Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Great Discovery and the Hope for a New (old) Life

Those of you who have been reading my posts for some time must know that not only am I a living historian / reenactor of the American Civil War era, but a wishful think-er that one day I will wake up and find that my family and I have time-traveled back to that era (Hey! I'm allowed!). Well, since that will never happen, my wife and I try - ever-so-slowly - to incorporate the more traditional lifestyle of the mid-19th century into our modern lives. Considering the fact that we live in the city (just a half mile outside of Detroit) makes it rather difficult. Modern intrusions surround us, not only in scenery but in lifestyle as well. It's nearly impossible to attempt to live an (for lack of better words) antiquated life in this area. But, we try...morally (pretty successful here!) and, to a lesser extent, physically.
Our hope is to one day in the not too distant future move from this obtrusive locale into an area that is more suitable to how we would like to live - - Patty and I plan to put our heads together soon after the first of the year and see what we need to do to make our dream come true. Believe it or not, we spoke of living this sort of old-fashioned life on our very first date! Why we did not grab it with both hands early on...well, all I can say is this fool learned a good lesson. Hopefully, it's not too late.

Anyhow, since we are stuck here in the city for now, we have slowly been decorating the inside of our home in a very traditional style by use of paint color, period-correct wall paper, pulling up the carpeting to reveal our hardwood floors, and, of course, our antiques, of which we actually use. Yes, we sit on our 1890's sette', yes we rock in our 1850's rocking chair, yes Patty plans to learn to spin on our 1830's great/walking wheel, and yes we tell time by our 1880's mantel clock. And there are other items we use as well. There are some things, however, we either cannot find or simply cannot afford. Or, in the case of a butter churn, for instance, our 120 year old crock is lead-based. Don't want THAT butter on my bread!
Well, while searching over the internet for items to help us live a more 19th century lifestyle (quite an oxymoron!) I discovered a wonderful store that can (and has) greatly helped us in our endeavor to live this traditional life: Lehmans, sellers of period appropriate home items. You name it - they got it! And little did I know just how extensive a place Lehman's was - I received their full catalog when I ordered a wall oil lamp recently... (below right)

Holy Cow! My wife and I went crazy looking at all of the wonderful items they carry! Wood burning stoves for warming and cooking, oil lamps of all kinds, churns, juicers, old-time toys, farming and garden equipment, all kinds of kitchen items, milk bottles and glasses, ice cream makers, tools, books...just a treasure-trove of home items for folks who would like to live the traditional life.
Unfortunately, their prices are a little on the high side. I guess they can afford to do that since, as far as I can see, they are a one-of-a-kind store.
Not that we need or want everything they have listed - unless my wife and I decide to quit our jobs to chop wood all day long, I don't believe we could use a wood burning cook stove - but, the idea that we can purchase certain items that we have always wanted but could never find in usable condition is wonderful.
I suppose what I like most about a store such as Lehmans is that such a store exists, meaning that there are others - many others - out there who desire to live a more traditional life.
Patty and I are not alone!
(Actually, I knew we weren't alone in our endeavors...between reenacting and blogging I have met many others like us. That's a good feeling.)
We are hoping to take the 4 hour journey to visit the store sometime in the near future - if my wife has her way, it will be before Christmas. That's doubtful, but maybe in January or even February, as long as the weather is clear. I'd hate to be caught in a snowstorm so far from home.

Now, my dear Better Half has always knitted and crocheted, but, of late, she has found that her interests in traditional crafts has expanded greatly, and she is now doing much more in that vein than she ever thought - - she's sewn herself three dresses, three dresses for our daughter Rosalia, pants and a shirt for Miles, underdrawers (shhhh!!!) for our son Rob and for me, and she has made three bonnets for herself - silk, straw, and a winter bonnet, each one totally hand-made. Although for the clothing she used her electric sewing machine, she refused to use anything but traditional methods in her bonnet making - no glue gun here! - saying, "If I'm going to take the time to do this, then I'm going to do it right!"In fact, that's Rosalia and Patty in the above photo (center and right respectively, with a friend). Everything you see my wife and daughter wearing, except for her gloves and Rosalia's hat, was made by Patty.
Yes, I am proud!
I would love it if we could consistently dress in a more traditional style as well - not just at reenactments. That day may come, for Patty has repeatedly mentioned how she wishes she could wear her period clothing outside of reenactments, including her corset. She just feels more comfortable.
Wouldn't that be something - - - many in my extended family already thinks were wacko (in a cool sort of way) as it is!
Ultimately, what Patty and I hope to do is get out of the city living, find a home either in a small town or village (Romeo, here we come!) or a small farmhouse with a bit of land, and do our best to become as self-sufficient as we can. Use more natural lighting. Eat the vegetables we grow. Take pride in what we're able to do ourselves without society help. I'm not necessarily speaking of becoming Amish (although that is intriguing!) because I do enjoy a good movie, for instance, and I enjoy playing on the computer. Hot showers are nice, too. But, to become more independent of modern society. We have spoken of this quite a bit lately - it's an ache and a yearning we both have.
We just have to, with God's help (for I can see no other way), put it into motion.


Vande Historic Costuming said...

Knowing exactly what you want is half-way to getting it.
Your house is truly beautiful and your wife is a talented seamstress and crafter!

Historical Ken said...

Thank you for the kind and encouraging words - - now to complete the other half!

Patty said...

Thanks for the link. I love looking at old things. I think I was born in the wrong century, because I want to time travel back to the 1860's. If you figure out a way to do it will you please let me know! I love the dresses your wife made. Has she ever considered making any and selling them on e-bay?

Historical Ken said...

Thank you Patty - I have mentioned the same to my wife but her time is so filled she barely has enough time to make things for herself or us - -
Maybe when we can afford to have her not work...
Anyhow, you might be interested in my time-travel and how to do it blog:
Self-Hypnosis + Authenticity + 1st person = Time-Travel

(or if the above doesn't work)