Ladies Day at Riversdale

I know I should be writing something erudite about the latest Harlequin-RWA debacle but I’m also reading Terry Pratchett and I think it’s coloring my perception. Truly, this is something that belongs in Discworld. I am also in the thick of deadline hell and am about to behead Jane Austen so you can see I’m rather distracted.

So I’ll tell you instead what I did last weekend, which was to attend the Ladies Day at the federal-era Riversdale House Museum, a wonderful day of activities centered around Rosalie Stier Calvert‘s love of gardening and typical flower-related activities. Here are all the ladies in costume (once again my maid neglected to clean and iron my gown in time), with a rather beautiful golden glow that looks like candlelight but is in fact a result of the failing battery in the camera.

We made perfume using essential oils and yes, vodka, and mine has a bergamot base because I like the name rather than the smell, but I hope it improves over the next couple of weeks.

One very exciting part of the day was a lecture by Stacey Hampton, an expert on nineteenth-century hairstyles and hair ornaments. She gave us a terrific list of resources, including the website Timely Tresses.

She brought in a selection of Regency hair ornaments from her collection which we were allowed to touch, and she also gave a demonstration, on fake heads, of how to build a Regency hair style.

Also on display where these three beautiful bonnets decorated with flowers, constructed by Riversdale’s historian Dr. Ann Wass. You can see in the background the original front doors of the house, a source of great pride for Rosalie Calvert, who boasted that not even Tommy Jeff in the White House had real solid mahogany doors.

In the afternoon we had afternoon tea with scones, neither of which are period, but are just plain good; we made the scones and we also attempted to sugar petals as decorations for the cupcakes, for which we made very runny icing (those egg whites would not stiffen. I spent a long time outside in the cool air with a bowl and a whisk). Sorry about the pic blurred with greed. We had spiced pear compote made with Riversdale’s own pears and an interesting Swedish carrot marmalade for the scones.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. What are you up to? And, aargh, it’s Thanksgiving next week. Are you ready? I’m off the hook since I don’t have a working oven…

Another bit of news. You can buy my next Regency chicklit book IMPROPER RELATIONS in advance at 55% off at bookdepository.com! Still no final cover but I know it will be pretty. The release date is February, 2010.

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Elizabeth Kerri Mahon
13 years ago

Thanks for the heads up about Book Despository. I love historical houses that have demonstrations. I may have to take myself out to Historic Richmondtown on Staten Island this Christmas.

13 years ago

Hey… that stair case looks familiar… wait… wasn’t I there this summer? With a bunch of great ladies? 😉

Janet Mullany
13 years ago

Yes, Sarah, you were there–it was the second house on the Beau Monde field trip.

13 years ago

Very nice field trip 🙂

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

What a great day! I swear, one of these days I’ll attend this event. I even have a dress that is genuine, non-wrinkling, Regency microfiber.

13 years ago

Erudite would be good.

I’m mucho confused about the whole debate. Here’s what I don’t get:

– why in the world was this announced within, almost, hours of the announcement of the new ebook Carina wing? Doesn’t that more or less shoot the whole Carina endeavour in the foot?

– whether it’s possible the step was taken without anticipating RWA’s reaction. Because either it was anticipated (in which case the action was pretty much a red flag to RWA) or else it wasn’t (in which case, WOW on the consequences for Harlequin autors)

I appreciate that it may be prudent for Harlequin authors themselves to think their initial thoughts privately about this rather than in the blogosphere, but it would be great for someone with more insight than I to clarify the nebulous mess

Linda Banche
13 years ago

The hair ornaments and the hats are beautiful. And so are all the pastries!

Jane George
13 years ago

I can really see those hair ornaments being put to good use should a gentleman behave in too forward a fashion!

Oh, and I’ve been sitting on the floor sketching all day. Much fun. The house is a horror and all of husband’s relatives are coming for turkey day. TI think I’ll transfer my sketch and start painting tomorrow

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

M there is a lot of discussion out there on the web. Check Dear Author. Malle Vallik from Harlequin answered some questions. Or just google Harlequin Horizons and you’ll find lots of opinion.

Jane George
13 years ago

Also, Kristin Nelson’s Pubrants blog had Harlequin’s reaction to the RWA letter and MWA’s letter to Harlequin. Both well worth reading.

13 years ago

What a brilliant event! And thanks so much for sharing it, Janet. That candle effect is great.

Jane George, you made me laugh at the alternative use for the hair ornaments.

My sister invited me to my niece’s for the day, and she wants to do it herself, so I need only bring myself.

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