Wednesday, February 29

Look before you leap

Happy Leap Day ladies!

In the Gregorian calendar, the current standard calendar in most of the world, most years that are evenly divisible by four are leap years. In each leap year, the month of February has 29 days instead of 28. Adding an extra day to the calendar every four years compensates for the fact that a period of 365 days is shorter than a solar year by almost six hours.

Leap Years benefit from many folk customs. In the United States 
Leap year has also become (unofficially) known as Sadie Hawkins Day. Sadie Hawkins Day is a pseudo-holiday that originated in Al Capp's 1934–1978 comic strip, Li'l Abner, which inspired real-world Sadie Hawkins dances, where girls ask boys out.

In the British Isles, it is a tradition that women may propose marriage only on leap years. While it has been claimed that the tradition was initiated by St. Patrick or Brigid of Kildare in 5th century Ireland, this is dubious, as the tradition has not been attested before the 19th century.

Supposedly, a 1288 law by Queen Margaret of Scotland (then age five and living in Norway), required that fines be levied if a marriage proposal was refused by the man; compensation ranged from a kiss to £1 to a silk gown, in order to soften the blow.

According to Felten: "A play from the turn of the 17th century, 'The Maydes Metamorphosis,' has it that 'this is leape year/women wear breeches.' A few hundred years later, breeches wouldn't do at all: Women looking to take advantage of their opportunity to pitch woo were expected to wear a scarlet petticoat—fair warning, if you will."

In Finland, the tradition is that if a man refuses a woman's proposal on leap day, he should buy her the fabrics for a skirt.

In Greece, marriage in a leap year is considered unlucky. One in five engaged couples in Greece will plan to avoid getting married in a leap year.

Tuesday, February 28

I'm a little devil

A.E. Huls about 1883 in Millville, Ohio.

I have yet another job description. I am now a printer's devil!

A printer's devil was an apprentice in a printing establishment who performed a number of menial tasks, such as mixing tubs of ink and fetching type.

You need proof?

Here's an old photo of Momma's great-grandfather, A.E. Huls, in the doorway of his first printshop in Millville (later Rockbridge), Ohio where he published the Millville Tomahawk. He eventually moved to Logan, Ohio where he published the Logan Republican and ran the Huls Printing Co.

According to the Nov. 10, 1911 edition of the Democrat Sentinel:
After 10 years of having a Democrat for mayor, a Republican was elected - Mr. Huls, Editor of The Logan Republican. It was said that the Logan federation of labor unions toward the end lined up for Huls, because he carried a card as a union printer, and some of the liberal element of the town who were opposed to the other candidate for other reasons, threatened the liberals that if the other candidate were reelected they would vote dry at the coming county election.

The Huls Building (51 E. Main, Logan, OH 43138) was constructed in 1923. It was the first fire-proof building in Logan. Publisher of the
Logan Republican newspaper since 1908, Huls’ building also housed his commercial printing business.

Huls planned to operated his printing business as Huls and Sons with the help of his sons, Charlie and Fred. Sadly, Charlie died Jan. 31, 1925 from strychnine poison contained in medicine obtained at the Ohio State University dispensary while completing his final semester in journalism.

Tragedy continued to haunt Momma's family. In the Aug. 1, 1934 Circleville Herald:
A. E. Huls, Logan, Succumbs In Hospital While Son Is Hunted Through West
Alpheus E. Huls, 68, former publisher of the Logan Republican and a personal friend of J. W. Johnson, N. Court St., died in Grant hospital injuries he received a week ago in an automobile wreck near Athens.
Mrs. Huls, who was injured at the same time, is reported in serious condition. She has a fractured skull and a broken shoulder.
Frantic efforts are being made to find their son, Fred, who, with his wife and daughter, is touring the west. He does not know of his parents tragedy. He is the present publisher of the newspaper.
Mr. Huls succumbed of a blood clot in the heart artery. He served as inspector of the Division of Workshops and Factories under the late Governor Frank B. Willis and was a former post master and mayor of Logan for two terms.

Mrs. Huls also died from her injuries. Their son Fred continued to publish the paper until the 1940s, closing when he joined the Navy in World War II, and ran the printing business a number of years after that with the help of his son Fritz.

Although no longer in Ohio, Momma is the fourth generation of printers in the Huls family. So I get to be her devil at the new Huls Printing Co.

Hey, that's how Mark Twain got his start!

Monday, February 27

The Bear necessities

Momma is a bit sad today since she heard of the death of one of her favorite childhood authors, Jan Berenstain.

Jan and Stan Berenstain were both born in Philadelphia and met on their first day of class at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art in 1941.

Since the 1962 debut of the first Berenstain Bears book, The Big Honey Hunt, the series has grown to more than 300 titles, which have sold approximately 260 million copies in 23 languages. The books feature a family of bears who learn a moral or safety-related lesson in the course of each story.

Jan died Feb. 24 and Stan died in 2005, but their sons Leo and Mike have followed in their parents footsteps.

Hopefully they will continue to provide young readers with the Bear necessities.

Silence is golden

I was extremely interested last night to see that The Artist got the Oscar for Best Picture - the first silent film to get do so since Wings at the original Oscar ceremony in 1929.

The Artist takes place in Hollywood between 1927 and 1932 and focuses on the relationship of an older silent film star and a rising young actress, as silent cinema falls out of fashion and is replaced by the talkies.

In Wings, two young men who are in love with the same woman, become fighter pilots in World War I.

The Artist received four prizes Sunday, including best picture, best actor, best director, and best music.

Betsy-Tacy fans will be interested to know that Paolo Conte, who wrote the score for Wings, was the real-life inspiration for Marco Regali in Betsy and the Great World. Maud Hart Lovelace met Regali in Venice in 1914. He later moved to the United States to head the University of North Dakota
music department where he composed the music for Wings.

I'll need to do more research though since for some reason Wikipedia credits John Stepan Zamecnik for the Wings score.


Sunday, February 26

And the winner is...

Piper's World!

Piper Nicole is 11 years old and loves writing, and decided to start blogging to share all the fun times that she has.

Sounds like a girl after my own heart! I was truly honored to even be nominated in the same category.

To sleep, perchance to dream

Rarely do I sleep, but who can resist when the pillow of her dreams arrives courtesy of Momma's bestie Jennifer.

So here's a sneaky shot Momma got of me snuggling down to sleep with both my new zeppelin pillow and the tin zeppelin I got for Christmas.

Kinda reminds me of the 1983 song "Sweet Dreams" by the British pop music duo Eurythmics, Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart.

Sweet dreams are made of this
Who am I to disagree?
I travel the world and the seven seas
Everybody's looking for something.

It's tool time

It's taken awhile, but I am slowly assembling the items I need for my tool belt, inspired by both Amelia Peabody's belt and an old-fashioned (to you) chatelaine.

Amelia Peabody Emerson is the protagonist of the Amelia Peabody series, written by author Elizabeth Peters. Peabody is married to Egyptologist Radcliffe Emerson and has one biological child, Walter "Ramses" Peabody Emerson.

Peabody usually carries one of her stout parasols, which she uses as a weapon (including a sword-parasol). Her other famous accessory is her belt, later partially replaced with a vest with many pockets. It contains:

"Pistol and knife, canteen, bottle of brandy, candle and matches in a waterproof box, notebook and pencil, needle and thread, compass, scissors, first-aid kit and a coil of stout cord (useful for tying up captured enemies)."

He Shall Thunder in the Sky
Chapter 2

A chatelaine is a decorative belt hook or clasp worn at the waist with a series of chains suspended from it. Each chain is mounted with a useful household appendage such as scissors, thimble, watch, key, vinaigrette, household seal, etc.

Chatelaines were worn by many housekeepers in the 19th century. Originally the chatelaine was designed to have all the tools necessary for the woman of the household to sort out any problem she may encounter in her day.

However, with time, the chatelaine evolved from a purely utilitarian object into a decorative symbol that reflected the status of the wearer.

So far I have:

  • Aether Pistol
  • Flask (for medicinal purposes)
  • Candle
  • Notebook and pencil
  • Compass
  • Scissors
  • First-aid kit
  • A coil of stout cord

What else do I need?

This Week in The Civil War: Sunday, Feb. 26, 1862

Nashville occupied, Willie Lincoln's funeral

Though Tennessee had seceded from the Union, federal troops entered Nashville and occupied that strategic city this week 150 years ago in the Civil War. Nashville thus became the first Confederate state capitol to fall to Union forces as Confederate fighters retreat to Alabama and elsewhere. By week's end, pro-Union Tennessee Sen. Andrew Johnson - the future president of the United States after Lincoln's assassination in 1865 - would be appointed the state's military governor and arrive in Nashville to head up the occupation. His chief task: suppressing rebellion. Union troops now command a vital railroad junction for supplying war campaigns elsewhere in the South. In December 1864, Confederate forces would unsuccessfully try to retake the city, but the two-day Battle of Nashville would yield thousands of casualties on both sides. Nashville's occupation angered Southerners and secession-minded women in Memphis would even take up shooting practice and others would try to raise money for a Confederate gunboat. Meanwhile, Nashville's refugees would stream into Memphis, tasking that city's resources. Newspapers this week report on a somber funeral cortege for Lincoln's 11-year-old son Willie, who died in the White House on Feb. 20, 1862, of typhoid fever. The Springfield Republican reports a crowd followed the grieving Lincoln family as the boy's casket was carried to a Washington cemetery. Lincoln, the report said, appeared "completely prostrated" by grief. It added: "Friday night, and all day Saturday, he was in a stupor of grief, and seemed to care little even for great national events, but on Sunday, he began to recover from the shock, and is now, though deeply bowed down by his great affliction, in nowise incapacitated for the duties of his position."

Saturday, February 25

The polls are closed...

...and the nominees are gathering on the red carpet.

This is the fourth year that on Academy Awards weekend dolls are invited to don their best and post photos of themselves on American Girl Playthings. It's our version of the Academy Awards Red Carpet. (This is what I am wearing.)

Winners of the AGPT Academy Awards will be announced shortly before the 'real' Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012.

The eight categories are:


In case you have forgotten, I was nominated for Best Writing. I was truly honored to be nominated since I have been blogging for less than a year. So my heartfelt thanks to those who nominated (and voted) for me.

Friday, February 24

Steampunk Addie goes Downton

Hmm, I haven't watched Downton Abbey yet, but I'm starting to think I should after reading this hilarious article, Downton Abbey: Why It's Like American Girl Dolls For Grown-Ups, at the Huffington Post.

Downton Abbey is set in the fictional Yorkshire country house of the Earl and Countess of Grantham, and follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants during the reign of King George V. Season one spans the two years before World War I, beginning with news of the sinking of the Titanic.

The second season covers the years 1916 to 1919, and the 2011 Christmas Special December covers the 1919 Christmas period, ending in early 1920.

The hilarious Huffington Post article compares the three Crawley sisters to three American Girls:

Mary Crawley = Samantha Parkington

Sybil Crawley = Felicity Merriman

Edith Crawley = Molly McIntire

So, Downton Abbey paper dolls or trading cards anyone? Although that nightgown sounds promising....

Thursday, February 23

Spies like us

Thanks to the Pinkerton National Detective Agency and some (gasp!) female detectives, President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrived safely in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 23, 1861 after the thwarting of an alleged assassination plot in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Baltimore Plot was an alleged conspiracy in late February 1861 to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln en route to his inauguration. Allan Pinkerton, founder of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, played a key role by managing Lincoln's security throughout the journey.

Kate Warne was a female Pinkerton agent credited with gathering and supplying information which helped convince Pinkerton that there was a plot to assassinate Lincoln in Baltimore.

Warne's employment as a detective was a significant moment in woman's history. Women were not allowed to be police until 1891 and could not be detectives until 1903.

When Pinkerton's son Robert conspired with other agents in 1876 not to hire female detectives, Pinkerton furiously sent Robert a telegram:

"It has been my principle to use females for the detection of crime where it has been useful and necessary. With regard to the employment of such females, I can trace it back to the time I first hired Kate Warne, up to the present time. And I intend to still use females whenever it can be done judiciously. I must do it or falsify my theory, practice and truth."

Hattie Lawton was also part of Pinkerton's Female Detective Bureau. What her exact role in the Baltimore Plot is unknown. Many of Pinkerton's early records were destryoyed in the 1871 Chicago Fire.

Once Lincoln's rail carriage had safely passed through Baltimore, Pinkerton sent a one-line telegram to the president of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad: "Plums delivered nuts safely."

Of course a certain female detective who shall remain nameless was also there.

Tuesday, February 21

Let the good times roll

Have you eaten your pancakes tonight? Ma chère amie Cécile and I have! 

pancakes by Pippaloo
Mardi Gras (also known as Pancake Day, Shrove Tuesday, and Fat Tuesday) is the day preceding Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Since Mardi Gras is linked to Easter, its date changes yearly.

In most traditions the day is known for the eating of pancakes before the start of Lent. Pancakes are eaten as they are made out of sugar, fat, flour and eggs, whose consumption was traditionally restricted during the ritual fasting associated with Lent.

Mardi Gras was first celebrated in Louisiana on March 3, 1699 by early French settlers.

In New Orleans it is a season of parades, balls (some of them masquerade balls), and king cake parties. It has traditionally been part of the winter social season; at one time "coming out" parties for young women at débutante balls were timed for this season.

Mardi Gras has expanded to the point that it became strongly associated with New Orleans in popular perception, and Mardi Gras celebrations are part of the basis of the slogan, Laissez les bons temps rouler, (Let the good times roll) and the nickname "The Big Easy."

The trip of a lifetime

Passenger service attendant
For history, one would be hard pressed to compete with the five million year old Grand Canyon, but Grand Canyon Railway tries.

It has been a week since our centennial ride but I'm still thinking it over. (Our tickets were the 1912 prices of $7.50 but normally would have cost $99!)

Our passenger service attendant told us that normally the train would carry about 100 people to the Grand Canyon, but the special Centennial train had 1,201 - their biggest train ever!

Mountain Man
I was a hit, of course.

Each train engine and each train car has been painstakingly restored to its original state.

Harvey Girl
Each member of the crew was bursting with local and Grand Canyon folklore and history, as well as Grand Canyon Railway knowledge. A passenger service attendant saw to our needs and comfort. Strolling musicians sang songs about trains and the Grand Canyon as well as yesteryear. And there was even an old-fashioned shoot-out and a train robbery!

In other words, we had a grand time.

Monday, February 20

I cannot tell a lie

Happy Presidents Day -- even if it doesn't celebrate the birth of my hero, Abraham Lincoln.

For years (40 to be exact) Momma thought Presidents Day honored the birthdays of both presidents Lincoln (Feb. 14) and George Washington (Feb. 22).

But it doesn't!

Presidents Day is a United States federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February in honor of George Washington, the first President of the United States.

A federal holiday honoring George Washington was originally implemented by an Act of Congress in 1880 for government offices in the District of Columbia and expanded in 1885 to include all federal offices.

On Jan. 1, 1971, the federal holiday was shifted to the third Monday in February by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.

Although Lincoln's birthday, Feb. 12, was never a federal holiday, approximately a dozen state governments have officially renamed their Washington's Birthday observances as "Presidents' Day," "Washington and Lincoln Day," or other such designations.

So go have a piece of cherry pie in Washington's honor.

Okie dokie Artie chokie

Not many dolls can say this, but Momma is once again a proud artichoke!

Scottsdale Community College is a two-year college located on the eastern boundary of the city of Scottsdale, Ariz., on land belonging to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. The lease was taken out in 1970 and will expire in 2069. The school is part of the Maricopa County Community College District.

An important part of the College’s history is encapsulated in its mascot – the Artichoke. Born during a period of student unrest in the early '70s, Artie the Artichoke was adopted as the school’s mascot to express a difference of opinion concerning budget priorities.

Originally intended to be a source of embarrassment, Artie has been embraced by students, athletes, staff, and the community as a beloved character.

The school's colors used to be a rebellious pink and white but are now becoming artichoke shades of green and gold.

Sunday, February 19

When life gives you lemons

Ma chère amie Cécile and her friend Marie-Grace finally got some lovely new items for the summer ... and pink is not the predominate color! Woo hoo!

Marie-Grace's Summer Outfit
Marie-Grace chooses this lovely outfit for summertime in New Orleans:
  • A pink-and-green checked taffeta dress inspired by real fashions of the 1850s, with a triple-tiered skirt and satin ribbon accents
  • A wide-brimmed hat, trimmed with a matching taffeta ribbon
  • Pink-and-white boots with button details for the finishing touch

Cécile's Summer Outfit

Cécile's fancy ensemble is perfect for summers in New Orleans! It features:
  • A true-to-era lemon taffeta dress, with a pretty striped yoke, a gathered bodice, and bell sleeves with organza trim
  • Cécile can shade her eyes with a faux-straw bonnet that ties under her chin—ribbon and daisies add a touch of elegance
  • Two-tone boots with button details complete the look 
Lacy Parasol
This fashionable parasol is made of cream-colored lace—in the 1850s, that's how young ladies shaded their faces from the sun. It opens and closes easily, and has a sculpted golden handle her doll can really hold.

Courtyard Furniture

This pretty metal table is made to look like cast iron, a style that was popular in the 1850s. The set also includes two matching chairs with elaborate scrollwork details.

Glassware & Treats
Delicious desserts for dolls, inspired by New Orleans! This set includes pretend treats for two:
  • A trio of beignets, faux pastries dusted with powdered sugar
  • A ceramic plate decorated with an authentic design from the 1850s
  • A footed glass bowl filled with pieces of faux fruit: peach and apple, pear and lemon, a pineapple, and a bunch of bananas
  • A delicate glass pitcher with a genuine flower motif, along with two matching drink glasses

Items available for a limited time only, while supplies last.

This Week in The Civil War: Sunday, Feb. 19, 1862

Confederate President Davis re-inaugurated

Jefferson Davis, who was provisionally elected the president of the Confederacy at a convention in Montgomery, Alabama, and inaugurated in February 1861, is reinaugurate this week 150 years ago. The re-inauguration on Richmond's Capitol Square takes place on Feb. 22, 1862, following Davis' election in November 1861 to a six-year term. In his address, Davis declares that the people of the Confederacy have come to believe that "the Government of the United States had fallen into the hands of a sectional majority, who would pervert the most sacred of all trusts to the destruction of the rights which it was pledged to project. ... Therefore we are in arms to renew such sacrifices as our father s made to the holy cause of constitutional liberty." The Richmond Examiner, in a report on the eve of Davis' oath-taking, declares the day an "auspicious" one, but it exhorts his administration to take up its cause with energy so as to "escape the miseries of a protracted war." The Philadelphia Inquirer is among Northern newspapers that will print the bulk of the speech in later days along with details of the elaborate inaugural ceremonies and the politicians, judges and other prominent officials present. Elsewhere, The Associated Press reports from Springfield, Missouri, that federal army troops are in "vigorous pursuit of the rebels" in that state. A dispatch states that Union forces have captured four rebel officers and 13 privates but the main body of pro-Confederate forces led by Sterling Price eludes them in the countryside. From 1862 to 1864, Missouri will be the crucible of bloody guerrilla warfare. Only Virginia and Tennessee will see more battles, clashes and other engagements during the war.

Saturday, February 18

The Jolly Addie

While re-reading Dave Barry's delightful 2004 book, Peter and the Starcatchers, I was struck with inspiration for the sails of my pirate ship, the Enterprise. 

Peter and the Starcatchers
In Barry's Peter Pan universe, pirate captain Black Stache is very resourceful. He captures the naval ship the Wasp by using a corset-shaped sail.

"'The Ladies' were Black Stache's secret weapon -- a special set of sails he'd had the ship's sailmakers make, using patterns that Black Stache had obtained from, of all places, a ladies' corset maker. Though they had not yet been tested at sea, Black Stache was convinced that his invention would revolutionize the pirate industry. He was saving the Ladies for just the right moment, when he was heading downwind, closing on his prey for the kill." (p. 34).

Can't you just see me, Steampunk Addie Dred Pirate Scott, at the helm of such a stylish pirate ship?

Get your kicks on Route 66

One of Momma's claims to "fame" is once interviewing Bobby Troup, who wrote (Get Your Kicks on) Route 66 in 1946. (She got to write several stories about Route 66 while living in Kingman.)

Troop said the tune, as well as the words "Get your kicks on Route 66," came to him easily, but the rest eluded him, so he filled up the song with the names of towns and cities on the highway.
Well if you ever plan to motor west
Just take my way that's the highway that's the best
Get your kicks on Route 66
Well it winds from Chicago to L.A.
More than 2,000 miles all the way
Get your kicks on Route 66
Well goes from St. Louis down to Missouri
Oklahoma City looks oh so pretty
You'll see Amarillo and Gallup, New Mexico
Flagstaff, Arizona don't forget Winona
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernadino
Would you get hip to this kindly tip
And go take that California trip
Get your kicks on Route 66

Friday, February 17

The Harvey Girls

We saw lots of women dressed as Harvey Girls while on the Grand Canyon Railway and at the Bright Angel Lodge.

Fred Harvey began using a female serving staff in 1883 when he became unhappy with his male staff who often carried firearms to intimidate customers. He sought out single, well-mannered, and educated American ladies, and placed ads in newspapers throughout the East and Midwest for "white, young women, 18 to 30 years of age, of good character, attractive and intelligent." The girls were paid $17.50 a month (approximately $411 in today's terms) to start, plus room, board, and tips, a generous income by the standards of the time. 

The women were subjected to a strict 10 p.m. curfew, administered by a senior Harvey Girl who assumed the role and responsibilities of house mother. The official starched black and white uniform (which was designed to diminish the female physique) consisted of a skirt that hung no more than eight inches off the floor, "Elsie" collars, opaque black stockings, and black shoes.

Their hair was restrained in a net and tied with a regulation white ribbon. Makeup of any sort was absolutely prohibited, as was chewing gum while on duty. Harvey Girls were required into a one-year employment contract, and forfeited half their base pay if they failed to complete the term of service. Marriage was the most common reason for a girl to terminate her employment. 

The company and its employees successfully brought new higher standards of both civility and dining to a region widely regarded in the era as "the Wild West." Harvey Girls are said to have helped to "civilize the American Southwest."

The popularity of the Harvey Girls grew even stronger in 1946, when Judy Garland starred in the film version of Samuel Hopkins Adams’ novel The Harvey Girls.

Incidentally, it is thought that the Harvey Houses originated the "blue-plate special," a daily low-priced complete meal served on a blue-patterned china plate; an 1892 Harvey menu mentions them - some 30 years before the term became widespread.

Momma got me this cute china figurine of a Harvey Girl as a souvenir!

Thursday, February 16

Addie and Momma's Excellent Route 66 Adventure

Fans of American Girl might recall that my dear friend Molly McGuire took a trip with her family in 1946 along Route 66.

Molly's Route 66 Adventure takes readers for an eight-state ride, from Illinois to California, along the Main Street of America.

Molly's family took a side trip off Route 66 to go to the Grand Canyon, and stayed at the Bright Angel Lodge where we had lunch Tuesday!

Bright Angel Lodge, designed in 1935
by architect Mary E. J. Colter, has a natural, rustic character, and is a Registered National Historic Landmark.

It has always been a popular place to stay and the center of South Rim activity. Located just a few feet from the Canyon rim, Bright Angel Lodge is the check-in point for the world famous Grand Canyon Mule Rides.

Wednesday, February 15

Addie's Route 66 Adventure

Whew! What a couple of whirlwind days.

I have enough material for several blogs, so stay tuned the next couple of days, but for now:
  • Monday, Feb. 13, 2012 - we drove up to Williams, Ariz., to spend the night before boarding the train.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012 - we boarded the Grand Canyon Railway steam train to celebrate Arizona's centennial as a state. We spent the day at The Canyon before taking the train back to Williams. (The train was "robbed" by masked men on horses!) After leaving Williams we started home only to get into a blizzard near Flagstaff, Ariz. Despite Momma's excellent driving, we slid off the road and into a ditch! It took us three hours to get towed out of the ditch so we found the nearest motel in scenic Munds Park where we collapsed for the night.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 - We returned to Phoenix (uneventfully!) where Momma rested before teaching her first class at the local community college!

Phew! I'm exhausted by that brief summary. But stay tuned for more in-depth reporting on my Route 66 Adventure!

Tuesday, February 14

The tell-tale heart

Momma gave me a heart for Valentine's Day.

And not just any heart, but a checked heart.

Do you think she's trying to tell me something?

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy birthday AZ!

President William Howard Taft signs the Arizona Statehood Bill under my watchful eye.

Happy 100th birthday, Arizona!

In the 20th century, Arizona almost entered the Union as part of New Mexico in a Republican plan to keep control of the U.S. Senate. The plan, while accepted by most in New Mexico, was rejected by most Arizonans. Progressives in Arizona favored inclusion in the state constitution of initiative, referendum, recall, direct election of senators, woman suffrage, and other reforms.

Most of these proposals were included in the constitution that was submitted to Congress in 1912. President William Howard Taft insisted on removing the recall provision because it would allow recall of judges before he would approve it. It was removed, Taft signed the statehood bill on Feb. 14, 1912, and state residents promptly put the provision back in.

Incidentally, women gained the right to vote in Arizona in 1912, eight years before the United States as a whole!

Arizona is currently the sixth largest and the 16th most populous state. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona was the 48th and last of the contiguous states to be admitted to the Union.

Monday, February 13

My steamy adventure begins

In honor of Arizona's centennial on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012, Grand Canyon Railway is offering round-trip coach class tickets for $7.50 per person - the same cost as in 1912!

The Arizona Centennial Train will depart the Williams Depot at 9:30 a.m. for the Grand Canyon pulled by vintage steam locomotive 4960 with coach seating.

I'll report tomorrow!

The Mother Road

I shall be getting at least some of my kicks tonight on Route 66 as we head to Williams, Ariz., for our Grand Canyon Railway Adventure.

One of the original U.S. highways, Route 66 was established on Nov. 11, 1926 – with road signs erected the following year. The highway, which became one of the most famous roads in America, originally ran
2,448 miles from Chicago, Illinois before ending in Los Angeles. It was popularized by both a hit song, (Get Your Kicks on) Route 66, and the 1960s Route 66 television show.Route 66 served as a major path for those who migrated west, especially during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, and it supported the economies of the communities through which the road passed.

Route 66 underwent many improvements and realignments over its lifetime, but was officially removed from the United States Highway System on June 27, 1985 after it was decided the route was no longer relevant and had been replaced by the Interstate Highway System. (Arizona saw its final stretch decommissioned in 1984 with the completion of I-40 just north of Williams.)

The first Route 66 association was founded in Arizona in 1987, and a section of Arizona's road has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Sunday, February 12

This Week in the Civil War: Sunday, Feb. 12, 1862

The Battle of Fort Donelson 

The Battle of Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River near Dover, Tenn., marks the first major Union battlefield victory of the Civil War, 150 years ago this week in 1862. Federal gunboats on Feb. 14, 1862, began exchanging heavy fire with big Confederate artillery guns set high up the river bluff. But the gunboats suffered such damage that their decks ran with blood and they were soon forced to withdraw, denying Union Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant the speedy victory he had hoped to achieve. The next day, Grant sent in ground troops, fighting a pitched battle with the fort's Confederate defenders before his soldiers are forced to retreat. Confederate defenders mistakenly believed they had won the confrontation. But then Grant surprised them with a counterattack that took back lost ground and set the stage for a Union victory. Some 2,000 Confederate fighters slipped away before Grant captured those defenders still remaining. Asked for his terms of surrender, Grant bluntly and famously replied: "No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted." The remaining Confederates gave up the fight as Fort Donelson became the first sizable land victory for the North in the Civil War. At Fort Donelson, "Unconditional Surrender" Grant would gain hero status. The victory would help secure Grant a promotion to major general and begin forging a destiny that would take him on to become eventual commander of all the Union armies.

Saturday, February 11

Academy Awards: Vote for Best Writing

Well, my dear friend Angry Jess announced the nominees this morning including yours truly. I have provided links for the other nominees. Good luck to everyone but most of all ... ME!

Writing? Oh yes, do let's highlight this category. Writers never get enough recognition. That's because most people today watch "Reality TV" and labor under the delusion that actors are geniuses who make up their "dialogue" on the spot.

Yeah, let's rethink that. There actually ARE writers on Reality TV and while I regret that they've had to sink so low, hey, it's work. They have rent to pay and stuff to buy just like Tolstoy did.

The people who wrote the blogs below, they don't get paid for doing what they do. But you should still recognize their work and vote for your favorite, because writers make the world go round.


Best blog centered exclusively around American Girl dolls.

And the nominees are...

(Note that I have once again voluntarily eliminated myself from being nominated in this category so that others have a chance of winning).

That Jess. Always so modest.

And the nominees are...

I was quite touched to receive this message from my dear friend, Angry Jess on Thursday:
You, yeah, you. I'm talking to you.

Your blog has been nominated for a 2011 Academy Award.

If you wish to decline the nomination, we need to hear about it by midnight EST on Friday, 2-10. If we do not hear back from you by then, the nominated blog will be included in a poll for member voting. We cannot change polls once they have been created.

You do not need to respond to this message if you accept the nominations. Non-response = acceptance.

Should you accept the nomination you are welcome to post the following graphic in your signature field, plus link to your blog should you chose to include that:

Don't post it until the polls are opened this weekend, though, or I'll take it down and stomp on it.


So if you're a member of American Girl Playthings, feel free to vote for Me. In all fairness, I'll post the other nominees in the Best Blog category once I learn who they are.


Friday, February 10

Married in White, you have chosen right

Happy 172nd Anniversary, Queen Victoria and Albert!

Victoria first met her German cousin Albert in 1836, and they became engaged during his second visit to England in 1839. (She proposed since she was the Queen of England.) Their wedding took place on Feb. 10, 1840 at St. James's Palace. It was the first wedding of a reigning Queen of England since 1554.

White did not become a popular option until 1840, after Victoria and Albert's marriage. (Victoria wore a white gown for the event to incorporate some lace she prized.) The official wedding portrait photograph was widely published, and many other brides opted for white in accordance with the Queen's choice.

The first documented instance of a princess who wore a white wedding gown for a royal wedding ceremony is that of Philippa of England, who wore a tunic with a cloak in white silk bordered with grey squirrel and ermine in 1406.

Mary, Queen of Scots, wore a white wedding gown in 1559 when she married her first husband, Francis Dauphin of France because it was her favorite color, although white was then the color of mourning for French Queens.
Married in White, you have chosen right
Married in Grey, you will go far away,
Married in Black, you will wish yourself back,
Married in Red, you will wish yourself dead,
Married in Green, ashamed to be seen,
Married in Blue, you will always be true,
Married in Pearl, you will live in a whirl,
Married in Yellow, ashamed of your fellow,
Married in Brown, you will live in the town,
Married in Pink, you spirit will sink.

Queen Victoria was buried in a white dress and her wedding veil after her death on Jan. 22, 1901.

Thursday, February 9

Bad News/Good News

I'm sorry I haven't had a chance to write much the past few days, but I've been busy helping Momma through one of life's unfortunate situations.

However, today she got some good news. I can't say more now, but hopefully I'll have some exciting news in the next few days.

In the meantime, please keep your fingers crossed....

Tuesday, February 7

What the Dickens?

Happy 200th birthday, Charles Dickens!

Dickens, the British author who created unforgettable characters like Ebenezer Scrooge and David Copperfield, was born in Portsmouth, England, on Feb. 7, 1812.

Dickens first visited Philadelphia in 1842 and received a celebrity welcome, shaking hands with fans for hours in a hotel lobby. When he returned in 1868, people camped out for tickets to his readings and scalpers commanded high prices for the sold-out performances.

Dickens only visited Philadelphia twice but two local benefactors donated major Dickens collections to the Philadelphia public library, including 1,200 letters.

Among the items on view in the rare book department are first editions of his novels and original artwork for the tales; dozens of letters to colleagues; the desk where he left his unfinished 15th book, "The Mystery of Edwin Drood"; and an 1846 manuscript of the "Children's New Testament" - Dickens' own version of the life of Jesus, which he read to his children each Christmas.

Also on display, safe in a terrarium, stands Grip, the pet raven that Dickens preserved through taxidermy. Grip appeared as a minor character in Dickens' book "Barnaby Rudge," which Edgar Allan Poe reviewed while living in Philadelphia. Poe criticized the bird's small role, and penned "The Raven" four years later.

Through another twist of fate, Clark Park in west Philadelphia ended up with a statue of the writer. The sculpture by Frank Edwin Elwell features a seated Dickens on a pedestal and one of his most beloved characters - Little Nell, from "The Old Curiosity Shop" - standing below.

Dickens had forbidden such memorials in his will, but one other full-sized statue stands in Sydney, Australia.

Monday, February 6

Steam-pink Addie

I admit I am pleased to hear that a certain organization has reversed its earlier decision to not give Planned Parenthood money for breast cancer screenings.

I was so upset that I even put pink on in protest - and as most of you know I loathe pink. But even I shall wear pink if it raises breast cancer awareness.
But maybe some people need Planned Parenthood awareness, too.

Planned Parenthood dates to 1916 when Margaret Sanger, her sister and a friend opened the first birth control clinic in the United States in Brooklyn, N.Y. It resulted in her being jailed. By 1941, the organization was operating 222 centers and had served 49,000 clients.

Incidentally, Faye Wattleton was the first woman named president of Planned Parenthood in 1978 and served till 1992. She was also the first African-American to serve as president, and the youngest president in Planned Parenthood's history. During her term, Planned Parenthood grew to become the seventh largest charity in the country, providing services to four million clients each year through its 170 affiliates whose activities were spread across 50 states.