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Monthly Archives: May 2015

Coping with carb craving

We all have carb cravings. For me that equals bread, or sometimes potatoes. The best way I know to mitigate the sin is to make one’s carb dishes at home, from scratch. There are ways of making carb dishes a little less carbie, not to mention keeping the salt much lower than what you get […]

Easier and cheaper shipping

By printing the labels myself and paying the postage on line, each of the books in the boxes on the left cost 70 cents less in postage. The tracking bar code is printed with the label. If you start a small press and publish books, then before you know it you’re in the shipping business. […]

Putting a rush on sourdough

Cooks who teach other cooks how to bake with sourdough often recommend mixing in some ordinary yeast. That serves as a kind of insurance against total bread failure for inexperienced bakers, and it greatly hastens the process. For a long time, I refused to use any yeast. Sourdough was sourdough, and yeast was yeast, and […]

What blowback looks like

After the little town of Walnut Cove agreed to let the state of North Carolina (at taxpayer expense) drill a geological core sample on town property to test for the presence of frackable gas, what followed was an uprising. These photos are from a press conference called by the state and national NAACP to announce […]

Wild persimmon blossom

They’re very shy and try to hide behind leaves. They’re small, and they don’t last long. The abbey has lots of young wild persimmon trees that volunteered in the ditch along the roadside after the old pine trees came down seven years ago.

Seveneves: a review

It’s difficult to write a spoiler-free review of Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, but I will try. It’s not really a spoiler to say that, in the first paragraph of the novel, the moon blows up. What follows is a long saga of survival — 866 pages long. Stephenson always provides a hot read. I devoured the […]

What a year for daisies …

There are several wildflower patches scattered around the abbey’s sunny acre. This patch, right in front of the house, has been taken over largely by daisies. I’m not even sure how they came to be there. They could have arrived in a sack of mixed wildflower seeds, or they could have come naturally, just because […]

Cwm Rhondda

I am almost finished with Neal Stephenson’s blockbuster science fiction novel Seveneves, and I will have a review of it soon. Last night, 50 pages from the end of this 866-page novel, I was touched by one of Stephenson’s erudite little details. Some characters sing a hymn, and Stephenson identifies the hymn tune as the […]


I don’t want to drop any spoilers to the plot of the sequel to Fugue in Ursa Major (which is in progress and which I hope to have in print sometime next year). But Jake does set out on a rather dangerous journey of what I would call cultural recovery. I have put countless hours […]


By the way, this is 1,004th post in the Into the Woods blog. In the past, I have mentioned one of my heros (or heroines, if you wish) — Rita Levi-Montalcini. Italians affectionately called her “La Professoressa.” She was a Nobel laureate. She discovered nerve growth factor back in the 1980s and in 1986 won […]