Danila Cooper at the Russian Nobility Ball in New York

Unfortunately I will never go to this, but watching Russian dancing on You Tube is very enjoyable!
Danila Cooper

The Eye of An Artist

I know a woman who can take an old Wellington boot, a rusty wheelbarrow or even an ordinary brick, fill them with flowers and turn them into the most exquisitely beautiful features of an 'English country garden'. I know someone who can throw a rug over a chair, put a few plants in the right place and turn the dullest room into an enchanted place. It's surely a gift - an artist's eye - and there is something so uplifting about gazing at the beauty that artists create.
This morning, seeing the new photographs on André Hilliard's site (the one posted here is taken from there) and thought how utterly beautiful it is to have the eye of an artist to be able to view things in such a way as to create and capture images that speak so immediately to the finest part of ourselves. The depths of colour; the minute attention to detail, all the things we normally rush past and don't notice, pointed out in such images raise the soul to its true dignity.
If, in the midst of so much noise and the clamour of the world and emptiness of political rhetoric, you like to find refreshment in reality and the beauty that is there when it is pointed out to us, you, too, will surely love these beautiful, artistic images:


In the midst of the Industrial Revolution, the Pre-Raphaelite artists - like Waterhouse, whose painting is posted here (and if that infringes copyright, I will remove it.) - seemed to withdraw from the world in order to create images of a time where values were very different. Unlike the society in which they were living - one based on turning humanity into a great machine - they created images of a mythical part, the legends of King Arthur, Camelot, that dream that is within all of us, and which the past two centuries seem to have destroyed.

There's no doubt that it was necessary for society to change. The population had increased and, with the move to the towns and cities, it was no longer possible for small villages simply to provide enough to live one year out on subsistence farming. It was surely a kind of evolution but one that - to me - took an off-course turn. Paradoxically, when people were herded into slums and the squalor of the new, ill-prepared cities, masses of humanity were crowded together and rather than that drawing people closer, it simply shut down any sense of personal worth or identity. Previously, living in space, there was room for personality, room for individuals, room for the 'village idiot', the crone, the eccentric; room for people to just be whoever they were.

We have lived with that legacy ever since and turned humanity into a mass of ants all running one way to work, in rush hour, then running back in the same direction at the next rush hour. Animals were fatted beyond their natural way of being, then placed in battery farms; living, feeling creatures seen as nothing but cogs in this wheel. And into this step the power-seekers who say that we need to live in fear; we need to fear outsiders - terrorists, disease, epidemics or whatever form 'outsiders' take - and only those in power can keep us safe by keeping us in these confines and adding more and more restrictions. The arrogance of claiming that little man is greater than Nature in Her seasons of ice ages and warm ages and tides and ebbs and flows, has been used as yet another means of lulling us into a sense of being needy and needing a patriarchal government to step in and 'save' us from ourselves.

It seems to me that the whole Mother Earth and God Himself (whatever one's conception of a Deity/Humanity/Spirituality) is rising up against this. Sounds a little off-the-wall but as the banks collapse, as the hypocrisy of politicians becomes clearer, as churches are emptying and the old institutions are crumbling, there is a kind of Armageddon going on. It's pretty obvious who will triumph in this whole debacle. On the one side, there is a little 'Wizard of Oz' sort of power-seeking that has been lulling people to sleep for decades. On the other, there is the millions of years old wisdom of ages that expresses in individuals and in the need to wake up to who we really are. Most people don't want wars, don't want to live in fear of one another. Most people are capable of making their own choices....

We don't need a King Arthur; we surely do need to recognize our own worth. And for that I love the Pre-Raphaelites.

Football Cake

Check out this 3 d Grooms football cake. Chocolate on the inside frosted in chocolate fondant. Check out www.sedonaweddingcakes.com for more cakes!

Leeds City Varieties

Music Hall is something so evocative of a bygone age - a time of ornate theatre boxes and seedy goings-on behind the scenes; the clashing of the world of performers like Vesta Tilly and Marie Lloyd, and that of the gentlemen 'Dr. Jeckyls' by day and 'Mr. Hydes' by night. I love Music Hall; love Marie Lloyd singing, "When I take my morning promenade" (which I have on a crackling CD and would love to hear on the original wax cylinder) and imagine the whole parade of performers with their Union Jacks behind them as they roused the young men in the audience to march off to some hopeless war. The power of it - the intimacy of it - the clashing, cacophonous beauty of it all...a kind of innocence that is long gone.

The City Varieties in Leeds, where I live, is an old Music Hall (the place where they filmed the 1970s series of "The Good Old Days"). I remember there being photos of so many of the great Music Hall stars and in every footstep to the seat you could feel the history of the place and wonder how many thousands of feet had walked into that place in another era, seeking escape, seeking laughter, seeking all the extremes of emotion, from the laughter of "The Laughing Policeman" and "Don't Have Anymore Mrs. Moor" to the heart-rending ballads of, "After the Ball" and "Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage". And beyond to, "Keep the Homes Fires Burning" and "Please Beak the News To Mother."

Music Halls speak of every possible emotion - from the heights to the depths. All those over-sentimental Victorian preaching songs about drunken/absent fathers (Yikes!! (Father's a Drunkard and Mother is Dead" and "Father, dear Father, Come Home to Us Now"), all the risqué songs like "Have Some Madeira, M'Dear" and all the really funny songs that Marie Lloyd sang. It's so interesting how music and the history of music speaks of social change and the different ages through which we have lived. Music Halls were of an era because it was the only era in which they would have 'fit'. It was the first time that so many people had been crammed together in one place, trying to make sense of so many different views and experiences all at once, and somehow in the 'varieties', they manages to capture it all.

My grandmother

Today is the anniversary of my grandmother's death. She was born in 1896 and lived to the age of 98 and, as a child, I was constantly fascinated by the stories of her childhood and youth. Since history - for me! - seems to stop in 1918, it was incredible to hear first hand accounts of life up to and through to the end of the First World War. She remembered, as a very young child, the soldiers coming home from the Boer War and - being a northern mill girl - said, "Old Jepson (or some similar name) putting a barrel of beer in the street and all the men had a gill for free." When she spoke of the First World War (in which her closest brother was killed on the Somme), her voice always dropped, almost to a whisper, and she had that misty look of someone seeing into a memory they do not care to share. Occasionally, she mentioned things like, "They buried all the bodies in mass graves, but you mustn't tell anyone this, it's a secret," seemingly unaware that what was one a matter of 'state secrets' was, by my time, common knowledge.
Having left school at the age of 13, she loved working in the mill - in many mills - and she loved the whole camaraderie of a world that was quite poor but had a real sense of community.
It was to me a remarkable thing to have been able to spend time listening to the stories of someone who lived at the same time as Queen Victoria, who was older than two of the Tsar's children, and who would have read day to day in the newspapers of the terrible events as they happened.
I think she came from a generation that was incredibly strong. Nowadays, when people go for counselling because a pop group splits up, or when children aren't allowed to play with conkers for fear they might damage their wrists, we seem to a nation of ninnies. A lot of unexpressed emotion went into making up those people of the past - and that wasn't a good thing - but they did have guts and strength of character which is so often lacking today.

Simply Classic White Wedding Cake

Simply classic white wedding cake, Today 20-30ish Brides are dreaming of the classic all white wedding cake. This cake was custom created for the bride with a white on white scroll each tier having a different pattern.

Simply adorned with hand sculptured sugar roses by Donna Joy.

The Bride and Groom had a carve football as a Grooms cake. The wedding and reception was at Creekside Los Abrigados.

New Posts

Two new posts today: Marie-Antoinette's Music and Rasputin and the Empress.

Rasputin and the Empress: Yussoupoff v. Metro-Goldwyn Mayer

When Thalberg, the producer of a new movie about Rasputin, ordered the scriptwriter, Mercedes de Acosta, to write a scene in which the mad Russian monk seduces the niece of the Tsar, it horrified her. Thalberg wanted the scenes to be ‘violent and terrific’, according to the article, Tatars and Moguls in Atlantis Magazine. She had met Prince Yussoupoff, the principal conspirator in the murder of Rasputin, and it was obvious to her that the fictional character in the movie, Princess Natasha, was meant to represent his wife, Princess Irina. She wrote to the Prince about the movie. He threatened to sue. When Thalberg found out he fired her.

He promptly found another more agreeable scriptwriter and achieved the coup of getting three Barrymores to star in the movie: Ethel played Empress Alexandra; Lionel starred as Rasputin; and John played Prince Chegodieff (really Prince Yussoupoff). The film cost $1 million to produce, an enormous sum in 1932.

When Princess Irina found out about the new film it upset her very much. She had never even met Rasputin and she felt that the scenes in which she was seduced or raped by him destroyed her reputation. It was obvious that Princess Natasha was meant to be Princess Irina because she was betrothed to Rasputin’s murderer, she was the niece of the Tsar, and there were other similarities.

She met the famous lawyer, Fanny Holtzmann, who decided to sue in spite of the many risks involved.

MGM argued that Princess Natasha was a lady-in-waiting in the film and didn’t represent Princess Irina. It also argued that even if it were, the movie wasn’t libellous. Even if it was assumed to be Princess Irina, the princess in the film was raped so she wasn’t responsible and hadn’t been defamed.

Slessor, L.J. said that the film was defamatory whether the princess was raped or seduced:

“...When this woman is defamed in her sexual purity I do not think that the precise manner in she has been despoiled of her innocence and virginity is a matter which a jury can properly be asked to consider.”

After a law case involving such luminaries as Sir Patrick Hastings, graphic evidence of Rasputin’s murder, and sympathetic testimony from Princess Irina, the plaintiffs won. The jury awarded them 125,000 pounds, an enormous sum in those days.

MGM lost the appeal. Eventually a huge settlement was reached, in order to prevent law cases all over the world.

Today practically all movies use the disclaimer “...the characters in this movie are fictional and bear no resemblance to real persons living or dead...”

Romanoff Gold by William Clarke

Clarke describes Imperial Russia vividly and delves into the money trail meticulously.

The first part of this book is the most interesting. Certain images stayed in my mind: beautiful Meriel Buchanan's Russian admirer visitin>g her in a panic after the Revolution, the Tsar's daughters enjoying their first dances and balls, and the final terrible journey and end of the Royal family. (NB)

Reading how Clarke traced the money of the Romanovs is like reading a detective story, but it becomes a little dry and complicated at times. He does dispel long-held myths about Queen Mary and money and jewels spirited away during the First World War.

This is a book well-worth reading if you enjoy reading about the Romanovs.

NB: Meriel Buchanan was the British Ambassador's daughter.

Marie-Antoinette's Music

Marie-Antoinette may be ridiculed for lack of intelligence, but she was extremely talented and played the harp beautifully. She also played the spinet and the clavichord. She was a patron of many famous musicians, such as Gluck and invited him to present operas at Versailles. Taught by Philippe Hinner, she actually played well enough to accompany Salieri. She also wrote songs. One of these is probably C'est Mon Ami.

You can see a picture of her harp and some of her other possessions here:
Marie-Antoinette Antiques

The French Queen also loved the ballet. She danced with her sisters in Il Parnasso Confuso by Gluck when she was a young girl and brought a painting of her performance to Versailles. She arranged performances of the ballet, including Hungarian and Flemish country dances for the reception of her brother, Maximilian.

You can read much more about the fascinating French queen and listen to C'est Mon Ami at this wonderful website: Marie-Antoinette's Home Page

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The Kingdom Of Childhood

The Kingdom of Childhood is one of adventure and risk. There are dragons to be slain, dark woods in which one could be lost forever, glorious victories, kindly witches, wicked fairies, and a whole host of heroes and villains. It's a kingdom - like the Brontes' kingdom of Angria - filled with intrigues and intricacies that the adult mind struggles to understand because, while that kingdom never really goes away, it is viewed from such a grown-up perspective that the dragons, woods and villains are simply replaced by the stresses of work, lack of work, struggle and economics. The problem with adulthood is that we feel we ought to have slain and the dragons of childhood and are too grown-up to believe in the magic we once knew was true.
What is truly sad in recent times is the way in which we have not only smothered our own sense of childhood but, with an obsession with safety, have smothered that of children too. Adventures - though they doubtlessly continue though children's eyes - are inhibited by ridiculous laws of health & safety. Everything is cocooned and children are regimented to pass tests, till their brilliant imaginations have no outlet and all that is original is crushed out of them.
To my mind, this has been going on for a long time - a hundred and fifty years or more - probably since the beginnings of the agricultural and industrial revolutions, when people were suddenly regimented into working by the clock rather than by the sun; when animals were fed and fattened beyond what is natural, and humanity was herded en masse into cities and towns. More recently, it has taken a different turn - now, it is about creating little cogs to fit the wheel of 'society' - emphasis on maths and science, compelling everyone even in the most practical lines of work, to pass exams and gain some meaningless qualification - disregarding those whose natural talents are more artistic or creative or manual.
And what is the outcome? Well, isn't it obvious that sooner or later Nature Herself would rebel against this regimentation. Now, the banks collapse and whole false stability of economics is shown in its true light as something that can't be, and never could be, depended upon. This follows half a century of similar collapses. All those false institutions that attempted to control have been crumbling. Churches are emptying, the statesmen and women are not respected - and why should they be? - and everything that was set up to control and deprive people of their innate right to be who they are as mature and worthwhile individuals living in harmony, rather than cogs in a machine, is being shown for what it is.
This 'global' (how politicians love that term!) mess, which might well have been manufactured by those with an agenda to control, seems to have really turned people back to their own inner resourcefulness. My solution, for what it's worth, is a return to the archetypes of childhood. Once we see that the dragons and dark woods are not external to us, but are characters of our own making, we see that within us is the ability to slay all those dragons, to take risks and have adventures. There's no need for us to be kept 'safe' by those in power (in any form). We have within ourselves, the ability to live, to succeed in whatever we are created to succeed in; basically, we are free.

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Mausoleum Bückeburg

In June 2007 i spend a few days in Bückeburg on the occasion of the Wedding of HSH Fürst Alexander zu Schauburg-Lippe and Dr. Nadja Anna Zsoeks. During this time i also visited the Mausoleum in the Park of the Castle.
The Mausouleum was built from 1911 - 1915 during the reign of Fürst Adolf the last regning Fürst zu Schaumburg-Lippe and is the resting place of the members of the Princely FAmily. Some Family members are buried in a new Burial Ground near the Museum whichi and my friends got permisson to go into.




Photobucket Photobucket

The Graves of Fürst Philipp Ernst (1928-2003) and
Hereditary Prince Georg Wilhelm (1956-1983)



Grave of Princess Sigrid, née Knape (1929-1997)


Grave of Prince Christian (1898-1974) and his wife
Princess Feodora, née Princess of Denmark (1910-1975)


Grave of Duchess Adelheid of Saxe-Altenburg,
née Pricness of Schaumburg-Lippe (1875-1971)


Grave of Princess Stephan (1891-1965) his wife,
Princess Ingeborg Alix, née Duchess of Oldenbrug (1901-1996)
and their son, Princ Georg-Moritz (1924-1070)

Alice's Soul Searching

It seems to me that the more we swim against the tide or try to force our idea as to how things could or should be, the more frustrated we become. Perhaps it is for this reason that so many religious people resign themselves to 'the will of God' in such a negative way.

Dear Princess Alice, mother of Grand Duchess Elizabeth and Alix, the last Tsarina of Russia, seemed to struggle for so long, trying to make sense of her beliefs and following paths that led her away from orthodox views. The death of her little son, Frittie, somehow curtailed all of that and she resigned herself to 'the will of God' and died of diphtheria and exhaustion (or despair) at the age of 35. She was deeply mourned. She had spent her short life in Hesse not only raising her family but also doing all she could to care for the poor. A deeply feeling human being, she was a talented musician and of a poetic nature with a great sense of humour but I believe she went so far in her soul-searching and then, due to the pressures of the era (where the superficial Queen of Prussia labelled her 'an atheist') and the immediate circumstances of her life 'resigned' herself to the 'inevitable' and the orthodox views of religion and consequently literally choked to death over it.

Her children caught her soul-seeking and continued from where she left off. The saddest part of it all, is that two of her daughters who might have been so close and so mutually supportive, ended up opposing one another. Alix, the Tsarina, following the path of the mystical and the desperate at the same time; and Ella, following the path of the mystical and the need to be within a set regime. All these beautiful soul-searching people, working out their understanding and their own realities...The external events are hugely interesting but the inner lives are endlessly absorbing as they play out in all of us sooner or later, I think.

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Happy Birthday Jill & Mike

How much fun! Jill and Mike's Birthday Cakes.

Jill loves Egyptian arts, history and artifacts. So Jill birthday cake is a Pyramid adorned with a Gold seal in Old Egyptian writing HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Then Jill's cake is accented in two gold old Egyptian flowers. Love you Jill.

Mike is a great professional Photographer. What a fit a hand carved camera cake. Check out Mike incredible photos at Taltos. Happy Birthday Mike!

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Golden Globes Hair---Nancy O'Dell

This is the look we are going for...now, to be fair, this is a delicate hairstyle. It works FANTASTIC on my oldest, who is a little less...um...playful. Playful is a good word for it.

We modified it a bit for my little girl who can't stop on putting dress-up or hiding under rugs in IKEA. This is pre-crimping. Don't cringe when I say crimping. This is not that horrid triangle iron you had in 1987, this is a great 3-barrel curling iron. Don't shoot me when I say this, but DO NOT buy the cheap knock-offs of a 3-barrel curling iron found at big box stores!!!! I KNOW THIS FROM EXPERIENCE! Just don't, K! The more expensive ones have a center that lifts up, where as the cheapy's do not, and that my friend MAKES ALL OF THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD!!!

Yeah, I was a skeptic too, until one of our ultra-cool babysitters corrected the error of my ways. The cheapy was given to Goodwill where someone else will have to learn from my experience.

Remember THIS twist? You'd better, because that is the only way you will be able to do this very exact hairstyle! (As a side note, the model in that tut is a year older and looks it! Happy Birthday Lana!)

Spray the hair with hairspray (a very important step) and just use the curling iron as instructed in the manual. It takes time to get used to it, I still struggle.

As you can see in this picture, I pulled out some of the hair above where the two twists meet. You don't have to do this, it looks darling without it. I was just going for Nancy O'Dell. On a four-year old. A child who is 100% static by the end of the day.

And there you go!