Thursday, December 06, 2007

Santa Baby


All I want for Christmas this year... uh, just send tens and twenties. Don't laugh. I can't remember the last time Santa surprised me with anything other than some small tokens here and there and, let's face it, I haven't seen the fat guy with the red suit in person for a very long time. I don't haunt malls, believe it or not, but I don't turn away nice gifts. I wouldn't turn away a nice solid contractual offer for my forthcoming books, either.

This year Santa needs to bring some more tangible circumstances rather than just plopping a few 'cadeaux' in my lap. For one, I need an agent and a good one. I could make good use of about two assistants- one to search out edible meals at regular intervals and bring them to me and another to totally reorganize my life to make it suitable for someone who travels frequently. I could use a husband and some children to stabilize my home life and make it worth having a home. Winning the lottery would clear up a huge dilemma that's been going on for far too long now and I wouldn't mind having a real vacation in a real vacation spot. (What comes to mind? Oh, Tahiti, Bora Bora or maybe Maui! )

At any rate, I gave up on waving a list underneath anybody's nose ages ago. Maybe I shouldn't have quit. It just seems to me that if you work hard enough at what you're doing people ought to recognize the fact and make some efforts to help you out, particularly if the work looks like it would help mankind in general. I guess they don't make them like that anymore. It's very hard to get the "tykes" off of the trappings of pop culture today and onto something a little more important: our mutual lives and those of our ancestors.

Who loves you better each day?

Moi, The Castle Lady!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Throw money at the problem- Please!


How many times have I heard someone say that in order to help someone in need you're better off teaching them how to get back on their feet. Teach them a skill, educate them, give them an attitude adjustment or a swift kick in the pants for not being able to get back on their feet.

Now I would be one of the first people to say that essentially it's kinder and certainly better for everyone concerned. However, we have reached a stage, economically, that is crucial. Never before have I seen such times and I think it may be the beginning of a new kind of Depression that the world is experiencing. Glutted with goods and no real cash to pay for any of it. Even basic expenses cannot be met anymore.

A very good Italian friend I have on MSN spaces, DJ Beppe has said it best- I think- in a quote from Oscar Wilde. "In these times everyone knows the price of everything and the value of nothing." That has never been more true than now and it's serious. Knowing what true value is, whether we are talking about purchases or services, makes a large difference in our lives. Many people make their decisions based on perceived value and advertising doesn't help people make the right decisions. If entertaining someone into believing one service (or product) is better than a competitor then we are not really deciding- we're merely being persuaded by false notions.

This is my advice: If you are seriously contemplating any purchase- educate yourself about the service or product. Don't assume anything based on advertising. Get to the bottom of the essential information yourself. If someone approaches their service or their product with an attitude of educating you, at least pay attention.

The only smart consumer is a well-informed one. That's worth throwing a little money at-isn't it?


Tossing kisses your way!

The Castle Lady

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Phew!

Keeping the Faith?
If you've ever tried to do two very important endeavors (that are at completely different ends of the work spectrum) in the same day- day after day- you might very well understand what I have been going through this past October. I can't recall a more hectic and frustrating month in my life ever!

At one time in my life (in my twenties!) I attended college full time and had a full time job and still met myself coming back. I don't remember such a time crunch, though. I'm not sure if my energy level is different. It may be and I am unaware of it but it just seems to me that everything takes too long now! This is my perception of the problem.

All I know is that my writing time is now relegated to either the evening or morning and the remainder of my day is spent trying to hustle money from a day job I have had to return to- too bad the monetary return is so poor in comparison to what I made in the past! When did everybody become such cheapskates? Since when do you have to convince people that they need basic services?

I think this is entirely a symptom of the economic downfall that has been created by a war we didn't need, a president who does nothing but lie and a country in peril with no real protection. 9/11 didn't just change our ideas about how we are perceived by the rest of the world, it changed our lives- period. As brave and stalwart as Americans really are, at heart, it still boils down to the fact that we are being deceived by liars who are too good at what they do. In the process we have changed, too. It's what comes from believing the words of those who do not have your best interests at heart. If you continue that way eventually you don't know the difference between a lie and the truth.

My advice is to be true to yourself and then you can be truthful with others.

Heartfelt affection from The Castle Lady!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Why Do They Call Them "Royalty" Checks?


The reality of what most published authors make and what you read in the media for authors like Stephen King, J. K. Rowling, John Grisham, Danielle Steele and the like is a great disparity. The difference will amaze you and the reasons for the disproportionate recompense will make you realize what a rat race the publishing game really has become.

Last year I became a commercially published author by writing and assembling a pictorial history book on Crawford County, Illinois. It has sold quite well- almost 1,000 books- which may not sound like much considering the sales of the previously mentioned authors but in an area where there are 8,000 people (at the most) those sales are staggering, demographically. The publishing company has made $10,000 roughly , the vendors have made a little less than that and I have raked in $523.47! You read that right.

I wrote the proposal for the book and paid almost $3,000 in transportation and lodging to get to Crawford County and do my work. I spent a year and a half researching, gathering photos, doing the layout and even wrote the entire text, blurb, acknowledgements, corrected the proofs and had to scan and re-scan photos until everything was right. I'm still $2,476.53 in the hole while everyone else raked in money.

Is this fair? Of course not. Typical? Maybe. This book, while it gave me an opportunity to become a published author, in the truest sense of the word, is a financial bust for me even though the entire burden of the work fell on me. My work burden, while not typical, (usually writers just write a book- the rest is up to those employed by the publishing company ) adds an extra need for recompense for me but cut costs for the publishing company, instead, by not having to employ people to do the work.

Talk about a rat race! I'm wondering how many years of sales of this book it would take just to pay myself back on the expenses- not to mention an entire year and a half of wages for what a normal working stiff would make! I don't like to even think about it.

However, I'm proud of the book and so are all the residents of Crawford County who paid their hard-earned money to own a copy of a book heralding their historical and genealogical heritage. It's too bad you can't take that kind of pride to the bank!

Here's something to ponder seriously:

While people like me sweat blood and tears to produce something edifying for the reading public, the real "royalty" checks go to people who, by all rights and purposes, don't care if you can think at all. They pump out words a mile a minute, pretend they've written something important and sit back luxuriating in the spoils of the money they rake in. They're like the fun-size bags of candy you buy in the store during the Halloween candy buying season. They get more money and your soul becomes impoverished on the least amount of dross they can dredge up for your so-called "reading pleasure". If you fail to see the analogy of that, thank a publishing company.

Just the Castle Lady blowing off steam!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Destiny


The nature of destiny is a force everyone must reckon with if they wish to control it. Whether this planning or goal making is taken seriously or not is almost irrelevant. It also may be illusory. Accidental deaths and mishaps and often the arrival of an unexpected child can make a mockery of plans, but we decide whether they are only detours or a derailment.

The following are two quotes from Joseph Conrad's books (yes, again!) which brings the subject of destiny into sharp focus:

It is a fact that in every man (not in every woman) there lives a lover; a lover who is called out in all his potentialities often by the most insignificant little things- as long as they come at the psychological moment: evanescent attitude, the curve of a cheek often looked at before, perhaps, but then, at the moment, charged with astonishing significance. These are great mysteries, of course, magic signs.

Pairing off is the fate of mankind, and if two beings thrown together mutually attracted, resist the necessity, fail in understanding and voluntarily stop short of the- the embrace, in the noblest meaning of the word, then they are committing a sin against life, the call of which is simple. Perhaps sacred. And the punishment of it is an invasion of complexity, a tormenting, forcibly tortuous involution of feelings, the deepest form of suffering from which indeed something significant may come at last, which may be criminal or heroic, may be madness or wisdom- or even a straight if despairing decision.

The last sentence makes me freeze up inside. In addition, I know perfectly well why I feel that way. The conclusion is that one would, basically, self-destruct I believe. Most people are raised by their parents to do just that- self-destruct. I was not "programmed" that way and so for me the hopeless situation is that of hanging on in quiet desperation. There really is no such thing as a hopeless situation but it can often feel that way.

I see no less than about four destinies lying before me- all manufactured by myself. Then, there is the destiny that everyone believes will become of me, in their mundane formulaic lives. Then there is the one that haunts me every now and then:

I used to take the bus downtown and into very run-down, rough neighborhoods when I was quite young. (A preteen they call it now.) I would observe the old, the very poor, the extremely old, the rowdy youths and what I thought of as freaks back then. I would imagine I was that person- each one in succession and decide how I could change this destiny I observed. How to change the course of time, fortune and attitude?? I wondered all these things and then eventually made my way back home and would settle into the comforts of me. I learned to like being in my skin but I never have shaken the idea that anyone of the destinies I saw before me could eventually be me, my life, my destiny. It has built compassion in me, fortitude that I seldom let anyone see and a strange fear that I keep warmed up so that I never forget.

Many people don't realize that destiny is always in the hands of our Creator. He holds all the plans, whether they come from Him or elsewhere, in hand, like a pack of cards but the ultimate decisions are already made by Him. He knows our deepest desires and He considers them because He made us the way we are and He didn't make us the way we are to change us. He made us the way we are to equip us for the destiny which was already set from the beginning of time. He merely wants to change our attitudes so we can deal with destiny as it happens and cope with destiny when it's done.
Hence this prayer: http://castlelady.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!F29367B89E011214!1853.entry


The Castle Lady, sending you off

with hugs and kisses!


a dying chase

led down a corridor

of ultimate choices

a maze of subjugating magnitude

should I return?

and was there ever a start?

wasn't there a time

when the word "choice"

had no meaning?

destiny is the journey toward origin.

- from Seasons of the Heart by Evelyn M. Wallace

Copyright 1988 Saxifrage Books


Friday, August 17, 2007

Not your typical woman


It is from reading Joseph Conrad, extensively, that I finally realized I am not a typical woman. It's possible I never will be because I seem to inspire more fear than love. This is only my conclusion but I have a lot of emotional evidence to prove my theory.

Here are some typical passages by Conrad from his books:


The sincerest of women will make no unnecessary confidences to a man. And this is as it should be.


Being a woman is a terribly difficult trade, since it consists principally of dealings with men.


As to honor- you know- it's a very fine medieval inheritance which women never got a hold of. It wasn't theirs. Since it may be laid as a general principle that women always get what they want, we must suppose they didn't want it.


We could not stand women speaking the truth. We could not bear it. It would cause infinite misery and bring about most awful disturbances in this rather mediocre, but still idealistic fool's paradise in which each of us lives his own little life- the unit in the great sum of existence and they know it. They are merciful.


A woman may be a fool, a sleepy fool, an agitated fool, a too awfully noxious fool, and she may even be simply stupid. But she is never dense. She's never made of wood through and through as some men are. There is in woman always, somewhere , a spring. Whatever men don't know about women (and it may be a lot, or it may be very little), men and even fathers do know that much. That is why so many men are afraid of them.

- from Chance


Women find their inspiration in the stress of moments that for us are merely awful, absurd or futile.

- from Lord Jim


I am quite possibly one of the few females who have made the grave error- twice now- of confiding secrets to the wrong men, thinking they were "safe". This grave error constitutes that I most likely need a confidant but have found no one worthy. I am either the worst kind of scoundrel or a saint, according to Conrad. However, I don't see myself as either one.

For the first half of my life I was surrounded by females with their ideas, ways and proclivities too much, merely out of professional necessity. Dealing with men is a refreshing change for me. Unfortunately, I have this annoying habit of sticking with the truth. Apparently, it rankles everybody, both genders certainly. No man has ever been afraid of me because I was a fool- quite the opposite! Lastly, some of my best writing has come out of a beautiful, simple and apprising moment. I call it an apercu! I can certainly write about horrible or awful occurrences but I wouldn't exactly refer to it as "inspired" writing. Quite the opposite, actually.

Perhaps the only quote from Conrad which bothers me is the idea that some coquettish woman, buttering up some poor male sap with her flattering nonsense, is considered merciful. Lies aren't merciful. They are the principal sin in this world and in the next. You can quote me on that.

I can quite honestly say there are some women I detest because they redefined our role to that of dependence, immaturity and factitiousness. It is not just galling to strong women, either. Even men are beginning to bristle at these ways simply because they have started to feel a need for a true helpmate- not a playmate!


The Castle Lady will embrace you with the lovely truth!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Pursuit


Whatever one wishes to call it, there is such a thing as a "revolution of the mind". A point at which one finally receives a revelation so brilliant, mind-expanding and brand new that he suddenly distances himself from everything and everyone who fettered his mind with old, rotten garbage and "stinking thinking" (I like to call it).

Ever wonder what causes these apercus? Desperation, at times, and perhaps acute boredom with intolerable situations. Perhaps something like an apple falling on one's head to make them aware of gravity, especially if one's aim is to defy gravity. We must know what we are up against if we are to invent the antidote, n'est ce pas?

What is it that stops you from pursuing your dream? No money? Lack of support? Do people think you're plain old crazy? This is the opposition all movers and shakers face whether it's a team of scientists wagging their collective heads, debtors that want to shake you down or swindlers who only want to take advantage of you and your positive mind set.

You must decide that no matter what the resistance to your sound and ambitious idea, nothing can or will stop you. Be determined that you can achieve it and then nothing can deter you. The only thing that can prevent your endeavor is yourself.

In the book "Building Your Field of Dreams", Mary Morrisey stated quite clearly that the most important aspect of achieving aspirations and dreams is building a support system behind yourself so that you will have people around you who believe in you and what you're trying to achieve. They may not be directly involved in the work but they are your cheerleaders and the ones who will steer you back on track if you should get blind-sided or sidetracked.

Ultimately though, you must decide that your pursuit of your dream takes precedence. It must be your ultimate goal and your reason to get up in the morning. Without that, you can and will be stopped. If you do this then life cannot get in your way no matter what happens. It will only be a detour which you can navigate more easily.


Plans can be cancelled, your pursuit cannot.


The Castle Lady planting seeds and a kiss!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Commitment


During the years between 2000 and 2005 I started researching European castles on the web starting with Austria, then Great Britain and France. I also thoroughly researched Germany and Ireland. For years prior to 2000, I pored over books on castles, starting as teenager. When I began to formulate the idea for the Castle Lover's Guides in 2002, after I took a grand tour of a sampling of the best known European castles in 2001 http://www.ilovecastles.com/ , I felt I took on a project that I loved so much that the only help I needed was more books, more research and more information. I'm still making discoveries in these primary five countries I started with- plus I have moved on with my research to Spain, Italy, the Scandinavian countries, The Holy Land and so on...

I know this will be a lifetime project now. I didn't realize that when I started out. I need to find out if I might have a team out there (come on kids, you can do it!) ready to commit their lives to this project like I have. The reason why I say this now, is because I have come to realize what this undertaking is in full scope. I can say, unequivocally, that most likely someone will have to take up this cause like I have, eventually, and carry it to the completion I envisioned five years ago.

The countries I set my mind to are: Austria, Belgium, England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Holland, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway. In all, twenty one countries and because some of these guides will combine countries, there will be approximately seventeen Castle Lover's Guide Books ™ when I am finished. Videos may be a part of the series as well. It is the next logical step so that people can really get a feel for the magnificence of these marvelous structures we call castles!

I haven't included Eurasia or Asian castles yet. This isn't to say I didn't have the intention of doing so. As a matter of fact, I have a wonderful and beautiful post card collection of Chinese temples and palaces. I'm sure they would be an absolute delight to visit, photograph and write about and bring to American homes. I don't know if I could live long enough to do all this. I'm certain that just the countries I've slated will take up my whole life. In essence, it already did and I'm waiting for someone to "see what I see".

Very recently I typed the word castles into a new search engine on the web (http://www.quintura.com/) and saw that there are now 14,200,000 pages on castles alone! It may possibly be one of the top subjects on the internet so I know that the interest must be there. Here's the question: Is it a mild interest, or a passing one or do you people love castles as much as I do? Talk to me!

I am convinced that the only way that someone can understand my passion is to go visit a few European or Asian castles. On your next vacation please check out some castles- the real McCoys please!- and then tell me how you feel. I think you're never going to be the same. I'm banking on it!


The Castle Lady, with enthusiastic kisses and best wishes!

Friday, July 20, 2007

I see drunk people.


Some time back, in what I inwardly refer to as my "roaring twenties", I actually went to night clubs and bars and drank alcohol. I'm not sure I ever got myself to the point of getting drunk. To my credit I've never had anyone do a blood alcohol content ( % ) test on me, therefore, I really can't be positive but I don't remember feeling out of control- save for the first time I ever drank.

With those days positively behind me I can feel assured that drinking at any point in your life is just not a great thing to be doing to your body and it's not particularly mature. I know... I know...lots of people drink and maybe they get away with it. I know what to call that- it's being an alcoholic. Really.

One aspect of drinking just cannot be refuted by reasonably intelligent people. It's this: alcohol is poison to our bodies. Period. I don't know what ever persuaded me to drink in the first place but I'm fairly certain there was a lot of coercion coming from someone. I don't remember.

I can now state unequivocally that I wish I'd never let a drop of the junk pass my lips. I can't give one good reason for drinking it in any form. It's caused me more heartache than just about any single thing I can think of right now and I've never seen any good come out of a drinking episode for any person I've known or myself. If I was in a position to advise young people on this issue I'd say, stay away from it if you can. If for some reason you cannot avoid it, drink as little of it as possible.

The recent news about a 38 year old mother of two extremely young children (2 and 4 years of age) getting drunk on a plane and knocking her kids around and then moving on to abusing the stewardess who tried to get her to calm down is appalling to me. This woman was drinking before the flight took off. Why was she served more alcohol on the plane? Only the stewardesses can answer that and it was poor judgment on their part to continue to serve alcohol when they should have had a way of doing a blood alcohol test before she entered the plane. I'm sure a lot of people would've been spared the anguish of the confrontation- including these two poor children- if they had such a procedure. I have been on planes- seated in coach and had to listen to the bellowing going on in First Class from drunk passengers many a time. Why have they not instituted some kind of screening for this legendary problem? Ask the Airlines when you book your flights. It's possible we can change things around for the better. I think flying is risky enough without having to deal with these types of issues. Didn't 911 prove that?

The Castle Lady serves up only hugs and kisses!


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Vacation's All I Ever Wanted


I think I might need a vacation from my life. If you've ever had one of those crossroads' moments that psychologists and psychiatrists are always talking about, then you know what I'm saying in that first sentence. However, there is often no escape from the life you lead. If you do escape it, the deception may well drive you inevitably to tears, madness or strange rebellion (i.e. midlife crisis. ) The escape may very well be less desirable, ultimately, than the forging ahead it takes to continue "as you were", as the English say.

I'm saying this for a different reason, however. When I wrote "vacation" I meant that literally, and the same for "my life". Most people need a vacation from their life at some point in time. Their major crossroads moment is a realization that they have given their life to either one single profession and may regret it. However, it may be that they went through a series of different professions or jobs and never really found anything they wanted to do. It really makes no difference. At some point in time a normal person will get tired, stop and look back and wonder why they made the choices that consist of their past. A quote I found recently from Dorothy Canfield Fisher puts this idea into its proper perspective.


"If we would only give, just once, the same amount of reflection to what we want to get out of life that we give to the question of what to do with a two week's vacation, we would be startled at our false standards and the aimless procession of our busy days."


This is why I believe it's never too early to start thinking about your likes, dislikes and recognizing your fantasies to see if they have the potential to become realities.

You'll notice I didn't say make your choices early. It takes time and patience to become the person you are meant to be- that's irreversible. You can change so many times in your life you may begin to believe you're in the middle of an identity crisis According to Clifford Odets- this series of changes is inevitable, but he went too far.

Here's my advice: Be ready for change. Write down your wildest fantasies. Walk towards your dreams- never walk in the other direction ( you know that's wrong, don't you?) , and keep your aspirations high. Don't compromise your dream if it's really specific. Those specifics are your true destiny and the fingerprint of your character. Always look up if you want to achieve great things and you won't fail.

Lastly, don't leave God out of the equation. You'll need Him when everyone else walks away.


The Castle Lady giving you a new perspective on life, love and happiness!

Quote for the day: If a man will begin in certainties he shall end in doubts;

but if he will be content to begin in doubts he shall end in certainties.

- Francis Bacon , English philosopher (1561-1626)

Saturday, July 07, 2007

What's Age Got To Do With It?


Monet was painting great pictures at 86.

Titian put the last brush stroke to the "Battle of Lepanto" at 98; he finished his "Last Supper" at 99.

Goethe finished "Faust" at 81.

Tennyson wrote "Crossing the Bar" when he was 83.

Voltaire was still penning plays when he died at the age of 84.

Wagner wrote his finest operas in the final years of his life, "Parsifal" in the last year. He died at the age of 70.

At 74 Verdi composed his "Othello" and at 80 he produced his famous "Falstaff".

At 50 the mind hasn't yet reached its zenith. At 60 it is at its best and from then on declines so gradually that at 80 those who have kept themselves mentally alert can be just as productive as at 30. Memory may slip a bit, but judgment and reason may actually improve, and creative imagination is scarcely touched by age... - Marie Beynon Ray from "Action or Atrophy"



If the short essay above isn't enough to convince you that age and accomplishment are irrelevant I'm wondering what could possibly persuade you that indeed we can do many "impossible" tasks at any time of our lives.

I think it is true that many people do not fulfill their destiny in life. It is a sad note but often true. The extraordinary people listed above were not just exceptional in their abilities- they also had something in common with each other AND us. They were also ordinary people. Yes, you read that right. They were ordinary. If you can be extraordinary you have to start with ordinary.

People want inaccessible heroes- not far from the Superman fantasy but this is not practical and I believe we need to stop expecting our heroes to be perfect in every way. It's not normal and it's rather annoying, when you really get down to it, that we've set these people apart from us. Get them off that pedestal and start talking because you never know when you may have to fill those shoes some day yourself.

You don't want to be left not knowing what to do now, do you?


The Castle Lady sends wishes and greetings that are timeless!




Quote for the day: Age is strictly a case of mind over matter.

If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.

-Jack Benny (1894-1974)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Viva la Diva(s)!


We know who we are. We know who is not. It's as simple as that. When it comes to singing I'm a Diva, when it comes to writing I can hold my own, when it comes to looks- I clean up very well. Most of the singers today are not divas, I don't care how well you think they sing. A diva doesn't belt out anything, she doesn't "toss one off", when it comes to looks she's got the goods, she delivers with finesse what she does well. Period.

I read an article recently on Raquel Welch whom I've followed closely since she made a series of tapes on Yoga exercise. ( I still follow her routine even though the videotapes were worn to a frazzle years ago! ) I agree with her philosophies on many counts and I just think she's the most amazing-looking woman I have ever seen at any age- she happens to be 66. Yes. You read that right.

She still looks twenty six. I don't know if it's our mutual birthday (September fifth) or the fact that we both can hold our own in the sexy department but I think we both have a secret we're not telling anyone. I hope I look like that at 66 because it will be the best revenge I could ever exact on a world of females who seem to think that you can't look amazing without buying every cream, shooting up botox like a heroin-addict, gulping tons of vitamins, exercising like a man, sucking the fat out and starving yourself to death. Boy! Talk about not getting it!

I heartily recommend a book Raquel wrote in 1984, "Total Beauty and Fitness", which outlines the exercises she did in her videotapes and her advice on everything- eating, sleeping, working and play. It's all basically good sense living and taking your health seriously. I have never been much of a trend follower and apparently neither has she, which is refreshing.

Here is a series of sentences she was quoted in the article and I can wholeheartedly say that she took the words right out of my mouth:

( On insisting that she never imagined herself to be a sex symbol )...,"I couldn't ditch the momentum. After the first five years, you get sick of it. It all looks so seductive from the outside , but it's hard to age. It shows vulnerability. The fantasy isn't supposed to be vulnerable, baby! I've never OD'd or been through rehab. So much attention has been paid to my pulchritude, from high school 'til now, I've just adapted to the way the world perceives me. I often think, 'what was it that made people focus on me?' I didn't look like a pushover. I was formidable. I looked like I was a challenge to men, like they'd have to conquer me. I say, you have to be who it is you are and stick to it." Amen.

While Raquel has gone through her fourth divorce I have yet to be married. I've also never been required to crawl over rocks in fur bikinis. I don't think anybody could've ever influenced me to do that- but we're different people- I remind myself.

Well, we both have a similar secret but I'm not going to give it away blatantly. She didn't, why should I? There is a name for it though. It's called good genes, happiness and being genuine. Read and weep.


The (one and only) Castle Lady embraces you with trade secrets! Mmwwaaah!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Got Character?


The following excerpt from a horoscope in the Rocky Mountain News for my "sign" was run recently which caught my attention. To be honest, my feeling is that occult information is something less than scientific and I am putting that as nicely as I can. However, this one seemed to me to be more of a character analysis and I thought it was rather apt in my case, so I cut it out. Here it is:

"You have what it takes to unwind situations that companions have muddled up in some manner, doing so in a way that doesn't make them feel stupid or irresponsible for having caused it."

A woman by the name of Bernice Bede Osol wrote this little gem. This sums me up rather nicely and so I will keep it and cherish it. Doesn't this seem like it would be very successful in relationships? It has been on many occasions but not always. The truth is, a lot depends on the character of the people you choose for companions. I am a rather trusting individual even for someone of my age and rank so I have been discouraged more than a few times in this manner. One reason is because this type of untangling often is done and the people responsible for the situations are insensitive to the problems they cause ( d ).

It makes me think of something my grandmother used to repeat often. "People make their own trouble." I have found that in many cases her saying was right. In addition, these same people, because they can't see beyond their own nose, are oblivious to the trouble they cause themselves- and others, often, as a result. According to some books I've read on psychoanalysis, interpersonal communication and psychiatry this tendency to overlook responsibility in its advanced form becomes a character or personality disorder. They go from ignoring their own "baggage", to start shifting blame on the most likely person available. Their excuses become convoluted stories meant only to baffle and befuddle people and prevent all from seeing the truth. Truth sends them scurrying away.

Several times in my life I have come across an occasional person such as this and they are beyond difficult cases. I will let my endeavor go as far as I feel I can and if it succeeds, fine. If it doesn't, I remind myself of another adage my grandmother used to say. "You can't please everyone." Then there is also Ricky Nelson who sang, "You see, you can't please everyone so you got to please yourself." ; )


The Castle Lady osculating your way!

Many a man has fallen in love with a girl in a light so dim he would not have chosen a suit by it. - Maurice Chevalier

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Don't get your wires crossed!




Over Memorial Day weekend I had the wonderful chance to meet a friend and his fiancée from Lille, France for dinner at my favorite Chinese restaurant here in my hometown! When they arrived last Tuesday the weather had gone unseasonably cold and rainy, which is highly unusual. Normally we don't get rain until June. It wasn't a good start for a vacation here but by the next day it cleared up- which is also typical and they had sunny weather during most of their stay.
Besides getting to know each other a little better we discussed their daytrips they had made- we have a lot of natural sights for sightseeing and mountain town casinos- and my trip to the movies to see Paris, Je t'aime. We had a great time getting to know each other. Since they are French-speaking I gave them a chance to use their English which they both spoke very well with their charming accents, of course. I didn't use much of my French because I feel like I sound like a child and then I lose confidence if the conversation is long term. Quel dommage!
Somehow we got onto the subject of the price of gas here, and I was surprised to learn that it's even higher in Europe and significantly. Somehow, I thought maybe they had escaped the increases. Not the case, in fact, they said the taxes were high on the gas (as much as 20% !)
When I mentioned that our prices may go up to four dollars a gallon I saw an unusual amount of surprise on their face but not for the reason I thought. Eventually the fiancée of my friend asked me how many liters there were to a gallon. My brain stalled, of course. Doesn't every American get this way any time we're asked to actually convert the "old way" (which not a soul ever gave up, truth!) to metric ? I tried to do a rough conversion in my head starting with what I knew.
"Hmmm. Okay it's ten liters to 2.64 gallons. Divide ten into 2.64.... no , that won't work ! Uh. Start over. Divide into five shares to correspond with 2.64 gallons and you get... would it be four parts making it 2.5 per share or five parts making it two per share?? Augh."
I think I came up with something like 1 and a half liters to a gallon. We all looked confused. Probably none of us came up with the right numbers in our heads.
Today I finally sat down with pen and paper and didn't quit trying to figure it out until I was sure I came up with the solution. The closest I could get was that a quarter of a gallon corresponds to one liter but it's not accurate. I realized (for the first time) that customs of a country are intrinsic and really cannot be changed. I remember when I was going to elementary school the principal and teachers said they were dedicated to getting our generation to use the metric system and drop the old method of measure. However, I still hear people, much younger than myself, talking about inches, feet, yards, gallons, miles etc.
Now try to think of this as a language and you have a pretty good idea of what is so difficult about learning the subtle nuances in a language. How about strange words that escape people trying to learn a foreign language, or worse yet, master it? As Mozart said in the movie Amadeus, in some parts of the world people talk backwards. Not literally, mind you, like he meant, but more on an etymology basis. That is to say- the meanings and reformations of words. Black Americans talk backwards. They say things are good when they mean bad, and they say things are bad when they mean they are good. That's just the start. My favorite English usage is to say "that's no joke" and basically mean it's not quite to be laughed at but you're laughing anyway because it's amusing. Confused? That's because English is not your first language. Try to hang, will you? ; )
The Castle Lady will smooch away your blues!






Sunday, May 20, 2007

What is newsworthy?

     About a month ago I took it upon myself to check out a children's book that I thought might be worthy of recommending on my main blog. The title of it is The Young Journalist's Book and the author is Guthrie Bentley. It is a great book to pitch towards children who have a knack or bent toward writing and although it is not comprehensive in supplying all needed information, it is informative enough to get any young person started in the writing life. I applauded the author for making the distinction between "hard news" and "feature" or "human interest" stories.  "Stories" being the key word here, a few fairly current controversies suggest that a line has been blurred between non-fiction and fiction but if you've ever been in a position of writing a "hard news" story there is no mistaking the difference. It's like night and day. This is not only getting at the facts- it is pressing in for detailed information that the "private" sector often wishes to keep concealed- whether the said information concerns the general public or not.  
     It has not escaped my attention that prior to the decease of a well-known newspaper maven in the U.S. (of Scripps/Howard fame), the local version of his paper here in Denver, The Rocky Mountain News, started to look and read like a tabloid. I'm not surprised. Tabloids probably outsell regular hard news carriers two to one. Actually, the numbers may be better than that since I haven't had the opportunity to check stats.
     At any rate, it includes enough detail of the elements that go into a regular newspaper which might run a few features now and then. I believe that most people pick up a paper to find out what's really going on and are not necessarily wanting something to make them "feel good" about the world. Not to say that there is anything wrong with that, but when you are looking for facts, opinions often disappoint. Most people pick up a paper expecting to read hard news.
     An amusing point on this is made in the book when it cites a quote made by Charles A. Dana who was a journalist for the New York Sun back in 1882. He said: "When a dog bites a man, that is not news; but when a man bites a dog, that is news." Isn't that an excellent point besides being amusing? Well, that being said I will go on with my point. It is simply that we must be clear about what we are writing when one sits down at computer, writing pad or typewriter. Dan Brown expressed real concern for people that used his book as a hard refutation of the facts of Jesus life. His words were along the lines of, 'what part of "fiction book" did they not get'? That is certainly enough for me. As far as a writers' veracity of non-fiction or biography- perhaps the publishing houses ought to employ more fact checkers. That might clear up the problem altogether! Truth is the most newsworthy item in my opinion.
    
    
 Feel loved!
The Castle Lady

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Hollywood? Don't get me started...

Doris Day, glamour & class


Is it just my imagination or does Jonathan Rhys Myers look nothing like the real Henry the Eighth just as Kirsten Dunst is a dead ringer for Sarah Bernhardt? See and compare their photos in the new celebrity album I've added to my Castlelady blog. http://castlelady.spaces.live.com
In other news I'd like to know when Paris Hilton ever showed any reason for us to think she's a decent person who shouldn't have to spend any time in jail. Perhaps everyone has forgotten that the only reason why anyone knows her name is because she and her boyfriend of the moment made a tape of the two of them having sex. (All three seconds of it, I guess.) Since then it's been a long string of photos of her doing pretty much nothing which is what she's best at doing, I suppose. You can see a disgusting photo of her letting men take photos of her twat with their camera phone while she dances on a glass bar table in the celebrity album. She makes Madonna look like a decent person- until we think again of her book SEX. I wonder what her daughter is going to think- years from now -when someone pulls out the book to show everyone at one of the "birthday parties" Lourdes will inevitably attend. Hoo boy! (No I didn't put any photos of her in the album. She doesn't need any of my help in keeping her name mentioned every two seconds somewhere.) Oops. Hah!
Is anybody tired of Angelina Jolie desperately trying to make herself look like a savior? Since when is adopting children in other countries some ticket to the promised land? In all the photos I've seen of her with these kids she doesn't even look at them. They appear to be fashion accessories. This reminds me of Joan Crawford, ironically. If you're clueless about that story, check out the book "Mommie Dearest" by Christina Crawford at your local library.
I think it's time some real heroes to get laudits for what they do every day of the week. I think of those who bravely face an increasingly hostile world, sometimes in their own household. We who clean up after an ungrateful world. Those who work forty to fifty hours a week and eke by with lives that hardly come close to these spoiled and pampered overgrown brats who've never worked an honest job in their life. To the women who are equally or more beautiful and don't make a dime for being just that- I salute you. You're more beautiful than you realize. Don't compare yourself to these women. They had to sell their soul to get where they are, and that's just too steep a price to pay, in my estimation. Be glad you don't have to play these high-powered games they go through and thank the good Lord for every blessing you have. In some parts of this world they are forcing little girls to have sex with men for nothing more than a chance to live one more day.
Many people are worse off than you could ever imagine.

The Castle Lady blowing off steam and many kisses your way...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

My Aim is True

The Castle Lady
The world does not comprehend laughter, it can only participate in complete bafflement

- Evelyn M. Wallace , September 15, 2006


The above is a quote I wrote on a friends blog last year when it became apparent to me that his girlfriend's sense of humor was lacking some character and he was beginning to follow suit. The friendship went sour. Can you imagine why? Duh!

I don't like the idea of dissecting the creation of comedy- much like Bob Newhart- because you never really know where it's coming from, in truth. (Please see the quote from Pirandello in the latest entry on my Castlelady blog

No doubt there is a hidden science to it but do we really want to make something like that out of it?

Where does laughter come from? Can anyone actually pin down this phenomenon to emotion? It is not necessarily an emotion, nor can anyone say what will evoke the outbursts of what we call laughter. We have seen absurdities (or what we term as such) elicit this response but we have also seen gales of it produced from mundane and often abhorrent situations. When laughter is thought to be inappropriate we believe the "laugher" to be abnormal or weird. If we perceive that someone seldom laughs or smiles at anything they are termed as not having a "sense of humor". Which only leads us back to the question of what humor actually consists of or where it comes from.

I believe that laughter comes from a place inside us that God placed there and each person gets an individual imprint of what he or she finds funny or absurd. It is very much like our fingerprints. I think I would like to call it our "waggish DNA" because each and every person finds something funny that very few other people find funny or even amusing, at times. It can create awkward moments, certainly. But ask yourself this- would you want to change your sense of humor to conform to someone else's standard? A better question might be- do you think this is even possible? I don't believe so and I think any one that would try to do so would be nothing less than false. Fake laughter stinks like herring that has been sitting on a wharf for several years. It's bad.

Perhaps someday they'll get really sophisticated about comedy training and have someone do lab tests, experiment and come up with some antidote to the "crawl under the table and crawl out" of the club moment that a few people have experienced at The Comedy Club (or local equivalent). Perhaps some comedian with a PhD in comedy will be able to tell us how to get our "waggish DNA" under control and we'll someday be able to take classes in comedic etiquette.

Until that day I'll just go on laughing at what I find funny and express myself in the most appropriate way I know. If my words offend, well, I am really sorry but it's the nicest way I could put that and retain my sense of humor. When I really want to offend you'll know it in no uncertain terms.

My aim is true. ; )




Live, love, laugh, hug and kiss!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Decisions, decisions, decisions....

Ever have one of those moments when you are totally overwhelmed in making a decision because you have too many options and wonderful choices? If I used a platitude for this it would be "I feel like a kid in a candy shop that offers every confection known to man."

Well, this past April I set out to the task of putting no less than fifteen "romantic" castles on my Castle Lady spaces blog and wound up covering about five, total. They were not well known castles such as Neuschwanstein, Windsor, Belvoir, Warwick, Edinburgh, Lichtenstein, Versailles, Chambord, Dublin, or Blarney.

The truth is I just had a difficult time deciding on the fifteen castles in question because the number of castles is staggering and then... I just ran out of time. I reimmersed myself in the research I did for five years and suddenly realized two weeks had run past my nose while trying to make the decision.

I've fallen in love all over again with all of the castles, some of which you have probably never heard of, but because of their unique place or features should be right up there with the "well-known" castles.

It made me realize how important these books will be, and not just on an esthetic level. On a deeper level these magnificent monuments to the past are revelatory exercises in the treasure trove history offers us. They are the menhirs of our ancestors struggles- together and apart. Most of all, they speak to us of ourselves. Man does not shed his past, genetics or lineage without great struggles and even then he may not. Indeed, I believe in the closing of his life, he must embrace and face all three and with bravery.

Therefore, I have decided on two principles in the making of the "Castle Lover's Guides TM" The first is that "famous" is not the all-consuming passion that will drive me forward into production and the second is that there is no such thing as an insignificant castle, story or historical person. For the time being, I'll keep the word insignificant out of my vocabulary.


The Castle Lady sends warm kisses and hugs! Mwaah!



Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Ah! May Day! Such splendour, such...

 

     I believe there once was a grand tradition in the United States for May Day. For all I know there may still be some traditions carried out in various parts of the country- unbeknownst to me. I can't remember a single May first that had any specific rite in my family or any social circles I may have been a part of during the years I have spent in Colorado but there is no doubt there is something special about it. Anyone with a working olfactory nerve and time to take a walk can tell you that!
     Since I have been doing more international instant messaging and putting more and more of my work on the internet I am coming to realize that Europeans treat it as a real event and holiday. For instance, today in France many people will buy a bouquet of Muguet des Bois (for us it is Lily of the Valley) for someone they love. Russia used the day to denote a special day for women which went international. They refer to it as Women's Day and is meant for the support for women in all walks of life as a day of independence. It believe it was also meant as a support for women by women. I like to remind myself that while it's good to feel that men take an interest in women's rights and support them, there's nothing like knowing that other women are looking out for you and your best interests because there is a common bond. We have been oppressed and we're never going to let that happen again.
      So, May Day for me has a special meaning. One of hope in sisterhood and one of eternal hope in the life that God set in motion when he made Eve out of Adam. What clever pieces of art we are, no matter our shape, color, size or brand!
 
 
     Evelyn Wallace          Kisses and hugs from your sister!
The Castle Lady
 
 

Friday, April 27, 2007

How I broke the Red Sox Curse

     More recently I've been pondering our contributions to society that we are often unaware of but which make a much more profound effect than we may ever realize- even on our clearest thinking days. If a person works in a direct service or personal service industry he or she may be more aware of this than most, but often what seems simple courtesies may make a deeper impact than was even originally believed by those who started these "industries". I'm thinking basics- restaurants, hotels, beauty salons, shoe shine etc.
     However, I believe that no matter our place- in the large and complex machine we call civilization- we all make changes to those we serve ( and believe me, you serve somebody! ) in so many ways that we may be dead before the full effects are felt. Good or bad, we all make our contribution. The truth is that it's up to us what that contribution will be.
     I don't know how many of you reading this have seen the movie, "The Emperor's Club", but when you get the chance- if you haven't seen it- please rent, beg, borrow or steal this DVD and watch it. If you steal it then you'll want to pay close attention to the character Bell and his son who attends the prestigious American boarding school that the story centers on.
     My attention, however, was focused on the character very well portrayed by Kevin Kline, who is a teacher at this school. I watched him focus on the student Bell through his schooling and his later years and his ungrounded feelings of failure. His impact isn't revealed until the very end of the movie and his shock is profound and moving.
     Now, I told you that to speak of this: You can make a difference no matter how young, old, beautiful, ugly, or insignificant you may think you are- that's irrelevant. When I was going through my mail the other day I realized I was throwing most of the paper that came in the box out- being mostly pleadings for contributions to this charity and that.... When I got to the Meals on Wheels contribution form it asked me if I wanted to give  $30,  $60, $90, $120 or other and just for a moment I had the teeth-grinding urge to put underneath it: Please send me
     While you are busy holding back the laughter I will be busy thinking and listing all the unseen contributions I have made in bettering this world. How do I know this to be true for certain? All I have to do is look at my intentions. No one can see them, but they're there- deep inside me- and I know that I have done good. This is more important than you may realize but eventually you will. You're going to have to look in that mirror sometime.
    
The Castle Lady will give you
 
Oh! I almost forgot. The answer to the title subject is:
I bought a Boston Red Sox t-shirt when they were still losing.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Classic Architecture


I recently put up a photo on my http://castlelady.spaces.live.com blog that was sent to me from a very lovely friend I have in Italy. I have displayed it here but you may also see in the photo album at the bottom of the above mentioned home page under the More Castles album. It is the one tagged caserta which is the first photo in the line-up.
It shows how classicism in architecture can render absolute magnificence even in its simplicity. There is a good reason why it is the most favored style but has so many variations that it is often misnamed or not recognized- even by experts.
This is how I would describe this building's fascia. It features aedicules above mullioned windows with ionic colossal columns. The centralized niche with balconet adorns the fascia. Note the modillioned detail of the pedimented tympanum on the roofline.
It sounds so complicated and rather gothic doesn't it? That's the problem with describing architecture. Let's face it, a photo or picture is worth a thousand words. We all know what we like and what we don't, n'est ce pas? I don't often get into detail describing architecture unless it is so eclectic that in order for someone to understand what they're looking at it is necessary. I would rather the photos speak for themselves.
This is what can be expected in my writing and my books. Location of a castle or architecture definitely affects how we perceive it. Also, the surrounding environs will also speak to us, if we listen, particularly when we are viewing medieval architecture.
In my books, I will give basics and never bog you down in unnecessary descriptions of the said architecture. I want to give you a slice of history served up with the beauty of what was created so many years before us. If we come to understand the circumstances around which our ancestors moved, breathed and lived out their lives, we may come to a better understanding of ourselves and what our purposes in this life may be.
The Castle Lady bringing you beauty, love and warm kisses! Ciao!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Gender-Bender???

With the flurry of all the writing I've been doing lately I have come across some old writing. The following piece, according to what I wrote down (which has to be right- I'm really good about writing everything down) is from July 8, 1998! You can just bet someone had given me some grief at the time, because the idea is mind-blowing when you really start to think about it seriously. But I'll let it speak for itself:

How much of your life revolves around your gender?
Would your life go on if you were stripped of your sexual identity?
How drastically would your life change if you were suddenly just yourself
with that aspect no longer needed and gone?
When one seriously considers these questions it brings you home to your
real self. The one you were from the beginning and the one you still are
underneath all the sexual frivolity.
Think of how many of your activities would cease and how you would start using
the new free time you would have.
Think of how people would perceive you if they had to rely on the way you think,
act,
talk,
etc.
rather than size you up as a sexual object?
Think of how freeing it would be to your body and soul to be able to finally eliminate sexual stereotypes that have colored and pre-formed your life up to now.
Think of how your life would've run if you had never had to deal with the interferences your sexual identity has interposed in your life.
I wonder about people whose whole lives seem to center completely on their gender.
Well, after I re-read this I remembered the confrontation that was the inspiration for this set of random thoughts and self-questioning. To be truthful the confrontation was so awful and WEIRD that I'd rather not tell you what it was!
However, this subject does make me think about people who would be most directly affected. How about strippers, prostitutes, athletes, models, beauticians, actors and actresses (here, a slight nod to Hillary Swank, a rare exception!) and even singers? At one time, singers only worried about what they sounded like on the radio, but now it seems that they need to seduce their audience. Indeed, music should be about sound- not sight in particular. I consider myself to be a part of the MTV generation and yet I can't help wishing we could go back to just concentrating on the music. It could certainly stand some improvement.
Leave a comment if you read this, I am genuinely interested in your opinion on this issue.
"If you are born with it, you'll have it when you're 100". -
Sophia Loren when asked about her endless sex appeal.
; )

Evelyn Wallace
The Castle Lady

www.ilovecastles.com
http://castlelady.spaces.live.com

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Speak softly but carry a big shillelagh!

How was your St. Patrick's day? I have better ones in memory but can't honestly say any of them have been much of a celebration. For one, I've never been a green beer drinker, and if you have more than one Guinness you may find yourself in for a bit of a tussle. As a matter of fact if you're not Irish the latter may knock you on your keester. Keester. That sounds Irish doesn't it?
Well, actually there are a lot of Irish Gaelic words that have crept into the American English language and some of them you use everyday totally unaware that the words origins are not Anglo-Saxon or foreign words. Take the word slogan for example. It is actually from the Irish sluagh ghairm which means "army cry". Or how about kibosh? Doesn't that sound Jewish? I'm sure I've heard Jewish people use that word, but as a matter of fact it's from the Irish word cie bais (lit. cap of death) and is pronounced kye-bosh, and is our word for clobbering someone. Usually it is phrased, "put the kibosh on" (someone) and this was first used in print by- of all people- Charles Dickens in "Sketches of Boz".
The word dun is used by us primarily to say that the color of something is rather dull. It is from the very old Irish word donn which means dark and they used it to describe the coats of certain horses. If someone blathers on here they also rather blather in Ireland, too! (ha ha!) That word came from the Irish Gaelic as well, which is blether. An Irish reel would be rightly spelled righil and being dour would most likely be du`r , however they borrowed that from Latin!
Hooligan as a word is rather strange isn't it? Even for most cultures it would be because it morphed from an Irish name! Originally the Gaelic name was O hUallachain then it became anglicized to Houlihan. It became Hooligan during the 1890s because of a pub song made about the rowdy Hooligan family which terrorized London at the time. Today any hoodlum or young thug is a hooligan.
Well, I think I've about worn this out! I'll share a few more of these with you next year. In the mean time, just for the record, keester isn't Irish. It also is not English. Most likely it came from the German word kies which refers to flinty ground or gravel. I'll let you draw your own conclusions on that one!

Love and kisses from
The Castle Lady
One man's way may be as good as another, but we all like our own best.
- Jane Austin

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Argh!

Today has been one of those days where I want to find a nice big closet, stick my head into it, and scream my head off! All because of some dumb glitch with my PC which it seems nobody from Dell to my ISP can seem to agree on as to what is the real problem.
I spent an hour and a half trying to find the correct source for DLing Internet Explorer 7. Then it took another hour to DL it. (Yes. You read that correct, an HOUR!) All the while my afternoon writing hours are ticking away.
All I know is that everything we've tried doesn't work. I cannot post a single entry from my own PC on my official Castle Lady blog in LIVE SPACES and I have to go to public computers to post my entries!
Needless to say I am beyond frustration and into the realm of giving up on that thing entirely. This problem should have been solved by now and I can't seem to get anyone's help on this problem.
This makes me think of poets like Emily Dickinson who years ago quietly wrote her verses in little booklets she hand-made and then kept them neatly put away in bound packets in a hope chest. She did not have the frustration of trying to figure out how to get a machine to do her will.
I think simple is better. I always did and I always will.
Who loves you like a songbird on the wing? The Castle Lady