Freitag, 30. Dezember 2011

A Happy New Year To you all!

Now it´s that time of year again. Phew! Last time I looked on the calendar, or so it seems, it was Chrismas 2010 and 2011 was yet to come. This year has been a teeter-totter ride for me, as well in terms of my job, my emotional life, my  future plannings and politics and so forth. Seems the world goes downhill ever so much more. Does it indeed? I cannot tell. I do not know what the future will bring. But I know I am a different person than on the dawn of 2011. I have done a lot of forging, have ridden far and wide, have encountered many great adventures, have met many people who have enriched and inspired my life. Sometimes I want to just cling to things as they always were, life is moving ever so fast. For instance, I cling to those old friends I have won in mountainbike riding, and to those old times when we all had more of a ball and not as many worries around. But then this is quite childish, eh? I have met many people, encountered many different ways of life, many alternatives.
But I have never left my path. It is mine, and noone can walk it but me. I have waited a long time for someone coming along this path, but noone came, and thus I realized I had to go myself. it might as well be called something of a spiritual or philosophical quest, but that´s not the entire truth. It´s just life, and I think 2012 will continue that way. I don´t know what I will be doing exactly. I have no preceptions for the new year, for I know these are prone to failure. But I want to do this more properly.

Guess there will be more fits of poetry yet, and more philosophical rants. Cry STOP!!!if it gets on your nerves;-).

Thanks to those folks around, those gals and guys out there with hats and hiking boots, hammers, hatchets, tongs and knives, you foragers, Christians, Pagans, Buddhists, you Scandinavians, Brits, Americans, Germans, Romanians, Hungarians, Polish, Russian and whoever or whatever. I really like the fact that in the blogging scene, people generally respect each other, no matter how weird they may be;-). This gives a lot of hope to me. We are not at all of the same opinion, and chance is, many of you switch off this blog and mutter something like "WEIRDO!" or "HOW can he!?" sometimes, when I gave you a dose of the old Fimbulmyrk rant. I respect you for sticking around nonetheless, giving valuable and honest and respectful input all the time in spite of all that.

And yap, we are a whole world of nationalities out here. And while there is WW III going on, there is still room for respect. And this is the reason I hope for 2012 being a better world made possible, if only a tiny bit. World peace is not necessary, human society would not work without war. But maybe there will be more respecting each other beforehand and in the process.

Have a head start into the new year, and all my best wishes to you!!!!

Mittwoch, 28. Dezember 2011

Some slime-surfing mountainbike ride again

 Yesterday I set out to do some road riding, and as usual, it turned out a bit different. I phoned around with my mates, and it´s funny, but in the last year noone likes to ride with me anymore. It´s that they have no time, other things to do or whatever. No, don´t get me wrong, I believe them. They simply have no time when I have, and I am short on time when they have. Riding alone, then. As I said, I PLANNED to stick to the lane, but it turned out it bored me big style, so I rode out to the hills, and, believe me, I really wanted to stick to the road;-). No, really, I wanted. Turned out the woods called on mightily, and I had some strange encounters again. Now it is December. It´s a warm one over here, okay, with 3-7 degrees, but that should not bring THIS fellow to blossom: Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium,

 in German: Schafgarbe). And not just one herb, but many of them. I was riding on and wondering thoroughly to myself... Then it just bit me and I ventured on to some technical singletrack. No pics, though, don´t want to have hordes of half-mad downhillers;-) building 7m - drops and kickers there:-), plus I had some other things to do. When I rode on, one of the  reasons I still ride happened. It is a psychophysical phenomenon commonly referred to as "flow"  after Mihalyi Cziksentmihalyi, an autotelic experience sharing many parallels to the Japanese Zen term "Satori". Anyway, this is not the space to rant on about this;-), and maybe I get my resolve to complete my scientific work on this topic, which you may read in this place then. But as I was in complete balance, a buzzard started from the side of the trail again (this happens ever so frequently to me, no clue why;-)) and, this was truly weird, flew with me down the trail in a distance of about five metres. It did not rise higher or turned. It just flew with me down that hill, and when the trail turned uphill, it turned away again and cried its cry. Somewhat esoteric experience, if you ask me, but simply good and a beautiful event I do not want to interpret, for it is good as it is. Of course, the bummer would follow soon. On the next downhill I was quite enjoying myself and having some air. Seems I messed up one landing and hit a rock. Hitting a small rock of that size is no problem normally, but I like to run my tyre pressure somewhat low, and this IS a problem with allmountain tyres as I like to run, for downhill tyres just suck on the uphills;-). So it went ffffffffffffffffffffffftBAM, and I got a slab. By that time temps were dropping, and a steady drizzle started. Now I like to be prepared, so it was no problem, I just took out my spare tube and fitted it in, but I guess this is a good example that being prepared may elongate your life. You CAN die of hypothermia, even in those domesticated woods.
It was getting dark, too, so I chose to take the low road (pun intended*g*) home.

When I got home I realized something. I realized I missed this sport. I have done much riding in the last year, but always with an intent. Foraging, commuting, and the like. But it has always been experiences like the one with the buzzard that kept me riding for 27 years now, and this is most of my life. It´s not in being better than anyone. It´s not the material, as it is with others. That may help me get out there. But what really counts is the feeling of flying with the buzzard, of being one with the tiny space of calm within the gates of the wind. Call it a religious craze, or psychological, or whatever. You can have a simple ball with your mates out in the woods. You can have a laugh riding, enjoy the scenery, and whatever. Many reilsh in being better than anyone else, or in having a great bike and riding it, in getting better and all that stuff, and I can relate to that, too.

But it all comes down to that moment in full flight, when the buzzards rises in your soul to fly with the one outside. If you are able to feel this through, you´ll know. And you can´t fit it into words anymore, and you may rant on endlessly and helplessly. This is one reason I despise the hate-preachers as much as I do.

No words, just being.

I LOVE roast deer:-)

 On Chrismas Eve I visited my mother, for her friend was with his family and mummy wanted to spend some time with sonny;-). She had some deer meat handy and wanted to prepare it and wasn´t quite sure what to do with it:-). So I wrestled her for dominion over the dishes. After a fight of approximately half an hour (no worries, she will recover from her injuries soon:-)), I claimed dominion over the meat and prepared it my way... had some ideas, coincidentally*g. She had already soaked it in a concoction of red wine, juniper berries, laurel leaves, black pepper and honey. I then wrapped it with twine net and added some onion slices, some bacon slices, wild apple and spruce hips (harvested when young).
Heated the oven at 200 degrees Celsius. In a pot I gave it a turn in sizzling onion / apple lard until roasted sharply on the outside, hot but shortly. Then I turned down the heat on the oven to 50 degrees and put the meat on a bed of bacon, apple and onion slices into the oven. The lard I filled up with the wine marinade until sizzling no more and turned down the heat immediately. After half an hour I turned the heat up to 75 degrees and poured some marinade over it. Did that every half hour. It was some 3,5 hours in the oven, with the last 15 minutes at 120 degrees. In the last half hour, we prepared some potato dumpling and some red cabbage to go along with the meat. The cabbage was enriched with a shot of marinade and some  
nutmeg and cinnamon. We then sweated some meal in lard until brown and deglazed the sauce with the leftover marinade. Added some black pepper, crushed coarsely, nutmeg powder (a knifetip full), spruce hips, some fresh (dry) red wine, some bouillon and water. In the meantime the meat was done. We served with the bacon, onions, apples, red cabbage and dumplings, and did we have a feast? BOY DID we!! I do not want to brag, but I really, really enjoyed it. I was right grateful for the experience. I spared a thought for the deer which has given its life, and the other things provided for so richly, and I came to a strange notion again:-).

In everyday situation so often we eat without pausing to think about what we eat, let alone being grateful for the meal. It was a very laborious ;-) process making this meal, and it payed off. So often I tend to eat some fast - food. As a forager, I know that I have to respect what I harvest, but even that wears off sometimes. This meal, however, was an experience I will relish in for  a long time. And this was an aspect of Chrismas that taught me something again. So much to learn. So many great things in this life;-)...I will try to cook something more than just carbohydrates more frequently, or so I hope.

Pimp ´em Opinels for Chrismas presents;-)

 Now it´s always some sort of challenge to choose the right presents for Chrismas. I found out even people who are normally not into blades much really like those Opinels. I mean, it´s obvious they cut like mad and even serve a great job in the kitchen. To add some personality to it, I love to carve them. It´s quick and easily done, does not impair the function and makes for an absolutely unique knife. The one on the left I made for my uncle, who unfortunately;-) has his birthday on Chrismas, the poor fellow. It´s a No. 9 with a carbon steel blade. The carving is burned with a spruce resin / beeswax / linseed oil finish.
This one now lives in Fritz´ pocket, the "boy";-) friend of my mother. Same finish, but he likes shorter ones, so a No. 8 this time, carbon steel again.

Freitag, 23. Dezember 2011

Merry Chrismas, good Yul to y`all!!!

It is a dark time of year, the darkest, in fact. Light has been ever so much waning and fading. Night has taken over, and the days are now at their shortest. They do not get any shorter. It is not getting darker. At the time of this solstice, the tides of power turn again, and light returns.

May your Yule time, your Chrismas, your Sol Invictus or however you call it, be like this: May hope always find you in the darkest hour.

Peace and the time for contemplation, for simple and good things, a laugh and a song with your families or loved ones, good food, good drink I wish to you all who follow my blog. I wish you the light in your heart and a twinkle in your eyes -  the way you had as a child.

And may always be a fairy tale in your heart!

Business as usual...but: Santa Volker;-) makes some kids happy again!

 It´s Friday, and it has been somewhat stressy those days, but, funny enough, working at the Bethaus smithy somehow let all the Chrismas stress subside... Those kids were all there to celebrate the birthday of ?Max?, and they obviously had some fun.
 Waiting for the fun to start. Volker explained how the forgework would be done, and the kids were fascinated by the heat, the smoke, the smell of the coal, and the atmosphere.
 "Now this is the forge", says Volker;-).

Thanks, bro, it is always a pleasure to work with you!

He makes it look easy for the kids and really loves to work with them, and it shows. Even if it´s a bit stressy at times, I have never seen him lose his temper, yelling or cursing.
 Here he forges the preform of a decorative horseshoe. First the bend is forged.
 Then it´s being flattened. This is a good practice for the kids or even any smith looking for some practicing his surface skills.
 Back into the fire...
 Some cleaning up work...

 And then it´s cut on the hardy chisel.
 Like this, see;-)?
 Some more cleaning up later, this is the finished product. Oh, and top is a small knife we made like hotcakes from rebar. Selectively tempered. I guess it were some 15 knives we made in total, all in about three hours, tempered, annealed, sharpened and serviceable. We handed them to the adults who were fascinated and seemed at least a tiny bit content. It was a very satisfying experience, and fun to work for customers like these!
 Leon trying to coax me into making him a third knife;-)after he had made two himself and a third for his friend:-). Joking aside, this little fellow forged a BIG knife from BIG rebar (with a little help from the adult at the sledge) and even had a go at working the 10 kg sledge hammer. He also tempered and annealed with but a tiny bit of help by myself. Great job! Plus, he did not go through this ordeal for himself, but to give it to his friend.
 Filing the grates...
 I also made this blade from an ancient piece of spring steel with a carbon content of approximately 0,75%, 100 mm, spine thickness 3 mm, scandi grind, no worries;-).... Merry Chrismas to me;-).

Donnerstag, 15. Dezember 2011

New Mountainbike Blog I follow

This here is a blog by the vertriders, a team I am very fascinated with. TRhey certainly have a take on the sport that is adventurous, challenging and professional.


Mittwoch, 14. Dezember 2011

Swans on the storm

Dark clouds they gather
On the horizon
Swans on the storm
Sing their last song

Towers of green glass
They stand aflame with lightning
Perkunas rides home
From a battle far beyond

Look at all the tanks,
Look at all the rockets,
The day of doom has come,
The day has come to die.

Look at all the tanks, 
Look at all the rockets
Aeons I lived, now I shall die.

Towers of green glass
Stand aflame with lightning
Perkunas rides out
To ward the rainbow´s bridge

Aeons I lived now 
They want me dying,
Aeons I lived,
Now they will die.

Dark clouds they gather
On the horizon,
Swans on the storm
Sing their last song.

Prepare my iron chariot
And bring me my hatchet,
My rod of iron,
My crown of amber.

Aeons I lived now
Hunting the Devil,
Now I set out
To hunt humankind.

Dark clouds they gather
On the horizon
Swans on the storm
Sing their last song.

This is a song I wrote some years ago on a gloomy night in the time after Chrismas / Jul, when the furious host is said to ride through the air, and it just struck me, and I had to write that down. The moon photo, however, I made last week, and just thought it would fit in with the mood.

Progress on my little laminate EDC

So, I worked a bit on my little laminate EDC blade, nothing fancy, just some scrub-filing and contour-tailoring. The blade will be rather thin to be an able cutter and will get a scandi grind in the bargain;-). Tank bearing steel and wrought iron.

The blade will be about 76 mm long x 2,5 mm thickness in the middle with a constant tapering towards the tip. Ah yes, seems surprising, but that handle is actually quite comfortable, I did not believe it at first, too.
And I like the thistle-like appearance of those lines...

Mother´s quince jelly with ginger

I had some quince to spare and gave them to my old mother, and chance is, she processed them and coincidentally had some jelly to spare, how come;-)?

This is how she made it:

500 g quince
150 g ginger
650 g pectinous sugar
1 shot ( 2 cl) of rum

Chop the ginger finely. Do the same to the quince, leave the peels on, they contain a high amount of pectine and help in jellying the mass. Cook quince with a little water and reduce to a mass. Add the ginger, cook for about five minutes more. Let it rest for ten minutes. Pass through a sieve. Add the pectinous sugar and cook again. Before filling in vaccuum jars, add the shot of rum. Fill into jars. Done.;-).

Rum quince

Soooo, I had all those quincies lying around, and a load of cheap rum, for as usual I misjudged the measure;-). I am not at all for cheap rum drunken pure, no, thanks, I am not THAT needy*ggg*. So I covered the quince with brown sugar and equal parts spruce honey. I let it rest for my magical three days, until the syrup filled up. Then I added about half a litre of mild (56%) Carribean rum. Now the quince are soaked nice and through, they will see some candying to serve as a sweetmeat for Jul. The liquor I will drink as such.

Some alcohol to drown my winter depression and loneliness in;-)-sloe rum

This is sloe;-) food erm ..rum ;-) I made recently. I took:

3 handful of deep-frozen sloe (obviously not frozen);-)
Caramel (brown) crystalline (Kandis) sugar until the fruit were covered
1 scroll cinnamon
1 knifetip vanilla
Some mild rum  (56 %) to fill up

I covered the sloe, the cinamon and the vanilla with the sugar and let it rest for three days in the sun, or what goes for a sorry excuse of that these days;-). Then filled the rum in. Think it will be done for Chrismas... took a swig already, and it´s almost there.

Hey, I am just taking samples, am I?*ggg*

Samstag, 10. Dezember 2011

The forge under the moon

Bound by copper wire,
Bound by iron locks,
Bound by golden rivets,
In a wooden casket,
Wrought with the copper lock,
Bound by an iron spell, cast
Into the dragon´s roar.

Beneath the moon the steed roars
The stallion fierce it cries,
Beneath the moon an iron casket,
Beneath the moon a copper veil.

It turns, the wheel of silver, round
And round it turns and turns,
Behind a gate of thirteen spokes
Behind a hub of three times nine
Behind a secret threshold,
Behind  a flaming oak.

Roar, my dragon, thrive and dance,
Fly so high, a rampage song,
Under the moon, under the smile
Of the maiden virgin.
Roar, my stallion, fire, high,
Roar, my song, a valiant light.

From the bottom of my cauldron,
To the crown, a light on high,
Be my spell, enchant my body,
Be moon and sun,
Darkness and light.

Tribal knifemaking with four-year old kids;-)- the works of Kai Bernhardt

 Now some of you might be vaguely familiar with this weird brute*ggg*. I use him as a ram when I forgot my keys... head first, that is*ggg*. Kidding aside, this is Kai, arguably one of my best mates, and he really got the blacksmithing bug. On Friday he worked for the Kindergarten where his mother works. The institution is under threat of being clossed down for lack of rentability and needing some rapairing. So the staff set out to raise funds to rebuild the house and work against closure. They organized a spontaneous Chrismas fair on the street. For 10 € donation you could eat and drink as much as you wanted, and the kids could do some forging. Hats off to this guy. He came directly from work (repairing railroad wagons, in an 8 hour shift) to go on smithing. Not many people would do that or even be capable of it!!! I want to express my deep respect for that.
 The forge cracked when he put it in the car, but he made the best of it, repaired it, and, boy, did it roar!
 Forging with four-year-olds is not for everyone. Not every smith, even if he´s a good one, can achieve this. Kai did it with:

2 hammers
a block of D 2 steel for an anvil
a block of wood
3 tongs
and a forge consisting mainly of dirt and junk.
 The homemade mulled wine was delicious, and I have to admit I had quite a fill;-).
 Proper man food;-) delicious homemade salads, BRATWÜRST *ggg* and meat kebab sticks, plus bread, hot mulled wine, punch, hot cocoa and a load of great and friendly people. When Kai had his much-needed break, I took over and helped him out so he could eat something and have a chat.
 Kai brought some leather for me... perfect, thanks, bro!
 Many of those kids were a bit reluctant at first, but quickly warmed up to the work.
 Chatting beside the Chrismas tree...
 Giftware galore...
 To the left is Manuel, who currently is on a tutoring programme with the Kindergarten. Kai repairing the forge, which nearly fell apart. In my opinion that makes for even a greater achievement, making do with what is at hand and being able to work under the worst conditions imaginable.
 This is a knife Kai made. It has an ancient Martiini or Iisakki Järvenpaa  blade that has never quite seen production and was made by Rudolph Broch in Solingen. 1.4110 steel, 57-59 HRC, birchwood burl and is that beechwood? 
 Two "viking" style (better: Birka Vendel-age style) knives and a Leuku blade from spring and file steel.
 A ritual knife he made for his girlfriend (cruel gurrrrl*ggg*), Marie. 1.2842, has yet to be tempered. Below is an EDC / neck knife design, that supposedly is 1.2842, too.
And last but not least, a Seax blade I made from an old billhook and gave to him as a present some -is that four years?- ago. The handle is yew.

When I finally drank my last mulled wine and said goodbye, it was already quite late. It was a great evening with great people for a good cause. I sincerely hope that the Kindergarten will be saved by the effort.

Getting along with my sheaths

 Joel suggested a concoction consisting of linseed oil and iron oxide to tan the sheaths. I had some iron oxide left from etching my damascus blades (vinegar, salt and iron oxide) and mixed it with my mixture of beeswax, spruce tar and linseed oil to tan the seam sides of the sheaths. Had no brush to apply it, so it gives a bit of a rustic look as always;-). The red triquetta I coloured with dragon´s blood (daemonoropos draco) and turpentine oil. 
 Will have to see some beeswax still, but almost there.
I am not quite content with the stitching on this one, it went awry when wet-forming the sheath around the knife, which is crucial with this style to keep it in.

Anyway, it will do, and I keep learningg. Special thanks to Joel, who is always ready to share his knowledge... it´s thoroughly appreciated, I am a beginner still.

Some forging projects

 It has been a while, what with time being short and wiork abundant, but here they come: Some new little fellas. This one wants to be a full tang integral. Silver steel...
 A piece of jewellry, the leaf is already done. I will add a swan´s neck hanger to it, and that´s it. It is spring steel and will be tempered tzo serve as a striker in an emergency...
A blade out of ancient spring steel I found in the woods, with a carbon content of about 0,75%,  almost there. Has to see some homoeopathic dose of grinding;-) still. No grinding whatsoever so far. When ready, there will be less than 1 % of grinding overall. 

Maybe it will get a handle out of stag antler, but I am at it at the moment.

Mittwoch, 7. Dezember 2011

Impressions from a fascinating CERTAIN city - a visit to Marburg

 Last weekend I met with Drui for some crafting and some sightseeing:-) in a fascinating city. Marburg, situated in the North of Hessen, certainly is a craftsman´s, artisan´s and philosopher´s paradise. I arrived Friday afternoon and threw my pack on the floor at Drui´s. It was some chatting and then it was off to a scientific archaelogical research report at Marburg University, and it took place in the most astounding chamber I had ever heard a lecture in: The old, medieval part of Marburg University, situated in the upper part of the city. Topic was the uncovering of another grave at the "Heuneburg", an archaelogical site dating back to Celtic times, and quite certainly a crucial find for dating and terming Celtic archaeology. Fascinating. And even on our way we came across a myriad of ancient architectural highlights. 
 A textbook "green man" masonry piece. The "green man" was said to be a charm to ward off demons, grant prosperity and fertility to a house. Interesting enough, we are talking about a Christian iconography!
 A portal carving, supposedly ancient and lovingly restored oak. Maybe a local folk tale?
 Forgework. This is ancient. You can tell it by the way the iron is split and forged and also by the structure of the iron, which supposedly is wrought iron.
 This is a chart of ancient potters. the potters´ guild was strong in Marburg since the dark ages, and there is a certain brand of pottery typical of the city, painted and glazed brown with handmade décor, as you can see in that chart´s design. Each potter´s trademark décor can be seen there.
 Door without words.
 :-) students, tut tut tut:-)...

 Towards the Chrismas Fair!

 Decoration on a former guild´s house. This is a blacksmith´s guild sign.
 And some blacksmith´s work, eh?:-)
 The masks were meant to fend off Evil.
A view of the castle from the lower city.
Private Moonvirgin ready for mission Bratwürst and mulled wine...

The old theological faculty...
....looming overhead.
Gargoyle Special air squad ready for mission:-).

Oi there, she look at me;-)...
A bit early, but yap, that´s a wish...;-)

A bad pic of the moon over ancient ruins...
An artisan´s house with guild figure "God bless the arts", the inscription says.

It was a fascinating stay with one of the best friends I ever had and supposedly ever will have, with crafting, chatting, making mischief, drinking, having fun, being sad, working together, listening to quality music and walking through a fascinating city, learning and discussing and simply living.

And yap, life is good.

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