Before I touched anything in the rusty package that arrived the other day from the Devil’s Rope Museum, I called my Doctor to make sure that I was up to date on my tetanus shot. After getting the A-Okay, I proceeded, delicately, to open up my bundle of 55 different kinds of barbed wire. If I had more cash I might have sprung for the “Super Bundle” containing a whopping 215 different varieties of barbed wire. As it is, 55 is just fine. In fact, more than enough. Knowing that there are over 450 patents and over 2000 varieties of barbed wire found by collectors is enough to make one dizzy. To read more on the history of barbed wire go here, here or here. Original kernel of barbed wire visuals Via Partners & Spade. I think a trip to the Devil’s Rope Museum might be in order someday real soon.
We had a boatload of tomatoes from the garden and the farmers’ market this year, so I decided to do some proper canning of sauce. Because tomatoes fall into that danger zone of medium acidic foods, unless you have a pressure canner, you need to add some lemon juice or citric acid to the sauce in order to make the whole process safe. All the recipes I looked at (I settled on the one from this wonderful book by Ashley English) recommended using bottled lemon juice, because real lemons vary in their acidity. This could be an issue: read sickness or death. Not in my nature to mess around with that! So, I moseyed on over to the local supermarket and picked up one bottle each of lemon and lime juice (I was also canning tomatillo salsa). It wasn’t until I got home and used the lemon juice that I really looked closely at the packaging. It’s a great design. And when seated next to the bottle of lime juice, they do tell a funny story. I did a little homework and found out that the bottles were designed in 1955, and have been in continuous production by the same Swiss firm, Sidag AG. Yep, almost 60 years old. World Radio Switzerland ran a series about Swiss design and highlighted the bottles as part of their excellent programming.
With the exception of an occasional watering, I had almost nothing to do with the planting and growing of these potatoes. That credit is bestowed upon my spouse. BUT, on Saturday afternoon, my husband and I dug them up. And can I tell you that it was one of the most enjoyable pursuits, ever! My friend Jason, an excellent gardener in his own right, and the one who gave us the seed potatoes to begin with, has always said (correctly) that it’s like a fabulous treasure hunt trying to find the tubers in the dark soil. Last night, in celebration of our modest bounty, we cooked the smaller ones for dinner. We were duly rewarded for the many weeks of waiting. My gosh, they were delicious. But, before cooking them, I singled out what I consider to be the world’s smallest potato. And, take notice of that gnarled one in the bottom left portion of the first photograph. It reminds me ever so slightly of Rodin’s The Thinker.
My friend Dave has many heirlooms in his family. I, on the other hand, have almost none. I’ve also known Dave for well over 25 years, so whenever he pulls out a box and casually says that I should see what he’s dragged out of storage, I know enough to pay attention. So, this day I am visiting and he comes over to his dining table with a box that should properly hold a board game. He thinks I should take a look at what’s inside. And boy is he right. The box is filled with these incredible hand-carved utensils. We marvel at the detail and the odd way in which the carver has copied tools that are more typically made out of metal. Specifically the hinged meat fork and the wooden tongs. I delight in the spoon that has white string wrapped around its neck. We speculate that it’s in place to secure a break. He’s got a vague idea that a relative, maybe an uncle, was responsible for the handiwork. But he’s not sure. So, he asks his father. This was his response. Which I find charming, and proper and old-fashioned in its manner of speech.
Re the carved utensils: Uncle Tom Bendell was married to a cousin of Grammy Ida’s. He was an architect by occupation, but a consummate artist by ability. Mom always referred to Tom’s daughter as El Bendell, a teacher by education, but outstanding guidance counselor by happenstance. You may remember a baby’s cream colored “dresser” that came through every Williams move and now sits in our storage area. Uncle Tom made that for El, I think, El never found another love to replace her man who had gone down in flames so she deeded it to Mom. Tom was as sweet a man as you’ll find, according to Mom.. He was taken early by cancer at something like 55-60. Some of Tom’s art work are on walls here, but it would take some Holmesian deduction to know which they are. Love Dad.
I don’t typically mind separating a few eggs the old fashioned way, but this new and improved method might come in handy if one were talking volume. I am very intrigued by the fact that the demonstration is taking place on the couch and not in the kitchen. Also note that the video has been viewed over 10 million times. Thanks to Danièle for sending my way.
Elle Décoration, the 25 year old French design publication, just launched their first issue of a new magazine called Elle Deco Lab. And, to my delight, they decided to include Mrs. Easton in a round up of design blogs that “will get you hooked!” The website packs in a lot of information and highlights many designs and designers that aren’t necessarily part of the familiar roster here in the United States. Well worth a look. I assume that the print publication will be available here in October. Usually arrives a month after it’s released in Europe. Oh, and in France, “je suis une blogueuse.” Merci Elle Deco Lab!
Mrs. Easton is obsessed by tools that work. She thinks often about well-designed fonts or about how she might improve her folding skills. Mrs. Easton is an industrial designer, but is adamantly opposed to stuff for stuff's sake. This is her blog.