Country Living Series

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

May flowers

The wildflowers are close to peaking in our neck of the woods. Over the last few days, I've photographed what's currently blooming.

Arrow-leafed balsam root, a large showy flower that likes sunny south slopes.

Arnica, a shade-loving flower, which blooms about the same time as the balsam root.

Nine-leaf biscuit root. It tends to favor rocky south-facing slopes:


Not sure what this one is. I feel I should know it, but it escapes me at the moment. Thoughts?

Mock orange.

Ponderosa pine.

Woodland star.

Checker lily.

Wild strawberry.


And of course...

Just some of the colors of spring around here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Thank you!

A few days ago I posted a link to Lehman's featuring an interview with survivalist Britt Ahart.

This morning Mr. Ahart and I received an email from the VP of Marketing at Lehman's: "The story on Britt has been viewed over 500 times in the past few days – that’s great traffic!"

Much of that traffic can be attributed to you, dear readers. Thank you!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Am I dead or alive?

Here's a new twist on an old scam:

To whom it may concern,

I know this letter may come to you as a surprise one but, i want you to read carefully. This day, one Mrs. Helena Smith came to my office to let us know that you are DEAD as a result of stage 4 Cancer, and before your death, you instructed her to come for the claim of your funds that you abandoned with the delivery agent at the airport and later was deposited with the issuing Barclays Bank here in United Kingdom . Here comes the big question....

(i) Did you authorize Mrs. Helena Smith to come for your claim?
(ii) Are you truly Dead OR Alive?
If (NO) you are hereby advice as a matter of urgency to reconfirm the details of this message within 24hours, hence your funds shall be wired into her account without any more delay.
Lastly, you are advice to reconfirm the details of this message and get back immediately with these information's below..

1.Full name:......................... ....
2.Direct telephone number:....................
3.Address:.................... ..........
4.Your personal identification to enable us confirm you are not dead.

This information's above must be provided for reconfirmation to enable us process your payment to you, hence, your funds will be remited/wired into her account as already provided to this management.
We wait for your urgent response today. You need to act very fast, because if this bank wait for your urgent reply within three working days and did not received any message from you, you will be consider dead, and your funds will be transfer to Mrs. Helena Smith.

Here is an account provided by Mrs. Helena Smith to this bank, are you also the one who ask her to provide this bank account to us?

Washington Mutual Bank
2075 S. Victoria Ave
Ventura, CA 93003
800 788-7000
Acct. name: Mrs. Natasha Jombosco.
Type: Checking
ABA # 322271627
Acct # 1951204345

This message demand urgent attention, the bank is waiting to hear from you, do call this below direct number:

Best Regard's,
Bank Manager: Mr. John Willshire
Address: 1 Churchill Pl, Canary Wharf, London E14 5HP, UK.
Phone: +44 345 734 5344


Bwahahaha gasp chortle guffaw.....

Friday, May 17, 2019

Sweet spring things

A couple of recent "sweet spring things."

Reader Natokadn sent photos of a pretty little filly her horse just had:

All together now: "Awww...."

Then a few days ago, I heard the rumble of a ATV coming up our driveway, driven by a neighbor with his 13-year-old daughter. The daughter jumped off and handed me a little crafted bouquet bearing the motif "Happy spring":

Then she jumped back behind her dad and off they went to visit another neighbor and hand out a little more sunshine.

All together now: "Awww...."

Happy spring.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Interview with an amazing guy

As many of you know, I write blog posts for Lehman's. One of the privileges of this position is being able to interview some truly remarkable people.

A couple weeks ago I interviewed an amazing fellow named Britt Ahart, a survivalist who puts every other survivalist to shame. This guy has spent months living off the land in Patagonia and Mongolia and ... well ... go read the interview.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Can you see the stars?

Last month, an article came out indicating only 1 in 50 people can see the stars "as Nature intended" due to light pollution. The article focused on the population in the U.K., a smaller and more crowded place than the U.S.

But America has more than its share of star blindness. Many years ago I visited Chicago, and one of my most distinct memories of that huge city is what the night sky looked like. Nothing was visible -- not a single star -- and the only celestial body I could see was the moon. The rest of the sky was blackish-orange from the glow of the streetlights.

Sadly, many people simply don't know what they're missing in the night sky.

As an example, consider what happened after the devastating 1994 Northridge earthquake, which knocked out power in and around Los Angeles. The quake struck during the pre-dawn hours, and people went pouring out into the streets -- only to freak at the frightening "giant silvery cloud" overhead.

Calls poured into various emergency centers, with residents being assured they were merely seeing the Milky Way (evidently for the first time).

According to this article, "More than 80 percent of the world and more than 99 percent of the U.S. and European populations live under light-polluted skies. And according to the world atlas of artificial sky luminance, the Milky Way is hidden from more than one-third of humankind, including 60 percent of Europeans and nearly 80 percent of North Americans."

(Translation: 80 percent of North Americans are urban.)

In an effort to reclaim the night sky, a group called the Dark Sky Association is working with some cities to implement lighting systems that cast lights downward only, rather than everywhere. I sincerely hope it helps.

Ironically, the rapid spread of energy-efficient LED lighting is resulting in more light pollution, not less. The earth's artificially lit outdoor area is growing by 2.2 percent per year, with a total radiance growth of 1.8 percent per year. Why? Because they're so cheap and energy efficient, buildings are being encrusted with LED screens and lights when they weren't before, resulting in far more light pollution.

Can you see the stars where you live? I hope so, because there's no better testimony to Psalm 19:1: "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands."

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Tim Conway: Rest in peace

We just heard the sad news that Tim Conway passed away.

For those of us who grew up watching the Carol Burnett Show, Tim Conway was one of the funniest members of the cast, regularly busting up the also-funny Harvey Korman. This was a guy who was absolutely amazingly hilarious without profanity, vulgarity, or any other concession to modern humor.

Mr. Conway's passing, of course, comes hard on the heels of losing Doris Day.

We're losing the last generation of clean, family-friendly entertainers.

Rest in peace, Mr. Conway. You too, Miss Day.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Americans are bored half the year

There's an old saying: "The devil finds work for idle hands." Translation: Those who don't have enough to do often get into trouble by doing things they shouldn't.

This came to mind when I saw a recent Drudge headline: "Americans Mired In Boredom 131 Days A Year, Survey Finds."

For the survey, the researchers defined a boring day as one that involved simply no fun at all. The solution suggested by the article was for people to get out and have more "fun."

"Full-time, 'adult' responsibilities, particularly work and parenting, appear to be sucking the fun out of American adults’ lives," it said. "The results showed that 60% of participants believe their life is just too 'grown-up.' In fact, 73% miss aspects of what they remember from childhood, such as spending time with friends (50%), fewer responsibilities (52%), and attending birthday parties (25%)."

(Hmmmm, methinks the article was written by an extrovert whose concept of "fun" does NOT involve curling up with a good book and a cup of tea. By the way, it was C.S. Lewis who said, "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." Amen.)

The funny thing is, this article appeared at a time when Don and I have been nearly frantic with work. Writing projects, article deadlines, home renovations, property improvements, packing ... in short, all the tasks involved in preparing to sell a home have occupied our time. Our fun has consisted of walking Mr. Darcy to the mailboxes and back (a three-mile round trip) to relax and get some exercise, followed by time spent with a good book and a glass of wine. (Well, the wine's for me. Don's not a wine drinker. But you catch my drift.)

The article continues, "As for what exactly is keeping us from having any fun, 36% agree the cost of a day or night of entertainment alone was enough to keep them home. Many others — 35% of respondents — are just too pooped out to enjoy some extracurriculars. Nearly a third (32%) have too much work to do."

Don and I also have too much work to do -- but we enjoy it. However for many people, work is associated with stress. "Many surveyed cited stress as a major role in their fun drought," noted the article.

We have tons of work, but little to no stress. This is no accident; we simply avoid stressful work as much as we can.

"Despite so much boredom," concluded the article, "the survey showed that Americans still spend an average of $303 each month on fun activities, or about $3,500 annually. For parents, that number balloons to about $5,000 on the year."

Sputter sputter. $303 each month on FUN activities? Who has the money for that? How much more would you have to work to earn that money to blow on "fun" things?

I think my world view differs greatly from that of the article's author.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Hitting 21

This is Younger Daughter's 21st birthday! Our baby is now a legal adult!

She didn't have any special plans for this event, dismissing it as "no big deal" (it's probably a bigger deal to us than to her). At her current duty station, she was already of a legal age to drink; and despite the reputation of sailors to paint the town red, she's usually the one who is told, "Hey Lewis, you're the only sober one here, would you please walk so-and-so-home?"

My hope is she'll celebrate her birthday by hitting the nearest town with friends, getting some good food, having those friends spring a cake on her, and continuing to behave in a sober and responsible way. I don't expect I'll be disappointed.

But we did send her a care package containing English Breakfast Tea and Mongolian fire oil (a family favorite).

Happy birthday to our beloved youngest child!

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Spring garden work

With the quickening of spring comes quickening in the garden. Now the race is on -- not necessarily to get things planted (since we always risk a late frost) but to get the beds prepped for planting.

I was late in trimming the raspberry canes.

Usually I try to trim the canes before the plants leaf, but a few of the leaves had already budded out. Oh well, it's not too late.

Tools of the trade.

Things always look better when they're trimmed. I even made sure to gather the dead canes and chuck 'em in the burn pile this year (I have a bad habit of just leaving the canes underfoot).

Next step, the potato and pea beds. These are vegetables that can be planted early.

For the peas, it was a simple matter to tear off the fragile tangle of last year's pea plants, and weed the beds themselves.

While I worked, I kept hearing a muffled buzzing sound. This turned out to be some sort of waspish insect hollowing out a space in the gravel, presumably to lay her eggs.

I watched over and over as she crawled headfirst into the hole...

...then backed out carrying bits of dirt, which she discarded.

Any entomology types out there know the species?

I finished up weeding the pea beds...

...and got the peas planted. One task done.

Next task, the potato beds. They weren't in bad shape, and just needed to be weeded and raked.

The rake I use is this wicked-looking thingamabob I picked up at an antique store years ago. It's a wonderful tool.

The seed potatoes were more than ready to be planted.

I planted one potato at each hole on the drip irrigation hose.

Meanwhile the pear trees are getting ready to blossom.

Just yesterday I started weeding and prepping the corn beds. I won't plant the corn until about mid-May or later. This year, instead of popcorn, I'll plant Yukon Chief sweet corn.

It's perfect weeding weather -- not too hot, not too cold -- so I'll spend a few days working my way through these tires.

We planned to expand the garden and had about 25 tractor tires outside the fence, waiting for us to put them in the garden. Now, with our upcoming move, we won't have time to install them. We're in cleanup mode, not expansion mode.

Some new neighbors very much wanted the tires to create their own tire garden, so we borrowed a flatbed truck and trailer from another neighbor...

...Don loaded the tires...

...and the neighbor drove them to their new home. It took two loads to move them, but these neighbors will have the beginning infrastructure of a wonderful garden.

Meanwhile I plan to plant the garden with "generic" vegetables and fruits that might appeal to a buyer. In addition to the perennial plants already in place (herbs, horseradish, grapes, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries), and in addition to the garlic, peas, and potatoes I already have in place, I plan to plant tomatoes, watermelons, cantaloupe, carrots, pinto beans, onions, and seed poppies. Am I missing anything critical? Is there anything else I should plant?