LET’S BE TWELVE AGAIN — Marilyn Armstrong

Someone asked me what I would do if I were twelve again. Twelve. A little too young to be a teenager, too old to be a ‘child.’ It’s the middle-age of childhood. There might be a few things I could do — or, more to the point — NOT do that might make old age feel less old. I could avoid those events where I broke my back, for example. Or maybe not. We all know that changing the past doesn’t usually work. Somehow, you either don’t exist at all, or whatever happens lands you back in the same place you were in anyway.

But I’m up for a try, as long as I don’t have to go back to school. Ever.

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I’ve got all the diplomas I’ll ever need. I’m an adult. I get Social Security. Pensions. And never to be forgotten, Senior discounts. At 12 I had my full height and was a smart as I would ever be. I looked old for my age anyway.

Smarter. We reach our maximum intelligence in our early teens. It seems like a waste, but it isn’t really. That’s when we are collecting the knowledge that will enable us to decide what want to do with the rest of our lives. In this case, I already know.

I know what I want and I know how to get there.  I know what to avoid, which may be the most important part. It’s a perfect second life. With all the body parts still working and foreknowledge of what may come.

To the good part. A 12-year-old body you say? Before I broke my back. I get the chance to protect my spine and avoid the big issues I’m facing now.

There are some issues to be worked out. Young, growing bodies have needs. But in my head, I’m old and wily, so I know what to do. I have the body of a youngster, the brain of a senior. Oh, joy. This is the best of both worlds! Garry would be 17 — just about to go into the Marines. This wouldn’t be fun without him.

We will have legs that can run and minds that remember everything. But this time, without dysfunctional parents and all those stupid rules?

Bring it ON! I am so ready.

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.

angelique pages book

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.

YOUR PERMANENT RECORD — ON FILE FOREVER

Last night, watching Star Trek: Next Generation, Geordi La Forge (Levar Burton) disobeyed a direct order given by Captain Stewart, er, I mean, Jean-Luc Picard. Although he survived his misadventure — barely, I might add — Picard told Geordi that regretfully, he was going to have to “put this incident on your permanent record!”

Oh my god! His permanent record. Even in Star Fleet, you cannot escape your permanent record. It’s four hundred years in the future and they still have that record.

Back in our golden olden days, the thing that was held over our heads — the Sword of Damocles — was that our bad behavior would go on our permanent record. From elementary school through our working years, we were warned our permanent record would follow us. Marks against us might even (gasp!) prevent us from getting into college  in which case we knew we might as well die on the spot. If you didn’t go to college, you would never have a decent job or a life worth living. I knew it in the marrow of my bones. Didn’t you?

72-At-Sunset-MAR-Superstition-011316_409

The Permanent Record is (was) (will be) like a rock. Unchanging. No matter what we do with our lives, everyone can find out about our misdeeds, even those from Kindergarten. Kind of like Wikileaks for every living human being. What an appalling thought!

All anyone anywhere needs to do is check the record. They’ll know I sassed my eleventh grade social studies teacher (he deserved worse) in May 1962. That Garry ran over his allotted time while reporting a news event in Boston and was not even repentant when confronted with his foul deed! Every evil we have done through our life will be revealed.

So, here’s the deal.

Now and forever, every one of us has a permanent record in which all our misbehavior is cataloged. I know because I’ve been told. I’m not sure who has custody of these records, however. As far as I can tell, everyone on the planet has one, so there must be a gigantic storage unit somewhere, where everything is filed. That’s hundreds of million of records to keep on file for eternity. Maybe trillions, zillions or gazillions.

permanent-record-file

I expect when we die, if there actually are Pearly Gates and an immortal gatekeeper who decides if we may or may not enter, he or she will be clutching a copy of our permanent record in one angelic hand.

That’s right. You talked back to your teacher in fifth grade, cut biology class in high school. Told a professor the dog ate your final paper in college. Now, you won’t go to Heaven.

Sorry pal. Your permanent record finally caught up with you.

THE DAILY POST | RECORD

MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH …

A gray day in Uxbridge, Massachusetts. It’s cold, damp, sunless. Nothing to do. Not even something to bark at. The humans are drinking coffee and doing stuff on their computers. Nothin’ to do in this burgh.

Bonnie watches and waits.

Bonnie watches and waits.

Every now and again, Gibbs — our very special agent — goes out to patrol the yard. Barks a few times to make sure his presence is known. Bonnie watches from the window. Since Gibbs moved in, she sees no reason to go on patrol. That’s clearly his job. But in the evening, when the barks fill the air from far and wide, Bonnie is out there, communicating on the doggish network. Getting the news of the day, passing along any juicy gossip she may have. She expects Gibbs to come too. She gives him a short bark, and he leaps to his feet. When Bonnie says “jump,” Gibbs doesn’t even ask “how high.” He just jumps.

Bonnie agrees with Johnny Rocco: "I'll never have enough!"

Bonnie agrees with Johnny Rocco: “I’ll never have enough!”

We think of a day like this as peaceful. I guess for the dawgz, it’s boring. No squirrels to chase, though now that I’ve repaired Squeaky Squirrel and he is back in action, mauling him is always an option. I had to do some serious stitching with super strong button thread. I also un-stuffed his tail and removed the second squeaker from it to make eviscerating squirrel less tempting. So far, so good. Squirrel is still in the game.

Garry cradles a newly sutured squirrel, but fears for his future.

Garry cradles a newly sutured squirrel, but fears for his future.

Missing an ear and oddly misshapen where I was forced to suture sections of him to other sections that were never meant to be sewn together. I look like that under my clothing too. When they had to put me back together, they had the same problem, so they stitched whatever they had to whatever else they had.

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My abdomen looks as if I was mauled by a wild animal. I tell them I was taken by a lion while we were on safari in Botswana. Why not? It’s a lot much more entertaining than the truth and a lot simpler to explain. When they ask for details, I tell them “It all happened so fast. Once he had me in his jaws, it was just a blur.” That usually ends the conversation.

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So it’s quiet on the home front. We are all inside. There’s coffee to drink, sandwich makings, and a decent steak for dinner.

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A little bit boring, but only if you are a dog. For the humans, days like this are the best part of life.

INTERIOR | DAILY POST

CHAOS AS THE ARROW BATTLES ON

Garry and I have been binge-watching DC comic book hero shows. It started innocently enough, but now it’s a full-scale immersion. First, we dipped a toe in the waters and watched a single season of “The Flash.” We had three seasons of “Arrow” on Netflix, so we are almost finished with that. Hopefully, the next two seasons will be offered soon.

Arrow-Ollie-3

Did I mention that we’re already watching “Supergirl”? Not sure what city she is in, but obviously, it’s nearby. Not Gotham. Garry watches “Gotham” where baby Batman is learning to be super-duper. It’s so confusing!

We are almost done with our three Arrow seasons. The show has gone from moderately intelligent and occasionally funny, to All-Violence-All-the-Time and … well … a bit (more than a bit) dumb. Oliver Queen, our not-very-secret hero (who in Starling City doesn’t know he’s the Arrow?) seems to be getting increasingly stupid. Maybe it’s those explosions … or he doesn’t get his arrow polished often enough. Whatever.

Starling City 2

Ollie, or Oliver, aka The Arrow wants nothing more than to protect his loved ones and what’s left of Starling City from (further) harm.

I grew up in New York which has a bad (undeserved) reputation as being especially violent and crime-ridden. Then I lived for a decade in Jerusalem where, according to the news, terrorism rules. Then I came back to Boston where … well … y’know, there was Whitey Bulger and the Irish “mafia” (oxymoron). If you could take the dangers inherent in all the cities in which I’ve lived , added their crime levels then multiplied them by 10, you would not come close to the peril of living in Starling City for a week.

Those people should go live somewhere else. Between the crazed assassins roaming the streets with automatic weapons, biological onslaughts of epic proportions, and scientists with earthquake machines. At least once each week, a quarter of the city is leveled.

Arrow-1

Starling has been under continuous attack by evil overlords of every stripe. The League of Assassins. That weird Aussie who was Oliver’s friend on The Island, but took some drug and then hunted Oliver for killing someone who he didn’t kill (someone else did it, but it’s complicated). Ollie’s mom was murdered. His father killed himself. His sister was murdered, but came back from the dead after Oliver agreed to become the new Demon Head of the League of Assassins (it’s very complicated). His girlfriend’s sister is currently dead, but I bet she’s coming back. She became an assassin, was briefly a superhero, and is now dead and buried, but on these shows? Who knows?

No one in this DC world stays dead, not even if you see their rotting corpse. Unless their contract with the network is finished, they WILL be back. Maybe with a new name and new role, but alive.

On the final show we watched last night, Ollie (the Arrow’s) friends are trying to rescue him (or escape?) from the secret, impregnable castle of the ultra-dangerous bad guys and Felicity (don’t worry about who’s who because it doesn’t really matter) said:

“I’ve watched a lot of movies, so I KNOW that there’s always a secret exit from the impregnable castle.” Wow, so that’s where she’s getting her information! I was wondering.

Arrow-Season-3-Poster

And finally, there’s Ollie, troubled by the feeling that he and “The League of Assassins” have a date with destiny, says: “I can’t escape feeling that everything in my life has led me here, to this place.”

Well, duh. Wherever you may be, everything led you there. Whether you are in the kitchen making a grilled cheese sandwich, or being inducted into the League of Assassins, everything led you to the current moment. True of everyone, everywhere because how else did you get there? Seriously?

Every character in these series has lost one or more people they love and is obsessed with revenge, which means destroying entire cities — or,  alternatively, trying to save the world. We’ve all suffered losses. I don’t know anyone who felt obliged to level a city because someone they cared about died.

You can get over this stuff without a high body count.

And if you were contemplating a move to Starling City? In a word? Don’t.

CHAOTIC | WORDPRESS REALLY LIKES THIS WORD — FOURTH TIME THIS YEAR!

MILLIONS OF PERMANENT RECORDS ON FILE FOREVER

Last night, watching Star Trek: Next Generation, Geordi La Forge (Levar Burton) disobeyed a direct order given by Captain Stewart, er, I mean, Jean-Luc Picard. Although he survived his misadventure — barely, I might add — Picard told Geordi that regretfully, he was going to have to “put this incident on your permanent record!”

Oh my god! His permanent record. Even in Star Fleet, you cannot escape your permanent record. It’s four hundred years in the future and they still have that record.

Back in our golden olden days, the thing that was held over our heads — the Sword of Damocles — was that our bad behavior would go on our permanent record. From elementary school through our working years, we were warned our permanent record would follow us. Marks against us might even (gasp!) prevent us from getting into college  in which case we knew we might as well die on the spot. If you didn’t go to college, you would never have a decent job or a life worth living. I knew it in the marrow of my bones. Didn’t you?

72-At-Sunset-MAR-Superstition-011316_409

The Permanent Record is (was) (will be) like a rock. Unchanging. No matter what we do with our lives, everyone can find out about our misdeeds, even those from Kindergarten. Kind of like Wikileaks for every living human being. What an appalling thought!

All anyone anywhere needs to do is check the record. They’ll know I sassed my eleventh grade social studies teacher (he deserved worse) in May 1962. That Garry ran over his allotted time while reporting a news event in Boston and was not even repentant when confronted with his foul deed! Every evil we have done through our life will be revealed.

So, here’s the deal.

Now and forever, every one of us has a permanent record in which all our misbehavior is cataloged. I know because I’ve been told. I’m not sure who has custody of these records, however. As far as I can tell, everyone on the planet has one, so there must be a gigantic storage unit somewhere, where everything is filed. That’s hundreds of million of records to keep on file for eternity. Maybe trillions, zillions or gazillions.

permanent-record-file

I expect when we die, if there actually are Pearly Gates and an immortal gatekeeper who decides if we may or may not enter, he or she will be clutching a copy of our permanent record in one angelic hand.

That’s right. You talked back to your teacher in fifth grade, cut biology class in high school. Told a professor the dog ate your final paper in college. Now, you won’t go to Heaven.

Sorry pal. Your permanent record finally caught up with you.

THE DAILY POST | MILLIONS