Monday, October 29, 2012

A Book and a Blog

I can still remember Mrs. McNeal, my high school english teacher, telling me I needed to drop all other life plans and pursue writing as a career. I thought she was crazy. College professors echoed her advice. "You really must," they said. I never could understand how they thought I was going to afford to eat by doing that. There are very few jobs that pay a person for creative writing and I sure as heck did not want to pursue technical writing -- I would rather eat worms.

They would argue with me, telling me I was wasting my talent. I would argue in return explaining that I really liked pizza and it was expensive. Besides, what would I write about? I was young, unexperienced and, frankly, quite stupid. I felt I needed to be inspired to write. I thought real writers already had all that inspiration inside of them, oozing out their pores. I did not understand that it was something you could work at -- develop over time. I guess I never considered that real writers did research, which in turn sparked the inspiration. I chose a different career.

Fast-forward a number of years, we won't say exactly how many, and here I am thinking maybe they knew what they were talking about. I attended a writer's conference yesterday. A historical fiction conference specifically. I walked out afterward thinking, "Sure, I can do that. No problem."

(insert sound of brakes screeching here)

Let me say that again, because I doubt you caught the significance. I walked out thinking, "Sure, I can do that. No problem." Note the confidence. I walked out thinking I could write a novel. A whole novel. Like as in, wa-ha-hay more words than blog post.  For me, that is huge. Just like most other writers, I have always lacked the confidence to feel I could actually do it. Until yesterday. For whatever reason something clicked. I felt totally in my element. I even knew what my story was.

I have assigned days on my calendar to write and do research. I am going to do this. It won't be done by the end of next month. Maybe not even next year. But I am going to do this. I have joined a writers workshop, a group of writers who share critiques and editing -- peer pressure is always a good motivator. I'm going to do this.

In the mean time, there is a new blog in town. It is called White River Farmhouse. You can find it if you click on my profile. It is empty right now and may stay that way for awhile. I make no promises. I intend to use it for tracking the details for the second novel. Yes, two. There will be no pictures of cute animals. No mention of what is going on in my world. Just fiction and research. The discarded scene that doesn't make it into the book might get rewritten for this blog. It probably won't be in chronological order and may or may not make any sense at all, but you are welcome to follow along and provide feedback if you so choose.

I am going to do this.

Friday, October 19, 2012


How am I doing without my farm animals? I know you all want to ask, but are afraid. The answer? I'm okay.

Just okay. 

It helps that I have been so busy; plenty of new things going on in my life. It also helps that I work with animals and have, more or less, claimed one of them as my own. 

I'd like you to meet Mine. Yes, I've claimed her so much that it's actually become her name. Not Christine's lamb. Just Mine.

Mine greets me at the gate when I enter to clean the pens. 

She stands for me to monkey groom the wood shavings off her, turns for me to groom the other side, then turns again for me to clean her rear end. Once clean she'll finally leave me to lie down. 

She has the same super sweet temperament as my Sophia and I love her dearly for that. Well, that and the fact that she laughs at my jokes.

The season for the outdoor areas at Conner Prairie is almost over, but I've been told I can still visit her for therapeutic monkey grooming sessions over the winter. For her sake, of course. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mississinewa 1812

So what does a reenactor do when they can't take the time off work to participate in their own reenactment? They go to the closest one they can find which happens to be on their day off. We attended the Mississinewa 1812 event today. It was nice to go as a spectator for a change. 

We noted that the battles are a little less intense when the guns aren't pointed directly at you. 

But at this event you could get your thrills by taking in a peep show instead. 

It is fun to go a see the camps of other reenactors and the setting at Mississinewa couldn't be better. 

The living history camps were highly varied in their accessories. My personal favorite had to be the chickens. I couldn't stop thinking to myself, "a tisket, a tasket, a chicken in a basket."

It is always fun to talk to the craftspeople about their craft. 

The textile industry was well represented with everything from natural dyes,

to inkle weaving,

To a very impressive display on processing flax into linen.

A reenactor can't help but be inspired going to an event like this and perhaps a little green with envy. I'd love to have a little tape loom like this one. I hear they can be found by contacting a Mr. Google. He must be a merchant of some sort. Perhaps someone will contact Mr. Google and acquire one of these for me as a Christmas gift someday?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Like a New Friend

We met online, this old house and I. It was obvious by her profile we had a lot in common, but with any new relationship the most interesting facts surface later on after you've gotten to know each other awhile.

The sugar maples just outside the windows are fantastic right now. The beauty of the morning light illuminating the leaves through the stained glass keyhole window in the bedroom is a sight my camera could never even begin to capture.

The relationship so far has been an interesting one; attic expeditions have revealed much of her past and explained a lot of her quirks. The old lines for the gas lights were still up there along with all the knob and tube wiring. The wiring is gone but the gas lines will stay for some future generation's amusement.  The questionable conduit running down the interior wall in the master bedroom, it seems, was not placed there because the previous owners had bad taste, but because there is no channel inside the wall for the wiring to pass. The exterior of this building is three bricks deep then plaster and lath applied directly to the brick. The old wolf can huff and puff all he wants but no way is he ever blowing this place down! This also explains the drywall applied directly to the wall in the second bedroom. They were not just hiding crumbling plaster, but attempting to create a channel. Interesting. Very interesting. I have elected to simply remove the conduit and wiring and do without electricity on the master bedroom wall and I'll worry about the second bedroom when I get to it.

As I write this there are two men pumping 12 inches of insulation into the attic. Given that it was 31 degrees this morning when I got out of bed, I'd say the timing couldn't be better. Interestingly, the brick section of the house has remained comfortable while the modern addition, aka Sheville, is the room that is either way too hot or too cold. I believe the neighbors told us it was built in the sixties. Do you suppose they never insulated the walls back there? It has a cathedral ceiling so there's no attic to insulate. I suppose we could insulate the crawlspace? It is interesting to think about how the place was heated initially. There are three gas fireplaces and, of course, the kitchen would have had either a gas or wood stove. The living room fireplace has since been converted to wood, but it is so small you could really only burn one log at a time which seems silly. It is my favorite of the fireplaces though.

The hearth tiles have been removed but the surround tiles are still there and are fabulous. I never noticed the writing until after I moved in.




Another quirk related to heating revealed itself last night. We've known that the previous owners removed a wall connecting the family room with another small room once used as a bedroom. We also knew that they removed a closet door. What we didn't realize is that the closet was not original to the house. After close inspection of the closet from the foyer side, it became apparent that it was never there to begin with. The closet door and wall you see below were added later, it was just an open area under the stairs when the house was built.

Closing it in not only allowed for a closet, but the space houses the main intake and main second floor shaft for the furnace and air conditioning vents. I'm guessing this was done in the thirties. The closet reveals what the foyer wallpaper looked like at the time.

Another closet upstairs hides the plumbing vent. While I have not found any skeletons so far, I have discovered a few very disturbing holes. I think my new friend has had some pest control issues in the past. As you can see, I plan to be there for her if it becomes an issue again, because that's what friends are for!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Is There an End to the Cuteness?

I used to think there was nothing cuter than a baby goat. 

Certainly not cuter than a baby goat with funny looking ears.

Unless maybe it is a smiling baby goat with funny looking ears.

Until today when I dressed a smiling baby goat with funny looking ears in pajamas!

Best. Job. Ever.
If you've been putting off visiting me at Conner Prairie, the time is now. 
Who knows what tomorrow might bring?