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OTMA Poems Continue

I can’t begin to imagine how the Romanov family managed to get through their last days, but I tried to put myself in their places and have expressed it through poems.

Notes:
The poems will not go in birth order—meaning starting with Olga then going to Tatiana and so on. It’s going to be more chronological of the events of the family’s last days.

The first round of poems had the sisters’ pictures featured as the cover photo. With the exception of Tatiana, those pictures were some of the last known pictures of the sisters.The rest of these poetry posts (starting October 21, 2017) will include pictures of the sisters within the text from different eras of their lives.

 

Olga, Tatiana, and Marie-a.k.a. OTMA

OTMA’S Last Poetry Project Introduction

The Romanov execution occurred July 17, 1918 in the basement of the building, the Ipatiev House. The family spent their last months at the house which was also known as the “House of Special Purpose.” When studying about the events at the house, you get a sort of preview of how the family members would act in their final moments.  The family’s reactions varied. The two elder sisters, Olga and Tatiana, held on to each other. The middle sister, Marie, put up a good fight and Anastasia went unnoticed at first before she was killed. (Yes, each member of the family was murdered.)

The Romanov’s last days and the house’s atmosphere included a variety of boredoms, friendliness, and tensions.  It’s an incredible story where everyone seems to have their own agenda, strengths, and flaws. What is exactly was going through their heads? Part of my exploring includes writing poetry from the viewpoint of the sisters—Olga, Tatiana, Marie, and Anastasia—also known officially as OTMA during their lives. My humble “hypothetical’ project has been depressing, fun, and fulfilling. I’ve written multiple poems from the viewpoint of each sister and hope to do more.

And don’t worry—note every poem will be posted.

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Review of Catherine of Braganza: Charles II’s Restoration Queen

Thanks to Sarah-Beth Watkins’ Catherine of Braganza: Charles II’s Restoration Queen, we finally get a solid biography of the Portuguese princess turned queen of England.

As the title suggests, this biography mainly concentrates on Catherine’s years as queen consort to Charles II. However, Watkins does nicely provide a rare glimpse of Catherine’s life before her marriage and after the death of Charles II.

Catherine book

Whether it was the beginning, middle, or ending of Catherine’s story, a reoccurring theme is the difficulties of being a princess and a queen. Through good storytelling, this biography gives information about what real life is like for royal women. They constantly get judged publicly, have obligations to follow, and have to pick and choose their battles carefully. Watkins gives the valuable insight: “A princess, and often a queen, must do as she was told.”

A common hardship being married to a king is often his affairs. Catherine goes down in English history as a tragic queen who had to deal with a husband who womanized a lot. Far too often, though, I read books and blogs that describe Catherine being “desperately in love” with her unfaithful husband. Watkins doesn’t jump to that conclusion. Instead, she gives us stories in which show the tension and tenderness between Catherine and Charles. We also get more details of what Catherine did away from the royal court and Charles.

Catherine of Braganza: Charles II’s Restoration Queen is a valuable read. The more you get to know this queen, the more you agree with the observation of Minette, Charles II’s sister, about Catherine: “It is impossible not to love her.”

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Link:
Catherine of Braganza: Charles II’s Restoration Queen

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Mothers’ Day

Happy Mothers’ Day!

I wish I could be with my mom and just sing today. But since we can’t watch Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, walk Zane, or enjoy nature together, I attempted to write a poem about one of the most important lessons she taught me about being myself.

I’ve learned many lessons from my mom
She taught early on:
“Once a blonde always a blonde.”

As my hair darkens–
Or when it’s been dyed–
I’ve always had a passion inside
It’s that I take pride in being
Blonde
Blonde
Blonde!

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My mom continues to teach me everyday through her sweet example, willingness to talk, and words of encouragement.  Words can never express what she means to me.

Love you, Mom!

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Learning You Can Change: My Experience Watching A Tale As Old As Time

Bravo! Magnifique!

You could hear a pin drop when the movie ended. Even the baby by me stopped crying. The brief silence was then followed with the theatre bursting in applause.

But let’ back up. Let me restart the song, “Evermore,” on YouTube. Here goes.

Hours before…

It was past three and I knew I should get going. I was home alone and a little nervous. Yep. I went by myself but had the little butterflies you get before a date. (Let’s just channel Gaston to make me feel better–of course anyone would get giddy if they went on a date with me!)

But I wasn’t necessarily alone. My parents were already watching Beauty and the Beast in California. My sister and sister-in-law and perhaps my brother, were going to see it later in Texas. So we were all seeing Beauty and the Beast at least a half hour together.

So, maybe twenty minutes in, I got this text from my Mom:
“Hope you are enjoying the show! It is so fun! Love, Mom.”

(Don’t worry. I silenced my phone and would reply after.)

So my mom was so there. I could so feel her presence. When a new sort-of-favorite character was pointed out by Gaston, I gasped and imagined myself turning to her and my sister. We would be saying things like. “It’s her.” “Yes! Yes!” “It’s the—” Then there would be a “Shhh!”

Wait, have to restart “Evermore.” (Sorry Josh Groban; I’m listening to Dan Stevens. I just want stay close to the movie. =)

I know the exact moments I would have interacted with them. Then further in the movie, I got a text from my Dad. I saw it had a picture on it. After the movie, I opened the text that was forward to me and my sisters and saw that it was a picture of my parents dressed in their green shirts holding hands in front of The Beauty and the Beast movie poster.

Then I had the thought.

This is what the movie’s about.

Just pure love and true kindness.

One of my favorite moments was when the um, beggar woman, took care of Maurice. The whole movie was super, but amidst the special effects and extravagance, the tender moments like those stood out to me.

So now let’s go back to the moment the movie was over. Well, it wasn’t really over; the credits were beautiful. The elderly gentleman next to me told his wife, “Boy they have a lot of people working on these movies.”

This couple, maybe six other people, and myself stayed for the entire credits. But I felt like I was almost (almost) with my parents who also most likely stayed through the credits too.( Oh, yeah, at the very beginning of the movie, the man was closing his eyes, and his wife was smiling at the screen, wide-eyed, I thought, This is so like my family.)

So, of course I recommend it! Even the Texas crew loved it. I agree with my sister-in-law that it was better than expected. Absolutely loved it!

The whole experience was refreshing. Learning you were wrong definitely applies to me here.

Okay, one more time listening to “Evermore.”

Or maybe one hundred.

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Sleeping Princesses: Standing Up for Sleeping Beauty and Snow White

I’ve been wanting  to write about the popular damsels in distress for a long time. And since the feminist live action Beauty and the Beast movie is coming to theaters very soon, I’m going to prove how awesome Sleeping Beauty and Snow White actually are.

No, I’m not going to go through modern retellings. However, I have to say that modern observations in health are important when looking at these traditional fairytales. Whether it be waking up from a concussion, seizure, a form of shock, heat exhaustion, an illness, or some other shock that overcame your body, it can be very scary, and sometimes life-threatening.

I know because I’ve been there.

Once upon a time, I nearly got a prince.

Years ago, I was doing some student teaching in the summer. With all the stress, lack of sleep, and heat, I passed out and needed medical help. The paramedics were there in minutes. (So I heard.) I remember waking up and saw some attractive gentlemen hovering over me. They were so sweet asking about how I was feeling and asked other nice questions witnesses told me later. I remember thinking that I couldn’t mess up. Guys like these never approach me! I didn’t want them to think I was stupid. I felt stupid, though, when a fellow classmate gave the following account:

“One of the guys went right by you and said, ‘Hi, I’m Jake. What’s your name?’ And you just looked at him.’” She reenacted a blank stare. “ ‘Can I sit by you?’” My classmate stared again. It was a good laugh.

Despite a fall, I was still in fine health. I hadn’t needed CPR, but apparently I resisted and was scared  when they were trying to stabilize me. I was such an idiot!

Another witness, who always wore her gray hair in a bun, said, “They were hot! You should bake them cookies.”

But someone said the paramedics were probably married.

Darn!

Whatever the marital status, I was grateful for their help, but was alarmed at the insurance bill. I couldn’t help but think, “Well that’s the most expensive date I’ve ever been on!”

In all seriousness, though, I saw the world in a different kind of light. I saw genuine kindness from classmates and mentors. My family still supported me, and I was stronger than I thought I was. I passed and completed that semester.

From a couple weeks to a hundred years, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White eventually came out their drowsiness. They had help, but we know that we must accept help sometimes in order to live.

They managed to ride a horse, dance, and found someone that wanted to marry them. Finding someone that wants to marry you, despite past and present medical conditions, is one of the greatest challenges of all.

So, don’t you dis on Snow White or Sleeping Beauty!  They’re heroines who learned to ignore the negative stigmas placed on their health conditions.

Take that, Belle!

 

Image: Resting by Victor Gabriel Gilbert

 

Grownup Elizabeth 2

Elizabeth Arline

I see the sweetest girl at church
Sitting in the front pew
So should I continue
This painful search?

Elizabeth Arline
I try to learn as I pray
But with my amen, you get away
Like you did at age nineteen.

I wish you could show
The start of your short life
To the last months you were a wife
I know there’s more to know.

I can still hear that lullaby
You sang as you left this earth
Just days after child birth
When carried to the sky.

Elizabeth Arline
I don’t know if you’re pleased
I don’t know if you’re at peace
It’s probably somewhere in between.

As for me, I’m not serene
You stay in my mind
And tell me to search and find
As our stories intertwine.

I will find your story
I promise I will
Sweet and lovely Elizabeth Arline.

 

(Picture from FamilySearch.com)

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Princess Lamballe: Dealing With Moral and Political Clashes

Early morning on  inauguration day. I  was browsing Facebook and came across some fantastic links about peace and coming together. Other people posted how they hate, hate everything about the new leadership. I think it’s understandable. It’s hard to know exactly what to do. How do we support our government without compromising our own beliefs?

Then a name came to mind.

Lamballe.

Princess Marie Louise of Savoy, also known as the “princess de Lamballe”, was a cousin-in-law and good friend to Marie-Antoinette. (For this post I will refer to princesse de Lamballe as Princess Lamballe.)

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Princess Lamballe was an intellectual, open to new ideas, but was opinionated and a staunch Bourbon royal family supporter. She even went to England in hopes of gathering supporters for the French royal family. She went back to France and was in the Queen’s service till she was separated from the royal family.

Princess Lamballe was brought to trial September 3, 1792 where she was asked to make a promise to liberty and denounce the King, Queen, and Monarchy.

This is a what-would-you-do moment. What could you do—would you disown yourself, people you love, your own belief system or give in to something you don’t believe in? What would keep peace?

I suspect Princess Lamballe had a feeling a moment like this would come.

She agreed to make an oath to Liberty and Equality but would not denounce the King, Queen, and monarchy. Her trial ended with the words, “emmenez madame,” which means, “take madame away.” She was then taken out to the street where she was tortured and murdered. When I found out about this particular murder in history, I was of course horrified. Just replace some nouns dropped in her trial, and you see how relevant her trial is to today.

I hope there won’t be violence no matter how much we disagree. I pray for peace and that I can act peacefully. I’ll still fight for what I believe in. I admit I’m still unsure how. That’s why I see Princess Lamballe, who lived in the eighteenth century, as a new kind of hero. I’m beginning to recognize these kinds of heroes more. They have such diverse beliefs than the new leadership yet show respect to the government and try to be unified. It’s fortunate we have such great examples living in these times because it’s tough. It’s easier said than done.

Sources and Further Readings:
“Elders Oaks, Holland counsel young adults regarding political divisions and life’s changes.” Deseret News. Accessed January 21, 2017
“The Death of the Princesse de Lamballe”  MadameGuillotine.org. Accessed January 21, 2017.
“Princess Marie Louise of Savoy”  Wikipedia. org. Accessed January 21, 2016

Images:
Portrait of the Princess of Lamballe by Anton Hickel, 1788.
Portrait of Madame de Lamballe by Louis-Edouard Rioult .

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Baby Jesus and My Dog, Angel

Beliefs and Speculations

I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that he came to earth to save it. He was born of a virgin in humble circumstances. That’s the one of the most important things in this post.

It is interesting when people present theories concerning the Savior’s birth and early childhood. Like—were there actually “three” wise men? Was Jesus really born in a stable?  Was it a cave? Maybe it was a barn. A more reasonable or scholarly interpretation is that Mary and Joseph stayed at crowded relative’s house in a left over room. Were there animals around? Perhaps.

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Was Jesus actually born in a place with animals?

 

The Bible does say Jesus was born in a manger, and so I definitely believe that.

But could animals have truly been nearby? The animal concept has got to me this year.  My best friend, my dog Angel, passed away in November. This day—Christmas Eve day—twelve years ago, my family and I got baby Angel. She was the best Christmas present ever.

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Christmas Eve Day ’04 in front of Save Mart.

 

This season I was introduced to a sweet song.–Alison Krauss and Alan Jackson’s “When the Angels Cried.” The most memorable lyrics: “And the creatures gathered round and didn’t make a sound. And the angels cried.” Now, I don’t know if the animals were hovering over a newborn (don’t want to scare him for life!), but I know what Angel would have done had she been close enough to see Jesus. She would get as close as she could. A certain story relating to Angel and babies sticks out in my mind.

Angel and Baby

One of my favorite memories of Angel occurred this last summer. Just in the backyard. I had a blanket on the lawn and was enjoying my relaxation under the shade. The dogs had already greeted me when I came out and then went to different areas of the yard. That all changed, though, when my brother came outside carrying his baby girl.

He sat down on the blanket with the baby on his lap. Just in a matter of seconds, I noticed Angel, who was chilling on the patio , get up immediately when she saw the little one. Her eyes seemed to say, “Baby!” She rushed over to see the baby and beat the younger dog. Both gave kisses. Angel then rested on an empty spot on the blanket. My mom came outside and sat by Angel. It was a tender moment and one of the best breaks for a keep going summer.

Really, I can’t convey the peace and enjoyment when I saw the two dogs racing to see a baby.

So now I don’t want to jump to any conclusions, but Mary and Joseph had to have some contact with animals sometime in Bethlehem, and I bet the animals were as in awe of the newborn as the shepherds and angels! (And remember I once asked—who said that an angel has to be a human?)

It might sound so ridiculous, but I know had Angel been an animal who saw the baby Jesus, she would have passed up humans and animals alike to see Him

It feels weird without my Angel this Christmas season. She’s never far from my mind.

cimg5024-palsShe feels really close as I look at babies and see paintings of the manger scenes.

 

 

Images:
The Nativity by Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale
Photographs courtesy of Douglas Patten

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