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.

The Promise of Spring

The bulbs that I ordered in August arrived last week.  I don't remember whether I specified this late planting date or the vendor decided it on their own.  I was lucky to have a dry day on which to dig holes in Awful Heavy Clay to get them planted.  I amended the soil with compost I'd harvested over the summer and a little bulb food.

By the end of the afternoon I'd planted 75 grape hyacinth bulbs and 30 daffodil bulbs, about my limit for one day's work.   The weather gods then smiled on my efforts by providing some very nice showers to get the bulbs watered in.