MOONSETTING AS THE SUN RISES – Marilyn Armstrong

I used to long for many things. Later, I did most of them. Now they are memories. No need for longing.

These past few years have been difficult. For once, not because of illness of dire poverty, but because the world tipped over and I’ve been clinging to the edges.

In the yearning department, I’ll settle for simple things. Warm weather. Bright skies. This morning, very early — just before five — the sun was rising as the moon was finishing her travels across the night sky.

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The moon longed for me. She told me so.

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At least, I believe that is what she said. Sometimes, when the moon speaks, her language is strange and not entirely clear.

What do you think?

UNDAUNTED ANGELIQUE – Marilyn Armstrong

“Nounou,” inquired Angelique, “Why did Giles de Retz kill so many children?”

With these words, one of the world’s greatest series of historical fiction begins. It is a translation from French. I have been told that much was lost in a not-very-good translation. But I don’t read well enough in French. Once, I did, but that was a very long time ago.

angelique book cover

Nothing will change the way I feel about these books. Most were written long years ago. I read the first of them when I was 13. I still have the book, though the binding is broken and the pages are beginning to turn to dust.

The first book was published in 1957 and I read it in 1960. In those days, I lived in books. I didn’t have friends. I was too different. I’ve always been out of step. Sometimes, a lot, occasionally almost catching up with my peers. But back then … I was weird.

Then I met Angelique.


The fifth child of an impoverished country nobleman, Angélique de Sancé grows up in the Poitou marshlands, a region known as the “Green Venice”, halfway between the ocean and the forests. She is a free child, as one with the forest and the marshes, discovering nature’s healing secrets with the help of the witch Mélusine. Her logical destiny would be to marry a poor country nobleman, have children and spend her life fighting for a meager subsistence.

Destiny has other plans in store for her. At 17, when she returns from the convent where she has been getting an education, she finds herself betrothed to the wealthy count of Toulouse, Joffrey de Peyrac. He is 12 years her senior, lame, scarred and rumored to be a wizard.

from the review by Harvey Adkins


Angélique’s life and adventures inspired me and gave me courage.

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Thus the story begins. In subsequent volumes, they will take you through most of the world of Louis XIV. Joffrey becomes the love of Angélique’s life. After he is burned at the stake for heresy (and for being too politically powerful), Angélique finds herself homeless, penniless, with babies to protect in the underworld of Paris. Yet she rises up from the gutters back to the glittering court of Louis XIV. Confronts him on the murder of her husband, rebels against him, leads a group of Huguenots to the New World. Builds a colony, fights emissaries of the church and King to retain her freedom. Along the way, she has children — from a variety of fathers, including one resulting from rape — and one is murdered.

With all the power of Crown and Church arrayed against her, Angélique finds a way through and emerges victorious. Bowed, but never beaten. Her defeats are temporary setbacks, her triumphs change the world.

She is deathlessly beautiful. If you are a woman taking on the world, it’s never bad to have golden hair and hypnotic green eyes. But Angélique doesn’t win the day using sex. When she leads, she carries a gun and a sword. She will kill in defense of her own (and does). She will fight for her family, her home, her beliefs.

She became much more than a fictional character to me. At a time when female role models were few and far between, Angélique was fearless. Unstoppable. No simpering lady of fashion, she was tough. Smart. She suffered the worst life could dish out. She faced down unspeakable challenges. And there were casualties.

Back in the real world, author Anne Golan was fighting her publisher for the rights to her books.

Anne Golon was born 17 December 1921 as Simone Changeux in Toulon, France. She published her first novel at 18 as Joëlle Danterne. During World War II, she traveled by bicycle through France and Spain writing under various pen-names. She helped create France Magazine. Was sent to Africa as a journalist, where she met Vsevolod Sergeïvich Goloubinoff, her husband, Serge Golon.

angelique french editionThey collaborated on Angélique. Anne wrote. Serge did the considerable research required by these surprisingly accurate books. The first book in the series was an astounding success. The books were credited to Serge and Anne Golon, (Sergeanne Golon), the names having been merged by publishers who were reluctant to print books written by women.

In 1972, Anne and Serge Golon went to Canada to continue research. Anne wrote Angélique and the Ghosts. Serge died.

Anne continued writing and raising her 4 children. Between 1972 and 1985, she wrote four more books. While battling Hachette for unpaid royalties and rights, Anne Golon lived in extreme poverty. She finally won, leaving her sole owner of the works.

These are the books which were translated into English:

Angélique, The Marquise of the Angels
Angélique: The Road to Versailles (US and the UK with the 1st volume, Angélique)
Angélique and the King
Angélique and the Sultan (aka, Angélique in Barbary)
Angélique in Revolt
Angélique in Love
The Countess Angélique
The Temptation of Angélique (In Canada as: The Temptation of Angélique 1: The Jesuit Trap, The Temptation of Angélique 2: The Downfall of Goldbeard)
Angélique and the Demon
Angélique and the Ghosts.

The English translation of this series stopped abruptly with Angélique and the Ghosts. Anne Golon’s fans — like their fictional heroine — wanted to know what had happened to the author. We found her, in Paris, alive, well, and still writing. We learned — as of August, 2009 — there were three yet-untranslated books already in the series:

Angélique à Quebec
Angélique: Route de L’Espoir
Victoire d’Angélique

Ms. Golon also announced 2 more books: Royaume de France, (“Kingdom of France”) to follow Victoire, and a 15th and final volume, yet untitled. None of these has been translated. English-language readers — like me — have waited more than 35 years. An entire lifetime during which I have gone from adolescent to a senior citizen.

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I’ve read thousands of books during these long years, but never lost hope for translations of the new Angélique book. Anne Golon is well into her 90s, but like Angélique herself, nothing short of Death himself can stop this remarkable woman.

The Angélique fan group to which I belonged fell apart some years back. There were deaths. Surviving members squabbled. You can still find information at Angélique Books.

It’s not easy to find intact copies of the books, but if you are interested, don’t give up. Amazon has some. ABE Books often has copies. And there’s eBay.

Maybe there will be new copies eventually. I hope to see them republished. Soon would be good, because none of us are getting any younger.


July 2017: I just read that Anne Golon passed away on Friday at the age of 95. She was writing until the end. She inspired me as a girl and instilled the belief I could do anything a man could do. She was a wind behind my back for a lifetime. If you read French, there is an article in Figaro here.

BRING BACK BELL BOTTOMS – Marilyn Armstrong

Mostly, I miss the pants. The big wide bell bottoms were the most flattering jeans I ever had. They made my legs look longer and my hips narrower.

From the year my son was born — 1969 — and for the next few years, fashion and I were simpatico.

It was the hippiest of times … and I was as much as a hippy as I would ever be.

I was young. I wore big bell bottoms. The  patchwork jeans were my favorites, although at the end of the day. I looked like I had been sitting on a waffle iron.

My shirts had fringes. Purple fringes.

96-BabyOandMe-HPI wore granny glasses with rose-tinted lenses. My hair was cut in a shag. I had my baby in a sling on my hip, a Leica on my shoulder and a song in my heart (probably the Beatles). That was a good as it got for me.

I miss the clothing. I really miss the Leica.

Mostly, I want my bell bottoms back!

TUSKEGEE AIRMEN EXHIBIT HALL – LAYERS OF FLYING MACHINES!

WORDPRESS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – LAYERED


Layers of airplanes stacked from floor to ceiling at the Tuskegee Airmen exhibit
More layers of flying machines at the Tuskegee Airmen exhibit hall
This old flying machines shows its own layers! See the on-board trunk for carrying stuff. Here is the origin of the word “trunk”which we use in modern American cars to describe the “boot” that holds all our “stuff”

PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN AT THE TUSKEGEE AIRMEN MASSACHUSETTS
SCHOLARSHIP EVENT SEPTEMBER 9, 2017 – Photography by Marilyn and Garry Armstrong

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017

ATOP BOSTON IN TWILIGHT

I have to mention that these are the ONLY pictures I’ve ever taken on my cell phone. There I was, on the 60th floor of this amazing building and there’s this view. And I’m wearing an evening gown, more or less. And the only camera I have is in my evening bag — and we know, my women friends that you cannot fit anything much inside one of them. They are the most useless bags in the world.

So there’s a view to die for. It is stunning.

I had the cell phone. The view was waiting. I took pictures. I so very much wish I had a camera, but this is what you get with a Samsung. I played with them because I had some issues with reflective glass in the windows.

We live in a low slung town. I think the map says we are just 700 feet above sea level … and probably, that would be from a hill somewhere. I’m not sure what hill that might be, but no doubt we have one.

Fortunately, we travel occasionally. This is Boston. From the 60th floor on State Street, overlooking the harbor.

ATOP BOSTON | THE DAILY POST WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE 2017

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017

INSTINCT – GOING WITH THE GUT

INSTINCT | THE DAILY POST


Without getting all Leroy Jethro Gibbs here … is there any other way to make a decision when you have no hard facts with which to work? It sounds right, doesn’t it?

Except when Gibbs does it, the entire agency agrees. When I do it, no one ever agrees.

If you’re a mother and you know your kid is “off,” you take him or her to the doctor. You don’t wait until the strep throat or whatever it is shows up with full symptoms. The doctor promptly tells you he can’t see any problem. You go home. The kid is a mess the next day.

Let’s hear it for instinct!

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You hear a noise in your car’s engine. A funny little squeaky noise which comes and goes. Do you wait for the serpentine belt to snap or take it to a mechanic? You take it in. They look. They shrug.

A few days later, the transmission falls out. Instinct! Gotta love it.

The meteorologists on the television are predicting a few inches of snow, but your bones are screaming “it’s a big one on the way.” Do you ignore your instinct and believe the guy on TV? Or lay in some supplies, fill the car with gasoline, and bring the candles out … just in case. I mean, what the hell. A few extra items in the house won’t hurt, right?

If I have data to work with (better yet, if I had Data to work with), I’ll work with it or him. But through most of real life, we have no facts. We have instinct, experience, “gut feelings.” And a kind of prescience that comes with years of making judgment calls, dealing with emergencies … a kind of “know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em” sort of thing. Unfortunately, the doctors, mechanics, bosses, friends, colleagues et al? They don’t. They just think we are a bit strange. And remarkably, no matter how many times we are proved to be right? Nothing changes.

The next time you just know what’s going to happen? Everyone will completely ignore you. Totally.

So when you get that deep, gut feeling, the one which tells you a catastrophe is on the way? Run around. Tell everyone. They will completely ignore you. BUT you can enjoy a chance to tell everyone that ” SEE? I TOLD YOU SO!” and they will say, “Yeah, yeah. Right. Uh huh.”

Most decisions in life are gut decisions. Instinct on the hoof. If only someone would occasionally agree with us.

IMMERSION – THE LAST BIG BLOW OF WINTER

IMMERSED | THE DAILY POST


I was going to go outside and take pictures. Then, I looked. Garry had just come inside after cleaning off the front of the house so the dogs can get out, the parking area by the garage. Which means we can at least get the doors open. Then he manfully shoveled the back deck. As he approaches 75, this is no mean feat. What can I do but be incredibly, wildly impressed.

But I still didn’t go outside. Remember our last snow? I said “fluffy, soft flakes” and that when you see them, you know you aren’t going to get that mean, ugly, serious hard snow. The January nasty weather that moves in house and settles down. “Long relationship” snow that wants to be part of your life until the leaves finally pop open on the trees.

It’s here. Today. I haven’t seen a storm of this intensity in several years,. Between two and four inches falling per hour and no matter how you look at it, that is a great deal of snow. In fact, as Harvey Leonard said last night on Channel 5, “More snow than we’ve seen for a very long time.” The good news? It doesn’t look like it will become a nor’easter. It’ll come, blast us with winter … and with a little luck be gone before midnight.

We didn’t drive down to visit Tom and Ellin. They’ll be doing their own digging out and if we have an ugly driveway, they have a driveway that’s far, far worse. And much longer. More like a road than a driveway.

We had planned to go visit two weeks ago, but it snowed. Immediately thereafter, we got two weeks of glorious sunny weather. Tee-shirt and grab-you-fishing-rod weather. And then, literally the day we were to go and visit … snow. Nothing small. A big snow. Major full-scale snow.

Nasty evil white stuff.

I was up at five to discuss going out with the dogs. There wasn’t much on the ground, maybe an inch or two. I had a brief, shining hope we weren’t going get the rest. Maybe we were on the edge and it wasn’t going to be such a big deal. An hour later, I heard the dogs bark. They had taken themselves out, which was good. When I tossed them outside earlier, they’d done the “out and in” game where they go out, count to five, and come back with cookies on their breath.

“See mom? We went out! Cookie?” I cookied them. Back to bed, but not to sleep. I read for a while, drifted off, then when they barked, I saw that they had really gone out. Garry was up a little while later, did the same, and he too went back to sleep.

While we slept, the big snow arrived.

No “edge of the storm” stuff.

No “Oh, it could be worse,” stuff either.

The real deal now. Heavy, hard, icy flakes. Our windows are covered with water and the wind is blowing to beat the band. Huge oaks are swaying overhead. And it won’t last long.

It can’t. Sure we’ve gotten snow as late as May. I think once in June, too. We’ve had snow as early as September which is terrible for the autumn leaves. It means there won’t be any autumn leaves. They just fall off after that making a muck on the ground. This is winter’s last blow, the final fury of a season being driven out by another season on its way in. A mess for a week or two, but by April, it will be gone.

I’d like to say that this strange weather is all part of the weird weather of the changing weather pattern, but that would be untrue. Our weather has always been unique. While I was glorying in summer weather in the middle of February, Garry had one eyebrow cocked.

“Don’t trust it,” he said, carefully keeping his boots where he could easily find them. He has lived here long enough to know. Winter ain’t over till it’s over.

Now, it is almost over. Really. This time for sure.