Sunday, June 30, 2013

Paying off debt

Sandy made a good point in her comment the other day when she said: We saved and budgeted hard years ago and cleared the mortgage. That is what helped us to live 'easier' now. But easier doesn't mean you give up 'simple' makes living 'simply' easier!  That hit the nail on the head for me and it helps to clarify the point that simple life isn't only about frugality and paying off debt. Money

Rare Bird Cuisinart

Fox New reports of the rare swift that flew to Scotland from Australia, Siberia or Japan and which birders from across the area came to see:

There hasn’t been a sighting of a White-throated Needletail in the United Kingdom for 22 years, so nearly 80 birdwatchers flocked to Scotland this week to get a look, the Telegraph reported.

But instead of enjoying the world’s fastest flying bird soaring, they watched it fly into the small blade of a wind turbine and die.

The Needletail is the fastest-flying bird in flapping flight, with a confirmed maximum of 111.6 km/h (69.3 mph).  These birds almost never settle on the ground, spending most of their time in the air, with occassional visits to vertical clifts and tree trunks.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

RIP Mr Yunupingu

A State funeral today for Mr Yunupingu. RIP Mr Yunupingu.

He was one of our great indigenous leaders and a fine musician.

Treaty, the song he co-wrote and sang, on You Tube

Daughter's New Car

Well, new to her
!  It has 24,000 miles on it and is a Honda Insight hybrid.  First hybrid in the family!  100 percent financed by her.  Free at last!  Bet she treats this car like she owns it!  Very proud of her.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Trans-Pacific Pigeon to End Life at Stud?

From ABC News comes this bit of avian heroics:
A Canadian avian rescue organization says a Japanese racing pigeon made an unscheduled, trans-Pacific journey from the northern island of Hokkaido before landing in British Columbia’s Vancouver Island last week.

The wayward bird was found on a Canadian air force base, exhausted and emaciated with a parasite but has since been nursed back to health by veterinarians at Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society.

MARS founder Maj Birch said the animal was so skinny it had lost most of its muscle mass.

“When they’re flying around they become dehydrated and weakened,” she said. “He may have landed on ships where there was no food, maybe rode on the ship until he felt like he could fly some more.”

Owner Hiroyasu Takasu tells ABC News the 1-year-old pigeon set off on his first race southeast of Sapporo May 10, along with 8,000 other birds. Only 20 percent of the fleet completed the 600- mile race, including the baby’s mother, who took the top prize, Takasu said.

But the stout pigeon had bigger plans in mind, flying 5,000 miles across the Pacific.

Canadian rescuers spotted Takasu’s phone number on a tag attached to the bird’s leg, and contacted him.

“I was so relieved he was found alive,” Takasu said, adding that he’d assumed the pigeon was dead. “[Birds] usually reach their limit in a week, with no food or water. This is a superior pigeon.”

Despite that, Takasu declined an offer by Birch to return the creature by plane, saying he worried about the toll additional travel would take on the bird’s already weak health.

Birch said Canadian officials initially requested the bird be euthanized, because he didn’t have the proper paperwork. When she explained the bird “had traveled on his own,” they classified him as a “migratory bird,” sparing him his life.

So what now for this storm-tossed pigeon? Well, believe it or not, he may live out the remainder of his life at stud. The Mid-Island Racing Club, in Nanaimo, British Columbia, says it wants to pair him with a suitable female to breed champion racers.

Looking for Planet Krypton, 1929

Enlarge this picture!  It is awesome.  It's from Shorpy and is captioned:  "Washington, D.C. Prof. H.E. Burton, 8/5/29."

This totally reminds me of The Little Prince.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Terrier Type and the Preservation of Variation

This publication came in the mail yesterday. 

I had not heard of this one before, but I vaguely recall green-lighting the reprint of an old piece from the main web site on how to train dogs to do go-to-ground.

I like the title -- TYPE is what terriers and all working dogs should be. Where the world went wrong, in my opinion, is in the creation of breeds which are simply too fine a point on the pencil. 

Maintaining a breed within a narrow morphological "standard" requires too much emphasis on looks, which means too little attention is paid to health and work.

Pointers and Setters are a type.

Molosser or "butcher dogs" are a type.

Herding dogs are a type, as are stock-guarding dogs, running dogs, and sled dogs.

Sure there's a lot of variation within these types -- variation in color, coat, size, head shape, and even working traits. 

But that's the point. 

In the preservation of variation, you tend to preserve the long-term health of the breed, and you also preserve the variety needed to work different things in different locations and for different purposes. 

I am not saying that breeding has to be random within a type, but I am saying that when the world started splitting Norfolk and Norwich terriers into two "breeds" simply because one terrier had an ear up, and the other had an ear down, bad things were just around the corner.

Great Moments in Advertising

It looks like an Ontario, Canada pest control place has lifted one of my pictures for a pest control ad.

No problem. The original picture is below. The dog is Dash, a dog out of California come East for the experience.  The groundhog was released unharmed.

Weekend reading

The end of another week and time to take it easy for a couple of days. I hope you have that opportunity too. We'll come back stronger for it next week. On Monday we'll continue with our series and start with an important subject, budgeting. Thank you for your comments this week, as usual, they add a lot to what I'm writing about. I hope you have a lovely weekend.  xx

These two photos

Texas Stupid (It's Bigger Down There)

Yesterday, Governor Perry of Texas called back the legislature to force them to debate an anti-abortion bill because he says all life is precious and sacred.

That same day, Governor Perry celebrated the 500th execution of a prisoner in his state since 1982.

Byron Versus the Bureaucracy

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Location - claiming your ground

Before we move onto specific subjects such as budgeting, paying off debt, traditional skills, baking, cooking from scratch, organisation, routines, decluttering, recycling, vegetable gardening, chooks and whatever else we can think of, I'd like to talk about living where you are - claiming your ground.

I suppose simple living is often been seen as a rural pleasure. A way of life that

Dead Goose

Just chatter today as I share
my day of yard work.

It was ONLY  100 today,
and going to 115 by Friday so 
I knew I had to get my tuckus out there and
clean up all the pink snow..

Three bags of this stuff from one tree
 and this is the third time this Spring.

I am no longer enjoying this garden.
It has become a place I dread as
 there is always something to clean up
via LOUD blower and then Howie thinks
it is fun to jump in the stuff and then eat some, 
and he rushes back inside to upchuck
 on the one small carpet area in the living room.
I'm telling you he makes a bee line for it,
as if I practiced with him for hours 
with treats, saying 
"PUKE here, RIGHT here, THAT'S it,
Good Boy Howie..."

After 4 hours I had 1/2 the yard done and had discovered
all three umbrellas had bird poop of
varying mega degrees, the bird bath was crusty,
both fountains needed to be cleaned and
reassembled, three strings of lights were out,
and some ugly horn worm resembling
Jabba The Hutt was devouring three plants.

Because the numbnuts in my neighborhood will be
setting off hundreds of dollars of illegal 
fireworks next week I am racing to pick up all
remaining dried debris from yard, 
roof and gutter so they don't burn
down my house.
EVERY year in town they burn up something.
They also blow off digits in rather large numbers
keeping the ER hummin'.

Anyhoot, you great gardeners out there
 that I know and love, my hats off to you.
You probably garden in MS clogs with
 a pretty apron and straw hat and whistle while you work.
I, on the other hand, garden in last night's PJ bottoms 
yes, the same one with the hole in the crotch.
I've since added a hanging torn knee hole and two holes 
spaced like eyes on my thigh.
I top it with a two sizes too large tank, 
no bra and yep the mammaries are swinging.
In all fairness to neighbor's sensibilities,
I do not venture into the front yard at all,
and if the neighbors behind and beside want to peek
from their solar screened hidden bedrooms - go for it.
The view of my bent over butt serves you right,
and I do not whistle, I sing songs whose lyrics
I'm unsure of, which I fear is not charming,
to anyone.
 I also curse like a drunken sailor, 
at the debris, the worm, the slime on
the fountain

 the asinine Supreme Court ruling on 
If you are uninformed, become informed.
This is historic stuff folks.
One of our most basic freedoms was torched today
and we'll see now if the House will have the cojones to save it, 
because they can...

Is it any wonder the goose committed suicide?

John Higginbottom. The Last Great Lurcherman

I reprinted a short segment of this piece from Gary Hosker's old website, and linked to the rest of it too back in 2007, but the link is now broken and so I post the entire story here as it's simply too good a parody to lose to the ages.

If you know who this is really about, it a hoot, and if you don't know who it's about it's still a hoot.

John Higginbottom:
The Last Great Lurcherman
I drove north the three hundred long miles from my comfortable air-conditioned London office to interview a recluse, a self- styled eccentric, a man above men, a lurcherman. Name, John Higginbottom.

My journey started with a long drive north, then north and north again along the MI for what seemed an age. As the flat lands of the south turned first to gently rolling meadows of Northamptonshire and then to the hills of Derbyshire I drove ever onwards, finally arriving in the windswept dales of Yorkshire; a land where, if it's not raining one instinctively knows it must be snowing.

High limestone and millstone grit fells clad in an ever-present mist seemingly sweep up to the very base of the stratosphere. This North of England that lies on the wrong side of a theoretical line known as the north-south divide; a North of dark satanic cotton mills that belch black smoke out of imposing, discoloured and misshapen chimneys, chimneys reaching almost as high as the fells that surround them, blending with the landscape yet at the same time destroying it. A North of coal mines and colliers, of iron foundries and smelters, where work- hardened men lead lives so arduous their circumstances could best be described as an existence.

Yet, leave this industrial landscape that was once the pulsating heart of a proud British Empire and drive only a few short miles through the bitter driving rain and take a side road (track would be a more accurate description for metalled roads have yet to come to this part of Britain) signposted 'to the edge of the world' and one encounters an altogether unique England.

An England so blissfully isolated from the twentieth century that one feels encapsulated in an age long past. Sheep hardened by many a long winter shelter behind 'dry' stone walls from the ever present torrent of rain, where men still scrape a meagre living for themselves behind horse and plough, cultivating crops on half an acre of boulder-strewn land, subsistence living that is this England. Yes this can truly be called a place on the edge of the world. I took this path to find lurcherman John Higginbottom, John, a giant of a man with ruddy complexion, short greying hair, a beard of flaming red, and hands like the proverbial size ten shovel. Hands that were cut, bruised and contorted, he told me, through many a long desperate dig, rescuing his battle-hardened terrier 'Tootsie' from life or death conflicts with rabbit and other subterranean creatures, this reclusive, almost shy man refused to talk about.

John, a youthful forty-seven, a taciturn man who still retains most of his own teeth, was brought up in the Midlands and is a spot welder by trade. I asked him why? Why does any man try and live here, all alone pushing himself to the very limits of endurance in order to eke out a shallow existence in this particularly inhospitable place, with only the bark of his seven lurcher dogs and sound of the occasional crow for company. “Have you ever spot welded?” replied John philosophically. He sat quite still reading Kipling to himself.

Breaking the silence I enquired about the breeding of his battle-hardened terrier, Tootsie. “That,” explained John, ”is a Higginbottom terrier, the culmination of a twenty-five year selective breeding programme based on the Yorkshire terrier with just a dash of King Charles spaniel for temperament.”

Feeling that I had in some small way penetrated his rock-hard exterior and socialized myself with John, I asked, nay begged, to accompany him on one of his famous hunting expeditions - expeditions, on which I was informed, he uses his homogeneous pack of Higginbottom lurchers to hunt all legal quarry. For John truly is the last of the self-confessed great hunters.

John fell silent, gritted his teeth, pursed his lips, and went into deep thought, almost a trance as if he were going through a metamorphosis or having an out-of-body experience.

Then as suddenly as he had entered the trance he snapped back to reality, kicked his dog and snapped: “Yes, the mad are in God's keeping. Tomorrow morning, crack of ten thirty, not a minute later and I hope for your sake you have a high attention span.”

Glancing in my direction before walking into his meagre shanty home, shared with his pack of Higginbottom hounds, John continued “I insist upon complete and utter obedience from both my dogs and those who chose to follow me.” Fixing me with those steely blue eyes, he gave a penetrating stare, a stare that I would come to know as his force 7 stare. I felt as the Apostles must have felt on the banks of sea of Galilee. I was in awe of this demigod.

Next morning we set off across the fields at a quarter-past- eleven precisely. I asked John why he was late. “Time has no relevance here on the edge of the world,” replied he, wiping the sleep from his eyes.

'Ferrets, ferrets I must have ferrets,' he whispered gently. Suddenly he opened a hutch door, and plunged his gigantic hand into a cage of these ferocious little carnivores. Five ferrets bit deep into the flesh of each of his massive digits -- yet did this man flinch? Not he.

With blood trickling down his forearm he throttled each ferret in turn in order to prise them from his fingers. "Aren't you concerned about infection' I asked “No,” said he “The poker's in the fire. I'll cauterize the wounds when we return.” I glanced ominously at the cumulus clouds gathering overhead, said a silent prayer and thought – ‘If we return.’

With a steady stride we set out into the wilderness. At our heels trotted his seven lurchers’ beardie collie lurchers these, some of the best in the world (or so I was told) bred by David Ballcock. As with Tootsie, his Higginbottom terrier, these lurchers too were the result of an intensive twenty - five year breeding programme; a programme so genetically calculated as to make the breeding of thoroughbred racehorses or racing greyhounds pale into insignificance.

“John, why haven't you channeled your scientifically based genetic theories into creating the ultimate Waterloo Cup winning greyhound or a Derby winning race-horse?' Once again he went pale and then into a trance before replying: “Because my theories don't work.” Suddenly a rabbit ran from under our feet and John turned to his dogs and yelled, 'Mayhem, go!' All seven dogs gave chase opening up in glorious song. 'Yip, yip, yip, yip,' they sang. After a life or death run of five hundred and forty-six yards two feet seven-and-a-half inches, the rabbit struggled into the relative safety of its warren.

Higginbottom astounded me with his ability to judge distance so precisely. My astonishment must have shown on my face, for Higginbottom said modestly: “Oh, I forgot to mention, I’m the best judge of distance in the world.”

Six lurcher dogs stood over the hole 'marking' as John called it, while he explained in some detail the complexities of the chase or 'course' may be a more accurate description for such a distance, telling me how each rabbit must be given sufficient law and how, he had calculated, in a couple of years time he would have the best rabbit match-dog.

One lurcher, however, lay panting on the ground halfway between ourselves and the other Higginbottom lurchers, unable to move or catch breath. “Is this dog suffering from hybrid vigour?” I asked. With a look of total bewilderment Higginbottom turned on me, his steely blue eyes glinting in the midday sun. “I value that dog at ten thousand pound,” said he. “But why,” I queried. “Because that lurcher has the intelligence to know when he's beat, thereby saving valuable energy for the next grueling encounter with the most formidable of all quarry, the rabbit! No longdog in the world has comparable intelligence.” “Looks knackered,' said I, and walked on.

We left 'Myrtle' to recover and approached the six other Higginbottom lurchers that lay panting all about the warren. John pulled a ferret from his 'poacher’s pocket' and secured some electronic device or other around the ferrets neck. (There is story behind the locator, its invention and John Higginbottom, which will appear in later revelations from the diaries of Miss Wilhelmina Wordspinner.) Slowly, hesitantly, the ferret entered the rabbit’s subterranean refuge, but turned and came back to the entrance, all the while peeping in cuckoo clock fashion, in and out, in and out of the hole. John said this ferret had been trained by him to be especially wary of strangers (Higginbottom can train almost any animal to a very high standard).

Then as the ferret's head disappeared into the hole for the twenty-ninth time, John kicked in a clod of earth behind it. We waited five, six, seven minutes but nothing was seen or heard of either rabbit or ferret. John pulled a small box from one of the numerous pockets in his coat (each pocket filled with hunting essentials -- tape recorder, camera, stopwatch). I was informed this box would locate the ferret, and if the ferret it had managed to find its quarry, the rabbit, we would dig down to the combatants.

As Higginbottom swept the ground in a methodical fashion, the box burst to life, first with a loud crackle then a burst of the BBC's World Service. “Does this mean you have located your relentless little hunter and rabbit deep within the very bowels of the earth?”

John slapped his forehead with the palm of his hand, fell to his knees and in a gasping, strained voice said: “Ughhh, the locator's interfering with mi pacemaker.”

After John had made an almost full recovery we walked deeper into the hills, the weather deteriorating with every step of his enormous feet, while he recounted his many and varied hunting stories; stories so unbelievable I said he should write a book. How, thinks I, has one man managed to cram so much hunting into just one short lifetime?

John then started to tell me of his passion for collating data and statistics, and how bullshit baffles brains. I stood listening intently to the great man as he told me how, in his opinion, he was the greatest authority on the lurcher ever to have graced the face of the earth and how many young people regarded him as a latter-day 'Grizzly Adams'.

From nowhere, a crippled sheep sprang. Instantly without a word of command the lurchers gave chase. After a course that lasted thirty-eight point seven five seconds (John always times each gallop with a stopwatch) all seven dogs eventually came to terms with the sheep. John gave a great hysterical cry, begging me not to use my camera, as this would impair the lurchers' hunting ability. Calling each dog by name, then turning to look sheepishly back in my direction, he shouted : “Kill!” and his lurchers delivered the sheep into Abraham's bosom.

“That's the kind of obedience I insist upon,” said a blood-covered John as he fought his way into the mêlée to rescue a leg of mutton from the snapping jaws of his hellhounds.

We turned for home, cold and wet and dejected, my mind at its lowest ebb. John saw my bedraggled state and showing his concern for the weaker sex, he began to sing a hunting song. “Do you ken John Higginbottom at the break of day, do you ken Jon Higginbottom as your hounds view away, do you ken…..”

Back at the cottage that night, refreshed by a hot drink of cocoa made from ewe's milk, we dined as the Saxon kings of old, on the rescued leg of mutton John had so courageously saved. He talked endlessly of his many adventures with both rat and rabbit.

I asked John if he had any burning ambitions left to fulfill. “I'd like the dogs to catch a rabbit,” said he, casually tossing a tidbit to one of the lurchers that lay contented at his feet. After dinner we sat, John reading a book while he puffed at his short clay - pipe, blowing the most enormous blue smoke rings (he loved smoke rings) that seemed to hang in the air indefinitely, or curl round and round the ceiling.

I couldn't quite make out the title of the book John was reading. Without further ado I asked what book could so totally absorb such an articulate, self-confessed intellectual? He tossed the book casually over to me, a wry smile covered his face, as he said: “My bible.”

I opened the book and read the title 'The Big Blue Book of Lurchers' by John Higginbottom.

The hour being ever so late, John, seven very tired Higginbottom lurchers a Higginbottom Terrier and I, lay in front of an open log fire. John, however, could not sleep. His fingers that had been so savagely attacked by his ferrets were giving him jip. Yes, he had conveniently forgot to cauterize his wounds.

Driving home, I felt each long mile the car covered was taking me nearer to reality and civilization. I had left a giant of a man completely alone in his cottage at the edge of the world. Little did I appreciate the power of John's force 7 stare. As my diary entries will reveal, there was intrigue, scandal and mystery surrounding John Higginbottom Esq.

A Cruel God


Great Moments in Design

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Changing your mindset and living your values

At first, staying as motivated as you need to be to live this kind of life looks like it might be too much. I worried if I could stay on track but I had a shift in thinking and it became easier, immediately. Changing your mindset will help you stay on track too. Let's face it, when you're just starting out on this journey and your best friend invites you to go out for coffee or lunch, or to

Wild Indiana

A couple from Indiana, looking to protect their pets from what they presumed was a large bobcat stalking the neighborhood, accidentally shot a leopard.

It's unclear where the animal came from. It appears to have been about 9 months old.

Indiana allows private people to own Big Cats with permit, and this country is run over with fools who breed all kinds of Big Cats who then sell kittens to other fools who happen to have $400 to $800 in their pockets

Yes, that's right; you can buy a baby leopard for less than the price of a decent Border Terrier. 

The animal thus acquired will be "fun" for about three months, and then will spend the rest of its life in isolation in a cage before it is sold on to a dealer who will, in most cases, pawn it off to a purveyor of canned hunts in Texas.

Waiting for the Grand Klan Breakfast

These are patrons for Paula Deen’s restaurant in Savannah, Ga., "The Lady and Sons," as shown in a photo published in The New York Times.

These are Paula Deen kind of people; the kind of people who will tell you they are not fat, they have "curves." 

Also, they are not racist; now they are "southern".

"Curves" is apparently the new euphemism for cholesterol-choked, butter-slathered, and sedentary. 

Look at the curve of those legs as the knees buckle under too much weight. 

Look at the curve going up on the national debt as fat sucks $200 billion a year out of the health care system and another $300 billion a year from productivity.

Step One is admitting this nation has a problem. 

Labeling it curves is no help at alll.

And neither is calling racism "southern".  

Mange Again

It's not a massive problem (just the tip of his nose), and considering how many den holes I have sent my dogs down over the years, it's amazing they have only had a spot of mange once before (same dog, earlier this year). 
It does not help, of course, that I have a number of mangy fox running around the neighborhood, and there's no way to cull them since this is the suburbs and guns are verboten.  For his part, Gideon does not seem to really care too much, though I worry about sunburn on the tip of his nose!
I have dosed the dog on ivermectin, washed both dogs several times in pythrethrin-based shampoo, applied flea powder (Sevin, 5% Carbaryl) topically on the nose area, and also dosed the dog with antibiotics for good measure.
The hair looks to be coming back, but it's always slower right above the black tip of the nose, than most other places.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Working in your home - your system

Although during the previous 30 years we'd kept chickens, stockpiled, paid off debt, cooked from scratch, knitted and sewn, I felt all those things were just single activities that were useful in their own right, certainly, but not part of a useful or recognisable system. One day, soon after I came back to my home full time and I was thinking about how homemaking tasks related to the backyard

Coffee and Provocation

 Dog Harnesses are Complete Crap for Canine Safety:
 A non-profit called the Center for Pet Safety (CPS) has done the first actual tests on dog  harnesses and says that they ALL failed, turning dog dummies into projectiles and even decapitating a few. “We tested them to the child safety restraint standard and we experienced a 100-percent failure rate to protect either the consumer or the dog,” said CPS founder and CEO Lindsey Wolko. Bottom line: When driving, crate your dogs in plastic (not wire) crates. There is no other safe substitute.
Racing Pigeons as China's Newest Conspicuous Consumption
China’s rich are now spending vast sums on racing pigeons.  Video.
Pigeon Birth Control?
In the pantheon of stupid, this one gets its own room -- pigeon birth control.  If you have 150 pigeons that you need to "control," you buy a "feeder kit" at a cost of $190, and then you spend $8.70 a day ($190 a month) on birth control bait and, after a year, you have half as many pigeons.  I am pretty sure Tom Lehrer would have found this hysterical.
Silver Makes Antibiotics More Effective
It turns out that a very old cure -- silver -- can make modern antibiotics 10 to 1,000 times more effective if used in very small doses (in high doses, silver can be a poison).
Improved American Coffee
In 1968, Vincent Marotta and Sam Glazer, two high school friends, decided to start a coffee delivery service. While recuperating from brain surgery in 1970, Marotta got an idea: make a self-contained coffee unit that would heat the water to 200ºF and drip it through coffee grounds once, not over and over again, as the "percolators" of the time did. Marotta and Glazer hired two ex-Westinghouse engineers to design the product, and Mr. Coffee was born.  Marotta hired boyhood hero, Joe DiMaggio, to be the company spokesman and within three years the company was making 40,000 Mr. Coffees a day, with annual sales approaching $150 million.
A Small Bit of Good News
There are 14,000 McDonald's and 11,000 Starbucks around the country, but there are 17,000 public libraries.  So score one for books, not that anyone actually reads the paper versions anymore. The good news is that while the paper book is going the way of the buggy whip, it will be a bit harder to replace the 35,000 museums, zoos, arboretums, historical societies, art galleries, and aquariums in this country.  Bottom line:  It's not ALL golden arches and green mermaids on paper cups.
The Perfect Pet for ALL
Flat Pack Pets are for people who don't have time and space for a real animal in their lives. They’re made of 100% recycled cardboard so they can be left in your car on a really hot day, not fed for weeks on end, and they will never poop on the rug or wake you up early on a Sunday morning after a long night of drinking.  Perfect!
Cuckoos to the Congo 
Cuckoos in the highlands of Scotland are now being radio-tracked back to the Congo basin.
Miracles are Just a Failure of Imagination.
They are also a reminder that ignorance and mental illness always exist in various amounts and mixes.


Custer in Color with Terrier

Click to enlarge.  That looks a lot like a border terrier!


Birds and Bikes



Sunday, June 23, 2013

How to start your simple life

This is the first post in a series that will revisit the basic elements of simple life. It's about how we live here but also about the possibilities, now and in the future, for you to live simply. This is written as much for my own sake as for yours because I find it useful to refocus on what I'm doing quite frequently, to decide if changes are needed, and to improve what I do. Life is never

Cool African Slingshot


Got Wood?

A tree came down in the back yard -- a big black locust. I chainsawed it up today, and dropped the remainder of the trunk, but need more muscle to move the sections... and a decent truck too.  A green black locust is pretty heavy stuff!

You Don't Have Seniority

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Genetics Is Not This Simple


Thanks for Sharing



The bucket is still here,
and still needed.. 
Unfortunately by me today.

I broke off a chunk of a back molar.
Now that is distressing,
but luckily it cannot be seen, so 
my first thought was thank you universe
for that much..
 but that isn't what freaks me out....
it's paying for it that freaks me out.

You see I have no dental insurance so this will cost me
Big Bucks and just after having to pay 
$5500 for a new air conditioner in May.
Well, not paying exactly, charging....
( thank heaven for perfect credit and low interest)

Insert.... Ginormous....SIGH 


Currently I am paying $400.00 a month
 for a medical insurance policy with a $10,000 deductible,
so no way can I afford eye or dental.
Yep, that is NOT a typo...
I have paid between $400-500 a month for over 10 years
for private insurance, and never see a Dr.
because I cannot afford to go.
I have to carry insurance because 
A. I don't ever want to lose my home due to medical debt.
B. I don't believe I should allow other decent tax paying
folks like myself to carry my burdens.

So when the idiots in Congress delay
health coverage reform
when American citizens are so uninformed about
insurance reform that they impede progress,
when insurance is FOR PROFIT,
when folks who have excellent affordable group 
coverage, abuse it...

I am pissed!
Stomp my feet,
Shake my fist at the air,
curse the blue blazes
So into the **** It Bucket it all goes...

No sad songs for me - I always manage.

so how goes it with you?
got anything to dump in here?

Dump away my gal pals,
right here below at this link
or turn right up top.... to the **** It Bucket

Friday, June 21, 2013

Michelle Obama Walks Her Pet Rhinoceros

The Interwebs reports:

Spectators outside the White House received a rare treat this morning when they witnessed First Lady Michelle Obama on the South Lawn going for a stroll with the family’s pet rhinoceros, Chauncey. “Owning a rhino is a lot of work, but all of the Obamas—and especially Michelle—really love Chauncey,” said White House spokesperson Sam Davidson of the 3,000-pound eastern black rhinoceros the family adopted in December after Barack Obama’s reelection promise to “finally get Sasha and Malia that rhino they’ve been wanting.”

For the record, President Calvin Coolidge had a Pygmy Hippopotamus from Liberia named "Billy" (aka William Johnson Hippopotamus) given to him by Harvey Firestone.

Born in the wild in the 1920s, Billy weighed more than 600 pounds and died in 1955, 22 years after Coolidge's own death.

New workshops

I finished arranging dates for the last four workshops yesterday and want to tell you about them straight away. I'm really excited about meeting more people who read my blog and although it means long drives, it's so worth it. I'll remember the Blackheath weekend with Tricia and our wonderful groups for a long time. Hanno will be my helping hand at these workshops and we'll be joined at one of

Words and Lyrics and Love

Believe Imagine Dream

Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye

Leonard Cohen

I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm,
your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm,
yes, many loved before us, I know that we are not new,
in city and in forest they smiled like me and you,
but now it's come to distances and both of us must try,
your eyes are soft with sorrow,
Hey, that's no way to say goodbye.
I'm not looking for another as I wander in my time,
walk me to the corner, our steps will always rhyme
you know my love goes with you as your love stays with me,
it's just the way it changes, like the shoreline and the sea,
but let's not talk of love or chains and things we can't untie,
your eyes are soft with sorrow,
Hey, that's no way to say goodbye.
I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm,
your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm,
yes many loved before us, I know that we are not new,
in city and in forest they smiled like me and you,
but let's not talk of love or chains and things we can't untie,
your eyes are soft with sorrow,
Hey, that's no way to say goodbye.


Next to my folks, the longest relationship
of love I've ever known.
43 years
We became friends my junior year in HS
She introduced me to Leonard.
For that alone I owe her a
lifetime of steadfast loyalty.

The kindest soul I've ever known.
Chances are we will never again meet,
it's already been 17 years....but no matter.
My love goes with her 
as her love stays with me.
It just is.

Australian Cattle Dog Does in Hand Hand Stand


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Weekend reading

We had a lovely morning with the CWA ladies over at Beerwah yesterday. I took a couple of photos that I'll show next week. Although I've been taking it easy this week, I'm glad the weekend is coming up because I want to finish making a few things for my beautiful grand-nephew, Johnathan. My head is clearer now after that knock I gave it last weekend and I'm looking forward to finishing off a

Attack of the Killer Monkeys!

Monkeys on a raft was a popular story cover for men's pulp magazines in the 1950s for some reason.

Calling Sigmund Freud!

Of course, for all I know this may be the very few times there is a small element of truth behind the story (a sinking boat with a load of monkeys for the laboratory and pet store trade?), and so it was picked up and repeated by the pulp magazine purveyors of shlock and fantasy. 

Now about the covers below? 

Yeah, call Dr. Jung too.  This may be a two psychiatrist situation!


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Why Shouldn't I Work for the NSA?

Boom.  Pass it on. 

From the movie Good Will Hunting, circa 1997.

Blogging for beginners - 2

If you read yesterday's post you may well have your blog set up and ready to go. Let's take a look at content and how to customise your blog now. There are all sorts of strategies that will help you create an audience but I think it comes down to one thing - content. If you write well, write information that people need or find interesting, and if you write frequently, you'll build an audience.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Good with Cats, Available, and Does Hand Stands

This terrific terrier is named Gizmo, and he's currently in Buffalo, New York.  He's been a rescue project by dog trainer Josh Moran of epic beard fame, and he is now ready for a good and stable forever home.  Josh is a hero and this dog is pure terrier in the best sense of that word.  You want an agility dog?  This is THAT DOG!  Look at that handstand!  
Josh writes:
Gizmo is 17 lbs, 4.5yrs old. I have gotten him to live comfortably with my 2 cats, and my 2 dogs. He's super affectionate, loves to train and is highly motivated by food or his ball.  Walks on the treadmill, and I have done some off leash work with him. Overall he's a great little guy who will make an active person a great companion.

This is his adoption page.  Check him out! 

Blogging for beginners - 1

Yesterday I wrote about blogging and said then: "now we've all got our own printing press sitting inside our computers and we can all publish whatever we like." I've been thinking about that and it's not completely true. Yes, we've got the ability to print what we want now but we also have to have a belief in ourselves to make it happen. So it's what's inside our computers as well as what's

Not a Mutant Monkey; an Inbred Gorilla

Inbreeding too often results in a doubling down of defective genes.  

A famous albino gorilla that lived for 40 years at the Barcelona Zoo got its white coloring by way of inbreeding, new research shows.

Snowflake was a male Western lowland gorilla. He was born in the wild and captured in 1966 by villagers in Equatorial Guinea. As the only known white gorilla in the world, Snowflake was a zoo celebrity until his death of skin cancer in 2003.

A few studies had attempted to get to the bottom of what caused Snowflake's color-free complexion, but the exact genetic mutation had never been found. Now, Spanish researchers have sequenced the gorilla's entire genome, revealing that Snowflake was probably the offspring of a pairing between an uncle and a niece.

What's this have to do with dogs? Quite a lot, as I have noted in the past.


Attack of the Leafy Spurge

This is the post no one will read. At some level, I don't blame them -- it's hard to learn about plants without seeing them, and so many plants look alike. On the other hand, it's a little disconcerting that the average person going into forest and farm cannot name a single common plant or tree. This is not to say I am any good at it either -- but I at least try.

One reason to learn a little about plants is that they can tell you a lot about the water level, the drainage, how recently the soil was disturbed, and what might be grazing in an area. Plants also convey a little environmental history as well.

If you are looking over a field and see a large poke berry thicket rising up in the middle of it, for example, there's a good chance a groundhog den will be located there -- the poke berry will have taken advantage of the disturbed soil at the edge of the den hole to germinate its seed. By looking at the age of poke berry plants in a hedge, you may be able to get some idea of when the area was last plowed or cut over -- the larger the poke berry, the more likely the dens are going to be a bit older and more well-established.

Conversely, if you see the beautiful purple flowers of iron weed growing across a low swale in a field, you can give that area a pass -- it will be too wet for a den.

A lot of the plants we see in our hedges and border areas are non-natives. These included multiflora rose, ghetto palm, Chinese tear-thumb, mimosa, Japanese honeysuckle, kudzu, oriental bittersweet and garlic mustard.

An invasive we found a lot of this last weekend was Leafy Spurge (Euphorbia esula). There are a bunch of spurge types, and they all look different. Leafy Spurge is aggressive even among spurges, and it can quickly suffocate field edges if they have been disturbed by a plow and then left to fend for themselves. This is a plant that was once described to me as "horse tail," but in fact it is not related to that ancient plant; it may simply be a local name for the weed.

Right now, before Leafy Spurge flowers, the 3-foot plants look a lot like tropical aquarium plants, with rosettes of thin upright leaves around central stalks. In a few weeks, the odd yellowish flowers will begin to come on, making the plant appear greenish-yellow -- a bit like a field of turning-to-flower rape seed.

Leafy Spurge is really quite pretty. The down side is that it is quite useless as a forage for cattle, deer, and horses, and it is so aggressive that it tends to drive out everything else that can be eaten by wildlife.

If you break Leafy Spurge in half, a white milkish sap will ooze out. This sap is most common in adult plants, and its presence is what puts off deer, cow and horses. Deer may graze on very young Leafy Spurge shoots in early Spring when there is very little milk sap, but they will give it a pass by mid-Summer when it begins to flow. Turkey and other birds seem to have little or no interest in the seeds.

Leafy Spurge showed up in the U.S. in the early 1800s, first migrating to the U.S. from Eurasia, perhaps as a stow-away in a bag of farm seed. Tumble weed (aka Russian Thistle) arrived on our shores much the same way.

Leafy Spurge was first recorded in Massachusetts in 1827 and it quickly spread west and is now found across the U.S. except for the southeastern U.S. below Virginia.

In Virginia and Maryland, Leafy Spurge seems to be doing quite well -- I assume the slightly hotter and moister climate farther South is too much for it -- at least for now. There appear to be several varieties of Leafy Spurge, and new American hybrids seem to be occurring naturally. Before it's all over, Leafy Spurge may yet find a way to colonize the South.

Leafy Spurge is spread by seeds which readily germinate in disturbed soil. Once this plant takes root, it is very difficult to winkle out by plow and poison.

The root structure of Leafy Spurge is key to its survival -- not only does it have long surface-running roots capable of sucking up lots of water (and creating new colonies of Leafy Spurge), but is also has deep tap roots which can shoot six or seven feet underground in order to tap water unavailable to other plants. No matter how hot and dry the summer is, a field of Leafy Spurge is likely is look prosperous.

Biological control offers some small hope of controlling Leafy Spurge. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has imported six natural enemies from Europe, including a stem and root-boring beetle, four root-mining flea beetles, and a shoot-tip gall midge (whatever that is). Large scale field-rearing and release programs for these insects are being carried out by federal and State agencies in many northern states. While the results are not immediate, they are impressive over time ... so long as pesticides are not used.

Another option that works well to reclaim pastures overgrown with Leafy Spurge, is a herd of goats or sheep. While cows and horses generally prefer grass, and will give Spurge and other forbs a pass, the goats and sheep will readily attack the Leafy Spurge and seem to prefer it over grass. Over time, sheep and goats can transform a field from a "waste case," to grazeable pasture, as the picture below suggests.

A spurge-infested field in Montana is cleaned up by goats and sheep at left -- a job not accomplished by cattle and horses at right.