The Queen and I


This week’s newspaper column is a bit self-serving–but your birthday only comes round once a year:


“You say it’s your birthday
Well it’s my birthday too–yeah
You say it’s your birthday
We’re gonna have a good time
I’m glad it’s your birthday
Happy birthday to you.” ~ The Beatles

Unlike Queen Elizabeth who shares the date of my birthday, there will be no grinning portrait of me to remember the day. Yesterday, a black and white photo of the Queen in all her grandmotherly glory was released commemorating her 88th birthday. According to the Associated Press on the CBC News website, the picture taken by British photographer David Bailey, is a “black-and-white photograph……showing the queen smiling broadly”—a side she does not often reveal to the public.

Shown wearing a three strand pearl necklace and what appears to be pearl and diamond earrings, she is sporting a dress designed by her personal assistant and senior dresser. Of the Queen, Bailey stated that he has “always liked strong women, and she is a very strong woman.”

In contrast, my birthday will be a private affair. Bailey, who is “celebrated for his portrait photography” of stars such as Jack Nicholson, Michael Caine and Johnny Depp will not be on my doorstep to take any candids of me, and neither will the Queen’s senior dresser be on hand to help me don her private designs (as the Queen has let her granddaughter-in-law Duchess Kate borrow her to help her dress for her many downunder walkabouts and George’s play dates).

The Queen will be celebrating her birthday on April 21st and then again in June with pomp and circumstance when the weather is a bit more fair. The ceremony in June is marked with a Trooping the Colour parade in London for her loyal subjects and eager tourists. My birthday will be celebrated by a few friends and family—some gathered to see me blow my candles out after making some inane wish, which according to two horoscopes that I read over the weekend, may come true. I am fairly sure the Queen does not depend on horoscopes to plan her future, but as with most things, I cannot really be sure.

Our shared horoscope in The Globe and Mail wants us to give “some serious thought to what we will be doing over the coming year because it could be one of the best ever.” The National Post was equally optimistic, stating that the sun will be entering our sign and boosting our energy for the next four weeks. Not only that but we “will attract favourable situations and important people” so we are to “milk it for all it is worth.” The Queen likely attracts “favourable situations and important people” all the time so I am pretty confident she does not need to do any milking. I, on the other hand, will take full advantage.

Birthdays are like another New Year’s to me — a time of reflection, a time to take a tally of life so far, and a time to think about what I would like to complete on my life (not bucket) list. The anniversary of our births can be a kind of wake-up call—another year under our belt, but another waiting in the wings, hopefully to take flight and not a nosedive. At this stage, “the arrogance of youth” is just a memory, but our younger selves still live on. I would like to think that I am wiser now, but what I am is more cognizant of the fact that I am not. The process of gaining wisdom is ongoing—and with every step forward, I recognize that I will never be a sage on a mountaintop handing out advice—I will always be a student, never the teacher.

My wish for the coming years? To live in the present (as hokey as that is, it is as most clichés are, true) and to plan for my future. Most importantly I will keep the lessons of the past, but leave behind the regrets. I will always be a dreamer but one with feet firmly planted on terra firma, someone who believes in the ethereal, but accepts reality (after wrestling it to the ground), and I will continue to try earn the mantle bestowed on the Queen by her photographer, David Bailey–that of a “strong woman”.


Published in: on April 21, 2014 at 7:55 pm  Comments (6)  
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Random Things

English: Sorting a random list using merge sort.

English: Sorting a random list using merge sort. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cristian Mihai wrote a blog with ten random things about himself and he got 150 likes and over 50 comments, so I thought I would give it a try to see if I can garner stats like that–so far only my About page has come close to that in “likes”, over a period of a year, not a day. (I have had some good “like” days, but never 150).

So here they are:

1. Like Cristian, I thought driving was too complicated, so did not get my licence until I was 35. Cristian is right, driving is too complicated.

2. I went to University until I was 27.

3. I love frozen Hostess chocolate cupcakes (the ones with the squiggle on top). I deny myself this treat until I can deny myself no longer.

4. I love watching General Hospital. This is a very difficult thing to reveal as it is my guilty pleasure. I have been watching it since I was fourteen. I gave it up for years cause it got weird (someone froze Port Charles or something)–and I don’t get to watch it everyday–but my answer to all of those who scoff at soaps — it does not kill your brain cells. This btw is my big reveal.

5. I love to read cook books. I don’t love to cook. Actually the cooking part is okay, it is the cleaning up part. I can channel my favourite food network cooks and chefs all I want for inspiration, but I know they do not have to clean up their messes.

6. I am not half as interesting as some of my favourite bloggers, but that does not stop me from posting.

7. I love the fall and all things autumnal. I love the word “autumnal”.

8. I was born on the same day as Queen Elizabeth, just lots and lots of years later. I consider her my soul sister. Can two very white women be soul sisters? I think so.

9. I have noticed that when I make a posting–if it is one where I need to be bolstered, the blogging community goes all out with kindness and compassion.

10. Despite what I write about my cat, I really do like him.

There you have it — ten things you could have lived your life quite happily without knowing.


Milestone in Mind of Beholder

Birthday Card made with Iris Folding

Birthday Card made with Iris Folding (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most birthdays live the  longest.” ~wry observation by that wit, Anonymous

Just had a birthday. Not a milestone birthday—apparently that is next year when I finally turn forty. Okay forty plus a lot more—but as I told a lady this week who I met in the grocery store and looked absolutely amazing for someone on the cusp of 80—it is only a number. No, it is not the age that I am turning that I find discomforting when I have a birthday; it is where I am as opposed to where I thought I would be.

A bit of a dreamer, lay philosopher (I say this with all humility—we are all philosophers as our beliefs are derived from the successes and failures we have experienced), seeker, and eternal student of life, I find that I am nowhere near to having fulfilled my dreams in some capacities, and far past fulfillment in others.

I share my birthday with Queen Elizabeth, and was once again disappointed this year when I did not receive an invitation to tea to celebrate the occasion together. Did not even get a birthday card from her. Now, of course, I am joking—but when I told a group of friends of my disappointment at a birthday lunch, one of the women said—“Well, did you send her a card?” I just love it when people make these kinds of observations—how can I expect her to know that we share a birthday? So, next year I will send her a card and see what happens. Or maybe I will send her one of  those “Sorry, I’m late” cards that I am so fond of—really, most of them are much more clever than the ‘on time’ birthday cards, probably because they tend to make grovelling humorous.

My second disappointment at reaching the age that I am now is that Margaret Atwood has not yet fulfilled her promise to have tea with me. After all, she is the mother of Canadian literature, and a bit of a heroine to me.  Once, when she signed one of her books for me, I asked her to put an invitation to tea on the inside cover of the book. Slightly puzzled, and looking askance at me, she did as I requested, probably to get the line moving so she could scrawl her lovely signature in the next book, hoping that the next devoted reader would not make a stupid request. Now Peggy, as I like to think of her, lives on Pelee Island part-time, so it would not be that much of a stretch for her to invite me to tea. (And I would be happy to fight a bout of seasickness to join her.) But, just as I was reminded by my friend that I had not sent the Queen a card, I remember that Peggy does not have my address. I think I may just send it to her and see what happens.

Tea Time

Tea Time (Photo credit: Maia C)

My third big disappointment is that I do not have a butler. Seriously. When I was in my early twenties, I was determined to have a butler. I thought that one had “arrived” if one had a butler. Now, of course, with the responsibility and need for a butler, comes a certain way of life. At my particular juncture, it would be very silly for me to have a butler, and admittedly, it does sound like the yearnings of an unbalanced, albeit harmless, being. But, think about—would it not be nice to have an Alfred–Batman’s wise butler who gives good counsel, and sets out your bat outfit just so? Or what about the butler in the “Family Affair”, Mr. French—I think that is where I first became aware of butlers. Servitude was not the essential element, but kindness and words of wisdom were. I would love to have someone who would guide me ever so gently through life, as these two did, and Alfred continues to do.

I have a number of goals I still want to achieve, which are not quite as “out there” as having tea with the Queen or Margaret Atwood and hiring a butler. Being somewhat of a late bloomer, I am sure I will reach many of them. On reflection, (which is part of what birthdays are all about) I have lots to be grateful for, and lots to look forward to. I will leave you with my husband’s standard birthday joke which I find strangely comforting: “If you can’t stay young, at least you can stay immature.”

Published in: on April 24, 2012 at 12:23 pm  Comments (15)  
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