Saturday, July 30, 2011

Heading to Our Nation's Capitol - Washington D.C.

Hi Everyone!

I had great plans to start posting about our trip to D.C. last evening, but I got "hung up in the details" of editing the photos!  I've discovered cropping and resizing and changing colors and contrast.......I'm like a kid in a candy shop!  Who knows what treasures lie out there, just awaiting my nosy curiosity??!! 

Well....D.C. here we come!!  And I'm happy to report I didn't see one - NOT ONE - politician the whole time we were there!! Yea!! Made my day!!! Yea!!!!
Saturday, 9 July 2011: We started out from my BFF Sherry's house in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. An uneventful trip, which are the good ones considering all that can go wrong. It was during this time that Isabel began working on her embroidered turtle Tabitha! I was also able to finish most of my stitching on a Lady Peacock. But it still needs some "bling" (as lady peacock's will) so no one gets to see it till its finished. We stopped for the day in Charlottesville, Virginia, home of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello (pronounced Monti- Chello (hard "ch" and long "o")).

Some very serious discussions in the back of the Expedition (AKA: BIG TRUCK!!)

Sherry, Isabel and I with the Man Himself!!

Monticello - Front Entrance
Monticello - Right Side Facing the House.  I can just picture women in their beautiful long (but HOT) dresses, as they strolled down these walkways.  I can just imagine such a walk early in the morning or late in the evening.  What pleasure it must have given Jefferson.

Back of Monticello - I believe the back of the house is far more lovely than the front! I imagine Jefferson wanted it that way; he rarely did anything that wasn't planned out well in advance.  There's a feeling here that Monticello is still very much lived in. I easily pictured children playing back here, and the older ones strolling along the path or sitting on the steps, perhaps reading a book.  It would be very interesting to walk the house and grounds at night, after everyone has gone home!

Unfortunately, we couldn't take photos inside the house but needless to say, it was quite lovely, especially considering its age. What I found most interesting is learning how much of an inventor Jefferson was. There was a "dumb waiter" system that worked on pulleys that carried bottles of wine from the cellar (quite some distance away from the house) to the dining room without having to leave the room. He created a large clock that is mounted inside the entry hallway that not only still keeps time, but also shows the days of the week; early technology at its finest! There are two French style double doors of glass leading into the dining room; to assist those bringing in large trays of food, Jefferson installed a series of pulleys underneath the floor that allowed both doors to open at the same time when only one of the doors was pushed open. Jefferson also created the first polygraph, which copied your writing as you wrote onto a separate sheet of paper! Why was there no grand staircase in the front entrance?  Because Jefferson believed it was a large waste of space and was not energy efficient, which is so true.  The staircase was at the back of the house, and was rather narrow and steep.  Also, little known are the "sayings" or quotes Jefferson is credited with. There's a book I need to find, called The Quoteable Jefferson, which goes into great detail about this.  But if I"m not mistaken, one of the many quotes he's credited with is "Don't put off till tomorrow what can be done today."
Fantastic gardens, all laid out very symmetrically.  Nigel does his gardening like this when he plants a garden.  Vegetables are still grown and harvested from here.  This garden made Monticello very nearly self-sufficient year round.  However, the idea of "canning" in this heat makes me wince!

Isabel learning to write with real quill feathers and ink. NOT as easy as you might think!!  I tried it myself; her results were far better! We wore large shirts to protect our clothes, as this particular ink does NOT wash out like some of it's modern day equivalents, Oxi-Clean or not!! 

Isabel's Writing Sample Using a Quill Feather "Pen".  I bought a nice quill pen to try my hand at, but haven't had a chance to try it out since we've been home.  I also purchased sealing wax and two seals - one of the letter "J" and the other of a rose!!  I wonder how long it will take to write that letter! Hmmmmm.......

Another view of the back, with a winding path! So peaceful and serene!

In his day, Jefferson owned all the land "as far as the eye could see."  Beautiful rolling hills, lush green vegetation - and it was all initially surveyed by a certain young man named George Washington.  Yes, the George Washington!  On the right side of this picture above the garden is what was known as Mulberry Row.

Lists, lists and more lists!  I was amazed at the constant inventory of things that took place.  But it served as a great way to know what items were on hand back then, how much it cost, who it was purchased from, etc.

Izzy operating the pulley system of the "Dumb Waiter".  "Gummy, it isn't nice to call people dumb."
"No, Isabel.  It isn't nice to call people names.  But "dumb" also means "unable to speak".  This system was like a waiter, bringing you a bottle of wine from the cellars, but it couldn't talk, so it was given the name "dumb waiter".    "Oh.  Okay Gummy. I get it."
What is it about women and kitchens?!  I HATE to cook; literally HATE it.  I do love to BAKE, but that's another story.  Cooking is just plain boring hard work as far as I'm concerned, but I LOVE looking at kitchens!  Go figure!!  This particular picture shows the kitchen "stove tops", where fires were kept burning underneath and the pans were placed on the top "burners" to heat up.  A forerunner of the gas stove!  In the far back, you can see the "sink" or washing basin.  No running water yet, although Jefferson did create very large brick and mortared cisterns to catch rain water and also prevent flooding at Monticello.  The kitchen was housed far away from the main house, to lower the possibility of fires.  We're definitely not talking "fast food" here though.  Looking through some of the recipes showed amazing menus, yet you can see the circumstances under which all meals were prepared. 

Lovely old tree on Mulberry Row.  The tales this one could tell!  Joe Craig is on the far right, listening to one of the docents.  Mulberry Row was a 1,000 foot-long road named after the trees that lined it.  At its busiest  time (in 1796) there were 17 buildings lining the road.  These included a stable, sheds for storing charcoal, five log dwellings for slaves, a stone house for free "resident workmen", a wash house (laundry! Yuck!), a smokehouse for smoking meats and fish, a dairy, a blacksmith shop, a nailery (you guessed it - for making nails), two woodworking shops and other buildings for storage.  Since most of the buildings were made of wood, few of them survived.  But I can just picture the hub of activity that went on here, especially with the gardens just below.  It was the craftsmanship from Mulberry Road that helped build and sustain Monticello. 
Down the road, away from Mulberry Row and the Gardens, is Jefferson's final resting place, along with many members of the Jefferson family.

Yes, for those of you who didn't know, Thomas Jefferson was the author of our Declaration of Independence!  We were able to get copies on parchment paper, including a copy of his drafts, with lines and words crossed out, etc. 

This concludes our trip to Monticello.  As I said earlier, it's a very peaceful, serene place.  I could happily spend days there, just walking around, soaking up the atmosphere.  However, I'll have to content myself with reading the books I purchased. 

So.....we're back in the Expedition (AKA: BIG TRUCK), traveling the last two or so hours to D.C.  And we're in a very serious mood, as you can see by this last photo of Izzy.

Isabel wanted to embroider some more on Tabitha Turtle, but the sun was in her eyes and she couldn't see the lines well so she put a towel over her head.  I couldn't resist though, so I put my hat on her as well!

So long for now.  The next post will be about our first days in D.C.!!
May God Bless, Jan

Thursday, July 28, 2011

It's Back - I Say - Back to the Old Blogging Board!!

Yes, it's been AGES since I've posted, probably a month or so!!  But we're home now from visiting Washington D.C. with my best  friend Sherry Craig (whom I consider the sister I never had) and her husband Joe (who unfortunately had to work while we played!)  I can't decide yet how much to include in my posts about D.C. - perhaps just a few photos and highlights from each day.  But the first thing I wanted to share with you is the "happy turtle" my granddaughter Isabel embroidered on the drive up there. What do you think?

Isn't she adorable?  Her name is Tabitha Turtle.  I stitched Isabel's name and date on the bottom because she wanted it in cursive, but Isabel chose the colors and stitched the rest.  I got the idea from a picture drawn by Joe Craig's niece, Abby, which I noticed was proudly displayed on Sherry's refrigerator.  I was immediately captured by it's sweet simplicity so I quickly drew a similar version of it on a piece of cloth and Isabel did the rest on the trip!!!   I'm so proud of her! And I have to say she was really an excellent traveling companion, not once getting fussy or bored, despite the 9 hours we drove the first day!

This piece, and many others like it, are all intended for one of my latest projects.  I call it my Embroidery Memory Quilt, which will basically consist of various-sized pieces of embroidery and stitching I'll piece together to form a sort of "memory collage" of the fabrics lovingly stitched by the ladies of my family. I got the idea from the very talented artist, Pam Garrison, who created one called her big crazy summer journal quilt (see her blog post here:

As soon as I saw it, I fell in love with it and knew I had to make one for myself!  The best part is that I'll now have a place to show off all those stitched pieces that we (or at least I) tend to hide away in drawers because there isn't much use for them.  I can't bare to let them go because they're so full of happy memories, but now they can be admired once again!  When I explained it to Isabel, she wanted to make sure she had pieces included (As if I would exclude her!)  So just guess where the Pledge of Allegiance and Tabitha Turtle are going?

Well, that's it for now. I've got to get back into this "blogging thing" a little at a time, but more to follow soon! Have a lovely evening and may you all have a wonderful day tomorrow! 

May God Bless, Jan

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Pledge of Allegiance by Francis Bellamy (Stitched by Isabel Fursdon)

Happy Independence Day Everyone!

A fitting completion this afternoon by my granddaughter Isabel.  Here's her stitched version of The Pledge of Allegiance, in multi-color threads!  She dedicates this piece to her Mommy, Laura, serving in Afghanistan.  She's spent many hours working on it, including on the airplane going to Seattle!  I'm very proud of her for "stitching it out" and I wanted to quickly post this photo for her before this very special day was over.  Go Isabel!!!  Be safe Laura!  Happy 4th of July Everyone! May God Bless, Jan

Old Glory - Long May She Wave!

This is the flag pin I wore on the day Nigel returned from the 1st Gulf War, on 13 May 1992.  And I've worn it every 4th of July since; I wear it now.  I remember some days after he returned, he said one of his greatest fears was that his children would end up over there too "because we hadn't finished the job".  And some 15 years later, our youngest (Liz) was in Kuwait and Iraq, and our oldest (Laura) is in Afghanistan today.

To Nigel. To Laura. To Elizabeth.  And to all our Military, past and present.......I salute you.  May God grant you His protection.  His armor.  His love.  Ad His everlasting peace.  Amen.

Jan Fursdon