Disappointments and Silver Linings

Each year in the late summer, early fall, I attend a fiber retreat. One of the ladies I met at the one I had attended for several years decided to organize one that some of her fiber friends nearer to their home might attend and I started going to that one. The first one I attended was at Roan Mountain, TN and went there for several years. Last year the event moved to a better overall venue at Black Mountain, NC. This event is a highlight of my year, usually the first event of the season at which I also vend in addition to being a participant. I had decided that this would probably be the swan song of me vending at events. This year the event was going to return to Black Mountain and was moved a bit earlier to try to avoid some of the school and church groups that attend events at the same facility. That meant that I would have left home yesterday for the event, yesterday was hubby’s birthday. He was okay with that. The plan was for me to make his favorite meal, a homemade Mexican feast the evening before, kiss him goodbye around lunchtime yesterday and head southwest for the weekend. Like so many other events, this one was wisely cancelled. It was a disappointment, but it meant I would be home for hubby’s birthday.

Because of very limited being in public, I didn’t get him a card, but I had ordered a new T shirt on the internet and it came in time to hide away until yesterday morning. We went and got carry out lunch at his favorite burger place and the Mexican feast was prepared last night instead. We are at an age where the years are ripping by and are pretty indifferent to celebrating, but it was nice that he got messages from all three kids and several grandkids yesterday in the form of texts and calls.

The repairs are completed on the Big Bad Harley, but it is too rainy today to drive to the city and have him ride it home. But since I’m not away after all, we can drive over tomorrow.

To each disappointment there is a silver lining. I am grateful we have each other and have stayed healthy so far.

I’m allowed to be fickle

In the past, I’ve blogged about settling on fiber equipment. Much of what I have are replacements of items I bought and didn’t like for one reason or another and sold to try a different style, maker, etc. It would be nice if you could have a trial period, but other than buying samples of needles, it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes it is just because I realize that I don’t really need 2 of these, or three of those, or the size is too small/too large/too light/too heavy. Most fiber equipment holds it’s value well if taken care of. Over the years, I settled on carbon fiber interchangeable knitting needles with sharp metal points, hand carders because I don’t process a lot of my fiber unless I am doing living history, a giant antique walking wheel just because it is gorgeous and functional, a small spinning wheel that belonged to a good friend who passed away, and a few small looms of various styles. The objects that have come and gone the most are hand spindles, the way I learned to spin. I have a couple for living history demonstrations, but my day to day love are Jenkins hand crafted Turkish spindles. But even here, I have been fickle because again, I wanted to try most of the sizes and because they vary in weight from tiny and light, my smallest is 2.5″ diameter and weighs only 7.1 gram (1/4 ounce) and they go up in size and weight from there. I have found the sizes that best suit my style, my weight preference, and ones that I love the wood grain and color. The tiny one is called a Kuchulu, it is made of Black and White Ebony, the grain is stunning and it looks so interesting spinning. It is small enough to fit in a tiny tea tin with fiber tucked in the small bag it is photographed on to carry with me whenever we leave the house.

The next one up in size is only 3.5″ and weighs only 8.79 grams. It is a Finch, made of Olive wood, and it flies. It is small enough to put in a pint plastic ice cream container and also take with me if I wish, but it generally is my go to spindle and remains by my chair in the wooden bowl with the fiber that is my main project at the time. All of the purple and ruby reds are a Shetland wool blended with Bombyx. It is spinning fine and even and is going to make a huge skein of very lightweight yarn.

The last in my flock is a Carob wood Aegean. It is my newest spindle and the heaviest. With a 5″ diameter, it weighs 20.85 grams (almost 3/4 ounce.) It is heavier than I want to use for everyday spinning, but is a good size and weight for plying.

At times, I have had more than this, sometimes two of a particular spindle type, then I will realize that I have my favorites and someone in the online group will post they are in search of a particular style and I am a sucker and have sent several spindles off either in trade, how I got the Aegean, or by selling. I have even shared a few spindles with others who were wanting to learn to spin. I love the three I have and will continue to spin with them as long as I am able.

Recently, my cousin posted this to my Facebook page. I would love to create something similar with the center two panels saying “She took up her spindles and breathed a while to the rhythm of the spin and lengthening of the yarn…”

Image may contain: text that says 'And when life became too frenzied She took up her knitting and breathed a while to the rhythm of the stitches and rows until her smile returned and her mind was calm'

Stay safe and find something that soothes your soul.

Minor roadblock

Day before yesterday, after dinner, the tomatillos were finely chopped, onion, garlic, jalapenos, lime juice, salt, chili flakes added to a pot to make the simmer sauce. The recipe says it makes 2 half pint jars and I was doubling it, but it looked to me like it was going to make at least 5 or 6 half pint jars after it cooked down. Because it was a small quantity canning, instead of the big canner, I just pulled out the largest stockpot that had one of the deep strainer inserts and started heating up the jars and water. Grabbed the box of lids and a hand full of rings and started setting up. When I opened the box of lids, there were only 4 left, scrabbling through the basket, there were wide mouth ones still boxed, but no more regular mouthed ones. We turned everything off and drove down to the village store, they always have canning supplies. Well, they didn’t and said they can’t get them. Generally when I can, I write in marker on the lid, the contents and date made after they have cooled, and I save a few used lids to use on jars of leftovers or ones going in the freezer as they don’t have to seal. The drawer of used lids had three that weren’t written on, maybe I hadn’t canned with them. I marked those three lids and used them, the recipe had made 6 half pints and 1 quarter pint jar. I figured if for some reason they didn’t seal, I would know which three jars they were and just stick them in the freezer.

All 7 jars firmly sealed, but I was left with the issue of not being able to get lids. The grocer in town doesn’t have any, the village store doesn’t have any, I won’t go to a big box store in these times. About a decade ago, I bought reusable canning lids and wasn’t very happy with them so I sold them, but hoping they have improved, a went online and purchased a few dozen to have on hand. I still have wide mouth lids, but don’t can much with them.

Late yesterday afternoon as I was making dinner plans, I realized that the window sill full of tomatoes either needed to be frozen or used, so I scored the blossom ends and poured boiling water over them and set about to make pasta sauce. There was an eggplant in the refrigerator and an 8 oz container of fresh mozzarella, so eggplant Parmesan seemed like a good dinner option. The tomatoes were peeled and chopped, the oregano I picked a couple of days ago, a handful of drying basil leaves, a bit of fresh Thyme and Rosemary, some onion and garlic and all set to simmer while I prepared the eggplant for the oven. A slightly drained ladle of the chunky sauce was put in the bottom of the baking pan and while the sauce continued to simmer down, the eggplant baked and a pot of water boiled for Cappelini, a salad made, vinaigrette mixed and dinner was ready. The extra sauce was put in widemouth pint jars with plenty of headroom to expand, lidded and put in the refrigerator overnight to cool down. This morning, they were added to the supply of pasta sauce already in the freezer. I would prefer to make enough to can at one time, but the tomatoes aren’t coming in fast enough for that and there are no lids. With the chest freezer in the basement and the refrigerator freezer, I will just freeze jars this year.

When the reuseable lids arrive in the mail, I will can more pizza sauce with the next batch of tomatoes and have lids for Asian pear marmalade later in the fall, more tomatillo sauce, and applesauce if the deer don’t get all the apples. They have eaten the lower branch tips and all of the apples they can reach. They don’t mess with the Asian pears though.

The garden is providing fresh beans again, a bag shared with daughter who couldn’t find seed for a second planting. I will pick them again today or tomorrow and blanch another batch for the freezer. I am always thankful for whatever the garden gives. The more I freeze and can, the fewer groceries I need to buy shipped in from parts unknown during the off season. I started a dozen spinach plants indoors since it is slow to germinate and the weeds are quick to germinate in the heat and rain, I want to be able to find it when it is planted outside. If we don’t have an early frost, we should have beans, peas, carrots, spinach, maybe a few kale plants to carry us into the cooler weather. There are a few more ears of corn forming, I hope they are more developed than the 4 that were from the first two surviving plants. I don’t think planting sweet corn is worth my time when we don’t care for it frozen and I can purchase it 2 for $1 or $1.50 during the season. Maybe I will return to planting popcorn next year. We will have to purchase our pumpkin for pies this year, every time I planted seed this spring, something ate the small plants before they were more than 4 or 5 leaves in size. Last year, the 3 plants nearly overtook the garden.