Friday, December 27, 2013
How can something so close seem so far away?
A favorite place, easily viewed from my window inside, is not the same when I can actually spend time there. Just as viewing a place on a website far away, from a window on my computer monitor, visiting that place IRL (in real life)- must offer so much more -if only one could actually be there.
These are things I dream about.
Life is busy, and hasn't allowed much time to be at a favorite place.
Yesterday, while the sun was shining, I enjoyed this place. Enter.
There was a large ice cube at the base of the twining trees,
and the river was shimmering, full with the light from the winter sun.
The rocks are coated in snow and ice,
and the rim stands in stark contrast to the dark waters.
Walk with me!
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Even the whitetail want to do it.
Recent snowfall and frosty air was enough to send me into the closet to dig out the feather bed. There isn't anything quite as comfortable as snuggling under a bunch of goose feathers when the mercury plummets.
The yearlings came by to visit. It is the first time I've seen them since opening day of rifle season. One of them has been injured, and has been shot in the ear. The ear hangs down on the side of its head like a limp rag.
The other yearling seemed fine.
Yet still a litte shy....as it should be. The flag went up as I approached.
Hiding behind the tree and peeking out to make sure the coast is clear...
....and running to tell mother. old habits are hard to break.
it is ok, we all need someone to lean on.
So. I stoke the fire in the coal stove, and watch winter from the window.
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
This past summer, my little gourds grew well.
I planted the seeds along the fence and allowed their tendrils to coil and cling to the poultry wire.
They bloomed, were pollinated (thankfully!) and eventually became fruit or little pepos.
Some of them grew very large!
I allowed them to mature on the vine, and finally harvested them just before frost.
I've been curing my cucurbitas in the mudroom, near the woodstove.
A few gourds have finished within 2 months time...and the mesocarp and endocarp are completely dry.
Now they are ready to be turned into flax water pots.
Once they are opened and cleaned, I sand and polish the exterior and create a hanger from my handspun linen.
Then I send them out into the world, to spinners near and far! They will hang on a spinning wheel and assist those who like to spin linen. The spinster will fill the pot with flax slurry, made from flax seed, and dip their fingers into the pot when they need to smooth the line.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
It is mid November and the weather has taken the leaves from the trees and sun only shines for 9hrs 48m and 26s today. We begin our descent into darker days..losing on average 2 minutes of daylight in each 24hr cycle. shadows lengthen. winter approaches. I find myself waking earlier each day, well before daybreak. And when night falls, I feel the temptation to snuggle under the covers soon after supper. Time to fibernate.
Last week, I passed some milkweed on the road, and collected some of it to blend with spinning. Asclepias, a genus that boasts of over 140 known species...and related to the dogbane family...has a rich history in folk medicine. When I was a child, I would try to catch the seeds that were floating on the wind, believing that if I could catch one, I could make a wish and it would come true.
Now, I collect the pods for the pappus, the silk, the floss. the pods were already open and the slightest touch of them sent the seeds floating into the air, scattering the wishes.
At home, I empty the pods and silk filaments fall into a bowl.
A handful of milkweed silk feels like a handful of soft silky air. I place them gently onto my handcards and lightly brush and blend them with some tussah silk.
Most of the seeds fall onto the floor. I will sweep them up and scatter them on my next walk. They will make new plants that will become the sole source of food for monarch butterfly larvae.
I lift the fibers from the hand card, and fold them over my finger for spinning. A supported spindle is best to use, because the staple length of the fiber is short, and the spindle bears no weight, the draw is fast and fun.
As I spin, I make a few wishes of my own...wishes that are now locked into the silky threads. Summer secrets on my spindle.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Sunday, October 27, 2013
First efforts are off the loom, small samples to study and note what worked, and what did not.
By the end of the warp, I was starting to feel like I was beginning to understand. There is so much to learn, discover ....and enjoy.
Out of all of the samples, this last one pleased me the most. It is very exciting to see how my handspun behaves as weft. The tabby is woven in commercial cotton, and the pattern threads are my handspun, a merino tencel blend.
Obviously, there appears to be lots of room for improvement. But, I am encouraged. I've wanted to learn to weave for a very long time, so finally seeing it start to happen ...well, hard to explain in words. It is more a feeling of understanding. Finally understanding. And when the ah ha! moments come, the ideas fall down like so many dominoes..each one taking its turn and falling on top of the other.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
One of the virtues of this October, has been an unusually long growing season. And that has provided us with an abundant pepper harvest!
Thinking back to last February, when these peppers were only eight little seeds on my windowsill, I am grateful to pick them and place them in my basket. I have to admire each one. Peppers take a long time to grow and mature. Normally, around here, the frost comes just as they are starting to produce. This year, I've managed to pick a peck or two. If the frost stays away a little longer, my little pepper patch might produce a bushel. The plants are still flowering. The red hot cherry peppers came from a friend, they were labeled simply, "Daves Peppers". So, I think of Dave, and thank him for the plants. They are a good performer in this climate.
The small test plot of Hungarian Flax from the USDA Germoplasm Bank was pulled this week. There was some lodging, but overall, the plants did well. Compared to the Elektra cultivar, the Hungarian flax did not grow as tall or erect. There won't be time to rett it this year, so I will dry it and store it until next summer.
Planted in June, these plants are showing nicely developed seed bolls at 150 days.
This October also brings two and sometimes three whitetail fawn that come by to visit. They look healthy with sleek coats. I wonder if they will stick around after the frost. Despite the wonderful growing season, it is a non-hard-mast year, there isn't an acorn to be found anywhere this side of the mountain. For that matter, I haven't seen a single turkey.
The masting of trees is a natural phenomena that continues to elude scientists.
While looking for information about it, I found an interesting article that ties Lyme disease to masting. Here are a few excerpts:
The first question is why individual trees regulate their nut production in a boom or bust manner; the masting behavior of an individual tree is called variability. The second and more profound question is how masting trees manage to coordinate the same cycle with other trees over a large area; the group behavior of masting trees is called synchrony.
The masting of trees is an important phenomenon in the ecological balance of the forest, as the food chain becomes distorted with a surfeit of nutrient resources. For example, high mast production promotes rapid expansion of the populations of predator acorn-eating mice and deer. The white footed mouse is a host for the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi which is the cause of Lyme disease. The larvae of the black-legged tick frequently feed on white-footed mice and thus become vectors for the spirochete which they impart to deer and the occasional human. Thus a mast year can also be a year with a high black-legged tick population and a concomitant high incidence of Lyme disease. Predators may be satiated or starved and the trees may or may not efficiently distribute their pollen according to the efficacy of the mast, which must occur at the same time at the same place for it to work. Its synchrony is apparently caused by the climate; the impact of a changing climate on masting may be just one aspect of the larger problem, but it is a compelling one.
To read the entire article : click here.
Monday, September 30, 2013
1st harvesting sweet corn
5th harvesting roma tomatoes
12th harvesting green peppers
18th first wood fire
20th flax still blooming
22nd harvesting carrots
23rd harvesting potatoes
25th harvesting late lettuce
28th wooly bear caterpillars
predict mild winter
* Take approx. 7 lbs. of country apples.
Stir in 2 cups of sugar/ 1 quarter cup of flour / and 1 and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Let sit for 30 minutes until the juices start to flow. Cook down over low heat and pour into hot jars. Cap and ring. Hot water bath for 25 minutes.
Repeat from asterisk until all the apples are used up.
Thanks, to Curt & Judy, for the windfall!! Yields 12 pints, 2 quarts..... and counting!
Thursday, September 19, 2013
So, since I'm right at the part if spinning where I want to loose the whorl, I decided to post a photo description on the blog, of how I deal with that issue.
When I picked up this whorl, I didn't have a shaft that was the right size for it, so I selected a dowel that was slightly smaller than the hole in the whorl. I wound some linen (handspun of course!) around the shaft at the point where I wanted the whorl to be. I was careful to leave a little tail and not knot it. Now, I slide the whorl over the top of the linen and begin to spin, building my cop as I go. In this photo, you can see the little linen tail sticking out beneath the whorl.
I've been spinning Icelandic wool, from the distaff, using the spindle in hand and spinning off the point. At the beginning of the process, the whorl gives me the added weight to provide good rotation, or "spin time". This avoids extra flicking...and frustration. After a time, the cop is built up and adds extra weight. The added weight of the spun yarn, plus the whorl, becomes tiresome on my hand, so I decide to loose the whorl.
To remove the whorl, I slide the cop up slightly, and pull on the little linen tail to unwind it ...and then I remove the whorl, and begin to spin again. At this point, I am simply spinning on the shaft. The newly spun yarn is wound onto the shaft in the same direction I would wind yarn onto a nostepinne. The spindle/stick is much lighter now, and easier to spin. Va La!
The whorl that is pictured was hand made by Grace Hatton, made from red clay, and was wheel-thrown with a happy little design added to the top. After the whorl has been removed from the spindle, I tuck it away (with the little piece of linen thread) in its own pouch for safe keeping. Grace also made the pouch.
It was handwoven on an inkle loom, and then four lengths of the band were sewn together and a zipper added to create a pouch.
Monday, September 16, 2013
The first stop is in my kitchen sink. They look pretty and carefree floating about in the water.
I wash them and place them on the counter for quartering and a trip to the Squeezo.
As I begin to process the tomatoes, my mind wanders...and I begin to mentally process something that happened a few weeks ago... to two very good friends of mine.
Something unexpected. Something changed. It left me sad and blue...and seeing a little red...it is a "change that is hard and not so nice".
So, I'm singing the pink martini song while I stir the tomatoes. and hanging on. just like the little tomatoes.
It makes for good music to stir by, and reminds me that sunny somedays are still ahead....
The sun has left and forgotten me
It's dark, I cannot see
Why does this rain pour down
I'm gonna drown
In a sea
Of deep confusion
Somebody told me, I don't know who
Whenever you are sad and blue
And you're feelin' all alone and left behind
Just take a look inside and you will find
You gotta hold on, hold on through the night
Hang on, things will be all right
Even when it's dark
And not a bit of sparkling
Sing-song sunshine from above
Spreading rays of sunny love
Just hang on, hang on to the vine
Stay on, soon you'll be divine
If you start to cry, look up to the sky
Something's coming up ahead
To turn your tears to dew instead
And so I hold on to his advice
When change is hard and not so nice
You listen to your heart the whole night through
Your sunny someday will come one day soon to you
Monday, September 02, 2013
some of this:
and some of this:
equals the sum of all my time!
The garden has produced a beautiful harvest this year!
Now the sweet corn comes.
I'm doing my best to stay up with processing and preserving.
and summertime is fading fast...but not without leaving us to enjoy a few hot and humid daze to remember it by.