Sunday, September 30

Turn on the light


A two-minute video produced by Bookmans, an Arizona bookstore, is helping launch a national read-out from banned and challenged books that is being held on YouTube in conjunction with Banned Books Week, the national celebration of the freedom to read (Sept. 30-Oct. 6). 

The video presents Bookmans' customers and staff urging people "to turn on the light" by celebrating freedom of expression. With light bulbs burning brightly above their heads, each of them reads a single line from a banned or challenged book that testifies to the importance of reading, books and freedom of speech.

"It is a wonderfully creative and inspiring video," said American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression President Chris Finan. "We hope all supporters of Banned Books Week will use social media to share it with their friends and the rest of the world, giving a big boost to this year's read-out.

More than 800 people posted videos on YouTube during Banned Books Week last year. More information about the read-out, including updated criteria and submission information, is available here.

Bookmans, which has stores in Tucson, Phoenix, Mesa and Flagstaff, has been actively opposing censorship for 36 years. It celebrates free speech throughout the month of September. Harrison Kressler, Bookmans' media producer, created the video. Rebecca Ballenger, the digital media supervisor, suggested participating in the read-out after reviewing videos from last year's Banned Books Week.


This week in the Civil War: Sept. 30, 1862

Battle of Corinth, Miss.

Some 22,000 Confederate soldiers converged on Corinth, Miss., 150 years ago this week in the Civil War, intent on snatching back a key Southern railroad hub from Union control. Fighting on Oct. 3, 1862, saw Confederate soldiers battering the Union troops on their outer defenses ringing Corinth. The Associated Press reported the fighting was pitched when the Confederates opened up with an attack six miles northeast of Corinth. "The engagement became general, and a fierce and sanguinary battle was fought," AP's correspondent wrote in an Oct. 8, 1862, dispatch. That account reported how Union soldiers "were forced slowly backward, fighting desperately" as they were hemmed in by the onslaught of the Confederate troops. AP added: "The Confederates pushed forward with determined obstinacy" but then sunset brought an overnight pause to the fighting. Combat resumed the morning of Oct. 4, 1862, but by then the Union forces had regrouped. Union artillery raked the attackers. AP reported the fighting was fierce. "The federal batteries opened a destructive fire upon the exposed ranks of the Confederates, mowing them down like grass. Their slaughter was frightful," the account stated. At times the battle appeared to seesaw, AP noted. But "the Confederates wavered and then fell back" in full retreat. It was a strategic victory for the Union to retain Corinth, one of the most important Southern rail junctions, which had been seized earlier in the year. Corinth afforded the Union a springboard for federal gunboat operations down the Mississippi River to Vicksburg and for exerting control over much of middle and western Tennessee. The Union victory at Corinth – shortly after Lee was thwarted in his first invasion of the North at the Battle of Antietam in September 1862 – was the second of two important setbacks for the Confederacy at a crucial moment in the war.

Saturday, September 29

Happy birthday, Emily ~ Sept. 29, 1933

Happy birthday, Emily!

In Chapter Four of Happy Birthday, Molly!, Molly learns what Emily would do for her birthday tea party if she was in England.

In England they have real tea, and Emily suggests that she and Molly could put a lot of milk and honey in the tea. The English have thin tea sandwiches (with the crusts cut off!) and are either meat paste (
ground up meat like ham or liver) or watercress, or even bread and margarine as butter was rationed. Emily also says she'd have a lemon tart for a special tea party.

Monday, September 24

Be still my heart

American Girl
A doll collector's husband recently did a double take when he saw a photo of American Girl's new Winter Chalet.

He thought it was a dolly-sized moonshine still.


Stills have long been used to produce perfume and medicine, water for pharmaceutical use, to separate and purify different chemicals, and most famously, to produce distilled beverages containing alcohol.

(Momma is well acquanted with stills since she grew up in the Appalachian foothills and listened to her grandmother's stories of the speakeasies she frequented in the '30s.)

I must admit the idea has possibilities since we Vinyl Americans are too young to legally purchase certain liquid beverages.

Hmm, where's that copper tubing of mine....

Sunday, September 23

This week in the Civil War: Sept. 23, 1862

Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation

President Abraham Lincoln has just announced his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862. This week 150 years ago in the Civil War, a nation divided is just beginning to absorb the blunt message that Lincoln's war will now be a war against slavery in addition to a fight to reunite North and South. Lincoln declares that if the rebels do not end their fight and rejoin the Union by Jan. 1, 1862, all slaves in the rebellious states would be deemed "forever free" from that time forward. His move comes a week after the bloody fighting at Antietam. After the battle, The Associated Press reported on Sept. 20, 1862, that hundreds of Confederate stragglers were captured as Robert E. Lee's battered Army of Northern Virginia retreated southward from Maryland across the Potomac River. It added: "The Confederate army has succeeded in making its escape from Maryland." AP's account of the fighting in Maryland gives new details of the harrowing ordeal for local residents, many of whom hid in their cellars to escape heavy shelling. AP also reports the Antietam losses for the rebels in dead and wounded "will not come far from 18,000 to 20,000" casualties. Modern-day estimates of the battle have put the overall casualty count at 23,100 dead, missing and wounded. Elsewhere, Confederates who encroached on Kentucky in the summer of 1862 have skirmished with Union forces. But those engagements are overshadowed by the enormity of the Battle of Antietam. Even so, Union soldiers will eventually force the Confederates in Kentucky to withdraw to Lexington and ultimately leave the state for the most part in October 1862.

Saturday, September 22

Happy eleventy-first birthday!

Happy Hobbit Day!

Hobbit Day is the birthday of the hobbits Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, two fictional characters in J. R. R. Tolkien's popular set of books The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Bilbo and Frodo were said to be born on Sept. 22, but of different years. Bilbo was born in the year of 2890 and Frodo in the year of 2968 in the Third Age (1290 and 1368 respectively in Shire-Reckoning.)

Tolkien Week is the week containing Hobbit Day.

The American Tolkien Society first proclaimed Hobbit Day and Tolkien Week in 1978, and defines them as this: "Tolkien Week is observed as the calendar week containing Sept. 22, which is always observed as Hobbit Day," but acknowledges that Hobbit Day pre-dates their designation.

Due to the discrepancies between the Shire Calendar and the Gregorian Calendar there is some debate about when to celebrate Hobbit Day, since the actual birthday would be September 12 on our calendar, or possibly Sept. 14, as explained in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings.

Friday, September 21

Hat in hand

I forgot to mention that a male joined my Steam Team last week while I was out pirating.

Introducing Stryder Mortensen. I hope to someday get him the Imperium Park Clockwork Hypothesis outfit.

This impressive outfit includes a white shirt, cravat, pinstripe pants, lined jacket with golden decorations, pleather vest with buckles, matching armbands, belt, and pouch, gloves, socks, boots with grommets and lacings, goggles, and matching hat.

For now, he wears nothing but a hat.

And a smile.

Thursday, September 20

When Addie comes marching home (again)

Thimbles and Acorns
I am so excited!

My Bestest Fan (other than blood family!) is making me my very own Grand Army of the Republic Uniform based upon this Thimbles and Acorns pattern!
During the Civil War it was not uncommon for boys as young as 12 years of age to enlist as drummer boys. Though they weren't technically soldiers, they were still close to the battle lines and often took up arms when battles became heated. This uniform is patterned after the standard pants and sack coat issued to enlisted men and is the same style worn by Johnny Clem, who at 9 years of age became the youngest soldier of the Civil War... actually, of any American war.  

This pattern has been carefully researched with close attention to detailing. The pants have a fly front with a small working silver button and two front pockets. The jacket features a unique pocket in the front that is accessed through the front placket. The jacket is fully lined ... just like the original.

Of course we are modifying it so I can wear bloomers instead of pants, just like Mary Edwards Walker did.

Walker was an 19th century American feminist, abolitionist, prohibitionist, alleged spy, prisoner of war and surgeon. She is the only woman ever to receive the Medal of Honor.

Wednesday, September 19

Walk like a pirate

Best Doll Boutique
T' me not-so-gentle readers,

I apologize for me absence lately, but since Momma be feelin' a bit better, I decided t' run away for awhile t' be a pirate. (After all, today be International Talk Like a Pirate Day!)

And while I (of course) cut a dashin' figure on t' high seas, ma chère amie Cécile be even more so in this outfit from Best Doll Boutique!
Steampunk styling incorporates the past and the future - an amazing amalgam of the Victorian era with elements of futuristic science fiction. Experience the best of both worlds in this uniquely styled doll's Steampunk Costume and blow off some steam on Halloween!
  • Absolutely gorgeous vintage COLLAR is black super soft faux fur with brown satin ribbon ties. The back is lined in a black cotton. Decorated with checked fabric and two gears.This collar is perfect to add to the costume to glam it up!
  • The Steampunk NECKLACE is black satin ribbon with black and red beads and velcro closure on the back.
  • Uniquely designed black striped underbust CORSET features a front gold applique with gears, golden trim around and a retro gold rhinestone gun & skull head chain. Velcro closure on the back.
  • Gorgeous ivory cotton BLOUSE features long puffed sleeves and trimmed with a vintage ivory lace. Closes with velcro on the back for easy opening.
  • The three-layer ruffle SKIRT has an elasticized waist and black lace trim on the hem. The back of the skirt has a draped brown satin train decorated with black lace and gold trim that gives great volume. The train is attached to the skirt with two snaps.
  • Burgundy faux leather steampunk BELT features the same material PURSE that opens to hold all your essentials.
  • Steampunk CUFF with two gears and eyelets is made of beautifully soft burgundy faux leather. It fastens quickly and easily with velcro.
  • The black net stretch TIGHTS are with the elastic waistband.
  • Burgundy faux leather steam punk SANDALS are handmade by me and decorated with brown satin bows, gears and eyelets. This is a truly unique designer piece.
  • No steampunk outfit is complete without an EYEPATCH! This is the highest-quality eyepatch made from gorgeous burgundy faux leather, gears and matching yeylets. It can be worn on the left or on the right eye.


Sunday, September 16

This Week in The Civil War: Sept. 16, 1862

Battle of Antietam

It remains the single bloodiest day of fighting on American soil and it was fought 150 years ago this week in the Civil War: The Battle of Antietam began on Sept. 17, 1862, when Union forces led by Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan clashed with Confederates under the command of Gen. Robert E. Lee in a cornfield at Sharpsburg, Md., or Antietam. The bitter battle raged around such spots now burned into the American history books as Dunker Church and the Sunken Road. Marked by attacks and counterattacks, the pitched 12 hours of fighting claimed at least 23, 000 wounded, missing and disappeared. When the roar of combat was over, Lee's limping Army of Northern Virginia was forced to withdraw on Sept. 18 amid last skirmishing to cross the Potomac River southward to the safety of Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. Neither side could claim this as an outright tactical victory. Yet Antietam was, nonetheless, a turning point in the Civil War and quickly was seized upon as a strategic victory for the Union. The federal forces, though they failed to pursue Lee's retreating army, had shown they could stop the savvy Confederate commander's opening invasion of the North. Historically, the battle's aftermath gave President Abraham Lincoln the opening he needed to announce his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Within days, Lincoln would declare the Civil War had the double aim of both keeping the Union intact and abolishing slavery. The Associated Press, reporting on the fighting soon after the shooting subsided, said hundreds of civilians watched from surrounding hills. "The sharp rattle of 50,000 muskets and the thunder of a hundred pieces of artillery is not often witnessed," AP's correspondent wrote. "It is impossible at this writing to form any correct idea of our losses or that of the enemy. It is heavy on both sides." AP added that so fierce was the fighting that the dead were "thickly strewn over the field and in many places lying in heaps."

Sunday, September 9

This Week in The Civil War: Sept. 9, 1862

The Fight Before Antietam

 Confederate Robert E. Lee's Army of the Northern Virginia took its fight to Maryland 150 years ago this week in the Civil War. Lee's forces clashed with Union foes on Sept. 14, 1862, at the Battle of South Mountain, Md. Fighting here would be a mere prelude to the monstrous Battle of Antietam in three days' time. Lee's hope was to crush Northern war spirits by taking the fight to Union turf. Lee's troops briefly occupied Frederick, Md., but soon were chased off by the approaching Union forces of Major Gen. George B. McClellan. Because a copy of Lee's battle plan had accidentally fallen into Union hands, McClellan had advance word that Lee would send part of his fighting force to capture Harpers Ferry, inpresent day West Virginia, while leaving Maryland's South Mountain gaps lightly guarded. In fierce fighting at South Mountain, McClellan sought to crush the Army of Northern Virginia. But it was to no avail. Lee regrouped his far-flung divisions to fight another day. Only days ahead, the two foes would meeet at Antietam, turning point in the Civil War. Still, there was little inkling this week of the deathly battle that was near. The Associated Press reported on Sept. 13, 1862, that Union fighters who drove Confederates from Frederick after some skirmishing were cheered when they reached that Maryland city: "The entire city appeared overjoyed to see us again, and the people turned out en masse to welcome our troops ... flags were waved from house-tops and windows and the side walks were thronged with people, including a full representation of ladies." But AP also reported in the same dispatch that there were reports of a huge Confederate force numbering more than 100,000-strong still out and about in the countryside.

Saturday, September 8

Making the list

I discovered this week that someone at Tonner Doll created a list for Best Doll Blogs - and I got added to the list by someone.


Best Doll Blogs - Fashion, Collecting & Photos

As of now I am 24 out of 41, but there's always room for improvement.

So get voting!

Wednesday, September 5

Mustache Ga Ga

When Momma asked me if I wanted to be a Queen on Sept. 5, this was NOT what I had in mind.

Momma's been a lifelong Queen fan and  is quite proud she got to see them in concert on July 6, 1980 in Phoenix.

Founded in 1992 in Freddie Mercury's name by Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor and Queen manager Jim Beach, the Mercury Phoenix Trust has quietly helped AIDS charities all over the world. 

The work of the MPT is principally HIV/AIDS education and awareness. Despite all the progress made, this is still the most essential work as each year sees a new generation of sexually active young people risk contracting AIDS through ignorance. Knowledge is equally as important now in the Western world where many people think AIDS has been cured.

Freddie For A Day was the brainchild of Liz Swanton, web editor of the MPT and a City of London Banker who raised more than £1,200 by spending a working day dressed as Freddie.

It was such a wacky idea that MPT decided to make it an annual event coinciding with Freddie’s birthday on Sept. 5. It’s fun, it’s slightly crazy AND it raises money for the charity which is spent fighting HIV/AIDS worldwide.

OK. Even I shall wear a 'stache for that cause.

Tuesday, September 4

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas

As previously mentioned in December, Momma loves gingerbread.

So you can imagine her delight today when American Girl released not one, not two, but three different gingerbread items!

Your girl can make Bitty Baby's holiday extra sweet with a gingerbread house puzzle toy! The walls and roof snap together, and are decorated with faux icing and candies. There's even a little "gingerbread" tree!

Sugar & Spice Baking Set
My American Girl dolls can enjoy a holiday tradition—a gingerbread house! She'll have everything she needs with this festive set, including:
  • A faux gingerbread home, ready for "decorating," and a cake plate to display it on
  • A variety of pretend candies to use as decoration: a bowl of glittery gumdrops, three jars of colorful sprinkles, a candy plate laden with tiny chocolates, and a box of striped candy canes
  • A pastry bag filled with frosting, ready to add the trim!
  • A matching apron and hat, each with touches of faux fur and stretch velvet for a fancy accent
When Caroline sets off on her journey to find Papa, she packs everything she'll need for the trip. Your girl can re-create the moment today with this set, including:
  • Five faux gingerbread cakes and two pretend apples
  • A cloth napkin
  • A special gift from Caroline to Papa—a map of Lake Ontario that hides a secret message!
  • A woven basket to hold it all 

Sunday, September 2

This Week in The Civil War: Sept. 2, 1862

Robert E. Lee heads northward

Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, victorious at the Second Battle of Bull Run, or Manassas, Va., begins sending his Army of Northern Virginia northward toward Maryland in the first week of September 1862. His bold plan: to strike a heavy blow directly at the North even as the federal government is reeling from defeat at Bull Run and a failed attempt earlier in 1862 to capture Richmond, Va., seat of the Confederacy. The Confederates number about 70,000 overall but are ragtag, often hungry and wearing ill-fitting uniforms. Moving from Leesburg, Va., they are intent on entering Maryland in the shadow of its western mountains. On Sept. 5, 1862, the first advance forces splash across the Potomac River into Maryland. Just ahead is one of the most fearsome appointments of the war: Antietam. The battle of Antietam in Maryland, in mid-September, will constitute the bloodiest single day of combat on American soil. Lee's intent is to bring war to the North by rolling into Union-held Maryland, a slave-holding state pocked by divided sympathies. The rebel incursion prompts a massive federal force to respond to the threat. A Sept. 8, 1862, newspaper dispatch reports from Rockville, Md. — outside Washington — that "To-day matters here are assuming a more warlike appearance." It reported that Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan himself had been seen backed by a daunting force of cavalry, artillery and infantry moving into Maryland "in great numbers, and they are still coming." The report added: "McClellan's presence leads many to suppose he is to assume offensive action." On Sept. 17, 1862, the two opposing armies will clash at Antietam at a cost of more than 23,000 dead, wounded or missing — one of the great battles of the war.