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Monthly Archives: April 2017

Switched to satellite

The abbey is in a hidden little valley well off the beaten path, down in the woods. We wouldn’t have it any other way. But such isolation means that getting on the Internet is a problem. For the past eight years, the abbey’s solution has been Verizon Wireless. I rigged up a nerdish system in […]

They grow up so fast

The spring chickens have two basic emotional states — semi-boredom (when they’re in the chicken house), and deliriously happy (when they’re outdoors). Here they’re taking a communal dirt bath in the garden.

Hoping for a peach crop

The peach trees in the abbey’s orchard are loaded with young peaches this year. Last year, the entire crop was killed by a late frost. One of our friends who is a retired agricultural extension agent says that, unless you spray, you don’t get peaches. All sorts of insects prey on peaches, including fruit moths […]


⬆︎ Baby apples Drought is terrifying at any time of year. But drought in the spring, I think, is the worst. After a so-so start with the spring rains, a weekend front left behind 5.54 inches, and yesterday the sun came out. Now we can have some serious spring. One of the things that is […]


Ken has been playing in a hockey league in a nearby city. I went to my first hockey game last night. Ken’s team won 7-1. Also, Ken is mentioned in a piece in the April 24 New Yorker. The New Yorker piece is about van dwelling and how it has been commercialized in social media. […]

Location, location, location

⬆︎ Gragg, North Carolina, with Grandfather Mountain (altitude 5,945 feet) in the background If you’re shooting a movie, shooting on location costs a lot of money. But if you’re writing a novel, good locations cost nothing. The author is limited only by what he can imagine and describe. As a rule, I like for the […]

What’s growing at the abbey

⬆︎ Dogwood in the woods ⬆︎ Though we do see honeybees, these days bumblebees do much of the work of pollination. ⬆︎ Baby peaches ⬆︎ I always forget the name of this. ⬆︎ Baby chickens ⬆︎ It’s thrilling to see the woods coming alive. Looking down through the orchard toward the back of the house. […]

The search for a lost heritage

Ireland’s Immortals: A History of the Gods of Irish Myth, by Mark Williams, Princeton University Press, 2016. 578 pages. Like many people who have worked hard to understand how our Celtic ancestors lived, I regularly grapple with a smoldering fury. No matter what thread to the past we try to follow, we find it broken. […]

Sourdough rolls

Lately I’ve been making sourdough rolls. They’re almost as quick as yeast rolls, and almost as easy. It occurs to me that those of you who might like to get started with sourdough artisan breads, but who are concerned about the work and risk of “total bread failure” involved, might want to make sourdough rolls […]

More Buffalo China

This blog gets a lot of visits from people who are interested in the history of Buffalo China. I would collect Buffalo china if I had anywhere to put it, but as things are I’ve collected only enough Buffalo china for the table, and no more than will fit in the kitchen cabinets. But recently, […]