Sunday, 30 January 2011
Another borrowed blog:
EARLY 19TH C BESOM ENGINE, via Ebay
Early nineteenth century blacksmith made besom engine or to use its more common name besom clamp. This was a tool that was used in the manufacture of besom brushes or using there more common name witches broomstick.This tool was used to clamp the birch twigs to the hazel handle.
There were two ways this tool could be used. One way was to secure the spiked end into the ground, place the twigs around the bottom end of the hazel handle and place into the jaws of the clamp. Then using your foot apply pressure on the clamp handle to close the jaws together and then you can bind the twigs onto the handle. Alternatively you could secure the clamp in a bench vice and repeat the process using your hand.
This is obviously a rare item and as such would make a wonderful piece for the collector of rural crafts.
A picture of my new baby. Sexy little beast, right?
Thursday, 27 January 2011
I have reblogged this from a Tumblr blog I follow via a feed. I don't normally borrow other people's blog posts, but this one was different, because I completely sympathised and understood the sentiment completely
Spring Menu, 2011, by Ms. Graveyard Dirt
Here’s the exciting follow-up to yesterday’s heretical journal entry: our annual Bride’s Day-Candlemas-Imbolc menu. Before anyone else has another knee-jerk reaction let me just say - no, I’m not trying to subtly* influence and manipulate people into eating what I think is right (“…AND HERE’S THE MOTHERFUCKING FOOD YOU SHOULD BE FUCKING EATING, RETARDS”). What I AM trying to do, though, is give an example of how I’m attempting to eat seasonally when observing a season-based festival or sabbat.
* It’s a scientific fact that I’m completely incapable of being subtle.
Four things are always taken into account when creating a menu that’s eaten on a holy day that celebrates a turn of the agricultural year: what my ancestors were eating at that time of year, what Italics’ ancestors were eating at that time of year, what the land we live on provides at that time of year and any non-traditional food or dish that has a personal - or significant - value to us as a household at that time of year.
(There’s potentially five things you can take into account, but because I don’t subscribe to any sort of religion I don’t have a culture to fall back on. If you don’t feel connected to your ancestors or the land you’re living on, you always have the option of looking into what the people of your religion ate at that time of the year.)
I’m Ukrainian, with a splash of nomadic plains Indian (Hunkpapa, Lakhota). Italics is, more or less, Scottish (there’s Irish and French in there somewhere, but in small amounts). We both live in his homeland, Scotland, so we observe Imbolc - Spring - at the very start of February due to being in the northern hemisphere. Because Bride’s Day-Candlemas-Imbolc is so very fucking British Isles I give the Ukie shit a rest for once (but only because Easter is totally Slavtastic) and focus on what the land actually provides during this time of the year, and what it’s provided for countless effing generations.
Wheat, barely and oats are the three “grains” I associate with Scotland, and traditional Scottish cookery. But because Italics suffers from coeliac/celiac disease we don’t eat wheat or gluten, so we focus on oats instead. (Oats, by the way, are a-okay for celiacs as long as they’re prepared and packaged in a wheat/gluten-free environment.) I still bake bread for Bride, but I also bake a loaf that both Italics and I can break in communion together.
At this time of year in Scotland the only fresh vegetables are winter vegetables, and those are primarily greens and chthonic, root-based plants. I know that might sound limiting, but it’s not. Think bulbs, vegetables that are at their best once frostbitten, anything that stores happily throughout the cold months and the very new, very tender hardy shoots that are already appearing outside: apples, beets, cabbage, cauliflower, celeriac, chicory, fennel, garlic, horseradish, kale, onions, parsnips, pears, potatoes, rocket, shallots, sprouts, squash, swede (known as rutabaga in the USofA), turnips and wild plants’n’herbs.
The heavily pregnant ewes begin dribbling milk around this time, so a huge focus on Imbolc’s meal - at least to me - is the return of milk and dairy products to the diet. (That gets celebrated in dessert, when I make a homemade batch of crème brûlée using organic, full-fat cream.) Because we’re carnivores flesh comes in the form of preserved meat (I personally brine a brisket for Bride), but if corned beef wasn’t set in stone - which it is - we would probably eat game (pheasant, grouse, duck, partridge, rabbit, venison) because that was what was available during this time of the year.
(PS: I’m only not mentioning fish/seafood as suitable options because I fucking LOATHE fish, and because - like I said above - we always eat homemade corned beef when celebrating Bride’s Day. <- Once something gets recognized as an annual tradition it’s hard to be cavalier about mixing shit up, ESPECIALLY when you’re autistic. I mean, fuck, you’ve seen Rainman, right? Brined brisket for Bride on Bride’s Day is totally Judge Wapner, People’s Court at 4 fucking PM in this motherfucking house.)
Taking everything I said into account, this is the meal we eat to celebrate the return of Spring using what’s actually available and in season during that time:
Saturday, 22 January 2011
Another video to share with you, this time the trailer to Werner Herzog‘s Cave of Forgotten Dreams. This is a 3D film shot inside Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave in southern France. These are some of the oldest cave paintings known. The film seems to have good reviews on IMDB and is set to be released on March 25th, 2011 in the UK.
Wednesday, 12 January 2011
Author: John Lenahan
ISBN: 1905548893 / 978-1905548897
Shadowmagic is great audio book, narrated wonderfully by the author. This is a fast-paced story about a teenage boy whose life is turned upside down upon the sudden arrival of relatives of whom he knew nothing and who are determined to see him dead.
The main character is Connor, raised by a one-handed father, Oisin, who speaks to him in ancient languages and teaches him to use a sword. Connor is transported to the land of Tir Na Og, a place inhabited by Imps, Ban Sidhe, Leprechauns and Pookas and where the trees hug back.
Sure Connor's sense of humour is not to everyone's taste, but it keeps his spirits up when all manner of misfortune befalls him. There isn't much in the way of character introductions and background is rarely provided, but it's not necessary because their actions speak for themselves. At times, some of the voices used for different characters were slightly, ever so slightly off-putting but I kind of had the feeling it was more how Connor interpreted, or might have mimicked them himself.
The story runs at a fair pace and you hardly have time to breathe, which is how Connor himself must feel. The author has deftly told a story without any of surplus that often gets in the way of a good tale. This type of adventure is probably aimed at tweenage boys, but as a woman of a certain age I truly enjoyed listening to the podcast version on my commute to and from work for the week, only just resisting listening to it between times.
I recommend the audio version of Shadowmagic to anyone that has to face boring tasks, as you will lose yourself in the land of Tir Na Og with Connor, his family and friends in no time; that it the skill of John Lenahan's storytelling, and narration.