Archive for July, 2014

Doll Clothes


I was telling you the other day, Doc, about the lovely dresses my mom made for herself when she was young.  But your American Girl post reminded me of all the photos I’ve been viewing lately showing the beautiful dresses she sewed for my sister and me when we were children as well.  We look like lifesize dolls (on the outside, anyway).  So I thought I’d post some of them so you could see ’em.dress6


dress5Here are the same dresses in color.  I’m noticing the big hem in the first photo, thinking it was meant to be let out as we grew.

dress8I practiced the fine art of moodiness from an early age

dress3My top here looks like it could be from the same pattern as the dresses in the first photo


dress7We were rehearsing for the wedding of a cousin

dress2More early angst on my part. This must have been Easter.  I’m not sure that Mom made these dresses, but I thought they were cute enough to toss in with the rest.

In photos subsequent to these, we appear in pants more often than in dresses, the clothes are more often store-bought, and we’ve become too old for the doll clothes impression.  I’m kinda floored by the skill and effort that went in to these early clothes, especially since Mom was working during part of this 3 or 4 year time period.  But of course I didn’t appreciate them at the time.  I never did like wearing dresses – no surprise.

I hope you enjoy seeing them!


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Historical Girl II

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt last, here is Addy modeling a Civil War era dress designed for a young girl.

Addy is an American Girl doll who is meant to represent this era–she and her mother are depicted as escaped slaves.  While the designers of this doll make a few gestures toward reality–such as giving Addy a tote bag made simply of a large cloth–they tend to overlook the conditions in which a freed or escaped African-American family would most likely have existed during or after the Civil War.  Hence Addy has an extensive and lovely wardrobe that rivals those of the other American Girls.  Despite the anachronism (or perhaps because of it) she remains one of the most popular dolls in the line.

The commercial pattern from which the dress is made also includes a period-appropriate jacket and bonnet:


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI like the fit and back detail featured in this pattern.  I made the jacket and bonnet out of scraps of velveteen left over from a jacket I made for myself way back in the day.  (Can’t believe now I ever had the time or enthusiasm enough to complete such projects).

Photography, OTOH, is not one of my strong suits.  It’s not even a weak suit.


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Every once in awhile I read the Arizona Republic’s editorial page.  And every time I do, I vow not to read it ever again because the craziness that appears there is emblematic of the entire right-wing spew machine.

This morning, though, I broke my vow because I wanted to see how the paper’s editors would cover the contradictory district court opinions handed down yesterday about Obamacare.  Specifically, a panel of the DC Court (that is, two Rethugs and one Democratic judge dissenting) ruled that the ACA, as written, does not authorize the IRS to support subsidies to those who qualify for same if they are using a federal exchange.  Meanwhile, the 4th circuit of Virginia, in a different case, came to the opposite conclusion.

Republic editor Doug McEachern predicts that the DC court’s decision will be overturned when that court meets en banc, because, well, there are a lot of Democrats sitting on it, and worse, four of these were appointed by Obama.  So, he writes, “this coming decision will be especially harsh on our waning belief in the rule of law, since the law regarding exchanges is clear.”  I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.  That a Rethug can imply that deterioration in “the rule of law” is due to Democrats is so far out there, given recent decisions by the Roberts court, that it is risible.  McEachern sails past irony and rides right into chutzpah.

Also, too:  McEachern’s believes that the language of the ACA is clear on this point.  Did he even read the decision of the 4th circuit before splattering his ignorance all over the editorial page?   Much of that decision discusses the difficulty of parsing the relevant passages in the law, while the decision McEachern prefers, that of the DC court, spends nearly fifty pages parsing the meaning of the word “State.”  This approach, by the way, is called “textualism,” wherein an interpreter refuses to take legislative or legal history into account, preferring instead to parse the meaning of the text without referring to context.  We have Fat Tony Scalia to thank for conservatives’ fondness for textualism.

Conservative judges should consult the history of literary criticism for a pertinent object lesson about textualism.  In the heyday of New Criticism, more than 75 years ago now, the so-called New Critics taught that criticism should concern itself only with the text–the actual words–of a literary work, failing to consult the author’s life or commentary, let alone the cultural or political circumstances in which the work was composed.  This approach worked okay for lyric poetry (sometimes) but it led to uproarious readings of, say, satire, wherein critics studied Gulliver’s Travels in order to evaluate its internal unity, thus entirely missing the point–and the fun.  Happily, New Criticism is now as dead as textualism should be.  Textualism is for people who think that things never change, that there are enduring standards of interpretation, that George Washington would read the relevant passage of the ACA just as Scalia would.

Comments by judges who threw out the suit show the difference between strict construction (ie textualism) and a more contextualized approach.  One who dissented (Edwards) called the lawsuit itself a “not-so-veiled attempt to gut the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” Another (Davis) accused the challengers who sued to block the subsidies of asking the court to help them “deny to millions of Americans desperately-needed health insurance through a tortured, nonsensical construction of a federal statute whose manifest purpose, as revealed by the wholeness and coherence of its text and structure, could not be more clear.”  IOW, because these judges consider context–such as the entire ACA and its legislative history–they agreed that the IRS may offer subsidies to poor people who can now afford health care.

I’m sorry that Rethugs still believe that absolute clarity can be had, because it is a truly impoverished point of view.  I’m afraid it’s also the case that anyone who believes that is something of a simpleton.

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Root-CanalI went to see my dentist last week.  I had had a persistent pain for about three weeks prior but it was so small and intermittent that I asked her to do a thorough cleaning.  Surely, I thought, I take such good care of my teeth these days that there couldn’t be anything more serious than something hiding and festering away in some small crevice.

The dentist did a thorough cleaning and found nothing visibly wrong.  But a couple of days later the pain returned, so I went back to her office.  This time she did a bite-wing X-ray that disclosed a huge infected site above a tooth, near a sinus.  She knew immediately that I needed a root canal, which she is not equipped to do, so she referred me to an endodontist.  Luckily, the endo schedules “emergency time” each day so I got in to see him the next afternoon.  (Who knew that a sufficient number of people require emergency attention to warrant setting aside time every day in which to see them?)

The last time I saw the endo was in 2007, when I had the second of two implants put in place.  I barely recognized my picture in his computer files, given that my hair was not yet grey then, and I weighed nearly fifty pounds more than I do now.  That’s not all that was strange–he used a dam like that shown in the photo.  As you can see from the photo above, this gizmo covers the entire mouth except for a small hole encircled by a clamp which tightens around the affected site.  There is also a brace (which can’t be seen in the photo) that keeps your mouth open so you don’t have to.

When this device was first applied I suffered a small bit of panicked claustrophobia–the thing can ride up over your nose–but I soon saw its usefulness insofar as it keeps water and debris from sliding down your throat.  The entire procedure took nearly an hour, and it was painful despite all the numbing agents the endo needled into my mouth.  (Query:  why do dentists and dental assistants always talk about what they had for lunch while they poke sharp objects into your mouth?)

Afterward the endo prescribed an antibiotic and a painkiller.  He was adamant that I take all of the antibio without skipping a dose, because infections like mine can be serious if they get into surrounding bone.  He also pointed out that if I had been feeling unwell, which I had–tired and sort of fuzzy-minded–that this was no doubt due to the infection.

By the time I got home the pain was singing out loud, so I took one of the painkillers and went to bed, but not before I set an alarm to be sure I took the next dose of the antibio on time.  Pain was still intense the next day, so I took another painkiller, which was a mistake–I barfed it up along with my breakfast.  Barfed again at lunch–while on the phone with Desert!  Failure to eat at a given time poses difficulties for a diabetic, so I spent some time figuring out how to balance that requirement with the need to eat enough to keep the antibio down.  And stopped taking the painkiller.

But I got through it, and finally, four days later, the pain has abated.  I also feel much better, which suggests that the infection was indeed draining my energy.  How did people manage to deal with such things before the advent of modern dentistry?





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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADoes anyone know why cats like to sleep in sinks?

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Historical Girls

I’ve been thinking about my sister over the past couple of months since she passed away.  It was she who introduced me to doll collecting, and it was she, way back in the day, who, along with my mother, taught me to sew.  So I guess that’s why my interest in these pastimes has regenerated lately.

When I looked at my fabric stash I realized that it was so large I’d never get around to using all of those pieces.  So I parted with something over half of them.  The folks at Goodwill seemed pleased to take quarter, half, and single-yard pieces–perhaps quilters shop there?

Anyhow here are two of my recent efforts, made from stuff that survived the culling.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is an American Girl, one of a popular series of play dolls.  The dress is based on a commercial pattern, although the hat and shoes belong to another AG, Felicity (more on her in a moment).

During the eighteenth-century an outfit like this would be worn only by wealthier women and girls and would probably be made of silk.  I used ordinary fabrics available at JoAnns and the like, so the outfit isn’t historically kosher.  This is especially true of the trim, which I chose chiefly to use it up.  Despite the anachronistic fabrics and trim, I think it turned out well.

The pattern includes a bustle helper, the effect of which can be seen in this picture:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe bustle is essentially a tube made of cotton, filled with batting, and tied with a ribbon around the waist.  A bit of the voluminous petticoat is also visible here.  To be appropriate for the time, she should also be wearing pantaloons, a chemise, and a corset.

And here is Felicity wearing my version of a pattern from MHD Designs:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI liked the fabric for this pioneer look, because most women living on the frontier made their clothes from cotton salvaged from other sources–flour sacks and so on.  Once I got the thing put together I realized that that the pattern was a little too busy for a doll.  Sigh.  Anyhow the outfit shows off some of the details that Magalie Dawson, the designer, likes to include in her work–tucks, ruffles and bows.  Once I finished the sun bonnet, I realized that it was quite large, but then I guess that was the point.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe model for the pioneer costume is Felicity, the first ever American Girl.  I’ve owned her for a long time.   The people who  created her–Pleasant Company–have since sold the franchise to Mattel, and of course AG afficianados think the product has not prospered under the new ownership.  At any rate, Felicity was designed to represent the eighteenth-century, and the company offered a suite of lovely clothes with stomachers, lace caps, panniers–the works.  She has long been retired, and so she is now quite valuable, especially if she is accompanied by some of the company’s original clothing, as my doll is.  I saw one being offered on E-bay for six hundred dollars!

I’m working on two more outfits–a girl’s dress from the Civil War, and a gown from the Regency period.  I hope to finish those sometime soon, but events keep intervening.  The windows in my house are being repaired–they’ve leaked ever since I moved in, and I’ve had them caulked at least twice.  This time my man Steve suggested that the exterior above every window, plus the tops of the parapets, be coated with latex, so it’s taking awhile.  He may be right–we got a brief gullywasher last night (hooray!) and there were no leaks.

In any case there is a lot of sanding of damaged window sills going on, so I have to schedule sewing sessions in between visits from the workpeople.  Please stay tuned for more costumes.


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gold_hanger_fullConservatives have their panties in a twist about this necklace being worn by pro-choice women.  They’re calling it a “death necklace,” which once again demonstrates that conservatives have no sense of context or nuance.  Everything has a single meaning for these people–but then what can you expect from people who take a religious allegory as literal truth?

Desert and I had a long conversation about the Hobby Lobby ruling.  Among the questions we considered is “what game is the Chief Justice playing?”  The reactionary agenda of Scalia, Alito and Thomas is fairly obvious, as is their general inability to make important distinctions.  Like most conservatives, they live in a world defined by privilege to such an extent that they cannot imagine any other reality.  They fail to grasp the reality of women’s lives, for instance, where any sexual encounter involves much more than getting your rocks off–which is pretty much the way men think about sex (or used to, at any rate, back in the day when these guys were young).  For women, there is no such thing as casual sex.  Is that so hard to understand, fellows?

Roberts’ agenda is less clear.  He generally assents to the conservative line, but once in awhile, as in the ACA decision, he departs from the legal smarm coughed up by Scalia et al.

Desert and I are not the only people wondering about Roberts.  Here is Mark Graber, writing at Balkanization:  “I was struck by the last sentence of Chief Justice Roberts’ concurrence. The Chief Justice, responding to Justice Sotomayor’s dissent, declares that ‘People can disagree in good faith on this issue, but it does more harm than good to question the openness and candor of those on either side of the debate.’  The next opinion is Justice Scalia’s concurrence, which begins by referring to ‘this Court’s sorry line of race-based admissions,’ contains such ‘bot mots’ as ‘moving from the appalling to the absurd,’ and more generally expressed Scalia’s philosophy that justices who disagree with him are both legal idiots and moral cretins.”  (http://balkin.blogspot.com)

IOW, according to Roberts, it’s okay for Scalia to call his colleagues names, but he expects Sotomayor to observe judicial decorum at all times.

Graber continues:  “Why is the Chief Justice so concerned when he perceives that Justice Sotomayor is questioning the good faith of conservatives? Why not criticize both Justice Sotomayor and Justice Scalia for inflated rhetoric? For that matter, why has the Chief Justice never criticized Justice Scalia or any white, male, conservative justice for challenging the good faith of those who dispute their cherished legal principles? Does the Chief Justice believe that Scalia’s opinions are never guilty of Sotomayor’s apparent offense in Schuette. Or does the Chief Justice limit such personal criticisms to liberals? To women? To persons of color?”

These are good questions.  Their implied answers suggest that Roberts has a first-class ticket on the Scalia train, that he, too, is unable to see past his own white male nose.



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