Thursday, July 31, 2014

Water update

I woke up on Tuesday morning at 4:30, wondering how much water was in my back yard. Once the sun came up, I could check! Increased flow in the driveway ...

And in the new "creek" in the back yard.

I called the county back ... it turns out there was a worse leak that needed attention on Monday. Tell that to my back yard ...

They showed up about 10:30 and started digging. It didn't take long for them to figure out that they couldn't shovel water faster than it was being replaced. So they got in their truck and left. About a half hour later the returned with a truck that had a pump and a holding tank.

By now, all that clay they dug up was finding its way to the bottom of my driveway and was clogging the drain in front of the garage. No way I was leaving until the water stopped in case my garage flooded and I had to figure out what wasn't in a plastic tub and needed to get moved.

They finally got the truck pumping faster than the leak so I went to work. I came home to find the leak repaired, but the access to my water meter now well above grade. Probably because of all the dirt ended up here covering my drain:
Of course, the county has said nothing about the damage in my back yard, or come to get the two bright orange traffic cones they've left by the water meter.
I'm thinking since I've already begun digging the trench, I might just want to go ahead and extend the drain hose down to the edge of the property. Once I fill in that giant underground hole ...

Monday, July 28, 2014

Water, water everywhere ...

Last February I found a very nice note of my front door from my county meter reader telling me there was a leak on my side of the meter. Called a plumber, got it fixed and went on my merry way.

Until this morning when Sweet Daughter and I were headed out the door at 8:00.

I dashed up to where the water meter is, kicked off my black heels, pulled the cover and saw more water gushing out than last February. Still in my office clothes, I grabbed a bucket and started bailing. Now, in February, the meter reader explained that he was supposed to tell me that we are not supposed to use our own meter key to shut off the water. So let's just say I managed to stop the numbers on my meter from moving. I took SD to day camp, came back and there was more water than before. So, I called the county and informed them of the leak and that it sounded like it was on their side of the meter ... since I had my side repaired in February.

According to a neighbor, they send somebody out at 10:00 and they did ... nothing.

All that water coming down the driveway? It empties into the back yard. Which is now a swamp. And it's continuing to flow faster and time goes on. SD and I dug a trench when we got home to sort of direct the flow a bit.


You can't really tell, but the water is coming out faster than if I had a garden hose on at full blast.

I'll be calling the county when their office opens in the morning. And frequently thereafter, I'm thinking.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

How to make inexpensive 18th century shoes for kids

Well, not make, exactly, but how to make "acceptable" ones on a budget.

The hobby standard is to use black oxfords with black tights or knee socks. Not cotton Mary Jane canvas flats, but lace-up shoes. They sort of disappear, or at least become neutral instead saying "LOOK AT MY PURPLE CROCS UNDER MY GOWN!"

Black oxfords can be picked up at Goodwill for a couple of dollars. If you look closely ...

... you can see the padded ankle and the huge clunky heel and the laces, but it general, it doesn't detract from the overall outfit.

When I made the white cross-barred muslin gown for Sweet Daughter, I knew I'd have to step things up a bit. She was going to need white stockings and the shoes were going to be noticeable. I found these shoes,

and thought "What the heck? The price isn't awful, and they have a round toe with no seam, and sort of a buckle ..." The tongues turned out to be absolutely ridiculous, and so I trimmed them back. But not enough ...

And they scuffed terribly after only being worn two days.
They were absolutely "\costume" quality.
So I decided to spray paint them red with Fusion paint designed for plastics. I cut the tongues down some more, masked the heels and soles, and sprayed them red. I figured when they get scuffed up again, I''lljust give them another squirt of red paint.
I ordered some inexpensive oval brass buckles (well inexpensive compared to real shoe buckles) and substituted them for the cheap rectangular pot-metal ones. The shoes are till scuffed, but they look a LOT better.
An easier way to make more passable shoes is to take a pair of  thrift store oxfords and cut them down. See the lower profile? Cut down past the first row of grommets. You can touch up the cut edge with a black Sharpie.
Then cut away under the second row of grommets. Cut away so that you have finger-shaped tabs and tie with a silk ribbon.

Same pair of shoes ... after being cut down and before. Quite the difference, eh?

The next project will be thrift store shoes cut down and painted red!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Once in a while, you hit the jackpot

I started researching images for Sweet Daughter's "turban" to go with her muslin gown, and hit the mother lode. Reinette had already compiled an amazing collection of images.

Here are a few images (all shamelessly stolen from the above site) to whet your whistle.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Because ...

Because work got interesting late on Friday, and I've done nothing of note all weekend (except move furniture, work on organizing the sewing room, spray paint some shoes, start turning old wine into vinegar ... you know ... the usual weekend), and because MSgt B posted this, and just because EVERYBODY needs to be humming "fleas on rats" to themselves, not just me, I present today's history lesson:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

So much for sleeping in

Yesterday morning, I was still in bed while preparing myself to get up and go into the office for a few hours (“The deadline is when?). I hadn’t slept well for a few nights as the new ice maker sounds like the Tin Man vomiting shrapnel into a galvanized bucket whenever it dumps a load of ice. I’m still finding this … startling.
Anyhow, I was running through my mental list of Stuff to Do, when I felt a like I’d been jabbed with a Glover's needle. Nope, a wasp got me. IN MY OWN BED. It got me on the arm, above the elbow - it could have been much worse. And while a highly effective way to wake the hell up, I do not recommend it.

I probably didn’t need the coffee on top of the adrenaline, either. At least I was the only one in the office, so nobody could hear me singing.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

New Fridge

I ventured into town this afternoon to see what I could turn up. Apparently, 32" is a very narrow space for refrigerators these days, so options were limited.

When Joey the sales guy heard what I had to spend, he gave me the card of a local guy who sells refurbished appliances with a 30 day warranty. We looked at what was on the floor anyway, to see if any fit my criteria; reasonable price, would fit in the space inhabited by the previous fridge, and could make ice. Low and behold, one appeared. After subtracting markdowns, sales, and discounts, then adding back tax and a three year bumper-to-bumper warranty, it came to $43 under sticker price. And that included delivery of the new fridge and hauling away of the old carcass. He said he'd give me a written estimate which would be good until the close of business.

At this point the heavens opened up and just let loose. I've sat through hurricanes with less wind and rain. I couldn't see 5 feet past the glass in the doors, much less where I'd parked my car. I figured this was the Almighty telling me to stay put, and just take the deal, already. So I did.

Half an hour after business was concluded, there was enough of a let-up that I could find my car. This will be interesting. I haven't had a new refrigerator since 1988.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Assumed Room Temperature

My refrigerator has been ailing, and apparently died while I was at work today.

Face Book friends came to the rescue and the first obvious thing to check were the coils. After getting the blasted thing moved out of the depression it had made in the floor, I realized that there were no coils on the back of this thing, they are underneath. And after being unplugged for a couple of hours, cranking the thermostat down didn't cause anything to kick back on. The conclusion was that the compressor was shot.

Years of loud music and then artillery means that I can't hear over things like room fans roaring quietly in the background. This means I failed to hear the compressor come on. Or, in this case, NOT come on. The turned milk should have been a clue. As should the ground beef that went off a little sooner than expected.

All the frozen stuff is downstairs in the chest freezer, and the rest is packed into coolers with ice. I found the perfect replacement fridge on Craigslist at a great price, but am not getting a response from the sellers. A coworker generously volunteered his services and those of his van and trailer. Tomorrow after work we'll drive into town and see what the Big Box Stores have in the scratch and dent section. Here's hoping I get lucky.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The worst part ...

... about a massive sewing project with a deadline and then a weekend away, is that I come back to a house that looks like it threw up on itself. I'm starting to get things sorted and put away, but the sewing room is going to be a weekend project in and of itself anyway. For now, I'll settle for "grouping like things together in the same heap".

Sweet Daughter is looking forward to helping me organize the sewing room. She's good a sorting things into boxes, and if nothing else, she'll see how to tackle a project of this size. This may inspire her to work on her bedroom. I'll make a deal with her ... if she helps me with the sewing room, I'll help her with her bedroom.

Hopefully we'll uncover enough area in the sewing room to put out the cheapo sewing machine I got in trade for doing some sewing for a guy at work. There was a Commodore 64 at a yard sale that he wanted, but they wouldn't let him have it unless he took the sewing machine as well. It will be a good one for SD to learn on and if it gets hosed, no great loss.

Tonight, I'm staring at a few uncluttered surfaces (too few), and also at a glass of wine that has to be the worst stuff I've ever had. Research has begun on making vinegar at home. We'll see how that goes.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Independence Day in Colonial Williamsburg

Sweet Daughter and I watched hurricane Arthur with interest, and it looked like the timing was perfect. It would pass up the coast and clear out of southern Virginia by noon on Friday. And as anyone who has dealt with hurricanes knows ... the weather after one is gorgeous. SD and I had planned on CW for Independence Day as she doesn't remember seeing "real" fireworks up close an personal. I think this was just an excuse on her part for another trip ...

Friday morning dawned and the weather reports said it would be raining until noon, so we put on "regular" clothes and drove down, only to find sunny skies and an nice breeze so we changed (per SD's request) into our 18th century clothes.

Rule 1. If you are going to dress like you work there, you'd better be prepared to be polite to everyone, even the tourists who think it's okay to touch you without asking. I always pointed out that I wasn't an employee, making clothes was a hobby, and if I couldn't help, I pointed out someone who could.

Note to the guy in the Continental uniform who replied, when asked where the fireworks would be by saying "up" with a disgusted look on his face, you are the OCT of the living history world. Don't ruin it for the rest of us.

Anyhow, the one thing I wanted to see was the reading of the Declaration of Independence. So, apparently, did everyone else.


 It was very heartening to see people cheering and applauding and reciting parts from memory. There may be hope for us yet.

After a day of wandering about, people watching, and enjoying the weather, we went and checked into our hotel, changed into regular clothes, grabbed some dinner to eat as a picnic, and went back with our folding chairs and books. I think we got the last two spots on Palace Green a good 3 1/2 hours before the fireworks started.

The Virginia Symphony Orchestra played, and they had speakers set up so we great unwashed at the back who chose not to pay $45 for a reserved seat could hear. They started with The Star Spangled Banner and I was pleased to see people leap to their feet during the drum-roll at the beginning, and not a single male head remained covered. Then it was on to Gershwin, Copland ... and a tribute to the armed forces ending with The Stars and Stripes Forever. Yes, the piccolo still makes me burst into tears, which was exacerbated by the fact that they started the fireworks during the last bit.

The fireworks were amazing. Forty minutes of non-stop light and noise. I don't think SD will forget these any time soon. She's already plotting a return trip next year. And the traffic getting to the hotel afterwards wasn't bad at all. She may be able to convince me.

On Saturday we returned, again in 18th century clothes. This was the day SD wore her new muslin gown.

Playing a "Game of Graces".

We went to Shield's Tavern for lunch and had a wonderful meal. Who knew a curry-chutney coleslaw would pair that well with Carolina-style BBQ? Especially with hard cider ...

We visited our favorite shops and found out that cotton chintz at Mary Dickinson's was on sale. It wasn't really in the budget, but the reproduction fabrics go on sale so seldom, it seemed like a good  idea to economize for the rest of the month so we could pick some up. I narrowed it down to two choices, and told SD to pick. She picked my second choice. I asked the shopkeeper which she liked best and she agreed with me on my first choice, but SD was politely adamant. So, a swatch of each was obtained and one was draped over each shoulder. It took less that two seconds to realize SD was correct. She was very polite about not rubbing it in. Much.

"I won't say 'I told you so', but I can think it, okay?"

Gown from the back, showing 10 feet of sash.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Quick pics ...

More to come on the trip to Williamsburg this weekend, but here are pictures of the finished gown. I still have to make a turban, but the straw hat made more sense for the hot sunny weather.

The inspiration
Photographs courtesy of the marvelous Fred Blystone.

See the gown above Sweet Daughter's head with the purple sash? Looks like we're on the right track.

Special thanks to everyone at the Margaret Hunter Shop who are always so generous with their time and knowledge when we go in with questions.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

So, I had this idea ...

Sweet Daughter and I both love fireworks, and there aren't any locally on Independence Day any more. The closest ones only have one way out of town, and the last time we did it, it was over two hours to go what usually takes 20 minutes to get home. If I was going to sit in traffic ... how about doing it someplace else?

Williamsburg sounded like a great idea, and with the Firelock Match canceled last week, I still had a little gas and lodging money set aside, so we could stay overnight and spend two days!

This, of course, lead me to realize that we had that ages-old female dilemma of having nothing suitable to wear. Even if it was cool enough, my riding habit based on a British uniform would be considered in bad taste under the circumstances. So I concentrated on Sweet Daughter instead. Lightweight cotton muslin gowns over a taffeta petticoat with matching sash were all the rage. Even the doll in The Copley Family was wearing one.

Not having time or money to buy anything new, I dug through my bins of fabric and found a sheer "cross barred" cotton. And I had some coral taffeta. So ... why not? Well, other than I didn't have a pattern. So, I looked closer ...

We already have the ruffled shift, so that's a start. They gown looked like it was constructed along the lines of an infant's gown, except that the bodice and skirts were cut in one length, with pleats taking up the extra width around the torso. I wasn't sure where to start ... how long to cut it, taking the growth pleats into account, or if I'd even have enough fabric, so I started by hemming and then adding the growth tucks to the bottom of the yardage I had.  Then I made a fitting muslin for the torso, measured from the neckline (in back, because it's higher in back) down to where I thought the gown should be lengthwise, and then measured up from the bottom of the hemmed piece and marked the cutting line. Then I pleated the fabric I had to fit the circumference of the fitting muslin. I also measured from the waistline on the gown down to the hem, added allowances for the hem and growth tucks, and cut the petticoat out and made that.
Compared to most of the examples I've seen, I think mine came out a little on the skimpy side. But as the saying goes, sometimes you have to "cut your coat according to your cloth", and sometimes that's not metaphorical, but literal.
The sleeves were cut straight from the armpits down, and hemmed and growth tucks added before setting them in. (I did this by putting SD in the gown and pinning them in place before sewing them in.) The sash is 10' long and 4" wide. When I do this again, I think the sash should be a bit wider. I made it out of the same taffeta as the petticoat, but in the painting above, it looks less stiff. And the length was not excessive once tied in a bit fat bow.

And the turban? I still have some more research to do on exactly how and/or what that frothy-looking trim is along the edges of the band. I have an idea, but need the right materials before I try. In the mean time, we have the straw hat we did in May. The underside is lined in the same coral taffeta, and the ruching around the crown is also the same stuff. This will be more practical on a sunny day, anyway.

And this is what happens after hours of sewing rolled hems. That's what I get for letting that callus go away.

Pictures of SD in the whole thing to come ...