Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Other Items Found at Montpelier

Many other items were found during my experience digging at Montpelier. Here are a few photos of some other typical finds. 

1.Bottom of Wine Glass

2. Jane holding the bottom of an iron pot

3. Various buttons
4. Pieces of Wine Bottles
 I found many nails and a huge chunk of a wine bottle, and the bottom of a wine glass. I couldn't help thinking: "Did Thomas Jefferson, Dolly Madison, or James Madison drink from this glass or bottle?"
5. Iron Nail
6. Coin From 1765

Unfortunately we did not find any coins, but previous excavations have found coins. On this coin you can clearly see the date: 1765.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Ceramics and Pottery at Montpelier

     During my volunteer archaeology trip to James and Dolley's Madison's Montpelier in Orange County, Virginia, I was introduced to the different kinds of pottery, china, or earthenware that we were likely to find. It was mind boggling and I have to admit I did not commit the variations to memory. Since the Madison family owned the property from 1723 to 1844, and finds also included pieces owned by the enslaved peoples as well as freedmen, the possibilities were diverse.

Digging out
The highlight of the week for me was when I found a piece of English delftware (?) which was the largest piece found this summer! This type of ceramic most folks consider ugly, but apparently it was quite popular in the 1740's. The piece likely belonged to the

senior Madisons, James Madison's parents, during their Mt. Pleasant years. Mount Pleasant was the house that James and Nelly Conway Madison lived in, and where James the president grew up. James Sr. built the Georgian mansion in the early 1760's.

     Dolley Madison would have owned 'prettier' tableware sets. Many of the archaeologists joked that Dolley Madison likely despised her mother-in-law's choice of decor and tableware. Nelly Conway Madison (1731-1829) lived to the age of 98, and had her own southern side of the mansion duplex. She continued to maintain a rural lifestyle Dolley would have considered 'outdated.'

In fact Dolley was very much a 'fashion queen' of the times and greatly influenced by high society living. She frequently shopped in Philadelphia and Washington, and ordered hats, turbans, gowns, and furniture from Europe, even during wartime! Dolley is famous for her low cut, bosom revealing dresses, and colorful, feathered
turbans.Too bad I didn't find any jewelry or buckles!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Books Acquired During My Trip to Virginia

The following list contains some of the books I acquired during my trip to Virginia. Of course I went to every gift shop available and bought several books. A few other books I saw that I wanted, but I thought they would be cheaper on Amazon. A few are signed by the author, and unavailable elsewhere!
"Those Who Labor for My Happiness": Slavery at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello (Jeffersonian America)
1.  "Those Who Labor for My Happiness": Slavery at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello (Jeffersonian America) by Lucia C. Stanton

James and Dolley Madison: America's First Power Couple
2.  James and Dolley Madison: America's First Power Couple by Bruce Chadwick

The Virginia Adventure: Roanoke to James Towne (Virginia Bookshelf)
3.  The Virginia Adventure: Roanoke to James Towne (Virginia Bookshelf) by Ivor Noel Hume

A Woman of Honor: Dr. Mary E. Walker and the Civil War
4.  A Woman of Honor: Dr. Mary E. Walker and the Civil War by Mercedes Graf

Mathew Brady's First Manassas A Biography & Battlefield Tour
5.  Mathew Brady's First Manassas A Biography & Battlefield Tour by Dennis Hogge
signed by author!

Uncommon Ground: Archaeology and Early African America, 1650-1800
6.  Uncommon Ground: Archaeology and Early African America, 1650-1800 by Leland G. Ferguson

Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckly: The Remarkable Story of the Friendship Between a First Lady and a Former Slave
7.  Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckly: The Remarkable Story of the Friendship Between a First Lady and a Former Slave by Jennifer Fleischner

Home Life in the Colonial Days
8.  Home Life in the Colonial Days by Alice Morse Earle

Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland (Exceptional Social Studies Titles for Intermediate Grades)
9.  Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland (Exceptional Social Studies Titles for Intermediate Grades) by Sally M. Walker

Woman's Life in Colonial Days [Paperback] [1999] (Author) Carl Holliday
10.  Woman's Life in Colonial Days [Paperback] [1999] (Author) Carl Holliday 

Pocahontas's People: The Powhatan Indians of Virginia Through Four Centuries (Civilization of the American Indian)
11.  Pocahontas's People: The Powhatan Indians of Virginia Through Four Centuries (Civilization of the American Indian) by Helen C. Rountree

Strange New Land: Africans in Colonial America
12.  Strange New Land: Africans in Colonial America by Peter H. Wood

13.  Jane: Starvation, Cannibalism, and Endurance at Jamestown by WILLIAM KELSO, DOUGLAS OWSLEY, BEVERLY STRAUBE JAMES HORN

Jamestown, the Buried Truth
14.  Jamestown, the Buried Truth by William M. Kelso
signed by author!

Thursday, August 7, 2014


Chimerism is a very odd biological phenomena that can occur in humans, and I assume animals as well. It is when a person has the genetic code of two people. In Greek mythology the Chimera is a monster figure that is part lion, goat, and snake.

Chimerism is rare in humans. There are few medically documented cases. Throughout history there were likely more incidences, but usually people do not discover chimerism. DNA testing and knowledge is so recent.

A famous modern case involves a woman named Lydia Fairchild. In 2002 she was in a custody dispute for her children, and discovered that her three children, that she gave birth to, did not share her DNA. Doctors and lawyers were flabbergasted, and Lydia almost lost custody of her children.

Eventually it was discovered that Lydia was meant to be a twin, but in utero the two eggs fused into one. As a result Lydia's twin's DNA lived on inside her. Remarkably, Lydia's children were essentially her sister's children as well. Certain organs had Lydia's DNA, and other organs had her twin's DNA.

Microchimerism is far more common, but it is difficult to detect because it is at the cellular level. Microchimerism is when the fetus' and the mother's cells get transferred during pregnancy. Many adult children have their mother's cells inside certain organs. Mothers also have their children's DNA.

Fraternal twins and identical twins also exchange DNA in utero. In fact with fraternal twins, there sometimes can be sexual development complications (or differences) at puberty, because male or female chromosomes have been exchanged. Pretty fascinating.

Scientists are studying microchimerism, as this phenomena has affects on the development of diseases and autoimmunity, both positively and negatively.

**Disclosure. I'm not a biologist, just a curious person! If you are looking for medical info.,  should find other sources.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Zach Playing Drums at the Barn Bash

Check out how Gemma walks over and plops right next to Zach. And also note my mom, Pat, and Paula in the audience.

Barn Bash 2014

This year's 9th annual Barn Bash was a great time. The weather threatened to be rainy with showers, but by the afternoon it cleared up and we had sun! The temperature was perfect. 

Highlights for me were Zach playing the drums again to a great jazz tune, and Paige singing a song she wrote. The Hansen sisters were so kind to help Paige with her song, and it was Paige's first time performing in front of an audience! Marty and Kristen Hansen encouraged her. 

My parents were there, along with my mom's cousin Pat and her daughter Paula. Jonathan, Stacey, Paige, and Eve drove up with me for the day.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Hey Youse Guys

     Last week I saw reference to several dialect tests on Slate Magazine. I've taken a few in the past, and the results usually aren't surprising. Of course my results indicate a Boston, Providence, Maine dialect. (See the dark red area?)

     I always think it's fun to take the quiz anyway. I remember kids saying "youse guys" when I was young. I never used that phrase, but other words are deeply embedded like 'rotary' and 'firefly' and 'highway.' Mainly I still use these words because I wasn't aware of alternatives. I never heard 'roundabout' or 'traffic circle' or 'freeway' until adulthood.
Interestingly, my dialect is least like Detroit and New Orleans.

     Other words I did use as a kid, mainly 'tonic,' for 'soda,' but I don't use them anymore. I would never call 'soda' 'pop' though! Also, I would NEVER say 'ant' for 'aunt.' (I think Bostonians are correct about this pronunciation). Other curious Bostonian words are 'spa' and 'packie.'

Friday, July 4, 2014


     Cathrineholm is not a person, but a factory that existed in Halden, Norway from 1907 to 1975. It is most famous for making a fabulous line of cookware, designed originally by Grete Prytz Kittelsen and others. Grete worked at the Cathrineholm factory from 1955 to 1972, and was known as a leader in Scandinavian design. She also made jewelry and silver pieces.

Apparently Grete was responsible for the form and colors of the bowls and plates, but another designer, Arne Clausen, is credited for the lotus flower pattern. Grete did not care for the lotus pattern, believing it distracting. 

     Cathrineholm made bowls, plates, coffeepots, and, best of all, fondue pots. I bought a fondue pot the other day at the Cambridge Antique Market and I love it! What better representation of mid-century design than a fondue pot? My pot seems unique because it is not the typical Cathrineholm lotus pattern. Researching online, it also appears that black and white was a less common color than orange, yellow, or blue.
Grete Prytz Kittelsen was an interesting woman.

She married the architect Arne Korsmo and they lived in a very modernistic house he designed. He died in 1968, but she lived on working for many years. Grete lived to be 93, just passing away in 2010.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Latest Additions to the Museum of the Baronesque

     The Museum of the Baronesque has added some new kitchen items to the repertoire. My recent fondue party in March was so much fun that a retro fondue pot seemed an appropriate and necessary purchase. For my birthday I went over the Cambridge Antiques Market and wandered around for several hours. Here are my new finds. The fondue pot is definitely the highlight! Not only is it black and white, and retro 60s, but it was made and designed in Norway.

1.  Cherry juice Glasses. Too cute for words! 

2. Refrigerator Glass- For Keeping leftovers. What leftovers?
3. Cathrineholm Fondue Pot 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Literary Sojourns

I saw an interesting posting online, suggesting several homes and museums of famous authors to visit. Here are some that I highlighted, which I have either have already visited, would like to visit again, or that I would love to visit. 

1. Willa Cather home in Red Cloud, Nebraska
I have not visited any Willa Cather historical sites and would like to very much. I have a signed copy of one of her books, published in 1940. What a great name for a mid-western Nebraska town! Red Cloud. 

2. Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, MA.
I have visited the Dickinson home and everything about that trip was wondrous. I definitely want to go again. What I recall most vividly is the preservation of Emily's white dress, and the little pocket she had sewn on the side. As she went about the house doing chores, she would stash snatches of poetry. I also learned that she was an avid baker. She would bake things for her nephews and niece and lower the goodies down from her bedroom window in a basket. 

3. Edith Wharton House in Lenox, MA
Wow, pretty opulent. Edith Wharton was clearly upper middle class. I would like to visit her house. Also that area of Massachusetts is gorgeous. 

4. Bronte Parsonage, Haworth, England
I went to see the Bronte Parsonage this past summer, during my archeological trip to England. I wrote about the parsonage in an earlier post (October 14, 2013). It was wonderful and a long awaited dream fulfilled!
5. Edgar Allan Poe Museum, Richmond Virginia.
I have not been here; in fact I have never been to Virginia. This would be a nice place to visit with Jonathan. 

6. Edward Gorey House, Yarmouthport, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Despite the fact that Edward Gorey's house is so close, Jonathan and I just recently visited in October of 2013. It was a great treat and there was so much to see I'd like to visit again. 

7. Henry Miller House, Big Sur, California 
I am interested in the scenery as much as I am interested in seeing the museum. Hopefully I'll get to visit some day. It would be cool to see some rare first editions and photographs.

8. Jane Austen's House, Hampshire, England
Oh yes, it would be great to visit Jane Austen's house. She is so popular these days, though, I bet it would be a mob scene. I love it when authors of yesteryear maintain their popularity!

9. Anne Frank House, Amsterdam, Holland
I visited the Anne Frank House when I was in Holland in 1999. I really enjoyed the experience, and I remember there was a long line! Well worth the wait. I recall I was most impressed by the copies of all the translations of Anne Frank's diary in a glass display, in almost every language! Also, I remember that in the neighborhood that Anne lived- which was predominantly Jewish- eighty percent of the inhabitants perished by the end of the war. It is amazing that her father Otto survived at all. He was the only survivor in his family. Seems like divine providence.

10. Louisa May Alcott House, Concord, Massachusetts
Shame on me. I've never been to the Louisa May Alcott house, and it's located 7 miles from my house! I've got to plan a trip this summer. It's time to play tourist in my own town!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Languages Spoken in the United States

     I love the following maps, created by Ben Blatt on Slate Magazine. He obtained the data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey website. The first map is no surprise, as it shows that Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language in the U.S. today (actually in some states it's French or German). It is interesting, though, to see what happens when you remove Spanish and English from the database. What about Native American languages, or Scandinavian languages? I was surprised that Swedish was dominant, though I am still confused about whether Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish are the same language. Ben Blatt has more maps in the original article.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Basement Dogs - Introvert Explosion

Those crazy dogs are at it again, singing about introvert angst. Oh, what do they know about isolation and misery?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mary, Lisa, Jennifer, Emily, Madison, Sophia

Check out these great graphics, featuring over six decades of the most popular girls'  names by state in the United States. I have many questions:
1. What emerges in society to make a name popular? 2. Is it an advantage or disadvantage to have a popular name? 3. What causes the popularity of one name to fade and another to emerge? 4. Are some names always in the top ten? 

If you want to see the full graphic, click here: