Bloomer Costume on July 4th

20140704_140031_1 (1)20140704_110927On July 4th, I wore my Bloomer costume in Delaney Park. I’ve been working on my Bloomer costume for weeks and thinking about it for years. The costume popularized in 1851 by Amelia Bloomer features a full-skirted knee-length tunic over Turkish trousers. She was the editor of the first magazine editor devoted to women’s issues. The costume didn’t become fully accepted until women took up cycling at the end of the 19th century. I was aware of this when I sold bicycles at REI and that’s when I first wanted to make a Bloomer costume as well as a 19th century ski costume.

Last year I found out that Amelia Bloomer is an Episcopalian saint, and I felt greater impetus to make a Bloomer suite. I bought patterns for A Bloomer Costume from Past Patterns and for 1896 Ripple Jacket from Truly Victorian. The ripple jacket would go well with bicycling or skiing. I put away both patterns and forgot about them until I was faced with doing voter registration. At the Anchorage Summer Solstice Celebration, I couldn’t bring myself to confront strangers about their voter registration status. I realized I’d feel differently if only I had a sandwich board or a hat. Or a costume. A Bloomer Costume!

20140704_121511Ablaze with the idea, I dug out the pattern, purchased fabric and started sewing.The result is a resounding success. I have a blue Bloomer costume with a red-and-white sash announcing, “Vote.” I haven’t actually registered any voters, but I talk to people about the history of suffrage and about the importance of voting. Suffrage means the legally recognized right to vote and run for office.  I even had my picture taken with Harriet Drummond who is running for state house.  I don’t even have to speak. My costume says it all.


Bloomer Costume

Bloomer Costume

"Bloomer" dress of the 1850s.

“Bloomer” dress of the 1850s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1851 Amelia Bloomer, magazine editor, publishing article and images of an innovative new outfit, a knee length skirt over Turkish trousers. This became known as the Bloomer costume. Pictures still circulate on the web. The most popular, done by N Currier, shows a young woman clad in a red bodice coupled with white skirt and trousers. She stands in a rose garden and carries a handkerchief.

Oddly, the woman’s right sleeve is cuffed but her left sleeve is open.. The hairstyle and low neckline don’t seem to fit with the time period when loose hair was a sign of a loose woman. The image looks weird to me.


Depiction of Amelia Bloomer wearing the famous...

Depiction of Amelia Bloomer wearing the famous “bloomer” costume which was named after her (mid-length skirts over quasi-harem-pants) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another image, this one based on a daguerreotype by TW Brown, makes more sense.The image must be an etching based on an actual photo of Bloomer. The hands and feet are in the same position in both images. I suspect that Currier copied the Brown image and gave it his own interpretation, one which harked back to the shepherdesses admired in the time of Marie Antoinette, a time when long pantalettes were risqué.

I also see a similarity between the Brown daguerreotype and another image, this one of the Mexican Spy Company drawn in 1847. Amelia Bloomer’s costume has the same sort of buttons and sash. The Mexican Spy Company fought on the US side during the Mexican American war. They were led by legendary outlaw, Manuel Dominguez. Notice the chaps, the boots, and the high crowned hat. The jacket could very nearly be a modern denim jacket.

I wonder what images Bloomer seen of the war with Mexico. Was this similarity deliberate, or is the similarity merely because of the style of the times?

In my interpretation of the Bloomer costume, I included buttons, hat, and sash inspired by the Mexican spy company. My styling is much closer to the Brown daguerreotype than it is to the Currier image.

mexican spy20140705_5034




Bloomer Voter Registration Drive

Depiction of Amelia Bloomer wearing the famous...

Depiction of Amelia Bloomer wearing the famous “bloomer” costume which was named after her (mid-length skirts over quasi-harem-pants) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the Anchorage July 4 Celebration in Delaney Park, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, I’ll be registering voters while dressed in a 1851 Bloomer costume. If you’d like to join me in registering voters wear a costume from the time era between 1848, the Seneca Falls Convention and 1920, passage of the Nineteenth amendment. Steam punk costumes work great so do mountain-man buckskins. I’d like to make this an annual event.

The Bloomer costume:

In 1851, Bloomer costumes were all the rage. This style of clothing features a calf-length skirt worn over bloomers, ankle length puffy trousers. Amelia Bloomer saw the costume at the Seneca Falls Convention, the kick off for the Woman’s Suffrage movement, and popularized this reformed style of dress in her temperance Journal, The Lily. This innovation freed women from voluminous and dangerous, floor-length petticoats and crinolines. The Bloomer costume has become a symbol of the women’s suffrage movement and thus for all voting rights.

Join the effort:

Let’s celebrate diversity and inclusion. In the late 19th century, US territory had expanded to the California and the American southwest, bringing the diverse peoples of this area into our nation. Slaves were freed. Immigrants from places such as Ireland, China, and Central Europe added to our rich heritage. Let’s wear costumes representing the contributionsof these people and their struggles to achieve full citizenship. Let’s welcome new voters, particularly new citizens.

“Bloomer” dress of the 1850s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: The counter-guerrila chief of the mex...


I’m wishing for a rendition of the Mexican Spy Company uniform. During the Mexican American War, GWar, General Winfield Scott organized an intelligence network made up of Latino men, and maybe women too. Without their efforts, most of the western United States would still be part of Mexico. I’m pushing the time window back to 1845 to include the war which made the US into a Hispanic nation and inevitably changed our national character.

Here is a link to a poster showing the uniform.




Fenrian Tides Newsletter

The inaugural edition of Fenrian Tides Quarterly is ready to send out. I’ll be getting it out in accordance with the solstice and equinox tides.

I launch my first novel Sappho’s Agency February 2015. It’s maritime erotic science fiction romance, but that’s too many words so I’m calling it science fiction. If you’d like updates on when my books are coming out, sign up using the form on sidebar to the right.

Sappho and her bisexual partner Daisy, insemination specialists, have landed the case of a lifetime: arrange an anonymous liaison between the most eligible bachelor on the planet and a mysterious young woman. The purpose: to produce a child. But as Sappho and Daisy untangle the identity of the woman and the sexual fetishes of the couple, they discover systematic exploitation reaching to the very top of society. Sappho encourages the young woman to throw off political restraints and follow her heart.

Barbeque Cover

Here is a cover I made for my barbeque out of a 10ft x 12ft tarp.

I  folded in half and cut a 21″ strip out of the middle to go over the top of the barbeque. I folded the remainder in half again and measured out the side pieces then cut them out. I sewed the pieces together with 3/4″ seam allowance. I lined up the bottom hemmed parts and added pleat to the top piece to get it to match.  I finished the seams by trimmed one side of seam allowance to 1/4″, folding over the long side and sewing it down.

The cover is reversible with one side brown and the other side green. I was after the brown but if I want a change I can put green on the outside.


Fenrian Religion

Fenrian Religion

Fenrians follow the Noah Code set forth by the semi-mythical Jamie Noah, son-in-law of the great prophet Catherine Smith. The universe was created by the love between of darkness and light. These two polarities are also called Danna and Poseidon, names for the Fenrian polestars.

Humans came into being on Earth but failed to treat Mother Earth with respect, so Poseidon became angry and raised up a great flood. Noah observed the rising of the tide and loaded the faithful aboard an ark. He brought them and all terrain life across the galaxy to a new planet, Fenria.

During the Fenrian dark ages, too many woman and children died on fishing boats, so the prophet Catherine Smith taught that women should not fish, but instead should have a few children and educate them well. She developed the Fenrian alphabet, the numerical system, and the Fenrian Calendar and taught these to women.

Smith’s son-in-law, Jamie Noah founded the Fenria Seaguard. He codified Smith’s teaching and extended the Noah Code to men. It is unclear if Jamie Noah is one person, several people, or if he’s periodically reincarnated. Many Fenrians believe Teakh Noahie to be an avatar of Jamie Noah.

Religious symbols include the gnomon of a sundial and the Danna star, a twelve-point star/compass rose.

Twelve Precepts of Noah

  1. Observe the tide and you(plural) will survive.
  2. Welcome the stranger. She is your true sibling. Honor to those who assist the needy, highest honor to those who render charity to strangers and enemies.
  3. Be prepared.
  4. Respect and protect the planet Fenria. She is your mother and your home.
  5. Honor those who have gone before you, your father as well as your mother, all of your ancestors.
  6. Keep holy the new moon. Allow your sister darkness. Permit no artificial light to out shine the moon.
  7. Allow your brother silence. Do not distract him from observance of the tide. Avoid vain speech. Do not boast or gossip.
  8. Protect your sister, keep her safe.
  9. Shelter your brother, equip him to face the storm.
  10. Educate your children.
  11. Educate the children of your clan.
  12. Educate the children of strangers. Teach the way of Noah to all.

About Matriarchy and Hierarchy

Germaine Greer wrote:

“I do think that women could make politics irrelevant; by a kind of spontaneous cooperative action the like of which we have never seen; which is so far from people’s ideas of state structure or viable social structure that it seems to them like total anarchy — when what it really is, is very subtle forms of interrelation that do not follow some hierarchal pattern which is fundamentally patriarchal. The opposite to patriarchy is not matriarchy but fraternity, yet I think it’s women who are going to have to break this spiral of power and find the trick of cooperation.”

I listened to this repeatedly on Sinead O’Connor‘s Album Fire On Babylon and then started thinking. Are women really innately cooperative? Is hierarchy patriarchal? And is fraternity so strange that it seems like anarchy? Would fraternity make politics irrelevant?

I know of matrilineal cultures. They exist now in Tlingit society and also in the past in Europe. I can imagine a society which is matriarchal and fraternal. I don’t believe such a society would be necessarily good or cooperative, or that it would lack either hierarchy or politics.

In an emergency, there’s no time to take a vote or develop a consensus, so hierarchy is the right thing for emergency rescue organizations.  Hierarchy failure is in long term social planning. The hierarchical leader is incapable of knowing the needs and capabilities of each member. Only the individual has the necessary knowledge to make these personal decisions.

Consider Wikipedia. If a tzar approved every entry, the encyclopedia would come to a grinding halt, jammed by the tzar’s very human limitations. There’s not enough time in a day.  I suspect that weakness of hierarchy is responsible for much of the division within the Roman Catholic Church. The pope can’t micromanage or police 1.2 billion people.

I imagine alternative social structures and consider accountability, decision making, and power. This thinking has led me to writing science fiction.

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Corsets vs. High Heels

I adore Downton Abbey.  I don’t watch much television but that show has me riveted. I’m interested in the lives of the servants, but I also love the costumes and the screen writing is brilliant. What a way with dialogue! I like the show cuts from scene to scene, keeping the plot moving.

The other day I caught part of the fund raiser for Alaska Public Media. Someone was interviewing three of the actresses. He commented on how it must be nice not to wear a corset. The three actresses agreed enthusiastically, but all three of them wore what must have been four inch heels. I’m puzzled. Do they find such footwear more comfortable than corsets? My experience is the opposite. I’d rather wear a properly fitting set of stays than tippy shoes which pinch my toes and put my foot in such an extreme position that I can’t stand up straight. I presume these ladies have a greater range of ankle movement than I do.

Still I find it ironic that these ladies declared how lucky they were not to wear stays while simultaneously sporting uncomfortable footwear noted for causing injuries.

Humpty Dumpty and Richard III

This morning I woke up thinking about Richard III. His remains have been dug up out of a car park in Leicester England. The people of Leicester is quite happy about this since it will be a great tourist attraction and so they have plans for a museum. The archeologists were holding off on saying for sure that he was Richard III until they could announce it with proper fanfare on BBC.

Now the news is out, the mitochondrial DNA matches a Canadian carpenter, descendant of Richard IIIs sister. And a reconstruction of Richard’s face has been crafted from his skill. I’m amused and fascinated. Efforts are afoot to recast Richard’s public image and to examine how the Tudor spin doctors made him out to be a villain.

So this morning I recalled that Humpty Dumpty is supposedly about Richard III and I thought it needed another verse about finding Humpty Dumpty’s bones.

Humpty Dumpty alone in the dark

Humpty Dumpty under a car park

Not being a very good poet I couldn’t come up with the couplet. Maybe there should be something about forensic specialists and Canadian nephews. Or maybe something about the planned museum and the tourists.

I decided to bring in my good friend editor and housemate Rebecca Goodrich which led to a lively debate over if Humpty Dumpty was about Richard III. Rebecca points out that since Richard wasn’t round and had nothing to do with a wall the association between king and poem doesn’t make sense. She wanted proof that Richard III interpretation of Humpty Dumpty is correct.  For my part I don’t think the original intent of the Humpty Dumpty poem matters. Some people associate it with Richard III, good enough reason to write another verse about the car park and Richard’s Canadian nephew. Or maybe the debate about his funeral and reburial.


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What is Art?


English: The School of Athens (detail). Fresco...

I endured several university level philosophy classes on aesthetics which

Clifford Geertz 1926-2006

Clifford Geertz 1926-2006 (Photo credit: xeeliz)

attempted to answer the question, and I still didn’t arrive at a satisfactory answer. According to Plato, art is the imitation of nature. Nature in turn is the imitation of heavenly ideals, making art an imitation of an imitation.  The romantics held out that art is sublime and uplifts the human spirit.  Others say that art is what artists do. To the question “what is an artist?” The answer is “someone who does art” which ends up being a definition chasing its own tail. I did read a rather complex explanation by Clifford Geertz (Art as a Cultural System) which includes fancy words like “semiotic”, “prosodic shapes”, “structuralism.” This essay has phrases such as, “It grows out of a distinctive sensibility the whole of life participates in forming—one in which the meaning of things are the scars that men leave on them.”


In Geertz I feel briefly that I’ve witnessed brilliant clarity and then I can’t figure out what he’s saying.


So here is my definition: Art is communication in which the implicit message is more important than the explicit message or purpose. In art, how something is said is more important than what is said, and art is done for reasons beyond serving immediate needs such as acquiring food or money. All communication has contains these two channels. The communication is art if the implicit channel takes precedence.  As an example of what isn’t art, I offer a legal document with everything laid out explicitly in detail. The writing contains no irony, satire, or reading between the lines.  On the other extreme we have nonsense poetry. “Chicory chick challah challah chekkella romia anna bananaca. Can’t you see? Chicory chick is me.”  I have no idea what it means, but it’s fun to say. It has no explicit message or purpose.


Art as communication which requires three things: a communicator, a medium, and an audience. Someone must sends and someone must receive. The one who sends and the one who receives can be the same person. When I write down a grocery list or a note about an upcoming appointment I’m communication with myself, both sender and receiver. I’m going to skip questions regarding if a computer can engage in art and if animals produce or appreciate art.


As I see it, all art is fundamentally dance. One person moves in a particular way and the audience –maybe the dancer herself–responds to that movement. Painting and visual arts are like tracks in the sand. The dancer leaves footprints recording her movement, and the audience responds to those marks. Music is produced by the movement of lips, fingers, and sometimes feet, leaving tracks on the ears of the listeners. The dances of fiction and poetry are harder to comprehend. What if I make up a story or poem and never write it or speak it aloud? Ah, but the dance is within my neurology, parts of my brain sending messages and other parts responding, synapsis sparking and firing in a communicative fireworks.


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