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Signed up for the “Getting Started in Living History” video course from Jas. Townsend & Son.

This past year, I’ve had the dawning sense that all of my interests and hobbies (genealogy, local history, English history, historic gardening, historic domestic tasks, historic cookery, herbalism, foraging) were really just facets of one larger thing, although I couldn’t really articulate what that one thing was.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I attended a Revolutionary War camp re-enactment at an 18th-century farmstead near us. In attendance was the 54th Regiment of Foot out of Mansfield, Massachusetts. While there, I spoke to a very informative lady in period garb; she was tending a campfire, cooking, and discussing historic fiber craft. As so often happens in a state as small as Rhode Island, she turned out to be the wife of a good friend of my late father-in-law. I asked her what re-enactment group she was with, and she said she’s sort of freelance, but that she and a friend are docents at Smith’s Castle in North Kingstown. Upon returning home, I found this on the site’s website:

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I drove over to Smith’s Castle and spoke to Joyce, the docent coordinator. She was thrilled – I got the impression that they are rather hard up for new blood. Since I work during the week I would likely only be able to do my docenting on weekends – which cuts into my precious weekend free time. But we’ll see. The training sessions aren’t until late March.

Growing up in southern Oklahoma, I was fascinated by the “Little House” series (books and tv show). In elementary school, we yearly re-enacted (quite loosely, of course) the Land Rush of April 1889. This basically meant that we dressed up in “pioneer” clothing and, at the firing of a cap gun, frantically dragged Radio Flyer wagons (done up as Conestogas) to chalked-out plots of land on the school’s paved playground area. I also remember being really fascinated with my elementary history textbook’s depictions of the Pennsylvania Dutch, particularly with their beds with draperies all around. As a child, I always wanted to know the names of and uses for wild plants, and loved picking feral asparagus and pecans, and wondered about wild onions. 

Fast forward 35 years. I am now 47, and have not lost my yearning for a “simpler” life. I’m an avid forager of wild plants and fungi for food and sometimes medicine, I love to cook from scratch, I do a bit of crochet (knitting has, sadly, not come so easily), I’m generally fascinated with all sorts of handicrafts, and I’m very interested in historic gardens. I’ve visited England and Scotland a couple of times and love learning about domestic history and folklore.

Been adding history and specifically historic cooking blogs to my Feedly.

Currently obsessed with everything historian Ruth Goodman has been involved in. Watched the entire series of Victorian Farm, Tudor Farm, Tudor Farm Christmas, and Tales from the Green Valley. Loving every minute of all of them (although I did skip past the bit about playing cricket). It is so amazing how nothing was wasted. Everything had a use – sometimes several. Even urine and coal dust and animal droppings, spent tea leaves, wheat chaff, bracken, old bits of cloth and rags, bones – everything.

Started a Pinterest board for inspiration on developing my 17th-Century persona. I don’t want to be just a raggedy camp follower, or a “tavern wench.” I want to be a dignified woman who lives on a small farm and knows her way around the kitchen, garden, and dairy.

To that end, I’ve decided to let my hair grow out again. Not many 17th-Century ladies had pixie haircuts – unless they’ve had head lice, or been forcibly shorn for some other, even more horrible reason.

Been doing more family history research – mostly from the 1600s, some in England, some in New England. Discovered that one of my 9th great-grandfathers was a Sergeant at the Turner’s Falls Massacre of King Philip’s War. He was also one of the founders of Hadley, Massachusetts, and operated the ferry across the Connecticut River for many years. Learned that another line were aristocracy in Yorkshire, much to my delight – at least one was buried in Newcastle, where I visited in September.

Joined a FB group dedicated to King Philip’s War. So far I seem to be the only female there. One gentleman – evidently a distant cousin – recommended three history books I could download in pdf format for free, so I did. Best of all, they are searchable.

Anyway. Just going to “proceed as the way open” and see where it takes me.

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