Back Forty, book arts, coffee pot posts, critters

Sunday sweep

I don’t know why it is so much more compelling this year, but the leaves have really caught my attention in a big way. There are many varieties of oaks and maples around here, and the differences between them fascinate me. I bought some gelatin yesterday and hope to spend some time after Thanksgiving making gelatin prints.

Something else leafy has come to my attention through the papermaking list – gingko leaves make great paper. Cooking for a few hours in soda ash, beating with a mallet, and a quick trip through the blender will produce a nice pulp all by themselves. Since I’m lucky enough to pass a gingko tree on my walk to work, I’ve been gathering leaves. It is a female tree, and what they say about gingko fruit is true – it smells extremely nasty. Gingkos are so interesting – they are ancient, totally in a class by themselves and have gender. I’ve pressed some leaves for future use in monoprints and embedding in paper too.

Theo is now in my lap. He is a sweetheart, but he is a normal cat too. I’ve accused him of faking the angelic personality to infiltrate our home only to release his inner demons after settling in. Among his sins: stalking and attacking Sir Guido, sticking his butt in our faces when we sleep, scratching the furniture, and pawing at the mini-blinds behind the bed to wake us up when he wants something. Actually, these things don’t happen every day, but I just thought I’d let everyone know that he ain’t no saint. He does play and cuddle with Lucy, and all the cats are as relaxed around him as they are with each other, which doesn’t mean that they are good buddies, but they aren’t hostile either. He is a real pleasure, other than the occasional sins, which we are training him out of, hopefully. He wasn’t all over me constantly yesterday, so I take that as a good sign that he now feels at home.

When I wasn’t food shopping, cooking or doing laundry yesterday, I finished up preparing the pages for my next journal. I decided to save the mining camp book cover and maps for another book idea, and used a 1964 “Geography of the World for Young Readers” that matched the colors of my pages nicely. It was almost in new condition and had maps on the inside covers. I collaged the book jacket and other maps on a few pages and will bind the cover on just as it is with a tape binding. I think that I have a woven inkle band that will do nicely. Binding the book is my favorite part but it is hard on my hand to hold anything for long. Once I punch the holes for the bindings, I will have two books ready to be bound.

I also printed out a lot of small photos to go into my little Alaska travel journal and had fun pasting them in. I started to make a larger altered book that would hold this journal in a niche in the cover, and have larger pages to hold brochures from the trip and niches for pebbles inside. I have some great glacial pebbles and quartz crystals that I gathered at the Skagway River. The crystals are very delicate and break apart easily.

I wish that I could make paper. The weather is still fine enough that I could wash out my equipment with a hose. I have a plethora of already made pulp filling up a small freezer, and Charlie brought me okra stalks and more artichoke heads. I can make paper inside, but it is the cleaning that is the issue – you can’t wash this stuff down a sink without clogging up your drains. I know that my hand will not be able to take the pressure of holding the mould and deckle and couching. I feel very impatient about the slow progress of my healing.

Speaking of the weather, last month I picked all the green tomatoes and butterbeans of any meaningful size and began pulling out the plants until my hand stopped me. Now I’m finding relatively large green tomatoes and butterbeans that are filled out on the remaining plants. We did have a frost in October but apparently not in my back yard, which has its own weird little microclimate. I have tomato plants merrily growing out of the compost I laid down in one of the beds. I’m so tempted to dig them up and pot them inside for the winter, mainly because I am curious as to what they will become. We have enough broccoli to have for a side dish a couple of times a week. This is the broccoli that I grew by seed and planted this past spring, so it has taken up a lot of valuable space in the garden. I’m glad that it is finally producing but it will be only planted in the winter beds on the shadier side next year.

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