Sunday, January 25, 2015

Grow Your Blog

Welcome to Comptonia, friends and newcomers!

If you are visiting for the first time as part of the wonderful Vicki's Grow Your Blog Party, I know you will be travelling the blogiverse at a dizzying gallop, trying to get an idea of what many blogs are all about. The quickest way to see what this blog is about, would be to left-click on an annual collage post: here is 2013 and 2014.

But if you'd like some words...

I write about ordinary life in a tiny house
surrounded by trees
in a fairly rural part of New England.

Sometimes I share a practical tip that readers may find useful,
but only in the same way we all do that, in conversation.
I mean, this is not a blog full of helpful information,
but if I rattle on long enough, I'm bound to say
something useful eventually.

No, mostly it's just looking around and taking photographs,
and thinking about what I see and writing about it.
There are many trees on this blog, for example. 

Also, attempts at gardening.

There are walks in the woods...

with my dog, Piper.

I may as well tell you right now:
Piper thinks Comptonia is her blog.

But Piper is wrong.

Just ask my little herd of cashmere goats.

Oh, and sometimes there's knitting.

And sometimes occasionally, adventures in the kitchen.

Please feel free to look around - I hope you'll find something enjoyable!
Sharing interests and ordinary life through blogging is a very pleasant way to "meet" people from all over the planet, and I'd love to hear about you and your world. Please do leave comments anytime the mood strikes you, because that's a really wonderful part of blogging: genuine connections with people we are unlikely to meet in "real life."

If you would like to "follow" or subscribe to Comptonia,
there are some clickable options in the sidebar.

Thank you for visiting!

And since this is a party, of course there will be a giveaway!

 This woolen felted star was handmade by a woman living in a very tough environment - Mongolia - using local wool.

These wooly stars and lots of other nifty items are created and sold through a wonderful community-based conservation program called Snow Leopard Enterprises. If you left-click that link, I think you will be impressed! It's a "good news" click.

Oh, look: here's another star:

I have admired the Snow Leopard Trust for many years, because I respect their approach to conservation. It considers not "just" the animals, not "just" habitat, not "just" cultural preservation, but incorporates all three in a realistic and functional way.
Also: field research! The website is full of phenomenal photography, up-to-date news of discoveries, international conservation successes, and...
the shop full of handmade goods.

These stars, for example:

You know, it's tricky to come up with a giveaway item that will appeal to every reader, woman or man, child or adult, office worker or trapeze artist.
But I really think I've managed it!

One of these stars makes a cheerful decoration on any wall,
or hanging in any window.

Who doesn't like stars, right?

Like this one:

Or maybe a pair of stars hanging from a small branch
 would make a pleasant mobile?
As the stars slowly turn,
one might see first the solid side,
then the decorated side.

Like this:

Oh, and I see a lot of buntings on blogs...
I'll bet stars would be very happy elements of a bunting!

Wouldn't this star be pretty in a bunting?

Maybe with a couple of its starry associates?

I think so.

So, my giveaway item is five of these handmade stars.

In fact, the very five pictured in this post -
one each: orange, green, yellow, pink, and blue.

Would you like a chance to win?
The giveaway instructions are simple, and
everyone, everywhere, is welcome to enter!
Here's how:

1) Leave a comment on THIS blog post,
by February 14th.

2) INCLUDE a way for me to contact you:
email address is good,
ravelryID works too,
or a twitter handle.

That's it! I will draw and post the winner on February 15,
and contact the winner to ask for a mailing address.

Then a packet of stars will be on its way to you!

Like magic!

Good luck, everyone!
And now I'm off to the party  :)


Thursday, January 22, 2015

notgoat cams

It occurred to me...
since there has been interest in stills from my goatcams, some of my readers may enjoy exploring livecams available online?

In the early 1990s, I sometimes watched a livecam of Dublin while working (endlessly, it seemed, but happily) on my Master's Thesis. I had not yet been to Ireland for on-the-ground research, and it was a little bit magical to have that realtime connection. Of course, when I actually spent 15 days in Ireland in 1995, I chose to spend about five minutes in Dublin, and nearly every waking moment out in the countryside; afoot or on horseback or in a boat. It was splendid. Extremely low-budget, with a backpack full of a change of clothes and about 40 pounds of camera, film, tripod, and research material. I later estimated that I walked over a hundred miles. As I say...

it was splendid. 

And now, gosh, 20(!) years later, I sometimes watch webcams of wildlife and places I would love to visit (afoot or on horseback or in a boat - really, some preferences never change, however unrealistic). Here are a couple of websites you might be interested in visiting. The images below are just screenshots, but the links will take you to the (much better quality) real thing.

I found the Shetland livecams during my first experience (online, that is) of Up Helly Aa, which will be happening - and livestreamed again - in just just a few days, on Tuesday, 27 January! So exciting!

Year-round, the Shetland cams offer several views of Lerwick,
and audio from the local radio station.
My favorite puffincam is sadly not up this year,
but any view of the ocean is very welcome here
at landlocked Cloud Harvest Cashmere.

And speaking of birds...

the Cornell Ornithology Lab has several livecams, in various locations. This linked list conveniently indicates which are live at the moment: 

This morning I watched a fantastic new camera in Savannah, Georgia.

(If you left-click on an image, I think it will embiggen. Worth trying!)

When I started watching this Great Horned Owl nest,
it was early morning and soft light...

and as time went on*
the sun began to light the branches, and then the mama owl's face.

  *it can be mesmerizing to watch these cameras. Just sayin'...

this is why I almost always have my goatcams open
in one corner of my laptop.
How else would I have discovered that
Azalea is also doing some bird-watching?

Or learned that Acer and Betula have taken on
the responsibility of supervising the snowplow,
on the road far below:

Because after all,
we humans are not the only ones
who like to keep a close eye on things,
from the comfort of our own nests!


Do you have any favorite livestreaming cameras?
Please share your recommendations
in the comments!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

quick question

I'm thinking ahead to the Blog Party and I have a question for readers:

has anyone ever had trouble posting a comment here?
If so, would you please email me at
with the subject line: Blog Comment
so I won't miss it?
Thank you very much!

There are a few blogs where I have been locked out of commenting, and it can be quite frustrating. But if I hadn't contacted the bloggers via email or twitter, they would never have known there was a problem to fix.

Same here!

So, if any readers have had the frustration of trying to post a comment but never seeing it appear, I really, really want to know, so I can try to fix it.

Comptonia should be a frustration-free zone.

Thanks for your help!

There will be a "real" post in a day or so, probably with goat pictures.
And a porch update.
And maybe some cooking.
And fiber.

Oh, heck. Who knows what could happen in a day or so?
Let's have a goat picture now!
Here's one from December:


my Champion!


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

the week underway

Just jotting down a few brief notes to share
before the week gets away from me completely!

Pliny ~ leftclick to embiggen! (BL, Harley 2677 f.1)

1) Did you notice the new badge at the top of the sidebar? I'll be participating in the third annual Grow Your Blog Party, hosted by lovely Vicki of Two Bags Full. The first Party prompted me to start Comptonia, so this will mark my second Blogiversary as well! I will have another little giveaway, open to all, so I do hope all my regular readers will visit and leave a comment on the 25th  :)

2) In other sidebar news, I've added a countdown for Tsuga's possible due date. If she's pregnant, that is.

Fingers crossed, please, everyone!
Just think: we may have kid pictures in only 98 more days!

3) The carpenters came back today to begin the interior finish work; the picky stuff that takes time and Must Look Right.

All the window and door jambs were begun and finished today, and I'm very pleased. Tomorrow: sills, brackets and high shelf, possibly some trim. The carpentry work is very nearly finished!

4) Also re: the porch project, I finally admitted (to myself; no one was arguing with me) that I cannot hold a paintbrush long enough to polyurethane the walls. The painter I hoped to hire for the ceiling visited today and I asked him to add the walls to his estimate.
He's hired.

5) It's Real Winter now, no two ways about it. Frequent snow, biting cold, cutting wind. Fortunately, I've discovered the best cheerer-upper ever:

Turns out there's a huge advantage to putting up a tree on Christmas Eve: it stays green and aromatic well into the bitter throes of January, when - I don't know about you other Northern Hemisphere folk - I really appreciate a mood-elevator. During evening chores when I'm hauling buckets of water across the snow-crusted ground, or distributing hay in icy paddocks, or feeling my fingers beginning to ache with cold inside my gloves...whenever I happen to glance toward the house, the glorious sight of those tree lights reflected in the porch windows makes me feel happy, truly happy, every time.


I don't know how much longer the tree will be here. 
But it's not coming down tonight, that's for sure.


And that's it for the Comptonia update!
How's things in your neck of the woods?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

sunday snapshots (infrared)

Guess what we got today?

"Was it extra carrots?
Because I think you forgot mine!"

In the past few weeks, I've bought an unusual amount of Stuff.
It feels a bit alarming.

Today I had to remind myself that
I am not in a crazy-impulsive acquisition mode;
these items survived multiple purges of a year-long wishlist.
When prices finally drop in late December and early January,
I know how much money was saved by waiting months.
It's sensible spending.

Still feels weird, though!

Ever since Spring, when I moved many of the goats - and the treasured goatcam - into the "big" barn, I've wanted to replace the camera in the original goatshed. It's in constant use by a shifting set of bunkmates - currently the big boys, Acer and Betula, share it - and especially when it is a "sick bay" or a nursery ward, it is very helpful to have a way to check on the residents without disturbing them. It has been a life-saver.

Last week, the same model camera went on sale.
At last!
And today I happily spent a couple of hours on the phone with a lovely Foscam Tech Support person (only the first 45 minutes was On Hold; after that, things picked right up). He got the new camera working wirelessly and set up both cameras to display together, side by side, on my laptop.
And because my laptop is soooo slooooow to load,
 we had time to exchange a few comments about goats.
And bears.
And the goats and bears of our respective countries.
And I told him that, if necessary, I can shoo away a black bear 
but there is NO WAY on earth I could do what HE does!

And let's face it:
it's clear which skill is more generally useful.

"You know what I think is a useful skill?

Fortunately, I've got that one covered.

Friday, January 9, 2015

snowy morning

Fresh snow fell last night.

Smoothing out the previous surface of crusted, icy snow.

Concealing some things, and highlighting others.

When the sun comes up, the snow sparkles.
There is the feeling of a new beginning, a fresh start.
Who would want to take the first step
into such an unmarked and perfect world?

I think you know the answer:

It's time to quit pondering
and get on with the chores.

"Yes! Let's get on with the chores!
Can I ride in the Hayboggan this time?"

If I had any sense, I would teach Piper to
pull the Hayboggan!
There is an unplowable layer of thick ice
beneath the new snow.
So, until the next big thaw -
which could be tomorrow or could be April -
I'll be hauling individual bales of hay
and sacks of grain
and groceries
up from the bottom of the driveway.
It's not a terribly long driveway.
But the middle section is a hill.

And I think Piper would enjoy the challenge!
Right, Piper?


Oh well. At least she enjoys supervising!


Thursday, January 8, 2015


As you can see, the good news is:

the wind dropped!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

today's weather

Some snow.

Some sleet.

Some ice.

Some fog.

And the best response to such a mishmash of weather:

Some hay.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 pictorial