Tag Archives: history

Un-Flagging Patriotism in the Face of Fabric

Well a Happy Flag Day to you, American oddlings!

As many of you know, June 14th is Flag Day, a holiday to commemorate the American Flag. It was in 1777 that the Continental Congress officially approved the design of the Stars and Stripes as the national flag for the United States of America. Flag Day was established as a national day in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson.

Until 1912, when President Taft standardized the arrangement of the stars, the placement (each star symbolizing each state of the union) was up to the individual flag-maker’s discretion. In those days, you see, flags were sewn by hand.

Imagine if Bubo had been sewing flags in the 1800s. I envision flags with stars outlining a great owl head or an ax.

Legend has it that in 1776, George Washington approached Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross to create a flag for the new nation. Scholars disagree on whether or not Mrs. Ross was a seamstress (some say she was an upholsterer’s apprentice) and on whether or not Mrs. Ross actually did create the first flag. Everyone does agree, however, that Mrs. Ross knew Mr. Washington and, in fact, did sew flags.

It also appears that Mrs. Ross was married a total of three times (Mr. Ross being her first husband) but what this has to do with flag sewing, I do not know.

The Birth of Old Glory [detail],
Percy Moran, artist, copyright 1917.
Library of Congress Prints & Photograph Online Catalog

The current flag – with 50 stars – has been in place since 1960, when Hawaii’s statehood was ratified, and has been in use the longest.

Public buildings display “Old Glory” on this day each year, and some folks declare the entire week to be “Flag Week”.

Here, all the creatures in the house are encouraged to create their own flags; our family’s crest has long been in dispute with so many missing factions appearing whenever a design seems to be solidified. I appreciate the symbolism of flags, and the difficulty of creating an image that inspires hope, power, freedom, and perseverance. Our family hopes to inspire none of these feelings, and perhaps that is the root of our problems.

Mordecai has been strutting about with a flag fastened to his shoulders like a cape; it is black (naturally) and has a single word emblazoned upon it: “YES”.

I, for my part, responded to him as only a brother can. I made a small flag (approximately the size of a cigar box) that simply says “NO” and I have it in the brim of my cap. Once he realizes my flag is made from a panel of his good tweed coat, this Flag Day shall go from passive aggressive to aggressive faster than a dragon in summer.

That’s impossibly fast.

Happy Flag Day, dears.

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Hot Owl Ice Cream

Believe me when I tell you that you do not want to witness a great horned owl eat ice cream. By 10 am this morning, the heat was already too much for Bubo and she tucked into a hefty tub of our home made pistachio and basil ice cream. I breakfasted on a sasparilla float. I won’t natter on about how hot it is, but suffice it to say that I’m hoping Mordecai went north. Otherwise an unimaginably cranky and cross fellow will inevitably end up on my doorstep and I’m too knackered from the heat to put up with him.

I’m keeping out of the sun reading again today. If I get my wind up, I’ll head to the catacombs and dig through the odd bits of family history in the cool dank of the caves. The specimens have taken to camping out down there and even the wuzzlethumps are sleeping instead of birding. Thankfully.

Found this gem absolutely fascinating. The Tammany Hall years are a period of New York history that have long captivated our attention and imagination. This, then, is a good introduction to the history of it.

I hear a commotion in the freezer. I’m hoping it’s not Bubo making a nest in the ice cubes. Though, quite honestly, I wouldn’t blame her for it one bit.

Except that I find feathers in my ice cream absolutely unacceptable.

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Perhaps it’s the wonky spring weather, with the bright grey skies and the constant threat of rain. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been spending hours in the catacombs. But lately I’ve been feeling quite doolally.

Doolally is an adjective meaning feeble-minded, crazy, or deranged. It’s British slang and comes from the early 20th century term doolally tap which is an army term for camp fever. Doolally Tap is derived from Deolali (the name of a town near Bombay where British soldiers would finish up their tours of duty) plus the Urdu word tap for fever.

Not only did you get a word today, but you also got a bit of a history lesson. Lucky doolally ducks, you are.

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