The Ladies' Tea Guild

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Posting again after a year ...

Image from
I haven't entirely forgotten this blog ... really ....

So many things have changed since I last posted -- on December 31st of 2018!  Most important among the changes is another new place to live.  I moved in about 6 weeks ago, but I'm still unpacking things; I have almost all of my possessions out of my storage unit, however, and I need to get another bookcase or cabinet to hold my antique books and the dishes and silver that I inherited from my grandparents.

I am still working in the library at the school, and I'm also in charge of running the Rancho Day event for 4th grade, and assisting with the Tea Party section of the Colonial Day event for 5th grade, for both of which I wear historical dress, of course!  Rancho Day for 2020 will be at the end of next month, and Colonial Day will be a few weeks later, in early to mid February.  I need to get my costume in order for both events!

I walked in the Rose, White & Blue Parade in San Jose again, with
Photo: Deborah Borlase.
the Greater Bay Area Costumers' Guild, and our theme was Prohibiton: Pro and Con.  I made a ca. 1918 skirt out of blue linen (not quite finished, but it was wearable) and wore it with my vintage embroidered blouse and my "Votes for Women" sash, to illustrate that the people opposing prohibition were also opposing women's voting and other legal rights.  The two issues (prohibition and women's suffrage) were so intertwined that most of the women's organizations campaigned for both issues simultaneously; the amount of control that "Big Alcohol" had over the national, state, and local governments was one of the biggest obstacles, if not the biggest one, to women getting the right to vote, which is a fact that people have largely forgotten and which, even the historians in my costume group wanted to dismiss, as "clouding the issue."

Mary Todd Lincoln gown image
from Brandon and Jen Bear.
I went to Costume College again last July, and this time I was able to get rides down to L.A., and back home again, instead of taking the train.  It was an inspirational trip, with lots of fun classes and costumes to see.  I am not to the point where I have a group of friends to hang out with, but I'm getting better at just going to some of the events on my own and being a fly on the wall.  Unfortunately, I didn't take many photos this time, and I only got photos of one of my own costumes!  I wore my 1840s Spanish California day dress, which got the most attention that I've ever gotten for any of my costumes, although people kept mistaking me for Queen Victoria!  I guess that comes with the territory when you are short and stout and have dark hair?  Anyway, that dress is just about my favorite, so it was nice to have others notice some of the details, too.  I re-wore the 1865 wedding gown skirt and sleeves, with the blue velveteen evening bodice and evening headdress, in imitation of something that Mary Todd Lincoln would have worn, to the Gala; it's the only ballgown/evening gown that I own, and I do still intend to copy her purple velvet evening gown in the Smithsonian, but I don't have all the fabric and trim yet.  Maybe I'll get that finished in 2020. The only new costume I made, was one that has been on my list for many years; I copied the clothing from the Mona Lisa portrait.  It's still a work in progress, and I didn't get any photos of myself in it!  However, that was another one (like the Mary Todd Lincoln dress) where I have been thinking about making that dress ever since I was told, when I was in my 'teens, that I look like the Mona Lisa!  It must be some kind of unwritten law, that if someone tells a historic costume maker that they look like someone in a period image, the costumer *has* to re-create and wear the clothes from the image!  If I get my act together, there will be at least one blog post about the Mona Lisa costume and the Mary Todd Lincoln gown, when they are finished!

_Mona_Lisa_ by Leonardo da Vinci, ca. 1510
(in the Louvre) from Wikimedia Commons
I will be going to Costume College again in July/August, and since it will be 2020, the fashions of the 1920s will be a featured part of the programming, along with the badges, sashes, and other things worn and used by the workers for Women's Suffrage, which was made legal across the U.S. with the passing of the 19th Amendment in 1921 (California women got the vote in 1911).  I already have a "Votes for Women" sash, but I need to finish the blue linen skirt and make a new blouse to wear with it. I will also be participating in a themed costume group, where the theme is Folk and Traditional Clothing; I am researching the traditional folk dress of the parts of Sicily and Southern Italy where my family is from, and will hopefully get something completed and wearable by then!

I am thankful that I haven't been injured, or had any property destroyed, by the flooding in the winter and spring over the past few years.  It is normal, in the Santa Clara Valley, for the spring and winter rains to swell the river and the many creeks and streams; spring and winter flooding was once vital to the agricultural character of this area, and it created some of the most fertile soil in the world.  In modern times, however, people have built closer and closer to the banks of those rivers and streams, attempted to change their course, and all sorts of "improvements" in order to enable more badly-panned construction, and this has resulted in dangerous flooding in many parts of Santa Clara County, to the point that property is destroyed and lives are endangered and even lost.  The cities have implemented their own flood control plans, which have been successfull in most cases, but the flooding in recent years was too much.  Luckily, nobody that I know suffered the loss of all of their property, or their life, but a few friends evacuated temporarily!

I am thankful that I was not injured, and didn't lose any property, because of the fires that covered so much of the state last year and the year before.  Wildfires are very common during the summer and fall in California, because the rains stop in April, and everything gets very dry by the end of the summer, but last year's fires were excessive.  There have been big fires before but it had been years since the last one, and the fires hadn't destroyed much of the Bay Area, so it was a shock that they destroyed so much.  I have friends and former co-workers who had family vacation homes in the areas that were burned out, but thankfully, nobody that I know was injured or killed.

I am hoping to get back into posting here regularly; the place where I lived last year didn't have a very easily usable kitchen, and almost no space to sew, or store my fabric, so I made almost nothing last year.  My new place has a small kitchen, and a nicely-sized living room with lots of light, so I hope to be able to make lots of things this year.  I wish you all a most happy and healthy New Year!

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Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)