Thursday, July 8, 2010

And We're Off!

I'll be away for a few days - it's time for the Grand Encampment! This is one of the larger historical reenactments specific to "our time period"; i.e., roughly the mid-18th century -- in this case, a reenactment of the French & Indian War near Detroit. (That's pronounced something like "Day-Twahn" by us les francais. As I've been saying for weeks, with great relish: "If we prepared to having to speak English from now on!" (Insert great hilarity and laughter here. Thank you.)

So I'll be tucked into my cozy lodge (notice knitting baskets). On this particular occasion, I will be dressing as a French-Canadian woman for at least part of the time, so I can knit. (I will otherwise be dressed as an Ojibway or Metis woman, at which time I canNOT knit.) However, I have multiple other diversions available, including visiting with my dear friend Jen (albeit she will be in the British camp, so I may have to pretend to be sympathetic to the British forces).

I am, in this instance, NOT, however. I (or at least the men of my people including my voyageur husband) are allied most firmly with the above-mentioned francais.

THEREFORE! This is the level of technology which will be available to me for the duration. Notice that there are no outlets in evidence, no power cords, no plugs. You will see a goodly supply of fuel (my husband always makes sure there is plenty of hewn firewood) and a proof of my great prosperity (the result of being involved in the Fur Trade) - I have a lovely brass kettle!

But it'll be 400 years (give or take, I'm dreadful at doing the maths) before anyone thinks of innerwebs or netbooks or iPods or I will report back upon our return to the 21st century. I wish a nice (not overly hot, not dreadfully humid, not pouringly-rainy) weekend to one and all, ourselves included.

NOTE: these pictures were from a foray to Grand Portage, MN in 2007; there is a certain sameness to the appearance of our camp, regardless of its geographic position.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Le Mariage du Fils....

We're beginning to organize for our trip to the Grand Encampment of the French & Indian War. I have breadstuffs to bake and pack (never did master baking in a dutch oven), new leggings to make; I should see if my corset fits; launder my caps and petticoats -- and decide if I'm going to be a White Lady or a Red Lady for the weekend. (Or both -- maybe both, because only my White Lady can knit.)

Hence the French title of this post. If the Brits win the battles, we'll all be speaking English, so watch this space - I'll report results when we return on Monday.

Now then! THE WEDDING! On June 26 my Number One Son married my daughter-in-love, at a nice small park nearby. It was very hot, but the shelter was on a knoll and enjoyed breezes most of the day. No wedding goes off without a hitch....well, of COURSE there has to be a "hitch" -- but there is invariably some little problem.

In this case - the musician had a glitch with his equipment at the beginning. It took a little futzing before it actually worked. (Mind you - his double keyboard sounds like an eleventy-eight piece orchestra - far as I know it's some kind of magicalness in there.)

Tempting as it is to try to post all 150 pictures (and those are just MINE, I can hardly wait to see everyone else's!) I believe I'll select just a few of my favorites for your delight:

Had I mentioned that I am qualified to officiate at weddings? ("Hatch, match and dispatch", actually....) So here we are, my son and I, waiting for his bride. The one drawback to my appearing in an official capacity was that I HAD to not weep, and I always weep at weddings! Especially considering that this is MY SON...and more to the point, I love his bride dearly.

The bride approaches on the proud arm of her father. Hard to see any details here - but her gown had palest pink flowers with crystals and tiny pearls scattered on the skirts and arranged on the bodice. In spite of the heat, she looked stunning!

The text was fairly traditional (I wrote a framework, they polished it to perfection) and following the exchange of rings, my DIL had a paragraph to read to her new husband, so I handed her the book to read from. He had NO idea it was coming - and during her loving, heartfelt reading, I admit it, I wept a bit -- but I was in good company, for she wept a bit and so did he.
(And, I imagine, not a few of the assembled company.)

"By the power vested in me...." Ladies and gentlemen, this is one of those Proud Moments that we simple human beings are given from time to time. Because this moment united two of the people dearest to my heart in the world, securing in the mundane world that which was secure in our hearts already.

And following the ceremony, their musician played a specially-arranged song, his wedding gift to them:

There followed a fine afternoon. The pot-luck was an absolutely stellar repast (perfect fare: soft little buns, turkey and ham, yummy macaroni salad, fresh potato salad, cole slaw....and the Lovely Daughter's sweet-and-sour meatballs, by special request -- her brothers LOVE 'em!). Some clever souls put the meatballs in the buns, VERY nice. Here, then, just a couple of other pictures - because I am unabashedly, unashamedly PROUD of my family!

How's this for a collection of breathtaking daughters? And each is "as they appear" - good-hearted, loving, clever young women.

The entirety of the Family of Son Number One (may I brag on those BOYS? Aren't you glad I don't have the capability of unrolling one of those long accordion-fold picture things SOME grammaws carry around?)

Here is the Family of Son Number Two: may I say, in all humility, that they too are as brilliant, clever and good-hearted as the other bunch? And although they're (strikingly) outnumbered, Son #2 and Grandson manage very well.

And in closing, you can now clearly see why I am so pleased and proud. I'd have to say, during all those days of my children's "trying times" (you know, the Terrible Twos through the Terrifying Teens) I never gave up hope that all would turn out just like this. Mostly. But it's all so much better than I could have hoped. I am a Happy Old Lady, confident in the Future of the World (and secure in my Advanced Age ahead!)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, America!!

I wanted a proper image for Independence Day. Something that meant something to ME....and this is it. This is the medal of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). It was a sort of fraternal organization for the Veterans of the Union forces following the Civil War. One of the main purposes of it was to advocate for the wounded veterans - and as such, the local branch, headed by our own Lucius Fairchild, became very active here in Madison, and in Wisconsin.

Now - as a (former?) Hippie and Peacenik and all that good stuff (sure, I DO hug trees, ya wanna make some'n of it?) there are those who think I don't care a rat's....a pound of....don't care very much for Independence Day. "My kind" has not been known as Flag Wavers, &c. And Those of Us who experienced Viet Nam (and came away believing that we'd learned, and THAT nightmare was laid to rest) are not the ones you might expect to see at the parades.

Well - WRONG ANSWER, CLIVE! (with apologies to anyone who is named...or related to anyone named..."Clive"). This time of year I always get downright verklempt. I think memories have something to do with it -- that and Realizations.

Memories? Guests at my mother's beautiful dinner parties with numbers tattooed on their arms. Seeing President Eisenhower (sitting on the back of an open convertible) in Minneapolis. Reading books about the Holocaust. Sitting in the ballet studio and listening to our Hungarian refugees talk about seeing the Russian tanks -- and one fellow described seeing his sister shot down as he fled with his family toward the Austrian border. And then -- seeing Willie, that handsome man whose face I see now in his son and his grandsons, in the uniform of the United States Army, with such a look of pride on his face.

Realizations? I can say that I think George Bush was an idiot and was responsible for some pretty bad horseapples....and no one will drag me out of my bed, pull me into the street and shoot me. I am SAFE in my little home. Because of my birth, and my lot in life (about which I had considerable choice) I am now 67 years old and have virtually everything my heart desires. Furthermore, I have Aspirations. I write silly kiddy stuff - and I might could just get it published! I can dance (don't worry, I won't SING) and I can go stand in front of my beautiful State Capitol and break the law by drinking raw milk....and complain because I don't like the way the whole thing fell out. (See "drag out of bed", above.)

So - forgive an old woman for getting all over sentimental. It's not lost on me that I have a life unimagined by women all over the world, and although we share sadnesses, we Americans (I can no longer watch much footage of oil-soaked wildlife) our blessings and privileges are endless.
The forecast is for thunderstorms tonight - so I expect that we'll vary our usual routine: instead of taking cream-cheese-and-olive finger sandwiches and lemonade to Black Hawk for fireworks - we'll stay home and watch televised fireworks while eating leftovers (barbecued ribs slathered in Lovely Daughter's singular sauce, cole slaw with Rudolph's singular dressing -- and probably Kitty Mommy's homemade strawberry jam, which really DOES taste like fresh strawberries....maybe ON something other than a spoon. Which is the way I've eaten some of it. NEVERMIND.)

So Happy 4th of July, fellow Americans! A salute to our young men and women in uniform - especially my own fine Marine grandson, he of his grandfather's handsome face. May the day come when all the parades in all the towns and cities have rank after rank of our soldiers and sailors marching behind the at home. Safe.