Saturday, December 14, 2002

14th Great-Grandmother Elise opens her eyes to find her cat Mimi coyly pacing, ready to get into the hunt. Whew! -- "Surprising entry, there Mimi. You knocked me off my feet" says our little heroine, tickling la petite chat behind the ears in that favorite spot. But let's be quiet, and go investigate a little more."

Bravely, Elise rights herself, tightens the belt on her bedcoat, and presses forward past the torch to the far side of this corridor. As she pauses at the next turn in the hallway, she notices a little slip of light emanating from under something on the far wall. Here, the wall isn't stone, its dark wooden paneling. And the light seems to define the bottom portion of some sort of hidden doorway.

If this part of the castle is supposed to be uninhabited, except during the summer holiday when her parents return, and the house is full of guests, then WHY are there lights here? Who could be here? Is it safe?

Outside in the distance, 14th Great-grandmother Elise can hear the peeling of the bell, signifying morning devotional, something Ms. Templeton, her English Nanny insists upon each day. "I'm not even dressed yet. She will surely be upset with me for being late, and give me extra lines to write in my penmanship book" thought Elsie as she ran back to her bedchamber.

Marzie was there when she returned, with clothes laid out on the bed and a little breakfast roll and warm milk on the table near the newly stoked fire. "Where have you been, my child? Hurry now, you can't miss your devotionals."

Answers to mystery of the unexplained lights in the west wing will have to wait for another day.

But you can bet that all through the morning, whenever Ms. Templeton wasn't looking, 14th Great-grandmother Elise would daze off in wonder -- trying to decide if she could sneak away tonight or should she check things out early tomorrow morning, since it will be Sunday and no lessons are required.
Being a brave sort of petite jeunne fille, we find that our 14th Great-grandmother Elise is simply no shrinking violet. Curiosity gets the best of her. Though fear tingles up and down her spine, Elise (pronounced Eleesze) draws close to the wall, and peers gingerly down the hallway into the shadows. As her eyes adjust to the darkness, she is able to make out the outline if a padded bench with a woven tapestry on the wall behind it about fifteen feet into the corridor. Beyond that, everything is enshrouded in

Faintly, in the distance, one can make out an occasional scratching sort of sound -- Aha, so she isn't imaging things! Every so quietly, Elise tiptoes into the hallway, and crouches down beside the bench. Peering deeper into the hallway, she picks up on a light in the distance.

Despite the risk, 14th Great-grandmother Elise decides to investigate. Hugging the cold, clammy wall on her right, she follows it until all takes a turn to the right. Peering around the corner cautiously, she sees that the flickering light emanates from a torch on the far wall. Thinking no one is watching, Elise steps around the corner, only to be come hopelessly entangled and brought to the carpet by something tackling the skirt of her bedcoat.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Just a note to say I will be away from the computer for a few days. More of the story to follow

Monday, December 09, 2002

Gather around, children, let's snuggle under a quilt, shut away the snowy hustle and bustle of the outside world, and think back on another day in the life of our ancestor 14th great-grandmother Elise, who is just waking up on this cold winter day. Remember that she lives in beautiful, vine-covered castle in a far away land.


As luck would have it, our beautiful little gal is warmly ensconced in her curtained four poster bed, under 7 downy quilts. Her white Angora cat, Mimi, is curled, up by her side. As dear little Elise stretches and pulls back her bedcurtains, sunlight is peeking though the folds of the tall window draperies at each of the five windows on the far side of her room. The fireplace still exudes warmth from last night's stoking, but the new day's logs have yet to be set. Shivering cold will be the name of the game for while.

Shivers of excitement also runs through Elise's veins, for she remembers her quest for today:

leading past her bedchamber doors.

This question has plagued 14th great-grandmother Elise for the better part of a fortnight, and has raised the ire of at least two of the upstairs maids. It won't be long before Elise's parents return for the annual holiday festivities. Any irregularities such as missing food and messy corridors are sure to be reported to them. And with the holiday presents close at hand, Elise definitely wants a good report. To be sure, our little heroine gets into enough mischief, without needing to take on the added responsibility for things like cookie crumbs that occur through no fault of her own.

Gingerly, Elise climbs down the steps leading to her high bed. Finding them cold from the brisk morning air, she scurries to find her rabbit-lined silk morning slippers. As she throws her robe around her and tightens the sash, Mimi has completed her morning stretching ritual -- jumping off the bed to find an exit to attend to the morning necessities. Cats being non-human are not about to use the chamber pot, how ever fancilly decorated with floral motifs. Giggling, Elsie opens one of the double doors leading into the upstairs hall of her wing of the castle, and the cat bounds away happily.

"And what would the little mistress desire for her breakfast this morning?" asks Marzie, the first of the upstairs maids to begin the rounds. "As usual, you're up before most of the house, little one. It will be at least an hour before Miss Templeton arises."

Giggling, our little gal gives a little hug, and swishes on by with a "Don't worry, I'll stop by and see cook in a moment."

"Now be a bonne petite fille and be sure to..." but the words fall on deaf ears. Elise has slipped away, in her skipping, floating little girl way of making it from point A to point B. Never two feet on the ground at the same time -- definitely a happy, carefree sort of a getting around.

The inner corridors of this wing are dark, dimly lighted by candles, except in the ante-ways with tall clerestory windows appearing in triplets every 30 or 40 feet. But since this hallway faces north west, the emerging daylight hasn't penetrated the frosted beveled glass of the lead-lined windows.

The sound of a door closing in the anteway to the left startles 14th Great-grandmother Elise, brings her to a tiptoeing halt. Who would be up this early? This part of the castle is not inhabited. Elsie only uses it sometimes as a shortcut to the kitchen -- avoiding the grand staircase and the central receiving hall on the ground floor.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

I've been thinking about how to use this diary. Today one of my daughters asked me to start retelling the stories I used to tell them when they were little. I think this is a good idea. This doesn't exactly fit into my genealogy software program. The stories are more fanciful -- though the telling of them is very traditional in our family. I remember beginning to tell these stories when I was pregnant with my third child. By then I had a 4 year old and a 5 year old daughter. I remember being very tired. I began telling the stories because I wanted to be with them, and do things with them, but I was tired. So we would lay down on my big bed, and we'd look at the bumps in the ceiling, and call them clusters or communities. I'd always point to one, and then begin telling these stories.

Carrie wants me to begin with the Christmas stories. Should I begin begin with the traditional ones, and then branch out, so to speak? I always thought as a child it was neat to lay down under the bottom edge of the Christmas tree and look up into the lights, or see my reflection in some of the colored ornaments... mom had some that must have been bigger than a softball. But I was always shooed away from doing this -- too likely to break something. But I thought it was a wonderful treat, so I made sure to let my kids do this...

Carrie particularly remembers my telling stories under the Christmas tree. So tomorrow night, I'll tell how our family invented Christmas trees, back when it was our 14th great-grandmother Elise, in a castle in far-away Europe...

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

This is my first BLOG, as they call it. I intend to write more often than not. Today was a busy day at work, and I am thankful that its over. I didn't want to come back from visiting with all my grandchildren... but life goes on... they are happy and healthy and that is wonderful.