Celebrate the Small Things; new books

Celebrate blog hopThis is a post in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. Join us at: http://lexacain.blogspot.com/2015/01/celebrate-small-things.html

Today I am celebrating two new books I read recently. The first is one in the Elemental Masters series by Mercedes Lackey, Unnatural Issue. These books are a series of fantasy-romance novels set in Edwardian England. The first in the series was rather ruined for me because the heroine, a female doctor, had a clinic to hand out quack birth control to prostitutes and other loose women, and there was a certain hint that the doc may have done illegal abortions as well.

The current book in the series doesn’t feature hints at prenatal child killing, but there are the usual Neopagan/Wiccan elements, so I wouldn’t recommend it to readers under 21. The heroine of the story is a girl, daughter of a Earth-element mage, whose mother died at her birth and whose dad handed the child over to the servants with orders that he never see the child again. The girl, Susanne, was raised by the servants and worked as one. Until she grew up and Dad, who had turned to the forbidden art of necromancy, saw she was the very image of her dead mother— and just what he needed for his planned spell to bring his dead wife back to life. Susanne has to flee and runs in to the elemental mages who are tracking down her dad because he’s working forbidden necromancy. The story ends, after much thrilling struggle, with the defeat of the evil mage and a romantic attachment for Susanne.

The other book is one I ordered as part of my current studies on the subject of Islam. ‘The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran’ by Robert Spencer. It’s not so much a religious studies book as a current affairs one, showing why, in the author’s opinion, the Koran and its contents are quite relevant to much that is going on in our world today. I would recommend reading it as part of a reading program that includes other books on Islam by other authors and from other points of view.

Other News

My young tomcat Simon is resting in the house today. He’s got an infected sore, probably from being the victim of tomcat-on-tomcat violence. He really likes the attention he gets being in the house by himself instead of being on the porch with the other cats— most of whom stay on the porch all winter rather than in the barn like good barncats. Because the porch leads to the basement, which has a furnace.

And today I’m finally making the lentil-sprout soup I’d planned for some days now.  I had to put the finished sprouts in the refrigerator for a few days, taking it out some days to rinse the sprouts and keep them alive. Today I finally decided to get the soup started.

The Curse of Chicken-on-Chicken Violence

AraucanaRoo221Recently I went out to the barn and found that #221, my sole Araucana rooster, was unwell. At first I thought he had frostbitten feet due to a thawing day followed by a below-zero night. But I put him in to a cage in my kitchen to warm him up and it seems the feet were not the problem. It seems that Rooster 221 was the victim of chicken-on-chicken violence.

The other 2 roosters in the barn are the probable culprits. Both are Brahma roosters, which means they are not big on fighting compared to chickens of most breeds. In fact, it’s wise to raise Brahma chicks in a different brooder than chicks of other breeds. Especially cheap Leghorn male chicks. But my Brahma boys ARE twice the size of #221 and they do think they own all the hens on the farm.

I moved #221’s cage into my front porch a day ago. That was to expose him to colder temperatures. I’m putting him into an enclosed pen outdoors. I’ll put #221’s wife, #224, with him. I’m also giving him two more hens as mistresses— and a home heating system since 2 chickens don’t generate quite enough heat for an upper Michigan winter.

Yesterday I shoveled some snow out of the chosen pen. I also carried a bucket of barnyard manure to put in the pen’s chicken house (a repurposed calf hutch) as bedding. Winter bedding for my penned chickens consists of 2-3 inches of manure to provide warmth, and an inch or two of waste hay on top of that.

One advantage of my current housing plan is that I will have a jump on the spring hatching season. Araucana hens lay blue-green eggs. All of my other hens lay brown eggs. So if there is a blue-green egg in the pen it’s a pure Araucana egg and can be put in the incubator. The eggs from the ‘mistresses’ will be brown and will be used as eating eggs.

Feisty chickens are part of the chicken raising life. That’s an additional reason why I have pens for groups of chickens. The main reason is that I like raising up my own purebred chicks. In order to have purebred eggs, you have to confine your purebred hens with one or more purebred males. If the hens have been running with assorted breeds of roosters, you have to wait 3 weeks after penning with the purebred roo before you get for-certain purebred eggs you can put in the incubator.

Buying extinct chickens

buff-chantecler-chickenPerhaps you do not know that many old-fashioned breeds of livestock are threatened with extinction. One breed, the Chantecler chicken, developed in Canada (by monks), has already been declared extinct. I feel bad about that. So I just ordered a batch of baby Chantecler chicks.

How can that happen if the breed is extinct? Well, turns out they were not as extinct as people thought. A few survived in small flocks and the breed was able to continue. Chicks of the breed have been available from Ideal hatchery in 4 color variations, and White Chanteclers are now available from Cackle Hatchery.

Chanteclers are dual purpose chickens— meat and eggs— and are a very cold-hardy breed. They are also the only chicken breed developed by monks. To learn more, visit the Wikipedia page. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chantecler_chicken

Why do I want Chantecler chickens? Well, most of my laying hens are getting old, and of the chicks I tried to raise last year I have ONE pullet left.  I had Buff Brahmas and Araucanas, but my Araucana rooster has frostbitten feet  this morning and probably won’t survive, and the one Araucana hen doesn’t lay eggs very often. The Buff Brahmas are pretty, but don’t lay that well either. So I decided to go for something different this year.

IWSG: Reviving my 2006 blog in Esperanto

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeThis is a post in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. Join at: http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

My latest ploy to avoid having enough time to work on my WIP is reviving my oldest blog— one from 2006. At that time, my main blog was called ‘Moreover the dog went with them’, after a line from the Biblical book of Tobit. (If you don’t have Tobit in your Bible, you need a better Bible. Tobit was in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Bible Jesus and his disciples used.)

In addition to Moreover, I started a second blog in Esperanto, the international language. It’s called ‘kaj la hundo iris kun ili’, which is the Biblical phrase from the Esperanto Bible.

The Bible in Esperanto translation.

Esperanto Bible

I have not posted in ‘kaj la hundo’ in years, but lately I decided to start again. The reason is that I am working on a science fiction novel in which Esperanto is the common language of the Terran Empire and also used as an intercommunication language by aliens, because it’s such an easy language to learn. Using Esperanto as a futuristic language used to be far more common in science fiction, but today’s science fiction writers are convinced that difficult English will be the One True Terran Language in the future. Not very logical, but…..

My revival of the ‘kaj la hundo’ blog is currently concerned with providing links to Esperanto learning material for English speakers. Here is the link, in case you want to have a look: http://kajlahundo.blogspot.com/  I welcome comments on any of the posts there in any language. Well, OK, if you are going to comment in Chinese or Swahili I won’t understand it a bit, but I welcome the comments anyway. 😉

I especially hope to find readers for that blog interested in learning a little Esperanto. Studies show that Esperanto can be learned in 1/10th the time it would take to learn another European language. So it’s a quick way to get a second language into your brain.

More recently I started a Facebook page in Esperanto called ‘La Sankta Biblio en Esperanto.’ As you may have guessed, it’s about the Bible. I try to regularly post verses or groups of verses from the Bible in Esperanto. I usually give the English as well, and for single verses a few other languages. I use the web page Jesus Army Multilingual Bible to help find the verses in different languages. Here is the link to La Sankta Biblio en Esperanto: https://www.facebook.com/sanktabiblio/

I’d really like it if language geeks and Bible geeks would ‘like’ that Facebook page and share it with their friends. Thanks!


Kitten Picture of the Day

juliannenorbertMy cat Julianne— the orange one— got pregnant this spring and had to have an emergency caesarian. All of her kittens died. During the grief period Julianne needed to cuddle a kitten, so I handed her the youngest cat we had— seven month old Norbert (who is a girl kitty.)

Julianne has got over losing her kittens, and she’s grown a lot. She was so tiny at two years old the vet thought she was a pregnant kitten. But now she’s almost as big as her brother and kitten-daddy Derek. Perhaps being neutered let her grow more.IWSG

Belated Celebrate: Eyeglasses & Bette Davis Eyes

Celebrate blog hopOK, I missed Celebrate the Small Things (a blog hop) yesterday. So I’m doing it today. Because that way at least it gets done.

First thing I’m celebrating is eyeglasses. Eyeglasses that work, actually. Because my eyes recently got worse and my current eyeglasses no longer work. In fact, I have been using the lower half of my bifocals to see at a distance! And taking off my glasses for close-in work like reading or writing blog posts.

Normally to get new glasses I would have to wait to get an appointment with my Medicaid-approved eye doctor who only comes to the clinic once a week. And I’d have to get welfare glasses— I’d have to pick from a handful of cheap, crappy eyeglass frames that are so awful to wear, I didn’t wear my welfare glasses at all but my older pair which at least stayed on my face without causing pain. (The eye doctor said they couldn’t put new lenses in my old frames for some reason.)

But the next eye doctor visit I took my prescription to Walmart and found that THEY could put new lenses in my old frames so long as I paid for it. This time out, since it’s kind of an emergency and I don’t have money saved for new glasses, my mom offered to buy me glasses. So I will be able to SEE properly without holding my glasses up with my hand so I can see through the lower bifocal lens.

Another thing I’m celebrating is seeing an old movie on the TCM channel, ‘All This and Heaven, Too,’ starring Bette Davis as a governess who is arrested for complicity when her employer kills his crazy wife. It was a great story based on a novel by Rachel Field, who based her story on real life events that happened to her great-aunt.

I’m reading the novel right now. I bought it because the movie inspired a writing idea, something which is a bit of a change of direction for me. I’m not saying more about the idea right now lest I jinx it, but if all goes well, I will share more later.


Keto Diet

Last night I was making Keto Bread from the recipe book ‘The Ketogenic Cookbook’ by Jimmy Moore & Maria Emmerich. It’s really just a revision of the Diet Revolution Bread recipe from the original Atkins Diet Revolution book, with unflavored protein powder replacing the small amount of (unhealthy) soy flour in the original.

The recipes involve separating eggs and whipping up the whites. Well, in my case it also involved waiting for the hens to lay a couple more eggs so I’d have the six eggs required.

When I whipped up the eggs it did not work like it was supposed to. It didn’t get high enough and I fear a speck of egg yolk may have gotten in the whites.

What I should have done at that point was to whip out my three muffin-top pans and turned the batter into flatbread ‘slices’. They wouldn’t have been perfect but the size would have been OK. Instead, I baked in the bread pan, and the bread ‘fell’ and the middle was soggy and the bread slices I salvaged were very short.

Since the recipe calls for possibly frying the slices in butter to increase the lipid profile, the slices will be edible. I will probably eat them with cream cheese and bacon bits on them. (Yes, that’s a diet meal.) But I’m going to make another batch of bread sometime soon, God and hens willing, and then perhaps I can make some better bread— and take pictures of it for my blog readers.

Blood sugar: Last night my blood sugar was at 124. Before I went on strict keto, my blood sugars were always over 300 for about a month. (Probably why I have my current eye problem.)


0510161425This is a picture of my kitten Simon when he was younger. He’s almost as big as a full grown cat now, but he’s still nursing from his mother, Consubstantial 2, and his aunt, Consubstantial 1. He has a brother named Theodore, and a possible half-brother named Alvin. Lately, what Simon and Theodore love to do every day is run out the door and play outdoors with the big kitties.

Celebrate: Mama Cat Consubstantial 1

0825161400aFirst thing to get out of the way: yes, I do have not only one, but two, cats named Consubstantial. Originally one Consubstantial had a different name but since it’s so hard to tell the two apart, they somehow both became Consubstantial. Consubstantial 1, in the picture, used to be the friendlier one. But now Consubstantial 2 is also mostly friendly. Except yesterday when she slapped her own kitten for standing too close to her.

The Consubstantials, often called Connies for short, are both barn cats and both have kittens this year. And so both are living in the house so the kittens get socialized. But Connie 1 has been having some problems. She got very scrawny nursing kittens this year— perhaps because Connie 2 and another barn cat, Charybdis, had kittens about the same time and everyone’s nursing one another’s kittens.

Connie 1 also has been having ‘digestive issues’ but otherwise seemed healthy. Until a couple of nights ago when a noise woke me up, and I discovered Connie 1 was having a seizure. When it was over, she slept for a while and then jumped in my lap for attention which she never does.

We weren’t able to discover why Connie 1 had the seizure but my guess is possible dehydration, since she’s nursing a lot of kittens and her ‘digestive issues’ are playing a part. I tried feeding her some yogurt. She likes it but it hasn’t fixed the ‘issues.’ So after doing a little research I decided to give her one of my probiotic pills, crushed up. After the first time her ‘issues’ improved, so I am optimistic that she will continue to get better.

Connie 1 nursing kittens. Not her own kittens.

Connie 1 nursing kittens. Not her own kittens.


This is a post in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. Click on the link and you will either find out more about the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop, or the universe will explode.

Belated Celebrate: Barn Kittens

0729161314The picture above is what happens when a barncat mother of 6 wakes up to find 5 extra kittens in the kitten bed. And it looks like she’s going to have to keep them. Charybdis, first time mama of 6, has to take care of the kittens of Consubstatial 1, who ran out the door and hasn’t come back.

Escaping mama cats is a chronic problem around here. Most of my cats are barn cats, but I bring the pregnant ones in the house so the kittens will be properly socialized. Many people want to get barn cat kittens, but they expect them to be friendly, not the hostile little monsters that you get when you leave barn kittens alone until their mama moves the litter to someplace you can find.

But mostly mama cats come back to my door after an hour or two of freedom. So I’m pretty worried Consubstantial 1’s kittens may be orphans.

These kittens are very young, but not too young to be started on solid food. And Char’s kittens are about 4 weeks and just started on solid food.

Since Char can only feed 6 kittens at a time because she only had 6 nursing before, I’m feeding them in shifts. I put Connie 1’s kittens in the lower bin of the multi-level cat bed, and Char’s on the next level up. When Connie 1’s babies are done, Char’s babies get a turn. And I’m keeping solid food available at all times for Char’s babies and have let Connie 1’s babies sniff at it.

I am hoping that I can manage to keep all 11 kittens going that way if the mama doesn’t come back.

In other cat related news, escaped pregnant cat http://lexacain.blogspot.com/Consubstantial 2 has been recaptured, and this morning had 4 newborn kittens in her nest. I REALLY hope she will stop at 4.

This is a post in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop.