Thursday, September 23, 2010

Road Trip, Fall rites..

On The Road, The Gorge
Well, after a fine tour of these Great United States, well okay, just the Western bits, through to Nebraska..I return to write of the excursion. It was loads of fun, exhausting, but fun.
My father died this May, and so my Mother is alone out there on the prairie. We decided it was a good time to drive out and visit, make sure she was okay. Help out, etc..
We had planned on attending the Baker City Oregon Highland Games, and since we were already on the otherside of the state, well hell, why not just keep going?
So we did.

The Cabin, at Rancho-Costa-Plenty
Our amazing friends Devon and Rachael graciously offered their cabin for us to stay in while we visited. They lived in this amazing cabin for 11ish years, until they finished building their own house. Yes, they built the house themselves, with their own hands, tools and love. The Big House is wonderful, don't get me wrong guys.
But I love the cabin. I would live here always if I could I love it that much, cozy, nestled in the aspen, with it's herd of security turkeys ever alert to danger..

Blurry "Action" Shot of Turkey herd..they move damn fast..
The birds sleep high in the trees behind the cabin, safe from predators.
The above was taken as they made their way up the trail to the hill beside the cabin. Where, once they reached the proper high spot on the hill, they launch themselves in a flurry of feathers into the roosting trees. Smart fowl I say, working with gravity, not against it. It's a herd made up of several adult females and their young, long legged gawky teenage birds.

Off to Bed They Go..
Fast little hens, I barely got this shot with my crappy camera..

My Bonney Man and His Pipes
The Highland Games were great fun. We arrived late friday and had to set up during the start of the games, I was worried we would be a problem, but everyone there was just happy we came. The wonderful Marna sent the Boy Scouts out to help us set up. Devon and Dan helped the lads get our smithy set up while I put the forge together.
When my nose started running and my hands turned blue I realised I might need that sweater I had brought just in case. In Eastern Oregon in the high country winter can come in Sept. So people understand how to live with cold, but this was Labor Day weekend, late August.
It had been hot and sunny earlier in the week. High 90's there in Baker, so people were not quite ready for the shock. A cold front had rolled in, rain, snow in the mountains, temps. in the 40's. Were had a fire so we stayed warm, and everyone had a good time anyways. After all, this was more like weather in Scotland.

His Nibs, The Piper
Dan was invited by the Pipe Major of The City Of Trees Pipe and Drum Band to play during the parade..I have never seen my husband more excited or happy. I was very proud of him. They were a great group of folks. Thank you guys and gals, you made my Hubby very happy!

Bellows Boy
We both did demonstrations, meeting the good people at the games, and teaching the craft. We had a young man who was perfect at running the bellows. It is a tricky thing to do, and he caught on quickly. I wish I could recall his name, Thank you Little Boy Scout dude! You were a big help!

I'm too Sexy for My Kilt...
For those of you out there who care this is NOT my family tartan. We are Stewarts, and this is not. Donna our good friend and amazing bagpiper, gave me this kilt as a gift. What is hard is when members of this clan come running up to me arms thrown wide exclaiming how thrilled they are to meet another member of the clan. I just play along, as I don't have the heart to tell them the truth, it has only led to trouble in the past..
Stay tuned for Part Two of this saga..

Since arriving home I have been making apple butter, and canning it..

Fresh apples from my orchard. Lots of apples, the Wassailing back in January worked ! I ended up with three 5 gallon buckets from this dwarf mystery variety alone..

Yes it looks like sludge, but it's really yummy apple butter..ready for canning or eating on fresh toast with melted butter.. Devon cream would be awesome with this..Sadly, some of us can't get proper Devon cream here to go with..sigh..some folks have all the luck.;)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Beets Two Ways

On the road to babushkahood...
This years long cold spring gave me a fine beet crop. So yesterday I made two Ukrainian salads using fresh veg from my garden. Beets, carrots, onions, and potatoes. I got carried away, as
I tend cook enough to feed a small warband, even when Iam not trying. Both salads were yummy, although the grated beet was the favorite.
Smoked chicken from our favorite German deli Edelweiss, some braised kale, and cold hard cider to drink. It was perfect. The days have been hot, as it's nearly Lughnasadh, or August if you prefer the Roman naming. The feilds of grain shimmer under the hot sun like gold, ready for the farmers scythe..

This time of the year is hot here in Orygon, upper 80's to 90's, Not stifling hot like it was back in PA, we just don't have that humidity hell. It's a get your jog in early or you will roast to death later hot, but after this years endless murk of rain I am embracing it like it a lover.
So beet recipe, I owe this recipe to this nice woman and her blog on life in Russia. I was hunting for beet recipes when I found her page.
When I read the combination of beets and mayo I was dubious..but honestly it is delicious, addictive and Iam about to go get some for breakfast..

Shredded Beet salad that feeds several..=
4 medium /large beets boiled until they are just tender, a fork will just pierce them. You don't want them cooked to mush, just not raw hard crunchy. Allow to cool.
1 raw beet
Grate all the beets up in a bowl. Admire lovely color of shredded beets. Then pick off the flicked out bits of beet off the walls, your hair and the toaster.
Wash hands.
Then get=
Three tablespoons of good mayonaisse. Trader Joe's makes a damn fine organic mayo..or make yer own if you want. I don't.
1 cup of chopped walnuts, chop into small bits, not quite ground but close.
2 teeth of garlic(cloves) these you want to mince fine..
I added one Tablespoon of cider vinegar.
Pepper to taste, in my case that was about 1/4 of a teaspoon.

After you have grated the beets add all remaining ingredients, mix well. It should all sort of congeal together, and turn a nice lighter shade of ruby. It should not be a creamy mayonaissey mess, the mayo just binds it together.
I chilled it, and it was fabulous with the chicken. We ate until we could eat no more. Iam poor in money but Iam rich in good food.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Me in the May snow, in Laramie Wyoming after out running a Im not kidding.

I think I have like, oh three readers and that's counting my Husband. Im just not a prolific writer, but this months abscence was not my lack of material. May was actually coming along quite wonderfully for things to share. We had a great Beltane/May Day, then went to the Oregon State Draft Horse ploughing competition, so I will write about that, as I got some cool pics.
One day I would love to learn more about handling a team, and actually own a pair, but that's not yet.
All was May, birds were singing, the garden starting to really take off.
Then what I had feared was coming finally came. My Father died from his lung cancer.
He lived long enough to celebrate his 77th birthday on the 3rd. It was almost as if that was the time marker signaling the end. The next day he failed hard, and I was called to come home ASAP. Now I had been begging to come home before this, and indeed we, the Hubby and I, had gone back in Feb. to visit. Iam so glad we did, because that was really the last time he was "all there". The illness started dragging him down after that, and by the end he was not the man he once was. No even a shadow.
My Mother is doing fine, given that her best friend and soul mate has just died. Me, well I cry, but most of the time I'm just getting on with life. That's all I can do, miss him, but live on well. He would never want any of us sitting about being maudlin, he hated that.
The Hubby and I drove back, through raging storm and snow, across the Rocky Mountains, over plains, saw plenty of antelopes, hawks, Golden Eagles, and cows. Lots of cows.We agree, cattle should be the national critter, as they are everywhere. Thought about Pa all the way, but it wasn't until I got home that it all came crashing down emotionally. I sat in my living room looking at daddies picture and just bawled my eyes out. All the the worry and stress of nearly two years of him being sick with cancer washed away with those tears..time to start a new chapter.

Sunday, April 04, 2010


Iv'e got a dragon by it's tail
It's Ostern and I'm enjoying my morning with some coffee, reading my favorite farming, homesteading and archaeology blogs and updating mine. Ludwig the cat is sitting in my lap having a bath. It's all very cozy, as the weather is still cold, dark, and stormy outside.
Crappy weather and all the Ostern hare has been by, as there are colored eggs and chocolate bunnies to be had in the kitchen..MmmmMmmm!

Been working on a project for a friend from the Norse Hall, it's a fireplace screen, with a nice happy Urnes style dragon on the front. The above is the start of the tail, or part of it's tail.
This is 5 feet of steel, and when it's done it it will loop around the body. I love this kind of work, it's what I really enjoy about smithing, taking steel and transforming it into something useful or beautiful, or both.

Happy Dragon
Here it is laid out on the board, I have to get pics of the tail bits..Dan is building the frame,and the runic inscription that will surround the dragon, a passage from the Havamal, which I need to go get and post shamefully I can't remember the exact words..Bad mead for you.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Nature, and Healing

Bleeding Hearts

Well, today Im making the attempt at working the garden. It's just too sunny and gorgeous to stay inside and be sad. The apple trees are blooming, and it might just be warm enough to lure the bees outside and into my garden.

Yesterday was truly a suck day, today is better, only in that the sun is helping, nature is helping. I forget that, and get caught up in the tailspin of depression. I forget that when I was a kid growing up in the country the only place I ever felt truly "me" was outside. Up a tree, climbing the branches to a place I could sit, and simply be. Gaze out over the pastures, and fields, watch the swallows coming and going from their mud nests in the barn eves. Hidden from everyone, safe. I was just me, and the land understood.

When I was sick I would beg to go outside, just so I could lie on the ground in the sunshine, smell the clean air, feel the earth beneath me. Once when I was deathly ill my Hungarian pediatrician told my Mother the best thing for me was to let me go outside and sit in sunshine, lie on the earth, feel the clean air, the antibiotics were not working, so maybe the sunshine worked. Smart man.Old world wisdom.

So today I decided until the pain lays me low or paralizes me I'm going to dig in my garden, plant my veg and soak up Mother Earths life. It's the only thing I know that helps.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


The Austrian Oak's back, not mine. Mine is much smaller, and hurts like hell.
I suspect the cause is thus, I have been Elf/Alf shot!

‘Elf-shot’ is a concept which will need little introduction to students of Anglo-Saxon
culture, and the thrust if not the words of Singer’s statement in his British Academy
lecture of 1919, ‘Early English Magic and Medicine’ (1919–20, 357), will be
a large amount of disease was attributed … to the action of supernatural
beings, elves, Æsir, smiths or witches whose shafts fired at the sufferer
produced his torments. Anglo-Saxon and even Middle English literature is
replete with the notion of disease caused by the arrows of mischievous
supernatural beings. This theory of disease we shall, for brevity, speak of as
the doctrine of the elf-shot. The Anglo-Saxon tribes placed these malicious
elves everywhere, but especially in the wild uncultivated wastes where they
loved to shoot at the passer-by.

Elves were thought to be invisible or hard-to-see creatures who shot their
victims with some kind of arrow or spear, thus inflicting a wound or
inducing a disease with no other apparent cause (elfshot). They appear to be
lesser spirits than the Æsir (Odin, Thor, Frigga) deities, but with similar armaments in spears andarrows. … This attack by elves was eventually linked with Christian ideas of
demons penetrating or possessing animals and people, who then needed
Ohhhhh...So That's what's going on with my back! Well at least that's what it feels like..I guess I better make right with the Alfs/elves so they knock this shit off.

So yesterday I wrote of my heinous back pain, I went for a nice massage, which helped calm me down, but still the nasty little spear man was jabbing me to death. I tried to watch the tube while not thinking about how uncomfortable it all was just trying to relax, but gave up. Chronic pain is exhausting, if you have experienced it you know what I mean.
It sucks all life and energy and hope out of you. It's like being hunted down, chased for miles and never really getting to rest. Or at least that's how I see it.
So I ate a handful of ibuprofen and laid in bed wishing I could die.
Finally after a crappy night of not much sleep it was time to go see The Dr. and see what could be done. I explained to her the situation with my back, and ribcage, the pain etc..Did I have a slipped disc? Did I need an MRI I can't afford? X-rays? A shot of tiger tranquilizers maybe..

'No," she explained "that I needed a good rib crunching, to put the ribs back into position, cold packs, REST, and a deep massage from the lovely and Mighty Alicia." So crack me she did.
I have to say Iam sore, but the truly deep evil pain is subsiding, just like she said it should.
She stressed the REST part, not even light yoga, certainly not laundry shlepping, blacksmithing, bodybuilding, or lifting anything heavier than a cup of tea or a cold beer.
She was even dubious about me doing dishes.
So the amazing Hubbinator has been handling the heavy stuff today, like mucking out the cat boxes, hauling the heavy laundry basket, bringing me's all very swell.
He is being very wonderful through this whole ugly episode, while I watch a Time Team marathon and drink green tea while lying on a frozen hunk of beef roast.
Pain relief and dinner thawed in one! Amazing!
Okay time for more cold pack, and another cup of tea. Here's hoping this all starts mending up, and I can get some damn sleep. I will also be sure to honor the Land Spirits more often and generously, being Alf shot sucks.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hail the Growing season springtide comes..

"Erce, Erce, Erce, Mother of Earth,
May Thor Almighty grant you, the Thunder Lord ,
Fields sprouting and springing up,
Fertile and fruitful,
Bright shafts of shining millet,
And broad crops of barley
And white wheaten crops
And all the crops of earth.
Ahh happier days in the garden, just a few weeks ago.
Note how warm it was, me in no sleeves...and the sexy new tartan wellies..a fancy gift from Marta the Honey Voiced. My back not in it's current state of excruciating..

The Hubbinator and I decided the ugly raised wood beds had to go. Mostly they were home to a zillion slugs and snails, and too small to grow "enough' of anything really. That and we also were sick of trying to mow the lawn between them.
So, one truckload of bedding dirt later, there you have it. We laid down woodchip for paths, made lovely earthen rows for veg. I did NOT shovel, he did. I raked, and fussed and planted beets and peas. Heirloom English shelling peas, and Oregon sugar snap. mmm peas...
I have lots of plans for the garden, but if I can't get my back pain under control it's just gonna be beets and peas I fear.

My usual back issue is my lower back. The discs between L3 and L5 are trying to escape and shrink, and this causes great pain and a cramping of my normally active style.
BUT I have learned how to "deal" with it. Painful yes, but nothing compared to the latest adventure in pain.
One of my ribs is "out", the muscles just under my right scapula, and the surrounding muscles of my ribs are strained. The muscle spasm squeezing the hell out of a nerve in my mid back.
It is nonstop. Nothing helps.
It feels like (I would imagine) a red hot spear being shoved into my back, and then drawn across my ribs..All the damn time.
There is no escape, no amount or shifting, stretching, lying on one side or the other will stop this agonising pain. It has brought me to sobbing tears. Honestly, I wouldn't wish it on anyone, well, except a few people, like Hitler.

What did I do to cause this ghastly injury?
I reached back behind my head to brush my freakin' hair is what.
Yep. I reached behind my head when "WHAM!' the muscle felt like it had been hit with a hot poker under my right scapula. everything seized up.
I think I said"You have to be freaking kidding me!!! Noooooo! before collapsing onto the bed in agony.
I probably strained it doing squats, and the lifter muscles under my shoulder blade got so strained, but not enough to become a full blown muscle spasm. Then when I asked them to do something simple like brushing my hair they said
So off I go to the chiropractor to get things reset. Mmm can't wait for that special popping a rib back into place pain tommorrow, but it has to be done.
BUT first I get a deep tissue massage this evening I hope it helps.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Life and blogging

Hey? What are you doing in there?

This blog is a bit of conundrum for me. I'd like to write more intimate details of my life, and thoughts, like a journal, but I always think I sound whiny when I do. I mean sure life is hard, but I'm not in hell. But still.

As for a strictly technical blacksmith blog, well...I'm really not nerdy enough to prattle on and on about crucial temperatures for forge welding, which fancy steel to use, or other terribly geeky things. I'm coming at this craft as a sculptor. Technical stuff bores me to tears for the most part. I do love good working tools, just not chatting on and on about them. When Iam around other smiths who can prattle on and on and on about such things I tend to drift off.
So, I need to think about what I want to do with this blog.
hmmmm..think I'll go feed the cats..

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hard week

Things are kinda hard around these parts. Dad's been in the hospital with pneumonia all week, he's home now.This is good, but Ma is not unpacking his overnight bags just yet. He originally went in monday, came home tuesday, and promptly went back in the next day. possible heart failure, lungs chock full of fluid, it was scary.
They also got his cat scan results. Unfortunately the lung cancer has spread to his liver. This is a bummer to put it mildly.
There isn't much I can do, just be there for my Ma when she calls, and think positively.
It's a bummer, but the earthquake in Haiti is a horrible.
I have tried to avoid tragedy overload all week, but finally watched the news last night. Crumbled buildings. Masses of bodies, throngs of survivors in the streets of Haiti. I watched and tried to not cry.
Then they showed a small boy with a broken leg, and head injuries. Both his parents dead. The medics began to set and wrap his leg, he began wailing his heart out, a cry like I have never heard in my sheltered life. A cry that I hope I never hear again because I know what sort of pain it means now..I wanted to reach through the screen and hold him.
It was then I burst into tears.
No more news for me, Iam full.

So today Iam focusing on getting things done here that need doing. Like splitting wood, spreading wood chip on the garden paths, doing the mountain of dishes in the kitchen. Cooking, and making the Hubbinators lunch, he's teaching all weekend, so I get a little time to catch up on haus verk.
Listening to Polka also helps me slog through the chores. I like all sorts of music, from Ancient to Viking metal, but Polka has a special place in my heart. So off I go to scrub some pots..

If you want to help the people of Haiti=
The Red Cross and
Doctors Without Borders are a great place to start.