Miss Pym and a Friend

Miss Pym and a Friend

Monday, September 11, 2017

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Remembering 9/11

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Remembering 9/11: 16 years ago the world changed forever.  It is also the 5th anniversary of the Bengazi attacks.  Please take a moment to remember.  Below, i...

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Remembering 9/11

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Remembering 9/11: 16 years ago the world changed forever.  It is also the 5th anniversary of the Bengazi attacks.  Please take a moment to remember.  Below, i...

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Visiting Ancient Sites

When I was very little, I traveled extensively with my family. I stood at the Oracle of Delphi when I was nine.  Now, I watch television shows of ancient archaeological sites.  It thrills me when I am lucky enough to visit these places, and to stand where ancient people once stood.  I feel their footsteps through the soles of my shoes.  Did they in turn, wonder, when they stood on ground that those even more prehistoric than themselves, stood--there has to be a great connection, a collective memory or consciousness of humanity.  It must live through the sands around the great pyramids, on Acropolis, at Delphi, and so many more places now real estate for ghosts, but once as active and lively as our own Chicagos, New Yorks, and Denvers.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Girl of Glass and Snow

The Girl of Glass and Snow:


Feminist revision of fairy tales is not new.  Interpretation of any story is to be expected.  Literature dies without vision and revision. 


Pointing out the negative archetype aimed at older women in fairy tales is not a bad thing.  Remember, “older” could mean late twenties.  I was shocked last week at a wedding shower of friends whose family belongs to a strict religious denomination.  I heard comments describing her as an “older” bride.  She’s 26.  I was older than that when I married.  I must be a Methuselah bride.  Or corpse bride.  Another friend at 30 said she was called a Cougar.  My response was, “If you’re a cougar, then I’m a saber-toothed tiger!”


Seriously, I’m not considered old.  I still think the way I did in my twenties, and I don’t dress like I’m old. 


Yet, there is a stigma that is ancient against older women, however older is defined.  There is not enough room here to explore the hag archetype, and how it has affected literature, myth and history.  Certainly, that archetype was aimed at Erzebet.  When her husband died, she was somewhere in her 40s, wealthy, alone, of a different religion.  Other women in her position were also accused of witchcraft and perversion as she was, their properties forfeit.


The same thing happened to accused “witches” everywhere.  Our own Salem Witch Trials followed the same pattern.  The old, the poor, the healers, the single, the too wealthy, the outsiders, these were denounced.  Sarah Good, the pauper of Salem, is regularly described as an old hag, yet she was young enough to have a five year old daughter.  The best account is Marion Starkey’s, The Devil in Massachusetts.


On a PBS special of Walt Disney last night, I watched their account of the making of Snow White, and the implications of the magic mirror.  Mirrors are huge in feminist studies, and in the myth of Erzebet Bathory.  In a play by Velasquez, Las Meninas, the painter was brought before The Inquisition for a painting of Venus in front of the mirror.

The hag, or evil witch, and Maleficent, were straight out of the examples in Sheila Jeffries’ excellent book, The Spinster and her Enemies.


Older women, widows, those retired in late Middle Age, the Marcia’s and Leonora Eyre’s of Barbara Pym’s works, her Miss Clovis’ and Excellent Women, there has often been no room for these in societies all over the world.  Native American peoples in some cases left widows out to die among the elements. James Michener told their story in fictional with his novel, Centennial.  Some Hindu societies had them die on their husband’s funeral pyres.  Even well meaning modern societies for orphans and widows marginalize them.  They are usually older, over 25, let’s say, and may have property which everyone else is only too happy to divest.


The story of Erzebet is a cautionary tale, universal in its tragedy, embodied in our fairy tales and retellings of “Snow White.”


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Antique Doll Collector Magazine: September Sneak Peek!

Antique Doll Collector Magazine: September Sneak Peek!: September 2017 Sneak Peek   Our cover this month features a beautiful duet of two rare and wonderful Izannah Walker dolls.   The...

Antique Doll Collector Magazine: September Sneak Peek!

Antique Doll Collector Magazine: September Sneak Peek!: September 2017 Sneak Peek   Our cover this month features a beautiful duet of two rare and wonderful Izannah Walker dolls.   The...

Monday, July 17, 2017

Antique Doll Collector Magazine: August Sneak Peek!!

Antique Doll Collector Magazine: August Sneak Peek!!: I love August, season of doll shows and dog days of summer!  This month's lavish and beautiful issue is sure to delight.  Below are some...

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Happy 4th of July!!

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Happy 4th of July!!: The Star Spangled Banner Find all things patriotic at USA-Flag-Site.org Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light What so proudly w...

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know: Rush Limbaugh on the Byronic Hero--No Kidding!

My dissertation, "In Small Things Forgotten" on Barbara Pym's subversion of the romance drama into romantically comedic literature morphed into my book, The Subversion of Romance in the Novels of  Barbara Pym, The Popular Press, 1998, currently, The University of Wisconsin Press.  One of my sources was an article title "Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know."   The piece appears in the book Dangerous Men  and Adventurous women, Ed. by Jayne Ann Krentz, a romance writer. Of course, the title comes from the term Lord Byron's lover coined for him.  Here is one source of other works that borrow the title.  The Cradle of Filth song is surprising.  One of my prized possessions is a CoF T-shirt my mother gave me the money to buy.  They are hard to get, these shirts.  Mine has very provocative, but nasty-mean vampire girl on the front and back.  I can't wear her to work, but when I wear her to Walmart, or Hot Topic, I get adoring glances and compliments from the 20 and under set.  I'll take it.  My mother used to iron the shirt for me, and called the little vampire, "That Ugly Girl."  Yet, maybe not too surprising; in one T-shirt, the group also alluded to Cardenio, the controversial play some say as Shakespeare's.

Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know was a phrase used by Lady Caroline Lamb to describe Lord Byron. It has since been used as follows:

Yesterday or the day before, I heard Rush L. on the radio talking about how successful, attractive, strong women often prefer the "bad boys", the pirates, reformed criminals and lost heroes, to stable, responsible men.  That's a very brief summary; you'd have to find him on line for the rest, but wow! In a nutshell,  he described a good part of my book and this essay.  There were also other essays, many written by romance writers.  He mentioned Harlequin, and asked if anyone had ever read one.  My friend, the late Angela Wells, wrote many.  She was an accomplished, well-educated author who could hold her own anywhere, in any genre, but she loved writing for Mills&Boon.

Rush also mentioned and discussed the success of Fifty Shades of Grey.  Kudos to rush and the Fifty Shades author, though I confess I only read a few chapters and thought it was about an English major trying to get a job and settling for corporate America.  Have't we all?!

I belong to romance writers group, though mine turn into Flannery O'Connor type pieces.  Still, I published one, Wild Horse Runs Free, and it is on Kindle, should anyone care. 

Jayne Ann Krentz, very successful romance writer, was one of the authors kind enough to respond to my inquiries and to help with the research form y book.  She writes criticism on Byronic heroes, including Heathcliff and Mr. Rochester types.  You can read similar comments abut bad boys in the implicit critique of Jane Austen through her narrator in Pride and Prejudice. 

Certainly Pym had her own versions of Mr. Rochester and assorted Byronic heroes.  Even Dracula is a Byronic hero in some literary circles.

Rush and others claim we like to reform bad boys, we like to civilize them, though Rush pointed out that they are civilized int he sense that they can eat with utensils and walk upright.

We romance folk do pop our bodices in the news every so often. Johnny Carson on the old TS talked about them last week, and made some comments.  

I just had to note Rush's talk, and was really pleasantly surprised to hear the allusion.  Happy Pym Reading, summer reading, and I hope you find a Byronic hero to add to your life. Me, I adore Lord Byron on many levels.  IN the country of my birth, he will always be a hero of the Revolution.  One has to give mega dittos to that, too. :)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Antique Doll Collector Magazine: Sneak Peek of our July Issue!

Antique Doll Collector Magazine: Sneak Peek of our July Issue!: Remember to sign up on our website, Antique Doll Collector Magazine, for a free emailed Sneak Peek! of each upcoming issue.  Did I mention i...

Saturday, June 17, 2017

For Pym's Birthday, The Language of Flowers

While I'm not sure that my simple pots and fairy gardens would be up to the standards of Miss Clovis or Leonora Eyre, I offer some photos in honor of Pym's June birthday.  So many readers enjoy her passages on flower arranging and decorating the altar, that I feel a few words on plants and flowers are needed.

Many books exist on the language of flowers, including a novel by the same name.  Kate Greenaway's' example has always been my favorite, but I also love Cicely Barker's flower fairies, and The Diary of an Edwardian Lady. I have written a lot on The Secret Garden, especially in my other blog, Dr. E's Greening Tips for the Common Person, but Burnett was not the only one to write of gardens and plants, and "stolen earth." Rumer Godden's An Episode of Sparrows is about a little girl in Post WWII England who finds solace in a garden she creates from nothing, and then from the network of friends it grows for her.  May you find peace in your gardens this summer, and joy in the flowers and plants that grow there. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sunday, April 2, 2017

A Brief Review of a TV retelling of The Brontes' Story: To Walk Invisible- Happy Birthday, Anyway Charlotte

To Walk Invisible will air again tonight, 8 pm cst, on many PBS stations. Visually, lots of detail attracted the eye, but I found there was a modern slant put on the sisters' story that took away from their genius.  Hannah was left out, Elisabeth Gaskell mentioned not at all.  The attention to location, interior décor, costume, hairstyle, etc., was impeccable, but little was told of their juvenilia, other than flashbacks where Branwell's soldiers came to life. The original soldiers appear on the official website featuring Haworth. As an aside, I've tried many years to join The Bronte Society; live has prevented me from checking lately, but in the past, one had to pay in pounds sterling, still not easy to do.

Image result for the brontes public domain
Anne, To Walk Invisible, Public Domain

For many years, I have read, reread, studied, written about, and created art about the Brontes.  I never got the feeling these filmmakers did.

Image result for the brontes public domain
The Sisters, Public Domain image

The emphasis of this well-acted but depressing production was Branwell's drinking, his love affairs, allegedly with one Mrs. Robinson, an older woman [I know, true life is better than fiction!], and his dissolute behavior.  While he had these issues and more, the letters of Charlotte's I've read, and so many other primary sources and credible biographies, do not imply that the household was rendered completely dysfunctional by the only Bronte brother.   He was brilliant but troubled, yet this show makes him out to be "not that good", hence the cause of many of his issues.

Life isn't that easy.

Despite it all, the letters of the sisters and their papers indicate a happier, even mundane existence, with a lot of writing and creativity going on.   Emily, who was a genius, and amazing in her own right, comes off as a disgruntled bossy, ill tempered witch.  Charlotte, well, she's just weird, and Anne is a shadow.

I liked the idea of the program, but not the program itself.  Read Unquiet Soul by Margot Peters, or Gaskell's The Life of Charlotte Bronte.  Read Daphne du Maurier's The Infernal World of Branwell Bronte. These remarkable women were so much more than the abused caretaker of a brother who couldn't allegedly hold his drink. 

Image result for the brontes public domain
Public Domain Image

Friday, March 3, 2017

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Antique Doll Collector Magazine: March February Sneak Peek!- deducated to Dean Betsey Brodahl and Augustana's House on the Hill

Antique Doll Collector Magazine: March February Sneak Peek!:   March Cover, ADC What better way to launch our March issue than with a fantastic Japanese Doll announcing an article on ...

This issue features books by Rumer Godden in the Collectibles Column, and stories on The Japanese Doll Festival.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: For Valentine's Day

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: For Valentine's Day: May you enjoy a peaceful, Happy Valentine's Day, filled with glad memories of The Valentine's Box, conversation hearts, and loving m...

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Rosemary, that’s for Remembrance; In Memory of my Friend, Rosemary Rovick

Rosemary, that’s for Remembrance; In Memory of my Friend, Rosemary Rovick
Smile a little smile for me,
Rosemary, Rosemary . . .
Adapted from the song by The Flying Machine
Two weeks ago, I lost one of the closest friends I ever had, my beautiful Rosemary.  Rosemary Rovick was born in Northern California and lived their most of her life, though she graduated from Cornell Law School and traveled widely.  If angels walk the earth, then she was one of them.  We met when we were both externs at Santa Clara County Superior Court.  For nearly 30 years, we have kept in touch, traded confidences, comforted each other’s sorrows, teased each other, and supported each other.  
Rosemary was one of the purest, kindest people I’d ever met.  She was compassionate yet witty, and she could laugh at herself.  We teased each other, even while we suffered through incompetent supervisors, arrogant judges, snotty court personnel, earthquakes, and heart aches.  She would leave me notes on my desk that read something like, “Go and get me a truffle and a cup coffee from next door.  There’s a dear!”  And I would leave her notes calling her “Miss Toolbelt,” which was a reference to her love of travelling the world to build playgrounds with a construction company.  I also teased her about being so good all the time, and  she would say, “What is it you call me that I like so much, you know . . “  I would answer, “Sanctimonious and self-righteous?”  “Yes,” she would exclaim, laughing gleefully, “That’s it!”
But, she was tough and Uber-fair in her own way.  “Come on, Ellen; be a man,” she would say, when things became intolerable at The Court and I would rage. When I was being bullied by one of the judges and a supervisor, she alone of everyone interceded for me.  When I was ready to give up, I could drive to her house, sometimes driving at 1 am through the Santa Cruz hills on Highways 17 and 101, and she would be up making sour dough toast and coffee.
She called me when I came home to “Central America” as she called it, and often, because she said I made her laugh.  Rosemary loved hiking in Yosemite, and I used to say she and I were going to The Home together, and that she should look for a nice one in the national park. She was selfless to a fault, and I think that may be what caused her untimely death.  She opened her home to Polish refugees, roommates with no where else to go, her relatives, her friends, anyone in need.  I stayed there sometimes, and had sleepovers with her friends Shauna and Edie.  Edie worked for The Catholic Charities in Thailand and Cambodia, in a camp owned by the Khmer Rouge at one point.  The three of them wanted me to go with Edie to teach there, and I was game, until I overheard that night, as I lay innocently in my sleeping bag, who owned the camp.
“Rosemary!” I shrieked the next morning, “Where are you sending me?  Do you want me get me killed?”  But, I was laughing as hard as she was.  We joked about applying for a job for research attorneys in Micronesia.  We even had our work outfits planned, grass skirts, brief cases, oxford shirts and tweed jackets.  We walked on the beach near her house, and I was honored that she liked the ceramics I painted.  At one point, I did a black cat of her own kitty, Lucy, who was a wild child through and through.  I was honored and flattered that Rosemary wanted me to make it for her.   We used to walk everyday in San Jose, too, sometimes stopping for lunch at Sizzler, or our favorite Japanese/Ethiopian restaurant.   We walked through Japan Town, too, and she was scandalized one day that I took my jacket off to reveal a strapless dress.  “Put that back on!  You’re naked under that!”  “Rosemary,” I said, we’re all naked under our clothes!
Yet, she wasn’t a prude.  She had a quick wit and a wicked sense of humor, too.  The walls of one of our offices were paper thin, and the partner of a neighboring law firm talked fast and loud all day.  We could hardly think, let alone write bench memos.  “Watch this,” she said.  “I’ll make him shut-up.”  She then loudly asked me, “What’s your favorite fantasy?”  It got very, very quiet on the other side of the wall.
We saw Angry Housewives together, and laughed all night.  She liked giving presents and “shopping local”, and going to the farmers market and the flea market.  We both loved mysteries.
Rosemary was a Renaissance woman, who ran a marathon, played tennis at almost a pro level, scuba dived, gardened, travelled, read widely, and loved to eat out.  We both had a thing for Carlos Fuentes and the film with Gregory Peck, The Old Gringo. We also talked about trips we wanted to take, including a Sizzler tour of the world.  She collected Christmas ornaments, little bears, and tiny pieces of pottery.  She also liked to restore good furniture, and had a Morris chair that she was very proud of.  She and I sent each other man things, including Flamingoes.   My last Christmas present to her was a purse with a flamingo on it.  She was fond of saying the vintage flamingo in her yard had a skin disease because its paint was flaking.  In the late 80s, she negotiated to buy a light blue Honda Civic, using the blue book and getting an amazing price all on her own.  No man, in fact, no one, had to help her. Now, she is with her parents, her beloved dog that was half coyote, and her cat Lucy.
She lived a full, but short life.  Much too short.  Sometimes I want to call her number, just to see if her voice is on the answering machine, still.  She took care of a friend who suffered a stroke on one of their bicycling trips, her parents, Edie when she was dying, and Edie’s parents.   Even when she was so sick, she worried about me.  When she learned that I, too, was dealing with family elder care issues and catastrophes at work and everywhere else, she fretted that she wasn’t able to come to me.  “I should be there taking care of you” was in one of the last emails she ever sent me.  I don’t think she lasted two years after she first got sick, but she never let on how bad it was.  She fought and fought, and she never gave up.  It was as if she didn’t believe bad things could happen.  
She died on a Sunday; early on that Sunday morning, before I know, I had a terrible nightmare that she had died.  My husband woke me up, and said I was crying out and whimpering.  Well, at least on the inside, I still am.  Rest in peace, my beautiful, tall, blonde Rosemary.  The hard part is trying to go on with out you.   

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Antique Doll Collector Magazine: February Interview with Emily Jackson

Antique Doll Collector Magazine: February Interview with Emily Jackson: Emily is a gifted young  artist, seamstress, antiquer, doll collector, and college professor.  She helps run her family business, Jackson&#3...

The stuff of Bring and Buys and Jumble Sales!! Great things!!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

We Salute Mary Tyler Moore, a Most Excellent Woman

Even now,  is my role model, and I've watched her since I was a toddler.  She made the name "Laura" special to me as Laura Petrie.  As Mary Richards, she gave us preteens, and teens, hope. Her life was perfect as she was. Even today, I study her clothes and wish they were mine.  She had those beautiful eyes, and of course, that smile.  She lived what Barbara Pym wrote about in her books, and she was a single woman with many things to love, and with more than a full life. Rest in peace, and when we see the stars shimmer tonight, we will know it was your famous smile that turned them on.