I recently joined li.st (formerly the List App). This is an app that lets you explore engaging lists on everything from passionate opinions to travel recommendations and share your own experiences, opinions, musings, and knowledge. I practically got in on the ground floor of this one, it went live last October. I’m a late adapter – I’m usually the last one to the party. It feels weird to know about something before all my computer savvy friends know about it.
This, very long introduction, is to let you know that I will be creating a list to share on here. A trending topic recently on li.st was “the television character I am, the one I want to be, and the one I’ll probably be.” Many people expanded on the theme. I did both television characters and cartoon characters. You’ll have to join the li.st to see these (I’m @solitarygigi).
But with every list I read on the topic, the Queens I want to be kept running through my head. This is the list I’m doing here because this weekend (here in Canada) is the Victoria Day long weekend. In honour of Queen Victoria, of course. We celebrate her birthday (May 24, 1819) on Monday only one day early this year. Happy Birthday Queen Victoria!
It’s hard to keep track of the long weekends when you’re unemployed. Long weekends are meaningless when you’re unemployed. I keep track of such things so that I have blogging topics.
So, here goes – “the Queen I am, the one I want to be, and the one I’ll probably be.”
The Queen I am is Tsarina Alexandra, the last Queen of Russia. She lead a tragic doomed life from a young age, was prone to over reaction (Rasputin), fell easily in love (Nicky), had four daughters and one tragic son. She also had an overbearing, too loving grandmother who, through her progency, had ties to most of Europe.
The Queen I want to be is Queen Victoria. She led a long happy adult life. She died at 82 and until recently was the longest reigning British Queen. Her life was a fairy tale one full of duty but also romance and family. She overcame an overbearing mom, fell in love with a handsome prince and had many children who adored her. Her husband invented stuff for her, like this bathing machine and her children lovingly oversaw her legacy.
At one point, she ruled over most of the world. Who wouldn’t want to be such a powerful woman?
The Queen I’ll probably be is Lady Jane Grey. She ruled for nine days and was then beheaded for treason. She was a Tudor embroiled in the tragic circumstances following Henry the VIII’s death. Lady Jane Grey had an excellent humanist education and a reputation as one of the most learned young women of her day. She was manipulated by her family and circumstances and died young.
Notice a theme. No, not true love or many children but overbearing mothers and manipulation. Sometimes this seems the story of my life. When will I become my own person? Believe me I struggle daily to live how I want to but it does get easier the older I get.
Li.st is addictive. I could list all day. I could do another list riffing off this theme. How about “the Drag Queen I am, the one I want to be, and the one I’ll probably be.” I could link to Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar and Pride for inspiration.
Join li.st if you like to list and have a safe Victoria Day Weekend everyone!
I don’t post faces here on my blog. I’m trying to respect mine and others’ privacy issues.
So, for this week’s photo challenge you get a blank mannequin face; which is not as scary as the fashion mannequins that populate the museum I use to work at. There is a fine line between creepy and the uncanny valley when it comes to duplicating human faces.
My daddy’s face is a study. Winter moves into it and presides there. His eyes become a cliff of snow threatening to avalanche, his eyebrows bend like black limbs of leafless trees. His skin takes on the pale cheerless yellow of winter sun; for a jaw he has the edges of a snowbound field dotted with stubble; his high forehead is the frozen sweep of the Erie. ~Toni Morrison
I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that. ~Lauren Bacall
I’ll never be anyone’s mother.
I think I’ve known this since I was first married at twenty-four. I started taking care of other people’s children the New Years I was thirteen and stopped, doing it as a job, in my middle thirties.
It’s hard leaving other people’s children once you’ve spent years being responsible for their daily care and knowing you will probably never see them again.
I may not have given birth but I have raised children. I sat up with them when they were sick, took them to the doctor and emergency care, was the sole caregiver for weeks on end, went to their school events and nurtured and worried over them.
But they were not mine!
I vowed young that I would not have children if I could not take care of them properly. To me that meant that they would have two primary parents who could provide them with a middle-class home. I was raised in poverty by a divorced mother with little contact or support from my father, I knew how hard it was to raise a child.
Now I am entering menopause knowing that I will never be anyone’s mother.
And I’m okay with that.
I am okay with being child-free. I struggle to support myself, both financially and emotionally. I thank the stars that I never had to make the decision between my well being or my child’s!
I only have myself but all of me is mine – this is both exhilarating and scary. Who will take care of me in my old age? I will take care of me as I always have.
There are a million ways to create a family. There are a million different types of families.
I am a family of one (plus cat – the census doesn’t consider my cat to be family).
There are many types of mothers.
I have a biological mother and a stepmother.
My cousin had an adoptive mother and a birth mother.
I had more than two grandmothers. There was my maternal grandmother, my paternal grandmother and my stepmother’s mother.
I had honorary grandmothers as well. Grandma F who lived to the left of us and Mrs. Stapleton who lived to the right of us across the alley and Grandma Smith who I think was my paternal grandmother’s stepmother.
I had literary mothers. My first librarian, Miss Missler taught me to love books and reading.
Women have been a major influence in my life.
And I hope that even though I will never be anyone’s biological mother that I will be a major influence in the lives of the girls and young women I have constant contact with.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the women who mother me!
Snow White Learns Witchcraft
by Theodora Goss
One day she looked into her mother’s mirror.
The face looking back was unavoidably old,
with wrinkles around the eyes and mouth. I’ve smiled
a lot, she thought. Laughed less, and cried a little.
A decent life, considered altogether.
She’d never asked it the fatal question that leads
to a murderous heart and red-hot iron shoes.
But now, being curious, when it scarcely mattered,
she recited Mirror, mirror, and asked the question:
Who is the fairest? Would it be her daughter?
No, the mirror told her. Some peasant girl
in a mountain village she’d never even heard of.
Well, let her be fairest. It wasn’t so wonderful
being fairest. Sure, you got to marry the prince,
at least if you were royal, or become his mistress
if you weren’t, because princes don’t marry commoners,
whatever the stories tell you. It meant your mother,
whose skin was soft and smelled of parma violets,
who watched your father with a jealous eye,
might try to eat your heart, metaphorically —
or not. It meant the huntsman sent to kill you
would try to grab and kiss you before you ran
into the darkness of the sheltering forest.
How comfortable it was to live with dwarves
who didn’t find her particularly attractive.
Seven brothers to whom she was just a child, and then,
once she grew tall, an ungainly adolescent,
unlike the shy, delicate dwarf women
who lived deep in the forest. She was constantly tripping
over the child-sized furniture they carved
with patterns of hearts and flowers on winter evenings.
She remembers when the peddlar woman came
to her door with laces, a comb, and then an apple.
How pretty you are, my dear, the peddlar told her.
It was the first time anyone had said
that she was pretty since she left the castle.
She didn’t recognize her. And if she had?
Mother? She would have said. Mother, is that you?
How would her mother have answered? Sometimes she wishes
the prince had left her sleeping in the coffin.
He claimed he woke her up with true love’s kiss.
The dwarves said actually his footman tripped
and jogged the apple out. She prefers that version.
It feels less burdensome, less like she owes him.
Because she never forgave him for the shoes,
red-hot iron, and her mother dancing in them,
the smell of burning flesh. She still has nightmares.
It wasn’t supposed to be fatal, he insisted.
Just teach her a lesson. Give her blisters or boils,
make her repent her actions. No one dies
from dancing in iron shoes. She must have had
some sort of heart condition. And after all,
the woman did try to kill you. She didn’t answer.
And so she inherited her mother’s mirror,
but never consulted it, knowing too well
the price of coveting beauty. She watched her daughter
grow up, made sure the girl could run and fight,
because princesses need protecting, and sometimes princes
are worse than useless. When her husband died,
she went into mourning, secretly relieved
that it was over: a woman’s useful life,
nurturing, procreative. Now, she thinks,
I’ll go to the house by the seashore where in summer
we would take the children (really a small castle),
with maybe one servant. There, I will grow old,
wrinkled and whiskered. My hair as white as snow,
my lips thin and bloodless, my skin mottled.
I’ll walk along the shore collecting shells,
read all the books I’ve never had the time for,
and study witchcraft. What should women do
when they grow old and useless? Become witches.
It’s the only role you get to write yourself.
I’ll learn the words to spells out of old books,
grow poisonous herbs and practice curdling milk,
cast evil eyes. I’ll summon a familiar:
black cat or toad. I’ll tell my grandchildren
fairy tales in which princesses slay dragons
or wicked fairies live happily ever after.
I’ll talk to birds, and they’ll talk back to me.
Or snakes — the snakes might be more interesting.
This is the way the story ends, she thinks.
It ends. And then you get to write your own story.
Are you going up or going down? Or perhaps you’ve decided to travel sideways or back-ways or forward? All are possible on this Dr. Seuss staircase.
Enjoy the abstract!
The Queen turns 90 on April 21, 2016.
She’s been through a lot in those ninety years. There was Wallis Simpson & the abdication, World War II, the death of her father at an early age, the Diana years, the loss of both her sister and her mother. A lifetime worth of trails and tribulations.
She is old enough to forgive and forget. Myself, I still hold grudges. I still want people to admit they done me wrong and some of these people are dead.
The Queen was born at 2.40am on 21 April 1926 at 17 Bruton Street in Mayfair, London. That makes her a Taurus like my eldest sister. Like most Tauruses, she’s reliable, practical, ambitious, and independent.
On her official birthday during the weekend of June 10 – 13th, there will be many celebrations. There will also be celebrations from May 12 – 15th.
We’re not celebrating Her Majesty’s birthday here in Canada as far as I know. The RCMP Musical Ride will go to London to join the Royal Celebrations there and we are publishing a charming children’s book to mark the occasion.
Our government here in Canada is pretty boring especially compared to the British Monarchy (though there was that Prime Minister who had seances to contact his mum).
We may not have castles but our Prime Minister resides in a very lovely mansion as he governs the country. Honestly, we’ve not had anyone interesting living there since Pierre Elliot Trudeau was Prime Minister! Politics have been boring, boring, boring ever since he left but maybe his son (our current Prime Minister) can liven up our world-wide reputation.
What has the Queen been fantasizing about lately? Maybe these quick, amusing reads have the answer.
The Uncommon Reader deals with the Queen as a bibliophile.
What she was finding was how one book led to another, doors kept opening wherever she turned and the days weren’t long enough for the reading she wanted to do. (p. 21)
As Queen…pleasure had always taken second place to duty. (p. 31)
To read is to withdraw. To make oneself unavailable. (45)
Once she been a single-minded woman knowing where her duty lay and [her] intent [was] on doing it…(104)
The moral, of this book, is that the love and act of reading can lead to the act of writing which leads to abdication.
A moral, I’m sure, our current Queen would be against considering how long it took her and her mother to forgive Edward and Wallis.
The Uncommon Reader is written by Alan Bennett. Faber & Faber published it in 2007.
In this fairy tale-ish book, the Queen takes a melancholy jaunt alone to Scotland to visit the decommissioned Royal Yacht.
People had been writing about her from the very first day she was born in April 1926. (p. 5)
It was Prince Edward [who had] shown her (he knew his mama’s bad habits) a website where she could place a small bet on the races. (p. 8)
She had already called the IT woman three times. She couldn’t call her again. The Queen knew she needed help, but she hated to appear helpless. (p. 4)
The Queen set store by doing everything as Queen Victoria had once done it. (p. 135)
This story is set in December 2002. It is a charming, small, book with lovely black & white illustrations throughout. Here the Queen’s world is populated by many charming and eccentric characters.
There is Lady Anne Bevil, one of her Ladies in Waiting who at seventy has little money left to support herself and is estranged from her son.
Shirley is the queen’s senior dresser. She is sixty and her grandmother and mother worked for the Queen before her. She has no family left.
William is the senior butler. He is gay and has made this job his whole life.
Luke, an equerry and Iraq vet considers his job to be temporary.
Rebecca is a stable girl who takes care of the Queen’s horses. Queen Elizabeth’s latest horse, who was born on the Queen’s birthday, likes cheese. This is a very important plot point!
Rajiv works as a shop clerk at a cheese store and has a sideline profession of taking & selling candid Queen shots to the press. He likes Rebecca (every story needs a romance).
The tale becomes a cozy mystery involving the queen’s household vs MI5. It is very Doctor Whoish. The servants are at friendly odds with each other. They are not sure who to like or who to trust and must find the Queen before it is noticed that she is missing.
Mrs Queen Takes the Train was written by William Kuhn. HarperCollins published it in 2012.
After 40 years on the throne, The Queen and her family are rehoused to a council estate because the People’s Republican Party has gotten rid of the monarchy. Everything the Royal Family once had belongs to the state; the new Prime Minister sells off some of royal treasures to Japan and Windsor Castle is turned into a hotel. The former Royal family have no servants, make no public appearances, and they must check in/out with a guard every time they leave the house.
This was subversive fiction written during the Thatcher’s 90s!
The sweetest scene is when the Queen Mum dies and is laid out by neighbours.
Even with all this upheaval, the Queen gets on with it.
The sequel featuring Camilla instead of Diana is not as strong.
The Queen & I was written by Sue Townsend. Methuen published it in 1992.
Further readings written by me:
Here is my article about Princess Anne’s wedding.
Here is my article commemorating Elizabeth’s longest reign in September.
It seems Ailsa & I both had books on our mind this week!
Happy Birthday Your Majesty.
Walking the dog in Spring,
Traversing a minefield of ice,
Breaking thin ice covered puddles with our steps;
She laps up the cold dirty water.
I step over a pile of deer droppings.
Morning after morning after morning,
The sun rises earlier and earlier –
We long for the refreshing end to Winter.
Is it Spring yet?
Thanks Ailsa for the prompt.
A Pang is more conspicuous in Spring
In contrast with the things that sing
Not Birds entirely – but Minds –
Minute Effulgencies and Winds –
When what they sung for is undone
Who cares about a Blue Bird’s Tune –
Why, Resurrection had to wait
Till they had moved a Stone –
A Pang is more conspicuous in Spring
In response to The Daily Post’s photo challenge Half-Light!
It was almost Spring last week (or as the locals reminded me) it was our “first Spring” last week.
The 2016 Spring equinox was, for us, yesterday, March 19 at 10:30 p.m. CST.
This is a simple fact that we in Saskatchewan are reminded of every year. Our weather is very paradoxical.
Here is this week’s equinoxical weather in pictures.
On Monday, we were almost down to brown ground and budding trees. The Lake of Four Corners (from last week’s post) had become a Lake of Two Corners.
On March 11th, though I could see no brown out front yet, my front steps were bare and dry. This tree had enough snow to reach out and smoosh into one giant snowball. Beware the Ents, my friends!
On March 14th, we were in the city which had been completely dry up to this point. On Tuesday, the city got a sciff (ie a small amount) of snow. Here snow sits lightly on the benches.
Back home, two hours north, they measured the new snow in inches. Enough snow that I would spend an hour shoveling when I got back home on Friday.
This is Spring in Saskatchewan. Snow. Melt. Ice. Snow. Repeat.
The Spring Equinox has come and gone. It is time for the snow to go!