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Sweeper 1746, Etching with some engraving Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1953 MMA 53.600.588(56)

This is how we’ve spent our time off: quite a bit of cooking, though I did much in advance (the oven is large enough to cook only a turkey and nothing else, at one time), and even more cleaning and clearing and rearranging. After all, my mother will arrive in three weeks, which is not very much time at all when you have working weekends along the way.

with any luck, there will be a tidied up office/ironing room in which I could sew out of the way of certain felines, but at this point I’d settle for folded laundry and calmer cats. They remain convinced that cleaning is an exercise in cat assassination, though they can offer no proof that any cats have ever succumbed to death by vacuum cleaner.

Servant Girl Plucking a Chicken
Follower of Nicolas Bernard Lépicié, French, 1735–1784
MFA Boston, 65.2650

Living history, reenacting, historic costuming: whatever you want to call what we do most weekends, it runs to a lot of gear, in the end. The year we took my mother to Fort Lee, she remarked on how much baggage we had. “You’ve got lives in two centuries,” she said, and it’ true. We just about do. So how to store all that stuff, while making more and improving what you do have, is a challenge. Most reenactors I know have somewhat cluttered houses, or at the least houses where the historical items are integral to the decor. That is probably the most rational tactic, since most of us love what we do and enjoy how chairs or mugs remind us of fun, if challenging, weekends.

We have tried to be ruthless this weekend chez Calash, channeling deaccession rules (duplicate? unrelated? irrelevant? away it goes!) and hoping that when we are done we will have only what is necessary, useful, and beautiful. Or, at the least, a clean house to survive my mother’s eye.