December 24, 2014

Victorian Christmas

written by Rosa Morgan

Christmas Eve is full of excitement and anticipation for our little ones. There are letters to post to dear friends, wishing them good cheer, and of course there is the very important missive to Santa Claus.

Bright green holly leaves with their cherry red berries are gathered and formed into a wreath for their door and a velvety red ribbon to hang from the knocker.

Together, the youngsters bring home a fine Yule log. Later they'll warm their chilled hands by its roaring flames and roast chestnuts and crumpets.

 Sugar plums and candy canes procured at the sweet shop to share and enjoy.

The list is long:
dolls for sisters,
a spinning top for brother,
a new pipe for father,
and chocolates for mother.
A warm knitted scarf for grandfather and grandmother will be pleased with lace trimmed handkerchiefs.

The Plum pudding needs a sixpence and then a good stir and a wish.

A stocking to hang at the mantle for each boy and girl, another for the faithful doggie and don't forget moggie too.

At last it's time to settle down under a warm woolen quilt with the tree alight and festooned with delights. Let there be wishes for peace and joy to fill everyone's heart. 

November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Salutations Gentle Reader,

Thanksgiving often becomes a day of stress and strain. You may feel overwhelmed with unrealistic expectations of the perfect family get-together or a compulsion to consume, whether it's food or the latest gizmo. So I wish for myself and you for this day to simply be a peaceful Thanksgiving.

Fond regards,

November 10, 2014

Nicholas Clayton: Architect Extraordinaire of Galveston

written by Rosa Morgan

Born on November 1, 1840, in Cloyne, County Cork, Ireland, Clayton immigrated to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1848, after the death of his father. He learned the skills of a plasterer, a marble carver, and architectural draftsman, and moved to Galveston to take a position as a supervising architect. It was in his new hometown that he made his mark as an architect, creating some of the most beautiful and recognizable structures of the city. 

The following are a very small sampling of this gifted man's work.

1874-77 Saint Patrick's Cathedral 

1878-79 Eaton Memorial Chapel 

1881 Electric Pavillion

1881-83 Harmony Hall

1882 Beach Hotel

1885 Gresham House

1889 Lasker House

1891-95 Ursuline Academy

1891 University of Texas Medical Branch

Despite 25 years as Galveston's most prominent architect, Clayton ultimately filed bankruptcy. In 1916 when he died at age 76, his wife and five children could not afford a proper tombstone and so his grave was marked with one of his marble samples.

October 31, 2014

Victorian Halloween Costumes

guest post by Patrick Sully

As autumn evenings draw in with the approach of winter and we retreat inside to an overstuffed chair pulled close to a crackling fire, our minds may wonder what may be abroad in the darkness, rain, and mists outside.
So for those dear readers who may be drawn to such speculation, and perhaps even may harbour secret tendencies toward the bizarre or ghoulish, I would offer a selection of sights and costumes upon which to feast their senses.

The monster of  Honey Island Swamp and his colleagues, Joe Bootleg and school truant, Mischevious Mike, gathered to plot about their next victims.

The ladies of the knitting club reveal their alter egos as they prepare for an evening of fun and fright.

Daniella, the secret love of Batman's great grandfather, prepares for another night of battling evil and the ne'er-do-wells of the world.

The Pickle Sisters will most certainly present a most sour
challenge to any underworld fiend that may attempt to
perpetrate some dastardly deed upon them.

The Lady in Black awaits nightfall in her old manor house and has found she can haunt so much more effectively when wearing roller skates to traverse the endless hallways.

One must always be aware that the little angels and cherubs of heaven also have their counterparts in the "other" world and are most adept at trickery.

Ortula, a skilled sorceress and maiden of the dark arts may be encountered drifting down darkened village lanes, especially in the vicinity of long abandoned cemeteries.

The Pumpkin Man may sometimes be encountered in the dark edges of village markets, but who knows what dreadful substances may emanate from his pretty wagon.

If you should chance upon some lost sheep, it may just be that Little-Bo-Peep is indulging her other desires and has turned to searching for faint hearted souls to torment. 

Be careful please should you venture out lest some dreadful apparition suddenly appear before you, for there may be no one to hear your shrieks as you hastily stumble to the sanctuary of your home.

September 22, 2014

The Joys of Autumn

written by Rosa Morgan

The first cool breeze lifts the oppressive heat of a Texas summer.  Crisp falling leaves hearken change and holidays to come. Grey skies are so much more inviting to me than the glare of a relentless sun. It is the perfect time for introspective walks. I am in good company in my affections for the season, for Victorian poets and artists also embraced this time of year.

      George Henry Boughton

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day. -Emily Bronte

John Everett Millais

“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.” Henry David Thoreau

Hans Andersen Brendekilde

“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house." Nathaniel Hawthorne

Henry Herbert La Thangue

“Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits.” Samuel Butler

Edward Cuceal

“Autumn...the year's last, loveliest smile." 
William Cullen Bryant

September 13, 2014

The Language of Flowers: A to Z

written by Rosa Morgan

"The interpreters of our sweetest sentiments, flowers lend their charms even to love- to that pure and chaste affection, which as Plato observes, is an inspiration from the gods."
The Sentiment of Flowers - 1840

Anemone - Expectation 

Bachelor's Button - I with the morning's love have oft made sport.
Calla Feminine Modesty

Dahlia - Forever Thine

Elder - Compassion

Fir - Time

Geranium - Envy

Heartsease - Forget Me Not

Ivy - Friendship

Jonquil - I desire a return of affection

Lady's Slipper - Capricious Beauty

Mimosa - Sensitiveness

Nettle - Slander

Orange Blossom - Your purity equals your loveliness.

Periwinkle - Pleasures of Memory

Quamoclit - Busy body

Ranunculus - I am dazzled by your charms

Snapdragon - Presumption

Thyme - Activity

Verbena - Sensibility

Woodbine - Fraternal Love

Yarrow - To Cure

Zinnia - Absence

September 2, 2014

Radio Interview for "The Herbalist's Apprentice"

I was recently interviewed on George Lee's "The Electric Theater Radio Hour " by his awesome wife, Brenda Lee. We talked about my novel, "The Herbalist's Apprentice", its inspiration and the historical material that went into its creation.

Check it out at:

August 16, 2014

Exercise Your Way to Good Health

written by Rosa Morgan

Ladies, do you suffer from insomnia, constipation, or hysteria? Do you wile away the hours with inactivity or faint with the slightest of exertions? Then exercise is for you! 

Human powered treadmills originated 4,000 years ago to lift buckets, and after that they were used at mills to grind grain, but now they are available to achieve good health. Just look how much fun these stylishly dressed ladies are having.

Indian clubs are a great way to enhance your coordination and build up arm muscles. Coming in various sizes and weights, these clubs are so popular they will be featured in the 1904 Olympics.

Nothing beats the Molby for straightening the spine, so why not give it a try?

Ten minutes of climbing on the bars is sure to bring rosiness to your cheeks and stimulation to the digestive system. 

Hooray for this young woman, she's showing the boys how to stay fit.

A unique substitute for horse riding with all its health giving properties. It guarantees a complete cure for obesity, hysteria, and gout.

Just strap yourself in and Dr. Gustav Zander's massaging machine will relax and rejuvenate you.  

Exercise is the true fountain of youth and now you too can reap its benefits.  But take care in your efforts, the constitution must be coaxed not strained.

July 12, 2014

Seaside Pleasures

written by Rosa Morgan

What a wonderful way to spend the day with the invigorating sea air and surf to enjoy.

There are donkey rides.

And Punch and Judy shows.

You can relax and watch the world go by.

Or enjoy a picnic.

Best of all is to brave the waters in your woolen bathing suit and stockings.

Just make sure it's not too revealing, lest the fashion police cite you.

Even men can make a stylish statement. Stripes are always in vogue.

So take the plunge and hold onto the rope.

And enjoy the pleasures the seaside has to offer.