Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Wattle Wall/Enclosure

Sir Walter Scott brought the technique (wattle) back to popularity in England when he described such a fence in The Fortunes of Nigel, but the practice of using indigenous trees such as the willow and alder for use as fencing material is a centuries old custom. Although an ancient art, the following site gives us a detailed, practical account of how to make these wonderful (and natural) enclosures that would enhance any garden or orchard.
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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Devil's Wine

In France the first sparkling Champagne was created accidentally; the pressure in the bottle led it to be called "the devil's wine" (le vin du diable), as bottles exploded or corks popped. In 1844 Adolphe Jaquesson invented the muselet (a wire frame) to prevent the corks from blowing out. Initial versions were difficult to apply and inconvenient to remove. Even when it was deliberately produced as a sparkling wine, Champagne was for a very long time made by the méthode rurale, where the wine was bottled before the only fermentation had finished. Champagne did not use the méthode champenoise until the 19th century about 200 years after Christopher Merret documented the process. The 19th century saw an explosive growth in Champagne production, going from a regional production of 300,000 bottles a year in 1800 to 20 million bottles in 1850.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Across the Wide Missouri

Quilt Designer: Jan Patek
Quilt Maker: Marion Watchinski
Photo Courtesy: Marion Watchinski

Jan Patek, a local long-time designer of quilts designed this beautiful pattern entitled Across the Wide Missouri. It was in the Kansas City Star Block a Month series. Back in 2010, a local quilt shop put together two styles and two fabric kits, which were dispensed in monthly installments...however, as nice as they were, Marion decided on a couple of substitutions. The quilt was completed recently and Marion shared it with me.  I might add that she is one of the best quilters I’ve ever seen.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

1950 Buick Rivera Super Model

Photo courtesy: Private Collection

This Buick Rivera was Roy Best’s pride and joy. He was the Warden at Canon State where he was well-known to meter out punishment to those who disobeyed his rules. His basic tenets were that "prisoners are human beings" and should be treated as such. However, if they were not respectful, then they were punished. His belief that inmates were expected to work hard, "lots of work and lots of play; no work, no play." Although he had the reputation of being a fair man, he used the "Old Gray Mare" (a sawhorse over which a prisoner was forced to lay and receive lashes from a wet leather strap) for discipline. One day, two prisoners escaped from Canon Prison and stole Roy Best’s car. They cruised around for a few hours before finally getting caught and returned to Canon Prison where they must have received severe punishment from Mr. Best himself.