Pets and Drugs

Sunday night I lay awake, sweating. Oh my gawd, was this to be the end for me? Sleep was far away. Tossing and turning, I must have woken Sandra up about a dozen times. That’s what a sleep terrorist looks like. It was a cold night too, and I just felt hot.

The next morning, even a quality coffee couldn’t shake the irritability. You know things aren’t quite right when proper coffee doesn’t soothe the savage beast. At such times it’s wise to take some time out and consider the circumstances. Hmm. We’d only just dosed Dame Plum for worms, maybe that’s what is going on here.

Oi! Dame Plum. Come! I yelled into the corridor.

Dame Plum responded to the command, and arrived in short order. Did you give me worms, girl? I asked.

No, yes, maybe, boss. Came the reply. Hardly reassuring.

What new low had my life sunk to? How was this even possible. I’m really careful about contact with the animals. And then the memory hit me. Dame Plum had grabbed the proffered Anzac biscuit from me, but in the process deliberately tasted my fingers. Hadn’t thought much about it at the time. Turns out, I wasn’t careful enough.

Anyway, both Dame Plum and I received a course of medication, and we both now feel much better. Certainly I felt better within the hour. Dame Plum is a good dog, thus the title, and she could forage for her own feed if circumstances necessitated, but her food lifestyle choices involve risks. And not only for her.

Food is such a funny issue. It’s one of those ‘hot button’ issues which sometimes produces a really emotional response from people. I generally avoid discussing the topic. Way back in the 1970’s, I recall adults seriously suggesting that there were three non discussable topics whilst at table: Sex; Religion; and Politics. In these enlightened days, people talk plenty of rubbish about those topics, but the topic of food – whoa! prepare for ignition. It hardly seems fair, especially when at table, the stuff is right in front of you.

However, food admittedly is a complicated issue for many people. Long ago, the food I was eating was making me ill. It was not that I was eating too much, or not enough, it was more that what I ate wasn’t right for me. In another person, the mix of food would have been fine, but I wasn’t that other person. The result was eczema on my hands, and little resistant patches of redness on my upper arms. The little patches of redness are sometimes known as ringworm, but they’re a fungus, not a worm. And they were a torture, because it was always itchy.

You’d go to the doctor, and they’d prescribe steroid cream and that’s where the advice ended. Apply the stuff, and sure the patches would begin to clear up. But the risk is, there are consequences for using the stuff. So I’d stop, and the eczema and patches would return. I bore the irritation stoically, but it’s not fun. Life had to continue, regardless.

Food sure is an interesting subject. Around about the turn of the century, I became interested in growing food. There sure is a lot to know about the subject, but sooner or later in every growers journey, the idea clarifies that growing good food begins with the soil. The subject of soil is an incredibly complicated story, and just like food, people have their hobby horses to push. I read them all, and pick and choose based on what works.

Early on, you get sucked in to some strange soil practices. I’d been brainwashed to believe that just applying composted woody mulch will achieve wonders for the plants. Here, that doesn’t work so well, and we’ve applied hundreds of cubic metres of the stuff over the past decade and a half. Mulch alone isn’t nearly good enough, and it can have undocumented side effects, such as making the soil more suitable for fungal growths. Hmm.

After realising the failings of mulch, you start applying heaps and heaps of compost. That’s not such a great idea either. Who even knows what the commercial stuff is made from? And if it was derived from an area which has soil mineral deficiencies, it’s probably not going to somehow get miraculously better. And plenty of cities have soil mineral deficiencies, after all, that’s where most of the compost stuff comes from. It’s a consequence of living on a poisoned planet.

If you’re lucky, like I was, a friendly chemistry scientist (Hi Claire!) will fortuitously give you a big size eight boot up the rear, and send you on a journey as to what are the actual minerals needed for optimal plant growth. That’s when you’ll then find yourself continuing to purchase woody mulch and compost, but you begin adding in specific minerals based on what you’re observing of the plant growth around you.

Each year (for about a decade now) I also bring back a couple of thousand kilograms of coffee grounds (2.2 pounds to the kilogram). That stuff is amazing, but you can’t just apply only it, because the stuff alone will make the mixture of soil minerals go way out of balance. I reckon eventually it would make the soils here even more acidic than they normally are (the preferable environment for fungi). It’s a bit of a problem, so each week I have to add a good quantity of Calcium Carbonate and Blood and Bone meal to the coffee grounds. Those two mineral additions ensure that the soils remain conducive for good plant growth, whilst ensuring the fungi don’t turn into Triffids. Pesky creatures. There just isn’t another way of using the coffee grounds on soils.

It’s been a strange learning journey that one. And then one day when you’re on that journey, many years ago now, the little light bulb goes on. If you could change soils so as to make them less favourable to fungi, merely by changing the balance of minerals, could you do that with your own body? Well, turns out, I wasn’t the first to come up with that idea. For a moment there, I thought my fortune had been made, but sadly no.

So as an experiment, I changed my diet. Not by huge amounts. We reduced the amount of times we ate out. Stopped eating meat at home. Switched to basmati rice. Reduced the consumption of pasta. Baked our own bread using high protein flour. Reduced the consumption of sugars. We did a whole lot of things, just little changes here and there, all based on reducing the acidity of the food I was taking into my body. And what a surprise, it worked for me. The eczema and other patches of inflamed skin disappeared. It was a relief, and presumably my body is now getting the correct balance of minerals for what it needs. What’s really odd about it, was not that the doctors didn’t suggest this approach, it was that in the end it came down to food lifestyle choices. And they involve risks whether you acknowledge them, or not.

Earlier in the week, a big wind storm ripped through this corner of the continent. For two days, the trees swayed alarmingly. Not a good time to be underneath them. A few small trees toppled over:

Dame Plum and I inspect some downed branches

And there was one whopper tree which the winds brought down:

Ollie and I agree, this would have hurt

It’s free firewood as far as I’m concerned, and the larger chunks will be processed over the next month or so. A lot of the small branches however, were collected and burnt off. We keep a neat and tidy ship here, and there are good reasons for that. The fire was impressively hot for mid-winter.

That was about as near as either Ollie or I wanted to get

We rolled a lot of huge upside blackened tree stumps into the fire. These were remnants which the loggers thoughtlessly left littered around the forest. The things are huge and are near the limits as to what I can move by hand. And the fire ate about seven of them over two days.

You can see the remains of some of the upside down tree stumps which we rolled into the fire

Once you remove the upside down tree stumps, you can begin to see what is in the area. And there were a number of large rocks. In one mornings work, we split all the large rocks we found, and now have about fifteen still-large rocks to use on projects. Yay! Peak Rocks is for real, but for now the worst aspects have been averted.

The friendly magpies know more about our business than we do

That’s a lot of rocks, and they’re all sorts of shapes and sizes.

These thinner rocks will be useful

Speaking of rocks, the rocks we split the previous week were relocated to the new low gradient path project, then installed in the lowest rock wall.

The low gradient path project continues

On an otherwise wet day, we made a batch of Kiwi fruit jam. The fruit is relatively high in acid, but low in pectin, so the jam ended up not setting firmly. It’s tasty on freshly baked bread! Yum!

A batch of Kiwi fruit jam was made this week

The parts arrived in the mail for the repairs and upgrade of the electric 12 tonne log splitter. For some reason the manufacturer decided not install a soft starter device, which I consider to be a necessity on such a large electric motor. The motor run capacitor had also unsurprisingly died, and so I replaced it with a better quality item. The replacement part unfortunately happened to be about 30% bigger and wouldn’t fit in the existing control box. Being the crafty and resourceful bloke I am, a hole was drilled in the side of the control box. The motor run capacitor was then poked through the hole. The bit which now sticks out is protected from the elements by a thick rubber tight fitting cap I just had handy. The machine works a treat now – better than before.

The electric log splitter is now repaired and works better than before

And in sad poultry news, I had to permanently retire two chickens this week. A very sharp and heavy knife may have been involved. The two Faverolle birds were recidivist egg eaters. I’d remonstrated with them, and they blithely ignored me. That’ll teach them for not taking me seriously, and the remaining chickens – whilst now looking at me a bit funny like – received a very strong message. And what a surprise, we’re now getting eggs.

I wish it had not been so, but wishes are empty air, whilst eggs are in the hand

And we’re experimenting with using the greenhouse to store some of the autumn harvest which was picked a couple of months ago.

Squash ‘Gem’ and Kiwi fruit are storing well in the greenhouse

We had a light frost this morning, but no signs of snow as yet in the forecast.

The ground was icy this morning, but not for long

Sandra takes most of the photos for the blog, and despite the early morning frost, the day turned into a superb winters day with blue skies and only the slightest of breezes.

The shadows may be long, but the winter sun has little bit of zing to it now

Onto the flowers:

This Climbing Rose is in a very sheltered position
The Leucodendron flowers open up to the winter sun
A Manchurian Pear can’t seem to wait for the spring weather to arrive
A grove of Silver Wattles are now in full bloom, despite the frozen roof on the car
The small patch of Hellebores delight in the wintry conditions

The temperature outside now at about 10am is 5’C (41’F). So far this year there has been 533.0mm (21.0 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 524.6mm (20.7 inches)

46 thoughts on “Pets and Drugs”

  1. Yo, Chris – I had a sudden vision. It’s a school yard, years ago. An evil little girl (surely Damion’s sister), points and screeches, “Chris has worms!” 🙂

    Food. Funny stuff. Or, people’s ideas about food is funny stuff. I was reading a bit of Judith Jone’s autobiography (“The Tenth Muse,”) the other night. She was a publisher’s editor, who shepherded many a cookbooks author (Julia Child, etc.), into print. She was raised by a starchy English mother, and an American father. What couldn’t be discussed at her dinner table was … food. Commenting on the food, was forbidden. What it was, expressions of pleasure or disgust, was not done. Garlic, or any other spices were beyond the pale. Luckily, her father took her for occasional meals, in nice French or Italian restaurants.

    “You are what you eat,” is a play on what Brillat-Savarin said in 1826. And if you want to go even further back (in the Way-Back Machine,) Hippocrates said, “Let food be they medicine let medicine be thy food.” In 440 BCE. But did we listen? No. Who wants to believe what some stuck-up French or Greek guy has to say? 🙂

    I think strange soil practices, are a cult. Here at the Institution, it takes the form of throwing Epsom Salt, at anything that is green. Never mind the following report …

    Ooops! Looks like my membership in the Cult of Eggshells has been smashed! Will I lose the faith? Probably, not. I think additives really depend on the soil you have to begin with. And how it develops, over time. I’m also a card carrying member, of the Cult of Buried Kitchen Scraps.

    I did tease our Club manager, Mr. Bill, about siphoning $15 a week out of my wallet, for biscuits and gravy, pancakes and hot dogs. But that $15 per week for three meals, wasn’t much, these days. He piped up with, “And they’re healthy meals!” I let that one lay. No sense destroying an old man’s dreams. I figure the above things won’t take too many years, off my life. The price of the hot dog, also includes a bag of crips, and a soda. Which I pass on. I haven’t entirely lost my head.

    By “fungi,” do you mean mushrooms?

    Dame Plum inspects potential firewood. And dreams of toasty warm evening, in front of same. The whooper tree that Ollie is contemplating, looks like it was pretty dead. Or, maybe it’s top just doesn’t have leaves, given the time of year?

    Maybe the loggers were intentionally hiding the rocks from you, with the tree stumps? 🙂 Your rock walls along the paths will make it harder for barbarians to storm the castle.

    All that Kiwi fruit jam, makes me feel like my piddling little six jars of current / cranberry jam are, well, piddling. I gave one precious jar to my friend Julia, this morning.

    See? You knew that rubber swim cap would come in handy … eventually. Never throw anything away. 🙂

    So, are you going to eat the chickens you dispatched, or did you just toss them in the digester, in disgust? They were bad eggs, those two.

    The Squash Gem is looking like a proper pumpkin. It’s not that far to Halloween. You can carve a proper Jack-o-Lantern.

    The Editor is a superb photographer. Those roses are really hanging in there, weather be darned. The Manchurian Pear might want to have a chat, with our Georgia Peaches.

    I thought my fortune was made. Last night, when I was watering Elinor’s patch, I noticed a blood red Nasturtium, among all the orange. Clearly, a sport of some kind. No such luck. Red Nasturtiums are known, and you can even buy seed for them. But I still think I’ll mark out that blossom, and try and save the seed.

    I’m seeing more bees, around. About time. They must have finally got the memo. There are also a lot of dragonflies. Which is a good sign. Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    That’s funny. Yeah the inner workings of my brain suggested a similar image. I tend to believe that the character Lucy in the Peanuts cartoons also summed the entire incident up rather nicely: I have dog germs! An inglorious episode…

    Oh yeah, I recall you reading that biography – the editor behind the famous food authors. I keep imagining that Judith Jone’s would have had to have had some super-tough skin to do that most excellent work. Although it does make a person curious as to wonder whether food authors would occasionally chuck a world class tantrum? English food has a reputation. Hey, I grew up on a diet of lamb chops and three vegetables, which was probably an interpretation of the same reputation. For some reason unknown to me, the vegetables were boiled hard so that all of the goodies ran out into the water – which was promptly chucked down the drain. That was discussed in the recent history book as being something of a ‘thing’ with English cooking. I don’t necessarily subscribe to that tradition.

    Nah, why would we listen to such clear sighted observations from over two millennia ago? They’re right, you know. 😉 I recently read an article on that subject and how it related to ageing, and the point was made, that there are no other medical preventatives with such potent efficacy. Best not to be involved with that profession, but that does involve a certain level of restraint, a bit of balance, and lentils. 🙂 I eat plenty of rubbish foods, but a whole lot of good stuff too, and I just listen to see what the body has to say about the matter – then adjust if necessary.

    Ah, Magnesium Sulphate. Right. Err, I’d imagine your soils would not be dissimilar from here, and you’d have plenty of magnesium – probably too much at a guess. Well it’s an odd belief that Epsom Salts biz, but as long as they’re not adding it to your raised beds? It is possible that the university extension folks might not have considered the sheer volume of coffee grounds I’ve added over the past decade. 🙂 It’s been a lot. Hey, well they did say that eggshells are beneficial, but at a slower pace. Nothing wrong with slowing down the cycles as far as I can understand the matter. Some calcium containing sources can change the soil balance immediately (Calcium Hydroxide / Builders Lime), and wow, strange things would definitely happen – plus the stuff could leave you with chemical burns. Nasty stuff. Better to go slowly in these matters.

    Oh yeah, buried kitchen scraps just works. 🙂 I hear you brother Lewis! We used to do that when we first began working on the soil here, and the forest critters would dig it all up and eat it. Doesn’t matter, they’d turn the soil and poop out the goodies somewhere else around here.

    Well yeah, aren’t mushrooms the flowering bodies of fungal growths? Never good to be a fun-guy, it’s itchy for a start. Nobody wants that, but will they change what they eat? That’s the question.

    I see what you mean about the whopper tree. No the trees here are quite tall and when they’re crammed in cheek to jowl, all of the leaves are at the highest point on the tree, and that’s way behind Ollie in the photo. Actually, it doesn’t surprise me that the tree fell, it’s competing with the other trees, and they’re jammed in too close. Something had to give.

    Yeah, maybe the loggers were doing that. I’d never have thought of that, but yeah. 🙂 Hey, do you reckon some higher rock walls and crenulations would have just the right look?

    Six jars of currant jam is a respectable quantity in my book. And I’ve never made currant jam, but that amount of currants you used would have taken far longer to pick than the huge kiwi fruits, so no, very commendable as far as I’m concerned. I eat a lot of jam on freshly baked and still warm bread. So tasty. We’ve delved into the low pectin status of these fruits and there aren’t many choices which won’t change the flavour of the jam, so we’ll enjoy the kiwi fruit jam stuff as it is.

    Finding that rubber cap in the shed was something which weirdly kind of offered itself up for use on the repairs and upgrade of the electric log splitter. I have no idea what the thing was even doing in the shed – it was just there. All a bit eerie really.

    Went to see the farm machine repair dudes today, and oh my, all new faces. I suppose it was going to happen sooner or later given the circumstances. Looks like the business may have sold. Anyway, at this stage I left a machine down there to just get a minor service to see how it all goes, and it’s the one machine which is too complicated for me to service. Hmm, anyway, we’ll see. Now my gut feeling informed me of the future after they said something about several weeks of delay. And so, late today we went to the nearby largest township and picked up a special tool that I’d been hesitating on purchasing. Looks like more of the maintenance burden for these machines will fall onto my shoulders. That’s why I bought the special tool – one of the machines needed the thing, otherwise I’d have to take the machine down for service every couple of months. It’s an Italian design. Yeah, nah. But it’s not like I’m not already busy. Oh well, the infrastructure works will slow a bit over the next year. That’s the plan anyway.

    The dispatched chickens ended up in the worm farm. We’re mostly vegetarians and truth to tell, I’ve never plucked or prepared a chicken for consumption. I could muddle through if required. Have you ever done that task? Unsurprisingly, we got two eggs today. Hmm.

    Those squash are a really reliable producer during all types of seasons. And, they’re just the right size for adding a couple to a roast vegetable batch. Plus, prolific.

    Thanks, and I shall pass on your words of praise. It is mildly weird that the roses still have flowers at this time of year – there was another light frost this morning. No worries about chilling hours for the fruit trees, that’s for sure.

    They’ve got those blood red Nasturtiums down here too. Quite striking aren’t they? I think the variety is known as Empress of India, or something like that. If it is redder than those, then your fortune might be made!

    That’s great news about the insects. Your weather has been all over the shop this growing season.

    Did you get any rain?

    Exactly with the corn. Sometimes it’s just a mystery. Subsistence would require a heck of a lot of skills.

    Thanks for the article, and I’ll read it next.

    The little folk can be a bit tricksey here too. The sensitive person can only hope that they don’t up the ante!

    You’re a brave man teasing Mr Bill. Need I remind you of the potent line: “Avoid the onion soup, sir”. 😉 I reckon you’re right about those food stuffs not taking any time off. Balance is what is called for here. Some people are tortured by food, and life is too short for such neuroses.

    Man, I so respect those ground rules for meetings. During meetings these days, I do tend to wind up wafflers, and have even been known to bluntly say: Get to the point. I’m of the belief that this act tends to ensure that other more polite people continue to turn up to meetings. But man, I’ve been subjected to some seriously dull meetings over the years. One of the one’s which really stood out to me was a long and dull waffle fest which just droned on and on, and included the claim that it was going to be a bad fire season coming up. Outside the fire station, it was near zero and snowing. At such times, you get this kind of epiphany which says: This place ain’t for me. It really eats up your goodwill don’t you reckon?

    Did you sight any of the bike riders? Hope they don’t take the route through the dreaded roundabout of deadliness?



  3. Hi Lewis,

    What an article on wealth inequality.

    Humour me for a second. Recently, tax cuts were pushed through for some of the highest income earners in the country. The media sooked about the possibility that they weren’t going to go through. And at the same time, a low and middle income earners tax offset was removed. Not an equal peep of support from the media. It’s embarrassing.

    Anyway, retail electricity prices recently went up 30%. A litre of fuel was $2.10 today. And oh yeah, and check out those interest rates…

    I dunno about you, but what that all tells me, is that we have a ‘managerial class’, or whatever you want to call them, who are hoarding more goodies, whilst fearing the consequences of their easy money supply expansionary policies.

    What did everyone expect would happen?

    What may have been misunderstood by most in that story is that wealth does not in fact come from the business end of a printing press.



  4. Yo, Chris – Lucy: “I’ve been kissed by a dog! I’ve been kissed by a dog!” Too funny.

    I don’t know about tantrums, but there was plenty of negotiation and lively discussions. 🙂 The two French women, who were instrumental in writing Julia Child’s book, were a particular problem. Though she managed to remain friends with one, until she died. And, her French house was right next door. Or, on the property. Publisher’s editors have to be pretty diplomatic.

    I eat a lot of beans, in one form or another. Probably, around three times a week, or so. I see our local library is having a presentation on “Blue Zones.” Those areas of the world where people live long, lively lives, due to their diet. I won’t go. Crowds. And, I’ve got a few books on the topic. Yes, I tend to bounce between stuff that is good for me, and stuff that is probably bad. But as you said, balance.

    The Master Gardeners were here, this morning. They were working on some big project, but I just weeded around Elinor’s stock tank, weeded my patch, and weeded the Strawberries. The Strawberries are not doing well. The soil is, kind of shite. Even though I dug in several bags of composted chicken poo. I asked one of the Gardenrs, if any thing could be done and she suggested (wait for it) … Epsom Salts. I called “old wive’s tale,” on her, and referred to the U of Minnesota paper I had read Just Last Night! 🙂 We compromised on composted cow manure. Now where to get some …

    You got two eggs. I got two red cherry tomatoes, off my vine, last night! Tasty. Two more this morning. I also discovered I have a whole bunch of Tomatillo volunteers! I planted this years plants, in the same general location. Don’t know if the volunteers will make it, or not.

    Just checking. I had a feeling you were avoiding the label, “mushrooms.” 🙂

    Crenulations would be nice. Maybe a few arrow slits. A Murder Hole (aka Meurtriere), or two.

    Maybe the Little People did you a good turn, and left you the shower cap? Beware. There will be a price to pay. They’re not known for being altruistic.

    I’m sure you’ll be able to win over the machine repair dudes, with your winning ways 🙂 Maybe a well placed bottle, or pie? Frank the mechanic seems to have slipped into the mists of time. Temporal anomaly? But, I’ve been asking around and might be onto another repair outfit.

    Oh, yeah. When my Idaho friends lived here, I helped them process around 200 chickens. Now they skinned most of their birds. Although I think that’s the best part of a birds. The only tricky part is there’s one bit of the innards (gall bladder?) that you have to remove very carefully. If you puncture it, it spoils the meat. I’d need a refresher, before tackling a bird.

    82F, yesterday. 75F, today. Then a segue into the 80s, for the foreseeable future. Yes, we did get a bit of rain, today. But not enough that I’ll skip watering, tonight.

    The bike route must have been out away from Chehalis. I only saw two possible riders, foraging their own path. I could tell they weren’t “from here,” as, they ignored the traffic and were a general menace.

    By the way, “The Daily Impact” has two new posts up. And, one is on private equity firms. So, why doesn’t the media blow the whistle? Because the media is owned by very rich individuals, who shape the news. The only place you’re going to get the real skinny, is out on the fringes. Although I hope Mr. Greer is right, that fringe ideas, move toward the center.

    I watched a good, new movie, last night. A movie from Finland, which you don’t see very often. “Sisu.” It’s pretty brutal, as you can see from the trailer …

    Also, bad language alert! Cool dog. I wonder what kind it is? Anyway, I really liked it, and should have made a bowl of popcorn. Lew

  5. Hi Chris,
    Interesting about how your change of diet improved the eczema though I guess I’m not surprised. So many people seem to have that or psoriasis. I make a calendula cream that people find helpful for skin issues.

    Sorry about the chickens. Doug used to butcher all of ours but when you’re doing 40-50 at a time it’s a nasty, all day job. However if we have one that needs to be put down he’ll still do it. One of our meat chickens isn’t getting around too well and may meet that fate. The cornish cross chickens grow big fast but have a lot of leg issues. We’ve pretty much improved that by forcing them out of the chicken tractor, limiting feed and placing feed and water pretty far away so they have to walk. They forage pretty well now as they run out of food quickly.

    I spent 3 days at Cecily’s last week. She is slowly getting a handle on things. The twins have turned 18 and as often happens one of them has decided on that magical day she became an adult and should be able to do what she wants.

    My aunt that lives in Chicago has really taken a downturn. She’s actually in California for a short visit with her only daughter and son-in-law and reports from there are not good. She’s become quite frail, can’t hear too well, isn’t eating and drinking much and suffers from dizziness. She is very stubborn and doesn’t want anyone to help her nor will she move back to California (where she lived for decades) so her daughter can care for her. The family dramas continue.

    The bluebirds here have laid a 4th clutch of eggs. We are populating the neighborhood. It’s been a good year on the bluebird trail at the conservation district as well.

    We still have had barely any rain. 1/2 inch in 3 weeks so the watering continues. At least the temperatures have been pretty good. One good note there aren’t many Japanese beetles. Should be in the thick of it now with traps needing daily emptying but they go a week and still aren’t full. I’m cautiously optimistic.

    Did I tell you that the farmer next to our property sprayed roundup on a pretty windy day and did a lot of damage to my garden? The tomatoes really took a hit.


  6. Hi back at you, Chris! Always happy to put what little I know at the service of those who can profit by it.

    Talk about severe weather … a severe thunderstorm here on Friday evening cut off electrical service. It wasn’t restored until 47 hours later, Sunday evening. Two houses east of us a massive branch of a silver maple tree was blown down onto the overhead electrical lines that service our side of the street. By no means was that the only electrical issue; large portions of trees fell on other electrical lines nearby, and a few trees fell on houses. One of them wiped part of the porch off the side of a house that is an easy walk from here. At one point yesterday there were four bucket trucks parked along our two block long street, with the crews busy doing electric service repair.

    I had a similar issue with my garden as you did with yours: after several years of growing a garden it became clear that the compost I made from resources in our yard was not sufficient to grow good garden vegetables. My advice to you resulted from the years-long process of research and experimentation that I went through to improve my own garden.

    Your story about solving one of your health issues was quite inspiring; thank you for sharing it! I also do my own research into health issues. Who, after all, is more motivated and has more at stake than I do? How can someone with official degrees know what it feels like inside me? Not that I won’t take advantage of what they can do when it’s needed, like getting prescribed an antibiotic after being bit by a tick while I was in northern Virginia, where ticks commonly carry Lyme disease. But those occasions are very few and very far between.

    At least we are getting plenty of rain, and I have almost all of the garden weeded. The summer vegetables are making their way onto our table!


  7. Chris,

    Alas! No, I’ve never had the chance to draw a longbow. I hunted with a compound bow. A coworker had once made a recurve bow. He gave it to me. I’ve used it for target practice. It’s not powerful enough to hunt deer and bigger game but is fun for shooting at targets.

    The tents in Prescott? Dad and uncle slept in a normal tent, plenty of proper bedding. My grandparents slept in the big tent that had wooden sides about a meter high. And a wood stove in it for cooking and heating. That tent kept pretty warm. There was a lot of firewood on the property where they stayed.

    My winter camping ventures, whether in a tent or in a snow cave, were at overnight temperatures no lower than -12C. Chilly, yes. However, when you spend as much time outdoors as I did in those days, you’re acclimated to being in it. That said, I wouldn’t have wanted to spend an entire winter like that.

    Thanks for the link to the Kali Gandaki Gorge. Sounds like quite the trip. And seeing airplane below you? Whoa!

    Interesting power article too. Flywheels have a lot of potential uses. But, as you mentioned, not cheap.

    It was hot over the weekend. Sunday was “1539” – 15% humidity and 39C. A bit brutal outside. Today is very windy, cooler, but still under 20% humidity. Fires breaking out west of town. Smoke and dust. Uch.

    The birds got quiet in the yard this afternoon. A hawk decided to spend an hour or so resting somewhat out of the wind in our choke cherry tree. It was interesting watching the hawk.

    Hmmmm. Worms. Uck. Ugg. Bummer, dude. Not a good thing. Best got rid of and avoided in future. And to think that you keep building this grand mead hall for your allies and rock walls to repel the barbarian hordes (Hey, wait a minute, my ancestors WERE the barbarian hordes!?!), only to get slowed by some tiny little parasite thingumagummy. I guess, since it’s treatable, it’s better than having that big tree fall on you. That would’ve been a major hurt or worse.

    So the kiwi jam is a tad bit runny. Bet it still tastes grand on bread and toast.

    Few raspberries this year. Sad. But the chokecherry tree looks to be loaded. I should be able to pick the stuff that I can reach this week. They’re about ripe. Then get the pits out of them. Might try to dehydrate them this year. They should work well as additions to the bread I bake.

    That’s a wonderful picture of your house. I’m guessing it was taken from the orchard? That larger view really shows up how hard you’ve worked and how nice a home you’ve got.


  8. Hi Margaret,

    Top stuff, and you know I’d never even heard of Calendula Cream. The plant sure has some interesting properties. Might have to grow some Marigolds. Thanks for mentioning the use of the plant.

    As to food, well, I also suggest to people that all the preservatives they’re consuming might possibly also be harming them by err, doing what preservatives do to flora and fauna. But does anyone listen, nope.

    The two chickens were adequately warned, and chose to ignore me. What do you do? The chickens aren’t pets, and if they undermine the very reason we keep them, well, that’s a problem. My mates of the big shed fame raise Cornish cross chickens, and report similar issues. I’ve given up on meat birds, and we just keep them for eggs and manure, so we need long and leggy looking birds instead.

    I absolutely agree with you. Doug did an awesome job doing that task. Hey, I used a similar strategy with the two bantam chickens here which were having troubles integrating with the rest of the flock. They’re timid by nature. At first we gave them a bit of extra assistance. Then, after a few weeks of that, they were given a bit of added incentive for them to mingle with the rest of the flock, and now they’re slowly integrating.

    That’s some good news on the Cecily front. Sorry to say, but it takes more than just a milestone to be an adult. As a kid I was put in the weird situation of being the adult, when the adults were acting out. On the other hand, the job of the parent is to prepare the kids for integration into society, and then send them out into the world. I don’t envy yours, or Cecily’s role in that story.

    Yikes! I’m sure you’ve skipped a meal through circumstances and/or been dehydrated? I’ve had that happen, and skipped meals are a serious loss I can tell you. But it makes me dizzy, so best not to skip meals and water. There’s an old saying about god helping those who help themselves, sorry to say. I feel like I’m apologising a lot here! 🙂

    Yeah, that is most certainly not enough rain for a summer month. But glad to hear that the temperatures aren’t climbing into the stratosphere. I tell ya what, I’m getting concerned emails from friends about the El Nino declaration, but I take a wait and see approach with these things. The drier weather is hopefully interrupting the breeding cycle of those critters? Unfavourable summer weather here knocks back the population of yellow jackets, although I see them more in the more fashionable end of the mountain range. They get cut no slack here.

    So sorry to hear that, and many years ago I had a correspondent where the local council did that same spraying trick with his orchard when they sprayed the local roads for weeds. A little bit is probably OK, but people always take things too far with such technologies. I’d begin planting a hedgerow along the fence line to avoid spray drift in future.



  9. Hi Claire,

    Well you did me a total solid those years ago. 🙂 Thank you.

    We’d been applying the coffee grounds and mulch + composts for many years, and the results were not good. Now thanks to you, and the understanding you provided, the growth in the orchard is really taking off. At the moment I’m balancing the growth in the fruit trees with that of the production of fruit, by adjusting the soil feed.

    Yikes! Stay safe, and those downed electrical lines can sometimes discharge into the earth before the fault mechanisms kick in. And sometimes early on the control circuits attempt to reconnect. Always wise to stay away from downed lines until you know a crew is arriving to fix the things. Plus did you know that smoke can conduct electricity? Hmm.

    It’s a lot of work to clear away downed trees and branches. An old timer around here once said to me: Have no trees within dropping distance of the house + They never get smaller, until they do.

    I’m genuinely grateful that you fortuitously shared what you’d learned from your experience, whilst sending me on a learning journey as to the finer details. That has all made a world of difference here. And I may have not have emphasised the issue enough, but the knowledge has also altered the way I view communities of plants. No doubts you are also aware of the mineral, protein and vitamin deficiencies in the foods which people happily consume.

    That’s exactly how I feel as well, you can’t expect anybody else to care as much as you will on that topic. And I agree, happy to pick and choose, whilst critically assessing the advice. 😉 If I may add, I think picking and choosing really irritates that lot. Hehe!

    Go the rain! And yay for the summer vegetables! 🙂



  10. Hi DJ,

    All this talk of bows sent me on an interweb rabbit hole journey. You reminded me also that on one of the videos I watched of dudes making their own axe handles from a solid chunk of timber, one bloke had a home made timber chair he sat on which using his weight and a lever, grabbed hold of the timber he was carving for an axe handle. As a carver yourself, have you ever seen such a thing? And what the heck is it called?

    A normal tent in those days surely would have been canvas? Plenty of proper bedding is a classic understatement. That arrangement for a tent with wooden sides is getting closer to the yurt, which instead has a wooden floor

    Mate, seriously -12’C is so cold that I can’t actually grasp what that would feel like. But then I hear you about acclimating. In a funny side story from down here, people around these parts sometimes ask me whether I’m feeling cold. The only sensible reply is to point out that I’ve been up here so long that I no longer feel the cold. You do acclimate to the conditions. It’s 4’C outside right now and there was ice on the grass this morning. I’ve met people who fear this mountain range due to the cold climate, and that’s just the way I like things to be.

    And I agree with you. I choose when to be outside, and when to retreat indoors. Mind you, right now inside the house it is only 16’C. The fire was only lit about two hours ago, and it was colder then.

    Flywheels are interesting devices aren’t they? To an extent they can store some energy, but really they serve to maintain a stable frequency in the grid. Most of the devices that people love installing follow the frequency, they’re not good enough to set or maintain the frequency, and that’s a big problem that nobody seems to even comprehend. If the frequency ever got low enough, you’d suddenly have DC and all the switches used in the grid might possibly not work so great. Like flywheels, trust me in this, proper DC switches and circuit breakers, are not cheap. No way. I did try the cheaper ones, but yeah, not a smart move.

    Stay safe and watch the wind on those hot days. I hope things soon cool down for you and some rain returns.

    Hehe! It really was a bit like ‘War of the Worlds’, in that the tiniest of little critters took me down. Hey, now that you mention it, where were the folks and barbarian companions from the mead hall? Cutting them some slack, the may have already known we had medication on hand for such contingencies.

    Ollie agrees with you, the big tree was best avoided during the storm.

    Yeah, the kiwi fruit jam does taste great. And we’ve reconciled ourselves to the low pectin of that fruit. Our options were either adding apples, or commercial pectin, to the jam. And either option would change the flavour, so why go there?

    Chokecherries are another fascinating tree with lots of different uses. Hmm. Wise to remove the pits, although I read that in some areas they also had their uses. Yum! Dried fruit and/or jam on freshly baked bread, that’s the stuff of snacking excellence.

    How’s your hand doing?

    Thanks. Actually that photo was taken below the shady orchard looking upwards, whilst standing among the large eucalyptus trees – you can see one in the foreground, but in reality they were all around. It’s quite something to stand underneath a 50m tall tree and look up into the canopy. How the land appears is of importance, and despite what most may think, the land pays us back twenty times over. 😉



  11. Hi, Chris!

    When we had all those dogs and cats and some livestock, I used to regularly dose myself and the pets with a natural vermifuge. It had been a long time, so I recently treated myself, just in case, as I eat so much out of hand while I am working in the garden. Lots of forest creatures get in there, and there are always birds. Did you also treat Ollie and Ruby? If you didn’t, the problem may start up again.

    Oh, blimey! I had to get up to feed Charlene the White Squirrel’s son Junior as he was hanging on the back door looking in the door’s window, as he does when he wants food, and one of the thug squirrels ran in the kitchen and I had a time chasing him back out. He bounced off my leg once with those talons they have, so now I must go treat the damage.

    Okay, all fixed.

    Speaking (or not) of doctors: Why, except in the case of an injury, is diet (and exercise) not the very first thing they ask a patient about? I guess maybe a lot of people don’t want to answer that and they have to cater to the customer. With your diet adjustments, have you noticed that your teeth are any better? Some years ago I had had terrible digestive problems for about three years, then someone told me that it might be gluten. I completely cut it out cold turkey and within three days most of my digestive problems were gone. I still eat compeletly GF. I also cut out refined sugar of any sort, except for what is in the bit of jam I eat and some things like ketchup. I have felt so much better since I did that. I rarely even use something like honey. I have a feeling I may have avoided the diabetes that my father had.

    Yeah, try to stay out of the woods in the wind!

    What a perfect bonfire. I had hoped to see Chris dancing around it; maybe next time. A time for play, and a time for work . . .

    Yay – more rocks! Nice ones, too. Last week’s look so nice all set up.

    Kiwi jam is a new one to me. Say, I had put a plasic bag of our sugar snap peas still in the pod into the refrigerator about two weeks ago. I forgot about them as our fridge is so full with two busy cooks here. Yesterday I opened it up and – wha la! – it had fermented. It smelled really nice, too. If you will recall, there was an episode of “The Good Life” where Tom and Barbara made “pea pod burgundy” and Margot got sloshed on it. I always thought that was made up just for laughs. By golly, I think it is a real thing!

    A soft starter may be what we have on our generator so that I can start it. A great invention. I’m so glad that you were able to modify that repair.

    So strange about those two chickens. Why were they still doing that after all the special care you give your chickens? Did you cook them? Ollie asked me to ask.

    What a beautiful winter day, and stunning winter flowers. Thanks!


  12. Hi Lewis,

    🙂 The Peanuts cartoons were great, and as a kid I had heaps of their books, and enjoyed all of them. The Lucy quote fitted the circumstances to a tee!

    Ah, I see, three ladies walk into a cooking school. Theirs was a story of perseverance in the face of initial disinterest in the project. I see the drama arrived with the second volume. Without ever knowing all the details, I call that the passenger problem. Yeah. At uni they’d force students to turn in group assignments. I’d have to suggest that this reduced the amount of marking required by lecturers and tutors, but you know… Anyway, it was a stupid arrangement, because there is no leverage to ensure that a person in the group does not ‘pull their weight’. It’s an arrangement which doesn’t normally arise outside the world of academia.

    You can’t be good all the time! 🙂 I have wondered whether some of those blue zones have a more preferable arrangement of soil minerals and climate. Dunno. Have you ever come across that concept? Better food on average, would certainly provide a bit of a leg-up for the blue zones.

    I noticed that the Japanese look set to release some of that water from the Fukushima disaster. Fire fighting creates a lot of mess. Sometimes I wonder whether the authoritas might add their chemicals to the water which gets dumped here during any big fire?

    I can’t really speak about strawberries. We’ve had some bumper years, and then we crashed and burned. A brutal turn-around in performance to be honest. We’re looking to thin the patch over the next week or two. That means taking out about 90% of the plants. It’s probably a bit late in the season now for you with strawberries, but I don’t really know what varieties you’re growing. They’re a mystery to me that plant. Oh no! The dreaded Epsom Salts fixation struck again. 🙂 Out of curiosity, can you easily get cow manure around your area? The only reason I ask, is because if I need stuff like that, there’s a local business which supplies. Hmm.

    Yum! Go the fresh tomatoes! Hope the tomatillo volunteers thrive and produce. You’ve still got a fair bit of growing season left to enjoy.

    It’s funny you mention mushrooms, but one thing I extracted from the ‘root cellar’ book was that even though the ground may be too warm for preserving fruit and vegetables, it might just be perfect for growing mushrooms. This is something I may have to look into. Have you ever grown mushrooms, or those mushroom logs?

    When the barbarian hordes charge up the hill (or possibly down and/or across) the crenulations might just work a treat. Or the zombies for that matter. Not sure I’d want to face one of those World War-Z mass fast zombie attacks. And I still don’t know why everyone was singing and chanting and just generally sending the undead a big old invite to the party. Certainly the undead would smell far from fresh, and that would be just the start of the problems.

    What? I thought the little people were just being nice. Have you got any advice for me here? Seems like I now owe them big time.

    Man, I dunno about the new farm machine repair dudes. Sometimes I go with my gut feeling. Candidly, they told me that there were twenty machines ahead of me in the queue, and it may take four weeks. I’m not inspired with confidence by that pace. Hope Frank is OK, and that you find somewhere else to get your noble steed attended to. It stresses me out to lose access to a good mechanic for repairs. Hopefully the new folks turn out OK in your area.

    Oh, I also quite enjoy the roasted skin of a chicken. Interesting. I can’t even begin to imagine how a person would preserve that many chickens other than in a massive freezer. You’d need a refresher! I’d probably need someone to hold my hand through the process as no doubts I’d stuff it up. I guess it would be one of those jobs which would get easier to do over time. Despatching the two the other day wasn’t all that difficult, but I did find myself thinking about them later in the day.

    A bit of rain is a good thing, and your weather does sound very pleasant to my wintry self. Looks like the next week will be hovering around the 50’F maximum, with a couple of frosts coming up.

    They change such bike routes down here too. I went on one once very long ago, and I could see that the road arrangements weren’t really set up to accommodate everyone. Nobody needs more menaces.

    I read both essays, and enjoyed them. You can only hope the ideas move in from the fringes. Change usually begins in such places.

    Sisu looked like a massive carnage fuelled romp. 🙂 Thanks, and they probably had it coming. The dog looked pretty cool too. Was it a poodle cross, like a labradoodle?

    Wonder if they had a body parts budget? 🙂



  13. Hi Pam,

    That’s the thing when it comes to contact with lots of wildlife, and even farm critters. It happens, and Dame Plum perhaps needs to check her food supplemental lifestyle choices. Although, you and I know how unlikely this may be. 🙂 No, Ruby and Ollie had already been recently treated, and are displaying no symptoms, or Dame Plums predilections towards such food. It is wise to deal with reality as it is. I hear you.

    Blimey indeed! Were you OK, and did Junior survive unscathed? It’s funny you mention that, but we keep a jar of pure spirits (well almost pure) and use that to wash any wounds. Sure it may sting, but I’ve known people to end up in hospital with septicaemia and you really don’t want that. It’s bad. But then so was that time I teased Dame Scritchy, and she got me in the mouth. Not good.

    Well exactly, I’ve never heard of that lot having those sorts of conversations with people. So what do they do all day? 🙂 Those are the sort of conversations which probably need to be had. I’ve long since suspected that they take the easy path in this matter, probably so as to avoid the argument. But it is even very likely that they just don’t spend enough time with any one person to undertake that task.

    My teeth have always been pretty good, mostly because I reckon I have always had enough Vitamin C and get plenty of Calcium in my diet. And that’s the thing, none of us ever really know what food stuffs will be a problem, and I have a hunch that it is a different mix for everyone. Not ideal, but that’s kind of what I see. But if you have a family history, then that’s worth taking notice of. A little bit of sugar is no bad thing, a whole lot can be challenging. My old mate who died during that which shall not be named, had a family history of diabetes, or so he told me.

    Hey, I find MSG in my food really messes with my head. And commercial kitchens love using that stuff. I wish they wouldn’t. Anyway, serious people tell me that this should not be the case. You see what we’re all dealing with here? Far out.

    Hehe! Candidly the fire was cooking one half of me, and poor Ollie refused to get any closer than that. A wise dog that one. There’s nothing left other than ashes now. Another day of cleaning up that area, and it’ll look great. It was a bit of a mess.

    Thanks, and yeah more rocks is a good thing.

    How good was that show? I loved it. And that’s very interesting. According to your USDA, those peas are about 3.5% sugar, which is not a bad source. Anyway, cooling the peas might convert some of the starches to sugars, so the end result might have been much more than 3.5%. A lot of stuff naturally ferments, although refrigerators mostly do a good job at slowing that process. You might be onto something there!

    🙂 I think your easy starter is actually a decompression mechanism. Those things work too. Makes the little engines easier to start by reducing the initial decompression. My chainsaw has such a thing – although it is manual – and without it, the thing would be a total nightmare.

    Pam, sorry, I chucked the two chickens in the worm farm. Mostly vegetarian and stuff… 🙂 Ollie is most certainly not a vegetarian, but the dogs are already obsessed with the chickens, need I provide further incentive to that story?

    🙂 How nice are the Hellebores?



  14. Dirt- or soil, name it as you wish- Have you done soil samples on your land before and after amendments? I’ve taken soil samples a couple times, and am due for another go, since we are haying a field, which depletes fertility unless some replacement is done. We also are wanting to assess progress in the garden area.

    This will tell a lot about which specific minerals are there, pH, organic content, etc., but won’t tell much about the biome. Still worth doing to my mind before figuring what the land needs.

    Am currently reading “Finding the Mother Tree” which goes in to how complex soil and plant communities are. We have a lot to learn, and most of the world is doing it wrong.

    Food- yeah, I know how I should eat, but was raised on the typical American diet. Even raised on a farm, we had a lot of sugar and processed foods as part of our diet. I’m still addicted 🙁

    The amount of good and home grown foods we eat is more than ever since we moved to our farm, but I still crave Oreos and other sugar laden snacks.

    I kind of like Mark Twain’s take on it. A person with no bad habits who takes ill is rather like a ship foundering in heavy seas with no ballast to throw overboard.

  15. Yo, Chris – Group assignments were always a pain. For all the reasons you mentioned. Always a slacker, or two. I figure teachers use them for only two reasons: 1.) Fewer papers to grade, and, 2.) it boosts the whole grading curve. A mediocre student diddles along with a C average, and then there’s an A thrown in their, via the group assignment.

    What do doctors do all day? They play golf. 🙂

    I haven’t seen much about soil minerals or climate, in relation to Blue Zones. But here’s a good rundown on aspects …

    National Geographic Magazine financed a lot of the early work.

    Well, the strawberries are Quinalt, and they’re ever bearing. So, we should see some more coming along. When I weeded the patch, yesterday, the soil got a good stir up, which may help. My local supplier did not have composted cow poop, but, I checked the internet (Font of All Wisdom), “What’s comparable to composted cow poop?” Llama and Alpaca. I need to get out to Julia’s to get some. But, first I’ve got to get past this darned yearly inspection. Plus a few other things I have, on the go, this week.

    I did some pruning, on my tomatoes, last night. Nothing too severe. I did top one of the indeterminate tomatoes, just to see how that goes.

    I did try a mushroom kit once, but screwed up the instructions. I got a few, but not enough to cover the cost. I’ll give it another whirl, eventually.

    Those prone to being chatty (or chant-y), will go down early, in the zombie apocalypse. Not a bad thing. We’ll lose half the Inmates, from this Institution. Sad. 🙂

    The Little People like a saucer of milk, with maybe a shot of honey. They are also fond of baked goods and candy. Never say “Thank You,” to a Little Person. It implies obligation. The way they see it. Say, instead, something like, “I am grateful.”

    So much for not much of a machine repair queue, in winter. Although I suppose the business was down, for awhile. Back-up do to change over.

    Some of the chickens were frozen, but many were jarred. Meat: Should be done in a pressure cooker. Whole birds in a quart jar.

    The dog in “Sisu,” was a Bedlington Terrier. Expensive, high maintenance costs, high energy. But they sure are cute! Wonder if the film will create a craze?

    And now for something completely different! Last night, I watched a new film called, “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” Clearly, why you may ask, as it’s pretty much a Women’s Business kind of film. Well, the book, by Judy Blume came out 50 years ago, and it’s a classic. It’s also the most consistently banned book for kids, for all those years. Most years, it makes the top ten.

    It’s basically about the concerns of 11-12 year old girls. You know, boys, boobs and monthlies. Also, religion and other concerns girls in that age group might have.

    But, I thought I’d mention it, as the Editor’s “Ladie’s Nights Out” group, might be interested in taking it in. It also takes place in 1970. Which is pretty flawless. And no trying to read text messages, over a characters shoulder. Lew

  16. Hi Steve,

    Those tests would be a useful thing, but they are very expensive down under, so that’s where Plan B comes to the fore: I just observe the plants, birds, animals, water and soil, and make informed guesses as to what needs to be done. Not much else for it really. I reckon the tests are a great idea, and I’ll be very interested to hear of your experience when the results are returned. And I agree, any grass and/or mixed grain crop will strip the soil minerals. Wise of you to be thinking about that in advance.

    The guesses as to the state of the soil here and what needs to be done, have been working fairly well over the past few years now that I have better knowledge of the subject. The growth of the fruit trees has really increased when compared to the days before the specific mineral amendments were added. Over the past 12 months we’ve been slowly increasing the levels of phosphate relative to nitrogen so that fruit set improves. We’ll see. But even so, the weather last growing season was not favourable for fruit production.

    And that’s the thing, it’s not just the specific minerals, it is also the biome (flora and fauna) as well. I’ve got a hunch that adding in carbon into the soil in the form of chop and drop, mulches and charcoal (the remains of burn offs), provides housing for all those soil critters. It’s complicated, as you would know.

    Thanks for the book recommendation. I don’t need to be convinced, the complexity is probably more than my mind can even take in. 🙂 I agree, a lot of forestry (and agricultural) practices are done because of convenience and economic concerns. As a civilisation, we only make such choices because we can get away with it. Maybe, I reckon one day we won’t be able to get away with it. That’s the future, right there.

    Respect for your honesty! Hey, as a kid we were too broke to have such tasty treats, but I would have enjoyed them as well. 🙂

    It is funny you mention Oreos, but this morning whilst at the local general store enjoying a coffee and reading a book upon the subject of ‘root cellars’, we just happened to sit at a table near to the snacks – Oreos being one of those. Never noticed that the were there and never really ate them myself. But at one point some of the local school kids dived on those snacks. It was funny to see the difference to how things roll nowadays, because back in the day at school I’d have a packed lunch of a sandwich and an apple. It was a bit scary when pears were cheaper than apples, because she’d chuck pears in – but they were usually not properly ripened. Pears are a very tasty fruit, but they need proper ripening before consumption. Anyway, I’m rambling, but Oreos would have been better received!

    Mark Twain is correct, and I agree. It is unwise to always be upon a knife edge, because eventually you’ll get cut. Far better to have some reserves.



  17. Hi Lewis,

    Hmm, you know I had not considered that aspect of the group assignment story, but I reckon you might just be right. Boosting the whole grade curve, whilst at the same time, flattening out the results (I’m guessing there). You know, you piqued my curiosity, and I did a quick search to see what the interweb had to say about the history of group assignments – like when did they become a thing? Interestingly, I couldn’t find any real answer to this question, but I’m guessing the habit gained momentum after WWII. Have you ever come across an answer to that question: when did they become a thing?

    Yes, very funny. 🙂 Long ago I had a dentist leave his receptionist to explain to me that despite the appointments, he’d left for the day to go play golf. It sends a strong message, as in ‘go away’. I don’t need to hear such messages twice, so I went and found a new dentist, one that can keep appointments. Interestingly, I’m hearing anecdotal accounts that as the economic realities bite, people are skipping upon dental services. Lack of, or reduced maintenance, is a ‘red flag’ as to decline in my books. It’s as true for teeth, as it is for bridges.

    It was good to see that taking a nap was considered to be a good thing in those ‘blue zones’. It’s an odd name really for the longevity effect. I wonder what it even means? I keep thinking of the old red pill / blue pill story.

    Could have used a nap today. The goobermont online services for my day job has hit the poop for most of this week. I must say that this outcome is having all sorts of complicated effects for my paid work week. Things were simpler not all that long ago! Anyway, I do rather hope that the folks living large on the taxpayer coin, get their … act together.

    Of course, you mentioned the strawberry variety previously. For your info, the patch we’ve grown for many years is probably now of an unnamed strawberry variety. Perhaps the variety is: ‘Twas better back in the day’? You may have heard of that variety of berry? I don’t recommend the particular variety.

    That’s some good thinking with substituting the llama and alpaca poop for cow manure. I reckon the extra soil feed will assist matters for the berries. We’re determined to super-thin the entire strawberry patch, then give the soil a good feed. If only I had a few more hours in the day… As no doubts you’d appreciate.

    You haven’t mentioned the deep cough recently. Has it cleared up?

    Fingers crossed that the inspection comes to naught. No news is always good news in these circumstances. Actually, they don’t give you a report card do they?

    There’s a lot of advice on the interweb about pruning tomato plants. You’re clearly made of sterner stuff than I to so take the shears to your growing tomato plants. Topping an indeterminate tomato plant is one of those things I’d wanted to do, but never quite felt comfortable that it was a wise idea – mostly due to inexperience. Thanks for being the trail blazer here, and please do let me know the results of your pruning efforts?

    Yeah, that’s what I also noticed about the mushroom kits. The output almost neatly equalled the costs. There is something in that story, but I can’t quite figure it out. 🙂 Given we have a near perfect mushroom growing environment, I may have to do something about learning how to grow the things. I’m sure it can’t be that hard. Probably have to smash through a huge bunch of mysticism, but I’m up for that biffo. Just have to get some infrastructure done first. No point taking on too many projects at once – my brain might pop, scanners style. It can happen you know, I saw it on that film. 😉

    Yes, very sad indeed! I do rather hope that your chanty inmates don’t take you out with them? That would be a bad thing in my books. Nobody wants to be collateral damage. That film scene is horrific. Although in your case it may make the get-away easier?

    You raise a good point about the machine repair queue. But just getting through one machine a day suggests to me that there are now far less experienced folks in the workshop. The former bloke ran a rowdy, but experienced crew, who could fix complicated issues up in a jiffy. When it comes to handling a crew, I take inspiration from no less than Sir Francis Drake. He seemed to know what he was doing when encountering rowdy crew. It’s not like I wasn’t initially confronted (in my most senior role) with an out-of-control accounts department. They were like a bunch of feral animals, well, at first. Lopping a head immediately and publicly, does wonders, and they then knew: Chris was large and in charge. It was the folks at the board level who eventually wore me out. 🙂 Oh well, according to Dirty Harry, a man has to know his limits.

    Ah, yes, I see what you mean with the Little People. If you are amenable, I may indeed also use those words with the trees and forest generally. Makes a lot of sense. I’m grateful.

    I wonder if people used to smoke chicken? I’ve never come across that method of food preservation with those birds. A quart jar is close to one litre. I’m having a lot of trouble trying to imagine how a chicken could be stuffed into a quart jar. I’m not saying it is impossible, I just can’t quite figure it out.

    Those dogs have the fighting instinct. Oh yeah, high energy indeed. I dunno about the film craze thing, the film is a bit different from say: 101 Dalmations! Or the husky craze which took off after Game of Throwns (!). I like Husky’s and the neighbour has one, but they’re not a dog for everyone.

    It hardly seems appropriate to ban that book when they made me read ‘the catcher in the oats’ at school. I’ll pass on your book recommendation, and after a brief discussion yesterday with the Editor, ‘The Air Raid Book Club’ is on its way here. Speaking of books, I began reading Stephen King’s book, Mr Mercedes, over lunch too. So far, it’s really good. Awful things are taking place, but the words are a joy to behold and partake in. A real page turner, or as you once suggested: A real barn burner! For me, those words bring a sort of mental image of an old barn, lots of young people partying, loud music, and the barkeeper yelling at the noisy crowd to: ‘get back, ya filthy mongrels!’ That mental image was not of my imagination.

    I’d finished reading the ‘root cellar’ book this morning and comprehended that the winter soil here is too warm for longer term storage. However, with the hanging of the green tomatoes experiment, we’ve cracked the way to extend the tomato season here. We’re still eating garden fresh tomatoes, and they’re good. Bonkers, but it works. The process may not work in your part of the world because I’m guessing the tomatoes may freeze during winter, and in thawing, they’d end up nasty. They don’t freeze here in sheds such as the greenhouse, even if the air temperature gets near to zero.

    However, the soil temperature and moisture may be perfect for mushrooms. Thought repeating that might make it happen. Roll up my sleeve. Hey presto! And nothing. Oh well, might have to do more hard work to achieve things.

    Yeah, has text messaging other characters in films been over done?



  18. Chris:

    I have had a mild case of septicaemia before, but that was bad enough that I am extra careful about wounds now. I hit such things with soap and water (if it’s dirty), then hydrogen peroxide (it foams, so it flushes out stuff), and then, last but not least, 91% isopropyl alcohol (“rubbing alcohol”).

    Would the dogs recognize a cooked chicken? Maybe – I connect eggs and chicken meat because of the taste and smell, though I no longer have live chickens to compare it to.

    Those hellebores are nice!


  19. Yo, Chris – Back! Gas was $5.10 a U.S. gallon, for regular. Found a few things at the (looks like it ought to be rat infested) store. Long grain brown rice ($1 a pound) and good peanut butter for me. Some cans of sour kraut for the club, and, some cans of sardines packed in tomato sauce. Thought I’d do a market test, at the Club. See if anyone’s interested.

    History of group assignments? Sounds like a Master’s dissertation, to me. Way beyond the limits of idle curiosity. I suppose you could say the Roman Senate, had group assignments? The dudes at Stonehenge probably had group assignments. 🙂

    Don’t get me started on dentists. Seems that they decided, en mass, not to take any kind of insurance, ever. It’s not included in our Medicare package. I think there are some Medicaid programs, that cover it. But, as you remember, those are the folks that come after you’re estate, after you shuffle off. Best I can do is at the local poverty clinic. They only take one x-ray. And, will only extract or fill one tooth at a go. My teeth are in terrible shape, but 1.) nothing hurts and 2.) I can still eat solid food. 🙂 I’m hoping to die before anything goes seriously wrong.

    Plenty of news about our government web sites having problems. Or, the phone tree hells.

    I still get the occasional coughing jag. Thanks for asking. I had to make a trip to the biffie, late last night. And, was seized with a coughing jag. Comes and goes. But never entirely gone.

    No, there’s no report card, with our yearly inspection. Just a “You passed your inspection.” Big whoop. Now get out of my apartment, and don’t bother me til next year.

    I figure outrunning zombies is like outrunning bears. You don’t have to run faster than the bear. You just have to run faster than the person you’re with. 🙂

    Oh, I’m sure there’s smoked chicken out there somewhere. Probably, pretty chewy. So how do you stuff a chicken in a quart jar? Same way you stuff ships in bottles. 🙂

    I’m sure you’ll like “Mr. Mercedes.” “Holly” is still on my hold list, but, as I’m number one on the list, I’ll get it as soon as it’s available. I see the release date is September 5th.

    Well, you could dig a deep hole, drop a temperature sensor in it, and track what the ambient temperature is. You might be surprised.

    Yes, it’s pretty irritating when text messages, in films, carry some major plot point. Sometimes, I have to pause the film, reverse, freeze, dig out my reading glasses, and try and figure out what it says. Or I just shrug and figure all will be revealed, in time.

    Oreos. You know, my Dad worked for (and retired from) Nabisco. So did my brother, and he was an actual cookie mixer. Plenty of Oreos, in our house, growing up. Of course, just to not leave a good thing alone, over the years they’ve had 85 different flavors. Some are seasonal. I’ve tried a couple. Taste like ca-ca. Really vile. Lew

  20. Chris,

    That homemade chair sounds interesting. Never heard of such a thing before.

    Bonfires. Singing. Dancing. We’d had Thor the Irish Wolfhound mix for a year or so. There was a knock on the door. It was some nicely dressed ladies wanting us to attend their religious services. I suggested that if I attended theirs, then they should attend mine. They said “Okay, when?” I said that “the next Saturday night at midnight we would be in the backyard dancing naked around a bonfire in honor of the Great Dog Thor”. They exchanged horrified looks and ran away. Apparently, word got around, as no flavor of religious peddlers came to our house for over 10 years.

    Saw they hand people today, mainly the occupational therapist. He is extremely happy with my progress. Said to continue what I’ve been doing for 3 more weeks, which is when I see the surgeon again. And that when I massage the affected area, I can add as much pressure as I can handle, that this will help on several levels. Then he had me use a vibrator. (Not THAT kind of vibrator!) Put some lotion on my finger, then use the vibrator to massage the finger. Since it helped the finger feel better and caused no pain, he gave the vibrator to me. I can use it several times a day in addition to the exercises. The low weight limitation is still on. He will let the surgeon decide what to do with that.

    I have it on good report, meaning actual memories from when I used to frequent the mead halls 1500 years ago, that the guests and warriors in the mead hall were very involved with their mead. Having no visible warriors to fight, no weird creatures like Grendel or a dragon or the Midgard Serpent showing up, there was really no emergency in their minds.

    Now if the owner of the mead hall and giver of rings had been seriously ill, there would have been a LOT of concern about the future mead supply. You might even have received many worried visitors from the hall if that had been the case. As well as many suggestions about how to treat the malady, each suggestion of dubious value, of course. 😉


  21. Hi DJ,

    No, I had not seen such a chair either. It was quite useful because the timber was locked in by err, seat pressure. And the bloke was using a two handed draw knife to shave chunks off the timber, which he drew towards himself. How would you recommend clamping the timber whilst I carved the axe handle? I do have access to a bench vice which also has a pipe clamp. At the moment I’m leaning towards using that option, but if there were a better option, I’m open to that too?

    Oh, you’re good! And that’s a fine story in honour of the Great Dog Thor. Irish Wolfhounds have dare I say it, a physical presence. Hard to ignore. I raise a glass in honour of the fine breed. The Jehovah’s Witnesses used to regularly stop by here and try and convert me. I believe one of my neighbours may have been of that faith, and of course there is the outreach component of that religion. Anyway, I had no issues with them, with a minor exception – they’d always drive up to the front door and park right out front. I don’t even do that. It seemed a bit presumptuous. As opportunity occasionally presents itself, one day I blocked them in the driveway, and then proceeded to have a lovely chat about comparative religious practices. I can’t say they were convinced, but the effort was worth it, and I did not have your flair for your talk about naked dancing around the bonfire. Not sure what they would have made of that, but the test could have produced some fruit. They might have been into it for all I know? Anyway, the last time they visited, poor hapless Sir Poopy was roaming around the property on boundary patrol check. He was a bit weary of strangers having had an uncertain two years prior to joining the fluffy collective. Fortunately, that day I’d managed to grab him by the collar. The big four wheel drive they drove, was again parked right outside the front door. I don’t do that. The noble steed was huge and you could feel the energy the beast consumed almost as a palpable vibe in the air. Sir Poopy was harmless, but on that day he had a certain light in his eyes. He knew quarry when it was in front of him. Playing along with the big furry dog’s act, I remarked in my best Wolfe Creek drawl: ‘You’d better get back in your car and go. My dog doesn’t like the look of youse.’ Bizarrely enough, I’ve never seen them again, so perhaps there is something to your theory about the botherer grapevine. Anyway, do either of us go and bother others? I don’t think so, and herein the rule of ‘do unto others’, yet again proves its worth. Sir Poopy was bothered, and I listen to the natural world so as to discern the signs. That day, the signs weren’t difficult to discern, and what else could I do but lend support?

    Mate, no disrespect to your grammar as you’d been through quite the stressful experience, but I read your first sentence as if some medieval butcher had removed your limb. This of course would be a bad thing, and here I believe we would agree. Glad to read that progress is going well, and your hand is repairing. Go on, have you made peace with the gouge yet? Nothing wrong with stimulating the area. As an amusing side story, many long years ago when I gave up distance running due to issues with my knees, the physio applied some electronic device to stimulate the individual muscles in the knee so as to strengthen them. Is this the dreaded electro-shock therapy oft spoken of? Maybe, doesn’t sound like the sort of fun you seem to have been having! 😉

    On a more serious note, glad to hear that things are healing. And I really do hope that everything returns just as it was – with a touch more respect for the awesomeness of gouges. Sharp pointy teeth which will do you up a treat mate! 😉

    Hmm, is Jörmungandr the nemesis of Thor? And where does humanity stand in this final test of strength? Possibly we should simply stand aside whilst enjoying the comforts of the mead hall, and let them settle their differences elsewhere. That’s my thinking.

    Mate, truth to tell, you’re not wrong there. Life seems to be full of suggestions of dubious value. For example: Many a serious person has advised us as to how we should make money off the land here. They seemed rather earnest in their urgings. I’m sure you’ve met such types? That’s their religion too, so your naked bonfire talk might be beneficial here? Dunno, it’s worth a try. But gather in a little close here, and I’ll share you a little secret – Money doesn’t grow on trees. There, I feel much better, for all my secrets are now common knowledge! 😉



  22. Hi Pam,

    Oh my! Can there really ever be a mild case of septicaemia? Not that I doubt you, it’s just never a prognosis you want to hear. Over the years I’ve known of a few people to get caught by that illness, and like you my reaction to that possibility has been similar – treat all cuts as if they were going to be a problem. You were lucky. Way back in the day, a person could go from healthy to dead within a few days due to septicaemia.

    I’ve probably mentioned the Dame Scritchy story to you before? I forget such details, but the story itself is worth mentioning again – as a warning. As you do, I was teasing Dame Scritchy, and quick as a flash, she licked me in the mouth. Pam, it was a direct hit. By 2am, I was very ill, and proceeded to be ill every half an hour. I couldn’t even keep down the anti-nausea medication which we had to hand (we stocked up on heavier duty stuff after this incident). Somehow, Sandra managed to drag me down to the local day hospital early the next morning where they gave me an anti-nausea jab and stuck me on a drip. After a few hours, I was able to return home and sleep for near on two days straight. If left untreated, my understanding is that organ failure would not have been far away. Yep, far more careful these days, despite the more recent incident.

    Life can sometimes be a precarious balancing act.

    Do you miss keeping chickens?

    Thanks! And glad to hear that you enjoy the flower photos.



  23. Chris:

    That was a bad experience, though it was not Scritchy’s fault, of course. It’s the little things that get us, though that’s not taking into account the giant tree limbs that are always falling . . . We are lucky to have hospitals.

    I miss our chickens alot. They all had names and different personalities (as you know) and were a constant source of amusement. Someday, someday . . .

    I saw your mention to DJSpo about encounters with door-to-door salesmen. We used to get those alot, notwithstanding the fact that at the entrance to our private deadend neighborhood road there is a sign that says “Private – No Tresspassing”. We had the five dogs, which could be discouraging, and when my husband was there to greet them, he could just stand there and glare at them. He is a big guy, with large muscles, and can be a bit gnarly sometimes. Poopy was little and hairy – but I believe that he could have an attitude when he wanted.


  24. Hi Lewis,

    Is Gas the new Gold? That’s expensive for your part of the world. Have you noticed that anyone appears to be reducing their consumption given the recent price hike? I’m not seeing that here, although it is possible that visitors to this area have reduced in numbers over the past month or so. It’s a bit like fuel prices, in that the sheer variability makes it hard to determine patterns.

    Thanks for the update on the Pompeii digs, and those frescoes are amazing. Perhaps it is merely how my mind works, but the err, the store with the perception of rats may possibly benefit from some frescoes with snake consuming rodents? It’s worth the try. That’s cheap for rice. Yum! Peanut butter. Nice score. The sauerkraut might work a treat as an addition with the hot dog days? It’ll be interesting to see whether anyone takes the sardines in tomato sauce? Sardines are quite nice on toast, but are such foods widely consumed nowadays?

    Yeah, I agree, it sounded like a masters dissertation to me too. I thought you might have heard something about this subject in your reading? Can’t say I’ve ever heard anyone mention that group assignments are an unusual idea at best. My belief is that the arrangement is an unnatural group because it is forced by necessity, and the slackest member of the group is equally rewarded. Last I checked, this arrangement is not reflected in the wider community outside of a familial environment. It always seemed weird to me.

    The same is true down here with that lot. They’re expensive, and I attend to that health matter for fear of things being worse should I decide to do otherwise. It is very possible that the folks who organise Medicaid stuff may require a whole bunch of feeding? They do seem rather hungry. I’ve heard that vampires are often hungry beasties. Best to keep out of their clutches, which you seem to be doing. I’m assuming the rest of your inmates have different opinions in this matter? Although I don’t expect you to go out and survey their views, it was more a ‘what does your gut feeling tell you’, kind of question. It’s an option.

    That website thing came back online again today. So I had to do paid work today whilst I caught up on stuff not done earlier in the week. Fortunately the weather outside was not conducive to spending time in the great outdoors. This morning was sunny but cool and very windy. By about 2pm, the rain fell. It was quite tropical and very heavy rain and didn’t hang around all that long. The wind is dying down now, and tomorrow should be a much nicer winters day.

    Oh isn’t the local usage of language interesting. Your Biffie, is very different from our Biffo – which refers to a minor punch-up / altercation. And just to add in a whole bunch of unwarranted confusion, the Irish have an entirely different meaning to the word ‘Biffo’. All very complicated, and as for yours: They do say that it’s better out, than in. 😉 Hope the cough clears up. You need a lot of laughs from a really good comedy, or even one that will just make you laugh. It’s a useful form of lung exercises so as to bring up those pesky lung biscuits. One of the strangest, yet weirdly amusing films I’ve watched over the years was: Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. A very hard to explain film. Utterly bonkers, but good for some laughs. I’m sure you have your favourites, which are probably equally inexplicable? They’re calling you.

    Well, it might help to know if you only just passed the inspection? Like otherwise, how could you know that you could slack off a bit here and there? And do any of the inmates have access to the check-list? You might be able to make one up, and sell it to them at a tidy profit?

    That’s funny about the bears – and probably true. I’m sure it has happened.

    I am rather enjoying Mr Mercedes. The perp is a real piece of work. Why send the letter to the retired cop, unless the perp wants to be caught? Or is now bored and looking for the next plaything? Pesky people. And I’m enjoying the story, it’s gripping. I’ll be interested to hear your review of the forthcoming book ‘Holly’.

    Nah, I don’t need to drop the temperature probe into the ground. Despite the fact that would take a lot of work, I’ve visited enough tourist caves in this country over the years to have a rough idea as to what the temperature would be.

    As a plot device, text messages are over used. And given everyone reads at different speeds, the film time used to display the text would be a real balancing act to get right. They’re a bit of a pest. But with paid work, I have to text people nowadays. My preference is to call, and I do that for more complicated matters, but for the simple day to day stuff, other people are training me to text them. What do you do?

    That’s a lot flavours. We were not a well off household when I was a kid, and such foodstuffs were the thing of dreams. I get the impression that your opinion differs here! 🙂 If I wanted such items, my hard earned mad cash had to be used to supply them. And there were other distractions for that mad cash.

    It’s quite astounding to think that the ancients may have moved those huge bluestones 140 to 180 miles to where Stonehenge is today. I’ll bet the route was planned well in advance so as to avoid steep inclines and declines. If I had to do that task, I’d place the huge blocks on log rollers and use multiple animals to pull them. Even at only a mile a day, you’d traverse the entire distance eventually. It’s not like they couldn’t break for the winter season – who’d steal the stones at that time of year? Although a sled on snow could perform similarly, the only issue being that the animals up front would break the snow up and require too much feed. Probably too hard I reckon.



  25. Hi Pam,

    All very true, and yes, I did bring that Scritchy gut trouble down onto my own head. It was an unwise act. There are always those much larger risks such as huge tree limbs, and life is just inherently risky don’t you reckon? But there are a lot more encounters with the tiny little things. I hear you. And I’m glad that such places exist, whilst at the same time I do my best not to fall into their clutches, although that is no guarantee of anything. The future is uncertain and accidents can happen in but a moment of carelessness, or foolishness.

    🙂 When you have the time for them. You have a lot on your plate at the moment, and a person can only do so much.

    Door to door salesmen. 🙂 Yeah, in a manner of speaking I guess. Hehe! It’s not just you, those signs are a legal notice. Thanks for the classic bit of understatement – discouraging indeed! I’m still chuckling at that.

    It can be useful sometimes to scare away annoying people. Although there is a certain section of the community who will take the scare as a personal challenge. A couple of decades ago I used to know a bloke who was a plumber. He was a mountain of a bloke and he confided to me one day that occasionally other people wanted to pick fights with him so as to test their own skills. He wasn’t much into it. Anyway, on one occasion his lady was clipping his hair and had an incident. It left a small stripe of shaved hair on his head – like an inverted mohawk. When I next saw him, I asked the amusing hard question: Have you been in for brain surgery mate? Fortunately he was of an easy going disposition and took the joke well. Sometimes a bloke has to know when to go to the barber shop instead.

    Sir Poopy was about the size of Dame Plum. But he used to get this kind of freaked out wild eyed look, and I guess if you didn’t know him he’d appear unpredictable. And for a dog, that trait raises questions. Although wouldn’t Sun Tzu approve of unpredictability? I’d like to think so, yeah.

    Looks like the rain has finally stopped and the wind has died down.



  26. @ DJ – I’m sorry you hurt your hand, and have been fallowing your rehab (no, not that kind of rehab … got to be careful throwing that term around.

    I’m sure (years from now), you’ll see a lot of humor in the situation, and will dine out on stories, for years. But I must say, every time you give us a progress report, I get this ear worm …

    Simon & Garfinkel. A tune for every occasion.

    When confronting religious pests, I usually say something like, “We slaughter a black goat, in the dark of the moon.” Also effective. Lew

  27. Yo, Chris – The woodcarving bench you saw might be a “Wood Carving Shaving Horse.” Get the search term right, or you’ll just end up with a lot of benches with horses carved on them. 🙂 Not that that’s a bad thing. I think I remember it from Eric Sloane’s book, “A Museum of Early American Tools.”

    Pompeii: the gift that keeps on giving. I think, given the choice, more people would find rats less objectionable, than snakes. Though they’re both pretty creepy. The Roman’s kept Barred Grass Snakes (not poisonous) , to keep down the mice. When they weren’t fattening up mice for the next feast. 🙂 Also, Weasels. Then cats became popular, and it was goodbye snakes and weasels. More or less.

    I think it takes a certain kind of person, to enjoy Sardines.

    I steer clear of Inmates discussions of health matters / insurance. Though the big deal right now, is “Medicare Advantage Plans.” Which is basically, a bait and switch attempt to privatize Medicare. Some people at the Club have also mentioned being on those plans. Basically, they’re run by private insurance companies. And we know how they are. So, initially, they offer all kinds of free goodies. For about the first year or two. Brought to us by the same merry band, that would like to turn over our Social Security funds, to Wall Street.

    It was 90F, yesterday. Too hot for me, but the tomatoes are loving it. I see a few more beginning to color up. I noticed I have one good sized pepper, but something ate the end of it. 🙁

    I don’t laugh much. Neither did the actress Greta Garbo. Except in that one movie, that wasn’t her best effort. Harold & Kumar? No.

    Usually, when we get a notice for our yearly inspection, there’s a second page with a bit of a checklist. Not this year. Hmmm. It’s not so much housekeeping stuff, as things like having a three foot wide runway, from your front door, to both windows. Having the Panic Rip Cords unobstructed and touching the floor. No cleaning supplies, under pressure, under the sink. Baseboard heaters should be unobstructed. Etc. Now try and arrange even a small amount of furniture, around the structures. Maybe a pallet, on the floor, in a corner.

    Books, books, books. Close your eyes, stick your fingers in your ears, and go “La, la, la.” I stopped by the library, yesterday, and picked up “The Complete Guide to Seed & Nut Oils: Growing, Foraging, and Pressing. (Cohen, 2022). The author uses a hand turned, expeller type of oil press. With possible upgrades to electric motor or bicycle (!) powered presses. The book has two sections. The first is about 18 “traditional” types of oil plants. Then there’s a section called “Additional seeds and nuts for consideration.” The book seems mostly geared to small scale production, but does have sections on scaling up to small commercial production.

    If you liked “Stick a Flag in It,” you might like “How to Survive History: How to Outrun a Tyrannosaurus, Escape Pompeii, Get Off the Titanic, and Survive the Rest of History’s Deadliest Catastrophes.” (Cassidy, 2023).

    When I was sorting through stuff for the inspection, I ran across a book I put aside to read, eventually. “Dark Age Ahead,” (Jacobs, 2004). Jane Jacobs wrote “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” way back in 1961. It’s never been out of print. She’s widely read … and widely ignored. 🙂 I put “Dark Age Ahead,” back in the “to read stack. As I noticed it has a chapter titled, “Credentialing Versus Educating.” Among other interesting topics.

    I think I mentioned, that what passes for news reporting, these days, is a string of text messages. Which seems kind of, well, lazy.

    Stonehenge and log rollers. Why use precious animals, when you can use lots of people? 🙂 There are several theories, about how the stones were moved about and put into place. Including that Merlin just magicked them. Log rollers seem the most likely. There was even a documentary a few years back, where a group of people put it to the test. With good results. If you really want to open a can of worms, get into how the Egyptians built the pyramids. Alien technology, of course!

    I see a “mystery object” has washed up on the Green Head Beach, Western Australia. Seems pretty obvious, that it’s one of those giant copper vats they brew beer in. Lew

  28. @ Lew,

    Thanks. Appreciated the song. Hard to go wrong with Simon and Garfunkel. Nice work with the black goats. I think I’ll use that one when occasion requires it.


  29. Chris,

    A bench vice should work fine. I’ve used c clamps to keep a pole motionless when using a draw knife, so I think your vice should be just fine. 🙂

    Dogs know things that we often don’t. “Always support your dog around strangers” is something I’ve lived by for a long time.

    Oh, cool. You gave me the idea for another story to describe my hand debacle. Sorry my wording was awkward, but if I get some kind of barbaric medieval story out of it…

    Sad but true, my close friend north of Seattle is the one who keeps losing body parts. Complications of health issues. I’m hoping to make the trek to see him this summer. Jabbing a gouge in my finger seems very mild in comparison.

    Yes, you got Thor’s nemesis pegged. Always best to avoid the area when the gods and monsters are having their altercations. That’s more or less my attitude towards a lot of things: “Okay, hi, I’ve acknowledged your presence. Now let me get back to my business.” Probably growing up in that cult gave me a jaded attitude. Or maybe I’ve realized that an “I leave you alone, you leave me alone” attitude prevents a lot of nonsense altercations.

    Oh, man! You burst that bubble. And I thought that maybe the new and unidentified seedling would produce a limitless supply of $20 bills. Then you go and tell me that money doesn’t grow on trees. Darn! 😉

    We are officially in a “mild” drought in several counties east of the Cascade Mountains. Hottest May on record apparently set us up for it. Today was an 1837 day: 18% humidity and 37C. Avalanche spent most of the afternoon in the house in front of a vent, enjoying the cold air whenever the air conditioner kicked on.


  30. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for the advice. I’ll try the bench vice. However, Lewis mentioned the exact clamping device I’d seen. It is a: ‘Wood Carving Shaving Horse’. I can see that the arrangement with the clamp and seat would work almost perfectly with a two handed draw knife (which I have). Might have to make one of those wood horses. What do you reckon about those devices? Have you ever seen such a thing?

    Exactly! Like you, I too always listen to what the dogs have to say. Like the friendly Magpies, they’re on my side, and we’ll work towards a beneficial outcome. But you’re right, dogs can size up people faster than we can.

    🙂 If nothing else, your story provided a few chuckles here. I was trying to lighten the vibe a bit. No stress at all, I know you’re not at the top of your game right now. I wouldn’t be either if in your circumstances. When I did my shoulder two years or so, the doctor did suggest the surgeons knife. The radiologist bluntly described the injury as age related wear and tear. The physiotherapist advised to build the strength in the surrounding muscles and tendons. Then the relationship suddenly soured because I didn’t really need the regular weekly physio appointments. I felt a bit used and abused by all those health professional folks. And now, everyday, I spend twenty to thirty minutes stretching and doing the sort of exercises my old Sensei demanded of me as a teenager. As well as a fearsome fighter, he was a noted healer. Hmm. Everything old is perhaps new again? Hope you are keeping up with your stretching! 😉

    Seriously, enjoy the time you have with your friend. Those are the moments a person can cherish.

    Thanks! Yes, it did seem rather unwise to become entangled with such heavyweights. You and I would get crushed without a moments thought, Avalanche would no doubts survive. A bit like Godzilla versus King Kong, and best be elsewhere at a more than discreet distance.

    Man, I agree and follow a similar philosophy. However, the problem is that despite our best efforts, people can still bring poop to our doorstep. Dunno about you, but I do tend to nip such things in the bud before they escalate. And like how hopefully Sun Tzu may approve, I take such actions on my terms. The sort of people pulling such poop tricks, don’t generally enjoy such responses. And that’s the whole point. They can bring a lot of pain.

    Yikes! And I do hope that the rains return for you and yours. You may have noticed that the planet has had a short run of the overall average hottest days since records began? I’m not too worried, the fossil records suggest that once dinosaurs lived on the Antarctic continent. Can you imagine that? They still do today mind you, but in the less fearsome form of the Emperor Penguin. Some of those have been washing up (alive) on Australian shores recently. Imagine the effort involved in surviving such a huge and arduous journey?

    Avalanche is wise, and sets a good example for us all to follow in such conditions.



  31. Hi Lewis,

    Thank you so much for looking up the wood carving contraption. It is almost perfectly made for carving tool handles using a draw knife. I may have to make such a timber throne. Seems easy enough – if you have the idea (which I had not). Yet again you’ve blown my mind. How have I not encountered the writings of Eric Sloane before, and my edjakation (!) is so poor that I have not enjoyed the beauty of the many works from the Hudson River School? At about the same time, we had a similar art movement, the Heidelberg School. It’s funny seeing how things looked not all that long ago.

    True, however the rats and snakes are intertwined here, so I prefer if each were elsewhere. And I agree, they both give me the heebie jeebies. I’ve actually had rats which were brave enough to launch themselves through the air at me. It was a disturbing experience to be so attacked, although Dame Plum had less troubles than I, and proved her worth.

    I’d imagine that cats were already well established across the planet at the time of the Romans, although they may not have been domesticated? I sometimes wonder if people concerned about the survival of this or that endangered critter, might be better ensuring that the said critters become pets. Way back in the convict days, the convicts used to keep marsupial cats (spotted quolls) as pets. I don’t see the big deal in that, but plenty of people get upset about the concept. Sometimes the Editor shows me videos of people who seriously love their lynxes or bears. Best if they were kept well fed is my thinking, but both critter and human seem happy enough with the arrangement.

    When I was a kid, the occasional treat would be sardines on toast. And who can forget the roll mops? Or even the pickled vegetables. All really basic fare, but the sardines had a lot of bones which you’d have to crunch. There were also sometimes cans of smoked mussels in oil, which were quite nice from memory – again on toast.

    Yeah, with any bait and switch arrangement, you just know that things are going to end badly. Alas, our equivalent have already got their hands on the retirement funds down here. I run my own self managed fund, but my day job means that this can be done on the cheap.

    Bummer about the pepper, but you know what? The tomatoes need such heat to ripen. Maybe pick the pepper and cut off the chunked bit?

    I see, well you know your own business, and I accept you just as you are. Need I remind you that I enjoy a quiet life up in the bush? It’s possibly considered to be a mildly eccentric option in this part of the world. 🙂 But deep down, I’m hard wired to feel rather upbeat about things – and I have no idea why this should be, especially given the at times rather strange childhood I endured. Perhaps I’m something of a stoic? Dunno. Reading about the actress, I had the distinct impression that she had her enjoyments, but they were on her terms. Greta was her own person. And I’m in awe of that.

    You might enjoy the film… 🙂 It was very silly.

    Ah, so the inspection is not really about your well being, it seems to me to be more about an overall liability issue. That’s a whole different story. I sort of believe that insurance is one of those canary in the coal mine issues. We’ll be hearing more about that story as the years go on.

    Hehe! I did mention that the Air Raid Book Club book arrived in the mail yesterday. The Editor has plans to read it next. I’m in the Stephen King land of Mr Mercedes, and the way the retired detective pulled apart the letter displays the authors comprehension of the gentle art of the written word. I’m very much enjoying the book, although given it is a trilogy, in this book at least, my money is on Mr Mercedes – who is being fleshed out.

    I pulled my fingers out of my ears, but will be intrigued to hear whether you believe the book is a solid recommendation. At this stage we still have a bit of infrastructure to complete. Today we brought thirteen large rocks (which we cracked last week) back up the hill and placed them in the new low gradient path project. Man, it looks good all those rocks. Solid. The next job with that project is to relocate a lot of soil there. Now, where to get that soil, that’s the question! Plus we have to finish cleaning up the area where the rocks came from.

    Another book recommendation! It sounds like a goodie too, although I do hope to avoid visiting (or being onboard) the Titanic. All seems rather an unwise move.

    What an author, and what a book! Shame that many people do not appear to want to walk these days. Again, my education is sadly lacking here. And why I never, so that’s why. So in a belt around the big smoke, there is what is known as a ‘green wedge’ and who knew that was the result of the ‘garden city’ movement. And, there is an actual suburb known as ‘garden city’. Truly, I found the suburb to be rather uninspiring. The title of the chapter really sums up the entire sad little story about credentialling. They get paid for that outcome.

    I try not to watch the news and so miss out on those text message style of reporting. Seems like the safer option to me.

    True about using people, and a work crew could have achieved much. But I reckon log rollers was how they moved the granite blocks over such a distance. What do you mean that they weren’t constructed with alien technology? 🙂 I really have no idea why people nowadays have this odd notion that people in the past were somehow less smart than we are. It is possible given how much we rely on fossil fuels, that the obverse is true.

    Ooo, you might be right there. Hang on a second, I’m getting a story idea. The captain of the spaceship or space station (hello ISS), was on the verge of discovering the illegal still set up by the more fun astronauts. All hell was about to break loose when the astronauts – in a bit of lateral thinking – jettisoned the compartment containing the still. And that’s how it ended up on a remote part of Western Australia. You heard it here first! 😉 It’s not like NASA didn’t drop Skylab there. That’s what I call, a precedent!



  32. Chris:

    Sun Tzu would indeed appreciate unpredictability.

    I forgot that Poopy was that big. Vallhund?

    I loved your plumber story.


  33. Yo, Chris – From your description, I thought the wood carving bench was what you were talking about. I don’t know. When I was a Cub Scout, they taught us never to draw a knife towards you. Draw knife = accidental appendectomy. 🙂

    Well, when I was your age, I didn’t know who Eric Sloane was, either. 🙂 He also has an interesting book on weather. I think we touched on one Hudson River Valley School painter. Thomas Cole. He’s the dude that did the series, “Course of Empire.” Last year I watched a documentary on those painters.

    Self launching rats. Cricket bat?

    The Romans got onto cats, from the Egyptians. After that dust up between Augustus and Cleopatra, Rome went through a bit of a period of Egypt-o-mania. There are wall paintings. Even a few Roman tombs shaped like pyramids.

    Obelisks. Lots of obelisks, imported to Rome. There’s still one standing in St. Peter’s Square, Vatican.

    Or, tigers. I read in National Geographic Magazine that there are more tigers in private hands, than in the wild. A favorite pet of drug dealers. Every so often, I see an article about the New York City police, discovering a tiger, in a drug dealer’s city apartment.

    I had to look up what a rollmop is. Maybe, with the skin off? Don’t think it would be the first thing I’d pick up off a buffet. I quit like pickled veg.

    I hope whatever ate the end off my pepper, gets severe indigestion. Probably did. Just took a nibble. But I can salvage a lot of it.

    I only laugh in the privacy of my own home. Usually, over a book.

    Wow. “The Air Raid Book Club,” sure did arrive fast! Wind must have been blowing the right direction. Trilogies. I now carefully check movies, to see if they’re trilogies. I picked up a book by Richard Russo, the other day. You remember him. “Empire Falls.” Well, I thought it was another “Empire Falls Book,” but it turned out to be the last volume of a trilogy, about another town. I decided to take it back to the library. Well, they say men have a hard time buying into commitment 🙂 .

    Well, the nut and seed book is a solid recommendation, if you plan to produce some oil. Otherwise, it’s just a curiosity. I decided not to get a copy, for myself, as I doubt I’ll crank out any oils. “The person I am, or the person I want to be?”

    Good going on the rocks. Soil? You need more soil? Well, you could dig a pond. Or, a root cellar 🙂

    Yes, our inspections are pretty much about tush covering. Check off the boxes, file it away, and your liability free! Or, so goes the theory.

    Jane Jacobs wrote some interesting things. “…gradually, even the memory of what was lost, is lost.” In relation to civilizations unraveling or collapsing. We were talking, last week, about how younger people don’t seem to have many expectations of … service. Maybe, it’s because I take a longer view, being an old poop. A drop in the bucket of time, I know, but I can remember when customer service was important to companies, you could talk to real people, insurance companies paid off, and doctors seemed to have more of a personal interest, in their patients.

    I don’t watch the news, but I read the news. And, often the “article” is a string of text screen shots.

    People in the past were probably, mostly, in better shape. 🙂

    We just got a food box. From the local food bank, rather than the government commodities. A smaller box, but not bad. Plenty for the swap table, here at the Institution. A very fancy small cake. Some packs of Ramen noodles. Packets of instant mashed potatoes and taco seasoning. For the Club pantry, there’s two small frozen steaks, wrapped in bacon. I’ll throw those in the free meat box, in the freezer. But a lot of things are in “ones.” A box of pasta, one tin each of peaches and pears. Single tins of evaporated milk, green beans, corn, etc.. One box of kids cereal (Cocoa Pebbles), two small tins of Vienna Sausage (mystery meat!), A pound bag of rice. 2 tins of diced tomatoes. I’ll probably be able to beef up the “ones” off the Institutions swap table.

    For myself, I’m keeping a can of kidney beans, in case I get the urge for another bean salad. One box of mac and cheese from a pretty good company, that I’ll beef up into something minimally healthy. A loaf of pretty good bread. A dozen eggs. Egg sandwiches!

    It’s odd. I don’t know what’s changed, with our population at the Club, but suddenly, veg that used to languish is really moving. Corn, carrots, green beans. I asked around, and the best anyone could come up with is that the food “stamps” (now, a card), have been cut. For people and families living below the poverty level. They were boosted during You Know What, and that has come to an end.

    I seem to be getting a lot of books from the library, and few DVDs. I figure the person who processes the DVDs, up at the Service Center, might be on vacation. Lew

  34. Chris,

    Wow. Wood carving shaving horse. Gaggle gave me a lot of photos of the beastie, which I’ve never seen before. Looks intriguing. That might actually be a horse I might not fall off of. 😉 Seriously, it looks like a worthwhile thing.

    Chuckles are good, even if inadvertent. “No stress at all, I know you’re not at the top of your game right now.” That’s being very kind. Some days I’ve been wondering if I have a game at all. But this too shall pass. Now to sort through the closets and boxes and see if I can find my game face and hope it doesn’t look like a mangy deer or something.

    Am I keeping up with my stretching? Yes, thanks for the encouragement. I’ve been finding that what is working best are martial arts warm up exercises followed by either the old “8 Brocades of Silk” series or martial arts drills that I’ve concocted. both of these include a lot of moving stretches. Then I finish with about 10 minutes of standing yoga postures, most of which really stretch things well. That all gives me about 25 to 35 minutes of stretchy thingies daily. Then I need to do a little bit of stretching late in the evening.

    Interesting, isn’t it? We’ve both gone back to basic martial arts stretches and exercises. I’ve also found that what I’m doing is also mentally and emotionally calming. It’s all connected. Then I sit and drink my coffee after the exercises are completed.

    I was watching flying dinosaurs this morning while enjoying the daily mug of coffee. Well, I enjoy the flying dimnosuars nearly every morning, actually. The red twigged dogwoods have berries the birds like. I’ve got 5 of these and they are all loaded with berries. The birds are actively hoovering these up and are starting to find the chokecherries too. Between the berries and bugs and seeds and whatnots, there is a good diversity of bird species present. Today I got to watch 2 yellow warblers flying and playing and doing aerial acrobatics. I don’t see the warblers very often, so that was a real treat.

    I think I’ll have to get up a bit earlier tomorrow. Maybe pick the chokecherries I can reach from the ground. With this large crop it would be nice to have some for the humans before the birds eat them all. I didn’t get any chokecherries last year. The birds ate most of them in less than 24 hours. They were hungry!


  35. Hi Pam,

    Vallhund’s have little leggies, Sir Poopy was a Proper full sized Swedish Lapphund. He knew Sambar deer when he saw them, except he may have thought that they were reindeer, but whatever. His eyesight was always a bit dodgy, but did it matter? The herbivores knew true fear!

    You know I spent a while there a few weeks ago worrying about that horrific Titanic submersible incident which appears to have ended badly. What they may have needed was good ol’ proper engineering, like what these folks are up to: ‘Rust bucket’ 1978 LandCruiser converted to EV to drive 7km under water across Darwin Harbour — again

    I’m not laying any challenges down for Mr Musty, but you know, can he do that trick?



  36. Hi DJ,

    Hey, did Vikings even use horses? And therein the problems may begin! 🙂 I’d fall off a horse too. It’s an intriguing contraption though and would certainly allow for less chance for things to go wrong when using a two handed drawing knife. Might just make one.

    I put a link in my reply to Pam about a lot of blokes taking an old Toyota Landcruiser, and modifying it so that can drive 7km across a harbour – underwater. And it’s the second attempt. Respect to them. I’d probably feel safer in that machine than the sub which ended badly.

    Exactly, this time of healing and enforced rest shall pass. I realise how you’re feeling. You might want to be careful looking like a mangy deer, Avalanche could begin looking at you all funny like and stuff. Ollie is in the dog house today. This morning, he took off on the trail of deer. Came back within about two or three minutes, but still – there’s a lot that could go wrong there. He takes the risk though. It’s out of the ordinary behaviour, and the deer are seeking more protein in their feed.

    Very good. Yeah, who knew the old Sensei was drilling us for the future he knew we’d all eventually face? They do say that with age comes wisdom, and if a Sensei gets old and is still in the game – those folks know their stuff.

    You’ve also inadvertently answered an entirely different question for me there that I’d long been wondering about. Of course, the question is: Will I need to do more stretches in the years to come? 🙂 Why, some may say. The answer being: Why not? Already over the years my stretches have to encompass, more. Oh well.

    Coffee is good, and today we enjoyed coffee with a good friend and jam drop biscuits. A person can ask for more in life, but will they get it? Didn’t you once quote Dirty Harry at me, something, something: A man’s gotta know his limits.

    How do you even harvest the chokeberries when they are so high in the tree? This is less of a problem you’ll also note for our flying dinosaur friends. I enjoy their antics too. Oh my! Those yellow warblers are real show offs. 🙂 They look like they’re from the wren family. They’re blue here, and super fast. Hard workers too because they consume all of the insects in the raised vegie beds.

    Some hard years you gift your harvest to the critters. We have shops to go to, they don’t. A goodly portion of our harvest goes to the critters, but then those same critters work to keep out other less invested marauders. It works, more or less.



  37. Chris:

    I knew it was something Swedish . . .

    Mr. Musty will not be joining them. He gets seasick. Besides, he cringed a bit at the word “hope”. We once had a Land Cruiser of about that year and when it was really tired we gave it to a friend to use for mud boggin’. If you have never been to a mud boggin’ event, you have missed a treat. The ones we used to go watch (never participated) were casual home events put on by, I kid you not, the descendents of our local hillbillies. Lots of beer!


  38. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, I really appreciate you discovering the name for that wood carving shaving horse, and it is on the to-make list. You have noted one of the downsides of using such sharp bladed woodworking tools. It could hurt. The contraption seems like the safest way to go. It’s amazing how clever our ancestors were, and clearly they were also aware of the risk in using a draw-knife.

    I recall the discussion of the painter, but had not realised the extent of the artists friends and associates particular style. It’s really something else to look at. And how prescient is Lord Byron with his words: First freedom, then glory; when that fails, wealth, vice, corruption.

    It’s funny you mention that about the self launching rats and cricket bats. Anyway, Dame Plum sorted them out whilst I squealed in fright. After a while I was used to their mischief and knew what to expect, but the first time or two of being attacked a rat flying through the air at my head or chest was quite unnerving, I can tell ya.

    I’d never heard of pyramids in Rome, and apparently there were at least four of them. I must say, the edges of the pyramid are still quite sharp looking today. The benefit of using marble I guess. It’s a bit like aping the elder civilisation, don’t you reckon?

    I’ve seen some ancient obelisks in travels. Always impressive. The Angkor ruins were astounding, and spread over a vast area. The careless tuk-tuk driver almost killed us, but that’s another story.

    Imagine you’re doing your shift, and are called to an apartment where there has been an incident – and you find a tiger. I reckon they’d have procedures for such things, and they probably are more involved than simply calling the local areas dog catcher. Maybe it is just me, but don’t you wonder if some of those exotic pets occasionally turn on their owners? I was thinking smaller pets than that, but years ago I did hear of a pack of Dachshunds who killed a lady. They’re grumpy dogs those things.

    Nice one, and did the salvaged pepper taste good? I’m becoming quite the fan of mild chilli’s after last growing seasons bumper harvest.

    It is weird sometimes when things turn up here in the mail really quickly. The book arrived from a local supplier, and the postage cost was about $3 from memory, which is below cost. Anyway, the Editor has begun reading the book. I’m getting rather fond of the fictional character Bruce Hedge and all his flaws. Hope he doesn’t end badly. I quite enjoyed the book ‘Empire Falls’, but a trilogy? Is it over any length of time? I remember one series of books I just gave up on. It may have been Gene Wolf’s something, something ‘new sun’. It just seemed to be going nowhere fast. The shadow of the torturer books on the other hand were amazing. Effort, sustained, something… 🙂

    Yeah, exactly. Like you trilogy incident, I have to sometimes limit new inputs. And oil seed will cause a brain squooshing thing to possibly happen.

    Haha! You may jest, but there is a project. It has long been in the making. And it shall provide plentiful soil for the low gradient path project, soon. You may think that there is no plan here, and you’d be only half correct. Not so sure about the other half bit. Hey, at least there is no gant chart. Who even understands such things?

    It’s a strong theory based possibly on legal precedent. There is an alleged taser incident with a 95 year apparently knife wielding old lady before the courts right now. Strange things can sometimes happen.

    I agree that things were different not all that long ago. Even work was less pressured, and there was more of a social element to it. All decline.

    Apologies, and thanks for the correction. The same is true for me. I don’t watch the news either, although here I have to prove a certain sort of flexibility in that I did actually watch an old news reel from the I think maybe the 1980’s? Some blokes had converted an old Toyota Landcruiser and attempted to drive it for about 3 miles across Darwin harbour. Underwater of course. It sounds like click bait, but it actually happened. They didn’t quite make it that time, and now a repeat of the attempt is under way. A lot of sharks and salt water crocodiles there. Hey, how’s this by-line: Jumping under the shark? Wonder what the Fonz would make of the attempt?

    I tend to believe based on my casual observations, that this is probably true.

    Maybe it is just me but ramen noodles reminds me of those folks who want you to own nothing and be happy. I’m not sure I’d be happy with too much salt in my diet. Probably not anyway. The food box sounds like a pretty decent score. I’m a bit dubious of mystery meat at the best of times. Egg sandwiches are actually quite good. Chuck in a bit of curry, and it’ll be quite gourmet. I was always a fan of deviled eggs, although it’s an odd name for the tasty snack. Mostly a summer food with salad when we have plenty of eggs and heaps of salad greens.

    Interesting. Maybe people are becoming more creative with what they cook? I can think of some other reasons, but I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt.

    The universe is sending you a message: Read more books! 🙂



  39. Hello Chris
    While Europe is supposed to be sweltering, I am so cold that I have the heating on indoors. At the moment it is raining and very windy.
    Life seems to consist of planting, watering, harvesting and preserving. Have had a very good potato and runner bean harvest but need some heat if I am to get any tomatoes; they have only just started to flower.
    Rollmops are delicious.


  40. Hello again
    I shouldn’t have said ‘runner beans’ as it annoys Son. We have 3 different varieties and I am told that none of them are runner beans. One variety is a French bean and we don’t know the names of the other 2 varieties.


  41. Yo, Chris – I’ve noticed the duffers using the shaving horses, generally wear leather aprons. Very thick leather aprons. 🙂

    One thing about the Hudson River Valley School of paintings, is that, generally, they were big. Really big. Just the thing to put in your really big house. Albert Bierstadt was one of the painters, of that school. But, he broke away from the East Coast, and did quit a few paintings, around the West. California. I’ve seen one of his paintings, at the Seattle Art Museum.

    “…wealth, vice, corruption.” Check, check, check. Yeah, I’d say we’re there. Lord Byron. Now there was an interesting character.

    So, with a nod toward Darwin, do you think flying rats will grow wings, sooner or later? 🙂

    Exotic animals, or animals in general, as pets. You pay your money and take your chances. You may have read a few years ago, about the drug lord in Columbia, South America. He thought it would be really cool to have a few hippos, about the place. Well, the hippos quite took to Columbia. The drug lord is long gone, but his hippos live on. And, multiply. I think I read something recently, that quit a few were rounded up, and shipped to zoos around the world. Want a free hippo? All you have to pay is handling and shipping. 🙂 When the Romans were going through their Egypt-o-mania phase, there were a lot of wall paintings and mosaics of wildlife along the Nile. Hippos, crocodiles, etc.. I think hippos were often exotic entries, into the arena. They can move fast, and have a nasty temper.

    I haven’t picked the pepper, yet. Waiting on Peter Piper. It’s still working it’s way from green to red.

    First it was cocaine bears, and now it’s cocaine sharks.

    There might be a movie, in this …

    Ramen noodles are popular in our prisons. They’re like currency. There’s even a prison Ramen noodle cookbook.

    I usually have my egg sandwiches with cheese, a bit of mustard and yogurt. Nothing better than deviled eggs. Always happy to see those at a potluck.

    What’s a gant chart?

    More books from the library, yesterday. “The Science of Reading.” (Johns.) That’s pretty thick, and may be a skimmer. I was curious as to if he mentions people who take exception, to people reading in public places. As we’ve both experienced. Also, “Perilous Bounty: The Looming Collapse of American Farming and How We Can Prevent It.” (Philpott, 2020). Which reminds me, I saw an article, yesterday, on farms and methane production. For power. Right in my own state.

    Not much on the library “new” list, last night. But a few days ago, I did get season one of “The Last of Us.” The new zombie series. Not your usual zombies (these are infected by fungus), but close enough. Fast or slow? Well, as fast as a human can move. Blind, but acute hearing. A pretty typical story line. Someone who is immune needs to get from one coast, to the other, to meet up with a small holdout group of scientists. But, overall, pretty good. Engrossing. Lew

  42. Hi Inge,

    🙂 Last I checked, beans are beans. Further categorising of the plant variety is probably useful, but does it really even matter? We grow a white bean variety which has done very well here for many years. It dries and keeps well, and appears to enjoy the conditions. That’s enough for me. The plan is to expand the growing space allocated to that plant next summer. Your example of planting three different varieties is probably the wiser path, and we’ll get there, eventually.

    Good to hear that you are dodging that heat wave. I noticed on the maps that the slightly more northerly and easterly parts of the UK were meant to be affected by the heat wave. There are benefits to your maritime climate, other than the wind and salt.

    Uh oh. Sorry to say, but that is late for tomatoes. If you get any green tomatoes, I’d certainly suggest trialling the hanging the vines upside down trick we used to enjoy the tomato harvest. At lunch today we had fresh tomatoes. My thinking is that the hanging vines need to remain cold, but not frozen. We stored them in the greenhouse, and that seems to have been an ideal storage space.

    Harvesting and preserving does takes heaps of time, but I enjoy the process.

    We’ve almost entirely run out of fresh greens. This is a vastly different experience to last winter. I’m putting that down to poor planning. We can learn.



  43. Hi Lewis,

    It’s a wise person who knows the value of protective wear, and um, it’s not like you’re not pulling the very sharp draw-knife towards yourself with a fair bit of force. The shave-horse arrangement is pretty good because it also provides a physical barrier of solid timber with which to stop the knife coming too close to your chest.

    On this subject, there is I believe a criminal trial going on in relation to the White Island volcano tourist thing across the sea in a neighbouring country. A number of people met their end there. It looks like a number of the tourists that day were wearing synthetic clothes (something I never do). In the fire brigade, we were warned repeatedly against doing just that. It’s common sense, when you know, but it’s a hard way to learn if you don’t. I’m of the opinion that any plan which begins with the line: ‘Now let’s just assume that nothing goes wrong’, is probably going to end badly.

    It is perhaps a truth universally acknowledged, that big paintings, earn big commissions. 🙂 They’re not for everyone, those bits of art. Thanks too for the image of the art work. That’s a wild chunk of imaginative coastline. Absolute respect to the artist. He was a canny one that bloke.

    Mate, it’s the trifecta. 🙂 Sadly, it’s not an achievement to be celebrated. And I’m of the opinion that cooler and wiser heads way back in the day knew what the end point would be of this enterprise. If I’m not mistaken, I believe that the outspoken Mr Mark Twain (not his real name) was of the opinion that the direction of events were a bad deal. If that great was widely ignored, what hopes the likes of we? 😉

    Strangely enough, flying rats would look a lot like sugar gliders. Perhaps later, is the correct answer to your question?

    Oh yeah, I read about those hippos recently. Grumpy AF creatures, and (please correct me here) but they kill more people than any other creature over in Africa. Only a drug baron would think that such creatures would make great pets. A fine point, and I’d have to suggest that the shipping would be far cheaper than the handling costs!

    Apparently the Peter Piper Principle (not to be confused with the Peter Principle) is a cognitive brian (!) error. Reminds me of the Monty Python joke in The Life of Brian: “I’m Brian, and so is my wife” You know, at first I’d thought that the nonsense lyric was a vocal warm up exercise, but apparently not. Definitely a warning to novelists as to naming of their characters, yes. Who knew that there are interweb sites for famous tongue twisters? It’s hard to forget the naughtiness of the mother pheasant plucker tongue twister. Anyway, I would if I could, and if I couldn’t, how could I? You couldn’t, unless you could, could you? My poor brian (!) is twisting and turning, and may soon depart the field in a hasty and disorderly retreat. 🙂

    Well I never! Cocaine sharks. Whatever will they come up with next. Possibly given the sharks reaction, common sense suggests that folks with an interest in boating in shipping lanes is suggestive. Certainly there is a movie in there, absolutely. In the state to the west of this one, there is a company which takes divers on close up and personal experiences in steel cages with Great White Sharks. Last I checked, humans are only rarely described using the word ‘Great’, and for sharks this is a far more common occurrence. Hmm, the odds are possibly not so good.

    Dude, the ramen thing is like an entire genre of literature. Far freakin’ out. Even the venerable Snoop Dogg was in on the act. My brian (!) has yet again been exploded.

    Holy carp, I better get writing…

    Sadly, very sadly, infinitely sadly, the chickens laid four eggs today. Two were consumed by the chickens. This is a problem to which I will deal.

    Surely, you are kidding me about the gant chart? I see, my spelling was not good. I didn’t know the word had a second ‘t’ in the spelling. A gantt chart, it’s the stuff of nightmares, that’s what it is. Honestly, I felt inspired to type the words: ‘gnat chart’, and that would be an entirely different thing.

    Yeah, what’s with those folks? Have they nothing better to do other than annoy either of us?

    Sorry to say, but if your nose smells methane,or ammonia on a farm, then already precious nitrogen is escaping into the atmosphere. The better trick would be to get that element into the soil. When a farm is not over stocked, that’s what happens. People will complicate that story, but you know, that’s economics.

    Hmm, I’d heard very good things about that zombie series and so appreciate your review. Hmm. The Editor is very much enjoying the Air Raid book Club which she describes as ‘charming’.



  44. Yo, Chris – Yes, I read an article about the White Island trials. Seems mostly about affixing blame and collecting money. “You pay your money and you take you’re chances.”

    A lot of misguided people consider Mark Twain a humorist, and move on. I suppose that’s a comforting world view, if you don’t want to examine things too closely.

    Well, there are flying monkeys. (Saw it in a movie.) And cats with wings (read it in a book). So, why not flying rats? Oh, and flying sharks. Though they didn’t have wings. Saw it in several movies. So why not flying rats?

    What’s not on the internet? Brian, Bryan and Bryon walk into a bar…
    Sister Sally sells seashells by the sea shore. Molly Malone is suing her for copyright infringement.

    Hippos on cocaine? There might be a movie, in there. 🙂

    Raman using only 1/3 the “flavor” pack (where most of the salt is), isn’t too bad. Rather tasty, in fact. Especially with added veg and less water than is called for. So the noodles are slightly dente. Years ago, I was on a jag, for awhile. It was soooo cheap. Then I came to my senses.

    Maybe the chickens you offed, were framed! I think chickens eating their own eggs is a sign of the apocalypse. Think I read it in “Revelations.” “And chickens shall eat of their own eggs … ” Or, something like that. Maybe time to call the Exorcist. Anyone spewing split pea soup? Head’s on backwards?

    I’d never heard of a gantt chart, before. As if flow charts weren’t bad enough.

    Charming is a good word for the air raid book club, book. At least until the bombs start falling. And even then, people get good things, out of life. Like malt loaf. 🙂

    I went down to the Club, yesterday morning, and passed on the pancakes. The regular cook was down with You Know What, and Mr. Bill, our Club President was attempting to burn pancakes. Everything was late and disorganized. I was hot and cranky. But, I went back in the evening for hot dogs. A better showing. Lew

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