Cup of Tea for Wednesday Whimsy

007004The chillier weather makes me want to curl up with a cup of tea so that’s my topic for today’s Whimsy post. I’m pretty basic with my tea – just good old Lipton’s, with sugar and a dollop of milk…as long as I have a pretty tea cup! (And if the ladies above are drinking coffee, the idea is pretty much the same!)

You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.  C. S. Lewis

To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea.  Henry David Thoreau

Tea, though ridiculed by those who are naturally coarse in their nervous sensibilities will always be the favorite beverage of the intellectual.  Thomas de Quincey Well, all right then!

When you have nobody you can make a cup of tea for, when nobody needs you, 010that’s when I think life is over. Audrey Hepburn

I drink just as much tea when I’m in Los Angeles as I do when I’m in London. I take my tea bags with me wherever I go. Helen Mirren

Architecture is basically a container of something. I hope they will enjoy not so much the teacup, but the tea.  Yoshio Taniguchi

If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.   Abraham Lincoln

The teapot takes in water and gives out tea. So the human individual takes in anything you give him and promptly transforms it; he is ready to give you out again his own reactions – first, in thought and emotion, then in voice or action.   Louis MacNeice (British playwright and poet)

008It has been well said that tea is suggestive of a thousand wants, from which spring the decencies and luxuries of civilization.  Agnes Repplier

A book reads the better which is our own, and has been so long known to us, that we know the topography of its blots, and dog’s ears, and can trace the dirt in it to having read it at tea with buttered muffins.  Charles Lamb

Tea does our fancy aid, Repress those vapours which the head invade, And keeps that palace of the soul serene.   Edmund Waller

013 I drink a bucket of white tea in the morning. I read about this tea of the Emperor of China, which is supposedly the tea of eternal youth. It’s called Silver Needle. It’s unbelievably expensive, but I get it on the Web.   Antonio Banderas

Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea.   Henry Fielding

I was always brought up to have a cup of tea at halfway up a rock face.  Bear Grylls

012I love this Victorian trade (advertising) card, which is actually for cocoa, because I find it amusing that the maid is helping herself to a cup – lots of plot bunnies come to mind!









Victorian Veggie People for Halloween


013I’ve been saving these Victorian trade (advertising) cards all year, since they 001make me think of Halloween. The Victorians seem to have been fascinated by the idea of people-vegetable hybrids. I feel lucky to have the small collection that I do, because sometimes these cards go for pretty high prices. And then, some of the cards are just too grotesque for my taste, so I skip those.

Imagination is the real and eternal world of which this vegetable universe is but a faint shadow. William Blake

I could happily lean on a gate all the livelong day, chatting to passers-by about the wind and the rain. I do a lot of gate-leaning while I am supposed to be gardening; instead of hoeing, I lean on the gate, stare at the vegetable beds and ponder.  Tom Hodgkinson

Cabbage: a familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man’s head. Ambrose Bierce002

A vegetable garden in the beginning looks so promising and then after all little by little it grows nothing but vegetables, nothing, nothing but vegetables. Gertrude Stein

The vegetable life does not content itself with casting from the flower or the tree a single seed, but it fills the air and earth with a prodigality of seeds, that, if thousands perish, thousands may plant themselves, that hundreds may come up, that tens may live to maturity; that, at least one may replace the parent. Ralph Waldo Emerson

004An onion can make people cry but there’s never been a vegetable that can make people laugh. Will Rogers

Shall I not have intelligence with the earth? Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself. Henry David Thoreau

The West is color. Its colors are animal rather than vegetable, the colors of earth and sunlight and ripeness. Jessamyn West

The essential quality of an animal is that it seeks its own living, whereas a vegetable has its living brought to it. Henry Mayhew

And of course sometimes the Victorians just portrayed vegetables or other foods as people, with arms and legs, which can also be amusing to the eye!


Here are the rest of my 010015Veggie People cards for your enjoyment this Halloween!017

Is Grandmother in the Right Boat? Victorian Ads for Wednesday Whimsy

018One type of Victorian Trade (advertising) card I’m fascinated by, and could blow my budget on quite easily, is the die cut variety. These were made of sturdy, cardboard-like paper and shaped like real objects – horseshoes, shells and the like, and often very large. The cards I usually feature in this Wednesday column are more the size of business cards or small greeting cards, but some of the die cut can be extremely big.

I thought I’d share a few of my favorites today, and maybe more next week, as they’re quite amazing. This one, for example is  9 1/2″ by 9 1/2″! Here’s the back, with the actual advertising copy. (These are well over 100 years old so sometimes the condition is less than perfect.)019
Here’s another horseshoe-themed die cut and then a lifesized shell.  How do you like this gorgeous castle? Makes me want to walk inside and join the ball, which must be going on!020014022

And last but not least, a really amusing one for A&P Tea, that says “Grandmother is in the right boat.”  Not sure about the logic there but I loved everything about the card.

At the Beach for Wednesday Whimsy

002Seems to me the hot days of August are a good time to share my Victorian trade (advertising) cards that depict good times at the beach!

The three great elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of outer ocean on a beach. Henry Beston

The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea.  Anne Morrow Lindbergh

A beach is not only a sweep of sand, but shells of sea creatures, the sea glass, the seaweed, the incongruous objects washed up by the ocean.  Henry Grunwald

I remember having this friend in school who said she didn’t like the Beach Boys. And in that moment I knew we couldn’t be friends anymoreZooey Deschanel

Words today are like the shells and rope of seaweed which a child brings home glistening 004from the beach and which in an hour have lost their luster.  Cyril Connolly

I think that going to the beach as a child, being in the water and smelling that salt air and hearing the seagulls, it had a real calming effect. But also, it was a mysterious thing – I remember wondering what was under those dark New England seas.   Brian Skerry

Every time we walk along a beach some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments or scavenging among seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war.   Loren Eiseley

You can take for granted that people know more or less what a street, a shop, a beach, a sky, an oak tree look like. Tell them what makes this one different.   Neil Gaiman

005Total physical and mental inertia are highly agreeable, much more so than we allow ourselves to imagine. A beach not only permits such inertia but enforces it, thus neatly eliminating all problems of guilt. It is now the only place in our overly active world that does.   John Kenneth Galbraith

I’ve never been one to run around in Speedos on the beach.  Jason Statham

The thing is with hip-hop, it has its waves and the waves crash against the beach and the new waves come in. So to stay relevant you have to roll with that.   Ice Cube

011Twenty or 30 years from now, I’m going to be on a beach in Jamaica.  Idris Elba

Wherever I can go, I hit the water, whether it’s the ocean, or in L.A. it’s Zuma Beach in Malibu; I just hit the water.   David Hasselhoff

The moon is essentially gray, no color; looks like plaster of Paris or sort of a grayish beach sand.  Jim Lovell

I have spent many hours on the beach collecting sea glass, and I almost always wonder, as I bend to pick up chunk of bottle green or a shard of meringue white, what the history of the glass was. Who used it? Was it a medicine bottle? A bit of a ship’s lantern? Is that bubbled piece of glass with the charred bits inside it from a fire?  Anita Shreve009


Celebrating Independence Day This Week for Wednesday Whimsy

005altguyonlyI’ve been saving a little group of special Victorian trade (advertising) cards for this July 4th 010week!

There, I guess King George will be able to read that. John Hancock

I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet through all the gloom I see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth all the means. This is our day of deliverance. John Adams

You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.  Erma Bombeck

Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily 004earned and refreshed – else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.  Dwight D. Eisenhower

I love this card to the right, about the Louisiana Purchase from the late 1800’s!

Where liberty dwells, there is my country. Benjamin Franklin

May the sun in his course visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely, than this our own country!  Daniel Webster

Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth. George Washington

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same. Ronald Reagan

006It does not take a majority to prevail… but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men. Samuel Adams

Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry is own weight, this is a frightening prospect. Eleanor Roosevelt

The boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave. Thomas Jefferson

I know not what others may choose but, as for me, give me liberty or give
me death. 
Patrick Henry

I really like this card from 1879, with Uncle Sam!002


Bits of Egyptiana for Wednesday Whimsy

016In honor of my latest romance set in ancient Egypt, Ghost of the Nile, I’m sharing some Victorian trade (advertising) cards and other ephemera I’ve collected. I refer to my collection of odds and ends as “Egyptiana” – I find it hard to resist anything related to the subject of life along the Nile thousands of years ago. You should see my stack of serious research tomes!

I’m in the throes of an unexpected move, so a lot of my items are already packed, but I found a few things to share today. Here are my four Queens and their pets as visualized by  Royal Doulton in the 1990’s:

009And here’s a gorgeous Queen with cape from Royal Staffordshire – I liked it so much, I was inspired to write a scene in Magic of the Nile involving a cloak that has some similarities, although in my novel real feathers were used.

“An old book smells like ancient Egypt.”  Ray Bradbury

“In ‘Plutarch,’ her voice begins to come out; there are actual 2,000-year-old quotes from Cleopatra, and they are sly and saucy.” Stacy Schiff

“I really don’t remember much about Cleopatra. There were a lot of other things going on.”  Elizabeth Taylor


Here’s a clipping I own from an 1899 newspaper, of a well known actress playing Cleopatra:022

021And some real Egyptiana I’ve shared before, a blue steatite amulet bead from the real Princess of the Nile, Meritamun. I wrote a post about acquiring this little item. Which of course, may or may not be real!013

And this late 1800’s drawing based on tomb art was one of the inspirations for Heron Marsh, the estate that figures prominently in Ghost of the Nile.025And the key to the Book of the Dead from the movie “Mummy” (one of my all time favorites), which sadly is only a reproduction of the movie prop and doesn’t actually open:



May I Have This Dance for Wednesday Whimsy

035I’m in the mood to dance this week, between the “Dancing With the Stars” finale, and the new video mashup of “Just Shut Up and Dance”, plus a new tap dance video from Christopher Rice debuting today, so I picked these Victorian trade (advertising) cards with a dance theme to share. The cards also reminded me of my favorite Regency romances, especially the ones from Georgette Heyer.

DancerOfTheNile_600x900(Some of the most challenging scenes I’ve ever had to write were the dance scenes in Dancer of the Nile…)

To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in loveJane Austen

The dance can reveal everything mysterious that is hidden in music, and it has the additional merit of being human and palpable. Dancing is poetry with arms and legs.  Charles Baudelaire

One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. Friedrich Nietzsche

019Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancingWilliam James

013I have no desire to prove anything by dancing. I have never used it as an outlet or a means of expressing myself. I just dance. I just put my feet in the air and move them around. Fred Astaire (Not to argue with the guy but he did a LOT more than “just dance” IMHO.)

Dance is bigger than the physical body. When you extend your arm, it doesn’t stop at the end of your fingers, because you’re dancing bigger than that; you’re dancing spirit. Judith Jamison

All the ills of mankind, all the tragic misfortunes that fill the history books, all the political blunders, all the failures of the great leaders have arisen merely from a lack of skill at dancing.  Moliere

Part of the joy of dancing is conversation. Trouble is, some men can’t talk and dance at the same timeGinger Rogers014

I got started dancing because I knew it was one way to meet girlsGene Kelly

The main thing is dancing, and before it withers away from my body, I will keep dancing till the last moment, the last drop. Rudolf Nureyev

Dancing is a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire. George Bernard Shaw

Dancing is the poetry of the foot. John Dryden

031Talking about music is like dancing about architectureSteve Martin (I also found this quote attributed to Martin Mull.)

Dancing is my obsession. My life. Mikhail Baryshnikov

But in reality we are accompanied by the whole dancing universeRuth St. Denis

I’ve been known to have a good step or two. I’m half Samoan, you know, and part of our culture is singing and dancing daily. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (I’d like to waltz with him. Just sayin’.)

I’ve always been good at picking up certain things, like sports and dancingChanning Tatum (Yeah, he’s a master of understatement!)

Custom has made dancing sometimes necessary for a young man; therefore mind it while you learn it, that you may learn 004to do it well, and not be ridiculous, though in a ridiculous act. Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield

I’m proud of my Irish heritage and culture and this show will feature a lot of Irish dancing. Michael Flatley

People listen to music with cavemen ears: Is it a bird song or the call of a lion? The audience at a musical is dancing in their hearts. Marsha Norman

I can never stand in one place on stage for more than a minute and am always singing, dancing and jumpingSunidhi Chauhan

No one worries about genre when they’re dancing. They’re not asking themselves, ‘Is this song a dubstep song?’ Skrillex

And now, “Shut Up and Dance” (movie mashup):

Mothers for Wednesday Whimsy

008With Mother’s Day coming this weekend, and being a mother and grandmother myself, I figured that was the best topic for today’s Wednesday Whimsy. Oddly enough, I don’t have that many Victorian trade (advertising) cards featuring Mothers. I guess I haven’t been looking for them specifically. I did find a number of historical mothers and children on cards in my collection, so here they are for your enjoyment!

My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her. George Washington

The love of a mother is the veil of a softer light between the heart and the heavenly Father. Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgivenessHonore de Balzac

My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it. Mark Twain

Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life. Sophocles

001When your mother asks, ‘Do you want a piece of advice?’ it is a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. 010You’re going to get it anyway. Erma Bombeck

I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.  Eleanor Roosevelt

When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child. Sophia Loren

My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

004I’m a mama’s boy because everything I do is with respect to my mother. I won’t do a movie or a video that would bring disrespect to my mother. Mr. T

Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly. Ambrose Bierce

There are only two things a child will share willingly; communicable diseases and its mother’s age. Benjamin Spock

I always tell people that I became a writer not because I went to school but because my mother took me to the library. I wanted to become a writer so I could see my name in the card catalog. Sandra Cisneros

And of course here are three of my favorite mothers from the works of Beatrix Potter!


Wednesday Whimsy Victorian Cards of Boys at Play

???????????????????????????????My brother’s birthday was fairly recently so when I looked through my box of Victorian trade (advertising) cards for this week, I decided to share the ones with boys and their games and toys.

???????????????????????????????I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. Sir Isaac Newton

I love nerdy, cute, quirky boys who don’t take themselves too seriously.  Ariana Grande

Older people sit down and ask, ‘What is it?’ but the boy asks, ‘What can I do with it?’. Steve Jobs

When I was a boy, I always saw myself as a hero in comic books and in movies. I grew up believing this dream.  Elvis Presley

Many are they who have a taste and love for drawing, but no talent; and this will be discernible in boys who are not diligent and never finish their drawings with shading.  Leonardo da Vinci

???????????????????????????????I purely attribute my ‘hamming it up’ quality to growing up with three older brothers and just being like a tomboy my whole life. Literally, my mother had to be like, ‘Honey, there’s a certain point where you have to start wearing a shirt.’ You know, I would run around with the boys and play tag football and climb trees. Actress Eliza Dushku

The moment a little boy is concerned with which is a jay and which is a sparrow, he can no longer see the birds or hear them sing.  Eric Berne

I thought that the chief thing to be done in order to equal boys was to ???????????????????????????????be learned and courageous. So I decided to study Greek and learn to manage a horse.  Elizabeth Cady Stanton

As a boy, because I was born and raised in Ohio, about 60 miles north of Dayton, the legends of the Wrights have been in my memories as long as I can remember.  Neil Armstrong

Vig used to call me ‘Elf boy’, and I’d call him ‘filthy human’. As an Elf, I never got a scratch on me, never got dirty. And Vig would come out with blood and sweat all over him. And he’d say to me, ‘Oh, go manicure your nails.’  Orlando Bloom

???????????????????????????????‘The Polar Express’ began with the idea of a train standing alone in the woods. I asked myself, ‘What if a boy gets on that train? Where does he go?’  Chris Van Allsburg

Most people read poetry listening for echoes because the echoes are familiar to them. They wade through it the way a boy wades through water, feeling with his toes for the bottom: The echoes are the bottom. Wallace Stevens

When I am grown to man’s estate I shall be very proud and great. And tell the other girls and boys Not to meddle with my toys. Robert Louis Stevenson

A man is never completely alone in this world. At the worst, he has the company of a boy, a youth, and by and by a grown man – the one he used to be. Cesare Pavese


Ships and Quotes for Wednesday

???????????????????????????????Today is the 103rd anniversary of the sinking of Titanic, which isn’t Jack-and-Rose-jack-and-rose-27588072-1500-2285whimsical at ALL, of course, but I decided to take ships as my theme for this Wednesday. Here’s one from a series of decorative plates I  own, illustrating different famous areas of the ship. I thought the grand staircase was perhaps the most well known to share, since it’s seen in every movie about Titanic.

This Victorian trade, or advertising card, startled me when I first saw it, although of course the ship isn’t  Titanic. Seems like it’s sailing a bit ???????????????????????????????close to that iceberg for my taste.

I never knew what all the different types of sailing ships were until I saw this delightful insurance company card, helpfully illustrating each variety.


???????????????????????????????Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing, only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness; So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another, only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.  Zora Neale Hurston

Put two ships in the open sea, without wind or tide, and, at last, they will come together. Throw two planets into space, and they will fall one on the other. Place two enemies in the midst of a crowd, and they will inevitably meet; it is a fatality, a question of time; that is all.  Jules Verne

The horns came riding in like the rainbow masts of silver ships.  Peter S. Beagle

???????????????????????????????My experience of ships is that on them one makes an interesting discovery about the world. One finds one can do without it completely.  Malcolm Bradbury