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Archive for the ‘Victorian Life’ Category

stoneagearchitecturalEspecially for my friends who are in the cold snowy parts of the world, while I am here in Hawai’i suffering with a fan on to keep my room cool enough to sleep in… 😀

A quote from Godey’s Lady’s Book 1870 –

“A fireplace goes farther than anything else in giving to a room character and beauty. Every parlor, dining-room, and nursery, at least, should have one. In the cool weather of spring and fall, when the morning and evening air is a little sharp, or when a long cold rain-storm is making everything damp, moist, and uncomfortable, there is nothing more delightful, both for old and young, than a brisk fire upon an open hearth. With what beautiful rosy light and a gentle warmth, it fills a room, and how it laughs and dances and seems to say to every one, ‘be glad with me!’ And then, aside from its home-like beauty and good cheer, the depressing chills and miasma, the floating seeds of disease, will be seized by its friendly flames and whirled up the chimney before they have time to lay a finger on us.” – Sarah J. Hale

nadeausauctionWhat does a fireplace bring to a room in a novel. Do they gravitate toward it for warmth? Do they need the light to decipher a strange message? Perhaps they need to burn a document or piece of evidence?

Is it a stately marble creation with grand designs? Is there a dent in the copper plating? Would it benefit from some cleaning? What does that tell you about the occupants of the house?

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lampKerosene gets it name from the Greek word Keros (meaning wax). Petroleum, related to the production of Kerosene, was discovered in Pennsylvania in the mid-1800s and helped fund a number of American industrial fortunes. Oil for the home lamps had a new source.

Kerosene was cheap and burned brightly. Lamp development was quick and kerosene lamps were one of the primary light sources in homes during the second half of the 19th century.

studentlampThe Student Lamp (not used widely in America until late 1870s) was a special type of lamp. Rather than the static construction of most lamps, a student lamp was based off of a ‘stem’ and the actual light could be ‘swung out’ or positioned over a book or paper that needed illumination.

In our modern world, light sources cast WIDE beams and can make a room bright and cheery. The Victorians had a different experience.

When writing your stories.. keep in mind where the light sources are.

When you’re in a room at night or in the center of a house where there are no windows, where is the light?

How much light comes from each source?

How does that change where people stand in a room?

How does it change their activities in the dark hours of the day?

Or, if a character lacks the funds or access to such conveniences… do they go to sleep with the sun or find alternative methods of producing light?

Facts from – A Style and Source Book – American Victorian by: Grow & Von Zweck

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timemachine1Dickens On The Strand was earlier this month. It included a holiday parades of pirates, fellow Steampunkers, choirs of carolers, beggars, a host of other memorable Victorian characters and also the suffragettes. This picture of me next to H. G. Wells’ time machine as I’m wearing my Votes for Women sash is fitting. I went back in time on the strand as I marched with the Victorian suffragettes in the parade.

We sung: All I want for Christmas is the right to vote The right to vote The right to vote All I want for Christmas is the right to vote So I can govern my existence

votesMarching as a suffragette was a blast but the real suffragette movement was serious business and a long hard fight. Millicent Fawcett founded the National Union of Women’s Suffrage in 1897. The movement began with peaceful protest arguing that if women had to pay taxes they had the right to vote.

But because Fawcett’s progress through peaceful protests was slow, a lawyer, Richard Pankhurst, his wife, Emmeline, and daughter, Christabel, made a fresh attempt to gain the vote for women and formed the Women’s Social and Political Union in 1903. They pursued civil disobedience for the cause. Suffragettes protested by chaining themselves to railings and eventually by smashing windows.

As you make your New Year resolutions tomorrow, think about these brave women of the suffragettes movement who resolved to gain us the vote and did so, both Suffragettes in England and also in America. They gave us a great gift, the opportunity to vote.

Consider adding a suffragette sash to your Steampunk costume. I’m going to continue to wear mine. Also consider making one of your Steampunk characters a suffragette – it worked well for Mrs. Banks in Disney’s Marry Poppins film.

~ ~ ~

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 24 published books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, and happy endings. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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newspapers In my search for things to do during the winter months, I encountered and interesting note to Victorian housekeepers. So for our Steampunk folks, here are some tips on how to reuse your newspapers… just like they did way back when..

Peterson’s Magazine 1890

USES FOR OLD PAPERS. – Most housekeepers know how invaluable newspapers are for packing away the winter clothing, the printing-ink acting as a defiance to the stoutest moth, some housewives think, as successfully as camphor or tar paper. For this reason, newspapers are invaluable under the carpet, laid over the regular carpet-paper. The most valuable quality of newspapers in the kitchen, however, is their ability to keep out the air. It is well known that ice, completely enveloped in newspapers so that all air is shut out, will keep a longer time than under other conditions; and that a pitcher of ice-water wrapped in a newspaper, with the ends of the paper twisted together to exclude the air, will remain all night in any room in midsummer, with scarcely any perceptible melting of the ice. These facts should be utilized oftener than they are in the care of the sick at night. In freezing ice-cream, when the ice is scarce, pack the freezer only three-quarters full of ice and salt, and finish with newspapers, and the difference in the tie of freezing and quality of the cream is not perceptible from the result where the freezer is packed full of ice. After removing the dasher, it is better to cork up the cream and cover it tightly with a packing of newspapers than to use more ice. The newspapers retain the cold already in the ice better than a packing of cracked ice and salt, which must have crevices to admit the air.

so… let me know if you try any of these and how they work.

Keep in mind that modern day inks are different. If you choose to try these out please be VERY careful if you use newspapers around food. Be careful… Be safe…

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st nick 2Dickens Christmas on the Strand, held in Galveston Texas, is full of old  fashioned Holiday fun. So lasso up the kids and heard then down to the strand. laso up the kidsTossing knives while ridding a unicycle … fun fun fun. Of course I won’t be trying that anytime soonfunA highlight of Dickens On the Strand is the Victorian Bed Races. The beds have to be Victorian style with head and foot-boards. photo photo 2photo 5photo 4

 

 

The beds must be decorated in a Victorian Christmas theme. photo 7cphoto 3cphoto 2b       photo 4cphoto 6c

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beds may only be pushed, from the back or the sides. No pulling allowed Teams begin at 21st and Mechanic Street and race westward to the intersection of 22nd and Mechanic. In the intersection, teams come to a complete stop and perform a “Chinese Fire Drill”, with every team member circling the bed once. Then one of the pushers dons a night cap and gown, without assistance, and changes places with the previous rider, who becomes a pusher.photo 16 photo 11photo 14 photo 17         Once the new rider photo 18is on the bed, the team races to the finish line. Awards are given for the fastest time and the best decorated.

I want to wish all the Steamed readers a Merry Steampunk Christmas and a lot of Victorian Holiday fun.

Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 24 published books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, and happy endings. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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1883More on activities for cold winter nights! There are two activities detailed in this section of Peterson’s Magazine 1883 – December edition.

The first may look familiar… In my childhood we called it Telephone… but when I think about it now, Telephone wasn’t a good name for the game… after all who whispers to another person on the telephone… strange but true. The Victorian name for the game seems to fit the activity better!

CHRISTMAS GAMES.

CONFIDENCES is a capital game in its way. One lady whispers a remark to her neighbor about someone present. She would say, perhaps: “Young Mr. jones was coming home from a party last night, and lost his way in the fog, and had to leave his carriage, and walk home with two boys carrying lanterns.” And this is whispered hurriedly from person to person round the circle, and the amusing part of it is to discover how the story has become altered by being passed on in this manner.

Many games are played entirely for the amusement of children, and only joined in by the elders with that object. It is not always easy at the moment to hit upon something to please children, other than romping-games, such as “Post,” Blind Man’s Buff,” “Puss in the Corner,” “Hide and Seek,” “Magic Music,” “Oranges and Lemons,” “Throwing the Handkerchief,” etc. But these games, although very well for the nursery or for the play-room on a wet day, or for the garden on a summer’s day, occasion a good deal of noise when played in a drawing-room. Children are apt to become rough and quarrelsome when these boisterous games are indulged in for any length of time, and parents generally prefer to see their children amused and interested in a quieter way. “Shadows is a good game where with to amuse children, but it is best to play it in the school-room or in the dining room. The plan is to fix a linen sheet across the room, and to place a lamp on the floor behind it; the actors dance and perform a sort of pantomime, with much gesticulation and many quaint antics, and the shadows thus formed on the sheet are a source of great delight to the young spectators.

What games would your characters play on a snowy evening when kept indoors? Could you play these games in the public rooms on an airship? Hmmm… what do you think?

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childrenFirst, my apologies for my disappearing act. It was not my wish. Diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome in both my hands, I have done my best to recover the full use of my hands, but still have bouts of pain and I can’t feel my fingertips. So, I owe you folks posts.. and I will make them… just horribly late. So very sorry for the wait. – Raye

Since this is the winter, hopefully of much content for all of you… I wanted to post about Victorian Era entertainments and crafts. Hoping that if you do end up with some ‘snow days’ you might have something to occupy your time in a Steampunk way!

Peterson’s Magazine – 1865

PARLOR GAMES.
FOX and GEESE. – There must be an even number of players in this game, and a circle is to be formed standing two by two, so that those who are on the outside have each one person in front of them; these are called the Geese, and there must be some space left between the couples, to allow the one who is chased to run in and out of the circle. Two must be left out, one a Goose, and the other the Fox.

The Fox is to catch the Goose not belonging to the circle, who can run around the circle and also within it, which the Fox cannot be allowed to do; but when the Goose, who is pursued, places himself before one of the couples composing the circle, there will necessarily be three in the row, and as this is against the rule, the outside one of that three immediately becomes liable to be caught instead of the other, and must endeavor to avoid the pursuit of the Fox by darting within the circle and placing himself before some one of the players.

It is the object of the Fox to catch the player who makes the third one of a row and it is the object of each Goose to avoid the third place. The Fox can only catch the Goose as he stands the third in a row, or before he succeeds in escaping to a place of safety. If the Goose is touched by the Fox while in the position of third one in a row, or if touched in passing from this third place to one of safety, he becomes the Fox instead, and the other becomes the Goose again. It will be observed that the amusement of this game will depend upon the spirit and animation with which it is conducted. Great rapidity of movement is necessary.

While I was reading/typing out the instructions, it struck me that the game was still around when I was in school. Back then (in the 80s) we called it Safety Tag and played it in the school yard during PE Class.

Would this game occupy children in the common room of an airship? In a village in a remote part of the world after a long voyage? Aboard a submarine to entertain the families of crew?

What kinds of games would children in your stories play on long winter days/nights?

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