In a Sow’s Ear 3-15-10
How the years fly. I hadn’t heard from my friend Jennifer for over a year – other than an occasional card exchange. So when I heard her voice on the phone, I was taken aback, bemused, amazed and tickled a whole crayola box of pink.
“So what have you been up to,” I queried.
“Shearing buffalo down.”
“What’s a buffalo down?”
“Down, as in fur, fiber, the fluffy down on a buffalo. I shear the hair off and process it into yarn.”
“Really?! So, how do you get the buffalo to stand still?”
Jennifer’s laugh is as happy as a chickadee’s spring song. “Hides,” she said. “The buffalo aren’t in them. I acquire hides and use electric clippers to harvest the hair. I do it in my garage. Then I have to clean and process the fibers – you know all that kind of thing.”
Of course I didn’t know “all that kind of thing.” I drove the 60 miles to Jennifer’s place. She showed me her garage. She hadn’t been fibbing. Buffalo hides were draped over extraordinarily tall sawhorses. I didn’t see any heads (and frankly I was glad about that). I only stared for a short time from the doorway of the garage as the smell was strong enough to curl your toes. (Think of the time your deep freezer failed and the meat rotted). The odor of fresh buffalo hide is so stout, you can almost shower in it.
More than a little awed, I said, “I know you have a lot of hobbies and avocations. You’re a published author; you’re a professional fly fishing guide on two continents. You have a talented musician son and a handsome fly fishing husband. Where’s the charm in shaving buffalo hides?”
“For my Sweater Company,” said Jennifer.
“MontanaSweaterCo.com. Look it up. I’ve got knitted sweaters, mittens, hats, gloves, socks, scarves and even some dresses.”
“All made from buffalo hair!!?”
“No, I use alpaca and sheep wool, in combination or individually for different garments. It’s all on my Web site and my blog.”
“I know what a Web site is, but what’s a blog?”
To that remark Jennifer answered by showing me a book titled, “Blogging for Dummies,” a tome designed to assist the clueless (that would be me) in learning how to use the Internet to tell the world all about yourself.
“Read this,” urged Jennifer. “You can tell the truth or lie like a politician up for re-election. You can post photos of yourself or your projects. You can discuss whatever with whomever, whenever. It’s like a coffee-klatch with friends at Starbucks, but you don’t have to pack a gun.”
You might wonder what Jennifer does with the rest of the buffalo hide once she’s removed its hair fibers. I don’t know, but I’ll ask. I don’t think she chews on them to soften them up, but with Jennifer you never know.
I left her house better educated than when I’d arrived plus I now own a pair of alpaca wool socks which Jennifer says don’t become damp from perspiration because alpaca fibers are hollow and repel moisture.
I’ll keep you posted on that fact as well as disclose any progress in blogging skills.