Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Rain schedule
Wet goats

We'd gotten so used to this October-in-December that the chilly rain came as a bit of a shock. No more halcyon afternoons lounging with the goats. Instead, it's a delivery of wet honeysuckle then back to fighting the cats for the prime spot in front of the wood stove.

Joey chatter
keysafe presentation at LCA

I will be giving a presentation of keysafe at the LCA Security miniconf.

"Securely backing up gpg private keys.. to the cloud‽"

I assume my strategic interrobang deployment got this on the schedule.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Second freshener
Grazing goats

We won't know for sure until she fails to go into heat Wednesday, but I'm already starting to think of Artemesia as a second freshener. She's dried off (finally!) and is starting to shine back up on unlimited fresh minerals and hay combined with a daily dose of oats or honeysuckle.

Unfortunately, Aremesia has also taken to trying to pull me off my feet when I put on her leash and open the gate to lead her out into the garden. I'm assuming this abrupt leap from mild to headstrong is a result of the embryos swimming around in her belly, but I may still have to resort to goat training 101. Even a Mini-Nubian can pull me off my feet if I'm not careful!

Joey chatter

Afternoon in the woods cutting poles for a sweat lodge.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Farewell to the drought
Frozen pond

August 28 to November 28 --- three months, four inches of rain.

November 29 to December 1 --- three days, three inches of rain.

Our weather changes on a dime and abruptly we are wet once more.

Joey chatter
not my grandpa's volt meter

Stole a Sperry DSA-600 multimeter at auction for $7. It's old.. before Sperry started making them yellow. Probably 1980's? Only 3 readings/second. But very nice quality, AC inductor ring and leather case too.

I had actually been using my grandpa's volt meter for basic polarity checks lately, since my multimeter broke. Analog elegance -- no batteries needed..

antique volt meter

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Braided redbud
Braided redbud

Ken's green thumb isn't limited to the contents of his new sunroom. Walking up to his front door, I was immediately taken by the braided redbuds lining the walk.

"Did you sculpt them yourself or buy them that way?" I asked.

He shrugged off the beauty of the trees, explaining that the technique had merely been a way of saving the redbuds from the ax. "My wife didn't like the way they were hanging over the walk," he explained. "She wanted me to cut them I braided them instead."

When asked for tips on sculpting trees, he suggested trying redbud or beech. "The trunks will grow together as they mature," he noted. I wonder what the trees will look like fifty years after their reprieve?

Joey chatter

A sixteen year old today, perhaps taking a high school civics course, has spent half their life with a president not originally elected by the popular vote.. and can expect this to continue to be the case at least until they're 24.

Wonder what that will do to youth voting levels even more going forward.

And the really smart and ambitious students... Well, if you clearly don't live in a democracy, you make different sorts of long term plans.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Garage-side sunroom add-on
Kit greenhouse

When I called Ken to ask whether his lemon tree wanted to star in Mark's film, I was instantly intrigued by the tree's living accomodations. One of Ken's garage doors was rotting out and would soon need to be replaced, so he came up with an outside-the-box solution. He turned the zone into a sunroom instead.

Garage door sunroom

At first glance, I was impressed by the kit sunroom Ken had purchased and put together. I'm not so sure he would have been able to build something as tight for the same cost from scratch.

From a gardener's standpoint, the sunroom is also a perfect use of that thermal mass (aka driveway), with the bonus that plants can be rolled inside if temperatures drop too low.

Kit sunroom

This is the sunroom's first winter, so Ken is watching it carefully to see how it fares in the cold. So far, he reports that nighttime lows have been about twenty degrees above exterior temperatures with the garage door open onto a mostly unheated basement.


Drought here since August. The small cistern ran dry a month ago, which has never happened before. The large cistern was down to some 900 gallons. I don't use anywhere near the national average of 400 gallons per day. More like 10 gallons. So could have managed for a few more months. Still, this was worrying, especially as the area moved from severe to extreme drought according to the US Drought Monitor.

Two days of solid rain fixed it, yay! The small cistern has already refilled, and the large will probably be full by tomorrow.

The winds preceeding that same rain storm fanned the flames that destroyed Gatlinburg. Earlier, fire got within 10 miles of here, although that may have been some kind of controlled burn.

Climate change is leading to longer duration weather events in this area. What tended to be a couple of dry weeks in the fall, has become multiple months of drought and weeks of fire. What might have been a few days of winter weather and a few inches of snow before the front moved through has turned into multiple weeks of arctic air, with multiple 1 ft snowfalls. What might have been a few scorching summer days has become a week of 100-110 degree temperatures. I've seen all that over the past several years.

After this, I'm adding "additional, larger cistern" to my todo list. Also "larger fire break around house".

Joey git-annex devblog
day 431 p2p linking

Today I finished the second-to-last big missing peice for tor hidden service remotes. Networks of these remotes are P2P networks, and there needs to be a way for peers to find one-another, and to authenticate with one-another. The git annex p2p command sets up links between peers in such a network.

So far it has only a basic interface that sets up a one way link between two peers. In the first repository, run git annex p2p --gen-address. That outputs a long address. In the second repository, run git annex p2p --link peer1, and paste the address into it. That sets up a git remote named "peer1" that connects back to the first repository over tor.

That is a one-directional link, while a bi-directional link would be much more convenient to have between peers. Worse, the address can be reused by anyone who sees it, to link into the repository. And, the address is far too long to communicate in any way except for pasting it.

So I want to improve that later. What I'd really like to have is an interface that displays a one-time-use phrase of five to ten words, that can be read over the phone or across the room. Exchange phrases with a friend, and get your repositories securely linked together with tor.

But, git annex p2p is good enough for now. I can move on to the final keystone of the tor support, which is file transfer over tor. That should, fingers crossed, be relatively easy, and the tor branch is close to mergeable now.

Today's work was sponsored by Riku Voipio.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Goat temper
Goat eating oats

Goat mineralsOh the yelling and the moaning! Taking Artemesia away to be bred seemed to flick a switch in our seven-month-old doeling. Previously quiet, little Aurora abruptly found not only her voice but also her temper, head butting her mother mercilessly when I took the two out to graze.

At first, I assumed the change in behavior was due to the buck scent, which hung on Artemesia's fur for several days after the event. But then, Saturday, I noticed Mama Goat's udder looked very different. I'd thought she was easing Aurora off the milk bar over the last couple of months, but her teats had remained full and taut with liquid. Now, though, they're beginning to shrivel up and one half of her udder is apparently quite dry.

Goat drying off

My new hypothesis is both simpler and more complex. I suspect that being impregnated changed Artemesia's hormone balance and she abruptly realized she needed to stop feeding Aurora and save all of her energy for the new buns in her oven. Cutting off the ever-flowing milk was a hard pill for little Aurora to swallow, so she acted out like many of us do when we don't get our way. With weaning nearly complete, though, our doeling's sunny disposition is returning.

If I'm right, the other half of Artemesia's udder should go dry in short order and we shouldn't see any sign of heat during the first full week of December. Fingers crossed the goat drama of the winter is behind us and I can now return to my favorite part of caprine management --- spoiling our girls.

Joey git-annex devblog
day 430 tor socket problem

Debian's tor daemon is very locked down in the directories it can read from, and so I've had a hard time finding a place to put the unix socket file for git-annex's tor hidden service. Painful details in At least for now, I'm putting it under /etc/tor/, which is probably a FHS violation, but seems to be the only option that doesn't involve a lot of added complexity.

The Windows autobuilder is moving, since NEST is shutting down the server it has been using. Yury Zaytsev has set up a new Windows autobuilder, hosted at Dartmouth College this time.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
On set

Monday, Mark and I filmed Lemons for Christmas with the help of four very amazing people. It was an experience unlike any I'd ever had before and I felt so lucky to have been able to take part.


Our two actors were professional, believable, and just plain fun. I wasn't expecting such nice, down-to-earth people who could also reliably turn into characters on command. The upshot? I highly recommend Myranda and Jim for all of your filmmaking needs.

Film set

Mike Fink was equally astonishing as a director of photography. Mark hasn't taken a cinematography course yet...but I think he got about a month's worth of education in those six short hours.


And don't forget Ken, who lent us his lemon tree, his greenhouse...and actually his entire house...for a very long afternoon.

A huge thank you to the entire team, who turned a student project into an event! Six hours of filming should turn into six minutes of video...we hope.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)

What do these items have in common?

They're all going to be used in Mark's final film project of the semester, tentatively titled Lemons for Christmas.

It's a big, exciting collaboration for the two of us. I wrote the script, Mark hired actors and a director of photography, then I pulled together props and pre-production checklists.

Now for filming, where Mark will be the big guy on set! Stay tuned for more pictures, then, eventually for a video as the project comes together.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Goat broccoli
Goats eating broccoli

There's a fine line between letting the goats eat human-friendly produce and letting winter kill off the crops so badly even Artemesia turns up her dainty little nose.

That sweet spot for broccoli appears to be after a couple of nights in the teens. The plants are droopy and no longer prime for our own consumption, but the girls still think they taste ten times better than oats and honeysuckle.

I think I get the same amount of enjoyment out of watching our does dine as I get by eating vegetables myself.

mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Down under pumpkin pie
Pumpkin new kind.

Walter gave us a Jarrahdale pumpkin as a bonus with the straw.

It has a slate green color with a hard skin and originates in Australia.

We should make a point to save some seeds and see how they grow here.

Joey chatter
"Bad News"

Bad News game is almost an inversion of the Roguelike genre. Super-detailed world generation, but then all interaction with it is mediated through people, live coding and acting. The only violence is psychological and the game is about avoiding doing damage.

This demo video behind the curtain (1:14 minutes) is slow to get started, but worth sticking with it.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Straw pyramid
Mountain of straw

Building a mountain of straw in the barn was a delight with the hauling assistance of the Kubota. Using the pyramid approach, I was able to stack most of the bales (with Mark carrying them in from the outside).

I eventually had to relinquish control of the project to the tall guy with upper body strength, though. There's a limit to how many bales I can throw over my head and Mark's extra eight inches made a big difference putting away those last dozen bales.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Thanksgiving math
Big sweet potato

Mom and I are very easily amused. I pulled out one of our biggest sweet potatoes of the year for Thanksgiving dinner and she immediately exclaimed: "It looks like a baby pig!"

"How much do you think it weighs?" I asked.

Mark guessed 2.25 pounds, Mom guessed 2.5 pounds, and I guessed 3 pounds.

We were all wrong. The baby pig weighed in at 3 pounds and 4 ounces, enough to serve as a side for eight people instead of just three.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Head in the clouds

One summer, I decided I wanted to learn to identify clouds. My new enthusiasm hit a major roadblock, though --- in our neck of the woods, pillow-like cumulus clouds are by far the most common and I couldn't seem to spot anything else.

Fast forward ahead to this year. I'm not sure whether our current drought has impacted clouds or whether I've just been spending more time peering at the sky. Either way, I've been catching several different types, like the altocumulus clouds above...

Cirrus clouds

...and the streaky cirrus clouds shown here. (Or at least that's what I'm guessing they are based on five minutes of internet research.)

The tufty cloudlets in this post are higher and presumably drier than the cumulus clouds I'm more used to. So maybe they are associated with the drought after all?

mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Goats in the oats.

It's a struggle to get a cute image of Aurora these days.

Maybe she's going through her sullen teenager phase.

She's been more vocal since her Mom came back last week smelling like a buck.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Re-insulating the inlet
Waterline freeze protection

We've had such a mild autumn that we're still burning last year's firewood. In fact, we haven't even split any firewood yet --- we're still working through the stockpiled bounty we stacked on the back porch while cleaning out the shed last spring.

But the weather abruptly shifted at the beginning of this week. A low of 16 means frozen ground, a skim of ice on pools in the creek...and waking up to a waterline frozen where it enters the house.

In large part, I think the problem is that I didn't ever get around to unhooking the outside hose and closing that access hatch. But Mark went ahead and added more insulation to our inlet anyway. Luckily, our freezes don't tend to burst the line, they just mean we have to wait until the sun hits before we enjoy running water once again. A small price to pay for our isolation out here far from any city water system.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Billow + white = powder blue
Mixing paint

The internet suggested making the rest of the walls in a room the same hue but three shades lighter than the color of the accent wall. I suspect they meant for me to look at a paint chip and go down three rows from my present color to find my new color, but I instead got out a clean bucket and mixed a bit of blue with a lot of white. (Yes, I  marked the side of the bucket so I can recreate the color if I end up wanting more.)

Painting a wall

I remembered from the accent wall that the paint gets a lot darker as it dries, so I went lighter than I thought I'd want the wall to be. I'll have to take an after photo later once everything's dry so you can see what I mean --- this photo shows the paler paint as it's being rolled on.

It's amazing what a difference changing over from dark wood paneling to pale blue makes in the room. I suspect that once I get over having my office space disrupted, this will be another of those projects that I kick myself for not embarking on years ago.

Joey git-annex devblog
day 428-429 git push to hiddden service

The tor branch is coming along nicely.

This weekend, I continued working on the P2P protocol, implementing it for network sockets, and extending it to support connecting up git-send-pack/git-receive-pack.

There was a bit of a detour when I split the Free monad into two separate ones, one for Net operations and the other for Local filesystem operations.

This weekend's work was sponsored by Thomas Hochstein on Patreon.

Today, implemented a git-remote-tor-annex command that git will use for tor-annex:: urls, and made git annex remotedaemon serve the tor hidden service.

Now I have git push/pull working to the hidden service, for example:

git pull tor-annex::eeaytkuhaupbarfi.onion:47651

That works very well, but does not yet check that the user is authorized to use the repo, beyond knowing the onion address. And currently it only works in git-annex repos; with some tweaks it should also work in plain git repos.

Next, I need to teach git-annex how to access tor-annex remotes. And after that, an interface in the webapp for setting them up and connecting them together.

Today's work was sponsored by Josh Taylor on Patreon.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Zoom out
Painting walls
"Please show the whole finished wall - if you can - it looks nice in snippets but would look even better as a whole finished project?!"
--- Jayne

I was going to wait to take after photos until the room was more in order, but didn't want to leave you hanging too long! So here's the completed accent wall, with lots of clutter in front of it since I had to move furniture to access wall two.

The wall on the left side of the photo is this week's project. It's on the north side of the trailer and is very irregular --- we boarded up absent windows, and the wall beneath what was once a hole was pretty water-damaged when we got the trailer. Rather than replacing large swaths of wall, I'm hoping some roughing up with more texturing will do the trick. Stay tuned for more photos as the project progresses.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Fires and drought
November rain

We feel lucky to have been unaffected by the wildfires currently burning in North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and elsewhere. Even the smoke has mostly passed us by --- the photo above captured a rainy Saturday morning rather than the smoky haze it initially appeared to be.

Dry earth

I doubt that extended sprinkle did much good in the fire-prone regions since it hasn't even managed to wet our parched soil..and we're officially only in a moderate drought. This bed where I dug carrots a couple of weeks ago still looks very much like it did the day I pulled the crop out of the ground.

Of course, I have to admit that our farm tends toward soggy and I'm actually a little glad for the ease that dryness brings. But I'll be hoping for rain to quench the flames elsewhere and to water gardens for those of you whose soil is now bone dry. Here's hoping the drought is a mere memory by the time spring gardens hit the ground in 2017.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
My deep, dark secret

Bloodling teaserThose of you on my email list will already be aware of the secret I've been hugging to my chest for the last 2.5 years --- my second life writing about werewolves.

To be honest, fiction has always been my greatest passion. Non-fiction serves a purpose --- I love to learn what has succeeded or failed for others and to pass on the favor by sharing my own experiences. But fiction is the treat I look forward to at the end of a long, hard day. In fact, I read about thirty novels for every non-fiction book I open, with genres running the gamut from fantasy to women's fiction --- basically, I read everything except horror and poetry.

When I was in high school, I was astonished to find Isaac Asimov in the non-fiction section with a whole shelf of books to his name. I'd enjoyed his fiction (particularly the Norby series he wrote with his wife) and was astonished to see that he had a line of non-fiction as well.

Shiftless teaserBut when the time came to publish my own speculative fiction, I was too chicken to put it under my own name. So I invented Aimee Easterling, who has since gone on to become a USA Today bestselling author. (Yes, I do think about my fiction persona in the third person. In case you're curious, her last name is my husband's maternal grandfather's last name --- my way of (kinda) taking Mark's surname in the end.)

So if you've ever wondered why I haven't written quite as much non-fiction in the last couple of years --- that's why. Aimee's been busy taking over my fingers and typing out her tall tales instead.

Alpha Underground series

I know most of you don't read urban fantasy, so I won't bore you with details about her books in the future. But if you're interested, I'm running a big sale on my 2016 series at the moment with the prequel free and the other books marked down to 99 cents apiece. Meanwhile, Shiftless is always free on all retailers as a sampler of my earlier fiction work.

And even if you are sublimely uninterested in fantasy, I thought you might like to see yet another way that homesteading has helped us fulfill our dreams. By keeping our expenses low and growing much of what we eat, Mark and I are able to pursue our passions to the hilt. Who knows what will come next?


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