Pond sitting

I don’t sit too much. But today I’m sitting with purpose. I’m geese-spying.

I’m sitting down at my pond waiting for two nesting geese to take a break so that I can candle their eggs and see if this is a viable endeavor for these ladies to continue.

My two female American geese, Lucy and Peaches, have been sitting on their eggs a few weeks. There’s one hidden behind the goose in front. They are quite new to this whole procreation thing, so it’s very possible they just don’t entirely know what they are doing yet. I certainly felt that way when I was waiting for Cerys to “hatch”.

Anyway, I consulted my expert friend Sonja, of Rustic Red Poultry (check her out on FB) and she suggested I just spend some time at the pond and wait for them to take a break. I’m supposed to quickly sneak over to the aforementioned nest, throw a puppy corral fence up around it and get busy candling the eggs to see what is happening. If it looks like we are in business, leave them there. If not remove the eggs and the nesting barrel and get the girls back to normal.

Hmm. Why the puppy corral?

“Well, because when they see you messing with their eggs they will come at you, full force, running, ready for blood.”

Oh Good Lord. How do I get back out?

“Throw the cage around them, or yourself even. If it’s around them, open the cage up and back away…”

Right. I’ll probably be running, screaming at the top of my lungs. There will be no Mission Impossible backing away slowly and slipping out with even regular heartbeats….

So. Here I am. Book in hand, everything peaceful. The calm before the storm….

There’s Dad goose

So. I’ve been observing several things while I’ve been down here on my “essential” pond sit Please know, my pioneery build-a-fence type friends, I’m working on my taxes in the wind and I ran three miles and took care of my chickens and kids, (although thankfully they home school themselves), and I know what we’re having for dinner…

So. The pond sit begins. Here’s a some observations of different creatures besides geese.

1) Redwing Blackbirds. So, there’s several couples down here on nests and the males are extraordinarily fierce. I’ve witnessed them chasing ducks and the male goose (very brave) and even incredibly scary sparrows this morning.

2) Redwing male blackbirds are sometimes also unintentionally entertaining:

They would hate for you to know this, as they want to be taken extremely seriously, but I witnessed one landing on an extremely tall reed and then arcing back and forth on said reed in an extreme bunging-jumping manner for a good 30 seconds. I was stifling a laugh as I didn’t want to embarrass him.

Or possibly he’s having a middle-aged crisis and this is the equivalent of a red-sports car and too many years of boring fighting off predator sparrows from his wife’s nests…

BB the Gander evidently also got bored as he fell asleep.

Ok. So here’s the latest.

At 1pm (and referencing earlier protestors, be quiet, I’m now doing ‘biological research’ which is being taken ‘very seriously’ on social media currently I’ve noticed…) just one goose (Peaches) came out, so I dashed over as quietly as one can dash amongst trees and pulled out the single egg that Peaches was currently coveting with my hand while the other goose wasn’t looking. I just tried not to look in at my hand during this process, I just wanted to remember it as it once was before it was beaten and bruised.

I candled the egg. It looked just sort of full, (but not sure what with). Not clear, anyway.

I know. It’s scaringly enormous. If you met the parents you’d understand that there might be a velociraptor in there.

Meanwhile Mr. Gander and Peaches were clearly discussing the best and cleanest ways to kill me. There is, after all, a pond here….

Please note that I am hiding behind a tree whilst taking this photo.

Peaches is clearly doing a Karen here.,,,BB looks like he’s possibly a bit tired of it.

They’re looking for me…,they seem to think I’ve shrunk and am hiding in the grass. Which I am.

Meanwhile, however, Lucy is sitting on the majority of eggs and I’m definitely not reaching my tiny hand way back there again to get it beaten to death by a beak. I need my hands to make dinner.

Well that was that, for now. There was an exciting moment where a couple of ducks got close to the nest to partake of the extra food I’ve been giving the girls, and I didn’t get pictures of that, although it looked like an episode of ‘ Dr. Phil ‘.

I think that Lucy had already had her daily “me moment” earlier in the morning before I came out, which doesn’t bode well for candling the rest of the eggs. I’ll give it a few more days before I “just” kick them out and we start over. Sonja tells me there is mourning on the spot, and I’m already losing sleep over that, even though I haven’t been to bed yet.

But it’s gone calm again, according to Dad.

To quote my friend Sonja, “it is quite dramatic, geese live lives of drama…”

I have no doubt I’ll experience this…

At this point in the day at the other end of the Rabbit Hole, I’d have been having a nice pub lunch.

Well, maybe a year ago I would have….curbside pub pickup doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

Spring Fever

Hello all, sorry for the lapse in writing. It’s been a busy few weeks on the farm with kids and lambs appearing. The first was born Easter Sunday, a little boy kid, which seemed sort of fitting for the occasion.

It was a cheering sight in the middle of these strange times and a humbling reminder that life continues on, even when we humans can’t be as important as we think we usually are.

Since that day they came thick and fast. So I’m just going to treat you all to an array of photos and not bore you too much with explanation, because a picture is worth a thousand words:

These babies had matching bottoms with their mum, which I found fun
Very photogenic sheep who appear to be smiling
Our lovely guard dog, Duke, keeping an eye on one of the smiling lambs

One afternoon during this very productive couple of weeks, Scott was standing outside after coming home from work, chatting with some neighbors who use our pasture for their cattle. Scott likes to go out of an evening and look over his land, I find it charming to see him standing on the hill on the far side of the lake/pond, gazing around….

Anyway, as they were standing and discussing all things farm-ish, he noticed a goat in the woods who had clearly given birth to a baby or two. Two, he decided. She was head down, cleaning them off. As the chatter continued, one of the neighbors declared she thought maybe she saw triplets, so they finished their discussion and he headed over to the Mama.

5, my friends. Quintuplets.

Now, goats can have 1-5 babies so this is not outside the bounds of reason, but it’s certainly never happened here before.

He called Addie from his phone, because of course I’m always away from my phone or it’s dead at virtually all exciting and important moments and I caught gist of the conversation, yelling “Five????!!!” very usefully in the background. All offspring that move slightly quickly in our house (as opposed to others that perhaps don’t) rushed outside to see him running across the yard with three teeny tiny shivering little souls in his arms.

Now if that sight doesn’t melt a wife’s heart I don’t know what does…

He gave us instructions to get the mama and the other two larger babies into a pen in the barn and make sure everyone was fine, which we did.

The girls stayed outside and I returned to the house to find the three little kids in my laundry sink, having a very early-in-life spa day under a heat lamp.

Anyway, it all worked out splendidly. Scott went back out to the barn and taught Frankie how to milk the Mama Goat so that we could give the laundry-sink babies the essential colostrum.

This is actually a different goat, but here’s Frankie in a sort of plumbers pose…

So, of course, one simply cannot leave kid goats in a laundry sink. Although quite honestly, that would certainly help with clean-up. We moved them into an old play pen that used to have actual human children in it. Ours, in fact.

They were pretty sleepy for the first 24 hours, but that’s normal. Addie, Frankie and I took shifts, feeding them every 2 hours. We use a regular baby bottle and eventually a goat “formula” although of course the first 24 hours we relied on the milked colostrum. I can’t emphasize enough how important colostrum is. It contains all the antibodies the goats need. Without it their survival rate drops precipitously.

Just a general cute shot I know you all want to see…

We were able to return the largest and most vigorous of the three babies to its Mama the next day. The following video gave me such a big breath of relief to see. Often Mamas who have been separated from their babies have a hard time accepting them again, and babies that have been bottle fed have a hard time figuring out Mama! But we got him back to her quickly, and he smelled like her as we’d given him her milk, so it all went swimmingly.

Everyone did just fine.

Skipping babies

Eventually the babies drank from a very clever bucket. This video shows two of the quintuplets with two of their friends that were also bottle babies (very young Mama) and they all learned very quickly.

And no, my friends. I did none of this before the Rabbit Hole. 😬

Fortunately, I had Scott to teach me….😆

Granny Smith (not the Apple)

I’ve been watching my own husband fearlessly march off to battle every morning recently.

There’s no soldiers to fight, and there’s not really any actual weapons at this point to wage in this war. Except social distancing, which generally goes against the rules of most warfare. It’s an odd, but very real battle.

He’s an Emergency Medicine physician who recently took on the position of CEO at our local hospital. The timing of that move seems providential to me now, he knows what the needs are, given his years in medicine, and he knows the enemy his staff are facing.

When I think about this whole scary situation as warfare, my mind often goes to my grandparents, some of whom really did serve in actual battle.

I told you recently about my Poppy, who was a Desert Rat in North Africa.

This week I want to tell you the amazing story of my paternal Granny, Louisa Sarah Good née Smith, who was, among other roles, a War Nurse in WW2.

I have a Granny Smith, like the Apple!

My middle name is Louise, and I was named after her.

I’ve put this story together through a mixture of tales I’ve heard and read from a few of my uncles and my dad, and especially from my Granny Good.

I loved her very much.

I remember visiting her in a couple of different homes she lived in. She always had a little basket of things for me when I was a little girl. There was yarn in there and a little yarn doll you could make long stretches of knitted rope from, and always a little bottle of Lily of the Valley I was allowed to use.

I still have that little knitting dolly:

Granny visited us when we lived in Australia. She traveled many places with us during our visit, all the way from Adelaide to Sydney in a car, through many beautiful and barren outback locations. It was a fair hike in those days.

She desperately wanted to buy an Australian opal when she was with us, and I still have both the earrings and necklace that she bought on that trip.

Many of the following stories come straight front the horse’s mouth, so to speak. She stayed in my bedroom when we weren’t traveling, and at night when she’d take out her teeth, she’d chat about her young life.

I’m not sure if I was more fascinated by her lack of teeth, or her stories, at the time.

But here we go.

Granny was born in 1912, the same year that the Titanic sunk. She passed away, very sadly, on Scott and I’s first wedding anniversary, July 31st, 1994, at the age of 82 years old.

When she was just 12 years old, as many young ladies of her station in life did, she went to London to be a servant girl for one of the aristocratic families living in Berkeley Square. Her father put a shilling in her pocket, enough to catch the train home if she ever felt she was in danger. Her younger sister, my great Aunt Jess, also went to London to be a spinster’s personal dressmaker. This was just the way of life at that time for young women in their social class.

She worked on Berkeley Square (yes, the one the nightingale sang on in the famous Glenn Miller tune) for a wealthy family who lived on the corner of the Square and Bruton Street. She lived in the home, as did all the servants, and she rarely saw the actual family. Her immediate supervisor was the Head Housekeeper, a fierce lady that she had enormous admiration of.

The children of the family were taken care of by the Nanny, and Granny would run into them occasionally in the hallways, and find it odd that although some of them were her age, they had such different lives.

Granny’s job was to clean and polish the silver. Just that. Because there was so much and it took all day.

She was there at least 2 years because in 1926 when she was 14, she and the other servant girls were called away from their duties first thing in the morning. They followed the Head Housekeeper up the stairs to the top of the house where they looked out the back windows down into the adjoining garden of the house next door to them at 17 Bruton Street.

A Nanny, with several very excited nurses, was in that garden, and took a tiny newborn out of a pram, holding her up for the girls to see.

The Head Housekeeper told them,

“That, young ladies, is your new Princess….”

Princess Elizabeth, now Queen Elizabeth II, born April 21, 1926.

My Granny told me:

“I think I might have been one of the first Royal subjects to see the Queen, she had only been born very early that morning, I remember being woken up with noise and chatter in the middle of the night and wondering what had happened…”

I looked it up later. Her Royal Highness was born around 3am that morning. By C-section nonetheless, which is pretty amazing for 1926.

By the time Granny left service in her mid to late teens, she had formed a firm friendship with the Head Housekeeper. So much so that the daunting lady gave her her own pocket watch that she used to perform her duties.

She gave it to me and it’s kept in a secure location but I wanted to show you:

I don’t have much information about what happened in the meantime, but at some point my Granny became a nurse and was a nurse during the War.

Even when I was a child, Granny was a psychiatric nurse at Knowle Hospital in Hampshire, fairly near to where I grew up. She told stories of how depressed people were subjected to insulin-shock therapy, how unwed mothers were housed there because they “clearly” must be mad, and how anorexic women (and many others) were given Electro-convulsive therapy.

Yes, ECT is used now, and with success in certain conditions and using anesthesia, but my Granny certainly observed a point of history where doctors were experimenting and discovering, and I think it stuck with her forever how those patients were treated, because she talked about it a lot. My mum told stories about how Granny always had scratches and bruises and bites from the inmates.

That insulin therapy will do that to ya….

Will we ever “know it all”?

I copied the following from my Uncle Jack’s obituary. I always knew him as Uncle Jack, not John. He passed away recently, my dad’s last brother, a quiet, dignified, carefully spoken man.

“John Benjamin Good was born on 12th February 1935 to Louisa and Benjamin Pikard. Louisa’s parents ran a guest house just off Southsea seafront. Sadly Benjamin was killed on the HMS Eagle when it was sunk off Malta during the war on August 11th 1942. Jack was very young, so he had little memory of his father. Benjamin’s name can be seen on the Memorial Wall on Southsea Common.”

So, if Granny was 14 in 1926, she would have been 23 when Uncle Jack was born. I don’t know if her and Benjamin were married, no one’s ever really said, and I need to research this. I know she loved Benjamin fiercely, I remember those conversations. At some point after he was killed, Louisa answered an advertisement for a Housekeeper to Joseph Daniel Good, known as Dan, who was returning to England from Singapore with his four sons, because his wife had died there of yellow fever while he was serving with the RAF. Louisa was given the job on the understanding that her son stayed with her.

Happy ending. They got married. Here they are around that time:

Grandad was a Sergeant in the torpedo development unit section with R.A.F. Coastal Command. Granny was a nurse during WWII.

Grandad has four sons of his own, one I never knew, he was old enough to join WW2 and disappeared from the family, sadly, at that time. I do remember my Uncles Charlie and Ted, who were also both old enough to be in WWII, and Uncle Den. Louisa and Dan went on to have two more sons, Uncle Bob, and my dad, David!

They were stationed in Wick, in the far north of Scotland and my Granny hated living there, but loved the Northern Lights.

My Granny came from a family of Blacksmiths, hence the name Smith!

Uncle Jack remembered, very fondly, time spent at Uncle George’s blacksmith forge at Blackwater, Hampshire.

Here’s a photo of lovely Blackwater

Apparently Uncle George kept pigs and once slaughtered these were kept in a pit of brine in the ground and covered until preserved.

Uncle George would tell the boys the story of the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show which was founded by Buffalo Bill Cody in 1883. It was hugely popular in America and eventually toured Europe in the early 1900’s. They are reported to have travelled through Blackwater on their tour and Uncle George had the task of ensuring the horses were re-shod at his forge!

Buffalo Bill in Portsmouth, Hampshire

I remember seeing a photo of this event sometime, somewhere, at my Granny’s house. We are all trying to find it, and think Uncle Jack may have had it, so watch this space!

Even if there’s some missing parts to Granny’s story, I’m so grateful for it, and I know she was equally grateful for her time on this mortal coil. And it led to this, and for that I’m so thankful.

She was there, that day, bless her heart. Here she is, the little lady in pink, along with most of her sons (my uncles and my dad, in between her and I)

I feel like I’ve learned so much from this brave and remarkable woman.

Stay safe, my friends.

Bubble, bubble, Squeak and Trouble…

Well. That blew up rather quickly, didn’t it?

These are odd times.

Generally, I lead a somewhat isolated life during the week anyway, so having everyone home from school has felt like an endless fun party of conversation for me. Not too bad at all. Additionally, I now have extra help to put in the vegetable garden and help with the lambing and kidding in the next few weeks.

If this sort of nonsense ever quits:

It’s STILL snowing.

But whatever. This, too (like everything else), will pass.

I do have some really fascinating European and British plague quarantine stories I want to tell you about at some point, but I just don’t want to do that right now. Too much in our current world.

We all need a bit of cheering up. So let’s do a foodie and “fun family visits” post.

I woke up the other morning dreaming of something called Bubble and Squeak. It’s such a British thing.

I could even hear the noise it makes when you cook it, and I smelled the fragrance in my dream. As my daughter said this morning, it was a “4D dream”.

And since many of us are currently working on being careful stewards of our pantries, it might be a excellent recipe for those of us looking to use leftovers.

What IS “Bubble and Squeak”, for goodness sake?

Well, like many of my British memories, it’s just a thing I can’t remember not being there. One of those confusing terms that, on the other end of the Rabbit Hole, people raise their eyebrows at me and look at each other in a confused fashion.

When I was a kid, we would spend Christmas or Easter celebrations with family. I know, no big deal, you New World people do that too. But here’s the thing I recently realized.

To make Bubble and Squeak, you have to have visited for at least a good day or two.

Ok, so here’s the deal. When Scott and I got married, I was often shocked at the amount of time family would spend at the host’s house. My own parents drew the line at one meal, but you Midwesterners will stay a good week or two, unless someone puts their foot down.

I remember reading Gone with the Wind as a teenager, and wondering in amazement over Margaret Mitchell’s description of the expectations of southern hospitality.

Mitchell wrote:

“When a Southerner took the trouble to pack a trunk and travel twenty miles for a visit, the visit was seldom of shorter duration than a month, usually much longer. Southerners were as enthusiastic visitors as they were hosts, and there was nothing unusual in relatives coming to spend the Christmas holidays and remaining until July. Often when newly married couples went on the usual round of honeymoon visits, they lingered in some pleasant home until the birth of their second child. Frequently elderly aunts and uncles came to Sunday dinner and remained until they were buried years later.“

Here’s an interesting and very amusing analysis of southern hospitality, from a historical standpoint.

Southern Hospitality

I haven’t always been as gracious a host but at the very least, I now get it.

I mean, you pioneers were crossing a multitude of states in your travels. Give them a hunk of bread and some moonshine, for heavens sake.

Sleeping arrangements? Nah. They slept head to toe with perfect strangers. Can’t be fussy.

Anyway. I wasn’t very good at the “long” hospitality.

I was used to people either “stopping” or “not-stopping” for a cup of tea, which answered all questions about how long someone would hang out at one’s house.

But then, in the middle of my hospitality snootiness, I thought about Bubble and Squeak. Because of the dream.

At the very least, this dish takes a day or two to produce. So even in England, family is clearly hanging out for a good long visit.

I can’t quite figure out if when we visited relatives, we had the roast one day and then the Bubble and Squeak made from the leftovers the next day, which meant we probably stayed over. Or did we go back for the Bubble and Squeak? I can’t remember, but both the original roast and the Bubble and Squeak seem to go together in my memories.

So let’s talk about cooking this strange thing. So, say, on a given Sunday in England , you have your roast beef with roast potatoes, cabbage, parsnips, swede, (rutabaga), carrots, peas, broccoli, cauliflower etc. The British really load up on the veggies because beef is a little pricier than in America.

Sometimes we have Yorkshire pudding, which is a fried batter and so delicious.

Here’s a typical recipe for the Yorkshire Pud. They make a bowl shape so you fill them up with gravy. Yum.


So there’s not usually any leftover beef, but always lots of veggies, and that is where Bubble and Squeak began. The day after the roast, you’d cut up the leftover cooked veggies, (some people mash them up) and heat it all up in a skillet with some butter or oil.

Sometimes people eat it for breakfast, in my family it was more likely the next days lunch.

The earliest-known recipe was in Mrs Rundell‘s A New System of Domestic Cookeryin 1806.[2]

My mum made some the other day and kindly sent me a photo of her neatly cut up cooked veggies waiting to go in the skillet.

Now, it’s the cabbage that makes the dish “squeak” when you are stirring it round the pan. You really want to get it all cooked down and bubbly. My mum said when she and my Uncle John and Aunt Linda were kids she could remember fighting over whose turn it was to get the brown bits that stuck to the pan and got crispy.

And that’s all there is to it! Just use whatever leftovers you have, my mum added a little bacon too.

Once those veggies have mellowed in the fridge overnight, everything starts to taste like Brussels sprouts, so maybe forgo those if you’re not a fan.

My brother Russ has always maintained that Brussel Sprouts go against his “religion”.

Here’s another version:

That HP sauce in the first photo is a must though. It’s a delicious, slightly spicy, slightly fruity, slightly sweet sauce that you just pour all over. It’s sort of a mix of steak sauce, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce in one bottle, but better. Colonists can find it on Amazon.

HP Original Sauce – Squeezy (425g) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008OMTQJ2/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_.D4EEbYWDZW1F

It has a little picture of the Houses of Parliament on the front (hence the HP) and the Brits usually just call it Brown Sauce and we put it on everything.

And on that note, Amazon just delivered this:

All stocked up on that for now. Possibly hoarding even.

Stay safe, friends.

Poppy’s Coat

My maternal grandfather was Charles Duncan. He came from a huge family and a long line of stubborn Scots and he had various scars to prove it.

I just loved him. I feel like so many of my childhood memories revolve around him.

But let me just wow you with a photo:

Charlie Duncan Circa 1950’s

This is Poppy. I think he looked like a movie star.

He was such a handsome man, and had the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen.

His ancestral family worked their way down from Scotland to Southern England after the Highland Clearances. Two of the Duncan men were indentured to the New World in 1715 after the first Jacobite Uprising. I discovered this after finding that I share a weird amount of DNA with some North Carolinans after I did a ‘23 And Me’ test. I’m fairly sure I’d find a long-lost cousin at the Highland Games at Grandfather Mountain sometime.

But Pop’s own side of the family worked for many years as stable boys, then farriers, then carriage drivers, on the Isle of Wight off of the south coast of England, and eventually crossed onto the mainland to settle in the Portsmouth area.

He married my Nana when she was very young and they were together until he died in his 60’s. They had three wonderful children. I know because my mum is one of them.

He told such stories.

He fought with bare fists in boxing matches on the docks in Portsmouth, Hampshire, where he worked. That may not have been the smartest move ever, but he loved it and his grandchildren thought he was rather cool because of it.

It now just sounds like some dreadfully violent Netflix series I’d tell my kids never to watch, but these things have their moment…

He worked as a coal miner, after being discharged from WW2 due to his shoulder injury. He was a huge proponent of unions and safer working conditions after serving his time in the mines, and his rather conservative granddaughter could never disagree with him on the need for the original unions.

He also never had a drivers license. I don’t know how he got away with that, but it’s true. When they asked him to renew his license when he turned 60, he just decided to let my Nana drive him everywhere rather than explain his 45+ years of illegal driving.

His family had driven horses, how complicated could a car be?

He was one of the Desert Rats in WW2 in North Africa, which is where he earned his shrapnel scar that you can see on his shoulder in this photo.

He used to tell his grandchildren dreadfully gory stories of wounds he inflicted upon Axis soldiers in North Africa, and we discussed this amongst the cousins and we decided we were never quite sure if it was true, but it certainly made a story that we still talk about today….

We were impressed, if slightly skeptical.

But he got that scar from somewhere…

Like all of us, he had his stories, some good, some bad. They make us the person we are.

My biggest memory of my Grandpop, was sitting in the kitchen with him. He had smoked as long as I could remember, and the only place my Nana would let him roll and smoke his cigarettes was by the backdoor of the kitchen in their house at 18 Maralyn Ave, in Waterlooville, Hampshire.

I have many happy memories of that back garden.

I used to come over to visit when I was very little, all dressed up in my long dress because I was always a princess. My Nana was the manager of the local bakery and always was able to bring home cream cakes and pastries. It’s a wonder I’m not 400lbs.

If it was nice, we’d always sit out in the back garden, (or yard, for you Yankee types). One time, Poppy planted this little tree. I was very interested in this tree and insisted on knowing what fruit would grow on it as I was very into fairy tales at the time. There was Jack and the Beanstalk, and then Rapunzel’s mother who ate too much lettuce and had to give her child to a witch.

Suddenly plants were entirely fascinating. (They still are…)

So the next time I arrived at Nana and Poppy’s house, in my little Scottish princess long tartan dress, there was this tree, with a pear and an orange and a banana and an apple. All growing on the same bloomin’ tree.

Poppy had made a magical fruit tree.

(With string…holding said fruit. But I didn’t notice that, because it was of course, magical…)

But what did I know? I was 5 and totally believed it.

We moved to Australia from England when I was 9 years old. It was kind of a big deal, and I suppose, with today’s psychology insights, it might be seen as traumatic etc.

It really wasn’t. It was actually very awesome.

At the time, it seemed like many of the families on the street that I lived on in Southern England emigrated. Australia House, the Embassy in London, was flooded with immigration requests. Taxation under the Labor/Labour government was at 90 percent.

Socialism was creating an Exodus.

My parents left England. My dad opened his own business in Australia and did very well. We loved it there.

Poppy enjoying a beer in our back yard in Australia (in Australia one’s garden is also called a yard. Very confusing…)

Poppy and Nana came to visit us in Australia. We had a wonderful time, although my mum was terribly worried about Poppy as he’d gotten thin. He’d had a heart attack at 47, while he was boating in Ireland with some brother-in-laws. He survived that, I’m sure at that age it was probably genetic, but the smoking eventually got his lungs.

Nana, Mum, and Poppy outside our front door in South Australia. We lived in Reynella.

Eventually we came back from Australia. We lived there 6 years and enjoyed every minute, but my parents were in their 40’s and family suddenly seems much more important at that age. So we came back to England.

I’m glad for that now, I would have never have met my Scott if we hadn’t.

I developed Type 1 diabetes very shortly after we came back to England, about a month after. We were still living at Nana and Poppy’s house while mum and dad looked for a home of our own. I had quietly been feeling unwell for a while, and had gotten terribly thin, and thirsty. I used to go to the kitchen, where Poppy sat by his back door, smoking, and us two very skinny people would chat about school and life in general while I continually sucked cups of water out of the tap/faucet at a terrific rate. I was 15 then, and I knew he was sick and I knew I was sick, and he knew I was sick too. I think he wanted me to tell him I wasn’t feeling well, but I’ve always been rather stubborn.

Ask Scott.

It’s in my Gaelic DNA, apparently. We’ll just blame that.

“You aren’t half of the lass you used to be, Sammy…”

“I know, Poppy… let me help you roll that cigarette”.

Couple of enablers, we were.

And I’d get out this tiny sheet of paper from this little decorated tin and he’d shake and pat out a little line of tobacco into it, in such a delicate, orderly way, and I’d roll and lick it. I can still remember the taste and the smell, a rich, round sense that reminds me more of a wine now. And I’d give it to him, all proud at my tobacconist skills and he’d say to me:

“Filthy habit. Never smoke…”

(He’s right, kids. Never smoke.)

He passed away about three years later when I was almost 18. He watched me through my healing and I watched him through his going.

None of it’s ideal. It’s not the way it’s supposed to be. Your granddaughter shouldn’t be loaded with a lifelong illness from an immunity confusion and your grandpa shouldn’t smoke and get sick.

But that’s the life we are in. It’s just that way this side of Eden. We all know that if we think about it long enough.

When he got really ill from emphysema those last two years, he was cold all the time. I remember being cold when I was thin. It’s unpleasant and hard to be rid of.

My Nana bought him a good Lord Anthony coat to try to warm him up.

He barely got to use it. But I use it everyday and I have for some 30 years or so. It spends a few months on its peg in the garage in the summer months but the rest of the year it’s my chore coat. You can seriously still find one now (in navy blue) on eBay.

It’s so useful and I think of him every time I wear it. I hope it lasts forever. Like my memories.

It’s my coat that I use Down the Rabbit Hole.

Love you, Poppy. ❤️

Poppy and wee lass Sammy, when we were fatter.

“Two Nations Divided by a Common Language”

In his short story, the Canterville Ghost, written in 1887, Oscar Wilde stated:

“We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except of course, language.”

George Bernard Shaw was also credited with creating my title for today, although there’s definitely some controversy as to where and when he actually said this. Some sources mention Winston Churchill using this phrase as well.

Nevertheless. Both statements could not be more true. And during my twenty-six years of trekking back and forth through the Rabbit Hole, I feel I have some good experience with this.

In thinking about writing about differences between America and Britain, I’ve thought of discussing the difference in (primarily) accent, but also language itself, several times.

Possibly God was (understandably 😆) impatient for my next entry because a couple of weeks ago I was asked to be an English accent “coach” for a local theater group. Which I found entertaining, so here I am. Let’s have a chat about accents, we’ll talk about language later…

The theater group in question is http://www.kenbradbury.org/

Please take a few minutes to check them out.

They perform many of the exceptional works of Ken Bradbury, a local but nationally known playwright. He ran performing arts summer camps in our area, (that both our Frankie and Cerys have attended). He also produced much of the material for school speech contests in the area, where he often appeared as a judge as well. He was incredibly supportive of his local community, writing and producing plays for local theater organizations. As if he wasn’t busy enough, he also wrote regularly for the newspaper as well as teaching at Triopia High School for 30 years and as an adjunct professor at the local community college.

People like Ken give one pause for thought, whenever one claims to be “busy”.

Unfortunately, Mr. Bradbury passed away at the end of 2018, and has been greatly missed in both the world of theater and in the local community as well.

The Foundation works hard to continue his legacy of entertainment and if you live locally and would like to check out some of these events, they are available at the link below:


Mr. Bradbury enjoyed challenging his actors, and so the play Dinner is Served, is set in, you guessed it, jolly old England. Hence, the reason why I was kindly asked to help the actors with their accents. I’m quite sure that they will do perfectly well on their own, and I’m hoping I can just read lines and they can copy as (and if) they see fit.

I just hope no one asks me to do a Cockney accent. I’m ok at rhyming, but I’m no Eliza Doolittle.

It has a nice irony that this play is being performed smack dab in the middle of the General American accent region. Here lives the accent that most non-local actors strive to obtain during tutoring.

Personally I feel there’s a cute little southern twang happening here, but what do I know? Actors in films are supposed to sound like they hale from here, as opposed to New York or Louisiana etc.

When I first met Scott a funny thing happened. The day I first spoke to him, I happened to be walking down his corridor. They always put American exchange students in the same block of rooms each year and when I saw his door open, I rolled my eyes and thought “American…”

This is because an Englishman’s dorm room is his castle and heaven forbid you’d let down the drawbridge and open one’s door.

In full English sarcasm mode, I stuck my little head round the door and quipped:

“Oh, you wouldn’t happen to be American, would you?”

Understandably he didn’t realize I was being sarcastic but none of that mattered in the slightest.

There were angel choirs, trumpets and blinding flashes of light and that was it.

In love.

Anyway, in the midst of all the excitement of discovering this fabulous piece of mankind, I noticed his accent and thought to myself, “my goodness, he’s not only heavenly, he also sounds like Harry Connick Jr.!!!!”

Which in retrospect we both find quite amusing, especially since Scott’s accent epitomizes every actor’s dream of the “General American” accent.

Of course, there were a good number of people around us speaking “General Welsh” accent at the time, complete with an entirely different P-Celtic language, so even if he was Minnesotan I would have thought he was Rhett Butler.

My own accent has always been a little odd, having lived formative sections of my life on various continents. At least three times a week, even now, someone scrunches up their nose in a confused fashion, and says generally the same thing:

“You’re not from around here, are you?”

Nope. I’m not.

I never really paid much attention to my accent until I moved back to England from Australia when I was 15. Suddenly every teenage boy in my school thought they were amazingly comedic and said “G’day mate” to me constantly. Which wasn’t funny at all and confirmed my belief that boys were generally just stupid.

But moving forward to the point in time that I realized that one boy in particular was both brilliant and full of excellent wit, I was transported to the Colonies. Where I quite naively thought, as a world traveler of sorts, I’d have no issues with language.


Being a new immigrant, there were millions of interviews to do, phone calls to make, and papers to fill out. The last one was no problem. I occasionally had to drop the letter “u” in words like “favourite” but that word didn’t tend to appear much on government forms anyway…

And the interviews weren’t bad. If they couldn’t comprehend me, I could resort to frantic hand motions or just completely silly smiles if it went really, really bad.

But the phone calls. Oh dear.

My post-phone call face

Phone calls were my nemesis. I’d get on the phone and have to spell various things and nobody ever comprehended. I remember telling Scott I just couldn’t call the phone company at our newlywed apartment because “nobody understands me!!!”

The biggest of several American-English accent differences is the letter R. It is pronounced completely differently in England compared to America. There’s even a fancy word for the difference. It’s called Rhotism.

In most British English accents, the letter R is pronounced at the start of a syllable, but is not pronounced at the end of a syllable.

An accent where the R is pronounced in all positions is called a rhotic accent.

And boy, do you Americans pronounce the R.

Sorry, but you all sound slightly pirate-y.


Ahoy, me matey.

It’s taken me years, but I’ve gone from using “aaah” to pronounce the letter R, and the words using it, as the English do, to the Blackbeard form.

A conversation or two along the following lines caused this eventual change, merely for annoyingly practical purposes.

“Mam, how do you spell Russell, please?”

“Aah, yoo, ess, ess, eee, ell, ell”

“Ok, so I-U-S-S-E-L-L?”


“(Why would you even think that would be a right spelling?) NO. Aaaarrghhh-U-S-S……”

Good heavens.

And then there’s the long journey with the word “water”. This one’s all about the T-voicing, where Americans pronounce the T in a word as more of a D.

I know. Asking for water should be one of life’s most simple things, really.

“Mam, what would you like to drink?”

“Wot-ter, please”.

Confusion and silence all round the table.

More silence.

Please, please, someone please say something and help me. I just don’t know how to say it the way you do…

Cricket chirps.

“Sorry…. um….Wadder? If you please…”

After a while, Scott just ordered for me, to avoid my constant mortification, and then later, I ordered for my own parents who also needed “Wadder” and therefore ended up with lots of practice.

And then the short “a” and the short “o”.

Sorry, I’m keeping these little gems of the English accent. Except in a restaurant, where to be understood about my salad dressing choice I have to say “Rannnch” instead of “Raahnch”. The kids always tell me I over-accentuate this but Scott told me once it sounded like I was asking for “Raunch” on my salad so now I’m very, very careful, because a raunchy salad sounds unappetizing, as well as embarrassing.

The kids, when they were little, used to say “baaath” and “daaaance” and “chaance” and all sorts of lovely long-A words…but that’s all gone now.


And finally, the other notable difference is the “o”. It’s a lovely little sound. American “o’s” often sound like hard “a’s”. What is it with these hard A’s? A “proper” O is a short little sound, the sort of sound you make when you touch something hot.

When Scott and I were first engaged in England, he called me at work one afternoon. My colleague handed the phone over and with a slightly confused expression said:

“It’s your fiancée.


Happy Sunday, friends. Hope your Monday and Choosday are great! I’ll talk about that next time!!!

Land and Sea Treasures

Cerys is obsessed with rocks and fossils and shells. Since she was a child, we’ve brought back various coastal and geological debris from our travels, the seaside version being decidedly fishy smelling on opening the ziplock bag after vacation.

She always struck me as a little magpie, looking for shiny bits on the beach. When we introduced her to snorkeling, when she visited us on our year in Australia, it took on a whole different level, diving under to pick up strange shells and sea urchins.

She’s still at it. Here’s her collection from Mexico last week, when she was on vacation.

I think she gets it from her mum.

I also love land and sea treasures. My particular favorite things are rocks and stones of all sizes, which Cerys and the other kids also enjoy.

Last year, Cerys and I went geode digging, not far from here near Quincy, on the Mississippi River.

We’d never done this before, but there was quite a crowd there, as it was a “Geode Fest” and you could buy T-shirts and hotdogs, as well as a bucket to put your rocks in. We followed a convoy of zealous fellow geode clansmen to an isolated quarry and then we grabbed our little chisels and set to work. People were very helpful and excited to share their knowledge and Cerys, who would have never quit digging if I hadn’t given the “enough, daughter of mine” eyebrows, brought home a bucket filled with round geodes that we busted open later on the back patio with a hammer in fun, mysterious Easter-Egg fashion.

Here’s Cerys, happily chipping away at rock walls.
Here’s me, with our little bucket of loot. Please take enormous notice of my muddy knees. We were working very hard, despite stopping for all the photos.

The Easter Egg moment.

It was wonderful. Each of them looked slightly different. One was almost completely muddy but stiff-looking inside, and we had to email a local geologist who confirmed that it looked that way because….it had formed during a heavy rain.

We probably could have thought that through ourselves.

But it was a great day.

Fossils are enormous fun also. I suppose fossils can be both land AND sea treasures. Just over a year ago, we spent Christmas on the Jurassic Coastline in SouthWest Britain, and there were several spots where you could find all kinds of fossils – nautilus, ammonites, echinoderms, fossils of plants and fish. We did find one or two, and I left one in the cupboard at the house we were staying at, which is sad but probably sensible as it was a teeny fossil in a giant rock which weighed more than my suitcase. This website has fabulous examples:


We didn’t find anything as impressive ourselves.

Here we are, crawling around looking for things. Yes, that’s my sweet husband crawling around back there.
Here we are at Westport. That big cliff is full of Jurassic fossils too but for obvious reasons, they don’t want you digging in it 😆

I prefer Great Big Rocks myself. And I like the ones that have been conveniently placed in circles.

Stonehenge, Wiltshire. A “stones-throw” from where I grew up.

Now don’t get all Outlandery on me. I’ve been around a lot longer than those books. Here’s proof:

I was 14. I thought the boots made me look much older. 😆

Well, this photo was back in the early tourism days, a good few years after they finally stopped letting people chip bits of rock off during their picnics. Check this article out, it’s amazing:


When I was a kid, just having returned from Australia to live again in England, the Summer Solstice was in the news. The Wiccans and various other religious groups liked to dance around Stonehenge naked on Midsummer’s Eve, much to the chagrin of the English Heritage historical organization.

Now, there’s loads of these circles dotted all over Great Britain, particularly in Ireland and Scotland. Some of them are huge circles, this one not far from Stonehenge in Avebury, Wiltshire, almost encircles a entire pretty little village, and you can lean against the stones as much as you want there. You can get pretty close to the stones at Stonehenge, but no touching.

Will is evidently passing through the stone…hopefully when he returns he’ll have traveled back from somewhere where he had to get out of bed on time.
You can see the giant circle at Avebury. It’d take a good twenty minutes to walk the whole thing.
The little village the stones encircle

Much of my family lives very close to Stonehenge. The locals all have an affectionate name for it:

“The Big Tourist Trap”

Seriously though, it is a fascinating place to visit. I mean, there’s no written record of these stones even being put in place. They were there when the Romans got there, for goodness sake. And let’s face it, that was a few years back…

Apparently Claudius turned up, said to the local Celts:

“Yo, what’s this?”

To which the Celts shrugged:

“No idea. Always been here. We just dance around them naked now and then…”

To which Claudius replied, after a quiet moment of distracted thought,

“Dude, we saw these stones way, way over there in Wales. What’s up with that?“

More shrugging Celts.

“Lot of draggin’, man…..”

(Obviously everyone spoke in surfer talk…)

Anyway, since then they’ve done oodles of archeological work, although they still don’t know how the bluestones got there. They even have a skeleton of a man who lived close to the henge. They have an excellent museum which I highly recommend, and lovely big coaches take you out to the stones and back if you don’t want to walk. While we were waiting to return, we even got to watch a local farmer rounding up his sheep with a Collie. The Collie even had four legs, which ours doesn’t anymore….

Here’s the English Heritage website:


They believe Stonehenge was constructed between 3000-2000 BC.

They also believe it may have marked burial grounds, since there are “barrows” all around the area. These are burial mounds and actually they are all over the south west of England.

Or possibly, that people were buried there because it was considered a sacred site.

It’s so weird, you’ll be driving along the roads in Wiltshire and Dorset and thinking to yourself,

“Oh, look at that cute little sheep nibbling away on top of that 5000 year old burial mound…”

I mean, we all get excited over Plymouth Rock, for goodness sake. It too has always been an old rock, I know. But the whole Mayflower thing was like, last week, relatively speaking…

Here’s an aerial view of some of those barrows down in Dorset:

Back to Stonehenge, though. The site, specifically the great trilithon, the encompassing horseshoe arrangement of the five central trilithons, the heel stone, and the embanked avenue, are aligned to the sunset of the winter solstice and the opposing sunrise of the summer solstice. So maybe it was possibly used for some sort of worship. Or some astronomical observations. I heard an astronomer recently talking about how it may have been used to predict comets. Who knows, I’m guessing as much as anyone else here…

Here’s a random sheep hanging out on an iron-age hill fort at Maiden Castle in Dorset:

But that’s MUCH more understandable as it’s only from 450BC. Much newer.

Happy treasure hunting, my friends.

Pick on Someone Your Own Size

A couple of months ago, Agnes, our Collie, got hold of a cute little mole (yes, the ones that dig unsightly holes in the garden) and “played” mercilessly with it until I went outside yelling at everyone in a definite “Mum. Is. Furious.” manner and called a halt to the whole thing.

Cute little mole. Not our mole. It wasn’t quite as well-coiffed during the drama. This one also appears to be smiling. Ours was most definitely not.

Which was easy, because Aggie rather unceremoniously dumped the poor little thing at my feet.

It was wet and very stressed out, understandably. But its amazing little shovel claws were still digging away with astounding strength into my gloves. I set it on the other side of the fence, away from meddling critters, and watched it paw away into the ground for a minute before I left it be. Will stood out there longer watching, but I was already worrying about internal injuries and felt it best for my mental health to just leave and let it do its thing.

We didn’t see it again, just evidence of a little pile of fluffed-up dirt the next day, so I’m hopeful.

I’m a bit weird this way. I’m not very good at all with size disparity when it comes to different uses of relative strength. Like I really don’t think a mouse should mess with an elephant. Or the other way around. Totally not fair.

But I suppose I should just expect such things. We are outside of Eden, after all, and even the most jolly, lovely dogs are, after all, dogs, and designed in this fallen world to catch and eat things.

Red in tooth and claw.

This country is full of lions and tigers and bears, oh my. Well, bears maybe. Fortunately not around here though. At least I don’t have to worry about this situation, which happens to several of my fellow chicken owners friends on a not infrequent basis. I’m not sure how one deals with this. It’s not like you can yell at it to leave.

Photo courtesy of Shellie Squires, who actually had this happen!

So how do I deal with this sort of thing in my Brave New World?

Well. I don’t always deal very well. I used to get miserably upset over every chicken taken or killed by a hawk, owl, mink or any number of other predators living around here. I became a pretty good crime scene investigator, figuring out what predator had done the dirty deed. Minks for example always take the head. Here’s a wonderful article on how to find your predator, including a great chart:

What Killed My Chicken?

After a while, I started to believe that despite all my worrying, I was simply in a world where coyotes and bobcats exist, and that if I was putting measures in place to prevent onslaughts by them, then maybe I just needed to rest in my limited abilities.

After all, everyone is trying to feed their families. I’d rather they didn’t give their kids my chicken “nuggets”, but as a mum, I do understand.

We had two diligent but murdering mothers this spring. A fox, with kits in the den, was shoplifting a duck every fifth day for about 4 weeks. It started with some nice fat Pekin ducks, which you know, I can also understand. You have to order those 24 hours ahead in a Chinese Restaurant after all. And even I walk around thinking they look juicy:

Now foxes are impossible to catch, unless you spend your entire life hunting them. We even got a nuisance license from the Department of Natural Resources, to shoot, harass or trap it. Which didn’t happen. I even saw the darn thing climb over the fence, dead duck in tow, one day.

And then it stopped. The kits had left the nest. Mum didn’t have to venture as far afield to feed herself.

And then there’s the story of poor Claire-duck. Jamie’s love of his life. I found her perished next to a pile of eggs she’d been sitting on. Will strung up a trail camera and there was a raccoon a few nights later, scooping up eggs with its opposable thumbs and scurrying away to feed the babies. Evidently Claire and Mrs. Raccoon had got into a tussle protecting both their families, and that was the end of that.

I now have wonderful geese that my friend Sonja gave me. They are my pond Secret Service.

They do an amazing job scaring away everything, including a couple of the kids. I just heard Addie tell her dad they were “heckin’ scary” the other day. They even scare the ducks.

Check out scary BB and his hissing posture

After I had Cerys, I noticed that every news article about a child being hurt just horrified and scared me even more than normal. The hormones of new motherhood seemed to exacerbate such feelings. I could never watch the 10 O’Clock News in the same way I once had. Now everything I saw seemed to apply to me and mine.

The other night I saw this in the chicken coop, when I was shutting them in for the night against the wind and cold.

I stood and howled.

Not like a wolf. Like a woman.

She has her half grown chick under her wing. Still.

It’s good to see the gentle side of Creation now and then.

Sad as it is, moles, and injured chickens, and lambs that won’t make it, and children that are missing, and loved ones who are ill will always be heartbreaking. Perhaps it should be. We all know the world we live in isn’t, well, set quite straight on its axis. We know something’s not right.

So, maybe I shouldn’t get hardened to it. I agree, being a sloppy mess over it is helpful to absolutely no one, but it’s probably ok that I should be feeling that there’s supposed to be a better place. Somewhere that doesn’t pit the mouse against the elephant.

C S Lewis once said:

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

Aggie may be a dog, but maybe I shouldn’t feel perfectly restful about her messing with a little mole. Maybe it’s actually NOT supposed to be that way.

Of course, in her current state she’s still not chasing moles. It’s hard to stick your head down a mole hole when you’re wearing a lampshade.

Meet the Neighbours…

Yes, I spelled it the English way, just because I never get to anymore and now I’ve got my own little world where I can spell however I want.

Anyway, last post, I referenced burning some cracked gnomes.

Now you’ll have to go back and read it if you don’t know what I’m talking about because a sentence like that really can’t be left alone..

Anyway, if you do remember me mentioning that, grab yourself a cuppa something and settle in for a good story.

View from our house.

We built our home in 2003 and moved in very early in the year, around February of 2004. Apparently Americans throw up houses all the time with little hurrah, but having lived for years in old English homes that were destined never to fall down, this was a bit hard to get my head around.

We drew out what we wanted on a napkin one day sitting together eating lunch, around the end of Scott’s medical residency. (Be amazed by the fact we could eat lunch together, that is a wondrous thing during residency 😆) Then we took our napkin blueprint to an architect that actually knew what he was doing. He tried to give us an entrance foyer with a high ceiling, but we already had three daughters and requested he fill in that empty spot with a bathroom.

Which we’ve never regretted.

Well, now we needed some land to build our house on. And someone to build the house, since, although I know Scott would have been happy to stack up logs, he was unlikely to have the time once he started work.

Here’s our land.

This is from a photo album we made when we were building. Not the greatest photo, but fun to see my 2003 writing on there.

It was this lane, however, that sold Yours Truly.

This lane is in between two groups of timber (woods or forest for my English friends) and in the summer it makes a dark, leafy tunnel. It was hilly and wind-y and curvy, not a trifecta one often sees in Central Illinois.

“It looks like England!” I told Scott. With that a wild turkey ran across the road.

“If there’s a deer around the next corner, I’ll bid higher” he said….

There’s been a lot of deer since. This one’s a baby. Taken sometime around July or August that year.

The rest is history. We went to a nerve-wracking auction at the courthouse, (I was highly pregnant with Frankie at the time so everything wracked my nerves…). We somehow bought the land and we had this very fun “Oklahoma Land Rush” moment where Scott got to hammer in stakes at the corners of the property. I know, it was 2004, not 1889, but it completely satisfied all the romantic history-nerd corners of my mind.

So here we are. A local contractor, Bryce Hagar did our construction and it was all we had hoped for. We love our home. And after this story, you’ll understand why I’m grateful for it!

But please check out Bryce’s page, he does amazing work!


Continue reading “Meet the Neighbours…”

English vs. American “ponds”

I had a great, great love of garden ponds growing up in England.

My friend Tracy’s delightfully English garden pond.

I had several relatives with them. They always had fish in them, and when we visited, I would spend hours checking out the garden pond. Usually I would be wearing some long gown and definitely dwelling in princess-imaginary-land.

Here I am sitting in my Nana and Poppy Duncan’s garden. Pretending to be a Princess. As one does, at age 4.

Sometimes the garden ponds had nearby gnomes. Pretend ones of course, although a 4 year old mind turned them into reality pretty quickly. It’s a bit impossible to be brought up in the land of Tolkien and Lewis and not be obsessed with trolls, gnomes, elves, pixies, and consequently want to be some sort of a Princess.

I won’t give you my imagined Scott’s response to that previous sentence.

Gnome decorations have a long and interesting English history. Check out this article:

The Story Behind Garden Gnomes Is More Compelling Than You Might Think

My friend Tracy is much more adult in her Tolkeinishness and has a Narnia lamppost (because CS Lewis and Tolkien were friends, of course) as well as this rather delightful Pixie that hangs out on her waterspout.

Here’s the view from her kitchen window. Spot the lamp post.

I mean, isn’t this just lovely? Couldn’t you just cook all day from this standpoint?

When I visited Scott at his family’s farm, the Christmas before we got married, I heard the word “pond” in several dinner conversations. Because farming was always a dinner conversation.

Things like: “we’ll be lucky if the pond is thawed by April!”

And “What will you do for water for the cattle if the pond is frozen?”

And I’m sat eating a savoury scone, that they are calling a “biscuit” and wondering what on earth they are worrying about if their gnome pond is frozen? It’s only a tiny thing, for goldfish, after all? Don’t these people have hoses for their, what, 2 cows, Daisy and Buttercup? A bucket even?

I knew NOTHING about farm life.

No. Not TWO cows. And definitely not a gnome pond.

Apparently a pond was a lake. My British peeps will get this. This is our own “pond”.

The kids got me some gnomes a few years ago but the mythical urchins looked so overwhelmed by the “pond” that I set them on the front porch instead so they could do nice civilized things like talk to the mail-man, rather than battle it out with sub-zero temps and scary Mid-Western things like raccoons and bobcats at the Pond-Lake.

They got brittle in the cold air and cracked into pieces and I had to burn them. (Oh, wait for THAT story…) Apparently these are purely British creatures, requiring a temperate climate with occasional slightly tropical temps in Cornwall. They want to be sipping gin and tonics on the porch, not shoveling down hot chocolate like Santa’s silly elves…

So I gave up on the gnomes. Sorry, Tolkien and C.S Lewis (although I think Tolkien really only dealt with dwarves)

When we built our home, a memory I’m so grateful to be in possession of, Scott thought way ahead (unlike me, who was just constantly having babies and not capable of stringing more than two words at a time together) and he said, “we need a pond, for future livestock, and we need to stock it with fish…”

He’s so smart.

It was so fascinating watching our lovely Giant Non-Gnome Pond develop. It was such a huge thing. They back-hoed a few trees (which we have used for firewood ever since) and dug holes, although not big holes, in appropriate places and then…it just filled up!

Ed Wright Excavating of Alexander, Illinois took care of our Gnome-Pond-Lake needs and I went out to watch him when he was making the pond. There was a spring. I was so excited.

I always thought a spring would be Old Faithful-like, gushing water in exciting cascades. But no, it just looked like a constantly soaked sponge-in-mud. It just quietly and consistently seeped. And it seeped so well, that combined with a little rain, that giant Gnome-Pond-Lake was full in a couple of months.

I find our pond to be the most peaceful part of our land. I love to sit and watch the ducks and geese and feed the greedy fish. Because it’s a pond, it’s obviously in a hollow, and it’s quieter down there, even on a stormy day.

I told Will I was going to take a lawn chair and a cup of coffee down there in the spring. He asked me later, “how was your pond-sit?”.


It might just need a brave gnome.