Thursday, October 11, 2012

Big Island Educational Rendezvous

This past week has been spent at Albert Lea, where the twenty-sixth rendezvous was held.  We have been there for about 5 or 6 years, I believe.  We had a chilly but great time.

Wednesday, we set up our tent in 80º weather.  Fortunately the wind was breezy enough to make it semi-comfortable.  It took us longer to set up because we had been moved from where we’ve been for nearly the whole time we’ve been at Big Island.  I requested (I guess ... everyone told me I did) to be closer to a weaver / woodworker named Blackie.  So when we got there, we had to figure out what way we wanted the tent to be, how far in the front, how far in the back.  I had to figure out where my brazier was, my kitchen was on the outside, where the bed and bathroom would go inside.  It took almost an hour to do the figuring (you don’t want to put the tent up and then change your mind).

Once the tent was up, we visited with Blackie and our new neighbor between Blackie and us; Norm took the van out and picked up ice and broasted chicken for supper.  As it got dark, we lit the candelabra candles, put a lantern on the table outside and settled down for the night.

The next day, Thursday, bright and early, we had to set up the school kids demo stations (I was in front, Norm was in back) and get ready for kids bright and early.  Norm wanted a good breakfast so I cooked while he cleaned up.  We had bacon, eggs and toast.  My favorite toast (and SOOOO good for you!), is fried toast - throw some butter (stiff and cold from the cold night air) in a small cast iron pan, melt it and put in a piece of bread.  Turn and put more butter on.  The whole piece of fried toast is covered with melted, browned butter.  Then jelly or bacon (or both) as a sandwich.

Lunch was cold chicken.  We had kids from 9:00 until 2:30, with a few breaks (especially lunch time) in the stretch.  I teach the history of material from the first yarn to machine made material.  Norm demonstrates spoon carving and talks about wood work.

After the kids left, we went visiting.  Wally, my favorite blacksmith (sorry, Blackie - I’ve known him longer), came over for supper - beef soup and egg dumplings.  I had pre-cooked and frozen the meat, then added it to beef broth and veggies in the cast iron Dutch Oven and cooked, then added the dumplings a little bit before Wally came.  Along with home-made rolls and beet pickles, it made a good meal.  Then I cooked some apples for a chunky applesauce for desert.  Wally (and Norm) ate so much that rolling away from the table was the only way to leave.

It started to get cold and the wind was “wicked fierce” so we started the stove inside and got the tent toasty warm before going to bed.  What with getting up several times a night, we kept the stove going all night and it was warm when we got up.

School kids again all day - with sandwiches for lunch.  We had hamburgers and baked beans, just we two.  I cooked them over the brazier but then we ate inside, as it was too chilly to eat outside.

Saturday morning, I made biscuits and fried sausages, then served the biscuits with home-made peach-peel jelly.  Our friend, Ole, came to join us for the traditional Saturday breakfast, as we had no school tours to hasten for.  Saturday was extremely cold (I even saw snow flakes); Joy and family joined us for the day.  Bitty and Bubba, because they’ve been raised in Living History, always feel strange and embarrassed when they are in “civilian” clothes at an event.  I talked to my neighbor, Robin, who is a seamstress, and she volunteered to loan them proper clothing.  Because of the cold, the girls put skirts on over their jeans and kept their tennis shoes on.  I had shawls and jackets and mittens for them to wear, so they were almost toasty warm.  Joy was cold, but she’s always cold, even in 70º weather.  Ken was cold, too.  For some reason his shoes got too cold, so his feet were cold.  They spent a lot of time in the tent warming up and stoking up the stove to sauna temperatures.  We also ate inside - I fried potatoes and onions and then fried pork steaks.  They caught the shuttle out to the parking lot later that evening and headed home.  We settled in for the night, again, with a very toasty tent to sleep in.

Sunday morning we had friend Steve come for bacon, toast and eggs for breakfast.  It was COLD that morning ... ice on the water buckets.  Our neighbor, Roy (Robin’s husband) brought his wash basin over - it had a stalagmite (upside down icicle) in it.  We don’t know the temperature - no one had a thermometer and few listen to radios or check their smart phone weather applications - but that stalagmite was might cold looking!

So, Sunday was like Saturday in that it was a public day.  But the weather was totally different - sunny and warm in the sun, cool and breezy in the shade.  I think I got a sunburn!  At 5:00, it was quitting time and the guests left, then the cars, trucks, vans, trailers came on to start the tear-down.  We, however, just slowly started packing, had leftovers for supper and went to bed rather early.  Norm went out to get the van before dark.

Monday morning we got up and started tearing down in earnest.  Even though the inside stove was still hot, we decided not to cook anything but have a cold breakfast and let the coals burn down so we could dump them out.

After we were all packed, we grabbed lunch at the local Arby’s and headed home.  It was great to be home but I missed sleeping in fresh air.  Even though we had heat every night, my face was pleasantly cool (sometimes MORE than pleasantly) and the air was not stuffy like it gets in the house.

It was a great 5 days but I’m glad to have a modern gas stove rather than an open fire for cooking and having a hot shower rather than having a spit bath at night.

Here are a few pictures of the week.  It was a beautiful time, even though it was cold several days.  It was a chilly, beautiful day today.  You have a beautiful day.

With their favorite (historical) grandpa

Bitty is demonstrating spinning, using Angora rabbit fur

An awesome bunch of clouds

Ice in the water basin (and on the scrub pad)

A beautiful tree in the beautiful sunshine

Our neighbors had an upside-down icicle.

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