    Yes, of course, context is everything. The older use of the word to describe antisocial behaviours has dropped out of usage down here. Isn’t it funny how adaptable our language is? You are more likely to hear the term ‘drug user’ spoken down here nowadays than the more old school term ‘junkie’ which is rarely heard now. A re-branding perhaps? My sister who was the middle kid of the family ended up down that path, and I cut ties with her a very long time ago, but for other reasons. Last I heard, she’s doing OK, but the reality was, we never really had that much in common.

    The Editor is thoroughly enjoying Mr King’s latest book. And she mentioned that in the story the old bloke only just died. I didn’t supply any spoilers. 😉 We were aghast at the medical side-story, and I did ask the Editor if she considered whether it was the medical system which had finished him off? To which she replied that the more likely culprit in this instance were lifestyle choices. All rather unfortunate. The box set of the Bill Hodges trilogy (hardcover edition) awaits her next week, although she knows it not! One must keep some surprises. 🙂 I see that the book won an Edgar. A very impressive pedigree, and I’ll enjoy the second read. One must know their place in these most delicate of reading order matters. Hehe!

    No point commenting upon the observation, otherwise you might miss how their minds work. Plenty of people give their hand away on the cheap. Best always to know, is my opinion – although mileage may vary. It’s funny but with part of my work I wade in the grittier hands-on end of the profession. It’s far from glamorous, and despite having a weighty status with which to lean upon, plenty of people refer to me as ‘the bookkeeper’. Have to laugh when I hear that, but I have earned enough status, that status is not a consideration.

    Thanks for the tale of your former boss. And yes, I too would enjoy a victory such as yours. 🙂 Liked your fine joke too – the tale was hardly what I’d describe as rambling. More like concise and to the point.

    Dunno about those Portuguese millipedes. I’ve read that a local nematode has adapted to consume them, but early on, the millipedes had almost no natural predators down under. Over the years I encounter less of the pesky critters as the variety of critters and fertility increases. The millipedes stink too when squarshed! 🙂

    Fascinating. Out of curiosity, did your earlier interest in rocks alter the way you perceived the environment and geology in any way? Wise to not trespass, people can get rather excited by that. And I agree, it is a good excuse to get out of the city.

    Ah, many thanks for the description of your storage system with your dehydrated tomatoes. I see no reason why dried tomatoes would go-off prematurely in such a storage system. We use the olive oil because the dehydrated tomato chips lend the oil an excellent flavour which later gets re-used.

    Hehe! On the way home this evening, I stopped past a big box hardware store and picked up some quality hand tools with which to assist setting the axe head on the timber handles. Mate, truly, getting that job done right is an art form – and I’m looking forward to fixing the old axe to the new handle. I watched a video of a bloke who cut an axe handle out of a solid chunk of timber so as to obtain a greater appreciation of the entire process, and I reckon I could probably do something along those lines if needs be. It interests me how many old school processes are understood and practised by a few. It was a pleasure to watch the workmanship in action.

    Good to hear that the Spielberg film held up well. I recall enjoying it myself back in the day. The trailer for the fortieth anniversary edition was intense.

    Mate, it is hard to comprehend what books will and won’t capture the public’s attention and end up on the best seller list. Something of a mystery! But then I write for the joy of the process, and the lovely ongoing conversations with people such as yourself.

    Went into the big smoke today. Might head to bed early tonight. The wind was quite strong last night and woke me up a few times. Chris need sleep, ugg. 🙂 It’s windy again tonight.



  12. Hello Chris
    No further thoughts in response to your question.
    Regret to say that I think many of the best traits of the English may be vanishing for good.
    Re. the Americanisation of things here, language is the one that drives me nuts. Pronunciation, spelling and (worst of all) sensible grammar are all going down the tubes.


  13. Hi, Chris!

    That’s good grifter advice; I am taking it to heart. I have known quite a few of those.

    I have watched with chagrin to see your society shift towards a more American one. It’s hard enough to endure here without watching what I once thought was a delightful culture head the same way.

    I shall rant ahead – thinking of my culture brought it to mind -about the time changing here on March 12. I hate getting up in the dark, but always have to. It has finally gotten to where I only have to wait an hour after getting up for it to get light outside. Now, they are changing it again and it will be getting light another hour later. How cruel is that – and why?

    I always love to see your froggies. We used to have a plastic wading pool that my sons played in when they were small. The dogs enjoyed it, too, in the summer, so we left some water in it most of the time. Frogs would lay eggs in it, it not being pristine water, and they hatched into tadpoles, so I had to feed them. I couldn’t think what to give them besides lettuce and other greens and that worked. Once they were frogs, they would go off into the trees or down to the pond behind us.

    Why were there mounds? Was it something you did, or from long ago? I found the nicest old, brown jar with seams the other day lying in the woods; it will make a great vase.There are old rubbish piles on our property and next to us and interesting things turn up sometimes. We don’t often find them, but some of the stuff dates back to the just-freed slaves who lived here.

    You do have the greatest rocks; it’s so nice that you have them under control. I have never seen a stick insect that long.

    Is that autumn asparagus? Ours should be ready to eat fairly soon. I am so thankful that you have ripe tomatoes.

    Thanks for the flowers!


  14. Greetings Chris;

    Onions- no, we don’t save onion seed. There is an organization in Iowa near here, same latitude and very similar climate and geology that preserves heirloom varieties of seed.

    We save some other seeds, but these folks do great work so we support them.

    Seedling maples- I’ve never tried to grow from seed. The local conservation agencies sell bare root dormant seedlings for cheap, and I gain at least a year of growth and no worries with seed trays, pots, and watering with the seedlings, so makes my progress with forest improvement all the quicker.

    Tapping for sap needs to wait till they have a 12″ ( ~300 mm) trunk, so it takes the long view when adding more to the mix with that in mind. You might not get any syrup from your plantings???

    But yes, they do grow easily from seed. In optimal years in maple dominated forests, the ground can be a carpet of seedlings, 99% of which will die, but are there just in case a gap in the canopy
    opens up.

    Music- It seems a pattern that we get our music tastes locked in at a key age range- say 12-18, but having kids sometimes yanks you out of your rut as they give new genre’s extended play, and that’s happened to me to a certain extent. I came of age during the likes of Led Zeppelin, Beatles, that art of trying, but also got in to progressive rock. But as of now, it’s all across the board. I do sometimes like the pissed off or angry cathartic stuff like Rage Against the Machine or some of Midnight Oil numbers.

    And of course now with spotify, pandora and the like, one can stumble on new stuff on the cheap, so one’s taste gets hard to classify.

  15. @ Inge & Chris – I don’t like the increasing Americanization, of America. 🙂 Lew

  16. Yo, Chris – Well, these days, the politically correct, woke way to refer to an addict is: “A person with a Substance Use Disorder (SUD.) Which is quit a mouthful. If someone started throwing that around, I’d probably say: “Oh. You’re one of THOSE people.” 🙂 Did anyone ask the folks with a Substance Use Disorder, how they prefer to be referred to? I think not. And by the way, you can’t refer to mummies anymore. They are now “mummified human remains.” Because the mummies are less things and need their prior humanity respected. Or, something. Did anyone ask the mummies, how they would like to be referred to?

    Oh, yes. Reading order matters. A young (well, young to me) lady at the Club is reading King’s “Fairy Tale.” She’s taking her time, about it. I figure either she’s savoring it, or, has a life. 🙂 I’m suggesting she tackle King’s “The Stand.” Unabridged. But also suggested she needed a reading palate cleanser, before tackling that. I suggested just about anything by Laurie Notaro. She’s of the same generation, and, is laugh out loud funny.

    “The Bookkeeper.” Sounds like a hit man. “He keeps score of your moral failings. If you tip into the red, the bill comes due!” Soon to be a best seller, and major motion picture.

    My former boss? He’s dead. So sad ….

    Hmmm. Did I become aware of environment and geology? There’s always some kind of wonder, going on in the woods. As the time I spotted a very large crane, flying among the trees. What he (or she) was doing there, I know not. Not their usual habitat. Crawdads in the creeks as large as lobsters. The shells of fresh water clams. Geology? Well, yes. Lewis County is a mix of volcanic rock (hence, the carnelian) and Carboniferous Period (the petrified wood). Also, coal was laid down, about then. I’ve heard of imprints of leaves, ferns and bugs, being here, but never found any. Let’s say I became very aware of deep time.

    Worry of the Day. That my tomatoes won’t be dry enough, and will develop mold in the bag. Hasn’t happened yet, but you never know.
    I take a good sniff of the bag, when I open it, and once opened, keep it in the fridge.

    LOL. Best start with wooden kitchen spoons, before graduating to ax handles. Let DJ be your guide. You’ll end up being one of those old guys, sitting in front of the pub, whittling sticks. 🙂

    The weather forecast was for “snow after 4am, ending at 10am. Which would have blown any possibility of biscuits and gravy, out of the water. But, awoke to dry skies and sunshine. I wish they’d stop screwing around with my head!

    Out back, we have a stone (boulders) retaining wall, and then a slope, covered with rhododendrons. I noticed that some blackberries had invaded. I thought the Master Gardeners would take care of them, but no. So, I tackled them, yesterday, before they got too far out of hand. Couldn’t dig them out, but lopped them off. I could get to quit a few of them, from the topside, which wasn’t bad. But some I had to climb the rock wall, and attack from below. Someone had dumped kitty litter, on top of the wall. (You see what I have to put up with, around here). Which had reverted to it’s original clay form. It was slicker than cat … poop. I’ll ride herd on the blackberries, and maybe if I keep them hacked back, they’ll give up. Fat chance.

    We have our divvy up the garden spaces, tomorrow. Always an unpleasant experience. Lot’s of dithering. And, our Building Manager (oh, excuse me … Assistant Housing Director) sits in, and always manages to be unpleasant. Lew

  17. Hi Pam,

    Ah, a sad but unfortunate truth – they live among us! Oh well, best not be alarmed, be prepared and know how to respond instead. 🙂

    Not to worry, the land here is old and very strong, and holds sway underneath the thin film. I see great expectations all over the place, and wonder when hopes are dashed upon the rocks of reality. I’d have to suggest that the same is true of your country. Time will heal the discord, and then everyone will be in a new balance. I don’t reckon many are going to like it, but the outcome was always baked into the cake.

    The question I always want to know when we loaned you the hour, is have you been good to it? I’d hope not to receive it in a slightly soiled state. 🙂 Losing the hour messes with my head too. It’s near dark when I awake these days, and I’m not a fan.

    There are plenty of frogs here. Who knew they ate lettuce and other greens? Always wise to look after the frogs because they work overtime in the garden. To be honest, I have not clearly understood the life-cycle of the tree frogs here.

    It wasn’t only you asking that question about the mounds, but for the record, we found nothing. I have a suspicion that the loggers bulldozers tracks created the mounds when they turned repeatedly. But I wasn’t there and can only guess based on what I’ve observed of elsewhere.

    Yup, history never really leaves us, and sometimes it’s just there waiting to be found. Top finds! We find all sorts of oddments left over from the logging days, not to mention other less obvious mysteries. Rubbish piles will provide plenty of fodder for thought for future archaeologists. Makes you wonder what they’ll think of us?

    I wouldn’t say that I’ve got the rocks under control. Tamed for the moment, but who knows how the future will roll? They do say that a rolling stone gathers no moss, and it may be true. 😉

    The asparagus continues to produce the occasional spear at this time of year, but mostly the plants are harvesting energy to store in their large root systems. Remember to chuck some rock salt into your asparagus beds.

    Three cold and wet growing seasons in a row have been something of a challenge. Fortunately there are other things to eat which thrive in the cooler and damper conditions.



  18. Hi Inge,

    Well that makes two of us! 🙂

    Maybe. English culture arose to suit the land it evolved in? I believe the land has some say in the outcome. At the moment we are able to use fossil fuels to pretend that we live anywhere, but when they’re gone, or even in reduced supply, things will be different.

    Ah, from what I’m observing, popular culture influences accents and cultural responses. As someone who listens to and enjoys current popular music, I’d have to suggest that the UK forms are very different from those of down under, and also of the US. To me the differences are readily apparent. Chalk and cheese, as the old timers used to quip.



  19. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for responding in relation to the onion seeds. The old timers have a saying about: ‘knowing one’s onions’, and that arose due to the sheer complexity of reliably growing the plant. Mind you, I kind of suspect that with some plant breeding effort, a person might produce a variety which does well at the particular latitude and conditions. Dunno though, it’s only a wild guess at this stage.

    Mate, I used to be part of an affiliated group with that lot. Candidly I learned a lot about group dynamics by watching the antics of the local group implode. The goals of the group are worthy goals.

    Lucky you with the sugar maple seedlings. For your interest, they’d set me back about $16 each, so that was part of the reason I’d go the seed route. And what you say about the sugar ripening is definitely a risk in this warmer part of the world. My understanding is that the tree sap is only 2% sugar, whereas sugar beets are 20% sugar – and those things grow like weeds here. So there are other sources of sugar with a higher yield. On the other hand, the sugar maple tree itself has plenty of aesthetic and forestry value even without the sap.

    Japanese maples do the same thing here too with countless seedlings. Over in the more fashionable end of the mountain range, Sycamore’s form a solid forest understory, but over here in the central part of the mountain range they don’t seem to have much of a foothold. Get conditions right, and something will grow… 🙂

    Thank you for recounting your own musical journey. It may interest you, but there was some research recently into that very phenomenon: Why do we stop exploring new music as we get older?

    And exactly, people do try to put a label on music tastes.



  20. Hi Lewis,

    Man, I feel a bit awful, but the acronym SUD sounds too close for comfort to the word ‘suds’. That’s a word you rarely hear used nowadays, mostly because people seem to have forgotten how to wash up dishes by hand. People love those machines, but I’m not a fan due to the pretty harsh chemicals required to strip gunk off ceramics and cutlery. I’ll get some hate mail for saying that, for sure! 🙂 I dunno, I’m busy, but not that busy that I can’t wash up the dishes in hot water and soap (and we use the olive oil soap which we make) by hand. The worms in the sewage system will no doubt thank me for the lack of harsh chemicals. They seem to be doing OK in there.

    Nah man, it’s all mummies here. I have a vague memory that mummies formed some sort of plot in a 1960’s shlock horror film? Not quite ‘night of the living dead’, but of that era of film. Honestly, I respect mummies, but if they came back to life and began annoying me, and I mean in a physical way, I’d lop the heads. And then hope that would put an end to the mummy mischief. But if the body reconnects the severed head only to then continue the mischief – a flame thrower might be required. That’ll sort it out. But if that doesn’t work, then I’m completely out of ideas. What do you reckon it would take to sort that lot out?

    The undead are always annoying, in whatever form. Very dull too.

    Or perhaps the young lady is a slow reader? It’s also equally possible that the young lady is able to read several books at once, not something I can do, being a guy and all and unable to multi-task. The unabridged version of ‘The Stand’ was the one I read and respect for mentioning the option. The editors were a touch harsh with the earlier cuts of several hundred pages. The one bit which my mind speed-read was the bit about the constitutional convention – something of a personal weakness there, that section of the book not being quite Barbarian enough for my tastes. Oooo, Laurie Notaro sounds great. But AARP for a Gen X? Not my cup of tea. I have to truly admit to standing in awe, some of the titles of the authors books are sheer genius. I see what you mean.

    How’s this for a by-line to the film: He doesn’t deal to numbers, he kills people! Such an odd calling: Hit men. I’d heard stories of them being double crossed, like, who’d trust a crim, but what kind of idiot would double cross a hit man? Guess the answer is obvious.

    Yes, a sad thought. Moving on…

    Thanks for your thoughts on the woods, rocks and deep time. Yes, living amongst the trees had had a profound impact upon me as well, so I understand your perspective.

    I see your worry about your tomatoes (not something I’ve ever experienced) and raise you the worry that not enough of the tomatoes here may not ripen. I broached the idea this evening of pulling the plants in a few weeks and hanging them upside down in the greenhouse.

    Exactly, a nose can detect clostridium, but not all nasties can be detected. H’s nose might be able to pick up on those minute traces of toxins? The other night I watched the dogs casually walk around and out of the way of a particularly ugly looking large garden spider lurking on the ground.

    Yeah, I’m hearing what you are saying, and will go straight onto the axe handle. Occasionally the only way to properly crash to earth is to shoot for the stars. 😉 Hey, those old dudes might make a solid living whittling out axe and other tool handles.

    Good to hear that you and H made it to the biscuits and gravy. Hope H was on her very best behaviour – or at least the new improved version of that? It was cool here today. For a few moments this afternoon the thermometer recorded 64’F, but for most of the day it was far colder that that. This morning at the general store I grabbed a coffee and was enjoying it with my nose deep in a book. Of course I was the only person seated outside, and some lady walking past asked whether my jumper was a traditional Irish jumper. With a mouth full of fruit toast the reply was a sort of inadvertent grunt which rapidly ended the unsought conversation. This new grunting form of communication might be handy, after all it may avoid me having the indignity of the back of my head getting whacked by strange ladies. I don’t need that in my life. Do you reckon it is a good strategy?

    Good shot getting rid of the blackberries, but you have remarked to me before that like the Terminator, they’ll be back. Still, a person must do something when faced with such Triffidesque plants. The kitty litter is pretty nasty.

    Did you do OK in the plot allocation situation? And did Elinor ask for, and receive a garden plot?

    Man, wouldn’t worry about it all. A flash in the pan, eventually the realities of the land imposes its will upon culture. I don’t see how that couldn’t happen.



  21. Chris:

    What do you mean by rock salt for the asparagus?

    I’m not sure anything involving humans is ever balanced, but we might hope for “better”. Simpler, anyway, though simpler is not necessarily easier and it’s usually more time-consuming.

    Thanks for the loan. I am slways good to my hours. They only come around once!

    The froggies we had only ate greens in the tadpole stage. I have no idea what tadpoles eat in the wild.


  22. Chris:

    You mentioned suds up above. I have just realized that there is another reason that I am glad that we do not use a dishwasher: That would just mean more chemicals into the septic tank – and our groundwater. Our dish soap is commercially made, but is as basic as possible. And never – never – any scents added.


  23. Yo, Chris – My memory was jogged. “Suds” is also a slang term for beer. Due to the head, I suppose. I don’t hear it very much, anymore. But when I was a wee small lad, it was used quit a bit.

    Well, a glance into the rabbit hole reveals that between 1932 and about 2017, there were at least 19 mummy movies. Hmmm. I wonder if they’re the original zombies? Often, they are accompanied by hoards of the undead. It’s not always a solo act. Yeah, a flame thrower might be the way to go. All that dry, dry linen. And the Egyptians used plenty of flammable stuff, during the embalming process. Oils and tars from different trees. Bitumen and natron. Yup. I think they’d go up pretty easy.

    I’d say, whichever critic referred to Laurie Nataro as “AARP for a Gen X” is not only unkind, but also inaccurate. AARP, by the way, is American Association of Retired Persons. A huge, strong lobbying group. I’m a card carrying member, myself 🙂 . Judging from her earlier books, she was a wild punk girl.

    Moldy tomatoes. It COULD happen. I think I’ve been hanging out with Elinor, for too long. 🙁

    Yeah, a grunt or growl usually makes ’em back off. Worked a treat on the Girl Scout, pushing her poisonous biscuits. The phrase I’m holding in reserve is “I’m not looking to make new friends.”

    Well, we had our meeting to divvy up garden plots. Our building manager was rather caught on the back foot, as, the Master Gardeners didn’t show up. No one knows why. We need input from the Gardeners, as to which beds will undergo major reconstruction, this year. But most of the beds that are available, were assigned.

    Elinor got her raised bed, no problem, this year. As opposed to the last three years, when the building manager got pretty raspy about it. A sheet of garden “rules” was passed out. The one she kept pounding at, was if a person has to abandon a plot, halfway through the season, they can’t just give it away. The office has to be informed, and management will decide who gets said plot. Power and control.

    Before the meeting, I had an hour to kill. The sun was shinning, So, I pulled shot weed. Not my plot, but it belongs to someone I can tolerate. Right now, she got some family stuff going on. Besides, if you don’t keep on top of that, it spreads, everywhere.

    I was told that I might have to give up one of my plots. I expected that. But, as my big plot is one of the one’s to be reconstructed, that’s up in the air. I did decide, though, last night, as a concession, that big plot could be divided in half. I’d take the back half, someone else can take the front. I figure half the beds will be abandoned, mid season. So, I can slip in fall crops, here and there. Besides the sly stuff I put in odd corners. 🙂 Lew

  24. Chris,

    The weather is turning into early spring now. Or at least the transition season from late winter. Had another snowfall of “science snow”. Good phrase you came up with. Let physics do the work. 😉 It was sunny and nearly +10C Tuesday. Balmy.

    I’ve watched some hideous problems with people relying on GPS. Several years ago, the minor arterial near our home (50meters away) was dug up to replace water lines. Very deep. Portable barricades were in place at the intersection with my street. I would watch people staring at their GPS, get out of the car, move the barricade, then get stuck at the bottom of the dug up road. Also, one of the Princess’s military rellies was in the areaa few years later, stayed at the local military base for a few days with my bro-in-law. They had been here before. Rather than listening to bro-in-law about how to go from where they were staying to the other end of town, they used GPS. Took a very circuitous route through the boonies, over the river, through the woods, and wound up driving right by our house before being “directed” to go through the heavy downtown traffic. Took them 3 hours to drive what should have taken 30 minutes. GPS.

    Nice photo of the floating pobblebonks. What are the sinkers at the bottom of the water? Future pobblebonks? Congealed dirt? Something unmentionable?

    “The other lesson I took away from that experience, is that you have to be very careful as to who you decide to give your time and energy to, and judge them beforehand by their actions and how that person treats others.” Well said. I learned that lesson rather late in life. I remember one fellow student when I was a teenager who treated me poorly. Yet, when we all took a school trip to the big library to do research for a school project, he easily conned me into getting a book for him on my library card. It was never returned. I had to pay a large late fee AND pay for a replacement book. Oh, we were students at a private religious school. Grifters are everywhere.

    I liked your reply to the doctor about feeling stressed. Had a good laugh.

    My boss was a grifter. I recall several conversations similar to this:
    Boss: I need you to start doing these things regularly.
    DJ: Ummm, all due (mumbled) respect, but isn’t that supervisory level work?
    Boss: Yes, but for you “and related duties as assigned.”
    DJ: Ok, but do I get out of class pay, more benefits, a pat on the back? I mean, increased work load and responsibilities when I’m already overworked?
    Boss: You’re being insubordinate.
    DJ: Last week you assigned “insubordination” to me as a new work duty. Just doing what I was told. Mumble sir.
    I go back to work. Boss goes back to goofing off. Rinse and repeat. Grifters.

    You removed that mound? It almost looked like an old burial mound. The Vikings were everywhere, it seems, so maybehaps that had once been a Viking burial mound complete with (now decayed) ship? Or maybe zombies lived there? Although it DOES look a lot better after the mound was removed. Good use of the dirt elsewhere, too.

    Drainage. Don’t talk to me about drainage. It gives me a pain in all the diodes in my left side. Oh, wait, said that before. Ummm, errr, well done on moving the pipes to a more proper location and depth. That should help that area a lot.

    “Near to the mound was a small rock poking out of the ground.” Without looking at the next picture, I envisioned a large scale project involving proper protective equipment, drilling, etc., as that little bit of rock poking through was the tip of the iceberg. I scrolled down and found you had another massive peak rock project involving proper protective equipment and drilling. All of the easily obtained smaller rocks are gone, only the hard to get stuff remains.


  25. Hi Lewis,

    It’s funny you mention that shorthand word ‘suds’ and beer. Hadn’t heard that, but it makes sense. My brain once encountered National Lampoon’s book ‘Doon’, a whacky and warped spin on the ‘Dune’ series of books by Frank Herbert. Now, every time I see someone behind the bar pouring a beer, without even thinking about it, my minds weighs up the awful truth of the situation: Do they pour beer with no head? That was an ongoing in-joke in the National Lampoon book. Hmm. Talk about early programming – you know what I mean, say Mad Magazine anyone? What me worry? You can say that and those who know, they just know. 🙂 It sticks. No doubt when I’ve got dementia and the powers that be are considering taking me down the back paddock to end up as fertiliser, the only thing I’ll be able to recall with any clarity is: What me worry? And they’ll wonder at the sheer braggadocio of the words! Give them something to think about I reckon. 🙂 Probably won’t stop them though!

    There you go, the memory serves correctly in relation to the mummy films. For some reason the mental image of bodies wrapped in linen bandages seems to spring to mind. I guess like you’re suggesting the trope has its origins in ancient Egyptian goings on. And yes, the undead seem to be pesky sorts, and hordes of them is not something you’d want to encounter, and not be at the top of your game. So what do you reckon, will Zombieland III ever be made as a film?

    Good to have a plan B and a plan C when it comes to dealing with the undead.

    Yeah, it did seem a touch premature to make that AARP call about the author, but that’s what you get with the wikipudding page. It’s there alright, and was hard to work out who the quote was attributed to. Probably some marketing person wanting to expand the authors appeal?

    Mate, early on in the blogs arc of time, whenever I mentioned dehydrating tomatoes someone would inevitably pipe up and say: Aren’t you worried about botulism? Really, can’t make that up. So yeah, possibly Elinor has been getting into your brain, and the risk is always possible, but then space junk might wipe out the house too. Can’t be ruled out as a possibility. What me worry? 🙂 If people had a better grasp of the intricacies of statistics and probabilities, they might not want to gamble. The facts on the ground suggest that things are otherwise.

    That’s a good line, but I’m trying also to avoid outright confrontation, and saying “I’m not looking to make new friends.” suggests motivations for the other party which may not apply. After all, they might be simply curious, wanting to be pleasant, or just outright wanting to interrupt and annoy me to make up for their own personal internal dissatisfaction. And words can lead to arguments, a grunt on the other hand can mean anything. It’s genius as a strategy and takes considerable practice to make it appear to be spontaneous. Spare a thought for our Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon ancestors who had to learn to wield a proper grunt.

    Wonder what happened with the Master Gardeners? A mystery perhaps? Check for outbreaks of zombies, that possibility can’t be entirely ruled out! 🙂 Seriously, are they OK?

    How would they know, that’s what I want to know about that power and control story. It seems a bit over the top. Possibly they are bored and looking for something to do?

    Shot weed = Bittercress. Yes, that plant can spread, and I agree it does tend to get off to an early start in the season.

    A man has to be flexible to circumstance, and it sounds to me as if you’ve made that call.

    Picked up some fertiliser this morning. Eye watering prices, but a person must be stoic in these matters.



  26. Hi Pam,

    Yes, over the past few years I’ve added salt to the asparagus beds. It’s an old timer thing, and knocks back some of the competing plants (AKA weeds) and the asparagus seem to like it. It is possible the plants evolved near to the ocean?

    I agree, better is a lovely state to reach. But we’ll see, I really don’t know. Things look to me as if they are in something of a state of flux right now. People don’t necessarily like change, but it seems to be the way of things don’t you reckon?

    Thank you for the lost hour, and I’ll do my best to return it to you in the condition in which it was received. Cameras make that job of documenting evidence a lot easier these days… 🙂

    And yeah, the same is true here with the frogs. I have no idea as to what are their life cycles here what with their being little in the way of standing water around here. A mystery.

    You know, with the dishwasher story, most people tell me about the labour saving aspects of the machine, or the water saving aspects (which I’m dubious of such claims because a sink of water is hardly a lot of water). And fair enough too. But the chemicals are pretty rough, and like you I worry about a build up of nasties in the soils here – because that’s where it’s headed (if I used such a machine). I dunno, it’s not really for me to judge others on that front, and I don’t. Probably like you, I set my own goals, choose my own limits and run my own race, other folks can do as they please. It matters not.

    I hear you about the scents too. Use of them seems to be on the rise, and I avoid such things on the basis that they’re probably not much good for a person. My understanding is that long ago scents used to be delivered in alcohol which is a fairly innocuous delivery method. Nowadays, all bets are off on the chemical front, but again if people want to do such things, it ain’t none of my business. Just not for me.



  27. Chris:

    Since you have mentioned it, I do remember reading something about salt and asparagus.

    “Flux” reminded me of one of the terms my son used when he worked in a bronze foundry, where he apprenticed for 6 years. He hasn’t used those skills in a long time, though he has a very small foundry for his personal use. Anyway, flux is: “In metal refining, flux is used to help remove impurities and change the fluidity of the melt.” We will not get to “better”, without being in flux first.

    Frogs and toads can travel along way to get to and from a pond. Every spring, we have the Great Toad Migration coming up to our property from the neighbor’s pond below, all uphill. Some stop and stay with us, others are seen still heading uphill past us and all along the dirt road (squish . . .). Most are baby toads, with some baby frogs amongst them. All are about the size of a fingernail. This can go on for three months.

    My new hobby is taking at least one photo a day of the beautiful rural scenes along the road where I drive to and from my mother’s assisted living place every day, have been doing so for about 3 months. I only have my smartphone, but it does a really good job.


  28. Yo, Chris – Atlantic Magazine, is nothing, if not timely. Or, at least coincidental. “You Should Build a Frog Pond.” (Marris).

    Yes, funny how things stick in the memory. Anytime I’m out walking H, and there’s a big full moon (as, last night), I’m likely to say “M – O – O – N spells moon!” Those in the know, know from where that came. H always gives me a look that says, “Have you lost the plot?”
    As we don’t have a back paddock, here, we just take them out to the curb and put them down.

    Well, a glance into the rabbit hole reveals that there’s some loose talk about a “Zombieland 3”. In 2029. A lot can happen between now and then. “There’s many a slip ‘twixt cup and the lip.” A saying that dates back to the second century CE. And variations may run back to the second century BCE. One of the Cato. Elder or younger. One or the other. Those Romans! Sloppy eaters.

    Drive-by quotes. Sometimes lethal. And the perps are usually not caught.

    You may remember my brush with space junk. It was a near miss! Well, a least within the State miss. Something I’ll never forget seeing.

    Given the Master Gardener’s natural habitat, gardens, I’d say more likely Triffids than zombies. Shot weed. Round, orange … 🙂

    Elinor always insists on a few bags of what she considers good, name brand garden soil. I priced it, yesterday. When I break the news, if she hasn’t had that heart attack, yet, this may push her over the edge.

    Worry of the Day, for the Worry of the Day Calendar … “Scientists Have Revived a “Zombie” Virus That Spent 48,500 Years Frozen in Permafrost.” Seemed like a good idea. What could possibly go wrong?

    The youngish couple from the Club, she who is reading “Fairy Tale,” well, I was telling them about the film “Menu.” They were going to watch it, this week. I might get a report, tonight. I warned them! I told them not to watch it! I’m assuming no responsibility! There’s a lot of that going around. All the cool kids are doing it. Lew

  29. Hi Chris,
    Frogs and stick insects – what can be better. We’ve had tadpoles in the pig pond that Doug keeps filled each year. One dry summer I was amazed to see that some of our heritage breed chickens, Brown Leghorns find some frogs nowhere near water.

    Hope all is well with your eye. We have an excellent opthamologist who is in our local clinic a few days a month. Michael saw her for cataracts. Now Michael was in the habit of questioning all health care practitioners as to their experience and education. Most got quite a chuckle from his questioning but Dr. Rhee is quite serious and was a bit taken aback by his questioning.

    We’re expecting six or more inches of snow tonight then a colder than normal week ahead so it should stick around a bit. I did some sheet mulching in the garden where some persistent grass has traveled in with cardboard and the leaf mulch from last fall. Started the seeds too.

    I’m with you and Pam regarding dishwashers. You may recall that this house had no dishwasher and I get quite a kick out of people’s reactions. I’ve had too many dishes and glasses damaged by dishwashers and there’s the harsh chemicals you talked about. We did put in a new deep heavy duty sink though as it was difficult to wash the big pans in the old one. Used to take those big pans to the laundry sink in the basement.

    Attended the junior high retiree breakfast and we sharing whether we were early or late risers. I think I was in the minority as a very early riser but I enjoy the quiet and the dark. I go outside each morning to just listen to the night sounds, owls and just the quiet. It’s almost 1:30 PM now and I’m about done in for the day.

    I’ve never added salt to my asparagus beds but some old timers swear by it. I may just have to try it next year.


  30. Hi DJ,

    Sounds like it’s warming for you. Nice to hear that after all the recent science snow. The weather here is quite pleasant.

    Oh my, that’s crazy with the GPS, but then I’ve seen similar things here. Maybehaps the relo simply enjoyed the act of driving – although three hours is kind of hard to explain? Three hours can get a person from one extreme end of the big smoke to the other end. Most folks visiting here get it right, but there was that one time I got a call and my incredulous response may have been: You’re where? I have an odd hunch that the person in question may have attempted to do too much in one day and thus may not have been telling the exact truth. I’ve noticed the persons propensity for an inability to set limits upon themselves – it would drive me bonkers if faced with that on a regular basis.

    On an entirely different note, we went into the big smoke last night to see a gig. For obvious reasons I don’t announce my plans ahead of time. Had a good night, and on the way home stopped past a tool shop and picked up an engineering bench vice. My mind is getting around to thinking about sorting out the axe handles here. As a bloke interested in wood work yourself, I’m heading off on that long journey. It’s a real skill and I may even try to make tool handles from scratch. Have to get a few wood working hand tools first though. Candidly the timber handles I’ve purchased are a bit rubbish. Can do better, so shall do better. 😉 We’ll see.

    There’s one hand tool I was hoping you’d know the name of. It’s a hand file, somewhere between half an inch and an inch thick which has a sort of honeycomb pattern with quite wide gaps. It’s used for taking off fast chunks off timber. And I watched another video of a bloke using a two handed chisel knife which you pull towards yourself that shaves chunks of timber off. Dunno what they’re called, and was hoping you could assist with the names for them so I could track them down locally? Actually, that’s two tools!

    The sinkers at the bottom of that water bowl are dead Portuguese millipedes. A very invasive species and they have been on the continent for about 70 years. The local nematodes are slowly adapting to eat them. The frogs didn’t seem to mind too much.

    Mate, I get how that could happen. Nobody tells you any of this stuff – like with your book experience – and sometimes you and I just have to learn the hard way. It would be nice to have had parents to explain how these things worked, but my lot were barely able to look after themselves, let alone provide me with any useful guidance. But if they did, possibly a person would then make new and more interesting mistakes? Anyway, I’d like to think we’ve done better than their experience. 😉

    Doctors stress me out. I’m old enough to have recalled the name ‘quack’ applied to them, and also to have heard the refrain: ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’. This was most assuredly suggesting that you didn’t want to end up in the hands of that profession and a consuming a regular apple would be preferable.

    Hehe! Yes, insubordination one week, subordination the next. Honestly, it’s hard to keep up with the rapid-fire changes of such a mind. My retort to claims of insubordination was: ‘Last I checked, we weren’t in the army’. Far out, you could visibly see the blood pressure rise from that cheeky quip. In these enlightened days I simply document strangeness: On such and such a day you requested me to… Or, I’ll do what you say, but the technically correct way to do… Puts an end to such foolishness. Nobody told me a person can do that trick either! 😉

    Stop it! 🙂 But yeah, look I was also worrying about that with the mounds too. Fortunately nothing was discovered. I sort of believe the mounds were created when very large bulldozers repeatedly turning at a particular point on the property. The tracks built up soil on the downhill side – which in turn killed the trees due to the soil being mounded too high against the trunks. Soil is valuable stuff, and very little goes to waste here.

    Hey, fair crack of the whip mate. Lewis started it! 🙂 All that loose talk about drainage, culverts and what not… Hehe!

    I know, the rock was asking for it. Take that ye pesky rocks! Alas, woe is me, Peak Rocks is all too real. Still a person must make do. And rock splitting is a bit of an art form. A little bit science rocks and a whole lot of grunt effort (and some super awesome machines and alloys). Glad the Romans didn’t have them. Imagine the mess and awesome materials they would have left behind – hang on a second…



  31. Hi Pam,

    Yeah, from what I’ve observed of this growing season, a bit of added salt to the asparagus beds worked pretty well. We applied two small bags of salt to the three grow beds early on in the season. Unfortunately, it would have been a good idea to run a control asparagus bed just to observe the comparison, but if the old timers suggest the mineral addition, they probably know what they’re talking about. And it might be worthwhile trying.

    🙂 Flux is still very much used today. In fact I’ve got a little tub of the stuff which gets used when fixing up the electronics items. I daub it onto the components metal chunks, and it does exactly what you wrote, except I use it for removing old solder and then making certain that the new stuff sticks properly. Probably toxic AF, but oh well, it does the job and is probably offgassing on all manner of electronic devices. And I agree, a state of flux is where we are today. Kind of exciting in some ways.

    We went into the big smoke last night to watch a gig. It was really lovely to hang out with tens of thousands of other people bopping along to the music. I really enjoyed the experience. And it’s been years since I’ve been in the vicinity of so many people.

    Thanks for the story of the annual toad migration in your part of the world. Many years ago during the last drought, I’d occasionally discover the body of a yabbie (a local tasty crustacean) who’d walked overland searching for water, and ended up here. It’s funny to think of the small, large and long cycles going on all around us.

    Respect. And very wise to focus your mind on the good things around you, especially perhaps when other aspects of life may or may not be going all that well.



  32. Hi Margaret,

    Yup! Well spoken! The sheer amount and diversity of life going on all around me is really something else to experience – as you’d know as someone who gets out into the wilder parts of your area with the birding.

    Chickens are pretty good foragers aren’t they? I’ve rescued a few frogs from the chickens over the years, but now I rarely find any frogs near to the chickens. Can’t imagine why that would be? 🙂 Speaking of chickens, they’re all going through the autumn moult cycle right now and the birds are certainly not what I’d describe as in ‘show condition’. One hen was broody for a bonkers number of weeks, and she’s lost a lot of condition, but will hopefully bounce back before winter. Their protein needs are way up at this time of year. We’re hoping to pick up a trio next of point-of-lay birds next month, but we’ll see. Chookflation is a real thing down here.

    I’d imagine that the pigs would also be partial to toad?

    Thanks for your concern, and the eye is fine. Might have burst a blood vessel. A long story…

    Go Michael! Well, it’s a fair question and who knows, Michael might be right with his concern.

    Oh no! Did you end up getting the snow? Honestly, such weather sounds unpleasant, but then I am summer soft. It was a truly pleasant day here today. However, over in the more fashionable end of the mountain range the authoritas finally got around to conducting a small burn off. Wonders will never cease! Anyway, the smoke was blowing in this direction, but by a sheer quirk of the mountain range, the smoke only just missed us. Turned the light from the sun a lovely orange glow.

    Good luck with the grass! Something of a never ending battle I’m sorry to say.

    Yeah, dishwashing machines have their place, but I dunno, when the extraordinary becomes an everyday thing, it’s a bit of a problem. And the chemicals and not to mention the energy are a worry. Yikes! I had to install one in a house I fixed up for sale years ago, but never once used it. But people expect it, so what else do you do?

    It would be a shame if we were all wired the same way. Personally, I believe that your preference has great evolutionary advantages. After all, early risers seeking battle would probably find me still asleep, and then things would go badly for me. The logic is sound and undeniable! 🙂

    I’ll be curious to hear if you get results from your asparagus with the addition. I didn’t consider running a control bed without the salt. But then it is hard to know how much salt is already in other soils in other parts of the world? Dunno.



  33. Hi Lewis,

    That cheeky magazine gives me only a few articles a month. Sometimes it’s weird like that coincidence. I’d hate to think that journo’s looking for stuff to write about are reading me ripping off concepts? I might run out of ideas! Anyway, didn’t you tell me that the hippies used to quip: ‘It ain’t paranoia, if it’s true.’ That’s an astute observation too. They need to get a life or at least some hobbies or something, then they’ll have stuff to write about!

    Speaking of which, we went to the city last evening to go see the English band: Florence and the Machine. Such a great stadium concert and it was a real pleasure to be with tens of thousands of people jumping around to the music. Mileage may vary. A lot of energy in the crowd. Good fun, and I’d been waiting years for the band to return to Melbourne.

    The performer asked the audience to use the torches on the phones for that one song (a touch of relief for the screen hungry folks in the audience maybe?), but basically asked if people could watch the show with their eyes on the performance, and not on their little screens. Most people seemed to do that from what I observed, which is a good thing.

    It’s the labour day long weekend down here, and Monday is a public holiday. Anyway, the city was putting on the annual Moomba festival and the Editor and I walked through it and enjoyed observing the carnies working the crowds. Some of the rides people go on made me feel a bit queasy to look at. When we first started going out – many long years ago now – I took the Editor on one of those rides, and during it she said: “I think I’m going to be sick” Fortunately she held it together as that would have been very messy. We now avoid carnival rides.

    Plus I spotted a huge retaining wall made from steel rock gabion cages. Shows where things could go… 😉 Took a photo.

    Very funny! I’d enjoy your quip. How great was that book of Mr King’s? Yes, M-O-O-N spells moon indeed. And how cool was it that the character knew when to leave and thus return for the timely rescue of Stu? And survived when greater folks perished. Anyway, far out, what do they teach dogs these days?

    Well, the curb is probably closer than the back paddock. Points to a certain sort of efficiency of mindset. 😉

    That’s another six years to wait. It does seem like rather a long time between zombie drinks. Oh man, I just kind of knew the previously used abbreviations better (AC and DC!!!) Was someone offended? Many years ago there was some sort of push for change with my lot, and from where I have no idea, but the long understood ‘profit and loss’ report was to be rebranded as ‘statement of performance’. And the ‘balance sheet’ report was to be rebranded ‘statement of position’. Like those two new names aren’t at all close to each other leading to massive confusion? Who drives these changes? I want names! 🙂 Anyway, from what I observed the allegedly stupid idea, died a rapid death. And hopefully has not been heard from again. Have people nothing better to do? I can think of some rocks which need hauling back up the hill!

    Hehe! Oh, you’re on fire. That’s good about the drive-by-quotes.

    I recall the space junk incident, but now have now forgotten the finer details of the story. Just how close were you to crash site and what did you see? Having seen the remnants of Skylab in a remote museum over in the south west of the continent many years ago I tend to believe that being hit by space junk could seriously mess up your day. Ouch!

    Yes, yes of course. The master gardeners would be familiar with Triffids, and perhaps know to pull them out of the ground when they’re only tiny little seedlings of things. Not something you’d want to let get biggerer.

    I said that about the fertiliser costs here. Picked up heaps of the stuff at the plant nursery the other day, and the costs were certainly on the up. Elinor may discover that soilflation is real. Well the old timers used to quip that bad news doesn’t get any better by not discussing it. Although between you and I, timing is important in these matters. Good luck! Hope the news went over well?

    Why would scientists do that? It seems a bit bonkers. It’s been said before that there are many berries in the world: strawberries, blueberries, and that one in the previous sentence: hubris. You read it here first!

    Hehe! Good luck with that. Hey, did the film recommendation come back to bite you – like a zombie? The film looked kind of warped in a good way.



  34. Chris:

    My goodness – that was a lot of people!

    I am glad that your eye is better.


  35. Yo, Chris – The article was pretty good, about the frogs. It also said that modest efforts could be effective. Tree frogs like the insides of PVC pipes. Apparently.

    Yikes! Scary! Concerts like that are not my cuppa. All those people might turn on you! (Worry of the Day.) But I’m glad ya’all had a good time. Happy you saw some monumental rock gabions, to give you a bit of inspiration. Can the Great Wall of Chris be far behind? Looking forward to seeing the picture.

    Cosmic! Last week I was talking to a fellow, at the Club, and he mentioned he’d run away to join the carnival, when he was 15. He had been a carny! I asked if he had numerous tattoos (as they all seem to have), but he said nary a one. Highly suspect!

    I once saw a carny deploying two buckets of water, across the seat of some ride. The way they dealt with sick. One of those images that stick with you.

    Yes. Efficiency. As back paddocks and ice flows are in short supply, around here, the curb will have to do.

    Yes, someone, somewhere, is always offended. Sometimes for people they DON’T EVEN KNOW! Speaking of taking names and making lists … 🙂

    I’m lucky to remember “net is what you get.”

    Space junk. There I was, minding my own business … I’d just walked back from the store, and took a break on the garden wall, before tackling the stairs. A full moon was rising. Suddenly, flaming stuff appeared, moving from west to east. Lower than the rising moon. At first, I really thought it was an air liner, breaking up. There was no sound. It finally disappeared over the western horizon. I heard no crash. It managed to clear our mountains, and land in the eastern part of our state. Luckily, in farm land.

    It’s a sight I will never forget. I often sit on the garden wall, watch the skies! 🙂 But, I suspect it’s a once in a life-time event.

    Even pulling up tiny triffids, one should wear welding gloves and goggles.

    Ohhh! That’s a keeper. “Bad news doesn’t get any better by not discussing it.”

    I saw the youngish couple, that I told “The Menu” about, last night. LOL, I told them if they never wanted to take a movie recommendation from me again, I’d understand. Actually, she quit liked it. Young-ish people are so strange. I’m looking forward to “Cocaine Bear.” “Based on a true story.” Kinda. Sorta.

    Last night I watched Ken Burn’s documentary, “Lewis and Clark: Corp of Discovery.” It was quit good. The photography was wonderful. Bits and pieces of history I didn’t know about.

    I went for petrol, this morning. $4.40 a US gallon. On the way, I stopped at the store that looks like it should have rats, but doesn’t. Found some of H’s Very Special Dog Food. $10 for a 5 pound bag. Still cheaper than the grocery, even when they have it on sale. Found some tinned stuff (refried beans and chili beans) at less than $1 a can. Also found a couple of bottles of 500mL California olive oil. $7 per. Haven’t seen that in awhile. It’s the good stuff. They’re certification process is almost as stringent as Australia’s.

    I e-mailed one of the Master Gardener’s, last night. At first I played dumb, and didn’t mention the gardens meeting. She e-mailed me back, and said they’d be here next Wednesday, to divvy up the garden spots. I broke the news, that our building manager had got the wrong date. 🙂 Some of them will be here, tomorrow. They’re having the annual blueberry seminar (been to the last two, so I’ll skip this one), and one is going to be pruning our grapes. Lew

  36. Chris,

    Yup, warming up. It snowed all day today. We got maybe 8cm here of wet, heavy, nasty, sloppy snow. Had to remove with the snow shovel, as this type of snow would’ve clogged Big Bertha’s chutes. It was above freezing. A month ago and this would’ve been colder with maybe 18cm of snow that would stay for weeks. This should all be disappeared by Sunday. Not a “science snow”, but perhaps a “spring snow”. 🙂

    I have no GPS on our phones or in our cars. I can read maps and follow road signs just fine. Apparently most people can’t.

    Making tools from scratch is a whole lot science, a whole lot art, and a lot of trial and error. Ummmm, those woodworking tools you’ve asked about. The “two handed chisel knife” sounds an awful lot like what I would call a “draw knife”. I borrowed one and it works wonders. The other one sounds like some type of gouge, a large one, although the honeycomb pattern with gaps has me flummoxed. I have several smaller gouges and indeed they are fantastic for removing wood quickly. Was that large, unknown tool one that was held in one hand and “pushed” to remove wood?

    Thanks. Portuguese millipedes. I didn’t know millipedes could speak various languages. 😉

    Yes, twould have been nice to have parents explain things. Mine didn’t get to experience some of what I went through. And much of dad’s advice made things somewhat worse. Hard Knocks is a school most of us have at least visited.

    I remember a Dr. Who episode when Tom Baker, he of the toothy grin, wild hair and long scarf, was on a Dalek ship. He reached into his pocket and said, “What’s this in my pocket? Oh, an apple. An apple a day keeps the…Ack! We can’t have any of that, can we?” Or something to that effect. I always understood that adage to mean that eating right helps to prevent a lot of potential maladies and needs for a doctor, as in “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

    I began to document the strangeness. Later I began to email the boss and his boss for confirmation/clarification about any directives. Sometimes the boss’s boss got extremely agitated that my immediate boss was passing along work assigned to my boss. Covered my backside while also providing me with some occasional amusement.

    But suggesting that Vikings or others may be inhabiting mounds is fun! And no matter how much I protest, the loose talk about culverts and drainage keeps my brain working. Good stuff!


  37. Hi Pam,

    How’s your mother doing in her new digs?

    Perhaps it’s hubris, but cities have always sown the seeds of their downfall. What will be, is something that has no advantage in knowing in advance. And in the meantime, it’s not a bad idea to consider risks, but also recall to live. And Florence and the Machine was something special.

    The eye was fine, just a bout of rock and roll. True story.



  38. Hi DJ,

    Your current snow suggests that Big Bertha, might not be as big as the claims? 🙂 Naughty Chris, bad Chris! Man, when it comes to tools and machines for a specific job we always begin with a basic item. The basic item gets put to the test. Sometimes the machine or tool works remarkably well, but we cut our chops and learn what’s good, and what’s not so good. Spare a thought for the poor much maligned tool or machine which inevitably fails. Then the hard decisions get made, do we, or don’t we, upgrade? If there is a need, the decision is not usually all that hard to make.

    Most of the axe heads here are very old and have rather non-standard openings, so making the handle from the copious quantities of hardwood here is a logical option and probably something I need to know. Many thanks too, a draw knife was exactly the right tool, although the gouge might be difficult to obtain, but not entirely necessary for the job. I just ordered a draw knife from a local wood working supplier, the rest I should be able to make up as I go along. Here is the video which got me thinking about that option: Making an Axe Handle from Scratch. I reckon you might enjoy the video. Just the thing for a snowed in day, and I hope Avalanche takes notes too?

    You’ll see the gouge being used in the video to make rough first cuts. I’ve never seen such a beast of a hand tool before.

    Nah man, I avoid using GPS as well. Granted, the system is handy, but only for occasional use. At other times, like you, I read a map and get familiar with the territory. I’ve heard that story too! 🙂 I wonder what the nice tech company does with all the data it collects. Free, is rarely free.

    There’s some horrific photos from back in the 1950’s when the millipedes first gained a foothold in the State of South Australia. Given enough food, something will turn up and eat them sooner or later. Even the dreaded cane toads up north are being consumed by some clever critters seeking an edge.

    Oh, I never considered that things could be worse. Ook! Sorry to hear that. The advice from my lot was simply non-existent. All the same, the road of hard knocks is a path for those not favoured by fate – although I reckon both you and I have done OK. 🙂

    True, with the old adage. My interpretation of the adage is somewhat darker. I recall the days when doctors encourage patients to go into the waiting room and have a smoke and relax. Never liked smoking in any of its forms.

    Well done you, and documenting some important things is one of those life lessons that’s kind of important.

    Hehe! Hope you enjoyed the lowering of the large diameter PVC pipe in this weeks photos? Over the next few weeks I’ll work out how to create a pleasant looking rock and fern lined drainage basin on the up hill side of that drain. That’s the plan anyway.



  39. Chris:

    And I thought you had control of the rocks . . .

    My mother is doing as well as can be expected for someone who likes to socialize, who is now mostly deaf, and will not wear her hearing aids. That’s why I go over there every day. The dementia doesn’t help either.


  40. Hi Lewis,

    That makes sense about tree frogs living in PVC pipes. I can see that, and the climate inside the pipes would be more stable too during extreme weather. But them occasional storms might be something of a minor drama – not that I’ve ever seen a tree frog here distressed at heavy rain. On the contrary, they seem to do OK in such weather.

    Hehe! Glad there wasn’t a fire at the gig, not that there was much to burn inside the stadium. A lot of concrete and steel from what I could see. And lots of exits at regular intervals. Only spotted about three people wearing masks, which if they’re worried about the city cooties, the event might not be for them. On an entirely different note, dinner beforehand was really good. I’d been of the opinion that the food quality in the big smoke had declined in the past few years, and so the high quality meal really impressed.

    I have to agree with you, if a zombie plague hit in such a place, the chances of getting out unscathed are near to zero. The crowd would possibly get a bit bitey, and numbers would overwhelm – like a scene out of World War Z.

    You wait and see, the rock gabion wall was epic! As my mind comprehended the scale, the thought popped into my head: ‘Hope you guys know what you were doing!’ It looked stable enough.

    No way! I’ve never met anyone who’d run away to join the carnies. The tattoo question was good. Could the dude carry on a conversation? That’s what I want to know.

    I’m pretty sure taxi drivers have to deal with such messes from time to time as well. When I was a young bloke, my first girlfriend puked out the side window of a taxi due to having consumed too much drink. A frightful mess, which fortunately was outside the vehicle. I had to clean the vehicle down after I arrived home. Some memories just stick. The taxi driver was unimpressed.

    After talking about the rides, the Editor made me watch a few short videos of people passing out on rides – probably how I’d end up. Why people want to frighten themselves so much is a matter which is beyond my ken. Do you have any thoughts about the why question? The conversation arose in the first place because a website she was reading had a reference to the subject at hand. Coincidence? Probably, I don’t have one of those devices which listens in on the audio inside a house. What is wrong with people that they’d use such a device? Free is rarely free, sometimes yeah, but with unrelated tech monsters – I dunno man. Anyway, the videos just stressed me out and raised my blood pressure. I could have happily lived without having seen them.

    Oh yeah, I’d read that about the unusual use of ice floes back in the day. Puts a new spin on a short growing season and bad harvest, but with consequences.

    The whole culture of being offended just wears me out. Hey, I expect that is the point of it. 😉 Reminds me of the recent read of George Orwell’s book, 1984. The folks in the story ended up mostly monitoring themselves, and that’s part of the whole ‘offended at whatever’ story. Of course, I have encountered some truly offensive people over the years, but those sorts are best avoided. They’ll demand that you call a sheep, a camel – and that’s only the beginning…

    Have to laugh about the saying ‘net is what you get’, and may in fact use that in the future. It’s snappy and memorable.

    The space junk sure looks like it put on a good show for you. And I agree, it was lucky that the thing ended up in farm land. Could have been worse, and I’m surprised that hasn’t happened. I read somewhere the other day that all those rockets are mucking around with the ozone layer. Ook! Not something to mess around with. The skies are always interesting to watch, although the past three years have been somewhat cloudy. Your weather folks are calling that La Nina has ended, but our lot have yet to do so. Also on a weather front, Cyclone Freddy has maybe broken some records.

    Wise to use welding gloves – handy items. And goggles, didn’t Triffids go for the eyes? Late this afternoon, I pulled out all the feral tomato plants which had grown around the roses on the two terraces. It’s hard to imagine that tomatoes could be a feral weed, but it worked out to be two wheelbarrow loads of plants. Bonkers, and no ripe fruit either. Gave the roses a very large bucket full of fertiliser. It smells rather strongly of pong around the roses now. But in a week or two, they will put on one last good show of flowers, before we then hack them back. The buckets the fertiliser comes in is super strong, and we keep them for future use. When I think back over the years of the number of plastic buckets we’ve disposed of, it’s not good.

    Cocaine Bear! Yeah, I’d seen news articles about the film. The articles produced a sort of: What the? response in me. An intriguing concept based on a true story. Who knew that real life could be so weird? The naughty bear. Cocaine Bear isn’t entirely fictional. Here’s the real story behind ‘Pablo Eskobear’. That’s proper investigative reporting with what looks like a side serving of speculation!

    Don’t you thin it’s weird how oil prices are relatively low, but at the pump is a whole ‘nother story.

    Nice score on H’s food. I’m thinking of grabbing a bag of dog food soon, and a report will follow. It’s been in short supply of late, so I keep stocks. But how much to keep, that’s the question. The Olive oil score is also a goodie. Yeah, similar climate and possibly better regulation than the other countries. Most of the olive oil we buy is very locally produced. You can see the trees, they look good. In the big smoke in some inner urban areas olive trees are street trees, and sometimes nobody picks the fruit. Huge olives too. Crazy…

    Ook! Oh well, these things happen, and sometimes managing simple stuff like dates and things, might be beyond a persons abilities. 😉 Good luck!

    We dug out the flat site for the machinery inspection pit earlier today. Put the three steel rock gabions in place, and even began filling them. It’s looking good, but will probably only be understandable in a few weeks time. We’ll see what the photos show.



  41. Hi Pam,

    Hehe! Yes, strangely it was the other sort of rocks which aren’t found here. It’s a complicated story, which sadly I can’t recount. Oh well.

    Truth to tell, I’m something of an introvert, although I like socialising, then taking some quiet time out to recover. Others clearly feel differently. Are you entirely certain that your mother enjoys socialising? I mean, if a person can’t hear, they’ll end up spending a lot of time in their own head. Of course there are always books and activities that don’t require sound. Out of curiosity, does the dementia come and go, or is it something of a new baseline for your mum?

    Remember to look after yourself too.



  42. Hi Chris,
    Yes, we did get about six inches of heavy, wet snow but even though yesterday was only in the mid 30’s much of it has melted though we’re expecting a couple more inches over the weekend. It was beautiful as 1 to 4 inches of snow clung to every branch. I walked through one path on our property that has trees and shrubs on both sides and it was like walking through a lacy tunnel. The snow fell quickly though.

    I still have to find some rock salt. If I find it on time I’ll do half the bed and leave the other half alone. I also should have mulched in the fall but it should still work pretty well. I’ve had pretty good luck with this method. You can also plant seedling and transplants right into the partially broken down cardboard and mulch.


  43. Yo, Chris – Worry of the Day. But were the exits unlocked? Whew! Glad I got that off my plate. You may have seen that there have been several crowd stampedes, lately, with high body counts.

    The epic and monumental rock gabions? Maybe, they have steel posts, cemented into the ground, inside? Was the wire thicker gage, than you use?

    The Carny Dude is very sharp, and easy to talk to. He’s a ginger, by the way. Ginger’s make the best canvases for tattoos. 🙂

    Why do people want to frighten themselves? They worship at the shrine of Koalemus. He’s the Greek god of stupidity. Spell it with a “C” and it’s the Roman God of stupidity. Because, I guess, the Romans had their moments, too. 🙂 Actually, if you want the scientific, it’s because of the adrenalin rush. One can get addicted, to it. I had a friend, years ago, who traveled the world looking for ever more terrifying roller coasters. Watching his home movies gave me the vapors. Merry-go-rounds are about my speed.

    Speaking of the Romans, they’re going to open up some unexcavated areas of Pompeii, this year. Wonder what they’ll find?

    Scratch her off the list, with the notation, “Can’t hold her liquor.” 🙂

    I’ve got to swing by the library, today. It’s a jack-pot day. A dozen DVDs and books to pick up. I’m going to put in an interlibrary loan request for one of the Great Courses. “George Orwell: A Sage for All Seasons.”

    I always had a problem remembering the difference between “net” and “gross.” As I have a problem remembering the difference between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes. Someone, somewhere, decades ago, told me that mnemonic for remembering.
    Some things stick in the sludge of my brain.

    I’ll wait for Prof. Mass, to call an El Nino. Wonder how it might effect our weather. Not that I have much faith in forecasts, anymore.

    The Master Gardeners came this morning to do the blueberry seminar. Also, one was pruning the grapes. She told me that she knew an old guy, in his 80s, who has a vineyard. So, she volunteered to help him with his pruning. I hauled clippings. But, no, I know nothing about grape pruning. Above my pay grade.

    Interesting article, about the cocaine bear. Answers all the questions one might have, as to truth vs fiction.

    Well, according to the Elinor Dry Dog Food Anti-Anxiety Scale, if you have 30+ pounds of dry food for a small dog (H), you can relax. But must remain ever vigilant that the dry food never fall below that level. Kind of like 42+ rolls of toilet paper. You can extrapolate, from there. H weighs 10 pounds. And is very self regulating in how much she eats.

    There are lots of things, beyond our building managers abilities.

    It will be interesting to see your rock gabion machinery inspection it. See: steel posts, above. 🙂 Lew

  44. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks for the lovely word image of your snow. Spring is fast heading in your direction.

    Rock salt was what I used, but for no real reason. Ordinary table salt probably serves just as well, so long as there aren’t other chemicals added to it. Always something of a surprise to read ingredient lists, isn’t it? 🙂 I’ve not used mulch or cardboard in that manner, mostly because the winters are cold here, but they’re not anywhere near as cold as where you are and I find that mulches keep the soil a bit drier and cooler than it would otherwise be. These days I tend to use mulch in paths, plus also have a good heap of the stuff breaking down into a fine rich black loam which gets added to soil and fertiliser mixes.



  45. Hi Lewis,

    Funny, during the 2 hour set, there were a few people coming and going, so we were hardly locked in. 🙂 Tell you a funny story, I noticed just a couple of people who must have read the set list, because they left half way through the final song – presumably to beat the exit crowds. The exit of the crowd was quite orderly. Not sure I’d want to experience a stampede or crowd crush – such a thing could be a final experience…

    Hard to tell really if the epic gabions had steel supports, although you’d presume so given the height of the things. And you’re correct, the gauge of steel wire was much thicker than what we use, but not that much thicker, maybe double.

    But not that ginger! 🙂 Very pale skin seems to be the way of the ginger. I’m not really into tats because they fade over time and probably have to be maintained. And people can change their minds over the years, but a tat is really difficult to remove – the process leaves a lot of scar tissue from what I’ve observed. But if people want to have them, it’s no business of mine.

    It’s a bit poor form that the academics are talking down Koalemus (and the inclusion of the word coal in the name was a bit spooky don’t you reckon?) as a lesser spirit. Hubris, I tell you! The mention of this spirit lead me to Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans. Some folks may be distraught at what was lost of the set of 48 parallel biographies, but truly I’m amazed that 23 have survived the ages. Expectations…

    Your friends videos of adrenalin pumping rides would likewise give me the vapours. In a weird coincidence, many years ago when I used to run competitively, I’d met many a runner who’d probably best give up the sport for their health. They didn’t and I’d always wondered if the folks just enjoyed the feel good hit after a decent run? Probably, it was no good though. I set a limit on myself that when I first encountered knee troubles, then I’d go and do something else – and was true to my word. Some folks can run as they age, but they are rare and have a very disciplined running style and probably good genetics. Others, well, it may be time to go find something else to do.

    We were both very young, and still only teenagers. In some respects I should have kept a closer eye upon her consumption, but then she learned a harsh lesson and maybe experienced her upper limits? It’s hard to know. In a funny side story, she was a bit too close to the personality of my mother and had quite the temper, I’d soon tired of that response. I avoid angry people, it’s been my observation that they have great difficulties expressing other emotions and are basically pretty comfortable with anger. But like the old story about the kid who has a hammer and sees everything as if it was a nail…

    I’ll be interested to hear what you have to say about the documentary on ol’ George. I still reckon he was dirty for the world he wrote about in his book 1984. It’s hard to shake that conviction, and all I have to form the belief is his words.

    Mnemonic’s are kind of like a song, and I reckon they work with that part of the brain.

    It seems like the tide has turned on your lower west coast and the reservoirs are filling up. Nobody remembers when reservoir operators get things right, they only recall when things go badly. A quiet job, until the inevitable incident. 😉

    That makes two of us. I’m making up the grape pruning as I go along. Aiming for a pleasing shape is my guide. It could be something of an error, but time will tell and the vines are only a few years old.

    Cocaine bear seems to have had a party, then keeled over causing little further harm and providing a salient warning to his peers. The rest is fiction, but a good whopper of a story. 🙂 Some big-as film award ceremony is going on and the Editor recently went with friends to see the film ‘Tar’. The words incomprehensible were used to describe the film, so I’d suggest way-out-of-touch would be one possible way to describe the awards. Wouldn’t waste my time with them. Top Gun II Maverick was the better film if you’re of the opinion that the purpose of a film is to recount an entertaining and coherent story. Opinions may vary… 🙂

    Ah, the anti-anxiety scale is valid and well recognised. Roughly, we keep 4.5x times that, but then Ollie is a big dog. The Fluffies are not self regulating when it comes to food, but they run around a lot. And if put in a blender, there’d probably be 180 pounds of moosh.

    It’s been my experience that just because someone has the job, doesn’t necessarily mean that they can do the job. Good luck!

    No steel posts, just common sense is all.

    This morning was like winter. Fog, drizzle, cold weather, wind. We decided to avoid outside work today and went and skewered a gourmet pie instead. So good. Yum! Then just did a lot of things which needed doing. Opened up the case for both computers and hit it with the air compressor to blow out all of the dust. It would astound you to discover how much chunk of carp (!) ends up inside electronic equipment.

    Better get writing!



  46. Yo, Chris – Dreamed I was rolling newspapers, last night. I probably rolled thousands, when I was 10, 11, 12 … Still got it. Muscle memory.

    “Beat the exit crowds…” Some people have no patience. I generally do, except when someone is dithering and wasting my time. Due to their lack of organization.

    I’m happy my one tattoo, is no business of yours. 🙂

    Maybe they’ll find the Plutarch, at Herculaneum. Or in some rubbish heap in Egypt.

    I’m pretty angry, myself, this morning. Due to having lost an hour of sleep. I’ll head down to the Club, for a cuppa, and we’ll all be grumpy, together. Misery loves company?

    The weather’s pretty grim, in California. The snow and all. They’re still finding bodies. Yup. I’d say the California drought is over. At least for this year. Saw something about pumping some of the water underground, to save it for an un-rainy day.

    I looked at the nominations, for this year’s Academy Awards. I didn’t see much of interest, to me. There’s another set of awards, called “The Razzies.” LOL. Everyone’s a critic. You only liked Top Gun II, for the adrenaline rush 🙂

    I started watching a new Australian series, last night. “Darby and Joan.” It’s about a crusty old retired police inspector who collides (literally) with a retired nurse in the outback. Much to my delighted surprise, it’s a mystery series.

    I guess they had 20+ people, at the blueberry seminar. One thing the Master Gardeners told me, is that they do have some “new blood” for this year’s endeavors. Lew

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