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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Our new anthem for Buy Nothing Day: "After We Get What We Want We Don't Want It"

I love the idea of Buy Nothing Day though I suppose it's anti-American to not buy stuff the day after Thanksgiving.

I wrote the lyrics to this song (which is pertinent not just to Hanukkah but to Christmas and any other time) with Buy Nothing Day in mind. Enjoy! (Click to hear the whole mp3 for free)

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

My online life has become quite fractured.

When I started Pratie Place all those years ago, I was living alone and wondering what to do with my life. I began it because I didn't understand the word "blog" and it was easier to start one than to figure out what a blog was. Learn by doing.

Since then curiosity has led me into many other online ventures and I find it's hard to keep up with any of them because I did figure out what to do with my life, and I'm no longer rattling around alone in this house (I have a roommate and my son lives nearby). Here are some of the places my online energy has drifted:

  • Polish Jewish Cabaret: this is where I'm keeping track of my efforts to find the Yiddish theater song melodies to go with the texts published by enthusiastic theater fan and bookseller Itzik Zhelonek (Izaak Zielonek, Jelonek) who issued at least six books of "Newest Theater Songs" in 1933 and 1934.

  • Wedding Music in North Carolina is where I hope brides looking for musicians like us will find us.

  • Weddings in North Carolina is a blog I recently had to start building from scratch because my Wordpress version, which I'd been keeping since 2009, "got completely corrupted" in the bland language of the host Note the passive language. Nobody will take responsibility for it. It's like the wonderful Spanish construction: "The bottle fell itself to me." I didn't drop it, no way.

  • I'm sort of embarrassed to admit it, but I went on a hare with the peculiar online community Squidoo and put up about 150 "lenses" as they call them. It was fun at the time but now I look at them and cringe at all the trashy ads on them (that's the price of using the platform). Here's an example: How to Avoid Christmas.

  • Most of the cute little things I used to share on this blog now end up on Facebook.

  • The most successful of all my babies is the Telenovela blog Caray, Caray! When I was learning Spanish, I got the bright idea of recapping an entire novela (that's an hour a day five days a week for five or nine months baby!) here at Pratie Place. When I finished I was exhausted but there were 1200 hits a day of other people hooked on the cheesy but delightful show I was recapping, and they didn't want me to stop. I moved the party over to Caray, Caray! where about 30 recappers are now watching these shows. We've had 5.5 million page views and get 3300 page views a day, from all over the world. We have visitors from Saudi Arabia, Albania, Nigeria, the Phillipines...

I'd lost my camera for quite a while but I found it recently so will try to post more pictures of the animals, who continue to have their own strong opinions about everything.

Finally! Mrs. Maccabee's Kitchen cd is listed at Amazon.

cd of new funny hip Hanukkah music, Mrs Maccabee's KitchenI hope you don't feel battered by these frequent posts about "Mrs. Maccabee's Kitchen," but Hanukkah is only a few weeks away (it starts December 8 this year). Here's the link: Mrs Maccabee's Kitchen, New Hanukah Songs at

Digital downloads only at that site (a mere 89 cents per song!) - if you want to get the "real" album, order it at our Skylark Productions website. I'm getting orders in the mail on the very day I receive them! Thanks.


Friday, November 02, 2012

Unruly animals at Pratie Place

It is so hard to manage the animal kingdom.

My son's darling dog Julius turned out to be a master chicken-killer. Of the three times he's managed to slip away from Ezra, two have ended with (within about two seconds) a dead chicken and a mushroom-cloud of feathers. One time he only got a huge mouthful of feathers and the half-plucked chicken ran away and hid under the car while I hit the ground grabbing the murderous canine.

There turn out to be many murderous creatures in our woods. Twice a chicken has ventured out beyond the deerfence and gotten hit by something out there. A tremendous squawk had me running out of the house. There was a huge pile of features and a chicken lying on its back, feet in the air. Dead? No, just waiting. A couple minutes later it picked itself up and limped back home. I now see that feathers are a survival mechanism - the big old hens have so many feathers that an attacker will hopefully be going "ptui, ptui, ptui" long enough for the bird to run away.

There are coyotes in our woods, we hear them, and Ezra saw a fox one afternoon walk right past the donkeys towards the chicken house. We lost eight of our big birds before I realized they were being taken in the morning when the light-sensor opened their door in the dawn and they sleepily walked into waiting mouths.

There is also something small and slithery out there that managed to get through a hole about 2" high, right under the eaves of the chicken coop (which is on stilts), kill a chicken and eat only parts of it, and squeeze back out again during the night. Twice.

After that, the one remaining Americauna (it was her two last sisters that were dismembered in the night) has refused to go back into the coop, though it is weasel-proofed now. She roosts high in an oak tree, no matter how cold, rainy, or windy it is. In the morning she comes down and waits for me to let the others out of the coop (I don't use the sensor any more, I wait till it's broad daylight). At night, when they are lolly-gagging their way down to the coop, she hops on the porch rail (the porch is high off the ground), then grunts and jumps onto the hummingbird feeder, and then winds up and plops up into the oak tree. I saw her fall out once. I don't know how long this can go on.

To replace the dead, I sent away to for "six assorted rare females." It was summer, and the box sat somewhere for a whole day in Ohio - when it arrived, only one of the five was alive, screaming its head off among the corpses. What a terrible day!

We had a big black Australorpe brooding at the time. Since we have no rooster, this simply means a chicken awash in hormones takes a notion to sit in an empty nesting box for a few weeks. You can throw her out again and again and she'll just go back and sit in that empty box. On the advice of the "pastured poultry" list, I slipped the surviving chick under the Australorpe and they adopted each other immediately.

We named the chick "Lucky." For a wonderful week she went all around the house under the fierce guardianship of her adopted mother. Then, one morning, it was her mother that was the victim of the unseen predator and Lucky ran around screaming all day. Luckily, I'd sent away for another batch of "assorted rare" and was able to catch Lucky and slip her in with them.

They're teenagers now. Lucky is only a week over but she's twice their size. We have a black-and-white spotted teenager with a crown of feathers - she's an Appenzeller and we named her Coco Chanel. We have a tail-less white one with huge fluffy legs covered with feathers - Ezra named her Disco Sally. There is a sleek tan one with a black neck and tail feathers, and there's Lucky, huge and blue-gray. They make a striking quartet.

And there are six new youngsters not sure yet whether the wide world is the place for them - they spend most of their time lurking in the coop.

Now we get to the donkeys. Little Hector has turned out to be a mazik, a sheygits. He has never taken to being led on a halter, and so when we go back in the woods I used to let him just tag along with me and Jethro - who until recently has been quite docile and content on his leash. Now, watching Hector rush ahead, cantering and kicking and generally having a hell of a time, Jethro wants to do it too - and he's so big, I can't stop him. I like watching the two of them cavort, but I don't like that I can't keep them from going to the next door neighbors' houses and eating their bushes.