Book Review: Fig Jam and Foxtrot

Hall, Lynn Bedford. Fig jam and Foxtrot: Tales of Life, Love, and Food in the Karoo. (2013) Kindle edition. $5.99

I was looking for geology and natural history books, and ended up buying a cookbook and collection of Aga-sagas*. Go figure.

The Karoo is part of South Africa, a semi-arid region of farms and ranches, with buttes, eroded mountains, and people who know good times and bad. This book is a somewhat light-hearted fictionalization of life in the small rural town of “Corriebush,” which could easily be in the Texas Panhandle or eastern New Mexico of the 1950s-70s if you ignore the Boer names and Afrikaans interjections. Continue reading


Hamburg: A seaport without a sea

Hamburg, Germany is a major seaport… except it is 60 river miles inland from where the Elbe and the Atlantic meet. Cuxhaven is the seaport-on-the-sea. As strange as this sounds, a quick check of the map shows that most major ports on the North Sea and Baltic are well inland, up rivers that feed into their respective seas. My readers who sail are nodding and saying things like, “That’s because the Saxons and Slavs weren’t stupid,” and “If you’ve ever been there in winter, you’d stay away from the water, too.” Continue reading

School Daze – Jan ’18

What are you doing?
Looking at my to-be-graded stacks. You?
Likewise. Care to join me on a raid of the chocolate stash in the workroom?

Miss Red: So, what happens if someone were to put a package of Thin-Stuff Mint Oreos™ in the workroom with a sign saying “thin mints” on it?

Sr. Botanica: Whatever the consequences, they would be justified in both secular and canon law.

Miss Red: Hmmmm….

********* Continue reading

“Oh Yes, All-Highest…”

Rant follows. For lighter content, come back tomorrow.

It is one of Kipling’s poems that bugged me for a very long time, in part because it requires some context to really “get.” It is from 1918, entitled “The Death Bed.”

I got some of the ideas, but not really what he meant.* However, the opening lines have been floating around in my mind recently. “This is the State above the Law/ The State that exists for the State alone.” And later,  “There is neither Evil nor Good in Life/ Except as the needs of the State ordain.” Continue reading

Autobahn Adventures: The Prevention Of

Someone else drives in Germany. I can, and have when I was at university there, but I didn’t like it then and I like it less now. The rules of the road are not the same as the US, for all that things appear similar on the surface. The autobahn not having a speed limit (in good weather, when a limit is not posted, and there is not a wreck, and not in a construction zone) is just the start. So here are a few observations I’ve made over the years: Continue reading


On the trip this past summer, my group opted to go out onto an island to look at the Baltic. The island is rather large, and protects the city from the Baltic’s infamous winter storms. However, that day all was well, and we hoped that since tourist season had not officially started, things would be pretty quiet.

So peaceful, and quiet. It was about 75 degrees F, with a light breeze to keep the bugs away.

The island of Rugen, where we went, is a lumpy chunk of north Germany, rockier and with more variety of scenery than the mainland. We passed freshwater marshes, forests, nice farms, and lots of cars. Apparently we were not the only people trying to get ahead of the rush. Continue reading