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Happy Hallowe’en! They don’t really do this one here, or at least they haven’t until recently. Not even any scary movies on TV.

I love a good ghost story. I don’t even know why. I’m as psychic as a potato.

I live in a 400 year old house, I go to a 600 year old church and I handle ancient parchments all day and nary a spooky feeling or an aura or an orb or nothing. The only time I’ve ever gotten the willies was in the woods back home, and I’m sure our species is wired to get the willies in the woods sometimes.

Any spooky movie recommendations? We don’t have Netflix, but we have Amazon Prime. And YouTube, of course.

October 31, 2017 — 7:42 pm
Comments: 18

Go Lillith!


Lillith the lynx has escaped a zoo in Wales. I’m sure I heard Uncle B say they’d caught her, but the news doesn’t seem to think so.

She’s described as the smallest and sweetest of the three juvenile lynxes born in the zoo last year. They aren’t sure how she got out, but they think she got overexcited chasing a bird and…levitated, I guess.

This is my chance to post one of my favorite gifs. You look. I swear this cat climbs up air.

Stupid magpie.

October 30, 2017 — 10:06 pm
Comments: 10

Positively the last photo of apples


For the month of October, anyway. Yeah, this isn’t even half the apples. In the main hall.

My little cleaning project grew to encompass most of my workroom upstairs. This is not because I’m a tidy woman, but because I’m an untidy one. I have not given that room proper attention since I moved in nine years ago. I think I’ve scraped enough of a hole in the clutter to get some work done this weekend, anyway.

Oh, and if you downloaded and installed my ringtone, you’re one up on me. My SD card fell over and died this afternoon, taking my ringtone with it (I was fiddling with the card for another purpose and apparently killed it). Oh, well — at least I know where I can download it again.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

October 27, 2017 — 9:54 pm
Comments: 10

A gift from me to you

Another day of room cleaning, but I did have time to spend a few minutes with Audacity making myself a new ringtone. I think it turned out pretty well and thought you might want to download it for yourself. Depending on your browser, I hope that opens in a preview window.

I can’t wait to get a call at work tomorrow.

p.s. Let me tell you from experience: don’t use banjo music as your ringtone. Everyone has seen Deliverance.

October 26, 2017 — 8:30 pm
Comments: 18

…and then the band…


The Morris dancers were dancing to this snappy quartet. I have to assume the tuba is not generally a part of English folk music.

Is that a tuba? Or is it one of the odd ones, like a ‘baritone horn’ or something? My dad played a mystery horn of about that size toward the end of his life. He was very deaf. Said it helped him with his breath. Ye gods, was that fun to be around.

Short shrift again tonight. I’ve been cleaning closets. This is a bit of a lie, as they don’t have closets here.

They don’t have closets here. Let that sink in a moment.

But we have several funny little dead-end alcoves where shit gets stuffed haphazardly, waiting for the inevitable shit avalanche. It is now sorted into varieties of shit and stacked in neat boxes.

October 25, 2017 — 9:29 pm
Comments: 15

Also from the Apple Fayre


Morris Dancers. Yes, those are lady Morris Dancers, some of them. Yes, that’s a modern innovation. No, I don’t really mind.

But ladies singing sea shanties? Absolutely haram!

October 24, 2017 — 7:01 pm
Comments: 11

Newton’s apple. No, really.


We went to an apple fayre this weekend.

You know you’re in for an authentic British experience when they spell ‘fayre’ with a ‘y’.

Over 200 varieties of apples were there. Which is nothing. There are thousands of cultivated varieties (and many thousands more of not very useful wild apples).

They have sequenced the apple’s genome and found an apple has nearly twice the genes of a human being. That means apples are complicated and don’t breed clones. I saw this program on apple genetics several years ago, so bear with me if my memory is generic.

If you eat an apple and like it, and plant the seed in your garden, you will get a tree that bears a fruit that almost certainly bears no resemblance to that apple you liked so much. Also, it will be tall and awkward, because natural apples are. If you see a grove of natural apple trees in the wild, they will all bear different apples. There might be a hidden star in there with desirable characteristics. On the other hand, you’re more likely to find sour and awful fruits, as the modern apple shares more of its genome with the crabapple than its true wild ancestor.

For commercial apples, they take cuttings from the successful tree and graft them onto other rootstocks with desirable traits — like, usually dwarf rootstocks that make little, pickable trees. All the modern Granny Smiths, for example, come from cuttings from the original Granny. So really, when you think about it, that apple from Newton’s garden really is from Newton’s garden, if probably many intermediate trees removed.

Yes, I bought an Isaac Newton. It’s in a bag with four other ‘heritage’ apples, though, so I don’t know who’s who. This could be a problem because it’s a cooking apple.

October 23, 2017 — 9:18 pm
Comments: 24

No more chicken feathers!



I picked these up this week: a pair of dark blue glass salt and pepper shakers with metal frames. I thought they were silver plate under all that corrosion (thanks, salt!), but now I have them cleaned up, I believe they’re base metal. Eh, never mind. They’re still kind of pretty and I paid nothin’.

I’m going to put powdered graphite in one and…I’m not sure about the other. Something art supplies-y. I like to use pretty things for painting equipment; it puts me in the moooood.

Here’s a thing. I need a brush rest – it’s a little wooden or ceramic thing with notches in it, to raise the bristles off the table and keep your brushes from rolling around. The best (that is, cheapest) online art shop here is Jackson’s and they have one listed for £3.80.

I go to eBay and search ‘brush rest’ and somebody’s selling the exact same one — he even says it’s Jackson’s — for £4.37. And he’s sold 13 of them.

Do people do that? Buy shit and turn around and sell it for 50p profit?

And, by the way, that’s the cheapest one listed. Similar if not identical plain ceramic brush rests are going from £8 to £13. Screw it, I’m’a get one of the pretty blue-ware ones (Chinese and Japanse use them for those big-ass calligraphy brushes).

Good weekend, everyone!

p.s. Go get Skandia Recluse’s latest book for free. If you like his universe, there’s a lot more.

October 20, 2017 — 9:18 pm
Comments: 19

The varieties of mille fleur


Bloody hell, is she still on about this?

More feathers. The red ones are Rosie (“Rosie is red…”) and the paler ones are Ginny. The proportion of red, black and white determines the overall ‘tone’ of a mille fleur.

Lucia was even whiter than Ginny (when she was a chick, she was practically all white). I do have Lucia feathers. A whole bag of them. But as Lucia was such an awesome chicken, I believe her feathers must have powerful juju.

I’m probably kidding.

Why yes, of course you can have a large color photograph of a bunch of chicken feathers.

October 19, 2017 — 8:57 pm
Comments: 12

Mille fleur is *hard*


Mille fleur. ‘Thousand flowers’. I’ve had three chooks of this variety, and lovely fat hens they’ve all been. But I’ve dreaded trying to paint them.

Working hard on my chicken portfolio just now, you see.

They aren’t just speckledy. When you see an individual feather — particularly a long feather — there’s at least something of a pattern. It’s a brown feather with a black stripe before a white tip. But jumbled onto a chicken…it’s hard.

Let’s see that in color, with this lovely picture of Lucia the Mille Fleur and Mapp the Ginger having a dust bath in the onion bed.

October 18, 2017 — 9:34 pm
Comments: 4