Wednesday, December 7, 2016

How to Keep an Ancient Cat Warm

Even though winters here are mild, they're not so mild that I don't feel the need to economize on heating.  The thermostat is set at 68, and I habitually wear a sweater and heavy wool socks.  But Honey, my Very Old Cat, minds the cold terribly.  For her, the solution is an electric cat warming pad, a knitted blanket, and a little quilt.  (The alternate solution is to sit in my lap.)

Believe me, if I thought she'd wear a sweater, I knit one for her.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

I don't care if it *is* all a marketing campaign

So, I missed the official  Beaujolais Nouveau Day (November 17th.)  Thank goodness I did grocery shopping today and parked my cart right next to the stack of Beaujolais Nouveau bottles while I went to grab a half gallon of milk.

What the hey.  At $9.99, the price was right.  I kinda like young reds that you don't have to think about too much.

Next year we'll all remember that Beaujolais Nouveau Day is the third Thursday of November (which Google Calendar doesn't understand - hear that Google?) and have a glass as we shuffle through Thanksgiving recipes before deciding that the old favorites are really the best.

The Feast of the Blessed Hose Bibb Cover

The Feast of the Blessed Hose Bibb Cover is ideally celebrated about 12 hours before the first day on which the temperature is expected to drop below freezing, but the timing can vary a bit.

The very worst time to celebrate the FBHBC is about ten o'clock at night, when one is tucked into bed,  hears freezing rain hitting the bedroom window, and suddenly remembers that terribly important task one really meant to do right after work.   In this case, the feast is celebrated by struggling into one's boots, overcoat, and hat, searching the potting shed by flashlight for the covers, which haven't been seen in eleven months, and then convincing the covers to hook onto the faucets and stay there.

Honestly though, the very best time to celebrate the Feast of the Blessed Hose Bibb Cover is never.  Here in the Northwest winter doesn't always bring freezing weather.  If we do have freezing weather, it's only for a couple of days.

Are the covers effective?  I don't know.  The hardware stores always sell them at this time of year, and my neighbors and I buy them and install them.

The most beautiful celebration of the FBHBC I ever saw had Christmas lights wrapped around the cover and bubble wrap wrapped around the lights - quite striking at dawn on a frosty morning.

And why are they called hose bibbs anyway?

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Keeping it Warm

Last week between bouts of Thanksgiving cooking I took breaks to knit a tea cosy for the small tea pot I use on weekend mornings (I use tea bags during the week.  It's complicated.)

I adapted a pattern I'd used in the past and scaled it down.  It was a nice way to use up some ends of skeins.

I think one either loves or loathes pompons.  Obviously, I'm a fan.   In addition to the three I made to decorate the tea cosy, I made another one for the cat, who thinks they are the very bestest cat toys.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Sun Break

After last week's flooding, Fern Hill Road finally dried out and I was able to get to the parking lot of the wetlands, where I took this photo this morning.  Don't be fooled by the sun - there were some pretty heavy showers off and on all day today.

All the turkey is et

Due to guests' schedules, this year at the Blue Door, Thanksgiving dinner was served on Friday.   I roasted one of Diestel Farm's Organic Heirloom turkeys, a smallish bird weighing in at 13 pounds.  I was very pleased with it.  I applaud breeders for making the effort to breed good turkey flavor back into turkeys and I like to support their effort by buying these more expensive birds.

Even though I have fresh herbs in my garden, I still use Bell's Poetry Seasoning* in my dressing.

I recommend that you get a box, and get into the habit of roasting a whole chicken periodically, maybe for the traditional Sunday dinner, which gives you great left-overs for Monday lunch or dinner.  Consider it training for the annual turkey.

*It's actually Bell's Poultry Seasoning, but a grocery clerk mis-heard my request for it in the store once and asked his supervisor if they carried Bell's Poetry Seasoning.  I just love the idea of poetry seasoning.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Learning to be cloth

Cloth as it comes from the loom is referred to as "gray goods" or "greige."  I think of it as proto-cloth - a coalition of warp and weft threads that haven't yet realized that they're part of something bigger.  For the cloth that I weave, the transition from gray goods to finished cloth starts with washing.

I take a fairly old-fashioned approach to washing my gray goods:  lots of water, lots of soap, and a little agitation (of the cloth, not me - I actually find the process quite relaxing.)

And when I say "soap," I mean real soap, not detergent.  Try to think back to your high school chemistry class - I'm sure this topic was covered there.  Real soap flakes can be hard to find, so for years I made soap and shaved flakes with a cheese grater.  Recently I've found that I can buy Zote brand soap flakes locally, so I'm giving them a try.  For a bath tub of hot water, I use about a cup of soap flakes that has been dissolved in a quart or two of water.

Here's recent warp of wool and cotton blankets in the wash water.  Don't see the blankets?  That's because the soap has done a good job of binding to the various waxes and spinning oils from the yarns and holding them in suspension.

Here's the first rinse water.

And here's the second rinse water - that's more like it!

In the time line between banging cloth on stones by the stream's edge and the modern domestic washing machine, many laundry aids were invented.  Most people have at least a passing acquaintance with washboards, but the aerating washer is far less well known.

Tin plated washers are still available, but I decided to go with a non-rusting plastic version.
From Mobile Washer
I really admire the Mobile Washer folks for their commitment to this piece of appropriate technology.  And isn't that a great shade of blue?

I bought my washer without a handle and then attached a standard broom handle so that I can stand while agitating the blankets in the tub.  I use it in both the wash and the rinse waters.