Monday, February 21, 2011

Honeysuckle gets sheared

This morning Anita’s Honeysuckle got sheared. We’ve been waiting for the weather to warm up before we cut her fleece. Angora rabbits have such thick wool they have a much greater problem staying cool in the summer than keeping warm in the winter. Still, we worried that when it was 10 below if we did shear her, she’d get too cold. But last week when temperatures stayed above freezing for a few days, she was panting on the back porch and we decide more winter or no, today was the day. 

Anita set up a table out in Mole’s End. I got the shears. Denis got the camera. With Anita holding her, I began cutting down the center of her back, sort of like plowing a path. No wonder the animal is hot. Her little body must have been wearing a pound of the warmest fibers known to man. Angora is silky, soft and 2 ½ times warmer than sheep wool. The best fibers for spinning into yarn are five inches long, but Honeysuckle’s must be six or seven inches.

I tried to be very careful of her loose skin which sometimes pulls up with the wool and is easy to snip. I did cut her at one point, a little vee into her haunch that bled. Dangit! Later Anita said it made her feel like throwing up. Good thing I’m so heartless. I just kept going. Back and forth cutting away swaths and laying it out and trying to keep it all together as a single piece. 

We left most of the wool on her belly so she could stay warm tonight. I didn’t cut anything off her paws, maybe because my own need to stay warm at night or I can’t sleep. So at least her feet will be warm as the temp goes down. If you want to watch some of this here’s one, and there’s even more on youtube ("Honey Suckle Gets Sheared" 1-4) if you’re hungry for excitement.  Also you can check out fb and see a bunch of stills there.

She was such a good girl we gave her six grapes, one organic tortilla chip, and a bowl of carrot peels.

Next year we’re getting on a better schedule.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Good for now

 Sitting at home watching snow gently falling straight down, amassing by the second, almost white-out. Coffee at hand. Oatmeal pancakes digesting. A bit of glory between battles. 

L’Abri conference last weekend. Very good. Wonderful speakers. Especially Denis, of course. Despite the fact that I was relieved of teaching workshops I still talked my head off.  No, not totally true, I listened a lot. Lots of people, as usual – all good. That is, in the way of connecting with people. So much suffering, though. You hear people’s stories. But there seemed to be a balm, an infusion of courage, a seeing with new eyes that comes from being together and being reminded that we are a great company of people living and sharing in the hope of  Regeneration that is coming. Inexorably. It will arrive. On some days this language sounds insane, but not today when I read: “I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in the whole world…” (Prov. 8:30)

Anita got really sick with the flu starting last Sunday – lasted all week. Amazingly, so far, neither Denis nor I got it. From this week’s cooking we’ve ended up with a lot of left-overs. Like mid-eastern lamb patties, roasted tomato mint salad, saffron rice, hamburger gravy (a comfort food around here) a box full of clementines, and who knows what all. So, yea, no work on this Sabbath day.

Tomorrow Honeysuckle gets sheared. Her wool must be six-seven inches long. And with temps in the 30s she’s feeling hotter n Hades. Panting out there on the back porch. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Anita’s Bio

This went up on Ransom Fellowship’s website today and I thought there might be a few folks out there who’d be interested. For the past two years, Anita has been a good part of our life as a housemate and friend. Now it’s official: She is Ransom’s Resident Assistant. A newly minted position:

Anita Gorder has been living in Mole’s End, the small flat at the back of Toad Hall for a while now. Long enough for all of us to get to know each other well. It’s been only gradually that Denis and I, and now our Board of Directors, have come to see how uniquely qualified Anita was for becoming our assistant. (We always knew we liked her, nay, loved her.) Having her at this stage of our ministry and life is truly providential and something only God could have planned. Her being here allows us to concentrate more fully on such things as writing.

Anita is a native of Seattle, WA, but spent a few years getting her college education in Alaska, and working summers at an island salmon factory where bear alerts were common and the smell of fish stuck to the hair twenty-four-seven was not enough to diminish her love of eating her favorite wild salmon: The King.

Along the way she visited Swiss L’Abri, eventually ending up at Rochester L’Abri as a helper. With her interest in gardening and landscape, we hired her to re-do our flower beds. That was the beginning. We learned she had a special interest and talent for creating beauty in many mediums from iron-works to jewelry making. But her favorite, by far, is fiber art – creating things that range from practical to whimsical. From sheep shearing to spinning and yarn dying, we’ve not only learned, we’ve been entertained by silk worms spinning, alpaca fleeces, and especially by her angora rabbit, Honeysuckle, who lives on our back porch and grows the finest white wool I’ve ever collected on my black coat. It loves to gather in my armpits, for some weird reason. Of my coat, you fool. She’s always doing something fascinating, this week it was baking silk worm cocoons to kill the pupa before she harvested the fibers. Bleh.

 Holding Honeysuckle.
 Visiting The Yarn Garage

Anita’s quiet, warm hospitality, her humor, hard work, her ability to cook the crap out of any recipe, work on our web site, do research, help outdoors, and put up with us, is so perfect I could cry. So what do we or Ransom do for her? Well, Ransom has given her a salaried position that is not quite full-time. And in exchange for rent from us she is responsible for the yard and does mostly whatever pleases her in the garden. Altogether it is full-time work. Thanks be to God for riches so graciously shared with us.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

If you like peanut butter

This morning when I woke the sun was rising although I couldn’t directly see dawn arriving beyond the rooftops. But even before it popped over the neighbor’s roof there was evidence. The sky was so clear that the steam stack on top of St. Mary’s billowed white as it climbed far up the stratosphere until the north wind bent it off to the southeast. As I watched the plumes caught the sun’s rays and turned it from soft pink to bright salmon. From my second story window I can usually tell how cold it is outside.

At 11 am it was still minus seven degrees, but the sun was pouring into the dining room, glinting off the orchid that is gloriously in bloom again. I don’t know how it does this since all I give it is the equivalent of two ice cubes every week.

I’ve been away from here lately (the blog). Partly being a slacker. Partly writing other things. Author Walker Percy, says about the act of writing: “It’s a question of being so pitiful that God takes pity on us, looks down and says, He’s done for. Lets’ give him a few good words.”  I personally know that, I mean, how to feel pitiful. I’m done with the next issue of Notes and I think everyone around here is glad for it.

This afternoon the sun is still blasting away, though it “gat no heat” outside, and I wandered into the kitchen to make our own. I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for gluten-free peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. Couldn’t believe they had no flour whatsoever. They come out crispy and melty in the centers. I ate four. But they were small. Seriously, they’re so easy it’s almost a crime.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies (Gluten-Free)
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips
(Make sure vanilla and chips are g-f if baking for someone with celiac.)
Cream all ingredients (except chips) together in a bowl. Fold in chocolate chips. Form into small balls and press lightly with a fork. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. Longer if you like them crispy.