Friday, April 01, 2011

Retail in Williamsburg

I love shopping in Merchants Square. I was only able to spend three hours there, but I know there are tourists who happily spend a full day traversing the little shops just up the street from Bruton Parish and all the other historic sites.

This year, my favorite shop was Shirley Pewter, opened in 1962 by a silversmith and Korean War vet named Shirley Robertson (a gentleman who, unlike Leslie Nielsen, must not have minded being called "Shirley"). It's not a big shop but it is a beautiful one. I found I appreciate pewter more than its hoity-toity cousins, silver and platinum. It all looked more substantial and had more character -- the same reasons why I'm more drawn to stoneware than china.

As a result of my time at Shirley Pewter, my friend Kathleen (the proud breast cancer survivor) will receive a pink ribbon charm, my best friend will get a nice, heavy horseshoe (to accompany his turtle, acorn and clover talismans) and I now have a lovely peace symbol pull for my wallet.

At the Colonial Garden and Nursery, I bought garden seeds for sturdy indigenous plants (Joseph's Coat and strawflower) for my mother's backyard. And at Everything Williamsburg I got everything else -- a sweatshirt for my oldest friend, a t-shirt for myself, a cap and a book (George Washington as action hero) for my nephew, sweet potato muffin and gingerbread mixes for my niece, and their choice of magnets or little canons for the folks at work. (I know it's crap, but I firmly believe that bringing tchotchkes back to everyone, and having everyone display them on their desks, makes us look and feel a bit more like a team).

There were boutiques I wish I had time to visit, too. Maybe next year ...

Let us pray

As one who worships in a church that is also a building of public interest, I felt a great kinship with the congregation of Bruton Parish. The pews are elevated from the floor and have doors because it got so cold in the church, back in the days before central heat. Stones were heated and placed in a big bucket in the pew and then the doors were closed to keep the heat in. Because the Capital was in Williamsburg, VIPs from all over the colonies would visit and they had "reserved" pews for when they were in town.

I've included the current service announcement to show that this beautiful building is still an important part of the Williamsburg community.

We interrupt this vacation for breaking news

Hey, hey! Holy mackerel! No doubt about it! The Cubs are on their way!

Happy Opening Day! And it was an emotion-packed one at Wrigley Field. First the official 9/11 flag was presented. It's touring the country to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the loss of the WTC. Then schoolchildren recited The Pledge of Allegiance. Misty yet? How about a twin spin of "God Bless America" and "The National Anthem." But wait, there's more. When the players were presented, Kerry Wood was among them! Yea! Kerry Wood never should have worn any other uniform than this one. And all the guys were wearing these #10 caps in honor of late Cub great Ron Santo. After his playing days were over, he was the voice of the Cubs on WGN radio for twenty years. I grew up on him, and now he's gone. His death came on the morning my uncle was buried, so I'm not sure I fully realized it until today. Now I miss him more than I can express.

And then, oh my God! ROY HOBBS threw out the first pitch. Yes, Robert Redford, The Natural. He made it over the plate but it was way high. What the hell. It was amazing to see Roy Hobbs pitch at Wrigley Field, chat up Mr. Cub himself, Ernie Banks, and give an autograph to his catcher for the day, an obviously star struck Kerry Wood.

Gulp. I admit it, a tear or two was shed here today.

So what if the Pirates won today? BFD. It's a 160-game season. And this one got off right. The wins will come. You just watch.

Pumpkin. It's not just for pie anymore.

Wednesday was steam heat day for me at the spa. First I had a very energetic hot stone massage. Veronika, the massage therapist I'd had on Tuesday, knew where my knots and kinks were and she stretched and pressed and manipulated me back to alignment with trained hands and careful placement of hot stones. Then I had a custom facial. Yes, there was exfoliation and moisturizing and (ouch!) extracting, but my favorite part was the pumpkin mask. Rich in antioxidants and enzymes, it absorbs quickly into the skin to refresh and protect. It felt so good I bought a tube to use in my very own bathroom.

Though I miss the quiet, elegant, relaxing atmosphere of the spa. If I go to Williamsburg again next year, I think I want an extra day, or at least an extra half day. I could use a little more pampering.

The Randolph House

One of the most impressive homes in Williamsburg, and my favorite tour. Peyton Randolph and his wife were childless so they lived alone here, with their orphaned niece, and were served by up to 20 slaves.

Peyton Randolph was an influential citizen during these times. So much so that he was right up there with his buddy George Washington on the list of Virginians that the Crown wanted to capture and hang. The Randolph family was large, well-connected and related to everyone, including George's wife Martha and young Thomas Jefferson. After Peyton's death, he left his entire law library to Jefferson.

A note about slavery

Looking at the way the Randolphs lived vs. their slaves left me feeling skin crawly and ashamed.

Peyton Randolph was a true patriot and did many important things that helped found this country, and yet he kept 20 human souls as property. Look at these photos and see how different life was between them that's got and them that's not. Six slaves slept in, and 16 ate in, that one room -- the drastically smaller one you see in the in rear view of the house . All but one slept on the floor. The slave who got the bed was the elder. This decision was made strictly in the slave quarters. The Randolphs left such matters to their slaves.