It has been a long and full day! The alarm clock rang at 3:45 this a.m., and I gathered up my suitcase, my computer and my needlework (only three projects with me, since I am flying on this visit--man, it was hard to choose just 3 (Blue Santa, Liz Easdon and Adam's Menagerie). And if I had it to do over again, I'd have chosen one of my Rhode Island samplers, because I'm that inspired. The plane left Baltimore at 8:15 and landed in Providence at 9:45, I collected the rental car and headed to Newport. Lots and lots of people traveled with me today: even at 6:30 a.m. there were enormous lines for security, check-in and then on the road to Newport. Newport itself was crammed full of people. After driving around for quite a while looking for the antiques show (boo to mapquest but yay to the guy I nearly mowed down in a crosswalk to ask for directions and boo to me for being too cheap to rent the GPS. I mean really, Avis--$15 a day?)
But I found it, and my oh my, is all I can say. My only disappointment was that I need to learn to read: the online brochure said that highlights from the 50 samplers would be exhibited, not all 50, so I was expecting more than the 15 or so that I viewed. What wonderful choices they were though! And they were accessible; I was able to get up close and see every stitch, my nose 1 inch from the glass that encased them (but didn't spoil the experience at all). The lighting was very good and everyone was cheerful and kind. However, I didn't take photos, although there were no admonishments anywhere that I could see not to. But it just felt wrong to click away, even if surreptitiously, especially since most museums don't allow it.
I will show you the little catalog though (itself gorgeously photographed):
Do you own the Mary Tillinghast chart? I do; it was a reproduction done by Sheepish Designs in possibly the 80s? 90s? I bought it on ebay. Now I want to kit it up after seeing the original. Although--the "Wisdom" sampler charted by Vermillion Stitchery is virtually the same, and I started it some time ago. There were some nice marking samplers and a few samplers we'd all recognize, but a few that I did not (including the one in the catalog page above).
And oh, my goodness, the dealers. I've been to many an antique show, far and wide, including the famous (Brimfield) and the not-so-famous local run-of-the-mill, and the offerings here knocked my socks off. Pretty much everything I saw was museum quality, as far as I could tell. Some of my favorites: the stitched wool pictures of ships done by sailors; the sailors' valentines using tiny exotic shells to make pictures that looked like samplers, some needle punch, rugs, china and a few samplers. One sampler wowed me--it was probably the nicest antique I've laid eyes on anywhere in terms of quality, color, composition and condition. (It was $8500, which I thought was completely justified. It was perfectly stitched, and the best part was the Adam and Eve figures, which looked a lot like American Indians. One of them appared to be waving.) My very favorite non-stitched objects were the oil paintings brought by William Vareika Fine Arts.
By early afternoon I was tired and hungry and so I headed to the Cape. On the way I stopped and devoured this sub: the "baked stuffed lobster." The crumb topping is graham cracker/butter/lemon rather than Ritz crackers, though, which is my only complaint--it was a bit too sweet, especially since the generous portion of lobster had enough sweetness of its own. It was nearly my downfall on this long, hot, busy day.
I then sat in traffic for quite a while. Tomorrow is the Falmouth Road Race, which attracts tens of thousands of additional visitors to this small town, on top of the already busy late-summer tourism.
Digging their dinner: these folks are digging clams. While the town checks the bacterial count of that water regularly, I would not be interested in eating these guys raw (and I love raw shellfish).
We went out for fried fish tonight, and I sat in the fish place, which was hot and filled with the smell of fish and oil. As I sat there, I noticed a large sailboat bobbing up and down on the wake of the boats coming and going. As I watched, the heat and the smell and my rich lobster lunch and my fatigue combined with the pitching of the boat to create a full-on queasy feeling of stomach-rolling, sweaty seasickness. Please don't let me be sick, I was thinking desperately. Fortunately our order came quickly, and to my parents' surprise, I insisted on eating at home instead of sitting at the harbor, and I rode home with the window down and the cool breeze in my face. And oh heavens, my paernts are in their 80s and therefore always chilly, even though the house is a toasty 80 or so. In fact, hilariously, my mother has just brought me a stack of blankets in case it gets chilly. Please let it get chilly.
My mother has a little outside rabbit guy that she feeds. My dad tells me that these are Canadian cottontails, which unlike my neighborhood's wild bunnies, have long pointy noses, smallish ears and smaller back legs--they don't spring so much as sprint or tear along when startled.
To borrow Michelle's gratitude: I am grateful for an opportunity to view beautiful historic samplers and priceless art. And I am also grateful for not having hurled in the harbor!
Happy week ahead!