Assorted and Sundry

August 12, 2013 @ 6:35 am | Filed under:


Plans are afoot.


Huck has not yet seen Bambi, but his inflection perfectly mirrored Flower the Skunk when he said, for no particular reason, “You can call me Mechanic if you want to.”


I have worms on the brain. We had to give up our compost pile a few years ago since it was attracting rats. Not composting kills me. Our town offers coupons for a small enclosed composter, knocking the price down to $40. Or…there’s this. I’ve been interested in vermiculture for a very long time. There are cheaper methods than the Worm Inn; YouTube abounds with videos demonstrating the Rubbermaid bin technique, and that’s probably a better option for starting out. Our favorite local nursery sells bags of redworms for about $15. I’m contemplating.


Yesterday evening, with little fanfare and a grin bigger than the Cheshire Cat’s, Rilla learned to knit. We were lounging in my room while Scott was making dinner, and she happened to spy a pair of knitting needles in the pencil mug on my shelf. “Oh!” she gasped. “You were going to teach me to knit!” (I think we last mentioned it around Christmastime.) Jane supplied a ball of yarn, and before Scott’s chicken fajitas hit the table, Rilla was purling away. I’m putting it here so I’ll remember the day.

(Tip discovered by chance: Use variegated yarn for teaching beginners. The color changes make it easy for newbies to distinguish the different loops on the needle. Rilla got the hang of it much more quickly than her sisters before her, and without the learning-curve frustration. I remember prior first lessons ending in tangles and tears.)

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8 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Jennifer says:

    Yes. This is why we can’t compost – or have bird feeders. *#($*# rats.
    If you feel like it, I would love to see a complete list of the books you plan on using. I was going to order a formal animal textbook program for my 9yo but am now leaning more towards Burgess etc. etc. I downloaded the one you mentioned on FB already but I’m hoping for some engaging suggestions. Carmen sent me CDs from your recent talks in Colorado and I heard you mention Lily Pond then.
    And yay Rilla! I’m impressed!

  2. Melissa Wiley says:

    Jenn, I’ll try to do a proper post about Beanie’s favorite nature-study books, but I’ve learned that if I wait to do a ‘real’ post (with pictures and links), I might never get around to it. So for now a quick list–

    Lily Pond (and other titles by Hope Ryden; we ordered all we could get on interlibrary loan)

    Wesley the Owl

    (Note: I haven’t read them myself, so you may want to give them a look before handing them on. They aren’t children’s books.)

    The Amateur Naturalist by Gerald Durrell, who has many other books as well.

    Fabre’s Life of the Spider & Fabre’s Book of Insects — those possibly available at

    The William Long books we talked about on Facebook: School of the Woods, Little Brother to the Bear, etc, all available free online at (we have the print versions of these; nice quality).

    And Beanie’s favorite book, one which seemed to catapult her (a year or two ago) into this enduring passion for nature reading: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate.

    Will pester Beanie and add more later. 🙂

  3. Melissa Wiley says:

    Oh, the crow books! I forgot to list them. Oh but I have a list already, don’t I?

    Also I just remembered a sweet book called Three Little Chickadees or something like that. Will hunt it up and report back.

  4. Leah H says:

    Worms on the brain sounds much more serious than it actually is in your case. 😉 Glad to hear of a new knitter joining the ranks! I love to knit, and have taught many young people to knit at my local private school. That is a great tip about the variegated yarn!

  5. Kathy S. says:

    Thanks for the tip on using variegated yarn for beginners.

  6. sarah says:

    I have also been interested in trying composting with worms. Composting has been a disaster for us, and I hate that we aren’t composting at all right now. We live on five acres; you would think that we could make it work. We tried a container made from wooden pallets, but the animals (both our dogs and wild) constantly dig around them/at them, under them. We have twice tried container composting using an old trash can with holes drilled into it. While it did compost, once more efficiently than the other time, the smell was horrific. Oddly, the smell didn’t change regardless of ratio of things put in or how wet/dry it was. So discouraging.

  7. Jennifer says:

    Thank you! We haven’t read Calpurnia Tate but it’s next on the list now. Yay, I’m so excited about our plans now!