2:00PM Water Cooler 10/20/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, I had to write about robot cars and more ObamaCare complexification today, and so I sacrificed my Water Cooler time. I’ll make it up to you, I swear.

In the meantime, I thought of a few questions:

1) The man with a truck came and cleaned out my garage (again; where does it all come from?). So what are your fall chores? Do people in, say, Southern California even have fall chores?

2) The weatherpersons are forecasting a warm-ish winter, which is great for me, because my fuel bills for the last two years were brutal. And all we got from the Hurricane season was some rain. How’s the weather been for you so far? Hot enough? (And does anybody ever read the Farmers Almanac and check back to see how its predictions fared? I never do….)

3) I left the sunflowers in place, along with a new small oak that may or may not live, and weedwhacked everything else. Crude, but effective, and a blank slate for next year. You gardeners who aren’t so lazy, what did you do?

Talk amongst yourselves! And be excellent to each other.

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please put it in the subject line. Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (SR):

Another splendid honorary plant!

* * *

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Jim Haygood

    Though it’s early days yet, indications are that our working-titled Bubble III may go down in history books as the Bitcoin Bubble, much as Bubble I of the 1990s is more commonly called the Internet Bubble.

    Today Bitcoin blasted through 6,000. All well and good, but for this remarkable chart from the Z site attributing its potent pop to — I kid you not — marginal buyers from Zimbabwe. See for yo self:


    Who knew the clapped-out Zimbos had so much spare change languishing under their couch cushions?

    In the grand scheme of things, cryptocurrencies may indeed liberate us from the degenerate demimonde ushered in lo, these 46 years ago by Nixon’s notorious Sunday-night Fiatnam declaration on the telly, 15th August 1971. Our resultant full-fiat ABAT [All Bubbles, All the Time] economic model, now approaching its awe-inspiring apotheosis, clearly is a candidate for replacement.

    Sadly, as honest cryptocurrencies take over from discredited keystroke-and-rag-paper confetti, a secular derating of asset prices must occur as check-kiting central bank rampers are consigned to rustic cabins or rural carcels, as the case may be.

    But for today, we party like Superman. :-)

      1. Jim Haygood

        GBTC (Bitcoin Investment Trust) trades on the Nasdaq. But shorting a fund that went from $400 to $1,000 during August is a good way to get vaporized, even if it can be borrowed at astronomical cost. Stay away!

        Meanwhile the good Dr Hussman, observing radio silence during this week’s historic melt-up, has barricaded himself inside his laboratory in Ellicott City, Maryland to deliberate on the toughest call of his career.

        Namely, should Dr H “Bite the Bubble” during the seasonally superb Nov-Jan romp, as the “buy the rumor, sell the news” tax cut works its anticipatory magic — an exercise as easy as shooting fish in a barrel?

        Every fiber of his being cries No: it’s going over to the dark side. But dancing with Mr D pays well, as it always has done.

        What will the good doctor do? Stay tuned to the next exciting episode on Nov 6th, when Dr H posts his fateful decision.

        For the rest of us, the beneficent Bitcoin Bubble bulls on majestically into the star-studded empyrean, as our Kali King tech lords gaze out approvingly on a world they rule so graciously.

        Pobrecito él que termine contigo


        1. Wukchumni

          Let’s say i’m sitting on 20 bitcoins worth $120k today, how do I cash them in and what sort of tax bite would I be looking at, by converting them from dark side semollians into old fashioned folding money?

          1. blennylips

            You need to join a bitcoin exchange, like bitstamp that I use. You have to be accepted based on your KYC info (Know Your Customer). Part of which is the bank credentials suitable for electronic transfers. Online credit unions are nice. Couldn’t say taxwise.

            1. GF

              I and most USians don’t give a f**k about bitcoin. The feds will shortly eliminate it as a “currency” (after the Fed players cash out) and it will be no more.

    1. DonCoyote

      Hello friend,

      I am Canaan, from Zimbabwe and like many of you, I have invested heavily in bitcoin. Unfortunately, my bank suddenly stopped accepted bitcoin for payment, and so I am unable to pay the cash fees to withdraw my bitcoin holdings online. If you can just send $150 American dollars, I will send you 1 whole bitcoin in return…

      1. Edward E

        Carrington Solar Flare forecast probabilities keep going up, zzzzzzzap! Better hurry up young puppies.

  2. dcblogger

    The summers in DC have been mild for the past decade. This is a pity, had they been brutally hot we might have done something about global warming.

    1. jrs

      wow d.c. is not just living in a bubble, but in a weather bubble as well! As in plenty of other states it has been brutally hot, and sometimes unseasonably so as well, thank you climate change!

      1. Octopii

        We may not have had extreme highs and lows here in DC, but the timing of what we have gotten is all wrong. Everybody who has a garden knows something very concerning is going on. Worst for us this year was the lack of bees and insects.

  3. John k

    Where does it all come from?
    The flip side of ‘where does all the stuff the human race makes go?’

  4. Darius

    I try to dig as little as possible to preserve the mycorrhizal associations. I cut off the tops and leave them on the ground for mulch. Unfortunately, my fastidious wife, not fostered from birth in the church of soil conservation and organic gardening, throws as much garden debris, including dirt, as I don’t observe in the trash. This drives me crazy. If I find it before trash day, I will pull it out and find a place for it. That drives her nuts, but we’re in love, so what can you do?

    1. a different chris

      OMG we have the same wife. So she’s wasting 2x as much as even I suspected. I literally and regularly pick thru the kitchen gbg can for stuff for the compost pile.

      It’s impossible to re-separate coffee grounds, which sadly is by some accounts the best compost stuff of all.

      1. JohnnyGL

        That’s 3 of us…the kids are into bananas lately, so I’ve been grabbing all the peels and making sure I get to the coffee maker to get the spent grounds before wifey gets there!!!

        I just moved a few months ago, so I’m starting from scratch in the garden. I’m waiting for fall to really hit so I can gather up tons of leaves to kill grass and feed the soil.

        1. Darius

          Spent coffee grounds can be scattered directly on the ground. Great mulch and slow-release fertilizer. Crushed egg shells are a little trickier but worth it. I live in the city so I have to avoid anything that attracts rats or mice.

        2. marieann

          I must be the good wife here, everything goes into the composter, even fabric.My husband isn’t as fanatical about it as me but he mixes and turns it and then screens it for the garden, so I’m happy with that.

      2. Amfortas the Hippie

        aye. we haven’t gotten into a grove with the “chicken bucket” since we moved back out here(the chixhouse is at mom’s next door), so I encourage cleaning plates off the porch into the strategically placed compost bin. resulting dirt will be carried to where it needs to be eventually.
        I do have a can for old grounds in the coffee area, and everybody is by now trained.
        Yes, coffee is good stuff: high N, and a little acidic, to balance our alkalinity.
        The composting toilet has apparently become routine…much to my surprise(only took a year)…and is working as expected.(unexpected: the covered barrels(cooks for a year) in various spots in the pastures where fruit and nut trees will eventually go also serve as coyote deterrents.)
        The grey water lines are by now so far in the background that nobody(save me) even thinks about it(not a drop is wasted), except during a particularly hard freeze.
        Here in central Texas(NW Hill Country), we had a grasshopper explosion this year. 60% loss on the new fruit and other trees(even oleander), and 70% loss on all the herbs and such I planted…ate garlic and shallots right into the ground, practically denuded the mesquite and bee brush. (ecological purpose similar to that of the occasional wild fire).
        Finally found a decent source of clean manure. the feedlot’s is contaminated with those “persistent herbicides” that survive the cows’ digestive tract(doom for organic ag),
        Now if I only had an easier way to unload all that horseshit,lol.
        a tip germane to Lambert’s queries: moldy bread, spoilt sour cream, beer lees, and cheese rinds(and cheese that’s gone moldy) all go in the garden beds. If you wanna get all pagan, mix honey and raw milk in january and sprinkle that everywhere a veggie will grow. Microflora and fauna, diversity at every level.
        I’m also experimenting with coastal bermuda as a ground cover(i mean, why not?…can’t get rid of it any way,lol). It escaped hay fields around here long ago.

    2. Judith

      Maybe your wife might enjoy this series of videos by David Montgomery about how healthy soil with active microorganisms results in healthy food. (The opposite of course is also true.) Dan Barber in “The Third Plate” argues that healthy food grown on healthy soil tastes better as well.


      1. JohnnyGL

        Thanks for that link. I just realized I read his book “Dirt” a little while back. It was pretty interesting. Definitely worth a read.

      2. Darius

        My wife is into flowers. I’m trying to create a micro-habitat with wildflowers and low-impact landscaping.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          One of the best pieces of advice I ever recieved (from Nippersdad IIRC was:

          Birds love a mess!

          And my habitat is messy. The wildflowers bring insects which attract birds (who land on the trees and vines, and perch on the tomato stakes). And the birds (and voles) attract the cat, who also hides/sleeps in the raspberry patch. And the whole blooming buzzing confusion supports an apex predator (me, not the cat).

      1. JohnnyGL

        Geoff Lawton video is very much a classic. It was one of lambert’s original gardening posts that got me interested.

        As far as the article, I wouldn’t be so quick to condemn the solar-powered de-sal plants. It depends on the end-game. There’s not a lot of detail in the article, but if the people running the project are using energy to kick start and speed up large scale land restoration, then maybe it’s a useful project in the long term. But this doesn’t look promising:

        “After heavy investment in desalination, Israel’s production grew in a few short years to more than 130 billion gallons of potable water per year. Jordan and Israel have pledged to jointly build a desalination plant on the shores of the Red Sea as part of a controversial $900-million project to lay a pipeline from the Red Sea to the contracting Dead Sea, which is below the sea level.”

        Congrats, now you’ve turned your water problem into an energy demand problem!

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > throws as much garden debris, including dirt… in the trash. This drives me crazy

      It would drive me crazy, too. My town organized a gardening committee that takes care of flower beds. But the beds are bark-mulched, and when they are weeded, the weeds are taken away in a basket (!!).

  5. Huey Long


    The weather as of late in NYC has been downright balmy. Normally at this time of year I’m wearing a sweatshirt outside during the day and a jacket at night. With a few exceptions here and there, I’ve been wearing t-shirts every day.

    As for fall chores, I am a car-free Brooklyn apartment dweller so there isn’t much to do aside from making sure my winter clothing is ready for action.

    Lastly, although I have no hard evidence that long range forecasts are total bunk, I don’t trust meteorologists one bit. They routinely screw up the forecast around these parts and the TV executives and politicians compound the problem by hyping up darn near every storm as “the storm of the century.”

    -The Kingfish

    1. Carla

      Lambert — Here in NE Ohio, we’ve had a couple of mild winters in a row. Now ironically enough many of us are hoping for some sustained frigid weather to kill the stink bugs that have turned up here. So how about a deal? For this one winter, you can have our warmer temps in exchange for your brutally cold ones. If we can figure out how to communicate this to the climate change genie, we’ll be in business.

      1. perpetualWAR

        Seattle has had a brutal beginning of beginning of October. Rained so hard on Thursday, it took me THREE hours to get home. Thanks, Amazon and a Dept of Trans that can’t keep up and our horrible winters.

  6. roxan

    Yesterday’s Water Cooler had so many good links I’m still reading them! All that junk that accumulates is like a horror story. This being the season for such, I saw a movie whose plot was bodies buried under the storage locker. I had an old friend who took care of a storage place. She saw a lot of sad tales–divorces, people who became homeless, all sorts of disasters that led to putting their stuff in storage. And of course, a desperate few trying to live there.


    1) Weeds need to get pulled out such that they do not get embedded and cause problems next year. Especially the ones that grow in the small gap between our house and the neighbor’s garage, those could easily start damaging the foundation if not addressed.

    2) Warmer than usual, for sure. Had days into mid-October that felt like early September. A mild winter would not be good in the macro sense of things, but easier for me personally as far as toddler-related things in the winter.

    3) Nothing to offer here, lazy as well.

    More fun with Dear Governor and the MTA:

    Internal memo: Second Avenue subway’s fire alarm system offline since May

    1. Terry Humphrey

      We had a serious Japanese Beetle scourge in the Corn belt this summer. People blame it on a mild winter failing to freeze them in their below ground grub stage. Didn’t see any wild birds eating them but I’m seriously thinking about chickens and/or ducks next spring.

    2. Ned

      Pretty lousy foundation construction if weed roots can damage and move the foundations.
      Relax, this is not something you need to worry about. Weeds enrich the soil. Chop em and lay them down or compost them.

  8. Kurt Sperry

    Here in Western Washington State we had an historically hot and dry Summer, which followed an historically wet and cold Winter/Spring. Fall has begun with a bang here with two drenching Pacific storms in the past week and another slated to hit tomorrow. NWS are predicting a cooler than average Winter ahead. It’d be nice to have a place in Oaxaca for the Winter.

    1. polecat

      I kinda like our northwest winters, as you never know what craps Mother Gaia’s gonna shoot ! … and tends to dial my anticipation level for the next spring to #11

    2. Angie Neer

      I’m a western Washingtonian too, and this will be my first winter as a bicycle commuter. The long dry season means I’ve been waiting weeks for the chance to really test out my Gore-tex, and the last few days I got my wish. So far, so good. But I may need to get goggles; my ride includes a steep hill where I get going about 30 mph, and that’s enough to make raindrops in the eyes a serious problem! The hill is lined with driveways and I have to keep my eyes wide open for cars backing out in a gotta-get-to-work rush.

  9. FreeMarketApologist

    Apropos of the season (if not this weekend’s weather forecast), the weekend chore in upstate NY (Delaware county) is to stack next year’s firewood (delivered today) in the barn. Last week’s was to move the prior supply from the barn to the back porch. I enjoy the task much more when it’s 50F out, rather than the 73 it is forecast to be.

    And a trip to the local organic grocery, as they have a lot of heirloom apples to try: Ashmead’s Kernel, Margil, Esopus Spitzenburg, and Roxbury Russet.

    1. Wukchumni

      We have about 40 different kinds of apple trees here, anywhere from a year old to 5 years old, and some of the older ones fruited for the first time this year, and it’s exciting to taste heretofore forbidden varieties that didn’t fit into the same old 8 apples for sale in the supermarket scheme of things. It’s a struggle to grow fruit here, as allayed against us are ants, birds, bears, deer & gophers et al, and if you put food out in such a manner, every living thing is cognizant that there’s a free lunch. The ants are interesting, they’ll tear a quarter coin sized area of skin off, and then slowly but surely bite the flesh off and it takes them about 10 days to eat an entire apple, and what’s left on the tree is just an apple core. Birds are more of a problem with summer fruit, and they’ll take test bites out of peaches, plums, etc. and then when it’s ripe, sometimes they’ll eat the contents of a tree in just a few days if they get to it before you. Bears have disappeared as of late-so not a problem, but always something to consider for later years. They tend to tomahawk fruit trees and/or climb to the top of ones that can’t support their weight, and break them. Deer can destroy young trees in no time flat if left to their own devices by scraping off bark, so every tree has a 7 foot high-7 feet wide triangular fence consisting of 3 posts with chicken wire around it. Gophers are my main nemesis, as they kill young trees from down under, and what you thought was a Lambert cherry tree, becomes a Lambert cherry stick, grrrr.

      It’s all good though…

      1. Anonymized

        I heard that deer don’t like the smell of soap so many people tie small bars of soap around young fruit trees to drive them away.

    2. Montanamaven

      Now that I spend half my time in NY Mid Hudson (other half Montana), the apples her are awesome. Honey Crisp are the juiciest ever. Sweet 16 taste like cherries. I’m in Green County. I would love to sponsor a meet up here. It’s pretty warm here. 72º today. But it’s also going to be 70º in Montana. It’s kind of like we are all Californians now.

      1. GF

        Here in the west central AZ highlands the early fall has been glorious. It hasn’t rained in 2 months and the vegetation is drying with fall colors being splendid. The chores include weed wacking the summer dried growth to reduce fire danger and taking leisurely walks through the neighborhood and over area trails to enjoy the beautiful weather and fall colors and the emigration and immigration of the seasonal changing of bird species.

  10. Kim Kaufman

    Do people in, say, Southern California even have fall chores?

    Well, yes, now is the time we get ready for planting from November to no later than March. And do all the things we didn’t actually do all summer, now that it’s not quite so hot (although at least where I am it hasn’t been that hot except for a few days). I’m finally starting to paint a concrete wall I put off for a very long time. Realized I way underestimated how much paint I need, so back to the paint store…

  11. Enquiring Mind

    California Fall Chore sampling:

    Prepare for Santa Ana winds (a SoCal bug/feature) by trimming trees
    Cut back brush and vines
    Mulch or compost to retain more soil moisture in flower beds and non-lawn areas

    Change or clean HVAC filters (alternate task every six months)
    Change smoke alarm batteries (choose handy anniversary like back to school, birthday or anything you’ll remember to do annually)

    Collect and donate extra clothes and household items (getting at that garage, too!)

  12. Tom_Doak

    I’ve just returned to Michigan expecting to see peak fall color, and it looks like we are still a week or two away, which would be crazy late up here.

    Of course, it helps make up for the late spring.

  13. PeonInChief

    I’m in CA, so we don’t have real winter. It’s been warm, but not too hot, so some of my plants have started blooming again. (They often stop blooming in the summer heat.) We do cut some plants back in November to force them to go dormant, but don’t shut down the garden entirely. And I do a bit of planting.

  14. John D.

    It’s been freakishly warm here in Toronto since the end of August. This goes way beyond ‘unseasonable’ warmth – it’s like summertime weather, with the occasional hint of coolness thrown in around the edges. It’s rather worrying. I do not really care for cold weather at all, but, uh, it’s not supposed to be like this, y’know?

    1. Mike Mc

      ^Ditto here on the Great Plains. Climate change means we won’t have to move south for warmer temps in retirement, warmer temps coming to us!

      Actually considering Quebec – kids would be too far away if we fled the US for Europe – in the next five to ten years. (This of course assumes we have five to ten years or more left…)

    2. Anonymized

      I hate the cold too but I feel disturbed when I remember what it felt like in October in the 90s. It’s supposed to be very snowy in the GTA this winter so I’m looking forward to skiing in Earl Bales Park. (For those who don’t know, Toronto has two public parks that allow skiing in the winter. The runs aren’t that great but there’s no need to leave the city.)

  15. sleepy

    I live in northern Iowa. Five years ago i planted my front yard in native prairie flowers and grasses. Over the years it evolved into mostly prairie flowers. Burning it down in the fall every 3 or so years is the recommendation, but in the city that’s impossible.

    So, what I’ve done is wait for a killing frost then take a hedge trimmer to it–the dead stalks are about 4-5 ft. high–then mow it down to about 4 inches. I rake up and dispose of the dead stuff–it’s too big and bulky to compost for me. Comes back better than ever in the spring.

    My backyard plants I just let die and “rot” in place, except for cucumber and tomato vines which I haul off.

    Only problem this year is that it’s now late October and there’s been no good frost yet to kill things. It’s a month late. I’ve still got a banana tree on my deck and elephant ears in the backyard.

    1. sleepy

      Oh, yeah, I forgot to add a fall chore, making bacon–I’m curing 20 pounds of pork belly and it will be ready to smoke over the weekend. Next week, I’ll cure and smoke some andouille. My smoker works fine as long as it’s at least 50 outside, so I’ve been lucky with the warm weather.

  16. Oguk

    I am ecstatic about the warm weather because I can still finish staining my homemade picnic table and do other outdoor and garage chores (turning compost, feeding bees, fixing electrical wiring in the garage) without freezing my fingers. I am depressed about the warm weather because it makes the bees more active, so they eat more, so they might starve, it feels wrong, i like cold weather, and it bespeaks climate trouble. So, glass not quite half full.

  17. polecat

    Lets see,

    1.) Gutter cleaning, once, twice, probably thrice as well, before the leaves finally fall for good.
    2.)Clean coop for better winter hygene (at least it makes ME feel cleaner !)
    3.)Recite a survival prayer to mother gaia to help the bees/hives make it through what might be a wet n colder winter.
    4.)Pick The Saffron ! (it’s a short season harvest)
    5.)Yank out spent tomatoes, get ready for .6
    6.) Plant The Garlic ! (short planting window)
    7.)Split kindling & chop up stove logs for those cold, wet winter days and nights … burrr !
    8.) Rack mead into bottles (2 batches of potentially delectable heaven) … and then TRY to wait a year (Ok, maybe open a bottle @ the 6 mounth mark) to see if they’ve adequately finished off enough to imbibe in .. and if not, wait some more !
    9.)Pick the Medlars when green, BEFORE they freeze ! (last years’ where moldy mush !)
    10.) Harvest what’s left of the coriander, dry as needed, and store for use.

    Whew ! That tired me out just listing those ‘chores’

    1. steelhead

      I wish I had your energy. My goals are to find a good snow plow, rescue the rose bushes and find someone to clean the rain gutters which were fine but the SO believed needed to be replaced.

      1. polecat

        It’s a blessing .. and a curse.
        I have Banksters’ hours, without the Bankster pay … or the job, or the pension, or the health insurance, or the _____ (fill in the blank) !! .. so it’s done partly for pleasure, and due also to neccessity, being the lowly unwashed/unemployed serf that I am.

        At least the domicile’s paid for …

      1. polecat

        I’ve boiled the wort in the past, but now bring it 180°, throw in the fruit (if any), and then let steap for about 20 min. before adding to the primary ferment bucket … 180° being sufficient to kill any wild yeast without boiling-off all the nice volatiles in the honey.
        Batch .1 is a ginger melomel w/ raspberries & huckleberries
        Batch .2 is a pyment, utilizing this year’s Mars (a concord-like var.) grapes

        Everything but the ginger, and the adjuvents ( yeast nutrients, acid blend gypsum ) originate on our humble lot.

  18. ambrit

    We just had the daily temperatures drop below the low nineties. This week will be our first forty something degree night time temperatures. Day temps are fluctuating between seventies and some high eighties. Unusually dry as well, punctuated with storm related drenchings. Yet we see some snow in the higher elevations of the Rockies. Hmmm….

  19. Clive

    Here in London commuter land (east Hampshire) and in the city itself we had a beautiful warm to hot summer. August was a bit rubbish but September was pleasant and mild.

    We are paying the price for this now, however. High sea surface temperatures produced the strongest hurricane (category 3) ever recorded this far east in the Atlantic and we’re stuck in a jet stream conveyor belt of storms. Hope all the good souls in the Republic of Ireland are safe and well, they’ve bourne the brunt of these worse than the U.K.

    The garden needs a replan this winter. Since the demise of my apricot tree, I’ve been left planting-wise and, if it’s not too pretentious to say, spiritually, with a bit of a hole to fill. I’m quite looking forward to flicking through the plant guides and sketching things out, seeing where different ideas take me.

  20. Hana M

    I’m a gardener without a garden at the moment, but I used to be very careful about what I cut back and what I left to self-seed. Plus some plants rotting or drying out provide food for migrating birds and other critters–not always pretty but worth putting up with.

    Meanwhile, there are not too many Plantidote Bonus Videos that can compete with cute cats or coyotes but this is a totally fabulous tour of special plants and their Appalachian Mountain microhabitats from one of my favorite botanists. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=452&v=gIQva_w3KEE

    If you love plants you should follow Matt who blogs about plants and the Appalachians at http://www.indefenseofplants.com/about/ and is on Twitter and You Tube.

  21. Lee

    East SF bay area. Zone 10b, Mediterranean climate.

    Bermuda grass is the only major problem in our yard. Most reluctantly I use Remuda. If anyone knows of an alternative, please offer suggestions.

    We cleared our sunflower patch after saving seeds for next year. We let our tomatoes die and rot in place. We like to cultivate the volunteers that come up the following year.

    Our yard gets covered each year with Oxalis during the rainy season. We used to weed it; now we enjoy it. It’s a lovely bright yellow and green ground-cover. Which is good, given that it is now rampant throughout our town and ineradicable.

    1. sleepy

      Down south, at least if you’re a hundred or so miles north of the gulf, the preferred lawn grass is bermuda.

      1. Lee

        It’s super tough. Good for sports fields. Thing is, it takes over, spreading and killing off everything else. I wouldn’t mind it if it were containable.

    2. polecat

      Bermuda grass eradication polecat style :

      1.) Dig up one shovelfull of bermuda impregnated sod/dirt (soil should preferably be friable .. e.i. ‘dryish’)
      2.) Pick up said shovelfull w/ gloved hand
      3.) Slam HARD against heal of shovel head to dislodge stolons/roots, being careful NOT to injure hand !
      4.) Pick out any and all shoots, roots, and stolons, as even the smallest will root/reroot.
      5.) Despose of undesirable pestilence … but not to your neighbor’s property, unless you both have an intractable beef to pick !!
      6.) Repeat steps 1. thru .5 …. unneighborly beef not withstanding.

      I’ve methodically done an entire yard in a few weeks doing this technique, sans beef, of course ! … builds up the bi and triceps, strengthens those flabby abs, and guaranteed to wipe you out by the end of the day (**you sleep like a baby .. or maybe just like a 90# weakling who wished they never took polecats’ bermudagrass eradication advice !)

      ** of course your not really a 90# weakling … right ?

  22. IHateBanks

    Let’s see, I need to incorporate the chicken poop from 50 meat chickens I raised into the soil where I will plant corn next spring. I need to trellis my blackberry bushes, transplant and trellis the raspberries. I need to finish building my cedar plank smokehouse, since I only completed the masonry foundation last fall. I need to build raised planter beds for the garden, as I am no longer a fan of squatting down, if it can be avoided. I don’t like where my asparagus beds(containerized) are located, so need to move them. There is a big tree, a leaner, I have been waiting to finally fall for 3 years. I am losing patience, and will cut it down, and burn it.

    Other than that, just feed hogs and chickens, collect eggs, make bacon and sausage, make BBQ (it’s a NOUN, not a verb, folks). That’s about it…….And I work 45-50 hours a week in my small business, in my spare time.

    oh, oh….and once the weather is too cold to work outside (seldom, here in NC) I promised she who must be obeyed that I would finally use the barnboards I milled 5 years ago to make the man cave look all rustic. She did, after all, buy me the table saw I said I needed last Xmas, and it is still in the box.

  23. Arizona Slim

    The Arizona Slim Ranch will soon be on home and garden tour. Water harvesting is the theme.

    I am busy with preparations.

  24. Linda

    Here west of Denver, but not in the mountains, we have had snow already. I think it was on Oct. 9. Very early. Several inches. Wondering if it portends a heavy snow winter. We are back to nice, sunny 70s F. Today is even high 70s.

    A gardener did some fall cleanup, cutting back some plants, pruning some, so they are not all floppy and messy after snows and hail. He trimmed lots of shrubbery, tree branches that get pushed down over walkways and the driveway in the snow if they are not trimmed up. I’m ready! Let it snow!

    Decorated the porch a bit for fall. Fall welcome sign, fall wreath, fall garden flag. Small fake gourds, pumpkins and twigs/berries on the porch railing. Can’t find the fall leafy garland. Have a few fake autumn colors to put in a pot or two if I get around to it. And, maybe get a big pumpkin for the porch step.

    I still have two containers of Petunias that are hanging in there! (I brought them inside when it snowed.)

  25. Annotherone

    Forecast for the Okie/Texas border is “Winter will be colder than normal, with above-normal precipitation.” Summer was hot and more humid than normal, but with fewer 100+ degree days than in some other summers I remember here. We have cooler mornings and evenings now, but daytime is still mainly short-sleeve weather, and it’ll be a while, yet, before leaves begin their annual drop to be cleared up.

    Our minimalist style of garden maintenance means there’s no big fall project that can’t be dealt with in a few minutes, scissors and rubbish bag in hand. Our fall/winter projects will probably be indoors, and include sorting out how to replace a pesky old wall oven in the kitchen, which has an out-of-date sized opening in cabinet structure (and I’m afraid to use it anyway) without ripping out whole areas of cabinets and causing chaos. Why do manufacturers insist on changing measurements for standard items? Yep – the ol’ ka-chingle! Current advice is to buy a proper floor-standing full oven & top, make space, juggle the cabinets. Said to be “probably cheaper in long run” and a better update to property. I suspect we might still be relying on the cook-top, microwave and toaster oven by this time next Fall!

  26. Left in Wisconsin

    77 and a bit humid today in Madison. This entire fall has been dry and unbelievably warm. Not normal. But awesome (as a weather consumer). They say by 2050 we will have the weather Arkansas had in 2000. We already got the politics.

  27. Kokuanani

    I managed to create my own “to do” list unrelated to household chores. When we left Hawaii, I was tutoring in a school that, like most schools in Hawaii, was way down on the resources list. On any of my trips back to suburban Washington DC, I would go to the local libraries and buy kids’ books from the “Friends of the Library” shelf for $.50 each, then fill a suitcase with them and lug them back. The “rejects” available were always high quality and in good condition.

    Now that we’re back in suburban DC, I’m continuing this project, using low cost USPS “media mail” instead of suitcases. I found another school in New Orleans at which a neighbor’s daughter teachers: 100% African American, low income, few resources. So added it to my list.

    Then I contacted the local progressive school that my kids went to K-8, with they thought that they might like to run their own “clean off your bookshelves” drive, but discovered that the school library had just culled 16 boxes of books that they were trying to figure out what to do with. They’re mine now, and I’ve spent several weekends watching football while repacking for mailing. Picked up 5 more boxes yesterday, so my weekend is spoken for.

    I’m also thinking a lot about how to expand this idea. There are so many resource-rich schools in this area, and so many everywhere that could use “cast-offs.”

    I continue to be concerned about the folks in California and how they’re going to recover from losing absolutely EVERYTHING, and am searching for ways to help them.

    1. ArcadiaMommy

      A place I like to donate books and magazines to is the Indian Health Services hospital. They can let patients read the books/mags and they also sell them for $1 at the gift shop and their yearly book sale. I love the idea of books always being read, it doesn’t seem right to me to let them pile up at home only getting read once or twice. Plus I hate the thought that some kids don’t have any books to read.

  28. DonCoyote

    Warning: Ramble alert

    So I was trying to find out news about the Democratic Unity Reform Commission, which met two days ago in LV, right before a general DNC meeting there (I am still naive/stupid enough to hope for some real outcome from this group). What I found instead was:

    Drama Unfolds Between Democrats Over Rumor About Ousting Three Black Women DNC Members. Supposedly Jim Zogby (who denies it) was going to propose a different at-large slate of 75 delegates that excluded three black women. So good to see that hippie-punching is still alive and well in the DNC. Zogby had said yesterday that “This is a family. We’ve always operated that way.” (Although he also said “I’m concerned about the optics, and I’m concerned about the impact,” and “I want to heal the wound of 2016.”, so I’m not sure how all those things go together).

    Back to the original story. The DNC spokesperson says “We are proud of the unprecedented diversity of this year’s slate of at-large DNC members. We must come together in unity and embrace our diversity in order to win elections up and down the ballot.” So unity and diversity are going to win elections in 2018. Because they worked so well in 2016.

    If you’ve never seen the first part of the first episode of Newsroom, please watch it now (Jeff Daniels “It’s not the greatest country” rant is classic). Anyway, about 3 minutes in a student asks a Democratic, Republican, and “centrist” to say “in one sentence or less why America is the greatest country in the world”. The Democratic response is “Diversity and opportunity.” While the Republican response is just as inane (“Freedom and freedom, so let’s keep it that way.”), it’s like really, that’s all you have?

    Here’s Jimmy Dore making the same point, showing clips of the Democrats trying to say what they stand for. (Tom Perez “We lead with our values, and with our actions.”) Yes, your actions of purging the progressives out of the DNC say what your values are. Or, as Jimmy says, the DNC has been hollowed out by corporate money so that (diversity/opportunity/values) *is* literally all they have.

    {End ramble alert}

    So right now, I’m feeling like unity is overrated, and it may have to be revolution not reform. Maybe tomorrow I’ll feel differently, at least on the second part.

    One parting quote from the Newsroom video: “You know why people don’t like liberals? Because they lose. If liberals are so f***in’ smart then how come they lose so g**d*** always?”

    1. bluegirlredstate

      I love the Newsroom. And also, my facebook feed is full of people lamenting the loss of Sanders’ supporters, the inclusion of 75 lobbyists, but also the neoliberals of my area are telling us to shut up and get involved if they want change.
      My own state party is having problems because we voted in Berners at the top level and the outgoing leadership is working to make sure that nobody donates to them for the next two years.
      Unity is overrated. I am feeling what you are feeling- overwhelmed and unappreciated. But I live in a red state that needs better jobs and less extraction, so I will stay involved.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I think the Perez purge is a sign of weakness, not strength. A confident party wouldn’t need to do this, since it would assume the Sanders people can be co-opted (which apparently they cannot be, since otherwise they wouldn’t have been defenestrated). So intensity both inside and outside efforts, since each strengthens the other. Delegitimizing the Rules Committee is the obvious next step, or perhaps I should say making its illegitimacy clear.

  29. Wukchumni

    We were up in Mineral King in Sequoia NP, overnight.

    The fall colors are pretty exceptional now with not just the quaking aspens but most everything else as well has hues of yellow & orange, and the aspens will turn red in the next few days and the road closes on October 25th, so there’s a little while left to experience it if you get a wild hair, and want to see New England-like colors on the western slope of the Sierra~

    It looks like this right now:


    It’ll look like this in a few days:


      1. Wukchumni

        One can never be too careful, and with any kind of luck, you could land a drone on said flat top, in an emergency.

  30. Kenneth Heathley Simpson

    Hi Lambert,

    I am just down the road from you in East Blue Hill. My first fall task is to fire up the lawn mower and chop and blow the maple leaves away from the house and out of our meadow. Then, there is jugging up dry road sand from the the sides of street. Closing up the cellar vents and finally on November first start to bringing in the firewood under hard cover (i.e. under a real roof). This assumes that the snow bower and our little generator have been serviced in the spring. If not, this gets done between hailing firewood.

    BTW: This summer and fall has been beyond all exprience as far as seasoning firewood. Our wood is dry and ready to burn.

    Thanks for all you do.


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Since I eliminated the lawn, I can let the leaves rot where they fall!

      (Letting things rot where they fall is my approach to gardening, and perhaps to life….)

      1. Eclair

        Haha, Lambert! Letting things rot where they fall could perhaps be a constructive approach to leadership change. Or a book: The Lazy Gardeners’ Guide to Good Governance.

  31. Synoia

    Do people in, say, Southern California even have fall chores?

    What’s fall? Is that the cool day between Summer and Rain?

  32. polecat

    I remember back in ’89, I was visiting the future mrs. polecat, at that time my ‘chickybaby’, down in Westlake Hills where she was living at the time. I think it was early Dec., and we woke one morning to the results of an Arctic Express, with about an inch or two of SNOW on the ground !!!…
    When I said my goodbys a day or so later, the snow had melted locally, with the exception of all the frozen H2O piled on the surrounding mountain ranges, that white stuff blocking the Tehachapis. U no go I-5 polecat …. sigh, oh great !
    Ended up driving the 101 to Atascadero, then on Hwy 41 to catch the I-5 north, then to Sacramento …. made for a rather loooooong drive, but everywhere twas a winter wonderland !
    Your comment Synoia, about Souther Cal jogged lose a memory of what one might refer to as a ‘discontinuity’…

  33. Linda

    Looks like my comment of 4 hours ago is not going to make it out of moderation. Wondering now if I messed something up on posting or editing. Oh well. Just another breezy tale of fall preparations.

    1. flora

      I’ve had so many comments vanish into the ether I’m thinking of changing my nom de keyboard to “floraether”. ha. Skynet uber alles. :)

  34. Richard

    I don’t have chores. My life is organized to not have many (translation: I am stubbornly lazy away from school), and my brain not to see things that way. Life does require some maintainance and upkeep however.
    I live in Seattle, and people around here do seem to have plenty of chores if they own things, not so many if they don’t. It’s a bell curve of course; when you start to “own” other people, you get fewer chores again.
    We are now surrounded by a wall of darkness in Seattle. The storm we’re experiencing stretches (or stretched at one point) all the way to China.

  35. meeps

    The fall chore itinerary at our house had to be altered last week when our well pump failed. Our hobby greenhouse is situated such that the repairman couldn’t park his equipment where he needed, so the whole family had to kick it into high gear to remove the structure. We took it apart in sections to clear the path quickly and the repair was done in 2 days (awesome!) but I’ve been outside every day since, scrubbing all the panels and parts because I don’t like storing dirty stuff. Gross. I still have the patio pots and household gutters to wash but the rain barrels are clean and stored.

    The timing meant that most of the chili peppers and our last crop of tomatoes had to be sacrificed prematurely because they can’t survive the October nights sans greenhouse. We harvested what we could and the deer show up evenings to finish off the remains. We’re short of canning quantities as a result, but we made some righteous guac, salsa, and pasta sauce while things were popping, so I feel good about it.

    Apart from a snow storm last week the weather here (Colorado) is warm and sunny, the coincidence of which I appreciate as I catch up the ‘regular’ chores.

    Have a gorgeous weekend, NC peeps! Try not to mangle yourselves too badly and please don’t fall off any ladders!

  36. Eclair

    I am late to Friday’s Water Cooler because we are driving from Chautauqua County New York to Salt Lake City. While I did check the 10-day weather forecasts to make sure no early snow would pose driving problems, I did not fully process the predicted high temperatures. So, the jeans, flannel shirts and wool base layers I chose for travel have been abandoned for cotton tee shirts and sandals as we drove through Ohio, Indiana (stopping at the RV Hall of Fame in Elkhart), Iowa (tour the Amana Colonies and stop for a bit of genealogy research at the Danish Villages in Elk Horn) and into Nebraska. While the corn fields are brown and sere and the combines are out in force, making the air hazy with a dust composed of soil and vegetation, the trees are still green and flowers are blooming.

    Before we left, I almost finished spreading the 3 cubic yards of compost that the local garden place delivered. I am killing off a patch of lawn at the front of the house by spreading out our cardboard moving cartons, covering it with buckets of compost, then spreading on rotted straw. It will be a kitchen garden in the spring, with a lovely south-east exposure. Chives, garlic and lemon balm are in, plus clumps of iris (brought from Denver) and common day lilies (transplanted from the back (north) side of the house where they had been struggling for decades; both had already begun to send up tiny green shoots. In the spring, I will put in salad greens, radishes and onions. And hope there will be enough for us, the bunnies and the deer.

    My in-laws never discarded anything, so I retrieved six old tires from various piles around the place, spread out more packing boxes, and lined up the tires by the wood shed, ready to plant potatoes or tomatoes in next spring. I thought about carrying over buckets of compost, but it’s a long walk from the pile to the tires. And the old wheelbarrow is stored on a kind of balcony in the woodshed and getting it down will require a squad of strong willing volunteers. Have no idea how my late father-in-law got it up there.

    One of the numerous ‘dump’ piles around the property consisted of lumber and wood and old fence posts. I dragged out the fence posts to use in bordering the new kitchen garden at the front of the house. Smaller, non-rotting pieces, I put in a separate pile for our planned April 30th Walpurgis Night bonfire. The remaining big logs I rolled or levered into a rough line. I’m planning on covering it with soil (there are weed-covered mounds of it around the place), then planting it with squash, in an attempt at hugelkultur.

    Our compost heap, an unlovely pile in the middle of the back field, I covered with soil from one of the above-mentioned soil piles. It had become home to a swarm of two-inch long yellow bodied wasps, with a such a strong sense of ownership that I had been forced to limit compost dumps to late evenings. I will plant it with something in the spring. Something that deer are not particular to.

  37. Edward E


    F. William Engdahl

    It’s not about reducing currency risks in trade between Russia and China. Their trade in own currencies, bypassing the dollar, is already significant since the US sanctioned Russia in 2014—a very foolish move by the Obama Administration Treasury. It’s about creating a vast new alternative reserve currency zone or zones independent of the dollar.

    Yeah, I knew it was a dumbest move at the time, bad karma.

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