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Turkey Tracks: Hand Projects: Socks and a Rug

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Turkey Tracks:  October 12, 2010

Hand Projects:  Socks and a Rug

I quilt mostly during the day.  I knit at night while watching movies.  It’s enormously relaxing.


I completed a pair of socks recently.  I used a light yarn with a bamboo component.  They came out really lovely, though the color is much more silvery than this picture shows.

The pattern comes from Charlene Schurch’s book SENSATIONAL KNITTED SOCKS:  http://knitting.about.com/od/reviews/fr/sesational-sock.htm.  This pattern is in her 4-stitch pattern section; it’s a “baby cable.”  I have had such success with her 4-knit patterns that I have not ventured into 5-stitch or upwards.  And, these socks fit beautifully as well.

The only trouble I did have was with the bamboo blend yarn.  It turns out that bamboo is heavier than wool, and there were enough grams in the ball to produce a pair of women’s socks.  These are a women’s size 8 or so.  But, there was not enough length of the yarn.  I was missing enough yarn for the two toes.   So, I had to buy another ball, and I was lucky to get the same dye lot.  I’ve written the sellers of the yarn, and, hopefully, they will do something about this problem since right now these socks are double the cost they should be.

One of my grandchildren will be happy, however, as I will have about enough left-over yarn to make one of them a pair of socks.


I’m also working on a knitted rug from the MASON-DIXON KNITTING book by Kay Gardiner and Ann Meador Shayne.   These gals also have a terrific blog:   http://www.masondixonknitting.com/.

Here is a picture of one of these rugs I did a few years back.  It’s been washed numerous times, and it still looks great and still feels yummy great to the feet!  It was meant for the kitchen in front of the sink, but looked like it had been made for the lower bathroom, so there it went.

Here is a bigger, close-up picture–one that is (yikes!) showing it needs a trip to the washing machine:

The yarn is a double strand of a double worsted Peaches and Cream cotton.  (Yes, two cones are used at once.)  The fabric knitted/crocheted into the pattern is from my quilt stash, cut into strips.  I love this rug.  It has just the sort of rough, handmade look that I love in a project like this one.

Over a year ago, a friend asked me to help her cut down a king-size duvet cover, and I cut the leftovers into fabric strips.  I wound up with a fairly good-sized ball.  The colors of this fabric are brighter and clearer than this first rug.  I’ve been plotting another rug ever since.   I will confess I did have to add a few more fabrics than I had in my stash.  But, I have two panels done now, so the rug will be on the kitchen floor soon now.  I’ll take a picture when it’s done.


Written by louisaenright

October 12, 2010 at 11:40 pm

Turkey Tracks: Karen Johnson’s Written Driving Test

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Turkey Tracks:  October 12, 2010

Karen Johnson’s Written Driving Test

Today was a red-letter day for Karen Johnson.  And, as an interested observer, for me.

Karen is one of the students at The Community School I worked with last year.  We worked on her writing skills and on English requirements in general.  For her Passages Project–a major school project needed for graduation–we made a quilt.  You can see Karen’s quilt in the May 2010 section of this blog.  It hung at the Center for Maine Contemporary Arts in a special student exhibit. 

Karen has remained in the Camden area, which makes me happy because I like her a lot.  It’s fun to watch her grow into–and recognize–her awesome abilities.  She’s a special person.

Young people trying to get a toe hold in life in rural areas are constrained by transportation needs.  Karen is no exception.  So, we are working on getting her driver’s license.  In Maine, if you are not 21, you need to get a learner’s permit first, which means taking a difficult written test.  After six months of driving, the student can apply to take the driving test itself. 

Karen sent for the informational booklet and scheduled her written test.  And, we began working on the material she had to learn.  Karen discovered that she has really good listening skills.  So, if I read information aloud to her, she could remember it.  And, she learned that she has really good visual skills.  If she could see a sign she had to learn or a diagram of a driving problem, she remembered it.  Learning how you learn is half the battle.

Karen has a vexed history with taking tests, and this morning she was a nervous wreck.  But, I kept reminding her that those memories were in her past life and that she is now in her future life, that she had worked hard, that she knew the material, that the only way she could experience defeat would be if she worked too quickly or let herself get too panicked.

Here is Karen watching her test being graded:



And here is Karen when she was all done:



Karen PASSED the test with flying colors!!!!

Karen can drive!!!  And in six months, she can take the driving test, which she will pass.

We had Homestyle Cafe’s famous “Cinnies” as a treat (grilled Cinnamon buns that are to die for), and, eventually, Karen drove me home and herself to work with me as supervisor. 

She will be a good driver, I can already tell.


Written by louisaenright

October 12, 2010 at 10:54 pm

Turkey Tracks: Annie Chickie at 3 Months

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Turkey Tracks:  October 12, 2010

Annie Chickie at 3 Months

Annie Chickie is 3 months old now.

Here’s what she looks like now.  Notice her feathered feet.  She’s almost as tall as our full-grown hens, but not quite.  And, her comb has not fully developed yet.  But, her coppery neck feathers are quite lovely, aren’t they?  She does have a white feather on her feet, which is a big no no for Copper Black Marans.  Her father has developed rather a lot of white, which is not breed ok.  The eggs from the hens are quite dark though, which is good.

She still sleeps inside in her box.  She comes to the back door and hangs around until I open it.  She strolls in, has a snack, and settles in for the night.

I think she is lonely during the day.  She isn’t quite big enough yet to follow the big hens and the rooster around the yard, so she hangs out in the bushes in the back yard.  Or, lately, she gets into the chicken coop until she is chased out by the big hens.  The Wheaten Americaunas are delighted to have a chicken lower on the pecking order than they are.

Here is a small picture of Annie, who told me just yesterday that she wants to be called Annabelle from now own.  Teenagers have minds of their own.

I love her shaggy feathered look.

Written by louisaenright

October 12, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Turkey Tracks: The Camden International Film Festival

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Turkey Tracks:  October 11, 2010

The Camden International Film Festival

Small Towns, Big Films


One reason I’ve gotten a bit behind on this blog is that we spent last weekend at the 6th annual Camden International Film Festival, or CIFF.  This year it was clear that this festival has made a name for itself.  We’ve enjoyed this CIFF weekend since we moved to Maine, and it’s really exciting to see how CIFF  has grown, how it has acquired now major sponsors, and how well attended it is by people in the industry.

The films are all documentaries.  And, from Thursday to Sunday night, about 45-50 films are screened in venues in Camden, Rockland, and this year, at the CellarDoor Winery in Lincolnville.  The Winery held VINFEST this same weekend, and the final film, by Ian Cheney (KING CORN and THE GREENING OF SOUTHIE)–a work in progress–was viewed under the stars or from the inside of the hugest tent I’ve ever seen.  (The film is about the loss of darkness with the growth of urban development and light pollution.)

What makes viewing each film special is that often the film is followed by a question and answer period led by representatives from the film–the director, sometimes producers, sometimes a panel of people who are experts in the film’s area of coverage.  Viewers often can find out what has happened since the film was finished.  And, if the film is about particular people, sometimes they are in the audience and come forward after the film is finished so we can meet them.  It can be an exciting experience. 

We always have a terrible time choosing which films to see because films that look really promising often overlap.  And, we can only see so many movies in any one day before becoming brain-dead and having major fanny fatigue.  But, many of the films shown will go on to a general release in about a year and can be found on Netflix.  You can preview the films shown this year at www.camdenfilmfest.org.   And, each has a web site where you can read more about the film.

Movies that stood out for us were as follows:  you may want to try to see them next year some time:

BUDRUS–the opening film on Thursday night was about a nonviolent Palestinian protest to having their land taken by Israel during its building of its perimeter wall. 

MY PERESTROIKA–a film about 40-something Russian adults who attended the same local elementary school and who lived through the tumultuous time of enormous social change in Russia.

DREAMLAND–a film about Iceland, where the development of cheap energy (electricity from abundant rivers) led to Alcoa aluminum locating plants there that would begin to spoil untouched, gorgeous land.  Visually stunning.

GENERAL ORDERS NO. 9–an innovative, lyrical, artistic film by a middle-Georgia (Ft. Valley and Forsyth) man.  This film is quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  The title is taken from Robert E. Lee’s last orders to his troops at Appomatox, and the film, like Lee’s orders, is a confession of failure.  In the case of the film, it is a failure to understand the urban world, and it is the mourning of the loss of a deep attachment to the land. 

ON COAL RIVER–Massey energy has removed over 500 mountains in West Virginia (and in other states) in order to take out coal.  The mountain tops are dumped into the valleys, which pollutes the water and the air and which sickens nearby people.  The land is utterly despoiled.  This is a shocking and scary movie that lets one know what AVATAR was really about.  The equipment is huge, just as it is in AVATAR.  As with DREAMLAND, local politicians have sold out the little people. 

SUMMER PASTURE–nomad herders in Tibet take their yaks to summer pasture in China.  Their way of life is changing rapidly, as life has changed for other migratory herders across the world.  The novel, WOLF TOTEM, by Jiang Rong, details a similar story in the grasslands of Inner Mongolia. 

I am already looking forward to attending CIFF next year!

Written by louisaenright

October 12, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Turkey Tracks: The Common Ground Fair 2010

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Turkey Tracks:  October 10, 2010

The Common Ground Fair 2010

I’m a bit behind on blog entries.  It’s been busy at Hillside House this fall.  But, we attended the Maine Organic Growers’ and Farmers’ Association (MOFGA) Fair, called The Common Ground Fair, on Saturday, September 25th.  As always, this fair is a highlight of our year.  The Common Ground Fair celebrates rural living, and we so enjoy spending at least one day a year formally doing just that kind of celebrating.

This year, my first cousin, Martha Louise Bryan Epton, aka Teeny, and her partner Lori Soles, embarked on a road trip from Georgia.  I was delighted that they came to see us and that they took our word about the fair and came with us–since they had so many wonderful things to see in Maine in a short period of time.  (They have assured me that they will be back, and we hope so!)  I was 11 years old when Teeny was born, so I have known her, literally, her whole life.

Here they are:  Teeny is on the left; Lori on the right.

The fair abounds with educational speakers, farm animals of all kinds, informational tents and demonstrations of all kinds, products for sale [solar panels, heating products, food, farm implements, fiber of all kinds (wool, angora from rabbits, sweetgrass, yarn), crafts, etc]), and delicious organic food to eat and drink.  It’s impossible to cover everything in one day, but we do our best.  Here are Indian baskets for sale:


We always try to see the sheep dog demonstration.  It’s John’s favorite I think.  Each year the sheep herder pits children against the sheep dogs to see which group can move and hold sheep, goats, and ducks the fastest.  This year it was really hot, the sheep and goats  were tired and hot, and the children won!  They couldn’t get the ducks into the circle of cones, however.  In any case, the audience was suitably impressed!  And I somehow do not seem to have a good picture of the dogs working.


I always go to the chicken house first.  Here is a shot of a little boy taking a good look at a bantam rooster and his mate who were somehow on the floor.  Most of the demonstration chickens are in eye-level cages.  The rooster was crowing like crazy, and the little boy was fascinated.  He was sitting in a sea of adult legs as the chicken house is a big draw for everyone.  It’s fun to see how many different kinds of chickens there are.


We saw jumping mules.  (I love mules.)   There’s a man who brings 10 mules to the fair ever year, and he harnesses them all up in beautiful harness, and has them pull something–a wagon, I think.  It’s quite something.  He says getting a mule is like eating potato chips:  you cannot have just one.  They live to be very old you know–30 to 50 years.   They don’t get a running start to jump.  They stand in front of the stake and just…jump!  This big boy with the glossy black coat–a beautiful creature–didn’t like this event.  He took one look at didn’t see the point, which is a very mule-like thing to do.  They are very, very smart.  The smaller mules went jumping over, and one of those won. 


And paired oxen teams.  Here are some good boys:

Here are other pairs of beautiful animals.  These horses are giving anyone who wants one a ride around the fair.  The blondes are, I think, work horse from Scandinavia.  I need to refresh on the name.  Maybe they are Haflingers?  A few years back we saw one of this type being really agitated in his stall because his partner was working and he was not.  When you watch these working animals, especially the horses, you begin to see that they love to do reasonable work.



And, here is a gorgeous merino ram from Rivercroft Farm in Starks, Maine.  They cover the sheep with burlap coats to keep the wool from being disturbed.  This boy won all sorts of prizes and is now the farm’s primary breeder.  Joe Miller showed us how he trims the wool from around the ram’s eyes so he can see well–which he must do as another of the rams might butt him and hurt him if he cannot see.  The horns are quite spectacular, aren’t they?

We saw people gathered together and singing for fun.  We recognized many of the songs used in the movie Cold Mountain, which, of course, are songs people used to sing together for fun in places like church.  It was really fun to hear the harmonizing and the quick beats and chants.

The stone masons are always at the fair.  Here they are demonstrating how to cut granite into blocks.  Once small holes are drilled and metal pegs are inserted, the mason has only to gently tap on the tops of the pegs in rotation for the stone to–amazingly–break apart in a clean line.  Drilling the holes takes time and really good drill bits.  The masons were also demonstrating how to build stone walls with an arched opening, outdoor ovens, and sculpture tools and work in progress. 

The wood workers also had all kinds of demonstrations, to include how to debark felled timber and how to cut it into planks by hand.  Boat builders were also demonstrating how to build sailing boats and canoes.

I love, too, the whimsey at the fair.  Here’s what I mean:

Grinning shovels (a welder demonstration) and awesome birdhouses!  

I’m always powerfully interested in what is growing at MOFGA and how they are growing it.  Each year the hoop houses get more interesting.  Here is a traditional hoop house–which, with inside row covers, allows for 4-season growing in the cold Maine climate.  The pioneer of this method is Eliot Coleman, who lives further north than we do–on the Blue Hill peninsula. 


Here is a “giraffe” hoop house that fascinated me.  It does not take up much space–a prime consideration for me with my tiny growing space, it’s easy to assemble, and it allows 4 paste tomato plants to fully ripen fruit.  We had a great tomato season this year, but even so, I brought in about 50 pounds of green paste tomatoes that just did not have enough time and warmth.  Here’s a solution. 

And, finally, the best for last:

Many, many varieties of fall pumpkins and squash–aren’t the white pumpkins interesting?

And, GREENS!  Collards and different types of kale:


Written by louisaenright

October 10, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Turkey Tracks: Cider Pressing Potluck

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Turkey Tracks:  September 30, 2010

Cider Pressing Potluck

Boy am I bummed!

We were invited to our neighbors’ annual Cider Pressing Potluck, and I did not take my camera.

What a mistake!

Chris Richmond and Susan McBride live just up Howe Hill from us, and it has been really fun to watch how they have added to their family (three children now) and slowly and patiently improved their house, barn, and land.  The farmhouse and barn are especially lovely in the way that old New England properties are.  The house has pumpkin pine flooring that is at least a foot wide and is the color of…pumpkin.  I envy them the barn, and they are just now finishing repairing the lower section–which has been a major project for them.  They have laying chickens, geese who are keen watchdogs, and, sometimes meat chickens and turkeys.  Susan is expanding the gardens every year and now has two hoop houses.  The second one came this summer and is large.  Already there are strips of green plants beneath the plastic roof.  I will be able to get winter greens from her, and I’m excited about that possibility since she embodies what I hope will happen more and more:  small growers will grow beautiful food for their neighbors and friends and enough of them will do it so that we don’t have to eat food shipped here from Florida and California.

There is an apple orchard on the uphill side of the farmhouse, and that’s where the cider pressing and potluck took place.  What a fun day they made for us!  The people who pressed the cider had made all their own equipment.  Truly, this kind of knowledge needs to be preserved, and it was so generous of them to share it with everyone who came to the potluck.  Here’s where my camera was sorely missed!  There were three  buckets where the apples got washed three times, a piece of simple equipment that gobbled up the apples and cut them into small pieces, a straining system with some kid of heavy cloth in a box that let some of the immediate juice come out, and a press where the boxed apples in fabric got…pressed.  The cider was delicious!

Yes, the cider was unpasteurized.  If you think drinking unpasteurized cider dangerous, here are some of my thoughts.  Real cider is a whole food that is filled with enzymes, nutrients, and, best of all, great flavor, especially if several varieties of apples are used.  It bears no relationship to the sugary hit you get with commercially made apple juice.  Of course, as with all foods, you have to trust that your cider presser is not using bad/rotten apples, has cleaned them properly, is not using anything but organic apples, and so forth.  We always try to save freezer space for at least a few quarts, and when I defrost them in the spring, the juice is like a spring tonic for us.

Consider, too, how so-called “safe” juice is made–a process approved by our FDA.  Let’s take orange juice as an example.  Industry puts the whole oranges into a machine so as to get as much oil as possible out of the skin.  But, commercial oranges are a heavily sprayed crop–most often sprayed with cholinesterase inhibitors and organophosphates, which are neurotoxins that cause degeneration of the brain and nervous system.  It amazes me that intelligent people can think they can eat/drink food sprayed with neurotoxins and not experience any damage.  Or, that the poisons magically go away in time.  They do not.  Also, there is a fungus in fruit that is resistant to both pressure and heat, so pasteurization does not kill it.  Raw fruit juices, as is also true of milk, contain enzymes that can sometimes destroy this kind of contaminant.  Some strains of E. coli are also resistant to pasteurization processes.  Additionally, treating juice with industrial process involving heat and great pressure can produce intermediate products that are mutagenic and cytotoxic.  In other words, treated juice can have cancer-causing compounds.  The sugar load of treated juice, without the natural enzymes and nutrients, is hard on teeth.  And, industry adds soy protein and pectin to keep juice looking cloudy and to prevent solids from settling.

Commercial orange juice is a highly-processed, adulterated product that you are drinking at your own risk.  Better to eat a whole orange.  Or, to drink fresh cider from a presser you trust.   Here’s a web site with more of this kind of information:  “Dirty Secrets of the Food Processing Industry”:  http://www.westonaprice.org/modern-foods/567-dirty-secrets-of-the-food-processing-industry.html

Susan and Chris had set up tables outside for the potluck, and soon the yard was filled with running, laughing children, adults drinking cider and eating delicious food–for everyone had brought special dishes.  I brought my favorite meatloaf.  Here’s a picture (taken by Tami) and my recipe, developed over 45 years of cooking:

Louisa’s Meatloaf

2 pounds of ground meat–if it’s very lean, add several tablespoons of fat (butter, coconut oil).  You can use combinations of meat if you like, like a bit of pork with beef or buffalo.  I don’t eat veal since I disapprove of how baby calves destined for veal are treated.  I also would use meat from organic, pastured animals.   Lamb meatloaf is also delicious!

a handful of rolled oats or cubed leftover bread to absorb juices

2 GOOD eggs

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

about 1 1/2 cups of a grated veggie to keep the mixture moist (carrots, zucchini, mushrooms)–or a combo–use what you have around or what is in season

1 cup of grated cheese–whatever you have on hand that needs using or what you especially like

A dash of cream or milk to help bind the ingredients

Seasons:  salt, pepper, herbs (chopped fresh herbs are lovely, especially thyme and/or Italian parsley.  A dried fresh mixture of Italian herbs or Provencal herbs (with lavender) are also nice.

A topping to be put on after shaping (below):       sliced tomatoes with some basil leaves in summer, or slices of zucchini with a good tomato sauce that does not have a lot of ingredients.  Meatloaf seems to ask for a tomato sauce of some kind.  I really try to stay away from cans because of the lining chemicals (phthalates and BPA), but here is where I might buy a small can of good-quality tomato sauce.  You could also use one of the good ketchups–not Heinz, etc.  Get one without a lot of “spices” (MSG) and with ingredients you know and understand.  Look in the health-store section of the store.

Don’t overmix.  With your hands just combine the ingredients.  I use something like an open 8X8 pan, or a more rectangular, bigger shape, and form the meatloaf into a football shape.  It cooks faster than trying to put it into a loaf pan.  Cook at 350 degrees for about an hour.  I also don’t worry if it’s a little pink in the middle as overcooking beef takes away many of its enzymes, nutrients, etc.

Let the meat cool for about 5-10 minutes before cutting–letting meat sit and cool a bit allows juices to stay in the meat and not flow out into the pan when you cut into it.  Also, the meat continue to cook, so pull it out at the pink stage so it does not overcook.


(Cold meatloaf sandwiches are fabulous!)

Written by louisaenright

October 10, 2010 at 9:04 pm