Archive for May, 2008

Learning to sew and doing women’s history

May 31, 2008

Sheet-swap tiered skirt, originally uploaded by pennylrichardsca.

I’ve been trying to learn to sew clothes lately–nothing complicated–the skirt above is my first attempt at a tiered skirt, for example. It’s not great work, but it’s wearable. In doing this, I’m realizing that maybe it’s a good idea for someone who does women’s history to know a little about the work of constructing clothes, among other basic knowledge we could bring to our studies, but don’t always.

Most of my projects have involved women who created things, not as artists, but as an expected part of their domestic lives. The antebellum North Carolina women in my dissertation often mentioned spending the week cutting out the next season’s clothes, and sent each other patterns and sketches. Mary Austin was proud of her cooking skills, enough that she gladly gave her enchiladas recipe to a women’s magazine in the 1920s, and her cookbook (among her papers at the Huntington) is still powerfully scented with vanilla. Opening that box is like walking into a bakery–the whole reading room turned to see who brought a fresh cake into the room. (When she was pregnant, she paid her rent by baking pies for the boardinghouse.) Celia Thaxter was famous for her garden, which somehow thrived even on the rocky island where she lived. Marion Brown in my current work was a prodigious knitter (according to her letters), and a dressmaker (or so they told the census).

So, by learning to do needlework or sew or cook or garden, maybe we can better grasp what rhythms and pains and talents their work involved, as physical, sensory, intellectual acts? Yeah, I think so. Maybe even pick up on some subtle references and metaphors in their writing. Learning to sew to understand a past seamstress a little better is like learning a language or an industrial process or a set of laws or other elements of her everyday life–except that learning a language is something you can put on your CV, and learning to sew, well…. not so much.

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Shhhhhh….

May 29, 2008

I’m resting my brain today so I can watch the 2-hour LOST season finale tonight with an alert brain–two hours, game-changing cliffhangers (as usual) and then NOTHING (but podcasts and whatnot) until 2009. This must be what sports fans feel like in anticipation of the off-season.

Can I just get one more “I love you, Penny!” from Desmond?

DAY AFTER: Got the Desmond-Penny reunion, yeah. And time-traveling bunnies, and a whole lotta forks in the microwave, and where are Bernard and Rose, hmmmmmmm? Checkmate, Mr. Eko.

Best. Hairline. Ever.

May 28, 2008

Roland Gift is turning 47 today. Sigh.

Happy Feet

May 27, 2008

Green DM MJs, originally uploaded by pennylrichardsca.

Love love love these Doc Martens pastel green mary janes, found in my size at a thriftshop a few years back.

Gop Gop Gop

May 23, 2008

So it’s Friday again and that means I’m going to post a video. Morning Edition had a story about the upcoming Eurovision finals–so I’m featuring Verka Serduchka, the Ukrainian who took second place at the 2007 finals. Gop Gop Gop means “jump jump jump.” Beyond that you’re on your own:

[Visuals described: a long under-lit banquet table, with an array of grotesque wedding guests, often filmed with a fish-eye lens for further exaggeration. The characters are wearing pseudo-traditional Ukrainian wedding gear, including the main character, Serduchka, who’s in very unconvincing bridal drag; throughout the video, characters are drinking vodka, eating, embracing, kissing and eventually dancing on the table.]

Raiders of the Lost TV Remote

May 23, 2008

I was the first one in line to see Raiders of the Lost Ark in Scranton back in 1981 –I was 15 and riding public transit by myself, transferred buses downtown and up the highway to the Viewmont Mall cinema, hours before the box office opened. I even remember that I was wearing red overalls, for some reason. I met two other newly minted ninth-grade graduates there, Denise and Ruthie; we had a ball in line, then sat together in the theatre, and I stayed friends with them both through high school (we were at different schools). And MTV hadn’t quite debuted yet, and nobody had a VCR yet, and a matinee movie ticket was less than $5, so we went to see movies a lot. So I have very happy fuzzy feelings about that first movie, because… because I was 15, and it was summer, and I met some friends.

Have fun this weekend, kids. I’m sure it’ll be good; but it won’t be like 27 years ago.

Vietnamese grilled beef salad

May 22, 2008
beef salad

Vietnamese grilled beef salad, originally uploaded by pennylrichardsca.

From dinner last night. There were so many courses, and we were sharing with a tableful of people, but I managed to get a picture of one of the platters before anyone dove in. These little beef tidbits were wrapped in onion and grilled. Meant to be eaten with lots of veggies and a splash of sauce.

Tonight’s dining: Saigon-style Vietnamese

May 21, 2008

We’re in this dining group that has special meals at various local restaurants. They’re usually off-menu and explore a regional style that the chef knows well. Some of the restaurants get very elaborate, with musicians and dancers and rare ingredients; others never turn off the TV; but it’s always an adventure. Tonight, we’re at a Vietnamese restaurant nearby–the organizer says “Owner Hai Vong of Pho Thai Long Restaurant serves Saigon-style cuisine with flavors that may surprise you, and he’s cooking a banquet for us exactly as he would for a Vietnamese wedding or family reunion.” Hmmm! Here’s the preview menu we’ve been given (subject to change):

Appetizers: Crispy Shrimp Paste, Cha Gio Rolls, Goi Cuon Shrimp Rolls.

Main courses: Crispy Fish, Lemon Grass Chicken, Grilled Stuffed Beef Over Salad, Vegetables With Shrimp And Pork, and Special Fried Rice.

Obviously, you can’t be too picky if you go on these dining adventures….and I’m not. Can’t wait!

400 Feeds

May 19, 2008

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Mark All Read
400 feeds

Saw that this morning at the top of my Bloglines page. Yep, I’m at 400 feeds in Bloglines. Not all of them are active feeds–when someone really interesting stops blogging, or changes blogs, I still keep the old feed in my reader so I can go back and find them. But most of them are active feeds. Yikes.

My printer doesn’t really hate me

May 17, 2008

But, as it turns out, you really do have to remove the tape tab from the new black ink cartridge before loading it. It took me days of grumbling that “I just changed the cartridge and look at how bad the prints are!” before I finally got a clue.