Making Marmelade

Avalus has been making jams and jellies and he’s sent us some photos from the project.

This late summer I set about using the old orchards and hedges around my home. To make marmelades and gelée, to be exact. Here are some things I found while picking fruit

Tasty blackberries! Oddly enough, in German these are called Brombeeren which translates literally to bromine berrys. But the name does not have anything to do with bromine, it goes back to the old high german word brāmberi which means thorny bush and is the root for the word english bramble.

Brombeeren ©Avalus, all rights reserved

Then there was this beautiful golden beetle, enjoying the sun and an apple at the same time. It did not mind me picking up fallen apples around it.

golden beetle ©Avalus, all rights reserved

golden beetle 2 ©Avalus, all rights reserved

This hedgehog on the other hand did very much mind my company.

Igel ©Avalus, all rights reserved

In the end, I made many glasses of yummi sweet stuff with different flavours. Testers favourites were apple-coffee and apple-meade*, apple-cinnamon was deemed too Christmassy for September. Pestering every one I knew for empty glasses really paid off here as I gave most of these full glasses to friends.

gelly good time ©Avalus, all rights reserved

 

*I made meade two years ago and still have some left. Pretty strong taste and not too sweet, but I drink only very little.

Thanks for sharing, Avalus.

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.

My first Commission – Part 1 – An Offer.

I am still in a prolonged battle with my garden and my workshop, but it seems I am ever so slowly reaching a level of order that allows an actual work to be performed again. The whole workshop, the garden shed and essentially the whole garden were a huge mess whose cleaning took me the better part of my free time for, by now, a whole month. And I need to clean it up because I need to get to making knives pronto. I got my first commission.

I have sent the potential customer pictures of my past work and they chose a design, with a few requests for changes. It is, in fact, the sixth knife I have ever made and one that I am using personally until today – you can see it in the article “Knifesharpenophobia”. I think it is a good design for an all-purpose camping knife but also exactly because of that long time of me using this knife personally, I thought that the blade geometry can be improved, so I did exactly that – the blade is a tiny bit slimmer and the point is more centered and pointy than in the original.

I have drawn a sketch in photoshop, with two different wood variants. Then I made a pretty pdf and sent it to the potential customer to look at and, of course, a price list for the variants portrayed.

They chose and ordered a knife with stainless steel handguard and pommel, peened, full tang and a simple leather sheath. The grip from cherry wood, leather colored accordingly.

©Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I hope to do it justice. This blade has somewhat complex geometry and it was not exactly easy to make it back when hand tools were all I had. Making it on a belt-grinder should be faster, but it also allows for easy mess-up. So I will probably start making two blades and if two knives come out of it, good. I need at least one top-notch blade. And if I get two blades out of it, the second one will be fitted differently and sold in an auction for the Richard Carrier defense fund.

As a result, of course, I do not expect to meet the manufacturing time that I used for price calculation – I have used the expected time after I get some more experience under my belt, and the offer alone took several hours to draft because I had no templates for calculating the prices or drawing the designs. But right now it is not about making enough money to live by, right now it is about getting more experience, getting better acquainted with my tools, optimizing my manufacturing processes and getting some satisfied customers. We’ll see what comes out of it.

Full Fish Ahead: Part 5

Spring is the season for babies and Avalus has lots of new little cuties in his tank. Let’s go see.

Part 5 – Babies

 

Hey There! ©Avalus, all rights reserved

Not much going on in the new tank. I cut some of the faster growing plants, next week the platies will go back to the main tank and there will come new fishes (neon tetras (Paracheirodon innesi) and mosquito rasboras (Boraras brigittae)). Both are tiny colourful fishes, the neons are blue with a bit of red and the rasboras purple with a copper or golden tint.

But on to the titular babies. [Read more…]

YouTube Video: Did people have bad teeth in medieval times?

Through the magic of recommendations, I have discovered another interesting youtube channel about medievalism. I have watched this one video so far though, because reasons. But I intend to watch more when the opportunity arises.

I have often wondered how dental hygiene was done in medieval times. It is not a topic that is routinely taught at schools, not even good ones.

Full Fish Ahead: Part 4

It’s time to check in with Avalus to see what’s up in the new aquarium.

Part 4 – Technically Challenged

You could see it in the last part of Full Fish ahead: I modified the filter inlet tubing. Today I want to talk about what I did and why.

A word of warning: When playing around with water, make sure you have no non-water safe electrical McGuffins running in the splash zone and test, extensively, if your seals are really waterproof (for example overnight in a box).

As you can see, I have a darker background. It is an old towel and will be replaced later on by paper. ©Avalus, all rights reserved

A darker background helps to calm shyer fish and lets their colours stand out. I also cut some of the plants in the middle (Didiplis diandra) to give the other plants between space and light (Hygrophilia Araguaia and cryptocoryne wenditii).

The filter comes with 16 mm hose and an inlet piece that fits the hose. The Problem with this is threefold. One, the Inlet has few large openings, small fish and especially shrimp will get sucked in the filter. It also congests really quickly. Then, just behind the inlet, the water flow is choked and because of the small diameter there is much resistance from the walls, resulting in higher strain in the pump. Also the hose really quickly plugs up from particles sticking to the walls and bacterial mats that will grow. [Read more…]

Full Fish Ahead: Part 3

The new aquarium is full of life and it’s all adorable. Let’s check in with Avalus.

Part 3 – Cuties and Questions

The tank on Tuesday 28th of March. Bought a filter, forgot blue paper. ©Avalus, all rights reserved

The new filter arrived and now the Daphnia’s reign over the tank is due. They can swim but they cannot fight any stronger currents. So I fished as many as I could out, thanked them for their service … and fed them to the inhabitants of my main tank. Ah, the circle of life. I will try to get access to a microscope and try my hand at video editing and then do a post about them. You need to see them move and you need to see them up closer than I can do with my Magnificator (notr). So today there will be some random photos with blurbs. [Read more…]

Full Fish Ahead: Part 2

Things are happening in Avalus’ new aquarium. Let’s join him to see what’s up today.  (Note: The last photo in this post was omitted in error when first published. It has now been reinserted with my apologies to Avalus.)

Part 2 – Life in the Shell

The water in the new tank slowly clears up, the next plants and the filter are underway to my vendor and so it’s time to find a nice leaf lay down and relax.

Corydoras Panda enjoying the safety of a walnut leaf in my other tank. Yes, I have quite some green filament algae. ©Avalus, all rights reserved

In the new tank, we can see algae growing on the wood and producing oxygen. But their reign is short, they will soon be overgrown by sessile filament algae.

[Read more…]

Full Fish Ahead: Part 1

Welcome to a brand new series here at Affinity penned by Avalus who’s going to take us through the process of setting up a new aquarium and talk fishkeeping in general.

Let’s begin with the start. I found this big piece of gnarly wood in a shop in early December 2018 when I helped a friend shopping for (and carry) cat-equipment. It just had beautiful depth to it so I just bought it, as I had an idea for a new fishtank and remembered having an old tank in my parents’ attic. In January I picked up the tank from my parents, where it sat for 3 years or so. [Read more…]