Sunday, September 30, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


"I adjure thee, beetles, who dissipate and destroy the food of men in this place, that you should depart henceforth and go where you can harm nobody."
from the text of a manual of exorcism circa 1500

In 1545 the good people of Saint-Julian-de-Maurienne sued a plague of flies for destroying their vineyard. The court ruled that it was 'unbecoming to proceed with rashness and precipitance against the animals'. Thirty years later when the insects returned and the harvest was again lost the court accepted a formal complaint against the insects. It appointed Antoine Filliol, a distinguished lawyer to conduct the defence. He argued that the plaintiffs were acting unjustly, since his clients - like all living things - were commanded by God to 'be fruitful and multiply.'
The plaintiffs acknowledged the insects rights and agreed to set aside a piece of land outside the vineyard for the purpose of feeding and multiplying. We don't know if this was successful or not as the papers recording the outcome were lost, apparently destroyed by insects.
I found this story along with one about a pig hanged for murder in 'Strange Histories' by Darren Oldridge.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Knit Knit Knit

Autumn is now officially upon us. I can draw a line under the worst summer in the garden since, well, since that other one. Time to stoke up the fire and sharpen my knitting needles. And if I get started now I can knit that special someone a soft Christmas present such as the Tudor Jerkin below that's modeled by the mock-Tudor jerk. See more inspired knitwear at ''

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Oriental Roots

Hot radish
Pierced my tongue,
While the autumn wind
Pierced my heart
- Matsuo Basho 'The Narrow Road to the Deep North'

August 30th I sowed seeds of turnip and winter radish. And here they be on September 8th. Still trying to create the illusion of summer. The Giant Luo Buo radish can grow to 10 inches and weigh over 2 pounds and the Hinona Kabu neep grows to 12 inches long and is white with purple shoulders. If anyone has any good recipes for cooking or pickling them please let me know.

Bitten by fleas and lice,
I slept in a bed,
A horse urinating all the time
Close to my pillow.
- Basho again, farther down 'The Narrow Road to the Deep North'

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

It's Open Season on Mushrooms

A day or two too late for this quarry, something else got to it first.
(9 inches across!)

Stocking the Larder

Hmm, September. I guess that was it for summer then. There aren't too many things that are going to have a sudden spurt of growth at this late stage, but still, I don't feel like tallying up just yet. Something there is lots of right now and that's fruit. We're getting our fill of apples - apple sauce, apple crumble, apple pie - blackberries, and the neighbour's plums. And I've tried to lay in a few stores for the long, cold dark nights ahead. I stewed a couple of bottles of an elderberry cordial, good for sore throats, croup and catarrh. And then made this crabapple cheese, very like quince cheese in texture and probably usage as well, but with the addition of a little cinnamon and clove spices. I'm sure it will cure whatever ails you and it's quite more-ish.