Links March 2017

We have reached Utopia without even realizing it. Screens of various sizes surround us and replace reality as we perceived it before. The one, who controls the flow of pictures on the screens controls us. Are we happy to be controlled? Are we questioning, doubting the pictures? Are we still alive or are we the Zombie-audience of Google, Hollywood, Facebook, Disney, Twitter, Clear Channel, Fox, ABC, MSNBC, CNN, Sky, and the rest of the mass media pack?

The lights that men have made
Outshine the moon and all the stars

The sounds of human works
Drown out the twiddling of the birds

While concrete, steel, and plastic buries
The earth and all the life she carries

What’s left are pictures flickering
On the screens setup around us

Whatever may happen and regardless of anything else, enjoy the coming spring and be happy, if your social media duties leave you enough time for it.

Feline news:
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/02/istanbul-turkey-cats-documentary-kedi.html Rare good news from Turkey

Environmental news:
https://news.mongabay.com/2017/02/environmental-lawyer-killed-in-the-philippines/ Unsung heroes.

Economic news:

Imperial news:
Trump seeks 54 Billion US$ increase in military spending, while the budgets of most federal agencies will be cut. Especially the EOA (Environmental Protection Agency) will be on the chopping block to balance increased military spending.
Well informed citizens make better decisions. A survey by Statista (January 28, 7,150 participants) about the percentage of US-American adults who consider one of the following countries their main enemy:
The class war is nearly won. What’s still left to do is the official reintroduction of feudalism and slavery.
Imperial conquest news:
Russia is one of the few nations who are reducing military expenditures, it is outspent nine times by the USA, three times by China, one time by Saudi Arabia. How can Russia be considered a threat to Western countries, why is it necessary to deploy more and more troops on Russia’s borders? As a defensive measure this makes no sense.
Make your own conclusions about Western intentions.

Uncategorized news:

News from cat paradise:

It is raining and for that reason there is a little spare time to write and publish this blog post. Normally I would work in the garden, weeding, pruning, clearing foliage away. The fallen leaves protect plants during winter but in spring they have to be removed because they could suffocate the ground vegetation, especially the moss. Blackberry bushes and common hornbeam are still shedding leaves, so this is a never ending task.

A few tiny sprouts and leaves have emerged, but most of nature is still sleeping. Because of climate change the gardening season is now two month longer, including March and October. More time to grow, but also more risks of failure. 

The huge neighboring field, which right now is just a mud desert, reminds of the unmitigated catastrophe modern farming has become. Industrial farming turns fields into factories. Inorganic fertilizer adds nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous to the soil; pesticides kill anything that crawls, herbicides  anything green and unwanted — all to create an assembly line that spits out a single crop.

Organic farming, agro-ecology, no-till farming (Masanobu Fukuoka’s One Straw Revolution), permaculture are related and complementary methods which try to utilize nature’s complex systems to do the same thing more efficiently without chemicals and large machines. Nitrogen-fixing plants are grown instead of inorganic fertilizer, flowers are used to attract beneficial insects which reduce pests; weeds are crowded out with more intensive planting. The result is a polyculture which produces many crops (fruits, vegetables, herbs) simultaneously, though not in industrial quantities.

Back to the cat paradise and the associated garden.

The strawberry runners which didn’t develop a solid root connection with earth have all died but the strawberries in the green houses are okay. I have to remove all dead strawberry leaves because they could be carrying fungal infections like leafspot.

Quite a few thyme colonies survived but they are not as numerous that self propagation is guaranteed. How many sage, camomile, marigold, and dill will grow by itself cannot be foreseen right now.

Mint plants are still in an embryonic stadium but there are enough stolons to make it clear that the various mint species this year will overtake lemon balm to become the most prominent herb. I planted all kind of mint varieties, including peppermint, spearmint, aquatic mint, apple mint, pennyroyal, Korean mint, moroccan mint, Spanish mint, ginger mint, horsemint. Natural hybridization seems to have occurred and there are now mint varieties popping up which I’ve never seen before.

Fennel unfortunately is gone, I will have to make serious research to find out how to grow and propagate it.

The categorization of plants as weeds, herbs, vegetables, forage, ground cover, etc. changes from year to year, even from season to season. Many of the weeds are edible, are medical herbs, deter pests, or simply produce bio mass via photosynthesis, removing CO2 from the atmosphere and creating mulch.

All kinds of clover are welcome, white or red or crimson, because of their symbiotic nitrogen fixation. Yarrow is plentiful in the garden, there are white and pink blooming varieties. Field horsetail is also growing nicely. I like it because it looks good and reduces mold, yet one has to be careful that it doesn’t get too dominant.

Purple dead-nettle, sow thistle, broadleaf plantain are filling gaps. Like some other not too aggressive weeds they will be usually tolerated and ignored, as they contribute to the desired species richness.

Small geranium and dovesfoot geranium are kind of cover crops, modest and easy to remove. I would prefer sedum, but the slugs have killed every sedum colony I tried to set up. Sedum grows nevertheless in protected places like retainers and elevated beds, but has to be watched constantly and guarded with slug traps containing beer. When I go out into the garden early in the morning with scissors to commit the daily slug mass murder I first look at the sedum.

I’ve already discovered and “neutralized” a few slugs. They are tiny, only six to ten millimeter long. There were also a few small green caterpillars. They have exactly the same hue as the leaves and are hiding on the backside of the leaves, being nearly invisible. As there are no leaves at the moment they cannot hide. Bad luck. 

Fig buttercup would also be a nice cover crop because it grows excessively in April but soon wilts and in May has completely withered away, making room for herbs and vegetables. Unfortunately fig buttercup is poisonous for greasing animals and though this doesn’t matter here I want to keep it in check. Ramson (wild garlic) is also developing early to be active only till May, it is growing in some areas but not spreading much. Replacing fig buttercup with ramson would be the ultimative solution, yet that will need longtime strategic planning.

Creeping buttercup is also poisonous and I’ve nearly eradicated it. This weed is deep rooted just like ground elder and dandelions, which both would be useful but are very hard to manage because of their strong roots. When the garden experiment started six years ago, dandelions and ground elder were all over the place, now they are rare (endurance pays off).

Hedge bindweed has nice white blooms but spreads rapidly; European ivy looks good but has to be kept in check, it is fortunately not poisonous like the American variety. Ground-ivy is edible but it also spreads rapidly and so has to be decimated.

Rosmarin and lavender, together with mint, lemon balm, and other aromatic herbs, are deterring aphids (lice) and other pests. Unfortunately aphids and ants live in symbiotic relationship, where the ants protect the aphids from spiders and other predators. The ants on the other hand are useful against mice and voles. Tricky!

There are hundreds of other things to keep in mind, because a garden is indeed a very complex nonlinear dynamical system. The thousand of web pages with tips and tricks are sometimes useful but many tips and tricks don’t work because of differing circumstances. In this case one has to find the solution by oneself. Decades of experience and an intuitive understanding of the ways of nature  would be needed.

I don’t have the decades of experience, I make this only since six years. It nevertheless goes rather well — I muddle through somehow, learning by doing.

It has been mentioned before, but just as a reminder: The garden is a huge operation with 30 fruit trees, nearly 200 berry bushes (mainly blueberries, gooseberries, jostaberries, raspberries and blackberries, some red currants and black currants), 20 grapevines, 9 hazelnut bushes, a thousand strawberry plants, tomatoes (in two green houses, on a large covered balcony, and under the balcony), pumpkins, chard, onions, garlic, chive, ramson, various tee herbs (lemon balm, many mint varieties, sage, thyme, nettle, camomile, marigold).

There are three levels of vegetation: Moss. strawberries, and low growing herbs on the ground, berry bushes and high growing herbs in the middle, trees, large bushes, and vines at the highest level, providing a protective canopy. Trellis keep the vines and blackberry bushes in place.

The area is large enough to support a family, but there are limitations. Two years ago I planted potatoes in two areas, just to get experience with them. The buried potatoes multiplied by three, but there was not enough space to grow them in meaningful quantities and I had to abandon the project. Never mind, the potatoes don’t give up easily and every year there are more potato plants from the tubers which were left in the ground. I wonder how this will end. 

No carrots and beans this year, there is no space left. 

The garden has 8 big compost containers and 24 rain water barrels with 4.000 liter capacity. Some additional water from the tap (municipal utility) is nevertheless needed, disbursed with sprinklers and water hoses. Watering is always early in the morning (right after the slug killing spree).

Even eight hours work a day is not enough to maintain the garden, and for that reason blog posts will be rare in spring and summer.The cats are fine and they are busy catching mice. Every day I have to collect the remains (head and intestines). One has to do it and as the cats will never learn to clean up the mess on their own, it is my job. Rosy has still a slight cold and sneezes occasionally, Miss Marple is now 19 years old and fortunately still in reasonable good health.

On one occasion Miss Marple slipped and nearly fell down from the couch while she was approaching her favorite place on the windowsill east. She panicked, growled and hissed at the other cats which didn’t growl and hiss back but just went up and looked at her disapproving. For a few moments it was completely quiet as Miss Marple seemed to realize how awkward she had acted, sighing and just slowly walking to the windowsill. She appeared to be very ashamed.

The cats grew together over winter, being most of the day in the living room sitting around the wood stove. No separate territories which one has to defend against intruders, only one shared territory.

The cats play with each other and tease each other, they have their tree climbing competitions, and Linda tries to show that she is the boss (with mixed results). There is never a fight among them, they never hurt each other. Im sure that they would miss each other, as they are indeed not just a group of cats, but a close family.


In a weird way, Trump is our best hope

Disclaimer: This text is written by someone who profoundly dislikes US foreign policy, US militarism, and the American way of thinking, as represented by US mass media and Hollywood. If you believe, that the USA is a beacon of democracy, a role model for the world, a shining city on the hill, you should not read this text because it will only annoy you.
Proceed at your own peril.

As stated before, US President Donald Trump is not an intruder, not an “Manchurian Candidate,” not an outsider to challenge the US political establishment, he is himself a member of the establishment, a member of the ruling class of billionaires.

The turmoil which at the moment engulfs the White House, various US agencies, and the whole Washington DC political scene results from the fact, that President Trump belongs to the faction of the establishment, which prefers economic conquest to military conquest.

The faction which favors military conquest is represented in public by Robert Kagan, Victoria Nuland, John McCain, Lindsay Graham, John Brennan, James Clapper, Ashton Carter, Samantha Power, Susan Rice, Michael Morell, John Allen, Bill Kristol, the Clinton clan. These people are commonly known as Neocons or war hawks.

The main power bastion though of the Neocons and war hawks are the CIA and parts of the NSA and other security agencies, also parts of the military and the State Department. This is quite logical because the CIA and the other named entities depend on military conflict, interventions, wars to justify their existence and continued generous funding.
The Matrix revealed: There are informal personal networks and cliques of high-ranking bureaucrats in all the mentioned organizations who can with some reason be called “deep state,” “permanent government,” or “shadow government.” Some legislators, retired officials, media people, and other persons who are influential or rich (George Soros) are also considered to be part of the deep state.

Though deep state and Neocons are not the same, they concur and correspond well enough to resist united against President Trump. Bureaucrats, challenged and threatened by Trumps attempt to install his confidants in crucial positions, provoked by his inimical and brash style, and instinctively resisting any kind of change, heartily join the resistance.

The goal is to either subdue Trump and bring him in line, paralyze the Trump administration, or remove him from office in one way or the other (impeachment, incapacitation, assassination).

What can the “deep state” do against President Trump?

The White House and other important buildings are bugged (with hidden microphones), every conversation is recorded, all communication lines are surveilled. CIA and NSA look for information bits which can be turned against Trump. Such information is then leaked to the press. Leaking has been made easier by President Obama, ordering the NSA a few days before he left office to distribute gathered evidence to all other intelligence agencies.

In January the CIA publicized via news channel CNN and BuzzFeed a 35-page dossier alleging that Russia has compromising information on Trump, including corruption and despicable personal conduct (sexual perversion). The dossier was compiled by Christopher Steele, an ex-MI6 agent and founder of Orbis Business Intelligence; it was available both to spy agencies and the press because its author had been shopping it around broadly for publication. In the meantime the dossier has been discredited.

In February National Security Advisor Michael Flynn had to resign after a report about five phone calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak was leaked to the press. In his resignation letter Flynn said he had given President Trump and Vice President Pence incomplete information about his contact with Kislyak. Before that newspapers like the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the New York Times had voiced concerns about Flynn’s longstanding relationships with Russia.
Other leaks included details from phone calls between President Trump with Mexican President Pena Nieto and French President Francois Hollande, a phone conversation between Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, where Trump complained about a “dumb” refugee swap deal and abruptly hang up, a call with Russian President Putin, where Trump was unsure about the 2010 New START arms-reduction treaty, had to ask aides, and then declared the treaty a bad deal.

There are leaked reports about animosities between senior counselor Stephen Bannon and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, while various rumors are also spread about counselor Kellyanne Conway and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Trump tweeted: “The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N.Korea etc?

Former counterintelligence officer John Schindler warned in an op-ed, that the spy agencies withhold gathered intelligence from a White House which they do not trust and that vulnerabilities and wrong political decisions could result from that.

How can Trump defend himself?

Trump ally and New York billionaire Stephen Feinberg will be leading a sweeping review of US spy agencies. Feinberg has close ties to Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Top intelligence officials fear that Feinberg is being groomed for a high position in one of the spy agencies, and that posts which are normally reserved for career officials will be filled with Trump confidants.

Trump handed over the full CIA Torture Report to courts. Obama had refused to give away the classified report.

Lt Gen Herbert Raymond McMaster has become the new National Security Advisor. McMaster is a military strategist who criticized the Vietnam War.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was handing out pink slips on the 7th floor of the Harry S. Truman building (the 7th floor was known to house a group of high-ranking officials who met every Wednesday afternoon to discuss politics in support of Hillary Clinton). Counselor of the State Department Kristie Kenney was among the dismissed. The White House warned State Department officials that they should quit if they disagree with the President.
Trump keeps his private security guards, mainly provided by XMark LLC, which is owned by Eddie Deck, a former Marine and FBI agent. Gary Uher is vice president. Trump’s security director Keith Schiller, a retired New York City detective, began work last month as Trump’s director of Oval Office operations. Deck and Uher are said to be considered for Secret Service positions.

US Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy plans to step down on March 4. Clancy’s departure means that President Donald Trump will be able to select his own security chief. The Secret Service has almost 7,000 employees and is charged with protecting the president and his family as well as combating counterfeiting.

It is very clear that the Oval Office and every one of Trumps teams phone calls are being listened to. Though rumors try to implicate Reince Priebus and Katie Walsh with the leaking, electronic surveillance and bugs (hidden microphones) are the most likely sources of the leaks.

As the Trump team tries to avoid being spied on, the West Wing of the White House is still mostly empty. Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner have set up a new organization called the Strategic Initiatives Group, an internal White House think tank which in reality partly resides outside. 

Donald Trump spends his weekends in his Florida estate of Mar-a-Lago, first lady Melania Trump and son Barron stay in the New York Trump Tower and show no inclination to move into the White House. The small township of Bedminster, New Jersey, is preparing for the daunting prospect that the local Trump golf course will serve as a sort of northern White House for as many as 10 weekends a year.

This is very costly as the Secret Service has to protect all these sites in addition to the White House.
It is not the first time a US President is at odds with the deep state.

When President Eisenhower made his “open skies” proposal he ordered to halt the U–2 spy missions. But the U-2 flights continued and an U–2 spy plane was shot down in 1960. Eisenhower had to lie and cover up the CIA disobedience.

When John F. Kennedy took office, the CIA had already planned the April 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, and as the invasion failed, Kennedy felt the CIA had set him up. He intended to dismantle the CIA and assign its functions to other intelligence units. He reportedly vowed “to splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds”. CIA head Allen Dulles resigned along with other senior CIA officers. But the CIA was too deeply involved in operations around the world to be disassembled and Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.

To make it clear again, this is not an article in favor of Donald Trump. How could one defend a billionaire who lives in his own skyscraper in New York and has vowed to slash environmental regulations, increase fossil fuel exploration, cut taxes for companies and the superrich, and privatize all public goods?

Yet, as he unyielding and stubborn takes on the deep state, political paralysis and chaos could ensue, the Presidency, the CIA, the whole Washington DC establishment could be damaged, unable to do their job, unable to protect the interests of the US empire and of the global class of 2,472 billionaires. 

This blog is mainly frequented by US citizens and they know what is going on. They know that a relentless class war is waged by the superrich who in their limitless greed continue to grab an ever increasing share of the national income at the expense of everybody else. Trumps cabinet of fellow billionaires, CEO’s, Goldman Sachs bankers, and Generals will surely side with the superrich, but Obama took their side too.  

US citizens know that infrastructure is crumbling and if it, as promised by Trump, is rebuilt by private companies, that they will have to pay a lot more for utilities than they do now, because the private companies are no charity organizations, they don’t aim to help the population, they want to make profit.

They know that privatized education is not cheap and only the wealthy will be able to get proper education, while children of the less fortunate will be taught in overcrowded classrooms by badly qualified and badly motivated teachers an abridged curriculum. This is the horror-vision of Betsy DeVos (sister of Blackwater founder Eric Prince btw.).
They know that prices will go up while wages go down, health care will become even more unaffordable, retirement will become a distant dream. They also know that the Democratic Party is not an alternative, as Obama and Clinton proved conclusively. They know that they are screwed whoever wins and that a genuine champion of their cause never will have a chance to be elected.

The citizens of the word, brainwashed by Anglo-American culture and mass media, mostly don’t know all that. They still believe in an “American dream,” in unlimited opportunities, in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

The spectacle of a chaotic Trump presidency, mired in trench warfare with the CIA, will teach them a lesson and maybe incite and encourage them to stand up against their national billionaires class before it is too late and before the US system is also installed in their own country.

Even if the deep state prevails and eliminates Trump, the USA will be discredited, disgraced, the big lie will be exposed, while what is left of international good-will and sympathies will be lost. US leadership will not be accepted anymore, will be a thing of the past.

This is the big chance of the Trump presidency and the best we can hope for.


Links February 2017

Feline news:
http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/books/2017/02/what-cats-can-teach-us-about-how-live An really nice text and an absolute must read for every cat lover!
http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Bobcat-Still-Missing-From-DCs-National-Zoo-May-Be-in-Woodley-Park-or-Cleveland-Park-412269783.htmlShe has been found in the meantime and is back in the zoo. Goodby liberty.

Environmental news:http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mongolia-pollution-idUSKBN15M1KQ
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/02/armed-herders-elephant-kenya-wildlife-laikipia This will end in chaos with nothing than a wasteland left.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/28/greenland-narsaq-uranium-mine-dividing-town Ruining what is left.
http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2063084/why-rich-breathe-easier-chinas-choking-smog Bring US jobs back from China, but leave the pollution there. Will that work?
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/16/chinas-booming-middle-class-drives-asias-toxic-e-waste-mountains In the small town where I lived in the 80s, a group of activists worked for half a year to restore and paint bikes that were donated by people. When about 60 bikes were ready, they were stationed in a dozen dedicated places to be used for free. The municipality and a few private companies helped with signposts at the staging points and plates for every bike. The project was introduced with a ceremony and a bike parade where all local celebrities were present. It was also announced in the local newspapers. All the bikes of this project were destroyed in only four days by vandals, mainly bored and idle youngsters. It was a disheartening experience for me, as I was involved very prominently in this project.

Economic news:

Media news:

Imperial news:
Once controlling 50 percent of world trade, the US share is now less than 20 percent.  This decline is partly due to the dismantling of its industrial economy as manufacturers have moved their factories abroad.
http://nationalinterest.org/feature/america-becoming-third-world-country-19050?page=show Wow! For a long time I haven’t read an article as enlightened as this. And the author works in Qatar?
http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/building_the_institutions_for_revolt_20170115The institutions and movements for revolt will most likely be crushed as soon as they gain traction. Only the stealth movements will survive.
http://www.sacbee.com/news/nation-world/national/article125306029.htmlus-national-debt-1980-2016A reader asked me: “hey r u a trump supporter ???????+ just asking  i wanted to know.
And I replied: “No, Trump stands for everything what I dislike.”
How can I support a billionaire who lives in his own skyscraper in New York and has vowed to slash environmental regulations, increase fossil fuel exploration, cut taxes for companies and the superrich, and privatize all public goods?”
us-flagImperial conquest news:
For nearly a month the main water supply has been cut off in Aleppo city and an estimated 1.8 million people in the city and rural eastern Aleppo are depending on emergency supplies fron the Red Crescent, government agencies, and UN. The pumping station (Babiri water plant near Maskana) cannot be accessed because it is on the west bank of Lake Assad in Islamic State territory. No Western paper bothered to report this. Damascus still suffers water shortages after the Islamists poisoned the water and damaged the pumping station in Wadi Barada.
Amnesty International, funded with grants from the USA, EU, UK, other Western governments, the Rockefeller Foundation and similar institutions, issued another report about alleged Syrian atrocities. Between 5,000 and 13,000 people are said to have been executed in the Saydnaya prison in Damascus.
This makes headline in all news channels and nobody questions the reports findings. It doesn’t matter that this is hearsay without any material evidence to back it up, it will be hammered into the brains of Western media consumers just like the Caesar photos, the Ghouta chemical attack in 2013, and the shouting of protesters in 2011.
Nobody will ask how this can make sense when the Syrian government released thousands of prisoners in 2011 and 2012, issued numerous amnesties, regularly pardons militants who surrender, and allows Islamists to leave enclaves to join their brethren in Idlib, even when they committed crimes like disrupting the Damascus water supply.
There is no evidence, that prominent and internationally known opposition figures were killed in Saydnaya. In contrast to that, there were many well known opposition leaders among the prisoners which the government released (Zahran Alloush).
Commonsense alone should tell anybody that this is war propaganda, but commonsense has no chance when an allegation is repeated again and again countlessly, while doubts and criticism are declared as “fake news” and filtered out by all search engines and social media platforms.
The boy, whose detention, torture, and murder by the Mukhabarat supposedly sparked the protests in Daraa was later found alive and well in Jordan, now we are told the reason for the protests were the detentions of a group of boys who painted graffiti (nothing what couldn’t have happened in any other county).
That Syrian forces were responsible for the Ghouta gas attack was never proven, UN experts and MIT scientists refuted the evidence
Half of the Caesar photos turned out to be from Syrian government casualties, the Caesar photos are essentially a collection of dead body pictures without accompanying evidence of crimes by the government.
The AI report about Saydnaya is based on 84 testimonies of people in Turkey, Jordan, Europe, and USA. The interviewees are referred to by their first name only or are anonym. AI claims to have the names of 400 individuals who died in Saydnaya but doesn’t publish them. How come these witnesses only emerge now when the mass killings have supposedly happened since 2011? The presented satellite pictures show not mass graves but small cemeteries in military bases and the additional graves can be easily explained by the immense death toll of this merciless war.syria army casualties 33http://www.globalresearch.ca/usafricoms-neo-colonial-dominance-in-west-africa-behind-the-change-of-government-in-gambia/5570445

Uncategorized news:

News from cat land
The garden is still partly covered with snow, but the main pathways are walkable. I’ve already pruned the oldest grapevine. I should do that also with all other vines, but I want to wait till next year with that, to see how the old vine is reacting to the treatment. In commercial vineyards the plants are trimmed to four canes but I’m not sure my vines will appreciate that — they are used to grow as they please.

Despite the various and of contradictory theories about gardening until now nobody could convince me that the best time to prune all plants is not the end of winter. Beside the vine I’ve also pruned some fruit trees and herbs, as far as they have already reappeared from under the snow cover.

Last winter the rosemaries, sage, many strawberry plants, and even some marigold survived and continued growing like they just had hibernated. This will not happen this year. Rosemaries and sage are clearly dead and I’ve cut them to the ground, if they don’t sprout again, I will have to plant new ones. Three of the rosemaries were already one meter high, it would be sad to have lost them. Of course I could have covered them or pruned them at the start of winter. Would that have made a difference?

In an ideal world the garden should regenerate itself and no seeds or seedlings should be needed, but some species would not survive the hard competition without support (fennel, echinacea, cat mint for instance). Blueberries, my favorite berry bushes, do fairly well but propagation is difficult and takes time. At the moment it is still more feasible just to buy new bushes.

Plum and peach are the easiest trees to grow from pits and that is the reason a lot of young plum and peach trees are growing here. Some of the home grown peach trees are already four meters high and they have proven to be quite resistent against the debilitating peach leaf curl, a fungal disease which weakens the tree and prevents it from developing fruits.

I have also four older grafted peach trees which I bought in the first two years of my gardening experiment. They didn’t produce much fruits because they were all sick by peach leaf curl, probably already infected when I got them from the tree nursery. Last year I reluctantly tried for the first time a fungicide, based on the chemical difenoconazole, and I had the best peach harvest ever.

I trie to protect the soil by putting plastic storage boxes around the trees. Covering with tarpaulin sheets didn’t work because there are bushes around the trees and is nearly impossible to prevent the fungicide running from the sheets into the soil. The method with the boxes is not perfect but collects at least two thirds of the fungicide runoff, so the earthworms should be safe.

This is the only chemical I use in the garden and I will spray as less as possible but it will take years till I have found out the right dose or have found an alternative treatment.
The cats are all healthy, only aunt Rosy has a persistent cold and is sneezing occasionally. It appears that after the abdication of Princess Min Ki a new leader of the family is emerging. It is not Gandni Jr., who has no interest in a leadership position and just wants his peace and quiet, but three year old Linda, who has become a huge cat with more than six kilogram weight.

Linda is very fit, she is often in the forest even when snow is high, and she never misses a walk. When it was very cold, Linda in fact was the only cat who accompanied me on the obligatory daily forest walk.

Alone because of her size, nobody will challenge Lindas leadership, but she makes sure who is the boss by occasionally sparring with Gandhi, who is as big and strong as her but usually just runs away to hide in a safe spot.

Which reminds me of the Melian dialogue, a dramatization of the negotiations between the Athenians and the Melians before the former launched a devastating siege which ended with the summary execution of all Melian men and the enslavement of all women.

The Athenians had argued: “The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” A principle which has been the basis of law and justice throughout human history with only minor exceptions.