31 December 2013

T'was a Typospherian Christmas

Our holiday this year was low-key. Brother Woodcrafter and his family and sister-in-law Hiker - all of whom live in the Pacific Northwest - made sure the Typosphere was honored.

We always need two calendars in our house.  Beloved Spousal Unit's alma mater, Dartmouth College, always comes through with one. Then we usually wait until the January markdowns to find the second - often of dubious design (but for $5, who complains?). Happily, Hiker made that unnecessary.

The machines pictured are mostly mid-20th century. 
And very brightly colored! (Did they really make a PINK Skyriter?)

And this book is one I'd not heard of before, surprising given the number of Typospherian bloggers I follow!

Its copyright date is 2005, which precedes my Typospherian days by at least five years! Has anyone out there read this?

Woodcrafter sent along a lovely ribbon tin - for a Remington. I can see why collecting these tins would be so fun. I just love the artwork on its cover. 


And on a non-related note, the Himmelfutter dessert was perfect (and the family members with allergies - and who were made their own bowl - found that it is still quite good made sans walnuts and with gluten free flour)!


21 December 2013

Happy Solstice (2013)

Best wishes of the Winter Season! (or as the Astronomy Boffins refer to it, Winter Solstice)  

Lake Michigan, north of Milwaukee's port. December 2013

"Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied from culture to culture, but many cultures have held a recognition of rebirth, involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations around that time." [from Wikipedia article]

At our home, Beloved Spousal Unit and I celebrate on a smallish scale. 

Last weekend several of us got together to share a hobbitish meal. We imagined it as a second breakfast but it was more than that. And for a few, it was fortification for a subsequent viewing of the 2nd Hobbit movie.*  One of our merry group even brought lembas, wrapped in mallorn leaves (in this case, art paper mallorn leaves!).

This year, we expect a Solstice Storm! A White Christmas.  

 Alert from The Weather Channel

My good friends and creative colleagues, Architect and Hoja, participate annually in the Madison, WI Winter Solstice Celebration held along their lakefront. Each year the event ends with a grand bonfire, singing, and dancing. (Here's the 2010 video Architect did.)

And there will be such food at our family gathering! This year I have volunteered to make the Himmelfutter, the German dessert that my Grandmother Mildred made for us at this time for so many years. Translated as "heaven's food" or "heavenly food", himmelfutter is a dense, spiced trifle-like conglomeration with as many recipes as there are families. 

Many good wishes to you, your friends, and your families. May the incoming year be filled with fun, kindness, interesting books and music, and good and loving friendships.


* I hope the many homemade foods and good cheer restore the movie-goers' morale. Of the group, only the two 11 yr old boys liked it - and then for the battle scenes! It was a good many years before I viewed Mr. Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies. Having read LOTR for the first time at age 12 I proceeded to read it through about 20 more times! 

Later on in college - at Marquette University where a large body of Tolkien's materials are housed - I worked for the Special Collections division of the library. Because I knew the books so well, I was assigned the job of processing the LOTR manuscript papers (first time they'd been worked on beyond being put in file folders when they arrived in 1955) and creating the initial index for the collection's finding aid.

As I am still recovering from PJ's altered characterizations of LOTR I have not seen either of the two Hobbit movies.

20 December 2013

More of/for the Grand Thing

A wee wooden troll, brought home from Heidelberg in 1998.

A long-time holiday tradition in our family is staying up until the wee hours as we try to finishing making our various gifts.  I can recall one Christmas Eve where my brother Woodcrafter was running the lathe in the basement until 2 or 3 a.m. while sister Artist was running  one of the 3 house sewing machines till a similar time, and several others could be heard wrapping presents in bedrooms with closed doors.

This year, thanks to a full-time job (excellent and satisfying though it is) I am having to squeeze in my making time here and there.  This weekend various jams were made. The week before I spent evenings watching college hockey and hand-quilting a [can't say what since Woodcrafter reads this blog!]. And this weekend I will be sewing like a maniac, baking, and making more jam.

But brother Architect is going to win this year's All Night All Day Award for sure as he continues to make The Grand Thing (set for a New Year's Eve reveal)! He sent a few more pics yesterday of a few more things for the larger Thing!  

And some of the actual construction! (Though of course I can only show cropped versions as I am still sworn not to reveal the grandness that is in process.)


Although a architect by profession, my brother has said he'd really enjoy being a theater designer more.  He is very, very good at what he does but misses, I suspect, the more playful aspects of creating.  Which is why his work a few years back on the Madison Children's Museum was so satisfying. 

(You can read more about his project at this earlier post.)

So the holidays are always a good time for playfulness.  And the crunch of time, while a bit crazy- and sleepy-making, is the best time!

See the two previous posts about the Grand Thing here and here.

16 December 2013

Metal on Metal

Given that I was once a Medieval Studies student, I am surprised that I have yet to post about medieval metal on this blog! Today that is remedied.  

During those medieval-ly days of mine yore, I happened to know two gents who built a blacksmithy and taught themselves to make armor.  The stuff they made was astounding and astoundingly beautiful.  

They were also member of the Society of Creative Anachronism; that lovely universe wherein the unofficial motto is "The Middle Ages as they should have been."  The issue of authenticity is keenly regarded in SCA. This piece from the Wikipedia article on SCA explains it:

"Tensions regarding the desirable degree of authenticity at SCA functions are highlighted by David Friedman in his articles "A Dying Dream" and "Concerning the C in SCA".

The accepted minimum standard for attendance at an SCA event is "an attempt at pre-17th century clothing", which leads to numerous discussions of the definition of "attempt". Some SCA events have been dedicated to particular historic events or have portions of their camping sectioned off for only strict reenactment, sometimes called "Enchanted Ground", in which much more strenuous attempts are made to keep anachronistic objects and actions out.

The distinction between the goals of fun and authenticity is an ongoing philosophical conflict within the Society. See, for example, the debates from rec.org.sca, the SCA newsgroup on USENET.

SCA members use modern elements when necessary for personal comfort or medical needs, or to promote safety. Unlike some other living history groups, most SCA gatherings do not reenact a specific time or place in history. Consequently, SCA events are more self-referential to individual members' personas where several cultures and historic periods are represented at an event. Thus the SCA may be more of a subculture than a reenactment group. For instance, the discussions of the Grand Council of the SCA, an advisory group to the Board of Directors, debated this at length.

One argument in the SCA is the meaning of "Creative Anachronism". An oft-quoted though unofficial SCA motto is "The Middle Ages as they should have been".

Despite such criticisms, there is some educational quality to the group's activities and they have helped to foster a good deal of valuable research, especially in the area of medieval crafts."

My Beloved Spousal Unit's beloved aunt & uncle are also members. Lady Aunt, whose SCA persona is an archer, is a specialist in manuscript calligraphy and gilding. Lord Uncle, whose persona is a medieval samurai warrior, in his mundane life actually owns a printing press or two and is a master craftsman.

I once attended a local fighting practice; they were held on a hill overlooking Lake Park near Lake Michigan.  I actually was permitted to try on a helmet and use a shield during the demo. Both were quite heavy! So, in addition to being impressed with the physical skill, I've always been fascinated by the kind of movement enforced by the wearing of armor.

Author, imagineer, utter fangirl, and gleeful champion of all things gustatory -- Diane Duane -- had a wonderful video on her Tumblr recently which shows the remarkable flexibility of movement an armored fighter is capable of.

For those interested in conducting their own experiments in the making and wearing of medieval armor (and who have access to a smithy!), here are links to some relevant YouTube videos! 

15 November 2013

More Things for The Thing

"Saying hello" - acrylic, oils, collage.

Back in August I posted about the latest thing being created by my brother Architect.  Said thing proceeds and, he tells me, has needed even more things to make its thing-ness.  This makes me think of the 1950s horror movie, The Blob.

Said blob absorbed/consumed all in its path.  (OMG, is it true, the King of Cool himself, Steve McQueen starred in this cheesy flick?) 

Okay, back to the point . . . The Thing Being Made.  

Architect sent me a few more photos of the things that will be going into the Thing.  I am told "one section is done with a month and half to go."  It's a good thing I live 75 miles away or I'd be busting down his front door to see what is going on!  This Thing, blob-like, now apparently takes up much of an entire room.

More of the things going into The Thing.

p.s.  I actually know what The Thing is but am sworn to secrecy.  However, when I look at these objects, even I now wonder how he is going to pull this Grand Thing off!

13 September 2013

Closing this Summer's Porch Garden

Pre-garden, June 2013

After an uneasy and unusually cool summer, September enters with its fading light and chill, clear air.  And this summer's porch garden is being decommissioned in stages as I harvest the herbs and tomatoes. 

The impatiens, which I got only to fill in the holes between what I thought was going to be a fulsome kitchen herb garden, were one of the few the survivors of the too-cool summer.  Though now, I have to say, they are looking a bit gassed for it.


Every September our landlady provides two fulsome mums.  This year's editions are especially grand.

And as if to deny the upcoming Autumn solstice, the geraniums are presenting a voluminous profusion of second-wind blossoms.

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