Thursday, January 30, 2014

Winston Churchill's Thoughts 1919-1933 Part II

The following quotes are from Winston Churchill's The Gathering Storm, first volume of a six volume set of The Second World War.

"I must regard these volumes of The Second World War as a continuation of the story of the First World War which I set out in The World Crisis, The Eastern Front, and The Aftermath. Together, if the present work is completed, they will cover an account of another Thirty Years' War." (preface, piii)

"Moral of the Work
In War: Resolution
In Defeat: Defiance
In Victory: Magnanimity
In Peace: Good Will" (page between preface and chapter 1)

"Theme of the Volume: How the English-speaking peoples through their unwisdom, carelessness, and good nature allowed the wicked to ream." (page between preface and chapter 1)

Book One
From War to War

"When Marshal Foch heard of the signing of the Peace Treaty of Versailles he observed with singular accuracy: 'This is not Peace. it is an Armistice for twenty years.'" (chapter 1 The Follies of the Victors, 1919-1929, p7)

"It is my purpose, as one who lived and acted in these days, first to show how easily the tragedy of the Second World War could have been prevented..." (chapter 1 The Follies of the Victors, 1919-1929, p18)

"To me the aim of ending the thousand-year strife between France and Germany seemed a supreme object. If we could only weave Gaul and Teuton so closely together economically, socially, and morally as to prevent the occasion of new quarrels, and make old antagonisms die in the realisation of mutual prosperity and interdependence, Europe would rise again." (chapter 2 Peace at Its Zenith, p28)

"In reviewing again the history of the eight years from 1930 to 1938, we can see how much time we had. Up til 1934 at least, German rearmament could have been prevented without the loss of a single life." (chapter 3 Lurking Dangers, p51)

"I viewed this attack upon the French armed forces and the attempt to establish equality between Germany and France with strong aversion; and on March 23, 1933, I had the opportunity of saying to Parliament: I doubt the wisdom of pressing this plan upon France at the present time. I do not think the French will agree. They must be greatly concerned at what is taking place in Germany, as well as at the attitude of some others of their neighbours. I dare say that during this anxious month there are a good many people who have said to themselves, as I have been saying for several years: 'Thank God for the French Army.' When we read about Germany, when we watch with surprise and distress the tumultuous insurgence of ferocity and war spirit, the pitiless ill-treatment of minorities, the denial of the normal protections of civilised society, the persecution of large numbers of individuals solely on the ground of race-when we see all that occurring in one of the most gifted, learned, and scientific and formidable nations in the world, one cannot help feeling glad that the fierce passions that are raging in Germany have not yet found any other outlet but upon themselves. It seems to me that at a moment like this to ask France to halve her Army while Germany doubles hers, to ask France to halve her air force while the German air force remains whatever it is, is a proposal likely to be considered by the French Government, at present at any rate, as somewhat unseasonable." (chapter 5 The Locust Years, p75)

" surely should we see ourselves within a measureable distance of the renewal of the general European war...France is not only the sole great surviving democracy in Europe; she is also the strongest military power." (chapter 5 The Locust Years, a speech given in April, p76)

"I always wanted England, Germany, and France to be friends." (chapter 5, The Locust years, p83)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Wintery Fate of the John Smith of Jamestown Fame

Saturday we drove down to Jamestown to see an interpretive program on Captain Argall, the man who "captured" Pocahontas and brought her to the English settlement for ransom.  Knowing that there was snow and ice in the area, and temperatures would be about 40 degrees, we dressed as warmly as we could, assuming the program would be in the church, which embues great ambiance. However it felt much colder than the 40 degrees a certain weather entity had promised.  It felt more like 50 below!  With such wild temperatures, the ambiance was completely blown out of the historic setting of the old stone church, so the program was moved indoors to a comfortably warm modern building.  Imagination fueled by the interpretation of 1614 brought much satisfaction.

After the program my son had the crazy idea to walk down to the river and see all the snow and ice. They also thought we should have lunch at the cafe which is near the river. As we crossed the footbridge from the visitor center to the historic area, I noticed a mighty icy swamp!  The waves of the James River churled roughly under the cloudy sky, holding a promise of more snow, according to a certain weather entity. The winds blew roughly, creating a bitter chill blowing right through all the layers of warmth I was wearing. The path to the it really a mile long? An entire mile to turn into human popsicles?


A new appreciation settled in my soul for the Jamestown settlers who endured "the Starving Time." Although the toasty warm cafe was awaiting our arrival, with hot soups, sandwiches and tea (some of the tastiest in Virginia), the 17th century colonists were not so fortunate. However much they labored, or didn't labor, nothing they built could provide the warmth that we can achieve in the modern day.

We spent quite a bit of time exploring, mostly because my son was so intent on taking pictures. We had left the land of snow and ice to come to the balmy tidewater region. However our snow storm had blasted all of Virginia.  Intriguing us most, was the snow and ice on the mighty river.  There are no pictures, but below the sea wall there is quite a bit of snow and ice along the shoreline of the river. Quite fascinating watching where all the wintery accumulation laid. We spent 30 minutes, to be precise, walking about the snow and ice, and feeling the arctic blast blow through our beings. My exploration was complete in 5 minutes. Undaunted my son determinedly worked on taking precise pictures of ice and snow for an eon of time.

Meanwhile I passed by John Smith, the man we hear about on every trip to Jamestown. Despite the history books, I have yet to hear an illustrious story of him.  No one liked him!  The story goes that there was an explosion on a ship, he was in the way, he got injured, so he was returned to England. There is also talk that it was a devious plot, though no one will admit to it.

It seems to me Smith's fate is that he is frozen in time. He is so cold he has turned blue, which appears verdigris green on my computer screen.

For all time he forelornly stands as a lonely sentinal. We finally dragged our son away before our fate matched Smith's.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Meeting Captain Argall, Who Took Pocohontas, at Jamestown

Saturday we drove to Historic Jamestowne in frigidly cold weather. From Northern Virginia to the Tidwater, snow covered the ground. On this day it was cloudy, cold and extremely windy. Although interpretive programs are usually held at the church, which embues great ambiance, the bitter cold necessitated a change of course. Surviving the cold on this day required a warmer environment than the original colonists of Jamestowne had occasion to enjoy. For our meeting with the "ever worthy gentleman, Samuel Argall," we found seats in the education room at the visitor center.

Our warm-up program was one of the archeologists from Jamestowne, who reviewed the island's history of settlement, via artifacts. This was the first time I've had opportunity to hear one of the archaeologists speak at length. Learning about the latest discoveries, their significance and their continuing research shed more light into understanding the history of the area. Thus, we can expect new things this summer, like names on the crosses around the church.  They are close to identifying the bodies they have found buried near the church.

After the archaeologist's talk, Captain Samuel Argall arrived. It was January 1614.


He told about his sea journey to the island, about the starving time, and his journeys on the numerous waterways of Virginia.


As interesting as all of that was, we were most curious about a certain young lady, perhaps the most famous resident of 17th century Virginia...Pocahontas. It was this man, Captain Argall, who brought her to live among the English settlers. The query of the day, was why?


Argall explained how their goods and people were being taken from the Jamestowne settlement. Argall made his feelings clear to a certain Chief Japazaws, which culminated in mutual trickery to entice Pocahontas on board Argall's ship to live with the English, in 1613.


My query to the captain was in regards to her feelings upon the matter. Of course we often hear stories that she frequently visited the English. How did she feel about being taken? Was she resistant or in compliance? Captain Argall said that as the Powhatan Princess, she knew her duty, although at first she most likely did not realize she had been tricked to board his ship. Once she realized what had happened, she didn't seem pleased but seemed resolved to carry through the task of being ransom.  He then submitted that I should ask her, myself.


We were told that there would soon be a wedding! Since the time Pocahontas has been brought into the English settlement, the ransom Argall had set up had not yet taken place. In fact, Pocahontas has adopted the ways of the English, becoming a Christian, and had fallen in love with a certain John Rolfe! Historic Jamestowne will be hosting the marriage of Lady Rebekah (Pocahontas) and John Rolfe in April! From the gazette I have learned that a beautiful jacket is being hand embroidered for her, using motifs from the local area! Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Horses, Horses, Horses

Tonight we watched The Story of Seabiscuit, the 1949 version with Shirley Temple. It's not as accurate as the 2003 version, however it's cleaner and not deeply and darkly depressing. However the 1949 version is accurate about the star, Seabiscuit, who was portrayed by one of Seabiscuit's sons. Also there is film footage from the actual races that were held during the Great Depression.  This is a great movie to introduce children to the story of the horse who couldn't possibly win, but did. Meanwhile here's a great write-up about the accuracies v inaccuracies of The Story of Seabiscuit from TMC.

The racehorse I grew up with was Old Bones the Wonder Horse by Mildred Mastin Pace, a book I got while in elementary school. I wore that beginning chapter book out, which might be why it's no longer in my bookcase. =( I'd love a copy of it again.

That book led to another bookclub favorite I got while in school, Tall and Proud by Vian Smith. This was my all-time favorite book that I read repeatedly and relived and savored.  Set in England, a young girl dreams of one day owning a horse, which is a distant reality since her parents do not have the budget for such luxery. However she comes down with polio and struggles to learn to walk again.  Unmotivated, she progresses slowly, until her parents make a huge sacrifice that leads to a heroic moment during a time of grave danger. One day I came home from school and realized my copy of Tall and Proud had slipped out of my arms. I was carrying a pile of school books for homework, that I didn't realize the book had slipped out. Even though it had my name inside the cover, I never found it again.

And then my next favorite (of the lesser knowns) was in the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Farmer Boy is about her husband, Almanzo, while he was growing up in Malone, New York, near the Canadian border.  His father raised Morgans, whom Almanzo thought were the most beautiful horses in the world. He hoped he could have one of his own to train.  In By the Shores of Silver Lake, Laura first meets Almanzo in Dakota Territory. Actually, she notices his beautiful matching team of Morgan horses.  In The Long Winter, Almanzo, with his friend Cap Garland and the beautiful morgans, risk their lives to find grain to bring to the starving town before the next monster blizzard hits.  In Little Town on the Prairie, Laura cheers on the Morgans to win the race on the Fourth of July.  In These Happy Golden Years, Almanzo courts Laura, who gets to ride behind the beautiful horses, and gets to help break in the young colts. 

Of course there are many other horse books and movies that are well-known which I do have today to watch and share and enjoy.  However I thought I'd share about these horses that are little known to children.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Puzzles for Spatial Reasoning

One great activity to work on skills from eye tracking to spatial reasoning is jigsaw puzzles!  While we were Christmas shopping at a huge game and puzzle store at the mall, I had my daughter choose a puzzle that she'd enjoy working with, since she is working on vision therapy and spatial reasoning.  She chose a lovely puzzle of colorful birds in the snow. I wasn't surprised because she has always enjoyed colorful birds. We all do!  This became a Christmas present and after Christmas we cleared a spot on the dining room table to start the puzzle.

I could tell she was a bit hesitant. She had never been a fan of puzzles while she was younger. Now I understand it's because of the challenges of her eyes. However if I worked on a puzzle, she was always drawn to help me.  As long as I was with her working beside her, she'd work on little pictures she could easily make.  That is great in itself, because there is still much manipulation of the brain to visualize how those pieces rotate and fit into spots to create images. Individually pieces rarely look as they will once they connect to another piece. 

She worked on the parts of the puzzle that most interested her and the parts that challenged her the most she assigned to me.  Well, I got a few of those challenging pieces together, but I was feeling quite challenged myself as I perplexed over most spots.

When she tired of focusing on making pictures, she'd look for new pieces in the box lid, where we kept the less obvious pieces.  She'd find pieces and tell me where to put them. I wasn't too certain she was on the right track, but sure enough, she knew exactly where the various pieces belonged, over here or over there, even though they all looked the same to me!


At this point of puzzle solving, I left to pursue other projects I needed to complete.  However each day she spent quite a bit of time puzzling over this piece and that, slowly building the puzzle. Every once in a while her dad or brother came over to help.  Her dad helped quite a bit towards the end. However she owned most of the work on the completed puzzle. Whew!

After all that work, how about a bit of fun?  I found this video on facebook yesterday and it's hilarious.  I'm wondering, for a bird to go sledding down a roof, does it require any spatial reasoning?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

No Heat During a Blizzard...Brrrr

Yesterday, Tuesday,we awoke to a mighty cold house because the heater broke during the night. This would not have been so bad the day before, Monday, which was a sunny 51 degrees. However Tuesday's lack of heat was bitterly cold due to the morning high of 35 degrees quickly dropping below freezing as a blizzard descended upon our area. We put in a call to a heating company, which of course was already booked for the day. Perhaps they could come out on Wednesday, or even Saturday, they queried. Or, they offered, we could drop the guaranteed appointment and merely go on standby. Standby in Northern Virginia during a blizzard that expected anywhere from 3-10+" of snow, with temperatures on Wednesday morning dropping to a mere 5 degrees did not sound hopeful. How cold would the inside of the house get under such weather conditions? Nevertheless we went on standby and turned on the fireplace.

Thankfully the fireplace was working! We have had trouble with our gas fireplace for months, thinking it was fixed, then the pilot would go out. The serviceman had returned on Monday and true to his word, without extra charge gave the ports and pipes a far deeper cleaning, but warned that in due time it would need replacing. The pipe is soooooo long his tools can only reach in so far to clean it, that replacement would be a matter of time. How long would the fireplace keep working?

We wore extra layers, pursued our school tasks and prayed that our fireplace would stay on. I asked my facebook friends for prayer that the repairman would be able to fit us in and have the necessary part on his truck.

After lunch, with the outdoor temperature below freezing and the indoor temperature in the 50's in the basement and third floor, and the fireplace blazing away and keeping the family room warm and cozy, the repairman arrived! He fixed the heater! The house warmed up! Now we could open the blinds and enjoy the lovely snowfall.

This morning, when I took pictures,I opened the doors to a bright and sunny 9 degrees and -3 degrees windchill. The goldfinch was not about to budge, even though her friends did, when I opened the door to snap a picture!


Although it appears we got a mere inch of snow, most of it blew away. The snow was like powder and the winds the day before blew so hard they swept the snow away...

...into huge drifts and who knows where else?


When I opened the front door to take these pictures, I was surprised when snow fell into the house. The wind had blown drifts of snow into the front of the house, which had never happened before.





Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cross Stitch Helps for those with Vision Therapy Needs

My daughter ran out of funds while she did her Christmas shopping, which is no surprise these days when money does not go very far. I had a difficult enough time buying presents for my family out of my allowance when I was growing up. Then I became a poor college student. I learned to cross stitch and started making homemade gifts, like one of my college friends. When my daughter mentioned she still needed a gift for her dad, I remembered all the cross stitch gifts I used to give away. (I don't make many gifts now, because I am exceedingly busy!)  My daughter is quite swamped with college work, but the term was over and she had a few days before Christmas to accomplish her goal. I recalled a cross stitch kit she had purchased a few years ago when we visited Theodore Roosevelt's home of Sagamore Hill. However she has been tediously and laboriously striving to complete a cross stitched bookmark for herself for the last couple of years. She was determined to complete it. Even though it wasn't too complicated, for her it is like three steps forward and two steps back.

Now that she has been going to vision therapy, and I understood more of the issues of the inability of the eye under such situations to track and converge, I understood why she was making slow progress in cross stitching. At one of her re-evaluations, I found out that her brain shuts down at times and she doesn't see anything on the row of letters on the page in front of her.

Friday morning she brought her kit down. I brought out my cross stitch doo dads that I bought years ago. Any of us who cross stitch know that it an be a challenge for the best of any eyes to count teeny weeny markings from amongst numerous markings on teeny weeny graph paper, to transcribe into a teeny weeny stitch amongst millions of squares on aida cloth. Those of us in the know, also know this is determined by the number of squares per inch. Even so, the largest of Aida cloths can still be mind boggling. As helpful as these tools were to me, I knew they'd be even more helpful to my daughter.


The flat board is magnetic, with a magnetic strip on it. I had my daughter put her chart on the board and keep track of where she was, by "underlining" her current row of stitches to be stitched from the pattern with the magnetic ruler. The ruler is extra handy, being a 6" ruler on one side, and also a gauge for Aida cloth as well! The other doodad is a magnifying glass that can hang around the neck, although my daughter preferred to grab it with her hand to look through as needed. She loved these!

She started about 10am on Friday, and completed, quite tediously, about 4 rows. Then it was lunch time, 12pm. I ate a quick lunch and volunteered to do some stitches which she was now quite glad to pass off to me. I stitched several rows while she ate lunch. When she was done eating, she saw my progress and was quite elated that her work had doubled! She insisted on taking over, so I passed it off to her while I cleaned the kitchen. Then it was time for us to leave for vision therapy..1pm. She worked on it in the car and before her appointment. When she went in at 1:30pm, a few more rows were accomplished! While I was stitching numerous black x's, my daughter's doctor walked through and stopped to look at the project and I told her everything I have just written in this post! She couldn't believe, poorly as my daughter's eyes were working at the time, that she did all those stitches! She was super impressed with the doo dads! By the time my daughter was done with vision therapy, at 2:30pm, the top half of the project was done. She was so excited that she determined to complete the bottom half of the project on her own. We ran an errand and got home about 3:30pm. By 6pm (or earlier, I forget now)  the project was done, except for the outlining of the glasses and the writing, which she asked me to complete. One day to complete this project!  She couldn't believe it! She was quite thrilled!


For future projects I'm recommending the largest Aida cloth available, though my daughter seems content to persevere. In fact, we were recently at Mount Vernon and she spent some Christmas money on another counted cross stitch project that she found there!
For easier success at cross stitch, I recommend preprinted panels, which was my daughter's first project. Those are usually printed in one color. I'd trace those x's with the proper color marker, as it corresponded to the pattern guide, for ease in learning to cross stitch and track with the eyes, until the eyes are prepared to tackle counted cross stitch.

I found the doo dads pictured above at local craft stores years ago, though I could not find them at the same stores on-line. I did find them at the online store linked next to the first photo, above.  There are also other fun looking gadgets linked on their webpage!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mount Vernon in Winter, Where George Washington Read Many Books

Succombed by a polar vortex. College classes looming. What to do? Read a book? Or learn about one who read many books when a formal education was denied to him? With only a few days left in the exhibit, we finally got to see Take Note!, an exhibit at Mount Vernon about George Washington's books. Sadly, I could not take any pictures, as they are not allowed. However, imagine 18th century bound leather bound books, inset with marbelized paper, some stamped with George Washington's personal bookplate or signature. These were laid inside clear cases on stands, opened to a page he once pondered. The edges were a bit worn, but the books were in grand condition, obviously well treasured by one who did not take education for granted. Destined for a classical education in England, Washington's father died while he was young. His grammar school education in Virginia abruptly ended, while he taught himself surveying, since he needed a trade to live by. Meanwhile, he set aside some of his earnings to buy classics to read. Washington may not have been able to discuss the great ideas or debate arguments of time with peers in the classroom, hammering out thoughts and details, yet he read the same books they did. His knowledge base was as strong, although his rhetoric may not have been as developed. A lifetime of reading lay before he developed into a soldier, statesman, commander-in-chief, and president who knew full well what happened in history, to guide him as he made history. 

As we entered the exhibit, the doorway was framed by giant leatherbound books. The displays were sequenced by chapter numbers on the walls. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the Pinterest board at the end, owned by none other than George Washington. He had many likes and pins from men such as Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette! This 21st century form of networking symbolized the 18th century form of networking with which Washington engaged with men such as Jefferson and Lafayette, as they discoursed through letters about farming practices, politics, and such.

The exhibit is now past, but the exhibit book is for sale at Mount Vernon. (The exhibit book and some photos are at the link, above.)

After touring the exhibit, we explored the grounds in their winter attire. It was quite cold outside, nevertheless the sheep kept quite warm.


General Washington's view of home, after many years at war. I love to stand here and ponder his feelings and emotions at this moment. The soldier/statesman, like Cincinnatus, was home.


We dodged a few piles of snow as we ventured to the back of the house. What does the Potomac River look like in winter?  Did it have any ice from these days of polar vortex deep freeze? Having only moved to Virginia from Texas a few years ago, we were quite curious. 


I paused in the freezing cold to capture a great architectural angle that is rare to achieve in the busy summer season, since this curved portico is the passageway for the many guests on the house tour.


We walked to Washington's tomb nearest the river, the first one, the one that Lafayette visited on his grand tour so long ago. Grief ripped through him as he recalled the man he called his "adopted father..."


We ventured closer to the Potomac and found ripples of water running between the ice sheets, floating down the river...



Washington took daily rides on his property and I'm sure that on the wintery days such as this, a good book near the fire near his family was a delight to look forward to.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Jane Austen Wedding Proposal

I came across this great story about a guy, a family, a surprise, Regency costumes, a Pride and Prejudice Script...and a proposal! 

Sheer Yellow Regency Gown with Addition of Drawstring

I first made this gown several years ago for our first Napoleonic Era history presentation which I blogged about here.


I was inspired by the Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle version of Pride and Prejudice, seeing all the beautiful gowns, that I redesigned my gown to look quite a bit different from my Simplicity pattern. I made the sleeves sheer, and made them longer. Also I decided to do a sheer gown with a yellow underlay.  (I've misplaced my design sketch but if I ever find it I'll post it.) 

Unfortunately I had made a few mistakes on the gown, the most important being the bodice. Somehow I initially sewed it together with properly aligning the bodice to the skirt, so it felt quite awkward to wear. Also I think I inadvertently put the sleeves in backwards, based on the puckering I see at the top of my shoulder when I wear the gown.

While I was realigning the bodice, I decided to make it more appropriate to it's period construction by adding an underbodice drawstring. Here are the final results from the outside.


Here is the drawstring from the inside. I took some extra linen fabric to form a casing under the bodice, through which I pulled the ribbon.


I don't think my Simplicity pattern is period accurate, so I was stuck with the original construction. Instead of the drawstring being tied in back, where everything was finished off with buttons and buttonholes, I tie the drawstring inside the center front.


And here are the results. Now when I wear the gown, it doesn't look skewed on me (hence only one picture of my wearing it years ago!)  I looked at changing out the sleeves, but I had trimmed off the excess fabric and I don't have my remnants anymore.

I added a white satin ribbon... 










Now for the HSF details:

HSF 2014

The Challenge: #1 Make, Do, Mend

Fabric: cotton, linen

Pattern: Simplicity

Year: Regency

Notions: ribbon

How historically accurate is it? I'm not sure

Hours to complete: 3

First worn: history presentation

Total cost: free, supplies from stash

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Empire Ball Gown and Opera Gloves


This picture makes me feel as though my fairy godmother had bestowed me with a gown for the ball, with a whisk of stardust.




Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Frost Quakes or Cold Booms

A few years ago we moved to Northern Virginia from Texas. We told the winters were mild. Perhaps we'd get a couple of inches of snow. There might be a couple of ice storms.  And that would be that.  Since moving here I have experienced life in the Arctic!  Our first winter amassed over 50" of snow! A typical winter morning can be in the teens.  The wind chill can be fierce. Since moving here I've started a collection of Under Armour, wool socks, wool sweaters, boots, hand warmers and toe warmers, none of which I owned in Texas!

Last week was interesting, and now a bit of a blur.  We were told we wouldn't get much snow on Thursday afternoon (was that Thursday), then suddenly we were expecting 1-3." Night fell to a lovely picture of falling snow. We awoke Friday to a winter wonderland. We got almost 2" of snow that was fluffy enough to look pretty.  A slow thaw allowed snow cover to tenaciously held on through a bitterly cold, below freezing, Sunday night. Monday morning I opened the blinds to a warm 40 degrees with hardly any snow in sight! What happened?  That was the warmest part of the day, as temperatures fell in preparation for...the polar vortex.

Now I know that a polar vortex can play hooky from the North Pole to vacation in America. Mysteriously though, the eery and powerfully noisy explosions arrived as well.  Three different nights this week I've heard what seems to be muffled gun shots...or was that a cannon booming under the house?  Sometimes the explosion is so fierce that it shakes the house!  Listening to these sounds, at night, when I'm alone and up late preparing lessons, is a bit rattling to my nerves as well as the house.

Last night I mentioned this on facebook and a friend in Ohio has been hearing the same noises.  After I closed up facebook and went to bed, she saw someone posting an article from Toronto on frostquakes that she shared on my timeline. Scientifically called "cryoseisms," these "explosions" are caused by the expansion of water in the ground when the temperature falls drastically.  That certainly happened around here with temps ranging from the 40's to a record setting 1 degree.

After hearing more explosions this morning, I contacted Capital Weather Gang via facebook to comment about it.  Alas, they never replied.  Tonight I was catching up on facebook and saw that CWG posted the following link about cryoseisms about three hours after I submitted my info!  Apparently another name for "frost quake" is "cold boom," since these sound almost like sonic booms.  I have heard a sonic boom when I lived in on Sheppard AFB in Texas, home to the NATO pilot program.  Yes, I agreed, a boom is another good name for these explosions! I was especially interested in the comments. At last there was confirmation that many neighbors in NoVa have also heard these explosions!

CWG defines cryoseism as "a mini-explosion within the ground caused by the rapid expansion of frozen water." They say this is rare in the lower lattitudes, but then, so are polar vortexes!

Since moving to NoVA, I have experienced multiple blizzards in one winter, a derecho, an earthquake, a hybrid hurricane clashing with a northeaster, a polar vortex and frost quakes! I think that's enough adventure!

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Colonial Williamsburg Christmas 2013

For a few days between Christmas and New Years we visited Colonial Williamsburg! The first festive event we attended was the Illumination of the Taverns.








All of the buildings of the historic area are lit by candles in each window. This is the capitol.

Also all the doorways are decorated with evergreens and wreaths.  Food items and such are not period accurate, but a fun yet natural adaptation for the modern desire to decorate for Christmas.  Colonists would never waste food!  The squirrels love to snitch the food items, if they can access them!  Today other creative elements are added to pronounce a theme for the tradeshop or the home of one of the citizens of the historic area, which is always fun to see! Colonial Williamsburg continues to be a real town with real residents with an appreciation for history, creativity and a sense of festivity, These decorations are even eligible for prizes!










In between looking at decorations we attended some holiday programs! 

A Christmas Tale at the Raleigh Tavern was a wonderful program of theater and music during the Twelve Days of Christmas!  At this program one of my hopes of Christmas was achieved. We got to sing The Holly and the Ivy!  Our pastor at church talked about it...but we got to sing it's truths and symbolism (of which he spoke) here!

We also saw Thomas Jefferson, who ended his program with a young boy from the audience, a sword and a quill!



The cupola of the Governor's Palace by day...


That night we attended an evening program, Christmastide, which I blogged about here.  As usual, we got the same tour guide as we always do for this program. Well, we didn't get him last year, so last year didn't seem quite right.  Everything was wonderful with him in the lead once again!

We also saw the Williamsburg Old Time Radio Hour, which I blogged about last year, here!

We also saw Patrick Henry.  I was so overcome with his thunderous words that I completely forgot to take a picture of him. Mr. Henry has so impacted me, that during quiet moments I read a book about him, A Son of Thunder. I highly recommend it!


A tour of Bassett Hall, which was the seasonal home of the Rockefellers who financed the restoration of the historic area in the 1920's and 1930's...



Sadly, this is the last time we'll get to see Mrs. Rockefeller's lovely gown. It is now so fragile and delicate, it will go into permanent archives, away from light. This gown is only displayed during the Christmas season. As I recall, this is a late 1930's gown. Unfortunately I forget the name of the designer. She wore this gown for a 1941 painting, which can be seen here.




That afternoon we were pleasantly surprised to be greeted, in French, by General Rochambeau! Alas, I was so overcome by his visit, that I completely neglected to take a rendering of him.

Illumination of the Palace Green...






Afterwards we attended a grand concert at the Palace, with 6 instrumentalists and 2 vocalists, in powdered wigs and silks, performing the grandest of music in candlelight, including selections from Handel's Messiah!

Before we left we were able to meet with the Marquis de Lafayette, whom engaged us in many  interesting details from his life.  So overcome by his grand stories, I again neglected to take a rendering.

I shall close our holiday tidings to the historic area with this photo of the Palace cupola that my son took with my camera (he left his camera at home).