Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sunday Odds & Ends

It's a quiet Sunday afternoon here. Joshua will be flying home from Texas tonight, and Jonathan is getting ready for another date with Maggie. Dave is taking his Sunday nap, and I just woke up from mine. I have to go to the store in a few minutes to pick up a couple of steaks for our supper.

The first week of May was pretty quiet, but that's going to change in a hurry. Jonathan will be in Michigan with the National Capital Band next weekend. He'll return home for a few days, then he and the band will leave for a ten-day tour of France and Switzerland. He'll get home from that tour on Memorial Day weekend.

Joshua is busy rehearsing the music for The Wizard of Oz. The pit orchestra has after-school rehearsals every day for the next couple of weeks. He is also preparing to take his final examinations in the next three weeks before he leaves for the summer.

Dave has several business trips coming up in the next few weeks. April and May are always busy travel months for him. Things will quiet down for him in June and through most of the summer.

I don't have anything particularly interesting going on at this point. Last month's trip to Myrtle Beach was my spring highlight.

The photo below is our neighborhood as seen from Google Earth. See if you can find our townhouse. If you haven't tried Google Earth, check it out. A couple of weeks ago, Joshua and I spent an hour or so reliving his trip to Europe. It was interesting for me to look up the places he'd been and he had a nice time reliving his memories.

Last night I finished reading a biography of Queen Isabella, a 14th century English queen. Isabella was a French princess who married King Edward II in 1308. She was 12 and he was 24. It's no surprise that Edward wasn't too interested in his child bride until she turned 16 or 17. They probably had little in common to talk about. Besides, notwithstanding the fact that they had four children, Edward's homosexuality was not an asset to their marriage. As Isabella matured, she became a shrewd diplomat. Unfortunately, Edward did not share her skills. He was an awful ruler who let his lovers run amok. Corruption and greed were the rules of the day during Edward's reign. Isabella eventually traveled to France on a diplomatic mission and prolonged her stay, as she feared she would be killed by Edward's powerful, jealous cohorts if she returned to England.

In France, Isabella became politically and sexually involved with Roger Mortimer, a member of the English nobility who was also in exile. Isabella and Mortimer invaded England, overthrew Edward II and had Isabella's teen-aged son, Edward III, proclaimed king. Since Edward III was still a minor, Isabella and Mortimer ruled as regents in his stead. As things turned out, Mortimer grew as greedy and corrupt as Edward II's cohorts. He even seems to have plotted the murder of Edward II, who was being held prisoner in an English castle.

Tradition has held that Edward was gruesomely disemboweled, but there is evidence that he may have escaped his prison, fled to the Continent and spent his remaining few years in various monasteries. Just before Edward III reached the age of majority, he overthrew Mortimer, who was tried and executed for his crimes. Isabella, fortunate to have avoided the gallows herself, spent her remaining years in retirement in England. She was closely guarded for the first couple of years, but the restrictions were gradually lifted. By the end of her life, she enjoyed cordial relations with her children and grandchildren and occasionally served as an advisor to Edward III, who is regarded as one of England's best kings.

Historians (mostly men) generally have judged Isabella very harshly. Well, it's easy to see why: she was smarter than her husband, she refused to let the men in her life abuse her, she was sexually frustrated and did something about it, and she successfully planned and executed an invasion of England and the deposition of a king. She didn't stay barefoot in the kitchen, that's for sure. She was colorful and spunky, to say the least. If I could meet any historical figures, she'd be on my list, as would Eleanor of Aquitaine and Elizabeth I. I must say, Englad has had some interesting queens! If you're interested in reading the book, it's entitled Queen Isabella, by Alison Weir. I've read several of Weir's books and she's definitely one of my favorite authors. She's a great historian/biographer and a wonderful writer whose books read like novels. If you don't think a history book or biography can be a page-turner, you have to read Weir's work.


Jenn said...

sounds like an interesting read! ...and who is this maggie character? this is new information :)

Stephen said...

What a great story! Isabella was certainly one who has had significant impact upon history. Bravo for her and ridding the evil that eventually led to the rise of one of the finest kings in Britain.

Stephen said...

By the way, I see your townhouse! It's amazing how clear these images are.

Erik said...

Thank you for your advice on British history literature! If I had time, I would read more. But I'm a bad planner of my own time, maybe I should do something about it. By the way, how can I see your townhouse if you don't mark it? Anyway, now I have an idea of your surroundings. You must be very busy and no Sunday naps anymore with all those music rehearsals. I hope that these 3 weeks you mention are not the only weeks Joshua will need for his preparation and that he has done some work before. I wish him all the luck, but I'm sure he will not need it because with such parents you only can pass exams, not fail them.