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Saturday, July 31, 2010


A friend of many years, DIETHARD AM-ENDE, from Johanngeorgenstadt, Germany, was here this week. Having a visitor from Germany is not so extraordinary for our family, given that we have some deep and treasured connections with Deutschland and Deutschlanders. But this was was indeed EXTRAORDINARY! Diethard got here for his first visit with us in OUR country, on his BMW GS 800 motorcycle. We're only one stop on his around the world trip. This trip had been a long held dream of Diethard's, who spent nearly all of his life, living behind the Iron Curtain, in the former German Democratic Republic, or East Germany. He left home May 9th, and traveled through Poland, Russian (Siberia), Korea, and Japan, before sending his BMW motorcycle air cargo to Vancouver BC, while he flew there. Once reunited with his chosen mode of transport, he then visited Alaska, much of British Columbia, Washington state and then into Oregon. We enjoyed a great, informative and too short visit with Diethard, and his temporary traveling companion from British Columbia, Michael. Michael will return to BC this coming week, and Diethard will proceed alone, to cross the US from west to east, on a yet undetermined route. We will reunite with Diethard one more time in the Boston area in late August, and hear more about his travels across the US.
We met Diethard many years ago, after the collapse of the Berlin wall, in his hometown. He is now retired but was the headmaster of a primary school. He and I facilitated contact between his students and mine as 'e-pals', something that certainly fostered intercultural appreciation for the German AND American students. We have visited Diethard and his family several times in Johanngeorgenstadt, but this was his first visit to us here.

Ready to roll, and he was off to Crater Lake, the southern Oregon coast and the Redwoods before heading to points east from there.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Last weekend we traveled north to the Portland area to attend the marriage celebration of a special and dear long time friend. Stacey has been a part of our lives since she was a little girl. Our third daughter and Stacey were very close friends. We moved during their adolescent years, but the girls remained friends throughout high school, college and now their adult lives. Stacey is an inspired and gifted teacher. There is a certain kinship there, as I recently retired from the same profession.

The day was a perfect 10! The sun shone brilliantly, the temperature was very moderate and the time spent renewing old acquaintances and making new ones was wonderful. Thom and Stacey are perfectly matched. We were so moved by the exchanges and vows made by each of them. It brought tears to our eyes.

For the occasion I made a textile photo collage. Initially I agonized over what to create. Thom is an artist, and creating something for them was so intimidating. Their incredible photographer, Eric Wolfinger of San Francisco, took photos that captured so well the expansive place, yet also show the essence of intimacy and fun. I sought Eric's permission to use some of the photos, and he was gracious in allowing me to do so, given the goal was to create a gift for Thom and Stacey.

Honestly I have never liked photo collages, as most of the ones I have seen are all too frequently not very imaginative nor do they capture or compliment the people in the photos. I had many false starts, but finally dragged out all of my hand dyed fabrics and spread them before me. Since I NEVER throw anything away, I had many small pieces that I eventually incorporated into the final collage. Stacey and Thom were married last summer on Mount Tamalpais, overlooking the San Francisco Bay. Though I was not there, I know that Stacey and Thom incorporated the 4 elements into their ceremony. Whatever I generated, I hoped that earth, wind, fire and water would be evident. I think it was a success. The final judges would be Thom and Stacey. Did they like it? They do, and I am so relieved!

The origami diamonds with hand dyed silk ribbons are the 'wind' elements. The photos are printed on silk with an ink jet printer. All of the fabrics were hand dyed by me, except the blue raw silk in the lower right, some of the origami diamonds, and the white silk surrounding the largest photo. This part of the collage is actually made from a photo of the arrangement that Stacey carried. Above the patchwork is a photo view from the top of Mount Tamalpais, looking out over the islands of San Francisco Bay, and is the element of 'water'. To the left of the photo is a sun, representing the element 'fire'.

I added this little silver embellishment because it seemed to fit these two people and their values and beliefs. Stacey and Thom have genuine and serious concerns for the global community, the sustainability of the planet and certainly the human rights of all citizens of the world. It was made by a Chinese craft person in China, and I have had it for many years. Now seemed to be the right time to use it! The dancing figures under Thom and Stacey are the family and friends who were with them on Mount Tamalpais. The stone beads surrounding the dancing figures represent the element 'earth', but for me anyway, they also represent the 'rock' that friends can be for us. Their placement under the photo of Thom and Stacey eludes to the support dear friends are in good times and not so good times. The fabric surrounding the main photo came from the wedding dress I made for one of our daughters.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Making FETA CHEESE is a pretty uncomplicated process, and can be done in any home kitchen. Be sure that you have very clean utensils though. I use a large stainless steel pan and all of my other utensils are stainless as well. A digital thermometer is best. Beyond these, all you'll need is a gallon of farm fresh goat's milk, liquid rennet, buttermilk and non-iodized coarse salt. My local brewing supply store carries rennet and other cheese making supplies, but they are readily available on the Internet as well.
Warm 1 gallon of goat milk to 86º F.
Add 1/4 cup buttermilk and stir well. Let milk set for 1 hour to ripen.
After 1 hour add 1/2 teaspoon liquid rennet to 1/4 cup cool water and add to the milk. Stir gently for 1 minute. Cover and allow to set for another hour. In an hour the milk will have formed a large solid mass. Cut the curd into 1/2 inch pieces. Allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Stir gently for 15 minutes.
Line a colander with cheesecloth. Pour curds into the colander.

Tie the cheesecloth and hang to drain for 4-6 hours.

Remove the curd ball from the cheesecloth and slice in half. Sprinkle the two hunks of cheese with about 4-5 tablespoons coarse salt. Place the slices on a dish and cover. Let it stand at room temperature for 24 hours.
After 24 hours salt all the surfaces again. Let the cheese rest for 2 more hours at room temperature. Finally place the cheese into a covered container, refrigerate and allow to age 5-7 days. Use with the next two weeks or wrap and freeze.
I prefer this FETA CHEESE, but for those who like a stronger flavored FETA, the addition of 1/8 teaspoon lipase powder (type K) can be used. The more lipase powder the stronger the cheese will be. It is to be added at the same point as the buttermilk is added. Some cheese makers store the FETA in olive oil and others use a salt water brine. The brine is made with 14 ounces of non-iodized salt to each gallon of cool water. Cheese must be covered with the brine, and aged at 40º to 50º F from 1-4 weeks.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

My little machine arrived a day early....BUT I was so sad when I opened the shipping box to find some pretty unpleasant damage. Damage to a machine the age of this one, is very distressing. Parts are hard to come by, and in some cases, nonexistent. I notified the woman in the Midwest who shipped it, as she had insured it. The following day I took it to a local sewing machine shop that services Pfaff machines. They were not enthused about the possibility of repair, but said there was a service man in the annex who was very familiar with Pfaff and had serviced them for 30+ years. Long story short, everything can be repaired with genuine Pfaff parts, no less! The exception was the carrying case, but I was able to locate one in Wisconsin. It is used but intact. It will arrive in a few days, and I will have my machine back this week.

All four corners of the machine carrying case are cracked. Got a new case from a dealer in New Berlin, Wisconsin.

The door to the bobbin compartment seems to be broken, but it turned out only to be a loose screw...whew!

The thread spindles were bent, and the shop cannibalized another Pfaff for this part.

The 'damaged' bobbin compartment door.

The pin that holds the top onto the machine was broken. Apparently it too can be replaced with a genuine part.