Flashback The Subtleties of Boiling Water

Solo // Eleret tries her hand at some basic herbal preparations.

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Home of the Konti people, this ivory city is built of native konti stone half in and half out of the sea. Its borders touch the Silverwood, and stretch upwards towards Silver Lake, home of the infamous konti vision water. [Lore]

The Subtleties of Boiling Water

Postby Eleret on December 31st, 2012, 5:12 pm

Spring 27, 483 AV
late afternoon

Eleret sat in the little study at the top of the stairs, warmed by the afternoon sunshine streaming in through its windows. Legs crossed, eyes closed, hands resting easily in her lap, she tried to concentrate on nothing but the rhythm of her own breathing. To block out the songs of birds celebrating the warm spring sunshine outside, and her own pleasure at the turn of the season. Not that winter didn't have its high points, but spring brought color and cheer to plants and creatures alike -- plus, it had been winter long enough.

The young Konti realized her thoughts had wandered away from her purpose, and resolutely yanked them back. Breathe in. Breathe out. Listen to the sound of the air streaming in and out again. Let your body relax with it. Think no words. Think no thoughts. ...Not even that thought.

How was she supposed to think of nothing, anyway, when she had to constantly remind herself to do that very thing? Granted, her mind was now quieter than its norm, but how was she ever supposed to not think at all?

Eleret was saved from having to answer that question -- or disrupted from her meditation, depending on one's perspective -- by the sound of a door closing downstairs. It wasn't a loud noise in and of itself, but in the silence of the house, it might as well have been; and it was unexpected besides. Her eyes snapped open before she could even think about blocking out that sound, gaze going to the stairwell. And at that point, she might as well get up and see what was going on downstairs; her curiosity would probably derail any further attempts at meditation. Eleret shrugged to herself, then clambered up to her feet, stretching her arms and legs out before heading out of the study.
Last edited by Eleret on January 2nd, 2013, 11:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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The Subtleties of Boiling Water

Postby Eleret on December 31st, 2012, 5:45 pm

Downstairs, she found no one in the entry room, but heard quiet noises from the main room -- sporadic footsteps, the soft thunks of things being arranged on a table, rustling as of someone rummaging in a cabinet. Eleret padded over on bare feet and stuck her head through the doorway. "Lennie?" she prompted -- for it was her sister, returned from wherever she'd been. A class, maybe, or a patient, or...

As Ne'len turned to see Eleret, and smiled at her, the younger Konti realized there were several bundles of dried plant materials laid out on the table, as well as a number of small ceramic jars in various colors. Or, she may have been out getting materials for making herbal concoctions. "Hey, Ellie," Lennie greeted warmly, stepping forward to press a light kiss against her younger sister's cheek -- and to ruffle her hair. "I was going to brew some remedies for the spring colds that have started going around. Do you have time to help?"

Eleret gave her sister a mildly annoyed look, a hand going up to straighten out the worst of her mussed hair. Knowing that Ne'len meant it a sign of the affection she felt for her sister didn't make said sister happy with it. Which Ne'len knew just as well, of course. "Sure," she agreed, all else aside. "You need the kettle for that, right? I can get that out."

At Ne'len's nod of assent, Eleret moved into the kitchen, leaving her sister to her own preparations at the table. She made a beeline for the cupboard the kettle lived in -- except the pot wasn't where it should have been stored. That required her to search through the other cabinets in a clatter of opening and closing doors, jostled pots, and clinking ceramic dishes. Eventually, she found it -- stashed for some unguessable reason behind the stockpot they sometimes used for making fish broth. "Found it!" she declared, first hauling out the larger pot, then the kettle. She put the larger pot back into storage, and moved the kettle over into the smoldering kitchen fire.
Last edited by Eleret on July 14th, 2014, 10:54 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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The Subtleties of Boiling Water

Postby Eleret on January 2nd, 2013, 11:30 pm

"Fill it with water, if you would?" Ne'len prompted, without looking away from her own work. "About two-thirds." That task required Eleret to shuttle between the kettle and the very large ceramic jars sitting in one corner of the kitchen space, whose sides were painted with fish and swaying strands of kelp. A much smaller jar served to transport water in practical quantity, and was left beside the storage jars when she was done. "Hey, Lennie? Remind me to tell Mother we need to get water tomorrow; the jar's almost dry."

"Sure," her sister promised distractedly, glancing up and beckoning Eleret over to her side. Stepping up to the table, the Konti considered the piles of plant material neatly arranged on its surface -- two heaps of dried leaves, and one cluster of squeakily-cleaned roots, lay nearest to them. "These are coltsfoot and horehound," Ne'len remarked, as she saw the direction of her sister's regard. "And this is licorice root. You remember when you had that sore throat at the beginning of winter?"

Eleret examined the plant-stuff in greater detail, taking up some of each kind of dried leaves and comparing them. They were distinctly different from one another, even to her; the horehound was fuzzy and pungent, while the coltsfoot leaves were larger. And differently shaped, of course. But identifying them again in any other context... doubtful. For its part, the licorice root just looked like so many chunks of gnarled root -- not distinctive in the least, save for its smell. "I recall. This is the same stuff you gave me then?"

"Right," Ne'len affirmed. "Now, leaves and roots have to be treated a little differently when you do this. We want the roots to boil for a while to coax the virtue out of the wood, but leaves don't take any work. If they boil too much, it'll just taste bad. So we'll chop these up," she said, pointing to the roots, "and boil them in the kettle, then add the leaves at the very end and let it all steep as the water cools."
Last edited by Eleret on July 27th, 2013, 11:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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The Subtleties of Boiling Water

Postby Eleret on January 3rd, 2013, 12:23 am

Ne'len left her to it then, with that brief direction, and the addition of two words: decoction, the longer boiling step, and infusion, the steeping in water cooling down from a boil. Eleret tucked the words away, and reviewed her directions quickly; the task was a simple one to be sure, needing no more than a willing pair of hands to get it done. That much, the younger Konti certainly was.

Eleret took up the knife her sister had set out, a broad-bladed and sturdy thing. Before she applied it to the woody roots, though, she considered what measure of pieces fit the category of not too small. A half inch, maybe, or three-quarters; something in that mode. A glance towards Ne'len showed her sister to be occupied with measuring still other herbs; Eleret opted not to disturb her, and just forged ahead with her best guess.

Scooting a length of root forward onto the thin cutting board, she applied the knife across its width, pressing down against the wood. It took adding her other hand on the back of the blade to force it through, knife striking board with a loud chunk as the root finally gave way. The smaller piece skidded halfway across the table, only to be scooped back up and returned to the board. Eleret continued on, slow and meticulous, above all careful to keep her fingers clear of each fall of the blade. Almost every time, or so it seemed, one or another bit of root would shoot off in unpredictable direction; it took her almost as much time to reclaim them as to make each chop!

One bit of licorice which landed in one of Ne'len's other piles managed to threaten the whole endeavor, as the elder Konti fished it out only to lob it back at Eleret. She turned her shoulder, ducked, felt it bounce off the crown of her skull... snatched up another piece from the chopped pile... and hesitated before throwing it back at Lennie. Their mother had taken to reminding her recently that she was almost an adult, which meant being responsible... which meant finishing the task she was given and not playing games in the kitchen with Ne'len.

Even if it was quite tempting to do so.
Last edited by Eleret on July 14th, 2014, 10:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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The Subtleties of Boiling Water

Postby Eleret on July 27th, 2013, 11:27 pm

Eleret eyed her sister, then put the piece she'd been fingering back down, returning to the task before her. After chunking the root up into sections, she cut any larger pieces down the middle, until they were all something vaguely resembling the same size. The same size range, at least. She swept these together into a pile, then went over to check the pot on the hearth.

...which somehow wasn't boiling yet, though it seemed to be getting plenty of heat. It looked like she'd have a little while to wait... not to mention while the decoction boiled and the infusion steeped...

Faced with idle time to fill, Eleret dashed back up the stairs. It was a good thing Tanell and their mother were out of the house, with the racket her feet made on the steps; inevitably, her mistake only occurred to the young Konti once she was already at the top. Fortunately, there was no harm done... she just needed to remember not to run through the house next time!

After snatching up her sketchbook and a length of charcoal, Eleret padded back downstairs much more sedately, slipping back to her place at the table and pretending not to notice how Ne'len wasn't looking at her. Maybe Lennie was just engrossed in her work... but the younger Konti was pretty sure she was hiding a smile, over there...

In any case, the kettle still wasn't boiling. Eleret dragged a stool over to where she could keep an eye on it, and opened her sketchbook to its next blank page. There, she hesitated, twiddling the charcoal between her fingers, dithering over what to sketch today. But the perfect subject lay right in front of her, as it happened -- the leaves of the herbs she had examined earlier. The coltsfoot had been... large, and... somewhat heart-shaped, with swooping pointed edges. The horehound had been small, bluntly triangular, with... round-toothed edges.

She drew -- or perhaps rather, doodled -- examples of both on the page. First a run of large heart-like outlines alternately angled up or down along one side of the page, elaborating them with points afterwards; then scattered between them smaller rounded triangles which seemed more suggestive of leaf than actually resembling one. Maybe they all needed veins; Eleret added those too, lines radiating up from where an imagined stem joined each base. Together, they would make an interesting runner, she thought, if cut into wood...
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The Subtleties of Boiling Water

Postby Eleret on July 14th, 2014, 10:55 pm

A sudden sound sent Eleret bolt upright, lurching and clenching on the sketchbook as it threatened to slip from her hands. Hands caught her firmly at the shoulders before she could stumble any closer to the hearth, and the young Konti belatedly realized the sound had been Lennie coughing. The pay attention, silly guppy kind of cough. Another sound impressed itself upon her awareness: water at a bubbling, noisy boil.

She had the grace to look abashed.

"Licorice and coltsfoot are pretty safe, but you know, if you don't pay attention, you could make something that hurts instead of helps," Lennie pointed out.

Eleret breathed out a quiet huff as her sister suddenly became pedantic. Of course she knew! ...But Lennie was just trying to help teach her, and Eleret was supposed to acknowledge that, not get annoyed. She tried. "It's just water right now," the younger Konti replied, shrugging out of her sister's grip. Collecting the prepared licorice, she carefully slid pieces from the board into the water, splashing the hot liquid as little as she could manage.

Most of what did splash went in other directions, at least.

Lennie offered her a spoon in trade for the board, and left Eleret to the stirring. She pushed the pieces slowly around the kettle, watching them shift about, pale surfaces gradually becoming more difficult to make out as the liquid darkened. "How long does this take?" she asked, more curious than impatient.

"About ten chimes," Lennie answered, shooing Eleret back from the kettle and, with mittens to protect her hands, moving it a little ways out from the fire. "We don't want it to boil the whole time, just simmer a little," she said.

Chimes passed while they looked over Eleret's drawings, the older Konti offering praise of the better ones and suggestions for improving the worse. It was Ne'len who called a hold when their ten were up, pointing Eleret at the kettle once more. "Why don't you add the coltsfoot, and I'll pull it over to cool a bit. Then you can go work on those drawings some more."

And so she did.
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The Subtleties of Boiling Water

Postby Traverse on July 27th, 2014, 9:59 pm

Image

Eleret

Experience:

  • Drawing 1
  • Herbalism 2
  • Meditation 1
  • Observation 3
  • Philtering 2
  • Socialization 1

Lores:

  • The Appearances of Horehound, Coltsfoot, Licorice
  • Roots Require a Different Processing than Leaves
  • Herbalism Terms: Decoction, Infusion
  • Drawing Coltsfoot, and Horehound
  • Na'len: A Caring Older Sibling

Additional Notes :
As always a nice light little thread, interested to see part 2 if there is one, and let me know if I missed a lore you wanted or somesuch!
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