After the Book Expo on Saturday, I and‚ my posse (Victor, my husband Jon, and our friends Charlene and Rich) went to the Smithsonian’s National Museums of American and Natural History. I didn’t take any pictures at the Natural History Museum, because, while the dead animals were cute and all, it just wasn’t the same as a monkey petting a cat. I enjoyed it, but just didn’t feel compelled to photograph anything.
But the American History Museum was another story.‚ (click the pictures to embiggen them)‚ That place is right up my alley. It’s a hodge-podge collection of stuff that is vaguely related, but only by its coolness. It’s like the eBay of my dreams. Forget the chintzy gift shops, I want those Ruby Slippers!
Apparently, there were many pairs of these sequined lovelies. Here we see Judy’s boogie shoes. They had thick layers of felt on the bottom to muffle the sounds of her following the yellow brick road. How you could hear anything above the manic din of deliriously merry munchkins, I have no idea.
And I’ll get them, my pretties . . . . And their little otters, too. eeeee hee hee hee heeeeeeeee
Here are Emmet and Ma Otter from Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas.‚ I defy you to sit still during the song about getting’ a “mess o’ mama’s barbeque”. In fact, I defy you not to head for the utensil drawer in the kitchen, teach yourself to play the spoons, and then rewind that song over and over and over. Seriously. Emmet rocks the house.
Now, as a knitter and tend to look at things through a woolly lens. And so, I tend to focus on woolly things. Observe.
It’s a life-sized diorama of days gone by. Those long-ago times when people actually had to spin their own yarn. Can you believe it? Crazy, man. Look at this poor soul, forced to labor at the wheel for hours on end. Imagine being surrounded by all manner of combs and niddy-noddies. And look to the left, these poor saps had to actually dye their own yarn, too! And this is all before they had to knit the stuff. How did people manage? And how do I get the job as that mannequin, hanging around all day, spinning in a night dress?
The yarn at the left was actually labeled with the material used to dye it.‚ Among them were‚ rhododendron, goldenrod, onion skin, lichens, mulberry, marigold, and black walnut. As luck would have it, we have black walnut trees in our yard. Can we say “summer project”?
Nearby was a case of various handmade textiles, including some knitted items:
These mittens were amazing. The blue ones have a small write-up on the Smithsonian website. The fuzzy pair at the bottom are actually men’s mittens. I like that there exists a pair of fuzzy Christmas tree mittens for a man. They were in good shape, barely worn. As though they’d been hidden in the bottom of a drawer. I’d venture to say that men haven’t changed much since the 1800′s.
You know, we all spoil each other by allowing fellow knitters to paw at our handknits. It’s‚ actually a form of‚ greeting in the knitting community. And yet all this stuff was behing glass. I need to see inside those mittens!! Why don’t they undestand that?
And here’s some gorgeous lace made from a spool of thread. Thread, people. I took solace in the fact that it wasn’t finished. In fact, I have decided that it was unearthed from a small box buried in the basement of an abandoned house, placed there by it’s creator in an effort to regain her sanity and the trust of her family, whom she had been lashing out at since she cast on this godforsaken project. But man, is it pretty.
Also in the textile room was this unbelievable quilt. It was part of a quilt conservation project. Just look at the detail. I’m telling you, somewhere in my brain lurks a rabid quilter who spends forever with crazy detailed stitching. Things like this only serve to feed the beast within.
I finally tore myself away from the textile room and ran smack dab into this! Recognize it? It’s ok, I didn’t.
It’s one of Mr. Rogers’ sweaters!!! Awwwww. I just wanted to hug it. I bet it still smells like his aftershave.
And right next to it was this. It’s an outfit from the Carol Burnett show, it’s the cleaning lady who swept up at the end! You can see her wearing it if you scroll down on this page to the photo gallery. I remember watching her show when I was little and always thought she seemed like such a great lady. I feel like I want to make her cleaning lady a new sweater. She deserves it.
And the last knitted item was seen on a rat. Rizzo the Rat, if I’m not mistaken. He’s from “Muppets Take Manhattan” he’s riding an egg beater. Nearby is the Swedish Chef, but he totally freaks me out, so I didn’t take a picture of him. Real hands + Muppet body = Debbie cowering in fear.
There was also an exhibit on Celia Cruz. I never knew a thing about her until she recently died. Yowza. She was a total firecracker! All you need to know about her is that she had the ass-kickingest footwear this side of anywhere. But to learn more, check out the link to see parts of the actual Smithsonian exhibit. She was a legend in Cuban music and was in the biz from the late 1940′s until she died in 2003. She reminded me a little of Elvis in that as she got older, her look got . . . well . . . bolder. Louder. Sequinier. But she had the big personality to actually pull it off.
And then, at one point, angels sang. We were faced with a wall that changed the lives of countless women. It reminded me that I need to make an appointment.
As it turns out, the Pill used to come in really pretty cases. I had a sliding blue case ages ago, but over the past few years, they were just on a card and you pop them out the back. I want a pretty round case that looks like a compact! Or a rectangular one with a cameo on it! Someone needs to make some with rhinestones.
And what was my most very favorite thing in the museum? Here it is:
It’s Julia Child’s kitchen! How cool is that? (Definitely check out that link.)‚ What an amazing woman. There was a quote on the wall about starting cooking school so “late” in life:
“The whole experience was an opening up of the soul and spirit for me¢â‚¬¦I was hooked, and for life, as it has turned out…I was a late bloomer who was still growing up. I didn’t get started on life until I was about thirty-two, which was good because I was old enough to appreciate it. I had it all ahead of me.”
This resonates so strongly with me that it almost makes me want to cry. Not in a sad way or anything, but you know how sometimes, something rings so true for you that it fills you up? It’s almost the answer to a question about myself that I didn’t know how to ask. It just makes me feel solid and optimistic and excited about things to come. Yay, Julia!
And, although I don’t believe she was a knitter, she was definitely one of us. This was written by a large array of kitchen gadgets:
“Julia is a self-confessed knife freak, a frying pan freak, and most of all, a gadget freak. From the time she fell in love with food and cooking, she began to acquire some of the hundreds of implements she used over the years, many of them in the kitchen collected by the Smithsonian.”
AND, she had all kinds of cat junk everywhere. Little plaques, refrigerator magnets, even a painting on one of the cabinets. I like to think that more than on pot of Beef Bourguignon went onto the table with a few stray cat hairs in it. Heh
And in closing, I would like to thank the Smithsonian for honoring me by naming this lovely mineral thingy after me. I am humbled.