Tag Archives: Cousin Cate

Tyromancy

Cousin Cate arrived this morning in a whirl of clouds and wind. My family tends to arrive unannounced and always with gifts. Cate arrived with a basket of delicious cheeses and some fascinating creatures she found in the Netherlands. (Once they’ve been categorized and observed, they shall be viewable in the Vivarium.)

Silas put out a delicious spread, including the cheeses brought by Cate, and she regaled us with tales of her latest travels and why the citizens of The Hague not-so-subtly requested Cate to vacate their city. This brings us to today’s word.

Tyromancy (noun) is a form of divination based on the observation of cheeses, especially as it coagulates. It is derived from the Greek tūros for cheese and manteia for divination.

In the Middle Ages, the shape, number of holes, and patterns of mold were often used to foretell money, love, and death.

And, according to the website occultopedia.com, in some villages, young ladies would divine the names of their future husbands by writing the names of prospective suitors on pieces of cheese. The one whose piece of cheese grew mold first was deemed the true love match for the maiden.

Fool proof, right?

Cousin Cate has never hidden her divination talents, and it seems that many people in modern society find this upsetting. The Hague is not the first town she’s been run out of, and it won’t be the last.

And I don’t need a piece of cheese to know that.

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Good Green Mountains

Well, oddlings, I must admit, things were a bit rough there.

There was the mysteriously roving hole in the roof.

There was the fissure in the foundation that multiplied each night.

There was the morning I discovered that the pet gravestones in the front garden had been sucked underground.

There was the note from Cousin Cate that our Great Great Uncle O. Underhill had gone missing. Again.

There was the call from Mordecai that he had relocated most of my creatures from the Laboratory to the Underhill House when the wallpaper had turned itself into curtains and the curtains turned themselves into a chair.

 

And then there was the morning I came back from a pre-dawn promenade in the cemetery with Bubo to discover that the house was gone. Instead, there was a smoldering pile of rubble and a stench of potpouri and whiskey.

And so we left. We got in my jalopy and sputtered to Great Great Uncle O. Underhill’s house in the mountains of Vermont.

We have houses all over the world, you know. The Underhill House is laid out exactly like my Brooklyn House in mirror image. Rather…odd, wouldn’t you say?

Weary from our journey, I collapsed in an armchair (exactly like the one in my Brooklyn parlor) in front of the wood-burning stove. There was a bottle of whiskey on the side table with a card tied round its neck.

The card read: Mine is yours. O.U.

I do believe I am home.

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Hopping Mad

At approximately 3 o’clock this morning, a great shriek and a crash echoed through the house. There were bellows, furniture went flying and a brown furry creature the size of a small ottoman rushed past me as I wound my way through the hallways to Silas’s room.

Apparently, Suluk brought back a pygmy yeti from her travels last month.

Apparently, said pygmy yeti bit off Silas’s supernumerary toe.

You must understand: everyone in our family is born with a supernumerary toe. It is often on the left foot for men, and the right foot for women. And we always lose our supernumerary toes in odd and adventurous ways (naturally).

Cousin Octavia lost her toe getting drunk with sirens off the coast of Cuba.

Uncle Ruprecht lost his toe whilst in the Congo. It seems that he was bare-chested wrestling with a chubacabra in some sort of strength display.

Cousin Cate lost hers whilst playing polo on a hippogriff.

Great-Uncle Ebenezer lost his hunting with korrigans in Scotland.

Aunt Agatha lost hers in a freak accident whilst dancing with a Japanese Tatsu.

Silas had managed to keep his toe the longest. Most of us lose ours at a fairly young age, doing something reckless and dangerous. Silas’s ability to keep his supernumerary toe had become a point of pride with him, and the family often theorized on how he would finally lose it.

I suppose losing it to a pygmy yeti – currently a cute and fluffy little cryptid the size of a beagle puppy – was too much of a disappointment for poor Silas.

He left in a black rage before the sun came up. I have his toe in a jar, along with all the other toes of the family (we’ve always kept them, organized and labeled).

And now I have a pygmy yeti. I think he’s rather adorable, don’t you?

A Kitchen to Dye For

Yesterday I participated in a TweetChat, sponsored by Creating the Hive. I met a delightful bunch of ladies and there was a lot of discussion about upcycling old items into “new” items. A Mrs. Scrimp, from the blog Scrimpalicious, and I discussed fabric dyes made from foods and plants. My Cousin Cate was famous for her kitchen-made dyes, and her third wedding dress was a brilliant red made with beets and rhododendrons.

Unable to contact Cate, as is normal with most of my relatives (only available when it’s inconvenient), I did a bit of research to find recipes for kitchen-made dyes. Here is what I came up with.

From Becky Striepe at greenupgrader:

The key to making those natural dyes color-fast when dyeing fabric is using a fixative, and you can find the ingredients for this in your kitchen cupboard, too! Just boil your fabric in salty water (about 1/2c salt to 8c water will do). Vinegar works, as well. Use 1c vinegar in 8c water. Now, it’s ready to dye!

How to Dye Your Fabric

Making the dye is simple enough, but it will take some experimenting to get the color just how you want it. Boil your fruit, veggie, or spice of choice in water to create your dye. This will take a couple of hours.

Once the dye is the color you want, you’re ready to simmer the fabric. This can be quick or take more than an hour, depending on how dark you want the fabric. Keep an eye on your pot until you achieve the color you’re after. You might want to go even a bit darker, since some of the dye will rinse out.

Remove your dyed fabric from the water, rinse it until the water runs clear, then hang it to dry. Voila! You’ve now got custom-dyed fabric that’s ready to sew!

Over at The Steampunk Workshop, Libby Bulloff likes to use onion peels and tea leaves to dye old petticoats and tuxedo shirts. She also discusses mordants, so this is a good read for the kitchen textile artist.

Yesterday, someone suggested using Kool-aid as a dye. I can’t keep Kool-aid and other powdered drink mixes in the house – amazingly, great horned owls go batty for packets of flavor – but this article explains how to dye, dye, dye with the stuff. (Paula Burch’s website is a robust resource for information from dyeing to botanicals.)

Since many of my shirts boast a variety of coffee and tea stains, I’m considering trying my hand at caffeinated dyes. I always wear a lab coat or other protective gear in the Laboratory (for obvious reasons), but somehow I get messiest when settled into my chair with a cuppa and a book.

Tonia over at the blog Itty Bitty Impact naturally dyed fabric for a party dress, and directed me to the blogs Crafting a Green World and Pioneer Thinking.

My only advice to you would be this: use dedicated pots for dyeing that are separate from your cooking pots. And keep extra berries around for snacking whilst you dye. Do write to me and send me pictures of your experiments. I love fellow explorers.

Dye hard, dye with your boots on, get rich and dye trying, and always dye laughing.

I’m done. I promise. Forgive me.

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