So thankful it is Friday!

I can get quite Grinchy as I put up a dozen trees and all the other Christmas crap…I mean…decor that is to be had in a nursing home.  I know that I’m making a nice Christmas for folks who can’t do it for themselves and who may not have another Christmas.  At the same time it feels like WAY TO MUCH STUFF FOR WAY TO LONG for a generation that cut down their own tree on Christmas Eve, decorated it, had a nice dinner, exchanged a few home made gifts and put it all away on the 26th.   I sometimes wonder who I’m doing it for.  Certainly not for me.  Yes, for God.  Yes, for my family and the seniors I work with but a lot of the time I feel like I am doing it for the department stores.


I will just get through this Friday and some of the prep will slow down and I can start a whirlwind of hopefully fun Christmas events.  To help me get through the day I will look at a nicely calming fur soul.

A Limier Briquet Hound painted in 1856.

The Falling Sickness

I have been reading a novel that is set in the early 1800s and one comment caught my eye.  One character was saying that it was obvious another character was defective. The character’s  brother had the falling sickness and that was proof that the family had defective brains.  I knew the reference was to epilepsy and I started to wonder what my Victorian Medical book had to say on this matter.  It begins with a dramatic but fairly accurate description of what an epileptic episode might look like but didn’t mention how a person might lose control of their bladder or bowels.  It is not that Victorians had an aversion to discussing such functions (as you shall see in some of the remedies).

They list the causes and include hereditary (hence my book’s character taking one brother’s affliction as proof of the other brother’s faulty facilities.)  The medical book mentions malformations of the skull and brain as a cause.  That makes sense to me.

There was a list of conditions that could cause epilepsy.  One was intestinal worms.  I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF THAT!  Apparently, these beasts can invade the brain and do so, in developing countries!  Who knew!  Teething was also listed.  But, from the quick google search I did, it may have more to do with a baby getting an unusually high fever while teething that causes seizures.  I had to google the next cause because I had no idea what it was “the suppression or retention of catamenia”.  Basically, not having a period.  A google search says the menstrual cycle can affect epileptics and that makes sense to me too.  Poisons can cause seizures as can injury to the head and brain.  Well, of course they can.  So I learned something and I was thinking “they were bang on the mark with this one.”  Then I read that “masturbation, is also a fruitful cause of the disease.”  If I’m not mistaken, Victorians thought that it would cause all kinds of crazy things.  So they slipped off the mark I thought they were on.  If anything, I’ll concede that I can imagine that this particular activity may trigger an episode for someone WITH epilepsy but, it can’t CAUSE it!

The treatment for the falling sickness was to prevent the person from hurting themselves during an episode.  That is the procedure today.  There was no mention of the old wives tale of putting something in the mouth to protect the tongue.  I wonder when that idea came to be.  (FYI-don’t put anything into a seizing person’s mouth.  They can’t swallow their tongue but they can choke on or break their teeth on what ever is shoved in their mouth.)

Of course, a remedy depended on the cause.  If you were diddling with yourself-stop it!  If there is a fever, reduce the fever.  If you were born with it there wasn’t too much you could do.

The first recommended treatment is a good cleaning out of the bowels occasionally.  This came with a list of different substances and their amounts to achieve this goal.  I’m eye rolling here, but I’m not a doctor.  Perhaps being backed up doesn’t help a person with epilepsy.

The second thing the book recommends is the person be given an emetic at least once a week.  Basically, a herb that will make them throw up once a week.  Seems counter productive to me.

Third on the list is antispasmodic.  Makes sense.  Perhaps the list of possible herbs are the very thing being used now.  I don’t know.  Tonics are next.   That makes sense as well-keep the body strong.  Our modern version of tonics are vitamines and caffeine drinks.

The next remedy is Nitrate of Silver.  The book says that if taken for some time the skin with turn blue-black.  Well, that can’t be good!  And from what I can find on the internet, continuous doses in higher amounts is toxic!

Well if turning blue was not enough, the book recommends covering the face of a person having a seizure with a black silk handkerchief, tying it about the head and neck. (Can you imagine how you would feel waking up from a seizure with black fabric tied around your head and neck!) Gunn says this treatment is from France and is highly spoken of in some parts of that country.  “The patient, it is said, will recover from the attack almost immediately, or it will render it much lighter; and by continuing to do this for a while the disease may be entirely broken.”  It is exactly that kind of horrific practice I was hoping to find when I bought this book.  If I were an epileptic, I think I would prefer living now!

Faded but sweet.

My cabinet card for today is a faded full length portrait of an older couple.  I’d guess they are in their late 60s or early 70s.

Jackson Prophetstown Illinois

I don’t have too much to go on for dating.  I get nothing when I google the photographer and the style of card itself is pretty plain and gives us few clues.  It is after 1880 but that is all I can figure out from the card.  I’d have to focus on her sleeves and say this is more of an 1890s card.

If you click on the photograph, you should be able to zoom in on it.  If you start at the bottom you see a cute little two toned boot peeking out from under her skirt.  The dress it self is only slightly darker than the white chair so I’m imagining it as a tan or pale grey.

The bodice is what caught my eye.  The “jacket” portion opens to a wide square lapel that goes over the top of the shoulder and possibly around the back.  Around this is a trim of tight little pleats that go all the way around and also appears on the cuffs of the sleeve.  Under the outer bodice is a faux shirt that is white and folded.  This is where the photo starts to fade. The neck has, what I think is, a fitted collar that is topped off with A TON OF LACE and possibly a bow at the back.  I’m not in love with that part.  I’m also not mad about that hair style but you see it quite often.   I don’t think it does much for this lady.  I know it wouldn’t do a thing for me!

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Wanda and the baby carriage.

Last week, in my “If I was born 100 years earlier, what would I wear” series, I looked at the wedding dress I would have worn as a 20-year-old in 1884.  Possibly, my parents would have been dreadfully relieved that I was not left “on the shelf” as 20 years old would have been pushing it.  In modern reality, I was married at 25.  Another reality is I held off on having children a couple of years because I could.  There were no real birth control options-and certainly none that I know of that would have been SAFE and controllable by ME in 1884 so likely by 1885 I would have needed this maternity dress:

If anyone knows where this originally came from please let me know. I found it on Pintrest

It is a bit hard to see with a front view but the mannequin has a baby bump.  I wish I had a side and back view to show you.



I need/want a new hat.

I’m planning on wearing my 1895 Walking Suit to a Christmas Brunch with Victorian at Heart.  But, I’m not in love with my hat.  I have this.


I think I want this…

Isn’t this way more than blah.

I have everything I need (except the fusible web) and may be a few more feathers and flowers.  I’ll dismantle the old hat and use some of its parts.  Think I can get it done by Sunday.  Shop for the web today.  Cut it all out Tuesday.  Do the sewing parts of the assembly Wednesday and the glueing parts Thursday.  Friday I’d run to the store and buy more feathers and flowers and Saturday, decorate.  Too ambitious?  Hmmm.  I really want/need a new hat….

Bah Humbug

For the last 27 odd years, I have been putting up my Christmas tree around mid December.  But, the last couple of years I have not enjoyed the process.  That is because by mid December I had at least a hand in setting up 5 trees at work and had done all of two more trees.  Hauling them to the correct room.  Scratching my arms to bits standing them up.  And the friggin’ lights…don’t get me started on the friggin’ lights!  And I am a bit anal about the ornaments.  There has to be lots of them, but they need to be spaced evenly.  No clusters and no bare spots.  At work there are lots of helpers who don’t know about this rule of mine.

This year, I thought if I do my tree now, before the work trees, I wont hate the process as much.  I can’t say it helped much.  I had to wait until 3:30 pm because that is when the children were home and able to drag all the boxes into the house.

I like to lay out the lights on each layer before I put on the next layer. It is easier that way.

That is assuming that the lights are working.  I had to fiddle with 3 light strands to get them working.  And 3 light strands hit the bins.

Good thing I bought a bunch at the post-Christmas sales.

Once the lights were done (5 hours later) it was time to go down memory lane.

And a couple of years later we are expecting.

And the following year…..

And two years later, a new little guy.

There were some sad memories too.  One year my grandma died on Christmas morning.  I was ashamed that I had hidden the ornaments she made for me at the back of the tree because they were “tacky”.  Suddenly, that day, they became beautiful.  They are always at the front of the tree now.

And my dearly departed puppy has his spot on the tree too.

Now that it is up, I like my tree.  It took 6 hours of work but, it is up and I can enjoy if for over a month before I have to pack it all back up again (Arrrrrg!)

A new Christmas ornament

My tradition (with myself) is to buy a new ornament for my Christmas tree each year.  I’ve been doing this since I moved out of my mom’s house WAY BACK in the bygone years.  This years ornament is celebrating the inaugural launch of Victorian at Heart.

Isn’t it perfect!

The back even has what looks like Scotch Thistle.  Remember I said I liked all things Scottish…even the thistle that is essentially a weed.

Yeah! I love it!


You pick the title of this post.

I have several options for you.

1) Wanda B A Murderess

2) Me and Toni Soprano

3) I Ordered a Hit

4) Mouseketeer Fail

5) Blood on my Shoe

Why such joyous options? The mouse trap at work caught a cute little mouse.  I thought it was a humane trap.  I took the trap outside and opened it up with the intension to set it FREEEEEEE!  Like Elsa the Lion.  Low and behold, the poor little blitter is stuck fast from the tip of its itty bitty tail to the end of its sweet little snout.  I tried to pry it off the sticky paper but it wasn’t going anywhere.  I decided I was definitely not helping it.  Possibly, it was getting it more stuck.  And surely I was hurting it.  So I took the strip with the mouse attached to the garbage, apologizing all the way, and gently placed it in the trash.  I put it in face down so I wouldn’t see it when I left the building for the day.

Two steps towards the door and I suffered great pangs of guilt.  It was still struggling on that sticky strip.  It is freezing outside.  That’s when I did it.  Ohhh, I couldn’t do it myself.  I went back into the building and found the first male co-worker.  (Note the reverse sexism-men are all heartless beasts and can kill without batting an eye-right?)  I shared my dilemma at which point he told me how that happened at home and his GRANDCHILD had the same reaction as I did.  I took my hitman out to the garbage can and told him he had to wait until I was back in the building.

The unnerving thing was, he was back in the building 30 seconds behind me and trotted back to work like nothing happened.  I was propped up against the wall with tears streaming down my face.

I had to go home and hug something that reminded me that even Toni Soprano had a nice side.

See…I’m not all bad….

Lord Gordon Gordon

Anyone who knows me, knows I have fondness for a Scottish accent.  Actually, I like almost anything Scottish, the bag pipes, castles in the moors, kilts, and the Scotch thistle, which is basically a weed.  (Haggis I could do without.)  My youngest child was, at one point, thinking about joining the Army Reserve.  I was not fond of the idea.  I didn’t want my baby training to shoot or be shot.  I did tell him I’d be more inclined to be positive about the idea if he joined the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders as they wear a kilt in their dress uniform.

Image credit goes too….

Isn’t that just heavenly!  My child was not amused.  I’m not sure why…he has good legs for a kilt.  Anyway, the Reserves plan fell through so I was not able to test my theory or his resolve.

I have to admit that not all that is Scots is good. I found a reference in a Manitoba history book about a Lord Gordon Gordon.  (My chunk of Canada is called the province of Manitoba.)

This fellow was a bit of a cad and a scoundrel.  The condensed version of his story is a scammed a jeweler in London out of a ton of money and then in 1870, trotted off to the United States.  While in the States he claimed to be a Scottish Lord and he managed to scam a railway magnet.  The railway magnet discovered the fraud and sued Lord Gordon.  Lord Gordon went on trial and was granted bail while some of his references were checked.  Gordon grabbed that golden opportunity and headed for the wilds of Canada.

Of course, Lord Gordon had learned his lesson and began living a straight and narrow life in Canada.  If you believe that, you would have been suckered in by this guy too.  Nope, he continued on his life of crime and managed to convince the authorities that he was innocent and then OFFERED TO BUY HUGE CHUNKS  of the section of Canada called Manitoba!

When the American authorities failed to convince Canada to send Gordon back for trial, the railway magnet and his pals kidnapped Gordon.  The North West Mounted Police managed to capture and arrest the kidnappers.  They were refused bail.  The Americans were not impressed by this move and began to prepare for an invasion of Canada!  Heavens!  How does one guy cause so much trouble?

Canada’s diplomatic mess more or less cleared up when the jeweler in London caught wind of the story and sent a representative to Canada.  Gordon had not done anything in the States or Canada that was dastardly enough to get himself shipped out of the country and so he thought he was safe.  (The jerk was ready to let two countries go to war over himself!) The charges from the jewelers in London WAS serious enough to get him shipped back to London though.  (I have to wonder if Canada saw this as a way to get the man out of the country, avoiding war with the States and saving face all at once.)

Gordon held a farewell party for his friends and he gave them fabulous gifts (probably  bought with swindled money) and then he killed himself by shooting himself, thus, saving himself the trip  back to London.  Or did he?  A good screen writer could make this into a movie and have you wondering if he killed himself or was he killed by the railway man who wanted his vengeance.  Or was he killed by Canadian or American officials who wanted to make sure he would not live to stir up any more threats of war.  I love a good conspiracy theory.  I’d love to see what evidence there was that would conclusively prove it was suicide and not murder.

Nice little family portrait.

Today’s cabinet card is a nice little family photo.  I’m assuming it is a Christening Day photo from the gown the baby is wearing.I struggled to find a reference to Habberlin & Hines that would help to date the card.  No luck there.  The scalloped edge of the card became popular in 1890 and her hair is that typical frizzy bang style of the 1880s and her sleeves are not the huge sleeves that became popular in the 90s.  So my guess is this is a very early 1890s card and the lady has not yet adopted the styles that would become trade mark styles for the 90s.  I do like the boldness of the stripes on her dress.  If you zoom in on her dress, it looks a bit like she has a chevron pattern on the bodice.