Such Great Heights

Monday night we’d decided to head out to dinner for a pint and feed. I’d known the manager of the business for a few years, and it wasn’t his last night, it was his second last night. It’s up for sale that business, and the rumoured price inadvertently made me blurt out: “It takes a lot of drinks to pay that off!” The dark side of my day job being that words get compared to fiscal realities.

The food served is usually pretty good. But something was amiss that night. Possibly the manager leaving had upset the troops in the kitchen? By sheer coincidence, we’d both ordered the beef stew. What arrived looked like a cheap and nasty beef ramen soup (minus the noodles but with heaps of salt), which frankly was something of a surprise. The bloke who brought out the meals was also leaving, instead this was his last night. Yay for us, to encounter such a fine mess.

Far out! I was beginning to get visions and it wasn’t just the cider. Rats exiting a plague addled boat moored in the harbour. The locals had other ideas about the cursed ship and were just about to set fire to it, nicely ridding themselves of the nuisance. Possibly the action would have done the locals no good. After all, the rats had already been swimming for the safety of the distant shoreline! Yes, we could read the room. The drink was good, but the meal was odd and contained way too much salt. Being hungry, and with nobody at the helm, certainly nobody who seemed to care, I ate the meal. Honestly, I’m sure I’ve consumed that much salt in a meal at some point in the deep dark past, but it’d be a rare occurrence. Too much salt raises my blood pressure. I awoke in the middle of the night with a pounding headache and couldn’t get back to sleep. So much for a fun dinner.

We’re going to avoid the place for a month or two. That sort of meal is outside my minimum expectations. With the business being for sale and staff leaving, the question for me becomes: Do they want to run a business, or what? Who knows, but I’ll guess we’ll eventually discover the answer. In the meantime, I see no need to pay for meals which leave me with a pounding headache. But more importantly, it’s not my concern to fix their issues, that’s something for them to do, if they can.

The business being for sale suggests the possibility that the absentee owner wants to cash out. One of the interesting side effects of ever rising property prices, is that there is the inevitable tension between using property to run a business which produces and/or sells stuff, and simply holding the property in the hope that it’s worth more at a future date. If property is worth more over time with no effort expended, why would anyone want to experience the stress of running a business to make heaps of mad cash? The message our society delivers is that: You don’t have to run a business, or get a job – if you can afford property. It’s utterly bonkers!

To me, it has never made sense earning mad cash simply for owning property. I’ve watched this bubble inflate up, up and away since 1997. Credit where credit is due, it’s been something of an impressive ride, which historically speaking, has gone on for a very long time as far as bubbles are concerned. That impressive track record doesn’t imply that the outcome makes any sense, nor that the future is guaranteed. Far from it actually, history suggests that the longer the bubble goes on, the closer we get to the end point.

It’s all very weird. So you’ve got two things: property and mad cash. If the balance between two alters for any reason, then whichever variable rises, it is relatively worth less compared to the other variable. What’s happened in our civilisation is that as time goes on, a person needs ever more mad cash to purchase the same property. You don’t have to be Einstein to know the result is that mad cash ain’t worth what it used to be.

And mad cash possibly ain’t worth as much, because every year for almost the past two decades in Australia, there is somehow 7% more mad cash floating around. Every year! That’s double in ten years, and then double again the following decade. The numbers are so huge, that my mind has trouble grasping them. When I was a kid, being a millionaire was a big thing, nowadays it takes near on that much to buy a median property in the big smoke, and now it’s become all about billionaires.

I’m not good with this outcome, and it needn’t have been this way. Looking at the results of the most recent state and federal elections though, I’ve come to the conclusion that most people are pretty good with things as they are, even the ones not directly benefiting. I don’t doubt that most people just want their day in the sun. However, sometimes like Icarus, a dude can fly too close to the sun, and that’s a bad thing. My aims on the other hand aren’t that lofty, all I wanted was a proper beef stew.

This week, we continued work on the new low gradient path. We’re now getting the fork between an upper and lower path just right. The scary old rototiller was again pressed into service, and the existing paths were both lowered and widened. I love that old machine, it’s good.

The scary old rototiller is used to lower and widen the paths

I’d be pretty certain the manufacturers of that scary old machine never intended the beast to be used in this fashion, but so what, it works! The tines can cut down almost a foot and half into the soil and produce a lovely crumbly soil. Experience suggests that it is much easier to move crumbly soil than, thick heavy chunks of volcanic clay.

The scary old machine can excavate down at least a foot and a half!

In the above photo, you can see just how much we are lowering and widening the upper path. All the loose soil is then moved and used to widen the lower path.

A fork in the new low gradient path was completed (ish)

The loose clay gets reshaped, then compacted using the fine old art of simply walking upon the surface. Over time it will again form solid clay. A layer of crushed rock with lime gets applied to the surface. Observant readers will note in the above photo, the large rocks placed upon the path. About ten of those large rocks were used to line the edges.

Ten large rocks were installed as edges for the paths

The new path has quite a bit of length to it now. Originally many years ago, the path was something of a precarious goats track from the house to the chicken enclosure.

This is what it all looked like 12 years ago. You can just make out the goats track
The same view, but today

I reckon it’s looking pretty good, but even better, it’s much easier to use. And now the construction zone is barely discernible from the house.

Fern CamTM tells no lies – that plant is growing

The thing about using ten large rocks is that the supply of available large rocks had been depleted. Peak Rocks is a sad state of affairs, but I must not grumble and/or otherwise complain. No way! I set about tackling the large Moby (body) rock and breaking it into smaller, yet still large chunks of rock.

Dame Plum and I had had enough of this rock

It took a lot of drilling and splitting.

The author drills deep holes into the Moby (body) rock

The process really shakes your entire body because you have to hang onto these machines for hours. If the rock isn’t on a solid surface, and has any movement, the jackhammer can produce an effect which vibrates your teeth. All rather unpleasant.

Ruby says, we mean business!

Part of the rock, which is a super hard granite, had another composite rock embedded in it. I’d seriously hate to imagine the sort of forces which lead to one rock being lodged within a chunk of granite. Probably not the sort of day you’d want to be around to experience first hand.

A composite rock embedded in this huge chunk of granite.

After three and a half hours of drilling, splitting and generally being shaken around, the Moby (body) rock was now in five smaller, yet still large chunks.

One large Moby (body) rock becomes five smaller Moby (body) rocklets

The tomato plants were cleared from the raised beds in the greenhouse. We’ve hung the plants upside down and stripped off all of the leaves. I’d read that this method ripens green tomatoes, and it appears to be working. We’ve finished dehydrating tomatoes for this season. We ended up with five large bottles. The best season in the past produced seven bottles, but also many months of passata (a traditional tomato based sauce). We ran out of that sauce a few years ago when summers were warmer. The dehydrating machine was given a thorough clean which involved some minor disassembly. I also noted some parts in there which probably should be replaced given the machine is nearing on a quarter of a century of use.

The dehydrating machine was disassembled and given a thorough clean

The raised beds in the greenhouse were fed, then planted out with winter greens (kale and green leafy mustard).

Dame Plum asks why does it smell like coffee in the greenhouse?

Whilst clearing the tomato vines, we discovered the long forgotten Turmeric and Aloe Vera plants. They didn’t seem to mind the poor treatment which the tomato vines had dished out to them.

Long forgotten Turmeric and Aloe Vera plants were discovered happily growing

Some of the chilli plants continue to grow. This is odd given that we are now a month prior to the winter solstice. Other varieties of chilli were given a similar treatment to the tomato vines and we are harvesting the fruits as we need them.

Turns out I like chilli’s
Turns out, Sandra also likes chilli’s

Twenty Meyer Lemons were harvested from the tree. The zest is used to make a very tasty limoncello and the juice was frozen for use with wine and jam making.

Super yummy Meyer Lemons

The tree is quite amazing because maybe about two years ago a fungus had decimated the tree. Since then, the tree has been given a lot of care and attention, and it has responded in turn and now looks great. You wouldn’t know that I was almost about to pull the tree out and replace it. Commercial growers can’t lavish such care and attention on individual trees, and the generally accepted advice was to remove it. Sure.

Not all fruit trees do well. For some unknown reason, the wallabies (a smaller lone forest kangaroo with anger issues and destructive tendencies) have decided to destroy a particular apple tree. It makes no sense to me, but the attention has been unrelenting.

This tree is getting destroyed. A bit of a shame that

Onto the err, leaf change colours…

When will the madness of leaf change end? The colours are great, but the hordes of tourists are unrelenting.

A nice selection of leaf change colour

Up above the house we have planted out a cherry walk, and those plants take over. They’re feral, but look great.

Cherry trees provide lovely autumn foliage and colour

The Japanese maples are my absolute favourite for this time of year.

An Olive, a wormwood and a Japanese maple walk into a bar…

Fortunately the strong winds over the past day or so have knocked many fragile leaves from the deciduous trees. A shame, to be celebrated!

Onto the flowers:

Very late Penstemon flowers
Delightful Blue Rosemary flowers
A lovely purple Salvia

The temperature outside now at about 9am is 5’C (41’F). So far this year there has been 322.2mm (12.7 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 314.2mm (12.4 inches)

38 thoughts on “Such Great Heights”

  1. Yo, Chris – Just for fun, if there’s a new manager or owner, casually ask if they’ve ever owned / run a pub before. The amusement factor can be high. 🙂 Cash out or contract. Contract can be dicey. Especially with bars and restaurants. New owner (the one’s with no previous experience), run the business into the ground, original owner has to take it back, build the business back up, and resell, again. Wash, rinse repeat. I’ve heard tales. Of course, there’s still money to be made, if one has the stamina.

    I wonder what the absentee owner is up to? Sitting on a beach with his toes in the sand? On the other hand, it may be on the market, to settle an estate. Or, a soon to be estate.

    Yes, why do people vote against their own best interests? Over and over, again?

    So, are you going to do something interesting with the new “Y”? As with the tree fern “Y”. I hope no more embarrassed Forest Folk will be caught with their pants around their ankles.

    Granite. How does it feel to touch something 4.55 billion years old? I do wonder what that composite rock is, that survived the fiery furnace. Don’t you have a geologist, on staff? 🙂

    Peak tomatoes, peak chilies, peak lemons. 🙂 The lemons and chilies sure are pretty. Sounds like you’re hitting peak leaves. Falling to the forest floor to enrich the soil.

    I had 5 dwarf apple trees, the last place I lived. So old, it was a stretch to call them dwarf. But well before my time, a bear had thoroughly mauled one. The Jonagold. The bear had taste. I must say, of the five trees, the Jonagold was the best apple.

    The flowers are very pretty. A symphony in lavender and purple. Lew

  2. Hi Inge,

    That’s a great idea! I also like to have an understanding of the overall topography in the areas I’m walking around in. A sense of what is around you, and is something that I’m guessing people pay little to no attention to. It never fails to surprise me when people ask me: What’s that mountain over there? Hmm.

    If momentarily disorientated, I usually have a fair idea if I head in a certain direction I’ll eventually encounter a road and then the way to get home is…

    I’m not sure really, and certainly GPS systems can’t be blamed. Somehow I believe that the situation has arisen due to a lack of curiosity regarding the subject, which may have arisen because people mostly lacked the need for such skills. That’s pure speculation. But honestly, this is something which I’ve observed, and have absolutely no idea why it may be so.

    A mystery, perhaps?



  3. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the suggestion, however, it all comes back to Fight Club in the end, and dare I poke the very people who may be serving me food with such questions? Probably not is answer. And like your library experience, it is possible that a better job might be done by someone from outside the inner workings of the industry.

    The first time I came across the downsides of the absentee landlord was in Annie Hawes descriptions of the latifundia in southern Italy. There’s little incentive to invest in the land, if ultimately you lose the benefits of the investment. It’s a strange sort of unintended outcome where the best economic game is simply to strip mine the place. I get why a person would do that. Move onto the next. As always there is the neglected middle ground.

    It’s hard to say what that individual is up to. It’s probably not an optimal arrangement though given staff are leaving. It’s possible that the exit is a coincidence and just bad luck, but then again I’ve worked in places that have high staff turnover. I’m not wired for such excitement.

    Yeah. Oh yeah. It makes no sense to me either. I do really wonder why the young put up with the blatantly disadvantageous policies and vote for political parties that give them nothing. But then I can recall at that age being kept insanely busy, just trying to keep up. A comment I get from time to time is that I work hard, but compared to my younger years, things tick along here at a very relaxed pace. Another mystery.

    Hmm, I hadn’t considered doing anything really different and interesting with the Y fork. An interesting suggestion. Hmm. As to the little bloke, well, he started it! It’s like asking me the question: Why is the Gargoyle angry? Or why is the Chinese guard dog facing off the gargoyle, with an inscrutable expression? I think it is best if the little bloke is kept busy and out of mischief, seems to work as a general policy in society. Possibly also we’re implying a state of general embarrassment, when in fact he is lulling us all into a false sense of security? I tend to believe he guides those whom walk upon the path.

    It feels powerful. 🙂 Ooo, just found a link to an article on the big volcanic cone in the area known as the ‘Camels Hump’. With that name, you know it’s a distinctive land feature and can be seen from a very long way away: The Camels Hump. Perhaps this suggests an answer to the mystery of the composite rock embedded in the large Moby (body) Rock? There is a good photo taken from the Camels Hump looking north to the nearby Cobaw Range.

    It is a pleasure to see all the leaves on the ground knowing that they’re feeding the soil. Where the fruit trees are oldest, the soil is deepest and has a lovely look and smell.

    Hehe! Yes, I hear you about old trees getting bigger – especially the long lived apple trees. During the course we were shown a photo of an English apple orchard at Somerset, and the guy taking the course said that was an ‘orchard for your grandkids’. Truly, it looked superb with tall apple trees and happy sheep grazing underneath. Interestingly, the bloke said that it was common in England to use windfall apples collected by machines in their cider making. Usually down under they are picked.

    Jonagold are an excellent apple, but rarely seen down under. Yes, I too have noticed that the critters seem to have preferences – and good taste!

    Hope you enjoy the cooler weather. Today was a superb day with blue sunny skies. Unfortunately, I had to work, but just before lunch I headed outside and just stood in the sun soaking up the warm rays. The inside of the greenhouse was 65’F! And the plants were happily growing, despite the soil being far colder than that.

    If general belt tightening in that sector means closing down local branches, well that’s already happened – then the same mob announced a record profit. It’s a confused message, but then again, it may not be! The nearest branch is now a half hour drive away. Ah, to live in a rural area.

    Thanks for the film recommendation. The trailer looks good. They make some pretty decent films across the Tasman Sea.

    Mate, I tell ya, this cider brew off is in the bag. You wait and see. We’ll kick off the process in about a fortnight’s time, depending. Yeah, this one is like stick fishing, what can possibly go wrong. My secret weapon is following instructions to the letter. The Editor has way more runs on the board in this area, but a tendency to want to innovate. She won’t want me to win this one, you know. 🙂 No need for impartial judges, the facts will speak for themselves.

    What? That’s awful. Wow, yes, they did all die from what appears to be a series of basic lack. And the mention of the well water they drank running through the cemetery was a rather dark twist to the tale. The father probably stuck to ale.

    Yes, I’m feeling lucky with the cider-off. No, I’m not feeling lucky in relation to the Stand-off. Sorry for the bad word pun, but there are times for hubris, and Captain Tripps is not one of those times.

    Hehe! So, you’ve got the three rings of power. You know everyone knows now! 🙂 And that’s how we roll too, as no doubts you also occasionally splash out on that pumpkin ice cream (although usually at the other end of the growing season). You know, I’ve never seen that stuff for sale down here. But pumpkins are associated down here with savoury meals – usually roast meats. Sorry to hear about the continuing lack of Swiss cheese. Have you uncovered any reason for the ongoing lack? Hopefully, it’s not one of those weird origin name things, and the cheese is now sold under a different name?

    That’s a good idea with the massive rhubarb leaves. The Editor has recently begun to appreciate the benefits of a garden hoe. Those are my go-to weeding tool. And err, bittercress is popping up everywhere in the sapling fenced enclosure. Yikes! You did say that can happen.

    Hope Elinor’s cosmos plants bloom. 🙂



  4. Yo, Chris – You have to be subtle. Don’t do subtle? It’s a skill worth learning. You have to wait for the right opportunity. And then pounce! But don’t appear to pounce. Right opportunity, seemingly idle question. People do tend to like to talk about themselves.

    The article about Camels Hump was interesting. So, you probably have a Trachyte. Rather mixed messages, in that post. “…you don’t want to go down the cliff face.” on one hand. “…a great place to take a selfie.” on the other. 🙂

    Well, it was a great 63F, here, yesterday. With a stiff ocean breeze. Ideal for garden work. I didn’t even break a sweat. I finished up placing the t-posts, at the back of my stock tank, wrestled the chicken wire into place and tied it down with bailing twine. Tossed in a coffee can full of stove ash and two and a half bags of composted chicken poo. Dug it all in. That bed is ready to plant my tomatoes, and anything else I put in there. Green beans, for sure.

    I watched another film, last night. “Targets.” 1968. It was the director Peter Bogdanovic’s first film (he also acts in it), and about Boris Karloff’s last film. It didn’t do well, because when the effort was launched, the timing was good. We’d had our, really, first mass casualty sniper shooting (See: Texas tower shooter, University of Texas, Austin. 1966), so interest in random violence was in the air. A different kind of horror. But by the time the film was in the can, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy had been shot. Too much of a bad thing, in real life, can put the jinx on a film. Karloff pretty much plays himself, in later life. They talk about him, quit a bit, in the DVD “extras.”

    There’s a lot of footage from a Karloff film, “The Terror (1963). Interesting because the co-star is Jack Nicholson.

    I figure all the Swiss Cheese trees, have died. Probably got a fungus, or something. Lew

  5. Hi Lewis,

    Subtle, a worthy skill to cultivate. Because of my day job, people do tend to talk to me about their situation, so I hear you about that – people love talking about themselves. I put an upper limit on such conversations, and am also very careful about the sort of people I take on as clients. Weddings can be a pain when you’re stuck next to someone seeking confirmation of their chosen lifestyle. Anyway, plenty have asked… Strangely enough, I rarely speak to other people about my own situation, despite the blog, I’m at heart a fairly private person. People I know read the blog and it always impresses me when they are upfront about that.

    Mate, if you patiently wait long enough, people will tell you. The studious disinterest is something of a catnip.

    Hope I make sense tonight. Had a rare day off paid work, and headed down to the forest edge. Lifted three old loggers tree stumps out of a pile, then rolled them down hill a bit and set to burning them off. A very big day of work. Me tired. Two of the stumps were easy to move, one was a monster and had to be cut in half – no easy thing to do when it is covered in clay (contact with the clay blunts a chainsaw). Candidly I was a bit worried that I might encounter a snake, but I don’t believe I spotted any. The rabbits had created a burrow under one of the stumps. Not good. Thus the need to clean up.

    Getting the fire started this close to winter was a challenge, but it’s going strong now and will burn for a few days I reckon.

    Interestingly, the Trachyte image looked as though it was lifted from the Wikipudlia article on the rocks – and the example was from Germany I believe. But yeah, that composite may be a differently formed crystal. It’ll be far more useful on the new path.

    63’F is very nice for working outside. Hopefully that breeze is blowing the smoke from the fires away from your area? We’re reading about them. In one of the satellite images you could see the flames. Yikes! Another good reason to clean up. They haven’t called El Nino here yet – the waters around the continent are still warm and the pattern may be changing. Nobody is sure yet.

    Having a nice chamomile tea. Life’s little pleasures! Hey, I’ve almost finished the history book you recommended. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Are the t-posts being used for a bean / pea vine climbing frame? Great soil feed. Did you spot any worms during the digging in process? Ah, it’s for tomato vines. Right. Do you ever prune your tomatoes during the growing season so as to keep them less feral?

    An intriguing film, and I note that Mr Tarantino gave it a big thumbs up, and I can sort of understand the actor Karloff’s state of mind. But man, that tower story was a dark tale. I read about the film, presumably shown at the drive-in (remember those?) with the famous co-star.

    Very funny! 🙂 Yes, I’m sure it is. Well, well, well. You probably already know this about the Swiss cheese, but the business model for it changed during you-know-what. Interesting. It’s possible your local production is heading overseas? A bit like the fern story I was recounting to you a month or so back.



  6. Yo, Chris – Well, you’ve mentioned several times that you’re rather chatty, so, I didn’t know if you could turn off the tap 🙂

    A possible snake encounter would keep one a bit twitchy. Even here in the Land of No Poisonous Snakes, one is wary.

    We haven’t had any smoke problem, yet, due to the onshore flow. My gosh, it was 60F when I went out to work in the garden, early evening. I was wearing my light coat! More of the same, forecast for today. But Thursday and Friday are forecast for 80F. And then a gradual decline in temps, back into the mid to low 70s.

    I planted my tomatoes, and the green seed, last night. The t-posts and fencing are for the green beans, but also in case the tomatoes need some additional support, other than their tomato cages. I can rope them to the t-bars, if necessary. Both tomato plants are indeterminate, so, I figure they’ll be pretty bushy. And tall. I have done a bit of tomato pruning. If I needed to take some weight off the tomato cages, I lopped off a few branches that weren’t producing. I did see a few worms.

    Then I got Elinor’s tomatoes in the ground. I added a bit more compost, egg shells and ash to where I planted hers.

    So, since you’ve finished the book and are at lose ends 🙂 , I’ll tell you what I’m reading, now. “Building: A Carpenter’s Notes on Life & the Art of Good Work.” Ellison, 2023. I’m finding it pretty interesting, and stayed up too late, last night, reading it. As you’ve said, “Blessed are the competent, as they shall remain busy.” It’s a little hard to describe the book, but maybe you can find a good review.

    Oh, yes. I remember drive-ins. Though I don’t remember going to them, much. The one’s that are left, these days, don’t seem to show movies. But are often used for massive boot sales.

    Well, I did find a few articles about the lack of Swiss cheese. Before You Know What, most of it went to the restaurant and school trade. So when that dried up, it wasn’t worth running lines of the stuff, just for the retail trade. Or at least, that was the explanation given.

    I stopped into the variety store, last night, to look for some plants. It was pretty picked over, and I didn’t find anything I was looking for. I hope they get another shipment, this week. I did pick up four more bags of composted chicken poo. So, it wasn’t a wasted trip.

    H and I are headed down to the Club this morning for biscuits and gravy. Tonight, I ought to do a bit of hunting and gathering, at the cheap food stores, for the Club pantry. It’s looking pretty good, right now, but condiments and tinned meat are always in short supply. Lew

  7. Hi Chris!

    Just found your next excavation tool. Looks intriguing for any homesteader with trenching to do. Actually, I’m just sending this for the laughs. The faux Aussie video advert is hilarious.

    To more serious matters, here in the benighted states, our tax system ( conveniently designed by and for the well off) taxes capital gains at considerably less than income derived from wages. Go figure. typically 20% or less for gains, while wage income ranges up to 37%. When you figure in all the loopholes and dodges, it’s beyond my simple brain, but regressive would be the word to describe it. ( The income tax tables themselves are progressive, but the sum total gets complicated, so harder to assess).

    The struggle between capital and labor way won long ago, we just continue to be placated and lulled by the panem et circenses.

    Speaking of labor, things are full tilt here now, with all the garden, tree tending and various upkeep and improvement projects under way. My back is achy most of the time, but not so much that I would buy a minitrencher.

    I don’t recall, do you grow rhubarb? It’s an easy care perennial, and we just tried making rhubarb jam with good results. The plant is I think attractive when allowed to bloom.

  8. Hi Steve,

    Mate, that thing is one serious hungry beast. And just like a grumpy wombat, it’s gonna rip up your ladies nice lawn! 🙂 Thanks for the laughs. The ad is a blast. Sandra has that same sort of, tolerant yet bemused, reaction whenever I talk about getting a new machine for use around here. I’m sure she’s just humouring me, maybe. 🙂

    Things are just as bad down here on that front. Years ago, they brought in a 50% capital gain discount, just, you know, because. So, say you make a million bucks capital gain, well my friends, don’t worry about half of it – let’s just ignore that. Steve, proves stupidity is a universal constant and the discount most certainly does not apply to my wage. Hmm.

    It’s funny what you pick up over the years. The Latin language, what is this thing, but at a wild guess – you just wrote: ‘bread and circuses’. Yeah.

    Steve, I do hope that you recall to regularly stretch? And there are other things you can do to strengthen the back. Hmm. That’s your conscience speaking. On the other hand, it’s freakin’ hard work. I hear you, yesterday I relocated three huge old loggers tree stumps and then burnt them off. One was so huge, I had to cut the thing in half. Even with a six foot steel house wrecking bar, the thing could not be budged. And stretch – every day. Just thought I’d repeat myself there, not sure why. 😉

    Thanks for the reminder. Yes, we do grow rhubarb here, and it self seeds. Many years ago a lovely local lady provided me with some crowns which were originally grown by her grandfather. They’re hardy plants, and I like stewed rhubarb, although it doesn’t keep all that long – lot’s of surface area.

    Never thought of making rhubarb jam, but we do make a very tasty and mild tasting rhubarb wine. I’ll mention the jam to Sandra.



  9. Hi Lewis,

    Look, it’s possible. 🙂 I’m a classic introvert, and love socialising and talking rubbish, but then also generally need my quiet time. Dunno about you, and how you work on that front, but with visitors, my upper limit is about an eight hour visit. They’ll be entertained and have a delightful time, then I need to go and recharge my batteries via some quiet time. I really have no idea how other people cope on that front. I’ve met people over the years that just want lots of other people around them all the time, and that’s just not for me. Dunno. A mystery perhaps?

    The non venomous ones could be something of a problem as well. There’s the neurotoxins with the poisonous snakes, and isn’t there another variety of deadly snake, I forget. Anyway, but given the snakes diet, a bite could introduce some nasty infections via bacteria on the fangs / teeth etc. The same is true for spiders as well. Some lizards can pull that trick too. I think if we had to sum the whole unpleasant episode up, it’s that: Being bitten is bad. Ooo, just got visions of rabid folks running amok! The inspiration for zombies perhaps?

    Good to hear that you’re dodging the smoke. When DJ last commented, he was getting the smoke from the fires. What a lovely day to get outside into the garden. Nice. Have to laugh about your comment of wearing the light coat – and they have to brought out some summer days here too. But it reminded me of some footage I’d seen of people enjoying English summers, and the people there were wearing: Coats, vests and shirts – and they would keel over if the same gear was worn here over summer. Fingers crossed it doesn’t get too hot for you over the next few days.

    Hope the tomato harvest is good for you this season. It’s a good time in the season to get them in the ground. Don’t you reckon it’s funny how you start getting a feel for these things? Interestingly, we had better success with starting bean seeds in the greenhouse. None of the direct sown bean seeds germinated last year. And the weird thing was that the peas were the exact opposite – the direct sown ones germinated and grew better.

    Thanks for the info on tomato pruning. Lewis, we have been too soft in the past on that front. I read long ago that the best vegetable growers are ruthless with their plants. Ooo, Elinor’s tomatoes are going to enjoy that feed.

    Arrrggghh! No! I’m near the end, not at the end of the book. 🙂 Read the chapter on our old Victorian era mate: Sir Richard Burton. He sounded like quite the character, and probably something of a pain for the other people around him. But he was certainly was entertaining, that’s for sure. Never met any adventure, he didn’t like.

    I’ll check out that book. I almost watched the film you mentioned last night, but in a rare bout of over exertion, I was genuinely tired yesterday and went to bed early. The Editor went out to dinner with a friend, so I was glad to have a very quiet evening. And crashed out. Slept like the dead too. So, the carpenter was busy? I get you, man. Far out!

    The drive ins down here tended to succumb to that particular fate too. It’s the land value versus running a business problem again. That lot disappeared when I was a kid, so I don’t really remember them very well at all. There are still a few around, but that’s less that a handful for the entire big smoke.

    Those cheese articles sound like the ones I was also reading which described the fate of your Swiss cheese. It’s possible that given the disruption to their business activities during you-know-what, they now don’t supply the local market. I didn’t make much of a deal about it, but that fern supply story was really weird. And the folks at the business weren’t joking around and having a laugh, they’d been running the business for decades. It really was weird seeing that their entire stock was sold. All of it. Mate, it really was just a moment in time. There’s been some very strange outcomes from that time.

    A wise purchase with the composted chicken poop. That stuff is gold for the soil.

    Hope H also enjoyed her fair share of biscuits and gravy? The condiment story surprised me, but you see what products move from the Club, and that’s what peoples needs look like.

    Did paid work today. They reckon it will rain heavily late tomorrow afternoon. We’ll see. I’m hoping to fix up the FM radio antenna cables before the rain.



  10. Yo, Chris – Fish and guests smell after 8 hours? 🙂

    I’ve never understood people’s need to be surrounded by people. Or, to have constant noise going, of one sort or another. But that’s just me, and I know I’m an odd duck. 🙂 I love those prison dramas, where an inmate has done wrong, and it’s “We’re throwing you in solitary!” And the prisoner wails, “Oh, no!!! Not the hole!!!” I don’t know. Sounds pretty good to me. At last. Peace and quiet.

    I think I’ve seen a movie or two, where some kind of super rabies causes people to run amok. Not exactly a zombie movie, but close.

    It was 63F, yesterday. Today, it’s supposed to get up to 73F. Then two days of 80F+. Then, a run of 70 days, again. The just planted tomatoes will like those 80+ days. I see there’s volcanos going off in Mexico, Italy and the Congo. Ought to make for “interesting” weather.

    No biscuits for Miss Wheat Free. She gets a dollop of ground pork, and all the gravy she can lick off a plate.

    Well, I spent the morning being carpenter’s general dog’s body. 🙂 Ted the Master Gardener got up the frame for my lattice work. I generally just made myself useful. Hauling ladders, running electrical lines. Holding 4 x 4s in place while leveling up, placing shims, bolting into place. Holding down ends of lumber while the other end was being sawn or drilled. You know. The usual. I’ll be able to plant that plot, now, even though the hog fencing isn’t in place.

    I had to run down to the credit union and deposit the strawberry check. While there, I checked out the a/c units, at the big box hardware store. $300. About what I was going to put in savings, this month. 🙁 But, as I couldn’t lift the thing off the floor, I decided to think about it.

    Then I hit the Dollar+ store and the other cheap store, to get stuff for the Club pantry. Yes, condiments go. Not as fast as tinned meat, but a steady dribble away.

    Seen on a t-shirt. ‘I Enjoy Long Romantic Walks Through the Hardware Store.” 🙂 Lew

  11. Hi Chris,

    I’ve been reading along but not commenting, instead concentrating on the usual May (your November) garden installation and keeping up with the rest of the property.

    By now the garden is mostly in good shape. The pepper and tomato plants are visibly growing and very green and happy; squash, cucumber, melon, and three different kinds of bean seedlings have appeared; and I’ve harvested the first of the full-sized lettuce and bok choy. As I type I’m sitting on the back porch, enjoying a warm, dry afternoon with a fine light breeze.

    Actually, it’s been too dry this spring. I’ve been watering the garden for almost a month. Spring should be rather wet here, but this spring has been an exception. However, the garden is in good shape – except for the potatoes. Did the pieces I planted get eaten by voles? Did they rot during the cold, wet part of April? Or did I not water them in time during the dry part of the month? So many questions …

    I could write more on the economic news of the day in the US, but it’s not as if others who write about it better than I do aren’t already doing so. What I had to say, I said in JMG’s open post. On the other hand, the weather is beautiful, the birds are singing, and the garden is growing. That’s what really matters. All is well here, and I am looking forward to tonight’s garden salad!


  12. Chris,

    The smoke is gone. For now. Had some shifts in the wind direction back to the normal SW instead of from the north. Thunder today, but only about 10 minutes of sprinkles. Very grateful that temperatures have moderated and that the smoke is not here for now.

    The official forecast for this “el Nino” summer is for temperatures above normal and precipitation below normal. In other words, pretty much what the last 8 or 10 summers have been…

    The Princess got home Monday afternoon from her latest family adventure. Just in time for a pint and a feed. Or, well, it turned into 2 pints and a feast. Tuesday was ALL taking care of business projects. Not pleasant, but we got a lot done. Then she left before the crack of dawn (or would that be before Dawn cracked?) for a quick trip back to Toppenish. A fun event that she wanted to attend with her brother.

    I finished the first phase of the landscape project Monday: dug up the last of the BIG sage plants. I had a hole about half a meter deep in order to get that done. It was a lot of work. Next up is clear a flower bed of weeds and transplant what I can from the old slope project. Not quite as hard as digging those big holes. Maybe I needed one of those trenching tools from that video? 😉

    The Princess was talking on the phone with a rellie Tuesday and mentioned that Wednesday was the day Avalanche and DJ go to school so that “DJ can learn to be obedient.” Actually, I learned a LOT in today’s class. And Avalanche is figuring out how to be less excited throughout the class. Big advance from last week.

    On the wood front…We have this 6 part thing some of us at the club are doing, called “Carvers’ Challenge”. We are through tpart 4 now. First was to make a reptile. ANY reptile. Then alternate between inanimate and living things until we have a total of 3 living things and 3 inanimate things. I’m wood burning this with a pair of dragons and a human. Will send a picture when it’s completed. It is interesting seeing the range of topics and carving styles from those who have entered. The prize is to be able to pat oneself on the back for having the best project. I’m enjoying learning and working on something.

    I’m also slowly working on a carving of a cowboy, “Leftover Cowboy”. I’m learning what is called Scandinavian or “Flat plane” carving for this. It’s fun. I’ve got a book or two by Harley Refsal, who is REALLY good at this style. Some info on Harley as well as some examples of the style can be found here:

    The Princess also has a lot of craft projects she needs to do. These will be used as give away items when her sister passes. Unfortunately, sister is not really recovering from her recent issues. So the Princess will teach me how to do some of the things. We need to be prepared. I also have some rough cutouts of a few animals and pumpkins that I can carve and paint also.

    It looks like I’ll be teaching 2 classes at the club’s outdoor event this year, rather than my usual 1 class. We’re having trouble finding teachers. I have no idea WHAT I’ll be teaching yet, but I better figure it out soon – event is only 10 days away or something.

    One of the first things the Princess asked when she arrived Monday was, “How’s Chris?” I showed her the before and after pictures of your pathways and she was very impressed, as was I. I was also impressed with Fern Cam. The Princess looks for pink things, as pink is used for a lot of breast cancer awareness items. (Several of her cousins have had that particular cancer.) I noticed that there is a pink tag on the fern tree. Can it be that the fern tree is honoring breast cancer survivors by wearing the pink tag?


  13. Hi Claire,

    It’s such a busy time of year that you’re in, and I’m not sure of your perspective, but I kind of view that time of year as setting the growing season in place, and getting things hurrying along in that direction.

    And yes, all those plants would have been planted out in early November (your May) here, although with your overall warmer conditions, you might get them all off to an even earlier start. Full sized lettuce and bok choy is an impressive achievement. Your area is seriously about two months ahead of here at the beginning of the season, although the new larger greenhouse has been something of a game changer on that front. We’ve got a lot of green mustard and kale growing in there right now, and that should provide fresh greens through the winter months. Those plants also grow outside in raised beds and will survive minor snow falls, but the difference in rates of growth is marked and very hard to ignore.

    Actually, if you can provide water to your new seedlings, a dry spring is an advantage I reckon. I’ve trialled wet and cold spring growing conditions for a few years in a row, and frankly it does not inspire confidence. 😉 It’s hard to know where the longer term climate will lead, but things could get very strange on that front. Your forecasters are calling an El Nino high probability based on sea surface temperatures alone, but it is worth noting that the atmosphere is not playing ball, and the sea surface temperatures surrounding this continent are still warm. I’m of the opinion that maybe that particular cycle is breaking down.

    Potatoes grow like weeds here. This mountain range was formerly a potato and berry growing area, until I suspect the soils were exhausted following on from a century of logging. If I may hazard a guess, potatoes enjoy damp, but also well drained soil. But like you, sometimes plants reactions to the conditions completely stump me. The kale for example, utterly failed to self seed this year. Did the parrots consume all of the seeds? Like your vole question, it’s really hard to know.

    Oh Claire, I’m so sorry for you having to endure the end point of a source of joy in your life. I may not have not have mentioned this, but myself and another sometimes commenter here (Jo) used to write for a well respected hippy press publication which had a slightly longer history than your lot. It didn’t end with a bang, but more of a whimper. And then the world gets a little bit darker. However, it is up to those following, to keep on writing, or in your case playing that mountain dulcimer, and who knows what energy flows from that act?



  14. Hi, Chris!

    I had a tiny favorite restaurant, owned (and cooked for) by a friend from Taiwan. The food was so exquisite – and priced well. My friend finally retired and sold it. The name stayed the same, but the recipes did not go with the sale. When I tried the place under the new ownership, I found it to be just awful. I tried one more time later, and it was still awful. Some people just do not have the touch.

    My mind no longer even wants to try to grasp the numbers. I just concentrate on trying to get the same results, with less money.

    Does your rototiller run into many rocks? That would be a big worry of mine.

    Do I know goat tracks?! Mountain goats! What a phenomenal change from 12 years ago. Well done!

    Eeks! That tree fern has gone feral. Those are TALL fronds! I guess that’s why it’s a “tree” . . .

    Ollie says: “Boss – I’ve had enough of these here rocks.”

    I am glad that your tomato and pepper ripening method is working. I have almost finished planting out the tomato and pepper plants. The peppers are fine, but the tomatoes already show a bit of the blight that has been their scourge for several years. We haven’t even had enough to make passata during that time. Mama mia! I can’t even imagine taking apart our cheap (but dependable) dehydrating machine.

    Ha, ha! A coffee house. We plant kale, mustard, collards, spinach, and chard outside in the late summer and a whole lot of it overwinters. We get well below freezing in the winter, too.

    What did you do for the Meyer lemon tree? We have some small citrus.

    The Japanese maple is stupendous. I didn’t know wormwood was so large. That’s a mighty big bar . . . or maybe they could go to the coffee house.

    Deer have been hanging around again, especially early in the morning. We still have some fruit trees and plants that haven’t gone inside a fence, so when I see them I run outside and bark at them (no dog . . .). We do have a big white cat with big black spots, but he sleeps late . . .

    I have been eating alpine strawberries, too. I love them, but, then, I am the one (the only one?) who likes wild strawberries.

    Thanks for the flowers!


  15. Hi DJ,

    Your south is my north, but the result is pretty much the same, the warmth – and sometimes damp, comes from those directions. Unfortunately here, sometimes those NW winds build heat whilst they travel across the centre of this arid continent, and that brings a moment (or three) of occasional fear. Still, life was not meant to be easy. Glad to hear that you’ve dodged the smoke and that the conditions have cooled somewhat. It’s no good the smoke, and the same thing happens here during the summer months.

    It was cold and wet here today. I’d been long delaying the project of running coaxial cable from the err, FM National youth music broadcaster specifically tuned home made Yagi antenna, into my room, which is also my office. At this point, it is worth mentioning that the Editor has a nicer office, but one mustn’t quibble over these minor matters and simply let sleeping dogs lie. 🙂 My fingers froze as they added F-type connectors to the coaxial cable out in the rain. Brr! But mostly, the delay was because I had to crawl around under the house for just under two hours in the wintry cold soil stringing up the cable. Then I had to pull the cable through the wall. Turns out this maths business works, if only because I found the cable in the wall the very first time, and was then able to mount a neat wall plate. Who knew that about the maths and measuring and stuff? 😉

    And the sound quality is astounding, no static or distortion. All of this refurbished equipment is more than three decades old, and it is beautiful to hear, although candidly you’d probably hate the music I prefer. Cost price, a few hundred dollars, plus hours and hours of boring tedious repairs. I’d probably switch over to a more appropriate station if I had to do a demonstration for you! 🙂 Save your ears!

    DJ, I’m hearing your long term weather forecasts, but the future is uncertain, and those climate drivers are breaking down. Into what is the question.

    No, perhaps Dawn is just cracked! That sounds more like it stacks up to my experience. No fun to be up at such a time. Man, some days are just like that, and it is a measure of our collective maturity to do what needs doing.

    Oh my goodness. Did you have to dig up the root system for that large sage plant? This is why we have a stump grinder. Carbon steel cutting teeth is a wonderful material for performing such jobs, but the machine does things faster and is still very hard work to hang onto. But then, now that the plant has been removed, things should be easier going for you. Out of curiosity, how do you intend to refill the hole? Any transplants at this time of year will surely require regular water before they become well established. Hopefully some of that wet stuff falls regularly from the sky for you.

    The video was pretty funny. You don’t encounter blokes like that down here, but they must be around somewhere. Probably up in the tropical north, which is a bit like your Florida, but bigger, with bigger crocodiles, and far less people.

    Oh yeah, dogs can teach us mere humans many things, some of which may be obedience. Eventually, we might actually get better. Always possible. Good to hear that Avalanche is doing well in the class. Does Avalanche test you? The fluffies here do try to out-alpha me from time to time, so you have to be onto what’s going on in their minds.

    I look forward to seeing how the person / dragon combination works out. Is the cowboy carving from that block you purchased a while back? Wow! You’re aiming high. Did you notice that the light and shadow in that blokes work really brings life to the characters he carves?

    Mate, I’m so sorry to hear that, and please extend my sympathy to your lady. Life can be pretty harsh sometimes, but hopefully the two of them get to talk and share a few laughs before the end? Best to be prepared. I have a personal strategy of hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. What do you do, other than support and prepare? There’s an element of tragedy which accompanies all of us on this here journey.

    Ha! If it were me, I do one creative class, and one practical class. Carving a tool handle would get my attention, but I’m biased! You know, I had to laugh. Mate, one day you turn up to a group and your the noob, then as time goes on, your hair greys, it may even depart the building, and the eyebrows get longer – what’s with that? 😉 Then you find yourself in the position of taking two classes. That, my friend is known as ageing. Hopefully the benefit is that we become wiser? Always possible, and one can only hope for the best, but expect the worst.

    I see. Mate, I’m so sorry to hear that. The tree fern on the other hand, will outlive all of us. They’re an interesting plant in that they can survive some of the worst that nature can throw at them, often the first plant to reshoot after a major bushfire. That’s called endurance. I’d say the tree is honouring its legitimate origins, but as to your question, yes.



  16. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! You’re like super-bad! But then, you’re probably right there. Wasn’t there some rule of thumb about guests not overstaying their welcome? Was it three days, or something like that? I now forget where I even came across such loose talk. No guest has ever stayed that long here. And like they used to quip about asking for credit: A refusal often offends.

    I don’t get that either. And most peoples houses I visit have the television going in the background, even if nobody is watching the thing. Are they afraid of the quiet, or having the merest of thoughts? Always a risky possibility. The worst are the 80’s and 90’s era music videos, those are hard to look away from – was the hair really that big? Probably. But it’s distracting for sure. Hehe! Yes, I too wouldn’t be bothered by solitary, as long as they kept up the food and water and took away the slops. It’d be like a holiday!

    When I worked at the top end of town, studied at night, repaired Victorian era houses, kept up with friends, ensured the Editor was maintained and happy, well err, busy. Anyway, I used to head up into bush to camp out for a couple of days alone every now and then to visit my grandfathers old campsite way out in the alpine country. It was a nice way to recharge the batteries and take some time out. Usually you didn’t see anyone for many days, and I have no doubts that folks like that guy we spoke of last year ‘button-man’ were in the area. I would have been very polite if I’d met him, and probably offered him a beer and a feed. Seems only sensible. Other people probably wouldn’t, and I doubt the wisdom of that path.

    Super rabies does sound kind of like a zombie virus, and I hear you about the ‘close’ bit. I’ve heard real life encounters with rabid raccoons, and those stories send shivers of horror down the spine. And Cujo was memorable. Best if you’re nowhere near such a rabid beast. Like ‘Call of the Wild’, but gone bad with rabies, but still very powerful, maybe even more so.

    It was 52’F here and rainy today. A big storm swept in during the mid afternoon. Prior to that storm, I was outside in the cold and wind freezing my fingers off adding some connectors to an antenna cable. I finally finished the FM radio project today. It had a very low priority that project, and today being miserable cold and wet, was just the day. Had to crawl around under the house too for a couple of hours running cable from the antenna, but at least that was out of the wind and rain. 73’F sounds almost perfect to me, but yup, summer is fast approaching for you.

    Those volcanoes will make a difference. Funny you mention that, but by sheer coincidence, I was reading about some volcanic island in the north west of your country (much further north than where you are) and it has two rather large volcanic cones. Gave the Romans some problems, one of those volcanoes. Umnak Island, I believe. It astounds me to imagine that there could be a population of 39 people there. Hardy souls.

    Oh yes, I forget such details and thanks for the correction. A chunk of ground pork and plenty of gravy sure makes up for the lack of biscuits. The fluffies would be pretty excited by such a tasty meal.

    Did you learn any tricks and techniques from assisting Ted the master gardener? He’s a handy bloke being able to do work like that, and hope the gardens are looking good? Like your classic bit of understatement: the usual! Out of curiosity, what’s the intention with the hog fencing? Hey, it would be a great time of year to plant out seedlings.

    Good to hear that you survived the dreaded roundabout. That’s a pretty good price for such a machine. There might be smaller and more portable units though. That way when you’re not using the thing, it can be stowed away – or for those dreaded inspections. I’ve seen those machines with wheels so they can be moved around more easily.

    Oh, yes, I can see that about the tinned meat rushing out the door. Hmm. Minced (your ground) meat is often gone AWOL at the supermarket these days. I have wondered if people are economising and going with the cheaper ground meat option rather than more expensive cuts which they may previously have enjoyed? Dunno. Maybe sooner or later, I might have to go one of those old school hand wound, bench mounted, meat grinders we’ve often spoken of – and purchase cheap cuts? Dunno, the dogs and chickens enjoy that stuff, and the chickens need it more than do the dogs.

    The Editor and I were discussing the concept of fragging earlier today. She’d never heard of it. Far out, what do they teach people these days? 🙂 Mind you, it’s probably one of those topics that might deliberately not get discussed. Don’t want to give the peasants the wrong ideas. And it is a good way to ensure that leadership is conducted a touch more carefully than it may otherwise be.

    I want one of those t-shirts! 🙂 Expeditions through the hardware store is like heading out into the deepest darkest of jungles to see what can be hunted and gathered. It’s the natural habitat of the caveman! Ugg!



  17. Hi Pam,

    Thanks for the lovely comment, however it is now past my bedtime, and crawling around under the house earlier today has left me feeling rather tired. Will speak tomorrow.

    The cat might scare off the deer. You never know, I saw a video of a cat holding its own against a bear the other week. That was one tough cat.



  18. Yo, Chris – A quick quote from the book on carpentry, that I’m reading.

    “The question is, are we innovating intelligently in order to solve urgent, looming problems, or do we crave novelty for the attention it brings, it’s mantle of stylishness, and its illusion of progress?
    Enamored of the new, we have lost the intelligence of the traditional.”

    Well, that hit the nail on the head. 🙂 Lew

  19. Yo, Chris – Yes. Three days. Stitch it on a sampler, and hang it at eye level, for anyone that’s sitting on the biffy. 🙂

    Speaking of music, I’m sure you’ve heard Tina Turner shuffled off her mortal coil. 🙁 She was a classic, and a class act. Won’t see the likes of her, again.

    I think it’s nice that you revisited your grandfather’s old bivouac. A nice respite from your earlier crazy life. But now you live in the bush, where to go?

    It was 70, yesterday, with a nice breeze. Forecast is for 80 today and tomorrow. Then a slide into cooler weather, again. Yes, those Alaskan volcanoes are still active, on and off. All part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Well, everyone has a theory about the Romans. Read a book recently that blamed the fall, mostly, on plagues. I’m sure when they look back at our era, the reasons for our fall will be many. And, if there’s anyone left to argue the point, the theories will be thick on the ground.

    Speaking of ground and thick, those old meat grinders are thick on the ground, here. Every auction and estate sale, has at least one. Some still in their original boxes, with instructions. I have one. Or maybe, two. 🙂

    Did I learn anything? Well, I swapped “Don’t let perfect, be the enemy of good enough,” for “Measure twice, cut once.” Though I knew that one, already. And if you’re going to do a job like that, have a carpenter’s dog’s body, around. Which, by the way, I think we’re going to have to retire “dog’s body,” from the English language. I mentioned it to at least four people (including two tradies), and no one knew what I was talking about. Although now that I’ve been putting it about, maybe it will inspire a revival. Maybe it fell out of use, because The Amalgamated Union of Fluffies (Ltd.) objected to it. Because it objectified them, or something.

    Congratulations on finishing the radio project. There was a recent dust up, in this country. A well known truck company was going to drop AM from their tuners. There was an outcry, and they backed off that.

    The smaller A/Cs are water thingies. Humidity / books. Not a good mix.

    I caught the Garden Goddess watering the Night Manager’s plot. Which he’s made very clear he wants to water, himself. So, I got to yell at her and slap her around, a bit. Very satisfying. 🙂

    I’ve been picking up this and that, in plant starts. Gosh, there is so little information on those plant tags. I wanted a pepper, and had to fly blind as far as mild, medium or hot goes. So, I took a flyer on a pimento pepper. A look in the rabbit hole revealed it’s a mild one. So, more research, and back to the nursery, this morning. Picked up a Serrano and a Cayenne. Middling hot. Bought some Marigolds to keep the bugs off. Still no Sweet Basil. I may have to negotiate the round-about of death, again, tonight. As the big box hardware store, seems to have cornered the market. Lew

  20. Chris,

    I might surprise you about the music. I would at least give the FM National youth music an honest try.

    The maths IS supposed to work. Measure 3 times. Calculate 4 times. Repeat. THEN cut and install. Works quite well.

    As to the relative quality of your offices. Well, my adage with the Princess is “What’s hers is hers, and what’s mine is hers.” Things work much more smoothly when I keep that in mind. She gets first choice on everything also and would also get the nicer office if we had more than one.

    I predicted back in early February that this summer would be warmer than normal with less rain than normal. That was before the el Nino was getting mentioned. The climate change thing is why I made that prediction. Climate change seems to be overriding the El Nino/ la Nina phenomena. Even though we had typical total snowfall amounts for each of the 3 consecutive la ninas, the manner in which the snow fell, the timing, was anything but typical even for here.

    I dug up the primary mass of roots for the sages. I don’t think that the remnants will sprout. I hope. Some of those deep underground runners went to maybe Alice Springs or someplace. Or at least probably underneath the concrete driveway.

    Does Avalanche test me? Bwahaha! Yes, and on a regular basis. Testing me is her reason for being alive some days. 😉

    Yes on the cowboy project. Same as the one previously mentioned. Like you, I’m amazed by how the flat plane carving catches light and shadow. It truly adds a special “zing!” to the projects, as well as a somewhat rustic look. I found another website that shows even more of his work.
    One of our best carvers is thinking about moving to that particular style. A bit less carving work, but a lot more cerebral work and planning before any cuts are made. I actually think more along rustic lines when I design some of my own carvings, so I am enjoying learning this.

    Prepare for the worst. Hope for the best. Give support where needed. That’s what we do. Can’t do a lot more than that. And no matter how prepared we are for something, it still hurts when it happens. Something about being human with a caring heart.

    Your idea for multiple classes is what I am planning to do. Some decorative pyrography project first, then a choice of carving a fork, comb, or spoon. Things that can be used. If I only need to teach one, I can save the “tool” carving for another time.

    Mate, my hair is still mostly dark brown. Tis the BEARD that has turned white. I take after my mum that way, except for the beard. I recall that she was NOT the proverbial bearded lady from the circus. 🙂


  21. Chris:

    Long ago we did have a cat that would stalk deer. It made them really nervous because, small though he was, he was still a predator.

    So – I’m with the Editor: What is fragging?


  22. Hi Pam,

    🙂 And respect for giving them a second chance, which sadly the new owners appear to have seriously fluffed up. There’s a certain well known potty mouthed chef who may quip: “Have you tasted this?” He may have also inserted some other choice words, which need not be dignified. But the point stands, how many chefs would choose to consume the food they produce?

    Pam, double respect. There’s the ‘money no object’ way to do things, then there is the smart way to get stuff done. I’m so with you on this.

    Surprisingly, the rototiller does encounter rocks. I can’t say for sure how other people would treat the machine in that situation, but I have this mechanical sympathy thing going on. When I hear and feel that the tines have encountered an object – it could also be a tree root and/or stump – the power gets backed off straight away. Then I dig those out, or avoid them, and get on with the job at hand. I dare say you’d know plenty of folks who would push on through and break the machine as do I, but I’m not into that option.

    Hehe! There’s goats in them thar mountains! 🙂 Thank you.

    This morning, a very pesky parrot decided to trim a small chunk off the tip of one of those fern fronds. Much of the wildlife here, could have been descended from the Visigoths and/or Vandals.

    Sorry to hear about your continuing issues with tomato blight. It maybe time to plant other crops in that soil, like say, leafy green or red mustards? I’ve read that they can fumigate the soil to a good degree. But if the blight continues, you have to do something different with crop rotation. Have you tried that? I’ve never seen tomato blight. It sounds a bit frightening.

    We haven’t made passata for three years now, due to the cold and wet summers. Plenty of fruit formed, the plants looked healthy, it just didn’t get warm enough to ripen them. We’re trying anything, including super short season varieties, and have managed to get enough tomatoes for dehydrating. But no passata. And now with winter so close, we don’t have the spare solar power to run the dehydrator for hours and hours, unless conditions are optimal – which they usually aren’t.

    🙂 Pam, I look after the stuff we use and repair and/or refurbish it as needed. Some parts you just know are going to fail sooner or later. And they get replaced.

    Yeah, those plants over winter here too, even when it freezes. Interestingly, the starches convert to sugars in the leaves so that the plants become tastier – whilst lowering the freezing point of the cells. It’s pretty clever. They don’t tend to grow over the winter months though! A sort of hibernation, but can be picked. We didn’t get them in early enough this year outside – but there is the greenhouse.

    The Meyer lemon was an interesting plant rescue. I cut off all of the affected growth – which was about 95% of the tree. It looked sad. The problem was that the soil was waterlogged, so I added a lot of Calcium Carbonate to the soil whilst also fixing up the drainage. Then the tree was given plenty of seaweed solution, and err, urine. It took a while to bounce back, but it has done so. Commercial growers couldn’t afford to provide such care to a single tree.

    What sort of small citrus do you have, and do they over winter?

    Deer are a menace. I spoke with a bloke last weekend, who had similar issues to the deer consuming the bark from his apple trees. He said they were after the tannins. Anyway, he took some bark off a higher part of the tree and put it over the wound on the trunk and it repaired. Not a bad idea at all.

    I thought that the alpine strawberries were OK, but might be a bit seedy for people used to consuming the monster hybrid varieties – but I’m done with the hybrids. Do I want to go to the effort of ripping up the entire patch every couple of years? Nope. Better to stick with and enjoy the less over-bred varieties.

    Cats are tough as! And you’ll have to look that up. 🙂



  23. Hi DJ,

    I respect an open mind. Some folks I’ve known have happily said to me that they’d love to shut the station down, but didn’t seem realise that their choices might also get the same rough treatment. Funnily enough, I enjoy hearing the new music. Some is not so good, but some is very good indeed. Like everything, it’s a mixed bag

    Hehe! Mate, you’re not wrong there. Whenever we construct a shed, or even this house, or some other thing, we go over the maths carefully, then measure, then re-measure, then construct. And even after all that, you can still stuff it up. 🙂 The clever builder is a bit like the clever wood carver in that the person knows how to turn a fault, into a feature. 🙂 And even people who do this stuff for a living can stuff it up. Oh yeah.

    I’m not fussed about such things either. Plenty of people would, I guess, see it as some sort of affront or lack of status, but then they also say: Happy wife, happy life. 🙂 And unlike most ladies, the Editor mucks in on the various projects we have going on here. Today, we finished up the clean-up project I began on Tuesday. It looks good, and was a lot of hard work. Now, if I demanded the best room for my office, rather than the pleasant little area I do occupy, well, would I get the assistance today? You’re winning, but don’t tell anyone! 🙂

    I agree, local observations are important. Our society tends to fixate on err, ‘news from afar’ observations, and that looks a lot like sweeping generalisations to me. I’ve got the rainfall records going back to the nineteenth century, and trends can be discerned. You know your snow better than someone who hasn’t been in your area. I haven’t seen snow here for the past two years. Things are changing.

    Hehe! You might be right there about those plant roots. That was unexpectedly funny. I don’t believe they will resprout either, but the smaller plant should be easier to deal with, if it does. Plants can crack concrete. Yup. I’ve seen tree roots that have lifted concrete slabs. It’s pretty awesome really to consider that the plants will eventually un-do civilisation.

    Go Avalanche! Yes, you keep DJ on his toes. That’ll keep him sharp. Dame Plum, no. You may not talk to Avalanche and provide independent consulting advice. Sorry about that, Dame Plum had some good ideas she wished to share. Dogs…

    Far out, that bloke is good. If I may dare to provide an observation upon his work. The paint he uses is more of a wash, so that the grain shows through and provides further definition, which the light plays with. Makes you wonder how his minds eye sees the carvings before he commences? I’d think more along rustic lines too, and have some method of dealing with errors, because even that bloke has to make some, and then know how to deal with them.


    Hope you get another person to take that second lesson. You never know.

    Very funny! Ah, yes the bearded lady from the circus. There was a minor side story in the original Bill and Ted film relating to that. Years ago we went to see a genuine sideshow-inspired act at the comedy festival. It was the Jim Rose circus, and it was awesome. I can well understand the entertainment value of such things, and you could see the performers were giving it their very all. That’s the carny lifestyle.



  24. Hi Lewis,

    That hosting of guests bug, I just didn’t get it. We can do that, enjoy it, and have plenty of visitors, but mostly I just enjoy the quiet moments. Probably something wrong with my wiring, but who cares? That hard to ignore note of yours is a goodie. Sends a strong message.

    Man, I saw that. Tina was iconic. And did you know that the lady had deep connections with this country? A strange story, but all the better for being true: Tina Turner and her Australian connections: How The Best became rugby league’s anthem and why is the Nutbush mandatory at gatherings? Even performed with our national treasure: Jimmy Barnes. Bizarrely, the Nutbush song worked it’s way into the national consciousness via a state wide kids exercise school program. Weird huh? But it’s true. Go to a wedding, and sooner or later, someone is gonna play the song, and you’ll be pressed into a line dance. Dancing is not my thing.

    That’s a good question. Where to go, indeed? I don’t know. We don’t travel far at all these days. Sometimes, we’ll stay overnight in the city, and that’s good enough and enjoyable. Dunno, what about you? Did you ever get to a point in your life where the desire to travel and see new places diminished? But largely my grandfather’s old bivouac, gave me a sense of peace. It’s really a nice place, but the memories are also good too.

    80’F is nice, although your place will be heating up I guess. At least the heat will be getting all those seedlings growing. And you have convinced me. Rome fell due to 99 reasons, just like we will. I’m also pretty certain that the people left hanging around will possibly argue amongst themselves as to the ‘true’ single reason we bit the dust. That is if they’re not too busy…

    You don’t see those old hand cranked meat grinders down here much any more. We’ve got one of those old heavy cast iron, irons that used to be left on the stove to warm prior to use. Way back in the 70’s I’m guessing, someone added a layer of copper to the iron. Makes a good book end, solid. Don’t get the copper-plating though. Good to hear that you have two. They’re handy machines, and something to consider.

    Today was an epic day of work, and we finished cleaning up the area where I removed those three old upside down tree stumps on Tuesday. It looks a bit rough now, but in a year or two, it’ll all blend in. That area was full of rocks too. Dunno why, but I’m guessing the loggers bulldozers dragged them into that area along with the tree stumps. There was a lot of excess soil there, unsurprisingly, so we used that to fill in holes and depressions in the ground, in that immediate area. Finished up at 3pm and had a very late, but also yummy, lunch.

    Hey, the spare inverter finally arrived today. It feels less precarious to have a spare one of those. Now I’ve got to hassle the manufacturer to see whether they’ll give me a list of spare parts – or supply them. Worst comes to worst, I’ll crack the case and take an inventory, but they could save me some hard yards. It’s not like they’re not shutting up shop.

    Both good pieces of wisdom. Shame other folks haven’t learned such wisdom, don’t you reckon? Are you serious? Wow. Well there’s a phrase I never thought would fade from view. What do they teach the kids these days – probably not that at a wild guess. The Amalgamated Union of Fluffies (Ltd.) are a notably fickle bunch, and we’ll try not to offend them – always something of a risk. Another phrase you don’t hear at all these days is: Girl Friday. I recall job advertisements with that title. Funnily enough a copy of Robinson Caruso is sitting on the to-read pile. Later. I’m reading Jack Vance’s, Edgar award winning mystery book: The Man in the Cage. So far, so good. It’s set in Morocco.

    What? Wow. It’s not hard to put an AM circuit in a radio. I hadn’t heard about that, but long haul drivers probably had some strong opinions in that regard, I’d imagine. Interestingly enough, the dirt mouse Suzuki is older than the Dirt Rat by a few years now – and it has a far better radio in my opinion. Hmm. I’ll bet they backed off. There’s been some rather strange promotions of late, and yes, backlash. It baffles me that folks who are paid to promote goods, can’t seem to read the room.

    Yes, of course, the increased humidity is a bad thing for your books. I’ve seen some units which were admittedly bigger, but not that much bigger than a swamp cooler. Summer nights here are usually cooler, maybe, ook, and I just don’t want to flog the power system in order to stay cool. I dunno, could it handle it, sure. It’s kind of like travel for me, or dishwashers – I drew a line in the sand. It doesn’t have to make any sense.

    The poor Garden Goddess! On the other hand, respecting boundaries is a thing that some people seem to struggle with. The night manager has to learn for himself, how else will he learn how much water to give the seedlings, if someone else is doing that work. Trial and error is a great way to learn.

    Oh yeah, plant tags are awful. Most of the time, you don’t even know whether the plant variety is suitable for the local growing conditions. This is possibly a direct consequence of seed production being held by a very small number of players. And hey, I see seedlings being sold which are way out of season. That makes little sense to me.



  25. Yo, Chris – From further up the comments. Parrots: Why we can’t have nice things. 🙂

    Thanks for the article on Tina Turner and the Australian connection. Of course, I knew about the Mad Max movie. I wish she would have done a bit more acting. Amazing how many musicians were ignored by American music Powers That Be. And then went on to build up a global following. To then have the American music producers, snapping at their heels, to sign them up. See: Josephine Baker. 🙂 . Music is the international language? If it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it, it might fly.

    Hmm. When did seeing new places lose it’s luster? Hmmm. I don’t know. I was always so busy with jobs, and stuff. Then there’s the money angle. Once Uncle Larry died, I didn’t even go to Portland, anymore. I don’t think I have left the county in 20+ years.

    Seems like people are always running off to Olympia or, worse, Seattle, to get medical care. I’ve already decided that if they can’t patch me up here, anything else is off the table.

    It was 77F, yesterday. Today, it’s supposed to be 82. Then, in the low 70s for the foreseeable future. More to my liking. I’m just staying in and laying low, today. Other than watering, tonight.

    So, you’ve uncovered another cache of rocks. How exciting! 🙂

    You’ll probably still hear “Girl Friday,” from time to time. When they run “His Girl Friday” (1940, Rosalind Russell & Cary Grant), on the classic movies channel. A comedy, that I remember as quit charming.

    Last night, I watched the new “Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” Made popcorn. I don’t know. I thought it dragged, in parts. Or maybe wall to wall CGI is a bit tedious. I also started watching the New Zealand series, “Under the Vines.” A disgraced London lawyer and a Sydney socialite discover they’ve jointly inherited a falling apart New Zealand vineyard. He wants to sell up, take the money and run. She has second thoughts, and thinks it might be a way to embark on a new way of living. It’s amusing, and the secondary characters are a lot of fun. Which sometimes makes a series.

    Last night I negotiated the round-about of death and finally got some sweet Basil plants. From the big box store, that seems to have cornered the market. About all I was up for was planting a couple of Marigolds, near my tomatoes. And Elinor has always had Snapdragons in her patch. But, they didn’t come up, this year. So, I bought six, and squeezed them into her stock tank / raised bed.

    I caught the Garden Goddess watering the communal Strawberry bed, last night. Got to yell at her again. Yes, let’s overwater the strawberries. I water them, every night. Later on, I discovered she had popped two of her strawberries, into that bed. Never mind that we’re trying to keep the genetics of that bed pure, so we can send Quinalts to the plant sale, next year. I ripped them out and tossed them away.

    Our night manager is growing Reaper and Ghost peppers. Ah, the young. Risk takers. I’ll stick with the middle of the road Salerno and Cayenne peppers. No sense of adventure, I guess 🙂 .

    I’m about finished with “Building: A Carpenter’s Notes on Life & the Art of Good Work” (Ellison, 2023). I found a bit that explains what he does, more or less.

    “…but most of the fun and satisfaction I’ve had in my career has come from finding solutions to problems nearly everyone around me turned away from.
    For the last thirty years, every job I’ve built has included an assembly no one has ever tried to build before. By now, I’ve developed a reputation for saying yes to these things. I’ve built hundreds of devices and structures that people live with every day, all of which I had never previously attempted.”

    I must say, the filthy rich are capricious. And dream up the darndest things.

    Glory Hallelujah!!! I went to the store to do my weekly shop, and there, on the shelf, was packages of blocks of Swiss Cheese. 8 oz., 2 for $5. Now was that so hard? It’s the small things, that make life worth living. The popcorn was particularly good, last night. 🙂 Lew

  26. Chris,

    “Some folks I’ve known have happily said to me that they’d love to shut the station down, but didn’t seem realise that their choices might also get the same rough treatment.” True statement you made there. If more people understood that idea, then maybe we as a society (or factions within society) wouldn’t be so judgmental toward those different than we are. Life’s too short. Also, I’ve been on the judgmental side in the past. It is a very painful and unhappy way to live.

    Oh, yeah, that “status” thing. I quit worrying or even thinking about status long ago. Life became a lot simpler. No competing against everyone. No trying to “keep up with the Joneses”. Heck, my last name IS Jones, and I’ve wondered for most of my life who in their right mind would try to keep up with me. Status is too much work to attain and maintain. No thanks.

    Isn’t it amazing how much power those tree and plant roots have? Like you, I’ve seen concrete slabs cracked or even lifted by roots. People’s sewer pipes can get punctured and filled by roots. That causes a right mess, let me tell you. Lot of unrelenting force there.

    Dame Avalanche also tried to take over the computer to communicate with Dame Plum. Dogs are sneaky that way. Very sneaky.

    Good eye. Yes, with that flat plane carving style, the paint is thinned before using. It helps with the overall rustic feel while also allowing the grain to show. It’s a different look, but very effective.

    We went to the old Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus back when we were little. Once in California, once in Spokane. And a smaller circus, the Shrine Circus, a few times in Spokane. All of these were indoors. Then there was the outdoor circus in the football stadium parking lot. We walked to it, as it was really close to our home. It was a real, genuine, 3 ring circus underneath a “Big Top”. It was a lot of fun.


  27. Hi DJ,

    When you think about it a bit, the observation is another way of stating the Golden Rule, which is sometimes described as: ‘do unto others’. Man, it isn’t just you there either. In the past I had this weird notion that the world was more easily understood, and based a lot of my world-view upon that. But in reality reductive thinking doesn’t explain the world you encounter day-to-day. There is a great deal of nuance, well at least I reckon there is. Dunno about you, but I was raised to treat matters as right or wrong, and the folks who pushed that message I later learned (after a great deal of reflection), had a lot of issues they themselves weren’t handling all that well. I’m glad you somehow learned to let go of such a world view. After all, it doesn’t fit reality all that well, and trying to make it so, caused me pain as well.

    Well, can they keep up? 🙂 There’s always someone who can beat you at the status game, so what would Sun Tzu suggest? Do something unexpected, and there’s no need to play that game. Can’t say that I’ve ever observed any good from winning it. Look at the troubles the ginger bloke of the royale (!) lot is having in your country. He seems a mite bit whiney. And compared to him, you and I are mere peanuts. Not a game you can win. But do you need to play? Few even thing to ask that question. It’s good that you seem to have arrived at the same outcome.

    Hey, down under the original sewer pipes were clay fired. They’re still in use, but they worked by having one section fitting into another. And a little bit of stuff escapes. How could it not? Here, I must add that there is something to be said about the water tightness of PVC UV stabilised and plastic welded joins and pipes (albeit with a two stage glue). Way back in the days when I lived in the big smoke, a neighbour had a very impressive fig in his backyard. It was more of a fig jungle actually. Anywhoo, I imagined that the tree roots had managed to work their way into the clay sewer pipes and were enjoying a very tidy regular feed and water. Thus proving that trees are most unfussy! The fruit usually fed the marsupial fruit bats.

    Yes, we must be alert to the canine machinations, and thwart them. I’d read Asimov stories where later space faring folk found that all that was left of prior explorers and peoples were packs of wild dogs. Honestly, the author took things a step too far. If a species can travel between one star system and the next, they can easily deal with wild dogs. Just sayin…

    Thanks. The carving bloke is very good, and you may have noticed over time, but my mind tends to be more inclined towards the engineering response – how do we get this ‘ere thing done? I see the steps involved in a project and how they link, but I’d imagine that carving would be different process – it would be like working towards an outcome using well honed techniques. What’s your thoughts on that blokes approach to his works? There’s almost a playfulness to his carvings, which is beyond my abilities.

    That sounds like fun, and sent me off on an interweb journey to see what it was all about. Mate, they don’t make them like that any more.



  28. Chris:

    I like to call myself a “home economist” because the only way I can stay at home is to economize.

    Re greens: We grow Daikon radishes to make kkakdugi (a kind of kimchi). They have a lot of leaves, so I started cooking the leaves and – though they need some extra cooking time, coming off of mature radishes – they are just fine. I am having some in my breakfast dish of mashed sweet potatoes, greens, and a soft-boiled egg, with hot pepper sauce.

    My goodness – can those pesky parrots not hold anything sacred? barbarians – as you mentioned.

    We have been rotating our tomato (and all) crops. We even have all new beds this year, with a great deal of fresh soil. But the blight is persistent and lives on in all the soil. I am a touch worried about my potatoes this year, also.

    Thanks so very much for the citrus advice. We have lemons and, I think, some kind of orange, but I don’t know the varieties. They are ones bred for colder climates. I will try to get you a list.

    Thanks also for the apple tree wound repair, a la bark. That sounds like a good idea. I have been using moss, usually with a bit of clay soil, tied around the wounds.

    If the inverter manufacturer does not supply parts, no way are they going to give you a list – they’ll want you to buy a whole new inverter. But it can’t hurt to ask, though I use that phrase a lot less now than I used to . . .


  29. Hi Lewis,

    The parrots are just so naughty, and I agree.

    Tina Turner did a great job acting in the Mad Max movie. Did you notice that the role was written with the performer in mind? Wow! I’d never heard of Josephine Baker before. It takes a lot of innate confidence to be able to wear and perform in the banana outfit. What a great, and if Shirley Bassey is citing her as giving exceptional performances and vocal skills, wow. Maybe your country wasn’t ready for the lady at the time? They missed out! I hear you, music is the international language, and there’s usually something for everybody.

    Earlier today I was speaking with a mate about his chickens, and he mentioned that getting time away for holidays was challenging with the birds. But all those issues you mentioned (excluding your Uncle Larry, who clearly I would not have known, but he sounds alright) are what changed my mind on the subject too. Thanks for the insight. I’m discovering that as I get older, I head into the city less. It’s down to a few days per month now. Dunno what it means, but I like the surroundings up the bush better. I can see how it became 20+ years for you. I’m getting there as well.

    Yup there is middle ground in that health care story. Years ago I heard of a very distant relative who had dementia at 94, and had that for a number of years. Contracted leukaemia, and the doctors offered chemo therapy. That’s a really complicated world view to make that offer under those conditions. The offer, I believe, was declined. Mate, that’s your choice, and I respect that. You have to kind of make sure that other people are aware of your decision – I’ve seen some strange things on that front over the years.

    Low 70’Fs sounds lovely. I’m enjoying your summer weather from afar. It was about 52’F here today.

    Oh yes, Peak Rocks has yet again been pushed back due to good exploration outcomes, and good ol’ fern folks know-how. It was a good haul of rocks.

    Down here there are probably laws about calling employment positions by that name. It wasn’t always so, and nobody seemed to care back then. The 2009 film The Proposal, covered the interactions between a female boss and a bloke who presumably did such a job, albeit under an updated title. But same, same.

    Was the popcorn any good? That’s what I want to know! 🙂 A little bit of CGI is good, but like every tool, it can be over used. Ah, I shall mention this series to the Editor. Right now, she seems to be heavily invested in a Scandi-noir genre series, which I believe is titled ‘The Bridge’. Apparently, the original language version (with subtitles fortunately!), makes far more sense than the UK adaption. The background for the series is rather bleak looking which adds to the overall composition. I’m told that it is very good. Hey, who would have thought that vineyards would be hard work?

    Well done and top score. Did you taste the leaves? Last growing season we ended up with some weird not-quite-basil plants, and now that I’ve been burned, I’m super careful. I didn’t even know that could happen. Seeds and seedlings are a concentrated biz. Oh yeah. And few people know, or seem to care. Nice choices for companion plants.

    Oh no! The Garden Goddess has gone rogue. Good luck! Years ago I was hanging around my old big smoke haunts and spotted a bloke I knew. He was a mechanic and ran the local community garden. There was a lot of difficulty and intrigue associated with that club. We had a great chat, and I got to look around the place. They’re good ideas. Probably a good idea. Hey, the alpine strawberries in the greenhouse have flowers and tiny berries. That’s crazy for this time of year.

    The name suggests the ending. Good luck to your night manager dude, and may he survive the experience. Then, once he has that out of his system he can plant the far milder jalapeno chili variety. But I’m really interested to hear how it ends up, and do not under any circumstances partake of any food stuffs he proffers. However, if you think I’m over reacting, go ahead and do your worst! 😉 You’ll be fine, maybe… Good luck!

    The carpenter bloke sounds as if he can produce innovative one-off solutions. I guess there’s a market for that, and he may be smarter than his clientele. Capricious is the word.

    🙂 The moons have aligned for you. Dunno, maybe the powers that be were reading our conversation and decided to assist you?

    Had a home made pizza for dinner this evening. Had a roast veg topping, which was pretty tasty. Chilli was involved, so the topping had a bit of zing, but not too much.



  30. Hi Pam,

    That’s very funny, and all the better for being a good path. Hey, I never really understood why anyone wouldn’t want to have a more orderly and productive home. Savings begin at home. And a person, as you note, can save themselves the experience of earning. It’s not all that it’s cracked up to be you know.

    Yum! The hot pepper sauce sounds intriguing. Hope it gives just enough zing, but not too much so that you’re left wondering about the abilities of your tongue to ever taste anything in the future? Breakfast here is usually home made toasted muesli + seasonal fruit + home made natural yoghurt. Like you, I try to eat what we grow.

    Pam, there are so many vandals out there. Some of them hop, skip and jump, whilst the others flap around a lot acting the galah. Mostly I’m learning how to live with them all, and there’s a lot of them. A bit like your deer.

    Ook! Double Ook! I had a deep dive into the world of tomato blight. Hmm. You’re right, the fungi-like critter is carried on the wind, so you have to learn somehow to live with it. Those changes you made, might not be enough, but are also probably needed. You got me thinking about what I would do if I encountered that critter – which I don’t doubt is here given the origin is potatoes. For a start, potatoes and tomatoes have different soil feeding requirements. Potatoes like more acid soils, and will hate wood ash, whereas tomatoes don’t mind that. Did you know that fungi-like critters enjoy acid soils? And you live near a lot of big trees. Just sayin, a lot of Calcium Carbonate (also known as agricultural lime) added to the soil would help – that’s what I used when the very similar critter tried to take down the Meyer Lemon. More neutral to basic soils favour bacteria instead of fungi (which prefer more acid soils). But you probably also need more sunlight, more air, less watering (certainly no leaf watering), or maybe try leaf watering with a seaweed solution. I’d even consider taking off all the lower leaves of the tomato vines. Yeah, it’s not good – and note to self: don’t plant tomatoes where potatoes once grew.

    I’ll be very interested to hear how you go through the growing season. That’s a nasty, which you have to deal with.

    Oh, that’s a good idea about the moss and clay tied around the tree wounds. Thanks! Moss has some sort of beneficial compounds in it, doesn’t it?

    I hope not! Yikes, the cost. In a bizarre twist to the story, they said they’d release some of the intellectual property upon shut down. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but if they provide circuit diagrams and parts lists – I’m good with that.

    Sorry to hear of your experience on that front. I get a bit hesitant, but years of debt collection back in the recession, kind of wiped out my discomfiture.

    Ruby has a new (second hand) sheepskin to sleep upon. Because it was new, and not her crusty old Sir Scruffy (kelpie chewed upon) sheepskin, she turned her nose up at it. Now, Ollie on the other hand has no such scruples about patterns being wrong. In fact, he thinks the patterns are now right and has taken up her comfy new (second hand) bedding. Dogs…



  31. Hi Chris,

    Still on the road but will be home tomorrow. Saw your comment to Lew that you’re mostly done with travel. I kind of felt the same and these two trips this month pretty much confirmed it not to say that there weren’t good points. Will write more as time allows when I get back though there’ll be lots of catch up. Been no rain for two weeks. Luckily Carla had been holding down the fort pretty well.


  32. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for understanding, and I’m sorry about the loss of the hippy publication. I’ll continue playing and attending festivals, and perhaps some other person will eventually happen upon a business model that works to keep dulcimer players in touch with each other in the times we live in.

    Not having enough rain is more of a problem when it’s combined with hotter than normal weather, as it has been for me. I’m not always aware of how rapidly the silt loam soil here drains, so I have a hard time judging how much to irrigate. Plus I have to pay for the irrigation water (it’s from the municipal supply), so I’m loathe to use too much of it. It’s not that we lack irrigation water, being at the confluence of two large rivers, but in 2012 I spent upward of $200 on water one month (normal household use without irrigation is around $30/month), and I am not looking forward to another year like that.


  33. Yo, Chris – Temporary things become permanent. Inertia. “Like sands through an hourglass, these are the days of our lives.” 🙂 .

    I’ve got my medical power of attorney all set up. Copies filed at the local hospital, and taped to the side of my refrigerator. When choosing people with that power, my first question was, “Can you pull the plug?” Any hesitation at all, and it was on to the next prospect. LOL. One of my people, I asked her that question and she said, “Oh, yeah. I’ve done it three times, already.” At least I won’t have family mucking things about. “We’ve got to keep grand pa, alive!” I’m considering tattooing “DNR” (Do Not Resuscitate), on my chest. Not a new idea to me. It’s been done, before.

    It was 81F, and miserable, yesterday. I stayed in, next to the A/C. And drank a lot of water. But around 7PM, a good onshore flow ripped through, and the temperature plunged. Forecast is for 67F, today, with a good breeze.

    Interesting article about weather people, under fire. Australia, is mentioned.

    Peak rocks has been averted. Like the discovery of North Sea oil, or Alaskan North Slope oil. 🙂

    For some reason, I just can’t warm to Scandi-Noir. I’ve tried a few, and can’t even get through a couple of episodes. Some of the mysteries I do watch, have equally bleak backgrounds. So, it’s not that.

    All I had to do is pick the Basil up, and smell it, to know I was on the right track. I’ll plant them in different places. Last year, I had three. One did well, one did so-so, and one was abysmal. Tiny leaves with a real “off” flavor.

    I heard a funny story, a couple of years back. Someone suggested to the Centralia City Council, that a community garden be established. It was soundly voted down, with one councilor commenting that he didn’t want any of that “hippie shite.” Progressive little community, we have here. 🙂

    I saw our night manager, last night. He is allergic to a lot of things, including bee stings. He related that he had to deploy his epi-pen twice, last week, due to being stung by bees. Knock on wood, I haven’t been stung since I stepped on a bee when I was about five. I wonder if there’s something in what he eats, or, maybe the soap he uses (body or laundry) that attracts the bees?

    Last night I had a couple of fried egg sandwiches, for dinner. With Swiss cheese! 🙂 Lew

  34. Yo, Chris – Interesting article about food prices, here. It’s a holiday weekend. Memorial Day. Lots of picnics, etc..

    What I found interesting about this article, is that the national brand catchup in the picture, well, I pick it up for $1.25 at the Dollar + store. It’s a staple, in our Club pantry. And as long as I’ve been going to the Dollar + store, they’ve never been out of it. Lew

    PS: I stuck a flag, in my Patriotic Petunia Hanging Basket. 🙂

  35. Hi Margaret,

    It happens. I’ll tell you a funny story. Back in the late 1990’s we travelled around Australia for about six months. Just chucked a tent and some gear into the small hatchback, and headed off into the wild blue yonder (as they say). Saw a lot of this country and had some amazing experiences. Anyway, towards the end of the trip, the constant novelty wore upon me, and you know, sleeping in my own bed rather than on an inflatable mattress held a strong appeal. Travel is nice and all, but home is good too. That’s the conclusion…

    Yikes! You’d expect more rain at this time of year. Glad to hear that Carla was able to hold down the fort in your absence. And Leo and Salve probably loved the attention.



  36. Hi Claire,

    No, I absolutely understand. It’s loss, nothing more, nothing less. At least the festivals will continue. Possibly the periodical (in both cases really) needed to get back to basics. To be frank, I had the impression that the financial expectations of the owners exceeded the ability of the publication to deliver. It’s a common story. Also, some of the longer term writers appeared to me to be getting stale, and there was little support for the newer authors (ahem! 🙂 ). Your periodical would probably suit a really low cost, down home, production. People would appreciate that. The instrument of your choice suggests as much. It’s a beautiful sound too, and you’ve long intrigued me with this mode of music. If I had more time, and one day I shall. That’s the plan anyway! 😉

    I see. Yes, I too have troubles knowing what is going on with water deeper within the soil in dryer years. The best guide I’ve found is to closely observe the forest understory. The root systems for that lot are generally shallower, and so they tend to exhibit water stress faster, but I can only speak for this area and have no idea what goes on elsewhere. Good luck. A lot of the annuals we grow have shallow root systems. Yup! But not all do.



  37. Hi Lewis,

    Inflation is real, sorry to say. And in relation to food costs, it’s hard to ignore. When we went out for dinner last week, the cost had risen maybe 10% overall. The inflation feedback loop with food costs is pretty fast.

    Well that’s interesting about the ketchup. Down under last growing season due to all of the flooding, I believe the tomato crop was much reduced, and costs went up. It’s not all money supply related increases, when it comes to inflation. I was discussing this very subject with a friend a few days ago about how the local Italian tomato sauce producing thing was on the decline due to the costs of the raw materials – i.e. tomatoes. It wasn’t lost on me that the effort of growing the fruits had been outsourced, but now too the resulting sauce appears to have suffered the same fate. It’s a big family day in that culture, and I tend to hold the opinion that costs are to the side with that story, and an element of laziness has entered the picture.

    Well done ‘Sticking a flag in it!’ All hail the King! 🙂 Nice one, and very amusing.

    Is that show still even going? I remember my grandmother (on my dads side) used to watch the show, and you’d hear the theme song, and then that fairly accurate quote. I note that the same quote was used in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure when they nabbed Socrates (amusingly enunciated So-crates). So irreverent, but kind of funny.

    I hear you about that, and yes the hesitation is a dead give away. In such moments, a person wants no mucking around. Oh yeah, I too have seen family fights over this matter, and in some respects – from a respectable disinterested distance – the fights looked like a power play to me. Some matters need to be settled up front, and this should not be the case, but it can happen that things go haywire when emotions hit 11 on the dial.

    Lewis, it was raining and cold and wet today, and 81’F sounds really nice to me. 🙂 I’d imagine the humidity was off the charts? It is here. For about half the year, the humidity is well over 90%. 67’F sounds pretty nice too. We went to a very nearby town on a sausage roll and lamington expedition this morning. It was good. But other than that, we pottered around just doing stuff here and there at a pleasant pace. Quite relaxing.

    Well, there’s nothing new about that. After the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, bonkers big, lots of dead, the volunteer fire fighting folks came under some pretty heavy criticism. And those same words you linked to were used. People have this weird expectation that they somehow deserve personal forecasts, and/or having a fire truck at their place defending their property. There just aren’t enough people or resources involved in that side of the story, and it’s human nature to want to outsource responsibility. That ain’t necessarily a workable world view. And the reality is, that a thousand fire trucks that night, fully crewed and loaded with water, wouldn’t have stopped the blaze.

    Have to laugh, transitioning from the polite format of publications to the wild west of the interweb, was quite a shock for me. Trolls got to me at first, for a few days at least. Then I dealt to them. What did the weather people expect when they gave people an anonymous voice? Poison pen letters have been around for a very long time.

    Ah yes, Peak Rocks has been delayed for a bit. The long term trends suggest your point of view is accurate. 😉

    Oh really? The protagonist is possibly an Aspie chick, and the Editor enjoys her no-nonsense take on the world. Well, I have not watched them either, and was a bit underwhelmed by the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo film. The sound track was good, but the film. Hmm. I dunno. As an interesting side story, I read an amusing story about a very inebriated Jack Vance squashing Steig Larson in a tax cab ride. It was quite funny. Steig was a much smaller bloke. One would have to suggest that they brought that poop on their own heads by feeding Mr Vance so much booze.

    Exactly! That was the same basil which I confronted this past growing season. Not a fan either, so respect for being onto that gear. My BS alarm is ready for the next growing season. Mate, you live and learn!

    Hehe! Maybe the councillor wanted to avoid the community garden drama? They’s are socialists! Hehe!

    That’s not good. Hope he’s OK. There’s a lot to unpack there, and I have theories.

    Yum! Your dinner sounded exactly like what I had for lunch today, except swap the Swiss cheese for Tasty cheese, and add in some freshly baked bread.

    Better get writing!



  38. Yo, Chris – I really wonder how much food costs are being manipulated by the producers. Any company involved in the stock market, here, must post profit or loss statements. Some of them are showing banging returns. My dark chocolate bar stash was getting a bit low. Last week, they wanted almost 5 dollars, per bar. I decided to wait, and just see what would happen. This week, they were 2 for $6. Hmmm.

    As far as the Italian tomato sauce goes, people are so busy, these days. 🙂 At least, that’s the excuse you hear.

    I got curious as to if there are still soap operas, around. They were called that, as, in the early days, their primary advertising came from soap companies. As their primary audience was stay at home moms. I found this …

    “People just wanted shorter narratives, they wanted shorter books,” Harrington added. Plus, as NPR reported in 2011, there aren’t as many stay-at-home parents for advertisers to target as there were in the mid-20th century, and those who remain can now watch anything, thanks to streaming and on-demand television.

    There are about three daytimes serials, left. I wonder what they advertise, these days?

    I claim this hanging basket, for the US of A! (Sticks flag in it.) I wonder if there’s any resources, to plunder?

    Well, I don’t know about the humidity, but it was just plain hot! Yesterday was a lot nicer. Low 70s, cool onshore flow. I raked out that garden plot and threw three three bags of composted chicken poo on it. Worked it in. Planted my three peppers, some marigolds and two of the Sweet Basils.

    Our night manager is being driven bonkers, by the bugs eating some of his seedlings. I suggested he grow stuff that the bugs don’t bother. 🙂

    Reading about the poor weather folk, I once again came to the opinion that a good chunk of the world is bonkers. I mean, really mentally ill. I suppose it’s always been simmering right below the surface. I think a big mistake with setting up the internet was making it too easy to be anonymous. I’ve noticed that a lot of web sites have dispensed with “comments.”

    Well, it’s Sunday morning and H and I are headed down to the Club, so she can greet her public. Lew

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