birthday, biography

Tomorrow is Mei-mei’s 3rd birthday. She wants to help make her own cake (from a box and in the toaster oven – I cannot wait to return to my kitchen) tomorrow afternoon. Grandma sent a box of mac’n’chesse which we will serve for dinner along with broccoli. She picked out some candy to bring to school to pass out to her friends to mark the importance of the day.

In other news…

Not long ago I read a biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine – early medieval royalty are not my usual subject but the book caught my eye because I know that my mother was reading it at the time of her death 10 years ago. My mother liked nothing better than a dense, dry, academic tome on kings and queens, 16th century France, etc, etc. Anyway, it turns out Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine was a bit of a dowager empress in her own right – influencing 4 of her contemporary kings as well as
intermittently administering their kingdoms as well as her own lands. As reading I couldn’t help but contemplate impact that royal politics, crusades, sieges, excommunications, marauding, taxation, and all the rest of it had on the living conditions of the peasants in late 12th century Europe. What wretched conditions the common folk lived in and how little their misery was remarked by those who ruled them! We do not speak of rulers anymore, just leaders, and I suspect that we are the better for it.

I also found the religious character of the period interesting. People believed in the extreme and witnessed the supernatural much more than people claim to now, so it seems to me. At the same time, the royalty were always trying to influence the Church, ignoring the demands of the Pope and, even, barring Rome’s representatives from their lands in order to avoid notice of their excommunications, etc. Should they actually be excommunicated, they considered it a grievous situation in the extreme and often became completely unglued by being banned from “the holy sacrament.”

Anyway, it was an informative read. The book left me with the idea that it might be interesting to spend some time touring Europe’s medieval castles and ruins.

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3 Responses to birthday, biography

  1. James says:

    Happy Birthday Mei-mei!!!

  2. Christine says:

    Happy Birthday Mei-meil!!!

    Do we get to celebrate her birthday again when you get back? I can’t wait to see you all!

  3. auntielucia says:

    I can’t believe this affinity across oceans and cultures. May 26 is also my birthday.

    Thank you for your generally intelligent observations about China. The Falungong et al are only small pieces in a bigger picture. Taiwan and Tibet are parts of China and always will be, much like California and Louisana are part of USA

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