Sunday, April 20, 2008

Advice from the 1800's

At a thrift store recently, I found the funniest little book that I gave to my mom for her birthday. It's called the Ladies' Indispensable Assistant. Actually, the full title is quite long-winded:

Ladies' Indis
pensable Assistant being a companion for the Sister, Mother, and Wife. Containing more information for the price than any other upon the subject. Here are the very best directions for the Behavior and Etiquette of Ladies and Gentlemen, Ladies' Toilette Table, Directions for Managing Canary Birds, also, Safe Directions for the Management of Children; Instructions for Ladies' Under Various Circumstances, A Great Variety of Valuable Recipes, forming a complete system of Family Medicine. Thus enabling each person to become his or her own Physician: to which is added one of the best systems of COOKERY ever published; these recipes are entirely new and should be in the possession of every person in the land. Published 1852.

Pretty lofty claims if you ask me, but I was hooked! The first few pages were quite interesting. For instance, here is the instruction for Treatment of Children:

It is of great importance that mothers should understand the management of their offspring. It should not be handled but kept as quiet as possible.

Well, that's interesting. On the subject of Medicine:

er give medicine to a very young child. Many have thus lost darling children. It will, if not murdered, be permanently injured.

Oh, my. Well, I continued to leaf through the pages and was shocked to see that there was a remedy for Cancer! Can you believe it? Here it is:

Boil down the inner bark of white and red oak to the consistency of molasses; apply as a plaster, shifting it once a week; or, Take garget berries and leaves of stramonium; simmer together, in equal parts of neat's foot oil and the tops of hemlock; at the same time, make a tea of wintergreen, add 2 ounces of sulphur of brimstone and drink freely during the day.

Hmmm. Sounds like witchcraft to me - hemlock? brimstone? Didn't I hear about that in a fairytale once? I turned to the remedy for Deafness, which I'm sure the prestigious medical community of today will be quite amazed to learn of:

Take ant's eggs and onion juice, mix and drop into the ear; or, drop into the ear at night six or eight drops of warm chamber lye.

Warm chamber lye? Yes, I had to look that up - definition: Urine. Aha. Well, perhaps it's not the cure of the century after all! Is it any wonder that in the 1800's only 1/2 of all ch
ildren lived to the age of eight and the average life expectancy was 37? My goodness, let's read on!

If your child is suffering from Fits, then you need to:

Put them into warm baths, ... take them out after a little time and put strong mustard plasters on the soles of their feet and ice water on the head. If the fit has been cause by something eaten, give ... ipecac; vomitting will throw all the medicine up so that the child will not be injured. If the fit arises from other causes, half a tablespoon full of
epsom salts disolved in a 1/4 glass of water.

For snake bites:

Apply juice of onions mixed with fine salt; or, apply Spanish flies until a blister is raised.

And, my favorite... for "Nervous Affections - Sick Headache":

Take 3 drops of nitric acid in half a tumbler of cold water.

Definition of nitric acid? A highly corrosive, poisonous liquid that gives off choking red or yellow fumes in moist air. Okay, then! That oughta cure a headache awfully quick!

There were some other interesting things in the book, including the properties of various herbs and flowers and recipes. We thought this "Quick Broth" was pretty amusing, since the term "Quick" was anything but!

Take a bone of the neck or loin of mutton, take off the fat and skin, set it on the fire in a small tin saucepan that has a cover with 3 quarters of a pint of water, meat being first beaten and cut into thin bits; put in a bit of thyme, parsley and a slice of onion. Let it boil very quick, skim it nicely; take off the cover. Half an hour is sufficient for the whole process.

I also liked the instructions for Behavior in the Street:

Ladies are not allowed upon ordinary occasions to take the arm of any one but a relative, or an accepted lover, in the street and in the daytime. The conversation of a stranger, beyond asking a necessary question, must be considered as a gross insult and repelled with proper spirit!

And these instructions for Removing Ink from Floors:

Scour with sand wet with sulphuric acid and water.

(What's with the acid?) Anyway, we had fun leafing through the book and having a good laugh! I especially liked the elaborate drawing on the inside. Fun stuff...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Business Trips

If you have to go on a business trip, I would say that April in Orlando is one of the more perfect destinations at the most perfect time. The weather is mild, the tropical breezes are refreshing, and the flowers are lush and beautiful. Just standing outside is a delightful treat.

Last week I attended a conference in Orlando at the Orange County Convention Center. Just like its over-sized and imaginative counterpart, DisneyWorld, the OCCC is impossibly huge. Its massive size is hard to comprehend and even more so when you realize that there are not just one, but two gigantic buildings. I wandered around the North-South building trying to find my conference's registration desk before realizing that the East-West building (where I had to go) was hidden behind a zig-zag of elevated walkways behind me. By the time I reached my designated area, blisters had started to form on my poor feet. No, I did not think to bring sensible shoes!

The conference was like most conferences, meetings and learning sessions in various chilly classrooms, lots of breaks with rivers of coffee, exchanging of business cards and buffets galore. But this particular conference had a special dinner celebration at Epcot. Really, who can compete with that?!

We were loaded onto 4 buses that drove us to a back entrance of Epcot, somewhere between France and Germany I believe. We were led through an enormous gate by uniformed
guides holding blinking batons and into a large building where servers held trays of wine and beer. Four appetizer stations were set up with cocktail tables scattered throughout a darkened room. Servers passed more appetizers on trays and regularly brought refills of wine and beer. After we had our fill, an enormous curtain began to open and the song "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast boomed through the speakers. We were led into an even larger room with formal dinner tables, long buffet and carving tables placed in strategic corners and a DJ playing dinner music. The food was scrumptious: roast beef au jus, tender chicken with wild mushrooms, wild rice with shrimp, scalloped potatoes, steamed vegatables, pasta salads, creamy cheeses, fresh fruit and more!

But it wasn't over yet. The DJ announced that we were moving to a private viewing area of the Illuminations fireworks show for dessert and coffee. The guides showed up again with their blinking batons to lead us around the front of the Epcot lake. Finger-sized desserts of all kinds were beautifully stacked on outdoor tables. Coffee urns with every fixing you could possibly imagine were placed in various corners. The show was spectacular.

It was so weird being at Disney again after having just vacationed there last summer. I felt like we had been plopped right down in the middle of it all. Normally, there is a buildup of events; getting to the parking lot, taking the trams, going through the ticket counters and jostling through the crowds. It was such a surreal feeling to just be there, seemingly with the snap of a finger! I managed to duck into a gift shop for a few souvenirs before the buses departed.

The rest of the conference was the norm and on the final day, I headed back to the airport in a state of exhaustion. Would you believe that my flight was overbooked? They asked for volunteers to bump to the next day with compensation of a free dinner, hotel, and breakfast along with a $400.00 airline travel voucher! I couldn't refuse, especially with an upcoming vacation to Vermont where the flight tickets are busting the budget. So I stayed an extra night. Luckily the hotel had free amenities like a toothbrush and comb, as my suitcase was on its way back to Raleigh!

Business trips (and trips in general) can be so interesting. Everyone has a story. As I sat on the airplane traveling home, I thought how funny it would be if everyone could tell their own. Wouldn't that make a trip go by fast!

See more of this trip on Sunniviews under the posts Florida Foliage in April, Orange County Convention Center (N-S) and (E-W), and Epcot Extravaganza.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Southern Home & Garden Show

Isn't spring delightful? I love all the beautiful flowers that bloom in NC this time of year... tulips, azaleas, and dogwoods. On our street, just about every house has 3 or 4 dogwood trees so that when you drive down the street, you feel like you've been transported to another world.

This past week, I went to the Southern Home & Garden Show with my mom, my aunt and my mother-in-law. What fun we had finding great deals on decorative items, marveling over stained glass Tiffany lamps, collecting information on interesting home features and delighting in the breathtaking garden displays. We tasted scrumptious breads and dips, nibbled on candies and chocolates and took frequent coffee breaks in the concessions area.

We wandered through the more industrial part of the show where big companies focusing on major home repairs, pools, decks, playgrounds and tools were housed. As we passed by the booths, the salesmen tried to reel us into a spiel about the benefits of solar panels, the importance of leaf-catching gutters and comparisons on pest control services. We avoided making eye contact and said many "no, thank you's". (Although I did enter a raffle for free house cleaning!) But as I watched the company representatives try to entice people with free gifts, I had to laugh having been in the same position just a few years ago!

I worked for an agricultural chemical internet company and we had a rigorous trade show schedule every spring. I was lucky to attend only one a year but others in the office (salesmen, mostly) went to 2 or 3 farms shows in the rural areas of North Dakota, Illinios and Georgia. The worst one I can recall was in the flatlands of Nebraska. It was a 3-day outdoor show in the middle of acres and acres of fields. It was late spring, chilly in the morning and blazing in the afternoon. There was dust everywhere that would accumulate on the table, settle in your hair and cake in the creases of your perma-smile. Our hotel was an hour away, the closest we could find, requiring us to leave before sunrise to get to the show on-time.

But, despite the long hours, aching feet, and anxiety of setting up and breaking down the displays and computers, I really enjoyed the travel, talking with the other exhibitors and the luxury of my own hotel room. I could see all of my own emotions in the exhibitors of the garden show and was thankful to be one the other side on the table!

We had such fun at this show and afterwards went to a gorgeous Italian restaurant downtown and chatted over wine and heaps of pasta. Fabulous day!

See more photos from the show at Sunniviews (also a few from Easter!) Here are some things that I found interesting:

Beautiful Tiffany Lamps from Carolina Tiffany
Eco-friendly home improvement products from Common Ground Center and SafeCoat low-toxic paints
My husband's favorite, Central Vacuums (what a dream!) from Central Vacuum Experts
Landscape lighting from NiteLites, Inc.
Wines for Humanity home wine-tasting parties benefiting local charities