Remembering

Posted on 5/31/2011 04:54:00 PM In:
Arlington Cemetery, Memorial Day 2010
For Memorial Day,  I decided the Shortlings were finally big enough to do something I'd wanted to do with them for a long time.  So I packed up the brood bright and early in the morning, stopped at the grocery store to buy a couple of bouquets of carnations, and drove down to Arlington Cemetery to remember those who have gone before us.

We left the house at 7:30 in the morning, so two things happened:  traffic was not horrendous and we easily found a parking space at Arlington (this would not have been the case if we'd left even an hour later), and by the time we got there it was already hot humid and miserable (this would have been much much worse had we left an hour later).  We walked through the visitors' center and into the cemetery and before we even got to the Kennedy gravesites, which is major section you come to, The Caterpillar was already asking to go home and/or just sitting down in random shady spots and refusing to walk anymore.  I knew we wouldn't last long, so we did a quick walk by Robert Kennedy's grave site,

Robert Frances Kennedy grave
as well as Ted's because I hadn't been there since he died,

Edward Moore Kennedy grave
and then we turned around and headed back.  We never quite made it to the Tomb of the Unknowns.  I couldn't see pushing The Caterpillar's good mood in the face of being ridiculously hot and tired.  I found a fountain and splashed some water on their heads and we walked back while The Dormouse and The Caterpillar each chose a few graves to adorn with their flowers.  

At gravesite of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and two of their sons
That was fine for The Caterpillar, but after awhile The Dormouse set her sites on live people.  She decided that she'd rather give the flowers to servicemen in uniform who were there and thank them than to leave them on gravestones of anonymous people.  So she asked me if she could do that instead.  I figured why not, so we set about the task of identifying actual military uniforms.  She initially wanted to give flowers to both a troop of boy scouts and a gaggle of ROTC kids and somehow I didn't think "Thank you for your service in our country's military" was perfectly appropriate for these folks.


So I pointed out uniforms of people who might actually have been servicemen.  When we walked in there were servicemen everywhere, but once she hit on this idea, they seemed to have disappeared.  She tried unsuccessfully to give a few flowers to several servicemen who were helping to direct visitors there that day.  They were all very sweet to her, but couldn't accept the flower because they were working and had no place to hold it.  One Air Force retiree took her flower, but it was clear he didn't really get it.  She also approached a man with a Vietnam Veteran hat and medals who, I guess didn't understand what she was trying to do and refused to take her flower because he was "not going to need one." I think he thought she was trying to sell the flower to him. 


Finally, I pointed out a burly Marine who was there with his young family, figuring he might at least get what a seven year old was trying to say.  She ran up to him and tugged at his sleeve as he carried a little girl about her age on his gigantic shoulders.  He turned and bent down to her, face dripping with sweat, dwarfing her entirely.  She pushed the flower up at him and said, "I wanna say Thank You.  For being in the military and keeping us safe."

I've known a few Marines over the years.  They are stoic dudes.  But I'm pretty sure I saw one's heart break at that moment.  He stopped, put down his own child and knelt down.  He asked her why she came to Arlington that day.  She told him because it was Memorial Day.  He asked her if she had someone buried there.  She said no.  "That's why I wanted to give you the flower," she explained.

And he took it.  

And he hugged her. 

And I'm pretty sure I saw tears in his wife's eyes as they walked away.

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In Memoriam

Posted on 5/30/2011 09:20:00 AM In:
I posted one of these photos before, but I thought I'd save the entire triptych for the holiday.  We love military folk around the Wonderland house and not just because The KingofHearts used to be one of those folk and somehow made it out unscathed.  But because we know what a thankless, unpalatable, devil of a job being in the military can be at times and the fact that people still willingly go into the service in this country, despite all the reasons not to, is nothing short of amazing.  Many thanks to those who have served over the years, not just in war time but in peace as well, to help keep our country safe and protect its citizens.





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At Lincoln's Feet

Posted on 5/29/2011 09:11:00 AM In:

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Behind the Trees

Posted on 5/28/2011 09:41:00 AM In:
A view of the Washington Monument from Signers' Island on the National Mall. I think I finally found an angle of the monument that I can't screw up.



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Photo Purge

Posted on 5/27/2011 09:45:00 AM In:
The Caterpillar enjoying a Spring day at the National Mall.  I'm slowly but surely posting all the photos that have been sitting around on my hard drive, mainly because I have nothing else to do with them and my friends have made it clear that they aren't interested in sitting through any more slide shows before dinner.



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It's Not Waterboarding!

Posted on 5/26/2011 09:35:00 AM
Spray the Children With the Hose From the New Deck is one of the favorite new games around our house.  I don't know what's worse, the fact that child protective services would probably have us arrested if they saw us, or that The Ankle Biters have driven us crazy asking to do it over and over.  So... yeah... that one backfired on us.




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Latest Craze

Posted on 5/25/2011 09:27:00 AM
The KingofHearts has been looking for a new sport to become obsessed with lately... one that doesn't require years of training, hours of daily practice and the God-given genetics of Michael Phelps.  After much consideration, he's settled on Competitive Child Tossing.


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Herb's Garden

Posted on 5/24/2011 12:06:00 AM In:
Once we had deck liftoff, I spent quite a bit of time contemplating what to do with our new, snazzy outdoor deck. We had a deck before, but never used it really, except for stacking crap that was supposed to go to the outdoor shed... which no one ever remembered to do. Almost from the time we moved into the house, the deck was weathered, splitting, and nails were coming up so it wasn't all that pleasant to walk across. I was determined that after we mortgaged our children's futures to purchase materials for that deck, that we would damn well use it for it's intended purpose and not just for bike storage.

I've always wanted a really nice kitchen window herb garden for cooking but the logistics of my kitchen are such that any attempts to create something like this would involve a game of twister and the need to hire contortionist trainer. So when someone forwarded me instructions to build a deck garden out of a recycled pallet, I thought it would be a cool thing to try. The link above gives very good starting instructions, so I'm not going to go into too much detail on the how to here, except to point out what didn't work for me and what I had to change.

When I showed The KoH my plans for this, he enthusiastically told me he'd bring home a pallet from his factory as they had tons of them and it would be no big deal. I said sure, please do that and I bought some herbs while I waited with baited breath for my pallet to arrive. Then I watched my herbs get root bound and begin to die in their tiny plastic pots while I waited some more for that pallet. Finally, I went over to our local nursery and asked if I they might be so kind as to give me, or charge me very little for, one of the pallets that were lying around their grounds. After I thoroughly confused them with reasons why I wanted a pallet and none of the goods that came on said pallet, they finally just waved their hands and said, "Sure, take one. Whatever you want, nutso." I strapped one to the roof of my car and drove home with no cash exchanging hands. Lesson learned: it often pays to look like a complete idiot in front of people.

Once I got it home, I followed these instructions up until this point:


Then, as they suggest, I let it sit flat on the ground for a few days to let the dirt settle before setting it upright.

Somewhere in this waiting period is where I realized the inherent problem: all pallets aren't created equally. See all those nice supportive slats on the front? Most pallets have about half that many on the back and there is way more space in between them. So as I had suspected, when I made my first attempt to lift the whole garden up and get it standing, I got it about an inch off the ground before I realized that the four slats and landscapers fabric holding the dirt in from the back wasn't nearly strong enough to hold in the five cubic yards of soil I'd smashed inside. As soon as I lifted it up, I felt the fabric start to pull and all the dirt shifted around so I immediately put it back down for a few more days while I thought about it.

Finally, I explained my proposed solution to The KoH and he found me a large piece of press board in his shop. He and I carefully slid the whole pallet onto it without lifting it more than an inch off the ground. Then in a feat of impossibility I'm still not sure I can explain, we stood them both up and I held the press board to the back while The KoH nailed it to the pallet before all the dirt could fall out. Then we took a circular saw and cut the press board to fit the pallet. This whole process would have been infinitely easier had I thought of this issue when the pallet was empty, lighter, and easier to move around before I'd filled the whole thing with dirt and planted everything. If I'd nailed on a back first and then stapled on the landscaper's fabric, it would have been a much nicer looking product from the back. Let's just say that I would do things differently next time.

But igual, no más, we eventually had a standing deck garden for our troubles. This is where I ran into the second inherent problem: I have no idea how these folks suggest securing the pallet to the wall to ensure it won't fall over. It's heavy and will stand by itself, yes, but I simply didn't trust it to stay that way if a big wind or a small child came by. Fortunately, I had thought of this before and not wanting to do anything permanent, we used a belt clamp to secure it to the deck railings. You'll see the orange nylon strap in the picture below.

We added a few camp chairs, a grill and a fire table and now it's actually a nice place to sit.

Run down of herbs: Row one (top): all chives. Row 2: Cilantro, Spearmint, Marjoram, Eucalyptus, Fennel. Row 3: Parsley, Rosemary 4 kinds (HillHardy, Salem, Spice Island, Barbeque). Row 4 (Basil row): African Blue Basil, Mini Purple Basil, plain ol' run-o-the-mill basil, Greek Columnar Basil, Regular Basil, Sweet Basil, Amethyst Basil, more Sweet Basil, Lemon Basil). Row 5: Oregano, Dill, Pineapple Sage, Growers' Friend Sage, Corsican Mint, Regular Mint. Row 6: all Lemon Thyme

There are a few things you can learn about me from this list of herbs: One: I may or may not have a serious basil addiction. Two: I have never, nor will I ever create an herb garden of any sort without including parsley, sage, rosemary AND thyme. Musically, it's a necessity. Three: In almost every photo on this post, you'll see someone's bare foot. It's getting harder and harder to explain to my next door neighbor that I do sometimes wear shoes. Four: Someone asked me what cilantro was and my response was 'I guess people might use it for things other than salsa, but I don't know what.' Five: In fact, there are several of these herbs that I have no idea what to do with except make salsa. But I'm not really sure there is anything else worth making besides salsa, so I'm okay with that.

Some are just the tiniest bit perturbed that they can't join us in our adventures outdoors.


Some are just happy because this improved access to the outdoors means more hot dogs.


Me? I just enjoy having a chair set right next to the garden so I can supervise the growth of my plants.


My favorite thing about this is watching all the little plants come out of the dirt sideways and then try to crane their heads up toward the sun. It's like I played a practical joke on nature. (Go ahead and click on the photos to embiggen and you'll see what I mean when you look at the stalks.)


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Not Sleepy

Posted on 5/23/2011 12:53:00 PM

She couldn't possibly be expected to go to bed as there was just too much going on and she was sooo not sleepy.



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My Dinner with Barry

Posted on 5/21/2011 09:21:00 AM In:
Well, if you're reading this, I guess either the world didn't end or you weren't lucky enough to get raptured. I'm actually a bit disappointed, because I have a big project at work that I'm pretty far behind on and I was hoping for a bit of a reprieve from that. Also: I was looking to loot a few sets of car keys and pick up a nice vehicle or two.

My cousin from the Midwest was in town this week and I picked him up for dinner the other night. The Caterpillar and I took him to one of my favorite empanada shops in the Dupont Circle area. You'd think the excitement of 14 different empanada flavors and grass on the wall alone would be well more than an out of town guest could simply stand, but because I wanted to provide the complete "D.C. Experience," I arranged for the President to have dinner a few doors down from us. I'm cool like dat.

First we noticed unusual activity on the block.

Then a score of black SUVs, motorcycles and people in black suits appeared on the scene.


I had an idea what was up because there isn't much in D.C. that requires this level of security, but eventually we started to overhear people say President Obama was coming for dinner and they had cleared out the entire pizza restaurant up the street.

We didn't see the President arrive - too engrossed in our empanadas - but when we came out the entire block had been closed down to traffic so we were pretty sure he was there by now. People were still allowed to enter the restaurant (still trying to figure out how they were given permission to do that because we weren't even allowed to walk past the corner) but they were each swiped with a magnetic wand before entering. I've lived in the area for awhile now and have developed a certain blasé attitude about the celebrity of politics that goes on here, like most Washingtonians. I saw Bill Clinton a couple of times back in the 90s, never managed to catch a glimpse of George Bush, bumped into a few Senators on the street (probably more than I know because I wouldn't recognize most of them on the street).  But despite all that, I'm still not jaded enough to not choose to stand on a sidewalk way past The Caterpillar's bedtime to catch a glimpse of Barack Obama's head as he gets into a limo after stuffing his face with pizza.

And so we did.

Over the years here, I've heard a lot of criticism about how the President, whoever the President was at the time, doesn't support local businesses or that when he does go out, he tends to go to high end, high dollar restaurants and spend a lot of tax dollars on expensive meals. I can tell you after watching the logistics of him try to go out to a pizza joint, that the cost of food doesn't even begin to match the cost of getting him out of the white house and back safely. The amount of people, cars, weapons, and Secret Service agents that have to accompany him and ensure that he and his family are safe is astronomical. High end restaurants are probably cheaper in the long run because they are easier to secure.  There were agents up and down the block, police officers trying to control the crowd, snipers on adjacent rooftops and across the street, a team of motorcycle cops doing scout work, two ambulances and (I would imagine) a team of plain clothes people in the crowd we didn't even notice.

I have to say the best part of the event was standing and talking to people who were also waiting on the corner. People were friendly, funny and ridiculous all at the same time. At one point, someone living in an apartment above a restaurant across the street opened up his window and stuck his head out to get a better view. The Secret Service went CRAZY. They started yelling and gesturing at him to get back in his home and when he didn't seem to understand, a team of them made moves toward the building like they had every intention of going up there and taking him down. It was like someone had disturbed an ant hill. He finally got the point, pulled his head back inside and closed the window. One of the people standing near me said, "Geez! It's his house. He can't even open the window and look out?"

About six of us muttered something to the effect of, "Um.... maybe they're a little touchy about open windows across the street from where the President will be."

"..."

"Kennedy, anyone?"

"Oh! Yeah. I guess you're right."

We hung around until he finished his meal and left the restaurant. Some folks said the entire family was there, but we never really got confirmation of that. We could tell when it was getting close because the ant hill mob of Secret Service Agents started bustling again. A local police woman who was doing crowd control near us came over to tell me that I should watch out for The Caterpillar in case the people standing around us started to crowd us to try to get a photo as he left. She didn't want her to get trampled.  That didn't happen because he left so quickly, but I thought she was sweet and really nice to look out for us like that.

I did manage to catch a photo of his limo as they drove away. See in between the two Secret Service Agents and the cop with the nuclear fallout glowing vest?  Those two barely visible tail lights are my brush with greatness.


The Dormouse, lover of all things Obama, by the way, wasn't with us. She chose to go to another event with The KingofHearts, so it was just my cousin, The Caterpillar and me. When I told her that we'd seen The President and she didn't, she LOST. HER. MIND. I'm pretty sure she's never going to pass up dinner downtown again in her life.

And I hear that random people on the street were seen stealing the "POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS TAPE" from the trash cans after the Secret Service took it down and threw it away.

Those crazies.


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Hats On for Patience

Posted on 5/17/2011 03:03:00 PM
Lately we've been having a lot of trouble with patience around our home. The Small One can be an annoying pest, yes, everyone admits that. But The Large One has taken to snapping at her indiscriminately for everything she does or says. She's always had her own way of dealing with this but in the past few months it's graduated to a point where no one else in the room has any patience with the two of them either.

Scene:

The Dormouse wakes up in the morning, stumbles into the room.

The Caterpillar: "Hi Siste..."

The Dormouse: *immediately snaps back* "I HEARD YOU ALREADY STOP TALKING TO ME!"

Caterpillar: "I ONLY SAID HI. MOOOOOOOOOOMMMAAAAAA!!"

Dormouse: "STOP YELLING AT ME YOU DON'T HAVE TO YELL!"

And suddenly the decibel level in the room has gone from Quiet Living Room to Jet Engine Up Close. And next thing you know, you're explaining to the alarm company that yes, your glass break sensor went off but they don't really need to send the police.


We've explained, talked, pleaded, begged, forced her to apologize, threatened to take away birthday party attendance privileges and even tried some behavioral modification techniques. I'm desperate to stop this behavior before The Caterpillar grows a few years older, realizes her sister is being an ass, and begins to hate her for it. And then The Dormouse will hate her right back in a cycle of pre-teen angst, never to be broken.

It probably goes without saying that this lack of patience, one sister for another, has also created a lack of patience on the part of two parents who are, frankly, sick of the bickering. Anyone who's ever been a parent knows that the worst part of this job we get ourselves into isn't the sleepless nights or the dirty diapers or concerns for their safety or even the constant worry that you're doing something wrong and that someone will come and undo all the good you just did. The worst thing about being a parent is that no matter how many times you ask, explain, coax, urge, beg or persuade them to do something, you can be damn sure you'll be having the exact same conversation tomorrow, if not five minutes from now.

Someone once said that the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That person was wrong. That's also the definition of having kids.

Digression: One of my brilliant ideas is to invent a device onto which you can record your lecture and then just play it back to children on a loop until it is assimilated like some kind of brainwashing technique in The Manchurian Candidate or A Clockwork Orange. But then I think that device is just called a 'Tape Recorder,' so I'm probably not going to make a million dollars off that one. I have other ideas too, but that one's probably the only one that won't incur the wrath of Child Protective Services. Stupid big brother government, getting all up in my business. /digression


I've tried to do some more structured activities that involve the three of us. Things like mate dulce which force us to work together and get along. But man, with the stress level and constant state of being overwhelmed by my work lately, it has been super hard to create that time for us. I'm hoping as summer comes or as I finally give up and quit my job and become a burden to my children, I'll be able to do a better job at that.

One of my other schemes to get the older one to be more patient with the younger one and vice versa when they start bickering has been to tell everyone to "put your patient hat on" and then make them mime putting on a hat. The KingofHearts and I do it too (we often need an extra dose of patience - would that it were that easy). The Caterpillar decides what type of hat she will be wearing and happily pantomimes putting that hat on whether it be a bonnet, a baseball cap or some sort of melted butter hat that you have to smooth over your entire head for several minutes. The Dormouse thought this was funny and went along with it at first but quickly decided that at the ripe old age of seven, she was too old for this and it was downright stupid. Now when we say, "put on your patient hat" and wait for her to actually do it, she rolls her eyes like a teenager who's been forced the indignation of having her parents drive her to school and drop her near the locker bay where the cool kids hang out.

"I don't want to," she'll whine.

But we make her do it anyway... because we're evil like that.

Then when she forgets and snaps at her sister, someone will say, "Uh oh! Your patient hat must have fallen off. Better put it back on!" And we wait while she sighs and is forced to mime putting the hat back on again. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Often it's more a reminder to me than to anyone else.

Sometimes it's too easy to forget that you have an imaginary hat on and you need an actual hat on your head as a reminder. Like when you're making chocolate milkshakes together:



I wore one too. But it didn't help the fact that we were out of milk and had to use powdered milk that we had in our food storage.

Worst. Milkshakes. Ever.

Not such a bad day, though.

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Bogie Would Be Proud

Posted on 5/16/2011 08:13:00 AM In:
We've been trying to grow strawberries for the last three years now. Each time we'd have big bushy lovely green plants and pretty white blooms, but some animal would come eat all the blooms off the plants before any of the fruit could come to fruition. I don't know what was different this year (I haven't killed any new bunnies or anything), but this is from one of the plants that wintered over from last year. And now each time I walk by I say to myself, "Strawberries... that's where I had them."



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Contemplative

Posted on 5/15/2011 05:56:00 PM
Life has gotten in the way of regular blogging lately.  Here's a pretty picture instead.



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Miss Information

Posted on 5/10/2011 08:38:00 AM In:
Years before I met The KingofHearts, I was dating a guy who went to school in Baltimore.  I spent lots of time there and in the Mount Vernon area in particular.  I love the city as much as I love Washington, D.C. but for entirely different reasons.  No two cities could be any more different.  I'm not even sure I can explain how.  They just are, hon.  

I have always been fascinated by the Mount Vernon Place United Method Church from the first time I saw it's gorgeous red doors.


Not being a Methodist, I've not spent any time inside.  I tend to think all large churches are tourist attractions - can't imagine how I got that impression - so I keep trying to see the inside.  But every time I've been by this building, which is a proper functioning church, it's either been closed or they were in the act of holding services and walking in with a camera to gawk seemed... well, rude. 

I've pointed it out to lot of people as we drive around the Other Washington Monument though, because on the outer corner of the foundation, this plaque is displayed.  And as we pass by, I generally say something all know-it-all and tourist-guide-y like "See that church?  That's the church where Francis Scott Key died."  And I'm all impressed with myself because I know Stuff.

Inscription reads: 
Francis Scott Key, author of the Star Spangled Banner departed this life on the site of this building, 
January 11, 1843. 
And this be our motto "in God is our trust." - Key
Baltimore Chapter, D.A.R

It wasn't until I was doing a little research for this post that I finally asked myself after a decade-plus of seeing and passing this plaque, "Wait, what?  He died in a church?  That's odd."  So I consulted my local Baltimore history professor and learned the Whole Story.  And the Whole Story is that Francis Scott Key died on this site, but not in this church.  From the Mt. Vernon Place website:

The church sits on the site of the mansion of Charles Howard, who was married to Elizabeth Phoebe Key. Her father, Francis Scott Key, the author of The Star Spangled Banner, died here in his daughter's home. A plaque observing his death adorns the southern outside church wall, marking the church as a highlighted location on the National Historic Register. The cost of this grand structure, including land, building, and furnishings was $400,000.

Well, color me embarrassed. Turns out the church was completed in 1872, while Francis Scott Key died from pleuritis in 1843.

Let that be a lesson to you.  Do not believe everything I tell you on a free tour around the city.  Between The KoH and I, the Underground family are piss-poor tour guides.

But on second thought, it was a free tour, so what do you want for nothing?  Eggs in your beer?

Despite it's only tenuous connection to the history I thought it had, I love this building.  It's a great example of Gothic Revival Architecture (I looked that up to make sure I was right before I said anything) and I love the different colored stones used in the exterior.  More from the website:

The building is made six of different types of stone. Its extraordinary color (especially when wet) comes from the use of the now rare green serpentine marble from the Falls Road area of Baltimore County, and buff and red sandstone trim. Because neither stone wears well, major repairs and replacements of individual pieces with more stable materials were necessary in 1932 and again in 1978.

It really is more beautiful in the rain.  However, the steps are more slippery too.  Some people will be able to tell you that from experience. 

More pictures:


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Star Spangled Banner House

Posted on 5/09/2011 09:06:00 AM In:

In our continuing series of tiny places in Baltimore, our next stop is the Pickersgill house. OK, it's actually the Star Spangled Banner Flag House and 1812 Museum, but first, it was Mary Pickersgill's house.


I know that if you ask your average man on the street, 'Who sewed the Star Spangled Banner,' 90% will say Betsy Ross.  But even if you believe that Betsy Ross actually sewed the first flag, the Star Spangled Banner wasn't the first flag.  So you'd still be wrong.  It was Mary Pickersgill.


Mary Young Pickersgill was a young flag maker in Baltimore.  Mary was born in 1776, coincidentally.  She married John Pickersgill at nineteen, moved to Philadelphia with him, and then came to Baltimore when she lost her husband in 1807.  She had a widowed mother and a daughter to take care of, so she started a flag-making business. Mary is a fascinating individual.  Here's what the Wikipedia has to say about her:

One hundred and fifty years before American women entered the business world, Pickersgill was a successful businesswoman and philanthropist. She actively addressed social issues such as housing, job placement assistance, and financial aid for disadvantaged women—decades before these issues were prominent concerns in society. From 1828 until 1851 she was president of the Impartial Female Humane Society that helped impoverished families with school vouchers for children and employment for women. Under her presidency the society established a home for aged women in 1850. By 1869 there were forty-eight residents and, in 1863, a Men’s Home was added, with 27 residents. Today the Impartial Female Humane Society is known as the Pickersgill Retirement Community, located in Towson, Maryland, a living testimony of Pickersgill’s humanitarian contributions to society.

The fact that she was able to accomplish all this in 19th century America makes me want sit down for dinner with her right then and there.  I don't care how big a flag she sewed. 

But her big claim to fame is that in 1813, some dudes from the nearby Fort McHenry (Ah, I love it when a plan comes together) came by her business because General Armistead had ordered "a flag so large that the British would have no difficulty seeing it from a distance" to fly over his fort.  And by 'so large,' he meant REALLY BIG.  The actual Star Spangled Banner was thirty feet by forty-two feet.  Even when you see the actual flag in the Smithsonian, it's really had to conceptualize, because it's lying off in a room (or as in old school days, hanging on a wall) and a good portion of the flag is now missing.  Fortunately, the Star Spangled Banner museum has an actual size replica for a good visual.

 
That's a staircase inside the building you see behind it.

Still don't get the magnitude?  Check out this photo with The Dormouse as scale.

Sure, she's little, but even I barely only rate one more stripe's height.

There's an adult soldier standing in this photo from the flag's centennial in 1914.  You can see that he's not a lot bigger than The Dormouse.

See what I mean? When General Armistead said he wanted a "very large flag," it was only because he was alive in the 1800s and back then they couldn't say "big-assed flag."

Mary and two nieces sewed this flag and charged the United State Government $544.74 for the job. The material was cut out at her home on Albermarle Street and then carried to a brewery that was close by where they actually sewed the strips together.

View of the Pickersgill house - on the corner - from the second story of the museum.

Actual pieces of the flag.  One of the reasons so much of it is missing now is that over the years, people cut off bits of it as souvenirs.

So you know the rest of the story.  The next year, in 1814, it was that flag flying over the Fort that Francis Scott Key watched for when he was sitting on that British ship out in the harbor through the battle.  And it was only because the flag was so damn big that Francis could see it to be inspired by it anyway. So in a way, it was Mary Pickersgill and General Armistead that we have to thank for our national anthem.  But I guess Francis Scott Key did some stuff too.

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Communicable

Posted on 5/07/2011 07:45:00 AM In:

My chlamydia clematis (I'm never going to tire of that joke, just so you know) is blooming. I'm still not pleased with the progress of my bush, but at least it has something to show for itself these days.

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Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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