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Coven meeting

Not natural:

In 1977, sculptor David Nash cleared an area of land near his home in Wales where he trained a circle of 22 ash trees to grow in a vortex-like shape for an artwork titled Ash Dome. Almost 40 years later, the trees still grow today. The artist has long worked with wood and natural elements in his art practice, often incorporating live trees or even animals into pieces. The exact site of Ash Dome in the Snowdonia region of northwest Wales is a closely guarded secret, and film crews or photographers who are permitted to see it are reportedly taken on a circuitous route to guard its location.

I’d freak the hell out if I ran across this in the woods.

‘Tis a Monday and I’m behind on everything. Beg pardon while I go strip a chicken carcass (a roast chicken, not one of my girls. Yes, it does make my head hurt).

April 23, 2018 — 9:00 pm
Comments: 6

Okay, NOW it’s Spring…

At last, they’ve let the new mamas and babies out in the fields. We have them on two sides (behind us is a house and across the road are the yearlings, too young to breed). I’d forgotten the racket lambs and they mamas make, night and day.


Call and repeat. I love it. The Silence of the lambs is a thing, but we don’t have to be sad here. They move all the sheep to Winter pasture after harvest, so we never know who lives and who dies. The ewes I say good morning to today are the lambs I went SQUEEE over two years ago. It’s the circle of life, fam!

Ah, but I know what you’re thinking — that thing in the picture isn’t a lamb. No, it’s a pepper. A sweet pepper with the improbable name of Gogorez.

They’re billing it as a “beefsteak pepper” – short and fat and fleshy – and they’re promoting it super hard. Uncle B., the seasoned gardener that he is, is immune to such marketing nonsense.

But I’m not! He’s growing me a Gogorez!! SQUEEE!

April 3, 2018 — 7:15 pm
Comments: 7

It’s coming!

Okay, so it’s kind of cold again tonight, but I dasn’t care — I saw a lamb today! A lot of them, in fact!

Not in our village; two villages over. The farmers carefully control lambing (by carefully controlling sexing) and ours aren’t due for another week. But it cheered me no end.

That, and everywhere around is alive with daffodils.

Funny thing, that. Daffodils don’t really propagate on their own. Not much. And the state doesn’t plant them, even though most of these are on the sides of the road on government land. This explosion of yellow that we see every Spring is because some poor bastard — or a lot of poor bastards over a lot of years — went out and bought bulbs, got on his knees and dug them in. Because he (or she) knew how awesome it would be to see them after a long Winter.

That idea cheers me up more than lambs.

March 26, 2018 — 8:56 pm
Comments: 12

…and that should be the end of it…


It snew pretty much all day today, but that’s it. That’s the end of it. It’s a good ten degrees warmer and we’re expecting rain overnight. By Monday, it should be a distant memory.

I hope. That got tiresome after the first couple of days. The wind was from an unusual quarter, so my toasty little workroom wasn’t. I didn’t really have any warm options other than bed and a book. Which is excellent…for a while.

I’ve seen this much snow here before — no more than four inches at any one time, I reckon — but I’ve not seen weather this cold, snowy and windy for the best part of a week before.

Between you and me, one of my biggest fears is that we’re headed for another little ice age. This isn’t how I picture my twilight years.

Good weekend and stay warm, everyone!

March 2, 2018 — 10:18 pm
Comments: 19

Day 3: Uncle B is starting to look pretty tasty


We haven’t been out in three days.

It was supposed to snow heavily today. It didn’t. We were supposed to have high winds. We have. And still having. So the issue today is blown snow. The roads seem clear, for the most part. The sidewalks, not so much.

Despite central heating, despite a roaring fire in the evening, it is effing freezing in here (it got down to 48° in the kitchen last night, and that’s with us cooking). Thank heavens for electric blankets.

Tonight the winds die down, but tomorrow more snow. So they say. Slightly warmer over the weekend and rain on Sunday, so this is a last gasp. I can’t remember the last time we were stuck inside for a week, though.

We gots the cabin fever.

March 1, 2018 — 7:55 pm
Comments: 19

Robin on the chicken house


The robin here is a European robin (Erithacus rubecula). There are lots of other birds called robin redbreast in the world. Our own American one is a very different beastie, actually a breed of thrush with the charming designation Turdus migratorius.

Brits love they robins. It’s one of the few birds that stick around for the whole Winter. Hence they frequently feature on Christmas cards, which puzzled me mightily at first.

They’re cheeky little peckerheads, shaped like chickadees. Red breasted tennis balls. The classic picture is a robin on a spade handle, because they follow gardeners turning earth, looking for worms. I always know where Jack is in the garden, because our robing follows him around and yells at him.

We’re probably on our thirtieth robin by now, but we always have one and they all look the same to me when I chase them off the chickens’ food.

They are not shy. They’re fiercely territorial; they’ll fight to the death with other robins and take on much bigger birds. In fact, I strongly suspect if we could understand and speak robin, we’d find them the most horrible little assholes in the bird kingdom. But awwwwwww, aren’t they cute?

Uncle B took this picture in the garden today. It’s not his usual razor sharp focus because the little bastard was hopping around and wouldn’t pose.

Another day off work today. In fact, I doubt I’ll get in for the rest of the week. Tonight is the last night in the twenties, but it’s not much warmer tomorrow and the wind is going to double into the 40 mph range. Then Friday the wind dies down and heavy snow is forecast.

It’s the wind that’s the problem for us. It’s blowing hard from an unusual quarter, right across an enormous sheep field, picking up snow and landing it in our garden. Our central heating can’t handle it, so I’ve had to pile up in bed under the electric blanket.

I’m trying real hard to look sad about that..

February 28, 2018 — 8:27 pm
Comments: 15

No, in fact, I did NOT go to work today


Indeed, it snew. I reckon we got about three inches, but bitterly cold so it’s icing over fast. More on the way. The roads are clear, but I doubt the bike path is. Luckily, I’m not due back until Thursday.

I’ve had to replace the chicken’s water twice today. I will allow, it’s stupidly funny watching a chicken try to drink ice (that look of puzzlement!), but none of my chickens set foot outside the house today. Cold, plus three of them have never seen that white stuff before. They want no part of this nonsense.

Charlotte snuck out when Uncle B went to stock up on coal and wood and he snapped this picture of her walking in his footsteps. Charlotte is the elderly cat, you may remember, who was horribly mauled by…something back in the Spring. I was sure we would lose her.

Gosh, I wish people aged like cats. Here she is old, scarred, krunky…and looking exactly the same as she did when she was young and strong and padding around in the snow in Rhode Island.

February 27, 2018 — 9:10 pm
Comments: 10

Bad elf


Poundland is the British equivalent of the Dollar Store. Not a place that greatly appeals, but they won our undying custom after the 2017 Elf on the Shelf incident.

In the runup to Christmas, they tweeted a series of photographs of an elf on the shelf doing…things. Naughty things. Double entendre things.

And some very sour pusses indeed complained to the ASA – the Advertising Standards Authority. And they have now sent a formal complaint to Poundland, a thing they were not obliged to do. Especially since, as it turned out, it wasn’t 84 people with a credible complaint, it was 23. Poundland’s formal answer is here.

So how naughty was the Poundland elf? Welllll…this is the image that drew the most fire. But he was a pretty naughty elf, indeed.

From the response, it looks like the idea didn’t come from an agency, but from somebody inside the organization. That makes it even better, somehow. I promise you, they made thousands of friends for every enemy. Britons love their smut.

February 8, 2018 — 10:29 pm
Comments: 10

This is how I spent my evening!


Oh, how we laughed! Self employment taxes have to be filed here by January 31. I won’t owe anything — I don’t make enough — but I still have to go through this dreary ritual.

Actually, not true. I should owe a bit to National Insurance. It told me I did while I was working through the forms. Then I got all done and they didn’t ask me for any money.

I feel like I’m waiting for a trap to spring…

January 24, 2018 — 10:33 pm
Comments: 5

Hahaha…uh, no


A tayberry is a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry (some sources say loganberry). Uncle B used to grow heaps of them in London and they were very nice.

I had forgotten how nice until we picked up a jar of tayberry jam at a church fete this Summer. Honestly, I think it’s the nicest jam I’ve ever eaten. We both raved over it. We have made sad face at every jar of jam since.

So, naturally, I thought I’d try to get us some for Christmas. Turns out, I got one Google hit on tayberry jam, and it was this one at Fortnum and Mason.

A 200 gram jar is £9.95, plus £5.95 shipping. Folks, that’s like twenty-five bucks for a little jar of jam!

Heh. Check out the rest of their Christmas stuff. Must be nice to have monies.

December 4, 2017 — 11:07 pm
Comments: 8