Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Shipping a library

When Younger Daughter (who, as you know, is in the Navy) was home visiting us last May, one of the things she did was sort and inventory her extensive collection of books.

We moved out of our old house while she was overseas in Japan, so we boxed all the books she had left behind in her bedroom. We made sure to identify her books, as we had thousands of our own books boxed up as well.

When we moved into our new home, Younger Daughter's books got stored up in the new loft Don built above his "man cave." Last May, she was just heading for her European duty station and didn't know what her living situation would be. So she sorted her books and labeled some for quasi-permanent storage with us, but a large selection she wanted shipped overseas whenever she got her own place.

She's now settled into her apartment where she'll be for several years, and asked for her books. In late December, I shipped her the first batch, which she just received. But she had nowhere to put them ... yet.

Because one wall of her apartment is an enormous blank white space, and because she's not allowed to paint it a different color, she came up with a clever idea.

She went to IKEA (of course there's an IKEA not far away from her!) and purchased enough bookshelves to fit the entire length of the wall. Then, to add a dramatic splash of color, she's papering the inside of each bookshelf with wallpaper, as well as painting the shelves a darker color to offset the stark white walls.

She admits the blue-and-yellow theme may look strange, but I have a feeling she'll be able to pull it off (unlike me, both our daughters developed excellent taste in interior design).

Meanwhile, I boxed up the remainder of her library and shipped it off to her.

She said she'll send pictures when the whole thing is complete. As I told the nice lady in the post office who was processing the customs forms, there are worse things to have than kids who are crazy about their books.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Betty is doing great!

I caught up on laundry the other day.

While the second load was starting and I was hanging the first load, Don exclaimed, "It is so nice to have a washing machine that can do more than a load of laundry a day! And do a better job of it, too."

He was referencing the strained relationship we had with the fancy whiz-bang Maytag washing machine (and dryer) that came with the house when we bought it.

This machine did not, to put it charitably, do a good job washing clothes – plus it took on average two hours per cycle to ... not get the clothes clean. When I expressed my frustration here on the blog, many of you suggested looking for a Speed Queen. One of these marvels came up for sale locally and we snapped it up in a heartbeat, then offloaded the Maytag as quick as we could. We affectionately nicknamed the new Speed Queen "Betty."

That was a year ago October, so Betty has been working for us for fifteen months now with nary a complaint. She does her job with fabulous efficiency. We couldn't be more pleased to have Betty a permanent part of our household.

We've never had a Speed Queen before, but I tell ya ... we're sold.

Friday, January 26, 2024

More tree trimming

Last January, we hired some professional arborists to see if they could salvage some old (about 75 years) and shaggy apple trees we have on our property. We knew this would be a multi-year project.

These stately trees were wildly overgrown. As a result, they produced scads of little bitty apples. The arborists promised to bring them back into production. In the span of one day, the team did what they could, which was quite dramatic.

The result last summer was larger apples, though still too much fruit on the tree to produce anything bigger. The head arborist warned us the trees would "sucker like crazy" the following summer, and he was right.

The team came back yesterday and did some follow-up work. Their goal was to trim suckers off the two trees they worked on the most last year, as well as to tackle some of the other smaller trees and see what they could do to bring them back to health.

They got right to work.

Soon we could see lopped-off branches as they pruned and shaped and cut away deadwood.

Definitely a job that requires a head for heights.

But while it was easiest to photograph them as they worked in the trees closest to the driveway, in fact most of their efforts were concentrated on the one tree they didn't have a chance to do last year. This poor tree was so overgrown and laden with deadwood that the arborists weren't certain they could pull it back from the brink. By the time they were done, the poor little tree was just a stump of its former self.

By the end, we had another huge pile of branches.

We asked the head arborist when we should have them out again for follow-up work. He suggested about 18 months from now, during high summer, so they could trim away unproductive suckers and gauge how the trees are doing in full production mode.

One thing is certain: We're grateful for the chance to pull these mature heritage trees back into beautiful production.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

A little evening color

Our weather has been kinda "blah" lately. Fog, clouds, a bit dreary ... typical January stuff.

Here's a layer of snow over the leaf bin, which looked rather artistic in its composition.

A dove perched on a fence post, doubtless waiting for me to fill the feeder.

After a fresh snowfall, bird tracks were everywhere.

Along with a few doggy paw prints.

But yesterday evening a ray of sunshine pierced the gloom just before the sun went down. It lit up a snow-covered pile of dirt.

To our surprise, it also illuminated a full rainbow. The vast majority was almost too faint to see, but in one spot over a hillside, it was brilliant.

It was so unexpected that we spilled outside to stare at it.

After a few minutes, the rainbow faded...

...but the western sky lit up.

Nice to get a little evening color.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Tankards coming out our ears

Older Daughter is working on a massive tankard order of 280 pieces. She's been working long, long hours (last night she was in the shop until 10:30 pm). She split the order into two parts, one larger and one smaller. This is the larger part of the order.

Today Don and I pitched in and helped coat the insides. It was reminiscent of the old days when all four of us would sit around the table applying food-safe epoxy resin to hundreds of mugs.

Older Daughter, as you may recall, took over the woodcraft business almost two years ago, and has built it up very nicely. As always just before shipping day, there are tankards everywhere. But that's okay. We've had this kind of chaos for over 30 years, and not many craft businesses have been around for that long. Business is brisk and wholesalers are clamoring for cups. Once she ships this batch out, then I'll clean house.

No complaints.

Friday, January 19, 2024

Mushroom retreat

I got a spam email the other day that made me laugh out loud. It started with a generic greeting – so generic, in fact, that any name was omitted before the comma. "Hey __​​, hope your week is going great so far! Following up on this story idea I thought you might be interested in."

What this person was "following up on" was ... a mushroom retreat. "How a New Year, New You is really possible with a magic mushroom retreat!"

Don chuckled when I read this out loud to him. "When reality just isn't good enough," he remarked.

So here, ladies and gentlemen, are all the juicy details of the "New Me" that could be possible through the judicious application of psychedelic drugs.


The New Year has arrived and along with it comes the resolutions for transformation in 2024. There could very well be no greater way to clear out the old and make space for the new than with a guided psilocybin retreat. Some success stories for those embarking on these journeys include executives and professionals who were unhappy with their careers or felt lost and anxious.

Rob G____ and Gary L____ are the founders of [company name redacted], the alternative wellness company creating luxury guided magic mushroom retreats in the mountains outside of Vancouver. They’ve hosted everyone from entrepreneurs and CEOs to athletes, performers, couples, and small groups invested in the highest level of personal development and self-discovery.

The pair have a combined 60+ years of education in spiritual and metaphysical training, executive level mindset coaching, energetic healing modalities, Alexander Technique lessons, and provide online courses/support calls preparing for and integrating the psychedelic retreat.The [company name redacted] guides guests through an extraordinary personalized experience that often results in accelerating attendees' success and their intentions to create a conscious impact on the world. Their team is passionate about the healing powers of psilocybin as a sacred plant medicine.

Rob and Gary believe that when psychedelics are facilitated in a professional manner, it can help us with our mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness. They can give incredible insight on:

• How a new you is possible in the new year with these transformational retreats

• Guided magic mushroom use as the ultimate reset from years of built-up stress

• Clearing out the old energy holding us back from reaching a new level in 2024

• Psilocybin helping amplify relationships in our personal and professional lives

• Utilizing psychedelics with integrity, respect, and the intention for self-growth

• Importance of the inner work involved to prepare before and after the journey

Featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, Condé Nast Traveler, Marie Claire, FOX Business, and TZR, Rob & Gary are having a profound effect on the individuals enrolling in their retreats.


Well, I guess there's a market for everything.

Just not my cup of tea.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Is safe canning a government conspiracy?

As many long-time blog readers know, I'm a fanatic when it comes to safe canning practices.

I've been canning for over thirty years, and I adore it. However there was a dark period in my canning career when I got cocky and overly confident, and jokingly called myself the Invincible Canner. As many of you remember, I got knocked off that pedestal after doing some research on the issue of canning refried beans. You can read all about it here.

That blog post, dating back to 2012, received dozens and dozens of comments ... and they're still trickling in. Last June, I received a comment to the effect that pressure canning isn't necessary since "two to three hours in a water bath will do anything." NO IT WON'T. I put up a rant about that comment here.

And still the debate continues. Why can't people accept that unsafe canning practices exist? Why?

More recently I received the following comment:

"Most of you are part of the public Government Watch Dogs ready to pounce upon anyone not doing what government tells you. This is the United States of America where people have individual Rights of Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness to live their life as they choose providing they don’t harm anyone else. People have preserved foods in many ways prior to your food scientists. Government is always there to interfere in that process, just like they did in the 1930’s taking your Right to Travel in a Horseless Carriage away and give you a license. That was part of their New Deal. Most of you are Sheep but you’re entitled to your opinion as I am also. Those who want to Rebel Can their food are not hurting me or you. And they have Rights also!"

I'm sorry, what? Safe canning practices are now a government conspiracy to enslave you against your will?

Look, if you want to water-bath your green beans, I'll call you a fool but I won't sic the government watch dogs on you (although I will feel sorry for your family members who potentially could be harmed by eating incorrectly canned food). However if you try to sell your badly canned green beans to the public, that's illegal – with good reason. It's a dangerous and unsafe practice.

I have very little tolerance for government interference in personal liberties, but I have no quarrels with USDA canning guidelines (read this post for a better understanding of why).

So I suppose you can claim I'm part of a "conspiracy" to prevent you from incorrectly canning your green beans. Whatever.

Happy canning.

Monday, January 15, 2024

Humor for writers

A writing friend once said, "I don't like writing. I like having written."

I kinda get that since I'm just starting to plot my next Amish romance. When it comes to the actual writing, I do fine. Plotting, however, is a different kettle of fish. I cannot plot my way out of a paper bag.

Don is my right-hand man when it comes to plotting, thankfully. He's always willing to volley ideas back and forth about how to improve character motivations or up the ante on conflict.

That's why I got a good chuckle from the following humor memes. Enjoy! 

And finally, a little historical humor: