We Haven’t Turned Around

Standing outside upon the concreted drive way, you could see that the heavy duty gates were locked. Tightly. Where were all the mowers, tractors and other stuff? Cheery machine branding signs clung bravely to the concrete tilt slab sided walls. An A-frame board on the other side of the locked gates announced that the business was temporarily closed. The sign sure had seen some weather. Guess we have to make other arrangements now. Disconsolately, Sandra and I headed home.

The local farm machine repair dude has been dead for a while now. I’m not sure what is going on with the business, but to the casual observer, it kind of looks like its followed a similar path. The dude and I were more than acquaintances, maybe slightly less than friends, and he always looked after us. He knew the area, our needs, and also what Sandra and I did for a living. He was more than happy to talk farm and business stuff, until the proverbial cows came home.

We spoke the day before he died. He’d only just sold me a crusty old roto-tiller he’d obtained as a trade-in and fixed up. Chris, you’re gonna love this machine, he enthused. The red paint had faded to a dodgy looking shade of pink. The gearbox casing has some rust. The engine is a Chinese clone Honda 200cc four stroke. But far out, he was right, what an amazing machine it is. I think of him every time the engines pull cord is used to fire the beast up.

The business continued after he died, and we’d head down there and order parts and purchase consumables. That’s why we were standing outside the now locked gates the other day – we wanted to purchase some consumables. Of late we’d been using the business less and less.

After the funeral, inevitably things changed and I knew deep down that I’d have to take on board all of the machinery repairs and servicing. Not being one to shirk responsibility, we constructed a service pit, and since then I’ve done all the servicing and repairs of the farm machines we use here. Nobody is going to care more about the machines you use, than yourself.

In my spare time I watch videos of people diagnosing and fixing problems with small engine farm machines. Take my word for it, the videos are quite engrossing and entertaining. And they’ve been enormously useful.

Unfortunately, we have one very complicated machine. It’s the bigger and gruntier of the low centre of gravity mowers. That beast is great for working on steep land, because the machine is safe in an environment that would destabilise most other ride on mowers. Years ago I knew someone who’d been involved in a quad-bike accident. Not good, and best avoided. It’s been remarked upon elsewhere that second hand advice is a cheap form of learning. However, I’d been hoping beyond hope, that despite everything, the repair business would continue with different faces, just so as to service the beast of a machine. It is a truth that sometimes hopes can be dashed.

Being the crafty and resourceful person I am, a phone call to the Australian distributor of the complicated Japanese made machine proved my worse fears: The distributor refused to sell parts to the public. The nearest place that would service the machine and supply retail parts was located an hours drive west of here. The thought of lugging a 400kg / 840 pound mower on the trailer, for over an hour through winding country roads, just to get the thing serviced, then pick it up again, leaves me feeling uncomfortable. Best to do the work here, but how to get any machine specific parts became the next problem.

I roughly knew where the business an hours drive away was located. My friends of the big shed fame live not far from there. But really, there’d be no other reason for me to take any machines to that business. So I gave them a call to find out how things worked with them. After finding out where I was located the bloke laughed and said he’d picked up all of the work from this area for that particular brand of machine. Fortunately he was open to the idea of supplying parts from emailed photos, and could then post them out here – for a fee. Oh well, it’s a workable solution.

The thing is, since 2008 I’d worked hard at building and maintaining all of the business and social networks we needed in this area. I knew the business owners, they knew us, and we all had a respectful relationship. Now, those relationships are fast disappearing. Even the local hairdresser that Sandra and I use, is apparently closing up. It reminds me of the year 2008, all over again.

That was the year I’d finally had enough, and we moved up to this remote mountainous area. For three years leading up to 2008, most of my friend group had spread to the far corners of Melbourne, predominantly for crass economic reasons – house and rental prices had risen so much over the prior decade, that they all moved to distant areas where they could afford to live. By 2008, I didn’t see them much any more. They lost themselves in the world of online gaming. My expectations were higher, so we headed bush and left them all behind.

In the sixteen years since then, to my utter disbelief, property prices have only continued to climb. It’s nuts! I don’t know how much the lease costs on the hairdressers bricks and mortar building would be, but I can imagine it wouldn’t come cheap. And as the rental property cost burden increases, a business would need to pump through a lot more customers to cover the higher costs. A person can’t do everything, and so that requires having more staff in order to service so many extra customers. The costs just pile up. It takes a lot of haircuts to pay for all those costs, and that’s before making a profit. And it doesn’t take too long for the entire proposition to become a very risky venture for whomever signs that inescapable lease. If you get it wrong, they can possibly take your house. It’s a total mess of a situation.

It can’t all be coincidence that so much of our local social and business network is imploding and changing over the past year. My gut feeling suggests to me that it’s like the build up to 2008, all over again.

The view of sun rise from the house

The say the skies are bigger in Australia, and maybe it’s true. The nights this week have been cold and clear, and the above image was taken at sun rise on Sunday morning. Old timers may have described the air as: bracing (whatever that means!) We even had our first light frost. The grass was frozen, but thawed out later in the day as the sun rose higher in the big blue sky.

I’d call that a light frost. Dame Plum is hesitant to cross the frozen grass

At night the dogs sleep warm snuggled up on the white leather couch. Long term readers will recall that the couch was purchased second hand during the health subject which dare not be named. It was pretty cheap due to a stain, but had once been quite expensive. In those crazy days, Sandra had an eerie premonition whenever the state was going to be locked down. And on just such a day a couple of years ago, we headed into the big smoke to pick up the couch earlier than previously planned because, you know, bad vibes and stuff. Sure enough, at 5pm the state was locked down, for four months. But the dogs had a new and rather aromatic (in a cheap cleaning fluid kind of way) comfy leather couch to sleep upon. That’s my memory association with the couch. That and the former boss dog Dame Scritchy sleeping on Ollie’s head. Ollie was dirty for the attention.

The fluffy collective enjoy their sleeping arrangements

Early in the week we arranged for a new delivery of the crushed rock with lime which is used on the many paths here. It’s good stuff, and makes for an excellent all weather surface. Plus any nearby fruit trees get a decent feed of Calcium from the material. A layer of the crushed rock and lime was placed over the surface of the low gradient ramp. That finished the project. Done!

A layer of crushed rock with lime completed the low gradient path project. Done!

The project was now complete, but there was that inexplicable soil mound near to one of the ramps. A few minutes work with the roto-tiller, and the soil on the mound was loosened up.

A mound of soil on the right hand side of the photograph was removed

Spare soil is a useful material, and it was relocated not too far away where it was used to fill in some depressions in the orchard. Having a steep, but smooth soil surface makes maintaining the farm quicker and easier.

The brown volcanic soil shows where some depressions were filled over

Observant readers will notice that the soil just above Dame Plum’s head is a slightly different colour to the browner looking soil next to it. We cover over bare patches of soil with material from the chickens run. The area repairs quickly. As a soil food, with all that chicken poop in it, the material is potent stuff

A couple of hours of rock scrounging in the forest provided enough rocks to almost finish an upper rock wall for the newly developed garden bed near to there.

We use a lot of rocks here

The low gradient path project took fourteen months to complete, and a whole lotta rocks. I reckon the results are worth it!

The entrance to the low gradient path a week out from the start of winter

For something different, we did a days work down at the forest edge continuing to clean up the loggers mess. After a century of logging, there’s a bit of mess to clean up. A small boulder had been blocking access to the area, so it was split into seven large rocks – always handy to have.

A boulder was split and two tree stumps reduced in size

In that area there were three enormous old tree stumps. In the above photo, you can see one of them in the left hand side of the image. How anyone can fell a tree with a cut which is almost at my eye level is beyond my comprehension. Seems like an inordinately dangerous activity, but that’s what we found there. The discs I cut from the stumps will be turned into firewood. Some eucalyptus trees can resprout from tree stumps, but after all these years and decades, there was no sign of life, and those stumps were dead-as.

That was the area where I suspect the dogs had been consuming mushrooms, which was the reason we wanted to clean the area up. It’s still mushroom season here, and after recent bouts of canine weirdness, the dogs activities are now closely supervised.

A whole lot of mushrooms grow here

We’ve been enjoying roast beetroot. The tubers are a bit weedy here, and honestly it had been a few years since we’d even sown beetroot seeds in the location they were harvested from. Roasted, they taste great!

Beetroot, even yummier roasted!

Onto the flowers:

We grow a lot of Salvia species
Silver Banksia grow in the surrounding forest
The light frost has left the Roses unharmed
Not bad for a week out from the official start to winter

The temperature outside now at about 10am is 8’C (46’F). So far for last year there has been 377.0mm (14.8 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 366.0mm (14.4 inches)

37 thoughts on “We Haven’t Turned Around”

  1. Yo, Chris – Well. OK. Asking the big questions. So, I made dinner, took a shower, hauled some stuff down to the dumpster, mulling over a response. Change and loss. Two of the biggies. One thought I had was, you seem to do OK with changes around the farm. Weather, plants, wildlife, etc.. Why not people or places?

    Loss and change. Maybe, I deal (I think) with them a little better, due to a slightly longer view. But, it wasn’t all that long ago, that I came to take in, that people come and go. Places come and go. That’s life, or, “life on life’s terms.” And maybe I’ve stopped being so sure of things.

    And, I don’t dwell, but I know that sooner or later, visiting Jane and Kenna, at the Club, will come to an end. Their schedules will change, or their lives will change, and away they go! Dee-Dee won’t be cooking anymore. So I won’t see much of her. Even the Club may vanish. Where I live may bite the dust. Sooner or later, H and I will be sitting in some veterinary office, waiting for the lethal injection. Hopefully the vet will have a good aim. Or, if I’m lucky, H will go down like a sack of potatoes. Or, given her size, maybe a sack of apples. Eventually, for gosh knows what reason, our chats will end. Hopefully, not anytime in the near future.

    So, do I dwell on all these things? No, but they do cross my mind. Possibilities of loss and change. When they happen, am I angry or sad? Of course I am. But, maybe anticipating pain and loss, it’s not quit such a surprise, and doesn’t cut quit so deep. And, no sense dragging it out.

    What you might do, given that the new machinery supply is out towards The Big Shed, is drop in, introduce yourself, and establish a more personal contact. Eye to eye, so to speak. Who knows, you might find some good pies or slices, along the way!

    There was a new fellow, volunteering on the counter, today. Young fellow (from my point of view) who seems responsibly intelligent. In our very brief conversation, I discovered he used to chef in a hotel. Food? I can do food. But, to the rest of your post ….

    Yup. That looks like a light frost. Did the grass crunch? And, obviously, the landing pad for aliens from an ice planet.

    Well, you can tuck in for the winter, knowing every rock is in its place. And every path has the appropriate duel purpose topping.

    So what’s the plan for the new garden bed? The tree fern is looking pretty happy and chipper. I almost didn’t see you, lurking back in the shadows, beyond your new found rocks.

    Looks like you have a good supply of bottle brushes 🙂 And roses can take a bit of frost.

    I went to the multi-purpose store this morning. They do a lot of seasonal stuff. Luckily, part of that is lots of plants, this time of year. I bought two tomatoes (cherry varieties), two tomatillos, and two small Sweet Basil. $26! As you stated, plantflation is real.

    Master Gardeners come tomorrow morning. I mean to ask them what happened to a small palm, that was at the back of the Institution, in a tub. Been there forever. It was looking a bit sad, and now it’s just a stump. Looks like a beaver gnawed it off. Inquiring Minds Want to Know.

    Oh, I almost forgot. A new article about Hadrian’s Wall.


    Some great pictures. Yup. The Romans were a lot like us. Sorta. Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    Thank you for the gift of good advice. I especially appreciate that you took the time to consider the issues presented.

    I get the place where you are coming from, and here the word ‘bulwark’ may be appropriate to my original strategy? Way back in 2008 I’d considered this entire issue, and then set out upon a journey, only to now encounter failure. Shifting sands and stuff. 😉 Your point is quite valid, and here we must look to the flux of nature and then shift and morph with her whims.

    A fine point, and there is little sense to dragging out the loss and change, yup. I may just do that with your suggestion for the hours drive to the west machine folks. Set them a task, and see how it works out. At the very least having on hand a new set of cutting blades for the meaty machine wouldn’t hurt. I usually do that eye to eye relationship thing, and it’s a good strategy, but clearly is no guarantee. The dramas I had with the corporate entity earlier this year, proved to me that relationships with such things are worth very little, regardless of the many years of length.

    I hadn’t mentioned many of the other odd losses of late. The oats folks. The flour suppliers. The cheese suppliers retreated. The general store changed hands. There’s been a lot of change lately, and plenty of others. It’s a time of change.

    Commercial kitchens can be complicated places to work. Need I mention Anthony Bourdain? He was an interesting dude, although I’d disagree with him about his MSG opinion. So I can sort of see how the young bloke ended up volunteering on the counter.

    On the other hand your encounter suggests that one must be open to new people, for all interactions have a beginning point. Dude, as I get older, plenty of people seem young to me too. When younger, the opposite was true. 🙂

    Now you mention it, the frost affected grass was crunchy, and Dame Plum spent very little time on it. She raced across it so as to minimise her early morning frozen foot pad inconvenience.

    Man, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the fruit trees growing close to the limed paths, grow faster than anywhere else. For a few years now I’ve added agricultural lime to the coffee ground mix. Actually, this afternoon half of the coffee grounds were mixed up with gypsum (a Calcium and Sulphur blend), then spread on the sapling fenced enclosure soil surface. Apparently Thursday evening it will rain heavily here, with possible thunderstorms over the following days. Probably spread some ash there as well tomorrow.

    The other half of the coffee grounds were mixed up with fallen leaves, and the remains of a whole lot of plants I fed into the wood chipper earlier today. All that stuff was chucked on the new garden bed as soil food. The shady orchard smells of used coffee grounds this evening!

    May is meant to be my quiet month of the year for the paid work cycle, and it’s just nice to get outside into the late autumn sunshine. We’ve begun chipping up the many Echium plants. They can be a bit weedy, but also such plants produce a lot of organic matter. Those plants only live a couple of years and leave a lot of dead material, so it’s time for them to go.

    The tree fern is looking quite sporting isn’t it? I’d say it’s in a good paddock. 🙂 There was a real clash of bright sunlight and deep shade in that photo. The video camera has a setting to deal with that light combination, but the digital camera can only do so much processing.

    Whomever left those tree stumps must have been giants! 😉 Seriously, I’ve never seen cuts made so high up tree trunks. If the saw kicked back on the logger, the chain would have hit them in the face. Not good. Of course, it may have been done by a machine? Dunno. Another mystery. We did discover yet another wombat hole in that area. That’s a lot of wombats…

    The Banksia flowers would make excellent bottle brushes, yup. 🙂

    Far out! That is plantflation, and it is very real.

    Did the master gardeners shed any light on the dead palm mystery? I’d imagine your cold snap earlier in the year would have been very challenging for the plant? Maybe?

    Did you note the aerial photo of the site of Vindolanda? I wouldn’t have wanted to have stormed that locale, it looked quite defensible to me up there on that minor hill. And yes, their concerns do look a lot like ours. Imagine complaining about traffic on the Roman roads? Or the lack of beer. It seems also that literacy was perhaps more widely spread than previous assumptions. So much lovely looking dressed stone there… I now have rock envy.

    That’s why I mentioned those toxic chemicals you’d have encountered during that work. I’ve come across all manner of nasty stuff too, and it’s a bit of pot luck really in that regard. All we can do is but our best, and not all of those smells were unpleasant. And given turpentine comes from pine resin, I don’t see why it would smell bad at all. You know, I’ve never come across genuine turpentine. I think down here they use ‘white spirits’ as a thinner and that is derived from oil. Well this is news to me – apparently the stuff can be distilled from eucalyptus oils. Who knew? Hmm. Something to look into, what with ten thousand trees to tap…

    You’ve blown my mind with this talk of home made milk paint. You got me thinking about the hardwood floors here which do require some re-coating. Previously I’d used tung oil, but that is now super expensive. I might run a test patch of linseed oil and see how that looks and wears. You know, I’d been coating the handles of various tools with the stuff, and it hadn’t occurred to me that folks would use it on floors. Doh!

    Oh yeah. A few months ago I read a book written in the early 60’s and one of the characters was telling another to spray DDT into a pond to kill off the mosquito nuisance. As you do…

    That’s not good about the impending alien from an ice planet invasion! I’ll have to keep a sharp eye out. I must say, heading to bed late last night I could hear some dramas going on in a farm off in the valley way down below. Dogs were barking excitedly and sheep were bleating. Not good.

    🙂 I’ll keep an eye out for flying wombats.

    Wise to get rid of the broken egg and messed up carton.

    Lewis, I’m scared to gargle search a Coffee mate singles… In Aussie lingo that may mean: Having coffee with a friend who is not currently in a relationship. I manned up and searched. Run, Lewis, run! 🙂 Spare us from mock dairy products. Yes, stick to black.

    You’ve clearly got a nose for identifying the occasional special item which came into your possession. But tracking such details down would also require another form of knowledge. Hope the find produces a good result at the auction. How it got to the table would be an interesting story too. Might have been a clearance, maybe?

    The Editor was not amused, and for some weird reason, we became the troublemakers in that bullshit jobs instance. During the later part of the recession, that entity was sold off, and it hardly surprised either of us. A lot of dead wood was hiding there.

    The weather here today was glorious. Sunny and 62’F



  3. Yo, Chris – Well, advice is cheap. 🙂 I think failure is a rather harsh word. More like conditions weren’t what you had expected. You might sit down and try and write out what your expectations were, where they measured up, where they didn’t. Were there other compensations.

    I think it’s interesting that when you went bush, it was in reaction to “that old gang of yours” scattering all over Melbourne, and falling in the gaming hole. The recent losses, that you mention, have all been commercial relationships. But you did try, what with the gardening club and volunteer fire service. There’s something in there I can’t quit tease out.

    Relocating is … hmm. Can’t quit come up with anything. Only examples. When we moved from the city, to a more rural area, I went from a high school of over 2,000 students, to one of around 500. All the kids had been together since kindergarten. Oddly (or, maybe not so odd) my closest friends were also transplants. Settling into this place, since 1983, has been kind of an eye opener. When the topic of relocating comes up, say, over at Mr. Greer’s, I always mention that if you move to a small place, best marry into an old family. 🙂 Even Joe Salatin’s wife made that point, in a documentary I watched.

    I don’t know if the Master Gardeners will show up, this morning. It being a holiday, and all. I’m heading down to get those plants in the ground, and see if they make an appearance. So the palm mystery, may have to wait til next week.

    The Romans knew their defenses. 🙂 I read somewhere, that a lot of the Roman roads followed ridge lines, just so they could keep an eye on things. Someone mentioned in the comments, that people in later years, used the ruins as if they were a big box building supply. Need to build a house? Just rip out a section of Hadrian’s wall. Need a good door step? Just flip over that old Roman tombstone.

    You might take a look down the rabbit hole, to see what’s been said about tung oil vs linseed oil for floors. I’m sure someone will have experience, and opinions.

    I wonder what the disturbance was, down in the valley. Given you don’t have any large predators, maybe a roaming pack of dogs? A domestic drama? You’ll probably hear, eventually, via the bush telegraph.

    And, of course, those little creamer pods are not able to be recycled. When I was trying to use coffee grounds from the Club, they turned up. In large numbers. I still run across one, from time to time.

    I read some more of “Bullshit Jobs,” last night. What the author found interesting, is that even though you’d think those would be cushy positions, that people would seek and like, that’s not the case. More people feel like the Editor. And are unhappy due to the crashing boredom and feeling like they can’t be proud of a job, or contribute something. It also runs counter to what people imagine a capitalist system, to be. Lean and productive. Often those jobs, are created by the corporate structure, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it’s status. Sometimes it’s optics. It’s really complicated. Lew

  4. Hi Lewis,

    True, but advice can also get a person thinking in directions they’d not ever previously considered. 😉 That makes sense, but the strategies were enacted as a bulwark, and I meant that literally. For most of my life I’ve peeked through doors only to then watch them slammed shut in my face. I’m not mucking around, but my mother was single, had three kids, worked set hours, was able to buy a house, and even obtained free University education. I saw all that, then witnessed decline set in over the long years. Even work culture has changed markedly over the decades. The conclusion was inescapable – circumstances had peaked, and ever so slowly you find yourself on the wrong side of that curve, heading down, down, down to the ground.

    And of course, you are absolutely correct. There are compensations. My heart is in the bush and the mountains where more urbanised people fear to tread. Certainly I can only blame my grandfather for introducing me to the call of the wilds. 😉

    Honestly, the common theme in all those stories was not lost on me. 🙂 A bloke can only ever but do his best. But truly, I do believe that circumstances are what they are, and in all those past situations I was not the leader of any of those groups which blew apart. You may notice that I have a very low tolerance for monkey business? And that’s what it takes to keep a crew going over the longer term. We have such poor leaders in our western society these days, but a person cannot both lead and loot, for by doing the latter they obfuscate, but to no real great personal advantage. What’s wealth actually mean if the people seek to destroy the value of that same thin?

    Eric Bana is in a new film – A Sacrifice. The trailer looks super creepy, something or other about a cult. Might go see that.

    I remember you recounting that story of Joel Salatin’s wife hailing from an old family in the area. In some parts of the world, that’s a serious leg up on the social ladder – and it’s part of the background story of these parts. It is what it is, and as far as I’m aware, I’ve earned respect around these parts, but we’ve not been here nearly long enough to earn social recognition. That’s life. Joel was in this part of the world a few years ago, and we had a very brief chat, and he seemed like a really genuine bloke who cared about the land. It was a fun day, and was a good lunch put on, or what? Yum!

    Did you end getting the new plants in the garden beds?

    That’s clever about the Roman roads following the ridge lines. Of course with the added advantage of defensibility and elevated sight, the forces ranged against them would have had an easier time of it spotting troop movements. Still, the Romans would have moved more safely than those folks, and probably would have had scouts ranging out around either side of the roads. I would have done things that way if forced to use elevated and exposed roads. Actually, if they were ruthless, now that I think about it a bit further, all the forests either side of the roads would have been harvested for the timber and cleared, which probably was how things rolled. What’s your opinion of those strategies?

    With all that dressed stone around, with nobody bothering about maintenance and fending off theft, what’s not to stop the locals from helping themselves to the building materials? What amazes me about the wall, was the sheer length of it, and also all that dressed stone. It’s not like nature supplies rocks in nice neat shapes for use in defensible walls. The Romans probably ate stonework for breakfast!

    I’ve had a good solid look into the whole tung oil versus linseed oil, and one thoughtful utoober even showed the wear characteristics five years later. It was almost impossible to tell the difference between the two. Anyway, we have to do something, so why not start with a cheaper option (linseed is cheaper by a considerable margin) which has long usage, and see how it works out? The original tung oil sealer has worked well for fourteen years, and we’re not easy on the hardwood floors.

    I often do that same strategy with tools and equipment. Make all the mistakes with the cheap stuff, and see whether it is worth all the hassle. If it is worth it, then pony up for a more expensive, and presumably better quality item. It’s a strategy that some may consider wasteful, but how else does a person gain first-hand experience? Whilst destroying a more expensive item can be problematic.

    On this note, a few months ago I replaced a circular blade on an electric saw. Hadn’t really thought much more about it, except the saw no longer grabs the new circular blade as firmly, so it can slip. Turns out, the newer blades are ever so slightly thinner than the older original blade it replaced. Talk about crapification…

    I hope not to hear what went on down there in the valley with the sheep. The last time I heard about such matters, some bloke and his son parked their Landcruiser utility vehicle out the front of the house and started asking about two black dogs. Now, I knew it wasn’t Dame Plum and/or Ruby because they’re never let out at the same time, and also they’re supervised. So I had to correct the blokes thinking, and show him both dogs (they were a bit smaller than what he was talking about) – which he then had to apologise, and leave. Word can get around, and I found out how he knew I had two dogs as well, and so had to correct that thinking as well. Best to nip problems like that in the bud before they escalate.

    Oh no! Save us all from creamer pods. To someone deep into café culture and proper espresso coffee, it’s an anathema!

    Absolutely, and I wholeheartedly agree with the author. That job would have been soul destroying. Where’s the sense of achievement to be found in spending eight hours doing a job that has less than one hours work? Does the author ever discuss the inherent issues with over production?



  5. Yo, Chris – So, we’re back to “things change,” again. And not necessarily for the better. Just for poops and giggles, I looked up the definition of bulwark. Well, you’ve certainly put the work in, on the stones. 🙂

    I took a look at the trailer, for “A Sacrifice.” Looks to be a bit of a retelling of the whole “Haven’s Gate” cult. And we know how that ended. There was another trailer, right after. Now, I thought I’d been Henry VIII played out. But this looks interesting. It’s about his last wife, Catherine Parr. “Firebrand.”

    Actually, it was Joe Salatin’s son, who married into an old local family. Which is what Joe’s wife said. That things got socially easier, after that happened.

    Yes, I got the two tomatoes, et all, into the ground, yesterday. So, it’s wait and see how it goes. I remembered that I had meant to get some peppers, but forgot. So, as the plant source was open yesterday, even though a holiday, I swung by. Cayenne peppers. It was a four pack, of tiny little plants. But, less than $5. They look so fragile. I may try planting one, inside. A glance in the rabbit hole seems to make it look doable. The soil, particularly in the bed I put the tomatoes in, looked rich. Lots of worms. I did work in a bit of wood ash, a bit of lime, and a bit of egg shells.

    Well, I suppose if there was timber, along the road, they harvested it. Lots of things to build with timber. Forts and such. In areas where there wasn’t perhaps timber, I wonder if they burned off the brush?

    Some of the reason (they think), for building Hadrian’s wall, was just to keep the boys busy 🙂 . And, talk about a Bull*** job, then they build the Antonine Wall, pretty much abandoned the earlier wall, then, in short order, abandoned the Antonine and reestablished the first wall. No one seems to quit know why. Other than the Antonine emperors, needing to make a military statement.

    It looks like Hadrian’s Wall was kind of a competition, between cohorts. 480 men, or there about. There are inscriptions, that this or that cohort, built their assigned section of the wall, and set a record, while keeping up quality.

    Hmmm. 480 seems to crop up a lot, today. Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket? H and I took a little spin out in the country, to visit her vet, and get more flea pills. As I was out that way, decided to top up the tank, with petrol. $4.80 a US gallon. Same as last time.

    Tung oil vs linseed oil. Drying time? Tackiness?

    Not my dogs! Well, at least, now they know. Better than just assuming it was your dogs, and simmering away.

    I watched a pretty good new-ish movie, last night. “One Life.” Anthony Hopkins and Helen Bonham Carter. Kind of a “Schindler’s List” story. About a guy who managed to get almost 700 children out of Czechoslovakia, just before the outbreak of WWII. I thought it was quit good.

    Drizzle, today. But Thursday and Friday look nice. I had a sore throat, last night, and it’s still here, this morning. Hmmm. Another cold. Maybe? I wonder if it will move into my head, or my chest? The suspense is killing me. :-). Lew

  6. Chris,

    The Princess really was impressed by the finished path. So was I. 14 months but the end result is very good.

    Also, we both adored the picture of the Fluffies on the couch. They looked comfy.

    The weekend ended complicated. The week has gotten more so. The Princess is feverishly working on her sister’s memorial stuff in the computer. Hopefully I can write more in depth later in the week.


  7. Hello Chris,
    Collapse here is more like a glacier than an avalanche, with occasional ice-bergs crushing into the sea.

    It was a different story when I experienced living in a collapsed state in 1996 in Russia. I was there for a year, working for the telecon Eriksson. Most industries were “privatized” and looted, unemployment around 30%, public salaries and pensions worthless due to inflation of around 100% per year. That happened within a couple of years. It can happen again. The main difference from now is that there is no “rich outside” that can pour resources into our dying civilization.

    Regarding the discussion of BS-jobs. I think that the original article by Graeber is excellent (https://strikemag.org/bullshit-jobs/) and the book is good. It helped me to understand why so many people did things that are meaningless.
    The main psychological harm for the involved people is that they experience a confrontation between stories. In modern Western society the ideal is portrayed to get lots of money for little work. Exactly as most of the BS-job-positions. But people almost die from boredom and pointlessness – most of us have a deep need to do something useful.
    I call those positions “employment for the children of the middle class – in cozy capucino offices (free premium coffee).”
    My worst job ever was to be “Manager for “Environment, Health and Safety” while I had minimal mandate or budget to actually make anything safe. When I tried to block an unsafe working condition for some colleagues, I was fired.
    In Graebers typology, this was a “box-ticker” position, that the director needed to have, in order to be “compliant” to regulation and policy.

    The most drastic change in Sweden the last forty years is the closing of factories, replaced by imports from the Land of Stuff. Tools and gear is cheaper, for now. Sweden used to be a net exporter of industrial goods, but is now an importer.

    Back to something more fulfilling – chestnuts! Of course you should grow some chestnut seeds into beautiful trees. Start with the largest chestnuts you can find. If you start with small chestnuts, you are almost guaranteed to have a tree that gives small nuts. Trees from large nuts are likelier to give large and easy-peel nuts.
    Beware that many animals like to eat your chestnuts, including magpies, robins, squirrels and mice. I am sure you have a marsupial that loves chestnuts too. Cover with mesh, maybe even below ground. If possible, seed in place and thin later.

    We lost something like 80% of the chestnut seeds last winter due to my mistake when planning the storage. I had them in the garage, in a fridge in moist sand. However, inside the garage, temperature dropped to -20C, and inside the fridge to -10C, which I think froze the chestnuts. The walnuts were almost all fine, but they have not so much water content.
    Other people tell me good success even last winter of outdoor sowing in the fall, with rodent protection.

    Good luck!


  8. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for the lovely words from both yourself and your lady. They were much appreciated. It’s been a fun project that path, and has changed the entire look of that area – not to mention the all weather access. Heavy rains are forecast for tomorrow evening with a possible 25mm falling. Ook! I must also add that the winds today knocked down many of the final deciduous leaves – that is of course a good thing! 😉

    I’ve read reports that the second hand market for such items has improved lately, but back in those heady carefree economic days, people chucked out some seriously high quality furniture. The white couch is made from genuine leather hide. The fluffies are happy canines!

    Ah yes, we all have complicated weeks, that being part of life. Please forgive my ignorance, but does your lady have to prepare a speech, or other form of public performance for the memorial rites?

    The same old stuff is going on down here, although this evening I’m testing out the wireless microphones for the video stuff. The supplier placed plastic strips over the charging connectors, and for a while there, I’d not noticed them and thought the devices were faulty. Something to chalk up to the ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’ concept. Removed the plastic strips and now the batteries are getting some charge…



  9. Hello Chris,
    Did you already start publishing again on utoob? On which channel? On the old one LandOfTheWombats, the latest update is from something like 2017.
    Apologies if I missed this.

  10. Hi Göran,

    The same is true down here as well. Decline has taken place during my entire lifetime, but as you note, sometimes icebergs hit the ship and get that monster boat rolling from side to side. Sometimes the economy even takes on water! I’ve experienced some economic shocks over the years. Like 10% unemployment and house prices dropping 40% in a year. Your experience in Russia during that time is the whole next level.

    Out of curiosity, has witnessing such societal ructions first hand altered your perspective as to what is possible?

    If I may, one possible outcome of such a crisis in western countries would be that things which were not previously possible, may suddenly become a possibility. It’s hard to really know how events will play out, but take land use just for one example. At the moment, zoning laws in rural areas are stringent to the point of being absurd. From reading historical accounts of The Great Depression, it interested me to learn that in those days, the number of people living in rural areas, actually increased. Getting younger people interested in farming would be a very good thing for the west, but right now, that is not easy.

    Yes, BS jobs. 🙂 You do know that I actively sought to work in the lowest status area of my profession with small business, because I find it to be more personally rewarding? Thanks for the article link. What really hit home was the sentence: “Real, productive workers are relentlessly squeezed and exploited.” Hmm, tell me about it. Oh well. The current arrangements in our civilisation have a limited life span. Thanks also for sharing your experience with this strange world of work, and if I may point out the obvious conclusion (which you already know): ‘nobody is rewarded for telling the truth’. I would have made a similar error to you.

    My understanding of human behaviour in relation to this matter suggests that if a person, or group of people, does wrong by any other person, they tend to then hate them. The basis for doing so, is because if they did not hate, then all previous decisions would end up being viewed in an unflattering light, and that can never be. So, they hate on people doing actual, you know, productive work.

    It’s a problem.

    The same story occurred down here. Man, I used to work as a manufacturing accountant. I recall when Saab vehicles were sold down under. That Gripen fighter performs pretty well, and is apparently cheap to maintain.

    Thanks for the good advice regarding chestnut seeds. The local gardening club is offering the seeds for sale, and presumably those are from locally adapted trees? I may have little control over the size of the seeds, but might start the seeds in the greenhouse over winter, and get them in the ground as soon as they begin sprouting, although there is always the chance of damaging the early tap root with that process. Things are similar here with tasty seeds planted in the ground! 🙂 I’m also looking at Algerian Oaks, Pin Oaks and Black Walnut trees. Not to mention the hazelnuts.

    Ouch! Sorry to hear about the loss, but you still have 20% of the chestnut seeds, and hopefully that provides for plenty of new trees?

    The video is about maybe three or four weeks away. And yes, that is the channel. We’re still testing equipment and techniques. Right now I’m testing the wireless microphone system – it’s on the desk charging up. Good audio quality is probably essential. Hey, I was thinking about doing a walk around here as part of the early videos. Would that be of interest? It’s winter, but there is still plenty to see. Dunno.



  11. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for noticing. All those rocks and stones may come in handy for some future castle, walls, or other such defensible structures! The scouts do suggest that it is always wise to be prepared for eventualities.

    Change is always problematic, but even if you spend time and effort insulating yourself from the worst of things, sometimes the best efforts get overwhelmed by factors outside of your control. Look what bushfires here can do in a matter of hours. Not good.

    I’d not considered that aspect of the film about the cult. As someone with experience in the collectibles trade, you’d probably be aware of the alleged effect Havens Gate had on the Nike Decade shoe collectability? A truly odd story that one about the cult, but it was my impression that the 2007 Comet McNaught put on a far better show, so that lot missed out and bet on the lesser comet. We all make mistakes. That story had escaped my notice.

    Catherine Parr had a fascinating history, and you’d sure be nervous hobnobbing with the aristocracy in those days. The portrait of the lady shows rather piercing looking eyes. Quite the intellect too, with a gift for languages. Catherine packed a lot into a short life.

    Thanks for the correction, yes I now recall you saying that. They tell me a person has a limited number of people for whom they can recall the social history. Computers and books have become an extension of our brains in this regard!

    You wont regret the Cayenne peppers. Yum! Oh yeah, the tomatoes will enjoy the added calcium – they like lime. Peppers are less fussy plants about the sort of soil they’re planted into than say, tomatoes.

    It was a day of mostly paid work, but late afternoon we escaped outside to clean up the asparagus beds. All the spears and fronds, or whatever they are called, were fed into the electric chipper chopper machine. Tomorrow we’ll give the soil in those raised beds a decent feed. I brought back a trailer load of mushroom compost, and will continue feeding the soil in the many garden beds and getting them ready for the next growing season. Also picked up a bag of blood and bone meal, and will mix that up with lime and the coffee grounds, and chuck that on as well. For some reason, oxalis weeds were growing in the asparagus beds.

    I’m pretty sure the Romans kept the roads and either sides of the roads clear of vegetation. The word ‘ruthless’ comes to mind when I think of that lot.

    Oh my! You’ve been reading Bullshit Jobs! 😉 But, you’re probably right about keeping the Roman legions busy. I’d not realised that Britain required 10% of the entire forces of that Empire. Talk about an unruly lot! The walls probably weren’t cheap to maintain, and it’s a bit crass, but large standing armies require Empires to make a profit so as to pay for them.

    What? I’d not known that 480 as a number had any significance at all. Where else does it crop up? Oh no! At the pump, well that is significant. Was there a third incident? I’ve never used flea pills, but have used the stuff you squirt onto the back of their necks, but that was a long time ago. Fleas aren’t a thing here, dunno why.

    The tackiness of linseed oil requires that it be thinned, and I’ll trial a low odour turpentine for use as a thinner. Curing time is about a week, but most oils and resins are like that. Apparently the stuff can be recoated within a couple of hours, so I’ll try and get as many coats down as possible. Did you know, there is some talk about linseed soaked wipe down rags spontaneously combusting? Not something I want to discover. All news to me, and I’d not realised that the last time I used linseed oil to coat tool handles. Ook!

    Exactly! Things can go very wrong on that dog front in rural areas. You hear stories. Best to set the record straight, which I did straight away. The farmer at first looked angry, and quickly became less sure of himself, especially as I lead him around the back of the house. Probably thought I was going to thump him. He departed on good terms.

    A dark time that, and only the cautious, or lucky, left early. That story was part of the plot of the Air Raid Book Club novel. I find myself thinking about that book from time to time. Anthony Hopkins played Sigmund Freud in a film recently.

    Ook! How’s the throat feeling today? Hope you’re OK, getting plenty of rest and keeping up your fluids. Now where was that can of noodle soup you mentioned the other day?

    Tomorrow will be another warm day, but late afternoon, the weather will turn, and the forecast is even hinting at an inch of rain falling. We’ll see.



  12. I happened to see the comment about starting trees from seed, and will point out the pots we used. They are long and narrow, to accommodate the tap root, which chestnuts get busy with right away.

    This link is just an example, have never used this particular vendor.


    And yes, cold stratifying seeds is a tricky business, unless you take over a shelf in the fridge, which some partners/housemates might frown on. 🙂

    The changing of the guard with local vendors and services is a natural thing, but as the global economy slowly wanes, that phenomenon is overlaid by the loss and change you have described.

    In some ways, it’s good thing, as it goads us to start upping our game and being more self reliant as time goes on. As you have in fact done.

    The next big jump is the scary one, when the fossil energy and other technology gets replaced by muscles and newly relearned skills and techniques.

    Have I mentioned, or are you aware of Shane Simonson and his blog? He was on wordpress, with lot of interesting food plant trials, and has moved to sub stack now ( with a free version). Anyway, he’s down in your neck of the woods, so some of his plant experiments would be applicable to your climate, as opposed to mine. He’s much more systematic and organized than me, and does good research to support his experiments. He’s at zeroinputagriculture. The name says it all for what he’s trying to do.

    Garden is all planted now. The warm weather stuff like tomatoes and peppers are all in, and rain has been pretty good so far. Let the weeding begin!

  13. Hi Chris,
    I own and have read “Bullshit Jobs” too. Can’t really say I’ve had one though. One of my granddaughters read and enjoyed it. I hope she took something from it as she makes decisions about her own life.

    Leo would have been so jealous of that couch.

    It’s cicada mania around this part of the world. Strange as I don’t remember quite the fuss from past emergences. Doug reminded me this morning this would be the third one since we lived here and the cicadas have been a no show all three times. It’s quite interesting that there are tons in different directions not far from here. I’ve seen them at both my daughters neighborhoods and my sister’s town which is the same location as the bookstore. Maybe I’m lucky as I can marvel at them and the sound but don’t have to put up with the annoyance. Doug was hoping the chickens would have eaten them. My sister watched a chipmunk eat three is quick succession. He/she must have been very full.

    What a difference a year makes. After several years of very dry conditions we’ve been receiving quite a bit of rain. Luckily it hasn’t been too much so far. Everything is growing so quickly at the conservation area where I monitor the bluebird trail that I’m already wading through thigh high plants and grasses.


  14. Yo, Chris – This will be short. I’m down for the count, with whatever. Probably, a cold. I did get H out for a walk. Took the elevator. That’s how sick I am. Nothing I ever do. Lew

  15. Hi Chris,

    I think that one of the things that happens to us when we live for a long time in the same place is the turnover in businesses that you are experiencing. Not that it isn’t aggravated by current economic conditions and decline, but even without them, people age, fall ill, get divorced/married, have children and have to change what they do to provide for them, and so on. Any of these can cause a business owner to retire or to find a need to sell the business. I’ve watched businesses come and go in the 22 years we’ve been here and found myself needing to make new arrangements when a service I could formerly obtain within walking distance closes up shop. Making relationships of the kind you discuss never ends.

    Margaret mentioned that it has been raining where she is. Here too. In April we received about 9 inches of rain. As May ends, we have received another 10 inches of rain! It’s been warmer than normal too, so everything is growing very fast and is flowering or setting fruit earlier than usual. I’m keeping busy trying to keep up with mowing, weeding, and harvesting.

    You mentioned gypsum, which I added to my garden beds this year after a few years of not adding it. I add it for the sulfur rather than the calcium, though it helps with both. My theory was that adding gypsum helps to keep cabbage moth caterpillars from damaging my cabbages. So far it is working as I theorized – but it is still a few weeks until harvest. I will let you know what happens.

    Mike is getting over a cold, and I may be starting to get it. I’ll know tomorrow morning. I’m trying to stop it before it starts; we’ll see if I am successful.

    @ Lew – I hope you feel better soon!


  16. Hi Lewis,

    Sorry to hear that you’ve crashed out with whatever it is. Hope you are feeling better today, and that H is being both a comfort and well behaved? Of course I’d expect nothing less given the circumstances.

    Anyhoo, you know the drill: Fluids + Rest + Food + Water. Although as you have a keen and discerning reading eye, you may notice that the term ‘fluids’ doesn’t necessarily suggest that they stay in. In your circumstances, better out, than in, I say!

    It’s absolutely bucketing down here. Earlier today though was warm and cloudy. We finished off fertilising all of the raised beds with the special blend of coffee grounds + agricultural lime + blood and bone meal. Then they all got a goodly helping of mushroom compost. The sapling fenced enclosure received a similar feed, but with the addition of wood ash. And the grape vine enclosure was cleared of all of the many strawberry runners (which are a bit weedy but produce no berries). By 2pm, the rain was just starting to begin, so we packed up. It didn’t take too long before it was belting down.

    And last night in the gusty wind (which must have been very strong), one large tree broke and trashed two other large trees next to it. That’s a lot of firewood. Ollie must heard it happen because I recall waking in the middle of the night by him barking. Fortunately the trees had the decency not to smash any buildings. Very nice of them, you may agree? It would have killed anything unfortunate enough to be underneath at the time of the smooshing.

    Got any DVD’s and chicken soup to see you through the days of snot? 🙂

    Hope you are feeling better man, and Cheers


  17. Hi Claire,

    That’s a great point, and true, there is a level of acceptance to such changes. What began me wondering about this current cycle of loss though, was the volume of change. As you note, I also believe the volume is related directly to the current economic conditions. It was a bit hard not to see synchronicity when the folks who supply the stone ground oats, and had done so since 1968, suddenly sold up the business. Then there was the bakery products I’d been purchasing from for many years, they sold up their business too. The General Store was sold. The local pub had been up for sale. It was just one after the other in quick succession. Maybe it is simply coincidence? I’d note that it is very expensive and complicated to set up a business nowadays, and maybe the owners are all getting to a certain age where they want to retire? Dunno.

    There’s a story that high property prices eventually drive either inflation, or people out of business. It was like what I mentioned about a hairdressing business in that it takes a lot of haircuts to cover the monthly rental costs.

    It never stops, the need to keep forging new relationships, does it?

    Whoa! That’s a lot of rain. Claire, are you growing a jungle there in your garden? 🙂 Those sort of conditions are positively tropical. Far out. It’s a real work out for the mower, but great news for the compost heap with all those weeds. All of the weeds here get chucked into the chickens enclosure.

    Far out, it’s bucketing down outside here tonight. Might even get an inch of rain before sun up tomorrow. I can hear the rain hammering on the steel roof, which I quite like the sound of. I do have to keep checking the water tank inlet filters though to make sure they don’t overflow. And it’s warm too at 12’C, which is weird for night only two days out from the official start to winter.

    The Bureau of Meteorology released the winter forecast for the continent, and it said warmer, and about normal for rainfall. BOM forecasts very warm winter for Australia, with the jury out on rainfall. If a La Nina develops later in the year, we might be in for another wet summer.

    Truly, dry weather is bad, but super wet weather is a disaster.

    Yes, please do let me know! With the Brassica family of plants, I kind of give up on them during the summer months due to those pesky cabbage moths. The air is full of them on warm days, and it’s been remarked upon elsewhere that one cannot fight city hall, or moth hall in this case. To date, I’ve only been adding Agricultural lime to those beds, so I’ll be interested to hear how your experiment works out – and gypsum is cheaper here than agricultural lime.

    I did a big soil feed today for the raised beds, the sapling fenced enclosure and the grape vine cage. With your recent words at the back of my mind, in among all the other additions was 15kg of blood and bone meal. That stuff is expensive, and getting more so, but the phosphates!

    Hope that Mike recovers speedily, and that you artfully dodge the dreaded cold. It’s the season for low protein content in plants in your part of the world, although it would be right at the end now I’m guessing, maybe.



  18. Hi Steve,

    Thanks and I’d not considered growing the hazelnuts in such pots. I’d not considered doing that, and may get the hazelnuts going this weekend. It should be cold enough in the greenhouse for the seeds to stratify properly during the winter months. We call those pots ‘forestry tubes’ down here, but they are a bit wider and just as long. The plant roots can escape out the bottom of the pot, but the roots can be broken if extracting the small tree from the pot. Probably best to remove them from the pot and plant them out beforehand.

    Sandra may have some issues over keeping the seeds in a bag in the fridge for a few months, so I’ll use the greenhouse instead, I think. One must compromise! 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement, because plantflation is a real thing, and I might order some chestnut seeds from the local gardening club, as well as some other trees such as black walnut and Algerian oak. The sweet walnuts tend to die here during the summer months, although I’ve noted some very large examples growing nearby. A mystery, and I’ve killed a few of those trees now.

    I absolutely agree about the changing of the guard. What troubles me is the sheer volume of change with those lot. That makes no sense to me, but must be in some way connected to economic conditions (or even worse, the trading conditions – imagine having to deal with a huge onslaught of customers such as the leaf change tourists?)

    And yeah, that was my strategy, and probably yours as well. Become more self reliant. It’s not a bad option on many fronts.

    Yikes! Already fuel prices down here are getting quite expensive. Not to mention fertiliser costs. Put down a huge amount of fertiliser today, with the main ingredient being a trailer load of mushroom compost, which I believe is soiled bedding straw and horse poop from racing stables. It’s good stuff. But the blood and bone meal which provides the phosphate hit is quite pricey nowadays.

    Ah, I’d not previously come across Shane Simonsen before. As far as I could ascertain, the guy is located near to the Glass House Mountains in Queensland, which is about 26’S latitude. We’re a long way south at about 37’S, but with the elevation, the climate here is really in the early 40’S. That area up north though is pretty tropical, and it would be like an entirely different growing world. It’s a big continent! 🙂 My approach to such matters is closer to yours, with many of the plants and systems, I just like to get a feel for how they work. There are probably more rigorous methods! 😉

    Very good, get those competing weeds.



  19. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks for the book recommendation, although Sandra and I were discussing this book on the way to the local pub for a dinner and pint this evening. Would the book annoy the daylights out of us, or simply provide clarity on bullshit jobs? A mystery. Do you have any advice for us on that front?

    Like you, we were built to work, and neither of us have had to endure such a job. It would gnaw away at my soul I reckon – and who wants to feel that? Respect too for your granddaughter reading that particular book.

    How’s Salve going nowadays? Yes, Leo would probably have enjoyed the couch, although I forget now, which one of those two was the clandestine furniture chewer?

    Ollie barked in the middle of the night last evening. We’d had a lot of strong gusty winds, and one large tree split and broke two other large trees. What a mess, and must have made a heck of a crash, but also lot’s of firewood which we’ll clean up in spring. It’s still very windy tonight and over an inch of rain has fallen. With all that weather, it was a bit touch and go whether we’d head to the pub. I made the joke about taking the chainsaw (due to trees down over roads), but fortunately the machine wasn’t required.

    It’s possible that the recent rains have made conditions perfect for cicada’s? But equally possible is that your place is getting healthier for the insects. But wow, are they loud or what on some occasions? The birds here would destroy them, and there was that locust plague once where they feasted. I almost felt sorry for the sprightly locusts, the birds simply enjoyed a solid feed.

    I reckon chickens are slow to learn to eat new food sources. Dunno. When we got home from the pub, there was a small BooBook owl flying backwards and forwards in front of the house. The strong lights there were attracting the Bogong moths and the owl was cleaning up. We’ve left the lights on for the night bird, and it’s happily sitting up in a large cherry tree in the wind and rain. The bird looks full up to its eyeballs!

    It’s such great news that you’re getting decent rainfall this year. Your last summer was bad on that front. Hope your conservation area has a bumper bluebird season and all nesting boxes are full of happy healthy chicks. At least you don’t have to worry about snakes in such long grass…



  20. Yo, Claire – I hope you dodged the bullet, and Mike is on the mend. Gosh, this is my third cold in 6 months! Today is better than yesterday.

    I second Chris. Do keep us posted on the gypsum / Brassica family. I’ve tried to grow them all … cabbage, Brussels sprouts, Broccoli. Oddly, the only thing they don’t bother is a weed, the Shotweed. Which belongs to the same family. Hmmm. If you crossed Shotweed with other Brassica …

    Do you sprinkle the gypsum on the plants, or work it into the soil? Lew

  21. Yo, Chris – On the mend, I think. Today is better than yesterday. In the morning, I took the dog down and up, on the elevator. Afternoon, made it down the stairs, took the elevator back up. Late evening, walked down and up.

    From our “Well, that’s new” department. My message was short, yesterday, as I kept having tremors / spasms in my right hand. Made it near impossible to negotiate the mouse, or type. That seems to have worn off.

    I ran all the errands, I intended to run, yesterday, this morning. A visit to the chemist, to stock up on cold meds (better living through chemistry), the veg store, for bananas, the Club to drop off three bags of groceries, that I had bought the night before I got sick. Swung by the library, to pick up a few things. Back home, and to bed!

    Odd about the chemist. It’s part of a chain, and there’s been talk about them closing a number of their stores. They have one here (just down the hill from the Institution) and another, over in Centralia. Well, when I went in this morning, a lot of the shelves were bare. I mentioned that to the clerk, and asked if it was one of the stores being closed. She said a truck had not arrived. Yeah, sure. Poor dear. She’ll probably be the last to know.

    I see Goran linked to the Graeber article. After he published that, and it was republished, widely, he started getting responses, from all over the world. Gave him enough fodder for a book.

    Returning to your comment #11, and moving forward …. Change. When I was at the Club, this morning, I overheard a bit of a conversation. “I feel like the world is overcoming the barricade!” Where have I heard that, recently? 🙂

    I hope the library gets the Katherine Parr movie, on DVD. There’s also another recent one, called “Mary and George.” Takes place during the reign of King James I. That looked interesting, too. Yes, at certain times in history, being anywhere near royalty, could be not good for one’s health. I read some more of the King Herod book, last night. Talk about a dysfunctional family. He killed at least one of his wives, and a few sons. The emperor Augustus made the quip, that he’d rather be King Herod’s pig, than one of his sons. A play on the idea that pork is forbidden to Jewish folk.

    Getting the flea pill down H, was quit the ordeal, the other night. I neatly sandwiched it between mixed veg and a bit of fried egg. Of course, she ate everything except the pill. So, I ended up mashing it between her clenched teeth. Maybe the pill company needs to work on a more palatable flavor? She goes to the groomer, tomorrow in the AM.

    Well, according to Prof. Mass, we’re in for rain, and a lot of it, next week. Two atmospheric rivers are coming in. There was some talk about breaking records …

    Last night, I watched a DVD that I liked a lot. “Saved!” from 2004. Quit entertaining if one can take a comedic riff on Christianity. I picked up three DVDs from the library, today. Review to follow. Lew

  22. Chris,

    Whew! Found a few minutes to write.

    Wednesday was a round trip to Omak and back for Avalanche and me. Picked up some specially made aprons for the memorial. I took a break in the mountains near Desautel Pass. Avalanche did NOT want to leave. Too many new and wondrous smells to investigate. We were subjected to a few sprinkles on the way home, a large and dark cloud looming in our mirror all the way back.

    Eventually, the large, dark cloud got overhead at home. It rained long enough for about 5mm to fall. As it was early evening and the sun was just right, there was a complete double rainbow visible here for about 10 minutes. It was very spectacular.

    The fluffies are spoiled. Their own sofa. And leather. Wow! I hope they appreciate it.

    So, the memorial. The Princess is doing all of the planning. First, there will be a stone blessing ceremony at the cemetery for sister and her headstone. Then the brother who died a few years ago, his offspring got a headstone but did NOTHING traditional about it. So we are having a military headstone ceremony for him as soon as sister’s graveside ceremony is over. Brother was in the army in the frontlines in Vietnam.

    After those are completed, we will proceed to the Omak area. There will be more ceremony, followed by a big giveaway there. Blankets, clothes, the chokers I made, etc. After the giveaway, a meal. So the Princess has had to make arrangements for people, venues, food, cooks, etc. While there will be others in charge of the ceremonies, the Princess will give a small speech or two. She is also in charge of the giveaway, so will do a lot of speaking when that occurs.

    Unfortunately, we still have no cooks. There have been a LOT of funerals on the Rez, and the cooks are exhausted. Some have aged out, and there are few of the younger generations stepping up. The two usual cooks have other family obligations that day. We’re not sure yet what we’re going to do.

    Somehow in the complicated week I’ve gotten all of the vegetable seeds planted. Hopefully something sprouts. I also fenced in the area. Avalanche would enjoy digging there, of course.

    All of the birds got totally silent a few days ago. Even the starlings and crows were quiet. I looked up and noticed two largish hawks circling the area. That explained the quiet birds.

    We have a frost advisory for tonight. The forecasted low is +3C. However, some microclimates and higher elevations will get frosted. The latest “official” frost was like June 29 one year. However, dad’s garden was completely wiped out one year when we woke up to a heavy frost one July 4.

    It could be worse. The route we took to Albuquerque south from Butte, Montana, was closed for several hours over the weekend. Snow and accidents. A major pass near Bozeman, Montana was also closed that day. It got a deep dumping of snow. Montana and Wyoming: where it can snow anywhere in the state on any day of the year.


  23. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for taking some time out to drop on by and say hello! You haven’t turned around, we haven’t turned around, and all is mostly good with the world (a play on the blog title, and of course the song of the same name from the band Gomez).

    Omak is a fascinating town, and just like Dame Avalanche, I too would have wanted to hang around a bit longer. The Okanogan–Wenatchee National Forest looked worthy of spending some serious time in, and what’s not to like about a mountain known as Crooked Bum? The climate there is described as pleasant, but the extremes of either cold or heat, but mostly the low annual rainfall, kinda scared me, but I’m soft and wet of foot…

    The dark low cloud followed you homewards bound! What a fine gift of rain for the beginning of summer. 5mm can make a lot of difference to the plants.

    Last evening we were hit by a north west cloud band which brought 35mm of rain from the Indian Ocean. The cloud band is enormous and stretches the entire continent – it’s dropped quite a lot of rain in the central areas.

    Today was drier and so we took the day off, and headed an hours drive up north to check out more of the goldfields ruins. This time we ate lunch next to a fully intact Victorian era mining poppet sitting over the mine shaft, just out in the middle of the forests there. Looking down into the depths made my head swim… Fortunately, lunch was good, and the arid land box ironbark forests there were ever so slowly beginning to recover from the mining outrages committed upon the land.

    The fluffies enjoy their couch, yet they are notably undiscerning in their tastes: Exhibit A – wombat poop as a delicacy. Dame Avalanche would understand, but us humans are left shaking our heads.

    I hope the stone blessing ceremony is respectful and smooths the passage of the departed, and provides comfort to your lady. It’s a big responsibility. And well, as to the ‘nothing’, you can both only do what you do, and that’s the responsibility of the elders to kind of navigate and guide others. I doubt it has ever been an easy process, especially in a world of such distractions. These sorts of issues are on my mind as well.

    If people want to eat at the ceremony, that requires cooks. Far out, hope something works out, but it’s been remarked upon before that nature sometimes provides. If word gets out, maybe some of the younger cohort will step up to the task? Everyone has to start somewhere.

    That sounds like good timing to me with getting the seeds planted. A bit of rain. A touch of warm weather. A bit of fencing (I so hear you there!) The plants will be growing before you know it. It’s still early days for your growing season, especially if late frosty weather arrives (my own personal nightmare)!

    A stag has been rubbing it’s antlers on the Tulip tree, and a wallaby attempted to knock over a Loquat tree last night. And not to mention the three very large trees which got smooshed in the storm. Free firewood, but a lot of work. Sounds like what goes on behind the scenes for a massive cook up to me. 😉 Word needs to get out, and sometimes the Elders need to relinquish control. 😉

    Go the hawk! And I’d be nervous too, although Dame Avalanche would no doubt stand her ground. When the two kelpies were little twelve week old beans, the Wedge Tail Eagles were circling over head almost every single day. Those other birds at your place should be nervous. That’s boss bird energy for you!

    Hehe! Fun places to live those two states. 🙂 I don’t mind such climate variability. Keeps a person sharp.



  24. Hi Lewis,

    Great to hear from you, and it’s especially pleasing to hear that you are recovering. Those days are hard, oh yeah. You know H has to go outside, but your health conditions are less than optimal. Struggle on, what else to do? Hope you are feeling better today?

    Man, I’ve felt the shakes from a very bad bout of flu, not good. Fever I think it is, but who knows for sure? Probably not a good sign, and hopefully that remains a yesterday thing for you. Have you ever had carpal tunnel syndrome, which does weird things to your hand, but really dunno. Stretching my wrists and hands is part of my daily routine after that.

    Ha! Indeed better living through modern chemistry, and hey that stuff helps a lot. Wow, you must have recovered a bit to have run all those errands, but such good deeds eventually catch up, and then bed is the only proper place. Hope H has been well behaved and sympathetic to your plight?

    Sure, the Editor tells me that there are empty shelves at the chemists down here too. Most of the time, we’ve gotten what we went there for though. And that’s probably so, because if the young clerk knew she was about to lose her job, she’d jump ship. Look what happened to me earlier in the year. Would I have destroyed my only annual break from work by helping them out, knowing they’d give me the boot immediately afterwards? It was a bit of a dog act, really. Next summer, things will be different on that front and I’ll get my first extended break from paid work of a few weeks for about six years.

    The article Goran linked to was excellent, although I’ve never done such work, mostly because it would burden my soul. The book should probably get chucked on the to-read list. It also proves that thoughts and essays can be powerful agents in the world, and sometimes you just don’t know where they will go. The concept of bullshit jobs has been on my mind all week.

    Except maybe earlier today that is. We drove an hours north of here to visit some more of the goldfields ruins. This time we had lunch at the ‘Red White and Blue mine’, seriously, that was the name. There’s an existing poppet head, and you can even peer down into the murky depths – an uncomfortable experience. The ruins were just out in the middle of nowhere too, in a slowly recovering arid area box-ironbark forest. The mine was eventually abandoned in the 1950’s because of the water ingress, and apparently the pumps couldn’t keep up. The trees looked to me like they are recovering, and I got a close up photo of the bark of an ironbark tree. It’s kind of like a darker version of a cork oak bark – spotted one of those trees too in a botanical garden we stopped at to take a walk around in on the way back home. Bought a good supply of local apples from a cold store, and there was that Lamington. So good.

    Change is definitely in the air. Over the pond in New Zealand, they’ve just announced over the past day or so in the budget that 4,000 public servants will lose their jobs, and that country only has 5 million people. In your country it would be the equivalent of something more than a quarter of a million public servants losing their jobs. Pretty epic change if you ask me.

    Oh yeah, history suggests that it can be difficult to avoid giving royalty the excuse to take your head. There’s probably a karmic, do-unto others element to that history, or at least you’d hope so. Ah yes, that’s very amusing, and I’d have gotten the gist of the joke. Herod the Great reads like a mixed bag to me in that family killing regard. He seemed to have had plenty of spare wives and children, probably for that reason. In those days, such things happened, and the Roman’s probably did their share too. I noted he seemed to have the knack for knowing when it was wise to lower taxes on the subjects. Always a popular move. All those building works would not have been cheap, neither would placating the avaricious Romans and Augustus personally.

    I dunno some dogs are simply resistant to those sorts of chewable pills. Dame Plum is notoriously untrusting, and so we just shove that stuff down the back of her throat if needed. That’s what the vets do.

    Wow! I read that. Not one, but two atmospheric rivers. Crazy weather for this time of year, but also as the Professor noted, it will push back the fire risk. You may recall that we had very similar weather last summer before two months of hot and drier weather. I’ve experienced worse summers.

    There’s an East Coast Low in the forecast over the next week. Hang onto your hats, folks.

    Thanks for the laughs. I watched the trailer for the film ‘Saved’, and don’t ever want help from them, because it looks like this: Like, you mean shoot her? Funny stuff. So very wrong, it might be right!



  25. Hi Lew and all,

    I’m feeling a bit better than yesterday but I think it’ll be awhile before I fully recover. With several rest breaks, I was able to hoe most of the weeds in the garden, and I will get to the remainder of them today after resting most of the morning. The worst part of it is that my mind feels so foggy – it’s hard to think. Mike is almost over his version so I have evidence that my version will end as well when it is good and ready to do so.

    About the gypsum – incorporate it a few inches into the soil. Cabbage-family plants need a lot of sulfur in order to make that cabbage-family taste, which I think also discourages insects from eating them. After I get over this cold, I’ll tell you how much I incorporated into the soil, but I’d almost certainly get the math wrong if I tried to do it now.


  26. Yo, Chris – Well, today feels like yesterday, as far as “on the mend” is concerned. You haven’t lived, until you’ve experienced brushing and flossing your teeth, while having a sneezing fit. 🙂 Nope. Never had carpal tunnel syndrome.

    I had an appointment to take H to the groomer, this morning. So, she’s all clean and shinny. And weighs a few pounds less. She perks up, a bit, when she gets rid of all that weight. Is she supportive? Night before last, in a 15 minute period, she decided she needed to get down and roam around, a bit. Three times. And, of course, she whines until I lift her back on the bed.

    So, an extended break? Plans for anything special? Knowing you, you’ll build a green house, or something. 🙂

    What in the heck is a poppet head? I imagine a giant dolls head, hovering over a mine shaft. The Puritans didn’t like poppets, either. Work of the devil, or something.

    That is interesting news, from New Zealand. One could ask, however, how many of those jobs are BS jobs? Going by what the book said, a bit less than half.

    Speaking of public servants, I watched a really good film, last night. Or, I thought it was a film, but it was a four part series. I was riveted. Had to watch the whole thing, to figure out what happened next. “Mr. Briggs vs The Post Office.”


    Hundreds of village postmasters, around the UK were accused of stealing money. And, the Post Office wanted their money back. People went to jail. People committed suicide. Homes were lost. Lost their reputations. And they told all these people that no one else was having the problems they were. They outright lied. It was (maybe) a computer bug. But the post office kept insisting that the computer system was “robust.” Kept repeating that, like some kind of a mantra.

    Well, I think I have a couple of days of not having to go anywhere or do much of anything. It’s welcome. Lew

  27. Hi, Chris!

    “We haven’t turned around” – to look behind us?

    It was so sad when the repair fellow passed on; you lost a friend then, as well as someone who was a great help. I think he is lucky that he pretty much died in the saddle, but what to do?! What to do?! You are in quite a fix about the mower part, but thank goodness the man with the faraway repair shop seems willing to oblige. He must be very busy or he would make you come in. In our area, all of the auto/vehicle repair places have long waits to work on you car or tractor. Sometimes it can be a month before they can even look at it. I’ll bet our local car rental places are doing a good business.

    About half of the shops are empty in the small, old shopping center that I most often frequent. One of them that is gone is the hairdresser, though the Tae Kwon Do place is still open. Interestingly, a new store is supposed to open – an electrical supply store. It seems an odd place for it among the Dollar Store and the Tae Kwon Do and the halal middle eastern restaurant.

    What a beautiful moon-over-sunrise photo.

    Bracing is the air in the high Rocky Mountains – where I’ve often been – and in Switzerland, where, sadly, I have never been.

    Gosh, I miss Dame Scritchy.

    Done – to a turn! The low gradient path was worth the time indeed!

    Why on earth cut a tree trunk at that level? It could not be because it was easier. You would have to stand on a truck or something, then, if the tree came down the wrong way, both you and the truck would be smushed.

    Our beetroots are coming along nicely, too. Time for yum soon! I harvested the rest of the garlic today. We had a good year this time. They are the biggest bulbs we’ve ever grown.

    Would you please tell – again – about how you make hot water (I don’t mean for tea time).

    Thanks for the Midnight Salvia, the Scrub Brushes – and the Roses!


  28. Chris,

    The band Gomez? I knew about Gomez Addams of the Addams Family, but not about the band Gomez. By the way, the little girl who appears twice in that “Burn Your Village to the Ground” video is none other than Wednesday Addams from the 2nd Addams Family movie, “Addams Family Values”. She was played by Christina Ricci. To connect to the younger set at the old job, I would periodically write on my erasable board, “We need more Wednesday Addams”.

    I’ve driven past Crooked Bum Mountain several times. Didn’t know its name until now. Thanks!

    Meanwhile, when we were taking our break at Coyote Creek, Dame Avalanche picked up something which she promptly dropped on command. It wasn’t dog poo. Nor was it wombat poo. She sure seemed to want it, whatever it was. Probably trod on and compacted deer poo.

    Yes, Omak can get very hot. When an Arctic front seeps down the Okanogan Valley from the north, it can get stuck in there for a long time. too It gets both hotter and colder in Omak than in Spokane, yet Spokane is nearly 400 meters higher. And Omak IS in the desert, the same desert that includes Toppenish and all the way south into Nevada and Arizona and Mexico and north into the Penticton, Canada area.

    That rain already helped the garden. The rocket I planted has already sprouted! Now, if you are what you eat, and if you eat rocket, does that mean that you are Rocket Man?

    A cloud band from one end to the other of Australia? Yeah, that IS big. Ouch!

    We got no frost here from the cold overnight temperature. In fact,
    I think we stayed above +4C. however, I heard today that Washington’s cherry crop will be slim to none, due to an untimely frost when the trees were in bloom. Cherries are an important crop in the central part of the state, especially the Wenatchee area.

    I’ve run into occasional mines in my wanderings. And a deserted mining town. I do NOT like looking onto the depths of the abandoned mines. That swimming head thing you mentioned…

    The Princess has come up with Plan F. Or maybe it’s Plan G. Simplified menu and she will prepare it herself. She mentioned that to a few key people and suddenly 3 or 4 people said that they could help her with the simplified menu. We’ll see if they actually show up, but this IS a menu that she has fixed before. Still a lot of work for her, though. It means that she has delegated some other responsibilities to me. Again, things I’m competent to handle. We are BOTH looking forward to this being over.

    Killian’s human has been great through the past few weeks. She came by this afternoon and assisted with some technical things I was struggling with. We got it figured out and the Princess is satisfied with the results. Then next week, Killian’s owner will assist me with loading all giveaway items into a large van. She helped etch the glasses a few weeks ago, too. Big help, for which we are grateful.


  29. Hi Claire,

    Good to hear that you are feeling better, and it’s stoic and good for recovery that you able to get outside and hoe some weeds. Always satisfying isn’t it? As they say, share and share alike, and that’s usually how these things roll. The brain fog is unpleasant, but maybe it’s just your brain telling you to rest up, keep hydrated, and eat well. Or maybe not, maybe that was me saying that! Hope this message finds you in better health.

    Thanks for the info on gypsum and I’ll look forward to hearing the finer details. For your info, I mixed it in to the coffee grounds and then spread that thinly over the soil surface. The clay there is quite solid and unyielding, which is odd. Most of the soil is loamy nowadays, although it wasn’t always thus.



  30. Hi Pam,

    Alas, it is true. A little bit of review of things in the past is not a bad idea, but as they say, everything in moderation. And, I’m yet to see events suggesting that the course we took was a bad idea. Of course this does not mean that everything has run smoothly (and will continue to do so), that would be far from the truth. But ain’t that life, huh? 🙂

    The farm machine repair dude and I used to talk about all manner of things, and I got the impression that there was some background troubles, and possibly even a lack of support for the business coming from the home front. Hmm. Oh well, it played out like it did, and I went in afterwards and offered some assistance to get things sorted out. The lack of response told me everything I needed to know, and I’m guessing things have not gotten better. I guess what you’re hinting at is that there may have been worse endings, and I tend to agree with you. Didn’t end up so well for many of the passengers on the Titanic, but you know, I find myself from time to time thinking about the clever baker bloke who survived two hours in the below freezing water. Smart bloke. He had a plan.

    Well yeah, absolutely! Pam, I’m a worker bee, and get stuff done. But when societal conditions look down upon such err, gumption, and instead promote the social status of (apologies for the cuss word) people doing bullshit jobs, that’s a problem. So I’m unsurprised that the wait times are so long. Did you know, that I sold the former Dirt Rat Suzuki for that very reason? At the time I was overloaded and unable to fix the cars electrical problems, and the wait time to get the machine fixed was one month. So I cut the Gordian Knot and swapped it for a new machine. I tend to respect people who can do stuff, our society has other ideas.

    Well, see how the new store turns out? Maybe they’re onto something. But yes, empty commercial properties is becoming more commonly seen down here as well. As I remarked upon, it takes a lot of haircuts to pay for an expensive monthly lease on a bricks and mortar premises. When, property prices crash, things may improve on that front. At a rough guesstimate, I reckon a hairdresser will need to do just under one full week of haircuts to pay for the monthly lease on a bricks and mortar property. It makes little sense.

    Thanks! The skies are biggerer down here.

    I’m so summer soft, that 35’F feels bracing to me… Ook! 🙂 I’ve never been to Europe either. Mostly we travelled in Asia, with one jaunt over to Peru (which I quite liked, and the food was good). Travel can be graded upon stomach bug complaints, and there were none in Peru. Yum!

    Dame Scritchy is missed, and know that her Cherry tree is growing well and produces abundant flowers each year.

    It’s a pleasure to have completed that path project, and we headed down below today to the forest edge and had a big burn off of fallen materials today. Feels good cleaning up, and the loggers left a lot of mess over their century or more of their activities.

    I can’t explain that high chainsaw cut. If the machine had kicked back, the sharp chain would have intersected with the operators face. Not nice. I’ve read that back in the day they used to drive planks into big trees and stand on those whilst cutting, but I couldn’t see any evidence of that. Dunno.

    Yum! Yum! How good are roasted beetroots? Best wishes for a bountiful harvest at your place. And with extra sunlight, well let’s just say that I get that story!

    Ah, hot water. Well there are solar hot water panels on the roof which heat the water during the summer months. The hot water is stored in a 100 gallon header tank, which sits inside the roof space. In winter, the wood box has a 30kW wet back which circulates hot water up into the header tank, but also sends the water to radiators in each room. It’s very toasty, despite the near freezing weather outside. The hot water for the house does not come from the header tank, but rather a huge coil of copper pipe which sits inside the header tank. It’s technically known as a heat exchanger. When the sun doesn’t shine and the wood box is not burning firewood, we have an LPG backup instant-on hot water device.

    How else does one get hot water all year around when off-grid?



  31. Hi DJ,

    Was Gomez in the Addams family? Oh yeah, not the band of course, but that dude was a Sharp Dressed Man (thought I’d slip in another pop culture music reference, since I seem to be one of the few people who takes the art form seriously! 😉 ). Wednesday Addams sounds like a lot of fun. Hang on a second, I just have to make a note to myself here… … Don’t annoy Wednesday Addams That’s better, what were we talking about again? Ah yes, your notes on the erasable board would have surely sent a strong message to the troops. Wednesday had let’s just call them, special interests, and hope none of us are involved!

    The name of that mountain proves that literalists can have a sense of humour! There’s a mountain in the island state of Tasmania known as Frenchmans Cap. Need I say more? That part of the world would sing to your soul, it’s a very wild and remote alpine place. I’ve always enjoyed my time there.

    Hehe! One must keep a sharp watch upon what dogs put into their mouths. Probably deer poop. It’s part of how they fortify their guts with bacteria etc, but sometimes they take things too far. We spent most of today cleaning up that area where the kelpies (Ollie does not indulge) seem to have been trippin’ out. I’m so not cool about them doing that, and there are four wombat burrows in the area. Hmm. Anyway, cleaning the area up will assist with the psychedelic canine dramas.

    Your garden may appreciate a wombat? Just thought I’d ask. 🙂

    The geology in your area would guide the weather outcomes there. The same is true here. Some areas have milder climates, and rainfall can be a factor of the surrounding geology. Spokane sounds like a reasonably good compromise climate. Toppenish can probably adapt given the smaller population, but I do wonder about the longevity of those huge gambling cities in even hotter conditions to the south.

    Well, you have a background in physics, so I’d say a rocket man is with the realms of feasibility! 🙂 Freshly grown rocket is so tasty. We also grow a small leaved variety which stands up to the hottest weather, although it is not from the same family of plants. Well, worth the garden space that particular plant.

    A very big atmospheric river originating over the Indian Ocean far to the north west of the continent. It’s quite damp here as a result. The winds were nuts, and near record breaking in the alpine areas far to the east of here: 146 km/h winds at the top of Australia. That’s a lot of wind, and I’ve camped out during a wind storm which broke some of the tents fibreglass rods. Not fun. We had a lot of tree damage this week.

    Ouch! Oh no! That sort of late frost destroying the cherry blossoms has been my lived experience for about five years in a row now. It’s not good, and also shows why I plant such a wide diversity of edible plants. Far out, I’ve had only a few handfuls of apricots in all those years. Last year the almonds were also wiped out. I could go on…

    It was 3’C overnight last night, so I’m hoping the kiwi fruit starches begin to turn into sugars. Might pick them this week.

    Standing over the mine shaft and looking down was as you suggest a 100% pure queasy experience. Some cheeky wags had dropped stuff down over the years so you could sort of see how far you’d fall before hitting the bottom. Probably not survivable, but given the 10m/second fall due to gravity, you might have a bit of time to contemplate life the universe and everything before reaching the err, bottom. I would not recommend the experience.

    Man, I seriously hope Plan F and G works out well, and maybe the folks will assist on the day? I think they will, it’s respect for the departed really. Well, you heard it from me, but the big J said on that mount: Blessed are the competent, for they are busy!

    Is Killian’s human coming along given the assistance provided so far?



  32. Chris:

    How did the clever baker bloke survive? Ah – booze! I looked it up.

    Yeah, but it takes bricks and mortar to cut hair – or at least a chair. I used to cut my son’s hair outside. If that was a car repair person we would call him a shade tree mechanic, so – a shade tree hairstylist?

    Ha – big skies! That’s what they say about where I came from – Texas. And it’s true.

    One would heat the water on a woodstove and break your back carrying it and use up all your time. That is one neat set-up that you have. Much better! Thanks for the info.


  33. Hi Lewis,

    Can’t say that I know the feeling, but a bit of imagination suggests that the outcome of your dental / sneezing experiment would have been problematic to say the least. Hope you didn’t have to remove any floss which ended up stuck? That floss stuff sometimes breaks, and that’s also a problem.

    Bummer you’re feeling more or less the same today. It happens, and I can only hope that you’re feeling better today? It sounds like the flu if it’s knocking you around like that. A nasty business. Generally colds aren’t so bad.

    Lucky you to have avoided that wrist issue. I do a lot of physical work around the farm, and so have stretch out everything, and every day, even if I don’t feel like spending the time doing so. It’s easier to do so, than suffer the consequences, although I note that plenty of people want a pill for that.

    We spent most of today down at the forest edge doing a clean up and burn off where the dogs had been having their out-of-this-world experiences. When the rain fell, it was quite nice standing next to the hot fire, the clothes dried off in no time at all. The dogs have a bit of cabin fever tonight because you know, they aren’t allowed in that area, and so they were stuck inside. That’ll teach them for ingesting harmful substances…

    All the equipment gets pretty muddy on such work days! As the sun was setting, we hosed down all the equipment before storing it away. Had a long hot bath afterwards. I’ve never quite understood why people say that after such strenuous activities, you should avoid hot baths. It feels right to me, and the heat gets into all the joints. 🙂

    Hehe! Go H! Hopefully in a few days time (when you’re feeling better) H will be able to meet her audience at the Club where she shall show off her new ‘do. Peanut will no doubts realise that he’s been beat.

    H has a double coat, so she’d get pretty warm at this time of year. Yeah, I tend to agree with your thoughts there, it doesn’t exactly sound like overly supportive behaviour.

    Lewis, you so busted me there. By break, I didn’t mean a break from work around here, I meant an actual break from paid work around Christmas time. Nah, there’s a firewood shed to construct, then there is the second greenhouse. Unfortunately crop rotation practices demands the second greenhouse, but that project has to wait for the new and larger firewood shed. Dunno man, maybe it is just me, but I don’t really feel the need to travel anywhere on holidays. Probably did too much of that years ago, and also maybe in a past life! Home is where I’m happiest.

    Sounds a bit creepy doesn’t it? Like something inanimate possessed and in a Stephen King novel. I’m getting shivers down my back thinking of such late into the wee-hours of the night page turners. The puritans scare me even more! 😉

    I could explain what a poppet head is, or I’ll chuck on a photo for the next blog. 😉 There was a metal see through grate over the mine shaft and as I was standing on it, trying to look cool, and not all a bit woozy from the thought of dropping into the depths, when the thought occurred to me: Just how strong are these welds? I can assure you, the thought did not make me feel any better.

    Oh no, tell me it’s not true? Half of those jobs? Wow… This concept has been on my mind all week. Hmm.

    I’d heard of this UK Post Office scandal. It’s outrageous. That’s not a situation I’ve ever been in, however you got me wondering how would a person prove that it was the system which is incorrect. At the first sniff of such trouble, I’d keep a paper tally system, and then each day compare in detail what the computer was saying the sales figures were. Then I would totally crack the sads. It surprises me that nobody did that (that I’d heard of).

    Well, they appear to have lied. Generally accounting systems are pretty robust, so I’m guessing somewhere, a whole bunch of people knew. What’s weird about it, was that the issue was not treated like a simple teething problem to be fixed. It seems quite malicious to prosecute, and such actions can only undermine credibility in the authority.

    Many long years ago I once worked a business which dealt with a lot of cash. A whole lot of cash, and I would never, ever work for such a business again. Anywhoo, I noticed that with some shifts, some operators were always out a regular amount. I figured they were buying lunch and as long as it didn’t escalate, I let it be. The cost to do something about the minor amount would be greater than any benefit gained by putting a stop to the practice. And you never knew, if the operator was replaced, things could get worse.

    Your timing for recover sounds pretty good to me. Isn’t it always the way, all need for excursions are done and that’s when the body says “enjoy this flu, for the time is right!”



  34. Hi Pam,

    Yeah, he did some other good things as well, like being the last to step off the sinking ship, throwing floating items into the water, making sure his life jacket was tight, and dog paddling around for two hours before the sun came up. I did wonder whether the alcohol in his blood lowered the freezing point of the blood? I think that is a distinct possibility, much in the way that kale leaves produce sugars so as to reduce their freezing point in super cold weather. Many plants do that trick. Nobody wants a brain freeze, except maybe John Wayne, and some other folks now that I think about it…

    True, it does take a chair to do that work, and some hairdressers rent a chair in an existing business. That’s a lovely way to describe the work, yeah, cool. Like it. I’ve already asked Sandra to cut my hair in future, so perhaps you were ahead of the curve there? Decline, huh?

    Hehe! I’d forgotten that about the saying also relating to Texas skies. Indisputable.

    Well, that’s a possibility, and truly I’d actually quite like to have a wood oven and stove (we used to, until we destroyed it). It would help with the electricity dramas for three weeks either side of the winter solstice (which is as of today). And I actually really liked cooking with wood heat, it was forgiving and made the best Anzac biscuits. Yum! But for hot water in any quantity, well, historically we’ve never had it so good, have we?



  35. Yo, Chris – About a month ago, I watched a new series. “Wednesday.” Wednesday Addams gets shipped off to a school, a bit like Hogwarts. For children with “special” abilities. I quit liked it, and there was a bit of an ongoing mystery, involved. I’m looking forward, to season two.

    Speaking of mysteries, last night I watched a bit of “Father Brown,” season eleven. Someone, besides me, must like it. 🙂 And, for heavier fare, I started reading “After 1177 B.C.: The Survival of Civilizations.” (Cline, 2024). It’s a sequel to his “1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed.” I was just going to read the introduction, as I’ve got other books on the go. But got sucked in. The author started wondering which civilizations vanished, which morphed into something else, and which one’s vanished. And, why some proved more resilient, than others. And how it might relate to our current pickle.

    Sometimes, one of my floss picks get’s snagged, between teeth. And won’t come out. I’ve learned to very carefully insert very pointy scissors, and snip the thread.

    Seems to be less drainage, overall, today. But I’m very tired and don’t have much appetite.

    Maybe there’s a NA (Narcotics Anonymous) for dogs? 🙂

    Oh, I ran H down to the Club, last night. Everyone made over her. The way they do her ears, I always think she looks like the Infanta of Spain. Though H is prettier.


    We’ll probably go down, again, this evening. See if there’s any tucker, on offer. Either there will be, or there won’t.

    Well, it’s not as if you don’t get out and around, in a fairly local way. Gardens to look at, short nature hikes to take, mining areas to poke around in. And, the eternal quest for perfect tucker. 🙂

    Some people did keep paper tallies. But if the computer said they’d squirreled away 90,000 pounds, somewhere, then it must have happened. I ran across a very timely article, last night. The Royal Mail has been sold to a Czech billionaire.


    The series didn’t make if very clear that the Royal Mail had been privatized in 2013. Which was about when the problems, began. There’s a really interesting character, in the series. The Royal Mail hired an independent, forensic accountant. Expecting him to support their madness. Luckily, he was an honorable, decent man, who returned a report that didn’t support the Royal Mail’s nonsense. So, they attempted to bury the report, and fired him. He kept working with the postmasters. There were some very decent MPs, who also helped out.

    “They” keep trying to privatize our post office, here. So far, it hasn’t happened. And, a lot of other programs, that really benefit people.

    LOL. I was watering the garden, last night, and thought, “Well, I won’t have to do this again, for awhile.” 🙂 Clouds are moving in, and we might get a bit of rain, today. But the onslaught will really kick in, tomorrow. There are flood warnings, further north of us, and they keep expanding south. H and I will have some very wet walks, in our future. Lew

  36. Hi Lewis,

    Wednesday Addams did seem like a precocious child, and was probably easily bored, which could be problematic for the brother. 🙂 Hope season two is good, and that the mystery remains unsolved, despite further clues entering into the narrative.

    So many seasons is definitely a nod to the greater interest in the series, and I note that it is available on the goobermint streaming service down under. That kind of makes a lot of sense. I’ll mention this series to the Editor, who enjoys such narratives. Ah, she is intrigued by your recommendation. That’s what I’d call a win for team fluffy! 🙂

    I’m sure the dark ages folks in Britain felt much the same about these constant every-fricken-summer marauding heathens from northern Europe, as did the relatively wealthier folks in the Mediterranean felt about the Sea Peoples? What had we done to deserve this onslaught? Survive during difficult eras, in hard conditions, that’s what. It looks like those folks smashed the Bronze Age economy, and inadvertently brought on the Iron Age. Not to mention the coal and later, the oil age.

    Haven’t had that floss emergency, but will keep your good advice in mind.

    Maybe so about NA for dogs, but simply keeping them away from the area until is cleaned up, is probably the easier path. You can’t rationalise with a dog, but you can set boundaries.

    It’s quite amusing to think that such portraits were produced so as to ‘shop around’ princesses for their respective suitors. H would be a lady of the finest breeding, and her natural charms need not be shopped around like any old princess. 🙂 What was the significance of the handkerchief? Evidence the lady knew how to blow her nose politely?

    Yummo! Did you get any tucker at the Club? And the quality was?

    Exactly, I seek entertainment from the smaller, more local avenues. Perhaps I’m just not easily bored? Dunno. The thing which got me about the travelling to far distant shores was the expense. So I worked like a dog to pay to have my senses overwhelmed by exotic situations. It’s an option, but there are easier paths.

    What? Presumably folks may have forgotten that postage stamps are the I believe, equivalent of currency? Privatising the postal service makes absolutely no sense to me. It’s a loss making service, that why the goobermints usually run them. And in the face of such claims, I would have kept a detailed tally, and demanded they produced the transactional details, then compared the two. It may surprise you, but I have made sense from businesses which have tens of thousands of transactions per month. I’d heard the stories that this was not possible, but au contraire – they were wrong with such claims.

    Sometimes it takes a decent person to put an end to such nonsense. The system does not like such people, and is actively hostile to them, often using the full weight of their resources to make their lives a living misery. Hmm.

    How the future travels in that regard, is something of a mystery. But during the Great Depression, were there folks with the free mad cash to privatise goobermint operations? I think not.

    Hehe! How did you go with the rain? Was it as heavy as forecast? It was pleasant, but very cloudy here today, and we made so little power. A bit ominous really for the next six weeks. I cleaned up and serviced many of the machines, but other than that had a quiet day.

    Hope you are feeling better today.

    Cheers and better get writing!


  37. Yo, Chris – There’s also a “Father Brown” spin-off. “Sister Boniface Mysteries.” She made an appearance in several Father Brown episodes, and then got her own series. Season one was a joy, and season two should be out, any time. There’s to be a season three. Sister Boniface is an Oxbridge educated chemistry wiz, whose talents contribute to her convents fund raising. Wine making. And, solving crime. These mysteries are both set in the 1950s.

    Cline, in “After 1177 BC” has an interesting chart. What he thinks indicates system collapse and subsequent dark age.
    Centralized economy Collapses
    Central administration Collapses
    Traditional elites Disappear
    Settlements Shift / move
    Population Declines
    Writing Lost
    Impressive architecture Disappears

    I was reading about the Assyrians and Babylonians, last night. They were quit the record keepers. But even they had about a 100 year period, where records weren’t kept. Then their drought eased and they made a rebound. They were two civilizations that made it into the Iron Age, relatively intact.

    Henry VIII almost had the artist Hans Holbein the Younger’s head. He was sent to do a little portrait of Anne of Cleves. The King didn’t think the Lady, when she arrived, measured up to her portrait. 🙂 That story at least had a fairly happy ending. Anne was set up for life, in England. “Retired to the Country,” as they used to say. 🙂 She was also instrumental in keeping Princesses Mary and Elizabeth on good terms, with their father.

    Picture brides were a “thing” right up into the 19th century. And especially so, once photography came in. One of my Finnish great (great?) grandmothers, was a picture bride. There’s a tale there, we’ll leave for another time.

    No tucker at the Club. There’s a brew ha ha going on there. Rumors fly. Apparently, Mr. Bill our Club manager, has quit. Reasons vary, depending on who you talk to. There’s to be a board and membership meeting, tomorrow night. Which I will steer clear of. There will be conflict. And there will be yelling. I don’t need either.

    I think I’ve mentioned that an attempt was made to gut and privatize our postal service. Back in the early 2000s, an act was passed to demand the postal service fund 75 years of retirement savings. The only federal or corporate entities to have those kind of requirements. Up to that point, our postal service returned a bit of a profit. That was finally repealed, a year or two, ago. If you’re interested, there’s an article titled “How Congress Manufactured a Postal Crisis.” All well and good, but their on-line services have been privatized. Which most people don’t realize.

    Everything is getting privatized, slyly and piece-meal. The appeals process of our Medicare program, has been outsourced.

    I had H out for a walk, a little while ago. Rain is spattering down, but nothing too outrageous. The wind is rising. We’re forecast to get gusts over 20 mph. We’re under a flood watch. Oh, well. It’s all to be over by Wednesday afternoon, and we’re back to warm and sunny.

    I saw a book on our library’s “new and on order” list, a couple of weeks ago. “The Way of the Hermit: My 40 Years in the Scottish Wilderness.” (Ken Smith.) I put it on hold. Glad I did. A couple of nights ago, I noticed “Slate Magazine” had a review of it. If you search around, you can find it pretty easily. “Slate” doesn’t throw up pay walls. I guess they want to be read 🙂 . At least, no pay walls, in this country. I don’t know about international.

    Well, I’m hunkered down, for the day. Head is clearer, but I tire easily. Still coughing gunk (a highly technical and scientific term) out of my lungs. It comes in interesting colors. Which is a good thing. Those colors come from dead bacteria. Which won’t be missed or mourned. Lew

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