Helen and Teacher

Helen and Teacher
The Story of my Life

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...

Thursday, August 3, 2017

A Playwright Departs this World

In so many ways, this is a blog for writers, too.  Here is a legend who has left us much to early:


https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/31/theater/sam-shepard-dead.html


Writing plays, in particular, garners my respect.  It's a special writing all of its own, and dialog, to me, is the most difficult thing to conjure.  In a digital world, who will write plays?  Who will consider the moment, and adapt scripts, props, and scenery with just the right direction to create verisimilitude?


In musicals, the songs bolster the story, often carrying it.  I love the music, always, but not always sitting through the story which can be pointless.


Plays are different.  There is a magic to sitting and reading them, too,  and the infinite possibilities for interpretation, live, with the magic only the theater can give.


I understand Shakespeare is not being taught much any more.  That is a crime, for he teaches us to live in the moment, and all good actors act his plays, if only once.  He spawned all great playwrights, like Sam Shepard.  When another one is gone, who will take up the pen?

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...

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Doll Museum: Promise Dolls

Doll Museum: Promise Dolls: Keeping Doll Promises   We collectors are like elephants [another collection of something I don’t collect], we never forget a prom...

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...

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...

Monday, May 29, 2017

Have a Safe and Blessed Memorial Day, and We thank Those who Have Served


Decoration Day

I recited this poem at a Memorial Day school program in sixth grade, wearing a prairie dress my mother sewed for me. I don't remember the author, or one line of the poem, but here it is for all veterans, and for my grandfather's an everyone else in my family who served, and for my students in the military:

PD image of the Star Spangled Banner



My Grandpa’s old and kind of lame,

He doses in his chair,

And when the family goes some place,

He stays and doesn’t care.

 

He’d rather stay at home,

He says,

Than dress to go uptown,

And when he knows there’s

Company come,

He’s always lying down.

 

But once a year there’s quite a change on

Decoration Day.

Then Grandpa wears his uniform and

Hurries me away,

 

[To see a big Parade] . . . .

 

The shiny cars with great folks in,

The flower girls in white,

The bands that play the national airs,

With all their wind and might,

 

And the boys that wear OD

Come through,

And straight and tall,

The wind a blowing

Through his hair,

My Grandpa Stands Through it


Friday, April 21, 2017

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Antique Doll Collector Magazine: May 2017 Sneak Peek!

Antique Doll Collector Magazine: May 2017 Sneak Peek!: Spring has sprung, and along with it, wonderful dolls are popping up everywhere.  Try not to drool on the magazine as you take a leisurely t...

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Marquis Automaton with ; Dolls Reach for the Stars!

Below is a fantastic automaton from the Upcoming Interlude Marquis Auction.  This young man is dear to me, because my family belongs to our local Popular Astronomy Club and is very active.  I've written articles for our local paper on Falling Meteorites and Maria Mitchell and the Solar Eclipse, and we're as much about our telescopes as we are about our dolls.  This remarkable figure is on our future wishlist for Dr.E's Doll Museum, and we hope he goes to a home of kindred spirits, and that they and he will never stop reaching for the stars!  Ah, fly me to the moon!!!!!




French Automaton "Marquis with Telescope" by Roullet et Decamps 8000/12,000

View Item in Catalog
French Automaton "Marquis with Telescope" by Roullet et Decamps 8000/12,000
Courtesy, Theriault's





  Lot #38  (Sale Order: 38 of 306)  



"Tax, Shipping & Handling and Internet Premium not
included. See Auction Information for full details."

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Description Terms of sale
Item Description: Translate description
24" (61 cm.) Standing upon a velvet covered platform is a gentleman with bisque portrait head, large blue glass paperweight inset eyes, dark eyeliner, painted lashes, mauve blushed eye shadow, brushstroked brows, shaded nostrils, slightly-parted outlined lips, carton torso and legs, wire upper arms, bisque forearms, with cigarette holder in his right hand, and a gilt-tipped wooden telescope in his left hand. Condition: generally excellent, smoking tubing needs restoration. Marks: Depose Tete Jumeau SGDG 7 (head). Comments: Roullet et Decamps, circa 1890. When wound, the gentleman alternately lifts cigarette holder to his mouth, and then, turning his head, lifts telescope to his eye. Value Points: rare model with regal presence, the Marquis is wearing a superb gold silk and black woolen costume with elaborate gold metallic embroidery, tricorn hat, tasseled shoes.


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This item is part of Interlude - Marquis Auction of Dolls and Automata
 Saturday, Mar 11, 2017 | 11:00 AM  Eastern
 




Wednesday, March 1, 2017

An Apologia for Countess Erzebet Bathory: Once Upon a Time

An Apologia for Countess Erzebet Bathory: Once Upon a Time: Once Upon a Time features a countess-like Erzebet character in a new episode this week.  Time after Time premiers as a series retelling the ...

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.   

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, January 29, 2017