Saturday, May 31, 2008

Swap News

Hello ladies. I am going to announce the winners of Rhonda's contest. I say "winners" because I found three who exemplified the reasons we have swaps-to practice our skills or to learn new skills and to recycle or re-purpose one thing-such as a fabric- to another thing. The shopping tote swap was so much fun and everyone was so creative that I have spent many days trying to chose a winner. If I

Digging on the Dogs

Doug P. came up on Memorial Day and we went walking in field and forest a pretty fair distance over a few hours, but dug only just a little. That's the way it goes sometimes. Lots of holes, but not much home.

Mountain eventually found and we dug this fellow out, and I was back home by 2 pm to visit with the Misses at the pool.

This weekend I'm taking off from digging, and instead I am going up today to hit the American Sighthound Field Association's International Invitational at Morven Park about an hour up the road from me. Morven Park also happens to be home to the Museum of Hounds and Hunting (i.e. mounted fox packs).

God bless Virginia, land that I love.


The Constitutional Right to Hunt

I can buy a lifetime hunting license in Virginia. This is available at a pro-rated basis, depending on age. This seems to me to be an excellent idea and some other states have availed themselves of this lifetime licenses option as well, including: AL, CA, FL, IA, IL, KS, LA, ME, MI, MN, MO (small game only), NE, NY, OK, SC (small game only), TX, and WV.

On another note, Virginians have a state-defined constitutional right to hunt and fish (enacted in 2000). Some other states that have embraced similar constitutional rights include:
  • Vermont - enacted in 1777

  • Alabama - enacted in 1996

  • Minnesota - enacted in 1998

  • North Dakota - enacted in 2000

  • Wisconsin - enacted in 2003

  • Louisiana - enacted in 2004

  • Montana - enacted in 2004

  • Georgia - enacted in 2006
Am I missing any?

A Game For Pendejos to Play

A friend who knows of my casual interest in Internet culture sent me an email.

"Guess what?" he wrote. "There's an entire web site devoted to goofing on Internet trolls."

And, believe it or not, there really is.

It's called "Forumwarz."

The long and the short of it is that this is a game with a message. But you have to play it to get it. Oh, go ahead! It's just time -- the one thing you will be begging for more of on your last day on earth.

As I have noted in the past, the Internet is an inspirational place where millions of people reach out to locate kindred souls, share knowledge, and build worthwhile communities and information resources. Most of these people stand up straight, have real names, have real email addresses, do pretty solid research, and can look other folks in the eye.

Ironically, the Internet is also a sad place full of angry, pathetic and lonely losers who who seek to destroy community, sow confusion and spread disinformation. Most of these folks are anonymous cowards who do not have real names, do not have real email addresses, do not do any real research before typing , and who will never look anyone in the eye because they are fakes, fools, pretenders and bullshit artists.

Imagine my surprise to discover that this last group actually has a Wiki entry to describe them!

And yes, they really are called Anonymous Cowards.

Other terms that are apparently used are: "Anonymous Idiot" and "Random Fuckbag."

Lovely. And, of course, there is the old standard: Troll.

Run a blog, forum or web site and you will get such creatures showing up. They are like rats in a barn and they come in several forms: hit and run posters, cyber-bullies, flame-baiters and sock puppets, to name just a few.

Of course the Internet is increasingly international so "Random Fuckbag" has to find its equivalent in other languages.

And so I have recently learned the Spanish phrase: "Pendejo sin nombre," or "nameless asshole."

Cool. Very international.

But what about the other languages? What's the equivalent in French? In German? In Finnish? In Dutch? In Swedish?

A quick run at Google Translator suggested "anonymous coward" in Dutch (anonieme lafaard), French (lâche anonyme), German (anonymer Feigling), Swedish (anonym feg), and Croatian (anonimnih kukavica).

But how to begin to translate "Random Fuckbag"?

I decide "old condom" is about as close as I am likely to get with Google Translator, which obligingly suggests equivalents in Dutch (oud condoom), French (vieux préservatif), German (alte Kondo), Swedish (gamla kondom), and Croatian (stari kondom).

I know these phrases are not quite right and do not carry the necessary sauce for the goose. What is really needed here are foreign-language colloquialisms.

Sadly, however, the Internet has not yet been perfected to that level.

An "anonymous idiot" or "ashole" may work as descriptive insult in any language, but it lacks distinction as a result. "Random fuckbag" is handmade phrasing that is probably unique to the English language. It is idiom with at least a little bit of terroir left in it. It is language with legs.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Swap News

Everyone has the greatest suggestions for our next swap. I am putting them in a list-we have so many great ideas it will take many swaps to do them all! I am in the process of uploading the photos I have received this week to our flickr photostream and I hope to get the tea cosies uploaded this weekend-I am still receiving those photos. If you don't see your photo up, please re-send it to me

A Lot of Bull

Nope, not photoshop -- a real moo cow that is really that big.

Chilli is an enormous black and white Friesian bull, weighing 1.25 tons and standing at 6 feet 6 inches in height. What's a Friesian? Basically, it's a European-version of the Holstein.

Abandoned in 1999 on the doorstep of the Ferne Animal Sanctuary in Ferne, Somerset, England, when he was just 6 days old, the Guinness Book of Records says he may be the world's tallest cow.

One thing for sure: Chilli is a damn lucky bull. If this animal had gone anywhere else, he'd have been turned into hamburger (or steaks) long ago!

Jacking a Deer

No, not jack lighting ... Jack Russelling. In the worst possible way. Hat tip to the Black Bear Blog

John McCain Wants to Set the Record Straight


Penn & Teller Sell Common Sense

OK, so getting food advice from Penn & Teller is about like getting health care policy advice from Michael Moore ... But you know something? That turned out to be pretty good advice.

So there you go.

Which is not so say that everything you see on TV is true, even on a show called "Bullshit!"

It turns out the National Institute for Health (the authority cited), actually thinks the Atkins Diet is OK. Sure you croak early from clogged arteries, but you may die 10 pounds thinner!

Of course, I am not one to listen too carefully to NIH when it comes to diet -- they have been all over the map for five decades now and probably did thump the Atkins Diet when this video was made. When it comes to diet, maybe the NIH should just be quiet.

The bottom line, of course, is always the same in all things: live in moderation, avoid ideologues (on either side of the aisle), try to eat less and excercise more, and try to be nice to others.

Oh yes, and wash your hands and flush too. And don't litter. That is all.

Obedience Training with Lucky Luciano

"Lucky" Luciano teaching a lakeland terrier a trick. This picture was taken in Italy in about 1949, after Luciano -- one of America's most famous mobsters -- was deported back to Italy. This picture was part of a campaign to humanize Luciano so that the U.S. Government might let him back in. It didn't work.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Vegetarian baked dinner

With the rain and cold weather yesterday I started thinking of a good old fashioned baked dinner. My fellow Australians would know this as a meal that featured either roast lamb, chicken or beef which an assortment of vegetables and gravy. My vegetarian version of a baked dinner is pictured here. This is what we ate last night.I often get requests to write posts about frugal vegetarian meals so I

Missing the Story on Quaggas and Extinction

Click to enlarge. This is a family tree showing how a "quagga"-coated Plains Zebra was created in just four generations. Source

Olivia Judson had a piece in yesterday's New York Times entitled Musings Inspired By a Quagga.

A quagga? The South Africa zebra? Now there's an interesting story. Surely any "musings" on that animal and its story would be full of insight!

My hopes were dashed, however. Ms. Judson had nothing to say about the quagga, and nothing new to add to the topic of extinction, ostensibly the topic of her piece.

Sadly, her "musings" read like notes of a romantic school girl who has just walked though a natural history museum for the first time. I doubt that is what she intended, but there it is.

For example, Ms. Judson mentions the quagga in her title, but seems unaware that this animal is not really a species of Zebra at all -- it is a subspecies, and a subspecies of the most common and variable type of Zebra, the Plains Zebra.

As an evolutionary biologist, Ms. Judson knows the difference between a species and a subspecies. And it's not like the world has raised the bar very high when it comes to designating a new species. Quite the opposite. When in doubt we split rather than lump species, if for no other reason than we can now sell the naming rights to a new animal or plant for as much as $2 million.

That said, there are limits to all things, and the quagga has crossed them. DNA analysis of old quagga skins by the Smithsonian Institution confirms that the quagga was not a separate species of zebra, but rather a simple color-variant of the Plains Zebra.

This information is not deeply hidden. In fact Lutz Heck (a scientist instrumental to the creation of the German Hunt or Jagt terrier) was the first to suggest in his book, Grosswild im Etoshaland (1955), that careful back breeding of Plains Zebras could produce an animal identical to the "extinct quagga" in a matter of a few generations.

Heck's theory was put into action in 1987 by Reinhold Rau, and quagga-coated zebras were being reproduced in less than 20 years time.

Did I mention that this information is not closely held? In fact, The New York Times has had long articles about it! Yes, the same New York Times in which Ms. Judson writes.

Ms. Judson's paean to wildlife extinction also fails to mention how few plants and animals have actually gone extinct in the last 500 years. The numbers here are quite different from what people think!

In fact, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), only about 800 vertebrate animals and vascular plants have gone extinct in the last 500 years, and of these only 70 were species of mammals (most of them mice, rats and bats), and even here there is some padding, as some of the species listed by the IUCN are demonstrably not extinct, including the quagga and Burchell's Zebra (to name just two). Furthermore, if you study this sort of thing carefully you find that today about as many "extinct" animals are being rediscovered every year as are being listed as "gone for good."

Please do NOT misunderstand what I am saying. I am NOT saying things are all fine -- far from it. A lot of wildlife and wild places are under very serious threat.

I am saying, however, that the situation is a bit more complex than Ms. Judson and some others would have us believe, and in the complexity is a more interesting story than what is now being told to us.

The real story is we have not (yet) destroyed the world, and we are doing quite a lot to protect what remains, and even bring some of it back from the brink.

Today in the U.S. we have more wolves, more buffalo, more bald eagles, more wild turkey, more peregrine falcons, more beaver, more cougar, more white tail deer, more grizzlies, more whales, more coyote, more osprey, more alligators, more red fox, and more raccoon than we did 30 years ago, 50 years ago, or even 100 years ago.

Today more wild land is being set aside in Africa, Asia and Latin America than you can imagine, and wildlife is being re-introduced into some areas where it was once extirpated.

Are things still grim for some species and some locations? Of course. But on land, at least, we are making real progress. In fact, the direction and velocity is astoundingly positive. Only in the oceans are we falling down on the job, and even here change is beginning.

If one is going to talk about lost animal and plant species, I also think we need to mention that we are probably creating more species today than we are actually losing. The fact that these new species are varieties of corn, rice, potatoes, bananas, cattle, pigs, chickens and fish does not make them less important to Mother Nature.

In fact, by any objective standard "miracle" rice and transgenic salmon are more valuable to the natural world (bees, bears, bunnies and barracudas) than any subspecies of Plains Zebra. The reason for this is simple: Only through increased agricultural production can the world decrease pressure on our remaining wild lands and wildlife.

Which brings me, in conclusion, to the most bizarre omission in Ms. Judson's piece: not a word about the speed of human population growth.

This is a odd because Ms. Judson's claim to fame is that she wrote a little book entitled Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation: The Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex.

All the words are there -- sex, evolution, biology -- but Ms. Judson never seems to connect them up. And it's not like it would be hard to do when talking about the quagga and people. The human population of the world was 1.5 billion the day "the last quaaga went extinct." By 1930 world population had clicked past 2 billion, by 1960 three billion, by 1975 four billion, by 1987 five billion, by 1999 6 billion. When the quagga-coated Plains Zebra last disappeared, Africa had a population of 125 million people; by 2050 it is expected to have a population of 1.75 billion.

This is the big story -- the story that Judson does not even give a nod to. You see, we humans do not wake up every morning intent on fouling our own nest -- that's just what we do when there are too many of us living without income, knowledge, and technological capacity to lighten the load. That is the story of environmental destruction on this planet. This is the BIG story that Ms. Judson missed while wandering about in a museum musing about an extinct species that was, in fact, never a species and is, in fact, not extinct.

And the Harpy Eagle? It is not endangered as Ms. Judson and the museum claim. It is "near threatened" which is the category right next to "least concerned"

Which is to say the Harpy Eagle is "not threatened, but we're keeping an eye on it."

There's your story, and it's really not a bad story or a sad one, is it? Eyes wide open, we are now saving the planet, and almost all of it is still there to be saved if we get right on it.

And we are.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rain and relaxation

It's been a busy week. I've worked every day since Sunday, and have today off but there is a training day tomorrow. After Friday everything will settle down again. Thank goodness. I'm tired.I slept really well last night with rain falling on the roof and filling the tanks. Today I'll get reacquainted with the chooks and check out the garden. I have silverbeet to freeze, rosella jam to make

Monongahela National Forest Red Wolves?

That's not an ordinary coyote!

This was taken with a camera trap in the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia.

The Monongahela National Forest borders the George Washington National Forest and and Jefferson National Forest, and combined these three forests operate as one huge enormous ecological zone covering 2.8 million acres spread over parts of three states -- Virginia, West Virginia and small parts of Kentucky.

The Monongahela by itself is over 919,000 acres. The Jefferson National Forest comprises lands located in Virginia (700,939 Acres), West Virginia (18,530 Acres) and Kentucky (1,083 Acres). The George Washington National Forest is comprised of lands located in Virginia (960,133 Acres) and West Virginia (105,099 Acres).


This Moo Unit is Feeling a Little Horny

Lurch is a Watusi bull owned by Janice Wolf of Arkansas and he is believed to have the world’s largest horns. They weigh more than 100 pounds each and measure 7 ft long and 37.5 inches around, and are still growing! Wow! Lurch lives at the Rocky Ridge Rescue. A Watusi, is the same as an Ankole.

Contraception, Health and Development

More Than 100,000 Active Trappers in the U.S.

While drilling on the Internet for the lastest bobcat trapping statistics for Virginia (I did not find them), I came across a 2005 report that might be of interest to some: "Ownership and Use of Traps by Trappers in the United States in 2004.″

This 121-page report was commission by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and has a lot of information in it, including:

  • In 2003-2004 there were 103,051 active trappers in the US

  • The average trapper used 39 traps per day.

  • The average trapper owned 112 foothold traps, 50 bodygrip traps, 3 padded foothold traps, 3 cage traps and 36 snares

  • The primary species targeted for trapping was raccoon, followed by red fox, coyote, muskrat, beaver, mink, bobcat and grey fox

  • In 2004, 35% of trappers targeted coyote, 35% red fox, 34% muskrat, 25% mink, 17% bobcat, and 14% grey fox.

  • 60% of trappers surveyed had been contacted to trap nuisance wildlife

For the record: fox, raccoon, coyote, and beaver populations are at 100-year record numbers in the U.S., and populations of these animals are continuing to grow as they move out beyong their historical ranges. Trapping at current rates has no impact on state or regional wildlife numbers.

    Steve - append your email address to the comments here -- I have lost your email address!

    Tuesday, May 27, 2008

    American Heroes vs. American Zeros

    Some of Michael Vick's dogs are finding good homes, as this heart-warming post on the Bad Rap blog notes.

    Read the whole thing, and then go to the link about Michael Keenan (picture at right from the Bad Rap blog) who was a pit bull owner and humanitarian who lost his own life in a fire while trying to rescue a Jack Russell terrier that was not even his.

    Six years earlier Mr. Keenan had dived into San Francisco Bay to save a woman from a fully-submerged car after it went into the water.

    Good heroic people tend to know good heroic people, and so friends and family of Michael Keenan have contributed to a small living memorial to enable some of the the pit bulls rescued from a recent Arizona horror-mill (PDF) to travel to California where they can be adopted.

    Yes, Michael Keenan continue to save lives. If there is a heaven, Michael Keenan will no doubt be there, and the dogs will be too.

    And his friends? They will be there in time. Of this, I have no doubt. In the meantime, hats off to both, and thanks to Bad Rap for telling the story. Donors to their cause are always welcome.

    As for Michael Vick, he is in the Leavenworth, Kansas penitentiary. But don't expect him to change much; he is getting instruction in dogs from PETA-moron and canine-killer Ingrid Newkirk (no, I am not making this up), whose own "shelter" kills more than 90 percent of all animals that are surrendered to it, and who believes all pit bulls should be banned and euthanized.

    Getting lessons in dog care from Ingrid Newkirk is like getting cooking lessons from Jeffrey Dahmer.

    If Vick want to set things right, a few hundred grand (as an anonymous gift) to "Bad Rap" might be a place to start. .

    Stop listening and grow up

    I have often thought that modern society has divided into two camps – adults and children. This might seem quite obvious to you but I don’t mean it the way it sounds. I mean that governments, corporations, media and the advertising industry are the adults and all of us are children. They tell us, we listen. We are expected to be dependent and compliant, we are told constantly that we will be made

    Scottish Beaver?

    Scotland is set to reintroduce the European beaver into the wild in 2009. The animal was extirpated from Scotland more than 400 years ago. The new beavers (species name Castor fiber) are being brought in from Norway and are, for all practical purposes, identical to American beaver (Castor canadensis) though they cannot interbreed due to some chromosome differences. The beaver are expected to be released around five lochs in Argyll in the Spring of 2009 after a six-month period of quarantine. In October of 2005, six beavers were re-introduced to Britain in Lower Mill Estate in Gloucestershire, and in July of 2007 a colony of four was established at Martin Mere in Lancashire. For more information on Scottish beaver reintroduction plans, see >>

    Monday, May 26, 2008

    Home production of simple needs

    It's easy to get caught up in posts about producing food when we're trying to live a frugal and sustainable life but the truth of it is that there are other things we can be doing in our own homes that will help us move towards a simple life. Food and groceries are the easy ones because they are products we use everyday but other things can help up live well and remain green, and be doing it

    Sunday, May 25, 2008

    Saving money with a stockpile

    According to our local news, grocery prices will continue to rise along with the fuel price in the coming months. Almost everything we consume is reliant on oil – either when it is made or when it is delivered, or both. With this in mind, Hanno and I decided to do two month's shopping instead of the normal one month when we went to Aldi last week. Our trip to Aldi takes us about 30 kms from our

    Fox in Yard Last Night

    It looks like there were just two fox in the yard last night -- No Neck and Skin Tail.

    Skin Tail is no worse, and may be doing better, as it looks like there might be a little more fur on there now than there was a few months ago. If this is mange, it does not seem to progressing beyond his tail.

    No Neck, as always, is looking fine and her neck is developing a little more tone. She is still a very young vixen.

    Saturday, May 24, 2008

    Swap News Part Deux

    Today I want to talk about some minor changes we are making to the swaps. We have decided that we want the swaps to better reflect our simple lives. We want each swap to use a skill that we now need and can enjoy learning or practising, such as sewing, knitting, stitchery and quilting, for example. We want to emphasize the reuse, re-purposing, and the recycling of items we have in our homes, as

    The "Fighting Irish" Terriers of Notre Dame

    Clashmore Mike trainer Dan Hanley puts the mascot through his paces

    The original Notre Dame mascot was an Irish terrier. A series of dogs played the role, the first being a dog named "Tipperary Terrence" who was presented to Notre Dame head coach Knute Rockne in 1924. This dog was replaced by "Brick Top Shuan-Rhu" another Irish terrier, in 1930.

    In 1933, Brick Top was replaced by a dog named "Clashmore Mike" who proved so popular and beloved that all successor dogs were given the same name.

    Clashmore Mike was a splendid mascot as he could be used to great effect if made to do a series of simple tricks. At half time, for example, the handler would run Clashmore Mike around the stadium, and as he made his rounds he would stop and lift his leg on the opposing team's bench to howls of delight from the fans.

    For the famous Navy-Notre Dame game, Clashmore Mike's handlers would announce that they had been feeding the dog goat meat all week long. In addition, the dog was trained to chase and attack any goat he came across, so that when the Navy goat-mascot came on to the field leading the Navy team, Clashmore Mike took after him at top speed, again to great howls of laughter and the embarrassment of Navy football fans.

    Clashmore Mike was replaced as the school's mascot in 1965, when the Leprechaun became Notre Dame's official mascot. It was a great step down, in my opinion -- from reality to fantasy, and from a dog with character to a mere cartoon.

    Friday, May 23, 2008

    Sarcoptic Mange


    Sarcoptic mange is a common fox disease caused by a parasitic mite called Sarcoptes scabiei, which burrows into the skin, with infestations of several thousand mites per square inch possible.

    Scabies mites secrete a yellowish waste that hardens into a thick crust on the skin, causing hair loss and (as infestations progress) lacerations and cracking of the skin. Chronic itching can cause the fox to bite and gnaw at itself, and the animal can become dazed from pain and lack of sleep. Weight loss from stress can be quite rapid, and organ failure is common. Death usually follows within six months of infestation.

    One of the chief causes of mange in wild fox populations is too high a fox density. Mange mites can survive a long period of time in a den, which means that effective mange control requires fox dens to be unoccupied at least one year out of every two.

    In areas where fox trapping and hunting is outlawed or discouraged, however, fox population densities will often rise to the point that some dens never lie fallow. In such situations mange mites colonize the den and parasitize generation after generation of foxes who die horrible and grisy deaths.

    Death by mange is a long and nasty torture, and far more cruel than the swift death offered by a hunter's bullet or the swift chop of a working lurcher or hound.

    Anyone who truely cares about animal welfare should favor a return to managed population control of animal species that have overshot their carrying capacity. Death is not an option -- all animals die. The only real question is how an animal will die and under what circumstances. Managing wildlife through regulated hunting is a far more humane alternative that death through disease, starvation and vehicle impact.

    Swap News

    The link to our photostream: from Annet to Julie (above) and from Glenda to Nancy (below)Hello ladies. I hope everyone is having or preparing for a relaxing week-end. Here in the US, we are celebrating Memorial Day, a time we remember our fallen soldiers and the start of the summer holiday season. I would like to wish everyone here in the

    Where Did All the Saber-Toothed Groundhogs Go?

    Sure groundhogs talk ... but they lie.


    Thursday, May 22, 2008

    Dog Food Politics

    "The Republican brand is so bad right now that if it were a dog food, they'd take it off the shelf."
    Rep. Tom Davis, (R-Virginia)

    In other new bits and bites
    , I note that John McCain is trying to get America energized with REALLY ugly T-shirts sold at incredibly expensive prices ($50!!).

    Now there's a marketing strategy!

    For some reason, we are supposed to believe that T-shirts made from bamboo are better for the environment than those made from organic cotton.

    And no, I am not sure why.

    On the upside, you can get an
    entire Barack Obama action pack (a great looking T-shirt, a big car magnet, 5 bumper stickers, a rally sign, 5-buttons, and 50 stickers) for just $35.

    Hmmm. What product and price structure says "elite" and which one says "real world?"

    For those who want to make the most direct statement, you can do that by just clicking here.

    Strong communities, sharing knowledge

    There is always something to do in the garden at the moment. I love the photo above, it is of Hanno planting tomatoes with the chooks watching him. (Clicking on the photos will enlarge them.) So the new tomatoes are in, most of the potatoes have come up and seem to be growing well, and the silverbeet seeds, planted directly in the garden, have sprouted.Hanno used some old pavers to make an area

    As It Is and As It Was at White's Ferry

    White's Ferry as it is today.

    White's Ferry as it once was.

    I've penciled in a trip to Morven Park on the 31st to see the sighthounds run at the American Sighthound Field Association International Invitational -- should be fun, and give me a chance to tuck in to see what little is on display at the Museum of Hounds and Hunting which is in reduced state (never too large, I imagine), due to rehab of the mansion.

    I may also visit a farm up at Purcellville where I used to dig, and visit an antique store or two. One of my favorite antique spots is up the road from Leesburg at Luckett's Store near White's Ferry, which is the last ferry across the Potomac River. After you cross the Potomac to the Maryland side, you are not very far from where I hunt my dogs most Sunday's. One of the places I hunt (now farmland) was formerly where the part of the Battle of Antietam was fought. There used to be 100 ferries operating on the Potomac, but White's is the last one and the barge that carries you across is called the Jubal Early, which gives you some idea you are still on the edge of South.

    Wednesday, May 21, 2008

    Seed swap and pineapples

    A wonderful parcel arrived a couple of days ago. It was from my swap partner Tracy. As well as sending some great seeds, she also sent a Down to Earth hessian tote bag (!!!) and an Organic magazine. The seeds are long black radish, evergreen bunching shallots, moon and stars watermelon, climbing princess beans, lemon cucumber, red iceberg lettuce, giant Russian sunflower and dragon carrots. I am

    Tuesday, May 20, 2008

    Filling the void

    After a few days writing about budgeting and money I want to balance the scale today on what really spins my world. I want to tell you about those things that make my life a total joy. I used to live my life creating what I then thought was happiness buying new things at the shop every week. That is a very hollow kind of happiness, if indeed it is happiness at all. It fills you up instantly, but

    Monday, May 19, 2008

    Last words on the budget

    Hopefully this will be the last post about money for a while. Our budget is an important part of our simple life. It gives us a spending plan and organises us so that we don't overspend in one area at the expense of another. If you haven't written down your expenses yet, it's a very good thing to do. It's a bit scary being confronted with your real expenses but if you're to live an authentic

    Sunday, May 18, 2008

    Budget - good news

    Hanno and I spent two hours on our budget yesterday. We checked old bills and we had our little (solar) calculator running hot. We put 2 and 2 together, checked our answers, then checked again. We are spending LESS than we used to. Call off the hounds, our financial throats haven't been cut, we are doing fine. I'm sorry to alarm everyone.Let me explain.Our petrol costs have risen, our food and

    Saturday, May 17, 2008

    Re-evaluating and moving forward

    There have been many emails and very thoughtful and helpful comments to my previous post. Thanks to everyone who contributed. Every comment made me think. We are doing a number of the suggestions already so I thought it might be helpful for you, and a good summary and reminder for me, to go through what we are doing here. I have got a reasonable idea of where we're headed so I'll get to that at

    Friday, May 16, 2008

    We are cutting back ... again

    We have come to the sad realisation that we are not makings ends meet. In the past month our fuel costs have risen from $120 a month to $150, and we are spending more on food. We have lived on our current budget for three years but in the past six months we have watched as prices rose, however, with a bit of juggling have been able to absorb those increases. But not any more. In the past, we

    Thursday, May 15, 2008

    Taking up the thread - UPDATED

    I'm really pleased so many of you are interested in starting to stitch. It's a wonderful way to make beautiful gifts and it will help you create a 'uniquely you' home. These little stitcheries can decorate cushions, tote bags, quilts, aprons, dresses and cardigans as well as be made into wall hangings. They can be personalised by adding someone's name and you can add your favourite sayings by

    Wednesday, May 14, 2008

    Thanks everyone

    I want to thank everyone who took the time to leave a comment on by anniversary post. I was quite amazed at all the comments and read each one with a broad smile. I am truly humbled by some of the comments, particularly the ones who wrote that they have changed their life in some way. They mean a lot to me, thank you.I can't reply to all of you but please know I appreciate every comment,

    And the winner is ...

    Thank you to everyone who entered this draw. I'm quite humbled by the number of you who would like to own the stitchery. There can be only one winner though. Shane drew the slip of paper from my hat with the name - Marilyn on it! Marilyn wrote her comment at 14 May 2008 09:08. Marilyn, would you please email me - rhondahetzelatgmaildotcom with your posting details.Please excuse my floury

    A catching up day

    Year 2 Day 1 ;- )I am absolutely overwhelmed at the messages of friendship sent in the previous post. Thank you, everyone. I'll come back later today, write all your names out and get Hanno to draw one name out of a hat for me. When I return to tell you whose name was chosen, I'll also respond to some of the comments made.I'll be at home today after my three days at work. They were good days this

    Tuesday, May 13, 2008

    One year ago today ...

    One year ago today I pressed the Blogger "publish" button for the first time and entered blog world. It seems like just yesterday but also a lifetime ago. I had been fiddling with various formats and names for about a week but suddenly it felt right and the button was clicked. I have never regretted that click.I had two reasons to blog - one was to create a record for myself and my family of what

    Monday, May 12, 2008

    Dare to be different

    I want to encourage every one of you who choose to live simply to do it on your own terms. There is no rule book for simple living, we all do it differently. I think that once you’ve got it in your mind to change from being a consumer to a conserver, many of the practical day-to-day things will come from your change in mindset. If they don’t, and you’re unsure about what to do next, just be

    Sunday, May 11, 2008

    Let your garden work with you

    Here we are, just a couple of crazy kids, about to set off to pick up our chooks on Saturday.I didn’t want to garden yesterday. I was tired, I could see everything growing well, what was the point! Well, the point was that if we want to eat food from our backyard everyday, we need to put the work in to make it happen. So I employed one of my many mind tactics to get myself to the place I needed

    Saturday, May 10, 2008

    More pure breed chickens - NAMES UPDATE

    It's Mother's Day in Australia today. Mother's Day - the one day of the year when we eat strange looking breakfasts and wear macaroni necklaces; the day I remember my own mother and celebrate being a mother. I know as sure as I'm sitting here that my sons will phone me today. Since the day they were born, they have brought continuing joy to me. Happy Mother's Day to all the mums who read here.I

    Shopping Tote Bags

    Hello swappers-I just wanted to remind everyone to remember to send me a jpeg photo of their totes as they receive them so I can post them on flickr. I hope to get the tea cosies posted this next week also. I hope everyone is having a lovely week-end and takes time to relax and enjoy their family and friends. To anyone with a graduate in the family "congratulations" are in order also!! To all

    Friday, May 9, 2008

    The joys of gardening

    We spent a relaxing day in the backyard yesterday. I did some gardening while Hanno continued on his nest building project in the shed. It's a pleasure to spend these gentle days of Autumn in the vegetable garden. I hear the chooks clucking and the weather is perfect, with a coolness not quite enough to add a jumper. Bare arms gardening - I should write a book about it.Everything is growing well.

    Thursday, May 8, 2008

    Checking the stockpile and adding relish

    It's a constant challenge keeping the pantry and stockpile cupboards full and rotating. I've been going through my cupboards this week to check to see what needs using, making sure nothing is off and it's all in good order. One thing I noticed a few days ago is that we have too many cans of tomatoes that have been there too long - we've been using fresh tomatoes and left the canned ones to sit in

    Wednesday, May 7, 2008

    The right look

    There is a corner in our backyard that holds a corrugated iron water tank, an outdoor kitchen sink with running water attached, old buckets and lots of bits and pieces. It's a work area where water is stored, vegetable are washed before they go inside, seeds are sown and sit in the sun. It's not a pretty area but it feels good to work there and as Mrs Anna T rightly pointed out in the previous

    Tuesday, May 6, 2008

    Photos of a garden in afternoon light

    I've been writing emails this morning instead of posting so here are some photos taken last week but not posted. Clicking on the photos will enlarge them.The garden in the late afternoon. In the photo below you can see right through the house to the front garden. Margaret, our pretty buff Sussex, watching ants on the wall.Ruby chard. When it's picked this young, it can be part of a salad, or it

    Monday, May 5, 2008

    Sewing and repairing

    We had a public holiday here yesterday so I took full advantage of the day to finish off a dishcloth for a friend and to do some sewing. I love to spend time in my little sewing room. I'm surrounded by fabrics of all colours, threads and yarn, and tins full of bits and pieces. The world always looks good when viewed from my sewing room. it puts a gentle slant on everything. Hanno was also very

    Sunday, May 4, 2008

    Budget recipes

    Hello everyone. Here are the recipes shared after my request yesterday. Thanks to all who posted their budget recipes. I have fixed the spacing up twice but the memory on my computer runs out and I have to reboot. When I come back, the spacing is out again. So for that I apologise. I was going tochange a few other things but I can't. I am going to do some scans and see if I can fix whatever is

    Saturday, May 3, 2008

    Call for recipes ... and some answers

    On Tuesday I'll be doing the final session of my Centre's frugal living workshop. I told everyone I'd bring along a few more thrifty recipes for them to try, so I'm asking you all for your help. I'll be taking along the extra recipes I promised them, but I'd like to include more. I want everyone to rack their brains and give me just one recipe. It should be the recipe you think everyone should

    Friday, May 2, 2008

    Revolution at the kitchen sink

    There is a revolution happening out there. It’s starting right in front of you, at the kitchen sink. Most of my regular readers would know I rarely write about political topics, I leave that for the “experts”, but I’ve been thinking about the revolution for a while now and it just has to come out.A few years ago, when I started to live more simply, my friends and family thought I was a bit of a

    Thursday, May 1, 2008

    Our daily bread and vegies - UPDATED ... AGAIN!

    I love that first day after work is finished for the week when I get back into the garden again. That space is where I grow too. I have a garden bench out there and I sit and think, talk to the animals, watch the chooks and generally just luxuriate in the natural wonder of it all. Oh, and sometimes I help with the gardening. ; - )It's looking good out there now that the plants are starting to put