Good bye, our Lucy

The Life and Times of our Lucy Liu, with us April 2012 – February 2018

The very thoughtful and kind gift from the 404 Emergency Vet clinic. Each of our smalls received one. Lucy 🐾

When we bought this house in 2012, it came with cats. Like fourteen feral cats with varying degrees of illness and disease. And in among the chaos of cats we were dealing with, was her. A small, black and white warrior, who survived despite her surroundings. She, who did not hiss, run or yowl. She adopted us quickly. The other cats were trapped and taken by Animal Control. Many went on to have litters of kittens shortly afterwards. Some were able to be adopted out. Others, well, I don’t know.

The bond between Lucy and ‘her kids’ was unbreakable, genuine and always loving.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not, by nature, a cat person. In fact, cats scare me, I never know if they’re about to attack. This cat though, was different from any other I had ever encountered. She very decidedly chose us. Lucy Liu (aptly named after the actress of the same name, by my husband, for her obvious, ‘Kill Bill’-esque ninja abilities) stayed with us and within no time at all, a matter of a few weeks actually, she gave birth to a litter of three kittens. We never even knew she was pregnant. She was just that tiny, undernourished and unwell. Immediately we could tell that she was an amazing mother. It was apparent that this was not her first litter. When the kittens were old enough to leave their mama, they were adopted out. But Lucy stayed with us. We had her spayed and microchipped and loved, cared and fed her back to health. She was amazing. She was also a bit blood thirsty, but only towards creatures we wouldn’t want in our house anyway. So we appreciated her huntress ways.

My husband snapped this picture on his phone a few days after Lucy had her kittens. We named them Squawker, Little Grey, and Butterball.

Lucy was never indifferent and uninterested in us. She trusted us with her kittens, she trusted us with her own care. She never fought or scowled at us. She would follow me down our driveway and along the road and around the corner to pick up our mail. She would respond to her name and come when called. She was the perfect blend of independent and social. She would join us in the living room for movie nights, lie on the floor with our smalls, she would even join us for bedtime story and outdoor movie nights. She was completely comfortable and at ease, blending in with our big family without missing a beat.

She was all in. Whether it was story time, movie time, playtime or sleeping time, she gave it her all.

Often in the mornings (during the months that she enjoyed the outdoors), she would walk with us down the driveway to see the smalls get on their school bus. She would check on the children at night, visiting each one of them after lights out. And sometimes she would stay with one or the other and sometimes she would settle in for the night in her own bed (a favourite cardboard box filled with baby blankets), or on a cold night, in front of the fire.

I loved when she slept like this.

She was definitely a cookie. If the box fits, sleep in it.

She would plank anywhere







She was an outdoor cat from April until October and absolutely agoraphobic between November and March. This always struck us funny, as before adopting us, she lived outside 24/7, 365 days a year. She rarely, if ever, really left our property. When other cats, both known to her and feral would approach her porch or deck, she would defend it with a fury that we otherwise never witnessed.

For such a tiny little thing, she sure knew how to walk menacingly.

She never grew to be much  more than 7 or 8 pounds, so stayed a small cat always. But she had the heart and spirit of a lioness and I often joked that one day we would look out and see her pulling a deer down the driveway after a day out hunting.

Lucy Liu, Boxing Day 2017.

Then, last night I had to rush Lucy Liu to the 24 hour, 404 Emergency vet clinic in Newmarket. She could barely breathe and was not acting like herself at all. She was immediately taken into an examination room and triaged and within 20 minutes of our arrival, Dr. Rebecca, very gently and kindly gave me the results of her assessment and the options available to us. There was very little doubt. I had to call my husband and let him know that it was probably best to get the kids (I had just put them to bed before Lucy and I left the house) and bring them down to say good-bye. Lucy’s chest was filled with fluid and making it impossible for her lungs to inflate, the most likely cause was cancer. Rather than putting her through endless tests and diagnostics and lengthy hospital stay with a poor prognosis and nothing but suffering on her horizon, we had to let her go. She deserved to go gently, without anymore suffering.

We were all with her to the very end, petting her, loving her and comforting her. When she was gone, we brought her back to the home that she loved and we will bury her here in the Spring. We miss her tremendously already. Today, our house is a little bit emptier and a whole lot more sorrowful.

Good bye our beautiful Lucy. We could not have asked for a better companion and friend than you. Thank you for all the gifts you brought to our family. We will love you always.

A disappointing find: Retail price cover ups in broad daylight

Oh Rexall, how you have let me (read: everyone) down.

I spend quite a bit of time making sure to find the best value for each and every one of our household budget dollars. I purchase very few things at full retail price and stockpile when regularly used items go on sale. I shop store sales, clearance racks, use coupon, price match and collect various ‘points’ programs in order to stretch our money further. This week, I ran out of children’s vitamin D supplements for my smalls, so while in Rexall (not my usual drug store), I noticed that they appeared to have a special on vitamins; some are buy one, get one 50% off, others are promoting an Airmiles special; spend $30, get 30 Airmiles.  I will also admit that after the big Airmiles shake up last year, they are no longer one of my go-to points programs, but still, if the price is the same or close to that of my usual store, why not take advantage of the Airmiles offer, right?

Wrong. So wrong. First of all, the regular price listed was crazy high, approximately $4 higher than other stores ‘regular’ retail price (and remember, I only buy on sale, so the listed price was around $5 more than I usually pay). I was curious though and lifted the ‘special’ sticker and this is what I found:

Soooooo. I’m no mathematician, but I’m pretty sure that the ACTUAL, regular retail price for these vitamins at Rexall is $9.29 but when they run a sale, they increase the regular price to $10.49, or $1.20 more? This is feeling a bit shady. I am pretty  sure that I want to pay $1.20 above regular price for a bottle of vitamins for the mere ‘benefit’ of receiving 30 Airmiles, if I spend a total of $30 of over-priced vitamins.

Quickly deciding that I would not be buying the vitamins at Rexall today, I was curious if other vitamin prices had been similarly changed. I randomly checked four more labels on the same wall of shelves and two were the same on both labels (yay!), the other two? Not so much. Boo.

These are some quite significant price hikes on ‘sale’ items. It would appear that the premium for receiving those 30 Airmiles far exceeds the value of the products on offer.

Now, I am not an expert on consumer law in Ontario, but I do know that when I find a store is artificially raising prices to ‘pay’ for incentive programs or offers, I shop elsewhere.

I don’t know if this is fraudulent, acceptable or normal retailer behaviour, but I do know that these practices just feel wrong and dishonest to me. Like neon leg warmers, frizzy perms and parachute pants of the 1980’s; it may not actually be wrong, but it sure looks like something that someone should be apologizing for.


P.S. I post more nonsensical blithering and updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s worth ‘Liking’ ‘Following’ or just checking out The Keswick Blog on those sites as well. Because on far too many days right now, micro-blogging is all that I can manage to pull off.

Just sitting here raising a big spender, is all. Paxisms

I took my smalls on a mini-shopping trip on yesterday. They all had Christmas money that they were desperate to spend. So, at the second store, Pax finds exactly that he’s been looking for and it’s on clearance – bonus! This was our conversation:

P: Mumma, how much is this with tax?
Me: Um, just over $20, maybe?
P (looking impish): Well, I’m going to give her a $20 bill and tell her ‘keep the change’
Me: Hmm. Okay, big spender. Except that $20 isn’t quite enough, so there will be no change for her keep and you’ll owe her a bit more.
P (crestfallen): Well, I’m still going to give her a twenty. I’ll figure out the rest when I get there.
Me: (to self): Where’d this kid even come from? (While picture him wearing a fedora and making it rain in Mastermind Toys one day).

This morning, Pax came down stairs with a croupy-sounding cough and the saddest little face I had seen since he came downstairs yesterday morning. I felt his forehead, checked him over and asked him what he would like for breakfast. This was our exchange:

P: Mummy, do I have to go to school today?
Me: Well, probably Pax. We still have an hour until the bus, so let’s wait and see, okay?
P: (Tears welling up): But I’m really sick. My throat hurts and I’m walking really slowly.
Me: Walking slowly? Oh no! Well, let’s just see how you’re feeling after you’ve been awake for a while, okay?
P: (sniffing): Okay, but I’m pretty sure I’m too sick to go.

Within half an hour, he had eaten, gotten dressed and made no other mention of staying home. Had I just listened to my heart when that sad little face that first appeared in the kitchen, he would have been home today and full of energy and jonesing for fun, while I spent the day trying to confine him to the couch. So glad I remembered to pause and think before blurting out the first thing that popped into my head (which is a bit of a trademark of mine).

Now if only I could do that in other life situations, I just know that I would start to make some serious traction on this adulting gig. As it is, I got the garbage and the recycling to the curb before the truck came, so yeah, I’m already feeling pretty grown up today.


P.S. Immediately after writing that big “I’m winning at being an adult” brag, I spilled my drink down my front and narrowly missed dropping the glass in the process. So, right then, never mind. Still a dork. 🤦🏼‍♀️

Guys, I think I’m making a pig’s ear of this parenting gig

Kids need to play outside. I mean, fresh air, physical activity, rosy cheeks and bright eyes, right? All good things that help promote healthy mental health (awkward, much?) and all that super popular back-to-nature stuff that I keep seeing posted on Facebook, right?

So, being a ‘good parent,’ my kids are outside. All bundled up and ready to frolic and play in the snow, fight with their siblings until eventually one of them breaks and tears and fists fly. Yes, I can see their mental health getting healthier by the minute outside these four walls.

So, out they go. Except one resister. My nine-year-old. He’s active and full of energy. Brilliant, funny, and cuddly as all get out. Unfortunately (for him) he was not built for winter (just like his mama, so believe me, I feel for him). He finds very little joy in sub-zero temperatures and being outside in the snow, just for the sake of it (again, I get it. I’m sitting bundled up in my kitchen and decidedly NOT outside improving my mental health) and while he won’t be openly defiant about going outside, he will delay the trip as long as possible. Someone else may let it slide and let him stay in. But I’m not that mother. One of the few perks that come with this title, is that I get to toss the kids outside to play every day and they have to do it. It’s in the rules.

So, now that I have (I hope adequately) set the scene, here is the exchange P and I just had at the door.

The exchange:
Me: No gloves? Here, at least take this one. I don’t know what you’ve done with the other one, but at least one hand won’t freeze. (Notice how much adulting I’m doing here. It’s breathtaking, yes?)

P: Nah. I don’t need any. I’m just going out to play dead.

Me: Um. Huh. Dead? That doesn’t sound like an awesome game, but okay. Take the glove. (Clearly, this kid is in dire need of outside play time. His mental health needs a boost. It’s okay. I am on it like he’s a cheesecake and I’m, well, me).

P: But I’m going out to play DEAD. I don’t need gloves.

Me: Well, when you decide that you’re not dead anymore, won’t it be nice to have at least one hand not get frozen in the snow trying to get up? (I’m on my June Cleaver game today, people. I’m owing this parenting thing).

P: Fine (taking the glove). But I’m telling you, I’m only going to be lying dead in the snow, Mummy.

Me: Okay, baby. Have so much fun!

He trudges outside with his sister who has been waiting patiently for him to get ready and I skip away, into the kitchen to wash pears and marvel at just how obvious it is that I was born to parent. When it dawns on me. “Um, did he just say dead?”

To make a short story long and back to short again, I am making a pig’s ear out of this parenting gig. Pray for my small humans. And someone, please. Start a GoFundMe to cover their future therapy bills. Those clinical hours add up quickly and the bills are going to be astronomical.


And today he would have turned 70 (fabulously, adorned in sequins, stilettos and feather boas, no doubt)

We get but one life. Four days ago it was my birthday (yay, me!). And today, the person who contributed 50% of my DNA would have turned 70 years old (and he would have lied about it smoothly, without guile or shame). He lived the holy hell out of the 42 years he was here with us. He blew mainstream society up, he opened minds, he got conversations started. He was unapologetic and determined to follow his dreams, on his terms. He looked at the way things were in his world, and what society told him that he needed to be and growled a resounding “NO.” He had the ability to make people furiously happy one moment and to the brink of irrational rage the next (a talent, it seems, I inherited, much to my mother’s chagrin).

He was ADHD personified, possessing that singular, obsessive hyper- focus on his passions, he was unstoppable by social norms or expectations. Pushing people’s buttons was a gift and he made good use of that gift at every opportunity, it would seem. He went where and when he wanted and he was stopped the only way he could be stopped. By the demons that lurked within.

At the end of the day, the only thing that truly has the power to stop us, to end us, are the demons we harbour inside ourselves. And his demons were even more powerful and larger-than-life than he was at the peak of his talent, career and life.

Craig, Carol, and Bette. They just don’t make stars like this anymore.

If we lived in a wish-based world, I would wish he had lived to see his grandchildren. I would wish that he had lived long enough to lie about being old enough to HAVE grandchildren. I would wish that my children could have experienced the incredible energy and talent their grandfather was and just how powerful his talents were, in part because he decided that he would be the best so he worked tirelessly perfecting his craft until he was the best. I would wish that I had been allowed more time with him – just as he was, after the stage lights dimmed and the curtain fell.

Alas, since we do not live in a wish-based world, I will take some time today to watch some of the YouTube videos of various live shows that people have generously uploaded over the years and be thankful that through my children, he lives on, in at least some small way.


Dear 2017, it’s been swell, but this is where we part ways.

Dear 2017,

As was true of your predecessors, I welcomed you happily, full of hope, motivation and gratitude, a year ago today.

We had a mere 365 days together (or is it 364 – I never get the count right for some reason), and in that time, the U.S. has been under the control an obviously deeply disturbed and possibly organically ill leader and his misguided and twisted cohorts. Canada has fallen deeper into debt while applying band-aids rather than real ‘fixes’ to the issues that plague our society and nation, and the rest of the world has watched the events unfolding in North America with a mixture of revulsion and disbelief.

During your reign, we have witnessed horrifying acts of terror against the innocent, senseless death and destruction in all four corners of the (round) world, and countless incomprehensible acts of aggression and injustice against the very people those in power purport to protect.

But it has not all been bad news during 2017. Babies were born, marriages were created and a multitude of successes were achieved. It can be our tendency to remember the painful, negative, or scary events and this sometimes taints our ability to fully appreciate the happiness, the blessings and sheer wonders that surround us.

For me, I have five healthy, intelligent, compassionate, talented and completely fallible and human children. I have a husband who works hard to ensure that the needs of his family are met, even when he would rather stay in bed. We have a  home that provides us with sanctuary from the outside world and we enjoy an abundance of food that keeps our bellies full (and fills out some of our thighs, hips and butts, but, I digress, and that really only happens to me 🤭). I have parents who are healthy and in possession of their wits and independence. I have friends who understand my quirks, rants and shortcomings and talk to me anyway, almost always happily. My smalls and I have found a faith that feels right for us, and 2017 was the beginning of this exciting journey of faithful discovery.

So, 2017, while you have a been cruel and harsh at times ( for example, like your sister 2016 before you our creative talent reserves have really taken a hit this year), you have also been kind and awe-inspiring. 2017, you helped to make it possible for me to say good bye to you with a smile rather than with an eye roll and huge sigh of relief. Thank you for making it possible for me to welcome 2018 with an open heart, a willingness to strive for better, in all aspects of my life and the ability to look at events and circumstances through a more open, a slightly less judgemental and harsh lens while I make the choice to look for the best in all people whom I encounter this year.

Good bye, 2017, thank you for your lessons, gifts and blessings. I will carry them with me while I navigate the unknown terrain of 2018.


2017 Santa Claus Parades in the G.T.A.

Now that Halloween is out of the way, it is time for us to move on. The stores have been prepping us for months now (Black Friday in August – say what?) And so, without further ado, it’s parade season!

For the second year in a row, here is my good deed for the year. I sure hope that Santa is paying attention because this actually took some WORK, plus I added even more parades to the list this year. Because I’m a giver. But, of course, you should always check and confirm dates and times for yourself (all information is linked to an official page of one type or another) before bundling up your family and heading out. Because I also sometimes tell lies.

Some of these parades include Christmas or Santa or Light Festivals. Make sure to check out the event page so that you don’t miss out on any of the fun. Listed (mostly) alphabetically, not by date.

Daytime/Earlier Start Parades:

Beach (Kingston Rd) – November 26, 2017 – 1:00pm

Bolton – December 2, 2017 – 11:00am – 12:30pm

Burlington – December 3, 2017 – 2:00pm

Cannington – November 26, 2017 – 11:00am

Coboconk – December 3, 2017 – 1:00pm – 4:00pm

Etobicoke (Lakeshore) – December 2, 2017 – 1:00pm

Fenelon Falls – November 25, 2017

Keene – December 9, 2017 – 10:00am

Keswick – November 18, 2017 – 1:30pm

Kitchener – November 19, 2017 – 10:30am

Lakefield – November 19, 2017 – 1:00pm

Lindsay – November 19, 2017 – 2:00pm

Maple – November 12, 2017 – 2:00pm

Markham – November 25, 2017 – 11:00am – 12:00pm

Milton – November 19, 2017 – 1:30pm

Newmarket – November 18, 2017 – 11:00am – 2:00pm

Oakville – November 18, 2017 – 9:00am

Peterborough – December 2, 2017 –

Pickering – November 25, 2017 – 12:00pm

Sharon (East Gwillimbury) – November 12, 2017 – 2:00pm

Streetsville – November 25-26, 2017 – No parade this year – festival instead on the 25th and 26th. See link.

Toronto – November 19, 2017 – 12:30pm

Tottenham – TBA

Vaughan – November 12, 2017 – 2:00pm – 4:00pm

Weston Village – November 26, 2017 – 2:00pm

Whitby – December 2, 2017 – 10:00am – 12:00pm

Night Time/Later Start Parades:

Ajax – November 25, 2017 – 6:00pm – 9:00pm

Alliston – T.B.A.

Aurora – November 25, 2017 – 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Barrie – November 18, 2017 – 5:00pm – 10:00pm

Beaverton – November 17, 2017 – 7:00pm

Bradford – November 18, 2017 – 6:30pm – 8:00pm

Brampton – November 18, 2017 – 5:00pm

Cambridge – November 18, 2017 – 6:00pm

Flamborough – November 25, 2017 – 6:30pm

Hamilton – November 18, 2017 – 4:30pm

Havelock – November 18, 2017 – 7:00pm – 8:00pm

Markham – November 25, 2017 – 6:00pm – 9:00pm

Orangeville – November 18, 2017 – 5:00pm

Oshawa – November 18, 2017 – 6:00pm

Peterborough – December 3, 2017 – 4:45pm – 6:30pm

Port Perry – December 2, 2017 – 5:00pm – 7:30pm

Richmond Hill – November 18, 2017 – 6:00pm – 7:30pm

Schomberg (King City) – December 2, 2017- 4:00pm (Farmer’s Parade of Lights at 8:00pm)

Sunderland – December 9, 2017  – 6:30pm

Sutton – December 2, 2017 – 5:00pm

Unionville – December 1, 2017 – 7:00pm

Woodville – December 2, 2017 – 6:30pm

So, there you have it. If you know of another parade that should be added to the list, send it to me, or leave a comment below and I’ll see that it’s added.

Ho! Ho! Ho! Prepare thee now, post-haste, to prance merrily along the path of least resistance to your desired parade, spike thou hot chocolate with some peppermint schnapps (non-drivers only!) and Christmas on, my friends!


P.S. I post more nonsensical blithering and updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s worth ‘Liking’ ‘Following’ or just checking out The Keswick Blog on those sites as well. Because on too many days right now, micro-blogging is all the awesomeness that I can pull off.

7 Ways to Deal With Problems on the School Bus and Mostly Not Get Arrested

This morning I was seeking solutions to some ongoing school bus woes. I thought brainstorming here may help to clarify an appropriate course of action for me to take. Because despite my many (many) deficits, I am trying really hard to do this adulting/parenting thing correctly. I came up this list of seven possible solutions this morning.

7 ways to deal with a kid who is bothering your kid on the bus:

  1. Call the school, let the principal and support staff handle it.
  2. Tell your child to ignore it and the other kid will get bored and move on.
  3. Tell your child to stay respectful but stand up for his/herself and others when this clearly unhappy person is acting up.
  4. Pull your kids off the bus and drive them to and from school each day while cursing the broken school system and the ongoing breakdown of society.
  5. Call the school, let the principal handle it and pull your kids off the bus until you are assured that the problem has been effectively dealt with.
  6. Walk up to the offending kid in the morning, after drop-off and say: “ Keep your mouth shut and your hands off the other kids on the bus. I have over thirty years longer experience than you do at being a cunty bitch and you DON’T want to challenge me. You will lose. Now mind your fucking manners and make something good out of your life.” Use your meanest, most menacing Liam-Neeson-in-‘Taken’ face and voice.
  7. Homeschool.

I know it should not be quite so hard to decide on a course of action, but it is. Adulting is stupid hard. You want to be mature, serene, wise and calm, set a positive example and raise good and kind humans while at the same time you want to tell shitty humans who bother other children exactly what they are, where to go and how you’ll help them to get there, using a lot of extremely immature, inflammatory, ugly and yet momentarily immensely satisfying words.

Well, this exercise did not work out exactly as planned. I am still undecided on how to proceed and now my kids will be late for school. Oh well. I guess I’ll load my kids into the minivan now and figure it out along the way.

Or, I suppose I could just resurrect Mildred.

What would you do?


Engagement rings, history and searching for answers – Part 3 of 3

In Part Three of the Engagement ring series we get into the more recent history of engagement rings and finally get to the part where I figure my shit out.

The Past 150 Years of Engagement Rings

With the discovery of diamonds in South Africa and the founding of DeBeers Mining Company in 1880, it was the beginning of the end. Within a decade DeBeers controlled 90% of the world’s diamond production. And what better way to get those diamonds into the hands of people who didn’t need them and couldn’t afford them than to stick them on engagement rings and start advertising them as a truest symbol of forever, true love and devotion and the ultimate measure of how much your husband-to-be loved you?

Following the Great Depression of 1929, one of the most recognizable slogans of all time, “A diamond is forever” was created and the notion that the value of true love, or sufficient proof of true love, was two months of a fella’s salary – not on the engagement ring, but on THE ROCK. This was a generation of people who were just out of economic hardship that rocked the world as they knew it, but I wonder if that experience with poverty made them primed for fleecing by advertisers. Having been raised or at least lived so long doing without or making do, perhaps people needed to feel flush again, as though the money troubles really were behind them and that the future was going to be all rainbows, free-flowing liquor and pots of gold.

Fast-forward to present day. The diamonds have gotten bigger and the inclusion of multiple diamonds has upped the ‘sparkly factor’ exponentially. Diamonds are now, thanks to some handy-dandy technology, available in numerous colours from pink to black in unlimited quantities (coloured diamonds occur only very rarely in nature). High quality “fake” diamonds, like lab-created moissanite (again, occurring very rarely in nature, but quite prolifically in labs) are gaining in popularity and making even bigger and more ostentatious rings available to the middle-class. Moissanite is touted as “an affordable option” when diamond shopping. Again, the push is on to get the biggest most expensive (looking) engagement ring possible. WHY?

So, after all of this research and thought – do I still covet that left-ring finger sparkler?

Unfortunately, yes, I do (pun unintended), but not for the reasons I thought. But after this journey of discovery, I realize that my desire for that elusive diamond ring does not stem from needing my husband to ‘prove’ that he loves me, he proves that every day when he goes to work and provides for our family. Nor does it stem from having to compete with or prove my worth to strangers. No, my desire for that ostentatious, sparkly diamond ring comes down to this: the feeling, the sight, the experience of wearing beautiful jewelry makes me feel happy. I do not care much about the kind of car that I drive, the clothes that I wear, the handbag that I carry or the restaurants in which I dine; when it comes to those things, I’m basically completely neutral, as long as it runs well, fits without cutting off my circulation, does not weigh a tonne or fall apart within a week, or poison me, I’m good.

Doing these posts has given me some time to think about what makes me feel happy, what I need more of and what I need to do less of to increase my overall satisfaction. I do not believe that life is not about being happy all the time, it is a series of cycles that include happiness as a part of the cycle. I think that we need to identify and embrace those things that make us feel happy, identify and manage those things detract from our happiness, and come up with strategies for those things we just need to do because someone has to do it (and we all have those things!). The latter two can wait until another post, but for now some of the things that make me feel the happiest (in no particular order and not including my family) are: being at home, writing, reading, Pink Lady apples, cooking/baking, chocolate, sleeping, very big sparkly jewelry, flamingos, dragonflies, music, school, travelling to new places, taking pictures, really comfy track pants, office supplies and stationary.


P.S. I post more nonsensical blithering and updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s worth ‘Liking’ ‘Following’ or just checking out The Keswick Blog on those sites as well. Because on too many days right now, micro-blogging is all that I can manage to pull off.

Engagement rings, history and searching for answers – Part 2 of 3

Part Two of the Engagement ring trilogy, examining the history of engagement rings and how diamonds got involved in this debacle.

Know her? Dude, I OWN her!

So, it turns out, this whole engagement ring business is pure fuckery. We have been had. Again. All the Jarrod’s, Zales, and Spence advertising is all hooey. But really, it should have come as little surprise that upon researching it, engagement rings originated as a public declaration of ownership. Of a woman. By a man. For fuck sakes.

During the 2nd century B.C., it is believed that the ancient Romans came up with the brilliant idea of giving a betrothal ring in lieu of giving the bride-to-be money or a valuable object (in effect, BUYING her, but with something worth LESS than cold hard cash). According to Pliny the Elder, the groom first gave the bride a gold ring to wear during the betrothal ceremony and at special events (because even back then, people cared what their neighbours thought of them, it would seem), then he would give her an iron ring to wear at home, which served to signify her binding legal agreement to his ownership of her. Well, that’s romantic a.f. Yes?

Enter, the diamond.

So, we trudge through history, wearing our iron bands, until 1477 when the uber-romantic and and completely politically manipulated Maximilian I, soon-to-become-the Holy Roman Emperor, presented the first documented diamond engagement ring to Mary, the daughter of his father’s chief political opponent, the reigning duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold. As the story goes, Duke The Bold, had but one daughter, who was called Mary of Burgundy, and Frederick III (Maximilian’s pop) was hell-bent to secure his son to her through marriage, in order to forestall military conflict.

Honestly. What woman could say no to an offer like that? Well, maybe a lot of women could. Like, I don’t know, just about every single woman? So, to sweeten the pot and Maximilian throws some diamonds in the shape of Mary’s first initial on that band of ownership he was hoping to win her hand with, and yeah, she (or her father) consented to the marriage. Ugh.

Although my purpose in this series is really to look at why I am (and many other people are) so obsessed with having, owning and wearing a sparkly diamond on my (her) left hand, the story of Max and Mary is fascinating, so I am going to continue this trip down memory lane bit longer, in the name of history. And in the name of it’s my blog and I can if I want to *spoiled brat moment exhausted now*.

Okay, so Max and Mary get married, and he gave her the diamond ring that would become the beginning of the end for potential grooms the world over, and then, wouldn’t you know it, they also lock into a pre-nuptual agreement (these fuckers were beyond forward-thinking, yes?) that stipulated that only the children of bride and groom had a right to inherit from each, not the surviving parent. Mary tried to bypass this asinine rule with a promise to transfer territories as a gift in case of her death, but her plans were confounded. After Mary’s death in a “riding accident” on 27 March 1482 (a mere four-a-half-years later), Maximilian turned his aim on securing the inheritance to one of his and Mary’s (dare I say, favourite) children, none other than Phillip the Handsome. I want to leave the story here, but I cannot.  Not before I note that Mary gave birth to three children during her brief marriage to Maximilian, the eldest two survived her. They were Philip the Handsome and Margaret. Yup, that’s it. Just Margaret. Not Margaret the Beautiful or Margaret the Brave, just plain Margaret. But Max and Mary loved their children equally. I mean, of course they did. When Mary died, Handsome inherited a world and two-year-old Margaret was shipped off to France, to marry the Dauphin, in an attempt to please Louis XI not to invade the territories owned by Mary of Burgundy. Because of course she was.

It is interesting to note that Mags outlived Handsome by almost 25 years. She went on to do amazing bad bitch work and helped pave the way for women rulers. She married twice and was widowed twice. Overcome by grief, she threw herself out of a window when her second husband died. One can assume she really loved that second husband quite a bit more than the first. But, as people often do, she survived throwing herself out the window and lived 26 more years, to the ripe age of 50 (Handsome and his devilish ways died at age 28). Magnificent Mags (as I’ve come to think of her), died after a splinter of glass became embedded in her foot which in turn made her foot gangrenous. While awaiting amputation surgery, she was overdosed on opium, which had been administered as a painkiller prior to surgery. Well. It certainly killed her pain, now didn’t it? Fucking narcotics. R.I.P. Magnificent Maggie.

Well, I am emotionally exhausted now, so with luck (and a wee bit of ADHD medication), I should be able to wrap this series up in the next post and maybe, just maybe, gain some insight and closure on my own quest for that elusive ice (which, incidentily is also slang for meth, so to be clear, I am not looking for meth, I just want a big diamond). Fucking narcotics always ruin everything.

P.S. I post more nonsensical blithering and updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s worth ‘Liking’ ‘Following’ or just checking out The Keswick Blog on those sites as well. Because on too many days right now, micro-blogging is all that I can manage to pull off.