Friday, September 25, 2009

Soap for my camp-followers

Oh, I must share. I'm listening to the President on CSPAN talking about the G20. But I'm also telling you I have overlooked too many things in Mitchell county. I'm e-visiting my own e-visits. Can I trademark that term "e-visits"? Well, anyway..

In the great 101 lists from Mitchell county, note also these cool things I want to see.

Luther Stroup’s Hobby Shop
Storytelling Festival in Spruce Pine
NC Rhododendron Festival
milk a cow at the Annual Mineral City Heritage Festival ...that's what I want to do...


Blue Ridge Soap Shed

I found this wonderful site. I need some soap for my textile-morphed-camp-followers exhibit for the OVTA Active Trails Field Day. So I've called them to find out the details. Meanwhile, this is from their site and I think it explains the product I need...

Lye Soap - Homemade Lye Soap

The Appalachian Cure All- Yup, we actually make the true, old-fashioned homemade Lye Soap, made with lye and lard and nuthin' else, not even any of that sweet smellin' stuff that's in all the other soaps we sell.

Our customers have taught us well - there's nothing quite like this homemade lye soap recipe for stopping the spread of poison ivy or oak, or taking tough stains out of clothes, especially salvaging antique linens.

This homemade lye soap is an Appalachian tradition, with its historical use including the elimination of head and body lice, bed bugs, mites, as well as general household and floor cleaning. There was a time when a Lye Soap recipe provided the only source of basic hygiene available. Lye soap was generally made once a year, coinciding with Autumn Harvest and the killing of hogs in preparation for Winter.

In making this homemade lye soap we experience the same variations in pork fat (lard) that our Appalachian cousins did, caused by the diet, age, region, breed and processing of the, well, the 'donor' for lack of another way to put it. There's a difference between the body fat of a hog raised on corn and commercial grains, and one raised on 'slop', and sometimes this soap will be a little soft and beige in color, and other times white and powdery.

The variance in color and texture is a result of the natural materials it's made from: it's not something we can control, nor do we try to. Lye soap is a part of Appalachian history, and we make it the historical way. For those of you who have regaled us with 'fond memories' of childhood, remembering soap so strong 'it practically took your skin off,' well, THIS ONE'S FOR YOU!!!

We make our homemade Lye Soap in the tradition of Fels Naptha Soap.
Lye Soap comes in a big 5-6 ounce chunk you can grate for laundry or whatever your little heart desires. Our Lye Soap is handcut and there will be rough and uneven edges due to the unpredictable texture of the natural fat - it will not have smooth edges like our vegetable oil soaps.

Visit You Tube and enjoy seeing and hearing the old 'Grandma's Lye Soap' folk song:

The fellow playing this banjo-uke reminds me of our trip to Ireland and England in 2004. The Wednesday before Christmas we were in a pub, McDonagh's, and a fellow was there with a banjolina he called it. RG jammed with them with his fiddle. Eventually along with the standard guitars, fiddles, bodhran et al, there was a flute and African drums or maybe other Irish drums. Anyway, the Banjolina was exactly a little banjo, like a piccolo of banjos. The banjo-uke on the You-Tube looks homemade, but the song is silly and will make a smile. The banjolina here sounds a little electric. I remember it was just exactly like a big banjo only high pitched. Maybe this is really it.

My only other experience with soap was when we went to Philadelphia to the Mutter Museum to see the "Soap Lady" and the deathcast of Eng and Chang. THIS IS WEIRD. Don't click if you are squimish. This is the original medical library. ..You can see the link. Anyway I read the soap lady was found in a burned down building from the 1800s. After some time, her fat covered in ashes, had experienced a biological change, saponification, into ... SOAP. .. and I used an article about her from a journal to grab the attention of my high school biology students. (Hey, my mentor teacher had it her program) It so intrigued me that when I went to Philadelphia and discovered her location, I dragged my family to see her.

Eng and Chang's cast was bonus. They lived in Wilkes and later Surry county. They were the original "Siamese twins". They married sisters(!!!!!!) and between them had 21 children. Their descendants are still here. I don't think there is any tourism of a house here, but there is an exhibit about their life in Mt. Airy in the Mt. Airy Museum of Regional History. And a few years ago, there was a book, Eng and Chang.

hummm..... how did I get from a lovely country soap and flowers shop to the Mutter museum?

Let's think about sweeter things... Mayberry Days is going on this weekend in Mt. Airy celebrating all things Andy Griffith. Enjoy a bottle of pop while playing checkers, relax to music from many local bands playing the same songs that Andy grew up with in Mount Airy and be sure to get your picture with the TV Land statue of Andy & Opie. Thelma Lou , more, will be there and so are the Darlings with Charlene Darling!

Don't miss the Pumpkin Festival in Elkin tomorrow too!!! RG will be signing his Ghosts of the Yadkin Valley at Diana's Book Shop.

There are SO many festivals in NC this time of year.

Ken Burns is all over the place right now. OVNHT will get a lot of publicity this fall because he's really promoting his new documentary, The National Parks, America's Best Idea which starts on Sunday, Sept. 27th, and the OVNHT is included.

Ah, better thoughts...

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