Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

After falling into a knitting funk, I just stopped blogging, too. It's not that nothing was happening, I just couldn't get it together so much. Like housework, writing and knitting are probably easier if you just do them frequently.

For all the people who have asked in the last few months about why I keep bees, here you go:

There's a long and probably boring story about why I ended up harvesting a frame of honey now, without going to the trouble of figuring out how to do it right, but I had to do something with it. A simple set of household implements did fine in a pinch, although I did end up ruining the bees' nice work of drawing all of that comb.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to get the hive open again and see if they've done what I hoped me moving comb around so freely would provoke. It also has an interesting texture -- it's viscous and sort of, well, rubbery. It clings to itself. Maybe it's a function of "fresh" honey? I don't know. The taste is sharper than the store-bought honey, but not in an unpleasant way. It's very definitely honey. I'm going to have to perfect a sourdough English muffin to do it justice, I think.

The Italian bread project went on also. We made "Pane di Como Antico, o Pane Francese," in other words, Como French bread. I think we need to let it rise longer -- maybe the kitchen is cooler than I remembered? This recipe required an overnight biga, or starter, and they can be reused just like the sourdough I make our weekly pancakes with, but this one messed around with the proportions, making it only apply to this bread. Helpful, if you wanted to make this bread over and over and over. Fine choice, but that's not what we're doing.

I then had to get my family ready to trek across the country by plane. Last year, I went to the annual matriarchial family reunion without my spouse, but Thing 4 is much more lively this year, so we used a zone defense. Traveling was just fine. Once we all got together, it was the usual roster of activities. I call it the matriarchial family because among the five children in my mother's family and the eleven grandchildren in my generation, there are only four men. A few of us have imported men through marriage or giving birth to them, but it's really a lot of Southern women getting together. Therefore, the main activities are talking, getting ready to eat, eating, and cleaning up after eating.

It's always very nice to see my special cousins, and my kids enjoy their second and first and first-removed cousins a lot. (I put down "kinship labels" for my homeschooling records.) We had quite a pack of youngsters. And a high proportion of them were armed with some sort of sword or shield or bat. . . we couldn't let our kids be left out. A trip to the dollar store by their dad kitted them right out. Here's Thing 4 in her adorable swimsuit accessorized with near-authentic plastic battle axe.

Thing 2 found a kindred spirit in one of my cousins, and she got lots of information about the insects that she was catching and collecting.

She also caught the Eastern counterpart to the Western Fence Lizard (go ahead, just guess what it's called!). I hardly saw Thing 1, and didn't take many pictures of her, as she slept away from us and spent most of each day running through the woods. That's probably why she is currently dotted with nail polish, fighting chiggers. Poor thing! Thing 3 enjoyed being one of many boys, rather than the Token Male Child.

Yes, that is a Diet Coke beside him. I decided to simply shelve most of my food and sleep ideas and let the kids run. I made an executive decision that I'd rather at that moment he ingest a horrible sweetener versus a slug of caffeine . . . Thank goodness no one brought a case of Moon Pies.

Despite bringing a large bag of yarn and plenty of needles, I managed to finish one diaper cover and sew the hook and loop closure on another. This is the second one, unblocked and unfinished. The first one was in use when I had my camera out.

Even without lanolin, the completed one is great! No diaper pins, and she's not covered with yuck from the gel inside paper diapers. I should probably make a few more. It's funny. People talk about how they don't get knitting something to hold body wastes, but it seems to me like knitting socks: they're useful, wool is the best material, knitting is less expensive than buying them (unlike socks), and everything that comes out of the body is washable. Oh well, that soapbox could probably be put away without anyone minding.

Even though I didn't knit much there, souvenir yarn is a tradition of travel. I made it over to Angel Hair Yarn, in Nashville. Nice store, and I had resigned myself to buying a just-okay linen blend since no yarn or book had called to me, when I walked to the cash register and saw this in a basket beside it:

It's Schaefer "Laurel," in the Empress somebody colorway, because this is a series about exceptional women. Oh my. My mother bought me a second skein so I could make something spectacular. I'm thinking. . . lace? I'll pick out some nice, easy smallish pattern and make a rectangular wrap. Then I think I'll give it back to my mom.

When I got home, the dog was well-cared for, the house was full of dog hair, but despite that, it was nice and clean. I've finally learned that a little work ahead of time makes homecoming that much more pleasant. The icing on the cake? This was waiting for me:

Jacqui sent me a great little box she made out of nice soft yarn and put stitch markers in it (because, you know, I'm such a great lace knitter). Plus, plus, there was a Burt's Bees hand care kit -- with gloves. I'm going to feel like the Empress around here!


Brittany said...

That was so sweet of Jacqui!

That honey looks yummmy. I'm a sucker for honey. :P

The Schaefer also looks yummy! I'd say that I can't wait to see what you make of it but I don't want to put the pressure on. ;)

Emma said...

It looks like a very successful trip. The yarn is beautiful!

One of my sisters have bees, and she makes amazing honey. I like it best when it´s runny and fresh, but it's also good to take out during winter. Tastes like summer. Yum yum.

Rain said...

The diaper cover looks lovely.

Enjoy the honey.

bfmomma said...

it is SO nice to have you back, posting. So much to comment on.

First, the honey is WAY cool. i've started doing a spoonful of local honey a day on Cee's recommendation to combat seasonal allergies. Now THAT would be local honey!

Fun family reunion! LOL on the diet coke. as my husband said on a group vacation three years ago "let them run with flaming sticks--we're on VACATION!"

I'm so glad you're liking the wool soakers. I still think they were my favorite things to knit! Useful, good yarn, able to be creative, not a huge project...

The yarn is absolutely yummy!

And how fun to have a special surprise waiting. You need to tell me sock specs, btw... (not that I'll get started anytime soon--I'm way behind on knitting, too)

Welcome back!

Jacquie said...

Sounds like you had a great trip and the 'Things' had a fantastic time.

The honey looks wonderful. Nothing like honey on fresh made bread!

sewingsuzee said...

So much good stuff! T3 looks in heaven. I can just imagine your mama clucking over her big brood.

However...dogs, bees, but not one word about how well-cared for your chickens were. J and I are a little stung. ;-)

Stefaneener said...

Oh, I forgot! There was a chicken crisis, and the phrase "It takes a village (who are all not at the opera at the same time)" to care for the biddies is true!!!

They are fine and we owe you eggs.

allisonmariecat said...

The honey looks wonderful. How cool to make your own (well, collect it, at least).

The soaker is adorable. We've decided to cloth diaper, and I'll be starting to make these soon (icky gel was a huge factor in deciding this).

I *love* the Burt's Bees hand stuff. Such a little luxury to pamper your hands!

Anonymous said...

Ah, Stef, you have returned.

If S & J had to deal with your chicken Things, props to them! (Maybe next time you will remember the little people.)

Thing 2's Bug was a little much for me - I get the heepie jeebies. Grey kills all of my demons/spiders/silverfish. Add a bottle of alchohol to your list of things to take when you leave home to preserve the carcasses...

Lastly, please remind me to bring you a bit of Daniel's grandfather's 30 year old honey. You can compare notes with D about what he remembers about the harvesting!

L, K

Charity said...

I figured you'd just gotten busy with schooling - had to idea you were up to so much!

Still loving the diaper soaker! Would you please share a bit about the leggings you mentioned a while ago? ;0)

String Bean said...

Honey! Yum! You just got some honey...I just dyed some roving...want to swap? :D How 'bout it?

What a great surprise! Burts Bees is the best stuff.

Sounds like you and the kiddos had fun! Glad you had a good time, but also glad you're back.

Janis said...

I am SO jealous of that honey. It looks beautiful! Hey, do you want some sourdough starter that I have going? It makes some awesome bread!