Wednesday, February 13, 2008


It's another day for cold-weather wear, that's for sure! We had more snow and ice last night, and more's on the way today. These two sweeties have the right idea, although I can't imagine what it must have been like in the days when shoes were just leather -- no insulated, waterproof boots to keep your feet dry.

After my previous post with the child's birthday photo, I did a little research on the history of children's birthday parties. It seems that the basic premise -- a separate party just for children with other children in attendance -- is yet another thing we have to thank the Victorians for. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to be able to wave a wand and view today's world without the Victorian Era having ever happened. Sort of like It's a Wonderful Life, you know? -- seeing the world as it would be if you'd never been born, or in this case, if the Victorians had never existed in England. Our culture would be entirely different, and social history a completely different story. It's staggering, really, if you think about it. But I digress. The point of a child's birthday party was both to demonstrate wealth and place in society and to give children opportunities to learn social rules, practice manners, etc. The concept of a birthday party with guests all the same relative age of the child came to pass after the industrial revolution and the popularity of schools -- your classmates became your social group less than the children of your parents' friends. This was the period in which birthday parties really became popular in the U.S., which makes me think my guess is close for dating the party photo. I had a nice email from Alison about the art and science of dating old photos and am looking forward to sharing some more with her.

I like going on those kinds of journeys, making those connections. Seeing something (an old photo), thinking about it, asking questions, doing some research. I spent some time on Monday, too, taking this journey: I was thinking of the song Joy is Like the Rain, which I remember from an album my mom had that was recorded by a group of nuns. I'd hoped their version was available on iTunes and while it wasn't, a harpist who'd recorded it also recorded another song I love but haven't thought about in a long time -- The Ash Grove. So that lead me to purchase a version of that song, but then I was very disappointed that my favorite verse wasn't in it. More research showed that there are indeed variations of the song out there, and the version I know and love is even referred to as "the Girl Scout version." Hmmm. Next, I found the sheet music online that included the lyrics, which has made it possible for me to learn to play it on the piano.

It is hard to make time to live life this way. To give yourself the gift of time of thinking, remembering, researching, learning. I like that playing around on the piano again forces me to use my brain in a very different way than I do in the usual course of a day. It's hard that it means that there are now -- what? -- four baskets of laundry waiting to be folded and more dirty laundry to be washed which will make the back-up for folding even longer. It's even harder that there's nothing really to "show" for the fact that I've learned a simple tune on the piano, and it causes me a moment of awkwardness when Ken comes home and says, "what did you do today?" (although he is generally supportive and I DID do the dishes and clean up the kitchen, after all). But all this leads to the good (great?) that can come from tooling around on the computer for a while -- making connections with people, making mental connections, living life and thinking about the world in a different way. Can you give yourself that gift once in a while?


Cocoa said...

There may not be much to show physically for taking these kinds of journeys but emotionally/spiritually it makes a big impact. I love the old photos you've been sharing. Makes you wonder who they are, what their lives were like, and how their photos ended up out of their family's hands.

Vienna for Beginners said...

One could say that the Victorians invented childhood as we know it. One could also say that, sadly, slowly that protected period in a young person's life is slowly eroding, from lowering ever more the age when children are supposed to be able to take care of themselves to trials of teenagers under adult standards.

Laura Jane said...

I do give myself the gift of messing around Waaaaay too long on the computer most days! My craft is suffering too, although that could be the heat and the fact that my incredibly cluttered craft/sewing room is quite cramped....but you know that story!

Lovely photos, great reflections on them. Makes you think hey?

Felicia said...

Be proud that you learn the song on the piano. That is an accomplishment. There will always be laundry to be done.

At some point I made the decision that my house doesn't have to be spotless. That has freed up a lot of my time for crafting and other fun things.

When you're in your 70s you're not going to reminisce about all the laundry you got done. But you might remember and hum a beautiful tune you once played on the piano :)

I love the girls with there hand warmers :)