Another week, another official interest rate rise. Oh my, how all that mad cash is getting to be expensive, or to put it more correctly – being priced accurately given the governments penchant for constantly expanding the money supply. What did people expect? Bizarrely enough, most pundits in the media predicted in confident tones that the official rates wouldn’t increase. They were wrong, and that shows you just how much the pundits know.

Some people might suggest that I’m bragging about the accuracy of last week’s interest rate rise prediction. After all, the prediction flew in the face of more learned folks. But that’s far from the truth. It pains me to be right in this instance, because my belief is that things will get worse from here. Anyway, what do I know, I’m just some dude living up in the forest watching the world from the sidelines.

Sandra has recently been reading Charlotte Brontë’s most excellent novel: ‘Jane Eyre’. I’d read the same book a few months beforehand, and mostly enjoyed the story. Mostly that is. Candidly, Jane’s earlier life, whilst fictional, made me squirm uncomfortably. My own childhood was also rather unusual. Probably not a good idea in this case to be an exception. Anyway, life moves on, we all grow older into adulthood and may even learn that one of the undocumented side benefits of marrying a person smarter than oneself, is that you’re confronted with astute comments such as: “Jane is doing the same sort of stupid s*#t, you would have done”. Yeah, thanks for that. Turns out the fictional protagonist and I share the same personality type.

It’s not a bad idea to know yourself. It’s been my experience that other people are more than happy to know all about you, sometimes to your detriment. In my first senior role, prior to making the job offer, the employer put me through a battery of psych-tests. After that, those guys knew more about me, than I did. Far out! And like the young and naive person that I was, what with them knowing all of my strengths and weaknesses, they put me in the ring for ten rounds up against the champ. And I lost that fight. After eighteen months of good experience, commendable work, but sheer utter craziness, I left. There’s only so much rubbish a bloke can take.

The next job I went to was so boringly normal, it was a relief to my distressed senses. The contrast with the previous employment experience, was not good. Wanting to avoid repeating that awful experience, I read widely on the subject of people, personalities, interactions, the universe and stuff. I’m a good student, and can learn fast when so required. It was a strange journey covering a vast swath of the human condition – even the darker sides. Who could ever forget Neil Strauss’s classic book: ‘The Game’? The book documented the authors own two year journey of exploration into the world of people, whilst he mastered the gentle art of the: ‘pick up artist’. I’m happy to report that the authors motivations for gaining a better comprehension of human interactions had somewhat different motivations to that of my own. It’s a choice I guess, but it proved to me that people sure do play lots of social games.

Everyone has their kryptonite though. Over the years I’ve encountered most of mine, and there’s a few of them, that’s for sure. Some of the situations were of my own making, but at other times it’s been due to external forces. With deeper knowledge, a bit of soul searching and some brutal honesty, I’ve been able to construct correct responses and build coping mechanisms. It’s a far from perfect outcome, but then perfection is unrealistic and I know that in the future, I’ll be making new and more interesting mistakes. That’s life.

Recently a friend asked a favour of me. I would not have asked for such a favour, but all the same, it was an innocuous request. Most people wouldn’t think twice about the favour. It’s no big deal, except unfortunately for me, it is a big deal. The simple request runs face first into a personality weakness, whilst at the same time pushes upon my hard won coping mechanisms. I’m beginning to sound like a self-help book here, but I don’t actually need the help, I just don’t want the request. Sorry, but no, will be how things will play out. And the stupid thing is that most likely there’ll be consequences for saying that, but I hope not. Oh well.

What do you? Jane Eyre would have run away, and maybe long ago I’d have done the same. Not now though. Nowadays, I have the mental tools with which to face life’s difficulties, hopefully with good grace. And with the challenging economic times coming, good grace is sure going to be something I hope others can also achieve, although I hold some doubts. Dunno. Maybe the best we can expect is for economists to stop talking rubbish in the newspapers.

The weather has turned cold here, like serious winter cold conditions. The rain feels icy, and outdoors will be 99% humidity for months on end. It does not make for pleasant working conditions. On Friday afternoon, a stormed rolled in.

On Friday the weather took a turn towards winter

By Sunday morning, the thermometer had dropped to 2’C / 35’F and the icy rain stung the skin. We usually stoke up the fire before bedtime, and then let it burn out over night. I’m assuming that in colder climates, the fire might need to be stoked up in the middle of the night. Inside the house that morning was 15’C / 59’F, but compared to outside, that felt toasty warm.

A very cold Sunday morning 2’C / 35’F

Just for a bit of a laugh, I wrapped my alpaca fleece scarf around Ollie’s neck, and he loved the attention. And probably felt warmer. His breed has it’s origins in the far north of the country where it is much warmer than here, so he feels the cold weather.

Ollie enjoys the attention

Before the cold weather hit, we continued the work of removing rocks from the paddocks. We need a lot of large rocks for the new low gradient path project, and it’s a good opportunity to clean up the paddocks. One particularly large rock in the paddock could not be removed, so we knocked the top off the rock, and it now sits about a foot below the soil.

A large rock was unable to be removed, so we took the top off it

All of the broken shards of rock from that job were used to fill a rock gabion cage.

Several other rocks were split and then moved up to the new low gradient path project. The still large rocks are all being used along the edges of the new path.

Have rocks, will split them – into more easily moved sizes

One of the rocks we moved up to the new path project was still a little bit too big, so we split that one in half.

This rock was still too big and so was split in half

The scary old rototiller was hauled out and pressed into work on the new path. The height of the path was reduced by about a foot. The section of the path we worked on this week is a fork. One path heads up hill and the other goes downhill. The fork was widened, whilst the gradient was made less steep, so that the various machines we use can turn easily without ripping up the path. The work is done mostly by eye and feel. After so many years of this sort of work, I can see and know if the path is off-level.

Using the scary old rototiller to lower the height of the path

Once the soil work was done, the current batch of rocks were placed and aligned so they produce a pleasing curve around a fig tree. A surface layer of crushed rock with lime was placed over the soil, and with a bit of rain the surface will soon firm up whilst the soil compacts.

The new low gradient path project is coming along nicely

Looking upon the new path project from higher up on the property, you get a better idea of the sort of slope we are contending with.

The new path project is looking good

Observant readers will notice some bare patches of soil in amongst the grass. A few weeks ago we smoothed out all the lumps and humps in that grassy area. The grass will regrow and by next spring, few folks would even recall what it used to look like.

We’ve been using a lot of the crushed rock with lime lately. Earlier in the week, we obtained another delivery of the material.

Dame Plum supervises the crushed rock rations

Whilst the weather was good, a couple of extra stair treads were poured on the new staircase project. The final stair step had to be protected from the rain (and wombats) whilst the surface dried. The job is now complete and the stairs are able to be used.

A large plastic bag was spread on top of the steel mesh so as to protect the step from the rain

Citrus trees are the among the last of this seasons fruit. Most of the trees are still a bit young to produce fruit, but a few do provide a decent crop.

Delicious Meyer Lemons

The other late fruit are the kiwi fruit. They won’t be ready to pick until next month, which is very late. For some reason I’ve noticed that the fruit responds well to a few frosts by becoming softer. Most of the harvest will be turned into jam. Yum!

Kiwi fruit vines are prolific bearers here

Onto the flowers:

The Irish Strawberry tree provides plenty of flowers
Penstemon flowers enjoy the sheltered position of this garden bed
A honeyeater enjoys the nectar produced by this succulent plant

The temperature outside now at about 10am is 6’C (43’F). So far this year there has been 310.4mm (12.2 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 268.4mm (10.6 inches)

47 thoughts on “Sidelines”

  1. Yo, Chris – Things could be worse. At least you’re government isn’t toying with defaulting on it’s obligations, in the near future.

    So, Jane Eyre. I don’t remember her being particularly chatty. 🙂

    Aren’t you glad, that psych-test, if it still exists, is moldering in a filing cabinet, somewhere. And not bouncing around on the Net?

    “Stormed rolled in.” At least, it made for some rather pretty clouds.

    Ollie looks rather dashing and debonair. Some one else looks rather jealous.

    Rocks, rocks, rocks. And than more rocks. That aerial view gave me vertigo. Almost fell into my screen.

    They Meyer Lemons look so tasty. I bet the blossoms smell nice.

    Where’s Waldo? Where’s the honeyeater? Lower right? Lew

  2. Hi Pam,

    Fingers crossed that the squirrels are deterred from the pawpaw seedlings. It’s a good idea, and I’m sure the naughty scamps will put the system to the test. Can they leap that high and onto the folded over section of wire? I noticed that the rats were able to leap onto the roof of the chicken enclosure via any nearby trees if the distance weren’t too great. I’m very interested to hear how your experiment plays out.



  3. Hi Claire,

    Many thanks for sharing the on-the-ground experience with pecan pies. I’ve never seen nor tasted such a treat. Many years ago I planted out a pecan nut tree, and the wallabies damaged the main trunk. The tree is still alive and growing, but I don’t know as to its long term prospects. The historical photos of the trees show immense trunks.



  4. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, they’re in debt, but there’s stuff that other countries still want. That’s possible about a default, but it is equally possible that the whole thing could end with a whimper. Even at 7% inflation, a bit of quick maths suggest that prices double in a decade, and a slow grinding finish into poverty is an unpleasant perspective. Dunno, but I reckon what we’re seeing is a decreasing demand for the paper things which are generated in your country and are generally considered necessary to trade. There’s a lot of trouble brewing on the economic front down here too. A whole lot.

    Very funny, Jane could hold her own in a conversation. 🙂 Actually, there was quite a bit of dialogue in the book where I was doubting whether I could converse with the characters so eloquently. It’s quite the shock to read of historical characters conversing with each other at an elevated level the likes of which I’d not be able to entertain. But then, that lot might wonder about how to repair and operate a mechanical rototiller. Our brains are perhaps full of other notions these days. Is this a good thing?

    One can only hope that the psych test has long since been binned. Has it? Yikes! I’d never considered that element of the story. Not good. Might be like the infamous bubble article I penned for the hippy press many years ago. Created quite the controversy at the publication office. May the article rest in peace, but I still have a copy. Who knew people could get so upset about bubbles? Crazy stuff.

    Mate, the weather here has been miserable since Friday evening. An impressive achievement.

    Hehe! Ollie loved the attention, and I had to ask for the red alpaca fleece scarf back. He wasn’t keen about that.

    Seriously, I dream about flat land. You mention rocks, but I reckon ending up here is like rocks – they are where they are. Still, a bit of flat land would be nice. There are other benefits living here, and one of those is that it isn’t for everyone. People get scared about being up here, and I’m good with that. I’m sure you’d have parts of your county where most decent folks don’t want to venture?

    They’re not bad those lemons, and citrus is a real game-changer fruit here because they ripen when there is little else fresh fruit to consume. When we first moved up here, the generally understood principle was that you couldn’t grow citrus in this mountain range. Au contraire!

    The honeyeater bird is technically known as a small Eastern Spinebill. The more flowering plants we grow, the greater the diversity of birds. And they love the flowers on those succulents.

    Maybe a year ago I was talking with a friend about the Marxism conference posters plastered around the city, and I was told that they were a bit cult like, because they knew someone who’d gotten sucked into that world. Recounted some of the stories. Tell ya what though, ever since I bothered noticing the posters, they’ve sort of all looked the same from year to year. An angry looking young woman with a megaphone dominates the poster. I tend to avoid angry people as a general rule, and so the thought of hanging out with a bunch of angry young women, lacks all appeal. Forget about what they look like, or even what they might be offering, that megaphone would be a serious buzzkill. Those things are loud.

    But I tend to agree with you.

    That’s pretty funny, but I’ve always believed that one of the roles of the royals was to give us common folks a bit of pomp and ceremony. At least they’ve given up speaking the French language these days. Mate, I’m seriously enjoying the history book: Stick a flag in it. The author recounts an engaging tale, whilst also adding in some very bonkers observations. Stability is what those raiments and carriages suggest. It’s a powerful message you’ll have to admit. The symbolism is strong with that one. 🙂

    It was a pretty big hit here too.

    Yes, you’re right I do know that from experience. The system is bonkers because if you try and construct anything differently on a budget, you’ll pay a hefty premium. If anything, the noose is getting tighter. I’ve got a few ideas on that front if ever the worst case scenario occurs and we have to rebuild. Hope for the best, but expect the worst.

    Oh, well I was being amusing about that film and the writers strike. It was not lost on me that in the trailer the crew was marooned on what looked like a deserted island. Better than freezing to death in the North Atlantic, huh? But would such pampered and expectational people adjust themselves to their predicament? I think not. What is your opinion of that?

    It’s a bit early to call an El Nino year, well at least that is the opinion down under. Obviously opinions can vary. I’m not entirely sure what’s going to happen next summer here. The oceans have reached record breaking temperatures, and that’s gotta be exciting. The additional energy in the water will pump a bit of extra water into the atmosphere, so it may not be as dry and hot as you reckon.

    Another cold and wet day down here. Was the weather pleasant in your part of the world? This run of cold weather has been bonkers, so I’m sounding a bit desperate for some nice weather and a little bit of sunshine. It’s not too much to ask is it?

    I’ll try and get a photo of the carnivorous plant in the greenhouse. It is enjoying the conditions in there. We have plenty of carnivorous local plants – I believe they’re called sundews. They eat ants. Yay!

    Oh yes, that could be a problem. Some areas down under have their own local fever which presumably is mosquito transmitted. There’s a few of them actually, and they tend to need warmer humid environments. But you’re right, many of the older diseases never went away.

    Hope H didn’t show off too much? Is she envious of Ollie’s jaunty red scarf. He was pretending he was on an episode of Doctor Who from the 1980’s with that scarf. 🙂



  5. Hello Chris
    Still cool and wet here; I am longing for more sunshine.
    When I had a woodstove, it was no problem keeping it going all night. I just put a large slab of oak in on top when I went to bed. Admittedly we had our own wood.


  6. Yo, Chris – Oh, we go through this raising the debt ceiling thing, on a pretty regular basis. Both sides use it as a political football, the nut jobs on both left and right ask for outrageous cuts, or outrageous increases. At the 11th hour, they reach a compromise, usually contingent on kicking the can down the road, six or nine months. And then the whole thing starts all over again. But one of these times, the compromise might not be reached, and then we’ll be in the soup. And it won’t be tasty. My friends in Idaho are concerned, as a few more banks have gone under.

    I think it was some version of “My Fair Lady,” where someone asks if the heroine has “small talk.” “Does she have small talk?” Nothing too outrageous or though provoking. Maybe the weather. The last queen was a master of small talk. I’ve read her favorite gambit was, “Have you traveled far?” 🙂 Depends on the notions.

    If you keep bringing up the bubble article, someone is going to go looking for it. Years ago, the magazine “Biblical Archaeological Review” had a cover. A very healthy looking girl, holding up a small item she had found, with obvious joy. She was wearing a halter top. I knew that would be trouble, and I awaited the next issue, with the “Letters to the Editor.” Fearing the worst, I was not disappointed. “Cancel my subscription!” “How can I put that pornographic filth on my coffee table!” “What if my children see that cover!” It was all very silly.

    Prof. Mass has a post on our upcoming El Nino. He’s of the “not to worry” school of thought. Our forecast for this week is steadily rising temperatures, until it hits near 90F (31.7C), next Sunday. I’m not looking forward, to that. Looking at the headlines, seems like there’s pretty wild weather, all over the United States. Heat waves, cold waves, storms of one variety of another.

    There are always articles, from time to time, along the lines of, “What to say to people who give you grief over a.) not having children or b.) not wishing to marry.” My favorite from that lot is “You’ll die alone!” Well, last time I checked, we come in alone, and go out alone. All sounds rather peaceful, to me. Not a lot of drama.

    Your successfully making your own flat land.

    The Royals only speak French, in front of the servants. 🙂 I really just mentioned “Stick a Flag in It,” in passing. I didn’t expect you to jump on it. I quit liked Thomas B. Costain’s “Plantagenets Series.” It covers a good chunk of British history. LOL. He’s very, “This is what we know, this is what we don’t know, this is the gossip, from the time.”

    Pampered people who don’t adjust, die. So sad. 🙂

    People seem to go just about everywhere, even the ill prepared. Darwin at work. I’ve never seen the appeal of the desert, but some folks are ga-ga over it. The kind that will probably be on the first rocket to Mars.

    I didn’t let H see Ollie showing off his jaunty scarf. No sense rubbing her nose in something she can’t have. Ollie, or the scarf. Everyone made over her new “do.” As if her head isn’t swollen, enough.

    I dinked around in the garden for awhile, last night. Buried a bag of kitchen scraps. Got the German Camomile out of the pot it was temporarily in, due to construction, and into the ground. Planted my patriotic Petunias (red, white and blue) in a hanging basket and nearby pot. I stick a flag in it, on holiday weekends. 🙂 . Watered. Lew

  7. Greetings Chris;
    Sidelines- Yeah, there are folks that would counsel get all the way out of the stadium, clear out to the boonies ( outback in your case). So many shootings here of late. Best create some distance. Nobody listens to us hicks and oddballs in the cheap seats anyway.

    I did something for the very first time here at the Carrow homestead.
    I actually hired a young fellow for the day to help me build a retaining wall. Just so much time sensitive stuff happens in spring, and I’ll admit, the landscaping blocks are getting heavier every year. These buggers weigh in at 81 lbs ( 36 kg) and we set quite a few. It’s the fiddly work of getting the first course just level and snug that wears me out. Set in place, check level, move to side, scrape dirt, tamp a bit, lift in place and try again, oops, not quite, lift to the side, shift some dirt, try again, etc……. This all while bent over or on your knees. Not the best ergonomics.
    Worked out pretty well and he was adept at chatting while continuing work, which many young folk are not so good at. Turns out he’s from a farm family, so was not unacquainted with manual labor.

    Anyway, at some point, one more entry in my very occasional blog will cover the building of the garden shed, and the retaining wall that goes with it. As with your recurring theme, flat land is rare here, so dirt has to move, and then be stopped from further movement.

    Not sure I’ll ever go as far as Bronte or the Austen books, but have been delving in to older classics, to see why they are classics, and to also get a perspective on how far our culture has changed in just a few generations. Turns out there are some rollicking good tales as well. I won’t make recommendations, as my impression is that your night stand stack is already teetering.

    The hard cider this evening was especially satisfying after all the landscape work today.


  8. Chris,

    Uh oh, I had another one of my brainwaves. When we were recently discussing your various staircases to wherever, you mentioned maybe planting “clues” for future archaeologists. Well, here’s another “clue” to think about. On your longest staircase, at the bottom, inscribe the words “Stairway to Heaven”. Just a random thought.

    Okay, the shawls and fringes. Two ladies on the Rez, closely related to one another, died last summer. The traditional “one year” memorial service is later this month. Both ladies belonged to a service organization (among a plethora of activities), so the shawls have that organization’s logo on them. The shawls are in their memory and will be given to the proper family members.

    Hehehe! Sounds like Sandra has your number. That’s also the type of comment I have directed my way from the Princess on occasion.

    As she will be on one of her adventures when my birthday rolls around, we celebrated over the weekend. She spoiled me. She did her homework and got me a Stihl electric garden pruner. I have a lot of uses for such an implement. While reading through the operation booklet, I had to mention one suggestion in said booklet to the Princess: “Do not use while standing on a ladder or while on a roof.” Her comment was, “See? See? SEE!! Stihl knows you and wrote that JUST FOR YOU!” Guess who will keep both feet firmly planted on the ground when using the new power tool?

    Good job with the rocks. And a smart decision to skim the top off another giant.

    The new pathways and landscaping look wonderful. If you keep up this pace, it will be hard to tell that you live on the side of a mountain. Your place might soon resemble any flatland farm. What projects will you do for amusement then?

    I had another weather observation recently. If the day is mixed clouds and sun, and if you get cold, the sun and clouds will conspire to maximize the amount of time the clouds cover the sun. This is true even if there is one tiny cloud in the sky: it will spend the day blocking the sun from warming you. Conversely, should you get hot, the clouds and sun will conspire so that the clouds race away from the sun so that you will get cooked, even if there is only one utterly small break in the clouds. I’ve experienced this on many occasions, the most recent being Sunday, when there was 70% cloud cover but once I got hot while walking Avalanche, the sun never went behind the clouds again until Monday morning.

    Similarly to Lew, we are expected to have temperatures near 33C within a week. My recollection of El Nino summers here is that if they differ from the “norm” at all, it is a bit cooler and wetter. I don’t expect that to happen this summer – climate change seems to override many other things.


  9. Hi Steve,

    🙂 Yup, I hear you about that. We’ll just wait this one out on the bench. See what happens. And in the meantime, get our places in order.

    Holy carp! Those are heavy blocks. I’ll bet you recall the days when bags of general purpose cement used to be sold in bags of such weights? They’ve halved them a decade or two ago to 44 pounds/20kg which makes things easier. Well done too hiring the young bloke to work with you on that job. I assume that you set the landscaping blocks on the soil?

    Good to hear the young bloke had a farming family background and understood what hard work entailed. As you note, a lot of people are surprised at what is involved in doing that. And isn’t something a person can suddenly wake up one day and do.

    For your interest, the rocks are heavier, but hopefully no more than about 50kg. And I absolutely agree, it is not the initial placing that takes the energy, it’s the fine manoeuvring that is the hard work. We use a rubber mallet to smash the rocks into place, and also a 6ft steel house wrecking bar with a large chunk of round timber post to lever the rocks just that last little tiny bit. That work is the killer aspect to the job, but get it right and it looks good.

    I look forward to reading about your shed and retaining wall. Creating flat land whilst on a slope is a lot of work 😉 , still flat land is often flood prone and may have dodgy drainage, so there is that downside. And rural land needs sheds.

    Respect. The classics are so described for a reason. I wasn’t much of a fan of Austen, but the Bronte’s recount a darker tale. Thank you for not adding to the to-read list, and I hope that you are enjoying your reading. 🙂



  10. Hi DJ,

    It’s a big call inscribing that. The gods might get ideas, and then you never know what mayhem might happen? Those old Viking gods for example seemed like an easily annoyed bunch. Best left alone, me thinks. 🙂 But I like your idea.

    Thank you for the explanation regarding the shawls. A lovely tradition if I may say so.

    Hehe! It’s nice to be known so well by the person closest to you, as I’m sure you’d understand. We’re coming up on about thirty years together. Where did all that time go? Is it behind the couch with the dust bunnies? Might just go and check.

    Dude! Seriously, dude! One of those little Stihl electric garden pruners is on the list of things we like that are a complete surprise. You’re in for a treat with that machine – and may even lust after a spare battery? I’ve never had a better pruning saw. The thing can cut through hardwood limbs many inches thick. Bonkers. And that is excellent advice. Listen to your lady in these matters. And remember to keep the chain sharp – a properly sized round hand file is perfect for the little beastie. Also not a bad idea to regularly adjust the chain tension – it shouldn’t have too much slack (the chain can jump off the bar if it does – probably not a good thing, but hardly terminal with such a small machine – maybe). You could probably even press the machine into action on some of your carving projects? You never know. I intend to get the electric chainsaws onto the axe handle carving project. The err, is it billet (?), is slowly curing and drying. I turn the wood over every week or so and it shows no sign of warping.

    Mower blades and rocks produce sparks. Not good. Tractor slashers have an even worse time of that problem.

    What projects? Time for rest later when I’m departed from this world! 🙂 Until then, there’s work to be done!

    It is possible that the weather gods have conspired against you and Avalanche. I told you not to write such things as ‘stairway to heaven’ upon the rocks in your garden. You may have to do some chainsaw art to appease them?

    I thought that El Nino meant wet and cool in your part of the world, and the opposite down here? But like you rightly point out, things are a bit all over the shop nowadays. A very large chunk of Antarctic weather drifted over here from that frozen continent. It’s been very cold and wet here since Friday night. I see that our friends over across the sea in the land of New Zealand have been enjoying the sort of bonkers heavy rain we get. They don’t usually see such storms, from what I understand – but I could be wrong. Had a lot of floods there recently.

    The warm weather after a decent drop of rain will get your garden jumping. You need such hot weather for the plants to grow.



  11. Hi Inge,

    It’s cold, cloudy and wet here too. The frozen continent of Antarctica is flexing its weather muscles. It’s raining right now.

    I see. Your experience is how wood heaters used to work. A person used to be able to throttle down the oxygen supply for the wood heater, and the combustion would still be going the next morning. That’s an ideal situation. Not dissimilar from how a charcoal burner works. However, people freaked out about the emissions produced – low oxygen levels produces an incomplete combustion. So, most modern wood heater designs allow in a greater amount of oxygen, and can’t be throttled down as much as they used to be able to, and the wood burns hotter and faster. Of course, by morning, and it’s not always the case, but the combustion chamber will be mostly ash. It’s worth noting that oak has a similar density to the hardwood I burn here.

    I’ve always assumed that the change in design was something that was demanded?

    I’m of the opinion that wood heaters are less robust now than they used to be. After damaging the original wood heater, I take the subject of firewood very seriously, and the wood we create and burn is of the highest quality. I can’t say for sure that everyone is as careful. But then we weren’t at first either. It’s a really complicated energy source.



  12. Hi Lewis,

    Hey, dumb question time: If the nut jobs got their way in that ongoing debt ceiling argument, would they themselves get paid? That’s something I’ve long wondered about with that story. What is the debt ceiling at anyway? Ook! That’s a big number. So please excuse my ignorance, but presumably the debt ceiling gets raised so that interest to existing bondholders can be paid – that’s one argument which gets regularly trotted out? Doesn’t that imply though, that bondholders are being paid from new debt, and not from takings? No wonder the beast is growing.

    There’s some good graphs on the debt. Looks to me like it really took off after the oil crisis in the early to mid 1970’s. Hardly surprising. The recent years looks a heck of a lot like an exponential yeast growth chart. Yeast eventually run out of stuff to feed upon. A bit of a shame that.

    Small talk is a skill, and that’s an awesome question (he says committing it to memory). Yes, get the other party speaking from a point of knowledge. And who would dare not answer the Queen? You’re right too, there are also metaphysical dimensions to that question.

    🙂 No doubts. If the children see that publication cover, they might embark upon a career in archaeology – knowing what awaits them, or they might even see themselves there. I reckon the Indiana Jones films would have improved the uptake of new adventurers in that career. You’re right, it is all very silly.

    It was an excellent essay backed by err, statistics. So a little bit warmer, but nothing to worry about. The media whips up a frenzy down here during El Nino summers. Had to laugh about the mock newspaper. That’s good. And no, I wouldn’t need to purchase it. 😉

    Mate, I’ve heard that loose talk as well. And you’re right, the words reflect a world-view which suggests that all will pan out well for those who do so. That ain’t necessarily so from what I see. A few years ago they used to talk about marriage being a sacred institution – whatever that is. Frankly it sounds rather scary, but anywhoo, the thing is so sacred that over half of all such arrangements end up in divorce. It’s not a good hit rate. My favourite chunk of grief I hear is that: I’m apparently somehow selfish. That one makes so little sense, but oh boy it sure gets spat with a side serving of pure emotional drippings. Have you heard that one? Bonkers. Exactly, less drama is what I’m also aiming for. People are scared of contentment.

    Very funny, I’m sure they don’t. You’d hope the servants were well remunerated and treated nicely so that they kept their traps shut?

    That’s a very balanced view from the author, and I’m not entirely certain that the author I’m reading follows a similar strategy. Definitely the author doesn’t shy away from the juicy bits. John, King of England, sounded like a real pain in the err, ear. 😉

    Ah, yes, of course. I do wonder how after almost 26 years of up, up and away, how will people ever cope with coming back down to earth? It’s not all that bad, but it may not include annual holidays to exotic destinations. And maybe not big cars either. The cars of my youth were quite small and efficient. Maybe not such big heated houses either. Those are probably unsustainable. There may be some other things too.

    The desert is also not my style. You may have noticed over the years how wet it is here? Plenty of people are drawn to the desert, I guess. Easier to grow edibles in such a place – if you have the water. That’s a big if, too! Well, they’re going to require fertiliser on Mars…

    Yes, wise not to create a whiny H. She could become something of a monster, and begin throwing tanties. Nobody wants that. Imagine H saying this: Lewis. Where’s my f$%^ing red scarf? You know I can’t be seen in public without that. What’s wrong with you? All very unpleasant, and rather difficult to be on the wrong end of. H might get a one-way trip to the vet if she took up such a bad attitude. Best not to show her the photo.

    Have you ever made tea from the German Camomile? Very funny! 🙂

    I went to the tip today – it was very muddy and cold – and took the four large broken batteries for recycling. I’d called up a few weeks ago to see whether they’d actually take them for recycling, and sure enough they did. Had a nice chat to the people working there, they sure looked cold. Dropped the batteries off and left. I was expecting hassles, not sure why. Also went to the bank and set up a CD (although we don’t call them that down here) and the staff there said it was ominously quiet. I’ve also noticed that the mum and kids set have stopped buying coffees and chatting. Things are getting tighter, no doubts about it. It’s like watching a car crash, but in slow motion.



  13. Hi, Chris!

    It is those who watch from the sidelines that can see the broader view.

    Hmm, Chris Eyre? Your early life made you, at least in part, what you are today: A blessing to all of us here. You did, and do, a great deal to help us get through the recent time of uncertainty, which sadly is still with us, though in other forms.

    Wouldn’t it be interesting to view the psych tests again now, to see how you have changed?

    Yeah – life is not perfect. I wonder why they told me it would be?

    We can’t run away now; we have too much to lose.

    Ook. I am glad that we are going into summer. That’s a beautiful storm photo, though.

    Ollie – you are such a love! You, too – er – Ruby/Plum. Also, the other Ruby/Plum. Perhaps they could wear a pink bow and a blue bow on top of their heads.

    I think we have a scary old rototiller in the back of the barn. I don’t think it works and I don’t know when it will as Mr. Diggy needs lots of attention. Also, Diggy, Jr. and Baby Diggy. The path looks really fine. I have forgotten: What are the vines growing over the trellis in the path picture? Kiwis?

    Thanks for the flowers – even when it’s freezing!


  14. Hi Pam,

    Yes, all very true, and you also get to wait things out on the bench. Less exciting, but who really needs all that excitement? I prefer contentment.

    Thank you. 🙂 Life is sadly uncertain, even when people believe that it should be otherwise. You know, it’s funny, but I’ve known people who have also had such odd childhoods, and then they’ve descended into all sorts of messes. It needn’t be that way. And a person can have good grace whilst the others around them stumble. There’s something in how a person conducts themselves which can be admirable, although candidly our society values other traits.

    Ha! Dunno about other people, but underneath it all, I’m the same, but overlaid with better responses. 🙂 I’m not entirely certain that people are able to change their core programming, but adapt to realities and hard learned experience – you betcha! I’m not sure I’d want them to know in advance how I’d respond to circumstances so would probably dodge the testing. The element of surprise is not to be dismissed lightly. What would Sun Tzu say?

    Hey, they told me that one too, even when the realities would make a persons head spin – exorcist style. Dunno whether they also told you, you could do anything? Few other bits of advice could guarantee that nothing ever happens than that one.

    True. We take our problems with us too if that option was chosen. A bit of a bummer. I tried that a very long time ago. It didn’t work.

    Ollie loves the attention! Now don’t be giving those other two any ideas… 🙂

    Pam, you’ve got a growing Diggy family! Hehe! All the machines do great work, but they all need a bit of care and attention from time to time. The trick is ensuring that a household has enough energy to maintain what it has. The same is also true for the larger society.

    Hope the weather for you is good. The frozen continent of Antarctica is exerting authority over us folks. It’s been a super big and impressive storm. And cold. Still raining. And cloudy. Brr!



  15. Chris:

    I forgot to report on my squirrel experiment, which is probably just as well, as yesterday it looked fine and I would have said so, and then I went outside to work after I wrote to you this morning and found that there were a couple of squirrel holes dug in the bed. Nothing was breached. There is another raised bed four feet away from it. I suppose a squirrel could have launched itself from the edge of that over my little fence. The raised bed next to it has pawpaw seeds in it, too, no fence, but the same time I set up my fence on the other bed, I started spraying the perimeter of the unprotected bed with what I call El Stinko. That bed has not been touched. I may have a lot of El Stinko in my future . . .

    I am using the liquid:


  16. Hello Chris
    I am sure that wood heaters are less robust than they used to be. Everything seems to be less robust and far more uselessly complex than used to be the case.
    My goodness how it rained here yesterday. I made the mistake of putting shoes on to go into town this morning it should have been wellies. I have to walk through my wood to get to Son waiting for me with his truck. The ground was trying to suck my shoes off my feet.


  17. Yo, Chris – Not a dumb question, at all, and, apparently, you aren’t the only one asking it. A quick look into the rabbit hole, yielded this …

    Most of the people in the House and Senate are multi-billionaires, anyway. It’s not like they’d be hurting, if they missed a paycheck or two.

    Hmmm. The small talk quote might have been Oscar Wilde. Though a quick look down the rabbit hole, yields no results.

    At least once a day, I hear some tale that makes me think, “Thank the gods, I’m single and childless.” 🙂 I had an uncle (I was in my 20s), who always used to rib me. “When you going to get a girlfriend / get married.” I finally snapped at him, “Probably about the time Loren does.” Loren was my cousin, his oldest son, who was a year or two older than me. Last I heard about that! At least, from him. As far as I know, Loren never did get married. And, you wouldn’t believe the comments I get about living in a place with 40 women and three men. Like I’m in some kind of dating paradise, or something,

    Well, that probably worked with the servants, until the gutter press started paying big bucks.

    Better a pain in the ear, than a hot poker in the bum. Ooops! That might have been spoilers. 🙂

    H has a very smart black and red tartan coat. And, a blue velour “Sunday go to meeting” (or, the Club) coat. Julia got it for her. We went down to the Club for biscuits and gravy this morning, and everyone, who hadn’t seen her on Sunday, was making over her new “do.” I kept telling the to knock it off, as her head is big enough as it is. She really cheers a lot of people up.

    Oh, yes. I have a canister sitting on my counter, and I fill it with dried camomile tea. I put the blossoms on a plate, til they’re dry. I do need to get a tea pot, with a decent strainer. I’m getting tired of fiddling with the tea balls. I have a cup, every once in awhile, on winter evenings. Harvesting the blossoms is very zen. Takes a heck of a lot of them to even fill that canister half way. Lemon balm is coming up now. I might try drying some of that, for tea.

    In fact, the rhodies and lilacs are beginning to bloom. Forecast says Sunday and Monday will be 90F+. We had quit a bit of rain, late yesterday afternoon, into the evening. I didn’t have to water. There was a spectacular, full double rainbow. I’m waiting for Prof. Mass to say something about our upcoming heat wave. By the way, his post before the one on El Nino was about the incredible amount of lightening, we had across the State. Haven’t heard about any forest fires. But I see up in British Columbia, they’ve got quit a few wildfires going. Seems early, for that.

    I haven’t really noticed an economic slowdown, here. Though when I went down to the cheap food stores, last night, they seemed a bit empty, and there was no waiting at the cash registers. But that might just have been the luck of the draw. The general variety store seems to be doing a land office business. They open at 9am, and even if I get there at 9:10, the parking lot is already full.

    The nicest thing happened. I ran into one of the fellows from the Club, that I’ve known for a long time. He had finished his shopping, but walked me around, as we were catching up. I was buying stuff for the Club pantry, and stuff for me. He didn’t know I was the one keeping the pantry stocked. When we got to the check out, he paid for all my groceries! LOL. Cheap b—–d. If he’d told me earlier, I would have bought more. 🙂 Lew

  18. Hi Inge,

    The wood heater I selected is a pretty simple contraption which focuses on boiling water, rather than heating the room directly. It’s a nifty arrangement and works very well. It just doesn’t burn overnight, because you can’t throttle the air inlet down like used to be the case on older units. It’s a bit of a joke really, because it may run cleaner on average, but there are more start ups which takes time for the combustion chamber and flue to get back up to operating temperatures – and like a car, that’s not all that clean. But few heaters can claim that they’re pure of guilt! Not possible.

    But exactly, how long will this heater contraption last? Beats me, but I treat the thing very carefully. You couldn’t rent out a place like here, it is not a place for the careless. And I tend to agree with you, the older wood heaters seem far more robust.

    Oh no! Hope that you didn’t lose any shoes in the mud? Can you imagine heading into town barefoot? You’d never hear the end of it. Decades later the event would still be recounted.

    I hear you about the mud. The roads around here have been remarkably muddy this week. The council put some weird surface down on the road a year or so ago and there are now noticeably less potholes, but far more mud. I’m not entirely certain the outcome is a good one.



  19. Hi Pam,

    So, do squirrels dig holes as well as test fencing? They sound like a formidable garden err, companion. Perhaps the little cheeky scamps are training you in how to create a fortress garden?

    Whoa! The squirrels are formidable, but El Stinko sounds like the whole next level. 🙂 I’ll be very interested to hear how your experiment goes, and specifically how long does the deterrent work?

    Here, I must reveal some secrets. Us humans have a natural source of err, El Stinko, and it’s probably not a bad idea to mark one’s territory – although boundaries are often tested regardless. I started thinking about this possibility after the snake incident a few years ago. Makes sense to understand the critters minds that we share the land with, don’t you reckon?



  20. Hi Lewis,

    I must say, there is something really weird about: “still need to come to work and do their jobs, but they can’t receive checks until the shutdown ends.” Sure, they’ll be working super hard – for no pay. They might instead focus on a single idea: How do we get paid? History is replete with tales of mercenaries not receiving their pay on time, and the consequences are usually not good. If they aren’t intending to pay me, I don’t turn up – I pick my charities, and don’t let others direct that choice. Hey, good luck with this, it’ll be fine, maybe. 🙂

    Thanks for the link to the article. A bonkers arrangement. Why have the debt ceiling in the first place if it is roundly ignored? It is worthwhile noting that in 1975, the Federal Senate down here ignored the gentleman’s agreement to pass through the budget unhindered. The Queens representative then sacked the standing government. Running out of mad cash is always a bad idea when there is a country to run.

    True, that lot might not notice a missed pay check, but the people working for them probably will. I doubt many of them would know how to clean a kitchen, or toilet for that matter.

    Sorry to hear about that. People can be rather small minded, and I’ve always assumed that such talk is a reflection upon the inner workings of the person making such unusual observations. The simple response is: I lack the competence for such an arrangement (delivered dead pan). Few folks know how to respond to that observation. I dunno mate, it genuinely baffles me that people push a really narrow field of options, and expect everyone to comply. I’m not into that. It probably helps that as a young fella, I had a first view into just how dysfunctional life can get when the adults around me chased that dream – yet they were utterly unfit for that path. No doubts the system wants and needs good worker bees. Nice worker bee. Good worker bee. Now keep quiet, and most especially, keep busy!

    I need to get out more and read the gutter press, although I don’t much care for the personal peccadilloes of our leaders. I’m just not that bored, and they’re just not that interesting. How could they be? They fall for their own truths and are as trapped as anyone else, probably more so.

    Go Julia! A very thoughtful gift for H, who’d love every minute of it. Dogs have that ability, I’m rather fond of them myself.

    Oh yeah, a good fine stainless steel mesh strainer works wonders, although I tend to purchase tea bags – and compost the bags in the worm farm. I discovered to my horror a few years ago that some of the tea bags allegedly contained minor amounts of plastic. Yay for technology! Ook… I now read the labels.

    That is a good winter’s evening job with the chamomile. I’ll bet it smells aromatic too? Lemon balm tea is very tasty – the plant is a bit weedy here, which is kind of handy. It’s a soporific, I believe. The German chamomile died off a few years ago. Regardless, I find both teas to be soothing.

    90’F+ after a decent amount of rain equals a jungle! Your plants are really going to bounce. We get the rainbows and double rainbows too, and I once sort of captured a photo of a moonbow for the blog. Lightning is a common thing down here. There can be tens of thousands of strikes during a big storm. Fertilises the ground where it strikes – true story. Something to do with nitrogen being zapped out of the air and deposited in the soil by the action of the lightning. Makes you wonder if the ancients ever attempted to harvest that energy from the sky?

    We heard about the forest fires up north of you. Our media loves such news. I still recall sitting in the fire shed, it was snowing outside and someone in authority was suggesting it was going to be a bad fire season – it wasn’t. But the comparison of the predictive words to the weather on the other side of the thin metal walls was a surreal experience. On the other hand, it is early in the season for such fires.

    Interesting. Things have definitely changed down here, but I suspect that people are trimming their budgets and cutting out the unnecessary stuff, whilst maintaining the image. Not sure what might happen when the image can’t be maintained. It reminds me of the early 1990’s.

    Hehe! He was onto you. 🙂 And possibly he’d been stung before?



  21. Yo, Chris – Unfortunately, the hands on the levers of power, get paid. Seems like poor planning on someone’s part. 🙂 However, their minions may get restless. “Get your own coffee! Pick up your own dry cleaning!”

    Sometimes, when people are running for office, they get asked “trick” questions. Such as, the price of common grocery store items. Say, a gallon of milk, or a loaf of bread. Not a good look if they get caught flat footed.

    “I lack the competence for such an arrangement.” Ohhhh! That’s a keeper. Usually, when the question of children comes up, I say, “If I had kids, I’d still be in jail.” 🙂

    I scan the headlines, and that puts more than enough of the gutter in my head. If I read an article, it’s more likely to be about art, archaeology or literature. By the way, “The Daily Impact” has a new post. And, it’s about insurance.

    I rip off the string and tag, of every tea bag I put in the compost. It’s very zen 🙂 . Why? Because there’s a little metal staple, holding said string and tag, onto the bag. The lemon balm is down right invasive, here at the Institution. I’m surprised your Chamomile, died. It’s not really invasive, but it seems like a few plants come up again, every year. In fact, I sent five to the Master Gardener Plant Sale. By the way, they picked up the potted up plants, this morning. I’d say there were a good hundred pots, of this and that. Filled the whole back of a pick-up truck. The sale starts Saturday. I’ll get a report, next week.

    So, today I helped load the plants, unload a pile of compost, and helped Ted get down the dividers for the shared beds. He also took measurements for the two beds (one of mine), that will get lattice work, at one end. That will probably go in next week, and I can plant my green beans.

    The fellow who paid for my groceries, well, I’ve known him for years. He used to be in and out of The Program, and when I had my shop on Tower, he’d show up once or twice a week. Drunk or sober, I’d talk to him, never judging. Eventually, he “got” it, and is now counting his sobriety in years. One thing I’ve got to say about him is, he always worked. And, is rather astute about handling money. He worked in lumber mills, for awhile, and now works for a frozen food distributor, and is working his way up.

    Prof. Mass has a post about our upcoming “heatwave.” Looks like it will be hot for a couple of days, and then decline into something more reasonable.

    And, in news from Hollywood! I see they’re finally getting a “Beetlejuice 2” off the ground. Should be out next year. And, I see Simon Pegg is in the new “Mission Impossible.” Sigh. Which doesn’t interest me, and I wish he’d be in something more interesting. Lew

  22. Hello Chris
    I believe that I did walk barefoot on pavements sometimes in my youth. It would be very risky now as no doubt an ambulance would arrive to remove the poor old demented woman.


  23. Chris:

    Some parts of the property have been marked off limits with, er, human El Stinko. One can only do so much! The dogs used to do a pretty fine job of that.

    Last night a bear got into the outside garbage can and strewed rubbish all over. This tends to happen at this time of year when bears come out of hibernation (which must have been way earlier this year as it was so warm) and the natural pickings are slim. It usually stops after a little while, though the year that my teenaged son worked at the bagel shop and brought home day-old bagels every day, wherein some went into the trash, we had a bear visit all summer. We were not composting then, though once we started to, that bear would move heaven and earth and fences to get into the compost.


  24. Hi Inge,

    I expect that you are correct with that assertion. It would be an uncomfortable, and also somewhat alarming experience, to be subjected to the tender mercies of the medical system. Possibly something of a horror show.

    I’m a bit soft footed. You reminded me of the time I casually remarked to a much younger lady: ‘Not a good day to discover you have a hole in your shoe’. It was an innocuous comment which suggested that the weather was both rainy and a shoe sole had worn out. I genuinely believed that the comment meant very little other than shoes can wear out, and water can find ingress. The awkward conversation then rapidly lurched onto the subject: Why would you have a hole in your shoe? Frankly, everything went downhill from there.

    I tell you truly, a lot of people these days don’t know what poverty means. I do rather hope they’re not too upset with the future they’ll get?



  25. Hi Pam,

    I’m not mucking around here. You know I’m happy to take the dogs out for a walk in the dark. Sure a big 6 foot+ kangaroo will give them some dramas, and the outcome of the confrontation is not known in advance – except maybe with Ollie. Even the occasional herd of Sambar deer will respect the dogs, even the stags will. Ollie is big and tough. Maybe the dogs will get super excited by the potent stink of a juicy wallaby. But a bear. Hmm, a bear. That’s the whole next level. Oh yeah. Far out!

    Thanks for sharing the story, and I had no idea you had bears visiting your property. Respect.

    One of my quiet enjoyments is visiting an interweb site called: ‘look at this Russian’. Now, for some reason, those folks have bears as pets. Like, what the f#$%? And the bears seem like really lovely pets. Just remember to keep them well fed. Do not neglect the feeding. 😉

    Personally, if bears were around here, I’d be walking around at night with a rifle. Just sayin…



  26. Hi Lewis,

    Yes, the idea of not getting paid would focus their minds wonderfully. It is a truth universally acknowledged that folks who have a lot, don’t necessarily believe that that is the case. Hungry ghosts? Hmm? That’s funny, yes get your own damned coffee and dry cleaning. Chuck had it right with Fight Club, don’t mess around with the folks who get stuff done. 😉 I told you it always comes back to Fight Club in the end.

    That trick gets pulled down here during elections – a tedious time, fortuitously limited to twelve to sixteen weeks at most. Nothing says this ‘ere numpty is so out of touch, like: they don’t know how much a dozen eggs cost.

    Hehe! That’s a funny line too. It would create quite the impression, wouldn’t it? And the witty reply also raises many, many more questions. 🙂 A tidy shot across the bow if I may say so.

    Yes, I do much the same with the news headlines. A person can pick and choose if they wish. And I have read the essay, and mate, it is something that bothers me greatly. The policies here increase at a rate of 20% annually, and that is unsustainable – for me, at least. It won’t take too many more years before we’re knocked out of the market. That does not suggest that I have been idle, far from it actually. That story is a known, known. It’s the stuff I hadn’t considered that really bothers me.

    At this point I have to fess up to leaving the string and tag on the tea bag when it goes into the worm farm. Probably won’t end well, but I presume the acidic environment in there will rust the staple out pretty quickly. The rest are natural materials – from what I’ve read. The details of course, may vary. I might give the worm farm a good feed of woody mulch over the next few weeks. Not a bad idea heading into winter.

    Hey, I harvested and we ate the last of the seasons eggplants this evening. Despite my earlier worries, the eggplants produced heaps of fruit, albeit slim purple varieties, and only in the greenhouse. I’d recently been getting a bit err, motivated to get the mustard greens in the ground in the greenhouse for the winter – and the eggplants had to go. More growing space in there would be handy. I’m really curious to see how the mustard seedlings grow during the winter in there. Do we need a second greenhouse? Maybe.

    The German chamomile died off before spreading during a particularly hot and dry summer. I just haven’t got around to replacing the plant. Probably not a bad idea to do so. Well done with all the plants for the master gardeners sale, and I have little doubt that the plants will all get sold. The times suggest as much.

    The lattice work is a great idea, and hope the beans enjoy the structure – although, we all know they will.

    Respect, to both of you. And especially for you showing him a path out. Hehe! Ain’t that the truth? 🙂 People who work, respect the output of the work, and that sort of suggests something about those who are not compelled to work.

    I finally comprehended your spoiler regarding Edward II. 🙂 A rather unpleasant ending. Read that chapter over a late lunch today. The sun was shining with a touch of warmth, and the words revealed many a dark tale. I’m really quite enjoying the book. A fascinating history.

    Man, I worked really late this evening. A big job had to be done, and in this case I was happy to do so. I’d intended to do the work on Tuesday, but the Editor wasn’t feeling all that well that day, so a person needs a bit of flexibility. So, today, I worked, and the sun shone. It looked very nice outside. The wind has picked up a bit now, but there is no rain forecast until Tuesday. There’s been a lot of rain, and so the break is well received. The water tanks are all full. And the house batteries sucked a lot of power into them today. They were at 60% full this morning, and this is not optimal for a long life span. But who knows what will be the case with this stuff. After five very cloudy and rainy days, the sun worked wonders. Except I was inside working. Oh well, pays the bills and stuff. 😉 Mustn’t grumble.

    Hey, doesn’t that movie franchise have the same bloke in it who was in that film I often reference? Now what was it again, oh that’s right: Maverick. The guy can act. 🙂 Hehe! One day, my friend, one day! What I want to know is, when is the next Star Trek film with Simon Pegg as Scotty? He stole every scene he was in, and probably knew that too.

    I remember the original Beetlejuice film with Michael Keaton, it was very cool. The sequel has big shoes to fill.



  27. Hello Chris
    Many years ago, I had a hole in my only pair of shoes, not uncommon in those days. The definition of poverty has become ridiculous. I live very well though below the supposed poverty line.


    Oh my goodness, bears!


  28. Yo, Chris – Reading over your shoulder … The hole in the shoe story is a classic. I’d say the young lady in question had Great Expectations. 🙂 You were probably well shut of her. LOL. I wonder what she’d think of one pair of my shoes? They’re about to the duct tape (the handyman’s friend!) stage.

    Bears. Lovely pets until they rip your face off. See: Timothy Treadwell. I think he got the Darwin Award, that year.

    “…don’t mess around with the folks who get stuff done.” Many of those in power, haven’t seem to have taken that bit of advice on board. I saw it a lot in Library Land. Just ignore the folks in the trenches (or, steal their ideas and call them your own). They don’t have degrees. You can ignore or abuse them.

    A lot of insurance policies, pay for wind or water damage. Not necessarily both. It’s in the small print. Claims adjuster must be an interesting job. Especially when you tell someone that 40% of the customer’s damage, won’t be paid for, because one or the other isn’t covered. It’s usually in the small (small, small) print.

    I may have to trial a hole, with strings and tags left on. Sometimes removing them tips from Zen territory, into downright tedium. 🙂

    Good going on the egg plant. Not a veg I’m particularly familiar with. Other than in egg plant parmesan. Maybe breaded and fried. A second greenhouse? Oh, heck. Live with the one you’ve got, for awhile, and then decide.

    My garden buddy is freaking out, because the rolly pollys are eating his cucumbers and squash. According to the Master Gardeners, that’s pretty unusual, as they usually go for dead stuff. But that we had the same problem, last year. They recommended diatomaceous earth. He had a couple of extra cucumber plants, and if I can keep them alive until the lattice goes in, I’ll give those a whirl. The Master Gardeners e-mailed me, that they had bought a Pineapple Tomato. And did I want it. Well, no. Sounds gimmicky, to me. Besides, it’s an indeterminate and would take up a lot of space.

    I love good history stories, as long as they separate fact from here say. That’s why I like Lucy Worsley’s documentaries. She may have a taste for flouncing around in historic costumes, but she’s pretty clear on what’s probably fact, and what might be fiction.

    No rain in our foreseeable future. Other than watering, I’ve decided to take today off.

    Last night I made a big batch of Chex Mix®. I followed the recipe, but think it needs more Worcestershire sauce. LOL. I forgot how lethal the last part can be. You put it in the nuker for six minutes, taking it out every two minutes to give it a good stir. The fumes from the Worcestershire sauce, just about did me in. 🙂

    Simon Pegg can act. The other guy, not so much. The sequel is supposed to have Keaton and Ryder. But I’ll believe it, when it’s in the can. “There’s many a slip, between the cup and the lip.” And that’s Hollywood.

    I watched a really interesting documentary, last night. One of the Nova science specials. “Ancient Builders of the Amazon.” Lots of amazing new discoveries, down there. For the longest time, the area was ignored, as most archaeologists thought it was mostly inhabited by small groups of hunter / gatherers. And that complex societies couldn’t develop, for a lot of reasons. One being that you couldn’t really store a lot of food, due to heat and humidity. But it turns out the folks had pretty extensive field systems, and also moved plants to have useful groves. They also didn’t think they had any monumental architecture, but, that is being laid to rest. Some pretty complex pyramids and mounds are being uncovered. And, it’s all thanks to lidar. Which has become so miniaturized, that they can use drones now, instead of planes. Lew

  29. Chris,

    Sleeping dogs. Gods, goddesses. I tend to leave all of these alone. Fewer sharp things come my way as a result. 😉

    The memorial after a year is very standard in Indian Country, as the Princess calls it. And a big give away as part of the event. ALL of the people who helped with the burial service get recognized at the memorial. There are some other aspects to it that I am unable to discuss. The shawls are specific to this memorial. Brother-in-law is splitting the cost with us for some other items also.

    We’re at 32 years together this July. The time? As per your suggestion I checked under the sofa with the dust bunnies but couldn’t find it. Judging by the looks of the guy who stares back at me from the mirror, it appears that the time manifests itself as grey beard and hair. Dunno for sure. That’s one of those “doubt and uncertainty” things we need a philosopher or a seer or something to think about.

    I charged the Stihl battery this afternoon. I will put it to use tomorrow. It will help immensely with the Big Project. And I actually do have a few weird carving projects that the Stihl might help with. I have ideas that are out of the norm for the carvings we see hereabouts. As a result, I have a good time, make something different, and get added enjoyment out of explaining to other carvers what I did.

    Mower blades. Rocks. Hot and dry. Sparks. Fire. NOT GOOD. One of the huge wildfires near the Princess’s rellies nearly a decade ago was caused by somebody plowing a field in early August. There went several hundred thousand acres. The smoke from that fire sat over Spokane for weeks, sometimes so thick it was difficult to see across the street at night. The sun was a teeny tiny red pinpoint one day. It was a very eerie few weeks.

    The law of clouds and sun was mildly violated today. I mowed the lawns. There were 3 smallish clouds. Just after I started to get hot, one of the clouds provided shade for much longer than I would have predicted from its size. Helped me feel better. Then the cloud moved on and things got back to following the law of clouds and sun.

    I remember 1983 summer, El Nino, was very cool and very wet. The Cliff Mass article about this suggests that our area is often slightly warmer and drier than normal during an El Nino summer. But ALL of our summers have been warmer and drier in recent years, so how to tell the difference? Maybe that knowledge is hiding with the “where has the time gone” answer?

    We got even more rain early this week, so it totaled about 28mm in a week. Yes!

    I read an article recently about an activity that some very old people have in common. Gardening, believe it or not. Builds muscle. Helps with endurance. Helps with agility. Planning the projects helps keep the brain functioning. Sounds a lot like “chop wood, carry water” to me. Chop wood, carry water works for a lot of things.


  30. Hi Inge,

    Yes, I’ve also known that experience, and looked after those shoes. I’ve spoken to people who were unaware that a person could wax and polish the leather on their shoes (that is if they even have leather shoes – I disdain plastic shoes). Truly, it boggles my mind to consider how much of a come down the future will be to many folks. On the other hand I don’t worry too much because we’re a very adaptable species, and historically have gotten by very well, with far less than what people expect as ‘the norm’ these days. On the whole we’ll be fine, but as to how individuals face the future, I can’t really say.

    Inge, truth to tell, I’m far more interested in how people spend, than what they earn. And it takes a lot of skill to live on very little, I hear you.



  31. Hi DJ,

    Yes, there is a lot to go wrong there, and the old timers had it right when they advised to ‘let sleeping dogs lie’. Would Avalanche enjoy being poked awake? Probably not.

    Thank you for inviting me into the custom as much as you were able to do so, and I understand that the mysteries aren’t shared. Makes sense to me.

    Thought you might be interested in this story from over in the south west of the state I reside in: Octogenarian artist ‘Chainsaw Kev’ carves new head for beloved ram statue after criminal decapitation. He’s good that bloke, and the new rams head is an excellent match. His chainsaw might be a bit bigger than the hand held machine you’ve got, but you never know – it may be a beginning of a journey for you? It’s a bit embarrassing, but err there are six of the machines here, and they all have their uses. The little mains electric one will be pressed into service in lieu of a bandsaw on the axe handle project. Although, a bandsaw would be very handy turning blocks of wood (no shortage on that front!) into all sorts of things.

    Good to hear that you’re considering other uses for that machine – just remember to keep the chain tensioned, sharp, well oiled and use leather riggers gloves. But you know your business better than I. 🙂

    Mate, where have the years gone? Respect. Following my own advice, I can confirm that the same outcome is also true here – they weren’t behind the couch. Yes, we must apply immediately to the Amalgamated Union of Philosophers, Sages, Luminaries and Other Thinking Persons, for a determination on this sad state of affairs. Doubt and uncertainty must be rigidly adhered to, and officially acknowledged. And let’s probably leave the thinking to them. Makes my head spin, such thoughts. 🙂

    That’s not good, and yes history is littered with acts of stupidity. I’ve always believed that as a community, we’re only as good as the weakest links in that regard. I realise that it was a decade ago, but hope the folks on the rez were OK? The stupidest thing about all of it, is if the land was managed better in the first place, the fire would possibly never have gotten that big. It’s a common story down here. Oh well. This is why we clean up. It’s a massive job after all the crazy goings on since Europeans arrived on the continent. On the other hand, a bloke’s gotta have a hobby! 🙂

    I’ve also experienced that red sun and thick smoke. It’s pretty brutal on the lungs. And I’m guessing it wasn’t much good for you.

    Your cloud and sun law might be slowly moving back into the land of the work-in-progress hypothesis, sorry to say? Still, don’t you reckon that your experience may be a solid example of the lesser explored ‘cloud assistance’ component of the theory?

    There was only minor cloud cover here today, and it was a really beautiful day to be out in the sun. About 16’C and still. We spent most of the day slowly cleaning up some of the loggers mess. Why waste the mess, we’re turning it into firewood. Why not? It kind of looks to me like one day a couple of decades ago, they just downed tools, removed their gear and that was it. Never to return. Something must have happened to produce that result. Dunno, but it’s a mystery, and a mess. But every little bit we do makes the place better for the wildlife – and us.

    Hey the 1983 El Nino summer down here was a very different experience. Oh yeah. That year was the last really big fire through this mountain range. Killed quite a few people. The 1983 Ash Wednesday fires, forty years ago. I remember them.

    Interestingly, down under, the meteorologists (why are they so interested in meteors?) are suggesting that the atmosphere is not complying with the usual El Nino set up.

    That’s a decent drop of rain for you!

    It does indeed, and I absolutely 100% agree with you. 🙂

    PS: I received your email, however your server may have junked my reply. Thanks to big tech, I have to activate SPF records on my server. Will do so over the next few days, but until then I’m treated like a non-entity. Thanks big tech dudes. Oh well.



  32. Chris:

    No – if you were walking around here when bears are out, you’d carry a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, maybe 2 or 3. Bears love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; I know from experience.

    Blimey! I just had to jump up. I had an ant in my pants. And then I sat down again to compute and my forearm became sticky with tar. My mousepad seems to be melting. Will the day go on like this?!!


  33. Hello Chris et al.,
    It has been a crazy busy month here, no commenting from my side, but I have fortunately been able to read most of your contributions.

    I had two fabulous week-ends, visiting friends who are even further ahead than us, with solid homesteads and bountiful gardens. Amazing skills, I look and try and practice and learn.

    A side remark on the topic of interest and capital income in the days of Jane Eyre. I think 5% above interest government bonds constitute an excellent scam, since it allows for inverse taxation.
    If you are rich enough, you part with some of your wealth to the government once, and receive a hefty income forever.
    The richer you are, the more you receive from the government.
    And it looks fair.
    Interest typically never compounded, since it was paid out and used as income for consumption.

    Nowadays, rich people use other mechanisms to lift off the cream, and leave the rest of us with the low-fat, non-nutrious residue.

    Of course the current fiat money experiment cannot end well. I am surprised that the musical chairs are still spinning for so many. On the other hand, the precariat is growing steadily, but mainly among immigrants, and other people who are not good at organizing.

    In Scandinavia we don’t have a left-populist or green-populist movement (yet).

    Yesterday we had our first asparagus and rhubarb and spinach. Harvest season is officially open!

    We have had two days of rain (total 12 mm) in the last month, and temperatures are 20C+ during the days, so our sandy soil is dry and dusty. When the farmers harrow and seed, clouds of dust drift past our place. Our trees along the edges of our field collect what they can, and in the coming years ´they will be able to collect a lot of excellent nutrition (and pesticide drift) to build new loess soil around our property.

    Thanks for sharing the battery-collecting episode.


  34. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, exactly. Great Expectations – it’s not just a book! The whole shoe incident was just uncomfortable not to mention awkward, and I’ve noticed that people seem to have a preference for shoes which are predominantly made of plastic / synthetic materials. That’s not good. Duct tape! That one is probably not on the ‘list of official product uses’. I remember as a kid chucking cardboard inside the shoe. That worked well, until it rained. Then it didn’t work. And you had to apply shoe wax and polish the leather regularly, otherwise the shoe would be even less able to keep out water. I doubt many people would think too much about shoes in these enlightened and over supplied times. I used to work in the manufacturing of shoes, boots to be precise, and it takes a lot of skill and combined effort to produce a pair of shoes. Hmm.

    Holy carp! I’d imagine the bloke, or his lady, hadn’t expected that hungry bear outcome when they awoke that morning. The rangers had advised him to set up a perimeter with an electric fence. Exactly, keep the pets very well fed.

    The history book I’m reading suggests that the outcome you experienced is not at all uncommon. Possibly it may be hard-wired into the culture? I’ve always been protective of the people who worked directly for me, but that did not stop pressure and stupid stuff reaching me from higher up the food chain. Wasn’t a fan.

    Ah, of course – tornadoes, and tornado alley. Right, that’s not an issue down here that I’m aware of. Hang on, they have cyclones up north. Hmm, it might be a problem. But flooding insurance, wow, it’s expensive. My understanding of how it works down here is that part payment of a settlement is not the done thing, all or nothing seems to be the way of it. You’re right, it is all in the fine print. ‘New for old’ is something you hear, and what I believe it means is that if you have a log cabin destroyed, the payment will be to cover the costs of an exact replacement log cabin – however, the building regulations may not allow for such a building. You don’t get extra money to make up the difference. The bushfire building standards add a huge cost factor to a building, and if the house being replaced didn’t have them, then the owner I believe has to cough up the difference.

    Hehe! Well, if its a basic staple, cardboard and cotton string – why not? I see Iron + Boron + Carbon + and some other stuff in that mixture. I doubt it will last long, unless the string is nylon, or some other plastic. Nice pun too, tea-deeum! 🙂

    It’s too cold here to grow the really large eggplants. The ones we grew are a purple skinned, skinny variety. They don’t need salting, and have very few seeds – which I thought was odd given they’re an open pollinated variety – and were used as fill in a vegetable and mushroom pasta sauce. It’s been a mystery to us as to where were the eggplant seeds?

    Does your gardening buddy have new stringers in raised beds? The rolly pollys A.K.A. slaters or wood lice, probably used to eat the old stringers. They might be hungry? And they happily chow down upon tender seedlings here. The cheeky scamps. Generally I usually make up for the lost seedlings by replacing them. But diatomaceous earth will work. Oh yeah, it’s amazing – ancient dinosaurs still proving just how dangerous they once were! Gives the soil a good mineral hit too.

    A pineapple tomato just doesn’t sound right to me either. It’s not a Cape Gooseberry is it? They’re a bit weedy here, and taste kind of like that unusual cross.

    I hear you about separating what is known, from what is unknown and pure speculation. The history book I’m reading does state when the juicy bits have been added onto the story at a later date. The red hot poker incident was one of those.

    Good to hear that you’ve taken a day off. Always wise, and I do the same, sometimes spontaneously. Although, I don’t generally announce my plans in advance here, for obvious reasons.

    Speaking of work, it was a stunning late autumn day today. Blue sunny skies and not a breath of wind. We headed way down to the forest edge and spent the day cleaning up some of the loggers mess. I’m coming around to the theory that one day, they just stopped their activities. We’re slowly turning the mess into firewood, which is kind of useful for us, and good for the wildlife. The next couple of days will also be sunny and warm – at least warm for this time of year. Not a bad change after the Antarctic blast earlier in the week.

    Chex looks like little waffles to me. Fascinating, and I’ll bet they taste good. Far out! You maced yourself with Worcestershire sauce. Yikes! Years ago, we walked into a Mexican restaurant anticipating a meal, then walked out again. It was just so wrong in there. A cheeky customer had chucked spicy chilli onto a hot cast iron grill plate. The air was thick with chilli sting, and the incident had cleared the restaurant. Your eyes watered and the air made you want to cough your guts up.

    Mate, you do dead pan, really well. We could have hours of fun discussing that film, but somehow I have the feeling it may be pushing the friendship a tad too far. 🙂 Maybe, just every now and then I’ll mention the film. Hehe! I agree. Beetlejuice was a crazy film and premise, but it worked. That version of the afterlife troubled me.

    I hadn’t heard about those finds in the Amazon. Interesting stuff. It’s a challenging place to reside. And you’d have to be pretty careful with the soils. Oh yeah.



  35. Hi Pam,

    I defer to your experience in this matter of bears. Candidly, I’d be frightened of ever encountering one, especially if they were hungry!

    Mind you, Koala bears can be rather grumpy creatures with sharp claws. But here, size makes a considerable difference, plus they’re vegetarians. Although, I wouldn’t want to anger a hippopotamus as they’re vegetarians too. Hmm, the dark side of vegetarianism perhaps? 🙂

    Ah, summer has arrived early for you. Stay cool! After the five day long Antarctic blast earlier in the week, today was sunny and just a really lovely day to be outside. Splitting firewood. Winter is the time for this job – less super deadly snakes! That’s the plan, anyway. Reality may differ from the plan. No guarantees and stuff.



  36. Hi Göran,

    Thanks for taking the time to drop by and say hello.

    Out of curiosity, do your friends have different goals for their place than yours? I mention this because my friends of the ‘Big Shed’ fame are all about poultry and animals (we tend to focus on fruit, nuts, berries and vegetables + chickens) and I always learn a lot from them.

    Interesting. To be candid, the present financial arrangements appear to be moving further from the underlying reality. Just for one simple example, since you mention bonds, take a look at the underlying national debt over time graph. The graph is not dissimilar from an exponential – err, yeast growth – curve. Yeasts eventually run out of food to consume.

    I tend to agree, this economic experiment might not end up well. Although it may be possible that we’ll endure high inflation, but not so high as to flame-out the currency, and for the foreseeable future. It would be a brutal correction, but I’m not ruling out that possibility. One interesting side story from such a possibility is that in such an outcome, having material stuff, and being able to produce at least some of your own needs (with some surplus), is about the best hedge a person can achieve.

    The greens down here, don’t seem all that green to me. I believe they represent the inner urban folks desires and wishes, and have very little representation in rural areas. Be careful what you wish for! 🙂

    Yay! Well done, and the first asparagus of the year is a tasty event. We have a number of raised beds with asparagus, and the season goes for about four months.

    That sounds like free soil fertility for you and your land. 🙂 Are you planning to get more organic matter into that sandy soil? You should have almost no soil disease issues with the fruit and nut trees.

    Göran, batteries are my nightmare. Plenty of people have opinions, I unfortunately have experience. And I really do not know how long they will all last. The oldest large battery dates back from about 2007, and is still in daily use. You see how that is playing out at the end of life. I took four of them down to the metal recyclers the other day – the electrician I believe had damaged them by sitting on them in 2009. Oh well.



  37. Yo, Chris – That was an interesting article about Chainsaw Kev. Why do people do destructive carp like that? If caught, they’ll probably say “We were bored.” Interesting they’re reenforcing it with steel posts. Mail box smashing seems a sport, around here. Until they come up against a reenforced box … 🙂 Our brick laying Club manager, also in his 80s, has the same problem as Kev. Every job is his “last job.” Until the next one. I believe you said, “Blessed are the competent, as they shall remain busy.” I might add, unto the grave.

    Someone must still be taking care of their shoes. Here, it seems like every grocery store and chemists, has a good sized rack of shoe care and repair products. Don’t forget the mink oil.

    Why worry about bears, when you have these fellows around?

    That’s up in Margaret’s part of the country. Though they live throughout the entire Mississippi drainage. I remember a children’s book, when I was a kid. “Minn of the Mississippi.” If I can remember it after 60+ years, it must have been pretty good. Great illustrations. That author and illustrator did some great kid’s books.

    Yup. That’s the kind of manager I was. Pull my own weight, don’t ask anyone to do something I wouldn’t do, myself. Protect the peeps. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned Amy, from my local library branch. After 18 years, she was fired! I’m still upset about that. The only thing I take comfort in is that Karma is a b—h, and poetic justice is relentless. And usually I hear about, or actually witness the fall.

    Face it. Insurance is a racket.

    The pun was not intended. There must be a pun gear, in my head. Occasionally, it slips into gear, and cranks one out, without me noticing.

    That’s a pretty good theory about the sow bugs. But they were a problem, last year, before the stringers were replaced. But I’ll throw the theory at the Master Gardeners, anyway. I may also try a “trap.” Take a handful of decaying veg, sprinkle it with the earth, and see if the numbers are reduced.

    No, the Pineapple tomato is not a Cape Gooseberry. Hmmm. I see it’s an open pollinated heritage breed. I might have to pay a bit more attention to it, and give it some care. Just as long as it’s not in my bed. That bed will be a Master Gardener bed, so, it’s communal and open to all.

    It’s forecast to be 83F, here, today. Still manageable. When I went out to water, last night, a few things looked a bit droopy. But, they bounce right back. When it hits 90F, I’ll water morning and evening.

    Chex cereal has been around for a long time. It’s original advertising “hook” was that it held the milk. The recipe for the Chex mix, is on every box. It comes in wheat, corn and rice. I’m quit partial to the wheat, but don’t eat much of it, as I consider it to be “junk” food. The ingredients list isn’t too long, but it’s highly processed.

    Well, if it’s not the film, it’s “Fight Club,” or “The Art of War.” Play those old favorites again 🙂 .

    I went out for petrol, this morning. $4.70 a US gallon, regular grade. I also stopped by the cheap food store. The one that’s a bit out of the way, and looks like it should have rats. My timing was off, or the patterns weren’t right. Half the store (the interesting half) was blocked off. They had waxed the floors, and they weren’t dry yet.

    I’m reading an interesting book (to me.) “Once Upon a Tome: The Misadventures of a Rare Bookseller.” (Darkshire, 2022) Mr. Darkshire works in the oldest bookstore in the world. Sotheran’s, in London. Though there is a bookstore in Peru, that gives them grief over that, from time to time. I’m finding it entertaining, but then, I would. Lew

  38. Chris,

    Many living beings should not be poked. Wasp nests, for example. Poisonous snakes. Most wild animals, as most parts are sharp. Poking things is just a bad idea.

    Thanks for understanding that some things cannot be discussed.

    You’re right: excellent ram’s head. Chainsaw Kev knows his business! His other work looks very good, too.

    The new machine got its first trial today. It works like a champ. Easy to clean, easy to tighten the chain. I was impressed. It cut stuff up in 45 minutes that would’ve taken me 6 hours or more with tools powered by DJ. Leather gloves are a necessity with such a tool. I’ve got several pairs. And the best part: no stray bits of DJ got lopped off today. That’s always a victory.

    Any thought that makes your head spin needs to be abandoned. That’s what the professional thinkers are for, hence the Amalgamated Union. Then again, Mr. Adams introduced the Electric Monk, who does all of your believing for you, saving you from the tedium of having to believe anything. Twas in “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”. Do we really want a group of professional thinkers doing all of our thinking for us?

    That big fire on the Rez coincided with another one that was caused by lightning. The rellies were about 2 km from both fires. Got pretty dicey for them, then there was about 3mm of rain one day, which was just enough for the fire crews to get control. Fires like that are scary.

    Upon further reflection, the law of clouds and sun DID hold. Although the one cloud spent more time in front of the sun than I thought possible, the other nearby clouds spent NO time in front of the sun. So the total expected time of cloud cover was about the same as the actual time of cloud cover. Law held. 😉

    This morning’s walk was great. We used to have a large covey of quail in the neighborhood. Then the neighbor’s teenage daughter got several cats, none of which were neutered. The cats begat cats, which begat more cats. Some looked hideous from the inbreeding. The cat herd ate the quail one winter. The cat population peaked at 26 when that family moved, leaving most of the cats behind. Coyote food is what they became. Anyhow, for the first time in 12 years I saw a quail in the area this morning. It was a welcome sight.

    My server tends to be weird with email. Occasionally, it will deliver emails from up to 3 months ago. Dunno what that is all about, other than it is run by microsoft. Nuff said.


  39. Hi DJ,

    Poking things is truly awful, I so hear you. Take for example today’s lunch experience. We’d decided to take the day off any and all work (after about half a day of chores), then headed to a nearby pub for lunch. They do awesome gourmet pies, the likes of which mythic songs should be penned – that’s another story though. What were we saying again, oh yes, poking things. So the Editor and I were enjoying our gourmet pies, sitting in the late autumn sunshine, and the fricken European wasps (yellow jackets) were pestering us. One even had the audacity to alight upon my pie. That was a step too far. We moved table into the shade, and suddenly they were gone. The lesson here: Know thy enemy. Sun Tzu would applaud our response, if he wasn’t long since turned to dust that is. 🙂

    My pleasure, and I respect boundaries. Others may choose otherwise. Such knowledge is not for those who are not initiates.

    Did you see the eagle carved from the tree stump? I’ve watched a group of chainsaw artists at work, and one of my regrets is that I hadn’t purchased the life sized wombat carving from them, but maybe it was not meant to be – and the live wombats here are consolation.

    Well done, and I so hear you about that. The steel on the chain is way sharp, and can do you up a right treat, if care is not exercised. Not a tool to be used if a person is not at the peak of their game. Enjoy your digits and extremities, always handy those things! 🙂

    I’d read Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency as well. A good story, although I now forget the Electric Monk. It does seem like rather a risk doesn’t it? What if that lot thunk wrong thoughts? Best we muddle on through, huh?

    Yikes! 2km is way too close for comfort. Glad to read that the fire was contained, and the rain, albeit light shower, would be a blessing. And it is worth mentioning that fires can move remarkably quickly depending upon the winds. Wildfires are one of those risk things that are on my mind, and we do our best to adapt to the possibility. Candidly, I’m uncertain what other people around these parts do on that front. It’s a worry. Fire is part of the landscape, and is a tool which should be used, and not have the tool use us, but people are bonkers about that subject.

    I defer to your greater logic chopping abilities in relation to the clouds. 🙂 I admit defeat and run like crazy from the debating field!!! Jane Eyre would have done no differently, after all, I read that book. 😉

    They left the cats? Wow. I’ve heard of that happening, and there was that suspicious incident when I was a kid. Good to hear that the quails have returned!

    Yeah, no worries at all about the email. The tech giants have recently been enforcing stupid rules in relation to that form of communication. I’m not interested in that area (although once was, long, long ago) but now just kind of have to respond. What do you do? They eat my life those folks, but no matter, no point whinging about it.



  40. Chris:

    You and your vegetarians!

    I had better study gardening a little more closely. I had thought that I was caring for baby pawpaws (they’ve only just sprouted and are not labeled), but it turns out that they are jujubes. Now who wouldn’t recognize a jujube? Around the beds were some scattered seeds on the ground that I assumed were pawpaws (see above), so I planted them in the beds. Wrong again! They have come up not looking like pawpaws, or jujubes, and I find that they are persimmons. A gardener might begin to wonder a little bit about her sanity . . . but at least there is variety!

    I like your yeast analogy in your comment to Goran:

    “Just for one simple example, since you mention bonds, take a look at the underlying national debt over time graph. The graph is not dissimilar from an exponential – err, yeast growth – curve. Yeasts eventually run out of food to consume.”


  41. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, I was surprised that someone would do such a thing too to the carving. Many long years ago I visited a forest in the state to the north. They had some rare tree ferns, and some cheeky scamp got in with a chainsaw and cut them off, and hauled them away – presumably to sell. Now, with the variety of tree fern I purchased that would work. The plant grows in cooler, damper areas, like around here. The fern produces a new root system, whilst the cut base dies off. In this instance though, it was an entirely different variety of tree fern and the cut head dies off and the remains of the trunk in the ground re-sprouts. It was just a stupid waste, and as you do, a sign near to the car park had to be created advising visitors not to do this stupid, pointless and rather destructive act. Those tree ferns are best grown from seed. Easy enough and I’ve got a few of them growing here. Those are from the Cyathea family of ferns.

    Incidentally, I forgot to mention that when we went to the fern nursery last week, they had been stripped of tree ferns. How weird is that timing? They had very limited supply for a few years due to you-know-what, we decided to get one, they got supply, then supply dried up again. It’s a bit eerie really. What they told me was that the export market pays more than the local market, and so the supply goes there nowadays. Who knew?

    It’s true with the busy! And that is the official end point. 🙂 Oh well. Could be worse fates I suppose.

    Hope the minks don’t mind providing the oil? It’s very nice of them to do so. 😉 The humble shoe polish was taken to the whole next level, in the big smoke over a century ago: Kiwi (shoe polish). I hadn’t appreciated how big they were.

    Go Chonkasaurus! A formidable reptile. You’ve had me wondering for a while now, what size all those delightful little feral domestic cats will eventually evolve into? Possibly rather large given enough time.

    Thanks for mentioning the book, and the illustrations are excellent. A great way to learn about critters and ecology.

    Yup, I did exactly the same with the teams I’ve led. Sorry to hear about how things turned out for your friend. Not good.

    I can’t comment on that due to legal advice! 😉

    It was a great pun, and yes, your auto-pun skills are highly evolved. Sometimes such things can go awry. I recall one notable meeting at the fire shed where the bloke in charge was describing an incident whilst using the whiteboard to illustrate the scene. In a bizarre twist of fate, the illustration of the scene resembled a stylised phallus with appropriately scaled appendages to either side. The Editor and I (as were some others) were giggling away at this unfortunate gaff. Very hard to take seriously, and herein is one of the reasons why such organisations aren’t for us – it was meant to be taken seriously. I’m sure the bloke never knew what he’d drawn.

    Wood lice consume seedlings down here, but they do hide under rocks, logs, in long grass, as well as woody mulch. It’s a problem, but has never been so bad that all the seedlings were eaten. I’m having my own share of dramas. Strangely, the kale crop failed to resprout this year. That was weird, and I’m wondering if the parrots ate all the seeds? Dunno, but the seeds we saved also failed to germinate. A mystery. I’ll be interested to hear what the master gardeners have to advise about the roly polly’s. Diatomaceous earth is effective.

    Thanks for the clarification. Ah, that pineapple variety of tomato is also available down here. Yeah, they can do the hard yards with new varieties. One thing I’ll do next growing season is plant the tomato seedlings deeper, and restrain the height of the indeterminate varieties. Every year you learn.

    It was 57’F here today, but sunny with blue skies. Rather pleasant, but I’d enjoy 83’F, sounds nice to me and as you say, manageable. The annuals bounce back here too after such weather, given a watering.

    Hehe! Yes, we do have our in-jokes, don’t we? All good fun. Anyway, if I mention that film too often, and it was good, you might begin mentioning the book-that-shall-not-be-named! And I’ll squirm in fright.

    Ouch, that is expensive for a gallon of fuel. Interestingly, the price of fuel has been hovering around the $1.80/litre for a while now ($6.84/ gallon). Bizarrely stable, albeit expensive. Bummer about the timing. Two weeks ago we went to the local stockfeed business, and they were closed – we were too early that day. That never happens…

    On the other hand, a management-approved afternoon nap holds a certain appeal. 😉 The book sounds very enjoyable and delightfully quirky. There’s an antiquarian book shop in the big smoke and it’s in a beautiful gothic inspired building. Inexplicably, the shop sits slightly below ground level, so walking past you’re kind of observing sort of down and into the shop. I really do love looking at the displays in the windows, and it is not hard to notice that the staff select themes. You’d love it.

    Had a day off work today, although I somehow seemed to have spent the morning doing chores about the place. Work first, play later is the motto. The late autumn sunshine was glorious. Anyway, we headed off to score a gourmet pie, and I can report that the beef and burgundy pie was superb. Yum! When we got back home, the food demanded to be digested, and so had a nap on the couch. Ollie jumped on and dutifully kept my feet warm, he’s a good dog and was being very thoughtful in this instance. Just relaxed for the rest of the day. Nice, and recharges the batteries.



  42. Hi Pam,

    It was pretty funny, wasn’t it? 🙂

    What’s a jujube? Sounds like a lolly (candy) to me. Well I never. Apparently when first ripe they taste like an apple, but then our culture uses that label for all manner of inappropriate tasting fruits. Exhibit A: Pineapple does not taste like any apple I’ve ever eaten. There are more examples… I’m sure you can think of a few? Oh my, jujube has a lot of traditional uses. I’ll keep an eye out for a tree.

    Persimmons are good trees too, and they’re such a late flowering variety here that they produce a crop of fruit in a short time. Not a bad tree to have when conditions are unfavourable for other tastier, but less hardy trees. Hope the seedlings produce a good variety.

    One of the four North American pawpaws died this summer, but the remaining three are growing very well. The one that died was probably in soil that was a bit too dry during the summer.

    Thanks! It really does look like that.



  43. Yo, Chris – Why we can’t have nice things 🙂 . It always does my heart well, when someone gets nailed for senseless, wanton destruction. You may find this article interesting.

    I liked that bit about “chipping” the plants. Supply and demand. As with tree ferns, so with oil. People bang on about exhausting our domestic sources (say, pumping the Alaskan north slope), and don’t seem to “get” the part about it going to the highest bidder. Not necessarily domestic ones.

    Mink milkers make a premium wage. 🙂 Yes, the Kiwi brand is well known, here.

    Here, kitty, kitty, kitty. Well, as far as animals getting bigger, here’s an article I saw, last night.

    That’s what the Master Gardeners advised. Diatomaceous earth. I planted the Pineapple tomato, last night. Where the Master Gardeners had placed it. Stripped off some of the lower leaves, threw some compost in the hole, a bit of earth, egg shell bits (can’t hurt), and found one of the square tomato cages, that are more heavy duty, to slap around it.

    It’s supposed to be about 5 degrees warmer, today. I’ll water a bit earlier this evening, and go to twice a day waterings, tomorrow.

    I keep the-book-that-shall-not-be-named in reserve. It’s the nuclear option 🙂 .

    My Idaho friends wondered if I was “upset” by the price of gas. Well, no. It is, what it is. Then again, unlike them, I’m not running here, there and everywhere, at the drop of a hat. And, I only gas up about once a month. And usually it’s not even a full tank. There are far more interesting things to be upset about.

    The beef and burgundy pie sounds quit tasty. I wouldn’t turn it down, if it were on offer.

    The ghastly stench was back again, last night, around dinner time. Smells like someone is baking a chicken with the feathers on. Or maybe, someone has decided to dry off their dog, with a few minutes in the microwave. I happened to run into our night manager, and mentioned it to him. He couldn’t determine where it was coming from, but, at least it’s logged now.

    That’s a mystery, about your Kale. Maybe, you need to take a deep dive down the rabbit hole. I’m sure there are other people out there, who have had the same problem. I don’t know if our night manager is going to make a gardener, or not. He takes everything soooo seriously. Lighten up, dude! There’s always next year. Lew

  44. Hi Lewis,

    You’ve mentioned that before, and I tend to agree with you. A bit of a shame really, things could be much nicer than they are. Interestingly, reading about history I’m beginning to notice themes and currents in our culture. Oh well, and the author (Stick a Flag in it) also doesn’t like that actor in that film we sometimes speak of, either. 😉 He may be wrong.

    I had no idea that there was a market for stolen plants, and that social media could drive such craziness. But then, err, leaf change tourism. Doh! The tree fern I purchased and planted recently was appropriately tagged. I don’t doubt that there are folks who simply cut them down and haul them off. I’ve seen the aftermath of such activity.

    That’s essentially part of the problem with global trade, a nation may be facing a serious imbalance and then have to sell stuff off. Yeah, not good. To get out of the recession of the 1990’s, I recall the days when public utilities were being flogged off left, right and centre. Recently the state license mob got sold off for an inordinate quantity of mad cash. Unsurprisingly, I heard some news report in the last week or two saying that we’re going to get virtual licenses. Yay for us! But everything old is new again, except that a whole bunch of base load electricity generators are going to be shut down over the next few years. That’s seriously gonna hurt. Nobody wants to be off-grid, like what with the stuff we have to deal with. Do they? They might? A bonkers aspiration. I did it, because I thought it would be better for the environment, but err, yeah, nah. Switching off is probably better!

    Ooo, I’ll bet the minks look at the folks who do that job, kind of funny like. A bit of excitement for the mink population! I’d read an article long ago about a bloke who had that job at a zoo. It’s a hard way to earn a living.

    Hard to believe that such a giant creature once roamed what is today described as the Badlands. The name in this instance tells you everything you need to know about present conditions.

    I’d been planting tomato seedlings in holes that were too shallow, so I intend to do as you have done with your seedlings. Plant them deeper + remove some of the lower leaves. I’ve been reading recently about how folks deal with the plant in cool climates. Interestingly, we’ve been persisting with the dehydrating process and are now up to about five large glass jars of the fruits. The best we’ve ever done on that front is six large glass jars, and we might beat that yet. Flipping the plants upside down and hanging them, does appear to be working, and the taste is good. We just had to try something, and this seems to have worked well.

    I’ll be interested to hear what you have to say about that variety of tomato.

    Did it get warmer today? Down here, it was another truly delightful day. Blue skies, warm-ish sun and not a breath of wind. We headed back down to the forest edge and continued the clean up. Mate, hard work, and I’m feeling it tonight, but you know, gotta write and stuff. 🙂

    Always wise to keep up the mutually assured destruction, and I did slip in another mention above! But this time historian bloke started it! One can only but do their best under trying circumstances, don’t you reckon? 😉

    I don’t get upset about such things either. As you say, they are what they are. Getting upset about the gas price won’t change diddly squat. Best to save that emotional energy for other concerns.

    Oh man, the gourmet pie was so good. And they’re consistently good. I have inordinately strong feelings towards that business, and they were a bright light during the long lockdowns, although they struggled too.

    That’s nasty, but yeah, neighbours can be a barrel of fun when they turn rogue. Good luck. Surely the stench isn’t as bad as the decomp (I’m drawing that label from police procedural series I’ve seen over the years, and hope you’d correct me on the use) from a dead rat? I recall the other grandfather I rarely mention, he used to enjoy boiled tripe for Sunday lunch – can’t say I enjoyed the smell of that offal cooking.

    One must be prepared to utterly fail, if they want to obtain mastery over this gardening business stuff. It’s hard as… But, each year, you do get better at it. Yikes! It may have been the sudden dry patch we had right about the germination time for the seeds. Might just purchase a few punnets of seedlings this week. It’s still a mystery.

    Cheers and better get writing!


  45. Yo, Chris – And the author may be right. 🙂

    The trade in plant theft? See the book: “The Orchid Thief.” Highly recommended. Do not watch the movie. It’s ca-ca.

    Oh, yes. Utilities get sold off here, too. Left and right. Privatization. Everything from toll roads, to the appeal process for our Medicare program. The city of Chicago sold off all it’s parking meters. That did not end well. There won’t be anything left, that belongs “to the people.” The destruction of the commons? Well, if the government isn’t providing any services, taxes will go down, right? 🙂

    A virtual license? Well, that’s something new. What could possibly go wrong? Seems like a good idea. 🙂 Every year, we’ve been getting some paper coupons, worth $80 to buy produce at farmer’s markets. This year, they are replacing the coupons with some kind of credit card like thing. I wonder how that will work out?

    I got a survey, from one of the food box people. Just an anonymous yearly survey. Of course, how can it be anonymous, if I have to put my return address, on the envelope? And, also, they provided three possible addresses, to return them … two without postal zip codes.

    The Badlands. Been there. Or, drove through, on a couple of family vacations. Rather bleak, as I remember.

    I’m surprised you never ran across, or looked up, the proper way to plant a tomato. Oh, well, I suppose we all have gaps in our educations. I bet your grandpa planted his tomatoes deep.

    I put my dehydrated stuff in plastic bags. Usually, the plastic freezer bags. A petroleum product, I know. They’re pretty cheap at the dollar + store. But, you have planted an idea. I’ve got enough spare canning jars kicking around, that I could store them in those. A penny saved ..

    It was 83F, here, yesterday. Today, it’s supposed to be 94F. It’s Mother’s Day, by the way. H and I are going to the Club, but when I get back I’ll water. And, again, tonight. Also, today is the day to fertilize the blueberries. Oddly, tomorrow’s forecast is for temps in the 80s .. and possible thunderstorms and showers. We’ll see.

    I got a delightful and gorgeous book from the library. “The Story of Flowers, and how they changed the way we live.” (Kingsbury, 2022. Illustrated by Day.) It’s 100 different flowers (some herbs), each having a two page spread. The illustrations are really nice. A bit of history and lore of each flower. It would make a really nice gift for someone, who is interested in gardening.

    One disappointment, to me. For each flower, there’s a sidebar, of “Origin, Longevity, Size, Habitat … and Colours. All to often, under “colours” it says something like: “Reds and pinks through to pure white and then through oranges to yellows; a wide range of purples; no blues.” 🙁 . Lew

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