August 30, 2012

I Will be Student Teaching!

 Altogether, Anne went to bed that night in a rather pessimistic mood. She slept poorly and was so pale and tragic at breakfast next morning that Marilla was alarmed and insisted on making her take a cup of scorching ginger tea. Anne sipped it patiently, although she could not imagine what good ginger tea would do. Had it been some magic brew potent to confer age and experience Anne would have swallowed a quart of it without flinching.
“Marilla what if I fail!”

“You’ll hardly fail completely in one day and there's plenty more days coming,” said Marilla “The trouble with you, Anne, is that you’ll expect to teach those children everything and reform all their faults right off, and if you can t you’ll think you’ve failed.”

--Anne of Avonlea (1909)

I know that my blogging has been limited lately but I've been preparing for student teaching. While I won't be blogging about my experiences in the classroom, I do hope to continue blogging in general. Hopefully I'll get back on a schedule and the posts will be more frequent.

The good news is that I have a lot of new things to share. I have been doing a lot of research over the past few months and will finally get around to posting a lot of it. The bad news is that I am as nervous to start teaching as Anne was. I'm sure everything will be fine once I am settled in. As for right now, I'm still very nervous. A lot has been happening very quickly.

Wish me luck!

August 23, 2012

Soldier Letter from Antietam

"Federal buried, Confederate unburied" LOC

 Army of the Potomac, October 6th 1862

Dear Brother--I was surprised to hear of the death of Henry. I had heard that he was wounded, and got a furlough of two days to go and find him. Starting when your letter came to me, I wandered all day over the field at Antietam. I kept going for miles and miles, looking at every grave I saw, and was about to give up the search from fatigue and hunger (for I had already gone over twenty-five miles), but I kept on till dark, and just as I was about to lie down for the night, I saw a few graves under an apple-tree, a few rods off, and there I found the grave of our dear brother. It was a solemn time for me as I sat by the grave. 

I found a person who watched with him, and was present at his burial. He was shot in the early part of the action. He died without a struggle. It will be a hard struggle for mother. To think he was taken away in so short a time after leaving home, while I have been engaged in six or seven battles! But the thought of his dying so peacefully  (and no one can doubt his Christian character or fitness to meet his Maker), will lessen the grief of our mother, and brothers and sisters. We have lost him; but this we know, he was a Christian, and showed a Christian spirit in all his actions. It seems like a dream. As I look from the "heights" [Bolivar], I can see the rebel army, and a battle is expected in a few days. I am willing to meet them, no matter how hard the battle, or how long the forced marches are, if we can only finish the war, or make a beginning to an end. I may too, like Henry be shot down. If I die, I die in the faith of Christ, and have no fears as to what awaits me. I am happy wherever I am. I can lie down with as much ease, and rest for the night within range of the enemy's guns, knowing that at dawn we may meet face to face, as I could at home upon my bed. It is near midnight, and I must close.


Letter from: Soldiers' Letters from Camp, Battlefield and Prison edited by Lydia Minturnin Post in 1865.

93rd New York at Antietam, LOC

Henry Keeler was a corporal in the 14th Connecticut Co. C . He was 23 years old when he died at Antietam on September 17, 1862. He had only been in he army since early August. The 14th Connecticut is remembered for fighting near Bloody Lane.

 According to Anna Resseguie's (a distant relation) diary, Henry’s grave was marked by a wooden board. Silas Keeler, the author of the above letter, was 21 years old and a Sergeant with the 8th Connecticut, Co. E. One of Silas' sisters sent his letter to be included in a book of letters published by the U.S. Sanitary commission in 1865. With the letter, she notes that Henry's body had been retrieved and re-interred at home. His funeral took place on November 2, 1862. She also notes at the time of her sending the letter that she had two wounded brothers in the army.

Anna 's family owned a tavern in Ridgefield, Connecticut which amazingly, you can visit today. Once called the Keeler Tavern and later the Resseguie Hotel, the Keeler Tavern Museum and Garden House  is now open to the public. Anna Resseguie's wartime diary can be read as View from the Inn.  She details a lot of the goings on in the town, including weather, festivities and tragedies. She even writes of one local who died after sticking his hand near a lion's cage when a menagerie came to the town. 

It's rare that there is so much wartime information from one family but it is fantastic that you can read about their lives in the form or letters and diaries and visit a site that they would have spent a lot of time in. The Inn has a very unique history of its own, it hosted action during the Revolutionary War. It is also speculated that Alexander Gardner stayed there a few years before the Civil War.

The above letter seems cold at first but when you realize that it is the youngest brother in the family writing to an older one, it seems likely that his emotions were subdued. This letter also brings up the custom of retrieving dead for a burial closer to home. For many men, this was not an option.

August 21, 2012

Geocaching and Letterboxing

One early afternoon, two girls in sundresses and sandals sauntered through the woods with the sunlight shining through the trees. Talking, laughing and swinging their purses, they jumped over muddy puddles and skipped from big rock to rock. Constantly searching the ground and checking a notebook they stopped at a huge waterfall.

"Maybe it's this tree."
"Maybe that one down near the water."
"Lets try it."

They wandered to various locations, turning up rocks. After a few minutes they stopped.

"I think it's across the water."
 "You're probably right."

Together they climbed the boulders that lead up to the waterfall. They found the narrowest gap and one after the other took running jumps to the other side over the fast sloshing water. Fishermen watched these girls curiously. They were obviously looking for something hidden in the woods, but what?  
A few weeks back, my friend and I got out of a work meeting early.  Instead of going home bored, we decided to go geocaching. Geocaching is an activity that evolved from orienteering and letterboxing. Searchers look for caches placed by other geocachers. These boxes are typically waterproof, and contain logbooks or small trinkets. To find geocaches, searchers are given the coordinates of a box and typically have to unscramble a puzzle to get more clues about where to look. Boxes are typically hidden in wooded areas and many caches take you past an attraction such as a small cemetery, landmark or pretty vista.  Once a box is located, the searchers either sign the logbook or take the small trinket and replace it with another one. Many geocachers keep online logbooks so other searchers can see who found it before them. 

For people raised on movies like The Goonies, this sort of “treasure hunting” expedition really brings you back to your childhood. It’s extremely fun and you’ll never be so excited to find a plastic mouse or toy car. On our trek we met some interesting people including fishermen and two bathing beauties, anxious to get their swimsuits wet to help us look. You’d be surprised how popular this is and how many caches are probably in your area. 

Geocaching evolved out of a sport called letterboxing. Letterboxing, while still done today, started in 1854 in England. James Perrott, placed a bottle in a pile of stones near Cranmere Pool in Dartmoor, in which visitors could place their calling cards. Later boxes in the area were established and it became popular for visitors to insert a letter addressed to themselves or a friend. The next person to find the box, would mail the letter found inside and leave their own letter in the box. There is currently over 100 boxes hidden in the moors there.  Modern-day letterboxes frequently include a unique stamp in a letterbox’s logbook to prove that they found a certain letterbox. Letterboxing didn’t catch on in the United States until the late 1980s.

Although letterboxing was unique to England, caches have been used for centuries to protect valuables. Occasionally, we hear of a long forgotten cache being found that contains valuable articles. Some people find searching for a valuable cache much more fun than geocaching where the thrill of the hunt and a day out are your reward.

Geocaching for history lovers: 

-There's a Fredericksburg Battlefield Challenge which involves taking photos of yourself at places in the battlefield according to coordinates and posting them online.
- Better History Through Letterboxing- a Confederate history through letterboxing. 
- Joy and Misery in Valley Forge
- Valley Forge Forgotten Monument
- Honoring our Veterans at Antietam

August 14, 2012

Museums Probably Don’t Want Your Stuff

Museums probably don’t want your stuff. It’s hard to imagine but it’s the cold, hard truth. You may have family heirlooms that no one in your family has room for and you thought that a museum would want them. They might, ask around and see. But here are some reasons that a museum might not want your stuff and what to do with it instead:

1. It’s unlikely you have a truly “museum quality” piece. Museum quality means different things when dealing with different items. 

2. If your piece is quality, it might not have enough historical value or be significant or rare enough. Letters, diaries and photos are one-of-a-kind, mass produced items such as 20th century clothing or books, probably aren’t rare enough. The museum might even already have a few identical items. If it is a really historical piece, the quality probably doesn’t matter anyway. Letters, diaries and photos, get snatched up quickly as do items that are pre-1900.  

3. Most museums have big collections and small budgets. Artifact preservation, archiving and storage cost a lot of money. Would you believe the Library of Congress receives 22,000 donated items per day according to their website and adds 10,000 of those items to their collection daily? That’s a lot of conservation!   

The National WWII museum says it best “Due to the generous donations of WWII veterans, their families, friends and other donors, the Museum has neared its goal of acquiring a collection that is representative of the American Experience in World War II, thus the Museum must be selective with any new artifacts it accepts. Our archives, though, are ever growing, and we are particularly seeking additions to our archive of personal stories and wartime letters, diaries and photographs.”

Many people donate to museums with the idea that they can visit their item on display, but this is frequently not the case. Museums have many more items in storage than they do on display. Museums strive to tell stories through their exhibitions; your item may never make the display collection. Researchers will still be able to study your item but “visiting” the item with your grandkids might be out of the question. A museum might even sell your item after a few years if they don’t have room for it. Right now, museums are selling parts of their collections to make up for the lack of funding. 
What to do with family heirlooms that no one wants:

- You probably know at least one history-crazed person who would *love* your stuff. Not that I know any… :) 

-Try visiting local museums or museums in the town that the owner grew up in. A big war museum might not want dad’s Vietnam helmet but a small museum trying to tell the history of a town might.  

-See if any museums are putting on exhibits in the future that your piece might fit well in. Many museum websites have lists of items that they are accepting or want. 

- Consider donating to a local school, club, or community center. Many places, not just museums, are interested in telling the local history. Many reenacting groups like to have originals for study and for living history exhibits.

-Sell it. It might seem harsh to sell a family heirloom but if no one truly wants it, you are really under no obligation to keep it. Grandma would probably scold you for holding on to her wedding dress all of these years and tell you to buy something nice for her grand kids.  

Things to think about before you donate:

-Will you retain the rights to reprint or use photos and letters after you transfer ownership?

-Did you make a digital record of your things? Photograph artifacts from a variety of angles and scan photos and letters? Just because you don’t have room for the physical items doesn’t mean you have to erase their existence. You can find an online site and make the photos, letters and diary entries into books inexpensively. You could even make copies for your relatives. 

-Did you add a note to the item detailing the history of it? You might want to ask family members for further recollections. Help give the piece context. 

-Are you absolutely sure that you or your kids will not want the item? Will your kids want to show it to their kids? If you think this is a possibility, keep it until they are old enough to make the decision. If this is the case, you might consider loaning the item to a museum, if possible.

August 7, 2012

Knitted Beret

I finally got some modern knitting done! I'm always excited for modern knitting because I work with period yarns a lot and after awhile the selection is pretty boring.

I was so excited to finish that I threw it on and took some photos. Now that I am looking at them, I really should have changed out of my pajamas and put something nice on.

It's pretty from the back, it forms a intricate looking star pattern but it ended up being pretty easy.

Side view of the beret.

This project was great because it only required a small ball of cotton. I choose a cream color like the original pattern purely for the fact that I wanted to be able to wear this with a lot of different outfits. up close the cotton has tiny little black specs. I liked that I could wear this one in the summer and into the fall.  

Close-up view of the pattern.

This pattern can be downloaded for free from Ravelry at Spring Beret.

If you don't have a Ravelry account they might make you sign up, but it's free and worth it to see everyone's projects and comments. I know reading the comments on there saved me from a lot of frustration and stitch-ripping.

August 4, 2012

The Perversion of Classic Novels (Warning: This post deals with adult themes.)

When i first heard about "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," I thought it was a cheap gimmick but pretty harmless. Many people have told me that the book and others along the same lines have gotten their sons interested in classics that typically appeal to girls. I support this. Books like this can create conversation between brothers and sisters. That's great. A book like this might even inspire younger readers to read the real thing some day.

I am typically for anything that gets people reading, but there's a new "treatment"  classics are getting that make them,well, not classics. Classics are timeless. The themes they explore are enduring and the struggles are as real today as they were the day they were written. These new adaptions are not. Our favorite classics such as "Jane Eyre", "Pride and Prejudice", "Nothanger Abbey", and even "Sherlock Holmes" have been colored a la "50 Shades of Grey."

Thoroughly modern readers will be appalled at my backwardness and prudishness. Far from it. Maybe I read too deeply into things but I think a glance or the holding of a hand can betray 1,000 feelings in a way that a graphic scene cannot. I may be in the minority but I find the the subtle attraction and tension in "Pride and Prejudice" to be alluring. I have an imagination, I don't need help connecting the dots. 

What happened in our culture to get to the point where we need everything spelled out? Remember in older movies where murder, death and sex happened off-screen and the plots weren't affected by it? Why does everything try to shock us now? I'm never so shocked at what I see as I am that the directors thought that I wouldn't notice that the story wasn't good because they added a bunch of explosions and nudity. A good story does well on its own. It doesn't need gimmicky fillers. Classics don't need fillers, they are already great stories. A good story, like a classy lady is as much about what you don't see as what you do see.

Naked people and violence are nothing new. It's shocking that this is the new "love." Aren't we inundated with enough graphic messages? Aren't our daughters oversexed enough? Since when does lust equal love and why are we teaching this message?

For more on the subject:

-News Busters
-New Versions, Still Classics?
-Oh Mr. Darcy!

What are your thoughts?

August 2, 2012

You Might be a Reenactor if...

Reenactor Humor

Ladies will understand. :)

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