Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Costuming Again

Right now I'm getting the costume closet ready for this year's Fezziwig Ball. The Ghost of Christmas Past outfit gives me trouble every year: it's crepe-back satin, so it's static-y and catches on everything, and every wrinkle shows. This year I had to take in the neckline, re-hem the sleeves and hemline. Then I found the thread I originally used was breaking, so I had to re-sew the seams.

A new item for the Ball: A cream colored cloak for the ghost of Christmas Past. It's upholstery fabric, so it's heavy, but still meant to drape. I hemmed it by hand, so it took a while.

A gentleman's natural linen trousers and white linen/cotton shirt- with cuff and neckline RUFFLES! I'm working on getting smaller hand-sewn hems, and Caleb is going to look amazing in his 1820's uniform this Christmas.

A boy's shirt and corduroy coat. Tiny Tim is going to be adorable this year!

I bought a straw poke-bonnet looking thing at Goodwill and started lining it with brown silk from a weird pair of ladies' pants(thanks, Grandma!). I haven't decided yet if it really looks Little Dorritish or just more Wicked Witch of the West. And am I the only person who has trouble getting bonnet lining to lie flat?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Home Again

I've been back for a week. I made it home safe and sound; the flights went fine; I survived the dirty, germ infested airplanes and the cramped, crowded conditions. The TSA took my knife, though; I forgot to put it in my checked luggage. Two days before I got home my family was in a car accident, so we broke and bought a minivan in the same week. Plus the dash-lights and taillights went out on my vehicle. Car troubles: I was hoping not to have those for a while.


I started job hunting on Monday. I left home with much trepidation and a list of ten places to apply; I walked in the the second place and decided I really want to work there(Christian Manager and fifteen minute commute for the WIN), so I'm praying that works out. Then at the third place they were hiring seasonal help. Without even looking at my application they told me to come in on Saturday for orientation. So after that I thought, now what? It would be a happy Providence if after the seasonal job expires the Job-That-I-Want would become available.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Leaving the Palmetto State

The leaves have finally turned and the trees are gorgeous. The men have been burning leaves and brush around the house, so the whole house smelled of smoke yesterday. Smoke-smell is pleasant in small amounts, but rather irritating to the sinuses in large doses. 

 So today is my last day in South Carolina, and as a farewell/thank you Mrs. H took me out to tea. We went to a tiny town nearby that had a really great Tea Room, in an old mill building.

I tell you, there were fifty million teacups in that place. We got to pick which one we were to use for our tea. We thought it was funny how our teacups showed how different we are. Apparently when I arrived and Mrs. H first saw me she was really worried that I would be a judgmental skirt-wearer, but we got along fine.

So what about my South Carolina trip? It was great. I think about halfway through I realized I could relax. Especially the day I spent at Drayton Hall; everything there was so calm. The workload here has been light(compared to home) and I've had a lot of freedom, and I'm very grateful. The H's are used to having people in their home, so they're not overbearing or uptight hosts. Even the dog was amazingly calm. Now that is truly Providence!

World's smallest Police station. So cute!
And since everyone's asking, no, I'm not impatient to get home, but it's time. I had a good break and even though I'm apprehensive about dealing with my job situation when I get back, it will be good for me.

See you on the other side!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Comments on the Palmetto State

After almost six weeks in this southern state, I have a few observations to share with the world:

  • There's certainly older history here than in the midwest, despite the tragic destruction of the Civil war. I love old history, especially colonial history; especially interactive history. That's why I hauled my entire colonial outfit here in my suitcase for a weekend reenactment.
  • There are a lot of rude, stupid drivers in South Carolina. I'm sorry to be so harsh, but you know I would only use the S word if it were serious. Tailgating is common, speeding is normal, and cutting is everyday in this state. So rude!
  • But people have also been very welcoming to me. I'm grateful.
  • There are lots of trees. It's so much easier to get lost because you really can't see where you are or where you are going: there's just too many trees. If men did grow on trees, there would be a lot of them in South Carolina.
  • Also, there are no straight roads in SC. Every road is curved or crooked! There is no neat square mile street grid in this state!
  • People do sometimes talk funny(but maybe I'm just really bad at understanding people?) and people wear less. No comment on that, I'll leave it to your imagination.
  • Friend H and I agree that it's hilarious that there are signs everywhere that say "Bridges ice before road." Does anyone in this state actually know what ice is, outside of sweet tea?
  • Double e's: don't know how to end a South Carolina place name? Add a double E. Congaree, Santee, Elloree, Wateree, Jocasee, you get the picture. Apparently the double e is a remnant of an Indian language, and indicates those places are near water.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Camden, Day 2

Crown Point Baked goods, at the top of Sutler's Row.
Sunday morning I arrived in camp just in time for the final prayer of the protestant Church service. I decided to skip the Anglican service, so even though it felt odd I ended up not going to church at all. Some of my friends of the day before had already left camp for home, so I was largely on my own until Grandpa T and Mr. H arrived to see the battle.

 Grandpa T, a sucker for grandkids, bought some lemonade.

As I mentioned, the Patriots won on Saturday and the British won on Sunday. Here the Americans march to their 2pm demise on the lawn. The weather was perfect. This time around I was careful to get a seat on the good side, to get some pictures.

Check out the smoke-ring from cannon fire.

As much as I may like the American blue, the Loyalist and Hessian green is really growing on me. It's just a gorgeous color, and a surprisingly simple coat. This gentleman of the British Legion(made up of American Loyalists) has a cap made of leather, with a strip of bear's fur down the center.

Several people left Sunday morning or packed up and then left midday, and after the battle camp breakdown started pretty quick. Some people drove six hours to get there and then had to be back for work on Monday. After the battle I wandered around a bit more and was home by dinnertime.

First Rev War reenactment: Survived. Tired and sunburned, but it was fun.

Camden, Day 1

 Camden, SC. Back in the spring after my travel dates had been decided I spent some time searching for little getaways to do while I was in SC. One event I found was the Rev War days at Camden, SC, just forty minutes from my host family and happening within the dates I would be there. I emailed ahead and asked if I could attach to a reenacting unit for the weekend. I was welcomed by the RNCR, the Royal North Carolina Reenactors, who do British interpretations. While I would have preferred being a Patriot, I thought it was pretty generous of them to take me sight-unseen, just for the weekend.

 The Kershaw house. The British encampment was to the side and behind the house, and the American Patriots were across the lawn. There was a ditch running through the middle of the lawn that at least one person fell right in to after it got dark. And he(reportedly) wasn't even drunk. There was a row of Sutler's shops behind the American camp, and quite a few demonstrators arranged near the entrance.

The RNCR group was a mish-mash of a few women soldiers, old soldiers, a few token young people, and several families. There were reenacting grandparents there that had nine outgoing grandchildren present, which prompted one spectator to say we had our own private colonial daycare. I also found out later the family was Mormon. Despite hearing some rough language I could have done without, I was happy to have a place. There was a tent for my bag and an occasional free stool to sit on.

This lady was visiting from Florida. She had a great outfit.

Whenever I go to away-from-home events I always feel apprehensive that my outfit might not be up to snuff. So far, I haven't had cause to worry. There were a few neat and tidy gowns at Camden, but mostly there were a great many bedgowns. A lot of gaping, open bedgowns on girls and women of all ages. By the end of the day I was so dazed and tired I kept thinking "Bedpans. There's a lot of bedpans here."

This cute girl had an adorable lilac linen dress.
On Saturday I got stuck by the house during the battle. There were trees in the way and we were far from the action, so I didn't get any good photos that day. On Saturday the Americans won the battle, and on Sunday the British won the battle, and I guess that way everyone was happy. There were three cannons, I believe.

After hours on Saturday everyone relaxed and ate dinner, and then, what else? We burned Guy Fawkes. At 7pm, when it got dark, there was a bonfire. Guy(shown above, getting his pants stitched on) was stuck on a stick, marched to the fire, and cast to his doom. Then there were fireworks and Chinese floating lanterns. You know you have issues with gravity when watching Chinese lanterns float away makes you nauseous. After the fireworks there were appetizers served in the house, and there was more food and drink to be served in the tavern, but I figured at that point it would be just as well if I went home.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Yellow and Green

Wednesday, we painted. The small but nevertheless difficult to paint section of the Kitchen wall was bright yellow; now it's moss green. It wasn't a whole lot to paint, but most of it was up high and around corners.

Painting attire- always stunning. You can't really tell, but I'm standing on the counter.

The H's wanted to see me give my testimony in front of a group, something I've not done before(Someone back home laughed and told me "It's an arminian thing."). So I went to Wednesday night Chapel(which is on base) with Mr. H and the Grandpas and gave my testimony in front of forty blank-faced Army trainees. Don't worry, the Chaplain told me, they're a really responsive group. If that was a responsive group I'd hate to have been in front of a non-responsive group. I was way more nervous than I should have been, but it was a good learning experience.

The leaves are finally starting to turn here, and I have just one week left!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sunday: The Navy Retreat

On Sunday we had the Navy over. They didn't arrive until 2pm, so everyone was able to attend church. There must have been close to thirty people, guys and girls plus two Chaplains and an assistant. These were all Navy Reserves again: they come here for three weeks to get pre-deployment training. Most of them seemed to be supply or logistics, and several that I talked to had volunteered for deployment(is it just me, or is that crazy?). They were all college aged or older, and it seems most of them had been overseas before.

 This was a very full paddle boat. The little Asian guy in the back was afraid the boat was going to sink; I would have been too.

We served a snack, they had a devotional, and then came free time with fishing, napping, horseshoes, and boating. The weather was perfect. I ended up in a discussion with a career Filipino-American Navy woman. She tried all afternoon to convince me that I should join the Navy(so not happening). Then I rounded up a bunch of reluctant guys to play a drawing game around the table. Playing that game with a bunch of tattooed Navy guys was a first, but it went well.

We served dinner: White chicken chili and cornbread with peach crisp and ice cream for dessert. I sat next to an India-Indian-American from New York and a Haitian-American from some other big city. I had made the cornbread for dinner, and the guys at dinner tried to persuade me to open a bakery. I must look like I'm easily swayed, or something.They all headed out at 8pm, just before "Once Upon a Time."

Navy photo credits go to Grandma J.

The Grandpas and Mr. H chewing the fat after a long Monday.

Monday, we were tired. And there was a lizard in my bedroom . And I was just really tired. The Grandmas cleaned obsessively, and at the end of the day we said goodbye to the Mobleys as they packed up to move on down south.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Saturday: The Army Retreat

Saturday was the Army Men's Retreat at Victory Ranch.

Most of the guys were practically babies, but some of them still had pretty intense stories. Since this was a guys retreat, the three college guy volunteers, three grandparent guy volunteers, and Mr. H led the devotional groups and spent time getting to know the guys on a deeper level.

The icebreaker game. It was mildly violent.

I was officially "boss" of the kitchen crew on Saturday while Mrs. H was gone. The kitchen crew consisted of three grandmas with catering experience and a college student. I couldn't have done it without them! Since you're yearning to know what we served, I'll tell you: Cinnamon rolls for coffee break; chili dogs for lunch with fruit, squash, beans, and layered pudding for dessert; spaghetti and garlic bread with peanut butter cookies for dinner. We still have almost three twelve pound pans of spaghetti left. And lots of pudding too, but I don't think anyone is complaining about that.

I am so enjoying having three sets of grandparents here. It's really fun! They're so grandparenty, and not in the way that Grandma D is at home, either. And they have great testimonies.

First time I'd ever heard the phrase "married to Jesus" actually spoken(my room-mate for Friday night). First time I'd talked to a Christian counseling student who was actually not talkative(nice guy, but don't worry Mom and Dad, not that kind of nice). First time I walked on the nature trail here. First time I've seen up-close how unflattering Army issued PT clothes are. You thought the Army-issued glasses were bad? Check out the Poly-nylon exercise shorts.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Two Weeks Left

As soon as the H's returned all was activity again. My last two weeks look to be busy, and that's good. We currently have three retired couples staying as volunteers; we have the Army coming on Saturday and the Navy coming on Sunday, and Mrs. H is going to be away at a ladies' retreat.

I spent a quiet hour at Kensington Mansion in between baking projects yesterday. It's been a hard year, and since I have had some quiet times here someone encouraged me to spend it thinking and praying, though now that I'm entering into my last two weeks here I have fewer chances to get that time away. I'm so grateful that the Hs are such flexible, easygoing hosts!

Currently reading:
"When Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal, he first had the wood and sacrifice drenched with water and the trench around the alter filled to the brim. Then he prayed and brought fire from heaven to lick it up. In like manner, God may allow a flood of afflictions to pour upon His children; He then kindles that inward joy in their bosoms to consume all their sorrows. The very waters of affliction add a further sweetness to their spiritual joy."
-The Christian in Complete Armour, by William Gurnall. It's been two years since I picked this book up, and after reading it off and on I think I'm finally going to finish it this time.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dracula and Drayton

Tuesday was my last day with Dracula. I didn't want a super long day out after spending all Monday in Augusta(I had to get up at 6am on Monday!) so I planned a relaxed day at Drayton Hall, though it was a still almost a two hour drive there. 

I had to stop for food(Oreos and chocolate milk) so now I can say I've been to a Piggly Wiggly. How can people take that place seriously? "Do you have a Pig card, Ma'am? It comes with Pig savings!"

As soon as I pulled up to the gate, the lady said, "I'm going to charge you the youth price, because you can get away with it." Three cheers for park attendant flexibility: My face saved me ten dollars! My second impression of the park service was seeing the sign saying "Do not feed the alligators."

Drayton Hall: You're driving down the driveway and then, BAM, you come over the hill, and see this, surrounded by small pools and huge old trees covered in Spanish moss, and backed by the slow-moving Ashley River.

"They descended the hill, crossed the bridge, and drove to the door; and, while examining the nearer aspect of the house, all her apprehensions of meeting its owner returned. She dreaded lest the chambermaid had been mistaken. On applying to see the place, they were admitted into the hall; and Elizabeth, as they waited for the housekeeper, had leisure to wonder at her being where she was." P&P, Ch. 43 

Drayton has been owned by the Historic Preservation Society for some years. The house is amazing in that it served as a headquarters for both British and American sides during the War for Independence, and also survived the Civil War. The house has been little changed since the Regency era, and even some of the original paint from the mid-eighteenth century is visible.

The weather was very gray and drizzly, so my poor old camera had a difficult time capturing good pictures. After the house tour I walked the path around the house and admired. There were several trees on the lawn that were just huge, and there really was Spanish moss everywhere, and there were benches down by the river for calm thinking. There were also palm trees. Apparently, and Nebraskans don't know these things, there are Palm trees, and there are Palmetto trees. Palm trees are tall and skinny, Palmetto trees are short and fat.

The river- once a road of commerce. Now an avenue for alligators? I kind of wanted to see an alligator; but not up close.

It was really interesting to see how this house is not being restored with modern take on history, but saved as carefully as possible to last as long as possible. The rooms are unfurnished, and there is no electricity.

I really enjoyed seeing this historical house. The grounds were beautiful; I can't imagine how amazing they must have looked in 1740. At that time there was a flower garden, all the way from the back entrance down to the river. I do think it's interesting how such a large house like this still has, by a modern standard, so few rooms. Each floor had one central room, and then two adjoining rooms on either side. Modern houses can be just as big, but somehow have twice as many rooms.
It started raining at the end. I delivered Dracula back to his owners and traveled home with Miss Shr. The H's arrive home tomorrow, and I think we'll all be glad to be busy and social again. I think the teen girls have gotten tired of me. I cramp their style, I guess.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Augusta in October

On Monday I met up with my old Friend H who now lives in Georgia. We met halfway and spent the day entertaining ourselves together in Augusta, GA/SC.

Remember Friend H? She's an old married woman now. We were remarking how all the places we've been in together have been have been rather unexpected: Russia, a dance in poor weather, and now Augusta.

This photo is for all those well-meaning people who say "Oh, maybe you'll meet someone(ie, a man) on your trip!" As if men grew on trees. Trust me, if they did, I'd have picked one by now. Anyway, one of our first stops was the Living History Park near downtown. It was not what I expected, but it was adorable. It actually was a children's park, a small well-kept public acre with miniature colonial reproduction building sprinkled throughout, and a playground nearby.

Being Monday, all the buildings were closed and everything was locked, including the stocks.

The delightful little church on the adorable little green by the darling little creek.

Friend H could not pass by the opportunity to have her picture taken as a bearded colonial-era man.

We spent the rest of the day wandering around and ended up at this, shall we say, unique local place.
Thanks, Friend H, for a fun day!

Sunday's Meanderings

Sunday I visited Rose Hill Presbyterian Church in Columbia.

Rose Hill PCA

The weather on Sunday was just the definition of perfect. Sunny but cool enough to wear a sweater. Sunday school was at 9:30 and church at 10:30. Most of the congregants were (ahem)elderly, and the building smelled decidedly musty. But everyone was very kind and welcoming. After church I skipped out and headed a few miles away back to Columbia Evangelical, where the church was hosting a missionary luncheon.  I sat across from a missionary couple who had worked many years at a fistula clinic in Niger.

After lunch I went out in search of the ever-elusive family gifts. Every time I travel I have the hardest time finding gifts for all my family!

It was, as I mentioned a really beautiful day.

Brattonsville on Saturday

 After my final harrowing efforts to get a car(you don't even want to know), GPS took me through a winding series of roads to spend the afternoon at Brattonsville, SC. Brattonsville is a series of surviving and reproduction historical buildings, mostly farm buildings, but also at least three family houses(not counting the slave quarters). All in all a good picture of family living in community.

For a $6 admittance fee, one gets a self-guided walking tour around the grounds. Saturday I saw around five volunteers working about the place to get ready for a halloween ghost tour that night. Because of the evening tour, the big house was decorated for a funeral. Besides the five volunteers there were also two nonchalant sheep and two very hairy pigs. And a great many spiders.

This is the porch: the porch where Martha Bratton stood and defied the British soldier who demanded to know her patriot husband's position. This story is what peaked my interest in Brattonsville years ago.

The cellar pantry, underneath the assembly room/DANCE FLOOR!

The Brattons, being Scots-Irish Presbyterians, did pretty well in America and kept upgrading their houses.

 Crooked fence and cotton field. If I had my way my brothers would fence our yard like this, but they seem to protest the labor involved.

Outbuildings. To summarize, South Carolina has in brick buildings what Nebraska has in corn: there seems to be lots of them.

On the lawn there was a big magnolia tree with one open blossom.

After wandering quietly around Brattonsville, I left, worn out, and made my way via errant GPS home. Never trust the GPS! When I got home that evening the girls had already left for ballet and babysitting, and locked all the doors behind them. I was so tired and disgusted with myself for being locked out, that I determined to climb through a window. It worked fine, and it wasn't until two days later that I found I still had the extra door key in my bag the whole time.