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Linocut fun.

I took a nap so deep this afternoon, I woke up thinking it was tomorrow morning. I got up, brushed fang, got dressed, let the chickens out and made a cup of coffee before I realized…the dishwasher hadn’t been loaded. And I couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried, remember having supper the night before (it’s steak night! Who forgets a good steak?).

No, I had not been drinking.

It was only when I sat down at the computer, called up the clock and saw it was 8 pm that I realized my mistake. Honestly, I thought something horrible had happened to my brain. It’s almost 11 now, and I’m not sure I’m over it.

I bet I don’t sleep tonight…

May 31, 2018 — 9:54 pm
Comments: 14


Saturday we went to the first big country fair of the season, and one of our very favorites. This one features acres (literally. Probably) of dealers in old junk, prominently old tools.

This was my only buy of the day, but what a score! It was a grubby old canvas tool roll with some rusty bits I didn’t think much of. I picked it up with a pair of pliers I liked the look of, and he charged me a fiver for the lot.

Got it home to find thirteen really nice quality chisels. Rusty to be sure, but they’re cleaning up and sharpening just fine. I’m not the world’s greatest sharpener (and curved chisels aren’t the easiest thing in the world to sharpen), but I’m getting there.

The four little ones on the left are all done. You can see there’s some pitting, but a bit of inner bevel at the edge takes care of that for practical purposes. Yeah, I’ve been burning up the “reclaiming old chisels” YouTube search.

I was actually looking for chisels. I plan to try my hand at some linoleum/wood block printing again (I was a printmaking major in art school). That’s why I need the tiny ones but I’m not in a hurry to put the effort into the larger ones. Even my sharpening skills are adequate for linoleum!

In all the acres of tools, I only found one other man selling chisels. It was a set of six, I think. Good but nothing special, in okay condition with wooden handles. Dude wanted £120 for it. Funny how these places work.

So, you reckon these things originally fit into a wooden handle?

May 30, 2018 — 8:57 pm
Comments: 11

Okay, now what?

I quit smoking twenty one years ago this month. I was a very heavy smoker, but I kicked it on the first try and never once cheated in all the years since. I tell you what, though, I’ve craved a cigarette every damn day of my miserable life since.

Years ago, I read something Jonah Goldberg wrote (it was probably just an entry in The Corner) about how he could smoke the occasional cigar and it didn’t kick off his cigarette cravings. I’ve wanted to try it ever since. I decided I was going to do it for my birthday this year.

Couldn’t find one for my birthday. I’ve asked at the tobacco counter at several supermarkets, but all they had were those little ones that are basically brown cigarettes. When we were in Waitrose Sunday (see above), I thought they were just the kind of place to have a decent cigar.

And they were. I guess. What do I know from a decent cigar? They certainly had a number of very expensive ones. This one set me back £12. I actually had a pang of horror when I got it home and realized IT’S A CUBAN CIGAR. Are those still illegal in the States? I feel very naughty.

Haven’t smoked it yet. I’m not sure I even know how. Uncle B says he’ll lock me out of the house if I smell of cigar. He’s kind of pissed off at me for buying it, to be honest.

May 29, 2018 — 8:03 pm
Comments: 33

Happy Memorial Day!

Hope you’ve had a splendid holiday weekend. Let me tell you about our Sunday.

We went to a fundraiser for a cat sanctuary. Eventually.

We got grievously lost. We’d been to this place before, but Uncle B was unsure of the last few miles and asked me to put the postcode into the satnav. Somehow, it was the wrong postcode entirely.

Forty minute trip took us two and a half hours, mostly up country lanes. Country lanes. Hereabouts, they often aren’t wide enough for two cars to pass (sometimes barely wide enough for one car to squeeze through), with thorn hedges on either side, blind bends and crazy farmers (and livestock) roaring up the other way.

The picture is from a Daily Mail article about a Polish truck driver who got stuck in a lane in Devon, but you get the general idea. This is not a fun driving experience. There is often a lot of backing up involved.

So we were late. There were no more plants at the plant stall or cakes at the cake stall and the cats were all hot, tired and sick of visitors. I got hissed at a lot.

To cheer ourselves up, we stopped at Waitrose on the way home to buy some treats. As Uncle B put our loot in the back of the car, the keys fell out of his pocket just as the hatched closed and the whole car automatically locked itself up tight.

Hour and a half for a service call. Luckily, our man managed to get it open without breaking anything.

Half an hour later, we rolled up on a little town just as a policeman put out the ROAD CLOSED sign. They do that when there’s the slightest accident: close the roads both ways. So it was back onto country lanes, but this time jammed solid with all the detoured traffic in both directions.


We got home eventually, and luckily our Saturday and Monday were pretty awesome. We’re about to go sit in the garden, burn things and drink wine.

How was yours?

May 28, 2018 — 7:58 pm
Comments: 6

He’s alright, folks. Really.

The Diversity and Comics guy — the one crowdfunding his own comic — is now up to $321,035 of the $5,000 he was asking for. The campaign for the actual comic ended weeks ago; the additional money will go toward starting his own publishing company, because the company that was going to publish his book backed out under dark circumstances. It’s a delightful internet drama, with lawsuits and everything. Look it up if you like that sort of thing.

His new company will be called Splatto Comics, and the origin is as follows.

America Chavez was a truly awful Marvel comic book. It’s been cancelled now (phew!) but Zack (the Diversity and Comics guy, not his real name) has often said that roasting issues of America is what made his channel. The whole run was a badly written, badly drawn heaping helping of clumsy SJW bullshit.

In one memorable panel (pictured here), a young America Chavez attempts to make friends with a dead cat. In the comic, it is blue and, as you can see, it has tire tracks up to and over it.

It was just so hilariously off-putting and wrong. The idea, the art — nothing but cringe. Zack dubbed the cat “Splatto del Gato” (America was full of pidgin Spanish, y’see) and a cheery blue cat with a tire track rakishly crossing one eye became the mascot for his channel.

And now for his company.

Much fan art was made. This one is mine. Sadly, I was not chosen for the official logo — this one was. Was it because I forgot to make him blue?

Have a lovely weekend, everyone. Our annual round of Summer fetes and festivals begins tomorrow…!

May 25, 2018 — 8:32 pm
Comments: 15

Crimes against nature

Vertical money!



Colorful money was bad enough. Plastic money is awful. But vertical money? Get thee behind me!

They cannot resist fiddling with the levers and buttons, can they? I mean, it’s next year and it’s Bank of Ulster, but it will be spendable throughout the UK. I might even have to handle one of these.

We’ve joined the ranks of Bermuda and Kazakhstan. I hope they’re pleased with themselves.

May 24, 2018 — 7:28 pm
Comments: 8


I should mention that my yoghurt-making is doing spendidly. I am making — and eating — an improbable amount of the stuff.

My veggie fermentation is also doing very well. I got some nice big vessels (well, essentially Mason jars) and other kit for my birthday, and I’ve filled the bottom of the fridge with my experiments. I love science.

It occurs to me that it is possible — not likely, but not entirely the stuff of science fiction, given the speculation at the moment — that my high lactobacillus diet is due to my high lactobacillus diet. By which I mean my gut bugs may be teaching me to eat a gut-bug-friendly diet.

Like directly communicating with my brain via…well, those mysterious ways they’re starting to think gut bugs interface with human brains.

I am strangely at peace with this.

May 23, 2018 — 10:02 pm
Comments: 7


D’awwww…you get the most adorable results when you Google Image Search “sleepy weasel.” Though most of ’em are ferrets.

Puts me in mind of the time I ran across a ferret rescue at a village fete and squeee’d, “Squee! Weasels!” and the owner replied, “Madame, that is not a weasel. It is a ferret.”

One thing I have learned living here: I probably am not going to like any statement that begins with “Madame…”

Or “Muddum…” as they say. It don’t suit me. It don’t suit me at all.

Innyhoo! Today got away from me somehow and I don’t have anything interesting report, so I’m off to bed, frightfully early. See you in the ante meridiem.

May 22, 2018 — 9:25 pm
Comments: 9

Huh. That’s weird.

Last night we watched a short film called A Welcome to Britain. It was a WWII film made for American GI’s, going over the basics of how to interact with war-weary Brits. Not too heavy-handed, mildly charming. If you’re inclined’ta, you can watch it for yourself here.

It was narrated by Burgess Meredith, who I don’t suppose was particularly famous in 1943. In the very last scene, he lounges in bed, pops a cigarette in a long cigarette holder and does a sort of Penguin impression. See picture. Uncle B and I both sat up and pointed and made “ook!” noises.

I wondered if maybe the cigarette holder was a Burgess Meredith ‘thing’, but no. IMDB says:

On the television series Batman (1966), he developed his grunting Penguin laugh out of necessity. Meredith had given up smoking some twenty-odd years earlier, but his character was required to smoke with a cigarette holder. The smoke would get caught in his throat and he would start coughing. Rather than constantly ruin takes in this matter, he developed the laugh to cover it up. “Actually, it was a pretty funny noise for a penguin to make,” said Meredith. “I sounded more like a duck.” Needless to say, Meredith gave up smoking again immediately after the series ended.

Which is weird. But it also says this, which is even weirder:

He was fascinated by the subject of non-human intelligence, particularly dolphins. He once believed that a dolphin somehow called to him for help in the middle of the night while he was staying at a friend’s home on the beach. He ran out and found the dolphin, caught in a net under a dock down the beach, although there was no way he should have been able to know it was there. He released it, saving its life. He believed it had made some sort of connection with him, perhaps telepathic, to call for help.

Something to think about on a Monday evening.

May 21, 2018 — 8:44 pm
Comments: 12

Please! I beg you. Make it STOP!

Say, in case you haven’t heard, there’s a royal wedding tomorrow. Because, you know, WE HAVEN’T HEARD ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE FOR WEEKS. Seriously, I can’t even tune into Classic FM. This keeps up, I’m’a punch a princess, I swear.

We went to the supermarket this afternoon to pick up a few bits and pieces and, stupidly, we got there just as the local elementary school let out. Suddenly, the store was FLOODED with princesses. Yeah, they let the little girls all dress up today. For some stupid reason, it took me a minute to realize why we kept getting stuck behind sparkly logjams of gauzy little girls.

This brings up several interesting points. Like, they’re still gendering kids (none of the boys were dressed up as anything, and certainly not as princesses). Also, most of the little girls obviously already owned princess outfits.

Also, they haven’t tried to make the little ones cynical about the monarchy yet. This is interesting because all of the adults I’ve encountered are cynical as shit about most of the royals in general and this wedding particular (even people who usually aren’t, like my mother-in-law).

Anyway, we’re keeping well away from the TV tomorrow. One of our neighbors is having an all-day party, which she is rigorously not billing as a royal wedding party. So I’m thinking of bringing along something royal wedding themed, just to piss her off.

Have an awesome and princess-free weekend, y’all.

May 18, 2018 — 9:59 pm
Comments: 21