The Roundup

Weather Vane

Food Routes Network, “provides communications tools, technical support, networking and information resources to organizations nationwide that are working to rebuild local, community-based food systems. FRN is dedicated to reintroducing Americans to their food – the seeds it grows from, the farmers who produce it, and the routes that carry it from the fields to their tables.”

“Since 1982 the Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest has challenged man, woman, and (very precocious) child to write an atrocious opening sentence to a hypothetical bad novel. We’re honored to receive thousands of odious entries from around the world each year.”

Gangrule “is a look at the emergence of organized crime in New York through 1900–1920, leading up to the well documented prohibition era. The database of historic events, family histories and photographs is based on research from primary sources including police, federal, court, immigration, business, and prison records.”

Check out 999 Ideas by Steve Gillman for “ideas for inventions… political theories… mental experiments… new business concepts… story outlines… philosophical thoughts… essays… and much more.”

Summer Continues

Flowering Weeds Along Our Road

A group of maybe fifty or more dragonfly’s descended on us for a couple of days mid August. They were making merry, flying here and there, and then they were gone. Moths and other bugs come and go, fluttering around the yard light at night. The cicadas are constant with their song. We had a group of crows strutting around and making a racket for a few days before they moved on. The other birds have scattered, even the robins are rare right now. This seems to happen every year for several days, even when we lived in the city; where they disappear to I don’t know. The bird feeders have been untouched for a week now. The toads are still crawling around here and there, and once in a while we have to shoo one out of the garage. The weeds in the ditch in front of our acreage grow up and eventually die down, making way for the next species, which continually changes the view. Some of them have beautiful flowers and I have been trying to identify a few, but most remain a mystery to me for now. The dust that comes up from our gravel road can be seen for maybe a mile before the vehicle causing it, usually a truck, comes into view. After it passes the dust will linger for awhile, slowly drifting and settling in the fields. Several times the crop dusters have flown over a nearby field doing their job, dipping so low one looses site of them then climbing steeply to turn and make the next pass. When a rainstorm approaches, usually from the west, we can see the rain falling in the distance sometimes for several minutes before it is upon us. It is a slow, dreamy time of the year that one wishes would never end.

Website Review: The Motley Fool

The Motley Fool

The Motley Fool provides “a variety of solutions to improve many areas of your financial life, including your investment portfolio, personal finances, real estate holdings, company, and career.” I have used this site off and on for years to consult for various financial matters. They offer comprehensive information on stocks, how to invest, credit cards, bank accounts, loans, retirement planning and much more. Worth a visit.

Homemade Vegetable Broth

Homemade Vegetable Broth

I discovered this little culinary gem several years ago and will continue to use it until I can cook no more. Whenever you cut up vegetables get in the habit of putting the leavings in a baggie in the freezer. Onion ends, cucumber ends, carrot ends, end chunks from broccoli or cauliflower, tomato parts, peppers, you get the idea. Anything you would normally throw in the trash from your veggies take 10 seconds and put them in that designated baggie in the freezer. Once it is full, fill up a pan with water, add the contents of your freezer stash, and boil for at least 20 minutes, or until it smells so good you want to sample it. Add whatever spices you most enjoy then let the broth cool. I pour mine into various sized empty butter, cottage cheese and dip containers and freeze. Then comes the best part; add the thawed broth instead to a recipe that calls for plain water, to some fried foods (including ground beef, chicken or pork) instead of oil, to casseroles, soups, to boil noodles, or even use as a marinade. When using a slow cooker, use the broth. I have even added the broth when making chili and it seems to me to contribute another layer of flavor. I also boil chicken and beef bones for specific broths, but the veggie broth is more versatile.

Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut

My first exposure to Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) was not through reading his books but from watching the movie Slaughterhouse-Five, based on his novel of the same name. It was put on heavy rotation in the 1970’s on our local NBC affiliate television station, so I ended up watching it multiple times. Our hero, Billy Pilgrim, survives the World War Two firebombing of Dresden and goes on to marry and have children. At some point he ends up in a zoo on the planet Tralfamador. It is a quiet, thoughtful movie that tends to stick with you. When I figured out the movie was connected to a book I wanted to check out the author, and I’m glad I did. He didn’t only write science fiction, employing dark humor and satire in his novels. Themes of religion and war run through much of his work, as does pathos and religious hypocrisy. Reading Vonnegut for me is like sitting down to visit with an old friend and catching up with what has been going on. There is both familiarity and anticipation involved, but the main feeling is you are going to enjoy it. If you have not read him Slaughterhouse-Five is a good enough place to start as any. You might just make a new friend.

The Roundup

Ditch Rocks

Wilderness Connect is a great resource to to learn more about protected public wilderness areas, “found in most states, but concentrated in the west, they protect lush forests, arid deserts, snow-capped peaks, dank swamps and sandy beaches. Yet, the reasons Americans love wilderness are even more diverse than the areas themselves.”

“As a permanent home for spontaneous art, Doodlers Anonymous is a modern art blog featuring a vast archive of creative inspiration, hand-drawn interviews by contemporary artists, doodle challenges and prompts, giveaways, and a catalog of art-based goods.”

StarDate offers a constellation guide, moon phase calculator, sunrise and sunset calculator, meteor shower schedule, lunar and solar eclipse schedule, when to view planets, a primer on the solar system and much more. A good resource.

Kanopy partners “with public libraries and universities to bring you ad-free films and series that can be enjoyed on your TV, mobile phone, tablet and online.” My library began offering it for free last month and I have really been enjoying it. If your local library does not offer it yet put in a request.