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Sunday, July 29, 2018

Die Like an Egyptian

What's this, you say?  

The authentic ashes of a mummified Egyptian Prince in Vermont?  Yes, it's true!  This news may not be new, as you can easily find information about it, but it was an interesting story to me.  

Travel to West Cemetery in Middlebury and you will find the grave of Amum-Her-Khepesh-Ef, who was mummified in 1830 B.C.  - yes, I said B.C., making this grave site the oldest human being, buried in Vermont. 

Henry Sheldon
A man named Henry Sheldon, was an amateur art lover and collected an assortment of treasure from around the world.  

Mr. Sheldon learned to read and write at a very young age, and even built his own organ that he played.   He developed a love of collecting from his brother, with whom, obtained autographs from famous politicians and authors of that time by soliciting them in writing.   

By the age of 20, he moved out of his mother's home and quickly rose in the ranks of society.   The brick house in which he lived, is now the same location of the Sheldon Museum, today.  He worked in a plethora of jobs, ranging from working in a railroad station to a saloon, from a marble quarry to a music store.  

He found his real niche in life, as a collector.  The henrysheldonmuseum.org, states, "Henry was in his late 50s when he found his calling as a collector, and, eventually, museum proprietor. His collecting career commenced with the purchase of a Roman coin for one dollar in 1875. By 1880 he had developed an extensive coin collection representing 50 countries over many centuries, which he displayed in cabinets accompanied by biographies of the associated rulers."

In 1866, Sheldon got wind of a mummy for sale in New York, and subsequently purchased it.  A mummy, in good condition is an animal or human being that has had it's internal organs removed, and in it's place is treated with resins and various herbs for the purpose of preservation.  The body is then slathered with herbal oils, much like corn on the cob.  Finally, the body is wrapped in long strands of linen before it is interred where it was intended to remain for eternity.

But, the mummy of the prince that Mr. Sheldon had received was in a significant state of deterioration, with serious signs of neglect and rot.  Henry Sheldon was disappointed, but at that time, had no legal recourse, nor could he demand repayment for damages.  He simply placed the box in his attic, and there the prince remained until Sheldon's death in 1907.

On a side note, though the mummy itself was in a very poor state, it was not without historical significance.  The mummy was the infant son of Senusret III, King of Egypt, and his wife Hathornhotpe.

Wikipedia, citing several other resources gives this fascinating information about Amum-Her-Khepesh-Ef's prominent father:  

"Senusret III was a pharaoh of Egypt. He ruled from 1878 BC to 1839 BC during a time of great power and prosperity, and was the fifth king of the Twelfth Dynasty of the Middle Kingdom. He was a great pharaoh of the Twelfth Dynasty and is considered to be, perhaps, the most powerful Egyptian ruler of the dynasty.

Consequently, he is regarded as one of the sources for the legend about Sesostris. His military campaigns gave rise to an era of peace and economic prosperity that reduced the power of regional rulers and led to a revival in craft work, trade, and urban development.   Senusret III was among the few Egyptian kings who were deified and honored with a cult during their own lifetime."

After Henry Sheldon died, George W. Mead, who incidentally became a director of the Sheldon Museum, discovered the remains in Sheldon's attic.   Upon learning of the royal lineage, he decided to give the young prince a proper burial and had the remains cremated.  He then buried the remains in his own family plot.  

The tombstone is engraved with an Ankh, a Christian cross and an Egyptian-style bird.  The Egyptian symbols represent life and immortality.   I assume the cross would be George Mead's own faith incorporated into the stone.  The grave reads, 

"Ashes of Amum-Her-Khepesh-Ef Aged Two Years Son of Sen Woset 3rd King of Egypt and his wife Hathor-Hotpe 1883 BC".

According to the Sheldon Museum's website, "The Sheldon Museum, the oldest community-based Museum in the country, has welcomed visitors and researchers since 1884."  

This museum hosts a proverbial boat-load of wonderful educational kits, and more information can be found by clicking here.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Women's March on Montpelier

Just 2 days ago, Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.  I don't know about you, but the words Trump and President, together, are like oil and water.  They simply don't mix..... and the world is telling him, just that.

To me, personally, there was not another image that was more powerful than seeing the photographs of women who pasted stickers stating "I Voted Today" on the grave of Susan B. Anthony.  This occurred on day of the election, when many of these woman presumably had voted for Hillary Clinton.  Yesterday's march felt RIGHT.  It was a feeling as if perhaps some small bit of justice has resonated light into a very black and bleak world....

Image credit - PBS
In that same venue, rallies and marches were held across the nation, to protest Trump's Presidency and the other many issues with which we challenge and disagree.   Millions of both men and women marched across all 50 states, and around the WORLD, resulting in a collective ROAR.  Mr. Trump, did you hear that?  That's the sound of a revolution!  But, I honestly don't think that Trump will even "get it"...he will twist our disapproval into something else like blaming our protests on a rigged media.... I digress....

Yesterday, I attended the Women's March on Montpelier (Vermont) alone, because I figured that I would have run into someone that I knew, and march with him/her. However, as I made my way through the sea of people, I did not find a single face that I knew! 

Above photos: Burlington Free Press and SevenDaysVT
The Burlington Free Press has estimated that about 15 - 20,000 people attended. I was overwhelmed with not only the crowd, but the amount of cars parked in and around Montpelier which proved that this event had a lot of meaning.  I had to walk the entire bike path in Montpelier, after taking the last parking spot near the railroad tracks/beginning of bike path, to get to the High School!  Here's my video from an incredibly powerful speaker....

I am so happy and honored to have been able to attend this important and awesome event. I hope our statement from our small state pings back to Washington D.C. "I have been driving down the interstate for years, and I have never seen traffic backed up like it is today." -Bernie Sanders

The sign I made and carried....


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Off The Grid

Happy New Year! 

Since my very first post on September 7, 2013, Vermont DeadLine has received 224,212 "hits" as of today.  In the right hand column under "DeadLine's Athenaeum" is a list of topics which contain the buzz word for the 228 posts (to date) that I have written.  Also, check out the rotating world on the same side.  It is fascinating to see that people from all over the world have visited this site!    Thank you for your support, and I hope you continue to drop by in the coming year. 

Today's post is about Living "off the grid".  This is a lifestyle choice, in which one truly unplugs from their dependency on traditional energy sources.  It is a means of becoming self-sufficient without relying on public utilities or municipal [water/sewer/electric] supplies.  The advantages of this lifestyle are multiple as you consider the money that you save and your contribution to the reduction of the notorious carbon footprint.  (Links to external websites will appear in purple).

image credit: motherearthnews
This way of life, is not for everyone, because it can be a lot of hard work; however, as I have said, for those who do chose this lifestyle, it can mean that they leave their dependency on energy on the proverbial doorstep.  Fortunately for us, there is an overwhelming wealth of information available for anyone who is considering this change, or even if you are thinking about ways to go "green".   We are recycling and reusing more, and upcycling is now a huge trend. 

The "Tiny House" movement is also alive and growing, with a television show dedicated to individuals and couples who want to go "small".  It is an interesting study and you can read about how to do it, here: concept.

For less than $7,500.00, Lowe's can sell you this tiny house.
For a measly $3K, you can also buy this at Lowes.
When you think of it, living off the grid, or the tiny house life style is almost like permanently camping. 

These tiny houses are often mobile, so you can hook your vehicle to it and travel any where you wish!  As an alternative to a gas-guzzling RV,  you will make a statement rolling into any town.   I like to think of the tiny houses as kind of a gypsy caravan!

image credit: trib.com
Another term that we are hearing today is "homesteading".  Currently, there are several television programs showcasing people (mostly in Alaska) who are true home-steaders.  You have probably seen at least one of them.   wikipedia provides this definition: 

 "Homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs, and it may or may not also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craft work for household use or sale. Pursued in different ways around the world—and in different historical eras—homesteading is generally differentiated from rural village or commune living by isolation (either socially or physically) of the homestead. Use of the term in the United States dates back to the Homestead Act (1862) and before."

If you chose to be stationary for any length of time, there are important decisions that must be made.  If your goal is to become independent of your reliance of public utilities (such as water, sewer, natural gas and/or electricity), then you must consider the many options and consequences of living off the grid.  You would be responsible for complete self sufficiency, and a complete life-style change. 

Here is a list of questions and answers that I have compiled, if you are considering moving to off the grid living.  I have provided many links to the answers from the most reliable sources I could find (and relying very heavily on offthegridnews.com): 

How will you heat your home?  One of the most common ways the off-gridders choose, is to burn wood.  One must be responsible for cutting, stacking and hauling their own wood.  Here is something I didn't know, from tinyhousedesign.com:

"Burning wood is actually a carbon neutral way of heating a home. When a tree grows it absorbs carbon. When we burn it it releases that same carbon. If we use a highly efficient wood stove in a small living space we can actually get through the winters with little environmental impact and effort. The problem with burning wood for heating a large home is that it would take acres of trees to make it sustainable. Heating a small home requires less energy input which in turn reduces the cost, impact, and effort needed to stay warm in winter."

If you are truly off the grid, you must locate and haul your own water into your home if you have not figured out a way to have it pumped indoors. 

image credit: offthegridnews.com
Which brings up another very important topic, as we are civilized humans:  

How and where do you go to the bathroom?  

Will you have an outhouse or an indoor toilet?  There are interesting options such as utilizing composting toilets.  

And.... how will you properly dispose of the waste?

offthegrid.net explains how to construct a small sewer system here

Do you want to generate your own electricity? 

offthegridnews.com offers 4 options here.  

Do you want to become self-sufficient in the sense that you would raise your own livestock - to sell and for your own consumption - or both?  I know that people frequently purchase chickens because they are a multi-purpose beast.  

They are raised to maturity, produce eggs to eat and/or sell, and then slaughtered for food.  There is no cost to reproducing them, so you can maintain a rather economic plan.  

Image credit: Activist Post
Other than chickens, there are many other options such as raising goats, cows, pigs, ducks and so on.  

I have neighbors who have young children and raise chickens and ducks right in their back yard, here in the "city".  The parents encourage this, as the children all participate in their keeping.  They all are rewarded with an education, as it teaches them about self sufficiency.  

Fortunately, there is a ton of information available online, here are a few helpful links:


Chickens for meat and eggs


Raising animals for milk


Image credit: theprairiehomestead
Will you grow your own vegetables to can?  

How and where will you store your goods?  More great links:

Survival gardening

Growing vegetables indoors

Preserving vegetables

Winter vegetables

image credit: homesteadfocus.com
Before the days of modern refrigeration, a root cellar was necessary to keep vegetables such as  carrots, turnips, beets, parsnips, potatoes, and other root vegetables fresh throughout winter months.  The Farmer's Almanac has a great "how to" which you can read here

image credit: offthegridnews.com
How do you plan to light your home?  Will you use candles or kerosene lanterns?

Of course there are safety concerns when using either candles or kerosene, so placement of these items should be scrutinized.   Off The Grid News.com has a great article for making your own survival candles here

image credit: Giphy
Will you consider alternative energy such as the utilization of solar panels or a wind turbine, or even a hydro ?  thomasnet.com gives some great options here

If you decide that you leaving the working world behind, but own land, how will you pay your taxes?  
Your survival concerns the root of all evil, as everyone still needs some money to stay alive.  

Farm stands - selling vegetables, canned fruit and vegetables, jams and jellies, home-made candles. 

image credit: pinterest
Real self-sufficient off-the-gridders may want to consider bee-keeping as a means to produce honey and beeswax to make their own products to use personally or to sell.  

offgridworld.com lists some ways in which you could make money and still maintain your off the grid status.   And here is another link providing earning potential from offthegridnews.com. 

Helpful and Informative Links:









Friday, December 30, 2016

Flower-Power Flour Sacks

Photo credit:  Cimarron County, Oklahoma - A father with his 2 sons in a dust storm, 1936. Photographer: Arthur Rothstein.
There is an old adage that comes to mind, which is appropriate for today's post:  "Necessity is the mother of invention", and this was certainly apparent during the Great Depression.   This economic downturn was the result of the stock market crash in October of 1929 and lasted approximately a decade.  In one day, 16 million shares were traded and 30 billion dollars vanished, and millions of investors were depleted of their finances.  A very dreary picture was painted, as it was known as the "deepest and longest lasting" economic decline in the history of the Western world.    Banks failed.  People's savings were gone, thus spending decreased.  Industries were forced to lay off it's workers.  Unemployment and poverty skyrocketed.

Black Sunday Storm - approaching Ulysses, Kansas on April 14, 1935.  Photo credit: Historic Adobe Museum and pbs.org
Then, after suffering so much loss, our nation had to endure a severe drought which only exacerbated the hardships already felt.  Dust storms became frequent events, which resulted in this time period being known as "the dirty thirties".

Millions of people headed west to find work, however, these migrant workers overburdened the system as they competed for jobs.   Children did not attend school, and were forced to travel with their family in search of work.  Many schools had closed or only offered reduced hours.   People foraged for scraps of tin and wood, from which they made temporary homes.  They sought shelter in old train cars, or abandoned shacks and warehouses.

Photo credit - people and places
Photo credit: inkbluesky.wordpress

Often times, people, like the migrant workers, only had the clothes on their back.  Yet, those who were lucky enough to stay put, made due with what they had on-hand.  They learned to prevent waste and re-use as much as possible.   Frugality was simply a way of life and women began to utilize the cotton sacks in which flour, grain or feed was sold, to  transform them into dresses, curtains, quilts, towels and even underwear for their families!

By the time the Great Depression rolled around, many women had already sewing machines in their homes.   Commercial sewing patterns had been around since the mid 1800's, and I would assume that the art of sewing was not something that was "discovered", but rather the utilization of "found" material was a logical solution to growing children.

It should be noted that the trend for using sacks to transform into clothing, actually began around the mid-19th century, as manufacturers sought cheaper ways to sell their products.  Prior to the manufacturing of "sacks" (for items sold in bulk such as grain, sugar, salt or flour) were sold in wooden barrels or tins, which was much more expensive.  Canvas was then used, and eventually manufacturers began to utilize textile mills to produce strong-weight, yet inexpensive cotton, replacing the more expensive options.

As you can see, Life Magazine captured this photo in which a
factory worker is sealing the top of a flour sack which has
been printed with an actual cut out pattern for a stuffed animal!

Another Life Magazine photo showing this gentleman amidst a
variety of flour sacks, all bearing colorful prints and designs.
To explain how textile mills created feed sacks for specific products, it is important to note that if the manufacturer was selling flour, sugar or salt, a tighter weave of cotton was used to ensure that there was no leakage or spillage of the actual product; and in contrast, grain for animals were sold in sacks with a low thread count.

When the manufacturers of these sacks began to realize that women were using not only the intended products, but its shell, they rallied and began to print textiles with both cut-out patterns, as well as a large variety of floral, kitchen and multi-colored patterns.

During this same time, many publications were developed to assist families with ideas of how to utilize the fabric, and some manufacturers of fabric used certain inks that would fade with washing, to print instructions directly on the sacks!  "Sack Dresses" earned popularity not just for poor families but grew into popular fashion.

When you consider the time, it was a very kind - an almost heroic act - on behalf of the sack manufacturers, who had contributed far more than just providing a product.  They brought color into otherwise dark times. At the onset of World War II, economics again forced these same manufacturers to begin to utilize paper instead of cotton and this is where the story ends.

Here are a few examples of the prints found on the colored flour sacks that were manufactured during that era:

Special thanks to Melissa B., who posted this meme on Facebook, and was the inspiration for today's post.  Thanks, Missy! :)

*All images without specific credit were found on Pinterest.com