Friday, November 30, 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Weekend reading

Adaptive shopping - watch out, they know where you click

Unhappiest people not always the most deprived

A plan for food self-sufficiency

How to make jam and troubleshooting jam

A new way to cook pasta?

Patchwork Pottery

We have to protect our bees.

Richard Heinberg: why end of growth means more happiness - video


Busy mum of 3 Have a look at

The Crisis: Amputated Penises Eaten By Geese

News of the continuing crisis comes from The Guardian:

Why Thai women cut off their husbands' penises

About once per decade, the medical profession takes a careful look back at Thailand's plethora of penile amputations. The first great reckoning appeared in a 1983 issue of the American Journal of Surgery. Surgical Management of an Epidemic of Penile Amputations in Siam, by Kasian Bhanganada and four fellow physicians at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, introduces the subject: "It became fashionable in the decade after 1970 for the humiliated Thai wife to wait until her [philandering] husband fell asleep so that she could quickly sever his penis with a kitchen knife. A traditional Thai home is elevated on pilings and the windows are open to allow for ventilation. The area under the house is the home of the family pigs, chickens, and ducks. Thus, it is quite usual that an amputated penis is tossed out of an open window, where it may be captured by a duck."

Yes, read that last sentence again: "Thus, it is quite usual that an amputated penis is tossed out of an open window, where it may be captured by a duck."   That sentence is a keeper!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Saving electricity - what I know works

Our electricity bill came last week. It's something that many of us fear now because, in Australia, and possibly in many other parts of the world, electricity prices are skyrocketing. It was good news for us though, we're in credit and have been since our solar panels were installed 18 months ago. But I know how tough it can be when you're faced with a bill that you know you'll struggle to pay.

Fa La La La La In Lala Land

Ya gott love felt balls..snowballs 

And Felt Birdies
with more snowballs.

Everyone keeping busy?

Anyone not busy?


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Schrödinge​r's Dog

My friend Schrödinger is a strange fellow.

He has taken a small dog he recently got at the pound and placed it in a steel box along with a geiger counter and a very, very small bit of radioactive material, so small that in the course of an hour or a day or a week, only one of the atoms might decay, but also, with equal probability, perhaps none will decay.

If an atom decays, then the geiger counter discharges and, through an electronic relay, it releases a small hammer that shatters a small flask of hydrogen cyanide which poisons the dog and kills it dead.

Schrödinger asks me if I think the dog is now alive or dead, but since I cannot see in, how am I to know? I am not even sure if that is the right question.

The right question, I think, is what did that woman mean when she dropped her dog off at the pound and said "her circumstances had changed." 

When she dropped the dog off at the pound, did she think the dog was alive or dead?

Homemade chilli jam

Hanno and I had a lovely day out last Thursday, visiting friends just north of here. Our good friends Beverly and Michael have just moved into a beautiful home on 400 acres on the Mary River. Michael took us down to the river where we stood in the shade and watched fish swim around in the river. They plan to develop the property as a multifaceted centre for indigenous groups, local and

The Kids are Alright

My kids at Thanksgiving.  You know when you get to that place where you are pretty sure the kids are going to be O.K.?  I think we're there.  A nice feeling and great kids.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Wonders of the Grand Circle

The Grand Circle encompasses parts of five states – Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Nevada and it contains Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Antelope Canyon, the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Mesa Verde, Natural Bridges, Canyonlands, and Grand Staircase-Escalante.

If Your Friends Acted Like Your Pets

A couple of years ago
, I wrote an article entitled "The Madness of Dogs".
We call them "Man's Best Friend," but if any other friend pissed and crapped in the house, yelled loudly early in the morning, stole our food, humped our leg, ate poop, and then tried to kiss us, we would brick them in the head in short order.

And yet with dogs we pay good money for veterinary care and fencing. We pay extra money so our houses will have yards that are big enough to accommodate them, and we let the dogs determine not only what time we get up in the morning, but how quickly we return home at night.

If this is not the definition of madness, I don't know what it.

Nothing stays the same

Nothing ever stays the same. Today is the 15th anniversary of the day we moved into our home. While we have made changes almost everyday we've been here, those changes were slow and small and most of them only noticeable when I look back. I didn't realise the importance of many of our changes until they had been completed and then, with the benefit of hindsight, I could see them in context and

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Preparing for a simple Christmas

For those of us who celebrate Christmas it's only a few weeks away. In fact, Christmas eve is only four Mondays away. Over at the forum, the moderators and I have been thinking about this and have come up with lots of handy hints to prepare for a simple Christmas. Of course, many of us have been working on our Christmas gifts for a while but there are so many things to think of at Christmas time

JFK Was Buried On This Day, 1963

Jimmy Breslin writes about the common man and the uncommon man, and the pride we Americans can feel in both of them:

One of the last to serve John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who was the thirty-fifth President of this country, was a working man who earns $3.01 an hour and said it was an honor to dig the grave.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Ben's Stuffing and Life and Trees

The Famous Ben Stuffing

Very labor intensive, but most of the chopping can be done the 
day before, but Ben said he likes the idea of the work 
"on the day".
We enjoyed mimosas while HE worked.
The pooches were at his feet all morning
hoping for an errant nibble.
In the center pic you can even see Justice standing
by while he texted.

1 3/4 pounds sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
5 to 6 TB butter
2 1/2 fennel bulbs, chopped
1 1/4 pounds onions, chopped
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 1/4 pounds firm but ripe Bosc pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large red bell peppers, chopped
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried marjoram
2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage
1 loaf sourdough bread cubed
3/4 cup dry white wine

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spread bread on 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Bake until just golden, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer to very large bowl. Set aside.

Cook Italian sausage in large pot over medium-high heat until browned, breaking up pieces with back of fork, about 12 minutes. 

Using slotted spoon, transfer to small bowl. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in same large pot over medium-high heat. 

Add chopped fennel, onions and fennel seeds. Sauté until fennel and onions are tender and golden brown, about 15 minutes. 

Reduce heat to medium. Add pears, bell peppers and herbs. Sauté until pears and peppers are just tender, about 10 minutes. 

Add wine and boil until most liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. 

Add sausage and fennel mixture to bread cubes. Season stuffing to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter 13x9x2-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish. Add enough broth to stuffing to moisten (about 3/4 cup to 1 1/2 cups.) Transfer stuffing to prepared dish and dot stuffing with 2 tablespoons butter before baking. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down; bake until heated through, about 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is crisp and golden, about 20 minutes longer. Top with fennel fronds, if desired, and serve.

( I took the fennel tops and stuffed them inside my bird)

My brother Scott and his wife Crystal have
 a wonderful mini tree farm.
It is located on the lot next to their home in 
New Castle PA.
Each year Scott tends and trims these trees to perfection.
Look at these beautifully shaped trees.
Only Blue Spruce for them,
and only $20.00!
Those are not lala land prices!

Offspring of the folks 
who bought 20 years ago are now coming to
buy these beautiful Blue Spruce trees,
family traditions established and nurtured.

Nurtured in the nursery
for future generations..

Absolutely worth the drive if you are
 anywhere within the Pittsburgh area.
Please remember to tell them I sent ya...
and give em a big hug for me.
If you wish to call and check ahead, email me.

Also please check out Maynard Greenhouse
here and here if you haven't already.
If you are passing through, or live within
a nice long drive,
Maynard Greenhouse is a Must 
stop for Carole's Christmas shop and 
their Christmas trees have arrived also.

Give George and Carole my love and pet Petey
and the kitties.

Filled with love and gratitude today.
My son is still here visiting, he is asleep upstairs.
The joy I feel when the kids are under my roof,
asleep and happy and safe at home.
I am blessed with a great family 
and friends here and in blog land.

Do you ever have those days 
where you just want to hug yourself with joy?
Life is good.
Difficult at times, but good.


It's a Dark Meat

Turkey tastes just like dinosaur.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Weekend reading

Care for an adventure? This couple have just bought their new home. It's old, run down and needs a lot of renovation and TLC. They bought the old post office and school house in the Lockyer Valley, just outside of Brisbane. That where my dad's family is from so I might recognise a few places they'll blog about. Finance was approved two days ago, so now they're just about to move. Let's follow

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Coffee and Provocation

"Keep Calm and Dig On" Coffee Mug:
Order yours hereAlso available as poster, Iphone4 case, and mouse padThis mug can also be paired with American Working Terrier Coffee Mug for the special Christmas gift set.

On Being Right Sized:
JBS Haldane wrote:  “You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mine shaft; and on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away. A rat is killed, a man is broken, a horse splashes.”  Discuss.

Perfect Pet:
Do you know someone who wants a dog, but you just aren't sure they are ready for the responsibility of taking care of a living animal? Suggest the Port-A-Pug.

The Fixer's Manifesto:
This country will be great again when we do what we did in the past:  tax the hell out of the rich and embrace the Fixer's Manifesto.

Wild Sex:
I could teach a course in this.  Seriously, I could.

A Letter of Note:
About a dog.  "Janet has been the most consistent relationship of my adult life, and that is just a fact. We've lived in numerous houses, and joined a few makeshift families, but it's always really been just the two of us."  

Zoo Pathetic:
The life and death of Knut the polar bear.  Moral of the story:  "Rather than raising awareness, zoos might be hindering us from recognising the reality. We humans are not the Ark; we are the flood."  Bingo.

Rat Poison for the Galapagos Islands:Once again we dry to wipe rats off a few islands in order to preserve other species and natural landscapes.  Sometime this is successful, but often not.  Rats are resilient and fecund.

Fenton Remastered

FENTON!The viral hit of 2011 (this blog wrote about it here) has been remastered so that we can all see what really happened.

You're Missing the Upside


The Electronic Dog Nose

The eyes are the window to the soul,
but the nose is the window to the hole.

A new miniature device is said to be inspired by the canine nose, and can sniff out any programmed airborne chemical to the parts per billion level.  The folks at SpectraFluidics, who made the mechanical dog nose see it being used for not just explosive detection, but also for disease diagnosis, narcotics detection, and even spotting spoiled food.

Gifting In The Studio

Working on Gifts

In the studio - Glitter and glue gun a flyin'

Wonder if I can talk Dearest Son into
a few projects?
He has an idea for a sewn headboard I'm working on.

I've already set up a painting area in the garage for 
Darling Daughter.
She asked what I wanted for Christmas.
What I always want from her....
Maybe I can pick up a few tricks....

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Austin and Lucy

A boy and his dog.

Let Us Give Thanks for Wild Turkey and Uncle Sam

Wild Turkey Feathers. This is a repost from Nov. 2008.

Let us give thanks to the Wild Turkey, America's largest ground-nesting bird.

Back when my grandfather was born, the Wild Turkey was teetering on the edge of extinction. Today we have more Wild Turkeys in America's woods than existed in pre-Columbian times.

How is that possible?

Good question. But before we get there, let's dwell a little bit longer on the miracle.

You see, it generally requires a lot of forest -- 2,000 acres or more -- to maintain the kind of food crop and cover that Wild Turkey need to thrive.

The reason for this is that in the dead of winter, Wild Turkey depend on acorns and other nuts and seed for survival. This food is only produced in abundance by mature hardwood trees -- oak, beech, dogwood, cherry and gum.

So what's the big deal? We have a lot of forest in America.

True enough now, but not as true a century ago in the Eastern U.S. and much of the Midwest. Back around 1900, virtually all the big stands of large trees had been logged out in the Eastern U.S. and across much of the Midwest as well. As the trees vanished, Wild Turkey populations plummeted.

Wild Turkey populations were further pushed to oblivion by rapid improvements in gun accuracy, and weak game laws that had yet to catch up to the changing dynamics of landscape and technology.

By 1910, there were fewer than 30,000 Wild Turkeys left in America.

Then, an amazing turnaround occurred. That turnaround started with passage of the Lacey Act in 1900. The Lacey Act ended commercial hunting of wild animals.

Commercial hunting is not sport or recreational hunting -- it is the opposite of that. In commercial hunting, the goal is not having a fun day in the field to fill your own freezer with wild meat, but a full year in the field to fill the freezers of 10,000 people whose primary concern is the price per pound.

To put it simply, commercial hunting is to sport hunting what gill-netting is to fly fishing. One comes with a factory ship attached; the other a simple wicker creel.

No single action has done more to improve the status of American wildlife than passage of the Lacey Act. Prior to its passage, commercial hunters bled the land white, shooting everything that moved. Wild game merchants sold pigeons for a penny apiece, and ducks for only a little more.

Hunters, using cannons loaded with shrapnel, would shoot 400 ducks in a day in Maryland's Eastern Shore marshes, while market deer hunters would set up bait stations near roads and shoot 20 deer in a night.

The Lacey Act helped put an end to this kind of unrestricted slaughter of American wildlife, but it did nothing to restore badly degraded habitat.

Wildlife without habitat is a zoo.

Habitat without wildlife is scenery.

America -- still a young nation -- remembered when it had both, and it wanted it all back.

The second steps on the road to wildlife recovery occurred between 1905 and 1911. It was during this period that Theodore Roosevelt set aside 42 million acres as National Forest and created an additional 53 National Wildlife Refuges as well.

It was also during this period that Congress passed the Weeks Act authorizing the U.S. government to buy up millions of acres of mountain land in the East that had been chopped clean of its forest in order to obtain wood for railroad ties, paper, firewood and timber.

With the Depression of the 1930s, and rapid migration of millions of people from the rural countryside to the city, more and more marginal farmland began to revert back to woody plots.

Spontaneous forest regeneration in Appalachia, along with tree-planting by the U.S. Government-funded Civilian Conservation Corps, helped restore more than 6 million acres of hardwood forests on denuded land purchased under the Weeks Act.

In 1937, the Wildlife Restoration Act (aka, the Pittman-Robertson Act) initiated a new tax on rifles, shotguns and ammunition, with this dedicated revenue going to help fund wildlife conservation.

Pittman-Robertson Act funds were used to purchase millions of acres of public hunting lands and to fund wildlife reintroduction efforts for Whitetail Deer, Canada Geese, Elk, Beaver, Wood Duck, Black Bear, and Wild Turkey.

In the case of Wild Turkey, initial restocking efforts were not successful. Turkey eggs were collected from wild birds, and the poults that were hatched were released into the wild. Unfortunately, these pen-raised birds were quickly decimated by predation and starvation.

New tactics were tried. A few adult Wild Turkeys were caught in wooden box traps intended for deer (picture of deer trap at right). These Wild Turkey were then moved to suitable habitat, but these adults birds also perished under the onslaught of predation.

The reintroduction of Wild Turkeys was beginning to look hopeless.

After World War II, game managers began to experiment again. This time, cannon nets -- large nets propelled by black powder rocket charges -- were used. These nets enveloped entire turkey flocks at once.

Moving an entire flock of Wild Turkeys seemed to work. The first few flocks that were relocated out of the Ozarks (the last stronghold of the Wild Turkey) began to thrive, in part because regrown forest provided more food stock for the birds to live on. The millions of acres of mountain land purchased in 1911 under the Weeks Act had, by now, become large stands of maturing hardwoods in the National Forest system.

Turkeys caught in a cannon net.

Systematic restocking of Wild Turkey continued through the 1950s and 60s,

With the creation of the National Wild Turkey Federation, more sportsmen and private land owners were recruited for habitat protection and Wild Turkey reintroduction.

Today, the range of the American Wild Turkey is more extensive than ever, and the total Wild Turkey population has climbed to 5.5 million birds.

Wild turkey hunting is now a billion-dollar-a-year industry, with 2.6 million hunters harvesting about 700,000 birds a year.

And so, when we are giving Thanksgiving this Thursday, let us remember not only the Wild Turkey and America's hunting heritage, but also such "big government" programs as the Weeks Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Pittman-Robertson Act, the National Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Clean Water Act.

Without Uncle Sam -- and your tax dollars -- much of America's wildlife would now be gone.

It was Uncle Sam -- and Mother Nature's natural fecundity -- that brought back the Wild Turkey, the Beaver, the Elk, the Whitetail Deer, the Black Bear, and the Bald Eagle. Ted Nugent and the National Rifle Association were nowhere to be seen, and neither were Bass Pro Shops or salesmen pushing Yamaha ATVs.

So next time you are in forest or field, remember Uncle Sam, and thank God for Mother Nature. Whether you know it or not, your hunting and fishing has always depended on both of them.


Drying herbs for storage

One of the difficult parts of gardening for those new to it is when to harvest. When Reuben and Katie were here last week, Reuben told me that the section in my book about harvesting was really helpful. But it's not only vegetables that need to be harvested, it's herbs too. You don't want to waste anything, so keep an eye on your herbs and when they're growing abundantly, clip them off and dry

Monday, November 19, 2012


Last year I had a lit tree in the den.
With the lights from it and a few candles,
the room felt warm and cozy.

This year I made the number tree,
and it has no lights.

So I was sitting here early evening,
perusing the net,
and realized there was no "Christmas" lighting in here,
other than the candles on the book ladder.
The den just did not have that warmth I need
this time of year.

As I am known to do, when I want something different,
I "shop" the house. I walked outside to the garden,
and literally yanked these two stars out of a tree and
perched them near the ladder.
I have lights, I have ambiance, I have cozy.

I have two more days till Ben is home.
Went to the store for the ingredients for this
MAGIC stuffing of his...$$$$$ YIKES.

Fennel, pears, Italian sausage, red peppers etc..
It had better be dang good!


Everyone please remember all those 
not as fortunate this Thanksgiving.
Even small donations have great impact.
If it's easy to give $10.00 then give $20.00
If 20.00 is easy, give 40.00....

I set a goal 10 years ago, to give to charities 10% of my
 gross income each year for ten years. 
I had hoped to increase the amount as the years went by.
That didn't happen, the economy flipped for all of us.  
This year I will barely make it but I will make it.
I'm selling off a few trinkets here and there to meet the goal.
( as I was typing this a pal called to buy
 some dishes I was selling. WoOt!)

Ten years 
Time to set a new goal.
I live on a very-very small budget but I always find a way.
If your budget is adequate, find a way, set a goal
make a difference.
Be a mensch.

Family photos

I have a few photos I've been wanting to show for a little while, so here they all are today. It's not often I can show you 15 recent photos and everyone in the photos is part of my family.

Hanno in Sydney two weeks ago.

Martina and Sasha - Martina is my neice, the daughter of Hanno's sister, and Sasha is Martina's cousin. They're visiting from Hamburg, Germany with Martina's husband,

Swimming Dog Faces Killer Whales

A free diver was on his way back to shore when he found himself surrounded by four Orcas.  The man quickly got out onto the rocks, but a Labrador Retriever that was retrieving sticks from the water was not quite as quick.

The dog eventually saw the whale and turned around and swam back to shore with the Orca following in as far as it could go.

It should be said that this may look a little more dangerous for the dog than it actually was.

Orcas in New Zealand are fish-eaters, and mostly seem to feed on bottom-dwelling rays and skates.

While some Orcas in other parts of the world feed on seals, sea lions and even small whales, the New Zealand Orcas appear to be pure fish-eaters.

Life Is Like a Box of Chocolate


We're Here to Help


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Never ending small steps

Coralie Allmin, a faithful Down to Earth reader, died after a short illness on 6 November, 2012. 

Rest in peace, Coralie.


Sara asked a question last week in her comment on the truth in advertising post. My answer was much too long for the comments, so here it is now. Sara wrote:

I began questioning the "norm" a few years ago and I haven't looked back. I make as much as I can

Reds This Year

There is some red this year at oldgreymare.
I adore these House of Hatten ornaments -
the Twelve Days of Christmas and more.

I used a few last year in the den, but this year I did the large tree,
and added more figures throughout the room.

The vintage green wagon in front will be loaded with gifts.

There are whites everywhere else.

With burlaps and browns,
creams and whites,
touches of snow and glitter.

Pinecones, more snow, angels, birds...
reflections, candlelight...
tis the season...
happy happy joy joy
Dearest son Ben will be home for Thanksgiving.
Making his famous stuffing he says.
Mama happy.