Monday, May 16, 2011


In October 2009 Ashley first started going to the 4H club meetings to learn how to sew. That year she made bloomers to go with her Alice in Wonderland costume and a blue sundress.

Last month, under the guidance of Miss Kay and Miss Sharon, she completed pajama pants. She is currently working on making a pair of shorts using the same pattern, only shorter.

Update June 7th: Tonight Ashley finished a pair of denim shorts, just in time for summer. Her sewing club will have a Fashion Show on June 21st.

Fashion Show

On May 6th we attended the Howell Living History Farm's 4th annual Fashion Show. What has impressed me most about this event is that each year there is a new twist to the theme of fashion throughout the years.

The idea was born out of a weekend event where reenactors get together to learn from each other and from the various historic sites in the area. At the end of the event reenactors put on their work clothes and had a fashion show. Someone from Howell was at the event. That person thought wouldn't this be a lot of fun to do for the public.

The first year (2008) it was a collection of people from mostly NJ historic sites. The focus seemed to be on the different clothing.

The second year (2009) a story was written about the people of Pleasant Valley (where Howell Living History Farm) is located.

The third year (2010) highlighted both military throughout the years and education as it evolved in the town. No military education was involved.

This year's theme was women in local history from Molly Pitcher to Alice Paul. There was also a costume event. Ashley took home some local honey and a book about the NJ Women's History Trail as a prize and I won the same book as well as maple syrup made from trees at Howell Living History Farm.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

New Jersey History Fair

On a picture-perfect day (May 7) Don, Ashley and I stepped back in time during the annual New Jersey History Fair.

The event has had some funding issues over the past few years. An issue which anyone in the arts and humanities can relate. Last year the program was cancelled. This year it was moved to a new location at Allaire State Park, near Belmar.

Many historic sites from all over the state participate in the Spirit of the Jerseys State History Fair. We picked up a lot of brochures about places we did not even know existed. My hope is to map out their locations and hours and plan lots of summer day trips exploring our state. It pleases me that Ashley also enjoys history.

Highlights that day included listening to first-person reenactors. We heard Ben Franklin and his son, William, "debating." They actually got along better than I would have expected given what we know about their relationship. (Ben left his son out of his will because, in his opinion there would not have been anything left had the British won the war.)

We enjoyed listening to period music using historic instruments. Don and Ashley tried their hands at plowing using the Howell Living History Farm's horses. There was also an old time baseball game which we missed because there just wasn't enough time in the day.

The biggest treat was all three of us dressing in Colonial attire and getting our picture taken. Yesterday a copy of the image was emailed to us. What a nice memento of the free event.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Alice Paul

It seems every few weeks I bump into Alice Paul. Well, not her exactly since she died in 1977.

It started when I received an email from the New Jersey State Museum saying they were going to show a movie about her life during Women's History Month (in March). Three members of the press and I were there for the screening. It was an NJN documentary / news piece created in the late 1980s. Interviews of college students took place at my alma mater. I swear one of the interviewees was my freshman roommate, Karen Kohl.

That movie emphasized that the Equal Rights Amendment has not yet passed. It came close in the early 1970s, but missed being ratified by three states. In the movie they stated it might take until the 1990s before it passes. Time to update the movie.

In April the three of us visited Alice Paul's home, Paulsdale, in Mount Laurel, NJ. Paulsdale is open for tours the second Sunday of every month. The house does not have much furniture. Instead it is a living memorial to her life and her passion. The tour includes a film of her life (fortunately different from the NJN movie I saw in March). It had graphic descriptions of the forced feedings (through the nose while being held down by several people) she endured in the fight for women's suffrage (suffrage=the right to vote, the suffering part is purely coincidental). It is a haunting film. Makes me appreciate my right to vote more now that I know what women like her suffered so I could have my say each election day.

My third visit with Miss Paul was last Friday night at the Howell Living History Farm's annual Fashion Show. "Miss Paul" (otherwise known as Taylor Williams) brought Alice to life. Much of what I had seen in the two movies came to life in front of my eyes. Taylor Williams brought you through the decades of her life in a way that was mesmerizing as well as educational. This simple Quaker woman stood up and fought for the values she learned as a child -- everyone is created equal.

For more reading about Alice Paul visit her website:

For more about why the ERA is still applicable today:

Monday, May 2, 2011

Broad Street Run

On a perfect Spring day, I traveled 10 miles with 30,000 other people down Broad Street in Philadelphia, PA. The whole day was quite overwhelming. I felt a sea of emotions ranging from "am I really here?" to "this is fun" to "oooh this is far" to "we can do it" to "I want this over."

The mantra given to me by Kelly Cooke of "Anyone can run 10 miles" slowly turned into the t-shirt I saw before the beginning of the race: "It seemed like a good idea 3 months ago."

My time was slow by most standards (2:20), but overall the experience was good. It was my first really enormous race and my first race above a 5K. The logistics alone totally overwhelmed me. For starters the race packet said to arrive at the parking lot (at the end of the race) by 6:30 AM for an 8:30 AM start. Um.. that's early.

All along I read if I do not finish in 3 hours, they are going to open up the roads and stop handing out medals. I was pretty certain I could finish within 3 hours. My question thought was did the 3 hour clock start when I crossed the start line (which looked like it would be about 30 minutes after the speedy people) or when the fastest of the fast started. It seemed to be a compromise between the two. At the clock's 3:10 mark I saw the emergency vehicles crossing the finish line -- about 2:40 after the slowest people were allowed to start. I was glad I snuck into an earlier spot so I could finish about 20 minutes before the end point (according to their clock).
Downtown Philly
(about 2.5 miles)

As for my time, all along I've been considering this a stepping stone on the way to my first half marathon on September 4th at Disneyland. It showed me I have a TON of training left to do, and not just with getting in the miles but also with pacing, eating right the night before, getting enough sleep, and what to do afterwards to recover properly (still feeling out of sorts and today's weather is not helping).

Yesterday I tried to just enjoy it and take pictures and not fret about the time. I posted 48 pictures to my Facebook page. To me yesterday was more about the entire experience than about the number at the finish line. Of course, I would have been thrilled with 2 hours (since I averaged an 11:30 mile in my last 5K) but that was unrealistic since I tend to slow down the longer I run.

Once I realized other people were walking and that there was no shame in it, I took it at a slower pace and had time to enjoy it.

Would I do it again? Yesterday I was thinking NO! The distance is fine, but the logistics are pain the tush. Once finished I had to find Don and Ashley, who were still at the 7.8 mile spot cleaning up from handing out Gatorade (it passed the time, and gave us a place to meet during the race). At that point, I really wished there was someone at the finish line for me. Someone to take a picture of my happy, yet tired face with the medal around my neck. Someone to tell me I did a great job and they were proud of me. By the time I met up with Don and Ashley any euphoria had turned to tired and crankiness and a desire to change into clean, dry clothes.

Today, I'm wondering. I would have to do a lot differently. Maybe stay in Philly the night before, or ideally carpool with someone, or even drive myself into Philly and park (it seems less intimidating now that I've done it once). At the end of the race, though, I was in no state to drive myself back home. Maybe after training another year I would be. Time will tell. There are smaller things I would do differently, too, like use bag check so my clean, dry clothes were waiting for me at the finish line instead of in the car with Don and Ashley.

Also I would want to find a race day running buddy who is in it for fun and not for a PR (Personal Record). I'm really looking forward to "running" with Joanie Morris in September for the Disneyland Half Marathon! The women I saw chatted the whole course and seemed like they were taking a stroll in the park.

Also, it would be nice to get more bling.

Next on the horizon for the running adventures: a 5K in Lawrenceville on Mother's Day. It should be interesting as Ashley and I have not done any running together and my legs might not be in the mood to run by then. I know we can walk it and still have fun seeing our neighbors and friends.

Update: Ashley did a terrific job in the Big Red Race!