Sunday, December 22, 2013

Betty in the Wild: Not Everything is Up-to-Date in Kansas City

For instance, the steamship 'Arabia,' which sank in the mighty Missouri River in 1856.  Just three years old at the time of the wreck, the Arabia was pretty high end for her time.  However, no boat of those days was a match for the Big Muddy; the ships that survived were just luckier than the ones that went down.  The river was famously described as, "too thick to drink; too thin to plow," and less famously, its course could alter by as much as a mile in a single day.  In other words, one could cut engines, paddlewheels, oars or whatever and drop anchor in one place in the evening, and be a mile west or east of that by morning.  Since the steamships of the day were powered by burning wood, sailors cut down trees all along the shifting banks, which created erosion, which sent tremendous tree trunks and root systems into the thick and mobile riverbed.  Those downed limbs, trunks and roots became 'snags' that could stove in a wooden hull without warning.  That's what happened to the Arabia.  Everyone managed to debark in darkening evening, but most of the luggage and all the cargo, and one unfortunate mule (kind of like a donkey, Betty) were left aboard, and all had vanished into the water and mud by morning.

Over a century later, an intrepid family managed to locate the deeply-buried ship with the help of friends, and dig it up between harvest and planting seasons.  They've put most of what they found on display in a museum in Kansas City, Missouri.  Their story is quite a bit more interesting than the Arabia's.

The paddle wheel.  Sarah Ann and Hugo will surely go on a cruise someday.

The hapless anchor.  Hugo is Sarah Ann's anchor.

A portion of the snag that wrecked the Arabia.  Sarah Ann and Hugo encounter several less literal.

The reconstructed hull of the Arabia.  Doesn't Sarah Ann feel rudderless at points?

They've recovered 200 tons of cargo from the ship, much of which is on display.  It's mostly mid-priced housewares and farming and hunting tools.

Hardware.  Is that Alice's department?

China, mostly, and not Delft.

Boots, etc., for use in the Highlands.  Or frontier.  Whatever.

The more up-to-date parts of KC include a delightful New Orleans-style cafe called Beignet, a happy dog at a sidewalk table, and the super-wonderful chocolatier Christopher Elbow.

New Orleans is strongly influenced by French culture; the van Elvens visit France.
Non-stray dog who seconds before I snapped this photo was all over me.  As soon as his human companion returned to luncheon, however, Pup was done with me.  Obviously loved and well-cared-for, otherwise I'd have thrown him in the car and brought him 3,000 miles and eventually home with me.  Like almost all dogs, he was a sweetie.

Inspired, no doubt, at least in part by Dutch confectionary, KC favorite son Christopher Elbow is one of the world's most acclaimed chocolatiers.  The woman working the register (my tab was over $150!!  Lots of gifts for friends and hosts!  Plus a hot chocolate for me.  And a few choccies for me.) was born near Detroit to Canadian parents, moved as an adult to Washington, DC and then to Los Angeles, and settled a few years ago in Kansas City.  She loves it.


  1. Oh, no, blogger has eaten my comment. Happens a lot these days. Rats. Gotta go now.
    Betty A.

    1. Imagine digging up the boat and unearthi-- , um, "un-watering", no, that's not right either. Hm. Give me a minute. Un-muddying? No. Bringing thousands of bits and pieces to light, CLEANING THEM!!! Drying them. Catalogueing them and deciding how best to display them. What a lot of work! My favourite pictures? The hardware and the non-Delft china tying for first place. The pup coming in second, close behind.
      Chocolate did you say? Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmhmm. (Betty A. purring.)
      I looked at their website and am now no longer wondering at your paying as much $ 150, I am now wondering at your paying only as little as $ 150. Ha ha ha! Worth every penny, no doubt.

    2. Little Red Pen: as much as

  2. He poured tea and handed it round, and without seeming to do so, took a good look at Sadie, sitting between his daughters, her hair hanging round her shoulders, in her sensible pink winceyette nightie. Of course he knew that such garments existed, but he'd never seen one at close quarters before. There was no glamour about it, but he deduced that it would be nice and warm. He drank the tea, received his daughters' thanks for the charming little wrist watches he had given them and asked if Sadie had opened her presents yet, and when she shook her head, said: 'Well, go ahead, we all want to see what you've got.'
    The headscarf came first, wrapped in a great deal of paper, and was duly admired, tried on and declared just the nicest scarf Sadie had ever seen. She kissed each child in turn and opened her other parcels—hankies from Mrs Frobisher, more hankies from Mrs Coffin, and a pair of knitted gloves from Mrs Beamish. Sadie was trying them on when Mr Trentham went out of the room and came back with a large flat box.
    'Happy Christmas, Sadie,' he said, and laid it across her knees.
    It was an extravagant box, tied with bright cords, and when the lid was lifted, awash with tissue paper. Sadie pushed it gently aside to reveal amber silk. She paused for a moment and looked at Mr Trentham, comfortably settled on the bed again, and he smiled and nodded his head. 'Go on, look at it.'
    A crêpe-de-chine blouse and with it a matching skirt; she had never had anything like it before in her life. Its very simplicity spelt couture; its elegance was indisputable. Just looking at it made her feel beautiful.
    'Oh, thank you—thank you, Mr Trentham! It's so beautiful, I can't believe it!'

    A Girl to Love, © 1982

  3. Replies
    1. Le Petit Stylo Rouge: crêpes

      Betty an aside: Little show off.
      Red Pen: Huh?
      Betty A.: Nothing. Just wondering if, um, the rain will blow off, er, any time soon. phew
      Red Pen: Blow away. That's blow away in English.
      BettyA.: Oh, yeah, right. Thanks.

  4. Ho ho ho! Guess what I got from Santa yesterday, on Boxing Day, the second Christmas day!

  5. Found a live webcam in Blokzijl which is one of the places Aderik and Lally visit in Dearest Eulalia (which is where I placed the link). The camera is overlooking the harbour where, for a while, Dutch quilter (Dutch: quiltster) Ingrid aka Supergoof (from supergoof-quilts.blogspot), whom, as you may recall, I discovered thanks to Betty Debbie, lived in a house overlooking that selfsame harbour.
    The other day, I was reading Supergoofs latest blog entry,
    Christmas Cake van Oma Joy
    Ingrid’s mother-in-law, Oma Joy (=Granny Joy) is English. She is 89 years of age, weighs 54 kilograms/119 lb and bakes a number of beautiful Christmas cakes every year ( only 10 !!! cakes this year). The cake in the pictures, sitting on its Christmas-y plate and looking deceptively small, weighs 5.3 kilograms – that‘s 11 lb 10.95oz!!!

  6. I was watching a Rosamunde Pilcher movie this afternoon with a wedding performed outdoors at the very end.

    Guess where!

    By the Bristol High Cross, "a monumental market cross erected in 1373 in the centre of Bristol".

    So, where was the wedding performed? – In Bristol? – No!

    In 1780, the cross was moved to – wait for it – Stourhead!

    Funny! What a coincidence. Just now, I have seen someone from Bristol on the globe widget.

  7. Muddy Waters

    It would be remiss of me not to mention that Neelsdom, although mostly far removed from the Big Muddy, has its own fair share of muddy waters, literally speaking.
    Who could forget Becky and the baron the hot, hot Baron, swimming in the vile, filthy, slimy water of a canal in Leeuwarden to rescue Becky’s fine canine dog Bertie trapped in the rubbish which formed the floating flotsam on top of the surface of the wet water way.

    Feel free to use your own red pen to check the previous phrase for

    The second-most(?) heinous evil doing ever perpetrated in the Canon right before our eyes involves Nasty Amnesiac "Penny Bright". She was seen walking to the gate at the back... with a bag and Butch on his lead... the bag was moving... Did I mention there was a canal?

    Muddy water. Nothing remotely as big as the Big Muddy but hazardous nonetheless.