Monday, June 25, 2007

Gettysburg Museum Weekend

This weekend the Maryland 1st Calvary, CSA camped in front of the Gettysburg Museum as our annual fund raising event to draw spectators and tourists to the Museum. Since Mark and I live so close to Gettysburg, we decided to drive back and forth each day as we did last year which added to our comfort. This is a green striped dress that I made during the spring. Mark picked out the Fabric, which came from Abraham's Lady in town. The weather was warm but not sweltering so I was able to wear coat sleeves and a wool hat.
Last weekend Abigail, with a little help from me, put together this quilt top so that the ladies would have something to work on during the weekend. That turned out to be a fantastic idea! We invited anyone at any skill level to work on this easy quilt and even taught the kids of the unit how to quilt, and it was a huge hit with the spectators. We ladies especially enjoyed it for the socializing that we did while we were quilting. We're talking about doing a more intricate one for our next project and perhaps raffling it off to raise money.
The unit had a recruitment table set up to offer the kids some reproduction Confederate money as well as sign them up for service and give them a certificate for doing so. This youngster came to us with the carved watermellon you see on his head, the back had USA carved in it. He was precious and personable and got immediately dubbed "General Watermellon". We interacted with so many people, it was just amazing. I did manage to sneak away long enough to pick up my sewing machine that had been in the shop for cleaning and adjustment, and took a couple of the ladies with me to the fabric store outside of town (Needles and Thread) that has the largest selection of Civil War reproduction fabrics that I've seen anywhere..
Mark and I took a walk downtown to eat and shop a bit and wherever we went, people stopped us and asked to take our picture either with them in it or sometimes just us. It was really fun. We've spent time in Gettysburg many times before and been in period attire, but this is the most we've ever been photographed! On Sunday, there were people opening their car windows as we walked by and snapping our picture!
This is the Striped Brown dress that I made, again with Fabric from Abrahams Lady. I ended up having to buy a new pair of period shoes this weekend, and Donna Abraham's shop had just exactly what I needed. Then on Sunday, my hoops (purchased elsewhere) came apart and were not repairable so off I walked again to the shop to replace them. I also procured a couple of quilt block books from the museum book shop on Civil War era quilts. I'm thinking I'm going to get a couple of blocks going for that. Another great weekend with our friends and immersed in history.

My favorite house

This house is on Confederate Avenue and Middle Street / Fairfield Road in Gettysburg and I have long been in love with it. It was built early in the 1830's and then expanded in the 1890s. It has also been for sale for quite awhile. I looked it up this morning and I saw that the listing shows it available for a low price of $995,000.00. So I thought I'd see just how many charitable people out there wanted this beautiful house to belong to someone that would appreciate it and it's historical significance, so feel free to send any dontaions that you'd like to my house fund. We've been throwing all of our change into a jar for quite some time and somehow I don't think that's going to do it, I think we'll need help.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Amazing Technology

This just came last night via email from DD Jennifer, a picture of her and Michael's son at 21 weeks gestation. Amazing that you can see his face and sll, she said that she could see his fingers and all in the ultrasound. I never had one with either of my kids, having gone the natural route with midwives and non-invasive attitude, so it's really amazing to me to see images from inside. Baby and mom are doing well...

Another Busy Weekend

This weekend started with a visit with a dear friend (Abigail) from our Reenactment Unit Saturday morning. She and I put together a twin sized charm square quilt for the unit to have a quilting project to work on at our Gettysburg event this coming weekend. We just did a simple square pattern so we could get it done in the allotted time, but it really turned out to be a striking quilt top. We used scraps and pieces that Abigail had in her stash, and stayed with the period looking ones as we'll be quilting it in public. Rusty, another of our members, had made her the beautiful quilting frame that we'll be using. Then we went up to Silver Run to visit our friend Mike and his mom and help her with her computer. We visited for awhile and I got a bunch of dog petting done on Mike's Rottwiler, Thor...and then it was off to one of our favorite relaxed places, KClingers with another couple that lives in Mike's community. It was a full day but a lot of fun! I also got my enthusiasm for quilting rekindled, and since I'm kind of getting burned out on making dresses (now I just have to sell some to make room in my closet) I think I'll try to finish some of my unfinished quilts that have been languishing in the basement for eons.
Sunday we did things around the house and then headed up to Silver Run again to work on the computer...we got to visit and it was really nice. We then went out to the u-pick orchard to look for Sour Cherries which weren't in, then grocery shopped, then had a nice dinner out of Sushi, returning home early so that I could finish this dress. I want to wear it to Gettysburg this weekend. This is a fan front bodice, pleated to take advantage of the pattern of stripes, and I didn't line the sleeves so hopefully it'll be cooler for the hot weather this time of year. I will wear it with a belt as was the period custom. I think it turned out ok though the fabric, I think, was prettier on the bolt than on the dress, you never can tell what it's going to turn out like.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sail Virginia, Norfolk Harbor Festival

Sunday morning after inspection and formation on base, Jon was able to join us again. He was at the hospital in Portsmouth on Friday and happened to see the tall ships sailing into the Harbor between Portsmouth and Norfolk so he knew that this weekend was the tall ship festival in Norfolk. He is an accomplished small boat sailor, having earned the Boy Scout Merit badge many years ago and being bitten by the sailing bug. Jon spent a number of summers in sailing camp after that and enjoys everything water and sailing. Though Mark and I don't know how to sail, we've gone sailing with Jon in command and really enjoy the tall ships too! Several years ago we took Jon to the Tall ships festival in the Inner Harbor and Fells Point in Baltimore and we were able to board the ships and take tours, which we didn't have time for this day.
I was very excited to hear that the Pride of Baltimore II was in port. This schooner is a replica of the original Pride that was lost at sea during a bad storm and then duplicated as this ship. There is a monument to the lost crew up on Federal Hill in Baltimore Harbor, and this new ship frequently docks at the Inner harbor right near where the Constellation is anchored. We were very excited to see the Maryland flag flying high above the masts as we walked through the rows of these incredible tall ships.
This ship is Jon's favorite, it's the Bluenose II and hails from Nova Scotia, Canada. When she was in Baltimore, we took a tour and Jon got to talking to the crew for quite some time about their youth sailing programs and was very impressed with the friendliness of the crew. Jon has a model of this ship that he purchased after the Baltimore Festival that he tells me is about half completed.
Here's a picture of Jon and me in front of the bow of the USS Wisconsin. This is a sister ship to the USS New Jersey that we toured a few years ago inside and out. The ship is a monster and is part of the Nauticus Museum in Norfolk. That museum is on our list of things to do when we visit again. And no, I don't know how Jon got to be so certainly isn't from the genes in my gene pool.
This blue pirate ship was possibly, besides the Pride of Baltimore, my favorite. It was from Delaware, and I was impressed with the wood carvings found all over the ship including the figurehead and the stern decorations. This dog is a carving that is attached to the railing, there is a duplicate on the other side.
There were pirates all over the place on the ships, as well as the sharply uniformed crews for several of the tall ships that were owned and run by the Navy of many countries. There was a ship from France, Germany, Uraguay, Netherlands, Brazil...these were all crewed as training ships by their Navy. There was a parade on the docks at noon in which all the crews for the ships marched, as well as Pirates, Rev War era, coloniziation era, and even Civil War era reenactors. There were privateer ships from the Civil war (blockade runners) and even replicas of Nordic ships. It was great!
Here's a picture of the pirate ship from another angle, as you can see I took lots of pictures since it was one of my favorites. I wish I would have been able to capture the essence of workmanship on this vessel.
This neat picture was taken by Mark, he wanted to show a schooner tall ship superimposed upon the hull of the USS Wisconsin and I think he did a wonderful job. It really gives you a sense of scale. The ship replicas from the Jamestown settlement were also at the Festival (I'm not sure if this is one of them or not) and it really was interesting to realize that the original settlers of this area came across the ocean on such a small ship that took months to make the passage.
A nice surprise was that the Clydesdales were in attendance for the festival. This is one of their 8 horse teams, and they were relazing in their pens and enjoying some fresh hay. Even their dog, Lucky was there. They are beautiful animals and very large. They're used to the public so they weren't bothered at all that many people were around and taking pictures of them. After we got some festival food, we had to take Jon back to his base and get on the road for the drive home to Baltimore. What a nice day!

Saturday Continuation

After leaving Dixie Days we headed for Richmond and the Richmond Battlefield National Park. This Park is composed of quite a few sites scattered outside and inside of the City. We'd already been to Gaines Mill and Malvern Hill though there are a couple of others from the seven days war and the defense of Richmond which was the Confederate Capitol (and gotten our stamps in our National Park passports) so we headed for the Tredeger Iron Works.
The iron works functioned from about 1830 through the 1950's, starting it's life as a grain mill, and then manufacturing cut nails and railroad spikes. During the War between the States it manufactured cannon, shot, and anything else that was needed for the war effort. When Richmond fell the majority of the Iron Works was burned by the retreating Confederates, but it was rebuilt and continued to manufacture iron products until about 1957. It also made the cast iron building fronts so popular during the post war days both in Richmond and Baltimore. The only building that was rebuilt was this one, which houses the National Park Visitor Center. We all had good talks with the rangers there, and Jon bought a highly technical West Point text book from 1862 about artillery so he was very happy!
This is a giant flywheel that was placed in the exibit to demonstrate the workings of the pressing machinery as well as some of the lathes. It last operated in 1998, I believe. This was outdoors but in an area that was part of this huge complex of ironworks. They even had a huge anvil on which they put train wheels to break up to recycle in the iron furnaces. It was massive. A huge weight dropped on the wheels in order to break them up for recycling.
We also drove through Richmond to see Monument Avenue, and went to the Museum to the huge hospital (Chirombazzo) that treated over 75,000 patients during the war. After a quick dinner on the way back to Ft. Eustis, Jon took us around to the tidewater side of the base. It is so very beautiful there, and there is a large storage area of Decommissioned ships that are actually for sale. This is the James River, the same one of Jamestown fame. These ships are sometimes purchased as dive sites as was the Spiegel Grove which is right offshore of Key Largo, Florida...we've visited it several times.
These in the last picture, were landing craft that are modern and used today. The sunset was beautiful and the picture came out well! The bugs were ravenous as we got out of the car to take the pictures, one tried to bite me on the hand while I was holding up the camera! It was into the car and back to drop Jon off at his barracks for the evening.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Dixie Days Report

Our Saturday morning dawned sunny and hot but we dressed in Civil War attire and drove from last night's lodging to Ft. Eustis to pick up Jonathan for the day. He had inspection and wasn't available for an extra hour so we had to wait for him, but he changed quickly and we were on our way to the Dixie Days reenactment near Richmond.
Nina and Bob met us there, they'd come down last night from Baltimore as well...Jon enjoyed being at the reenactment and we spent time walking around looking and perusing the sutler's tents. Our unit had originally signed up for this event but since not enough of our members had committed to go, we cancelled. This event seemed small by our usual standards, but I think it's because we're used to being in the reenactment camps rather than walking around looking at wares at the sutlers.
Still, as usual, we all met some very interesting people along the way and enjoyed conversations with folks everywhere we went. I'd read that there was a full scale model of the CSS Hunley at the reenactment, and I wasn't disappointed.
The Hunley was the first submarine ever to sink an enemy ship during warfare. It, and the Housatonic went down near Charlestown. The Hunley's crew was lost as well. I was personally surprised at how tiny the sub really was. If you look closely, you can see a reenactor sittin in the space that was the interior of the sub, he had to crouch over and completely filled the tube in his section. There were 6 members in the sub, and they had one candle for light for the instruments as well as to let the crew know when it should go up to refill the cabin with more fresh air.
We stayed for the artillery display, they had 2 cannons fired during the exhibition. Jon was disappointed as he'd brought his Civil War Artillery certification card and probably would have liked to have helped or watched more closely, but the gun crew wasn't very talkative.
Our unit prides itself on our approachability and our interactions with spectators. We're a living history unit with our bylaws setting forth that we will teach as more as just participate. I guess that's the difference between us and some of the other units. As usual, and to be expected in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Confederate Units outnumbered the Union ones about 8 to 1. I think this would be a great event for our unit to help along, we are such a large and diverse unit we'd be a definite asset to the Reenactment. We'll see what the votes say next year during our planning meeting. :)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

A new dress for Dixie Days

I've been under the weather this week after waking up Monday morning with a horrible sore throat. By Tuesday I had no voice to "speak of" (couldn't resist the pun) so I couldn't go fly. I've had the coughing and chest congestion and pain this week, not enough to send me to bed full time, but enough to keep me close to home. So I had no alternative then to sew! I cut this and 2 other dresses out while I was cutting out maternity clothes for Jenn. I finished her stuff and shipped it off last weekend and started on the dresses. This one got the last hook sewn on today, and I'm planning to wear it to Dixie Days near Richmond on Saturday.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

3 day Corset Class

I spent the last weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) in Gettysburg at the Fire hall taking a Corset Class from Carolann Schmitt of the Genteel Arts Academy. We spent the weekend learning about the history of these garments, and discussing the Civil War period and what the people at that time would have worn. Turns out that you would have worn some kind of binding as a woman from your birth (for your navel) to a Corded stay to a Corset for every day of your life. It was just accepted and actually they were made to fit so they were very comfortable. Instruction was given as well as written help for making one of our own to a precisely cut fitting shell. This is a scene from our class of 14 women when we were working on one of the various steps in the construction.
We have a tradition in these classes that whomever makes a stupid mistake becomes the "queen of stupid mistakes" and gets to wear the tiara until it passes to the next person. Believe me, I've worn it many times and I happened to find this one somewhere in my travels so I bought it to class where it lived on the center table until someone got to wear it. I took my turn, having cut a hole in one of my panels that I then had to take out and replace. This is Kay modeling the tiara. We all have such fun talking and socializing and enjoying each other's company while we're learning and creating.
And here is my very own corset after I finished doing a little bit of hand sewing on it last night. The corset's I've been buying in Gettysburg have 14 steel bones, this one has 22. The corsets I bought for myself have never fit comfortably since I have scoliosis and one of my hips is quite a bit higher than the other...this one is made to my body shape and it is as comfortable as it can be. Custom made garments such as this go for around $500. and though the class and the materials were quite a bit less than that, it was still an expensive class...but it was worth every penny and then some to have a corset that fits comfortably. I am going to sign up for the class next year so that I can have a second one for multi-day reenactment events.

By the way, there will be some very nice, but off the rack, corsets for sale shortly on Ebay now that I have my very own custom one. :)

Monday, June 04, 2007

Now back to Reality!

I spent the last 3 days in Gettysburg taking a Civil War era Corset class at the Genteel Arts academy. After roughly 25 hours of instruction and woking on the garment, I brought home a corset that actually fits me and my scoliosis shaped's impossible to buy a ready made one to fit with hips and shoulders that are at least 2 inches out of plumb.

I love the classes and being in Gettysburg, but unfortunately I work in the modern world and have to go back to the Friendly Skies tomorrow. My co-worker and friend Cathy sent me this: You know you've been a Flight Attendant too long when:
1. You can eat a 4 course meal standing at the kitchen counter
2. You search for a button to flush the toilet
3. You look for the "crew line" at the grocery store
4. You can pack for a 2 week trip to Europe in 1 roll-aboard
5. All of your pens have different hotel names on them
6. You NEVER unpack
7. You can recognize pilots by the backs of their heads-but not by their faces
8. You can tell from 70 yards away if a piece of luggage will fit in the overhead bin
9. You care about the local news in a city three states away
10. You can tie a neck scarf 36 ways
11. You know at least 25 uses for air sickness bags-none of which pertain to vomit
12. You understand and actually use the 24-hour clock
13. You own 2 sets of uniforms: fat and thin
14. You don't think in "months"-you think in "bid packs"
15. You always point with two fingers
16. You get a little too excited by certain types of ice
17. You stand at the front door and politely say "Buh-bye, thanks, have a nice day" when someone leaves your home
18. You can make a sentence using all of the following phrases: "At this time, " "For your safety, " "Feel free, " and "As a reminder"
19. You know what's on the cover of the current issues of In Touch, Star, and People magazines
20. You stop and inspect every fire extinguisher you pass, just to make sure the "gauge is in the green"
21. Your thighs are covered in bruises from armrests and elbows
22. You wake up and have to look at the hotel stationery to figure out where you are
23. You refer to cities by their airport codes
24. Every time the doorbell rings you look at the ceiling.
25. You actually understand every item on this list