Reflections: A Year in Living History

“He said to His disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear. For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. Notice the ravens: they do not sow or reap; they have neither storehouse nor barn, yet God feeds them. How much more important are you than birds!” (Luke 12:22-24)

Okay. So it’s been more like 14 months since I landed a position in living history; my 1-year anniversary was August 14th. But c’est la vie! Better late than never…

That should be the battle cry of my life these days: a 40-hour work week; 2-hour daily commute; 15-20 hours a week devoted to college studies, and another 15-20 hours devoted to farm work/life = severe sleep deprivation and a perpetual race through life…followed by two days’ off catatonic in the easy chair, dozing, and wishing I could find the energy to get X,Y,Z done. In short, I’m a little over-extended on time, rundown and exhausted. My first reflection on a year in living history is that I’ve caught every cold, flu, and malady that walks through the museum. I’ve heard that it’s to be expected, especially this first year, when working with the public but that doesn’t make it any easier to bear; I get impatient with illness and a “rundown” diagnosis. In some ways, that’s a lament; in others, there’s still a side of me that feels privileged to have spent a little more than a year learning all sorts of unique skills and talents. Now, if we could just create a 28 hour day, I might get that 8 hours of sleep the doctors (and Mom!) are always yammering at me; 6 is more my average.

So, I guess that’s it for my first reflection. ZZZZzzzz……

(Chuckle)

On a more positive note, I’ve learned to make some beautiful pie crusts. And I’m not at all modest about it. (grin) There’s something to be said for such humble accomplishments.

I’ve also learned how to spin on a Great Wheel, which, of course, is now on my wish list. The Walking Wheel/Great Wheel is so much easier than today’s modern treadle-powered models. Once I get going, it’s like zen time. Ditto for the loom. There is something very satisfying in seeing the yarn that you’re creating filling yet another spindle, increasing on the niddy-noddy:

Or the cloth that you’ve helped to weave being put into service as toweling in some of the buildings you work in. I dream of the day I have a loom of my own at home and can produce bedspreads, sheeting, towels, and fabric for clothing of my own. It may seem like “too much work,” to quote my beloved Aunt Margie, but, for me, it is immensely satisfying to work with my hands in such a way and see the fruits of that labor.

Spinning and weaving were kind of a given. I would’ve gotten down on hands and knees and begged to learn. Straw braiding has come as something of a surprise. Young women often braided rye straw to earn extra income. The straw is a by-product from growing rye in the fields, rye that eventually goes to the grist mill to be made into flour for making bread and pie crusts and such. The braiding was used to make straw hats, which were all the rage in the 19th century. I’ve discovered a knack for it and, while the braiding usually went to a local store to then be sold to a hat maker (i.e. the young ladies didn’t typically make the hats themselves), I find myself wondering if I could make a more modern straw sunbonnet from start to finish, from braid to the finished product adorned with flowers and ribbons. I have rye seed in the cupboard downstairs (great winter cover crop). Another humble goal, but a goal nonetheless.

“Period correct” is the answer and reason for everything…even in contradictions. “Ye women must not endeavor to learn tinsmithing or pottery; ’twas a man’s province ’twas. ‘Twouldn’t be ‘period correct’ to see a lady punching a pattern in a lantern nor shaping clay upon the potter’s wheel.” Of course, it wouldn’t be ‘period correct’ to see a lady behind the counter serving customers in the local country store either but we have the lasses in abundance at our store. Nor would it be ‘period correct’ to see a Christmas tree on the town common in the 1830’s. But we must not walk about without a bonnet, or with our sleeves rolled up, because it wouldn’t be ‘period correct’ for a lady to risk getting a tan, or a sunburn. (Gasp!)

And yet, I’ve found at least one unsung hero of the time period: Lydia Maria Child, who penned “Over the River and Through the Woods,” wrote numerous cookbooks, advice books and novels, campaigned to end slavery, the displacement of the First Nations’ peoples and fought for a woman’s right to vote. She was also the editor of a youth magazine called “The Juvenile Miscellany.” Her husband, an attorney, lost his practice once his anti-slavery views were made known, just as “The Juvenile Miscellany” went belly up for the same reason. Yet, David Lee Child continued to work with such notable figures as William Lloyd Garrison and Fredrick Douglass to end slavery. And, unusual for their time, Lydia Maria supported the couple through her continued writing and publishing. Her books on thrift and economy hold time-honored nuggets of wisdom that we could all learn from today. You may be hearing more about this extraordinary lady in the upcoming months, albeit spotty posts created in between the cat naps. (chuckle)

May God bless you & keep you!

REFERENCES

KnitPicks.com (n.d.) “Niddy Noddys from KnitPicks.com.” Image. Retrieved October 2, 2018 from: https://www.google.com/search?q=niddy+noddy+image&rlz=1C1OPRA_enUS563US627&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj-l9OFhejdAhVMoFMKHYHjAyIQsAR6BAgAEAE&biw=1366&bih=657#imgdii=hk0xviP0etfv0M:&imgrc=kIabqBrkBNwUFM:

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Away To Me!

“When David saw the angel, he said to the Lord, ‘Look, I am the one who has sinned! What have these sheep done? Let your anger be only against me and my family.'” (2 Samuel 24:17)

Nope. No sacrifices being made here. Just a lamentation (maybe I should’ve chosen that book from the Bible for my passage instead…) after a wonderful Saturday spent with one of my best friends at the annual Connecticut Sheep & Wool Festival.

Wonderful because of the company. And wonderful because this is a beloved event that neither my friend nor I want to miss. In the last 8-10 years or so, I think we’ve missed one. But, don’t quote me on that, because I’m not even sure about the one miss. It’s all things fiber: yarns, fabric, spinning, weaving, knitting and, of course, the myriad animals that produce these fibers–sheep, Angora goats, alpacas, Angora rabbits. One year, there was even some silkworms! How cool was that? While I confess that this year was a little short on the animal attendance, still, we love this event so it was a good day all around.

Lamentation?

This event feeds that internal hunger, that innate desire to cultivate and create a life that mirrors this event. Not so much as regards the fiber production; I’ve got that down already. While I don’t have my own loom yet, nor the walking wheel I hope to score “Someday”, I’m learning spinning, weaving, knitting and there’s a dyeing demonstration coming up at the end of the month at work that I hope to be allowed to help with. So that’s happening. And, as I continue to work with fibers in the 19th century, I am confident that I can pull this knowledge into the 21st.

My lamentation is the border collies.

Sure, I can go out tomorrow and adopt a rescued border collie. And that’s not a bad idea. But my dream, my desire, is to work with border collies, to train them to herd sheep. And, before the armchair experts come out of the woodwork, yes, they should have an internal instinct to herd. However, if they haven’t been trained, or sheep broke, as it is often called, their instincts may tell them to go after the sheep, but they may just as easily run them down as gather them up and bring them home. That’s why they need training. And it is my fondest wish. These dogs are amazing.

It’s in the “Someday” bucket.

I sure wish “Someday” would finally get here. But, until it does, praise God for what already is…and the dream He’s placed on my heart.

May God bless you & keep you!

Bass Ackwards

“I am confident in this, that the one who began a work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

Despite working with computer and online technology for at least a couple of decades now, I still flub up every now and again. Part of it may be that whenever I go to a new site, new application, etc., I am more liable to just start following menu paths and clicking here and there as to read the actual instructions beforehand.

Such is the case with my new Patreon site. I was supposed to build suspense by posting little snippets of its launch on my social media sites, my blog, etc. Well, as I’ve given up social media for Lent, such a climatic approach would be nearly impossible anyway. So, I clicked the “Launch” button almost from the moment I first logged into the site. Needless to say, a quick visit, at this point, would be a little anticlimatic anyway; I haven’t downloaded much yet.

Bear with me; fiction, in the form of short stories, some poetry, some samples of business icons, etc. as well as paintings, drawings, knitted, hand-spun and hand-woven items will appear from time to time. Perhaps even some herbal products as time goes on. I’m still working it all out.

So, what is Patreon? “Patreon is a membership platform that makes it easy for creators to get paid.” We’re challenged to memorize that; I haven’t yet. It’s in a spiral-bound notebook for the moment. (Chuckle)

This menu path should bring you to my Patreon page if you’d like to check it out: https://www.patreon.com/theherbalhare

May God bless you & keep you!

PS If, for some reason, this doesn’t bring you to the site (may have to copy and paste in search engine), please post a comment below and I will check into it. Again, I’m still learning. Thank you for reading my blog…and for your patronage! =)

Spinning Wheels Got to Go Round

“Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Dorcas. She was completely occupied with good deeds and almsgiving. Now during those days she fell sick and died, so washing her, they laid her out in a room upstairs. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the request, ‘Please come to us without delay.’ So Peter got up and went with them. When he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs where all the widows came to him weeping and showing him the tunics and cloaks that Dorcas had made while she was with them. Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed. Then he turned to her body and said, ‘Tabitha, rise up.” She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. He gave her his hand and raised her up, and when he had called the holy ones and the widows, he presented her alive.” (Acts 9:36-41)

In the Catholic faith, when you make your Confirmation, you choose a new name. This isn’t a legal name. It’s usually a name from either Scripture or one of the saints. And, in essence, by choosing the name, you are choosing your patron saint.

I chose Tabitha.

In a world where churches are lucky to be half-full on a Sunday morning, and everyone spends more time in front of the boob tube than reading the Bible, you can imagine the quandary this choice created. Even my own mother thought I was choosing a “witch name,” as she called it. In her defense, some translations of the Bible do not mention the name “Tabitha” when recounting the story of Dorcas. And, of course, Elizabeth Montgomery immortalized the name when, as Samantha Stevens in the old sitcom, “Bewitched”, she and husband, Darren, christened their daughter, Tabitha. Who, of course, like her mother, could twitch her nose to make things happen.

I chose the name because the story represented to me a rebirth, much like the one that occurs when you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. And Dorcas received a new name just like I was in being confirmed.

However, just as some translations don’t mention Tabitha, the Catholic Bible I quoted from at the beginning of this post, only touches on the fact that Dorcas/Tabitha was a seamstress. She sewed and spun and wove fine garments for people in need. This translation has the widows showing Peter some of the garments she made for them, but the translation states instead that she “was completely occupied with good deeds.” I like the other translation better. And, maybe it’s not just the story of rebirth but the humble tasks this dear lady used to help those in need that won my heart and led me to choose her for a patron saint.

Thursday I had my first lesson on the Great Wheel, the Spinning Wheel, the Walking Wheel at work. It has many names; all of them correct. Wool did not traditionally get spun on the little treadle fed spinning wheels we see at the local “Sheep to Shawl” competitions at our local Ag fair. Those portable little wheels more closely resemble a flax wheel. And flax may “Someday” become a crop here at The Herbal Hare Homestead…definitely if this homestead eventually relocates, which is a tentative plan on the horizon (more on that later…). But, for now, I’m spinning wool.

On a Great Wheel.

And loving it.

I’ve tried my hand a few times on the more modern pseudo-flax wheel; I much prefer the Walking Wheel. First of all, it’s a simpler rhythm. And I chose the word rhythm on purpose because the “walk” is almost like a dance as you step to the left while angling the roll of wool away from the spindle, pull it out to thin out the clumps, give the great wheel a turn with your right hand to strength those thinner areas on the roll then give it another gentle stretch. A couple of more turns of the great wheel then we step to the right, turn the wheel slightly in the opposite direction to bring the now yarn up onto the “cone” of the spindle (wound yarn that has built up on the opposite end of the spindle from where we spin it; best way I can describe it) and then slowly step forward while turning the wheel clockwise again to roll the yarn up and back to the left again. Your feet form an almost perfect triangle.

It’s all in the feel, as the wonderful ladies who have been teaching me tell us. Us, because there are 5 of us learning this wonderful art. What wonderfully encouraging instructors we have, too! I was prepared to beg for some practice time towards the end of the day yesterday but I need not have worried. Both ladies were willing to accommodate. And one of them told me yesterday that I was doing very well; I hope so. This is one skill, this and next week’s weaving class, that I really want to master. I suspect every spare moment, if possible, I will be trying to sneak in some practice. I may have to comb some estate sales and auctions. I am envisioning a Great Wheel here at The Herbal Hare Homestead…albeit, I’ll be doing this spinning “dance” to some music. I’m not sure yet what effect spinning yarn while listening to Megadeth will have…

May God bless you & keep you!