Creve Reborn as a Vampire Robot in The Eyes of the Sun (Okay, that might not actually be what Christina's new book is about...)

400 years ago today, I began this blog, and immediately gained a small, but devoted following. In that original group was an original lady, Christina, who wrote a personal blog called Creve. The blog petered out eventually, but somehow I became Christina's facebook friend and discovered that all of her writing energy had recently been devoted to writing actual books. I guess I can forgive her for neglecting her blog. Now, however, she's started a new blog! And I am promoting it here.

I recommend that you read Vampires and Robots, because I think Christina is a good writer.

And read her new book! It's actually free starting midnight tonight and going through the weekend. I will be downloading it tomorrow. I'll review it here when I've read it!

Thanks for starting a new blog, Christina! I missed reading about your life. And I can accept your new lifestyle choice. It's okay to be a vampire robot. Some of my best friends are vampire robots. It just comes with the territory. I hope someday vampires and robots can marry each other just like everyone else does.

P.S. You don't need a kindle to read The Eyes of the Sun. You can read it in the cloud. That's what I'm doing!

Pickup Lines

I was in Mr. Z's barn last fall. The hay was all loaded in the truck and paid for- he didn't charge me nearly enough, considering the drought last year- and I was wondering in the back of my mind what was expected. How long does one stay and talk with a kind neighbor who just sold me hay? Certainly, some amount of small talk was in order. He was extolling the benefits of grass for the soil, over corn, which is a rich topic.

As he talked, Mr. Z gently leaned into our truck. It was a casual gesture. It wasn't exactly reverent, but definitely respectful. He rubbed his hand over the scraped paint, like the truck was an old friend. I thought, he's touching my truck. Wow.

When it felt like the moment was right, I got into the truck, he stopped leaning on it, and I drove away.

I didn't think about it again until yesterday, when I was reading You Can Farm by Joel Salatin, his chapter on "Being Neighborly," page 169,

"Take time to talk. When your neighbor comes over, lean on his truck. Farmers love to see people lean on their trucks. I guess it's real close to a hug or something. Maybe it's like a cat rubbing up against your leg. Anyway, farmers get fairly lonely out there in the field and they look forward to unhurried conversation."

Now I understand.


Little Z planted a little tree for Christmas, and now that little tree has this tiny, little nest in it with three tiny, little eggs.

We're just friends.

I put the baby chickens, now three weeks old, in with Tom Turkey and Mrs. Turkey. Mrs. Turkey is like a zombie, sitting on her eggs, so she didn't care, but Tom Turkey didn't seem entirely comfortable with fifteen baby chickens in his pad. I decided it was time to take Tom Turkey out of the barn and put him out to pasture again.

Normally, when I catch a turkey, it poops on my head and tries to claw my eyes out. For this reason, I have a method that works well for me: I grab the turkey by the legs and then carry it upside down to wherever I need to take it. I wouldn't take a subway train or anything, but it works for a short walk.

So, I went into the turkey pen and picked up Tom Turkey by the legs. He did not resist. He did not peck. Tom Turkey simply hung there, upside down, by my side, and craned his head around so he could see the world right side up. As I walked him out to the fenced in pasture with the sheep, I noticed how immensely soft his feathers were against my leg. I never noticed that about a turkey before. Probably because they are usually busy trying to kill me.

Once inside the pasture, I laid him down on the ground. He stood up, looked around, and said "gobblgobblgobble."

I went back inside and ate dinner. I remarked to BAH how Tom Turkey didn't give me any trouble at all. This from the animal who repeatedly attacked his own reflection in the side of our truck last summer.

"He's your pet now," said BAH. "You have a pet turkey."

Sure enough, when I went out to the pasture later, he greeted me at the fence. Tom fanned out his handsome feathers and said,

"Gobble gobble gobble gobble!"

"Um, hi," I said.

I've since decided that having Tom Turkey as a pet is somewhat like going to the prom with your gay cousin. It may not be what you had envisioned for yourself, in your romantic projections for your future life, but in the end, it's the unconventional friends who are the most fun. And I've never been a dog person, anyway.

I guess the main difference would be that you wouldn't kill your cousin and eat him for Thanksgiving. That's the only difference, really.

I'll see it when I believe it.

I've been reading Joel Solatin's book, You Can Farm. It's a well written book about how to make money farming with holistic methods.

One of the things Solatin rales agains in the beginning of the book is the tendency of people to just flat out not believe that old fashioned farming can be profitable. He says that people are so turned against farming that he can actually show someone his farm, but they still don't believe. The saying used to be, "I'll believe it when I see it," but he thinks it should be changed to, "I'll see it when I believe it." It's like they have to believe it before they can see it, so entrenched are they in the idea that farming is not profitable.

I'm also reading a book by Eckhart Tolle. He says that people tend to create a story to go with the world, and if something doesn't fit with your view of the world, you don't see it.

So, this is what I've been thinking about in the back of my mind a bit (Tolle would say I shouldn't be thinking at all- sorry Eckhart) and my assistant principal sends me this:


Whatever Happened to Teresa Burritt?

I've been trying unsuccessfully recently to ignore the absence of Teresa's Frog Blog. Not only is the Frog Blog now private, and, as far as I can tell, open to no one, but she stopped writing * her comic.

You have to wonder what happened. Honestly, I said it before she disappeared: she had the best blog ever. It was a mixture of strange and beautiful, of honest and terrible, unique, feminist, and always, above all else, highly entertaining and funny. She seems to have an obsession with words and their origins, something I also am intensely interested in. It was her influence which led me to start telling my students that I wanted them all to be bibliobibuli.

I had some email correspondences with her of a personal nature. I named a cat after her. The cat has since disappeared- at about the same time the blog disappeared, now that I think of it. My recent email to her was returned.

What I wonder now is:

1.* Is Teresa okay?

2. *Will she be back?

3. Did we frighten her away?

4. Is it okay to rip off her ideas, if she isn't around? Because I never felt it was okay before, but if we can't even look at old entries of her blog- can I then become the queen of lame? Not a queen, no. But a minion. May I be a minion of the lame, Teresa?

This is the last comic she posted at Gocomics:

Sort of a frustrated kind of thing. And there is an owl. Is it a clue? This one is from March 24th:

I shared this with friends. The internet has no sick days.

In my heart of hearts, I think we hurt her feelings. And I think I understand. The internet is unforgiving.

* Update 4-13-2017: Teresa Burritt is alive and doing her Frog Applause comic. Her Frog Blog is still down. 

Familiar Barns

This is a good one. They took the floor out once and replaced it, finishing everything in about a month. It's looking nice, isn't it? A pleasant sight on the morning commute.

This concludes the series, "Familiar Barns". I hope you enjoyed it.

You know you're in Wisconsin when...

It's cold and rainy and everyone still comes to an outdoor concert of local bands playing old standards.

Because, you know, it's tradition. It's Bobfest.

I whimped out after about two hours. I'm from California.

That Was Then and This Is Now

Remember when people used to hate getting their picture taken? In the days of film. I guess it was because people used to keep pictures of you, no matter how bad they were. Now, you just delete them. This is not news to you. But it is hard for kids today to understand.

I was trying to explain this to some kids at school the other day.

Now, I'm 39 years old. When I was a kid, if you were 39 years old, it was just a given that if you were female, you didn't let anyone take your picture. There are exactly 3 pictures in existence of my stepmother between 1980 and 1995. And none of my mother.

I don't care any more about pictures of me. Even if I look hideous, it seems like pictures don't have the permanence they used to have. They say they internet is forever, but I don't believe it. Thus the blog. This blog will disappear into oblivion. Actually, this is oblivion. Already. Which is sort of nice.

It's quiet here...

Nowadays, I take pictures constantly. And throw out everything. I must have 2,000 pictures of my daughter. There are about 200 pictures of me as a child, taken by my grandparents, and that was considered really weird. Really weird.

What is all of this obsessive picture taking doing to us?

I guess it depends on what you do with the pictures.

The teenagers I work with post ratings of one another on facebook. The boys especially rate the girls, on how they look. "You're an 8 out of 10," one boy posts on the girl's timeline. One boy I teach does this more than once a day to one of the girls I teach. She was complaining about it. He rated her before school and after school. As far as I can tell, she doesn't even like him. Why does she pay attention?

Awful as that may sound, they at least do non-superficial things, too: they have posts which begin, "The truth is..." and they say wonderful things sometimes. "The truth is, you're the kindest person I know..." "The truth is, you helped me when I was down..." "The truth is, you're very smart."

As if it weren't difficult enough to be fourteen years old!

Going back to then, I didn't enjoy getting my picture taken. This is the only picture the yearbook staff got of me:

I still have that tote bag. The photo didn't make the yearbook, but it made facebook twenty years later. Facebook is forever. Sort of. Is there a word that mean eternally in the past? Jason saved the negatives. On a scale of one to ten, I give me a three. The truth is, I probably had something stuck in my teeth.


I buy so many good things at the dumps. And by "buy", I mean take. Because it's all free. Today I found this:

For the greenhouse. I thought it was beautiful.


The following things happened today, in this order:

1. One boy punched another in the nose during third period. (Nothing was really injured except for pride. My pride, mostly, in having a safe and calm classroom.)

2. My dad got out of the hospital. Finally! (They had been talking about letting him out for what seemed like ages, but it was really about a week. A week is a long time to wonder when they will let you out of the hospital.)

3. Little Z's school bus collided with a car load of teenagers in front of the high school. (No one was injured. According to Z, the fireman asked her three times if she hurt herself, and then had her sign her name. "My first name and my last name!" She was super proud of herself, because she just learned how to write her last name, last week. She was knocked out of her seat, however, and fell on her butt, which is, according to her, "the best place to fall on." She was also proud that she told the fireman what road she lived on, but she couldn't remember the house number, so she said, "I live on a farm in the woods!" Which was apparently good enough for them, because she was dropped off at home by another bus, albeit 45 minutes late. Truly, everything you need to know, you learn in kindergarten.)

4. BAH called and said his motorcycle wouldn't start, and he needed a ride home from work. So, we drove out and picked him up. Then we ate ice cream. Little Z took 55 minutes to finish one ice cream cone. (There is nothing parenthetical to say here, but I thought I would add some parentheses for the sake of consistency.)

Some people connect an unlikely frequency of unlikely events to the moon being full.

Everything I Need Is Falling from the Sky

Monday: On the way home from work, I noticed some plastic fencing on the side of the road, in someone's trash. I stopped and picked it up. A guy waved at me from the house, as if to say, "Take it! Please!"

Tuesday: Ten flowering trees from the Arbor Day came in the mail.

Tuesday Evening: I noticed that the ducklings were small enough to fit through the weaves of the old chicken fence I had around them. It took me half an hour and a small hand injury, but I caught all of the ones that escaped and put them in the duck house for the night. I was very worried that they would really escape for good next time, and get eaten by hungry raccoons.

Wednesday Morning: I woke up still worried about those ducklings. I used the fencing I found by the side of the road to reinforce the duckling fence and reshape it like a funnel, so that they would automatically go into their little house when they were afraid. I had exactly enough fence to finish the job. The fencing from the trash was soft plastic, so it wouldn't hurt the ducklings, and it had very small weaves, so they couldn't fit through it. In short, it was the perfect fix to my duck problem. Free from the trash.

Wednesday Evening: I planted the trees on the hill by the garage. I was tired. There was no way I had the energy to haul water up that hill and water those new trees. Miraculously, I heard thunder in the distance. As soon as I finish planting the last tree, it started to rain.

When it started raining, I ran out to the ducklings. I walked into their newly configured run with the "up cycled" fence (it used to be trash picking; now it's up cycling!) and the ducklings ran directly into their little house (also taken from someone's trash), and I closed the door. Now they wouldn't catch a chill from playing in the rain (they love playing in water). Cuddled together in their house, they were beyond cute. It took me all of fifteen seconds to get them inside.

It rained all night, thoroughly watering my trees.

You can't seen them, yet, but that's the hill.

Animal Pictures

The duck run (Pekins on left, Mallards on right):

Rosie the Rooster Investigates:

Chicks in Space:

Mrs. Turkey is sitting on eggs:

Last year, Mrs. Turkey lost all of her eggs to raccoons, so this year, we're letting her stay inside the barn.

Familiar Barns

Participating Member, Future Barns of America.

Everyone is cutting down the forest in my neck of the woods, lately. I don't know why. Maybe to build more red barns?

My favourite things that my dad babbled about in the hospital (an incomplete list):

I ended up going to see Dad in the hospital, and we've had a lot of quantity time together. He tends to ramble a bit, but I've enjoyed it. The topics I've most enjoyed are:

1. Why Marijuana will never give you cancer (and you should maybe eat less bananas).
The gist: Marijuana is not radioactive. Cigarettes are radioactive. They cause cancer. Marijuana does not. I said, "Bananas are radioactive. I eat lots of bananas," and Dad said, "Maybe you shouldn't. Bananas are radioactive. Maybe you should rethink that." [Full disclosure: Dad was in the hospital for cancer treatment, but I don't think he ever smokes or even has ever smoked much marijuana. Or cigarettes. Or bananas. So, basically, he hasn't tested this theory on himself.]

2. A scientific explanation for Extra-Sensory Perception [ESP]. It isn't paranormal! It can be scientifically explained, but it's too complicated for me to explain it, here. Dad was good at explaining it. Einstein's daughter (who is actually nonexistant) probably couldn't explain the Theory of Relativity, either, so cut me some slack.*

3. The Voludyne 5000.
["You wouldn't think, with a name like Voludyne 5000, that it would be this plastic piece of shit."] It's a contraption that basically gives you goals to make you breathe better and keep you from getting pneumonia after surgery. He's supposed to exercise his lungs every hour. So, every hour for the first few days, he would say , "Hand me my Voludyne 5000. You wouldn't think, with a name like Voludyne 5000..." This is what the Voludyne 5000 looks like:

You wouldn't think, with a name like Voludyne 5000, that it would look like such a plastic piece of shit, would you?

* Why would Dad feel the need to explain ESP? He has the gift of ESP, and he wants to explain how it works. The biggest thing that happened was that one day, Dad was getting into his car, and he suddenly had a terrible pain in his back. Really awful. He fell over. It was absolutely bizarre. An intense, completely inexplicable pain. It lasted, in a milder form, for days. We happened to call Grandma on Sunday, as was our tradition at that time. His mom, a.k.a. Grandma, said that she had fallen down some steps and severely hurt her back at the exact same moment that he got the terrible pain in his back for no apparent reason and fell down in the driveway from the pain. And, and, and- this is the spookiest part- the pain was in the exact same spot as Grandma's back injury. He felt his mother's pain from 3000 miles away. OMG, right? And this is why he felt the need to come up with the scientific explanation for such things. Maybe he'll write a book about it.

Familiar Barns

It seems like they have been working on this one for ages- I mean, like, years. How can anyone go that long without a barn?

I know. You don't have a barn. You're living perfectly fine without a barn, right now, I'd wager. I lived most of my life without a barn. But, if you had a barn like this one- and you got used to having a barn- how could you ever live without it?

Gold Tooth

We ran into Miss R, Little Z's old daycare manager, at a restaurant yesterday. Miss R has a gold tooth, right up front. It's quite shiny.

We have discussed in the past how it's an odd thing, but brown people look okay or even good with gold teeth, but pink people do not look good at all with gold teeth. (I apologize if you are a pink person who looks good with a gold tooth. Generalizations are fun but never true.) This was one of our rare conversations about fashion. Miss R looks good with a gold tooth.

Because we had just talked about it, Little Z recognized Miss R, even though she hadn't seen Miss R in three years. She recognized her by her gold tooth.

After we had laughed and exclaimed and hugged and left, Little Z pointed out that she herself is currently missing a tooth on the bottom.

"What if my tooth grows in gold?" she asked me.

I think that would be a remarkable thing, don't you?

Inside the Greenhouse

You may recall that I built this greenhouse a couple of weeks ago. It's already greening out!

I've got some people signed up for vegetable delivery this summer. Things are right on track for becoming something like a "farmer" soon.

"Don't even call it cancer," he said.

My dad, who is, incidentally, very famous in Europe (European Steel Guitar Hall of Fame) has always been important to me. You might say that he was the main parental influence in my life. (Parenting is not my mother's strong suit.) He's also a good friend. (He only tells me what to do when I'm really being an idiot.) Dear Old Dad is sick in the hospital today. He's been in surgery for seven hours to remove a tumour in his pancreas. The pancreas is situated in a difficult spot. I looked at one of our rubber people models in the health classroom at school today. The pancreas is an unfortunate spot for a tumour. But, at least they noticed it, somehow!

So, I'm honestly a bit of a wreck. Seven hours is such a long time. I'm not even there. I'm 2000 miles away. If I were there, I guess I couldn't do much. but it's still not the best situation. At least he's been unconscious for the seven hours- at least, I hope so! I woke up during surgery once, but then they gave me a drug to forget it, so I don't remember it. They have drugs for all sorts of things. Except for removing a tumour in your pancreas. I guess they have to do some pretty intensive surgery for that.

This is a rambling post. I apologize for that.

I just love my papa. Waiting for a phone call...

And in case you, like me, don't really know what the heck a pancreas is, Weird Al can somewhat incoherently sing about it for you:

Update: Phone call received. Dad out of surgery and they got the whole tumour! Now for the recovery part. Poor Dad. I hope they give him good drugs.

The Best Free Stuff: Lovecraft

So many good things these days are free. I thought I would start a little series here of what I've found to be of most value, for free! Starting with good reads:

H.P. Lovecraft was one of the greatest horror authors of all time. He wrote a slew of works that are so completely original and bone chilling- well, I just don't know what. And now it's all so old that it's public domain! You can download his stories for free. More details here.

I have to confess that it's been awhile since I've read Lovecraft. I'm putting it on my to read list: re-read all of Lovecraft. What makes it all memorable is that these horrible situations- completely outlandish monsters- people decaying inexplicably- these things are believable, and you think, hey, it could happen! What's not to love there?

Free. You, too, can start to worry that your limbs might start falling off for no real reason.

Also, as an added bonus, if you really get into Lovecraft, you can be one of those people who knows what this is all about:

Unless, as Groucho Marx once said, "I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member."

Miracle No More

Well, the little chicken called Miracle is dead. We found him this morning in the brooder. Little Z was very sad. I was pretty sad, too.

Lesson learned. I won't be helping any chicks out of eggs any more.

Familiar Barns

Just peaking out over the hill is another familiar barn. This one was recently rebuilt. Actually, the old one was torn down and a new, stainless steel one replaced the old red wood. The new one is no doubt more functional. Sometimes, when driving down this road, I pass a certain man on his morning walk. He wears a white coat and always waves. Also, sometimes around the corner is a woman walking on crutches. She only has one leg, but it must be a good one.

A Quackmire

We went to pick up the ducks on Tuesday last. We also had chickens due to hatch the same day. I looked up on line if you could put the two species together in a brooder box, and most places said no, because the ducks would make the chickens too wet, and also because the ducks grew so much quicker that they would barrel over the baby chicks and hurt them.

We actually purchased two types of ducklings: Mallards for pets, and White Pekins for eating. As soon as we put them in the duck box, we noticed that the White Pekins were much bigger and much messier than the Mallards, who were just peaceful and little and cute. Nobody was getting hurt as yet, but Little Z was disturbed enough that she thought we should immediately separate them. We only had the two boxes, though, so we had a quackdry: Should we mix species that we had read should not be mixed, or should we separate based on size? We separated based on size.

Tuesday we also had a lone chicken to put into the box with the Mallards. Sadly, my camera was broken when we put the first chicken in with the Mallard ducklings. This one lone chicken stood on one side of the box, and the eight Mallards on the other side. The chicken was thinking, "Who am I?" The ducks were thinking, "What is that?" I was worried the ducklings would pick on the lone chicken. I needn't have worried. Those Mallard ducklings are so gentle. That evening, the chicken was snuggling in the middle of the pile of fuzzy Mallards, staying cozy warm. It was heart warming. Seriously.

The White Pekins, in the other box, had poured all of their water out and pooped absolutely everywhere! They are crazy messy. Although, they are photogenic.

Now, the baby chicks in the one box outnumber ducklings two to one. Everyone seems happy. Miracle the chicken is the clumsiest thing I've ever seen, but he's still doing okay.

Little Z loves her Mallards. She gets up every morning at the crack of dawn to feed them and check on them.

That is not true, Johnny.

This is a list of things my students said yesterday while giving their book reports.

1."Mr. Rogers is a card carrying member of the CIA with a license to kill. He has tattoos covering every inch of his body, underneath his clothes. That's why he dresses like that! He was in the military."

2. "The Underground Railroad laid the foundation for what is now our modern national subway system. They use the same tunnels!"

[Would that we had a national subway system!]

3. "This is actually a diagram of the human brain* [holds up book for all to see]:"

Several kids and I yell out, "That's a fly! That's not a brain!"

He is adamant (without looking) "No, no, it's actually a human brain! Isn't that crazy?" Then he looks. "Oh, wait, yeah. I think that's a fly. Never mind. I thought it was a brain, but I guess it's not..."

That's just from one class period. I love them to pieces sometimes, honestly.

* The fly picture is the closest I could find off of the internet.

A Chicken Called Miracle

Not only did we get ducklings at the co-op this week, but we've had chicks hatching in the incubator. They were due on Tuesday, but we had some stragglers on Thursday. Three of them made me faint Thursday morning, which is another story. Thursday night, however, there were two who just seemed to be stuck in their shells. They had been trying to hatch all day and couldn't get out.

Now, really, you should never ever help a chick hatch out of its shell. But they were trying all day, and I knew they were doomed to die if I did nothing. You could hear their little voices. "Cheap cheap cheap cheap! Help me! Help me!" I was giving Little Z a bath when I just couldn't take it anymore! I took a wet wash cloth from the bath.

"Where are you going?" asked Little Z.

"I'm going to save chicken lives!"

It took a while of careful manipulation, but I got the shells off of both of them. One of them didn't make it. The other one looked horrible, just a wet alien thing laying on a wet washcloth. It was much larger than its shell would have predicted. I think that was part of the reason it couldn't get out. The other part was low humidity in the incubator, which made all of the nice gooey stuff that should have made him fluffy and cute just dry out on him and make him look hideous.

I could have given up on him, but I thought, what's the harm in leaving him in there for a day or two and seeing what happens? It'll be a miracle if he survives, but still, there's a chance.

I left him in there. And, this morning, he was walking around, acting like a chicken! Not a fluffy cute chicken. Bless his heart, he's ugly. But alive! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you a Chicken Called Miracle:

I put him in the hot box with the other chicks and little ducklings. (You aren't supposed to have chickens and ducks together, but we do, and they get along great. Why not?) The other creatures weren't sure quite what to make of him, at first.

They kept their distance.

I told them not to pick on him. It's hard to say if they understood.

It's still a critical time. I don't know if he fits in. Miracle is so much smaller than the other chickens and ducks. And you can't exactly say he's got character- I mean, someone else had to help him out of his own egg!

Still, I'm holding out hope for Miracle the Chicken. I'll keep you updated.

Meanwhile, in Russia...

... people are being kind.

The duck one is a common sight this time of year in this neck of the woods.

My New Friend

Testing... Testing 1, 2...

Hey, that's not a duck! Where is he?
Ah, there he is, the duckling!

Want a little pat on the head, little buddy? Yeah, that feels good:)

You're so debonair!

And full of yourself.

More about the ducklings, later...