Friday, March 23, 2012

"As Sure as God Made the Little Green Apples"

~Opens tonight~

This is the show for which RTRT recieved a grant to develop it.
We were one of 5 Alaska non-profits to recieve a Pride Foundation grant this year.

The play explores the experience of being a lesbian in Fairbanks through movement and text.  My breda - and RTRT president and co-founder - developed the script based on interviews she conducted with local ladies.  I'm so proud of her. 

This fortnight* I...

-  made a new friend.
- indulged my body in two days of some serious sleeping in. It was needed!
- discovered my cat can jump walls.
- finally, after months of meaning to, brought plants into my office at work.
- discussed plans of beehives, chicken coops, and CSA's.
- wrote two letters.
- watched a Korean soap opera, and had the 60 year old Korean lady who runs the noodle house spontaneoulsy translate it for me.
- read 5 romance novels.  Yes, I read romance novels and I'm proud of it!
- ate bread pudding muffins and jalepeno bacon corn muffins at romance novel book club (see above).
- decided that Korean soap operas and romance novels have much in common.
- ate Thai food with my sister.
- sang kirtan and attended a mantra workshop with Girish!
- ate swedish pancakes with lingonberry sauce.
- listened most days to Alaska News Nightly and National Native News on NPR.


(*A fortnight seems a more reasonable time frame for a regular round-up post than a week does.  Also its unusual - ALL bloggers do weekly things! lol.  But really, I just love the word fortnight.  It has such a sense of history behind it, and it will always sound so elegant to me.  I remember first encountering it in "Little Women" when Meg goes to visit Sally for a fortnight, when I was in 3rd grade and first read "Little Women."  It was a few years until I learned what it meant.  Until then it was this exotic phrase that was all about house parties and lamp lit evenings at the theatre in cloaks.  So elegant!)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Springtime welcomes the light

This table cloth is linen with a gorgeous cross stitched border.
  I found it at Value Village! Can you believe that?
  I think I splurged on it - paying about $5.
There is one hole about the size of a dime in it,
but otherwise its in great condition!

Spring is here.  I know this because the Equinox has passed.  It was expected of course, but somehow not anticipated.  It managed to sneak up on me in total surprise.  No bonfire marked it, mostly due to scheduling.  But also in this weird weird spring where my father in Connecticut has 80 degree days while we have twenty below zero days...  The mid way seasonal balancing shift somehow doesn't feel to be happening.  I notice the sun though.  It is light at home of an evening now.  I hadn't noticed it really and truly until this week - maybe because the last few weeks I havent been getting home till 11 at the earliest, what with the darlin' man's play. 

Anyway, I did quietly celebrate the coming of spring, for myself.  I did a facial steam last night.  It was amazing.  Last summer I gatherered and dried all sorts of herbs, some for medicinal purposes primarily, and some specifically for facials.  I had grand plans of frequent steams, knowing how good they are in the depths of winter.  And you know what?  last night was my second one this year.  But I'm convinced.  This needs to be a regular thing! 
Last summer's wildcrafted herbs on a shelf in my kitchen.
Besides which, facial steams are really one of the easiest things in the world. All you need is a bowl (or pot or pan), herbs (they don't have to be your own wildcrafted either! Herbs out of a tea bag or from the grocery store or healthfood store will do great too!), boiling water, and a towel or cloth to make a tent over your head and the bowl.
The mix of herbs I used was Yarrow, coltsfoot, and pineapple weed (a wild cousin to chamomile, I generally call it chamomile as I don't really like the name pineapple weed).  After mixing it together, on first smell I realized that this is basically the exact same mix I make up for the Darlin' Man for tea when he's getting sick, or for myself if I've gotten sick.  Preventative herbal medicine is something I'm on top of for him, but I rarely do it for myself until I'm down and out cant get out of bed sick.  Hmmm.  Maybe that's another thing I should work on!

Medicinally, I use Yarrow for colds and fevers.  Coltsfoot is good for coughs and lung congestion and asthma - its frequently smoked for lung ailments, though I'm not sure I would ever suggest that.  And Chamomile is just wonderful and soothing and a tonic.  Breathing in the steam, I felt the cough that's been starting to tickle my lungs easing up, and my sinuses felt like they were taking the most luxurious bath in the world! 

So why did I use these particular herbs for a facial steam, if they're such great internal medicine?
Well, yarrow is reccomended as a steam for oily and/or blemished skin.
Mine is definately oily.
Chamomile is just lovely and wonderful.
As for coltsfoot, Culpeper* says the "powder of the roots taketh away all spots and blemishes of the skin.  It were well if gentlewomen would keep this root preserved to help their poor neighbors." (qtd in Schofeild, Janice. "Discovering Wild Plants: Alaska, Western Canada, The Northwest." 195-196)

I also baked a pie last night:
Love People.  Cook them tasty food.  (bumpersticker from Penzey's Spices).

A few days ago, I made myself a cherry gallette.  Out of a jar of cherries that I had canned last summer when they were a good price at the store.  I find that I adore pie from home-canned cherries.
But the real triumph was my crust.  My pie crusts have somehow been rather blase of late.  Perfectly functional, but not the amazing flaky goodness they ought to be.  Now, I've been making pie crusts since I was a fairly young girl.  As a teenager, my mother and I would have pie baking contests in apple season ~both using the same recipe for filling and crust~ and my crusts eventually won out.  But the last year or so, they just havent' been there.  I think I was over mixing the butter.  At any rate, the galette crust was divine.  I felt vindicated in my sense of being a superior pie maker.  And this one for the birthday apple pie was good too.

The Darlin' Man has a pick up rehearsal tonight, and it is also the director's birthday, so I made a pie.  I'm quite pleased with the way the overlapping stars on the top crust turned out.  I used a star cookie cutter, and just cut them out of the rolled-out top pie crust, and then overlapped them over the fruit. 


Star Pie.

*Culpeper was a 17th century English botanist, herbalist, physician, and astrologer.  His "Herbal" is much quoted and has some good information.  But Gerard, his near- contemporary, is much more reliable, thorough, and holistically applicable.  Culpeper didn't like women much. 

A gatuitous foodie post

Some pretty pictures of food from, oh, a month ago?  That I meant to post.  And haven't yet.  I'm working on two for-real posts, and you'll see them when I finally finish them.  :)

kitchen window

Flaky biscuits from the Tassajara Bread Book. 
These are the biscuits I grew up on, and (almost) the only ones I ever make.
Salad: mixed greens, mandarins, and halibut with vinagrette.
The Halibut is from Darlin'Man's fishing last summer, I
made it, marinated in citrus and paprika, with rice and asparagus
one night.  Leftovers for salad the next.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"Streetcar Named Desire"

The Darlin' Man stars as Stanely Kowalski in the Fairbanks Drama Association's "Streetcar Named Desire" by Tennessee Williams.  Its the first real meaty role he's undertaken, and I couldn't be more proud.  The rehearsal process was grueling - for him of course, but also for me because we are carpooling (living 26 miles out of town definately makes one car the more economical choice!), and rehearsals were lasting until one am sometimes.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Confession of an Alaskan in March

I bought $13 worth of green beans last night.

They're shipped from Mexico - thousands of miles away.  They are not organic.  And they were $2.69/lb.
They must represent dozens of gallons of petroleum prducts.
And right now, I'm ok with that.

They look good!  Even in the summer I can rarely find green beans that are not shriveled, or brown-splotched, or tough looking.  And for the majority of the year I avoid buying outlandishly priced non-local vegetables.  But there's something about March, when the negative two degree weather feels that much colder because its started to be light until 8pm, when the piles of snow and hardpack on roads and driveways is depressing because you're beginning to dream of hoes and seeds.  There's something about March that makes me buy 5 pounds of glorious green beans, and plan a meal around them.  Darlin' Man loves green beans.  I'll buy pork chops from Homegrown, and make herbed potatoes.  So two out of three main ingredients in tomorrow's dinner will be local. 

I aspire, and am working towards, a table that bears primarily food I've grown or bought and bartered from other Alaskans.  I admire William Street Farmhouse for taking on the challenge of eating only Alaskan.  Eating local is important to me, it is fun, and tasty and rewarding.  But there are times in March when I'm glad for the big bag of fresh green beans sitting in my refrigerator. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

March in Fairbanks

Woke up today to eight degrees below zero.

3 and 4 foot snowbanks along the roads. 

And the feed store sign advertised the new seeds they got in.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Sister shawl

This is the long-belated, much awaited, thanks for being my bridesmaid 2 and a half years ago, shawl for my sister.  Its in an eight shaft twill variation I got out of Carol Strickland's 8shaft pattern book.
The threading, for you weavers reading, is 123432123456787654321234321 876567876543212345678765678.  Tromp as writ.

It is made out of Jaggerspun silk/merino 20/2.  Set at 24 epi.  I think its a bit looser set than the first batch of shawls I made, but sleyed at 28 epi was just too much.
Loom in sun.

A couple of weekends ago, my breda and I spent an entire day organizing and setting up - moving into really - the studio.  It had never been fully moved into with the rest of the house, and then bgan to aquire heaps and heaps of fabric, yarn, clothes, costumes, materials, and odds and ends...  eventually all the heaps merged to become one giant mire.
Need I say that it was a monumental task?

But it sure did turn out nice:
And now I feel like it is a welcoming inspiring inviting space.

Some more pictures of the twill:

... I want to surprise her with it being done (when it is) - she knows its coming, but likely thinks it will "never" be done (I dont' blame her!)....  so, I can't post it on facebook.... but as far as I know she doesn't read my blog!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Well, this letter writing challenge may have been a bust from a perspective of the number of peices of mail I sent out.  But I'm ok with that.  Because I habitually write letters anyway.  And I love writing long gossipy thought provoking pondering missives, which sometimes take a few days to compose.

I also don't mind because while I may have only sent out 13 letters instead of 24, and while many of them were sent out ingroups of three and four at a time, rather than one every day; the challenge got me to dig out my valise of paper crafting supplies and make some cards, valentines and otherwise. 

The block prints are cut out of my calendars for the last two years, so are NOT my original artwork.  But the pasting and stitchery and bits of paint are mine.  I made a card for my sister last year out of a knitting block print on hand made paper, with multi-colored stitching and buttons and beads and things.  I keep meaning to make more.  And now I have.  I like the idea of the block prints though, and think that I may just have to learn how to carve prints (I'm sure its easier than I've built it up in my mind to be), so that I can do this style of original cards to sell at market.  The bottom left card is from the inside of a Yogi tea box, and the pink scrap is the wrapping paper that rose soap comes in.  The pressed flowers are from the river bank.

And, I became intimate with my mailbox.  Because I have one.  Not a PO Box, a real mail box!  You know, the metal kind, with the little red flag...  It may be two miles away, but its wonderful.  And I learned that the mailman will pick things up out of it, so I no longer have to remember to stop by a blue drop box in town.

In addition to the previously mentioned letters, I have written to my Grandmother in Texas, and to a(nother) good friend in New York. 

I also recieved the dearest letter from Mary Robinson Kowal, the founder of the month of letters, enclosing a bit of brown ribbon saved from her wedding 10 years ago.  I will have to make something lovely out of it, and pass the love along. 

I'm not sure that a daily challenge, or even a weekly one fits my life or my blog right now, but I did enjoy the oomph the challenge gave me to do some things...  And I'm thinking maybe, a MONTHLY challenge?  Well, that just might be something that would fit in well.... stay tuned!