Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Oh So Pretty

As usual with my research I always seem somehow sidetracked. Fashion plates have inevitably intrigued me.

These particular ones are of chapeaus, head coverings and coiffures for both interior and outdoor wear. Each one more feminine than the first, spread over three decades in the 19th century.

Bonnets and hats accentuated with broderie, velvet ribbons, soutache trim and lush feathers created a vision of loveliness.

The bottom one dates Saturday May 28,1870. 138 years ago this was the fashion in hair. Delicate in detail, often decorated with flowers, ribbons and braids they were samples for enhancing and demonstrating one's beauty.

The secret is that true beauty lies within.

Plates and engravings from my personal collection.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Invitation To A Dance

The branches of the crabapple tree are laiden heavy with blossoms. Cascading upwards and outwards they appear like a cloud reaching for the bright blue sky.

Each delicate, velvety petal surrounds the florets that yield the secret treasure.

And so the dance begins.

The honeybees encouraged by the seductive scent lingering forth come to flitter and hover over each dainty bloom. They alight, but for a moment to drink the heavenly nectar. As the bees pirouette and grand allegro about the tree searching intently for every funnel it begins to buzz from all the activity. Tiny reflections from the creatures' wings glitter in the early morning sunlight.

It is a twofold tale; the bees help pollinate the blossoms producing little crabapples that will cover the old branches later in the season and the nectar that the tree gives so unselfishly will be returned to the hive and become food of the gods, honey.

'Dance is a delicate balance between perfection and beauty'
- Unknown

Monday, May 12, 2008

Delicate Stitches Through Time

Sometimes I discover things that even amaze me. I shall be researching it's history, documenting it's provenance and travelling from a land not yet a country to the tiny hamlets of Yorkshire, England more than two and a half centuries before.

Once I verify what I suspect I shall share this voyage... To be continued.

Stipple engraving - Affection by P.W.Tomkins, late pupil of F.Bartalozzi, London Pub. March 29th 1791
After drawing by Miss Julia Conyers from my personal collection.

Sampler: silk on linen finished April the 26 1757.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Miller's Wife

In honor of Mother's Day I thought I would share a few tales of enterprising women.

When settlers first arrived to the Niagara region (as it was in any new area of settlement) survival was an endless struggle. Many brought the skills and know how they had developed to this rugged and wild territory.

Once the vast virgin forests were felled by the lumbermen, the settlers began to arrive to farm and produce livestock to feed and clothe their families.

The ever-flowing streams and rivers provided the perfect spot to build the gristmills. The strength of the channeled waters could turn the huge grinding stones that ground the grain (wheat, barley, rye) into flour. Stored throughout the long, harsh winter it was the sustenance of life.

Esla had been a miller's daughter before she had moved north by wagon with her young husband and children. He was also a miller and built a mill along the river's edge.

Esla had learned early the skill of barter and trade. Many of those who came to have their grain milled into flour were required to trade a portion of the finished product as payment. Others who raised livestock or grew flax (the beginning stage of what would be spun into linen thread and woven into cloth) would trade this for flour.

She set up a shop at the back of the mill and began her own enterprise.

A tragic wagon accident took the life of her husband, leaving her a widow with eleven children.

Esla (a German name) became known as Essie, ran the mill and the shop until her six sons grew old enough to take over the grinding process.

She taught her daughters to spin and weave the linen that would fill the store shelves.

She and her family lived well, eventually building a large home filled with children and grandchildren.

At eighty-six Essie took her rightful place beside her husband in a quiet grave on a hillside overlooking the mill.

It continued to prosper for a long time following her death finally closing after 150 years from the beginning of Essie's life as the Miller's Wife.

Friday, May 2, 2008

A Pirate's Tale

Congratulations Donna on your 100th post! It is to you I dedicate the following:

There once was a Scottish lass
Who ventured off to sea
For she knew from an early age,
A pirate she would be.
So she sailed on a ship named 'The Bonne Lass'
Across the seven seas
Plundering treasure and capturing the hearts,
Of many a pirate that be.
When alas one day on a warf at Tortuga
Her eyes did meet and breath did sigh
For the pirate Johnny, stood he
With his rum laden kiss and manly scent he took her heart you see,
And off they sailed on his ship together
Named 'My Lass Come Away With Me'...

For many a year there was silence,
But for their tale of treasure
For those two hearts united, made
Taking Spanish gold their pleasure.
And on a windswept day
Out on Buzzard's Bay
Heartbroken Johnny, they did find.
And the tale of his Scottish lass
Forsaken, she had left him behind.
For that wench with the golden tresses
Had sailed off you see
With her man at her side, holding the wheel
On the ship named the 'Bonne Glee'.
She was off into the sunset, with the pirate Connery.

- Susan McShannon-Monteith 2008

*Pictures from 'Pirates Of The Caribbean' altered by 'It's An Illusion Design'

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Pirate's Life For Me

The sun is beginning to set,
And soon we shall set sail
For we're off on the seven seas
By the lure of a Pirate's Tale...