Category Archives: Clippings

Cottage (Garden) Industry?

A business model that never took off: Backyard Frog Raising, circa 1934.

No frog farmer need search for a market, his crop is virtually all sold before it is raised. I could sell one hundred times my present production in a single week, and am expanding my ponds so, eventually, I expect to have 1000 acres utilized solely for giant bullfrog culture. I sell tadpoles at five to ten cents each by the hundred. They are used to stock farms and for aquarium purposes.

Bullfrogs, that cost me less than one cent per year to feed, wholesale at $3.00 per dozen in large quantities. Smaller frogs, of which only the legs are used, sell for as high as seventy cents per pound. Each frog gives a pound of delicious white meat that has a taste similar to a tender, juicy squab. The whole frog is used, the front quarter being just as delicious as the legs.

Our old neighborhood in Virginia had a thriving frog population. Springtime walks were sometimes a gruesome affair, wheeling the stroller around poor little squashed frogs, dozens and dozens of them, a battlefield in which the victory had gone to the cars. The kids rescued legions of froglings from the swimming pool filters. I still shudder at the memory. I guess we lacked the entrepreneurial vision that could have made us a fortune in frog legs. I wonder if this fellow made his million? I wonder if his retirement was haunted by visions of frogs who’d been dispatched thusly:

When ready for marketing, the frogs are caught at night by blinding
them with a search light. When the catcher gets a frog he puts it into
a burlap sack with others. They are then put into small pens awaiting
the dresser who grabs them by their rear legs and pierces the head with
a nail by a downward stroke of the hand. The entrails are removed and
the frog is ready for shipment in barrels of cracked ice.


Ooh, but it occurs to me: what an excellent book character this gentleman would make, the backyard frog farmer. His children, roused from bed on ‘harvest night’ to hold the blinding flashlights and burlap sacks. His wife, an experimental cook, handwriting recipes on little cards to include with customers’ purchases: 101 ways to serve frog legs. Frog stew, frog friccasee, frog fritters, frogs-and-dumplings. French fried frog legs. Frog, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches in the children’s school lunches.

Scott found the link at BoingBoing, of course.

For the Commonplace Book: The Hidden Art of Homemaking

"On the route to Aigle from Ollon, where we live in Switzerland, one passes an orchard. Neatly planted rows of trees are beautifully pruned and trained to form straight aisles for fruit-picking, with a grassy carpet beneath. But the thing which causes most passersby to turn and look, and look again, slowing up the car if they are driving, is the touch of an artist indeed. Planted at the end of every row of trees is a lovely rose bush, and in midsummer these bushes are a riot of color in a variety of roses. There is just one rose bush at the end of each line, but this is enough to lift the entire work, which could be merely efficient fruit-farming, into a work of art, enjoyed by hundreds who pass each day—bringing influence into lives as well as being a subject of discussion, and bringing about, in other gardens, results of which the ‘artist’ may never know."

—The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer

How I Wish I Hadn’t Just Eaten that Bag of Skittles

It’s not like I didn’t already know about the scary, scary food-additive situation. The hormones and antibiotics, the pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables, all that mysterious gibberish printed in the ingredients of just about ANYTHING.

But crushed bugs in my candy? And we’re DYEING the chicken now, for pity’s sake?

What’s left to eat?

Besides chocolate, of course: nature’s perfect food.

Taking Care of Blogness

I’m here, I really am. Just: five kids, one me, and of course if something’s gotta give, it’s going to be Mr. iMac. (Fred, I call him. Ole Fred, actually, in honor of my former professor and favorite living writer.)

(And yes, Down to the Bonny Glen was dedicated to the author, not the computer. I didn’t even have this computer when I wrote this book. I think that one was named Harvey. After the rabbit.)

Anyway, right now, at this moment, both my little ones are asleep and the three older girls are occupied. In descending order: Where the Red Fern Grows; a giant dirt hill and the little boy across the street; Zoombinis. Now, I am aware that my calling attention to this fact (that none of my children need me at this moment) all but guarantees someone is about to—

UNBELIEVABLE. I am not making this up: at the very second I was typing that, the door opened and one of the children DID need me. Well, sort of. She needed to tell me that she’d come home for her jaguar. Because, you know, what good is a giant dirt hill and the little boy across the street if you’re  short one jaguar? Priorities, you know.

OK. She’s gone again, wild beast in hand. What I should do now is typereallyfast and finish this post before someone needs (a) feeding, (b) hugging, or (c) wiping. So let me think. What was I going to write about today. Well, first, there was this: I have a brief sequel to my post about the funny things you hear in the background when you talk to Alice on the phone. (Such as: "Mommy, may I please jump on the bed?" Her children may be hard on the mattress springs, but they are so POLITE!) I took my gang to the pool this morning and I snuck in a phone call to Alice while the big girls were splashing and hollering "She splashed me!" in indignant tones swimming.

Alice: So when you come visit what we’ll do is—

Me (interrupting): No, no, DON’T THROW THE STRING CHEESE IN THE POOL! Oh, shoot.

(Question: would you let your two-year-old eat a stick of string cheese that had been fished out of the neighborhood pool? I mean, what’s a little chlorine marinade, right?)

Next. Lots of interesting reading elsewhere in the ‘sphere today. Spunky has three or four posts I’d like to sink my teeth into, as soon as I have a bit of a lull around here (a less tenuous lull than this one, I mean).

(For example, during that paragraph the Zoombinis had a heated argument with the upstairs computer, also known as Marge the Barely-Functioning Laptop, requiring intervention from local peacekeeping agencies.)

(Operation Reconciliation: a success. Marge has somewhat grudgingly permitted the ‘Binis access to her territory. She is temperamental, though, and their position is precarious in the extreme.)

(Personally I think she is just sulking because she heard me say it was a shame I wouldn’t be able to live-blog our cross-country trip, whenever that actually happens, because Marge doesn’t have Wi-Fi capability. She takes these things very personally.)

There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on at Liz’s place today, too, such as this post on how people get started reading the classics. (I’d like to respond to this topic, too, at some point, but today is all about the meta-blogging, not the actual Blogging of Intelligent Stuff.) She also links to the list of 100 Cool Teachers in Literature list being compiled by the teachers at A Year of Reading, which will make a great companion to the fascinating lists of Cool Boys and Cool Girls in Children’s Lit that Jen Robinson has assembled. Up next, Cool Mothers? Seems like someone had a list like that going not long ago. High on my list: Marmee (obviously—and Mrs. Jo, too; she grew up rather nicely), Anne Blythe (but of course), Mrs. Austin, and the light-footed, lighthearted Mrs. Ray, mother of Betsy. But tops on my list has to be Susan Sowerby from The Secret Garden. Smart, down-to-earth, cheerful, observant, plain-spoken, unflappable, and a good cook to boot.

The Coolest Dad in Fiction has got to be Atticus, right?

(I’m having deja vu. Surely we have discussed this before.)

Moving on: Spunky mentions this too but I first read it on Bloglines, ’cause I’m a PHATMommy subscriber. Shannon reminds us that this weekend is the big BlogHer conference in San Jose where hundreds (thousands?) of female bloggers are getting together for panel discussions, networking, and cocktails. Lots of cocktails. Shannon has posted some BlogHer-in-Spirit discussion questions for those of us who are not at the convention in body. I hope to tackle them myself later on, but right now I can hear that Marge is being inhospitable to the Zoombinis again, and I think my own little Zoom-Beanie is in need of a Cool Mom in body, not just in spirit.

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Blogs of Beauty Awards 2006

Well, that was a nice surprise! Just now I was checking out referrers in my site meter and discovered that Bonny Glen has been nominated for a Blogs of Beauty award! I’m a finalist in the "Best Homeschooling Blog" category along with the most excellent Spunky  Homeschool and the lovely Higher Up and Further In (which latter I enthused about recently after noticing that extremely cool picture-study Flickr badge in the sidebar). (Speaking of which—this month she has a Mary Cassatt badge. Scroll down the page to the "This Month’s Artist" section. Beautiful.)

The fourth finalist in this category is a blog I hadn’t encountered before: Enjoy the Journey. I have just spent most of my early-morning blog-writing time on a thoroughly enjoyable exploration of Lindsey’s site. Great essay on motherhood near the top of the page.

Voting instructions can be found at A Gracious Home. There are many other fine blogs in the various categories. If you had any free time left you can kiss it goodbye now.

Many thanks to the person who nominated me, whoever you are!

Practicing What One Preaches

I tried to leave a polite inquiry on Reverend Jim West’s blog, but for some reason Blogger won’t let me comment. Perhaps Dr. West will be so kind as to respond to me here. He has written a series of posts harshly criticizing home education, which he opposes, he says, on theological grounds. Well, he’s welcome to his opinion, and I have no interest in trying to change his mind.

However. I find some curious and uncharitable inconsistencies in his statements, and I wonder if he himself is aware that he is repeatedly contradicting himself—and is doing so in a manner which runs counter to a central tenet of his religion, which instructs him to do unto others as he would have them do unto him.

In a recent post, Dr. West satirized homeschooling by presenting a fictional character whose home education by his uneducated mother resulted in tragic illiteracy and poverty. Thanks to “Bob Little’s” ignorant mother, he grows up to be a street sweeper who lives in a cardboard box. As satire goes, this one is clumsy and silly; among the evidence of Bob’s educational shortcomings is the observation that he “was a regular sight at the soup kitchen during the raging days of the Great Depression.” You don’t say. At least Imaginary Bob would have been in good company, standing in the bread lines with the thousands of well educated folks made destitute by the Depression. Ahem.

You know, I love a good satire. Dr. West’s post was not a good satire, but I’d have been willing to roll my eyes and move on if it weren’t for what comes next.

Blogger Christopher Heard wrote a post pointing out an unfortunate irony in Dr. West’s post:

The really funny thing about the satire is that Jim—a product of public education who holds a Th.D. from a non-accredited, distance-learning seminary, teaches at a non-accredited, distance-learning seminary, and and constantly champions the cause of quality control in scholarship against dilettantes even though the school of theology for which he teaches “offers a free and open educational resource for self-learners everywhere”—cannot properly form the plural of “homeschooler.”

I’d giggled over that too. Dr. West responded that the grammatical error was deliberate, an extension of the satire. I shall give him the benefit of the doubt. However, in his public response to Chris Heard, Jim West makes the following statement:

In any event, if folk have questions perhaps its best if they ask me directly rather than depending on infidel message boards or incorrect web addresses and slanderous misinformation. I may well oppose homeschooling on theological grounds- but Chris evidently opposes finding out the facts first. Readers will have to decide for themselves which is more egregious.

(Emphasis mine.)

And here, Dr. West, is my question for you. I am glad to hear you oppose “slanderous misinformation” and believe that omitting to “find out the facts first” is egregious. It puzzles me, though, that you are unaware of the manner in which your satire promotes slanderous misinformation (through the suggestion that homeschoolers are inadequately educated) and that you yourself are prone to making statements for which you have no factual basis. For example, you wrote,

Agape Press reports today One of the authors of a proposed resolution urging the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) to come up with a plan to pull its children from public schools says the resolution is a “call to holiness” and a “call to obey God’s Word.”

That of course is pure unadulterated rubbish. But what can you expect from two people who have neither theological training nor any sort of intelligent comprehension of the Christian mission. Only the most foolhardy and uninformed fall for the notion being peddled by the “exodizers”.

The only people who pull their kids from public schools out of fear are the same sort who haven’t ever read the Bible in Greek or Hebrew. In other words, they are the sort of people who get all their information second hand. This whole crusade is nothing but another in the long line of senseless crusades entered into by frenzied, uninformed, twaddling and prattling mobs of unwashed peasants. And it is doomed to failure. Fortunately.

To brand homeschoolers “frenzied, uninformed, twaddling and prattling mobs of unwashed peasants” is not only uncharitable in the extreme—a clear violation of the Golden Rule—it is also the presentation of unsupported opinion as fact. You, sir, have failed to “find out the facts first.” Homeschoolers may be many things, but “uninformed” is a word that seldom, if ever, applies. It certainly doesn’t apply across the board. Neither are we frenzied. (We may, sometimes, be unwashed.) If you are serious about the faith you profess, you ought to understand that hypocrisy is explicitly disallowed.

Chris Heard’s post apparently contained an error about the college you attended. This bothered you, and you blasted him for it. He apologized. Yet you yourself have repeatedly made public statements riddled with factual errors and have shown no willingness to educate yourself with the facts. Readers will have to decide for themselves which is more egregious.

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Cracks. Me. Up.

I just enjoy the Deputy Headmistress so very much. Who else gives us mulberry stains, crazed birds, a nutria for Pete’s sake, not to mention a granny who knows it by its scat, Pre-Raphaelite angels, Wal-Mart, William Steig, and Elsie Dinsmore all in one post? Funny, funny stuff.