When Does A Quest End?
When one has found the Holy Grail?
When one has slayed the dragon?
When one has rescued the princess?
When one has found the Unicorn?
When one has reached the goal?
I started this blog at the end of September 2008 with this thesis in mind:
Why? Why am I doing this? Why write a blog? Why delve into the essence of who I am? I’m intrigued by memoir and confession and living vicariously. My real life is quiet. My fantasy life is legion. My inner life, like everyone else’s, is gigantic.
My one goal when I started was to blog weekly. I’ve done that.
I’ve published 425 posts and I have 150 draft ideas sitting around waiting to be used. This will be post number 426. Its been eight years since my first post.
But most of this year’s posts have been photo challenges and small (somewhat) fun posts.
I think I may be done.
More often than not, I put off writing a blog post until the last moment.
I think I may be finishing this quest.
This may be my last blog post. It may not.
If I post again, my next post will probably be a Halloween post.
How do you know when your quest is ending?
I have a complicated relationship with the Queen.
I have a complicated relationship with the monarchy. I love the pomp and ceremony. The Queen waved at me once as her limo took a short cut through the bus mall where I was waiting for the bus. If her window was open, I could have reached over and shook her hand. This was an unexpected thrilling experience! I enjoy standing up and singing/shouting “God Save the Queen” even though I’m not sure how I feel about God either. It makes me feel proud. Patriotic, like I am part of something bigger and more important than just me.
I don’t think we should pay for any of the monarchy’s expenses when they visit Canada. I’m happy that Prime Minister Trudeau brought the constitution back home.
I admired the Queen Mum immensely. You could tell from her demeanor that she had survived many horrible years as a royal. She was over 100 years old when she died and next year Liz is turning ninety. There will be celebrations in June even though she was born April 21, 1926. She’s almost an Aries like me. I aspire to live as long a life though my life will not be as interesting!
This royal family has been the face of the monarchy all of my life. They are the epitome of the stiff upper lip I was raised under. We keep calm and carry on even though we are not British. My family is Scottish, Polish, Canadian!
Lilibet has always been in the back of my consciousness. The royal portrait (below) hung in my grandparent’s home and now hangs in mine. It shows King George VI, Queen Elizabeth before she was the Queen Mum, Princess Margaret about age five and Princess Elizabeth around age eleven. I imagine that this was the official portrait when George became King after the abdication in 1936. I don’t know if this is true. My Polish grandparents had the picture hanging in their house but I never discussed royalty with them so I don’t know why they hung this picture or where it came from. I do know how relieved they were to leave, in the 1930s, an unsettled Poland for a new life in Canada.
Like most young girls, I was interested in princesses but I wasn’t into the Disney princesses. I wanted to read stories about real princesses. In my teens, I read everything I could find about Princess Anastasia of Russia. Her mother was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria of Great Britain.
I sped read through the Royal Diaries series of books and got a vague sense of the history of British Kings And Queens. I explored what I could find on Mary Queen of Scots and Lady Jane Grey who was Queen for nine days. There was no internet when I was growing up and no fictitious royal series on TV. Royal enthusiasts have it so much easier now.
Because I am a history buff, I was aware that Queen Elizabeth worked as a mechanic during WWII and went out into the crowds on VE day with her sister and their mates. The Queen had mates!
She seemed to be a normal girl. She seemed to be just like me.
I’ve followed the Queen’s trails and tribulations. I was there for Anne’s wedding. The Queen’s 25th wedding anniversary family portrait taken in 1972 looks remarkably the same as the picture taken around the same time for my grandparent’s fiftieth.
I’ve been there for her silver jubilee, her golden jubilee and her diamond jubilee. I missed the coronation (I wasn’t born yet) but I vicariously experience it through video – both news reel real and fictitious. The new Doctor Who, series 2: episode seven, centers on a typical London neighbourhood on the Queen’s coronation day.
Royalty fascinates me. A hundred year’s ago I would have been a tea drinking member of the IODE (if I could have been).
The Queen is a countrywoman through and through. She loves horses, dogs, and vacationing at her estate in Balmoral, Scotland.
She reminds me of her great great grandmother Victoria who also loved Scotland. Both monarchs are women, like my ancestors, who believed in old-fashion values like duty, discipline and self-control.
Victoria, who died at age 82 after celebrating her diamond jubilee four years earlier, was not supposed to be Queen – her father had two older brothers.
Elizabeth shouldn’t have been Queen. Her father’s older brother was to reign and produce heirs but he abdicated instead.
Isn’t it strange that two women who shouldn’t have been Queens are our longest reigning royals to date? When will Queen Elizabeth II have reigned for longer than Queen Victoria?
Queen Victoria reigned 23,226 days 16 hrs & 23 minutes. She superseded her uncle King William IV and became queen at 18 on June 20, 1837. She reigned until Jan 2, 1901.
On Wednesday, September 9 at about 5.30 pm GMT (12:30 pm CST), Queen Elizabeth II will have been on the throne for 63 years, seven months and two days. She became queen at 25 when her father died on Feb 6, 1952.
She does not plan to celebrate this milestone publicly.
I plan to raise a glass of wine in celebration and read one of the myriad books featuring the Queen.
Perhaps I will reread Mrs. Queen Takes the Train!
On Wednesday, raise a glass to “The Queen”
I’ve been ruminating about dragons this week. A seven year old girl named Sophie asked Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) for a dragon early this year and though CSIRO first responded with a sincere apology they later decided that creating a dragon for Sophie was a possibility and the internet collectively went Awww. Sophie brings to my mind a positively proper polite British child heroine of the prim and proper books (like What Katy Did or Ballet Shoes) that I read as a child. A child heroine who would find a way to meet dragons no matter the hardship.
Then, Thursday (Jan 16th) was Dragon Appreciation Day.
There was a point in my youth and childhood when I too was enchanted by the possibilities of magical creatures. I would wonder the forest in the middle of town and contemplate what I would do if I ran into an unicorn, or came across a Pegasus or was captured by a dragon. Impossible – dragons only went after princesses and I was not (in any way) a princess! That was what all the fairy tales told me. These were the dragons I knew in my childhood. But then I grew up, as all children do and became acquainted with dragons of a different sort.
This is where my ruminating took me this week. I vaguely remembered the dragons from my teens but what centered itself in my mind was a story of sisters and dragons and music but that’s all I could remember. The dominating image of the book were endpapers consisting of music sheets (music and lyrics). I wanted to rediscover this book!
So, I went (as one does these days) to Google.
I googled “dragon white young adult book” because I was pretty sure this was a young adult book. What I got, of course, was result after result mentioning Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series. Yes, I had read these books but this was not the book I was looking for. (These were not the droids I was looking for).
The book I was looking for had sisters and music at the center of it and like the Pern books I was sure there was more than one book in the series.
So, back to Google. This time the key words were “sister light dark young adult book“. There we go. There it was. First result. Sister Light, Sister Dark by Jane Yolen. A favourite childhood fantasy author who often writes about mythological creatures, like dragons.
Sister Light, Sister Dark is a story of the young white-haired Jenna who is a child of prophecy called upon to reunite the broken kingdom of the Dales. The book is broken into sections: the story, the ballad, the history, the tale, etc. Songs and music seen to be included but until I actually get a copy in my eager little hands I won’t be able to confirm that the music is on the endpapers. And I’m pretty sure that there are no dragons here. (Here be Monsters).
So, this is how one’s thought process starts out searching for dragons and ends up finding sisters.
It’s like our conversations in the staff room at work last week. We start off talking about foam, circle around to phones, take a side road into answering machines and end up talking about time spent on everyday conversations and how we decide on whether or not to answer a ringing phone. Or we will be talking about the local centennial and suddenly find ourselves talking about the Olympics and the co-worker who left just after the conversation started walks back into the room and gets all confused well those of us who stayed understand perfectly how the conversation evolved from the centennial to the Olympics. Our mayor proclaimed that our centennial celebration opening would rival that of the Olympics.
You start on a path or get on a train absolutely sure of your route and destination. But then suddenly you look up and you’re somewhere you never expected to be. You start off looking for a dragon and end up back at home with your sisters. How completely unexpected that this path would end up at this destination.
How often does your train go completely off the rails?
Does every little girl dream of becoming a princess? No. I did not. It seemed to me that being a princess was not very fun; it consisted off sitting around a lot, getting your picture taken by everyone and being pretty. Plus, if you weren’t born a princess you spent your childhood locked in a tower or having to do all the housework for an ungrateful family. Neither option seemed like a lot of fun. I wanted to be Annie Oakley not Princess Anne.
Does every little girl dream of becoming a fairy princess; emphasis on the faery? Again, mostly no. The older I get the more I am intrigued by the difference between fairy and faery. The true fey world, in my mind, is a little dark and scary, like Charles De Lint‘s Newford tends to be.
I’d rather live in Newford than Disneyland.
Why all this talk about princesses? Well, you’d have to be totally disconnected from any media or my big sister not to know that there is an upcoming Royal Wedding this month.
Wills and Kate are tying the knot and according to estimates, anywhere from one to three billion people world-wide may watch the spectacle on television. I will probably not be one of them as I have to work that weekend. I will watch highlights, I will purchase People the week after and I will wish the young couple well even though I’m ambivalent about the monarchy. My monarchy, being Canadian I do feel a certain possessiveness towards them.
I was thirteen the winter that I witnessed my first Royal Wedding spectacle. Princess Anne married Captain Mark Phillips on November 14, 1973. The wedding was televised and was seen by a television audience estimated at 500 million viewers. A piffle considering how many are estimated to watch Prince William marry Kate.
But I was one of those in the television audience. I shouldn’t have been. I grew up poor and though we had just moved into a bigger rental house, I did not have the access to the media that a good portion of the North American audience now takes for granted. We had one television set and two channels, neither of which was showing the royal wedding in its entirety.
Not even the CBC felt the marriage of the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth was important enough to interrupt the day’s schedule of regular television. It was a Wednesday, what else more important could have been going on?
The wedding was on cable, a new concept in television. We could not afford cable. Thankfully, the neighbours could.
We had just moved a month or two before the royal wedding. Across the street from us lived the high school principal, his wife and their six kids. They had five boys and a very young daughter. Their oldest boy was in my class. Their young daughter liked to cross the street and sit with me on the front step and we would blow bubbles. She was three or so.
They were very catholic. It was a small town. Though we knew the family before we moved we had not interacted much as they were Catholic and we were Lutheran. After we moved, my mom and the principal’s wife became part of a circle of friends who celebrated life changing events together and though the circle is smaller they are still friends.
To condense this long saga to something more manageable; we were invited to their house to watch the wedding that Wednesday evening after supper. Only my mother and I went to join up with the principal’s wife and their young daughter. None of the boys/men were interested in watching this historical event. Imagine that!
I remember sitting on the rug, holding an enchanted, starry eyed young lady in my lap only half-listening to my mom and the principal’s wife chatting about the wedding.
The young princess was just 23 and looked beautiful and regal in an embroidered Tudor-style dress with a high collar and medieval sleeves. Her bridesmaid was her nine-year-old cousin, Lady Sarah-Armstrong Jones, while her youngest brother, nine-year-old Prince Edward, was her pageboy. My grandparents had in their home a family portrait of King George VI, Queen Elizabeth (who I knew as the Queen mom) and the young princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. Lady Sarah-Armstrong Jones was Princess Margaret’s daughter. This portrait hung over my grandparent’s couch for as long as I could remember.
The royal wedding felt to me like every other family wedding I had ever attended.
Since then, I’ve watched part of Charles and Di’s wedding as well as Andrew and Sarahs’. I’ll watch highlights of the current royal wedding this month as well. The spectacle of all this is very enchanting even to me who has no aspirations to the same.
As I said, I’m ambivalent about the monarchy and how it relates to my life.
Imagine what would happen if THE MONARCHY WAS DISMANTLED; read Sue Townsend’s novel The Queen and I for an amusing, witty look at what might happen in this situation and imagine how Wills and Kate’s life would be different without all of us watching.