Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Another Open Carry Update

I haven’t had much to update because it’s been too cold to do much open carrying, and because I don’t get much reaction locally.

Until this evening.

Sweet Daughter and I went to our favorite local restaurant and there were maybe only a half dozen tables filled. Our waiter was professional and polite, but near the end of the meal, another of our “regular” waitresses came over and said that our waiter was wondering why a woman was carrying a pistol in plain sight with a child sitting *right there*.

Being a raging introvert, I have a hard time quickly finding a common frame of reference when talking to a stranger, especially about guns. Tonight, my back, knee and ankle hurt. It was chilly and raining. I wasn’t in the mood to play ambassador, but too bad. When I OC, that’s what I am. So, instead of muttering “BECAUSE I CAN”, or jumping up on the table with a “Shall not be infringed!!!”, I smiled and told the waitress to send him over if he wanted to talk. Instead, she said “Oh, I just told him you were FBI.”

  Not even close.

So, as SD and I were paying the bill, our waiter came up and asked “Why?” Why did I carry a gun? Was I FBI? When I said “no”, he said … “Ah! Police state!” Once again, I replied in the negative. He insisted I was “police state”. Again, I denied it. And again. Finally, getting exasperated, I showed him the Hello Kitty stickers. “Police do not have Hello Kitty stickers on their magazines” I firmly stated. He seemed to agree.


He asked if I needed special permission to carry a pistol, and I explained that no, I did not if I carried it out in the open. I needed special permission only if I wanted to cover it up and I showed him my CHP.  He seemed genuinely interested in this odd phenomena, and again he asked … “Why? Why did I do such a thing?”

I pointed at Sweet Daughter and said “To keep her safe.”


“To keep her safe.” This time, I punctuated it with a look that indicated I was dead serious. And I saw the light bulb go on over his head and he smiled at me and nodded.




Monday, April 29, 2013

New Pockets

In the 18th century, a woman wore her pockets on a tape tied around her waist, and accessed them through slits in the sides of her petticoats. My pockets were okay ... a bit on the farby side (one had machine embroidery, and the other was cotton ticking) when I decided that I needed new ones. They were 15 -20 years old and holding up well, but they were obsolete.

How, you ask?

They needed a separate compartment on the inside for a cell phone.

Don't judge. When you're the contact person for your unit, you need to be reachable.

Anyhow, I remembered hearing a suggestion that pockets were a good way to use scraps of 18th century printed fabric. So I made some, complete with lining, and flipped through some of my costuming books only to find that I had the construction details wrong.

So, I took them apart, bound them properly (one with scraps of the same cotton fabric, the other with twill tape) and wore them for the first time at the Battersea event. They worked like a charm, and will hopefully last me another 15 - 20 years. Or until modern technology demands an upgrade.

They have since been sewn onto a length of twill tape to tie around the waist.

Friday, April 26, 2013

False hope

Someone threw a Gander Mountain flier on my desk at work. At first I was excited, then I got suspicious. The date on it was from last September.

That was just mean.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Check up

Today was my six month check-up at the doctor to monitor my hypertension. While waiting, I studiously tried to ignore the CNN health channel that was playing in the waiting room. I was sewing the growth tucks back in SD’s gown where she had pulled them out last weekend when I hear “Warfarin”.

Rat poison??
I looked up, and the actors were discussing the Warfarin the elderly-ish father is taking. Aha. A blood thinner.  Fine. Whatever. Back to sewing when …

The next segment was about the dangers of sugar. They actually called it a “poison”.  I gritted my teeth, shrugged at the irony and kept sewing. It just underscored what we tell SD … the difference between medicine and poison is the dose.
The next segment? It featured Gabby Giffords.

Then they had a “chef” who took unhealthy recipes and made them unrecognizable  but healthy.  What did she do besides ruin a perfectly good fish chowder recipe?
She pronounced every single syllable in “Worcestershire Sauce”.

I’m surprised the doctor didn’t  end up doubling my Rx.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Sweet Daughter and I headed down to Battersea Plantation last Friday afternoon for their annual 
Revolutionary War event. The forecast was calling for strong scattered thunderstorms all afternoon and evening. I don’t know what I did right in a previous life, but we got all set up and snug before the rain hit, and it did. Sideways. With gusto. Other than what blew in through the door flap, we stayed dry inside. SD read for a while, and when she finished her book, she entertained herself with shadow puppets. She thought it was absolutely hysterical that every time I untied the flaps to make a run to the porta potties, the heavens opened up and let loose.
Very funny.

The other part about this site is that it sits near a well-used railroad track. Tornado watch anyone? I finally just decided that if I heard a train and the tent was gone, we’d dive for the ditch behind us. No sense sitting up and worrying about the train/tornado question.

Saturday was beautiful. The AIT students from Ft. Lee were there, and they are always a pleasure to talk to. SD got to pick buttercups. The crowds weren't huge, but they were steady.There was a service for Major General Phillips and a battle reenactment. I wore my riding habit, and … got to sit on a horse! Of course, it was a last minute thing, and the pictures have the sun behind me, but … I got to get on a horse. I was thrilled.
Trying to get from the porch to the saddle sideways.
I really miss riding.
Sweet Daughter got a little horse-time, too.
They had 18th century dancing and SD learned a dance or two, and I reached back into dark, dim recesses of my memory and managed to keep up for the most part.
After the public left, they put on a dance just for the reenactors, with games and general jollification.
I cast a mighty fine shadow, if I do say so myself.
Sunday was cooler, but dry. There was a nice crowd for the battle. SD helped with the chores ...
... and went exploring. She made a friend for the weekend, and they had a blast running around exploring and whacking each other with wooden swords and the like. All in all a great weekend, and one of our favorite events!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Comfort Zone

Today I tried something new … something outside my comfort zone. I did push mower maintenance.

I know. It’s not rocket surgery or even brain science, but I taught myself to change the oil, the blade and the spark plug. The air filter was changed too, but I learned that 20 years ago. I took pieces off, went to my local hardware store, picked out replacements and had a trained professional confirm that I had the right stuff. I went home, put pieces back on, primed the hell out of it and IT STARTED.
The rumors that I did fist-pumps in the air while doing a “Snoopy dance” are greatly exaggerated. Maybe.
Observation 1. So that’s what clean oil looks like. I couldn’t even see it on the dip stick.
Observation 2. Well that explains why I had to overlap my rows so much last year.
Observation 3. Wow. It even smells different while running when it’s got clean parts.
Observation 4. Next up – the riding mower. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sewing notes ...

One of the things I did this spring was sew three linen shirts for Dr. Mike of the Detached Hospital. The first one was 90% hand sewn. In the interest of actually, you know, getting them done, I took some shortcuts on the other two. And I swear by all that is good and holy, that I took pictures.
must have dreamt it, because there are no pictures. And I was rather proud of some of the detail work, too.
Anyhow … here are my observations for those that aren’t OCD or are sane enough to not want to do the whole thing by hand.
1.       Use quality linen. Using cheap linen means all of your hard work falls apart sooner. If you can tear your linen, find something else. As I understand it, this means the fibers have been chopped up to work on equipment used for spinning and weaving cotton. One of the major features of linen is the long staple length which means it will last forever.
2.       Go ahead and do all the long interior seams on the machine.
3.       Go ahead and do the side slits and hem on the machine. I thought it would bug the hell out of me, but unless the recipient is waltzing through camp in nothing but a shirt, nobody will see it. And even then, it didn’t bug me nearly as much as number 7.
4.       Made sure all the finishing details, like the top stitching on the collar and cuffs is done by hand. Ditto with the front slit and the openings in the sleeves. People see these areas. It’s subtle, but it makes a difference.
5.       Make sure the cuffs are narrow as in no more than an inch wide.
6.       Gathers … I didn’t notice a big difference between the ones I gathered and sewed by hand vs. the ones I gathered and sewed on the machine. This tells me I need to work on the gathers I do by hand.
7.       Oddly enough, the thing that bugged me the most was overcasting the interior seams with a zig-zag stitch. I figured nobody would see it, it wouldn’t matter, but it really changed the way the garment ended up being shaped. Go ahead and flat-fell your seams.
8.       Buttonholes: The fastest cheat? Do them by machine with the narrowest stitch you can, and then re-do them by hand. I did the first set by hand, and the linen was so coarsely woven, they pulled out, so I had to sew over that by machine, and then over that by hand. Again.
In other news, Sweet Daughter got two new shifts made out of cotton muslin. (The 18th century kind, not the modern kind.) She really, really likes her shifts to be as light as possible. These were all sewn by machine except for the neck opening, the sleeve hem and the flat felling of the sleeves which were all done by hand. All the interior raw edges were overcast with a zig-zag stitch on the machine - oddly enough, this didn't bug me like it did on the shirts. I think it was a matter of scale. The shifts were a lot smaller, and made of  much lighter material. The hem was blind-stitched on the machine – I even put the growth tuck in by machine. I figure that nobody will ever see those details. And the hems by her hands and face were done by hand, and that’s all anybody sees. And as a result, these were knocked out in two evenings.
Your mileage may vary of course, but when pressed for time, this is what worked for me.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Last Saturday

Hi! I'm still here. I've been sewing a lot. When you bend your English steel needles because the callus on your needle-pushing finger has gotten so thick you don't notice the needle not moving ... well, maybe it's time to take a break.

Last Saturday was the annual Easter egg hunt at Stratford Hall. Each year the local FOP sponsors an egg hunt and grills hot dogs. One family bakes cupcakes and the local grocery stores donate drinks.

Lining up...
The kids are divided into age groups, with each having a large roped-off rectangle. Every age group has its own golden egg. This year, it was mayhem -- there were twice as many participants as usual.

The late spring meant the grass was still short and the eggs were easy to find. Once the signal to start was given, it was all over in a matter of minutes. At least it didn't snow on top of the eggs like it did a few years back. THAT was a real challenge.
Sweet Daughter, who took second place a couple of years ago, didn't do so well this time.

And then there was an additional hazard ...

For the first year ever, the squirrels got into some of the eggs.

The FOP grilled 500 hot dogs, and one family made 340 cupcakes.

SD found a patriotic one. She was thrilled.

We may have gotten a little silly.

We enjoyed the few brave daffys that were blooming in spite of the fact it was STILL COLD.

And, on the way home, we stopped by the little beach on the Potomac river by Washington's Birthplace and hung out for a while. It's a lovely spot, and we even got to see some bald eagles.
All in all, it was a lovely day.