Saturday, March 29, 2008

My House Has Secrets.....

Old homes are ripe for the picking when it comes to mining treasures from the past. One of the things that is the most fascinating to me is the demolition process and the surprises contained under the facade of the present day. They have been here all along, covered by dirt, time, and miles and miles of ugly wallpapers. We did not uncover a lot of new treasures under the horsehair plaster in our living room, if fact I can show you both small treasures with this photo:

An old fashioned fish hook and the tiny cover to a jar of Mentholatum. Will you look at the line on that fish hook? It appears to be a woven cotton cording made many years before the invention of nylon lines. I'll bet the trout heard that hook hit the water a mile away! I wonder how it ended up in the horsehair plaster? Do you suppose the plasterer (plasterman?) leaned over the bucket to stir it and didn't notice the fishhook fall from his pocket?
I am going to share other more interesting finds from a few years ago when we renovated the bathroom. We had to tear the floor out because moisture had rotted most of the floor boards. What we found beneath that floor still amazes me to this day.
Apparently they used any papers they had handy to line the layers between the floorboards and keep the cold air from seeping through. Our first find was this still beautiful postcard:

If you can't read the verse, this is what is says:
"Home to his nest the swift gray gull is winging
Through the still dusk I hear the sailors song.
Night to the weary rest from toil is bringing,
Wilt thou be long."
Here is the back of the card. I can't make out anything that it says, but the stamp looks like I could peel it off and use it again today, it wouldn't take my postcard far, would it?
The next small treasure was a ticket to the fair, dated 1896. It took you from Augusta Maine to the fair and back, but you had to pay your own admission. I wish I could see what they got to ride on, perhaps a horse drawn carriage led by 4 Belgian draft horses carrying 20 or more fairgoers? Or perhaps the Narrow Gauge railroad that passed this way many many years ago? I wonder...
You know how when you pay for your groceries the printed receipt has ads on the back? Well I guess that is a very old custom, as you can see on the back of the ticket was an ad for the East Side Drug Store. I wonder what he had to pay for that ad, a dime? The next small treasure is a recipe. My first thought was that it was cut out from the electric bill. Oops, I guess not. Homes were not wired for electricity until 1920 or later, I guess that explains why the rolls require a "brisk" oven. How many sticks of wood would you use to get your oven up to "brisk"? Four? Needless to say that explains why there is no oven temperature given. Closer examination reveals that it was most likely an insert from the "Magic Yeast" carton.
The best find of all was a nearly complete newspaper dated Monday, February 17, 1896. It was the local paper from Augusta Maine, the one I read all my years of growing up. But reading this paper was like reading the news from another planet! Here is an example of some of the BIG NEWS of the day:And the news in Hallowell is even more fascinating:I wasn't lucky enough to have a column labeled "Gossip" when I was growing up, but will you just look at the juicy bits from this column! I certainly am glad they found a way to can "short" lobsters without hindrance! And what do you suppose "hard sledding" is? Something like rough sailing? Oh, those contemptible Bath people!
And here is more gossip: The first bit could have been written this year. And the second bit? State officials need to take notice, what a clever way to reduce the population in our overcrowded jails! Here is an example of one of the columns contained therein: WELL, THIS IS A QUEER WORLD. Catchy title, don't you think? My favorite part of the paper has got to be the advertisements though. LOOK! Big news! A shipment of sauerkraut has arrived in the City of Augusta! Get out your party clothes Momma we're celebrating tonight! Look at the ad for chewing tobacco: It is the largest piece of GOOD tobacco ever sold for 10 cents! I wonder what the largest chunk of bad tobacco cost, a nickel? It kind of strikes a cocky pose, don't you think? This ad, hmmm. I woudn't comment on this with a ten foot pole. Just, well, hmmmn. These ads are good, but the best ads are the ones that let you see how far we have come in the field of medicine in the past 112 years.
There was a wonderful healer coming to town, one who made the blind see and the deaf hear. He cured cancer or there was no charge. Wow. They had a cure for worms in your children, this household remedy was over 44 years old in 1896, it must have been a big problem. YUCK! If your problem was not worms, then Johnson's Linament cured nearly everything else, AND, it was pleasant to take when dropped on sugar! (Same could be said of arsenic...)

There seemed to be another more rampant epidemic that year, though. Something that hit nearly every household, and half the newspaper ads had to be dedicated to solving this particular problem. Something that made the moustache of every man affacted droop to his chin and made the ladies cry. People, we are talking about MALE IMPOTENCE! But there were remedies galore: There was NEW LIFE: (It also cured insanity, lassitude and Night Losses. NIGHT LOSSES??????) There were Nerve Seeds for Weak Men! Complete with illustrations demonstrating moustache improvement in 1, 10, 20 and 40 days!
There was Lost Manhood:But the best cure of all has to be............. SEX-INE PILLS! (Today we call it Viagra...)

Will you just look at all those moustaches perking back up? What do you suppose made these guys so desirous of perky moustaches? Perhaps Mr. Wonderful Healer above needs a dose, what do you think?
And there were some products for the ladies too, like Belladonna Plaster...

Do you think this ad is terribly erotic or is it just me? Hmmn...
But I have saved the best "under the bathroom floor" find for last. This was an announcement from a local church concerning a certain club the Pastor was trying to round up some young girls to join. Here it is:

We have always gotten a good chuckle from this one.
Well, that ends my show of "Treasures From The Past" for today. I hope you enjoyed seeing them!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

My Daughter Gets Married!

On Saturday the 22 of March we went to see my daughter Josie marry a wonderful man named Richard! They had the loveliest ceremony. It was very small, only their parents and their children were invited. Here is a picture of the happy couple.

Here they are with their wedding cake, which was made by the groom's father. Isn't that impressive? It was carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and was delicious! The cake followed a fabulous brunch cooked by the groom's mother Carleen which included quiche, oven fried potatoes, vegetarian bacon, smoked salmon, a massive fruit and melon platter, bagels and cream cheese and I made cinnamon rolls to bring. It was a wonderful feast.

During the ceremony they did a sand ritual where they took turns pouring colored sand into this jar as the officiator read about their lives blending together like the grains of sand, it was really lovely.
Here is a picture of the bride and groom with both sets of parents.
This is the new family: Richard's son Sam, Josie, Richard and Savannah.
After the brunch and toasts and gifts, the happy couple went to North Conway in New Hampshire where they stayed at a Victorian Spa for the weekend. Savannah came home with us, and on the way we took a detour to Bethel so she could see the largest snowman in the world. It is actually a Snow-woman, named Olympia. Don't Savannah and I look like tiny ants next to her?
Savannah stayed with us for Easter, and we had the chance to cook together and color Easter eggs. For dinner, we had another wonderful meal. Jessica, Kaylee, Rich, and Jed came over. Our menu included: Glazed ham, oven roasted potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, fresh steamed asparagus, honeyed baby carrots, creamed corn for Jed (the only vegetable he'll eat), rolls with butter, cranberry, pickles and lemon mousse pie with raspberries for dessert.
The Easter bunny left the girls far too much candy, but they had fun looking for it. I hope everyone had a holiday weekend as nice as mine was.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I'm Not Happy...

Once upon a time there was a living room. It wasn't pretty, but it did have some pretty furniture. This is what is looked like, from the bay window toward the dining room.

I was very tired of the pimply stucco ceiling, and it was impossible to clean, or even to dust. And I hated the plain wood trim and decades-old wallpaper. So I asked for a new room. Now, our house is over a hundred years old. Gary has stripped most of the other rooms and put up sheetrock, but never this one. And so we begin. First, Gary took down the wall behind the fireplace. Then he started chipping that awful stucco off the ceiling.

Kaylee peeks in and says "Uh-oh, Grampy!" She can't imagine what I will say when I see the mess! As you can see, we took up the carpeting previously. I am hoping for a new laminate floor, maybe in a cherry color. As Gary works on the ceiling, our son Jed diligently removes a hundred years worth of wallpapers (the last 30 years of wallpaper were my choices, interesting to see what lies beneath them...) and then the horsehair plaster beneath. We found a fish hook in the wall. It looked hand made, big and scary and very very old.

Can you see the plaster dust in the air? We put a plastic tarp over the door to try to contain the dust, but it didn't help a lot... There is plaster dust EVERYWHERE in the whole house, just look!
Soon all the walls and the ceiling are stripped and this is what we have now. That fan? It is going. Buh-bye. I wish I could say goodbye to that ugly airvent too, but it is the only way we get any heat in our bedroom above. It is cold up there, even with layers of quilts.
Will you just look at that floor? It took them another day to sweep up the plaster and bag it to take to the dump, then we had to pay $75 for them to take it off our hands. Man, we could have used that money for sheetrock!

Gary took this one from up on the ladder. Paper and plaster and dust, oh my!

So now the living room furniture is in the dining room:

The dining room furniture is in the kitchen, and the old couch and big screen TV are in my quilting studio! I don't have room to move or even turn around. I keep telling Gary this is what we would feel like if we had a trailer in Florida for the winter, we are practicing!
The only way I have found to keep my sanity is to knit like a fiend. So May I present my finished project, THE DRACULA'S BRIDE SHAWL!!!

Here is a closer look:

And closer still:

Pattern designed by Goddess Knits, I used Jaggerspun Zephyr wool/silk yarn and size 4 bamboo needles. It took me 6 months to knit this shawl. I'd say it was worth it. I'm feeling happier now.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

My Potatoes

The following tidbit is brought to you for entertainment purposes only.
DISCLAIMER: No potatoes were harmed for the following photographs. HOWEVER, they were later chopped into little bits and put into stew for being troublesome and rather soft.
May I present to you:
Pablo Picasso PotatoOf course I paint with my brush in my mouth, for I have no hands, you see.

Pinnochio Potato

I swear I didn't tell a lie!

Peter Cottontail Potato

And what would you like for Easter, my pretty?

Wally Walrus Potato

I am the eggman, they are the eggmen
I am the walrus, goo goo goo joob goo goo goo goo joo!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

I Do Believe, I Do Believe, I Do I Do I Do!

I am reading the book "Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui" by Karen Kingston. I got this book because we have a lot of clutter and I would like to clean up a bit. I don't know what Feng Shui is. The book could have been called Clear Your Clutter with Mumbo Jumbo and I still would have gotten it, because I have clutter. I didn't really believe that Feng Shui would help us. When I read the chapter about putting up with broken or second rate appliances, this is what she said: "Things which need fixing are an energy drain. Every time you see the object which needs fixing, your energy level drops." And in another section: "Don't put up with giving yourself second best. When you nourish yourself by giving yourself the best you can, that signal goes out and will attract the best in other areas of your life too."

And then, in a most serendipitous turn of events, Gary did our taxes and found that the amount we would be getting back was exactly the price of the refrigerator we had seen and wanted to purchase. And so we did. We were quite the joke of the neighborhood when the Lowe's truck backed into our yard (Gary works at Home Depot), and two very nice men brought in the new fridge. And then they moved the 16 year old behemoth that served us well while raising our 6 children onto the front porch where we will put a for sale sign on it. Well now, let me tell you... After living with the broken ice-through the door fridge for about 2 years, (yes, we looked into repairing it, very expensive and parts are hard to locate for such an old fridge), getting my first few cubes through the door was almost cathartic. I felt a surge of energy flow through me that I had't felt in months. It was more than ice. It was my chi becoming unblocked. The energy flow had been returned to me and to my home.
Since the fridge arrived, I have had a severe case of finish-itis. Knitters can tell you about start-itis, so can quilters. It is where you just keep starting new projects and never getting anywhere with them. Something else is always newer and more interesting. But finish-itis? It is almost unheard of.

First I finished my Ice Queen scarf. See?
I made it from Karabella laceweight mohair yarn on size 5 needles. Here is a picture of me wearing it:
Can you see the glass beads sparkling here and there? And the ice crystals falling from the sky while I wear my Ice Queen scarf? Awesome!

Then, I finished my Dashing fingerless gloves. When I first heard about fingerless gloves, I thought it a ridiculous notion. Certainly nothing a Mainer could use, our fingers would freeze and fall off! I was wrong though, and I am finding them incredibly useful. No more hauling off the thick mittens to count change at a cash register, I can use my camera outside, and best of all, I can knit in a cold car! And as for the warmth, I find them adequate.
See how lovely?

Look at the detail of the lovely cables crossing my wrists.

I would show them both to you but I need one hand to hold the camera. ;>) I made these from a Rowan Merino/Silk blend yarn. I bought two balls, and used about 1 and a half. So guess what I did with the other half?

I used it to finish this project from H-E-double toothpicks:

Yes, the downtrodden mobius scarf! I was determined not to buy any more yarn to finish it and I didn't! And I think I can almost say that I frogged this piece more times than I knit it! I am SO HAPPY that this is finished and I can wear it before the winter is finished with us! Speaking of which, look what happened today...
Another Maine blizzard, unbelieveable! Gary was having trouble with his sciatica so he didn't go to work, we made a big fire in the cookstove and made corn chowder and oatmeal cookies. It was a pleasure wearing my silk gloves out to the woodshed. Who would have thought an $8 ball of wool could make me feel like a princess?

And one more FO (Finished Object):

My Firestarter socks!!! I love them so much I am going to show them to you again:
I am happy to say that I found no knots in the Noro sock yarn and they are softer after washing. I am wearing them now and my feet are delighted with them.

Gary has been affected by the new found energy too, he has replaced the broken handle on the recliner couch (now resting comfortably in my studio since being replaced by the Queen's loveseat) and repaired some broken picture frames. He was rather embarrassed though at the grocery store the other night when a lady he works with shouted out "Hey Gary! Was that a Lowe's truck I saw in your yard the other night?" He'll never live it down.

Anyway... Feng Shui. I do believe, I do believe, I do I do I do......