Mme Buttery

Traffic tamers in history

Today is the anniversary of the first one-way streets opened in London, in 1617.  Charles I was on the throne and George Bolles was Lord Mayor.  London had a population of only about 200,000 and an estimated population density considerably less than modern Boston, but evidently traffic was bollixed up even then.
Mme Buttery

Not Quite the Way I Planned to Spend My Vacation...

Last Friday (8/14) I found out I have colon cancer.  Without going into all the gory details, I think I can say my level of social activity will be somewhat curtailed in coming months.  However, there will be a Thanksgiving at the Buttery (even if  we have to buy a cooked turkey) and of course, New Year's will happen -- at this point there's no way to stop it!

I've been told that the prognosis is good, and I probably don't have to buy a wig -- which is somewhat disappointing:  I had been debating between a fairly natural white hair thing and an aging-Elizabeth I red thing that I could stick full of (fake) pearls etc.  But if not necessary, there's no justification for the expense.
Mme Buttery

What a Way to Go!

Man dies after falling into chocolate vat

Wed Jul 8, 2009 3:51pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A man fell into a vat of hot melted chocolate and died on Wednesday at a factory in New Jersey, a spokesman for the local public prosecutor said.

The 29-year-old man was among four workers on a platform above the vat who were dumping in pieces of solid chocolate to be melted down, said Jason Laughlin, spokesman for the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.

"He somehow slipped and fell into the vat," Laughlin said. "Inside the vat, he was hit by a piece of equipment called the agitator that's used to stir, and that killed him."

Laughlin said the vat at the Cocoa Services Inc plant in Camden was around eight feet deep.

"At this point there's no suggestion of foul play," Laughlin said, adding that the man appeared to have died instantly from the blow to the head from the agitator.

Mme Buttery

Buttery Birthday, etc.

So we survived our 31st Birthday party.  Remarkable.  I never imagined that living in a particular house would change my life so much.  herooftheage  put on a repeat of Henry V, which was delightful until the fields of Agincourt became too muddied and everyone fled inside.  I got to watch the rehearsal in the morning and see some of the show in the favorite Shakespearean play, after all.  It was a tremendously exciting experience for me.

Now that the play is over, workmen have taken over the back yard.  Our little back porches (about 6'x7' each) are about to become enclosed into two little storage rooms.  I had not planned to take care of this so soon, but the discovery of some rot in one of the beams made the project more urgent.

Meanwhile, I continue to labor in the basement.  Yesterday, I achieved complete floor -- no more trying to hop from one 2x4 to another.  It took longer than I had hoped, but I am feeling rather smug: all the sills and floorboards are now in place.  Today the floor, tomorrow the walls!

Mme Buttery

Readercon paradox

Readorcon information states:

A child will be defined as any person who has not yet had an eighteenth birthday.

Haven't these people ever seen Pirates of Penzance?

Mme B
Mme Buttery

Tearoom redux

Thanks for all the suggestions for a name for the tearoom -- I really appreciate all the offerings (except Steffan's).  In particular I like Royale, which would surely attract the sort of "genteel" clientele who would patronize a tearoom.

This week I experimented with lemon curd, a necessary product for such an enterprise.  It turns out there are two schools of thought on making this: (1) slow, requires long stirring, depends on much butter and many eggs for its smoothness and thickening; and (2) faster, uses cornstarch to achieve the same ends.  I'm sure you can all guess which approach I took.

Good news: The cherry tree is in full blossom and (weather permitting) we may have a good crop this year.   I look forward to summer pies, cobblers, crumbles, etc. The apple tree, still a youngster, has blossoms but less of a display.

Now May Day approaches.  I trust I will see some of you Friday morn.

   Yes,  we'll gather at the river,
   The beautiful, the beautiful river,
   Gather with the folk at the river,
   That flows by the Weeks Foot Bridge.
Mme Buttery

nearly May

Due to a boo-boo on one big toe, which prevented me from wearing a shoe that covered it, I have been unable to work on my basement project for the last few weeks.  Back in regular shoes at last, I look forward to resuming construction -- I may be impractical, but not so stupid as to use power tools without protecting my toes!

However, I have racked up a few accomplishments:

(1) Tracked down all the copyright paperwork for my mom's book (The Dictionarius of John de Garlande, translated) so that it can be web published.  It is now up on Thomas Gloning's site, which pleases me immensely -- right up there with those wonderful Medieval cookery manuscripts.  It was a difficult search because the publisher had folded with no forwarding address, disconnected phone, and an expired web site.

(2) Finished making my share of the costumes for Henry V.  These were for the four captains, Fluellen, MacMorris, Jamie, and Gower.  I used up a bit of glitzy trim that (due to my current persona, a Gypsy, being somewhere south of peasant and just north of leper) I will not be using for myself.  Individually the riding coats looked all right, but when viewed together I think I may have overdone it.  Oh, well.  If this army gig doesn't work out, they can tour as Sargeant Bardolf's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Lately, I have been consumed with visions of making an elegant afternoon tea.  This is a project for the fall, I think.  [info]pryder is going to make a compilation disc of appropriate background music for me, bless him.  I know how to make clotted cream to put on my scones.  Today I experimented with making lemon curd.  I actually own some linen tablecloths and napkins.  They all have the monogram BBR on them, having been part of my mother's trouseau, but I feel sure there is some tearoom name for which these will be appropriate initials.  Any suggestions?

Mme Buttery

Where are my books?

I describe LibraryThing as my new video game.  I have now advanced to Second Level, having entered all the books on the South side of my library -- mostly cookery and related subjects.  I'm not a book collector -- I just read the stuff -- so my total is not going to be any kind of record.  Still, it was nice to know that I had about 700 cookery books on the South Wall and section 1 of the West Wall.  The rest of the West wall is mostly gardening and herbal books.  The North has a random selection of history, literature, needlework, and over-sized books.  East Wall has a lot of theatre books, SCA related stuff (history, Medieval towns, etc.), some fiction, and books on currently hot hobbies.  Then I get to do my books in the kitchen (more cookery), the first half-landing (mostly classic literature), the skylight room (light reading for guests), and parlor (mysteries, regencies, humor). 

I started this project because I had trouble finding books I KNEW I had somewhere.  For me, the important tag is the shelf locator.  This is clearly a Good Thing for someone whose senior moments are occurring with increased frequency.
Mme Buttery

Thoughts on Napkin Rings

Last week we hosted some morris dancers from a Cornish team, the Wreckers -- although it turned out the four who stayed with us were actually from Devonshire.  They were delightful people, and before they left they gave us some gifts, including a 2009 calendar showing sites in Dartmoor, a tea towel with pictures of Cornish wildflowers (a woman can never have too many tea trowels!), and a matched pair of home-made napkin rings.

Is there anything in the world more useless than napkin rings in the present day? Especially matched ones?   In Victorian times they served a purpose, because people did not wash napkins after every meal.  When you finished your meal, you put your napkin in a ring with your initials on it, so that at the next meal you got your own dirty napkin instead of someone else's.  Napkin rings for children too young to recognize their own initials sometimes had images of animals or toys, again so they could identify their own.  It's not clear how many times napkins were used before finally being laundered --- at the end of the day? at the end of the week? -- but at least you only had to deal with your own gross leavings.  It probably encouraged neat eating.  But no one used napkin rings for CLEAN napkins, which are the only kind we generally use these days.  And if we were using rings to save the napkins for another meal, MATCHED rings totally defeat the purpose.

Men's neckties have sometimes been described at useless, but at least they add color to drab modern clothing -- is there any possible reason to continue making napkin rings?  And are there any things out there even more useless?