A free afternoon in Fort Worth–a treat for my inner cowgirl.

The day after the ELO concert in Dallas last month, my train wasn’t scheduled to depart from Ft. Worth until 5pm.  I opted to spend the afternoon in Ft. Worth, so on checking out of my hostel, I caught the TRE commuter train from Irving back to Fort Worth.

Irving train stopTRE regional commuter train

In Fort Worth, I decided to visit the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.  Feeling an acute need for exercise, I opted to get from the train station to the museum and back via Fort Worth’s bike share.  There was a bike share hub at the train station and one at the museum complex.  Good job, Fort Worth!  All went smoothly with the bike checkout process.

Bike share RSR

Google mapped the bike route for me.

Fort Worth Bike Ride

The bike was a joy to ride.  It was easily adjustable, and had no mechanical issues.

Bike RSR

It was a mostly-flat, pleasant 3.1 mile ride each way.

 

 

National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame

The cowgirl museum was wonderful.  Part of it is under renovation and closed to visitors until February 2019.  This means I will want to go back and see the rest.  But the exhibits I did see gave me a badly-needed cowgirl ‘fix’ for now.  I could have stayed there all day.

Leather culottes and gauntlets a

I love the way they posed this mannequin and draped her red jacket.  It’s as if she just got up after being thrown and is walking back to her horse.

Red jacket and leather culottesGloves a

Leather sleeve cuffsBracelet a

Annie Oakley’s wedding ring!

Annie Oakley wedding ring a

 

“Ride the range all the day till the first fading light,
be with my western girl round the fire, oh, so bright.
I’d be the Indians friend, let them live to be free,
ridin’ into the sunset, I wish I could be.”

 

Can you handle more from the cowgirl museum?  They have an amazing collection of historic western-themed Hermes scarves.

Hermes1Hermes2Hermes3

This scarf, wow.  Here is the center motif of an awards themed scarf that seemed to spoof the Oscars.  It was quite an entertaining thing to study.

Hermes4

Hermes4a

After finishing up at the Cowgirl museum, I still had more time for sightseeing, so I went next door to the Fort Worth Science and History Museum.

In their huge lobby, they have a beam from one of the World Trade Center towers.

9-11 beam 1 a9-11 beam 2 a

The beam towered over the lobby.9-11 beam 3 a

They had a great section on Energy, which I enjoyed so much I forgot to take pictures.

They had a large Cattle Raisers exhibit, which was an excellent complement to the Cowgirl Museum.

Longhorns a

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Lastly, they had a Grossology exhibit, on human body functions.  The irony about this is that I took a head cold home with me from the trip.  Ugh.  I was pretty much like this guy for the next week.

Snot spigot a

When I’d finished at the museums, bike share got me back to the Ft. Worth Intermodal Transportation Center, where I would await my Amtrak train.  They had some neat things to see at the station:  An old Fort Worth commuter train car.

Ft Worth trolley a

A series of history-telling tile murals.

Ft Worth ITC murals

Back in the lovely old train station, I reclaimed my bag from the luggage storage service, drank a delicious milk from Subway, and waited the last few minutes before boarding my Amtrak train.

Some Fort Worth tips I picked up:

  • The Fort Worth Intramodal Transportation Center is the Ft. Worth hub for all transit–Amtrak, the TRE, trolleys, buses, and bike share.  Darn handy.
  • I originally booked Amtrak all the way from OKC to Dallas Union Station and back.  Turns out I only needed Amtrak between OKC and Ft. Worth.  Between Ft. Worth and Dallas, the TRE was the way to go.
  • By cancelling the Ft. Worth – Dallas – Ft Worth portions of my Amtrak ticket before those departure times, I was credited that portion of my Amtrak fare, to apply to future Amtrak travel.
  • The museums I visited are all at the Ft. Worth Stock Show complex.  The complex was easy to get to by bike, and offered lots to do in one spot.  The Botanical Gardens and Trinity Park are also adjacent to the complex.

ELO via Amtrak

In August I traveled to Dallas to see a Traveling Wilbury and his Electric Light Orchestra.

As it should be, ELO’s full sound filled the huge American Airlines Center arena.  The light show was the most extravagant and spectacular that I’ve seen; as it should be for a band called the ‘Electric Light Orchestra’.  There was no bad seat in the house.  There was no empty seat in the house, either.

ELO crowd

My seat was in the nosebleed section, which was fine for ELO’s show only because their sound and lights filled the arena spectacularly, as I knew they would.  The songs were all familiar.  The entire concert was a big, fun sing-a-long with the band and 20,000+ of their biggest fans.

 

Me-made concert outfit (partly):

I’d packed my fun green reflective bicycling dress to wear to the concert.

But as I was getting ready for the show, practical considerations won out.  I was going to have to walk 1/2 mile from my lodging to the TRE transit shuttle that drops off at the concert arena.  I didn’t want to make that trek both ways in a dress with wedge sandals; the return trip in the dark.  So, I opted for a pair of knee-length shorts, flat sandals, and this comfortable floral blouse that I recently made and wrote about last week.

ELO outfit RSR

The blouse has just one reflective bit… the button in the back.  So, anyone sitting behind me who tried to take a flash picture, may have gotten my button reflection instead of the stage.  But who in the nosebleed section uses flash at a concert?  Probably no one.

Back closureBack closure reflection

As for the concert, it was a lovely, lovely night.  Everything was perfect.  (Except for the guy sitting next to me, who had pulled up an ELO set list on his phone, and kept announcing what song was coming up next.  Grrr.)  But this guy below sure didn’t bother me.  The crowd all around me was really into the show, which made it that much more fun.

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For the best sampling of Jeff Lynne’s current ELO live show, I recommend the “Wembley or Bust” live CD-DVD set.  I ordered it after I got home, and am quite glad I did.

 

Travel and lodging

The drive to Dallas for me is a straight 6-hour shot down through the middle of Oklahoma, all on Interstate-35.  It’s a boring and crowded highway.  There was a lot of rain in the forecast too, which I didn’t relish driving in.  My solution was to drive to Oklahoma City and then take the Amtrak ‘Heartland Flyer’ the rest of the way.  Turns out it is a scenic, relaxing train ride.

Pauls Valley train stationPauls Valley downtownOklahoma scenery2

Ardmore stationGainesville station

The night of the concert, I stayed at a hostel in Irving.  This was my first-ever stay at a hostel in the US.  I booked the hostel through Hostelworld.  The girls’ room in the hostel slept 6.  When I checked in, the three bottom bunks had already been spoken for.  So this was my view from the top. 🙂

Hostel room

I enjoyed chatting with several fellow hostel guests, who were all passing through the DFW area for their own various  reasons.  I loved the hostel stay, better than a sterile, isolating hotel room.  The hostel was an easy walk to and from the commuter train station, where the TRE train took me straight to the concert venue–the American Airlines Center arena.

Irving train stop

TRE regional commuter train

The next day, I took the TRE back to Fort Worth, where after an afternoon of sightseeing, I boarded Amtrak for the trip back to OKC.  Ft Worth station sign

Here’s the ‘Heartland Flyer’ arriving in Ft. Worth to take us back to OKC.

Amtrak train approaching Ft Worth 2Amtrak train arriving Ft Worth

My departing view of Ft. Worth.Departing Ft Worth

Once the train was on its way, the cafe car opened.

Amtrak cafe car menu

For dinner, I ordered the spicy Buffalo chicken tenders and wine.  It hit the spot.  Each time I see this picture, I want that meal again.

Amtrak meal

Amtrak was also an excellent choice for the return trip, because the weather got severe as we progressed toward OKC.  Strong storms, heavy rains, tornado warnings and a massive area of flash flood warnings even caused all area trains to be ordered to shut down on the track to wait for a bad cell to pass.

Trip interrupted.

Our train arrived at the OKC station about 2 hours late, which meant I would be driving the rest of the way home after midnight, through flash flood warnings all the way.  Instead, I did a very adult thing (for me), and got a value-priced room in OKC for the night.  The storms had wreaked havoc with street lights in town.  It was a dark and eerie quiet drive from the Amtrak station to the hotel.

The hotel I chose is a huge once-fabulous sprawling complex.  As I was waiting my turn to check in, the old maintenance man told me stories about famous athletes and performers who had stayed there back in the day.  He and the hotel were absolutely charming.  The hotel lobby hints at its grand past.

Hotel lobby

The hallway leading to my room revealed that the hotel hadn’t fared so well during the storms.  They’d taken on some water.  Bags of concrete had been used as sandbags, doors were propped open for drying out, and carpet had been pulled and piled in the hallway.  I didn’t care because I was so tired.  I felt bad for the hotel.

Hotel door sand bagHotel water damage

My room was nice and comfortable for the price, but when I ventured over to the door that opens out to the courtyard, I discovered the carpet along that outside wall was wet and squishy.  I didn’t care.  I was tired, and I wasn’t going to need to go out that door anyway.

Wet carpet

In the bathroom was a relic from its past as a luxury hotel–the toilet telephone.  It still works.

Bathroom phone

The next morning, I got up well-rested, and drove home.  There were places on the interstate where flood water had obviously been up on the road.  Staying in OKC had been the right thing to do.

Now, back to the Traveling Wilburys for a moment:

A fellow music lover told me that the Wilburys had intended to keep getting together to make music from time to time, and to possibly add new members.  So I’m thinking, should Jeff Lynne and Bob Dylan convene the next generation of Wilburys?  Who should the new band members be?  Should their music follow the same style and formula as the original Wilburys?  The departed original members can’t be replaced or mimicked.  But do it right and their spirit will be there with the new guys.  I have a few ideas of who should join Jeff and Bob and make some new Traveling Wilburys music.  I’ve grouped them in threes, to keep the band at five members:

Option 1:

  • Robert Plant
  • Gillian Welch
  • An Avett brother

Option 2:

  • Lindsey Buckingham
  • Dhani Harrison
  • Carlene Carter

Most of these are really huge stars, so why would they want to do it?  Well, you don’t get much bigger than Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and a Beatle, so the standard has been set.

From the stash: Sleeveless floral blouse-skirt duo

This floral cotton-spandex resided in my stash for several years, because I loved it so much I didn’t want to make it into something that turned out to be a disappointment.  …

Sleeveless blouse and skirt fabric RSR

I finally settled on a sleeveless blouse-skirt combo, i.e., a 2-piece dress.  The outfit is devoid of embellishment, and has no decorative features at all.  My plan was to start with the most basic garments and add to them as necessary for aesthetics or function.  To my surprise, the basic un-embellished duo became one of my favorite go-to outfits this summer.

Sleeveless blouse and skirt

For a pattern, I traced a simple, old linen blouse in my closet.  The only change I made was to slightly indent the side seams at the waist.

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The blouse slips over the head, and has a button-loop closure in the back.  I used a reflective fabric covered button.

 

The skirt is a simple rectangle, seamed up the back, slightly tapered at the waist, with an elastic casing.

Skirt

I lined the blouse and skirt with cotton percale sheet fabric.  The lining is super comfortable in hot weather, and adds just a smidge more body to the garments.

Lining

This turned out to be the kind of simple outfit that sneaks up on you and becomes the thing you wear everywhere.  I’ve worn this outfit when bicycling, to the office, to meet friends for dinner, and to the ballpark.  I wore the blouse to a big-time concert last month with a pair of khaki shorts.  (More on that to come.)  The outfit basically goes anywhere.  It’s been excellent for road trips and travel.  This simple duo is going to end up in my personal little dress hall of fame.

Here it is with a 10+ year old hand-embroidered Putumayo sweater that I thought was inching closer to the donation box.  Not anymore.  It’s part of the ensemble now.

Sweater2

With Autumn arriving in a week, I already miss wearing this outfit.  I’m considering making another version in fall colors, with simple 3/4 sleeves.

 

 

Dressmaking and Tailoring class 1937

Inside this old loose-leaf cover is my Grandma’s workbook from the tailoring and dressmaking college she attended in Kansas City in 1937, after graduating high school.

Tailoring class notebook a w RSR

There are some large, printed base patterns and instructions.  Here is one complete unfolded sheet:

Pattern full sheet

And now some close-up details:

We’ve got the name of the college.

Label a w RSR

And a statement about the badassery of women in dressmaking, tailoring and pattern making.

Dressmaking pattern quote RSR

Clear instructions and diagrams for taking measurements.  Lots of measurements.

Measuring points diagram 2 RSR

Instructions for Taking Measures a RSR

After the students took their own detailed measurements and recorded them in the notebook, they made their own base pattern.

The big sheets spell it all out in diagrams and lists.   Here is the tight-waist blouse base pattern:

Side bodice

Sweeping lines diagram

The list of measurements in this piece:

IMG_20180826_141850821 a RSR

Then the step-by-step drafting instructions:

Bodice pattern instructions RSR

After mastering the pattern drafting, the class turned to incorporating different styles into the basic pattern.

They made miniature to-scale paper patterns of different skirt, blouse and sleeve styles.  There are pages and pages of examples of clothing styles, drafted into miniature paper patterns.  They started with simple skirt styles, and then got more complicated.

Two Skirts RSR

Flared skirt with v waist panel RSR

Skirt with 4 inch flares RSR

Then they moved on to bodices.

Pintuck bodice RSRSlash and gather waist RSR

This one below, with the curved inset is my current fave and the one I want to try for myself.  I’m not sure there is enough muslin in this city for all of the mistakes I’ll make, but I’ve got to try it.

Curved waist inset RSR

How do you draw all of these to-scale patterns?  With a miniature to-scale ruler and curve, of course.

Ruler and French Curve a RSR

Fast-forward 20 years, during which my Grandma got married, had two daughters, worked as a ‘Rosie’ at Pratt & Whitney while awaiting her husband’s return from WWII, had two sons, and in 1958,…she got her dream machine, the Slant-O-Matic 401A.

Fast forward another 20 years, when as a teen, I spent many hours at this machine learning techniques from her that still serve me to this day.

Fast forward another 40 years, and the machine is in my care now.  That is her balsa wood pin cushion in the picture foreground.  It’s an awesome pin cushion.  Those are her Wiss shears, too.  She taught me that there is no substitute for a big pair of precisely-made, expertly-sharpened metal shears.  She’s still right.

Grandma's Slant-o-Matic RSR

 

 

The county fair and a campout

The night before my recent trip to the vintage clothing store, I went to the county fair.  I enjoyed looking at all of the hand crafted items, and home grown produce of the local 4-H’ers.

There were some excellent handmade garments on display, by teens and by grade schoolers.  To my distress, what you see here was all of the constructed garment entries this year.  This downtrend makes me want to stop what I’m doing and personally try to reverse the trend and bring young people into the wonderful world of sewing and handmade clothing.

DG County Fair garment construction teens

DG County Fair garment construction grade school age

There was beautiful home grown produce.

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There was gorgeous woodworking, and a fun repurposing challenge.

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The foods entries were great.  They had everything from breads and baked sweets to canned and dehydrated produce.  I was too busy admiring to remember to take a picture.

Over in the animal buildings, there were newly shorn sheep in fabulous jackets.  Two of my favorite jackets were the high necked trench coat and a fabulous hot pink number.  The sheep were quite friendly, too.

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As for the other animals, there was a handsome rooster that did a great cockadoodledoo, but refused to do a repeat performance for my camera.  There was a lovely dairy cow who looks great with purple accessories, a perfect pink pig that belongs in Charlotte’s Web, and a spotted pig on the loose, who had the prettiest floppy pig ears.

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It was demolition derby night, too!  This event was packed; standing room only.  This picture should come with sound.  The motors were loud, and the crowd roared with appreciation.

DG County Fair Demolition Derby

Campout!  

That night, hotel rooms in town were scarce and pricey, but that didn’t matter to me, because I’d opted to take advantage of the gorgeous weather forecast.  I packed my tent, chair, backpacking stove, and breakfast, for an overnight at the lake campground just outside of town.  The lake was a CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) construction project in the 1930s, and has been nicely preserved.  My siblings and I loved visiting this lake when we were growing up.  Point of trivia:  William S. Burroughs had a little cabin at this lake in the last years of his life.

On this particular night, my thirtysomething nephew came out with his lawn chair.  We sat and talked while looking out over the lake until 1am, mostly sharing fun memories about the lake and about our siblings, parents and grandparents.

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