Saturday, February 28, 2015

February--what a month!

February 28.  And so ends a month filled with days at the hospital (with my husband having surgery); a refrigerator dying (and a dorm size one living on the kitchen counter for a couple of weeks until the new one could be delivered); an ice storm (and resulting minor damage to porch roof and gutters as limbs of the big holly tree fell); teaching at John Campbell Folk School (and living through enjoying two snowfalls during the week, the second one dumping about 6"); and a minor fall (as I tripped over a lump of frozen snow while loading the car with a box of pipe loom parts yesterday and then setting the car's alarm off as I floundered around in the snow, ice and mud to try to get up--keys in my pocket).  Believe it or not, I managed to finish my tapestry diary today.

Here's a bit of a closer view:

Tomorrow is another day, another month and time to yet again be thankful to be alive and to be able to laugh at it all (or at least some of it).

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

The sun is shining in north Georgia and a brisk breeze is blowing.  Valentine's Day is here once again.  It's amazing that 2015 is already a month and a half underway!  My tapestry diary for the year is growing, bit by bit.  I just finished the second week installment for February and here it is, the pecan with outer husk bursting open:

Six of fifty-two now completed. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

February thoughts

Here's a bit more about my tapestry diary for this year and a preview of the February weekly subject--

Yes, pecans!  Lovely, delicious pecans from the tree in our yard.  About every third year or so the tree produces an exceptionally bountiful crop.  The tree is large and old and gives lots of nuts for the squirrels who busily bury them all over the yard and for the crows who land in droves (murders?) to knock them out of the tree.  We My husband picks them up with one of those nifty nut wizards, all throughout the fall and winter.  They've almost all fallen now and the rain we're having tonight will probably finish the job for this year.

My husband has the processing of this bounty down to a science.  After he collects several boxes full, he washes them and lays them out on paper towels to dry.  Every counter surface in the kitchen is covered in drying pecans at that stage.  The next evening he puts those clean pecans into big stainless steel bowls and starts cracking them, tossing them into another bowl as they're done... that's what you see in the photo above. 

His nut cracker is one that his father "modified" many decades ago to make it more efficient to use.  He added a longer handle, for instance, so that it works more efficiently when cracking hundreds at a time.  Thomas puts it into the sink and has at it.  Placing it lower than the counter top makes it less tiring to use for long periods.  He cranks up his Pandora station full blast, stands and cracks pecans for hours. 

Next he removes the shells.  He sits with a couple of bowls on a tray on his lap, watches TV and carefully takes out the nut.  This continues, off and on, for weeks.  After the nut halves are out, he moves to the next step--what he calls "high grading."  He does that by taking each nut half and using the tip of an Xacto knife to scrape out any of the bitter bits from the interior of the shell.  More days of work.

When he's through with all of that he bags them in quart bags and puts them in the freezer.  And gives them away, bit by bit.  We do use some ourselves--he makes a killer batch of roasted pecans ever so often--but most of them are given away.  That's sort of what he likes to do best... give.

February's tapestry diary is dedicated to Thomas and his pecans this year.  Here are the paintings I've done from assorted pecans so far--along with some of the nuts he's working on:

And the start of the month's diary:

Happy February, Thomas! You nut!!