Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Absent, but not forgotten

July is tough in Colorado. It's hot. It's hot and dry. All the wonderful riot of color and growth in June becomes sere and crunchy in July. The ground crunches underfoot. The green hills become gold. It is lovely, but the heat saps my energy. It's been over a month since we've seen any rain on our property. I know there's been rain a bit north of us, but we are dry dry dry.

Our crazy busy spring filling orders and going a bit nuts has let up some. I have spent time in the office catching up with paperwork. And filing stuff. And when I file, I find stuff that needs to be un-filed. So more mounds of paper.

Happily, I found a place in Fort Collins where they will shred a box of paper in front of your eyes for $2. I am totally sold. We have finally started see the results of asking to be removed from the pre-approved credit card list. We used to get 5 to 10 offers a day, often multiple offers from the same company. I never feel comfortable just ripping those in half and tossing them. And they are always too thick for the home paper-shredder to grind up in one pass. I have to open them and send them through in bits to not make my shredder emit tiny bits of smoke and alarming noises.

I also spent some more time with our yearly schedule. It is really amazing. We have been through enough years of doing this that I can see a pattern. This pattern can be written down and planned for. What a concept. There are variation and surprises from year to year, but I am getting a lot of joy/comfort in elucidating the pattern. It allows me to know that we need to update our designs and media three times a year. And to do that, we need to have new designs and photos of those new designs ahead of those updates. Wow. What a concept.

Now we are just starting to settle into this concept, but I am liking it. It is mid-July. Our next set of trade shows is in August. We need to have all our media updated before those shows. So I have been working on new designs for those shows. I have 5 of the 9 new designs I need already done! It feels really good.

I know that life is full of surprises. And often they are not good surprises. But it feels really good to be looking ahead and planning for what can be planned for.

The garden M put in is doing well. It is nice to have a garden again. Actually, there are 3 gardens. The rock garden of flowers and herbs behind the studio. The house garden just outside the door into the house, planted in a bit of the first bed I broke when we moved here in 1994. And the melon bed by the old production beds. So watering takes a while. But we are still mostly hand watering. I did set up the rock garden to be sprinkled. But there is so little actual soil and it is so sandy that 10 minutes is plenty. More than that and the water drips out from the split rocks below. I am putting beneficial weed seeds in where the water drips so that this extra water is used to grow things I need.

I guess the big news is that J and I took my bath and body care products to a farmers' market last Saturday. It's been a long time since I've been able to do that. As far as I can remember, 1999 was our last year for them. I think in 2000 we had changed over to art shows with the jewelery line. Anyway, having only a sample size of one, I would say the market has changed. There were way more people with clearer ideas of what they wanted. The idea that they were going to get cheap produce was not what I was hearing. I'd say there has definitely been a change in the attitude to handmade products and home grown produce.

Yay! It felt good to have people value the efforts we go to to make a quality product with recyclable packaging.

I've been working on the non-hopped beer. It's interesting and very good. The two beers I have brewed have both ended up very sour. I am a fan of sour but it is interesting. I am keeping everything the same except for tweaking various herbs. I have used yarrow and mugwort in both beers. I don't know if the bacteria/yeast that made the beer go sour is on one of the other of those herbs, but I tried to pasteurize the wort enough to kill anything with the last batch. It's not as sour as the first, so maybe the critter is really strong.

Anyway, it's interesting.

I plan to empty my freezer of frozen fruit and blend it with some well aged plain mead sometime soon. Because I am a brewer, I get given so much fruit that it is sometime overwhelming and I just toss it in the freezer to keep it from spoiling. I have peaches and plums mostly now. I used up a batch of plums and rhubarb earlier this year. I also got some oak cubes to try. They are supposed to add more complexity than oak chips. I hope the flavor they impart lasts longer. I like what oak does to mead, I have found it to be fleeting, however.

I also have in the freezer prickly pear fruits from last year that scare me. They have zillions of tiny painful spines. I have this thought that I will fire up a propane plumbing torch and burn the spines as well as impart a smoky flavor to the mead. But having been on the business end of those spines too many times, I am spooked with the idea of having them end up in my throat. I froze the fruit with the idea that I could also sort of slip the skin off them. But that hasn't happened yet either. I know it will be worth the effort, most of the winning meads lately seem to be prickly pear meads.

I am also contemplating beginning a weaving project. Gasp. Men used to wrap narrow bands of fabric around their legs. My husband does this in the SCA. I want to make him something as he has made me many things. I am hoping to weave him some of these leg bands and use some of my handspun wool.

I also have some lovely handspun, hand dyed wool for another woven felted bag. I have a better understanding of what a weaver needs to complete a project now. The bag that JM wove for me and A tablet wove and created into a bag is one of the joys of my life.

Mostly, I am just trying to get through the next couple of months until the heat relents. How's your summer going?

1 comment:

Paula said...

OK, so I am not so quick to post...
It has been too hot. My plum tree has NO fruit this year -- and my apple trees are barren as well. I think this means we should celebrate a good harvest!! next time...