Monday, September 25, 2006

I am wondering whether Blogger always loses drafts nowadays. It certainly seems to be a bad bet.

Saturday, when it rained, I spun at the Canterbury Shaker Village. It is never a big event, but there is a certain gentle interest in being the first spinners some of the visitors have ever seen. There are other visitors with much more experience, like the mother of one 18-month old and almost another (due in Dec), have spun, and woven and crocheted but haven't touched any of it since the 18-month old was born -- she hadn't ever tried a double-treadle and wasn't sure she and the baby-to-come would fit behind a Joy (they did, and she really enjoyed the double treadle). And there was the 60ish woman who had gone to farm for a sheep shearing and spinning demo fifty years earlier and never forgotten. I suggested that all of them come to the NH Sheep and Wool next spring.

Since there were very few vendors you would think I could have behaved. But the woman I taught to use a spindle at the CSV Wool Day two years ago (now demo-ing on a Great Wheel and a Joy) showed me a really soft sheepskin she had bought. I was cold and damp and now own a really rich-feeling brown sheepskin. It would go well on my car seat or my computer chair but I think I am going to make a Barbarian Vest. I have been reading a lot about the need for the invention of tailored garments (read: needles, cutting, and shaping) as modern humans suddenly developed the use of symbols (or at least started using them in a way that shows up in the archaeological record) and were able to move into colder climates (and push out the Neanderthals, who didn't seem to have used needles, at least not in Eastern Europe, at least not in the unbelievably dull book I was trying to read). Any ancient person would plotz at the feel of my sheepskin, with its supple hide and long, clean fleece. I will be using plastic sinew for sewing but I want to try some kind of appropriate technology to color the skin. Anyone know anything about how corrosive iron oxide might be?

In other fields, specifically the teardrop-shaped hummingbird garden, Doug and I got a bunch of Home Depot bulbs planted. I am delighted, because the huge order from White Flower Farm has been shipped and my back will be to the wall between now and serious winter to get them planted. Yesterday's weather was unusually unpleasant, being cold AND sweaty. After bulbs and the traditional weekend trip to the dump/recycling center, I racked the peach wine (very tasty), the dandelion wine (something of an edge on it), and the sweetfern mead (spectacular and lethal), bottled the honey/ginger beer, bottled another recently rediscoved 2004 mead, and reeling around the kitchen, brewed BarkShack Gingermead with frozen berries and canned sweet cherry juice. Mead is quite a vindictive little drink.

Monday, September 11, 2006

A couple of updates

The wine I bottled last month has improved a great deal. It's still isn't exactly amazing, but it's drinkable and I won't have to make 5 gallons of mulled wine or learn to culture vinegar.

In the Goldfinch section (see title of blog), we seem to have said farewell to the humminbirds for the year. None has been seen since Labor Day, the same time as they left last year. They were a week early this spring, and they seem to have been successful in raising young, as there were a lot more hummingbirds fighting in late August than there had been in mid-July. The downy woodpeckers, the goldfinches, and the various sparrows seem to have done all right, too.

As to the Fiber, I am knitting a little, occasionally. It may have been the weather (oppressively humid at times) or I may just not be as obsessive as I should be if I am ever to finish anything. Unfortunately I don't think any of my relatives would rather have a bottle of home-brewed whatever than a pair of socks. I was able to present my ex with a home-grown canteloupe

This week

I almost need a 12-step group; I am almost reading too much. Robin Hobb, as I should have known from her association with Steven Brust is very good. Simon Green is not good, exactly, but it's certainly amusing. Much darker than Terry Pratchett and the philosophy is thin, if any.

Apart from giving all of my hard-earned to Borders, I have been trying to get my place of work's database up to date. Sometimes I get to weed my garden, which is important, because I have way too many bulbs coming in the mail. I have just a few that I bought from the impressive selection at Home Depot; I had hoped to plant them yesterday, but I was seduced by the filthy kitchen. This only makes sense if I explain that I HAD to make the kitchen habitable by humans to make it safe for brewer's yeast. I started a batch of blueberry mead (canned blueberries; I should get to taste this in about two years) and a ginger-enhanced beer (I should get to taste this in about a month). I found out that what I had always though was a 6-gallon carboy was a 5-gallon carboy the empirical way (I drew off a gallon and put it in a jug with a dash of yeast and an airlock... it's doing FINE. The two will be reunited once they calm down a bit).

There seems to be some kind of relatively pleasant curse on me in that I rarely have a whole weekend to avoid cleaning my room or weeding the gardens. Saturday mornig Doug and I went for a walk and then it was time to go to Mass. for my ex-husband's birthday dinner. Next Sunday I am going to Mass. for a send-off to college of someone I have known since he was 18 months old, maybe less. I think there may be a couple weekends before the poultry show and then it will be OctoberFest and then the NH Archaeology Society Fall Meeting (I skipped out on the spring one) and then it will be November.

I have not been very sociable and I owe people I care about some responses to their e-mails. I intend to do better.


This morning I had to put on pajamas. I suppose I was cold most of the night, but it is my God-given right as a resident of New Hampshire to sleep with the windows open so I can hear the frogs/crickets/occasional owl/coyote, to wear nothing to bed and to complain about about the heat --

Oh. It's September?

If it were three months later, it would be my God-given right to wear sweaters all the time, up to three pairs of socks, and generally justify the Knitting Way of Life. This would continue into early May.

I have trouble with transitions.

I was going to talk about the Hopkinton Fair. We went in search of other chickens. There were, most of them silkies, a breed we are told was described by Marco Polo as a "fowl with fur." I was happy to see some outside of a book, and if the nine chickens we have were not already polluting the deck and chasing the cats I would have been tempted to buy one of those for sale. (As it is, no.) There were a few other breeds, enough to suggest that our chicken Joyce is a Duckwing, and Auk, our big black Cochin China hen... is a male. Making four out of nine, with Cordelia, Faith, and Spike (in ascending order of dominance).

(As to what we will do with four roosters: so far only Cordelia, the Polish with the silly haircut, is suffering from much bullying. He has a bald spot. I have heard stories about other breeds killing Polishes because they are gentle and philosophical. We hope not, but I am worried about the winter. Faith is missing some neck feathers and Auk has been the odd bird out since he was a chick; none of the others interacts with him much. Only Spike crows, and usually only about after we let them out of the coop. The hens still don't seem to be interested in sex, to Spike's apparent disappointment. No eggs yet.)

The fair: there weren't enough chickens. I doubt that the rabbit, sheep, or goat fancier would have been impressed with the numbers of those animals. There were some very lovely cattle

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Photobucket - Video and Image Hostingand a few pulling horses. There were some unremarkable vegetables, except for the pumpkins

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which were pretty good. I am told there were a lot of rides, and I noticed there was an great assortment of food (though not nearly enough things on sticks). I had a felafel plate and some excellent French fries, and I hope to see the barbecue first next time.

What really surpised me, given the way I behave at fiber fests, was that there was nothing I wanted to buy. There was only one pitch-man (car wax) even trying to persuade me to be interested; three different sets of Bible-based Christians (which, if you want to get theological, is dubious; wouldn't they be Biblians?) offering salvation. There was no pie contest, no handiwork contests, no homebrewing contest, no home-made jams or canned vegetable or pie contests.

So we are going to a poultry fanciers gathering in October.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Internet ate my homework

I had a lovely entry covering the past week or so. I was going to put the pictures in this morning, so after I fixed the typoes I hit "Save as Draft,' and wasn't I cross this morning to find it was gone. Never trust that command again. again.

It went something like this:

When Doug made me make a batch of dandelion wine in May, he blew some very cold embers back to life. When I moved here in 2004 I had a carboy of red wine and about six gallons of mead aging. They have been living in the the back room where the refrigerator and washer and dryer are. Sometimes I would add water to the airlocks, but it was too much trouble to do more. The first batch of mead, when I tasted it a year or more ago was very, very alcoholic and uninteresting otherwise.

I bottled the wine in August; it tasted fairly sour and awful, but whatEVER, it was out of the engine room. I picked up a beer kit and made it and even got that bottled, and it was fun. And Doug thoughtfully washed the floor as the malt made our feet stick.

So then Sarah gave us a huge load of cosmetically blemished organically-grown peaches and told me to go make wine out of them, so I did. Since then I have been rereading all my Charlie Papazian books and I decided that the next thing to do to excel as a brewer would be to take care of the zombie brews in the engine room.

This meant I had to face the mouse-infested boxes of brewgear in the basement, which turned out to be even worse than I expected. At least four mice had thought it was a good idea to squeeze into upright (and once sterile) empty wine bottles and die. I chose to recycle the bottles at the dump, rather than at home. Possibly I should have attempted to make it a feature, like the worm is the mescal bottles. But no.

Friday night I bottled three gallons of three different batches of mead, only one with any trace of a recipe, though all were labelled "Feb 7." 2003? 2004? The first batch on Friday was similar, but the second and third batches gave me some glimpse of why people thought it was worth the trouble.

On Saturday we went to the state fair, about which I will say more tomorrow. Sunday I spent cursing the rain and trying to make labels, cursing Apple, Avery, AppleWorks, and when I finally switched to a Windows machine, Word. Finally I gave up and we bottled the final, three gallon batch, which was based on a fancy herb tea, honey, and apple cider. It is quite tasty, a little sweet, but there was about 11.5 ozz that were all cloudy from being at the bottom of the carboy, so DOug and I drank them and that was all for the evening. About a wineglass -- a small wineglass-- apiece and we were totalled.

I am looking forward to making another batch. The book I use is big on long aging for meads. If the world order is going to collapse in 2012, I should be brewing for it now.

Friday, September 01, 2006

I haven't posted lately (well, you know that). I am not depressed, I don't think, but it almost feels like that. It could be the change in the seasons; though it's three weeks before the calendar says Autumn, it's been noticeably cooler and now it's also dark by 6ish pm.

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The frogs are doing fine in their puddle.

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Buffy, like the rst of the chickens, is all grown up (and pictures of them will follow). Spike is definitely a rooster, as are Faith and Cordelia, but only Spike is crowing, which he does in classic style.

I sit and have tea in the garden and the chickens come and beg for sunflower-seed handouts. This evening there was a fine atmospheric effect:
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Work is moderately dull, which means I am only getting slightly behind. The other day I went to my boss. "You know how you proofed that e-mail where I said the meeting was September 21, and you said it was October, and would rewrite it?"
"Yes," he said.
"Well, it wasn't October 21, either. It's October 19th. I'll send another one."
So I did, and went down the hall to ask the other woman in the other office if you need more than two people for something to be a cluster f*ck. We both rather thought it did.

So then the treasurer of the Bible Society came in and signed the checks and zoomed out again, and it wasn't until the treasurer for the Council of Churches (remember, they share office and staff (Me and boss) between them) came that we found the Bible Society treasurer had in fact signed the Council of Church's checks.

Other than things like that, I make database and write letters. Could be worse.