A Necklace To Fan Over

A long time ago, I moved from Seattle to New Jersey. It took a while for me to get employed and back on my feet, so I frequently shopped at (or sold things to) a nice second hand shop. On one of my visits to the shop, I noticed an unusual necklace and it was love at first sight. I paid five dollars for it. Not a lot of money, I suppose, but at that time it meant I’d have to skip dinner. But I had to have it.

I wore it a few times, but it really did look dirty and sad, and the clasp was loose. So, it’s been tucked in the bottom of my jewelry box for… eons. This week I decided it was well past time to try to restore it to its former beauty. Here’s the ‘before’ pictures.

Damascene Necklace
A bunch of googling tells me this necklace was produced by the Amita Company of Kyoto, Japan, in the very late 1930s or sometime in the 1940s.
Damascene Necklace
It’s well-worn and shows its age, but nothing is broken. The clasp got a little loose, but it’s just a wedge of metal. I found out it was easy to bend by hand to get a tighter fit.
Damascene Necklace
I can see Mount Fuji in the background, and some cozy homes up front. I’ve now learned that what I thought was black stone is oxidized steel. Sadly, the hanging tassel is really scuffed up. It may be the first piece of the necklace I try cleaning up.
Damascene Necklace
There’s that easy-to-bend clasp. Each side of the necklace has four fans featuring birds, butterflies, and village scenes.
Damascene Necklace
I can’t wait to start cleaning this necklace up. I hope it sparkles!

Can I get a drum roll please! Here come the ‘After’ pictures! After doing lots of research, I used Q-tips, plain warm water, and ivory soap. My method: Dip the Q-tip in water, rub it on the bar of soap, then gently scrub each fan. I went over the entire necklace (including the clasp) three times. Those Q-tips looked disgusting, which I found encouraging. For a final step, I heavily soaped up my hands and picked up the necklace to give it a gentle soapy massage. Then it got a final rinse in clean water. I pinned it to a cork board overnight to air dry, and this is what I woke up to. It’s a very sunny day here, and it just glistens in the sunlight! I’m very happy. I’ll be looking for a reason to wear it VERY soon.

Restored Damascene Necklace
The large fan really cleaned up well. All the details of a fishing village in the shadow of Mount Fuji are there. The silver will always look muted, but now it stands out more clearly.
Restored Damascene Necklace
The tassle is much better. Before cleaning,the three flowers didn’t look like flowers. It’s still not perfect, but I didn’t feel comfortable scrubbing it any more than I did.
Restored Damascene Necklace
Everything shines!
Restored Damascene Necklace
A view of one side, and the clasp fastener. There are four different scenes, which are repeated in the same order on the other side. The second fan from the top has a muddy Mt. Fuji and part of the silver fan wouldn’t clean up. I notice the metal ‘handle’ isn’t shiny either. I wonder what happened to this fan?
Restored Damascene Necklace
This side, and the clasp cleaned up quite nicely. The chain looks a lot better too. Just soap and water, who knew?

If you are interested in learning more about Damascene jewelry (I know I am!) here are some links to get you going.

The History of AMITA Co., Ltd.
About Damascene Jewelry (with pictures of the process)
Vintage Damascene Jewelry
Damascene Jewelry – Art and Science in Two Hemispheres
Vintage Damascene Jewelry: Three Key Traits

Brussels Slaw

So, I invented a slaw! While I love traditional cabbage-based coleslaw, it sometimes lacks a depth of flavors. Not so with a Brussells sprouts based slaw. I’m not going to list exact measurements, because I haven’t made this the same way twice, but it’s been great every time.

One thing that’s a constant, though, is that the Brussells sprouts need to be the main ingredient. Whatever else you put in, make sure there’s more sprouts than anything else. That’s where the complex, rich flavor comes from.

I cook low-sodium, so there’s no salt in my slaw. I don’t miss it, but you might, so season to taste if you wish.

Make sure all the vegetables are raw and fresh, and everything is finely chopped/shredded. The finer the shred, the more luxurious your slaw will be. The secret of slaw-ing the Brussells sprouts is this: Chop off the thick stem, then halve the raw sprouts. You’ll see a cone-shaped core at the stem end. Make a V-shaped cut to remove that. Yes, lots of leaves will fall off, but who cares? It’s all getting shredded. I shove the loose leaves to the side to fine-chop separately.

Flip your sprout-halves down on the cut side and slice as finely as possible. Or use whatever nifty modern device you might have to fine-slice them. I’m old-fashioned and use a sharp knife. (I love the process of preparing food by hand as much as I love eating it!)

INGREDIENTS AND INSTRUCTIONS

Brussells Sprouts prepared as described above. I’ve been using a couple dozen per batch. After shredding, I use my fingers to break up any slices that didn’t fall apart to be sure its as shreddy as possible.

Broccoli florets. JUST the bits on the end of the florets. Those little round things at the very end. That’s all you want in this slaw. Anything chunkier will interfere with that soft and silky slaw. Save the rest for a cream of broccoli puree or some-such. A quarter cupful will deepen the slaw’s flavor nicely.

Sweet white onion, finely chopped. Just a bit, a few tablespoons at most. This is for seasoning’s sake.

Radishes. I’ve been fine-chopping three large ones.

Carrots! Shred them with a box-shredder if you’re like me, or use your favorite device. Two small carrots have been working well for me.

Mix all the veggies thoroughly. Season them with garlic powder, black pepper and a bit of hot pepper flakes. Use as much of each as seems right to you, this slaw is NOT an exact science.

When you’re ready to serve, plop in just enough mayonnaise to coat everything. You want it creamy but not resembling mayonnaise soup. Mix with a fork very, very thoroughly.

Enjoy, and keep the bowl close by for seconds because you will want them.

An Island of Books

I recently set up a book shop on Book Island, a region in Second Life that celebrates books, readers, storytellers, authors – if it’s literary, it’s here. Come visit! I have a free book waiting for you, and a cozy chair to read it in. Book Island hosts many events, too – there’s author talks and readings, writing events to keep writers motivated, and lots of book shops like mine. My shop is located at http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Book%20Island/196/248/496

Every shop needs a sign, and this is mine
The view in from the sidewalk. That little book on the tentacle table? It’s free! You can have one. I’ve also added a free gift box with fun things and informative notecards to that table now, too.
Cozy Kitty chairs are for you to curl up in, relax, and read.
I don’t have radiators, but I do have a steamy cookbook to cozy up the place.
The book shop that also fulfills all your circus cannon needs. The “No Boom Today” is for sale for a mere ten Lindens. Just click it and buy one. It’s made of high quality old-school mesh and prims. Antiques are cool, right?
And I had a blank spot on a wall, so I thought, why not sell a few of my classic boats? The Clean Getaway is a seaworthy bubble blowing bathtub, and the Over Easy is both driveable and delicious. It can be consumed if you become shipwrecked on a desert island.
On a cool Autumn night, step inside to warm up and rest.
The street outside my shop is a gathering place for literary events. Isn’t this a nice neighborhood?

Young Michigan Author’s Debut Novel is a Keeper

The Keeper Academy: The Legend of the Witch’s Woods is available for pre-order at Amazon, in either Kindle or paperback formats. M.E. Garrett is a talented teenage writer, and this is her debut novel. The book is an absorbing and thrilling Young Adult paranormal/romance adventure. Pre-order now and you’ll be cracking into chapter one on October 30th. Your pre-order will go a long way towards the book’s Amazon ranking on drop-day, too. Michiganders, she’s a local girl. Let’s support our ‘Gander teenage authors!

Frankenstein on Fantasy Faire Radio

“I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.”
~ from Frankenstein, by Mary Wollenscroft Shelley

Frankenstein is back! Last year FFR partnered with Seanchai Library for a live broadcast of a radio drama adaptation of the Mary Shelley classic. Did we record it and produce it? You BET we did! We will be airing this 2-hour presentation twice, and you won’t want to miss it. The cast features Zander Greene, Elrik Merlin, David Abbot, Corwyn Allen, Caledonia Skytower, with Shandon Loring as Frankenstein’s Creation.

Saturday, October 19th beginning at 2pm slt
Sunday, October 20th beginning at 11am

The CocoaJava Cafe in New Babbage will be one of the venues hosting listening parties during both presentations. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Babbage%20Canals/38/75/106

The CocoaJava Cafe (A Writer’s Haven~A Reader’s Retreat~A Bohemian’s Rhapsody) is a casual Steampunk/Victorian literary coffeehouse. Authors and bookworms are often found lounging on floor pillows by the fireplace or sipping a drink at the cafe tables. The CocoaJava features a state of the art absinthe fountain, and red wine served from… well, it’s a pipe dream. Oh and mind the shop cat, he’s odd.

More information on listening parties will be posted closer to the broadcast date. Check the Fantasy Faire website for details as they emerge: https://fantasyfairesl.wordpress.com/

Or simply tune in and listen on your internet browser or network player at fantasy.radioriel.org, or http://streams.radioriel.org:8070/stream.

FRANKENSTEIN on Fantasy Faire Radio is sponsored by The Ravenheart Museum of Art, Culture, and Curious Things: home of The Complete Libertine Egg Collection by Alia Baroque – on display for the delight and enjoyment of all. Visit them at number 5 Siddal Street – on Rosehaven Laudanum: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Rosehaven%20Laudanum/137/159/22

Timberrrrrr!

On Saturday, August 24, 2019, the largest tree in our yard, a Black Locust tree that might have been as old as our Eisenhower-era home, changed its stance from vertical to horizontal. Enjoy the ride – and click any pic to imbiggen it!

Friday, August 23, 2019. Last known living photograph of the deceased.


The intrepid team of After Hours Tree Service spent some time wandering the back yard, deciding where they wanted to lay the tree down. And darned if they didn’t put it EXACTLY where they planned to. They made it look easy. Chainsaw out a wedge facing in the direction of the fall, then go around and make a deep cut right behind that, and let gravity take over. The tree cracked twice, loudly – and the cliches are correct! It sounded like gunshot. I don’t have words to describe the sound of it slamming onto the lawn.

After The Fall: Comes the Chipping. Much less exciting and glamorous than the CRACK CRACK THUMP part. The guys cut small branches off the felled tree and fed them into an industrial chipper, which shot the chips into the back of that white truck.

The chipper was super-impressive… until it jammed. They had secret meetings, poked it a lot, drove off, came back, and then it was working again!

Cutting branches loose from a tree this large reminds me of sharks feeding off a dead whale. Sorry, I watch a lot of documentaries.

And when they went to cut the main trunk in half, BOING! The tree had other plans. I had no idea it was a spring-loaded tree, but that was fun to watch.
We’d requested that a few feet of stump be left intact, for future creative purposes. Incidentally, directly under that felled trunk are a bunch of hens and chicks plants. About half survived, and the other half were turned into Has-Been Hens and Chick-en McNothings.

Yep, that’s a rotten spot in the stump’s center. No worries, we have a cunning plan. It involves expanding foam. 😀 But first we’re going to let the stump dry out and settle. The roots are still trying to ‘feed the tree’. This may take a while. Stay tuned.

The view from my Girl Cave was a BIT different that day.

Chives watched everything from a safe spot with a great view. As you can tell by his body language, he was quite distraught. (He didn’t even flinch when the tree cracked and slammed onto the ground! That boy is fearless!)

What I’m Reading For Book Lovers Day 2019

I’ll be finishing “Absinthe, Alewives & Alchemy” by Kate Henriott and Ted Jauw today. I met the authors at a Michigan Steam Expo earlier this year, and found them both utterly delightful folk. Kate shared some of her homemade absinthe with me, and I really need to track her down again to buy a few bottles. We talked about heritage cooking, wine making, gardening and herbs, and I found so many connections with her. It took me a while to get to the book, and then it got set aside for a while, half-read, but it’s time to settle back in for the rest of the story, while sipping one of my own weird little recipes: a huge mug of boiling water laced with apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, a LOT of cinnamon and honey. Lovely stuff and seems to awaken something in me.

You can have a sneak preview of the book below. What are you reading today?

Book Review: Raise the Stakes

Raise the Stakes
Aces High, Jokers Wild – Book 3
by O.E. Tearmann
Available in Paperback and Kindle at Amazon.com

It’s 2156. Corporations now control the people of what used to be the United States. And they’ve gone way too far.

But, there’s a Resistance. The Democratic State Force has pushed back for decades. And they’ve come up with an incredible plan: To free the people from a system that literally runs their lives by knocking out the Citizen Standing Score. Now, all the force needs is just the right team with enough smarts and guts to pull it off. Being a little crazy wouldn’t hurt, either.

It’s a mission custom-made for Base 1407. Every team member is brilliant in their assigned duty – and not a one of them lives up to society’s common expectations.

But even as the team puts in endless hours working on their game plan, they also strive to figure out who they are and what their lives mean—not only to themselves, but to others.

This is a ‘Mission Impossible’ style adventure caper, but it’s also an unflinching (and often smart-ass) examination of life, love, acceptance, change and what truly makes a family. And just like the unorthodox team members of Base 1407, it’s a story that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

A caution: LBGTQ romantic themes are explored, often in graphic, loving detail. If this is not your cuppa, you may be put off by this aspect of the story. I was not. I felt this very real part of life was included in balance with the breathtaking action sequences, the absorbing tech details, the quirks of personalities, and the varied blessings and challenges of body and mind that the people of Base 1407 face every moment of their lives.