Saturday, September 29, 2007


The week ended up on the hillside with the second of the big trusses raised into position. The attachment on the front face of the king beam is shaped to fit the ends of the four half trusses that come in at angles from the front piers of the great room--they’ll form the gable of the cathedral ceiling.

Planning the exact shape of the kluge of these five trusses occupied the head of the framing crew all week and involved his making a full scale model of the junction out of scrap Douglas Fir (that's Doug Fir to those of us in the house building business).

Otherwise, the big progress has been in the framing of all the remaining walls on the first floor, and the virtual completion of the first floor roof on the west side of the house.


Our Danish friends E and her husband F are enjoying exploring New England, with us as guides. Yesterday we introduced them to the Deerfield Fair, a sprawling combination of old-fashioned agricultural competition, craft fair, and carnival, with acres of Italian sausage, fried dough and sweet potato chip, pizza, cheese steak, and candied apple stands. Four days each year, Deerfield becomes the saturated fat and cholesterol capital of southern New Hampshire.

After the horse pulling competition we left the Fair and headed north to Canterbury, for a tour of the Shaker Village. We’ve been alternating big trip days with more leisurely days spent closer to home. Next week, probably Wednesday, we’ll go further north and see if we can show them some leaf color at or close to peak brilliance.

The last of the Shakeresses in New Hampshire died a decade or so ago in Canterbury (there are four more—the very last—still alive in Maine). The group had been in existence in this country since it's fledgling members arrived in New York City in 1774 from England. At its height in the mid-19th century, the Shakers lived in 19 communities scattered all throughout the northeast and as far west and south as Kentucky.

Noted for their industry and for their eagerness to adopt any beneficial new technology (they held numerous patents on inventions, and had indoor plumbing and flush toilets decades before the rest of the U.S.), Shakers once had a massive business providing flower, herb and vegetable seeds along with dried herbs and holistic medicines throughout the country. Their excellently cut, sewn and exquisitely simple garments sold well with the general public, their women’s hooded cape becoming popular with fashionable women dressing for theater and the opera. The group eventually died out because they lived celibate lives, 20th century young people stopped joining, and state-run orphanages meant that unwanted children were no longer given to Shaker communities.

The Canterbury Shaker Village was transferred to a private trust by the last three surviving Shakeresses, Sisters Bertha, Gertrude and Edith before their deaths, so that future generations would be able to see and appreciate Shaker accomplishments.


We’ve been cooking for each other all this week. I’ve done a lamb tagine and Fritz has done his signature chicken breast in sour cream and rosemary sauce. I’ve also been baking bread frequently, most recently two loaves of Finnish sour rye, each with its own variants on the basic recipe.

I’ve written on this before, but one thing an American learns about Danish very quickly is that very few consonants in Danish are pronounced anything like they are in English. We’re doing desserts for each other, and Fritz will do his excellent version of the Danish classic, rød grød med fløde. The pronunciation is rull grull meh flul-leh with the the Rs rolled in the back of the throat as in German, the double Ls swallowed deep into the throat, and the final leh done with an open mouth and a very flat tongue. Ability to pronounce it correctly is considered a proof of Danishness. Fritz sends E into spasms of laughter each and every time he attempts it.

A couple of nights ago, E made Lagkage. A three [thin] layer cake whose layers are filled with vanilla cream custard and fruit preserves, and whose sides are covered with thick whipped cream. Sometimes melted dark chocolate is drizzled on top or more whipped cream and fruit go on top. E's layers had the taste and something of the slight crunchyness of macaroons. Lagkage, a very popular cake for birthdays and special celebrations in Denmark, is pronounced lau-kay and is absolutely delightful.

1. What's in that rodgrodmidflode stuff? It looks kind of like meringues in a bed of cherry sauce topped with pistachios, but I'd like to know for sure.

2. "Doug Fir" sounds a lot like a bear porn star.

Just returned from TO Lee's 2nd big musical event of the month - the premier of his Piano Concerto played by Robert Levin. Thanks to your "Inman" posts I was well briefed, although I was not prepared for the beauty of the Piano Concerto - especially the 2nd part. If only Levin and the Orchestra hadn't gone on to a brilliant playing of the Mozart 25th Piano Concerto - a very hard act to precede!

Wow- interior rooms beginning to take form. After reading the end of this post, I find myself strangely hungry.
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