Monday, 15 June 2015

All the small things

Plenty of chainsaw action took place this week. I’ve now finally completed the penance for my error which was detailed in last week’s blog that resulted in me getting ripped off. It is nice to finish a big task like that one, but a weekly blog about chainsaw activities is possibly not that interesting and may even be considered to be a little bit dull. So, let’s forget about the many hours of chainsaw activities that occurred and instead discuss the other more interesting things going on here.

A couple of months back I had serious concerns that I’d arrived at “peak rocks”. Peak rocks, is the time at which all of the easy to recover rocks on the farm were utilised in rock walls. Such an event would be very disturbing because it may require having to bring rocks in from outside the farm. The thought truly strikes fear into my heart because that also may mean actually paying for rocks when I’d been previously obtaining them for free!

Fortunately, after a bit of exploration deep into the forested lands on the farm I’ve discovered quite a few very rich veins of rocks. Those rocks are there for the taking and I’ve been busily making plans for all of the projects that they can be used in. However, there is one minor catch. All of those rich veins of rocks are downhill of the house, so if I want to use the rocks, I have to bring them back up the hill.

If it was summer, I’d simply drive the trusty white Suzuki down the hill to the nearest accessible place, load the vehicle up with rocks, and then drive it back up the hill. Easy! However, it is now winter and whilst the trusty white Suzuki will happily undertake the downward journey, coming back up the hill presents a few difficulties because the vehicle will do a whole lot of damage to all of the carefully maintained herbage which the local animals eat. And it would not look good at all not being able to make it back up the hill. Plus, how would I be able to get to the Post Office / Cafe.

Rocks are still being recovered, but I’m now having to go “old school” which means simply loading those rocks onto a wheelbarrow and pulling them up the hill by myself. It is a slow but sure process at this time of year.

With the benefit of a supply of additional rocks, the retaining wall around the new firewood shed has now been completed. The photo below shows the retaining wall with its various components.
Sir Scruffy and Poopy inspect the new retaining wall next to the firewood shed
Behind the very large rocks which form the face of the face of the retaining wall are many smaller rocks. Those many smaller rocks are mixed in with the local clay to ensure that the much larger rocks on the outward face stay more or less as they were laid. Over the top of all of those rocks a layer of rock toppings from a local quarry is added. Those rock toppings contain lime which when combined with water and rainfall forms a more or less solid surface.
The finished retaining wall between the two sheds
Rock wall action continued, because this week I scored two new olive trees. I use both the olive fruit and the oil from the pressed fruit all of the time in cooking, so more olive trees are very exciting. It is amazing how much fruit an advanced olive tree can produce and the trees just thrive here. There are now about 15 olive trees in the orchard and whilst I’m not in danger of running out of space for more fruit trees, I did have to work out exactly where to plant the two new olive trees.

There is a line of olive trees below the house, and this week I decided to extend that existing line of olive trees with the two new olive trees. However, those garden beds required more rocks! This is what it looked like before extending the rock wall:
Before the new olive trees were planted
I was never really sure what to do in that garden area anyway and because of that I’d done nothing. However today, that rock wall was extended a further 5 metres (16.5 feet) and the two olive trees were planted into the new garden beds. The photo below shows how these garden beds are constructed.
New garden beds under construction
The two new olive trees were planted and some of the soil was enriched with plant cuttings. At this time of year some plants can be cut back very hard and I use those cuttings as fill for new garden beds. On top of the cuttings, I add a thick layer of mushroom compost. Soil geek alert! The worms and all of the other soil life happily turn those cuttings into a rich and healthy soil.

And some of those cuttings were also replanted into the mix and it now looks like this:
The two olive trees were planted today into the new garden beds
Observant readers will note that although it is winter here, I’m standing outside in a t-shirt because the weather has been extremely warm this week. It almost felt as though spring had arrived early and many of the bulbs actually started to produce green shoots. Very observant readers will note that just behind where I’m standing in the photo there are many piles of saplings which will be used as pickets on the berry enclosure just behind me and to the left.

The cycles of nature dictate what has to be done when here and planting out all of the berries into that berry enclosure has to be completed before the end of August. That unfortunately means getting the pickets onto the berry enclosure before that date. If those pickets aren’t installed around the berry enclosure I might as well just feed all of the berry plants to the wallabies who will happily eat every one of them! The pickets will be simply screwed onto the fence rails surrounding the enclosure. The only problem with that plan is that the 20 year old trusty yellow drill has required a few repairs. A few months back I added a brand new keyless chuck to that trusty yellow drill, but with all of the bashing around during the construction of the machinery and firewood sheds, the electrical cord broke somewhere and the drill stopped working. Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to hang the drill from the steel roof joists by its electrical cord?

Anyway, this week I performed a hack on a new heavy duty extension cord and rewired the trusty yellow drill and all was good. I didn’t actually go out of my way to colour match the electrical cable to the drill, but sometimes – what can I say – magic happens!
The trusty yellow drill enjoys a brand new heavy duty colour matched electrical cable
In breaking egg news, as the winter solstice is fast approaching the chickens decided this week to up their egg production and I’m now retrieving about three eggs per day from fifteen chickens.

As it is getting closer to the winter solstice, I've been posting the solar PV statistics:
Battery % full at the start of the day - Amount generated by the 4.2kW of PV panels during that day
Tuesday 9th June – 85% full – 3.8kWh
Wednesday 10th June – 90% full – 2.9kWh
Thursday 11th June – 90% full – 5.5kWh
Friday 12th June – 95% full – 3.8kWh
Saturday 13th June – 100% full – 2.6kWh
Sunday 14th June – 95% full – 4.2kWh
Monday 15th June – 85% full – 3.2kWh

How did the house get here?
As the 2010 year ticked over into January 2011, I was busily installing architraves, door jambs and internal doors. The door to the left in the photo below was very important because it was for the visitor’s toilet! During that time, I somehow managed to fill the book shelves that line the hallway too.
Internal doors began to be installed, whilst the bookshelves were filled
As it was summer, the 90 minute fire rated walls which protect and surround the underside of the verandah deck were installed. The photo below shows the first layer of 16mm (0.63 inch) thick fire retardant and moisture resistant plaster installed over a treated timber framework. The top edge of that plaster is further protected from moisture by various steel flashings that I had on hand. Those steel flashings weren't necessary and may have been a bit of overkill, but it provides an additional long term moisture protection to the plaster.

The fire rated walls are installed protecting the underside of the house
Those same fire rated walls protect the timber which holds up the veranda roof too! The join in the corner of the veranda was a nightmare angle, but fortunately the editor has a better brain for such things than I.

The fire rated walls extend under the veranda roof as well
A neighbour gifted me the remains of a rusty old water tank which was converted that month into three raised garden beds. It was quite large as the photo below shows:

A neighbour gifted me the remains of a rusty old water tank which I converted into raised garden beds
2010 was the wettest year here in recorded history with reliable records dating back to 1870! I’d never seen so much rain before and I don’t believe that the wildlife had either. The photo below displays a couple of very wet and bedraggled kangaroos enjoying the compost fed herbage lifestyle here at the farm:

A couple of very wet and bedraggled kangaroos at the farm in January 2010
The temperature outside here at about 9.00pm is 7.8 degrees Celsius (46’F). So far this year there has been 348.8mm (13.7 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 339.4mm (13.4 inches).

50 comments:

orchidwallis said...

Hello Chris

I never tire of your wonderful bookshelves. I think that you need a mule to help with moving rocks.

Silverweed and white clover are flowering.

Sorry to continue with the bank saga. I sorted things today by starting from scratch with another bank official and altering my requirement. I did ask how much money I could move around at any one time without causing a problem. Wait for it; this was the response. 'We are not allowed to tell you that'!! Actually I do know and told her; amusing to see her eyes slew around.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Heather - Well, you know chickens. They either will, or they won't. Like lemon balm. Mine also turn up their noses at lettuce and broccoli. Go figure. Next year I figure they'll be back to decimating the horseradish and ignoring the lemon balm. :-).

Yo, Chris - Speaking of chooks, seeing your recent egg production, now I don't feel so bad. I'm getting 4.57 per day, from 11 hens. A slight uptick from the last two weeks. But, nothing like the 6 and 7 per day I was getting a couple of months ago.

To get a really exciting chain saw story, you need to get another one and learn to juggle them. :-). Actually done at some of the local logging festivals, here.

Just out of curiosity, how do you press your olive oil?

Your tale of rocks reminded me of the legend of Sisyphus. Doomed to forever roll rocks uphill. On the other hand, they sure do make for a handsome landscape.

I do battle with our health care system, tomorrow morning, early in the am. I haven't been near a doctor in 15 years. I get a free "Welcome to Medicare" check-up, so I figured, why not? Ought to be interesting.

Oh, and responding to your question about scythes, oddly enough, I was just looking at them in the Lehman's catalog the other night. But at almost 66 ... I'm sure there are octogenarians, out there, that regularly scythe the back 40, in a day, and don't break a sweat. I'm not one of them :-). Lew

orchidwallis said...

@Lew

I hope that that medical check up doesn't scare you half to death. I refuse all such offers.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Yes, well, if the truth were told in full, I'm not sure how people cope with the Alaskan winters either? The house here is very seriously insulated, however insulation slows the energy loss to the external world and moderates all of the extremes, but still some of my Canadian friends talk of -25'C winters and that is an extreme so far beyond my understanding that I'm unsure how this place would even cope?

I still find peoples preferences for brick housing mildly unfathomable. Some of the double brick houses up here are so cold over winter that the couples residing in them have arguments in front of me about the cold temperatures that they experience over winter. Timber housing is just so much more forgiving and when you add in serious quantities of insulation it becomes positively pleasant! Some of the true unbelievers drop by from time to time just to see whether my claims stand up to the winter weather conditions...

I love the trees too and do my best for the very oldest of those stalwarts of the forest. I've seen above the treeline in both New Zealand and Nepal and it is not for me (too many rocks - although they'd be useful too).

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Heather,

It is just no good and only a very short term game, I tend to think and act in slightly longer terms than that which is why it really annoyed me... Still, I haven't always been good and perhaps it is some sort of karma event?

Thanks for the tip about rose hips. Additional pectin is always handy and great for jam making. Just for your info I add a bit of rhubarb to my jam here as the stems also contain useful amounts of pectin.

Interesting to hear about your experience with the banks. They are a necessary evil today, although they are usually quite pleasant to deal with here. Having said that though sometimes the tellers ask personal questions which really annoys me as they are meant to be reasonably objective and even handed. Anyway, I am waiting for the "why aren't you at work today?" question because I'm going to tell them I'm either going to a funeral or ask them how they are recovering from the recent financial planning scandal. I'm not sure which but it should be fun.

Yes, that is an excellent strategy during the winter - covering every square metre (or foot) of ground with either: plants; mulch or toppings.

The gum boots here have never cracked and mine are at least a decade old... What's going on?

That is some serious heat I wish you, your family, your garden and all of the critters that live in it the best for the summer.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Mostly here they are called "gum boots" - you hear the term "wellingtons" or even "wellies" but then that also refers to the capital of New Zealand so perhaps word that usage has been actively discouraged down under?

Yeah, it is weirdly warm outside here tonight right now and half an inch of rain fell last night with more to come over the next few days. It is certainly quite damp outside too and shows little sign of drying during the next few months of winter. Exactly, the difference between the warm (relatively) winter nights and days was not much at all. Hmmm, food for thought. Plus the cloud layer has just been intense and for days on end.

Anomalies, coming to a weather future near you! hehe! Sorry, couldn't help myself with that one... Anomalies is perhaps another way of saying: "we really don't have any idea, but when pressed for a response, we've got this super nifty descriptive word that can mean anything we want it to mean". It hailed over Uluru (the super massive red pebble) in the centre of the continent here yesterday...

Well topiaries can be quite interesting and unusual. I swear one of the very wealthy people living in a historic hill station on the western part of the mountain range that regularly opens their beautiful garden has a topiary that looks like some of the characters out of HR Puff n Stuff. Also there is a sea monster topiary... Speaking of which have you ever noticed that some cheeky wags took the Jane Austin classics and gave them a spin for the youth of today by adding in zombies and sea monsters? I actually read Pride and Prejudice with zombies but never quite got around to Sense and Sensibilities with sea monsters... All I can say is that the zombies were added to the story in a coherent fashion - not easy to do at all.

Hunting is regulated here and people can't pursue that activity on private land, without the owners permission. I wouldn't give that permission without knowing exactly what sort of person I'm dealing with as it is such a trust thing and many would abuse it.

Ouch. Thanks for the heads up on that knee possibility. The knee has no right to feel as good as it does today...

That flower is a stunner and almost looks like it is from the fuchsia family. Spreading the plant around its natural habitat is an excellent thing to do. Well done. How is your asparagus trench growing this year?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks about the book shelves, I really appreciate that. It is the first thing that people see when they enter the house.

A mule would be a really good idea. I am actually thinking about building a small electric trolley with a very low centre of gravity to bring the rocks back up the hill, but time is running short this year. Maybe next year?

White and red clover are very common plants in the herbage here, but I'd never heard of silverweed before. It has some very useful medicinal and edible properties. Interesting.

No stress, the bank saga is very interesting and it is useful to hear about encounters from other parts of the world. You scored a direct hit. How fascinating about the banks obfuscation. It makes you wonder just whose money they were looking after? Glad to hear that you had a win with them. Those limits are freely displayed and discussed here.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Wow, you are doing very well for egg production. Spring does seem to be the big egg production time here too with autumn being the worst. Sometimes I have so many eggs that I'm able to give them away, but not so now. It is a bit grim. Have you ever had any experience with growing edible mushrooms? I suspect they follow the same cycle as the chooks from a productivity perspective, but a bit of diversity in protein sources is perhaps no bad thing.

Oh my! Well, that is a surprising mental image for sure. Unfortunately I lack the competency to juggle multiple (or even a single one for that matter) chainsaws. I take my hat off to them for that one... I do like some of that stuff at the local shows and this may disappoint you but I'm slightly in awe of the monster trucks too and all of the crazy tricks that the drivers do with them.

Ahh. That requires an olive press which I don't have at the moment but am thinking about how to go about constructing one. All of the olive fruit here is prepared for eating in brine and the olive oil comes from the many local olive orchards. It is very good but also very expensive at over $10 / litre (3.8 litres to the gallon).

Thanks, the rock walls provide a solid and visual boundary between all of the different areas. That Sisyphus must sure have annoyed the wrong person or entity to have to do that for eternity. Mate, I feel for him. The pile of rocks in the photo was quite the bit of exercise to bring back up the hill - still that may have something to do with my knee not hurting today either? Dunno.

Well that should be an interesting experience. Watch out for the fries as in: do you want fries with that? One of the things I like about the dentist I go to is that they don't bother me about additional extras like x-rays. I got into an argument with one once about how the dentist was just asking me for an x-ray so that he could pay off his expensive machine quicker. It was perhaps from hindsight an error as a simple "no thanks" to the guilt trip which I received about getting the x-ray in the first place would have sufficed. Oh well.

The doctors here are hung up on cholesterol (which unless you have fasted before hand they can’t test you for) and vitamin D deficiencies (which is a very weird concern for this part of the planet) for some strange reason, so we'll have to compare notes? The last time I went to the doctors I’d just had a coffee and they were going: your blood pressure seems to be a bit high. Coffee will do that…

I hear you man. Fair enough.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

I have eaten silverweed roots and like them. They are supposed to taste like parsnips. No they don't; they are tasteless but have an interesting crunch. I roasted them.

Vit. D shortage is due to the sun screen people use. Children are getting rickets here. With regard to medical checks, I don't think that doctors know what is normal in the healthy elderly. I was aged 79 at the time and a doctor was worried by my low oestrogen. My immediate thought was that surely that was normal for my age.

I have so many friends who are on vast amounts of medication which I am convinced they don't need.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

@ Inge - Well, I hadn't been to a doctor in 15 years, and it's kind of a freebe. Will be interesting to see how much out of pocket I have to pay. Went this morning. An ok experience and I'm getting my vaccinations up to date.

Yo, Chris - Yeah, my boots split or crack after about a season, too. I'm sure they're not made out of the same stuff yours are. Mine are some cheap Chinese things. I think I paid $12.95 for them. Here, you can also get a tube of Shoe-goo that enables you to get a few more miles out of them. As with most things, I'm sure you get what you pay for.

Well, I'm sure we'll be seeing more and more weather anomalies. I do like Cliff Mass' weather blog. He's an actual meteorologist, not just a pretty or handsome face to "present" the weather. He also wrote a book on the history of Pacific Northwest weather. Interesting stuff.

It's always interesting when someone takes a classic and does a different take on it. Sometimes they succeed, and sometimes they don't. I had heard of the Austin zombie send ups, but hand't read them. I couldn't resist the movie "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer." :-).

Nothing happening in the asparagus bed. Even though I mounded it up. Maybe something is eating the roots?

Stamets has some mushroom growing kits I'd like to try out. I'll get around to it, sooner or later.

Monster trucks aren't my cup of tea, but you go, guy! As Mum used to say, "What a terrible world it would be if we all liked the same things." Now, me, I enjoy a good rip roaring explosion, in the movies. The more, the bigger, the better! :-).

Might want to look into how the Romans pressed olives. I saw a dvd series on Roman technology, and seem to remember great wooden beams (with carved rams heads!), stones of great size and something to do with twisting large amounts of rope to get tension and pressure.

I looked up Sisyphus on Wikipedia, and he was quit a piece of work. Ticked off Zeus, among other gods.

Had my initial foray into our health care system, this morning. Much to my surprise (given I was stressed to get there on time, didn't know where I was going, hadn't ever been there before, hadn't been to a doctor in 15 years...) my blood pressure was fine. A credit all that raw garlic I eat. :-). I have to go back tomorrow morning, after starving myself, for blood work, etc.. That will reveal my cholesterol levels. The way I eat, I'll be surprised if they are out of whack.

We'd talked about economic bubbles. On my way back home I swung by the library and picked up "The Great Beanie Baby Bubble; Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute." Ought to be an interesting read. Lew

Angus Wallace said...

Hi Chris,

The first thing I thought looking at the rocks was "winch", but have no idea how far you were taking them, over what terrain... certainly pushing a loaded barrow up a steep and muddy hill is hard work -- make sure the tire is well-inflated! ;-) A friend has opened a small market garden in Adelaide, and I helped him make a pedal-powered plough/cultivator using a winch. It worked well, but I'm not sure how much he's actually using it. Gravity is certainly a force to be respected!

I love the idea of getting an olive tree, but I'm not sure we have room. We've for just under 900 sq-m, and have planted about 25 trees so far. Planning to plant some more, but want to add some more nut and fruit trees, which might fill the place. Might have room for an olive in there.. I need to write up what we've done in the garden so I can get your advice what to do next!

That's a real bugger about those guys skipping off with the job unfinished. It still amazes me how people justify things like that to themselves. I bet they said something to themselves like "he wasn't paying us well enough" or something similar to make themselves feel better. Glad you got it sorted though.

We got our power bill this week -- $75 for the quarter, which is pretty good (we drew just under 3 kWh/day from the grid, and exported nearly 5 kWh/day on average).

Also, I was thinking more about the manufacturing cost of the ebike battery (embodied energy of approx 500 kWh for a 1 kWh battery) -- that is an enormous amount of energy, and is about 1 tank of fuel for the car. Really shows just how much cars use! I rode the ebike yesterday instead of my normal bike, because I've been sick, so yesterday it definitely replaced a car journey!

Cheers, Angus

Pam in Virginia said...

Hi,Chris!

"Rock toppings contain lime" - are the rocks themselves limestone, does the quarry mix lime in before they deliver the rocks/gravel(?), or do you add the lime? Very interested as we have tried various things on our paths, none of which we are really thrilled with.

Egads! Hang a drill by its cord . . . tsk, tsk. See you've got it all right again though.

Pam

Cathy McGuire said...

Hi, Chris -
I'm in awe of all the work you do - and also how your organization results in things getting done right! I've been "away" from blogging as I try to keep up with the growing season...raspberries coming in like gangbusters, cherries all ripening at once... and gophers took out 4 well-developed veggie plants...so I called the mole guy, finally - $20/critter that he catches.I'm all for eco-systems, but I have tried every other way, except making all the veggies raised beds with hardware cloth underneath, and with the cost of hardware cloth and cedar boards now ($10/10ft board!)I can't afford that. I've made raspberry peach jam this weekend and started a carboy of oatmeal stout. So recently, after a long day's work, I'm too tired even to type in a comment. But I do appreciate your posts and all the info you are providing on green wizardry! You are amazing!

PS - the Verify system asked me to select "all images with ice cream" - the rotters!! At this time of night! Hit me when I'm down...

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Thanks. Roasted dandelion root is a bit tasteless too, I've always suspected that some plants get selected and "improved" just because they taste better.

Wow, rickets is nasty and I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

Ha! Well the medical profession has done its best to monetise the condition of ageing!

PS: Hope the bank business ended up well.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Wow, only one year life span for the boots is a real eye opener. Seriously the ones here are at least a decade old and look and feel as though they're made from like, real rubber. Maybe a supplier of old school boots would be the way to go?

What did he have to say about the history of weather in your part of the world? Has it changed at all? You have such a different and much milder winter than in other parts of the country at a similar latitude like around the Great Lakes.

Yeah, I hadn't watched that particular film but do remember when it was released. The title sort of captures your attention. Given you enjoy disaster films, was Sharknado a stretch too far for you? Mind you the film "Blade" had a vampire Pomeranian and that caught my attention! Yeah, they bite alright.

I see that someone has digitally remastered Blade Runner for release onto the big screen too.

Ouch. Maybe. The asparagus here doesn't disappear below ground for very long so I don't really know?

hehe! Yeah, well, we'll try to avoid discussing music too as my tastes may not quite gel with the readership here - although I did slip a sneaky reference for this weeks blog title to the skater punk band Blink 182. Good song!

Nah, it shouldn't be a drama when the time gets to it. You can make them with timber but with steel retaining straps. Those Romans were probably processing 100's of times the volume that I'm considering. Very wise to use a grinding stone too.

Not a smart move at all, which is why it ended up the way it did. Mental note, don't annoy Zeus - things could go poorly from that point onwards.

Nice to hear that your medical experience was good. Hope the cholesterol count is OK too.

What is that book about? The name certainly grabs your attention. Have you had a chance to read The Great Crash 1929 yet?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Angus,

The winch is a good idea but may struggle with the sheer length (100m+), so I don't know. The length is a problem because too much tension can build in either the cables or the the straps and that can be pretty lethal. Indeed, gravity is quite useful, but hard to defy!

Olive trees are very undemanding and can be planted very closely together. It would look very good in a hedge with a couple of feijoas (pineapple guava). 25 trees should give you some serious quantities of fruit when they all mature which can take upwards of 10 years. You could probably grow a macadamia or avocado tree too (both do OK here).

Yeah, good point. I'm left with the vague feeling that the dude doesn't think there is a problem at all...

Well done! Those are really respectable numbers. Hope you are finding that the statistics here are interesting. It has been as cloudy this year as I can ever remember and I'm typing this on a laptop with only a single tall stand LED light on behind me. Roll on August!

Sorry to hear that you are not feeling so well and hope that you get better soon. Yeah, lithium batteries are not as environmentally friendly as people like to think. Someone mentioned something about peak lithium being reached soon. Zinc is certainly a major problem brewing that no one wants to mention...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

Great question. The rocks are a limestone, but the quarry supplies them with a rock size of 7mm (0.275 inch) or less size and they add in all of the lime rock crusher dust. The whole lot slowly sets over time. Also the rocks have squarish edges so that don't roll as easily on a slope. Any rocks that have rounded faces, no matter how small will roll on a slope - and this will eventually lead to you or your loved ones falling over.

As a suggestion, if your local rocks don't have lime then you can purchase large bags of lime and slowly add the lime to the existing rocks and then water the surface and then with a bit of sunlight and strong heat, the whole lot will slowly start to bind. Check to make sure your kids and pets don't get a skin reaction to the setting lime.

As another suggestion, you could add a quantity of general purpose cement powder to the existing rocks and that will also help bind them. The lime will however allow percolation of rainfall far more easily than cement powder.

Ooops! Sprung, well sometimes corners need to be cut when you are working up a ladder, but yeah that probably is why the cable broke. All fixed now though.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Cathy,

I'm in awe of your writing skills!

Thanks for recognising that I'm very organised which is how things get done. I also don't mind fessing up when things go horribly wrong as they do from time to time and having a good post mortem helps too. Sometimes lessons get burned into your brain when you have to fix up the errors of your ways...

Nice to hear that your growing season is incredibly productive. Mmmm yum! Fresh raspberries. The ones in this part of the world are late summer fruit, but that would be a selection thing.

Gophers sound like a gardening nightmare. Honestly you can keep them up your part of the world! They would aerate the soil though, but perhaps a bit too regularly…

What a tasty jam. Yum, reading about all that produce is making me hungry.

Hope the oatmeal stout tastes nice? Hmmm, a bit of Internet reading produced this fine quote: "rich, roasted, chocolate flavors, it simply tastes great". High praise. No way, I can't believe that the University of California has a professor of brewing science. What a course to take! I reckon it would be hard to concentrate on the course notes after a hard day at study... Just sayin, but I see a few flaws in the system.

Thank you I appreciate that.

PS: Mmmm, ice cream! yum!

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Yes, the bank is sorted.

While baking this morning I was acutely conscious of a problem that I have with this property. It is one that I have never seen mentioned anywhere. It is highly relevant for anyone who wants to self build. All my windows and artificial lighting are in the wrong place. I am right handed and all my light comes in from the right side. When preparing food, the window is behind me. There is nothing that I could have done about this other than to tear down what was here and to re-build from scratch. I would never have got planning permission to do this. I was only able to extend slightly within permitted limits. That made things worse as I lost part of a window. So if self building, think about this. How is it with your property?

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, the weather book ... generally, up until the 1950s, winters were colder and we didn't get quit as much rain and it was more spread out. Things really kicked into high gear in the 90s, when we started getting 100 and 500 year flood events, every time we turned around. He devoted some pages to catastrophes, like the Columbus Day Storm. An engrossing read.

Our latitude is tempered by our maritime air. A warm current from Japan that is similar to the North Atlantic conveyer that keeps Britain on the temperate side.

Well, I got all my doctoring done and feel like a pin cushion. Results to follow. All this talk about ice cream forced (I say FORCED!) me to pick up some on the way home. To celebrate the end of my medical adventure. And, a couple of DVDs from the grocery store. Will hit the yard again, tomorrow.

Well, the Abraham Lincoln film was pretty interesting. And, the depiction of mid-19th century America and Washington, DC was also interesting. But what I really remember about the movie is that is was rather visually dark. Light levels were low. But then, light levels WERE low in the 19th century. Candles and oil lamps. Not many lumens.

I watched Sharknado II. Oh, just a mindless romp. A lot of the inside jokes were lost on me, as the C and D list celebrities are unknown to me. A funny cross cultural reference. The new tv series, "Z Nation" had a tornado spewing out zombies. One of the characters made the comment "At least it isn't sharks!" Continuing The First Chehalis International Australian Film Festival, last night I watched "Griff the Invisible" (2010). About a young, socially awkward fellow who has delusions of being a super hero. "Charming and quirky." And, it was. It wasn't until the last couple of scenes that I'm looking at the male lead and going "...is that? No, it can't be. Is it?" Well it was. Ryan Kwanten who is quit well known here for his work in the tv series "True Blood." Maybe I didn't recognize him because he kept his clothes on? But I do admire the fact that he played a part that is so opposite his tv work. With conviction.

Well, "The Great Beanie Baby Bubble" is pretty interesting. How bubbles, delusions and manias develop and collapse. All the stuff Mr. Greer talks about but in greater depth. Also, some good leads on other books on the topic of bubbles. "Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises" (Kindleberger) and "Irrational Exuberance" (Dr. Robert Shiller.) Might be worth following up on, if our library carries them. And, it makes me reflect on my own collecting habits. Can't say I collect with an eye to investment. Sure, I like to feel like I haven't overpaid for something, and I hope my "stuff" holds its' value. But, that's a problem for my estate :-). As I do hardly any socializing, I can't say I pick up this stuff to "flash" other people. I guess it's just stuff I think is beautiful or shows some craftsmanship. Or, says something about a time gone by. Lew

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris and all,

Summer and the weather is rainy here. Although we are lucky that we've only received about half as much rain so far in June as the official St. Louis weather station, even here we have had enough rain to saturate the soil, and more is on the way over the next couple of days. Not a good thing as I should be digging the remainder of the vegetable beds for the summer crops. Only two more weeks after this one to finish up ... otherwise the crops won't mature before frost. Hope those two weeks are on the dry side.

OK, so you process olives in brine. But how, exactly, please? I have an olive tree in a container (it has to live on the enclosed porch during winter) that has set some olives. That's why I want some pointers. How strong do you make the brine? How do you prepare the olives before they are put in the brine? How long do they stay in the brine and how can you tell when they are done? Inquiring minds want to know!

Claire

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge, Lewis and Claire,

Thanks for the comments. Apologies, but work commitments have overtaken me and I'll be unable to respond until tomorrow evening.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

@Lew

If you like gruesome, google 'waterloo teeth'.

Inge

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Got it. Work commitments are a priority. As the old American saying goes "Baby needs new shoes!." :-).

I put a season one, Australian tv series on hold at the library. "Rain Shadow." "Two veterinarians in the Australian outback battle to save their drought-ridden farming community from a devastating sheep blight." Who writes these descriptions? :-) Lew

Chris said...

The rock walls and borders look really nice. Are you using anything to glue them together or just arranging them in an interlocking fashion? I'm thinking of doing something similar at my new place :)

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Glad to hear that the bank has now submitted to your will - temporarily at least. The banks are a fickle beast to be sure! ;-)!

Exactly! What a great observation. That is exactly why I have to go back and revisit many of the earlier projects, because I try something and then learn what actually works and what doesn't work. Incidentally, the architectural profession should be driving that particular project... The windows here ended up costing $1,000 per square metre because of the fire rating requirements. I was in a mild state of shock when I got the quote for that one (I won't mention the plumbers whom I am forced to use and who were so expensive as to be mind boggling), needless to say that I had to reduce the number of windows in the house which required a revisit to the council and more fees for the drawings and the permits. It is really hard to get such things right the first time around and sometimes it is only after you've lived with them that you realise that you could have done it differently so that it works better in the real world in which we live.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Well that makes a strange sort sense, because warmer weather leads to less snow and more precipitation. Many years ago here the snow used to settle on the ground at this altitude, but not so much any more. No one wants a 100 or how bad is a 500 year flood event? A few years back the local river which drains these mountains rose so high and blocked the road that I had to travel all of the way around the mountain range just to get home. Out of interest what did he have to say about the Columbus day storm? It sounded like an absolute thumper!

It is interesting that the warm air off the ocean makes it as far inland as where you are, but then I guess the mountains to the east of you draw it in and are also an effective barrier to the east of that mountain range. Dunno. The Southern ocean brings big cold storms up from Antarctica to here sometimes pretty any time of the year. Weather is a funny thing and it is getting wackier.

Pin cushion! Hehe. A likely story, can't say I'm in the believer camp, although you make some salient points. hehe! Was the ice cream and videos (nice combo by the way) enjoyable?

That makes sense, I've read that they can emphasize colour palettes with film and video although how they do that is beyond me. I read years ago that CSI New York had a grey colour palette whereas the CSI Miami had a blue colour pallete. I can't make this stuff up! Go figure, I guess that is Neuro-linguistic programming in action and possibly the same thing was going on in that film. Although you are spot on too and the energy available for lumens was sort of on the low side in those days (and possibly will be again in the future?).

Too fuuny and I'm truly glad that you road tested that one. hehe! Tornadoes aren't good, but either one of those would be even worse. Speaking of which the editor pointed out some fad for: Lawn zombies... Some of them are frightening realistic.

Yeah, Ryan has done very well for himself. The funny thing about True Blood was that I started watching that series many years ago on the strength of Alan Ball's work on Six Feet Under. But then it got really silly, really quickly and I sort of went off and did something else. Six Feet Under was enthralling though. Who would have thought that a show about funeral directors could be even remotely interesting? The problem is that the emotions in that show were quite strong and sometimes it was a bit full on and I remember one particular episode which involved a serious kidnapping - as happens - and that was quite distressing to watch. It is not often that death and the aftermath of death is discussed in our society, it has some sort of taboo status? Dunno. The dude with the scythe comes for all of us in the end.

Mr Greer does talk at length about such matters and it is a worthwhile discussion and has certainly made me shy away from speculative investments. Mark Twain lost much of his fortune in one such episode I believe? Interesting to hear about your collection habits. My thinking is that if you enjoy the objects and it isn't causing you or anyone else harm, then don't worry about it and enjoy the collection. Exactly, let the estate worry about them, they'll probably enjoy the clearance sale / auction. Do they so such things over in the US? Good craftsmanship and excellent memories are always worth preserving.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

That sounds quite damp. Hopefully your garden beds are productive in the conditions? Has all of the good work you've put into enriching the soil assisted with drainage? I reckon too much rainfall can be every bit as hard as too little in a garden.

So much of what I do here is dictated by the turns of the season too. It does make it hard when things go wrong though in that you may not have enough time to complete a task whilst the deadlines don't get extended. Are you finding that that is an art thing rather than a science?

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Sorry, I'll add an update on the olives with the next blog.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Talk about everything including the squeak: Waterloo Ivory... Waste not, want not I guess. Charcoal is an effective cleaning agent for teeth.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

Thanks for understanding. A lot of my free time has disappeared recently because I've made up for the "rip off". Even tonight as I'm typing this there is a big batch of 80 dog biscuits cooking away in the wood oven. Now I have to ask you as someone who has worked in a commercial kitchen: Did you lose the enjoyment of cooking for yourself whilst working there?

Droughts and sheep blights are probably not a good combination... Still it would make for an interesting story. On a serious note the drought in western Queensland and western New South Wales is profound and about as bad as it gets...

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Chris,

You could use cement mix to glue them together, but I sort of just stack them by feel so they more or less interlock. The general rule is big rocks at the base and progressively smaller rocks as you get higher. My lot are all supported by either other rocks behind them or soil. The old timers used to make the most amazing free standing rock fences and some of my mates actually had one built recently. To be free standing it has to be a more or less A shape (or buttressed) wall with a cap stone. They look really good too. Enjoy your rock walls.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Do you have laws that prevented you doing your own plumbing? I ask because my son has done all my plumbing + his own and you do jobs which sound much more difficult to me.

Enchanted nightshade is flowering. The name is intriguing, one would assume that it indicated an hallucinagin (don't know how to spell it, computer doesn't like my effort). However I have found no reference to that only the statement that it is not particularly poisonous, whatever that might mean.

Inge

Pam in Virginia said...

@Inge:

Auggggghhhh!!! Waterloo teeth! I looked it up - that's so horrible, and a very timely personal reminder as I am WAY overdue for a dental visit and have some significant problems. Thanks for the historical perspective.

Pam

SLClaire said...

Hi Chris,

Yes, the soil does drain better with the soil amending work I am doing. I was finishing up the potato onion harvest two days ago and noticed I could walk on nearly saturated soil without getting mud all over my shoes. The surface was slick, to be sure, but the soil wasn't sticky, and it didn't cling to the roots of the onions as it used to do when I had to harvest out of wet soil. It will be ready to dig some days earlier than it would have been ready before, and I can dig it successfully in a wider range of soil moisture conditions. That said, I have 6 full beds and portions of a seventh to plant to long-maturing warm season crops (popcorn, green and dry beans, blackeyed peas, squashes, melons, and cucumbers), and commitments I made earlier thinking I would have more beds planted by now. As you said, garden planning is very much an art, and as with all arts, some artworks succeed more than others.

The excess rain is due to a stagnant weather pattern, a persistent high pressure system over the US Southeast that forces warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico up over us plus an old frontal boundary that provides the instability to rain the water out of the air. Today it's raining the remnants of Tropical Depression Bill on us. We are high on a hill so not in danger of flooding, but there is flash flooding happening around us and the area rivers will flood more than they already are over the next several days. Supposedly it'll be hot and drier next week; the dry part is good, but with all the water in the soil plus the heat (highs going up over 90F/32C perhaps as early as tomorrow and then ongoing), the heat index will be quite high. I'll just have to prepare for digging in hot, humid weather.

Claire

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Well, in the weather book, Cliff Mass said the Columbus Day storm was an absolute thumper :-). Well, over the last 20 years we've had a number of 100 year floods and 500 year floods. I don't think the terms hold much water (ohhh. terrible pun.) anymore. As you know, warm air holds more moisture, the rain comes in deluges, instead of being spread out. Of course, to say this has anything to do with climate change is a commie / socialist plot. :-). Being in an enormous watershed makes things complicated. Depends on where a storm "stalls" as to where damage is done. Always seems to be somewhere different. And, when I-5 (the main north south freeway) goes under, people go crazy. It's happened twice, I think. For about 3 days. Flood control measures have pretty much ground to a halt as there are so many municipalities and interest groups involved. We actually had a rain here, last night. Poured for about half an hour. But, still. The burn ban goes on, today. And, there's lots of talk about drought and drought preparation in the media.

The ice cream and videos were quit nice as I nursed my sore arms. The DVDs were ... just science fiction nonsense. Although tonight I'm going to watch "Mr. Turner." About the artist. Sometimes I watch a bit of the "extras" on the DVDs and it's pretty interesting how the whole "tone" of movies are achieved by the use of color. Sometimes it's the director, or the set designer, or the costume designer that rattles on about color and over all mood.

"Six Feet Under" was a wizard show. One of the few I followed through to the end. There are a few series that I watch a season or two of, and then loose interest. Or, get bored.

We have two or three auction houses, here in the county. There are often estate auctions. Also, "living estate" auctions. Either grannie has been shuffled off to the old folks home, or, people retire and radically downsize. As the boomers are dying off, a lot of stuff is getting dumped on the market. Tastes in collecting change. The general economy is poor. I finished up "The Great Beanie Bubble". There are a few more books mentioned that I may follow up on. Some, our library has. Some not. Mentioned was John Kenneth Galbraith's "A Short History of Financial Euphoria." I know you respect him. Our library doesn't have the book. Sigh.

Hmmm. Commercial cooking vs cooking for oneself. Well, some of the places I cooked, I could make meals for myself that were "not on the menu." Other places you were stuck with what was on the menu. Can't say it ever made me loose interest in food. But then, I've always been interested in food. Another book I'm dipping in and out of right now is "Three Squares: the Invention of the American Meal." Right now I'm eating a very healthy kind of vegetable potage, three and four times a week. I find it tasty, but I know most people would turn their noses up at it. Their loss.

This weeks ADR was rather grim. Makes me think "Maybe moving away from the coast to Idaho isn't such a bad idea?" For a minute or two. Lew

orchidwallis said...

@Pam

I do go regularly to the dentist even though I am terrified. We are so lucky to live with modern dentistry. Never mind fire and brimstone, my idea of hell would be non-stop dentistry.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Very perceptive and yes there are laws which stop me from both plumbing and electrical works. Fortunately, I am allowed to undertake electrical work on DC systems up to 120V. All of the other work requires a certificate of compliance from a licensed electrician or plumber. Electricians are reasonably priced, but plumbers are the whole next level and they are expensive. Plumbers cost more than any other item combined on this house.

The enchanters nightshade is not here, but the Internet lists it as of the genus Circaea. It is very attractive. Not particularly is akin to mostly harmless and you never quite know where you stand... The basil mint here is popping out of the ground along with some of the earliest bulbs (Ixia's - which may not grow in your damp soil?).

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Pam,

A rough industry for sure!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Claire,

Glad to hear that the soil drains better - I found the same thing here and have wondering whether restoring top soil helps the entire hydrological cycle? Is it starting to look black and sandy / loamy or is it a different colour now?

How do you grow melons in your short growing season? I have had no luck whatsoever with them. Ahh, stagnant weather patterns are on the increase here too and the tropical depressions are flowing further south every year. There was a recent super storm - which looked suspiciously like a mini-cyclone over the Hunter valley in New South Wales (the state to the north of here) a few months back and wow, did it do some damage...

Here's hoping it dries out a bit and that you have a very productive garden for the season.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi lewis,

Your description of the Columbus day storm + the internet photos showed how much of a thumper that storm was... Oh well done with the pun, very amusing. ;-)! Yeah, I don't know what those terms mean anymore, I suspect they mean something other than the English definitions which means that they're pretty useless descriptives. Does the watershed extend to a higher elevation further east of you?

It is very hard to get agreement on such matters because everyone is trying to gain an advantage for their capital expenditures. Pah, the big farm in the valley below pulled out all of their willows in the local river / creek and they pretty much get a frost every single day down there - when the big rains kick in during spring early summer...

That would sure make me feel better after such an ordeal! Thought so, thanks for that info. Speaking of which I saw the rest of Some like it hot last night and honestly I just wanted to switch it off. I turned to the editor at one stage and said this film is of about the same caliber as Tom Hank's classic film "Batchelor Party". Both have shock your momma value and that is about it, how people reckon that film is a classic is beyond me, still I did enjoy Batchelor Party when it hit the big screen.

Thanks for the great comment and apologies, but I've gotta head out tonight, so I'll respond to the remainder of your comment tomorrow.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - Oh, yeah. The watershed extends, higher, to the east. And, a chunk comes in from the west ... and from the south ...and from the north :-). Our local newspaper just ran a two week series on a reporter and photographer who floated the Cowlitz River from Mt. Rainier to where it enters the Columbia. Most of it runs through our county. I'm about to be snide. They should have called the series "Two Fat Boys in a Boat." But, all in all, it was a pretty informative series. Natural wonders, history. Lew

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Electricity and water may be similar here, I am not sure. I had to get my electricity signed off by somebody licensed to do it. I don't know about water as we already had a supply on the land; we were free to do our own plumbing at that point.

Gladdons (wild iris) is flowering
Hemp agrimony is flowering

I had cuckoo pint around but for some reason none of it flowered this year.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Lewis,

We now resume normal programming - whatever that is! :-)!

Hey, I know you like food, but last night I tasted chocolate with a caramel centre and... wait for it... 5% vegemite. Who comes up with these ideas? On a serious note it was actually OK and you could barely taste the vegemite - which I quite like by the way. It gave the caramel a bit of zing.

Six feet under was a very enjoyable series. It certainly went places that few dare to go. Also it didn't descend into silliness, but carried a massive emotional load, which I don't know whether I'm actually comfortable being exposed to high levels of second hand emotions - which is part of the reason I don't really watch much television. Films tend to have to tell a story as they can't invest a lot of time in character development. Dunno?

The living estate auction is called a clearing auction here. Tell you what though, the masses descend upon them and you can sometimes pick up ultra cheap garden equipment - especially around here. The economic tide is turning here, it is like watching a container ship turn directions. The policies being pursued tend to increase wealth inequality and no good will come from them. Shame about the book, maybe on your next trip to a second hand bookshop? Do you have any of those around your area?

Food is a great interest to have. Speaking of which I'm cooking the dog food muesli right now in the wood oven (it is early Sunday morning here). There has been a light frost outside and it is too cold to start the new chook pen 1'C (34'F). Brrr. At least the tea camellia seems to be in a frost free spot.

It is interesting that different kitchens have different rules for making your own food. Still, I can see the benefit in forcing the kitchen staff to eat the food that they are selling to the customers. There is a certain sort of logic to that and I expect big name chefs like Gordon Ramsay would have something to say about that policy. Are they all required to provide food to staff or have you ever worked for a serious scrooge?

Vegetable potage, way to go! They're excellent. I usually chuck in some lentils or mung beans too. For some strange reason pulses have a bad rap in peoples minds, but they're good. We've been experimenting with a Sholla Gorbandi which is an Afghan mung bean dish and it is good...

Yeah it was a bit grim, but JMG did promise to put on his seven league boots. I have a great deal of respect for the fact that he can respond to 200+ comments every week. Still, they do feed him ideas and fact check his work too so it is give and take. Me, I'm more just up for a chat!

Your watershed sounds extensive. The mountain range here is comparatively small. You can drive around the entire thing in under 60 miles and there are at least four road crossings over the mountain range - 1 of which is impassable in winter. I almost bogged the Suzuki on that road once and don't need to revisit...

That is funny, I'll look that up later tonight. I'll bet they had a lot of fun too.

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

The building industry is very regulated here, which is a shame because I could have done the entire job myself and it would have cost me much less to build and the outcomes would have been no different. Incidentally, very few people down under build their own houses (owner builders they call them) and many of those contract out all of the different trades - which is not really building it yourself, but more like project managing it. I've noticed a similar thing happens in Grand Designs UK too. Me, I'm very hands on as some of the aspects are complex, but they're not that complex...

Historically, most people used to build their own houses down here, so somehow we became very lazy, or very busy, or perhaps very wealthy...

Yes, I would have thought that the water would have been the same situation here, but the building regulations were setup by the big project builders and they don't really take my sort of construction into consideration. People keep telling me, oh I'd like to build a small eco friendly house too and I always say to them (after sizing up their financing) that unless they do it themselves - or it is really small - they can't afford it. For some reason they think I'm lying to them too. I could only afford to do this house because I did most of the work myself and even then, every man and their dog wanted a bite. Oh, I just realised, am I ranting? Sorry... Large houses and small ecological footprints are incompatable.

PS: I picked up the steel for the new chook pen and enclosure. Soon, my chickens will be in chook-topia!

Cheers

Chris

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

Sorry, I got distracted by the rant... Building a house shouldn't have that many layers of complexity... Ooops, I've started ranting again and I didn't even mention the energy rating certificate (that one really made my blood boil - if you're feeling brave ask me about it? hehe!).

Irises are beautiful flowers and I grow quite a few of them here. Yeah, every season is slightly different.

Cheers

Chris

orchidwallis said...

Hello again

Self building is almost impossible here now. Planning restrictions are tremendous and land is very expensive. We also have energy ratings. I don't know when they arrived and I am ignorant about them. Can you get away with things if you are out in the back of beyond and nobody knows what you are doing. If you build here and live there for 4 years without it being realised, you can stay otherwise the place has to be pulled down. Mind you that is very difficult to do in this somewhat crowded place.

Food: I soaked split peas last night for a split pea soup with pork. I'll be eating it for 4 days. That chocolate sounds disgusting! I don't like vegemite but do like marmite, not in a chocolate though.

Inge

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Inge,

The planning restrictions are a nightmare here too. The entire system appears to have been captured here by the project builders who churn out the same designs (albeit with minor changes) over and over again. If you do anything outside of the ordinary, then you are at a disadvantage. Basically, the system is geared here at least to force people to live in urban areas.

I often wonder about the logic behind restrictive planning laws and the massive dissonance between that goal and an expanding economy and population. It just seems weird to me...

You are a brave soul! Well the energy rating certificate is a good example of how the system has been captured, because: despite the massive use of insulation; seriously heavy duty windows; capturing rain water; generating all of the electricity used on site; and processing the sewage back into the soil - well it only scored an energy rating of about the average project house. I smell a rat and it stinks.

How good is split peas and pork? Yum! Marmite tastes pretty similar to vegemite to my palate, although marmite tastes as though it has a beef stock cube in it? Dunno.

Cheers

Chris

LewisLucanBooks said...

Yo, Chris - I saw the first cinnabar moth, yesterday! Small, red with a bit of black stripping. I haven't really seen any tansy, yet. But I'm sure it's out there and pushing up through the grass. We have a lot of teasel plant, about. And, I saw a bit of horsetail down the road. My 12 tomato plants are outside and seem to be doing well. A few flowers. No green "nubs", yet.

Well, we have two (maybe three) second hand bookstores, in town. But, since they used to be the competition, I don't go into them. I stick mostly with the thrift stores and library sales. But, it seems like if I'm looking for anything in particular (and, the list is long) I never manage to stumble across them.

The lot of the wait staff in big commercial chain restaurants is truly a sorry one. They may have a minimum wage, but when the paycheck comes around they don't get near that amount. There is a thing called a "tip credit". They reduce the minimum wage paid by an amount of the average tip ... an amount they pull out of ... somewhere. Then there is the "meal credit." Doesn't make any difference as to if you take a meal or not, everyone is assessed an amount, that comes off the wage for a, supposedly furnished meal.

"Force people to live in urban areas." I've thought for awhile that another "pressure" to do this is ... media and communication. It seems like more and more, if you want good, reliable phone or internet service, you need to live in urban areas. I think I've mentioned that my landline is dead. I still have internet service, but who knows for how long? The cell phone I recently got has some issues. Yesterday, two friends called me, a couple of hours apart. The phone did not ring. They left voice mails. Those came sliding in, just minutes apart an hour or so after the last call. Who knows why? Since getting the cell phone, I have not been able to upgrade the software. Even when I'm in town, the server is never available.

Time Magazine, on their website this week, had an article "These 5 Facts Explain the Threat of Cyber Warfare." A short article, but it makes all the ... electronics seem so fragile. Just like the power grid and the rest of the infrastructure. Recently, there was a book and a movie I was interested in. Our library carries both ... but in electronic forms. Seems to be more and more of that in the catalog, these days.

Building regs are pretty much the same here. The day of the builder / owner is pretty much gone. As one example, even though there are plenty of books out there telling you how to build a good, workable septic system, it is not possible to do it on your own. Due to the laws. I've often thought that one silver lining to the collapse of industrial civilization will be that those regs will be unenforceable. Lew

heather said...

Hi all-
My experience working in restaurants is similar to Lew's. In college And just after, I waited tables for a base pay of $2.52/ hr, plus tips. A very tedious way to earn the rent when business was slow- sometimes barely made enough to buy gas to get back to work the next day. We had to buy our meals too, at something like half off. As for ruining the experience of food and cooking, I certainly was heartily sick of the same old choices on the house menu, and would wheedle the cooks to make me variations when the kitchen wasn't too busy.

As far as cooking itself, I find that sometimes cooking three squares a day for the family gets tedious too. (What do you mean you're hungry again? I just finished cleaning up after the last meal!) The lure of takeout or packaged food seems understandable at those moments, though we resist as best we can. And that's only on the dark or unusually tired days; usually meal planning, shopping, cooking, cleanup, etc is just a pleasant part of the routine of life. I'm sure it's different to be a restaurant cook, though, with all the attendant pressures.

Having houseguests this week, got to run.

--Heather in CA