Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Hanukah

Indian oil lamps.
These are brass, though you can find less intricate shapes in lesser metals. The wick is a cunning device: a round, cotton-ball center that sits in the oil, with a short wick that lays in a small, funnel-shaped tip. You pour a small amount of oil into the base (in this case, extra-virgin olive oil, which my husband advocates as the Only Oil to Use, including for oil lamps), light the wick with a match, and it slowly burns until the oil is used up.
During Diwali, the Indian festival of lights commemorating Rama's rescue of Sita from captivity, you see these little oil lamps placed along the top of walls, clustered in front of open doorways, and along the road. (The word Diwali is an abbreviation of the Sanskrit term for "row of lights.")
While we celebrate Hanukkah, I liked the idea of adding to the menorah lighting something more ancient than candles to commemorate the Jewish festival of lights.
As I watched them burn, I wondered what it would have been like to try to accomplish anything after dark in the world before electricity. How did the colonials get anything done? And what does whale oil look like when it burns? The things that we will never know.
One thing that I will know, however, is how to start a fire with flint and steel! Below, my Hanukkah present from my husband:
I'm looking forward to weather warm enough to test it out. First, I have to create some charred cloth by burning the fabric in an empty soup can. Even if I never achieve my hope of going on Survivor (at this point, I believe I would be voted off first for falling into the category of too old and female), I'm going to learn to start a fire. No idea why this appeals to me, but I am now the owner of both a rugged knife from one daughter and a fire starting kit from my husband.
And something very different: Pretty Thing, designed by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. Brooks Farm Solo Silk - the perfect combination of wool and silk.
Unfortunately, knit without swatching and much too big, even without blocking, and lace opens up a lot. May decide to rip it out and use it instead for a scarf. With Chicago winter in full force, I'm craving something long to wrap around my neck and nose when I walk the dog.


1 comment:

hwbowen said...

Oh, how pretty! And I've done some reading by candlelight. It really is hard on the eyes.