Monday, November 24, 2014

To Knot or Not

I have heard folks say that one of the greatest inventions is the wheel.  Now I won't say it wasn't a great improvement in the lives of people and is a direct contribution to our modern forms of transportation.  However, that idea needed earlier creations to come to fruition.

I'm talking the whole concept of all aspects of sewing.  Think of what that craft brings to mankind.  How do you come up with the idea of all the necessary steps to sew a project from beginning to end when you have never seen it done before.  And yet it happened, and not just in one place on the globe.  No, it was a world-wide development for people in very different environments.

Going all the way back to the Neanderthals, humans have benefited from the ability to obtain hides from animals, treat the hides properly to use them usefully in providing clothing, shoes, blankets, and probably other things we have forgotten about down through the ages.  One aspect of the process is the skill of making threads and laces and learning how to knot them to come up with a finished product that serves a specific purpose.

You know how little kids look when they learn to tie their shoes?  They have spent years watching the adults in their lives tie shoe laces.  These tykes determine to learn the process and work diligently to twist the two laces around and through just so, then pull tight, loop around a make a bow then pull and tighten.  And they must learn how to do at least a couple of types of knots - the hard knot necessary to secure a seam in a piece of clothing so it doesn't unravel, and of course the easy bow knot to do a shoe so you can pull it apart later to remove the shoe without effort.

This learning takes awhile to get right, even though the adults have been familiar with the concept for thousands of years.  What must it have been like to be the first to come up with the idea?  Were they sitting around the campfire discussing ways to keep those scraps of hides close to the leg so the scraps would stay in place as they walked or ran through the forests?  Did someone suggest a skinny strip of hide to wrap around the scrap of hide to hold it close?  How much experimenting was necessary to wind up with the final draft?  Did the naysayers laugh and call them names for trying to do this?

But aren't you glad they did it?  Without the laces and the ability to knot them, how could they ever have learned to attach the sharpened rock to the end of a long stick to aid them in killing those animals.  How else when you came up with a wheel could you manage to put two of those things together attached to another stick (the axle) to have a pair of wheels to later be added to a cart which could then be pulled with a horse/mule/oxen?

No, I can't see the wheel coming around without first learning the skill of sewing.  And this one craft/skill provided shelter, warmth, clothing and shoes for everyone in the community.  This was one thing that benefited all in just about every aspect of daily life.  So hats off to those unknown people who made such a positive change for everyone.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Fire House Wieners

                            (from my unpublished cookbook Fighting Fires and Feeding Firefighters)

Ingredients:  1 can (14 1/2 oz.) stewed tomatoes     2 or 3 heaping Tbsp. salsa
                      1/2 pound wieners                              black pepper to taste
To prepare:  Put tomatoes and salsa into saucepan.  I use salsa strength preferred by the family.  Add pepper to taste.  Bring to boil over medium flame and let simmer for about 10 minutes.  Cut wieners
into about 1/2 " lengths.  Add wieners to tomatoes and cover.  Continue cooking until wieners are nice and plump, about 10 minutes.  Serves 2 or 3 people.  Serve with cheese toast.
* * * * * * *
City Ordinance, Little Rock, Arkansas, 1866:
     The Fire Engineer in command was given the authority to direct the hook and ladder men to cut down and remove any building, erection or fence, for the purpose of checking the progress of the fire.  With the advice and agreement of two City Aldermen, the Engineer is also given the power to blow up and building or erection during the progress of a fire for the purpose of extinguishing the fire.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Those Falling Leaves

Just a few days ago, this bush was thick with bright crimson leaves as autumn was exhibiting its full glory all around town.  Today was a crisp fall day with a brisk wind which made for a delightful day to be out and about.  It also continued to send leaves swirling across yards.  Of course the leaves have been falling for several days now, but today just put them into overdrive.  It won't be long until there will be only bare limbs displayed everywhere.

This reminds me of a quote by George Cooper.  While he mentions October, it fits today just as well.  He wrote:

               October gave a party, the leaves by hundreds came -
               The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples, and leaves of every name. 
               The Sunshine spread a carpet, and everything was grand,
               Miss Weather led the dancing, Professor Wind the band,.

Enjoy the fall, for winter will soon arrive.  We then will have to wait and suffer through the cold and bitter time until we again can get out and enjoy the beautiful days of Spring.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Is This a Good One?

How do you choose a good melon?  Recently at the grocery store a gentleman and I engaged in conversation about that very subject.  He gave me a short instructional talk about just that.  First you find the grow spot where the melon lay on the ground.  You can see that it is lighter in color with some scrapes acquired during the growing process.  Put the melon down where it is sitting on the grow spot.

Now place one hand on the side of the melon, holding it securely in place.  You then use the other hand the gently but firmly slap the melon on other side.  You are not doing a karate chop, however.  You don't need to smack it hard enough to split he fruit.  When whacked, you should hear a nice solid sound.  If the melon sounds hollow, forget about it.  It won't be good.  This one had that nice solid sound.

I bought the melon and took it home.  When freed of its rind, cut up and allowed to cool in the  refrigerator for a period of time, we enjoyed the delicious melon with our supper.  As the gentleman had guaranteed, it was very good.  Next time I'm shopping for melon, I'll keep his instructions in mind. 

Does this ring a bell with you?  Or do you have a different way to test the watermelon before taking it home?  I'd love to hear from you,