Sunday, November 29, 2015

Time for Christmas Decorating!

Hello, lovely readers!  It is our tradition to decorate the hose for Christmas as soon as we can after Thanksgiving.
 But first,
 . . . we have to take down the fall decorations.
 "Chrissa, Elizabeth!  I brought in all the Christmas decor!" Georgia announced.
"You buried Sugar!" I helped my puppy climb out from under the garland.
"Wow, Georgia.  You got everything except the kitchen sink!"  Chrissa said.
"Close." Georgia corrected. "I brought everything except the Christmas tree.  Dad said he would bring it out of the garage."
Mother sighed. "I wish we bought real trees."
"But Mom, why slaughter an innocent tree when a fake one does the job just as well?" Chrissa asked.
"I'll buy you a pine candle." I offered.
"Thank you, Elizabeth."  she smiled. "Why don't you help me decorate the kitchen?"
"I'd love to!"
 Mother and I brought the decorations into the kitchen, and started setting them up.  Across the hall, Father had just brought the tree in with Chrissa's help.  The three of them rearranged the living room to fit the tree.
Georgia walked in. "Can we borrow the broom?  The floor under the couch was dusty, and Chrissa said she'd sweep it up."
I handed the broom to her.
 We could hear the swish and sweep of the broom.
"Careful!" Georgia sneezed.
"Elizabeth," Mother said, "would you please go turn on some Christmas music?"
"That's a wonderful idea!  What shall I put in?" I asked.
"How about that Michel W. Smith album - Strings of Christmas?"
Georgia overheared our conversation.  "I love that one!  Turn it up louder, please!"
 "Of course Miss Violinist would love it." Chrissa said. "I wanted something I could sing along to."
"You'll live." Georgia replied.
 "Dad, can you help me get the lights on?" Chrissa asked.
"I'm going to plug them in, and then I will." Father said.
 "I just love bright colors."  Chrissa said.
"Oh!" Georgia exclaimed. "It's Joy to the World!  I'm playing that one this year at my Christmas recital."
Father and Chrissa started winding the lights around the tree.
"No wonder it sound so familiar."  Chrissa said.  She winked a Georgia. "It's not like I've heard you practicing it all the time."
Georgia laughed, her eyes twinkling just as much as the lights as she got out the tinsel. "I'm sorry, Chrissa.  I just love that song."
"Mother doesn't need my help in the kitchen anymore, so may I assist you three?" I asked.
"You can help us decorate the tree."  Chrissa said.
"Yea, we're just about to put the tinsel." Georgia added, handing me the bundle of white.
 Working together, we wound the tinsel around the tree.
"Time for the ornaments!" Georgia announced. 
 "How many do you think I can hold in my hand at once?" Chrissa picked up bulbs and hung them on her fingers.
"Nope - seven!"
 "Last one!"
 "Make sure you space them evenly." Georgia said.
"Of course." I agreed.
"Let's unplug the lights while we put on the last set of ornaments." Chrissa said. "That way, we can have a final dramatic finish."
Once we had finished with the bulbs, we got out the snowflake ornaments.  
 "We're almost done." I hung another snowflake.
"Yep." Chrissa agreed.
"I'll go plug in the lights for your dramatic effect." Georgia said.
 "It looks fabulous!" Chrissa said.
 "Quite so." I agreed.
 I just love decorating for Christmas.
 Here's our Nativity scene.  You mustn't forget what Christmas is all about.
 I admired Mother's work in the kitchen.
Right down to the little bows.
What Christmas traditions does your family have?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Our Visit to Michigan

 Hi all!  My sisters and I were in Michigan two weeks ago for fall break.  We were all so glad for a break from school (we started on August 3!) and had a great time with our grandparents.  Dad and Elizabeth pretty much lived in the library, Georgia and Mom watched Pride and Prejudice (the 6 hour BBC version), and I hung out with Grandma and Grandpa.  My uncle, aunt and cousins (Victoria, McKenna, and Kit) flew up for the second weekend, and on Saturday my grandparents took us to the Toledo Zoo.  They have membership there, so Elizabeth, Georgia, McKenna, and I got in for free.
 At a pumpkin farm that we visit every year, they have this lovely pumpkin carriage.  Sadly this one doesn't have Cinderella inside.  :^)
While we were waiting to get in the zoo, we noticed that the zoo was having what they called "Little Boo" where, for a price, you could go trick-or-treating in the zoo. 
Once we got in, our first stop was the "Arctic Encounter".
"I wonder how many girls there are dressed up as Elsa or Anna." McKenna pondered as two sisters dressed up as the queen and princess passed us.
"Let's keep track."
"Chrissa, I really think you should take off that cape." Georgia gazed disapprovingly.
"But it's awesome!" I replied.  "Besides, I've seen lots of costumes around."
"On children."
Elizabeth, watching us carefully, changed the subject.  "Look!  There's a seal now."
 "Aw!  It's so cute!" McKenna exclaimed.
"I can't wait to see the otters." I sighed.  Last year, when we visited, we had lots of fun watching the otters.
"Me too!" Georgia agreed. "Seals and otters are so cute."
"Look, girls, that polar bear is right next to the glass!" Grandma said.
"Cool!" I said. "I want to see the gray wolves now."  We all walked over, but we didn't see any of the wolves.  Maybe they taking an afternoon nap.
The Africa exhibit was closed for upgrades, so we stared walking to the bridge.
"I'm really excited to see the new aquarium." Elizabeth commented. "It sounds fascinating."
"We are too." Grandpa agreed. "Your Grandma and I haven't been to the zoo since it opened."
I watched the cars pass underneath us as we crossed the bridge.
"Oo!  Penguins!" Georgia pointed to an enclosure next to the aquarium.  "Let's go take a look."
"Two more Elsas and an Anna." McKenna  ticked off on her fingers. "That brings us up to 6 Anna costumes, and 9 Elsa ones."
"It's strange how popular Frozen still is, you know?" I said. "It came out in 2013!"
"I love seeing all the cute costumes." Elizabeth smiled. "I wish I had a Belle gown like that little girl's."
"I'm happy with my cape." I twirled on the concrete outside the aquarium.
"Shall we go in?" Grandma asked.
We oo-ed and ah-ed over all the aquatic creatures.  I thought these jellyfish looked like underwater moons.
I have to admit, the Toledo zoo's aquarium was really cool!  They had all kinds of different animals, fish, and plants.  The building was a lot bigger than I expected, and was happy to have benches to sit on.  ;^)
"Chrissa!  Look at these, um. interesting fish!" McKenna called.
"Oh!  Well, this is a very interesting fish." I said. "He doesn't look very happy, does he?"
"Indeed not." Elizabeth agreed.
After the aquarium, we walked on the "Tembo Trail".
"We're almost to the otters!"
"YAY!!!" I dragged everyone along with me. "Hurry!"
"We're coming, Chrissa!" Elizabeth laughed.  "Goodness!"
Someone said something about a hippo, so I paused for a moment to snap a picture before racing on to see those otters.
"They're so cute!" I was following the otter's every move with the camera.
"Whew!  It doesn't smell to good in here."
"Way to ruin the moment, Georgia!" I said, not looking up from the camera.
"I just love otters." I said.
"I never would have guessed, Chrissa."
"Look!" I exclaimed, camera firing rapidly.  "It's eating a pumpkin!  That's so cute!"
"Do you think otters like pumpkin pie?" Grandma asked.
"Probably not." Elizabeth said.
"On the contrary, my dear, I think they would." I retorted.
Elizabeth turned to face me. "How could they eat it?"
"With their adorable paws, of course!" I stated, placing my hands on my hips.
Everyone laughed.
"Was it something I said?"
From there, we saw elephants, 
caramels (I'm thinking of my Halloween candy I want to eat) camels, 
 . . . and tigers.  Georgia said she liked his coat.  I said I liked his smile.  We all laughed.
All in all, we had a great visit to Michigan.
If you could travel anywhere (for free!), where would you go?
P.S. In case you're wondering, we saw a total of
Elsa - 11
Anna - 7

Monday, August 10, 2015

Exploring South Park City

Hello, lovely readers!  A week before last Saturday, Mother and I visited South Park City in Fairplay, Colorado.  Father, Georgia and Chrissa went hiking.
South Park City is a restored 1880's mining town.  Seven of it's thirty-five buildings are original to the site, while the others were moved from other old mining towns in the surrounding area.  Leon H. Snyder, the man who first had the idea, thought that if all the historic mining buildings were moved into one spot, they could be better protected against fire and vandalism.  Also, the public could better enjoy the rich history.  After two summers of hard work, over 40,000 donations of period-correct items, South Park City opened to the public in 1959, precisely 100 years after the first gold find in Tarryall Creek.

We were sad to miss the Annual Living History Celebration, which occurred this weekend.  But now we're back in hot, sticky Florida.
On the tour guide map, there are 42 stops.  Let's get started, shall we?
*Remember - the text is below the picture it applies to, and not all 42 stops have their own picture.*
#1. The Father Dyer Memorial Chapel.  (You can see Fairplay on the other side of the fence).
Father John Dyer was a Methodist circuit rider, so he preached wherever he could find an audience.  To compensate for his low pay as a minister, he as worked as a mail carrier.  He was called "The Snowshoe Itinerant", for in Colorado, snow is ever-present.
#2 is a smokehouse, where they smoked meat to preserve it for the long winter months. ~Building Original To Site~
#3. South Park Brewery.  Where beer used to be produced.  Now, in the basement there is a cool collection of arrowheads from the Ute Native Americans, some mini mining dioramas, and a educational video about the history of South Park.
Upstairs, they show what looks like a very fancy house, with some posed mannequins, old dollhouses, and beautiful china.
#4. Rache's Place, a saloon.  Slightly disturbing.
#5.  Pioneer Home.  This house was furnished with items from actually South Park pioneer families.  Do you see that bedspread?  It was hand-crocheted!
Here you can see some of the china dishware in the house's dinning room. ~Building Original To Site~
A wooden sidewalk passed in front of the buildings.
#6. Summer Saloon.  Two saloons in one town! ~BOTS~
#7. Garo Cabin.  This building was resorted to hold all the equipment a pioneer woman would need to clean and fix her family's wardrobe.
#8. Park City Court House. This was originally in the mining town Buckskin Joe, which used to be the county seat.
#9. Assay Office.  Where a miner could find out the value and grade of his silver or gold ore.  That was fun to look around in.
#10. Alma Queen "Mine".  This reconstruction of hard rock mine was lovely and safe because it was only around twelve feet deep.  You then turned right and went up a few stairs to walk back out into sunshine.  This picture was taken at the top of the stairs.

#11. Head House.  This small "locker room" was were miners could dry off their wet clothes in between shifts.  It was also there to discourage stealing from the mine, as an overseer would stand in close watch as the miners changed from mining into street clothes.  If a miner was caught trying to slip a gold nugget from his pocket to street clothes, he would immediately loose his job and the other mines in the area would be advised not to give him a job.  It wasn't really worth the risk.

#12. Gallows Frame.  This is where a bucket could be lowered down into the mine to be loaded with ore.

#13. Mining Mill. Where the gold was extracted form the ore by use of a crushing mill, stamp mill, and other equipment.

#14. Burro Room.  The burro, or mule, was vital to miners bringing heavy materials over the mountains.
#15. Transportation Shed.  This is where early vehicles were kept.  In this picture, you can see a sled that used to go dashing through the snow . . . ~BOTS~
#16. Wagon Barn.  Where a rare Abbot-Dawning & Co. Mud Wagon and a camp wagon (think early RV) are displayed.  ~BOTS~

#17. South Park City Depot.  A train station that holds artifacts from the three railroads that served South Park City.

#18. Narrow Gauge Train.  This locomotive is a basic model of the trains used by Denver South Park and Pacific Railroad.

#19. Trapper's Cabin.

#20. Caboose.

After the caboose, we took a break for lunch.  We had our tickets stamped so we could come back in afterwards.
When we came back in, we walked all the way back up main street to start on the other side.

#21. Rost Barn. This was a small barn where cows were kept.
#22. Homestead. This reminded me of the Little House series.  It was what a early pioneer family would have lived in, and had only two rooms.

#23. Star Livery.  Another small barn, but instead of cows this housed horses and rigs.  You could either board a horse here or rent one.
#24. Stage Barn.  A large barn where stage teams were cared for while their owners ate at the Stage Coach Inn.
#25. Stage Coach Inn.  Travelers could enjoy a hot meal and warm bed as a intermission to a long journey west.
#26. Hoffman Bros. Blacksmith Shop.  In mining towns, blacksmiths were vital.  They were the only ones who could make and fix mining equipment.  Some mines employed their own blacksmiths.

#27. Diorama Building.  This building held mining dioramas created by Hank Gentsch.
#28. School House.  This cheery red building used to sit in Garo.

#29. Morgue and Carpenter Shop. The town carpenter's primary work was coffins, as mining took lives as well as the fact that children would often die young back then.

#30. Sumner Collection. A vast variety of items from Native American to Victorian times, collected by Mr. and Mrs. Lawson Sumner.
#31. Barbershop. Where miners had their hair cut.

#32. Dentist Office.  Victorian age decorating and utensils.  Slightly frightening.

#33. Covered Well.  A luxury to have near one's home or business.

#34. Ranger Station.  Moved from some isolated area.  Early Forest Rangers were self-sufficient and rugged men.
#35. Mayer Home.  This house was owned by Colonel Frank Mayer, a author, Civil War soldier, and buffalo hunter.  One of the rooms held his guns, and two elk heads were mounted on the kitchen walls. ~BOTS~
#36. Doctor's Office.  Here you can see the traveling doctor's kit - that huge saw was used for amputation.
#37. South Park Sentinel.  Similar to many found in early mining towns, the newspaper office was fully functional.
#38. Simpkin's General Store.  Any need or whim of the 19th century community could be met in this two-story general store.  I wouldn't mind shopping there myself!

#39. Old Lodge Hall. A Masonic lodge.
#40. Bank of Alma.  This bank was the scene of a dramatic holdup in 1935, and contains many of the same features it did then.

#41. J.A. Merriam Drug Store.  This was like a combined ice cream parlor and CVS (or Wallgreens, if you prefer).  They even sold a product called "cureall", which was claimed to be able to cure any disease.

#42. Company Store.  The end of the tour, of course, held a gift shop.
I had so much fun exploring this old mining town!
What's your favorite part of history?