Friday, April 30, 2010

Fox Tossing - a mental earworm

You know when you get a song stuck in your head – that all-consuming earworm – and the only way to get rid of it is to share it with someone else? Well, I have a mental earworm to share with you. Bitter Young Guy from work sent me a link about fox tossing.

Maggie Koerth-Baker says:

Is there a German word for "the feeling you get when something is so ridiculous that you want to laugh, yet is simultaneously jaw-droppingly horrible"? Can we make one up?

I ask, because I recently discovered Fox-Tossing, a 17th/18th century European pastime that is exactly what it sounds like. People would go out in a field and set up a little fenced-in court. Then high-society types would stand, in pairs, holding slack ropes. Then a bunch of foxes would be released into the court. When the foxes ran over the ropes, the players pulled the ropes tight, launching the foxes up into the air. Repeat until all foxes are dead.

My first thought was what’s wrong, can’t they afford horses to chase them like the English? But my ancestors who spoke German were from Lichtenstein, so I guess I don’t have the right DNA to grok German culture.

But to back up a little, yes. You read that right. Fox. Tossing.
“The tossing of foxes and other animals was not without risk to the participants, as it was not uncommon for the terrified animals to turn on the tossers. Wildcats were particularly troublesome; as one writer remarked, they ‘do not give a pleasing kind of sport, for if they cannot bury their claws and teeth in the faces or legs of the tossers, they cling to the tossing-slings for dear life, and it is next to impossible to give one of these animals a skilful toss’.”


And the 17th and 18th century Germans didn't have violent TV/video games/movies to blame it on.

So, please allow me to share this mental earworm so I can rid myself of it and get on with my life.

Thank you.

Things to work on before school starts

Sweet Daughter is currently watching “Donald in Mathmagic Land” for the second time tonight. Yes, the one from 1959. She’s throwing out the names for shapes. Triangle? Check. Square? Check. Rectangle? Check. Pexagon? Close. But we’re really going to have to work on that 6-sided shape. I can’t expect a teacher to not say something when SD starts talking about sexagons.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Revolution Wear

When I was at Battersea earlier this month, I ran across a wonderful new vendor. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Life, Liberty, etc., and wear their embroidered Molon Labe shirt. I’ve bought t-shirts and hats from them to give as gifts, but I’m just not much of a t-shirt wearer. I like my shirts with a collar, what can I say?

So when I met Ron of Revolution Wear and saw his tables of merchandise, I, um, went a little overboard. I bought 2 polo shirts, a hat and a printed t-shirt just for myself.

The body of all the shirts I bought is made from a tube of fabric – no side seams to rub. His polo shirts are 100% cotton pique and beautifully made. And the embroidery is very detailed.

And look … the left sleeve also has something embroidered on it! Even the embroidered T-shirts have this.

And the hats! No plastic anywhere, just breathable cotton with an adjustable band. It fits both my 4-year-old and Shorter Half who takes at least an XL in most hats, if not an XXL.

Cool embroidery on the back above the strap!

Remember how I said I don’t like t-shirts much? That was until I saw this one.

I couldn’t pass it up. I figure if you know what it means, you’ll understand why I’m wearing it.
The Proprietor, Ron, has attached a label with a handy little summary/history lesson for those who’d like a refresher.

The shirts washed up beautifully with very little shrinkage. The size large polo shirts started out at 47 ½ " around, and after being washed in warm water and run through the drier, ended up at 45” in circumference. The size large t-shirt, also run through the washer and dried went from 43 1/2” to 43”.

Ron also has bumper stickers, and his leather goods were top-notch. AND he has some really cool desktop wallpaper to download for free.

So if you’re in the market for something to wear to Charlotte next month or just need a new bumper sticker, give Ron’s site a visit and poke around a little bit. I’d even contact him and ask what he’s got available if you’re looking for a special color shirt. He had a lot more options on the table than I saw on his web site.

*And no, FCC spies. I didn't get a darn thing for this review, not even a volume discount when I bought the stuff.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cause of the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake

According to Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi, the 1755 Libson Earthquake was clearly caused by fashions like this:

I can't say that I've ever felt the earth move while wearing 18th century clothing, but I can tell you that if you're wearing stays laced this tightly and you sneeze, you knock the wind right out of yourself.

Now to put things in perspective, this is Shorter Half dressed cross-dressed for a Pirate Party.

I also have pictures that include cleavage. Your choice - front or back. If that doesn't cause the earth to move, nothing will.

* Note for curious costumers: A friend put the dress together for him. She surmised that two size 22 prom dresses would equal a men's size 44. She wasn't far off.

** Note 2: that  first pictue is about 12 years old. Just sayin'.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Favorite Magazine

My favorite magazine is Garden & Gun. I saw my first copy at my husband’s barber shop a few years ago (where they still do hot towels, straight razors and a neck massage) and was instantly hooked. The photography is stunning, and the writing top notch.

On the Mint Julep: “A drink this sublime —‘the zenith of man’s pleasure,’ Mr. Smith went on — shouldn’t be relegated to sipping just one day a year, like a fruitcake waiting for Christmas. It does not require, as a garnish, a televised horse race and a bunch of Yankees doing Foghorn Leghorn imitations.”

On Sweet Tea: “To say Southerners drink sweet tea like water is both true and not. True because the beverage is served at every meal, and all times and venues in between—at church and at strip clubs, at preschool and in nursing homes. Not true because unlike water or wine or even Coca-Cola, sweet tea means something. It is a tell, a tradition. Sweet tea isn't a drink, really. It's culture in a glass. Like Guinness in Ireland. Or ouzo in Greece.”
I have to say it makes the best coffee table magazine ever. I even leave a couple of issues sitting around in my office at work. Just to see the reactions.

And no, G&G didn’t compensate me for this in any way, shape, or form, and wouldn’t know me from Adam’s armpit.

Why didn't I think of this?

Thanks to confectioner Ginna Haravon, of Salted Caramel, you can now order Bacon Bourbon Caramel Corn by the bag. But perfection wasn’t easy to come by. “It was originally just bacon caramel corn,” says Haravon, “but I kept adding more and more bourbon, which gave the recipe depth and smokiness and kept the whole thing from being too sticky sweet."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Photos from the Weekend

How bad can a day be that starts off like this? Ham, eggs, grapes, scones and butter. Oh, and tea. We portray a British unit that's heavy on Officers. We've got plenty of tea!

Here are the tables with the medical stuff. Dentisty, Surgery and Apothecary. We do it all! Recognize those two hunks of red fabric in the middle with the holes in them?

Here Dr. Mike makes suppositories using an original mold. That's a beeswax base, in case you're interested.

AIT students and another Brit stop by for a visit. The Morturary Services students were especially interested.

These are are Hotch Potch alphabet cards we picked up for Sweet Daughter so she'd have some toys at events. Hotch Potch first appeared on a 1782 print, created by Carrington Bowles in London, as “The Comical Hotch Potch or the Alphabet turn’d Posture-Master” and immediately gained popularity throughout London and colonial America as a way to help boys and girls learn the letters of the alphabet. Sweet Daughter has known her alphabet since she was two, so she decided to see if she could adopt some of the poses on the cards.

This is an "H".

I'm not sure what letter this was -- she may have said "E". I just know I can't sit like that!

But best of all, SD got to ride Webster again this year! She's got a great natural seat, and I can't wait until she goes through a horse phase so I've got an excuse to start riding again. I also got to ride Webster, and it was the highlight of my weekend. Granted, it's been over 15 years since I've been riding on a regular basis and I'm middle-aged, and my knees have never been good, so I needed a good deal of assistance to get into the saddle (I was also in petticoats and a gown, so I'll use that as an excuse as well, thank-you-very-much), but oh! I've missed it. We went for a nice little trot down the field and back only to find about a dozen AIT students waiting for their turn. "Ma'am, do you need help getting down?"

Of course, they were all on my near side. "No thank you" I said. "Just please avert your eyes as I'm in petticoats!" Luckily I vaulted off with no problem, and I don't think I flashed anyone as nobody seemed to lose their eyesight.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Signs of the times

We started signing with Sweet Daughter when she was less than a year old in an attempt to cut down on the frustration that comes with being unable to communicate with each other and the resulting “terrible two” tantrums. When she was little more than a year old, we were able to ask did she want milk or water? More cheese? Help with what she was trying to do? It was invaluable when in church or another quiet place to be able to tell her to stop what she was doing (this instant!!), or ask if she needed to use the restroom. When she was about 18 months old, she and I were in the family room and she started wildly signing “Bird! Bird!” I couldn’t figure out what she was trying to tell me until she pointed and I saw the giant wasp which I promptly dispatched to Hymenoptera Heaven. We’ve signed less as she’s gotten older and more verbal, but we still use “wait” a lot, especially when she’s trying to interrupt, and I can answer yes/no questions to her when I’m on the phone with someone else.

So, while we were at Battersea Plantation last Saturday, a deaf/mute gentleman came through camp trying his best to be unobtrusive, with little hand-outs with the sign language alphabet printed on one side, and a couple of sentences on the other saying that he was deaf, trying to support his family, and could we spare a dollar or two?

Dopey me signed “You sign?” His face lit up like Times Square and his fingers and arms started flying. And everything I ever learned fell out of my head except “Milk?” “More cheese?” “Stop”, “Wait”, and “No”. These were not terribly helpful.

We did manage to chat a little bit. He has one daughter and that was plenty for him. No more! He wanted to know if we were staying in the tents (yes), and were we scared?* I told him we weren’t scared. What about snakes? ** Nope, we weren’t scared of those, either. I indicated that we were prepared to shoot anything that needed shooting. But mostly he was just thrilled that someone was interacting with him, and trying to communicate. I’ll have to brush up before we go back next April so I can at least ask how his daughter is doing. Or better yet, try to get one of our members to stay that evening as she’s fluent in ASL and can translate for us.

*Battersea Plantation is not located in the best quadrant of the city. On Friday night one of our group heard 6 shots of .38 caliber (or smaller) being fired a couple of blocks away at about 3:30 in the a.m. He said it sounded like somebody was just wanting to get rid of some extra ammo, not actually aiming at anyone. Some years the calibers have been larger and have been followed up by sirens.

** I also found it really interesting that there are regional accents, for lack of a better word. We learned with some marvelous DVDs (that I believe they came out of Utah) but there were definitely some differences. His sign for “snake” was very close to what I’d learned for “fish” and at first I couldn’t figure out why there’d be fish in the woods, and why we’d be scared of them.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Barbequed Bunnies

At our first reenactment of the year, we’ve begun a tradition of toasting left-over Easter Peeps. Sticks can be used, but a bayonet is preferable.

Give the bunny a bayonet clyster!

Carefully toast the bunny while marshmallow gets puffy, golden brown, and the sugar caramelizes. Cool, and enjoy. The cooling part is very, very important. Don’t even try to remove it from the bayonet until it cools. Trust me on this. The spring of 2002 saw a new member toasting a bunny when it caught on fire. Instead of simply blowing out the flames, he waved the stick back and forth. The bunny flew off the end as though it had been launched from a trebuchet. We dubbed that one "Bunny bin Laden". Or maybe it was just a Peep Zombie. Fire definitely killed it dead.

This year we decided to kick it up a notch. All the cool kids are doing stuff with bacon, so I thought to myself, “Self? How about some inside-out pig candy?”

I had packed some left-over bacon in the cooler. Out it came, and half a slice was wrapped around the bunny and skewered with a toothpick. Down over the brazier it went. Sizzle, sizzle, POP!

“OW! OwowowowowowowowowowowowowowowowOW! What the hell was that??”

That was grease spattering molten sugar onto my hand where it clung like melted polyester. And then the bunny had the audacity to turn to goo and slide off the bayonet.

Okay – on to Round 2. Double wrap the bunny around the x and y axes.

This time we got sizzling, and dripping of grease into the fire, but no spatter. Score! The bunny turned out uber gooey, and the bacon not as crisp as I would have liked, but dang it was surprisingly good. One guy described it as "an amazing confluence of flavors". Inside-out pig candy. Hassenschinkenspeck.

Next time I’ll use a stick – I think the bayonet conducted too much heat, and instead of thick cut bacon, I’ll use the thinnest I can find.

And of course the camera batteries crapped out before the final photo, so no pictures until next time. And there will be a next time ...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hey soldier, can I buy you a drink?

We just got back this evening from a lovely Rev War event at Battersea Plantation in Petersburg, VA. We unloaded and set up most of the canvas on Friday night, shared a bottle of claret, shot the breeze, and turned in for the night. We woke up to an unexpected but light (and thankfully brief) rainfall on Saturday morning. As we scrambled to get a fly up so we’d have a dry area to prepare breakfast, a half dozen AIT students came running over to help. I looked up and they were everywhere. Ft. Lee is a stone’s throw away, and it’s where the Quartermaster Schools are located. There were at least 30 there for the weekend providing support. This was a first – I’d never seen them at this site before, but it was great to have there. Some were Parachute Riggers, there were a couple of Dental Techs, and a slew that were training for Mortuary Services. Apparently the tools of the trade haven’t changed much in 225 years.

On Saturday afternoon I went to one of the concession stands to buy some root beer, and saw three AIT students standing around deciding who was going to get what. I saw one guy digging in the pocket on his sleeve and overheard him saying to his buddy, “I don’t have any cash.” As nonchalantly as possible, I offered to buy all three of them a root beer. They thanked me profusely, but declined. Shorter Half, was more direct. “I know what your paycheck is. Can we please buy you a root beer?” Seeing as how he had identified himself as a former Drill Sergeant to them earlier, I was hoping they’d be intimidated into accepting. They were polite as hell, but still no dice. I walked up to the Root Beer Guy and handed him the money instead and said “The next three trainees that show up to buy root beer – they’re on me.” And I walked off. I enjoyed it so much, I went back with two more cash infusions over the weekend to keep the tab going. It was not one bit altruistic of me as I got way more enjoyment out of it than I would have spending it any other way. It’s PB&J for lunch for me all week as a result, but at least it’s not an MRE, and I’m not complaining.

I was talking to the class Platoon Sergeant (or equivalent) this morning and commented that it was so good to see them back again today. She looked at me a little funny and said they don’t often hear that. We talked a bit, and she made an off-hand comment about well-behaved women not making history. We chatted a bit more, and she mentioned that she had enlisted at age 40. I looked at her and said “God bless you, ma’am. You’re a better man than I, Gunga Din.” Another woman in our unit pointed out that I’d had Sweet Daughter at age 40. I corrected her and said “42.” The Platoon Sergeant’s eyes got big, and said “You’re CRAZY! I can get out in four years!”

Hmm. Hadn’t thought of it that way.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Virginia restaurant carry signed into law!

As of July 1st, concealed handgun permit holders will be able to carry a concealed firearm for self-defense in restaurants, providing they do not consume alcohol.

More here.

Monday, April 12, 2010

More uses for the 4 rules

The four rules work for power tools, tool, especially when you’ve got a 4-year-old helping you. Besides wearing eye and hearing protection, remember:

1. All power tools are always plugged in. (I found myself unplugging my circular saw if I wasn’t actually using it that very minute.)

2. Never hold your (although I suppose it still holds true) the tool near something you don’t want sliced, pierced, ground, spindled or otherwise mutilated to bits.

3. Keep your booger-hooks off the buzz-switch(es) until everything is lined up, and the 4-year-old is in a safe spot.

4. Be sure of what you are cutting/drilling/slicing/dicing and what is under/behind/next to/around it.

I emerged reasonably unscathed (only a couple of splinters, and a blister on my thumb. “We gotta install microwave ovens. Custom kitchen deliveries. We gotta move these refrigerators...” Sorry. Got carried away.) and with a pile of sticks approximately the correct size. Good rules to follow, even off the range.

Oh, and  I saw a bald eagle on my way in to work this morning. I love living where I that is not an uncommon occurrence.


My driveway was covered with worms last Monday morning. Tuesday, too. It hadn't rained in the night, or for a few days previous, for that matter. I don't know why hundreds of worms decided to throw themselves on this particular grenade on a beautiful, warm spring morning (some sources indicate they might have been mating), but at least I don't feel guilty about it.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Smells of Spring

Sweet Daughter and I got home today and did some work in the yard. She dug holes, and I transplanted a bunch of stuff. I am not a gardener by any stretch of the imagination, but I have a pretty good herb garden going, and I’m working on getting more 18th century appropriate plants put in. A coworker gave me two big pots of lemon balm, I moved a volunteer Redbud tree, a Rose of Sharon, and a bunch of Tansy to more appropriate locations.

Here is what I learned today.

1. A pair of leather gardening gloves is in order. I don’t know what that shrubbery is with the reddish leaves growing by the shed (Japanese Barberry – thanks Google!), but some thorns are the diameter of my darning needles and got caught in my hair and clothes, and some are microscopic and the scratches felt like I’d been bitten by hundreds of tiny wasps. I was not amused.

2. Don’t trust church ladies. The nice one at garden club fundraiser two years ago told me that tansy wouldn’t spread and take over my garden. She lied was mistaken. I bet if there was a grudge match between the tansy and kudzu, the tansy might actually win. Or at least would end up with a “both mangled and killed” result.

3. The yard is lovely when the azaleas, dogwood, camellias AND lilacs are all blooming. It’s lovely enough that I can even ignore all the zombie dandelions ("Laaaawn … we want laaaawn …"). The scent of lilac is like springtime distilled.

4. Bacon and eggs makes a great dinner when you’ve been outside too long, you’re all starving, and have to get dinner on the table fast.

5. While bacon and lilacs each have a wonderful aroma, they don’t go together so well. Frying bacon with the jug of lilacs sitting next to them was a bit… interesting. Sort of like burning plastic, actually.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

In case you missed it.

Just in case you were one of the 5 people who missed this last year, I bring you the literal version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart". And if you saw it, watch it again and laugh. Especially if you're of a "certain age". I'm still trying to figure out why my driveway was covered with worms this morning. Maybe I'll have photos tomorrow.

Monday, April 5, 2010

What's in a name?

My little sister-in-law drove down from her home on Saturday afternoon so we could all pile into one car and drive another two hours to my mother-in-law’s house the next day for Easter. As we sat around Saturday evening, each with a glass of wine, my SIL gave a relaxed sigh and said, “This is the house of wine and bacon. That’s what we (she and her boyfriend) call it.”

“The House of Wine and Bacon.”

What a lovely compliment. And where was she when I was looking for a name for this blog?