Thursday, March 31, 2011

Liberty Day 2011

Two hundred thirty six years ago Patrick Henry addressed the Virginia Convention in Richmond, and persuaded his fellow burgesses to take up arms against England. He understood the options that lay before them, and proclaimed to his hearers, "I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

Henry's words, and his thirst for liberty, are celebrated annually around the country, and we think one of the best celebrations must be in Medinah, Illinois. The Erber family from Harvard were the founders of this celebration that has grown to a day-and-a-half conference for several hundred people.

Guest speakers bring inspiring and educational lectures each year, and that's Joe Morecraft pictured above speaking on the critical difference between natural law and Biblical law. His lecture contrasted the perspectives of Augustine, who believed everything must be considered in light of the Word of God, and Aquinas, who thought the Bible was not necessary for understanding "some" things. Morecraft believes America's preference for reason over God's revelation is partly responsible for the decline of our culture.

Phil Kayser is shown above in the middle of his presentation "Breaches in Humanism's Dam: Why Christianity Will Win the War," which addressed the bankruptcy of humanistic philosophies and the promises to God's people in 2 Chronicles 7:14.

Gretel got the opportunity to wear her new colonial polonaise gown that Lily made for her.

We have to include a shot of the back detail because "it's so stinkin' cute!"

Lily also wore her new polonaise gown for the first time in public, and I believe it was well received. You might remember this dress from last summer.

Finally, a picture of Karen with Mrs. Bringe, who traveled all the way from Colorado with her family so we could enjoy their presence.

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Colonial Williamsburg in March, Day 6

Our final day at CW found us alone again since the Madeiras left early to travel on to South Carolina. We tried our best to keep a stiff upper lip, and soldiered through an unusually warm day (at 86F, it was a new record for March 18 in Williamsburg).

We've shown images of this tranquil little garden space in previous posts, but obviously never as it appears in March. It shows more promise than it did in November, but I still think I prefer April or May.

We also showed a close-up of the fabric on the canopy of this bed in the Governor's Palace in November 2009, but it's been changed since then. According to my research, the old fabric, although pretty, was close to thirty years old so one can hardly criticize the decorators for changing it.

After the Palace tour, the girls found a peaceful spot to sit atop the ice house mound at the north end of the Palace gardens.

My beloved strolling on the path beside the Palace gardens canal.

We found this work of food art in the Palace kitchen. Made from sugar, this windmill serves as a reminder of the full-size windmill that was dismantled from the Randolph House property recently. Rumor has it the windmill needs repairs and will be restored as funds allow.

We had a delightful conversation with this group of well-dressed ladies from Savannah, Georgia. I believe at least four families were represented in their group, and each person was dressed in costume when they toured CW. We exchanged email addresses and blog names, so we'll try to keep track of their activities in the future.

This nicely decorated hat caught Lily's eye at The Millinery Shop.

We finally had a Thomas Baker sighting on the last performance of Friday afternoon! He had performed earlier in the week, but since we hadn't watched every program, we somehow missed him. In this image, Thomas is closest to the camera in the front row of fifers.

Here's a video of the corps performing one of their songs. Thomas is on farthest from the camera in the front row in this video. If you have trouble seeing the video full width, you can right-click on the image and choose to watch the video on YouTube.

We'll close our reporting from Colonial Williamsburg this week with a photo of Thomas and his proud parents. Poor Thomas is frequently compared with his over-achieving brother David, but Thomas seems to be holding his own in following in his brother's footsteps.

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Colonial Williamsburg in March, Day 5

When we're vacationing with the Madeiras, there's every reason in the world to stay up late laughing, eating, and wondering why we don't do this more often. So although Wednesday night was a fun night of catching up, Thursday was a bit slow getting started.

Instead of going directly to CW this morning, we stopped to visit Jim Burnley at the offices of Burnley & Trowbridge Co. first. Jim and his wife Angela organized the polonaise class Lily attended in Jamestown last summer, and they have been promoters of historically accurate clothing for years (not to mention they sell lots of goodies related to making clothing). This time I wanted to try on some shoes, and Lily was shopping for ribbon.

We talked the Madeiras into trying the lunch buffet at Nawab Indian Cuisine, which we think is one of the gems of Williamsburg. I heard Tim making all sorts of "mmmm" and "oooo" noises, so I think he liked it, but then I haven't seen too many foods that Tim doesn't like!

Once back at CW, we ran into the Courter family resting and posing for photographs. We met them at the Family Economics Conference in Raleigh last weekend, and have enjoyed getting to know them.

The girls had fun simply sitting and chatting outside Tarpley's Store on Duke of Gloucester Street.

Even though we didn't do a record amount of walking today, looking pretty all day long can evidently be a lot of work.

Until one simply crashes.

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Colonial Williamsburg in March, Day 4

Wednesday finally found all of our family together for the entire day, which of course meant colonial clothing all around. But more on that later.

Our visit to the historic area started with a public address by Patrick Henry who, although not on his top form, was nonetheless entertaining and educational.

It was a special treat to find Jane Hanson singing and playing the harpsichord in the Wythe House. Jane is performing the "A Lady and Her Music" program two more times in the month of March, and she does a wonderful job explaining lyrics and background for the songs she sings.

The afternoon found us at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum to enjoy their accessories exhibit and take advantage of the opportunity to peer into some of the drawers containing articles that aren't on public display. The frock coat and waistcoat shown above were on display, and showed such fine work that I had to share it with you.

Also at the museum were these glasses on display. Mine aren't exactly like these, but I'll keep trying to get as close as I can.

Here's an entertaining kerchief from the mid 19th century. The artist has depicted a typical day in the year 2000 as he imagines it will be. He's got the right idea that man will be relying on mechanization for transportation, but his extrapolation that horses will be all but extinct obviously goes a bit too far. You'll have to zoom in on this one to appreciate all the little statements and conversations included in this scene.

The herb and vegetable garden on Duke of Gloucester Street was growing nicely thanks to coldframes like this, and Virginia's mild climate.

A portion of the Fife and Drum Corps made an appearance in the afternoon, although our friend Thomas Baker was not in attendance. We'll continue to watch for Thomas the rest of the week.

The girls were dressed in variations on a fabric theme today, which I think makes a pretty picture.

Our big treat today was the arrival of the Madeira family! Because we were uncertain of when they would arrive, we planned on keeping a watch out through the two-hour window in which we expected them, while we continued our sightseeing around town. After a leisurely lunch, we stepped out on the sidewalk along Henry Street, and before we had walked 20 feet a car was honking at us as they pulled up beside us -- the Madeiras! They had just arrived in town, and the timing could not have been more providential.

As if their company was not enough, Rachel also honored us with a gift of her award-winning artwork! We were thrilled to receive such a beautiful, and meaningful gift, and humbled that Rachel would spend so much time working on this project. Unfortunately, the light for this photo doesn't do the painting justice, so you'll all just have to stop past our house to see it in person. Extra credit for those that recognize the subject for Rachel's work.

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Colonial Williamsburg in March, Day 3

One more day of Gretel and me adventuring together around CW while Karen and Lily endure fawning praise from the fashion elite at the symposium.

There was no stop at the coffeehouse this morning as most of our plans for the day centered around the other end of town. On the way, we noticed this little walkway between two buildings that just begs to be replicated on our own home. If only we had a suitable location... and a cute little gate... and a mature hedge growing high enough to walk under....

We took the time to stop in the Governor's Palace kitchen to see what was on the menu. The humble chicken on the cutting board was experiencing a spinectomy and was then promptly placed on a short grill over some coals on the right side of the hearth (hidden by the chef in this photo). It didn't take long before that barbequed chicken was smelling good! While that was cooking, we discussed breakfast habits with the chef who informed us that 18th century gentry ate a small informal meal mid-morning in anticipation for the largest meal of the day from about 2 to 4 PM.

The almond-shaped decorated pastry in the front is actually an 18th century sort of casserole. The pastry bakes hard and is intended simply to hold the contents -- it is not intended to be eaten. In fact, the chef said you'd have more success eating the table than you would eating that pastry!

Thomas Jefferson honored us with his presence behind the Governor's Palace this morning, where he took the opportunity to address the crowd on a variety of topics and answered questions from the audience. One astute homeschooling advocate asked about Jefferson's views on education, contrasting the Greek model with the home-based model. Jefferson replied in support of a state-supported system that strove to allow children in the poorest communities the opportunity to be capable of conversing with their more cultured fellow Virginians on any number of topics. I'm curious whether those comments were consistent with Jefferson's beliefs, or if they were a 21st century interpretation of his views.

Thomas Everard purchased the house shown above in the mid 1750s and CW has restored it to the state it may have been in during Everard's occupation of the residence in the shadow of the Governor's Palace. Everard was orphaned by the age of ten and admitted to Christ's Hospital in West Sussex, England for a time before he served a seven-year apprenticeship with a merchant in Williamsburg. Following his apprenticeship, he was appointed clerk of the Elizabeth City County court, and later the York County court where he served until his death.

The dining room is set to reflect Everard's ample means, and features some interesting details. The wallpaper is a reproduction of a pattern that likely covered the walls during Everard's stay here. Restorationists discovered fragments of wallpaper behind the crown molding in this room and were able to trace the paper back to England to the original manufacturer who still had the original blocks from which the wallpaper was printed. They supplied CW with enough square pieces to cover the room, and restore it to its 18th century splendor.

The china on the table was probably never in the Everard's possession as it was recovered recently from a ship that had sunk in 1748. Colonial Williamsburg was able to purchase several settings at auction, and now displays these original pieces.

The sitting room features wall-to-wall carpet (27-inch strips sewn together and fitted to the room) and glossy woodwork. The finish on the woodwork and the looking glass above the fireplace mantle serve to reflect light and make the room brighter, especially in the evenings.

Mr. Everard fashioned an office for himself at the back of the house so he could carry out his business from the convenience of his home, when possible. The map above the fireplace was drawn by Peter Jefferson, the father of Thomas.

Gretel and I played another round of a game we started yesterday: to see how far one can walk across town by following private garden paths. We had pretty good success on the south side of Duke of Gloucester Street, although one does have to keep one's eyes open for gates, since they aren't always obvious.

Finally, a shot of archaeological digging going on at the blacksmith's shop partially executed by a Caterpillar 322C hydraulic excavator. The old blacksmith shop was torn down in early March and archaeologists have been studying the site to learn all they can about the blacksmithing and armoury activities performed on the property. CW has an active blog chronicling the destruction of the old and the construction of the new.

The four of us finally ended our day at the Governor's Palace for another candlelight concert. This time I've included a photo of part of the program for the evening, so you have some idea of what we experienced.

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Colonial Williamsburg in March, Day 2

Our second day in the city found Gretel and me touring the sites while Karen and Lily endured lectures and demonstrations related to 17th to 19th century clothing accessories. We all met for lunch, so some of what's documented here was enjoyed by all.

Since the morning started cool and breezy, I convinced Gretel to start our day back at Charlton's Coffeehouse. Gretel was concerned that we may be refused service since we had just visited the day before, but I was willing to take that risk since getting kicked out of an 18th century coffeehouse didn't sound very humiliating to me. We were served without question (by staff that had not been there the previous day), and left slightly warmer to make our way about town.

We had a private conversation with this interpreter at the building that housed the James City County Court and the Williamsburg Hustings Court in the 18th century. The courthouse is located on the north side of Duke of Gloucester Street on Market Square, and that street served as the boundary between York County to the north and James City County to the south in colonial times. The courthouse was the only property on the north side of D of G Street at that time that belonged to James City County. A consequence of that anomaly was that Peyton Randolph (and his neighbors) could not walk the 50 yards across the Market Square green to attend to county business, but had to travel the ten miles or so to Yorktown to visit the York County courthouse there. Williamsburg is no longer bisected by a county border, as in the 1870s it attained independent city status, meaning it does not belong to any county. However, it does still serve as county seat for James City County (and I thought Illinois politics didn't make any sense).

This is the cute little office on one side of the courtroom where the county clerk conducted his business. All sorts of fines could be paid here in lieu of appearing before the court, and the clerk would record the transaction and collect the fee. Rumor has it the clerk retained a portion of all fines collected. Gretel and I were struck by the cute little rail around the perimeter of the desk. I hypothesized that it may have been designed to prevent books from falling off the edge of the desk. We were also impressed with the size of the volumes in the cabinet in the corner.

The Palace Gardens are always a pleasure, although they are much less colorful in March than they typically are in April. The shapes are familiar in this view, but the colors are much less varied.

A closer view finds hyacinth blooming along the covered paths...

... and wild violas (Johnny Jump-Ups) in the center section of the garden.

A visit to the Milliner's shop is always in order, where we found these breeches that appear to be consistent with the "more-buttons-is-better" approach that seems a theme in many colonial garments. The brown, fuzzy coat in the background is proof that I am not a fan of ALL colonial clothing.

Unfortunately, Neal the tailor was too busy with other customers to answer our questions today, but I'm sure we'll be back later this week to address our concerns. By the way, Neal, the missing buttons on the waistcoat does not create a flattering look. I'm just sayin'....

On to the George Wythe House, to see what's new. Just a little rearranging as far as I could tell. Nonetheless, here are a couple images to jog your memory if you've been there before, or introduce you to more of the house if you've never been there. This image captures part of the downstairs bedroom including a beautiful bed canopy, a cozily-located fireplace, and a nicely-situated writing desk.

Found in the cupboard in the sitting room was this politically incorrect teapot. I'm not sure if this is a reproduction or an original, but I'm told there were quite a few of these produced in England for sale in America in the late 1760s. Perhaps the teapot manufacturers were sympathetic to the American cause, or maybe they simply recognized a business opportunity.

Although the air was cool, the sunshine made for pleasant walking on one of Gretel's favorite paths.

And finally evidence that there are more blooms around town for those that seek them.

Thanks for visiting!