This book is the most vile thing I have ever read. I feel like my self of two weeks ago was pure as a newborn lamb, and now I am filthy, because I have read half of this book.

I am still reading it because my Books and Booze club is reading it, and I hate to go to a meeting unprepared.

The plot is pretty simple. It resembles Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None in its set-up: several people are gathered together in a building, sealed off from the rest of the world, and one by one, they die. That's pretty much where the similarities end. Everyone in the story has a strange or disgusting habit. In my Books and Booze group, someone said that the third chapter made her vomit. I chuckled, thinking I was a tough cookie and I would never vomit from reading a book. Well, I didn't actually vomit, but I would like to take a break from the filth of Haunted and watch Pink Flamingoes while languidly perusing the collected works of the Marquis de Saude.

Chuck Palahniuk can't be all bad, because he did write Fight Club. Maybe this book is supposed to be a satire, but I'm just not getting it.


$20 bought you 12 beer samples and a German themed meal, as well as entertainment in the form of a horn based polka band, a Dachshund race, a petting zoo, axe throwing, and a keg toss.

The petting zoo turned out to be run by our neighbors. They had a donkey there, and I had a lot of questions about the donkey. Most of my questions really came from the twelve beer samples, eight of which I had already consumed by the time of this conversation. I also have a slight genuine interest in donkeys. I asked the guy if donkeys liked sheep, and he said,

"Oh, yeah. Especially this one. This one likes them in a mating kind of way, if you know what I mean."
"Yeah, actually, he just killed a sheep mating with it, yesterday. I don't know why that is. Something about when he's in heat. They're not usually like that, though. This one's weird."

Ah, country life. Such dynamic conversations we have.

And, they had this alpaca:

I hope the donkey doesn't like her.

The band (Madison Brass) was excellent.

Love this picture my sister Lori took

Lori says they were playing "Marguaritaville". That's my dad on bass, Duncle Ennis on keyboard (also known as Dennis C. Lee of the Living Daylights) and sitting down beside him is Wonder Niece. I didn't know my dad played bass, but there he is, apparently in front of an audience. I wonder what Wonder Niece is doing? Taking notes from the masters, I suppose.

I'm a doctor, not a quack!

Today is my 80th half birthday. I have lived eighty half years, today. In lieu of gifts, please donate to Heifer International. They seem okay. Unless you really really want to send me a gift. Then I would like this.

I spent my eightieth half birthday chasing ducks, mostly. And now, we are watching all of the Star Trek movies, starting with the first: Star Trek, the Motion Picture. I'm pretty sure I have seen them all, but I am getting confused. This is unacceptable. I must see all of the Star Trek movies, in order, and get it all straight in my mind again!

This first Star Trek movie is great. William Shatner was so young then! He's actually good looking. It creeps me out a little.

I love how, in the beginning, they spend a full five minutes of screen time just looking at the beautiful Enterprise, which has apparently been re-modelled, 1979 style! Sort of like our house.

It's hard to watch this, now, without looking at George Takei in an entirely different light! Before George Takei "friended" me, DeForest Kelly was my favourite. "I'm a doctor, not a [Insert whatever you like here]!"

Home for Battered Chickens

Yes, I have started a home for battered chickens (and it's not in the deep frier with extra pepper). It's a place where hens who have been abused by roosters can go and just be with other hens. It's just for hens and chicks- no roosters allowed! Pokey was getting quite rough with some of them, and they've lost some feathers and are looking much the worse for wear. Now that Pokey is gone, however, there are still two other roosters to contend with, and a new pecking order to be established. I fear it may be too much stress for these little ladies.

I put the turkeys outside, so I realized I had an extra coop in the barn for these abused hens.

The white one on the left isn't really injured; she's just there for company. Chickens are flock birds, so they like having a few friends around. She's there for moral support, so to speak.

They've been there for two days and seem quite calm and peaceful. I was playing some Coletrane for them earlier, and one of them was clucking along in her own funky groove. The song was "My Favorite Things".

Music therapy for chickens. You know, whatever works. They laid two eggs.

Mushrooming Around

Ever since BAH got his book about mushrooms, we've been on the hunt. A few days ago, BAH spotted a Puff Ball mushroom in our unused pasture, and decided to leave it a few days and see if it grew. Tonight, we picked it!

He determined that it was, indeed, a Puff Ball mushroom, but...

I guess this mushroom hunting thing is complicated. There are two things that have to be right, in order to eat a Puff Ball:

1. You must make sure it is really a Puff Ball mushroom, and
2. It has to be ripe, but not sporing.

The second point can be determined by cutting the mushroom in half. When you cut it in half, it needs to be the same shade of white all the way through. We cut it in half, and:

It is definitely not pure white all the way through. Darn. It was getting ready to spore, when we picked it. This means we should have picked it on Monday. But alas, 'tis too late! No mushroom soup tonight. [And, yes, that knife is being held together by penguin duck tape.]

There are a few more Puff Balls out there. We'll try again. You have to wait for them to be big, but not mushy. This one was mushy. This mushroom picking thing, what an art it is.


I found this lamp at the thrift store today. I don't imagine that it was ever mass produced. It seems home made in its splendiforous frogginess.

It was free with my membership points, to boot.

After dark, Little Z made a pillowfort, and we all piled in. We turned off the other lights and "Camped under the Frog Moon." It was lovely. Until someone farted in the tent. Of course.

Artistic License to Kill

Tonight we had my favourite art model for dinner.

You might ask me why I did it. I have a rule that if a rooster turns mean, it becomes dinner. Of course, I hesitated a bit, but Pokey (that was his name, Pokey) was so mean lately that the Sultan started sleeping outdoors. Pokey wasn't letting him into the chicken coop.

This is the Sultan:

He also makes a fairly decent art model, actually. All is not lost.

I went out to feed the chickens this evening, and things were much more peaceful without Pokey the Rooster.

In case you were wondering, the Wiz Bang Plucker worked great.

Every Cat Loves...

... a good mess. We later figured out that she was watching the caterpillar in the jar. I know. What jar? What caterpillar? What cat? Look closely.


The first graders:

And this is the middle school band. They sounded much better than the high school band did! I wonder if the high school kids were drunk, or maybe just decided to play something beyond their ability level?
The middle school horn section was outta sight!

So, the school day was done, and I was there with Little Z, watching this homecoming parade, and she opted to ride the bus home! Silly girl. But, I understand she has an exciting bus ride. It goes over such crazy roads that it's like a roller coaster ride every day! There were fire engines in the parade and she said,

"That was the one that came when my bus got hit by that car."

Gladys: Girl after my own heart.

Like the first commenter, I actually laughed so hard I cried at this.

And now back to your regularly scheduled programming...

And now Wednesday is a Sad Day

Wednesday would also like to lodge a complaint about appropriate apostrophe's.

Colorado Update

All of the family in Colorado is doing fine, but Great Uncle George had quite a close call. He lives in Longmont. He's 92 years old. Thursday morning, he decided to go visit the grocery store, even though he didn't really need anything. On the way home, the road was closed, so he went to look at the river. (You can see that this was where he went wrong, right away, but admit it, you would totally go look at the river, too, wouldn't you? Especially if you were 92 years old. It's a hundred year flood, after all. Once in a lifetime experience, right? The other thing is that he really didn't know it was going to be all that bad. Hindsight is golden.)

Sitting there in his car, watching the river rise, quite suddenly the water was up to the windows in his vehicle. Two men outside happened to see Uncle George there in his car, and they pulled him out, just before the car was carried away by the water, presumably never to be seen again.

I just want to attest to George's character, here: George is not rash, nor is he some reckless thrill seeker. That water must have been rising quickly.

Uncle George is staying with his daughter now, sans automobile. We're glad he's okay.

Arm Thingies

Little Z is a founding member and president of Children Against the Wearing of Shoes and Socks [CATWOSAS]. Due to her beliefs, we often find ourselves out and about, look down, and notice our gentle child is, yet again, barefoot. Going barefoot to a grocery store is not okay.

But, never fear! We have found that the arm rest covers on her car seat are the perfect size for her feet, and actually look somewhat like shoes. Actually, she figured this out, one day, on a long road trip. So, if shoes be missing, we just take the arm rest covers off and plop them on her feet, and giggle all the way into the store.

Don't tell anyone she isn't wearing shoes!

And now, a cat playing the theremin:

Is it just me, or did that cat just make the theremin sound like a cat?

Glamorous Moments

9 AM today: At the dumps, throwing trash into dumpsters, the guy at the dumpster next to me threw some glass thing really hard into the metal dumpster and a million shards of glass came flying out at me. Somehow, nothing landed in my eye. I looked at the guy, who was sheepishly saying,
"Sorry!" and my California accent came out.
"DUDE!" It was the dude to end all dudes, the accusatory, "DUDE!" which implied, "You could've killed me there!"


5 PM: As I was cruising down Main Street with the windows open and the family in the car, a guy was hanging out of a convertible across the way, leaning out the side of the car and puking some terrible red substance out onto the street.

"Look! He's doing a Fear and Loathing!" I said. BAH looked and laughed.
"He really is!"
"I do not like that, not at all," said Little Z.

Half an hour later, driving past the same spot, someone had already cleaned off the street. A red stain remained.


10:30 PM: Watching Ghost Hunters International, the guy on the screen sees and hears things in the basement of a deserted castle in the Ukraine.

"IT'S A RACCOON!" I scream at the screen. He can't hear me, but nevertheless, "IT'S A POSSUM! IT'S A RABBIT! IT'S NOT A GHOST! CHECK FOR A NEST!"

Why don't they ever listen to me?

The Chickens are Cold! A story from Joel Salatin

I'm interested in becoming a serious chicken farmer, so I've been studying Joel Salatin's book, Pastured Poultry Profits. It's not a book for everyone, for sure, but I read a little story in it that I thought you might find amusing. (Actually, I have no idea who the heck you are, unless you're my dad, but I thought it was funny...) It's in his chapter called, "The Learning Curve," which is the chapter where he tells you all of the many things that can go wrong, and have gone wrong for him, while farming chickens:

"What else could go wrong? In April of 1990 we had had our first batch of 1200 chicks a week when we received a wet, heavy, 10 inch snow. April snows are highly unusual here, but this one came anyway. Around midnight, the electricity went off. The temperature was right at freezing. The chicks were just a few days old, and suddenly were plunged into darkness and no heat. We grabbed the shipping boxes the chicks had come in and madly began scooping chicks into the sections, trying to stay ahead of the birds as they panicked and piled up inside the brooder house. In an hour, we had all the chicks reboxed and stacked in the house, near the fireplace.

"I slept on the sofa all night to keep the fire going. All the ruckus kept me from sleeping too soundly. By morning, the power was still out and we had 1200 thirsty, hungry chicks in the house. What to do?

"There was no alternative but to turn the kitchen/dining area of the house into a brooder facility. I went to the shed to get a roll of poultry netting which I planned to tie with baler twine to the legs of the furniture, creating a big circle. Newspapers would be okay for litter until the power returned.

"When I came back in with the netting and walked in the door, the lights flickered and came back on. Teresa shouted, "Hallelujah!" We danced a jig, donned coat and boots, and began taking out boxes as fast as we could. In a few minutes, the chicks were all back in the brooders, as happy as could be. The total loss was about 20 birds." (P.151)

Sometimes, You Need Two Thermometers

So, why do I have two thermometers?

Until this morning, I only had one- the one on the right. It was freezing this morning (I literally found ice, due to our little micro-climate here in the valley, which always makes it colder, as if it weren't cold enough in Wisconsin,) and I noticed that the thermometer said it was sixty or so. It was clearly not sixty, so I opted to replace the thermometer with the spare one in the greenhouse. Except that, when I took the faulty thermometer off of the wall, I found this underneath:

A cute, fuzzy little bat! clinging to the side of the wall under the thermometer.

It took me a few minutes to realize that it was not a faulty thermometer, but rather a thermometer warmed by a fuzzy, warm blooded creature who lived inside of it. I carefully rehung the old thermometer over the bat, and mounted the other one beside it. Now we have a bat house on the right, and a true representation of the outdoor temperature on the left.

Later on, I showed Little Z the bat, took a picture of it for the blog, and once again replaced the thermometer on the wall.

They eat mosquitoes, you know.

Plant a Tree

A long, long time ago, somebody planted a sapling, and carefully protected it with a fence. The fence went all the way around, to keep the deer from eating the tree. It worked.

Now, decades later, the tree has grown out of its little fence, which is skin tight around its circumference like a little wire mini skirt.

And the tree is all grown up, now.

This is a good tree.

I have a question, though. Should we cut off the wire, or does it matter now?

Evening Meal in the Making

Three kinds of squash from the garden, onions, and some beef all fried up in bacon grease. I'll add some peanut sauce at the end and eat it with brown rice.

I just thought it looked so nice. Red meat!

Duck, Duck, Duck

The white ducks (Pekins) were supposed to be for food, while the Mallards were to be Little Z's pets.

The ducks have turned out to be much more interesting than I ever expected. For example:

* One day, the Mallards set about teaching the Pekins to fly. [Pekins are flightless birds.] A few Mallards quacked at the watching Pekins (giving instructions, certainly), went for a running start and then up, up into the air! Then, flew in a circle, and landed back by the Pekins, and said, "Quack. Quack quack quack. Quack." [That's how you do it. Now, it's your turn.] Then the Pekins, while the Mallards stood and watched, would run and run as fast as they could and flap their wings, but never get off the ground. They waddled back to the Mallards, disgruntled, but the Mallards encouraged them to stick to it and try again. They demonstrated again. And so on. The Pekins tried again. Same result. We think that the Mallards, getting ready for their flight south, clearly do not wish to leave their friends, the Pekins, behind.

* The ducks run through the sprinklers in hot weather, just the way small children do- except that, instead of squealing like little girls when they run through, they quack enthusiastically. Then they wiggle their tale feathers and quack a lot and say, "Let's do it again!"

* There was a turf war one day between the chickens and the ducks. The ducks were outnumbered, three to one. Corn was at stake. Lots of corn, laying on the lawn there, free for the taking. A plucky rooster was guarding it all, pecking at whoever wanted a bite or two. The chickens all bickered amongst themselves, but the ducks soon discovered that, if they worked together as a team and ganged up on all of the chickens, they could win the corn. So, they did. They worked together and drove away the chickens, charging at them full steam and quacking with vigour. The ducks won. Teamwork takes the day!

* The ducks actually cross the road way more often than the chickens do.

Another Day, Another Bee on Another Yellow Flower

Bedtime Stories: Edible Wild Mushrooms of Illinois & Surrounding States

It isn't often that a field guide to wild edible plants is readable for pure entertainment value, but such is the case with Edible Wild Mushrooms of Illinois & Surrounding States, by Joe McFarland and Gregory M. Mueller. I was not at all interested in reading this book that Bad Assed Husband (BAH) has been toting around lately while gazing at the ground, until he started reading aloud from it for Little Z's bedtime story. Little Z and I were both riveted, on the edge of our seats, as BAH read us the passage describing the experience of eating a Wood Ear mushroom,

"The Wood Ear rehydrates just fine and becomes a perfectly edible mushroom you can share with dinner guests while serving Asian dishes. 'Interesting texture' is how generous people describe the Wood Ear, before taking a drink...

"The flavor of Auricularia auricula-judae is not foul, nor is it good. We'd like to describe the flavor properly but it really has no flavor, as far as we can tell. Perhaps meditation will provide answers, or eliminate the question altogether."

Then, lest you should think that wild mushrooms don't taste good, BAH read a bit for us about the Lion's Mane, page 59,

"It [Lion's Mane] has a surprisingly mild, totally inoffensive tendency to actually taste a bit like crab or lobster meat, mild and sweetly tender, which is a culinary description rarely assigned to mushrooms. Hericium erinaceus, therefore, is a good example of why people should try a few different species of mushrooms in their life before deciding they don't like mushrooms. It's like being opposed to music based on a specific hatred of the zither."

The photographs are wonderful, too. And, if you happen to live anywhere near Illinois, you could even use this book to find some wild edibles. Or, read it to a child at bedtime. Edible Wild Mushrooms of Illinois & Surrounding States has multiple uses. Highly recommended.


We've had a lot of feedback about our honey, all of it positive! This is my favourite:

"please bring me another two pints next week. it has a very distinctive initial taste...I want so much to know what the taste came from...almost tastes like yarrow smells but that would not have been in bloom yet when they were collecting pollen...hmmm what do you or your bee friends think is the source? I think you should have an exotic name like meadow flower honey or something"

I agree about the flavour she is describing, but I had trouble putting it into words on my own. It makes all of the craziness of harvesting the honey that day worth while.

My sister Kathy took this picture:

Nobody is Watching You. Really.

Little Z was dancing to these videos on youtube that have a rating star system in the upper corner of the screen. It's just like the Wi dance games. She danced to the video, dancing just like they were, and said,

"Oh, man! I only got three stars!"

Then she danced to another one on youtube, and said,

"Yay! I got five stars! I danced really well that time!"

Don't watch this unless you're unclear about what I mean:

I told her,

"It can't see you. It's just a recording. It gives you the same rating, every time."

"No, it doesn't. Really? I don't believe you."

So she kept dancing and dancing and being either disappointed or delighted, depending on the number of stars in the pre-recorded video. She didn't even believe me when she left for awhile and came back, and still got five out of five stars! She couldn't believe she wasn't being rated on her dance moves.

Nobody is watching you. Nobody is judging your dance moves on a scale of one to five. You are free to dance as you will.



Joel Salatin wrote that if you ever doubted the creativity of farmers, you should just look at the variety of gate latches they create!

Here is my contribution today:

Yep, yessiree, things are pretty darned exciting around here! No poop stories, though. Not that I mind.

I got the sheep into that new pasture- I finally finished the fence I started at the beginning of the summer. One of the sheep literally leapt for joy as she pranced into the new meadow. I didn't get that on tape, but I did take a picture of them later, happily munching wildflowers (and of Tom Turkey who now believes he's a sheep, of course):

Ah, the life pastoral.

The Glamorous Life of the Poopsmith

Much of farm life deals with poop.

Take today, for instance:

I noticed that Yoshimi had worms. The way I noticed this was, when I was in the pasture, I stepped own and my foot went SQUISH! Which is bad. Sheep should poop in little pellets, not little squishes, so I knew someone had worms. I looked around for a poopy bottomed sheep, and Yoshimi definitely was it.

Are you still reading? Really? I never write about this stuff.

So, today I caught Yoshimi by feeding her corn, and then tying her to a post. Her mom, Sevilla, came, too, but that didn't matter. The one with worms will always be the hungriest, of course. Yoshimi is fiesty one, so I tied her with two ropes and a chain. Then I shoved the dewormer down her throat with a little medicine gun. This was my first glamorous act.

Next, was the true glamour. Yoshimi had a lot of dried up poop stuck to her butt, which had to come off, or she might be attacked by flies. Normally, you cut it off because it just sticks to the wool. Unfortunately, she was so recently sheered, that the wool wasn't long enough to really do that. So, I got the hose and started washing her bottom down.

The hose water is from the well, so it's ice cold. Yoshimi seemed surprised to have ice cold water sprayed on her bum, but not entirely adverse to it. Everything was going quite well, she was almost ready to be let loose, and then she shook herself off. She shook like a wet dog, so that the poopy water spread out everywhere and sprayed over me! Ew!

But Yoshimi will feel better now. I let her loose and went off to take a shower.

Here is a song to make you feel better about all of this:

Such is the life of the poopsmith.

P.S. Today was the first day of first grade for Little Z, and my first day not being a teacher when school was n.

Obsesssions with the Superficial

I watched a movie last night called, "Antiviral". It was about a near future where people were even more obsessed with celebrities than they are now. People in this future are so obsessed that they actually take on the diseases of the famous to feel closer to them.

The main character is someone who works at a company that sells diseases of the famous and injects you with them. He's basically a salesman. I liked the main character because he had more freckles than I'd ever seen on a leading man. And he gave a great performance, actually.

The movie goes on to a logical conclusion that is really quite gruesome. I think I liked the movie a lot, but I don't know if I would recommend it to other people. If you like this sort of psychological horror film, then this is for you.

I used to have a recurring fantasy that I picked up Johnny Cash hitch-hiking. Why he was hitching, I'm not sure. I don't remember most of the fantasy, actually, it being a long time ago (before he was dead) but I do remember that, in the fantasy, I would never let on that I knew who Johnny Cash was. I think it is important in a famous person fantasy that, somehow, you are on equal footing with the famous. Maybe they see the truly great you whom no one else sees. They understand you like no one else. They understand that you belong with them, with the beautiful upper echelon. The two of you are then equals. And, you share something. Something intimate. A conversation on the highway. A kiss. Sex. A disease. Something.

That's pretty much what this movie is about, but taken to the extreme.


I think she's mad at him for leaving him with the kids all the time while he's out doing god-knows-what!