Ever in the Field of Human Conflict

Now, as it is poppy time again, and already fireworks (in the pre-Bonfire Night days) are exploding all evening - reminiscent of the battlefields of the Somme - I was thinking of Churchill's much quoted lines and would like, without taking anything from the bravery of those RAF pilots of WW2, to turn it around.

Churchill said, "Never, in the field of human conflict, has so much been owed by so many to so few."

Looking back at the slaughter throughout history, it is apparent that ever, in the field of human conflict, so much has been given by so many for so few. The average soldier, and later the average conscript of the First World War, was misled by the lie that this was the war to end wars. So few people manufactured that idea, and yet millions marched off with some ideal that this massacre could bring peace on earth. Millions more suffered the loss of a father, brother, husband or friend. These men were just going about their lives, had no axe to grind with the Germans or Austrians or anyone else from another country. Nor did the average German conscript have any axe to grind with the British, French or Russians...Yet somewhere, a few people had a disagreement, felt a need to dominate, and invariably those people had a sense of their own inadequacy and a total inability to look inside themselves at their own problems and so played them out on the world stage at such a cost.

Hitler - poor little, weak fellow - found the means to attract to himself like-minded people because he appealed to the sense of weakness in a nation (a sense of weakness brought about, of course, by the terms of Versailles). Churchill was, I think, no less a megalomaniac - he just happened to be on the 'right' side, but would have done anything to ensure his own sense power - external to himself - to make up for the lack of self-esteem he felt in childhood. Ivan the Terrible - identical story. Alexander the Great - identical story. William the Conqueror, Richard the (so-called) Lionheart....The list is endless

And for the internal conflicts of these men - and such people throughout history - so much has been sacrificed by so many.

Okay, supposing I am wrong....well, here's a question. How come that the people in power, presumably those who are most intelligent, capable and aware, have again and again and again been unable to speak with one another to reach amicable conclusions. I have seen little schoolboys so angry with one another being brought to sit together and in five minutes they make an amicable agreement and become friends. Neither goes away feeling humiliated or having had to compromise their own beliefs. In five minutes, children can sit beside one another and become friends again. Yet some so called heroes of history couldn't do that?

Truly, ever in the history of human conflict, so much has been given by so many to ease the wounded child and ego of so few.

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My Muse is Cleo!

My Muse is Cleo


The night is so dark and misty - the perfect setting for the lead up to Hallowe'en, and what a set of bizarre reactions there are to that night! Here in England, I have heard from several quarters, a strange sort of backlash against this 'American import' this year. A few years ago, I heard a priest raging against it - calling it 'dangerous' like some kind of satanic ritual.

It's true that until maybe five or ten years ago, beyond the scary ghost stories and occasional pumpkin in a window, it seemed to have died out in England. There were no 'trick or treats' - instead there was (on November 4th) Mischief Night - which really meant stealing the wood from other people's bonfires before November 5th. Mischief Night escalated into putting treacle on door knobs, then throw eggs at windows or stealing someone's gates. People said how bad times were - forgetting that right back to the Middle Ages any excuse for disorder was welcomed! Trick or treat is mild in comparison and, personally, I think it's fabulous fun for children and a great American import Thank you, America!

The priest's reaction seems to go back to another era. The era when we didn't all live so indoors, hiding behind central heating and double glazing - when the dark night wasn't scary and the change of seasons was celebrated; when animals were brought indoors and there was no separation between humanity and the other creatures of the earth: the era, perhaps, before Christianity in its impurest sense arrived on these isles. The darkness of the night, the respect of the seasons was not something to be feared, but something to be respected. It spoke of the darkness within us - the fears, the judgements, the bitterness and the need to hide from ourselves. Samhain, like the May time Beltane, simply marked that contrast in Nature, that is reflected within us. It spoke of our fears as surely as springtime speaks of our hope. And here's an interesting thing: in the days and cultures where such things were acknowledged, respect for the wisdom of the elders was profound. Now, in our culture that fears the dark, we treat elderly people badly. We want only spring, only to be insulated from the natural flow of the seasons, and wonder why the world is as it is.

Hallowe'en - All Hallows Night - Hallowed (the same word that appears in The Lord's Prayer to describe God's Name) is not a nasty scary thing of ghouls and vampires and skeletons. It's no less a Feast Day than any other. Unless we face our fears, we are destined to be haunted by them, and it seems to me that our greatest fears are facing up to our own shadows - our own resentments, judgements, unforgiveness.

So...thank you again, America, for reviving our ancient tradition of remembering All Hallows Night - after all, if God/Life is omnipresent, everything is holy!

(Photograph courtesy of Andre Hilliard www.andrehilliard.com )

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Remembering Anastasia Bra

Artist Anne Spennachio created a lavish bra in rich colors which is decorated with crystal beading as a tribute to the Grand Duchess Anastasia, one of the daughters of Nicholas II and Alexandra.

Anne is one of a group of artists who have created Art Bras in aid of women suffering from breast cancer. These are featured in an exhibit in Philadelphia and in the Way to Wellness annual calendars. You can see a picture of the bra here: Remembering Anastasia bra

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I know an elderly woman who dislikes most people she meets but the moment that they pass from this life, she turns them into saints and won't hear a bad word spoken of them. In some ways she resembles Queen Victoria, I think. Although she adored Prince Albert, Queen Victoria made much of his life so difficult by her mood-swings and criticism and her own neediness. The same is true of her daughter, Alice, who - because she had criticised John Brown - Queen Victoria described to relatives all over Europe as having 'too high an opinion of herself', but the moment she died, she was suddenly a perfect example of humility!

How odd people are in their worship of those who are no longer physically here, and how quickly someone who was vilified in life can be turned into a saint once they have passed on! It's fascinating how many so-called 'saints' were hounded by bishops during their lifetime, and only later the good they did was recognized. John of the Cross, for example, was imprisoned - I believe - by the Church. Julie Billiart was constantly criticised by bishops; Bernadette of Lourdes was all but banished to her convent to keep her out of the way (and typically thought suffering was the only way to heaven, so died young). Jesus was crucified by the Church authorities.

I wonder why it is that people are so drawn to messages only after someone is no longer here to expound their message further?? Is it because it is too challenging to face when they are still here? It's safer and easier to create the image in our own likeness when there is no possibility of that false image being challenged?

In my opinion, heroes are never really heroes - they are all the products of our own image of what we would like to be and believe about all that is finest in ourselves. Dead heroes don't challenge that so it's easier to enshrine them and fit them into boxes. Truth be told, there are thousands of heroes - people who have lived out their lives according to their own lights, and bringing more joy and wonder into the world. The heroes established by 'history' - which often means by the government of the day - are seldom any more or less than the small child walking past their monument, doing whatever we do to get by, to improve our understanding, to be who we really are, unswayed by the need to fit in or fit someone else's mould of how we should live.

I like statues of heroes (and England is littered with them!), and what is most interesting, is scraping the surface to find, underneath, a person who is no different from all the everyday people we pass and talk to as we go about our daily business. We don't have to be dead to be heroes. We just have to be our true selves.

A Princess Named Mea

I figured if I wrote about you, you might actually read my blog.

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Queen Victoria: Ten Secrets

Cheryl Anderson Brown, who runs the lovely blog Princess Palace, has written a very interesting post about Queen Victoria: Queen Victoria's Secrets: Ten Things You Don't Know>

White Chocolate Cigar Wedding Cake

Simply a wonderful couple. Jessy & Kevin planned their wedding in Sedona well in advance.The have the ceremony and reception at L'Auberge de Sedona.
It was a pleasure working with this couple. They new exactly what they wanted. A hand rolled white chocolate cigar cake.

The colors of the fresh flowers looked so pretty with the white chocolate.
Ohh I love the way they look but making those cigars is noting but a labor of love! Congratulations to Jessy & Kevin.

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The Teenaged Princess & The Soldier

Mary Princess Royal
Deep in the trenches of Western Front, a young soldier falls beneath a torrent of German bullets. He is breathless. He thinks of home as he slumps into the dark, watery sludge of the trench. His eyes widen with realization. He breathes again. He reaches into his chest pocket and pulls out a little brass box, the silhouette of a young girl still visible despite the bullet’s dent. Replacing the treasured box, he returns to the fighting.

Spared that day, Private Mike Brabston of the Irish Guards later sustained an eye injury that landed him in the hospital. When he had recovered, he asked the hospital matron to return the little box, with his heartfelt thanks, to the young lady who had sent it to him, The Princess Mary, only daughter of King George V.

Private Brabston’s story is just one of many told by British soldiers and sailors who felt their lives had been saved by their “Princess Mary Box.” Intended to comfort and bring a bit of Christmas joy to the troops during that first holiday season of World War I, the little boxes became real treasures to their owners—it kept personal items safe and dry at sea or in the trenches, became a family heirloom, and even occasionally stopped a bullet.

Princess Mary was only 17 when the war started. Naturally shy, her isolation became complete with the declaration of war. Raised entirely at home, never having attended a school of any sort, Mary’s only friends were her brothers and her maid. But, her older brothers (the future Kings Edward VIII and George VI) were away in the military and her younger brothers were away at school. She worried desperately about all of them, particularly Bertie (later George VI)—on the first night of the war, she had a nightmare that he was killed in a naval battle. With both of her parents overwhelmingly busy, Mary had only her maid, Else Korsukawitz, to confide her fears. Then, Else was sent away. As a German national, she was given the choice of returning to Germany or entering an internment camp—she chose Germany. A heartbroken Mary was alone and had nothing to occupy her.

She decided to escape London and went to the family’s country estate at Sandringham in Norfolk. There, she could spend time with her beloved horses and she could visit with her old nanny, the beloved Lala Bill. Lala instantly recognized the princess’s depression and easily guessed the cause. Lala proposed that Mary do something useful with her time, something that would benefit the war cause.

Mary decided that she wanted to send a Christmas gift to all of the soldiers and sailors serving in the British imperial forces. A bit naively, she thought she could pay for it out of her own allowance. It soon became clear that this would be a major undertaking and committee was appointed in October 1914 to help the shy teenager raise ₤100,000. Mary attended every meeting and drafted a personal appeal: “I am sure that we should all be happier to feel that we had helped to send our little token of love and sympathy on Christmas morning, something that would be useful and of permanent value, and the making of which may be the means of providing employment in trades adversely affected by the war.”

By Christmas, nearly half a million little gifts had been distributed. Most included cigarettes, pipe tobacco and a lighter with a Christmas card from Mary. Nurses received chocolates and Indian soldiers received spices and candy. Some soldiers received pencils and paper. And, every gift came in a little brass box stamped with Mary’s profile and initials. She had asked to have the King’s portrait on the box, but he insisted that his favorite child use her own image. Soon, hundreds of thank you letters began pouring into Buckingham Palace. Today, Princess Mary boxes are highly collectible and can be found all over the world.

The experience transformed the shy and lonely girl into a confident young woman with purpose. Soon, Princess Mary was visiting wounded soldiers in the hospital and engaging in charitable activities—often addressing huge crowds. Within a couple of years, Mary announced that there was still more she could do. At breakfast one morning, she told her mother, “I have decided to become a nurse.”

Princess Lesson: Princess Victoria

Queen Victoria by Winterhalter

Princess Victoria felt her feverish forehead and groaned. She threw off her bedclothes in an effort to become cooler. She thought that she was near death in her more lucid moments.

The princess opened her eyes to see the dark figure of John Conroy, who dominated her mother, entering the room. He demanded that she sign a document. The princess knew that her mother, the Duchess of Kent, wanted to be Regent when Victoria came to the throne and that Conroy would then have control. She refused repeatedly as her mother and Conroy begged for her signature over and over again.

Princess Victoria had had to endure the 'Kensington system' for most of her life. This involved all of her actions being reported to Conroy. The princess couldn't associate with other children, was never left alone, and slept in her mother's room.

After she reached the golden age of 18 Victoria's mother tried to blackmail her into appointing Conroy as her advisor and Conroy threatened to lock her up and starve her if she didn't submit to their demands.

When the princess became Queen she removed her mother to distant rooms and eventually got rid of Conroy. When she married Prince Albert she was finally free.

Princess Victoria showed great strength of character by refusing to be dominated by her mother and the evil Conroy. Follow her example and don't let yourself be told what to do too easily. Trust your instincts and think for yourself if you don't agree with advice.


I received an email yesterday from Brianna of The Last Forty Percent Photography. She sent over these pictures along with information about their new project. MILph (Moms I'd like to photograph) is similar to boudoir sessions but with a mommy twist! It's a session honoring moms! In a world filled with diapers & spit-up it's nice to have a day to feel outwardly beautiful & sexy! Here are pictures from their first MILph session!


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Happy Hour: Swamp Sangria


Serves 12

5 lady apples
1 bunch (about 8 ounces) green seedless grapes
1 bunch (about 8 ounces) red seedless grapes
2 bottles dry white wine, chilled
2 cups sparkling apple cider, chilled
6 tablespoons poire William (pear-flavored eau-de-vie)


  1. Put apples and grapes into an ice-filled punch bowl. Pour in wine, cider, and poire William. Gently stir. (Source: Martha Stewart)

Engagement Shoot: Victoria + Anthony

Photography: Hillary Maybery