On speechlessness

I am quite without a voice at the moment. It started Wednesday night, and by Thursday morning, I could barely speak. My commute was eerily silent, as I was unable to sing along with my tunes. The drive in to work was decidedly non-fun as a result. I got through the morning, came to the realization that I could not do my job without speaking, and returned home to my new best friends.


The Vicks makes my dĂ©colletage positively glisten! Could that be the bodybuilders’ secret?

I have been dutifully drinking ginger tea with honey (yuck! I think I’ll try maple syrup next time. Or would that be even worse?), using the neti pot and making my collarbones gleam with Vicks, but I remain voiceless, apart from some barely coherent croaks. I managed to say a few words to the postman Friday afternoon when I met him in the hall, feeling like a teenage boy whose voice is breaking.

The last time I lost my voice, it took a week to get it back. I wondered at times if I would ever speak again. Being incapable of communication is a strange and frustrating experience. It is irritating to be unable to join in conversation, and can come across as rudeness to those unaware of the situation. My friends were most unhelpful, deliberately making provocative statements, knowing that I could not respond to them. All of us learned how expressive eyebrows are during that week. And when it was over, I had so much to say! As I suspect I will after this bout…

Of course, I have other ways to voice my thoughts and express myself. I have several modes of communication available to me: e-mail, texting, letters and, of course, fabric. I am merely speechless and not really voiceless at all.

Before my speech went thither, Halloween occurred. I participated again this year by dressing up at school. The new French Immersion curriculum has a particular emphasis on French culture, so I picked up Burda 2493: Josephine.


Burda 2493: Josephine. Or any Regency lady, really.

I thought it would be a quick and easy costume. It was, mostly. But I chose velvet for the overdress, which went fine until the lining went in. So much shifting! After the third time unsewing the tremendously long seam, I finally followed Burda’s advice and basted. After that, it went together beautifully.

I had leftover Galileo fabric that I used for the bodice. The skirt was a navy cotton velvet I found at Affordable Textiles. There are decidedly non-Regency construction methods here. It is not a faithful reproduction of the period! There is a zipper in the overdress (20th century invention) and elastic to make the ruffles of the dress neckline and sleeves. Expedient? Yes. Historically accurate? No, although it does feature the Empire waistline of the period.


Josephine from the front.

I used a cotton broadcloth with dragonflies for the dress. I had made other plans for the fabric when I bought it in 2013, but then I remembered my feelings about yellow. This is more of an orange-yellow, which is why it looks fine with all of the blues. The print is rather whimsical, so perhaps it is best that it did not become a “real” garment. One of the students asked me if I was a pioneer! Did pioneers wear velvet overdresses with trains?!? But I did see her point: because of its smaller scale print and the fact that it is cotton, it does not read as an empress’ gown. My own students treated me like an empress on the Halloween parade by holding up the train. I had my very own ladies-in-waiting! In hindsight, for my costume to make sense, I should have engaged a Napoleon…



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