Cooking, Home, How To, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Plants, Woginrich-Jenna

#573 Made From Scratch by Jenna Woginrich

Made From Scratch by Jenna WoginrichMade From Scratch by Jenna Woginrich

Jenna moved from the mountains of the Appalachians to northern Idaho, where it’s incredibly cold. Jenna made a conscious decision to return to a simpler way of life. Her dogs could pull her on a sled. She bought household items from antique stores. She learned to can items, raise chickens, grow vegetables, and play the violin. Jenna is something of a woman after my own heart.

Jenna tries to homestead, a bit in Idaho. She learns the pitfalls and joys of raising chickens. They’re great for pest control, but they might wander into the neighbor’s yard or get eaten by the dogs. Jenna learns to bake bread. She extols the virtues of mountain music.

Suddenly, Jenna learns she has to move to Vermont. Jenna packs up her animals and instruments and goes. This is where Jenna’s other book, One Woman Farm comes into play.

What I liked

I admire Jenna so much. I enjoyed this book as much as I enjoyed her other book, and, yes, I know I read them out-of-order. I really like the idea of learning to do as much as possible yourself. It’s good to know how to do different things. It’s good to know how to bake bread from scratch and grow vegetables. I love that Jenna tackled all of this herself. It’s a big responsibility, but it brings joy and fulfillment to her life.

I love that Jenna learned to play the fiddle on her own. Seriously, I’m going to order a fiddle and that book Jenna recommends and learn myself. I’ve always wanted to. Jenna speaks of a music tradition that is part of my own family. I had a great-great uncle who was in the Foxfire books for fiddle-making. Some of his wood works are still around the area where he lived.

What I didn’t like

I liked Jenna’s book and there isn’t a whole lot of bad I can say about it. Go Jenna. Let’s have a visit one day.


We need more younger people like Jenna. Capisce?

Weigh In

Would you raise farm animals by yourself?

Do you think it’s a good idea to know how to do things from scratch? Why or why not?

Memoir, Non-Fiction, Woginrich-Jenna

#539 One Woman Farm by Jenna Woginrich

One Woman Farm by Jenna Woginrich

The farming life seems ideal in a lot of ways, but you would think that it would take multiple people to run a farm. Jenna proves that this just isn’t true.

This book is a journal of sorts. It covers an entire life in the year of Jenna on her farm called Cold Antler Farm. She runs it by herself, well, she runs it with the help of a border collie named Gibson. Jenna is the only human on her farm. There are sheep, goats, geese, pigs, rabbits, and some horses on Jenna’s farm, but Jenna is the sole English speaker there.

The book starts off in October. Jenna says that October is her favorite month of the year. It’s a month when the hard tasks of harvest are mostly over and a person can enjoy the spoils of the season for just a bit before winter takes over. Winter has its own problems, but a person can take a break for just a bit and not think about those problems.

Jenna describes caring for her animals in the winter, which includes warming frozen watering troughs and providing fresh hay, well, somewhat fresh hay. She learns how to milk a goat named Bonita and she even gets a Fell pony. She is a self-taught fiddler and loves herself some hard apple cider. Her life isn’t exactly easy, but in a lot of respects it does sound wonderful.

What I liked

I am amazed that Jenna can do all of this herself. I grew up out in the country. I know how heavy those square hay bales are. I know about heavy bags of dog food and keeping bunnies warm in the winter, but I have never taken care of goats and sheep. I can do a dog. I can do cats. I can do rabbits. I’ve even had a rat before. Sheep and goats are a different matter, although, I would really like a goat, or two, or a miniature donkey for my farm. My farm has yet to be anywhere near as practical as Jenna’s. Jenna is just kick-butt at running a farm. I’m impressed; I really am.

Jenna makes me want to buy a violin. She says she taught herself. Seriously, how hard can it be if Jenna taught herself? I actually had this dream a while back that someone gave me a violin and I was super excited about it and I woke up wanting a violin. If I already know how to read music and I can already play the piano and pick at the guitar, then surely the violin can’t be that hard. I’m going to reconsider this violin thing, especially since you can buy a cheap violin on Amazon for less than a hundred dollars.

I wanted to have a farm, in fact, I live on farm, but mine is overgrown with honeysuckle and nightshade. I had this idea of having an organic micro-farm. Maybe it will still happen one day, but in the meantime I really do like Jenna’s description of her life on her farm.

What I didn’t like

Jenna seems like an amazingly neat person and I wouldn’t mind meeting her one day and checking out her farm, if ever I got the chance. I don’t know a lot about Jenna. I don’t know if she has any claim to fame or if she’s a professional in any other way than her farm. I’m kind of skeptical as to how this book got published. It’s a great book and all, but it just seems too simple. I like that Jenna’s book has been published; I really do. It just feels like a kick in the teeth because I’m a writer and I am in this kind of cloud with a bunch of other writers who spend lots of time creating these amazing stories and we’re not “officially” published.

Part of me thinks, “If Jenna can get this short little book published, then I can definitely get something of mine published,” but then part of me thinks, “Is this a joke? Should I write simpler stories? Should I just throw some thoughts on paper and call it a book?” You know what, this is just how the world works. Sometimes it’s really difficult to get a story out into the world and it may seem like there are many more stories out there than aren’t up to par to your story, but just keep going at it. Make new stories; make new art; just keep making things. Good stories find their way out.


Seriously, I want to learn how to fiddle. I could play The Devil Went Down to Georgia, because that would obviously be like the second song I learned to play after Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.

Weigh In

Could you run an entire farm by yourself?

If you’re a city person, do you ever think you could learn to feel that pull of the land that farmers feel?

Classic Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Post Apocalyspe, Post United States, Romantic Fiction, Science Fiction, Social Commentary, what if

#418 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. DickDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

What does it mean to be alive? What does it mean to be human? If you live and function on your own, but aren’t technically human, are you still alive? Does you life have any meaning if you can’t be classified as a human? These are all things we would wonder about if we lived in the world that Rick Deckard lives in.

Rick is a bounty hunter. He doesn’t go after parole breakers or drug lords, he goes after androids. It’s the future. Things on Earth are bad. Nuclear fallout and dust has left the life of Earth desolate. Many people have immigrated to Mars. Rick still lives on Earth with his wife, Iran, in California.

Rick worries. He has an electric sheep. He used to have a real sheep, but the real sheep died. It was all very unfortunate. In the world Rick lives in, animals are worth a fortune. A spider just doesn’t walk across your floor. Cats and goats are traded at higher prices than cocaine. Rick wants the money to get a real sheep again. He tells his wife so. After arguing with this wife for a while about how they should dial their empathy boxes, Rick goes to work.

He is given a list of androids. He starts out with six. The androids look like people. The only way to distinguish them is by giving them an empathy test. The first android almost gets him, but he wins. He goes after the second, masquerading as an opera singer. This is when Rick starts to trip up. Luba is so much more alive than he thought an android could be. She’s autonomous. She thinks for herself. It’s strange to see the humanity he possesses reflected in her. After some confusion, Luba ends up dead and Rick feels bad. He knows feeling empathy for androids is a jeopardy to his job.

A friendly android agrees to help him out. She knows the three remaining androids on his list, in fact, she is on the list, but her humanity strikes Rick. After this assignment, Rick has to wonder what is really important. What does his life mean? Life seems to have become very mysterious. Androids aren’t the cold-hearted creatures he thought them to be. Mercer isn’t the god he thought he was. In the end, Rick has to go on with life, even if a bit defeated.

What I liked

This is a short book and easy to read in many aspects, but in others it’s difficult. In a short way it says a lot about humanity. What makes us human? What makes us different from an animal or a robot? What things would we value if life changed drastically? Rick has his eyes opened about the world. Sometimes things are stranger than you ever would have thought.

I liked the term “kipple.” This book uses the word for useless junk. It collects on its own. It multiples on its own. It makes sense. If a majority of the population of Earth left, there would be a lot of junk sitting around. It would appear to multiply all on its own. Junk seems to multiple all on its own at my house, although I try to keep an eye on it. I don’t like junk.

What I didn’t like

Books are supposed to make you think. They’re supposed to inspire your brain cells to start working and thinking about the world. This is one of those books that does make you think, but almost too much. It’s profound in a very simple manner. In a short while, Philip, is able to make us question our being and our humanity.

There would be much confusion if robots were created to look like people and function exactly like people. If they could develop their own conscious as the androids in this book seem to have done, how could we distinguish? It reminds me of the whole cloning debate. If you clone an animal, or if you clone a person, does that person have a soul? It’s just a copy right? A cloned human being would still be a human being right? It’s a big question of ethics. Of course a clone would still be a human being, but it’s a weird thing to think of. As far as I remember about cloning, the cloned animal’s cells are at the same age of the cells of the donor. So if you clone Dolly the sheep at two, the clone’s cells are two, even if the clone is an infant. I don’t know how that works out as far as a life span goes. There would almost certainly be problems if humans were cloned that would be hard to work out.

It reminds me of a really weird movie I watched. The movie is called Womb and stars Matt Smith(the eleventh Doctor). He’s cloned. He’s real. He lives, but he isn’t the same as everybody else. He smells different. He’s called a copy.

It’s not that the train of thought inspired by this book is bad, because it’s not, it’s that it’s a bit unsettling. It brings in this huge questions about us and about our existence.


I think this is one of those books I’m going to have to read more than once to really appreciate.

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Classic Fiction, Dick-Philip K., Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Post Apocalyspe, Post United States, Romantic Fiction, Science Fiction, Social Commentary, what if


Gossip Wolf and the Fox

Gossip Wolf and the FoxSummary

Gossip Wolf and the Fox is about a fox who is a jerk. We know the fox is labeled as cunning in many stories, and this story isn’t an exception to that rule.

Once upon a time there was a mother wolf  named Gossip who had a cub. She decided to make the fox godfather since he was related closely enough. Mrs. Gossip actually thinks the fox has a good understanding and could teach her cub a thing or two. She’s thought about this.

The fox is more than happy to accept the honor and eats well at the following feast. After the feast he suggest to Mrs. Gossip that they should go out and get good food for the cub to grow on. He says he knows of a sheepfold where they might fetch a nice morsel. Mrs. Gossip goes with the fox to the sheepfold.

The sly fox points out the sheepfold from afar and tells Mrs. Gossip that she will be able to sneak in without being seen. He says that he will sneak around the other side and grab a chicken. Mrs. Gossip makes her plan to sneak around to grab a sheep, but the fox just lays at the edge of the forest to watch what happens. The sheepfold is not unguarded. There is a guard dog there who makes a big racket when Mrs. Gossip gets near the sheepfold.

The peasants who owned the dog and the sheep came running out at the dog’s barking. They poured a hot mixture used to do laundry on Mrs. Gossip. This would be lye. She did manage to escape, all the while being burned by the lye. She goes back to the fox and tells him that the peasants have beaten her severely. The fox pretends to be hurt and tells Mrs. Gossip that if she does not carry him, he will die. Mrs. Gossip does carry the fox all the way back home.

The fox says to Mrs. Gossip, “Farewell, dear Mrs. Gossip, may the roasting you have had do you good,” he then laughed at her and left.

The End


This fox is a big jerk. I wouldn’t want him for a god-parent to my kid. There is no telling what he would teach a young and impressionable child. He would probably also abuse this child to no end, perhaps physically and mentally.

It is kind of cruel how the peasants pour lye on the wolf. That’s the mixture we’re talking about. Lye used to be something you used to wash your clothes. Laundry used to be quite the ordeal. You can make lye soap on your own, but don’t leave it on your skin too long, it might burn you. Having lye poured on you, would really mess you up. I actually watched this foreign film where a little girl’s mother died because a vat of laundry lye was spilled on her. It was quite the gruesome scene. This is an awful thing to do to a person or an animal and, no doubt, Mrs. Gossip was in an extreme amount of pain and probably wouldn’t survive.

I have no idea why these stories keep referring to various wolves as “gossip.” Did that word used to mean something else? Ah, I have figured it out. I did a little research. “Gossip” is a word not only used to describe the act of spreading illicit information or a person who does so, but also a close friend. Basically, a gossip, could be a friend that was so close, you gossiped with them. People said “gossip so-and-so” in the same manner we would go around calling people “buddy” or “pal.”


I can’t really think of any good themes for this story. Perhaps the theme is that you should not make a terrible person into a god-parent. Maybe the theme is that you cannot trust a fox. The fox is awfully two-faced in this tale. One minute he’s talking how it’s such an honor to be a god-parent, and the next, he’s leading the mother of that child to, what could be, her death. What a jerk.


I’m beginning not to like this fox.

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Grimm’s Fairy Tales


Jorinda and Joringel

Jorinda and JoringelSummary

Jorinda and Joringel is a Grimm’s tale set on the planet of Krypton. They were both quite goods friends with Jor-el, Superman’s father. They all grew up together and often played on the krypton fields wearing their celebration clothes, which looked an awfully lot like German-Earth clothes…not really, but it’s plausible right?

Once upon a time there was an old castle in the middle of the woods. There lived a witch who turned herself into a cat or a screech-owl during the daytime. At night she was her human form and would draw animals to her only to kill them and roast them. There was an enchanted circle around the castle. Any man who entered it would be stuck to his place until the witch said he could go. Any woman who entered it would be turned into a bird and kept in a cage in the witch’s castle. She currently had around seven-thousand cages of birds, it was a big castle.

Jorinda and Joringel loved each other so much because they were outcasts in their society for having such weird names, not really, I made that up, but they did really love each other. They wanted to get married. They wandered in the forest and Joringel told Jorinda to take care and not get too close to the witch’s castle. They were careful at first, that’s what everyone says, but they soon became lost and didn’t know the way home. They got really depressed.  They stepped inside the witch’s enchanted circle. Joringel could not move and Jorinda was turned into a nightingale, which the witch put in a cage. The nightingale could only sing, “Jug, jug jug,” but Jorinda had actually been singing, “My little bird, with the necklace red, Sings sorrow, sorrow, sorrow, He sings that the dove must soon be dead, Sings sorrow, sor—–jug, jug, jug,” as she was being turned into a bird.

The witch soon came to Joringel and said, “Greet you, Zachiel. If the moon shines on the cage, Zachiel, let him loose at once.” I have no idea what that means, but Joringel was freed. He begged the witch to turn Jorinda back into a woman, but she wouldn’t do it. She told him it was best if he forgot his beloved Jorinda.

Joringel went away quite sad. He came to a strange village where he kept sheep for a long time. He had a dream one night that he found a flower as red as blood with a pearl in the middle of it. Whatsoever he touched with this flower it was disenchanted. Joringel looked for the flower day after day, until it was nine days. He found it.

As soon as he had the flower he journeyed day and night to the witch’s castle. He used the flower to get through the enchanted ring around the castle. He used the flower to get through the castle door. He disenchanted things along the way. Finally, he saw the witch. She tried to get him, but the flower kept him out of harm’s reach. She grabbed one specific nightingale cage and ran. Joringel followed, knowing the nightingale in that cage was his beloved Jorinda. He used the flower on both the witch and Jorinda. Jorinda was turned back into a woman and the witch had no more powers. All the other birds got turned back into women and Jorinda and Joringel went home to Krypton.

The End

Jorinda and JoringelObservations

These are some weirdly named people. Maybe, in Germany, back in the day, these names weren’t so weird, but, to me, in the modern age, they’re weird names. They also sound like they would be elf names. Maybe Jorinda and Joringel wandered far to the north after this and became some of Santa’s elves. I want to say that because of their similarities these two names probably mean the same thing just with female and male endings.  “Jor” means something then “inda” means the female version of that thing. “Ingel” would be the male version of that thing. Jorinda is the female version of “jor” and Joringel is the male version of “jor,” whatever “jor” happens to be. I could be totally wrong though, but looking at it from a linguistic point of view, that’s what I’m thinking.

Seven thousand cages of birds is a lot of birds. Good lord, this woman must have been out a ton of money every month for bird food. The castle probably smelled terrible. She probably had all kinds of avian borne diseases. You know what…she’s a hoarder. She’s an animal hoarder. Seriously, that’s what she is. Nobody said people didn’t go around hoarding junk back in the day. There were hoarders then too. I would definitely call seven thousand birds a bit of a hoarding problem. That’s why she had to live all alone in the woods. Nobody wanted to be around her because she always smelled like bird poop.

I did some research for you guys. I didn’t know what all that hooplah about “zachiel” meant. Zachiel is either a last name or the name of an archangel in Kabbalistic something or other. Zachiel spells his name several different ways. He can be seen as a comforter or someone associated with wealth and charity. So, I guess this witch was kind of spiritual.

Jorinda and JoringelThemes

Something is as red as blood, again. Blood, if it’s exposed to oxygen, and fresh, is very bright red, all of you know that from childhood bicycle accidents. If you get over the gross factor, it’s quite a pretty color. Red like that really couldn’t be reproduced for quite a while. People could get duller reds from various plant dyes, but not that bright red color later recreated with cochineal. People wanted these beautiful bright colors, but they were hard to create. It’s a little morbid that so many people are going around desiring all manner of things to be the color of fresh blood, but you have to think about the times. People weren’t as squeamish about things then and it seems they had good taste in colors. When they saw a pretty color, they didn’t care where that pretty color came from, they just knew that it was pretty.

A blood-red flower would be possible. I actually had some blood-red gladioli in my flower bed this summer. They were quite pretty. I don’t think they’re that common though. I don’t know a lot about the flora in Germany and the Black Forest region. Maybe they have blood-red flowers growing there or maybe they don’t. If they do not, it makes sense that Joringel had to search for nine days to find this specific flower.

Pearls can symbolize purity so it makes sense that a pearl would be used to disenchant enchanted items. Items that are enchanted are not in their natural states after all. The fact that pearls symbolize purity doesn’t make a lot of sense in some respects because a pearl is essentially oyster snot. I don’t consider snot very pure.


I’ve got to fly back to Krypton now.

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Grimm’s Fairy Tales