Showing posts from 2017

To-Do List

There is so much to do outside this time of year, but with an expected high of 28 degrees tomorrow, nothing is getting done. I'm already behind my own arbitrary schedule. A few ambitious days when it's warmer will catch things up. For now, I'm making a to-do list.

First, I'm ordering more seeds. I would like to have a cash crop of some kind this year. At least a small one, sort of a foothold in farming. I've concluded that my best bet this year is to go with peppers. I did fairly well growing peppers this past season and I think I can do even better this coming year.

Planting season is almost here--well, not really, but time flies, so it will seem like no time at all. Here at the eve of a new year seems like a good time to work out a plan. Now this to-do list shouldn't be confused with New Year's resolutions. No, this is a way to procrastinate making a list of resolutions.

I have twenty-four varieties of hot pepper seeds and five varieties of bell peppers. …

Bitcoin Insanity

Bitcoin is further proof that investors are out of their damn minds.

Originally, Bitcoin was supposed to be an anonymous, untraceable way of paying for purchases online, especially on the "Dark-net" or whatever it's called. I guess that's why it is called a "crypto-currency." I never paid much attention or considered using Bitcoin. For me, PayPal is the best way to make online transactions. That's how I pay for most purchases and how I get paid royalties from the United Kingdom.

PayPal is really convenient for me, because I can pay using one click, for most things, including garden seeds, magazine subscriptions and random eBay buys.

Using and keeping track of crypto-currencies appears to be a little more complicated. For one thing, there is a special removable hard drive, called a digital wallet, or something like that. This drive requires a very long and complicated password, without which, you could end up with a very expensive paperweight. In fact, t…

Ramen is Noodles

Until last night, I had never had ramen. I'm not talking about the ramen they serve in noodle restaurants, with the clear bone broth, green onions, seaweed, soft-boiled egg, bean sprouts and a rasher of braised pork. Not that I've ever had that, either. No, I mean Top Ramen, the little orange package with a brick of dry noodles and a "flavor packet."

I have had the noodles cooked with a can of Swanson chicken broth, or occasionally, beef broth, but I've never known the joy of tossing the noodles and flavoring into two cups of water and cooking just below boiling until the noodles are tender. The package directions are a little different, but I've never seen anyone follow the package directions.

Back in the Sixties, I discovered I was extremely sensitive to MSG (monosodium glutamate). I don't get an allergic reaction or anything like that: no hives, wheezing or tongue swelling up; I just feel really fatigued for several days and have mild flu-like symptoms…

Breaking Taboos--The Betty Crocker Cookbook

In Successful Husbanding School, in Survival Skills class, they teach us to never give our wives small appliances or anything kitchen-related for birthdays, anniversaries or Christmas. Or they would, if there was a training school for husbands. Which, there should be.

This week I broke that rule and I think I got away with it. Monday was Kathy's birthday and I bought her a cookbook. Fortunately, this is a very special cookbook. A Betty Crocker cookbook.

Kathy and I both grew up with Betty Crocker cookbooks. In the time when our mothers learned to cook, Betty Crocker was the gold standard of cookbooks. We kids grew up eating meals from Betty Crocker recipes. Most of my bread recipes originally came from a Betty Crocker cookbook. Kathy still has her Betty Crocker cookbook, her first cookbook. It is in three-ring binder format and has unfortunately lost many pages over many years and many moves. I've tried the Betty Crocker cookbook app for my phone, but the recipes are too moder…

Pioneers Are a Diverse Bunch

I'm not really a fan of Ree Drummond, "The Pioneer Woman." By that, I mean I've never seen her TV show, read her blog or owned her cookbooks. I have read a few of her recipes on Google, but I don't think I've tried any of them. I do, however, admire Ree Drummond.

I'm always surprised by how much people hate success. I was a fan of Martha Stewart some years back. Her's was hardly a rags to riches story. She was a fashion model and celebrity who found a way to start a new phase in her life. Her shows were enjoyable and she introduced the masses to things like cucumber infused water. Simple things to make little luxuries accessible to common folk. People seemed to tire of her, but I think it was because she became such a heavily marketed brand. I remember people crowing when she messed up and broke SEC regulations. They loved joking about her while she was in prison. Frankly, I felt bad about the way things had turned out for her. She lost most of her em…

May You Live in Interesting Times

That old curse comes to mind fairly often. May you live in interesting times.

The world situation is so surreal that I can't take it seriously, let alone worry about it. I mean including impending super volcanoes, perfect storms, sea levels rising, and contamination of the food and water supply. I'm only even half-assed prepping. Who's got the energy to dig a bunker?

Two of our grandsons have come to live with us. One nineteen, one sixteen. Right here at the holidays. We can't begin establishing any kind of routine while we're getting the smoker ready, thawing the turkey, buying all of the groceries and setting up a schedule chart for using the oven over the next two days.

The smoker is electric. I got it on a seasonal clearance last year and I'm just now setting it up. In my opinion, an electric smoker is essential for smoking a turkey. I do most of my outdoor cooking over an open fire, but I still use my smoker/grill for anything that needs to slow cook. Ribs…

Life Gets in the Way

This has been a busy week, and by week I mean the past seven days or so.

First of all, we've been cleaning out our back bedroom to get ready for two of our grandsons to move in. This task required sorting through hundreds of books, only keeping the few really important, nearly irreplaceable, or ones we haven't read yet and might realistically read one day.

For instance, I've been accumulating and reading novels by Phillip K. Dick since I was a teen. Once in a while I pick one up and read it, but that's not the whole story. Since Dick died and Hollywood started making movies and television shows based on his novels, the old copies have become impossible to find and the new reprints cost a minimum of fifteen bucks. Better to hang on to the ones I have.

On the other side, I got rid of gardening books I've purchased over the past forty years that don't have any real value as far as useful information. I don't need an encyclopedia of house plants that only has t…

Cold Weather, Warm Food and Poultry Seasoning

It's that time of year. The temperature outside is 45 degrees and a slight breeze brings the windchill down to 38. My Carhartt coat keeps me warm when I'm outside. Cold weather foods help keep me warm on the inside.

We do eat chicken and dumplings and chili occasionally during the summer, but the warmth can add to the misery of 90+ degree weather. When it's cold outside, soups and stews are the perfect choice.

So far in the last couple of weeks we've had yellow squash soup, chicken and rice soup, and a pot of pinto bean chili. I'd love to offer a how to, but Patrick makes the squash soup and chili around here and he doesn't use written recipes. He has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of herbs and spices, when to use them and how much to use. I'm not allowed to use seasonings without adult supervision.

I make a lot of chicken soup. We eat a lot of chicken, and soup is one of our favorite ways to have it. Patrick prefers boneless, skinless chicken breasts, bu…

Homemade Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is my favorite condiment. I remember when I was a kid, slicing off two pieces of fresh homemade bread, slathering on a thick layer of Kraft mayo, adding a thick slab of ham, a slice of American cheese, lettuce leaves and some tomato. Best sandwich ever!

Now I've lost my taste for thick sliced ham and American cheese, preferring a thin piece of ham and a slice of sharp cheddar. The rest of the sandwich stays the same, except I don't use Kraft mayo anymore. Once I learned to make it myself, there was no looking back.

My recipe isn't complicated, but making it requires finesse and precision. I originally started with a recipe for Fail-proof Homemade Mayonnaise from After customizing a bit, I ended up with the recipe below. The Inspired Taste recipe has simplified the process compared to many other recipes, but I have managed to fail making this recipe, because I didn't adhere strictly to the instructions. As long as I am careful adding th…

Christmas? Already?

Halloween was just a few days ago and Thanksgiving is still weeks away. So what's on TV? Christmas movies.

There should be a law against anything Christmas until after we've had the big turkey feast. Of course I say that, but I'm the guy who thinks we should have five day holidays: two days to get up to speed, one day for the holiday and two more days to wind down.

Over the years I've spent quite a bit of time in art and craft stores. I've noticed that the two big chains have Christmas aisles all year long. I suppose that's handy for people in Christmas related businesses. I don't really mind Christmas all year round. Christmas in July. Christmas for my birthday.

Truth be told, I'm watching a Christmas movie right now. And it isn't the first Christmas movie this week. Plus, a lot of the ads are Christmas ads.

There seems to be a rule that Christmas movies have to be about someone with a negative attitude gradually getting into the Christmas spirit. …

Homemade Tartar Sauce

Before I started this post I Googled tartar sauce recipes just to see how other people do it. I found dozens, each one of them a little different from the one before, all of them wrong. Evidently there are a bunch of cooks out there who have never actually tasted tartar sauce.

Tartar sauce, in my expert opinion, is absolutely necessary for any kind of fried fish and it's pretty good with baked fish. Oh, and a fish sandwich without tartar sauce is a sandwich that isn't ready to eat.

In the past, long ago and far away, I used to buy tartar sauce. Specifically, Kraft. Unfortunately, tartar sauce is really expensive for how little you get in the standard squeeze bottle. I like lots of tartar sauce on my fish, just like I like lots of ketchup/catsup on my french fries and cocktail sauce on my shrimp.

The beauty of my recipe is that I can make just enough for a fish dinner and not have a tiny bit leftover sitting in the fridge for a year. It's also reasonably cheap and it's …

Country Life

Living out in the country isn't for everyone. I love it, but that's just me.

We live half a mile from the nearest paved roads, either way you go and there are only two ways, north or west. The east/west roads are named, like Tecumseh Road, Franklin Road and Rock Creek Road. The north/south roads are numbered streets like 156th Street, 168th Street and 180th Street. If you follow 156th about four miles north to Stella Road, it becomes Peebly Road. And if you turn left onto Stella it becomes 149th Street. These are important things to know when giving directions.

We live four miles from Dollar General Stores, one down on Highway 9 and one up at Stella. Country Boy market is a little east of the Dollar General on Highway 9. It's a full service grocery store with a deli, locally sourced grass-fed beef, plumbing parts, tools and chainsaw oil if you need it.

The closest store is the Absentee Shawnee Tribal store and Valero gas station, two miles south on 156th. It sits in front …

Henchman Seems Like a Bad Career

In all of the James Bond films there are always dozens, even hundreds of henchmen. They basically stand around waiting for their chance to die needlessly. They are part of an overwhelming force that gets defeated by one man or woman. They are basically nameless and expendable.

I just watched the beginning of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (spoiler alert: the movie ends with a lead-in for another sequel). The heroine is walking through a wasteland and suddenly a gang of henchmen pop out of crates and barrels and from under rubble where they may have been hiding for days and attack. They all die pretty quickly and I got the feeling that their whole purpose was to slow Alice down a little bit. Certainly the super bad guy didn't expect or even want the protagonist killed by a bunch of faux ninjas wearing motorcycle helmits. Otherwise he wouldn't get to gloat and make the little speech that ultimately ends up being his undoing.

Henchmen are pretty common in movies and I have to w…

And Now a Word from Our Lawyers

Every now and then, I share a recipe on this or my other blog. For the most part, these are not entirely my own original recipes. I don't have a test kitchen and time to experiment with different combinations and approaches to particular dishes. However, except in very rare cases, I have tweaked and adapted the recipes to my own (and my family's) tastes. In most cases I've changed them quite a bit, but I started with someone else's basics. Many of my recipes started out over fifty years ago as Betty Crocker recipes. I also learned a lot from my mother and from a copy of The Joy of Cooking I received as a gift over forty years ago.

If I do no more than change a proportion here and there, I try to credit the original source. I don't want to take credit for someone else's work, but I don't want to blame them for my mistakes, either.

But here's what's bothering me: all of the recipes I see online at various blogs and web sites include nutritional inform…

Jacket Season

It's that time of year when I start wearing my jean jacket. I put it on first thing in the morning and take it off at bedtime.

Jacket weather is my favorite season of the year. Denim is comfortable. It's heavy enough to keep me warm in the fifty degrees outdoors and light enough I'm not uncomfortable wearing it in the house. A denim jacket is as much a sign of Fall as the leaves turning color, pumpkin spice everything and chrysanthemums blooming in the flower bed.

Soon it will be time to trade my sneakers for my Cat boots.They're pull on, high-top leather boots with thick treads on the soles. And I'll start wearing boot socks--thick warm, comfy boot socks.

I wore jeans all summer. Out here in the woods there are scratching hazards everywhere. Even with the long pants, I still get plenty of cuts and scrapes.

I'll start wearing my cowboy hat all the time, too. I wear it in the summer when I'm working outdoors, but after only a short while, it gets too hot and…

Ranch Dressing Made Easy

Ranch dressing is one of the greatest inventions in the history of mankind--and most addictive, too! Growing up I had my choice of Thousand Island, French, Russian, Catalina and Italian. And at school we got Miracle Whip. Occasionally I used Blue Cheese, but that was rare. When I was in high school, somebody invented Creamy Italian and I didn't use anything else for years. A creamy dressing that wasn't sweet was a whole new concept. I'm not sure exactly when Ranch Dressing came into being, but I've used it ever since. I do love a good Caesar salad, but I'm not fond of bottled Caesar dressing.

Over the years I've enjoyed a few variations on Ranch, such as Peppercorn Ranch, but I always come back to original. Oh, and I'm talking about Hidden Valley Ranch. Other brands just don't get the job done.

Then I discovered Ranch dressing recipes online and I've been tweaking the recipes and developing (okay, that sounds like I've worked at it, but not so m…

Summer Days and Autumn Nights

We've been having mixed weather the past week or so: rain, sun, hot, cool, windy. Typical Oklahoma weather.

Hurricane Nate made landfall, twice, and is moving north After killing more than twenty people in Central America, things looked bad, but Nate wasn't as bad as the previous four hurricanes when it reached the US.

The rain has kept me from doing much work in the garden. I've gotten quite a bit done in the greenhouse, but the wet grass and soil make any work outdoors impractical.

I'm still not really over all the complications of my cold and I get winded and worn out easily, plus, I feel my brain is a bit cloudy. Perhaps in a few days I'll be my same old hardworking, creative and witty self--or am I thinking of someone else?

Stephen P.

So Much Grief

While I try my best not to succumb to gloom and doom, I can't ignore how tragedy has followed upon tragedy without a break.

We've lost hundreds of thousands of acres of timber to wildfires in at least six states. The Gulf Coast was hit by hurricane Harvey, leaving Port Aransas and Rockport, Texas destroyed and Houston devastated by flooding. In just days, Hurricane Irma struck Florida, leaving most of the state damaged or destroyed by wind and water and without electricity. That same storm wiped out the island of Barbuda, leaving it uninhabitable. Shortly thereafter hurricane Maria swept through causing untold destruction to Puerto Rico, the island territory that should be our fifty-first state.

Last week, a large slab broke free from the rock face of El Capitan in California's Yosemite National Park, killing at least one person and driving hundreds from the park.

Then a madman opened fire on a crowd at a concert in a parking lot in Las Vegas, killing at least 59 and injur…

Down With The Sickness

The autumn crud came early. Just about the time the weather cooled down and the rain moved in, I got hit with the rhinovirus from hell. There is so much to do around here, but picking the ripe tomatoes wears me out and I have a hard time catching my breath. I've had a collapsed lung before and this is almost that bad. And the initial phase, where I have a throbbing sinus headache, runny nose and constant sneezing lasted five days. It was like the damn thing just wouldn't settle in. I still have to water the greenhouse, but thankfully, most end of season tasks can be put off for a few more days.

Details of illness are boring at best, so let's change the subject.

The new television season is finally here. I only have broadcast television, so there isn't a lot to watch, but cable was always a whole lotta nuthin' when I had it. I might be missing a few shows, like Better Call Saul and Fargo, but mostly it's a vast wasteland.

The Orville continues to be worth watchi…

Pepper Surprise

Last winter I bought a selection of pepper seeds from an online source. One pepper variety I bought on a lark was the Aji Dulce #2. The product description said "Looks just like the fiery red habanero, but without the heat!" I thought it would be fun to pop one in my mouth when I'm at a party at the home of one of my pepper growing friends. Mister Macho eats habaneros without even blinking.

The seeds germinated fairly quickly. Peppers are notorious for taking their own sweet time in sprouting. In fact, some hot peppers take weeks and require very specific temperature and moisture levels. This is why I haven't grown any Aji Amarillo peppers yet, though I've tried--Lord how I've tried.
The Aji Dulce plants were robust, growing quickly and transplanting easily into the garden. It didn't take long for the plants to reach their full height, about 18 inches. It also didn't take long for the plants to blossom and in what seemed like no time there were little…

Keeping My Kitchen Like a Pro

My only restaurant experience was back in high school (see how I avoided the whole "when I was a kid" cliche). The first job was as a dishwasher in a steakhouse. The second job was as a dishwasher in a B-B-Q place. I say B-B-Q because the actual barbeque was made in a factory of some sort down in Wichita Falls and then reheated in our kitchen.

While my title at the steakhouse was dishwasher, my duties included cutting steaks, cutting up chickens, cutting up sides of beef into chunks and grinding those into ground beef, making salads, cutting french fries, fetching supplies from the storeroom for the cook, and of course washing dishes.

Around here I do a lot of the meal planning, shopping and cooking. I would say "most," but then someone would prove me wrong and make me start keeping a time sheet. The thing is, I really like working in the kitchen. Oh, and cutting up onions is entirely my job. I enjoy doing it and onions don't make me tear up, so Patrick always …

Making a Pepper Seed Wish List

It's that time of year again when I start seed shopping online. By that time of year I mean any month between January and December. Seed shopping is a bit of an obsession. It takes the form of "what if I do this next year instead of that?"

A friend gave me some fairly hot heirloom peppers that he gets from one of his friends every year. I don't know exactly what they are, but they look like small red jalapenos. I used them to make hot sauce, really great hot sauce, and it spurred my imagination.

I started cruising every online heirloom seed catalog I could find, considering possibilities for making hot sauce next year. Heat is not the issue. Jalapenos are hot enough, I'm not even going to consider habaneros or ghost peppers or anything like that.

I'm thinking about buying tabasco seeds and then I'll use the patented Tabasco process of fermenting and aging the sauce. Or I'll get some serrano seeds and make a nice garlic hot sauce and steep it in the re…

Watching The Orville

Over the past two weeks I've read several reviews of the new Fox Television series The Orville. One writer said it was "just awful."

When I was a kid (there's that phrase again), television was a brand new thing. We had a black and white Zenith, a big black cube with a 17 inch diagonal screen. My dad controlled the TV and we watched what he watched or we read and did kid-type stuff, like build models, in our rooms. The big weekly television event for us kids was when Dad let us watch The Twilight Zone. It was science-fiction-y and futuristic and we loved it. Then one day, Star Trek came on and things changed forever. Unfortunately, Star Trek only lasted three years and we had nothing to replace it--until it came back in syndication.

Over the years since then, I was an avid fan of the Star Trek movies, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager. I watched Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but it was mostly set on a space station--kind of like Star Trek: Shopping …

Water, Wind and Fire

Irma is still whipping parts of Florida with wind and rain and making her presence known in Georgia and the Carolinas. Things could have been worse--Irma could have been slower moving, like Harvey. We still don't have much in the way of video and reports from the Keys and Miami. It seems like the news cameras grab five minutes of film and those are the images we see over and over again for days.

Harvey is kind of old news, yet much of the flooding persists and the damage reports are generic at best. Port Aransas is a complete loss, as far as I can tell. I've done some Googling, but photos are scarce. Rockport is in bad shape and the thousands of acres of cotton in the hurricane's path are at least a ninety percent loss.

Agriculturally, we won't begin to know the extent of the damage to Florida for quite some time. I don't know what crops are planted when, so I wouldn't even hazard a guess. Texas lost quite a few cattle and the grass they feed on to the extreme …

Night Sights

During our time out here in the woods we've gotten used to the variety of night sounds. We hear owls. Not just hoot owls, but screech owls, caterwauling barred owls and something we haven't identified yet. We hear a variety of frogs, toads, crickets, katydids, cicadas and all kinds of insects we haven't identified yet. Oh, and don't forget that annoying mosquito that comes whining up to my ear over and over and over. And the ringing in my ear from swatting at it.

Smaller night birds are not as frequent, but we have a few whip-poor-wills and mockingbirds. Barking dogs are common everywhere, but there are many more dogs in our neighborhood and we all depend on them to notify us of intruders--and imagined intruders. There's a donkey at a nearby farm who brays occasionally at night, and a cow or two who low in the dark (low is country talk for moo).

During most of the year we hear coyotes yipping and howling in the distance. Sometimes not too distant. Several times we&…

Retro Obsession

Recently I've subscribed to about a dozen newsletters. Email newsletters. Newsletters that I find really interesting.

The older people in the audience may remember when email was a brand new thing and almost everybody had AOL dial-up. I started getting people's email addresses and I would email them. And then I would check my email a dozen times a day to see if I'd gotten a response. After a time, email was like a primitive form of Facebook. Then somebody invented spam and email got even more like a primitive form of Facebook. Pretty soon I started getting into arguments and misunderstandings and finally people started to troll me and email became exactly like Facebook only without so many pictures. And I kept on checking it.

But then I didn't. I discovered websites that interested me. I could pursue my hobbies and interests online, learning more, finding sources for materials, or whatever. Some of the websites had discussion boards and that became an obsession, waitin…

Save the Pollinators

It has been a tough year for gardeners, homesteaders and farmers. A lack of pollinators has resulted in smaller crops and even crop failures in some areas. Just this morning I read about the sad state of Maine blueberries. Harvests had been increasing and prices dropping, but this year a combination of mummy berry disease and lack of pollinators has reduced harvest as much as 36%.

Several homesteaders I keep up with online have mentioned smaller harvests of crops dependent on pollinators. In my own garden it seems I have problems with lack of pollination.  I haven't seen any honey bees at all this year, but I have seen a few bumblebees and smaller pollinators that I might not have noticed before.

Crop failures and reduced harvests have been occurring worldwide this year. Corn and wheat don't depend on pollinators, but weather patterns have taken a toll. Fungal diseases such as mummy berry mentioned above can thrive in unusually wet weather and warmer winters.

Future food insec…

Living On Less

Lately I've seen a couple of articles with titles like "Living on less and loving it!" The first time I ever heard the "and loving it" phrase was in the movie The Pirates of Silicon Valley. The Steve Jobs character made members of his Macintosh development team wear t-shirts that said "90+ hours a week and loving it." The only one loving it was Steve Jobs. His employees hated it. Many were suicidal, considering giving up their careers or ready to be institutionalized.

In the process that led to our move to the country, we gave up 80% of our income. We have no choice but to find ways to live on less, but that's not what we love. We love the peace--it isn't quiet out here among all the little creatures that feel the need to vocalize. It's tough when I see something I want but don't have money for: a new rake, a package of seeds, Chinese food. In fact, that list can include gas for the mower, groceries and toothpaste. Scaling down is hard…

Cooking with Lard

Grit is one of my favorite magazines. When I was a kid Grit was a tabloid format publication that was thicker than a Sunday paper. At the time it was distributed by neighbors who went farm to farm, selling it for a little extra income. We rarely saw the same person selling it twice and availability was spotty, but we always bought it when we could. I'm not sure what all was inside, but it was targeted to farm families. I know there were plenty of recipes, but the thing I cared about was the twenty pages of newspaper comic strips. Our "local" paper was the Tulsa World, which was delivered by the rural mail carrier. Tulsa was about a hundred miles away. Grit had dozens of strips the World didn't.

Today's Grit magazine is an offering from Ogden Publications, the parent company of Mother Earth News. It is a standard magazine format, available in some book stores (if there are any left) and at the checkout of rural Dollar General Stores, and by subscription. I subscri…

Memory And Memories

Sometime in the middle of the night I awoke with a strange thought in my head. It occurred to me that I could probably write the same blog post over and over and I wouldn't know the difference. This isn't about failing memory, it's about the repetition of thoughts, the shear volume of thoughts, and not being able to keep track of what I've already said or decided not to say, or for that matter, temporarily forgot while I was writing.

Somebody once said that 90% of life is just showing up, or something like that. That's true. Life happens whether we plan it or not and only a certain small part is under our control. Some people are better at controlling life than others. Daytime television directors, for instance. They show up determined to control what happens for that hour, according to script, and seem to succeed to some extent.

I don't have a script. I'm not even very good at improvisation. Life just unfolds before me with only a small amount of input fro…

Homestead Life

When we embarked on this homesteading adventure, we were looking for something undefinable, a feeling as much as anything. We saw a tiny house on a lake and hoped that might be the place, but it didn't work out. We saw a place with a large greenhouse, acres of land for growing vegetables and a newly planted orchard, but it had only a seventy-year-old, single-wide trailer for housing and a clear view of neighbors on three sides. No privacy. It was perfect, but it wasn't. We looked at it more than once and it just didn't feel right. Most other places that seemed promising had one or more problems and just weren't home.

This place was lacking in growing space, no traditional garden space or grazing land. No lake in the front yard. But it had a special feeling. And privacy without isolation

We hoped to begin cutting ties to the grid and to get closer to the earth. We were looking for a different kind of lifestyle: a closer relationship to the source of our food; a closer r…

Back To School

This time of year I used to feel that yearning for the smell of fresh school supplies, new school clothes and the first day of classes. I'm not sure when that changed, but this year I am so glad that I don't have to go back to school. I've been out of college for twenty-four years and I graduated high school over forty-five years ago. I still have dreams of hunting for the right classroom until it's too late to show up for class. And the dream where I suddenly discover I'm enrolled in a class I've never been to and it's the day of final exams.

So here it is almost the end of August, school has been in session for over a week, and I don't have to go.

I study constantly, reading about gardening and farming and folkways, but not because I have to. Because I like to. I'm what they call a lifelong learner. I loved my time at the university, reading, studying, researching, but the stress was overwhelming at times. Summer break was always a nice little bre…


There are certain misused phrases that drive me crazy. These are not my pet peeves, these are feral peeves, untamed and unconstrained.

Almost every day I hear an anchor or reporter on television news say "Authorities are still honing in on the problem." Honing in is not what authorities do. One does not hone in on a target. One "homes" in. Gunners home in on their targets, bombadeers home in on an enemy base and authorities home in on a problem.

We hone knife edges. We hone our skills. We belabor the point.

Another phrase refers to a business floundering or a ship floundering on a reef. When a horse gets down in the mud and struggles but can't get up, the horse is said to be "foundering." I suppose one could say one was "floundering" and be correct if one was being a fish. I don't know why one would be a fish. Foundering is the correct term for anything struggling, but failing. This argument is foundering.

Recently, I saw the phrase &quo…

Again With Irritating The Old Man

Everything is a video these days. I have a friend that I exchange memes with several times a day. Good memes are hard to come by so I stockpile when I find extras. Lately I can't find any memes that aren't in GIF format. Okay, you're saying that's not video, it's GIF. It's still video and no matter how short, I don't have time for videos and my friend (we'll call him "Larry") wouldn't watch them anyway. He doesn't have time, because he is very busy using his time efficiently. Seriously, "Larry" crams more into a twenty hour day than anyone I know.

I read constantly and I subscribe to a number of magazines and their e-zine counterparts, email newsletters, blogs and web sites dedicated to organic gardening, homesteading and self-sufficiency. There are plenty of weblogs on YouTube that I could follow, but I just can't slow down to their speed. If I had to watch videos instead of reading the material, I would learn a lot less…