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Showing posts from August, 2017

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…

Peeves

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…

Corn Is Evil

Corn has an agenda and it isn't good. Thousands of years ago, corn as we know it didn't exist. Back then it was called maize and had only small ears with uneven rows of little kernels. So how did corn get to be the big, parallel-rowed, golden, juicy nuggets on a cob that we've all come to crave in the summer and the shorter cobettes we always order with our fish at Long John Silvers? By brainwashing and enslaving the human race. Yep. Maize used some kind of mind control to trick prehistoric people into cultivating it and selectively growing it until it became the massive world power that it is today. I was tempted to say "primitive people," but as we all know, the ancient Mayans had a sophisticated society with cars and airplanes and computers and the internet, until corn reduced them to mere agrarians, scratching in the soil to please their cornly overlords.

In order to prevent rebellion, corn made itself tasty and used its addictive qualities to keep a hold on …

The End Is Nigh

The future seems a little iffy right now. President Trump keeps provoking an already dangerously paranoid and delusional leader of North Korea. While I admit it's tempting to consider doing something drastic about that whole annoying Kim Jung Un regime, I don't think a nuclear war would be good for our fragile planet.

Meanwhile, the Yellowstone caldera has experienced a huge swarm of earthquakes the last month or so. Ordinarily this wouldn't be a big deal, but Yellowstone is a giant volcano just itching to blow and it sits on an ocean of glowing magma. If it erupted, people all the way down in Florida would have problems with the pumice from volcanic ash scratching their sunglasses. Then, a month later, they'd be in the market for firewood, heavy parkas and ice skates as nuclear winter sets in.
I have two words for you: pyroclastic flow. That's the boiling mud that floods out of the volcano at like 300 miles an hour in a tidal wave fifty feet high. I'm much mor…

In Doubt

This is the second time I've brought this up in about a week, but it's preying on my mind. Why did CBS cancel Doubt after only two episodes had been broadcast? They paid for and produced a full thirteen episodes. Two episodes? Really?

The show had a great cast, including Dule Hill, Katherine Heigl, Laverne Cox, Elliot Gould and Judith Light. The plots were solid, the storytelling was well-structured and smooth. As courtroom dramas go, Doubt was a good one.

CBS has been running NCIS and its various spin offs for eons and they are crap, in my opinion. Well, okay, NCIS: New Orleans is not too bad, but I only watch it when there is nothing else on and my internet is down. The various CSIs were good and ran for a respectable number of years. Criminal Minds could go on to become the longest running series in television history if the network doesn't screw it up, which they've tried repeatedly to do.

Bull is a pretty good show, but it seems a little fantastic that anyone coul…

My Fried Chicken Recipe

When I was a kid I didn't start sentences with "when I was a kid." Now I do it all the time. Back in my childhood ("when I was a kid...") chickens had ten pieces, plus miscellaneous extra parts like a neck, heart, gizzard and liver. And sometimes the feet, but that was an old man thing. There were two drumsticks, two thighs, two wings, two breast parts, a wishbone and a back. The back was my dad's favorite. At sixteen I got a job at a steakhouse. Part of my job was cutting up chickens. They still had ten pieces. Now days chickens only have eight pieces. The breast is only cut into two pieces, splitting the wishbone. The back is discarded or used to make stock. Ducks aren't cut into pieces at all in my world.

I still love fried chicken, but I only make it a few times a year. My mother always pan fried it, but, thanks to a garage sale bargain, I have a deep fryer ($2 for a 6 quart Presto). When I was a kid they were called deep fat fryers. Here is one of …

Kitchen Chronicles

Cooking is one daily chore I really enjoy. I usually prepare breakfast and dinner and occasionally lunch. By some stroke of luck, we have a great kitchen. It has plenty of counter space (there is no such thing as plenty of cabinet space in any kitchen). It's small enough to have everything within reach when I'm cooking alone, but it's big enough we've had four people working comfortably at the same time cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

Having the right tools makes cooking a pleasure.

I love cutting boards. I would collect them, but Kathy discourages hoarding behavior. We have a nice large maple cutting board, a large plastic cutting board, a glass one and a small plastic one. I really like the wooden one for chopping and dicing vegetables. We use the large plastic one for cutting meat and then clean it with a bleach solution. The glass one is mostly for carving roasts, chickens and turkeys fresh from the oven, and the small one is for slicing cheese, making sandwiches and …

Hot, Hot, Hot

The heat of summer has gripped Oklahoma for the better part of a month. Now I don't want to be one of those guys who complains about the weather all the time. Instead, I'll express my appreciation for how good I've had it.

People always say "it's a dry heat." It's not. This summer has been extremely humid--but that's okay. The past year has been great. Last summer, if memory serves, was really mild compared to a few recent years.

It was a warm, mild fall. Most of the time we didn't even need coats. Then the winter came and was very pleasant. There were a couple of cold weeks, but by February we were having nice spring weather--most of the time. Sometimes it was hot. Sometimes it was cold.

When spring really arrived, it wasn't a typical Oklahoma spring, dry and dusty with temperatures in the nineties. No, it was a real spring like we used to read about in books. Not too warm, not too cool, just right. And then the heat. But not terrible three d…