Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Truly Revolutionary Idea

When I first heard the term "Rev City" I thought the person was saying "Reb City"--but of course, that's another time period all together. This afternoon CW had its employee picnic, so for lunch we all trundled over to Christina Campbell's Tavern and had a delicious boxed lunch of cold chicken, chips, apple, cookie and soda. Then afterward we were instructed to visit the historic area, to "tourist it up," if you will, and also to make observations about the people working there.

The weather was sunny and not too hot. I hung out with a couple of women who have worked at CW for years, so they knew everyone. We walked into the shoemaker's just as he was finishing up his spiel about his trade, and then as the tourists left, got to hear all the gossip about the various people working there. I learned that the shoes that are made in the shomaker's are actually used by CW--after they're produced they get sent over to accessories and handed out to the interpreters. We also wandered through the weaver's shop. Since I was with three women who weave (as in, they buy a pile of wool, card it, spin it, dye it, and THEN weave it) we spent quite a bit of time chatting with the woman who was demonstrating. She was incredibly patient with my endless questions, even explaining the difference between warp and weft. Which, in hindsight, probably not a good thing to admit I don't know in front of my coworkers---but oh well! The best part about walking around with other coworkers was making notes about the costumes that people are wearing. Also asides from my supervisor--"You know Mr. So and So? Our boss's boss' boss? Well, he lives in that house there. Oh, and Thomas Jefferson lives here. Oh--and here comes Patrick Henry...Hello, Bob."

Now, some of you know me, and you know I have a penchant for history, also drawing attention to myself. I was wearing my "Republicans for Voldemort" t-shirt, mostly because I like the attention it draws, but also because it's a good way to start conversations. And I figured, since I was finally going to get to meet some CW employees outside the costume center, I'd need an icebreaker. Every afternoon CW closes off part of its street for Revolutionary City, which is a series of open-air vignettes about the Revolutionary War period. I love these little shows, because the people will continue to stay in character, even after their mikes are turned off. Yes, they're miked, but it's okay, because the mikes are of the period. The afternoon started with a reading of the Declaration of Independence by various members of the company. Then we witnessed a British officer, Henry Hamilton, complaining to the local officials about his treatment in jail. That show was particularly fine, except all the costume people were totally distracted by the fact that, while General Hamilton's breeches, shirt and weskit were disheveled, his red coat was brand new and in perfect condition!

Finally, we were witness to General Benedict Arnold's taking over of Williamsburg. Although a fearful citizen came running through the town, shouting about the "twelve hundred British regulars descending upon us!" by the time they got to the Capitol, there were only four. I guess the rest got tired. General Arnold, however, looked splendid in his red coat. He was haranguing the Americans for running away and leaving Richmond without a fight "--even your Governor Jefferson ran away rather than stand before the army of the King!" prompting me to hiss "Jefferson was a lover, not a fighter! Come on, every one knows that!" and offer to throw my applecore at Arnold. No one took me up on it.

It was a very enjoyable afternoon. I STILL haven't seen everything CW has to offer, but I enjoyed playing tourist and seeing what our guests are seeing. And it was so nice to spend a day outdoors instead of watching it through the window. I even got a souvenier--there was a bunch of rubbish on the Palace Green, so I tromped over to pick it up, mindful of the exhortation to "take ownership of Foundation Properties." I discovered, amid the garbage, someone had left behind their souvenier: a little ball of all natural lemon soap, which will go nicely in my bathroom. Cheers.

And the best news of all--when I got back to the costume center, I discovered my machine has been fixed. So I'll no longer be sitting in a corner, but back with other people Yay.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

At least I'm not stabbing myself with the blunt end of needles anymore

Do you ever have one of those days where everything you turn your hand to comes out wrong? Where your brain never kicks into "on" mode? Basically--where you're just dumb all day?

Yah. Today was like that.

Durrrr. I spent most of today trying to focus on simple things--like threading a sewing machine--while mentally exhorting myself to "focus, dammit!" I blame the fact that I forgot to charge my iPod last night, so I had no musical theatre to help me through the day. No one wanted me to sing the entire score to Les Miz--even though I could have!--and it would have helped me ever so much.

I'm chalking it up to having a bad day and trying to slough it off, but I'm sure y'all know how hard that is. Tomorrow we're having our company spring picnic which means: free lunch! And we get the afternoon off to wander around the historic area. I'm going to see the Governor's Palace, because I've never been. Although, if tomorrow is like today, I might spend the afternoon practising my buttonholes.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Feeling Rugged

Quick--what do Washington and Nelson have in common? That's right, they both defeated empires.

Washington had to use two hands though. Mostly because he didn't have Capt. Thos. Masterman Hardy to help him. Or make out with.

Since I spent all my monies on clothes last week I had to put off getting my hair cut (and dying it--which is almost more important, when you think about it, I have a reputation as a redhead to uphold), so I've been queuing it. Which is a lot like braiding it back into a ponytail, only you sing "Hearts of Oak" while you do it. And I realised, as I was biking home today that I probably look at lot like Nelson at his shaggiest, only more covered in mud.

The picture that looked most like him, according to Nelson

That's right, it's raining. Straight down. You know that scene in Braveheart where Mel Gibson comes and picks up whatshername with the stellar line "It's good Scottish weather, madam, it's raining straight down?" Yeah, raining like that. But, since I'm already soaked, I figured I might as well head over to the library and get some more books. I'll probably need a good supply for when I'm laid up with pneumonia.

Friday, April 25, 2008

"No Stamp Act"

It's amazing how much more time I have on my hands now that I have my bike. For example, this morning I got up, recycled, turned in my health insurance forms, went to the bike store to get a helmet/lights/panniers, made an unscheduled shop at a Fashion Bug that was having a going out of business sale, and went grocery shopping. En toto, it took me about three hours. Now, just to put things in perspective, before bike it could sometimes take me three hours JUST to grocery shop! And I didn't even mention the little joyride I took just to marvel at all the fast food restaurants that are now within my reach. Did you know that Dunkin' Donuts has WiFi? The crack doughnut restaurant? zomg!

But if Nicki is looking a little less colorful this week, it's because I seriously overspent at the bike store...and, Fashion Bug. Okay, I don't really need new clothes, but I think my coworkers are getting tired of seeing the same three t-shirts. Also, buying a bike helmet is like buying wine: you know you don't need the most expensive unless you're a serious connoussier, but you don't want to buy the cheapest either in case of, you know, accidental contact with a moving vehicle or something. I also have an enormous head, so I settled for a middle-range model with the capability to crank bigger or smaller in case I need to allow for a periwig or something.

I grossly overestimated the weight allowance of my new "grocery-getter" pannier though. Just for future reference, a half-gallon of milk AND a six pack of Diet Coke (on sale!) in the pannier at the same time: not a good idea. The bag jumped off my rack and I had to reorganise by the side of the road. Luckily I had my backpack with me, but every pedal of the way I could feel the seat sinking lower...and lower.

And I also bought a light. Not just because it's the law, but also because I was coming home from choir last night in the dark and I was nearly run over by a herd of tourists on a night tour. Possibly also to do with the fact I was wearing my brown coat and black facepaint. Now I'm visible.

After the morning's excitement I decided to take full advantage of my day off (and my free CW employee pass!) and visit the DeWitt Museum of Decorative Arts which is basically a Museum of Stuff. Stuff you'd have in your house--well, not YOU, you probably couldn't afford this Stuff, but antique furniture, kitchen wares, pottery, linens, silver, etc... I wanted to go and look at their collection of samplers to get some ideas, but I also wandered through the display they had about 300 years of children's toys and past a few sets of silver that gives the collection I saw in Apsley House a run for its money.

The DeWitt Museum is entirely underground, but you reach it through a graceful staircase under a skylight, so you don't even realise it unless you think about it. Most museums don't have windows anyway. Well, the V&A does, but they're mostly covered up now. Gracing the staircase is a fabulous portrait of George Washington being manly, with a manly hand on his hip, his other hand on a manly cannon, gazing out at you the viewer as if to say "I conquered the British Empire, don't you dare impune my manliness." To the righ of this is a portrait of Jefferson, looking jealous. And pink. It's a Gilbert Stuart picture, so the plaque helpfully told me how incredibly "lifelike" it was, but my first impression was that Jefferson looked like he'd had a bit too much gin. Either that or he was suffering from heatstroke, sitting in a hot studio wearing a black suit. As opposed to George Washington, who never ran out of ice, owing to the fact that he could shoot Freeze-Rays out of his eyes. True story.

Where was I going with this? Oh yes. So if you continue on past the paintings, there is a temporary exhibit of a quartet of flags that were taken by Colonel Banastre Tarleton after the battle of...hang on, I knew I was going to forget this, Waxhauh, oh, hell, I'll google it, hang on...WaxHAW, almost got it. Tarleton was British, he defeated some Americans in 1780 in South Carolina after chasing them for a few days. Or something. And then he took their flags. But the joke was on him, because a few years later the Americans won the war. Ha, ha. But he still had our flags. And now they're on display in the DeWitt museum.

My first thought after seeing Tarleton (well, right after "hey, that's a name from Gone With the Wind! Weird!") was, "wait a second, I KNOW that painting! That painting is hanging in a rotunda at the National Gallery in London! I like that painting! And this beeshard stole our flags!"

I breathed fire for a little bit at the humanity of it all. But then I realised: the flags were here. On American soil! CW had asked for them politely so they could display them--but here was our chance to get them back! To restore our father's honor and glory! I looked around the room to see if anyone else had come to the same realisation, but the pair of elderly sight-seers clearly didn't understand that we had a chance to rewrite history. Which is why I'm going to be drafting a letter to the folks at CW suggesting they hang on to those flags. They're American flags, after all, they belong in this country. It's not stealing if they're your flags.

Wait, what's that you say? The British won them fair and square? We shouldn't ask for them back? And besides, it's been hundreds of years, so what does it matter? Well. Maybe we should ask the Greeks how they feel about it...

Thursday, April 24, 2008


I am constantly amazed by the flora and fauna here. The azaleas are insane. The dogwoods are staggering. The wisteria is unbelievable. The magnolia tree outside my house is threatening to burst into bloom any day now and when it does--I imagine I'll be shaken out of my bed from the force of the blossoms opening. The flowers are brilliant.

But with the warmer weather has come a plethora of bugs. Some of them I have met (and killed), some of them are still waiting to introduce themselves. The other day I was sitting at the table after finishing breakfast when a tiny spider ran across my plate and I could barely muster enough interest to say "hey now" before he ran away. Then today I was biking to the library and I was trying to tuck my jeans into my sock to prevent them from getting oil on them. And I noticed a small Caterpillar hurriedly making his way across the road.

But he, er, didn't quite make it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

David Plouffe Needs to Stop Sending Me Emails

Seriously. I get at least two emails a day from the Barack Obama campaign. You are getting my support. You're not getting my money--sorry, but until Barack Obama is president and starts handing out lollipops with hundred dollar bills* for sticks, I don't have any extra.

The concert went well on Sunday. I was sad that more people didn't show up, but I had a lot of fun. One of the pieces went a little awry at the last minute--trying to come in after a ten minute instrumental part we've only heard once will do that to you--but overall everyone was very positive. Afterward, a couple members of the choir, the director and myself went out for dinner. I thought I was just getting a ride home, but they talked me into eating out. (and after being, uh, "stuck" in Wmsbrg for a month with no kitchen, I must confess I didn't protest too hard) We took the Colonial Parkway through Yorktown to admire the dogwood trees and then had dinner at a posh little restaurant on the York River. I can't wait for visitors so I have an excuse to show off Yorktown...they have ships and pubs on the water and redoubts that were built by the British in a last-ditch attempt to stop the Continentals. Woot. Dinner was shrimp and gumbo and smoked gouda cheese grits...and I still have dreams about it.

Then yesterday was a Very Good Day. First off my boss announced that due to maintenance of the clothes conveyors, they were shutting down the shop on Friday, so I have paid day off. Yay! Then I had my review, and my boss along with two supervisors told me they were Very Pleased With My Progress, which was a huge sigh of relief. I told them "Now that I know the techniques and what to do, I need to focus on quality and getting my speed up." Sewing in the 18th century is completely unlike modern sewing--I had to relearn a lot of my mad skillz. But I'm getting better.

Then, and this is bliss, my bike arrived. YAY. My poor Schwinn Searcher which has been a faithful companion since I was fifteen arrived in several pieces which took me about an hour to put together. For a few heartstopping minutes I thought the threads on the left pedal had been unfixably damaged, but I carefully cleaned it out with my Leatherman and got it in tightly. Yay!

The final Yay! came when I took Windsong** out to seen an apartment. I have been talking with a woman who works here about rooming with her and one other person, and I was pretty much decided that I'd take the room, unless it was disgustingly horrible. Happily, the apartment was very nice--my room is the size of the place I'm living now AND I'll have my own bathroom--and better yet, the woman who put the ad up is like a younger, thinner, more excitable and sweeter version of me. I mentioned how I wanted to get a dog and name it Horatio, she told me that her car was named Hamlet. I noticed a biography of Turner on her bookshelf, she told me a story of driving up to DC on Christmas Eve to see a Turner exhibit. She said "I'm an Anglophile" I started singing "Rule, Britannia." So yay. As long as the application goes through, and I don't see why it wouldn't, I'll be moving in July.

So it appears that things are going well, and I'm slowly working my way into the fabric of the community here. I know there's been some confusion out there in NLD-land: this job is a full-time, year round commitment, it's pretty much up to me when I want to leave. Of course, I probably won't be sewing for the rest of my life, but...on the other hand, I could see staying here for awhile. Now that my TV is dead*** I've been spending a lot of time writing, and that is good. I'm also thinking about taking up embroidery--not faffy needlepoint from a kit, but drawing a picture on fabric and going from there.

One of the cutter/fitters has been working on muslin mockups of the Fife & Drum Corps uniforms. They are getting all new coats, because the research powers that be have decided the red is probably more "redcoat" and less maroon-y, which is what it is now. They want to get the coats done by July, because the Fife & Drums are going on tour to Europe to perform in some tattoos there. I was chatting with her about how odd it is that the Continental troops would have red coats, since, ya know, the enemy ALSO had red coats, but apparently they put the boys in red so that they wouldn't accidentally get shot. (The real targets were in blue) She also mentioned how there is only one Continental coat left in existence, and it's in the Smithsonian--years ago CW people went up there to examine it and draft a pattern and that's where they get their uniforms from--and she also told me that the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association has one of Washington's original uniforms. Same deal: CW has examined it and has a pattern. Which got me thinking if they would let ME see it. One of the questions my reviewers had was if there was anything I'd be interested in doing or knowing about the clothes, and I mentioned how I'd (very much) like to borrow the patterns and make myself a suit of clothes. Yes, breeches and a coat--oddly enough, although the gowns are pretty, they aren't as appealing to me as the men's clothes.

As I went back to my machine, my mind started wandering. It does that a lot--I have a LOT of time to think--and I started wondering if anyone had ever patterned Nelson's coat. Meaning the one I used to visit all the time at the NMM. Ironically, a few hours later while on my break I noticed a new book in our library: Dressed to Kill, which is all about Naval fashions and masculine attire from c. 1750s to 1860s or so. And, of course, Horatio features prominently--and there are sketches at the back of all his clothes, cut away breeches and all. It was strange seeing something so "familiar" in such a formalized, posed way, and in the midst of all this 18th-century clothage. I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm getting over Nelson, but perhaps my interest is being subsumed by something else. What, I cannot say.

In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy my day off--Friday I must go get a helmet and do laundry. And then maybe I'll give my poor sitzbones a rest.

*And he will.

**Yes, my bike is named Windsong, and your point is?

***My fault. Long story. Don't ask.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Ant Traps Do Not Work On Roaches

I was frolicking last night, gamboling around my tiny house, getting ready to take a shower, when I nudged the empty pizza box that was sitting on the floor, awaiting disposal--and OMG a cockroach fell out.

Now, I am not the type of girl to climb on furniture at the sight of a bug, but when you're not expecting it and you're, uh, in flagrante, the sudden appearance of a giant, man-eating, radioactive insect will naturally inspire some shrieking. I managed to trap the little bugger under my bowl and threw him outside, then quickly discarded my garbage. Recycling be dammed.

It occurs to me that this story is not the best to tell, since it reflects badly on my housekeeping skills, but I haven't done much lately, okay? Okay.

Anyway, bought some roach spray today, so we'll see if that works. If not, I'm getting a carnivorous cat.

I took some pictures this morning--I got up at the crack of seven so I could take some lovely photos of the sunlight plunging beautifully through the spring maples, and now Blogger won't let me post them. Damme. Oh well. I'll try another time--I even got one of the sheeps which have sparked so much interest. They are not any bigger, but they're getting fatter, which means one thing. Mmm. Lambchops.

I am very excited because tomorrow the Williamsburg UMC is having their choral concert. I thought it was going to be a simpler affair, but when I arrived at rehearsl this morning there was a full orchestra waiting for us. A half-dozen violinists, some cellists, a trio each of trumpets and trombones and three percussionsists scattered among xylophone, tympani, crash cymbals and snare drums. And when we ripped into the first movement of The Chichester Psalms, the centerpiece of the concert, I thought "OH. Now I understand what Bernstein was getting at." I'm so excited for the concert tomorrow. If anyone is going to be around--it starts at four at the WUMC. Delicious cookies to follow!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Waving at Washington

I probably made it into a few photos today, for just as I was beginning my walk down the street to the libbery, here comes Washington astride his horse, accompanied by Lafayette...I managed to restrain from asking whether or not his patches were holding, but I did wave back when the General touched his hat to me. They strolled on up the street and I was about fifteen feet behind them. Other people waved too, so I didn't feel quite as dorky...although, most of them WERE under

I was watching "The Daily Show" last night and John Stewart was making some good points. He was showing clips of Barack Obama and his now-famous "people being bitter" speech, followed up by the media attacking him as an elitist, and then Hillary Clinton drinking beer and trying to connect with the regular folks. My reaction was not "Hillary Clinton drinks beer! I drink beer!" but "Hillary Clinton--aren't you technically working? Hell, if I was drinking at work, I'd be fired!" This is a pro-'bama blog, of course, but I think John Stewart had a good point when he pointed out that we WANT someone elite to run the country. We want a smart person, someone who can get all the facts and sort through them logically and make the eddicated decisions. "If you don't think you're the smartest person for this job--why are you running for office?" Stewart asks, and I concur.

I also have to admit that Obama has a point with his "people are bitter" statement. I am a little bitter. Why should I give a darn about America when I'll never see any real Social Security, I don't have health insurance, and public school tuition is through the roof? (call me crazy--but these are the things I think a government should look after, not bailing out trading companies in New York) So I am a little bitter.

But instead of reaching for my guns, I reach out to the history books and I think about 1796-ish, when President Adams called out the Army in a panic to stop a pack of rebels who were threatening to overthrow the baby government. The rebels? Revolutinary War veterans who hadn't seen a dime of their pensions. And at the head of the Army? Washington--pulled out of retirement to fight against the men he once led. Well, naturally no shots were fired, and tempers cooled on both sides. Washington understood that anger. After all, they had fought for a better government, and the new boss was turning out to be the same as the old boss. But he also understood that this is a DAMME FINE COUNTRY and it's worth fighting for. For--meaning no matter how bad things get, we should work from the inside out to reform the system and make the government be the shiny city on a hill it was always meant to be.

I wish I was a better writer so I could more adequately explain what I mean, but hopefully y'all see where I'm headed.

And I want the smart people in charge. I want someone in charge who is way smarter than me, even if it's just that instinctive political cleverness that Washington possessed. (Adams, btw, was a one-term president. and HE went to Harvard) I'm not saying that Barack Obama is Washington, but I think he is the right man for the job right now. He gets the bitterness. He gets the anger. And he is trying to turn it into something positive--to force us to fight for our country instead of giving up.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Awkward Conversation

I knew when I was coming here I'd be taking a pay cut--the tradeoff being, of course, beautiful scenery, steady work, men in breeches, benefits, etc--but when I opened my packet o' info for my health insurance, I was surprised at just how much they wanted to take out of my paycheck so I could go to the doctor once a year and have him tell me that everything was fine (but I should really think about losing some weight). Enough money that I haven't turned the paperwork back in yet, because I'm thinking about using a private provider and so I'm doing some research.

One of my colleagues, who is a single woman of about sixtyand who also started about two weeks ago, and I were talking about this today in the kitchy. Just then my boss's boss, the lady in charge of the whole costume center, came in to make some popcorn, so I tried to change the subject. I didn't want her to think I was complaining about the cost of the insurance and, by extension, my paycheque. But my BB had overheard us and she said, "wait a second, you can't afford the health insurance?" Errr...this was rapidly getting awkward because she was the person who signed off on my salary, but luckily my colleage jumped in to explain: "It's just hard when you're a single person and you're paying for everything yourself, rent, bills, car." And I helpfully pointed out that I don't have a car because I can't afford it, and my colleague said she didn't either, and we both weren't likely to get one soon. And my BB said she needed to know these things so she could talk about it to the person in charge, just for information's sake. I think she was honestly surprised that the money in question is a serious commitment for someone like me. Not such a huge commitment that it's health insurance or food, but enough of a commitment that it's health insurance or shoes. And believe me, I need some new sneakers. They are stinky and worse--they are starting to not support my feet anymore, so I'm limping. Again.

Anyway, I hope that she doesn't think that I'm complaining about my salary. I'm not. After that we moved on to abusing the government for not taking care of its citizens--I tried to stay apolitical, but, oh, it was hard! I love working here and I love Williamsburg and I knew when I came here that money would be tight. But I'm not going out to lunch every day like I was in Chicago, and I'm not seeing a show every weekend like I was in London, so it evens out in the end. But I do wish I had a few extra dollars to put in the bank against a rainy day. I did spend $20 yesterday on the supplies for a new sundress...which is well cheaper than it would have been in the store. Now I just need to put it together.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Thinking about babies

I'm babysitting. Right now. The girls are upstairs, napping--well, actually they're talking to one another, but I'm confident they'll fall asleep soon--and I am blogsurfing and listening to the monitor. I like kids. I mean, I REALLY like kids. Anyone who has spent any amount of time with me around little kids knows that if I have a choice between adult conversation and playing with babies, more often than not I'll go for the kids.

But kids are weird, y'all. The two girls here are one and a bit and two and a bit. I think anyone who wants to be an actor should spend time with a two-year old, because they stay in the moment. One second they'll be handing you a duck ("what does the duck say?" "Cak! Cak" "Oh, Exxon Valdez duck, huh?") and the next minute, they'll be handing you a duck, equally delighted both times. You, as the adult, of course, are puzzled, thinking "but you just..wait, you've been handing me ducks for HOURS now." Ah, but the trick is to think like a two year old, to completely forget about all prior ducks and focus solely on this duck, this duck of the moment, if you will.

The two year old's favourite question is "what's that?" which is useful for learning colors and object names, but less useful when Nicki forgets to stay in the moment: "What's that?" "A door." "What's that?" "A door." "What's that?" "A door." "What's that?" "A door." "What's that?" "A threshold." "..."

It is possible, of course, that I might never have kids of my own. I say this meditatively, because, as we all know, my life tends to have a lot of curves in it, so babies are not necessarily on the map--then again, neither is marriage or staying in this country, for that matter, but all these things could potentially happen. I think about having kids or not having kids, but right now it's so far out of the realm of my experience that I don't feel very strongly one way or another. I'm not one of those scary, stereotyped Singletons who needs to have a baby now, so cut the crap, Hamlet. But I'm not one of those devoted Singletons who has foresworn all breeding in order to continue their lifestyle of hedonistic staying up late and ordering pizza. I was in the grocery store yesterday, standing in front of a display of Little Debbies, thinking happily "I love this! I can buy a box of Little Debbies, and they will be all mine--and no one can tell me otherwise! Yay!" Ultimately, I went with Hershey's Special Dark. I have a tiny freezer, but it holds a bag of chocolate quite well.

Where was I? Oh, right, impending motherhood, or not. Eh. I think about the possibility, the same way everything in my life has happened or not, but having children is such a biological and societal expectation that it tends to overshadow other things and is cause for contemplation. Various influences in my life have, through no fault of their own (cf: Little House on the Prairie, Pride & Prejudice, etc.), made younger me's think that marriage, babies, etc, must happen, will happen, and now I know better. Yes, of course these things may happen, but then again, maybe they won't. That's the exciting part, isn't it, sticking around to find out what will happen. I'd like to think that I'd be a good mom--I know I couldn't be a stay at home mom, but I would be one of those people who brings their kids to rallies and leaves copies of O'Neil and Beckett lying around and who would only ask if they're really sure that this is the design they want when the offspring announce they're getting a tattoo. Also, snarky onesies. But maybe those questions will never come up. It's like in Lord of the Rings when Galadriel can see a shadowy future--it could happen, or not. Babies could happen, or they might not. Either way, I'm glad to be getting some practise. The monitor's been quiet for about a half hour now...maybe I'll sneak upstairs and make sure tthe little angels are sleeping: drooling, snoring, butts-in-the-air and all.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

And other things of note

Y'all realise you've just given me carte blanche to talk even more about me, me, me. As if I needed the encouragement to become a narcissistic Godzilla.

*sings* Me, me, meeeeee!

I recall reading somewhere that doctors have noticed a trend that there are more girls being born than boys. It should be around fifty-fifty, but someone, somewhere noticed that there are more little girls running around then boys. And I'm happy that my family is upholding this statistical anomaly: my cousin Jen just welcomed a little girl last week. Mom thought her name might be Jocelyn, Joselin? but since dad was the one who got the phone call, he was sketchy on details. Congratulations, well done, I'm so happy that everyone is doing well. Yay, babies.

No word yet on Baby Gaboda, but, in other news: I'm not pregnant. Ya heard it here first.

Reasons why I like working here. A few weeks ago I was walking home and I saw George Washington riding past on his horse, and then this week I noticed his uniform hanging on the rack. A quick check of the label showed it wasn't Washington's uniform, but the Marquis de Lafayette, and he apparently hadn't bothered to turn it in in awhile since I spent all morning patching and darning the lining. Which is hard: the uniform is wool backed with lining, so I had to sew invisibly on very shiny fabric while trying to not act like an idiot that I had a lapful of history. Part of me was going "aaaahhhh, the historical, stabbed myself..." and part of me was going "aw, this smells like horse. This makes me think of my friend from London who used to ride horses. Aw." The next day was less fun, when I ALSO had to patch up his vest, which was also wool and lining. Arg.

Wool in the summer, btw, makes me think of the Founding Fathers like: Visionaries. Revolutionaries. Masochists.

Lafayette (which is also on the list of potential dog-names, if anyone was wondering) was Washington's protege and he was French. After the Revolution here he went back to France and tried to introduce some ideas of liberty over there. And we all know how well THAT went over.

I'm in a super-good mood today because the weeeeather (*singsong*) is deLIGHTful!!! It is warmmm and the flowers are blooooming...and we have bumblebees here the size of canned hams... Okay, they're not that big, but one was banging on my screen the other night and I nearly leapt out of my skin thinking JESUS ITS A LION. Big enough to stop traffic, anyway.

Now I am off to babysit. I met a woman at orientation with two small girls, and when she mentioned that she was having trouble finding responsible people to babysit, I mentioned that I used to babysit for my professor in college...sure, it's been awhile, but, eh, just like riding a bike, right? Right?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

...makes the world go 'round...

So I don't have enough moola to do crazy things like, oh, I don't know, fly to London, but in looking at my bank account today, I realised that I have more money now than I had when I moved to Williamsburg. Yay. That helps. I moved at the perfect intersection of needing to pay a deposit meets getting my tax refund. My only question: how will I spend my extra government money? I may just have to adopt a small furry. We shall see.

Meanwhile, I was wondering about my blog and how it's all about me, me, me, and does anyone really care about what I have to say about things? Then I realised I don't really care, I just want a written record of my opinions. I love my blog. It's such a hugely egotistical thing to do, writing totally about oneself. Yet, no one has to read it. People can choose to participate, or not. But, unlike the endless debate of whether or not an audience makes theatre, a blog will still be a blog EVEN IF NO ONE READS IT. Amazing.

That little train of thought was mostly because I am now going to complain about what a bad movie The Bounty is. Totally my opinion, you can read it or not, but I just want to set down for the record: it's a bad movie.

Oh, don't get me wrong, The Bounty WANTS to be a good movie. Based loosely on Mutiny on the Bounty, the story is told from Captain Bligh's point of view. He is being tried by the Admiralty as to whether or not he's responsible for losing his ship, so the whole movie is his flashback. Here's the thing though: the main plotpoint of Mutiny is Christian Fletcher setting Bligh adrift in the ocean and there is no dramatic tension if you know he survives.

Er. I hope I didn't spoil that for anyone. It's still a good book though, go read it.

The movie stars Anthony Hopkins as Bligh, and Mel Gibson as Christian Fletcher. The film also stars Laurence Olivier as Admiral Hood. I couldn't help but picturing Olivier kicking the door down on the first day of filming and shouting something like "all right people, let me show you how it's done!" in his shiny, shiny uniform. (the movie is bad, but the uniforms are spot on. what it is about costumers getting naval uniforms right when everything else is crap?) Anthony Hopkins is acting his heart out, but Mel Gibson steals the scenes for being so amazingly mediocre. I mean--Fletcher's whole conflict is whether or not he should desert and stay on Tahiti or Do His Duty and stay with the ship, but we get none of that until the moment when he starts waving a sword around and declaiming "I am in hell!" in his best "they may take our lives but they'll never take our freedom!" voice.

Also. The sailing scenes are lousy. Lots of long shots of anonymous sailors reefing sails or falling over themselves in the middle of a squall. And then they get to Tahiti where the whole crew is seduced by a Dance of Fertility performed by half-naked women, in the worst tradition of exotic-other-islanders meets western-civilization. The sailors think the Tahitians have everything figured out and are seduced by the easy-going lifestyle and loose women. Got it. Now go put some clothes on.

What isn't clear is why people dislike Bligh so much--he treats his crew like dirt, but only after Tahiti. I suppose in a better-scripted movie it would be clearer that his mental state is due to the exhaustion of constantly resisting pretty girls, but here it just feels like "oh, time for Bligh to go mad and...go."

Anthony Hopkins: "I can do ever hear of a little film called 'Silence of the Lambs?'"

Anyway, this movie gets a one out of four stars...I could have enjoyed it more, but the whole thing just didn't hang together. The designs were fabulous, but the acting was uneven and the sailing scenes made me wince. Also, if you have a man who needs a ponytail, for God's sake, give him a wig. You will never be able to match a fake tail to his real hair--Clark Gable didn't learn this in 1936's version, and Mel Gibson is unable to pull it off here.

I recommend watching The Bounty with lots and lots of tropical drinks.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Drizzly, but not complaining

I did something weird to my wrist at the grocery store today, I kind of fell and caught myself on the funny-bone of that joint, so now my left hand is partially numb. Oh well! If it doesn't get better in a couple, er...weeks...when my health insurance kicks in, I'll go get it checked out.

Okay. Couple items of bizness, then down to the main post.

First off: Major excitement on the baby front. Peter called me on Friday and told me that their ultrasound showed baby Lem is a girl, so well done there. I shall try not to have too many gender expectations, but I am a bit relieved. Not that I wouldn't have been less excited about a boy, of course, but I feel like I could be a better auntie Nicki to a little girl, having some experience in that area myself. Must lay in a good supply of feminist manifestos, bumper stickers with angry slogans and copies of "Little House on the Prarie" for when company comes.

Secondly: Darlings, it takes me thirty minutes to walk to the library every day. And another twenty to get home. I don't get to write to you all, because I only get an hour on the computer, but I know y'all are reading my blog. I do this because I love you all and I'm an uncompromising narcissist with an overdeveloped vocabulary, but I MISS YOU. So send me some of the email love, please, and let me know what's going on in YOUR lives. Thank you.

Thirdly: Proof that God has a sense of humor. When I woke up this morning at six-thirty, I lay in bed, listening to the rain and I thought, "God, if you don't turn this rain off, I'm not going to go to church." And by the time I had finished my Pop-Tarts, the rain had stopped. Yay! So I headed out...and about halfway to church the rain started again. Lest I never forget exactly who's in charge.

And now for something completely different.

Yesterday I went to Jamestown. There is a free shuttle that runs from CW to Historic Jamestown and Jamestown Settlement. My employee pass gets me into the Settlement for free, but I was a little hazy on what the difference was. But I hopped on the trolley and headed over towards Jamestown...the highway is part of a National Park, so there is no development, and even the road is pebbled with no markings, so it's all very natural. It's what the first settlers would have seen...had they been whizzing along at sixty miles per hour. I got off at Historic Jamestowne, which is the area of the first settlement by English-speaking peoples in America. It was first preserved in the 1880s but a bunch of classy Virginian ladies, but now it's partially run by the National Park Service. This wasn't the free entrance park, but I paid my $10 and went anyway.

The visitor center was very's extraordinary what they dug out of the ground here. Pots, glasses, pieces of brick, armor, farming implements, but also aglets and pins and buttons that are the only things indicating that people were buried with clothes. I was thinking to myself "wow! This is amazing! This is where American history began! Right here! 1607! You can't go back any further!" and was immediately ashamed of myself, because of course there were native peoples here before that--and Africans before long--a point that the intro documentary was keen to point out.

After the wander around the visitor center, I headed out into Jamestowne itself. I was surprised at how noisy it was. Not modern sounds, but birds, frogs, insects, the wind in the trees. It was grey and trying hard to rain, so the sound was both deadened and amplified, and a little eerie. You walk over a footbride that's suspended above a marsh and you're on a little isthmus and that's Jamestowne. The towne is gone, buried by time and tides. Archaological excavations have been occuring for the past hundred years, but all the foundations they've found have been covered over again, and bricks have been placed on top in the formation of the buildings below. To the left is a parklike place, with green grass and cedar trees, a winding path and signs pointing out this or that house, and the bricks. It was a very odd feeling--part park, part cemetary. I ate my lunch overlooking the James River and watching the ferries* go by.

Part of the James Fort has been reconstructed on top of the original structure, so you get an idea of what it was like, that first summer in America, when 104 men and boys were stranded in a new world, with only their wits to save them. Oh, and the generosity of the surrounding Indian tribes, of course. I learned about the Starving Time, when the settler's numbers fell from over 300 down to ninety in the course of a few months, because they relied heavily on trade for food, and when there was drought and no food, they hadn't laid any by for themselves. Duh.

There was also another modern building, the Archaenium, which housed even more archaeological treasures and also some human remains, demonstrating the research techniques into how you found out who people were, how they died and some facial reconstruction software. Historic Jamestowne is the kind of historical place I approve of. The National Park Service and Preserve Virginia knows they can't save the buildings (and they're just bricks, anyway, rotting away) so they do their best to preserve the memory of the place while learning from the shards left behind. Everything neatly put into cases and explained, conclusions drawn and lots of room for contemplation.

It was about two-thirty at this point, so I hopped on the bus to Jamestown Settlement. After seeing everything at the historical area, I really had no clue what to expect, but, hey, I could get in for free, so I decided to go for a couple hours because there were SHIPS there. Lovely, ocean-going vessels, albeit from an earlier era than usually interests me, but anything with a bit of canvas, eh? First though, I had to get a cup of tea, and I was disappointed right off the bat, as all they had was Lipton. ARG. I'm going to have to become one of those people who carries around their own teabags.

Jamestown Settlement is a huge building, and it's brand new. I think it was built for the 400th Anniversary of the settling of Jamestown, but I'm not sure...why. Out back, there is a reconstructed Powhatan village, which I didn't see, and a reconstructed fort with interpretive persons, and then the ships, which are brilliant, but, er, not very big. Meaning, it didn't take me long to stick my head down into the hatches and go "yup, that's all there is!" I did strike up a conversation with one of the men aboard the Discovery, and managed to not embarass myself too severely. I mentioned timidly that I was "somewhat" intersted in ships because I "had been reading O'Brians books" and may have mentioned something to do with the Napoleonic naval wars, and the man smiled kindly and told me about being in the Coast Guard and sailing Hitler's party barge. (It's amazing how people working at historical places will talk to you when they find out you're also historical!)

The Discovery, Susan Constant and Goodspeed. All three ships are replicas, built in the late eighties, early nineties, and all have made the trip across the Atlantic and get sailed from time to time. No, they don't take passengers. I asked.

Then I wandered through the Fort, flirted madly with the gentleman who was demonstrating the flintlock musket on the way out, tried my hand at a dugout canoe and sat through another documentary. It was almost five pm by this point and I was exhausted--too much walking. The Settlement is so new it doesn't feel like it's done yet. It's not that their interpreters are bad or unenthusiastic, it's just that there's something not quite lived-in about the Fort. No animals or trades going on, makes it kind of, well, boring. But there were a lot more kids there than at the historic site. I guess it's rather like the Action Stations site at Portsmouth--a little anachronistic, but otherwise you've got whiny, bored kids on your hands.

Swung through the giftshop on my way out and added to my postcard collection, then caught the bus home. I was pretty historicked out by this point. I had a great time wandering around and learning about "the beginning of America." It is quite remarkable, how closely England was tied to this little colony, and, at the same time, how much freedom they enjoyed...and I guess I have a better understanding now of how Virginian gentlemen could, a hundred odd years later, rise up and fight for their freedom.

Yorktown is set up much the same way: there's the historic site and also a Yorktown Victory Center! for the kids, so I imagine I'll be going there soon. In the mean time, I'm going to concentrate on sitting around this evening and giving my feet a rest. :)

* Boats.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

reason why I love Williamsburg

Can' in breeches...checking email across from me...gar. Breeches...tricorn...real hair in a queue...Must not make idiot of self...must resist urge to examine breeches for signs of wear...garrrr...

In other news, the callouses on my fingers are developing nicely.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

can't stay, war to wage

The good thing about walking to work this morning is that there are baby sheeps on my route to work. Brand-new baby sheeps prompting much "awwing" by me and a big ol' city girl gush once I got to work. I was temporarily shut down when the other women (women who have had more experience with farm animals than simply walking by them) started talking about how lambs will poop on you if you carry them for too long, prompting me to wonder if that ever happened during the filming of "Brokeback Mountain."

Then I spent five hours putting a new collar and cuffs with ruffles on a shirt. I have read the phrase "linen fine enough to read through" in books before, but I thought it was a poetic licence. That was before I hemmed and gathered four feet of it for ruffles. For a man's shirt, btw.

The bad think about walking to work is that when it still have to walk. The sun is out now, but who knows how long that will last? I have to go to the store and buy some ant traps because over the last couple of days I have been invaded by dozens of ants. Thousands of dozens, actually. I tried moving my cereal, only to have them follow it across the room. Granted, that's only about ten feet or so, but STILL. The only way to stop them from making off with my Frosted Flakes was to put the box in my fridge. And then I had to chain my fridge to the floor to stop them from walking away with it.