Thursday, June 28, 2012

Build a Cardboard Castle

 This is a great rainy day summer project, if you have already collected some toilet paper and paper towel rolls and various small cardboard boxes.  Most of the cardboard is thin enough for a child to cut.  I dismantled all the boxes and turned them inside out to hide the labels, but I think a colorful castle would be nice, too.  See the little round tower on the corner?  That is called a bartizan.  We cut slits in a toilet paper roll to stick it onto the wall.  The skinny white tower to the left is a garderobe....a latrine.  It hangs over the outside wall and empties into the moat, or in this case, into the lake.  The tall towers have merlons, (square blocks which defenders could hide behind,) and crenels, the spaces in between, for shooting at the enemy.

 My son wanted me to work with him.  It was fun to collaborate.  And it was fun to see what he remembered from our last trip to the Chateau de Chillon.  He remembered that people of the middle ages used the water of Lac Leman right outside the castle both for sewage and drinking water...ugh.

 Look at this delightful watermill he made.  It is fun to see what the shapes of the cardboard will suggest.  The watermill is made from some dividers from a box containing jam jars.

 He used my ink brush to add details.

 And he remembered about the shingled catwalks, which are called allures.  Of course, a castle needs defenses, like the cannon you can see above.

 Here are some inspirations for you, pictures from the Chateau de Chillon.

 Look at the sundial on the side of this building.  Do you see those curved supports under the roof?  These projections are called machiolations.  Defenders could drop missiles on attackers from there.

 Can you see the narrow windows, through which defenders could shoot arrows on attackers?  They are called arrow loops, or meurtrieres, which means "murderers" in French.

 We think of castles as being made of exposed stone, like this, but

 this castle had stucco spread over the stones, as shown in the picture above.

 This wooden gallery on top of a wall is the allure.  It is fun to walk in an allure and look down into the courtyards on each side.  Inner courtyards are called baileys, or wards.

This tower on the right is called the keep, or donjon.  It was the last refuge of the castle owners and was very difficult to penetrate.  What kind of castle features are you going to build?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Quilting Time

 I've been working on my nephew's quilt.  I decided to tie the squares in the center section.

  I used embroidery thread of many colors for the ties.  I like how the scraps look in a pile.

 I am now quilting the border.  Threading the needle takes a little longer than it used to!

 Here is what some of the quilting looks like.  It is fun to do swirls and loops and waves.  I will probably add some cursive sleepy words to the quilting.

 I wish I could get the hang of using a thimble.  My poor index finger feels like a pincushion!

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Hike With a Goat

 Here she is, the adventure goat who spent the afternoon hiking with us.

 She joined us as we hiked up the road from Tavayanne to the ski lift above  If my son or anyone else stopped, she would bleat to hurry us along.  She seemed to want the herd to stay together.

 When we got to the meadow at the top, we ate nectarines and apricots.  She ate grass and flowers.

My son said this flower is called "Parrot's Nest," because the individual yellow flowers look like parrots.

 I wanted to keep her.

I first saw Tavayanne in the winter on a snowshoeing trip.  I couldn't believe how beautiful this little hamlet in the mountains was, with five feet of snow on the rooftops, and not a soul to be seen, because it doesn't have electricity.  People only live here in the summer.

 This is part of the dairy farm.  Cows were in the meadow below, and a herd of white homebody goats in a meadow to the left.

Here she is hurrying to rejoin the goat herd.  But she kept looking back at us.  She wanted to go hiking again!  Apparently she does it with visitors all the time!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Visit to an Alp

 This is an alp, a summer home for the dairy farmer.  Our friend Ernst's family were dairy farmers from way back, and they used to bring the herd up to the mountain pastures each summer to graze on the wildflowers and lush grass.  The farmers would bring their families with them to take care of the cows and make cheese all summer.  Some Swiss farmers still do this, others just drive to the alp everyday to take care of the cows and do the milking.

 I have always wanted to see an alp up close. 

 Do you see the cowbells?  Next to them up in the eaves, there is a little window which goes to the sleeping loft.

 I kept trying to get my son to keep still so I could take a picture of him peeking out of the little window.  He popped his head in and out of the window like a jack-in-the-box, just to keep it challenging.

 Inside, there is a little room for sitting,

 and a little room for cooking,

 Ernst, who is a chef, started the fire right away, and got some sausages cooking as soon as possible.  The little wood stove in the background is heating water for washing the dishes.  There was one more very dark little room with food cupboards, and a spigot and sink.

 Through a low little door connected to the fireplace room, we stepped into the cow barn.  Here is the old cheese-making cauldron.

 Here are some of the troughs, well worn by the necks of cows from many years ago.

 A ramp leads from the barn into the meadows.

 Here is someone coming out of the barn.  The outhouse is at the far end of the building next to the barn.

 This girl and woman are slicing Tete de Moine, (which means Monk's Head) cheese.

 The special cutter makes the cheese slices look like flowers.  I wish I had taken a picture of Monica slicing the cheese their family made on their dairy farm.  It was delicious!

 Imagine looking up from your work to see this all summer.

Thank you, Ernst and Lucy!