Cynthia St. Charles Store

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sauerkraut Making

This was the first time I had ever participated in the process of making sauerkraut (other than the olfactory participation that is unavoidable). Dad would slice up an entire head of cabbage using the old board fitted with three blades. The shredded cabbage would be dumped into the crock and sprinkled with salt.

Then, the cabbage would be pounded with a meat mallet to release the juices.

We added 7 large cabbages to the crock, one at a time, pounding and adding salt after each one.

By the time we were finished - the crock was full to within 2" of the top and the cabbage was covered by it's own juices. The cabbage is covered with a cake plate that sits down inside the crock held down by a heavy jug, packing the cabbage while allowing the liquid to flow over it.

Dad says it takes about 2 weeks for the fermentation process to be complete. Then, he will freeze it. Mom used to can the sauerkraut, but they have discovered they like it better with the fresher flavor of frozen kraut.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cabbage to Kraut

During a recent visit to my parent's place in Central Montana, my father decided it would be a good time to make sauerkraut.

Dad has been making sauerkraut for as long as I can remember. He planted "Winter cabbage" - a very solid head that works great for making sauerkraut.

The crock and cutting board are very old. My dad is 83 and he remembers his parents using them when he was a kid. He thinks they came from my grandfather's German parents. At least 100 years old.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Red Fox Pair

Joe and I enjoyed watching this Red Fox exploring the hill behind our house.
We were so surprised when we spotted a second fox nearby.
This fox is a bit smaller and more cautious (below).

I was thrilled to be able to get a couple of nice shots of the Red Fox pair!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Red Fox

We have known Red Foxes live in our canyon for several years.
We have heard their calls in the night many times.

However, I have never seen them prior to this fall.

I am not sure why they felt brave enough to come within 15 feet of our backdoor in broad daylight.

But I was delighted to have a chance to take a series of really terrific photos of this fox at my backyard waterfall.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mexican Sunflowers

This was the first time I have planted Mexican Sunflowers. They grow large and mine would be covered with blossoms if not for the deer. There are a few nice flowers at the top of the plant and I was able to get some nice photos of them.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mail Art Project - Week Four

This week's Mail Art is little Halloweenish.
Hand dyed cottons, pieced, block printed, and a Thermofax screenprinted Halloween Cat! Machine quilted. One of these has hand sewn beads. I did not think the effect made enough of an impact to do the same on all four.

Three of these postcards are going to the regular recipients - distant family members.
The fourth one is going off to Doreen in Mesquite, Nevada.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


The warm days are fading. This year, my sunflowers have been prolific.

Notice the many grasshoppers and yellowjackets on this large sunflower blossom.

Below, the deer have stripped away the leaves and flowers, leaving just the stalk!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tibetan Sand Painting

I recently witnessed this amazing event - a sand painted mandala created by a Tibetan monk associated with the Dali Lama. His visit to Billings, Montana was facilitated by my daughter's life partner, Jim Nymeyer, owner of Barjon's Book Store.

By the time I arrived, the painting was finished and a large crowd had gathered to witness the destruction of the painting.

The monk spent a lot of time explaining his process, the symbolism, and the purpose through his interpreter.

Then, he ceremoniously destroyed the painting he had spent 3 days creating.

Afterward, participants were given small bags of sand to take home and return to the earth in their own way.

I have mine, still. I am somewhat undecided about where I will place it.
This was a very moving event. I was surprised by how deeply touched I was by the sand painting when I had the opportunity to view it up close. It brought tears to my eyes!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pinion Jay

Pinion Jays are another bird we don't see in our yard year round.
It usually shows up in the fall - traveling in large ravenous flocks.

They descend on our birdfeeders and empty them in a matter of minutes.
They make a lot of racket.

I am not fond of the Pinion Jay, but I do think it is a rather attractive bird.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Townsend's Solitaire

In autumn, our usual backyard birds disappear and new ones show up.
I had to look this one up - it's a new one for us.
I have really enjoyed the beautiful song of the Townsend's Solitaire.
It was attracted to our backyard waterfall and has remained in our midst for several weeks now.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fossils Series #6

After a long break from the studio, I had to get back on track.
Since I was visiting my family in Central Montana, I needed to make a stop at Gallery 16 in Great Falls. Last year this gallery honored me with a solo show. They have continued to market my work, and my stock there was quite depleted.

Fossils #6 is 16 x 20" stretched over stretcher bars.
The pieced fabrics are hand dyed and screen printed,pieced, machine quilted, and embellished with polymer clay hand crafted fossil replicas.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Square Butte

Square Butte is an easily recognized landmark in Central Montana.
This picture was taken from my parent's deck early in the morning.
Big Sky Country!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mail Art Project - Week Three

This week's Mail Art Project is Gelatin Plate Printed cotton. It has a Paint Stick rubbing, screen printed black birds, and hand embroidery.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Harvest in Central Montana

I recently visited my parents in Central Montana.
The harvest had been delayed by several weeks on account of rainy weather.
A warming trend made it possible to get back in the field, and my 83 year old father was at work.

Driving the combine. I had a short ride one afternoon.

The harvest is now finished and my brother-in-law is seeding winter wheat.
The mountain range in the distance is the Highwood Range.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mail Art Project - Received!

I've just received word that my mail art reached Sharne in Essex, UK today!
It was the extra from the first week's group!

She has provided me with a link to her blog post, which shows her postcard - mailed on Tuesday.
She says it arrived in good condition!

What fun!

There will be more opportunities to participate in the Mail Art Project. Just send me an email with your full name and mailing address and you might be chosen to receive a postcard in the mail from me sometime this year!

Banded Garden Spider

I recently had an opportunity to see and photograph this charming spider in the garden of a friend.

She said it had been residing among her calendulas for nearly a month.
. The body is about 5/8" - and I am guessing it is about 1 1/4" by the time you include the legs.

It appears to be a Banded Garden Spider, based on what I found at this website.