Posts Tagged ‘history’


Whose birthday am I noting?

February 22, 2018


Pebbles Flintstone – born on this day in 10,000 BC


What am I knitting?

January 30, 2018

“In the United States and abroad, wartime has long involved knitters. Especially before women were involved in combat, they were encouraged to support troops from home by knitting necessary items for soldiers such as socks and hats. Since knitting was a very common sight, nobody would think of knitting as a suspicious activity. But knitting and espionage have a certain connection throughout history.

Let’s go way back to the Revolutionary War in the United States. As British troops took over the homes of colonials during the war, these people became less than pleased. One such dissatisfied rebel was Molly “Mom” Rinker of Philadelphia. Troops quartered themselves in her house and did not allow the men of the household into the dining area, but Molly was allowed in to serve the troops. It was here that she listened closely to their conversations. She would then write the information down on a small piece of paper, wrap it around a stone, and wrap yarn around the stone until she had a very normal-looking ball of yarn. She would take this yarn ball to a rock overlooking some woods. There she would sit and knit, dropping the ball of yarn off the rock and into the woods below without notice. One of George Washington’s men would ride by and grab the yarn to learn British military secrets.

“During World War I, another yarn-equipped informant helped the Allies. A Frenchwoman named Madame Levengle would sit in front of her window and knit. As she knitted, she would watch troop movements from the window and tap her feet on the floor to send codes to her children pretending to do schoolwork on the floor below. The children would write down the codes, and all went unnoticed by nearby German marshals the whole time.

In World War II, an infamous American spy named Elizabeth Bentley used knitting to disguise her espionage as well. She ran two spy rings that sent damaging information about the United States to the Soviet Union, and she would sneak documents to the Soviets in her knitting bag.

Phyllis Latour Doyle was a secret agent for Britain during WWII. She parachuted into Normandy in 1944 and chatted with German soldiers, acting as a friendly helper. But then she knitted messages to the British, which they translated using Morse Code. Knitting coded messages is a form of steganography, which is a way to physically hide messages. A specific combination of knit and purl stitches could be translated into messages.

While knitting coded messages was less common than using knitting to disguise suspicious activity, codes in knitting were still a threat. The Belgian Resistance during World War II recruited women who had windows overlooking railway yards. They were to note the German train movements with their knitting: Purl one for one type of train, drop one for another. During World War II, the Office of Censorship in the United States banned people from posting knitting patterns abroad, since the instructions could in fact disguise military secrets.

Next time you suspect someone might not give knitters the respect they deserve, make sure to set them straight with the radical history of wartime knitters!”


Reprinted from Interweave article by Jenna Fear.


What am I cooking?

January 18, 2018

I thought this was interesting, because I never thought about different grades of butter – or even knew that they existed.  But, my mother had this booklet from the US Department of Agriculture (1968) that explains everything.


What am I cooking?

January 11, 2018

These recipes are from the Cutco Cook Book – a book that came along with a set of knives my parents bought back in the 60s (I think).

Making a Mornay sauce with American cheese and canned mushrooms may have even come from a earlier decade.  There was a time in America when all cheese was American, or perhaps cheddar, and there was no pasta – only spaghetti and macaroni.  I think these recipes originated from that mind set.  I still have some of the knives, though.



What am I cooking?

January 4, 2018

I think I have mentioned before that I own over 300 cookbooks.  I especially love the ones that were published by companies to promote their products, such as The Dessert Lovers’ Handbook from Eagle Brand.  It does not have a publication date, but the design looks as if it is from the late ’60s or early ’70s.

A dear friend recently gave me the lovely pots de creme set shown above and I wanted to put it to use.  After looking at a bunch of recipes, I landed back on my old favorite from Eagle Brand milk.

This is an easy and delicious recipe.  It was just the thing for my new dishes.  It is very rich, so the small size of the cups is a good thing.  I added whipped cream.


What am I sappy cat blogging?

December 8, 2017

Corporal Edward Burckhardt poses with the kitten that he said “captured” him on the battlefield of Iwo Jima.

Photo credit: Buddies: Men, Dogs and World War II, by L. Douglas Keeney.


What am I echoing?

December 5, 2017

Reblogged from Last Word on Nothing by Craig Childs

In caves and rock walls of the southern Utah desert, pictographs have been painted, added to the backs of clamshell-shaped sandstone enclosures. Many are noted to have acoustic properties, meaning these ancient, Indigenous images seem to be correlated with the way sound reflects around them. I’ve spoken in a normal voice back and forth from one sheltered rock art panel to another an eighth of a mile downcanyon. The way sound spreads and is refocused, we could hear each other’s every word.

James Farmer, from the Utah Rock Art Research Association, wrote that panels from the ghostly and enigmatic Barrier Creek tradition in Utah (pictured above) contain what he sees as thunderstorm motifs. At one of these Barrier Creek panels, he witnessed a cloudburst with thunder, waterfalls, and falling boulders. He wrote about the intensification of sound from the storm around the rock art, “it seems inconceivable to me that any ancient archaic hunter-gatherers witnessing a similar event would not have been just as astonished as me, and would have naturally invested the location with divine, supernatural powers.”

The nascent field of “archaeoacoustics” studies the way sound and archaeological sites interact. I look at this as not just an ancient feature, but one that we walk through everyday. Cathedrals and capital domes have been noted for the way they capture and amplify sound. By happenstance or not, resonance is part of the way we relate to architecture, whether human made or carved by nature.

Have you ever walked through an airport or the lobby of a building and noticed a sudden change in the acoustics? Even in a crowd, you hear your own footsteps as if you’d walked across a microphone. Like the acoustics of Barrier Creek panels, this is something I’ve explored in modern human environments. A friend who goes looking for them with me calls them “focalizers.”

Once you start looking and listening, you find them all over, outdoor gardens, entrances to skyscrapers. One of the best I’ve found is a dome of focused sound created by the ceiling of Terminal C of the George Bush International Airport, near the turn to Gates 24-27. It’s like stepping through an invisible veil into a secret space. These are architectural simplicities, a circle or cupola pleasing to the eye, maybe with benches or planters or sculptures. The center is often marked with some small feature, a compass star, an intersection of lines, a mosaic of a circle or globe, or simply a drain pipe if not too fancy.

If you happen to pass over that center, or pause in conversation, the effect is immediate. You’ll hear your own voice reflected back on you with startling and encompassing clarity, louder than any other sound in the vicinity.

A related phenomenon is the “whispering wall” or “whispering gallery.” This is where a curved surface carries the slightest vocalization to another, distant location. Grand Central Station in New York has a famous one. On the lower concourse, just outside of the Oyster Bar, the voice of a person standing in one corner will travel up and over the crowd and land on the ears of a person standing in the opposite corner 30 feet away.

The “focalizer” is slightly different, perhaps more ubiquitous. These are places that broadcast yourself back to you. I’ve taken to calling them “whispering wells.”

Circular is best, though a semi-circle will do. Step into the center and say something or make a hiss. Whatever sound you create, even a clearing of your throat if you don’t want to attract attention, will come back from surrounding walls at exactly the same instant, none of the messy humdrum of baffles and angles, no single echo point any closer or father away than the others.

Tell somebody about it, a stranger walking by. I’ve done this, it generally works once they get past their understandable suspicion. Lead them to the center (many of these are in very public and non-threatening locations) and when they speak to ask what they should do, they shut their mouth instantly, then say something else like hello or echo and look back at you amazed. Some people become giddy with excitement. Try the front of the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco, not the finest example, but an easy one to find. It just takes a few seconds. Step into the middle of one of its outdoor circles. An acoustic bubble envelopes you. You can hear the traffic and noise around you, but if you start singing quietly, which generally draws only mild attention, you are singing back to yourself, audience of one.

I move through the city the same way I move through the desert, looking for shaded alcoves that might hold rock art, hissing or clucking my tongue to hear the sound bounce back. Buildings become canyons, and the rounded architecture of lobbies, capital domes, or outdoor sitting areas where professionals eat their lunches, become natural shelters, sites of acoustic reflections. And there I stand humming out loud, apparently imbued with supernatural powers.


Photos: Barrier Creek petroglyphs, Utah; Grand Central Station Whispering Wall, NY; US Capital, Washington DC.