Monday, February 06, 2012

My Choice

If a woman over 40 doesn't want to watch the game, she doesn't sit around whining about it.  She does something she wants to do and it's usually something more interesting. ~Frank Kaiser In Praise of Older Women

As I said yesterday, I found alternate activities for game day.  I was visiting my parents for the weekend and took Sunday afternoon for myself.  I've posted in the past about how I find cemeteries calming places (here and here).  Since I was close enough I decided to go visit my grandparents' graves.  Though I like to see old headstones that actually stick up from the ground my grandparents are buried in a more modern cemetery where all the markers are flush to the ground.  It's a pretty large place but fortunately both sets of grands are in the same section.  The funny thing is my paternal grandparents are "neighbors" to the folks who were their next door neighbors for nearly 50 years.  I had a little trouble finding one set of grandparents but in the process I stumbled over my great-great grands.  I said hello since I was there.  The weather was so mild and sunny.  It was a nice, peaceful stroll in a quiet place.

Back of the mansion with 2 additions
After a little visit there I went to a local historical site.  It's the Colonial mansion of the town founder whose family was deeply intertwined with my dad's forefathers (who founded the first iron works in our state).  For a very minimal donation I was given a private tour of the place since it was not at all busy.  I was a little disappointed that even non-flash photography was not permitted inside the building (so you'll have to live with outdoor shots that don't correspond to what I'm talking about) but the tour was quite informative and interesting.

Front of the mansion
For years, I've been involved in a 19th century living historical farm where I currently live.  That setting is far more rural, involves the Pennsylvania German subculture, and was peopled by common folk.  The Colonial mansion was inhabited by the Donald Trump of the day, who was an English colonist.  Even though the mansion was a century older than the farm where I help I was surprised by how much more advanced some of the technology seemed to be.  The differences privilege makes even with the great time lapse were notable.  The most interesting bit of technology, which I had never seen before, was a clock jack.  This gadget employed a weight and system of pulleys to turn a large spit in order to roast cuts of meat large enough to feed a couple dozen people without having to remain hearth side for the duration of cooking.  The complexity of the the mechanism and the cost associated with producing or repairing it kept it out of the economic reach of most folks.  Then again the common folk weren't necessarily cooking to feed 20-30 people at a time either.

The part of the tour that made me laugh hardest was when the guide pointed out how a table in the parlor was set for a colonial drinking game that makes beer pong look completely wimpy.  A large bowl was filled with spirits into which raisins and almonds were added.  The alcohol was lit and party-goers had to reach in and grab as many raisins and nuts as they know...without setting themselves on fire.  Those crazy colonials!

Another interesting item I learned about was pudding caps.  No, it wasn't some weird drinking game or even an eccentric beauty treatment whereby colonial women conditioned their hair with glops of pudding.  Pudding caps were padded hats worn by toddlers to protect them from knocking their noggin too hard, thus turning them into pudding headed dolts. You can see a picture of one here.

All in all it was a peaceful day with beautiful weather.  I had time for some reflection and education and I was content to do my exploring alone. That beats football by a country mile any day of the week.


Craig said...

Some years back, when I was more actively engaged in my genealogy hobby than I am lately, we spent enough time in cemeteries that our kids took to pointing out cemeteries to us whenever we drove past one. "Are any of our relatives buried in that one?

And I'm the least bit envious of you easterners, for how old your history is. Not much around here even goes back into the 1700s. . .

But I hope you won't think less of me if I say that I probably wouldn't have skipped the game for it (it's a guy thing; you wouldn't understand. . .)

Just Me said...

Ha, that's quite a drinking game! I never liked history, but as I get older I am more and more fascinated by historical sites and the way the bring history to life.

Bijoux said...

Ok, those are two totally cool historical tidbits!

silly rabbit said...

I wonder how many of them caught fire? lol

Craver Vii said...

No pics inside? I wonder who comes up with these rules and why. :-(

Secret Agent Woman said...

I need a pudding cap.

And thanks for the correct author on that starting quote. It got widely mis-attributed to Andy Rooney on the web,

Jocelyn said...

I thought I knew something about the past...but GRAB THE RAISINS DRINKING GAMES AND PUDDING CAPS? I know nothing at all. Well, actually, now, after reading this, I do. I am enamored of both the game and the pudding.