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Newton’s apple. No, really.

apples

We went to an apple fayre this weekend.

You know you’re in for an authentic British experience when they spell ‘fayre’ with a ‘y’.

Over 200 varieties of apples were there. Which is nothing. There are thousands of cultivated varieties (and many thousands more of not very useful wild apples).

They have sequenced the apple’s genome and found an apple has nearly twice the genes of a human being. That means apples are complicated and don’t breed clones. I saw this program on apple genetics several years ago, so bear with me if my memory is generic.

If you eat an apple and like it, and plant the seed in your garden, you will get a tree that bears a fruit that almost certainly bears no resemblance to that apple you liked so much. Also, it will be tall and awkward, because natural apples are. If you see a grove of natural apple trees in the wild, they will all bear different apples. There might be a hidden star in there with desirable characteristics. On the other hand, you’re more likely to find sour and awful fruits, as the modern apple shares more of its genome with the crabapple than its true wild ancestor.

For commercial apples, they take cuttings from the successful tree and graft them onto other rootstocks with desirable traits — like, usually dwarf rootstocks that make little, pickable trees. All the modern Granny Smiths, for example, come from cuttings from the original Granny. So really, when you think about it, that apple from Newton’s garden really is from Newton’s garden, if probably many intermediate trees removed.

Yes, I bought an Isaac Newton. It’s in a bag with four other ‘heritage’ apples, though, so I don’t know who’s who. This could be a problem because it’s a cooking apple.

October 23, 2017 — 9:18 pm
Comments: 14

No more chicken feathers!

shakers

FOR NOW…

I picked these up this week: a pair of dark blue glass salt and pepper shakers with metal frames. I thought they were silver plate under all that corrosion (thanks, salt!), but now I have them cleaned up, I believe they’re base metal. Eh, never mind. They’re still kind of pretty and I paid nothin’.

I’m going to put powdered graphite in one and…I’m not sure about the other. Something art supplies-y. I like to use pretty things for painting equipment; it puts me in the moooood.

Here’s a thing. I need a brush rest – it’s a little wooden or ceramic thing with notches in it, to raise the bristles off the table and keep your brushes from rolling around. The best (that is, cheapest) online art shop here is Jackson’s and they have one listed for £3.80.

I go to eBay and search ‘brush rest’ and somebody’s selling the exact same one — he even says it’s Jackson’s — for £4.37. And he’s sold 13 of them.

Do people do that? Buy shit and turn around and sell it for 50p profit?

And, by the way, that’s the cheapest one listed. Similar if not identical plain ceramic brush rests are going from £8 to £13. Screw it, I’m’a get one of the pretty blue-ware ones (Chinese and Japanse use them for those big-ass calligraphy brushes).

Good weekend, everyone!

p.s. Go get Skandia Recluse’s latest book for free. If you like his universe, there’s a lot more.

October 20, 2017 — 9:18 pm
Comments: 18

The varieties of mille fleur

feathers

Bloody hell, is she still on about this?

More feathers. The red ones are Rosie (“Rosie is red…”) and the paler ones are Ginny. The proportion of red, black and white determines the overall ‘tone’ of a mille fleur.

Lucia was even whiter than Ginny (when she was a chick, she was practically all white). I do have Lucia feathers. A whole bag of them. But as Lucia was such an awesome chicken, I believe her feathers must have powerful juju.

I’m probably kidding.

Why yes, of course you can have a large color photograph of a bunch of chicken feathers.

October 19, 2017 — 8:57 pm
Comments: 12

Mille fleur is *hard*

speckledy

Mille fleur. ‘Thousand flowers’. I’ve had three chooks of this variety, and lovely fat hens they’ve all been. But I’ve dreaded trying to paint them.

Working hard on my chicken portfolio just now, you see.

They aren’t just speckledy. When you see an individual feather — particularly a long feather — there’s at least something of a pattern. It’s a brown feather with a black stripe before a white tip. But jumbled onto a chicken…it’s hard.

Let’s see that in color, with this lovely picture of Lucia the Mille Fleur and Mapp the Ginger having a dust bath in the onion bed.

October 18, 2017 — 9:34 pm
Comments: 4

Not that, you bastards! Anything but that!

bacon

Food is one of the hardest things for an immigrant to cope with. This immigrant, anyhow. It’s one thing to visit a country and immerse yourself in the local cuisine; it’s another when, five years later, not love nor money can buy you a freaking saltine cracker for your freaking soup.

Bacon. Bacon is the cruellest food. British bacon is even weirder than the Canadian stuff. I mean, it’s pretty nice in its own way, but it’s some kind of salty country ham thing. It ain’t bacon. Nome sane?

For years, there was one supermarket (not a chain, a single supermarket) that sold Oscar Mayer bacon. Sure, it was made in Spain, but somebody from OM must have overseen the process, because it was what I call proper bacon.

Then, a couple of years ago, they dropped the “Oscar Mayer” branding and relabeled it “American style” bacon. That’s an actual packet of it in the picture. Well, fair enough – the name was probably costing them a lot of money and didn’t mean diddly to Brits. It was the same true blue American bacon.

And then the quality began to slip. First the packet wouldn’t peel open properly and had to be cut up the side. Then the bacon stuck together and wouldn’t come off in cohesive strips. It was more like baconfloss. That comes from losing the American quality control, I guess.

And today? Gone from the shelf. Nowhere to be found. Not even the thin comfort of bacon strings for weasel.

It’ll have to be pancetta. Dammit.

October 17, 2017 — 7:40 pm
Comments: 41

Apocalypse Soon

ophelia

I pinched the map from the Daily Mail. The swirly thing just West of Ireland is Hurricane Ophelia. We don’t expect to see much of it here.

What the arrows show is the attending wind currents, which have sucked up huge amounts of sand from the Sahara and smoke from wildfires in Spain and made our skies weird and orange (‘Donald Trump colored’ as someone described it). The sun is (was, it’s gone down now) distinctly red-rubber-ball-ish. Very spooky. Do follow the link above and look at some color pictures.

The chickens were having none of it.

This has happened before. If experience serves, we should wake up tomorrow and find a very fine dusting of desert sand all over everything.

October 16, 2017 — 5:33 pm
Comments: 14

Wish you were here

postcard

So, ya, I took a train up the coast for a work seminar today. Archivists and the law, mainly copyright law. It turned out to be not very applicable, not least because most of the documents we handle are very, very old.

And also because my main interest was working out if we could reuse some of our old photos and artwork as postcards. And since the time I started wondering, the bottom has totally fallen out of the postcard trade.

Seriously, we can’t give them away. Britain’s oldest postcard manufacturer has just gone tits up. And the murderer is: the selfie.

Well, the selfie, plus Instagram plus the cost of postage. Thanks, Royal Mail. We still sell some folding cards — you can tuck a fiver in there and a note and it’s nice and private in an envelope and it doesn’t cost any more in postage. But only the terribly old buy postcards, and they mostly buy them for souvenirs.

And that’s it for a tuckered weasel tonight. Have a good weekend, all!

October 13, 2017 — 8:03 pm
Comments: 15

In praise of the messy

thekeep

I went to a lecture tonight. It revolved around a cache of hundreds of 18th Century personal letters that turned up in the back of a closet.

Think of this, O ye tidy folk — all the history we have comes from someone in the past who couldn’t bear to throw something away. However hard it is for us to believe it, everything you can see in the room where you are sitting will be interesting in a hundred years, fascinating in two hundred and a priceless antique in three.

The picture is from the About page of The Keep — the repository of the East Sussex Record Office where these letters (and thousands of other interesting documents) live. You probably don’t have any specific connection to East Sussex, but you can spend a merry hour or more plugging words into the search box and seeing where it takes you.

As promised, I shall be lame tonight, and even lamer tomorrow night. I’ve got an all-day seminar to go to, far away.

October 12, 2017 — 9:10 pm
Comments: 11

Enter title here

honkboy
 

Boy swallows toy horn, makes hilarious party favor sound when he inhales.

No, seriously, go watch the video. It’s ten seconds of mild amusement.

As a side note, that’s the exact sound Mapp Chicken makes when she sneezes. Cracks me up.

Yes, it’s another lazy, low-effort post from Weasel, and it’ll only get worse this week. I have a lecture to go to tomorrow night, and an all day work-related field trip on Friday. I’m dreading both more than I can say.

Oh, I’ll undoubtedly enjoy myself, but it is in my nature to dread unusual activities. I don’t think people realize what a debilitating handicap it is to be temperamentally low energy and bone idle.

I shoulda been aristocracy. Or one of those maiden aunties who took to her bed with a chill and never got out again.

Perhaps I’ll apply for benefits.
 

 

October 11, 2017 — 9:25 pm
Comments: 12

Day 4

inktober04

I was short of time on Day 4, so I did a tiny Geralt of Rivia fanart (dude from the Witcher III game). Even though it’s very small, it still took considerable time to prep and put together, which is why I doubt I’ll make it to 31.

My mother trained in portraiture, and she was very good at it. I would love to have followed, but I cannot capture a likeness to save my immortal soul.

That’s a whole separate skill, quite apart from painting ability. I have a friend who is a not very good painter, but you look at her paintings and know who you’re looking at. Me, the most common reaction to my portraits is, “that’s a lovely picture of somebody, but it sure ain’t me.”

Here I demonstrate that I cannot reproduce an accurate likeness of a comic character with white hair, yellow slitty cat eyes and a huge scar. That’s just how good I am.

See you back here tomorrow for Dead Pool Round 103!

October 5, 2017 — 7:06 pm
Comments: 18