Saturday, November 22, 2014

NaBloPoMo14.22: Guinea pig redux

The shows are over.  That pretty much says it all for today.

I'll likely be able to find some words tomorrow.  In the meantime, here's Penelope:

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she would like to know what you are looking at.
and if you have any carrots.

Friday, November 21, 2014

NaBloPoMo14.21: In the weeds

It finally hit me yesterday:  the last two weeks have been like summer stock, with back-to-back cycles of tech/dress rehearsal/performances.  At the time, I found it all exhilarating.  Now I'm just exhausted.

I feel SO OLD, but of course, back then I wasn't also trying to keep a household afloat at the same time, so I suppose I should cut myself a little slack.

This morning I have been puttering about the house doing chores in slow motion ... mostly those which I have been putting off because they're boring and take time I didn't have, like sorting through a truly gargantuan pile of socks.

I also gave myself a bit of time to get started on a project for a Christmas swap.  The yarn (Cascade 220 Superwash Sport) is nice and squishy, and the pattern is engaging, while straightforward enough to let me watch some of HBO's Mildred Pierce at the same time.

in the weeds

It feels like the calm before the storm (please wish us luck for tonight!), and just what I needed today.

(I have really missed making mittens.)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

NaBloPoMo14.20: Another look back

Remembering how we acquired our first guinea pig, and then, in short order, our second:

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Friday, April 07, 2006


G is for Guinea Pig



This is Her Ladyship's guinea pig, which we bought to celebrate her 9th birthday. Pig was a huge hit ... Her Ladyship had been longing for a pet of her very own, and the whole family was instantly charmed by the little critter's sweet face and gentle disposition.

From Her Ladyship's perspective, her brothers were a bit too charmed. Despite repeated assertions that this Pig was hers and hers alone, she quickly found herself having to share Pig Time. The boys cuddled and sweet talked the creature and argued with their sister about who held Pig last and for how long. This state of affairs clearly could not be allowed to stand.


About a month after Pig 1 joined the family Her Ladyship came to me and very sweetly asked for time to talk, "just us girls." She expressed a desire to have me all to herself, in the living room, for a private chat. "And Mom?" she said in a transparent attempt to make this an offer I couldn't refuse, "Why don't you bring your knitting?"

When I joined her she was sitting in the armchair with her pet on her lap and The Book of Guinea Pig Care open on the coffee table.

"What's on your mind, honey?" I asked.

"Mom," she said, reaching for the book, "I'd like to read to you from 'the 10 Golden Rules of Cavy Care'. #1: Guinea Pigs are social animals, and do best when two or more are housed together."

She proceeded to express concern for the pig's emotional -- and eventually physical -- health ("because the happier she is the longer she'll live!") as well as talking up how excited and happy her brother would be to have his own pet. "He's been a bit sad and jealous that I have a guinea pig, Mom," she said gravely. "I feel bad for him."

The next day she asked to speak to me again. Again she met me in the living room, with Pig and book in hand.

On day three, she talked about all the tricks and games they could teach the Guinea Pig, "But it's really best if you have more than one, so that they can work together."

On day four, she tried to pull her father into her web, but he begged off, claiming that the Young'un needed something in the kitchen.

On the morning of the fifth day, I came downstairs to find her already set up in the living room with pig, book, and a determined look on her face. "Mom," she said, "I need to finish reading the Golden Rules of Cavy Care. We got off subject last time."

I told her there was no need, her father and I had talked the night before and decided that since two guinea pigs wouldn't be that much more work than one (the Young'un was thankfully too small to care about any of this), it probably was best for Pig to have a friend.


Enter Pig 2. She and Pig 1 did not get along at first ... there was some fighting as they sized each other up and sorted out the pecking order. (You've never seen anything so funny as a guinea pig's attempt to look threatening. They are such inherently mild-mannered little beasts that although fur can fly, for the most part they are content to puff themselves up as much as possible and shout indignant grunts and whistles at each other.)


The pigs get along fairly well now. It was quickly apparent that they have very different personalities ... Pig 1 has remained mellow and cuddly, while Pig 2 is much more vocal and high strung (she gets particularly assertive when she goes into heat -- our guinea pig has PMS). But they're both sweet, lovely little pets, and have proved to be excellent additions to the family.

I just hope Her Ladyship never takes it into her head to lobby for a pony.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

NaBloPoMo14.19: Deja vu all over again

Tech week again (different kids ... upper elementary through high school aged this time).

Dress rehearsal tonight.

Day off tomorrow before opening on Friday.

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I am looking forward to tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

NaBloPoMo14.18 Therapeutic

Jasper has always been a particularly empathetic dog.

His radar is almost unnerving ... if someone in the house is anxious, sick, or upset, he materializes in the room and does his best to make them feel better.

(As part of my work with the children's theater, I often have the soloists come to the house to work with me on their music.  Most of them have never done such a thing before, and are very nervous when they get here ... it's one thing to sing in a group, quite another to stand a few feet from another person -- with your parent in the other room -- and sing all by yourself.  Jasper seems to have a sixth sense for recognizing the kids who need the most support, and comforts them the best way he knows how -- by leaning against their legs.  The more anxious they are, the more he presses.  Once I was focusing so hard on the music that I didn't notice what he was doing until I instructed the boy I was working with to "stand squarely on both feet, please!"

"I can't!" he said plaintively.  "Your dog has me pinned to the wall!")

jasper
just wants to help

This morning Her Ladyship and Jasper took the first of the classes he needs to be certified as a therapy dog. She said it took a while for him to settle down (the class was held at the same place he goes to be groomed, and he seemed to be afraid she was going to march him to the back of the store and hand him off to be bathed), but that after he did, the hour went well.

Once he's certified, she hopes to volunteer with him through a local organization.

I think the whole process will be good for both of them.


Monday, November 17, 2014

NaBloPoMo14.17: Detective work

The pictures surfaced during our family reunion in 2013.

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The little girl on the left is also the older woman on the right ... my maternal great-grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Dowtin Bowers.

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No one recognized these folks, but when we turned the picture over, we discovered that it had been labeled.

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The label was misleading.  The Dowtins were not my great-grandfather's parents, but his in-laws, the parents of the children in the previous picture.  No one knew anything more about them; not their first names, the name of the little boy sitting next to his sister, where they lived or whether they had any other children. Based on the picture, we assumed that he served in the Confederate army during the Civil War, but beyond that, Grandmother and Grandfather Dowtin were a mystery.

Fast forward a year.  While visiting B's family over the summer, we realized that there was some question about where in Germany his great-grandfather had been born.  In search of the answer I went to Ancestry.com, and while I was there, decided to see if I could learn a bit more about the Dowtins.

What I found was simultaneously heart breaking and fascinating.  There is some conflicting information, but after a fair amount of digging and cross-checking, this is what I believe to be part of their story:

The gentleman pictured is my 2x great-grandfather, William Anthony Dowtin, who was born in North Carolina in 1831.  On November 11, 1852, when he was 21 years old, he married Sarah Rodwell.

She died not quite two months later, on January 4, 1853.

In November, 1854 he married the woman who would become my 2x great-grandmother, Mary Caroline Watson.  By the 1860 census, they had four children: William, "A" (possibly Anthony, given the family's penchant for naming their children after living relatives) and Mary (a fourth child, John, was born in November 1860, after the census was taken.  He and Mary were born approximately 9 months apart).   This is the only record I have been able to find so far that mentions "A", who was three years old at the time of the census (death certificates were not required in North Carolina until the early 1900s).

In the 1860 census, William's profession is given as "farmer", although I did find a marriage record in which he is cited as "Justice of the Peace".

William next appeared in the historical record when he enlisted in Company G of the 43rd Regiment North Carolina State Troops ("The Warren Defenders") .  Last week I hit a treasure trove of information about his military service ... his wife's application for a Confederate Widow's Pension and his personnel papers, both of which have been digitized by the State Library of North Carolina  Company G was formed in March, 1862 (although the papers state that he was elected Captain in February 1862, so perhaps he helped get the company organized?), and mustered into Confederate service at Camp Mangum, NC (now the state fairgrounds), on April 2, 1862, for a term of three years or the duration of the war.

His papers list him as "present" in May and June.  He was paid $130 on the 2nd of every month, and in June requisitioned clothing, caps and blankets for new recruits (he originally requested socks as well, but the request was struck out ... whether by Capt. Dowtin or the quartermaster, it is impossible to say).

The roster for July and August 1862 states simply, "Died August 26, 1862 at home".  Subsequent pages say that the cause of death was "disease", and that he was in his family's charge at the time.

He was 31 years old.

I have yet to find recorded graves for William or "A".  A Google search uncovered claims by another researcher that William died of typhoid and was buried "on the land" (I am wondering now if little "A" is buried somewhere next to his father). This same researcher mistakes his niece for his daughter, however, so although the information seems likely, without citation I am taking it with a grain of salt.

Mary Caroline, left a widow with three or four small children at the age of 32, never remarried.  The application for her widow's pension, filed in 1901, attests to this, and further swears that "she is not worth in her own right, or the right of her late husband, property at its assessed value for taxation to the amount of $500".

The stories that go along with those spare statements are still lost to time.





Sunday, November 16, 2014

NaBloPoMo.16 Unanticipated

And she said she didn't want to go shopping.

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edited to add:  Yes, that's a living, breathing pig in that baby carriage.  Her name is Maggie.