Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Big Island, continued

After the school kids were gone on Friday, I had been invited to a Woman’s Tea at Page’s. This woman is known as “Tea Lady” – her camp name. She has offered teas and dinners for many years. She does the history of tea, the history of women in politics and many other like-minded talks, along with tea and scones, cookies, biscuits and even crumpets, sometimes. Page has down-sized, so no longer has teas for 30+ women; this tea was for about 7 women.

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A “camp name” is something that is given to you by others in the Rendezvous circuit. We have “Snake” – don’t know why that name! One lady is “Fancy” – she always dresses so. And so on. I don’t have a camp name, as I am not officially a Rendezvous-er … Neither does Norm. Wally doesn’t, as he is WALLY. Katie is usually “Mrs. Wally.” They name everyone – and even pets. A dog is named “Two Piles.” (Wonder why?)

We had invited Patience and Harley over for supper on Friday night and I made buffalo stew with dumplings over the fire pit. It turned out pretty good! I don’t like cooking over the pit, as it means bending into the smoke as well as bending, itself. Patience brought some commercial garlic toast that went very well with the stew.

And again, it was full moon and lovely out. Peanut didn’t like supper, as she had to go in her crate while we ate. I want to make or buy a basket that she can be in outside while I can’t have her on my lap. That’s in the plans for this winter. Until then, she’s in the crate, in the lodge, or tied onto a pole and on her blanket if she’s not on my lap.

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Another full moon night
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If Peanut can't be on my lap, she will 'make do' with Norm

After supper, we sat and visited (I brought Peanut back out) until they had to go “home.” Then Norm and I sat and enjoyed the evening until it was time to go to bed.

Saturday, the festival was open to the public, so we were able to wander more, but still demonstrated. This time, Peanut could either be on the ground beside me or on my lap.

I met a lovely lady called “Fingerweaver” … she does the traditional finger weaving with Canadian yarn that is the traditional colors of the old yarns. She sells pouches and sashes and garters and all kinds of things. I asked her to make Peanut a collar/leash combination so that Peanut could be more “period correct.”

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Working this craft - fingerwoven items were found in bogs in Ireland from ancient times

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Peanut's new leash

We also visited with neighbors and vendors. My favorite place to go was to the Clan Tartan village. These people interpret Scottish history of 1630 … and do it very well. They are living historians, which, unlike interpreters, ‘LIVE’ the period.

I have a good friend (you’ve already met him from the State Fair), David (Baethan). This weekend he portrayed, as well as a Scotsman, a Slovak. He and his mother made this wondrous costume for a special banquet that the Clan Tartan had Saturday night.

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"NOT Cossack, NOT Czech, NOT Russian, NOT Polish! Slovak, Slovak, Slovak!!"
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And is he TALL!!

Of course, Wally and Katie were there; Takara did some blacksmithing demonstrations, as well.

Patience and Harley were there, with friends, representing the 5th Minnesota. Harley and “Private Dill” were allowed to assist in shooting off the New Ulm cannon. This cannon was put in place in New Ulm just after the Dakota Wars of 1862. It has never been fired in a battle, so is one of the few cannons of that era that still work. It is fired only a relatively few times a year; Big Island’s Rendezvous is one of the times it is brought out and fired! It has a mighty roar and shakes the ground for a long ways away. It shook poor Peanut’s soul when she heard it and our lodge was almost half a mile away!

Friends from Groten, South Dakota, were there. Mother and daughter, they run a fiber store that sells ‘home grown’ wool processed into yarns or rovings of rainbows of colors, home dyed. I met them in New Ulm a few years ago and have become good friends with both of them. Mother offered me all the wool I wanted (raw, of course) when I needed it, as Norm told her that we would not have any sheep of our own (sigh). She was sad, too, as she had two bottle lambs she wanted me to drive over and collect and raise for my own (another sigh).

Now one of the best parts, for me, of the weekend was the Clan Tartan women doing “Walking” or “Fulling” of a wool piece that was woven by one of the ladies. My young friend, Maeve, came over to tell me that this would take place at 11:00 on Sunday, so I made sure I was there. This process is the ancient way to ‘pre-shrink’ wool before you sew it.

The wool material is put into a tub of hot water with soap and ammonia and soaked for a while to get it really wet. Then several women sit around a long table. The material is sewn into a “circle” to keep it in the round. A leader sits at the tub, pulls the material out and sends it around the circle of women. Each one grabs her handful and pounds it on the table and passes that section to the next one. It goes around and around. The last woman puts her handful into the tub and the leader again grabs it and pushes it around. This is a very difficult task to describe but fascinating to watch. The hope was to shrink the material 4 inches in width, which they did in about an hour or so.

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The tub of water with the wool being prepared for the fulling
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Moving the material around in the circle

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The material being put into the tub and pulled out again
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It's a very wet process

There is a singer who leads the singing and beats the time with a drum. The women sing a monotonous but beautiful song to hypnotize themselves and help the time go by. This is like chain gangs or railroad crews or slaves in a cotton field sing to pass their time and help an arduous task get done.

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The drum beat keeps the rhythm even for moving the material

The beat went right through me; I wanted to join in! This ancient action had fascinated me when I read about it. To be able to actually see it in the ancient way, with women dressed in the ancient manner made it all the better! Perhaps next year, I can join in!

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Maeve (on the right) and friend pushing the wool around

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend. Now to recover and have a beautiful day tomorrow. You have a beautiful day!


happyowl said...

The pictures are amazing. Makes one feel like they were there too.

Thanks so much for sharing them.

Brightest blessings


The Unusually Unsual Farmchick said...

I wish there events such as those around me. How would one find them? I would have loved to taken the children to that one. Love the pictures showing the women preshrinking the wool. Sounds so plleasent to attend.

grandma rosie said...

I so love reading about your adventures! Your post always fascinate me. Sounds like fun was had by all. I really envy you these delightful weekends. I am going to have to visit you someday and see it all for myself. HUGS!