How many folklorists…

…can you stuff in to an attic?

 Jerry's (probably) feet disappearing into the attic of what might be the oldest house in Witless Bay.

Jerry’s (probably) feet disappearing into the attic of what might be the oldest house in Witless Bay. Photo: D. Hurich

…can you fit into a tunnel?

Our T.A, Claire (purple sweater) and our professor, Jerry (red jacket) try to locate students in a tunnel on the old Carey house.

Our T.A, Claire (purple sweater) and our professor, Jerry (red jacket) try to locate students in a tunnel on John Carey’s old property. Photo: D. Hurich

On Sunday night, our guest instructor Ed Chappell arrived from Virginia. We kicked off this week–our second in Witless Bay–with Ed giving us a lecture on colonial architecture in the United States. After lunch, we all piled in to the van to drive to a house on Lar Norris road (about a five minute drive from the chapel, but it was drizzling) so Ed and Jerry could instruct us in the fine art of measuring a building and creating an almost-accurate floor plan.

I wouldn’t recommend an architect try to build a house from our floor plan, but we did measure what felt like everything and recorded it down to the 1/4 inch or so (Yes, we are measuring in Imperial. Ed is from the United States after all). It’s sort of impossible to create a floor plan with eleven people, so the afternoon involved a lot of sitting around and listening, even though we traded off roles.

Today, Ed and Jerry brought us to the Carey premises (also about a five minute drive from the convent, in the opposite direction) so we could learn how to do a site plan—situating all the buildings and landscape features on a property (house, shed, well, and so on) and their spatial relationships to each other.

It is, by the way, very difficult to get an accurate measure when there are trees in the way.

Yesterday night, most of us students descended upon the ‘craft night’ at the new recreation center in Witless Bay (where are “welcome” potluck was also held). The craft night is hosted by the 50+ club, and it is the only one of their events, if I understand correctly, in which people outside of the group can attend regularly

We saw quilts, hooked rugs, crochet, decoupage, Christmas ornaments and many beautiful and wonderful things! The ladies (yes, all women) were very kind to us, and many of them were happy to explain their crafting methods. The evening is part class (there was a group of women learning to do a Christmas table runner), and part social time (the women enjoy showing each other their work, and talking about their projects). There are, of course, hot beverages and desserts on offer as well.

Some of the students were given quilt blocks to arrange during craft night. Photo: D. Hurich.

Some of the students were given quilt blocks to arrange during craft night. Photo: D. Hurich.

Ed Chappell examines the mantlepiece in John Carey's old house with a flashlight, while the students watch. Photo: D. Hurich

Ed Chappell examines the mantlepiece in John Carey’s old house with a flashlight, while the students watch. Photo: D. Hurich

Starting tomorrow, we’ll be working in small groups to measure buildings (because tape measures are hard to manage by oneself). If we’re lucky, the weather will stay dry.

If we’re not lucky, we’ve been told we must keep the drawing dry at all costs. We can suffer–that’s all part of fieldwork–but our research must remain safe!

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