Local Reminders of Global Warming

Last year the broken weather nearly killed my fig trees. There were signs of hope afterward, I wrote about it here.

This year, the broken weather has lead to me harvesting over 1 kg of fresh figs today, in late October, when it should be freezing already. I mean, I am glad the trees recovered and are doing well, but this is not normal. Sometimes a small good thing is a result of a big bad one I guess.

The Art of Book Design: The Jumping Frog

It’s Mark Twain week here at The Art of Book Design, but maybe not the Mark Twain you’re expecting. I’m going to feature first editions of some of Twain’s less famous works throughout the week, and on Saturday I’ll be sharing one of my favourite books of all time in an extended post that will include lots of pictures. Let’s leap into the week (groan) with The Jumping Frog.

Mark Twain. The Jumping Frog. Illustrated by F. Strothman. New York and London, Harper and Brothers, 1903. First Edition.

Mark Twain. The Jumping Frog. Illustrated by F. Strothman. New York and London, Harper and Brothers, 1903. Original dust jacket.


Cover Photos via: Books Tell You Why.com

The Story can be read (in a different edition) at The Internet Archive

Finishing a Depressing Episode in Life

Two years ago my father’s oldest brother has died. If you were reading TNET at the time, you may remember that it was very stressful before his death. His house was full of garbage. Literally full – each and every room to the breast height, some more – and literally garbage – wrappings, shopping bags, spoiled food. And mixed in that garbage were occasionally valuable things, like tools or antique furniture.

My uncle was not on good terms with the whole family, except with me. So he wanted to give his property to me, which I have refused unless he allows me to throw his garbage out. I planned then to sell the dump for the price of the land and give the money to my nephew, to compensate him a bit the shitty start of life his good-for-nothing father has caused him.

It was difficult to find a company willing to even touch that mess, and when we found one, it took over a month and cost his whole life savings (nearly 30.000,-€). Unfortunately, he died before the works were finished. So I secured the door, barred the windows and the property hung in the limbo of inheritance legalities ever since. My uncle was childless and did not write a testament, therefore his siblings were his inheritors. And, as I expected, my uncles and aunt were not exactly cooperative.

Not that they wanted money – I would be OK with that, I did not want anything in the first place, not for myself. But they knew it would be cheeky to ask for money after they multiple times said they want nothing to do with their brother when he was alive and sick and in need of help. They just were uncooperative and deliberately obtuse, so the whole legal process took almost two years. Last month it was finally over, with my father now being the sole owner of the property. We already have a buyer, for a good price, so hopefully, before the year’s end, it will be over.

During the two years, people broke into the house – door were kicked in, all windows were broken – and stripped it of nearly everything of even modicum of value that was still left there. Someone even tried and failed to steal a huge central heating oven, but it was evidently too heavy. Nevertheless, there were still some things that I want to take before we sell it all.

An old broken wooden cross.

One of those things is an old, broken massive wooden cross. My uncle was a fervent catholic and he worked as a sexton in the local church for decades. He probably scrounged this either to repair it or just as junk. But it is good, old, seasoned oak. The big beam is rotten a bit, but it can still be mostly salvaged enough for a plethora of knife handles, or for vice jaws or something.

In the cellar was a huge pile of fire bricks. I am a bit surprised that those were not stolen – they cost 2,-€ each and they are thus more valuable than the huge heating oven. And they would be less work to take. Possibly the scavengers did not recognize what they are and thought those are ordinary building bricks – I do in fact know that one such person who illegally broke into the house mistook them for ordinary bricks.

I am not sure whether I will be able to make something out of them, but I wanted to build a wood-fired ceramic kiln for a long time, and these bricks were enough for just that. But maybe they will just stay in their new place until my heirs have to clean them away.

Another thing(s) I wanted to take – of limited value to anyone but me – were the lilac and elderberry bushes that have overgrown the garden. Lilac wood is extremely hard and durable, extremely rare and extremely beautiful – the heartwood is lilac and the sapwood creamy-white. Elderberry wood is not very durable, but it too is hard, reasonably beautiful and difficult to get in larger pieces. The new owner will fell most of the trees anyway, and they were in bad condition since my uncle did not care for the garden at all, so I need not feel guilty for cutting them down.

So this weekend my nephew – the future recipient of a big pile of money – came by and he helped me to move all those fire bricks, fell most of the lilacs and elderberries, and stack it all behind my workshop. I took even some thin lilac twigs, I think I can do something out of them, and if not, my house has a wood-burning stove.

Tomorrow I have to take a can of paint and slather it over all the cuts, otherwise the wood will dry too quickly and crack too much.

A pile of firebricks and a pile of wood.

My hands are a lot better. The bones ceased to hurt completely, but some ligaments around the pointer finger are still probably strained and begin to hurt after some works, especially after writing – so there alas still won’t be too much writing from me for an undetermined time. I think I will have to actually fixate these fingers for prolonged time, otherwise they just won’t heal.

The Art of Book Design: The Now-A-Days Fairy Book

Anna Alice Chapin. Illustrated by Jessie Wilcox Smith. The Now-A-Days Fairy Book. New York, Dodd Mead Company, 1911.

The fairy book this week is a short one with only 2 illustrations, but the story is charming and the artwork is sweet. I’m in love with the picture of the teddy bears, but the monkey is pretty cute, too. Enjoy.

The Now-A-Days Fairy Book, page 38.

The Now-A-Days Fairy Book, page 68.

Holidays: Sagrada Familia: I’m Sorry, I Broke It

Here’s the last pics from our night out. After that, Instead of walking back the short way to the train station we got off, the family voted to walk to the Plaza Catalunya and we got a bit lost on the way. We managed to catch the last train home which was kind of strange because you’d think that trains from the capital to the bigger cities around it would run through the night, especially on a Saturday, but shortly after midnight the train service ceases for the night. On that train I had one of the more frightening experiences. A young dude was standing in the aisle and suddenly took out a dagger style knife. I didn’t say a word, especially not to the tired kids and extra especially not to the dude so I wouldn’t catch his attention. He started “stabbing” the side of the train and I started to make plans in case of emergency, like putting my camera rucksack in front of my body and shifting my position to cover the kids.

Thankfully he then used his knife to cut off the top of a plastic bottle, took out some cheap wodka and lemonade and got even more drunk than he was before.

OK, back to the Sagrada Familia. I have no clue what happened here. I guess the light and the structure and the 2D nature of photography are playing a trick, because it definitely didn’t look like this, or I would have noticed.

©Giliell, all rights reserved Looking quite chill. A day of visitors and works done.

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Maybe a bit tipsy.

©Giliell, all rights reserved. The angle of the cranes is worrying me.

©Giliell, all rights reserved Ok, looks like I didn’t accidentally walk of out a Mexican restaurant in Barcelona and ended up in Pisa.

©Giliell, all rights reserved.

©Giliell, all rights reserved. Go home, you’re drunk.



Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

It’s a double gravity sort of day for me and I’ve been dragging my ass. The weather is cold and damp with a blustery, biting wind, and the sky is dreary and heavy with clouds. It’s not the sort of day that invites you to come out and play. Nonetheless, I did manage to walk Jack around the neighbourhood and by the time we arrived back home, I was feeling a bit better. We took our walk slowly, and it gave Jack a chance to smell lots of fallen leaves. He tells me that it’s important to smell the leaves because that’s how the trees talk to him. I asked him what the trees were saying, and Jack told me that some of them are thirsty and some of them are looking forward to winter, and this one beside us wants him to pee somewhere else. Oh. Alright, then Bubba, I guess we’d better go. Silly mummy, he said and lifted his leg to pee

Tummy Thursday: I’m Bored

And boredom leads to cake.

For the Pokémon Go Community Day last Saturday I made a black forest style cake. See if you can guess the theme of the decoration:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

And then I decided to try Petit Fours for the first time, practising the flavours for Halloween (but not the design):

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Thin sponge with strawberry jam and pumpkin pie lemon curd (though it could use some additional lemon juice and a tad less cloves). Home made fondant glaze and teeny tiny fondant horn and ears.



Jack’s Walk

I make my own sunshine. ©voyager, all rights reserved

“Wake up. You have to get up now,” I heard my husband call out sharply from the hallway.

“Why,” I call back, already getting up. Mr. doesn’t use that tone often, so I know there’s a problem.

“There’s been an accident out front.”

Oh. Just that. Again. We live near a high school and at certain times of day a few cars speed through the corner near our house. I looked at the clock. Yup, 8:15, the busiest time of day.

I was having trouble shaking myself awake as I grabbed my robe and stiffly hurried to the door hoping no-one was hurt. Mr. was already at the door and when we looked out, the first thing we saw was a shiny black car resting on the sidewalk about a foot from our front lawn and very near the spot that Jack likes to sit and greet the kids who walk to school. The front end was bent and twisted and looked beyond repair. In the other direction, we saw another shiny black car with its passenger door smashed in, and between the vehicles, there was a field of debris littering the road and two men standing talking under a single blue striped golf umbrella. Great – no-one hurt. I made my way to the kitchen, put on the coffee and was heading to the bathroom when I heard a knock on my door. Standing there was a strapping, young fireman wearing all his gear who smiled at me pleasantly and told me that the car would be removed soon and not to worry. Mam. He called me mam. I thanked him and smiled back, wishing him a good day. When I finally made it to the bathroom and looked in the mirror, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. One side of my hair was wild and sticking out at all angles and the other side was plastered to my head. My fluffy pink bathrobe was sporting a big stain of some sort, and my face was full of pillow wrinkles. Best of all, I wasn’t wearing my dentures and suddenly realized that I’d given the guy a great big, Granny Clampett, toothless grin.

And how was your morning?