I was back at Old Sturbridge Village recently – not for recipes, mind you. I learned my lesson about those after the gingersnap debacle. No, this time I was showing my mother-in-law around, and if you visit, we’ll probably take you there too. It’s one of my favorite places to go. I’d move there if I could.
As usual, the interpreters were out and about, doing authentic 19th century tasks. The blacksmith was working with his new sharpening stone, the women in the Bixby House were making an herb pie (something like a quiche), and the ladies in the Deacon’s House were making cookies. Yes, cookies. And their cookies looked nothing like my gingersnaps.
“How much sugar are in those?” I asked suspiciously, because their cookies actually looked tasty.
“Oh, I’m not sure,” the young woman with the rolling pin answered. “Two thirds of a cup, I think?” She had rolled the dough out on a farm table and was now cutting the dough into little disks with a tin cutter (made at the tinsmith’s shop – just around the corner). Her assistant opened the tin reflector oven in front of the fire and showed me more cookies baking. They looked perfect. I was mildly annoyed.
It’s one thing to fail to reproduce something from a past century. You don’t feel so bad. You can tell yourself that those skills have vanished from the collective conscience and that, anyway, you know how to drive a car and that’s something no one in the 1830’s could do. But to walk into an authentic 1830’s kitchen and see a girl younger than you – a girl dressed head to toe in period garb – producing perfect cookies from an 1830’s recipe using only a tin cookie cutter and a reflective oven – well, that shoots down your whole collective conscience argument in one quick blast. And, oh, by the way, that same girl probably drove to the Village that morning, so there goes your “I can drive a car,” boast. It’s all rather humbling.
But the worst part came when her assistant said, “You should see her hair.” Meaning the girl with the rolling pin. Her hair.
I looked at her head. I didn’t see anything remarkable. All of her hair was tucked up under a cloth cap. What hair? What did her assistant mean?
And then the young woman blushed a little and took off her cap. And there on her head was the most perfect massing of braids I’ve ever seen. Her hair was was a lovely pale red color too. “Blast!” I thought.
“Is that all your own hair?” I asked, hoping it wasn’t.
She blushed again and nodded.
“It reaches about to here,” she explained, indicating her upper thigh.
“Can I take a picture?” I asked.
Again, she nodded.
I asked her if she’d done the braiding herself.
“Yes,” she replied, looking embarrassed.
Blast, blast, blast!
“It takes about thirty minutes,” she added.
Aha! I had her there! My hair had only taken me five minutes that morning.
At last, a reason to feel superior!
I will point out, though, that no one at Sturbridge Village that day asked to photograph my hair. I’m presuming that was because my hair looked as though it had only taken five minutes to do. Enough said.
We drove Grandma to the airport yesterday. Her flight was scheduled for 2:30, and I thought we had plenty of time. We just had to do a bit of juggling. Ginger started gymnastics camp yesterday and wouldn’t be done until 12:30, and then there was lunch to see to since they don’t feed you on planes anymore and we didn’t want Grandma stuck eating any more airport food than she had to. So it was a bit of a tight squeeze, but doable.
And then the weather got involved. It has been a muggy, stormy week here, but yesterday was the grand finale. About an hour before we were supposed to hit the road, it began to pour. More thunder. More lightning.
I began to feel a little uneasy. I had plotted our time to the airport in terms of dry roads and clear vision, but by the time I pulled onto the road, I had the wipers set at their highest level and still couldn’t see. The mist off the tires of the cars in front of me made visibility on the freeway almost nonexistent. If I had been able to see, I might have seen that there was a tornado barreling up behind us.
But I didn’t. I just kept driving, praying I wouldn’t miss the exit to the airport. Praying that I wouldn’t take a wrong turn in the parking area. Praying that I’d find the right ticket counter, because now there wasn’t any time cushion and my mother-in-law had to make this connection. There aren’t a lot of options for flying clear across the country leaving from Hartford.
And then suddenly we were there and parked and in the ticket line. Someone was weighing my mother-in-law’s suitcase and telling her there would be a delay. A three-hour delay at most – weather-dependent.
So, we hadn’t had to hurry after all.
But I’m glad we did. Because driving home, the girls and I began to see all sorts of debris on the freeway. Lengths of gauzy fabric and small branches and leaves. And then I noticed that traffic had stopped in the lanes across the divider from us – the ones flowing toward the airport. And in front of the stopped cars were large chunks of white plastic and panels and construction materials. And there, up the embankment, was a shattered tree with more white paneling stuck to what remained of its trunk. It looked like a semi had exploded on the road. I assumed it was an accident of some sort and was grateful we had gotten through before it had happened.
And then later, we learned it hadn’t been a semi at all. The white bits were what remained of a sports complex on the other side of the freeway. A tornado had touched down, ripped it apart and deposited it on the freeway – ten minutes after we’d passed by on our way to the airport. Thankfully, no one was hurt. Can you believe it?
Anyway, the whole incident made me think of one of the questions my mother-in-law had asked during her visit. It seemed everywhere we drove, there were reminders of the tornado that hit our area in 2010: buildings still awaiting repair, trunks of snapped trees, whole swaths of hillside that had once been tree-lined and now held only brush and stumps.
“Do you get many tornadoes here?” She asked.
And I had answered that we do not – that they come around every forty years or so, judging from past storms – that they were really more of a fluke than anything else.
But I’m not so sure anymore. I may need to revise my answer.
Anyway, we sure sent Grandma off with a bang!
P.S. Grandma made it to Seattle last night just fine – got in at about 2:00 a.m. our time…and then had to drive another 90 minutes to get home. What a trooper. Let’s hear it for Grandma!
Here are some photos from the Duck Tour.
1. Pepper driving the Duck. Good job, Pepper!
2. Lovely scenery during the land portion of the tour. Love the hydrangeas.
3. The Boston skyline, as seen from the Charles River. (This was my favorite portion of the tour). The weather was perfect – not too hot, a pleasant breeze… We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day.
4. Pepper telling the tour guide she’d like to take the DUKW out on the freeway. Seriously. That’s what she said.
We took a fabulous “Duck” tour of Boston today. We rode in the same sort of vehicle used on the beaches of Normandy in WWII. The tour lasted about 90 minutes; an hour of it on land and about 30 minutes in the Charles River. It was great fun, and we got to bypass much of the horrible Boston traffic and road construction.
We did not, however, miss all of the traffic. On our way into the city, CPT America ended up in a wrong lane, and we had to sit there blocking traffic while we waited for an opening in the right lane. We blocked traffic for a good five minutes. The people behind us were not pleased – in particular, an old man in an ancient Cadillac who laid on the horn good and thick. Finally, CPT America was able to inch forward, and the old man squeezed by us, hurling colorful words as he passed.
At times like that, I really wish I was someone a little more gutsy. I wish I was the kind of person who could yell, “Nice potty mouth, Grandpa!” or something similarly scathing. I wish I had the cheek to blow that man a kiss – or at least roll my eyes.
But I didn’t. I just sat there cringing and gritting my teeth, exhaling my relief when space finally opened up for us in the next lane.
“Was that stressing you out?” CPT America asked in surprise.
“Yes!” I answered. Duh.
But those kinds of things never bother CPT America. I don’t think he even heard Potty-Mouth Grandpa. I wish he had. He has plenty of cheek. He could have yelled something. He could have been the one to blow that grandpa a kiss. Now that would have been funny. I would have loved to have seen that grandpa’s face.
So, Captain America says to me the other day, “What are you wearing? That smells really good!”
Which was funny because what he was smelling was my hairspray. I’d changed brands a few days earlier and that was what he was noticing. I told him and he laughed.
“Well, keep using it,” he added. “It smells really good!”
Which made me start thinking more about perfume.
My mother-in-law wears “Timeless” by Avon. She always has, according to my husband. And certainly, she’s worn it as long as I’ve known her. When she visits, we get little pockets of “Timeless” in the house – in the closet where she hangs her sweater, in the bathroom where she gets ready each morning, near the chair where she does all of her reading. (My mother-in-law is an avid reader). This morning, when I came downstairs, I could tell she was already awake because I smelled “Timeless.” Sure enough, there she was, standing in front of the Keurig, wearing her slippers and making coffee. Forever and ever, whenever I smell “Timeless,” I will think of her.
And the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of having a signature scent – a smell that people always associate with you. (Of course, you’d want it to be a good smell, right?) So, having found something that Captain America really likes (“Pantene Pro-V Antihumidity Maximum Hold Hairspray,” by the way) I thought maybe that could become my signature scent.
So I’ve started using a bit more of it than usual in the mornings – and I make sure to spray some on periodically throughout the day. Hey, it’s cheap! I can get more at the grocery store. There’s no need to economize.
The only downside has been the fact that I’ve got a regular “helmet” going most days. My hair hasn’t been this crisp since I found my mother’s can of AquaNet under the bathroom sink in 1988. I’m thinking maybe tomorrow I should shift some of the spray from my head to my arm hairs. Tease them up a little….Go for a little more volume….What do you think?
Or maybe I should just go buy a bottle of “Timeless.”