From Deb

This is a message from Debra Whitehouse regarding the trolls.


First I want to tell everyone how much I appreciate your patience during this process. Honestly Sally and I were giddy with excitement about receiving 12 orders, then they kept coming and coming, I think 62 was the grand total with a few large donations just because. In my head I was going to be happy if they were all made and out by Halloween (each troll can take 2 hours, sometimes more) but chances are the rest will be going home by Friday of this week. So look for an e-mail from me with a tracking number. And thanks again for supporting the ranch. Don’t forget to check out the Kingpin trolls on E-bay. If you can’t bid, please share, 100% of the profits go to the camp.



She Calls This Cooking

Nicole finally came out and said that this mess is not a rocket stove. Well, duh.  We’ve known that.

Here are some pictures on Pinterest of DIY rocket stoves.

This, of course, doesn’t even slightly resemble those.  This is just Cindy Cinderblock and her siblings piled up haphazardly around a fire with a makeshift grate, with old ash piled up.

Somehow, I think, this is supposed to look all self-sufficienty and homesteady and back-to-naturey.

But what in the hell do they cook on that?

Well, this.

I showed this photo to Dave.  He is probably the easiest-going man on earth when it comes to food.  If it’s edible, he’ll pretty much eat it.  He just doesn’t complain. He’s not picky.

But his comment was this.

That looks like something we’d feed to the pigs but I wouldn’t let them lick the pan.  They have never cleaned that cast-iron pan, ever.

Really?  What am I missing here?  All you gotta do to cook like that is get a few cinderblocks and have a toddler stack them, light a fire and then put an old grate over it. Finding a cast-iron skillet in that condition will, I admit, be pretty hard to do.  Try the local dump.

Then they had a little discussion about sun ovens, which is actually something the Nauglers could use.

Here’s my Sun Oven.  And the pan of brownies in the windowsill came right out of it.  They work beautifully, but the DIY ones pretty much suck. I checked into it before buying mine because they’re sort of pricey. There’s a good reason for that. They have to be made correctly or they simply don’t build up enough heat to do the job.  The homemade ones also weigh a whole lot, while my little Sun Oven is very light.

Most of the people who successfully make solar ovens that actually work end up spending almost as much money as they would have spent if they just bought a Sun Oven. So that’s what I did.  I’ve had mine for 9 years and it doesn’t appear that it will ever wear out.

Factor in living in Kentucky where long blocks of cloudless hours are sometimes hard to find, and it takes a bit of practice to learn to use one. To get it to really heat up, you have to pay attention and go out and turn it to face the sun periodically.

The YouTube videos that show the little cheap ones  are used in Africa not Kentucky.

I have baked in mine, as you can see, including bread.  It’s nice on a hot summer day to not have to heat up the kitchen. It bakes lovely potatoes and of course, stews and soups are similar to what you’d do in a slow cooker.



I like to hang clothes outside.  I do it inside, on racks, if I have to, but I greatly prefer being able to hang them outside.

In 46 years of marriage, I have owned a dryer only for about 10 years, while we were in Alaska.  It came with the house. I didn’t buy it. I wouldn’t have replaced it had it broken.  I rarely used it.

A couple of years ago, Dave dragged me into a store and made me buy a new washing machine.

There it is.  It’s beautiful.  I sort of love it.   It’s a Samsung and it sings to me when it’s finished. He built the stand for it. On the left of the machine, you can see my clothes racks.  On the right side is the laundry tub where the milking equipment lives.

No room for a dryer, even if I wanted one.

I have one of those umbrella-style clotheslines out in the back yard, but I hate it and don’t use it much.  Clothes dry faster if they aren’t all bunched up.

So Dave fixed this up for me.

This is my front porch. It extends all the way across the front of the house.  Not including the opening where the front steps are, there are six sections like this.

Obviously, I don’t want to have a clothesline on my front porch all the time. Even having it up briefly to dry clothes makes us look Amish, and that’s enough.

So it is removable.

There is a hook, like this, at each end of the porch, and the line is stored there.  When it’s in use, I run it from that hook to the next post, where there is a cleat.

A couple of wraps around the cleat and then I pull it to the next cleat.  I start at the other end and they meet in the middle on a cleat.

When the laundry is dry, and I take it down, it takes me about a minute to take down the whole clothesline, hang each half on its hook, and then you’d never know it had ever been there.

So for a little while, on sunny days, our clean laundry hangs out on our front porch.  People can see it as they drive by, although they have to look closely because we have large trees in the front yard.

But we never hang out our dirty laundry on the front porch.

It lives here.

That’s what you do with dirty laundry.

Everyone has some from time to time.

Sometimes, right after I’ve washed everything, the basket is pretty much empty, like you see there.  But sometimes, if the weather is bad, and I’m busy with other things, it gets backed up and the basket gets pretty full.

That’s normal. It’s how life is.

But what I don’t do is put all my dirty laundry on the front porch.

Or social media.

There’s a word for people who do that.


It’s Not About You

From a homeschooler.  Here’s the link to the whole thing. Go read it.

So here’s my opinion: homeschooling parents don’t get to have an opinion on how awesome homeschooling is. HEAR ME OUT before you roast me.

If you were not homeschooled, then you have no fucking idea what it’s like. Your perspective is from the side of the one who got to choose. The one who had control. The one who consented. Your perspective is not from the side of the ones who did not have choice, control, or consent. You are not the one that has to live with the consequences of someone else’s choice for you. Thus you do not get a say in the conversation about being homeschooled. You were not homeschooled, you do not get a say.

That may sound harsh but it’s truth. It’s a bit arrogant to inject your non-experience into spaces where others are telling of theirs. When this happens, it is always about self-defense. It’s never about truly listening to the stories of those who lived an experience. If you feel the need to defend your choice to homeschool when someone says “homeschooling damaged and cheated me”, then your comments are not about that person, they are about you. And you need to realize that this story is not about you. It’s about the kids that are telling the story.

The Sale

Yesterday was a bit of a suck day.  In the early morning, while I was doing the milking, Dave was down in the back pasture with a back-hoe guy helping him dig Georgia’s grave.

Right after that, Dave went to pick up a new little piglet.

Isn’t her tail cute?

Piglets are sort of adorable.  Like baby calves.

Here she is, exploring her new digs, with “dig” being a very appropriate word.  We leave a lot of weedy growth in the pig pen for a new pig. They soon root it all away and they enjoy the hell out of doing so.

But notice the open places at the back of her little hut?  You can just barely see that there is woven wire fencing behind there. The area beyond there is our big pasture.

She explored. And she explored. And she found those open places, and she pushed right through and under the fencing and Dave came out and found her having a fine time in the pasture.

It was hot yesterday and sunny and humid.  Just the ideal time to be running around a pasture trying to drive an errant pig back into her pen.

By the time we’d finished playing Capture the Pig, we were both in a fine humor.

You can see her, barely, lying in the little hut.  She was exhausted after her wild adventure.  So were we.  And you can see where Dave nauglered up the little house.

So all was well and I went to the house to prepare some dinner.

And then we had the visit.

A man came by to pick up a farm implement that we were selling.  He’d called ahead and we knew he was coming, but Dave finally had to go meet him and bring him to the house. This is nice, actually, because even people with GPS systems have trouble finding our place, but it still meant that Dave had to go meet the guy.

He brought his wife and small daughter with him.

I came out to the barn because I thought maybe they’d need as many hands as possible to get this heavy piece of equipment onto his trailer.  I can’t lift much, but I can do a little.

We all introduced ourselves and it was all fine. I took the woman and her little girl around to look at the baby calves in their pens and the baby pig thankfully in her pen, and as the little girl petted them, the woman and I chatted.

She kept asking questions.  She’d known me about ten minutes and she was asking a whole lot of questions about where we’d lived, and what we did and stuff like that. Stuff that nobody would really be very interested in.

In the process, she mentioned that she had been widowed and that her first husband was a pastor.  She then said that the only thing her current husband and the pastor would have had in common was their “love for the Lord.”


It was what I’d been waiting for.

I grew up in this shit.  I know the signals.

The woman was doing something all evangelical/fundamentalist Christians feel compelled to do.

She was figuring out what box to place me in.  Where did we fit? She couldn’t continue without knowing which script to use.

This is what she was dealing with.  Supposedly, the person speaking there is Jesus.  And when Jesus gives you an order, what the hell are you supposed to do except follow it to the letter?

But see, they don’t have to “preach the gospel” to people who already believe it, so they have developed a method of figuring it all out.

They create boxes.

The main two boxes are “Saved” and “Lost.”

The Saved box has a lot of little boxes inside it labeled “Backslidden” and “Iffy” and “Methodist” and “Episcopalian, But Claims Salvation” and the like.  The Lost box is also subdivided into “Liberal Christian”  and “Catholic” and “Mormon” and “Jehovah’s Witness” and (gasp!) “Atheist.”

Each box requires a different script because each type of person supposedly needs a different message.  With a liberal Christian, they can talk about the things they believe in common (Jesus was a nice guy, faith is a good thing, where do you go to church) and go from there.  With a Mormon, it’s a little more complicated, but rest assured, there’s a script.

There is also a script for atheists but I almost never meet anyone who can remember what it is. They rarely use it because most of them have never met anyone who says right out, “I’m an atheist.”

At any rate, they put out feelers.  If the other person is in the Saved box already, that person will recognize and respond to the feelers.  For instance, when she said that her two husbands had little in common except their “love for the Lord,” my response should have been something like “Well, that’s what is important.”

Bingo.  I would have gone in the “Might Be Saved” box.

I didn’t.

So that left in my situation fraught with concern.  No box means she doesn’t know what script to use. This creates massive discomfort in these people.

The men managed to get the implement loaded without female help (amazing, I know, but true) and money exchanged hands, and then he started in.

“I don’t know where you go to church, or if you’re saved. . .”

Oh, gee whiz.

Dave responded, “We don’t do church.”

Plop.  We moved into the “Definitely Lost” box.

Definitely Lost is a PITA box to be in.  It means that they are compelled by Jesus to preach the gospel to us.  They can’t leave until they do.  I know it.  I get it.

I also tend be pretty frank.

So when I saw their obvious discomfort (people, even these idiot Christians, really don’t enjoy “soul-winning” – no sane person does), I just cut to the core of the matter.

“I am an atheist,” I said.

And plop.  We found ourselves squarely in the Atheist box and then they were in real trouble. Where do they start with an atheist?

“What happens when you die?” he asked.

In the other scripts, nearly all of them, the question is “Where will you spend eternity?”  That is the lead-in question and is followed up by something about how we’ve all “sinned.”

That doesn’t work in the atheist script because we aren’t going to spend eternity anywhere and we have never sinned.  (Sin is defined as “coming short of the glory of God.”  No God, no sin.)

He was trying to find solid ground and struggling a bit.

And then he thought he got there. He began to tell us about a road trip they took to a scenic area and how God made everything.  I demurred. He responded with “Who made the world?”

This drives me nuts.

He doesn’t know any more about how the world got here than I do.  Stephen Hawking probably knows as much as anyone, but this guy wasn’t a theoretical physicist, so I decided to stop it right there.  I was hot and tired. I was sure that Dave was hotter and tireder and we weren’t in the mood.

I replied, “Look, I was a Christian fundamentalist until I was in my mid-forties.  Our son attended a Christian school all his life except for the period when we homeschooled him and his senior year which was in public school.  I can quote lots of Bible. Wanna hear it?”

And then I started with John 1:1 (In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God), smiled and kept going.

They got the point, I think.

But then he did something I despise.  Just despise.

He explained how we have freedom of religion and how anyone can believe anything they like and how it’s all fine and dandy, but (always a but) he never severs ties with a non-believer because if he’s just nice to them, he might be able to say that one word that will help them.

Can anyone spell condescending?

I replied, “And there’s the problem.  You say you enter into a friendship, a relationship, with a person with the sole intention of changing them.”

He nodded. He knew what I meant.

Some denominations and sects take this further than others do.  One of my pastors used to actually say that no Christian should ever have a friendship with a non-believer for any reason other than to convert them.

In late October of 2004, Dave and I flew from our home in Alaska to North Carolina to visit relatives, including Nathan. We had voted absentee before leaving.

We had made arrangements, when we knew we were going to be there, to spend all day that Sunday before the election in Raleigh doing some canvassing work for MoveOn.

They gave us a list of the names and addresses of registered Democrats in a particular area and a map.  Our task was to go to each of those houses/apartments, talk with the person, and find out if they knew where to vote, if they’d made plans to get there, and if they needed transportation.

We were explicitly told that we were not to ask anyone how they planned to vote. We were to tell them that we’d gotten their name from the voter registration list and verify that they were registered as Democrats.  If they said, “No, there’s been a mistake. I am a Republican” or anything like that, we were to apologize, keep the conversation to senseless chatting and exit as rapidly as possible and go to the next name.

The whole point was to get out the Democratic vote.

We were not there to change anyone’s mind about anything. We just wanted to help Democrats vote, to remind them to vote.

There’s a correlation here.

What we did was honest.  We weren’t lying to anyone. We weren’t trying to intrude in any way.  We just verified if our information was correct, asked if they needed transportation and then moved on (!).

The people who announced that they were in the Republican box were not badgered about why they would be so stupid.  We were nice, polite, apologetic, and got the hell out of there. We didn’t try to establish some phony-baloney relationship with the sole goal of turning them into Democrats.

at dinner

This is me with Dave having dinner while on our cruise. We met a whole lot of really nice people, but one couple stood out. We spent a lot of time with them.  He is something or other with the Episcopal church and she is a retired priest.

The atheists palled all around Europe and across the Atlantic with the professional Episcopalians.

It is quite possible to have a lovely friendship with people who are very religious when you aren’t.  Really, it is.  We’ve remained in contact with that couple and would cruise again with them in a heartbeat.

But you see, neither couple cared what boxes the other folks were in. We discussed religion, of course.  It’s an integral part of their lives. Atheism is an integral part of ours.  We had some lively dinner discussions that went on far longer than they should have and that was part of the subject matter.

But there was no judgement made, on either side. We don’t care if they are religious. They don’t care if we’re not. We had fun together. We enjoyed each others’ company.

It’s not necessary to make a sale before you can establish a friendship.


Sally the Troll

We have made arrangements, with the assistance of Tracy at the Ranch, to use Ebay as an auction platform for trolls and other stuff.

Ebay has a nifty thing called “Ebay For Charity.”  Here’s how it works.

When you list an item for sale or auction on Ebay, you are given the option to donate part or all of the proceeds to charity.  Ebay has a list of approved charities.  Tracy at the Ranch very helpfully did the necessary paperwork to get the Kentucky Sheriff’s Boys and Girls Ranch approved as an Ebay charity, so now they are one of the choices.

This means that not only can Debra make trolls and whatever else tickles her fancy and auction them on Ebay, but you and I can auction/sell off anything we like, and donate any percentage we want to the Ranch.  I am already eyeing Minnie and maybe Dave.  Ebay takes care of sending the money directly to Tracy, which, of course, puts a big dent in Deb’s and my ability to “steal” money.  🙂

And the Sally Troll is the first one up.

Here’s the link.


Deb and I are total Ebay selling virgins. Neither of us had the slightest idea how to do this.  When Deb made the listing, she made a mistake on the shipping thingy.

She sent me the link to the page after she had listed it, and when I checked the shipping to my zip code, it was astronomical.  I think what was happening is that the shipping is being added to the cost of the item, which is wrong.

Deb went back to try to adjust the shipping, but found that the Sally Troll already had a bid on it, and she couldn’t change anything.

She’s placed a note about this on the listing.

IF YOU HAVE THE WINNING BID, the shipping cost will be adjusted appropriately and will not necessitate a second mortgage on your home.



This is Georgia.

Here she is with her mother, Cheney.  Georgia is the larger, darker one.

Georgia and Cheney were the first farm animals we got when we moved here nine years ago.  We were told that they were mother and daughter, and we really have no idea how old they are, except that they are more than nine years old.  The guy said he thought they were something like four and six or six and eight and I knew he probably was lying and they were more like fourteen and sixteen.

The farriers have told us that they are well into their teens and probably in their twenties.

Anyway, they have always been our bad, naughty donkeys.  I’ve written a bit about them.

We have loved them.  We love to hear them bray.  I used to worry that their braying would bother the neighbors and then I found out that our neighbors love it too.  Braying donkeys make me smile.

Except tonight.

Dave was out at the barn after milking tonight, filling water buckets.  I had come back to the house to deal with the milk and clean the machine.

And Dave heard Cheney braying.

He knew something was wrong, just by the way she was braying. So he went looking for her.  He found her with Georgia.

Georgia has died.

She was lying down near the back fence, and Dave said that she looked like she simply dropped.

She’s been doing poorly for quite some time.  She foundered, we had two different farriers out to fix her feet, she’d be a little bit better for a while and then she’d start looking ill again.  When the vet was out here with Frances that day, we had him take a look at her.

He said that donkeys sometimes get adrenal problems and that it looked like that might be the problem. I asked him if it was treatable and he said, well, yes.  Sort of.  It was the “sort of” that stopped me.  He kind of shrugged a little and said, “You know she’s pretty old.”  And that was my answer.

What he was telling me was “Yes, we can treat it, if that’s the problem, but she’s old, it will cost a pure fortune and it probably won’t give her much time anyway, and maybe no quality of life.”

Georgia was sweet and we loved her, but she and Cheney were and are farm animals. They have a job. They aren’t house pets.  We can’t run an old folks home for farm animals.  If we try to do that, we’ll go broke and not be able to have any animals at all.

We gave her nine very good years.  She was petted and pampered, as far as the average farm donkey is concerned.  We provided shelter for her in winter when the weather was bad.  Most don’t get that.  She and Georgia have their own stall, which they always shared.

We will miss her.

But not as much as Cheney will.

I suspect we’ll have to find another donkey soon.  They are herd animals.

You were a good one, Georgia.

And now I’m going to go cry a little bit.

Blue Dogs and Slobs

I got up this morning and was absolutely bowled over.  I was greeted by a message from somebody alerting me to this.

Karen wants to talk about my uncle, my father’s only sibling.

I didn’t even know about all this.  It’s interesting, though.

Here’s my uncle’s obituary.

And here’s an article about the controversy she’s talking about.

Finally, here’s another article a year later.

I have been to the Sailfish Club exactly four times, if I am remembering correctly.  I even asked Dave what he remembers about going there to be sure I’m counting correctly.  My family did not have a membership, so to go there and eat, I had to go as the guest of a member.

It’s an experience.  When I was in nursing school, three of my school buddies went to Florida with me on spring break and we stayed at my dad’s place. During that visit, we all went to the Sailfish Club for dinner.  I remember that there were no prices of anything in the menu and that the wash basin in the bathroom was a huge shell. There was a live band and dancing.

Yes, it’s posh as hell.

This is me and my dad having a go at the dance floor. It’s not at the Sailfish Club, but rather at the Pinehurst Country Club in Pinehurst, North Carolina.  That was about 1983 or so.

I tried to find the photo and can’t, so I’ll let you imagine instead. See the steps there?  That’s the Sailfish Club.  When my father died, the entire family went to the Club for dinner after the funeral and then we had a family photo made on those steps.

But Karen is bringing all this up to stab at me about race.

Here’s the deal.  My father and my uncle were both Democrats.  Today, they would be called “blue dog” Democrats.  I never remember my father being particularly political, but my uncle was, and I know some of my aunt’s extended family was politically active, as in elected or appointed to fairly high positions in state government.

I have no idea about my uncle’s views on race, but I can tell you about my father’s.

He was racist to the core.

He was a child of his time and place.  He grew up in the racist old South, he was white, and my grandfather had established a relatively successful real estate and insurance business which ultimately employed and supported all three families (my grandparents, my dad, and my uncle).

If you were to go back in a time machine and visit my dad’s world, his world as an adult, my world as a small child, you’d see that the overwhelming majority of the white people around you were also “blue dog” Democrats and racist.  It was a fact of life.

I suspect that if you’d sat my father down during your visit and had a conversation with him about race, he would have been perplexed.  He really wouldn’t have understood his own racism.

When I was 13 years old (1962), my parents were divorced in large part due to my mother finding Jesus, and we moved without my dad to Greenville, South Carolina, where my mother plopped me into Bob Jones Academy, against my will.  It was also racist there, right to the core.

Two years later, I got the boot from the Academy, and ended up at Wade Hampton High School (the local public school in the same area) and guess what?  It was racist too, every bit as racist as Bob Jones ever was.

In 1970, I married a Greenville native, and he came from a family that was racist to the core.  He graduated from an area high school in 1959  and had several classmates whose fathers had been members of the Ku Klux Klan, complete with the white robes and dunce cap. They were proud of it.

I’m not sure what point Karen is trying to make here, except that she thinks that if she can point to one of my relatives, she can tar me with the same brush, the notion being that somehow if I grew up around racists, I am therefore racist too.

Well, there’s another person who grew up in a particular environment until she was about 13 years old, the same age I was when we left West Palm Beach.  Her name is now Cathy Harris.

This is a letter from the McIntire folks to Cleo complaining because they were having trouble getting insurance on the farm due to the fact that Cleo was a slob.  You remember that Cleo had sold the farm to McIntire with a lifetime annuity attached to the deal, so McIntire was responsible for the insurance.

But Cleo was such a slovenly housekeeper that the insurance company didn’t want to insure the place.

I read this and it reminded me of something.

This is a portion of an email that Richard Harris sent to Cathy in 2006, when she was begging him to let her move back in.  He refused her request.  The whole letter is here, and Cathy has repeatedly acknowledged that it’s real.

So what?  What does this mean?

Does this mean that because Cleo was a slob, Cathy learned slobbery from her and is also a slob?

Remember, Cathy may not have been related to Cleo, but she lived in her house under her care through all those young formative years.

Should we point to the obvious inept housekeeping of Cleo Smith and say, “See? Cathy got it from Cleo. She was taught to be that way.”  Is that fair or even reasonable?

What about Karen herself?  Her brother is (or at least was) the principal of Bob Jones Academy.  Does that make Karen automatically a BoJo?

Both Cathy and Karen went to Bob Jones University by choice.  Bob Jones University has a history of racism that rivals anything my uncle or father could ever have been guilty of.

Does that mean Cathy and Karen are racists?


Rand and Matt

I bring you some hilarity for your evening.

Joe is on a first-name basis with both Senator Rand Paul and Governor Matt Bevin.

He’s contacted them.

They would so help out Joe and Nicole with all their issues, but alas, they have trolls.

Not just regular trolls, but hostile ones.  Politically hostile.  So they have to deal with their own trolls and Joe and Nicole are shit out of luck.

But, undaunted,  Joe and Nicole will perpetuate the “roll” of accountability in government.

Whatever the hell that means.

The senator and the governor have trolls.  I wonder if Mitch McConnell has any.  Or maybe he is one.