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New England Stone Walls by Kevin Gardner

This sent us by Eva. It's pretty long, and I haven't watched it all, but I sure would if I lived where there was stone. Looks like a very thorough explanation of the principles of stone walls with and without mortar. A great explanation of why stone wall joints should not be lined up under one another.
   I loved this part: "Every stone in the world has an ambition…" -- pause, twinkle in his eye --"that ambition is to sink to the center of the earth as soon as possible…"

Dr. John/Great Blue Heron/Hopi Artifacts/Blogging/Rain/Chickens/Etta James

Ooo-wee! I'm totally alone, a very rare circumstance on this half acre of land, with all the multiple activities going on here. Playing Dr. John doing "Such A Night" with The Band at their "Last Waltz" concert (my all-time fave music movie). (If you go looking for this song, you have to clickon "albums," then scroll way down; it's on the left.)
Great Blue Heron Yesterday Rick and I were working in the office and I noticed movement outside the window. This magnificent creature had landed on the roof, and was peering over the edge at our fishpond. Stunning. Royalty.
    It wasn't like seeing ducks or pigeons or doves or quail or crows or even Oregon Juncos or Rufous-sided Towhees. This was something else.
  You rarely get close these very wary birds,  I think, due to the fact that it takes them so long to get airborne, they're extra cautious --  continually scanning 360.
  I shot photos through the window. He flew down to the pond (bye-bye goldfish!) and I snuck out of the office slowly and came around to the front door of the house, hoping to get pics of him at the pond. As soon as I moved the (glass-paned) front door, he took off. He spotted me through two panes of glass, at a distance of about 40'. Wary.

Jay Shafer & Fourlightshouses.com

Jay Shafer, probably the most prominent guy out on the tiny house scene, has left Tumbleweed Tiny Houses and is now running his shop at http://www.fourlightshouses.com/. This is his first tiny house, moved many times on wheels, now located in his back yard.

Kai, Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker

600 Year Old Timber Frame Building in France

"This oak frame thatched building is almost 600 years old. It's the town hall (Mairie) of Saint Sulpice de Grimbouville in France. It was originally built in the nearby town of Selles, 12Km away, in 1420 by English carpenters during the Hundred Years War. In 1996 it was threatened with demolition but saved by the people of Saint Sulpice de Grimbouville along with three other cottages.…"
Isn't this a beauty? Everything is right about it.
From the Natural Homes website, which is packed with great info on homes of timber, straw, cob, thatch, adobe, and turf. The website is run out of Russia by Oliver Blake Swann. http://naturalhomes.org/

Rain Rain Come Today

Went for long walk on beach late this afternoon. Sun still out, with storm coming in from southwest. On behalf of plants in the woods, grass on the hills, and the aquifers, (and myself), am hoping for as much rain as possible in the next few months. Note crow in bottom pic. Two of them were riding wind currents back and forth, horizontal with beach, just holding wings out. As I climbed back up the cliff, the horizon had darkened, and 10 minutes after this photo was shot, fog had drifted from ocean to land.

Flaming Duck a la Lloyd

-Flaming Duck We've had a domestic (humanely raised, yada yada) duck in the freezer for a while. I come from a duck-hunting family and during the season we had wild duck every week. I've cooked plenty of wild ducks (500 degrees -- let me know if you want my Mom's recipe for roast duck), but never a domestic one. I set it up on the rotisserie rod on the Weber Genesis outdoor grill (which we use for everything of the meat persuasion), with a pan underneath to catch the fat. Things were going well, duck turning, fat dripping and I turned the grill up a bit, went out to the studio to do something, forgot the grill; when I got back, it was -- shit! -- smoking madly. Opened the cover and flames about 2 feet high were shooting up out of pan. Well, I'll tell you, don't throw water on a grease fire. Poom! Baking soda (a cooler head than mine prevailing) finally did the trick (in the pan after duck was removed). It put the fire out but ruined my plans for the duck fat. Duck fat donuts? Well, for sure, French fries. The duck turned out flavorful, like jerk chicken, the flames enhanced the flavor. The great chef.
Music del Momento The Turbans. I rediscovered them, hearing "When You Dance" on the radio. Just got CD The Best of the Turbans, and there are some stunning songs. This is what we were listening to in college ('55-57). This a 4-man vocal machine, with great arrangements, heavenly harmonies. An outrageous falsetto by Al Banks. Some of their songs are on Grooveshark here. (Skip all the tracks by "Hadji & the Turbans"). Check out "Congratulations," Sister Sookey," "All Of My Love…"


Animal encounters in the last week:
-Dead skunk on road. Nice shiny winter pelt, no smell (it happens every once in a while). I left it there since I skinned a beautiful skunk a few weeks ago.
-Freshly killed deer. Passed this up if for no other reason than my shoulder is still in recovery period -- all the more so because I tweaked it picking up oak firewood off road -- dumb shit! So am taking a step backward and giving those tendons time to heal. Rly.
-2-3 foxes this week. Bushy tails. Stepping smartly. Foxes are back. About 20 years ago we had tons of small animals around, including many foxes, and some kind of disease got most of them: raccoons, skunks, foxes, possums -- populations severely diminished. But now they're on the rise. I love watching foxes -- elegance of the Candidae family.
-A coyote who ran away, then stopped and looked back at me. Mischief in eyes.
-Salamanders ambling mindlessly across trails and fire roads -- as soon as there's moisture.
-Line of about 20 pelicans single-file, flying about a foot above the waves. They often get into the updraft of waves and fly without moving wings. Watched them from above, and they flew around a cove and circled a few times before settling.

Optical Illusion

The squares marked A and B are the same shades of grey.

Click here.

From Rick Gordon

Sculpted Wooden Spoons

Hi Lloyd,
About making wooden spoons, I came accross these beautiful creations. A nice story! In my region, Brittany (one of the Celtic countries, not far from Wales...), some craftsmen still make wooden sculpted spoons which were very used in the 19th Century.
   At that time, people didn't use forks: porridge was their main food. Everybody had his own wooden spoon, adorned with personalized patterns. For beauty and also for reasons of hygiene because all the spoons were stored in a tiny round holder.
   The holder was suspended by a cord above the table and the cord was equipped with a weight, in such a way that people could raise and lower it quickly.

Blendtec Blender/Green Smoothies

I'm tempted to say that this tool is a life changer, but I'm prone to exaggeration, so I'll just say it's a game changer. The game being that by mid-day I'm usually rolling with my writing or book layout and don't like to take the time to make a decent lunch.
   Enter the Blendtec and "green smoothies." I combine greens plus fresh or frozen fruit, vitamins, protein powder, almonds, hemp seeds and whatever else I see around, turn on the Blendtec and have a delicious drink while working. I do it 2-3 times a week.
   I'm getting fresh-from-garden raw greens -- parsley, kale, chard, or lettuce, whatever looks good, plus fruit, protein, carbos, vitamins. There are tons of recipes for green smoothies. I use Gold Standard vanilla whey protein -- good flavor, high protein (something like 55 grams in 2 scoops): info here.
   This is a big powerful machine and it can be used for any number of things. It's nothing like the blenders most of us are familiar with. In addition to smoothies, you can chop, juice, grind grain, and make soup or ice cream.
   I got it for $400 from Amazon here. Expensive, but high quality, highly useful, long lasting.
   For a comparison between the Blendtec and the other super blender, the VitaMix: click here.  You can also do a search for "Blendtec vs. VitaMix" in Google for more comparisons.
   For the CoolTools review of the VitaMix, click here.