Saturday, June 2, 2012

Summer Experiments

We've been busy here with the last flurry of camping and weekend-long outdoor events that happen before it's too hot for us to do them without being absolutely miserable at best and sick with heat exhaustion at worst. It's over 95°F here already, which means I'm harvesting the herbs better suited to cooler climes, like lemon balm, cilantro/coriander, and something that I think is last year's miserably failed rue coming back victoriously. Mint and the Mexican variety of oregano just throw a middle finger up each and power on through the heat and horrid soil.

It may be far too hot to be trying this, but I'm doing a maceration experiment. A friend gave me deer antlers that have been collecting dust (and being gnawed by squirrels) in his garage. They were cleaned badly and still have bits of skin and fur attached to the skull caps. It's too stuck to pull off, so I'm going to see if I can't soften it up enough to take the tissues off before I peroxide them. It's the first time I've tried to remove remaining old tissue from anything, so I'm hoping I don't ruin them. I guess worst case, I can turn them into buttons for Medieval reenactment clothing.

Unexpected gifts and treasures, like this batch of antlers, are something that delights me for weeks and often months after the thing is in my possession. Just a few weeks ago, my guy and I were out shopping for Mother's Day gifts, and he happened upon some very nice stag's head stirrup cups that had been marked down hugely. I've been wanting stag's head altar stuff for ages, and what I find is always really expensive - even when it's on clearance at the discount store. Ice buckets and footed presentation bowls with great handles made of the horned heads cast in pewter would be lovely, but I'm not paying $160 for them at this point in my life. So when I've been secretly longing for stag things, most specifically for a stag stirrup cup, it makes me feel well-loved by the spirits and gods.

If you're not familiar with them, stirrup cups are small cups, often decorated with animal's heads, that were used to serve departing guests a small drink of sherry or port right before they were off - as in when they were already with their feet in the stirrups. It's a Scottish thing that turned into a fox hunting thing, and is now largely a posh royalty thing. Rather fitting since I work with Cernnunos. We'll see how he likes it since he's the one I make mead for. Proper he should have his own special vessel for it. I really wish I had bought more, so that there was a set. Oh well. Here's a pair similar to mine (only sterling and antique and MUCH nicer) that just went for auction at Christie's for almost $3700. Click the link if you haven't recently lusted after the historical wonders available to the highest bidder - like historical manuscripts. And furniture. And private islands.

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