Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving 2010

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Happy Thanksgiving!
Sketch of Thanksgiving in camp
(by Alfred Rudolph Waud, 1828-1891, artist)
of General Louis Blenker
during the US Civil War on
Thursday, November 28th 1861

Around the holidays I often wonder about my Great Grandma Callie and how she and her family must have celebrated their holidays. I don't know how they celebrated. All I remember is my Great Aunt Bertha (GG Callie's daughter) saying that her Mom used to save up left over biscuits and make the best turkey stuffing ever. They were a very close family.

My Mom was raised by GG Callie and I know that a lot of the way I was raised came from GG Callie. So, in a lot of ways I feel very close to the past ways of doing things. Great Grandma Callie was born the year after the Civil War ended in 1866. I always think that must have been a very thankful family Thanksgiving 1866 to have her Dad come home safe from the war, a new baby in the family and to have the war over.

We always seem to be going through some kind of hard times. I remember the atom bomb drills at school in the 1940's, laying in bed hearing planes pass over and being sure they were going to drop bombs, hearing the all clear siren every week in the 1950's, the Korea, Russian and China scares, and now 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan and the terrorist threats.

Yes, lots of bad things have happened, but I'm thankful and grateful for all the good things, for my family, for people working together to build our country, for tolerance, for caring, for generosity, for understanding overcoming hatred and prejudice and for my blogging friends.

I have a hope that the worlds bloggers will bring about a world community, a family, that will make it much more difficult for countries to go to war, to hate, to blame or misunderstand and fear the "other."

Our little blogs just might make the world a safer place!

I'm thankful for my family past and present,
and wish the best to

Happy Thanksgiving!

Brrrr... It's Still Freezing

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It is 10:00 in the morning on this lovely sunny blue sky day and it is 22 degrees! Cold! It was around 17 degrees last night. The snow is frozen solid and it is scary walking around outside getting firewood and taking care of the chickens.

I'm not complaining. Really. It's just that this is California and I'm not that used to what is to me is really cold weather. I wonder if this is going to be the norm for a while? Colder winters?

The chickens are doing great. Yesterday, Kristine and I put down around 10 flakes of straw in the chicken coop for the chickens to use as bedding and they all came through the freezing weather just fine. We didn't add any heat lamps or anything else to the coop. The only thing I did other than add the extra straw was to board up part of their pen entrance to cut down on drafts.

The hens snuggle up in the straw in the nest boxes or pile up like a bunch of puppies in a pile on the straw on the ground and manage to keep each other warm. I'm so glad they managed to get through their molt and that their feathers grew out before this freezing weather hit.

I brought the hens a bowl of water this morning; their automatic waterer was a frozen block of ice. The chickens are enjoying the sunshine and also dry feet thanks to the tarp I put up over their pen.

I put the dry feeders back up so the hens had access to feed all the time and because it wasn't safe for me to try and walk around in the ice and snow carrying the water and feed, etc. They have a feeder full of scratch and one of lay pellets. There is also another goat grain feeder full of scratch.

The hens got a head of broccoli and two apples yesterday. Today they got some veggie scraps and some pumpkin. I was worried about them, but they are doing fine. They are going to have to stay penned up until after Thanksgiving and the weather warms up.

It is so cold out that my camera stopped working and I had to put it back in my pocket and warm it up a bit. Didn't know that would happen. That was a new one on me.

I took the photo of the tree tops after I came back inside and warmed the camera up... I opened the slider and took a quick shot.

I had to try four times to get the camera to work to take the other photo of the trees and snow when I was outside.

There was over 7 inches of snow on the railings, 2 inches under the trees and 2 inches on the clothesline when Kristine measured the snowfall one night.

There was a lot of rain and hail along with the snow, so I don't know how much snow we got all together.

Last night it was so cold that I slept on the couch in front of the wood stove. Kristine got up around 3 a.m. to add more wood because it was getting cold in the loft. I didn't feel the cold because I was under an afghan, a quilt and only 5 feet away from the wood stove. I think I will sleep there again tonight. It is supposed to be 22 degrees tonight.

Kristine turned the outside faucets on to drip last night, but some of them froze up anyway. Hope we don't have any broken pipes. I keep going out to check, but it is still freezing out.

This is how I'm keeping my feet warm... Morgan and I share her dog bed while I use the computer. I snuggle my feet under her when I can or I wiggle a foot and give her a foot massage.

I stopped trying to post because I didn't like using the computer when the power kept going off and on. I was worried the computer might get damaged. 

This is a quick post. I will try to get another one in for Thanksgiving. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

My Search For Fatwood Fire Starter Pine Stumps

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Update: Snow! Power Outages!

Power still going on and off... It has been on and off over 10 times. I'll post again when the power is back on to stay. Snowing 'till Wednesday.

The power went off last night just before I could publish this post. I'm finishing this up quickly and publishing it before the power goes off again.

I took this photo this morning. What's left of the stump is under snow. It warmed up and the snow was melting. There's not much snow under the trees. We have 4 inches of snow on the railings. Snow forecast 'till Tuesday. It's raining now.


Fatwood: Kindling wood full of pitch. The fatwood I know about is found in old Pine stumps.

Fatwood: If you click on this link to Google Images and enter the word fatwood in the search box you will see scads of photos of really great fatwood. The easiest way to get fatwood is to buy some. I like having the fun of searching around in the forest and finding my own fatwood.

Yesterday and today I spent time stomping around in the woods looking for pine stumps. Unfortunately, I didn't have much luck.

Most all of the stumps I found were oak or madrone and when I did find a pine stump they were beetle eaten and mostly sawdust.

There is a stump next to the axe and is a photo of the best one of the lot. I knocked it apart with a few blows of the axe. I think it would have come apart if I just kicked it a few times.

I lit one of the sticks over the sink to see if it was fatwood and would burn. I'm not really sure? From what I have read, fatwood should smell something like kerosine? This stuff is pretty much beatle eaten, but it does have a pitchy odor.

I left looking for fatwood too late in the year and this wood was wet, but it still burned when I lit it with a match. So, I kinda think it must be fatwood.

Anyway, the whole reason I decided to see if I could find the fatwood was because I wanted to put together some firestarter paper egg carton boxes.

I have read about putting lint in the egg cartons, melting wax, and then pouring the melted wax over the lint in each egg compartment. And then cutting apart each egg compartment and having lots of little fire starters.

I didn't want to mess around with the scary melting wax part of the project, so I thought I would just take a knife and shave some wax off a little candle onto the lint I had put in each egg compartment. I figure the wax would melt when the paper started burning.

I rolled up some of the fatwood sticks in some newspaper and put them on top of the lint and wax shavings. Then I shut the top and tore open the ends of the egg carton lid, pushed it closed and the lid closed. Neat.

The fire in the wood stove was almost out. There were some wood coals still burning red. I shoved the live coals into the middle and placed logs on either side of the coals. I put the egg carton fire starter I just made in the middle over the coals. Put some kindling on top and two small logs.

This test doesn't really count because there were live coals to help get the fire started, but I have had a lot of trouble getting a fire started with just paper and kindling when there were coals. So, I would say that this egg carton fire starter experiment worked out pretty good and was a big help getting the fire going.

I think I will make a few more of these egg carton fire starters to have handy when I need to start a fire from scratch. Usually, once it gets cold enough to fire up the wood stove we keep it going and just keep adding wood. Not much need to start a fire unless we get some warm weather and we let the wood stove fire go out.

When I use a fire starter egg carton to start a fire from scratch I'll post an update here.

November Thankful Quote

I love to to be warm by the red fireside,
I love to be wet with rain:
I love to be welcome at lamp lit doors,
And leave the doors again.
~ by Robert Louis Stevenson

I am grateful for my wood stove!

Today's riddle: No legs have I to dance. No lungs have I to breathe. No life have I to live or die. And yet I do all three. What am I.

The answer to yesterday's riddle: A volcano.

(November 19, 2009)

[1 egg today]
A cute little black Australorp
is the hen who is laying the egg.

The hens are happy out of the snow.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

New Covers For Old Ugly Oven Mitts

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This is the first and only mitt I have finished. Well, I still have to hand sew around the wrist part so it is attached enough so it can go in the washer and dryer.

I have 4 oven mitts and they all have burn, scorch and frayed spots. Ugly!

If I went shopping... got off this mountain once in a while I would buy some new mitts, instead I just cover them with some of the scrap fabric I have around.

So, there will be 2 mitts with a blue theme and two mitts with a red theme.

And best of all they will all have chickens on them!

First I laid out the fabric right sides together. ( I messed up on the blue flower fabric and had the right sides out. It would have been ok if I had cut out the blue chicken fabric with the right sides out too... but I didn't. I had to cut out an extra mitt cover.

Each mitt will have a chicken fabric on one side and a matching color fabric on the other side.

I'll post some more photos when I get them all finished.

Here is a photo of the extra mitt I had to cut out.

The bottom photo shows the tracing I made around an oven mitt.

I then measured out 1/4 inch and marked a line to sew on and then measured out another 1/4 inch and marked a line to cut.

The mitts are fat so I needed the extra 1/2 inch so there would be enough room for the mitt.

I'll be glad to get these sewn up and finished.

More chicken stuff in the kitchen!

Finished at last!

They look a lot better in the photo than in real life.

I ended up sewing it all by hand and the seams are not as neat looking as they would be if I had hauled out my sewing machine and set it up to use. I need a sewing table.

Oh well, the mitts are together and look better and will work out fine. Love the chickens!

November Thankful Quote

Drip drip the trees for all the country round,
And richness rare distills from every bough;
The wind alone it is makes every sound,
Shaking down crystals on the leaves below.
~ Henry David Thoreau - The Summer Rain

I am grateful for rain!

Today's riddle: My thunder comes before the lightning; my lightning comes before the clouds; my rain dries all the land it touches. What am I?

The answer to yesterday's riddle: A noun.

(November 17, 2009)

[0 eggs today]


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wood Stove Biscuits

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No burn spots! Hey... I'm getting really good at this wood stove biscuit making project.

This time I heated the lid and the dutch oven on the stove before oiling it and before I added my made from scratch biscuit dough.

I'm still using the biscuit recipe from my 1965 Better Homes And Gardens cookbook.

Baking Powder Biscuits
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour 
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup milk (1 cup milk for drop biscuits) (this time I used over a cup of milk... until the mix was wet and too sticky to pick up.)

In those days I used Crisco. Now, I'm so bad... I use butter! My favorite biscuits are Buttermilk biscuits. I know I can make a buttermilk subsitute by adding vinegar or lemon juice to milk, but I always forget.

Adding a bit more milk to the mix was a good move. It helped keep the biscuits from becoming too dry as they cooked in the dutch oven on top of the wood stove. Dropping the wet mix by spoonfuls into the hot oiled dutch oven worked better than rolling out the biscuit mix and cutting out biscuits. I like to do the rolling and cutting... fun... but, they don't come out as tender and flaky.

Every time I make biscuits I discover a new wrinkle. This time adding the extra milk and making sure the dutch oven was set up about an inch and a half on a rack worked great to control the temperature and keep the biscuits from getting too brown (burned.)

I'm glad the weather has turned cold
and the wood stove is back in operation.
Missed it! 

November Thankful Quote

The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you
to enter the house of his wisdom
but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.
~ Kahil Gilbran

I'm grateful for all the wonderful teachers I have known.

I think the way this university professor has handled cheating
on the midterm a great move for the guilty students.
He gave them an out...
Professor Richard Quinn must be an extraordinary teacher.
Students don't realize their lives can be
because of some stupid choice.

In my day the students would have been given the boot. I remember a sweet girl who was kicked out of college because of staying out of her dorm and getting someone to cover for her (I think she was kicked out too.) That was a big no-no in the 60's I still wonder what happened to them.

Today's riddle: I am every person you can know and every place that you can go. I'm everything that you can show. Quite interesting too. What am I that you use?

The answer to yesterday's riddle: A chair. 

(November 17, 2009)

[1 egg today]


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Knit And Crochet Stuff From The Past

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I haven't seen this yarn and these supplies for eight years and I haven't worked on it for over fifteen. I don't even remember some of this stuff.

The first thing I need to work on and finish is the white afghan. I have all the panels complete in the plastic bag except for the one on top.

I don't have a clue how I knit all that!

I must have been much smarter in my younger days. I never could knit directly from a pattern. I would always get lost and spend most of my time trying to figure out where I was.

I'm a visual person and found that marking out the stitches on graph paper worked for me. I'm going to have to reread the pattern and the graph I marked out and get that all figured out before I can begin again.

I quit working on this afghan because I made the mistake of showing it to the person I was making it for... surprise! Well, it was for me. She didn't know it was a present for her and she didn't like it. Oops! So, I put it all away. sigh...

Well, I'll finish it and keep it for my own use. I'll try to finish it. I was just going to leave off the last panel. I still might if I can't get the gauge to look right.

Oh, well. I've got the time to work on it now and I have got over my negative feelings. At the time I thought it was such a complete waste of time and money (didn't want to see it) and chucked it a bag and stuffed it in a closet.

Kristine wants to crochet some things, so I'll give her some of the yarn and she can use the crochet hooks. I have a wooden crochet hook that I just loved to use. I lost one of my good knitting needles. Hope I can find it.

I have to admit I am happy to see all this
knitting and crochet stuff.

Thankful November Rhyme

All around the chicken coop,
The possum chased the weasel.
The hen on her eggs was fast asleep,
Pop! goes the weasel!
A penny for a ball of thread,
A penny for a needle,
That's the way the money goes;
Pop! goes the weasel!

I'm grateful for playing and having fun.

Today's riddle: I have legs, but walk not. A strong back,
but work not. Two good arms, but reach not. 
A seat, but sit and tarry not.
What am I?

Answer to yesterday's riddle: A mouse.

(November 16, 2009)

[0 eggs today]
Some of the hens have most of their feathers!
Hurrah! Eggs?
See, they are looking better.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Tea Cup Pincushion - Quick and Easy

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 I was going to hot glue the cup to the saucer, but decided not to in case I wanted to use the saucer for pins without the cup in the way. The blue pin holder is magnetic and works like a charm.

I need to get some straw needles and now they have a special place to live.

I put a lot of hot glue around the inside of the cup about a third of the way down. Put the pin cushion in the cup and held it down for a little bit.

Hot gluing the buttons was tricky

I cut off the extra material. Maybe not so neat, but it works.

I didn't want to take the time to sew and gather up the edge of the material. So, I used up some old pins and pulled the edges to the bottom and pinned.

I used an old tomato pincushion I got at a garage sale instead of having to buy a styrofoam ball. There are four layers of material because it is thin. And I used a piece of batting. Buttons for needle houses.

November Thankful Quote
(Well, it is really a bit of a poem)

Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home;
A charm from the sky seems to hallow us there,
Which, seek through the world, is ne'er met with elsewhere.
~ John Howard Payne - Home, Sweet Home

I am very grateful for home.

Today's riddle: My tail is long, my coat is brown. I like the country, I like the town. I can live in a house or live in a shed and I come out to play when you are in bed. What am I?

Answer to yesterdays riddle: Teapot

(November 15, 2009)

[1 egg today]


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tea Cup Pincushion... almost

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November Quote

"In Ireland, you go to someone's house, and she asks you if you want a cup of tea. You say no, thank you, you're really just fine. She asks if you're sure. You say of course you're sure, really, you don't need a thing. Except they pronounce it ting. You don't need a ting.

Well, she says then I was going to get myself some anyway, so it would be no trouble. Ah, you say, well, if you were going to get yourself some, I wouldn't mind a spot of tea, at that, so long as it's no trouble and I can give you a hand in the kitchen. Then you go through the whole thing all over again until you both end up in the kitchen drinking tea and chatting.

In America, someone asks you if you want a cup of tea, you say no, and then you don't get any damned tea.

I liked the Irish way better."
- C. E. Murphy (Urban Shaman)

I'm grateful for tea!
Thanks indeed!

I used to love to sing and act out the teapot song when I was little.

Didn't know I'd become a tea drinker.

I like the Irish way better too. I enjoy drinking tea every day and missed it a lot when I had to give it up for a time. I must admit to using Kristine's teapot because I have broken all of my big teapots and even broke one of Kristine's little teapots. I need to put new teapot on my Christmas list.

The photo above is my Tea Cup Pincushion in the making:

My favorite tea cup has developed cracks in the glaze on the inside of the cup around the bottom and sides. I'm afraid to use it anymore because every time I pour hot water in the cup I'm afraid it will shatter. I had that happen once to a coffee mug.

So, I decided to turn my tea cup into a tea cup pin cushion. Only, I want to reserve the pincushion part for needles and use the saucer area for pins.

My plan is to hot glue buttons around the middle of the pincushion and use the button eyes as garages to park my needles. Then hopefully I'll remember which needles are parked in which color button. Sounds like a plan. Hope it works.

I'll try to remember to get some photos of how I put this pincushion together. I'm using an old tomato pincushion for the middle. There are videos on youtube about how to make a pincushion. I'm using some of their ideas and some of my own.

The answer to yesterday's riddle: In order to get everything across the river safely.

The farmer leaves the fox and the corn and rows the chicken across the river, (the fox and corn are safe left together.) He leaves the chicken on the riverbank and rows back across and picks up the fox.

He rows the fox across the river, leaves the fox, picks up the chicken and together they go back across the river. And since he can't have the chicken and the corn together, he leaves the chicken and brings the corn across the river and leaves it with the fox.

Then he heads back across the river to retrieve the chicken and makes one more trip that unites them all.

(I like logic puzzles. That's a lot of rowing. There is a lot to be said for cages.)  

Today's riddle:
What starts with a T, ends with a T, and has T in it?
(The riddle may be too easy, but I like it) 

(November 14, 2009)

[0 eggs today]


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Golden Tree Tops

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Hickety, pickety, my black hen,
She lays eggs, for gentlemen;
Gentlemen come every day,
To see what my black hen does lay,
Sometimes nine and sometimes ten,
Hickety, pickety, my black hen.

I'm thankful we have our chickens!

The chickens are way down there under the trees.
I tried to get a photo of them yesterday afternoon.

I love the way the way the setting sun turns the tops of the trees to gold. Blue sky above... but it's dark on the forest floor. And it's hard to see the chickens under the trees scratching up leaves looking for their evening snack. But soon the oak leaves will fall and the winter sun will warm and light up the forest floor for more of the day. And I'm looking forward to those sunny, cool, crisp days when I can spend all day outside raking leaves. Well, I could be out raking now, but I have learned not to rake too early or I just have to do the job over several times. Every year I hope for a storm to come by and knock all the leaves down in one go.

The answer to yesterday's riddle: A cloud.

Today's riddle:
A farmer has to get a fox, a chicken, and a sack of corn across a river.
He has a rowboat, and it can only carry him and one other thing at a time.
If the fox and the chicken are left alone together, the fox will eat the chicken.
If the chicken and the corn are left together, the chicken will eat the corn.
How can the farmer get the fox, chicken and corn across the river?
(November 13, 2009)

[0 eggs today]


Friday, November 12, 2010

Lovely Mountain Lake

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November Quote

click on this photo and it will enlarge

So lovely was the loneliness
Of a wild lake, with black rock bound,
And the tall pines that tower'd around.
~ Edgar Allan Poe - The Lake

I'm thankful for:
Water, oceans, lakes and puddles.

I love this lake!
This is where our drinking water comes from.

Very quiet day today.

The answer to yesterday's riddle: A ship.

Today's riddle: I am not an airplane, but I can fly through the sky. I am not a river, but I am full of water. What am I?
(November 12, 2009)

[0 eggs today]
Lots of feathers, no eggs.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank You!

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Democracy is two wolves and a lamb
voting on what to have for lunch.
Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!
~ Benjamin Franklin

To all Veterans
Thank you!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Carrot Peels On The Porch

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Some of the hens are starting to look well feathered again, but there are a few others that are still dropping feathers and look kinda scary. Molting is a yukky business.

Seeing the porch decorated with rain, leaves, carrot peels, and chickens makes me happy. Morgan is enjoying her kibble treats inside while the hens gobble up the peels.

The leaves are beginning to fall and soon I'll be ankle deep in leaves and will have to start raking them up. Next week? That will keep me busy for awhile.

We used to have chickens that roosted in our redwood trees when we lived in the Santa Cruz mountains. After the earthquake in '89 we caught and moved the goats, but we couldn't catch the chickens. They did quite well in the trees and were very happy. I loved Sesame Street. Miss Jim Henson.

November Quote

"My leaves are turning crimson," the giant oak tree said,
"It's almost time these children should seek their winter's bed,
But how they still cling to me and gleam with crimson hue,
They truly are more lovely than cirrus clouds of blue.
Winifred Sackville Stoner, Jr. - A Song of the Woods

I love and am grateful for the seasons.

The answer to yesterday's riddle: Words that have double letters.

Today's riddle: Weight in my belly, trees on my back. Nails in my ribs, feet I do lack.
What am I?
(November 9, 2009)

[no eggs today]
Kristine brought home
a bag of organic chicken pellets today.
I'm missing the eggs.
Store bought organic eggs don't measure up
to our chicken's eggs.


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

1915 San Francisco Exposition View Book

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!!! Note: I think I was very lucky I didn't damage the skillet when I put it in the wood stove fire! The skillet could have warped or cracked if it got too hot. Next time I will make sure the fire is not hot enough to make the skillet red hot. Just hot enough to clean it off.

Like I said... I was lucky and the skillet turned out with a lovely smooth surface and even though I just seasoned it on the top of the wood stove it did a great job of cooking an egg. I love that it will just get better and better with age.

The only makers mark on the skillet is an 8 on the handle. Kristine said the 8 had a hat. Huh? I took a look and sure enough there is a v under the 8 (on the end of the handle side not the rim side of the 8.) The skillet has seen a lot of use. The cooking surface is covered with tiny cut marks and dings, but the cooking surface is smooth. Lucky me.

It's raining and I'm not doing anything interesting today. Just stuff like cleaning the refrigerator that wouldn't really make an interesting photo. So, I looked around and spotted a box of old stuff I set out to go through this winter.

I reached in the box and pulled out this "View Book" from 1915: Official Souvenir View Book of the Panama Pacific International Exposition at San Francisco 1915"

The View Book belonged to Tom's grandmother and is in a box with a lot of other stuff I need to look through. I have a feeling the stuff is going to end up in another box and stored away out of sight.

I used to go past the Palace of Fine Arts twice a day when I was bussed to school in San Francisco in the 50's. I think it is the only part of the Exposition still standing. Hope they can save it.

It would be neat if I could come up with a way to keep booklets like this safe and yet in easy reach so we could enjoy looking at them and reading about the events. I'll work on it.

November Quote
An apple a day
Sends the doctor away
Apple in the morning
Doctor's warning
Roast apple at night
Starves the doctor outright
Eat an apple going to bed
Knock the doctor on the head
Three each day, seven days a week
Ruddy apple, ruddy cheek
~ Nursery Rhyme

I'm thankful for apples
and all good things to eat
Didn't find any apples on our tree this year.

The answer to yesterday's riddle: A kiss.

Today's riddle: In my green village there is no light, but there is brightness. There is no black, but there is blackness. There is school, but no people. There is grass, but no flowers. There are mirrors, but no reflections. There are apples, but no bananas and there are carriages, but no babies. What kind of things are allowed in my green village?
(November 9, 2009)

[no eggs today]