But darlings you simply must see the lovely box the real glass fairy-lights came from, all the way from Quirinelle. Isn't it the darlingest thing you've ever seen? Such are the wonderful rewards of fleeming. The Pit is powerless against such innocent glory.
With fairy-love to all of you,
I grew up with quite a lot of servants about me. I was mostly brought up by my sweet Nannie, and then by my charming, if sometimes rather strict, governess. There were so many maids about that, while I counted most of them as friends, there were one or two whom I hardly knew. People sometimes ask if I didn't miss being with my blonde Mummie most of the time when I was little; and the answer is that I just didn't expect to be. To me Blonde Mummie was a magical person whom I saw Every day, but whom all my daily companions referred to as The Mistress. She was (and is) elegant and wonderful, and rather like a sort of Princess.
When I grew up I married the Marchelise lia
Verentehla Manor is like a small Queendom in itself. Every winter
two trains arrive loaded with coal: one for
Well, darlings, I have enough maids, blonde and brunette, to fill a temple (our household chapel is the size of most temples). Every one of them looks on me as a sort of Blonde Mummie, and running the household is certainly a full-time job for me.
Now it is true I shouldn't have the faintest idea how to do the laundry. I can cook, but it is something in the order of a hobby for which I often cannot find the time. Most of the really practical tasks of household management, I never perform. The relation of a mistress to her servants is like that of the patron to the artist. The patron knows what is to be done, the artist knows how to do it. My life here is very rewarding, but when I need a rest, I must go to the house in Ladyton where I have only a few servants.
Being the mistress of many servants is not the vocation for a dizzy blonde (let her have a small establishment in town). It is intensely rewarding. It is like being a mother a hundred times over.
I am so pleased that you were pleased by my offer. I will put the maggie in the Pit-post right away so you might even receive it for Nativity! Oh yes, you will continue to see that this is a real community, just as many, many communities were before the Eclipse. Our little circle is based on eternal principles of goodness and loveliness, so what you find here is ever so much different from what you might find in the Pit.
Well, Darlings, today is Nativity cookie baking day in our home, so our little Quirrie kitchen is dusted with flour and spotted with bits of cookie dough that didn't quite make it into the actual cookies. Now, those darling little Quirrie tin containers I found at fleems this summer will be filled with the same cookies that my grandmother used to bake and her mother before her.
Happy Nativity Dear Friends!
, MISS BARBARA
Actually I don't myself know any blonde who does do all those things - well, unless you count the servants themselves, of course. Though I think my blonde Mummie must know more about it all than I do, because she sometimes inspects Effie's work to make sure everything is in order, which it always is, because Effie is a very good hereditary maid. Well, occasionally she gives her a little smack for something wrong, but I think that is mostly because blonde maids like that occasionally. It makes them feel secure. But there - I am so hopeless that without my Mummie I shouldn't even know what to smack her for! But we seem to get along happily enough.
Well, I must confess, I was a bit worried by Miss Norma's saying that every girl washes out her own dainties, because I don't. I never have. And I suddenly had that heart-stopping rush of hot embarrassment one gets when one feels one might have been doing the Wrong Thing for years, and Effie might be secretly laughing at me, or gossiping to all the Paccia in town. No, I am sure Effie would never do anything like that. She sits at my feet in the evening when we listen to the wireless, and she comes with me to the cinema when I am not going with a special brunette, and we talk about just everything. She couldn't possibly - I mean she would say a word in my ear if I were doing something Terribly Wrong, wouldn't she? But if she didn't - I mean it isn't a thing a girl can know - I've never discussed the subject with any one. One doesn't, does one?
Well, you know what it is like when you start to worry. So I went to see my old school friend Alisilena, who is really one of the lights of Ladyton society and quite grand and has dozens of maids, all in identical, impeccable uniforms with beautiful diaphanous frills (well, actually the lower maids are a bit plainer to differentiate them, otherwise the upper ones would fuss: but they all look so lovely).
So, as Effie would put it, I says to Alisilena, I says: "Alisilena," I says (oh dear, this is enough Effie-ing, isn't it?) "Alisilena, this is the most dreadfully embarrassing thing to ask - but do you wash out your own dainties." Well, as Effie would say again, she laughed like a good'un. "Not usually," she said, "but I did last year and Marie Therése was absolutely livid with me." (Marie Therése is Alisilena's little Arcadian lady's maid) "Marie Therèse had gone away for a day. When she goes away for more than a day she arranges for another lady's maid to look after me - she knows lots of hereditary lady's maids - but as it was only a day she thought I should be all right. And so I was, except that I had to wash out my own dainties which I didn't mind, but she did. You see it just isn't the thing. If she had to wash my outer clothes or my bed-linen she would be most offended, but if she fails to wash out my dainties or mend my lace handkerchiefs, that is wrong too. So I said, 'Be reasonable, Marie Therèse, I needed them, and I couldn't remember where the others were kept.' And Marie Therèse said that she had laid out several of outfits for me in the back bedroom, all complete with appropriate underwear and suitable for any occasion that might arise in her short absence and some that almost certainly would not. Well, of course, she had, but a girl can't remember everything, now can she?"
Well, after that I felt lots better and I told Alisilena about Norma, and she guessed right away that Norma was Culverian, without my even mentioning it; and she said that the main cultural difference between Culveria and the Old World is that in Culveria - or some parts of it anyway - really quite stylish girls manage with no servants at all, whereas here even quite modest establishments have at least one maid. I didn't find this awfully flattering, since I have only two maids - or really one and a bit, since Jane doesn't live in and is shared with Jassy Carmody, and I don't like to consider myself that modest - I mean not in the sense Alisilena meant, if you know what I mean.
Well anyway, Alisilena said she thought that when pettes went out years and years ago to make Culveria and awful lot of them were of the Magdala estate and not many of the Paccia estate (who are servants), but because the Magdala are so clever and can turn their hands to anything, they didn't really mind and just did the things the Paccia usually do along with everything else, while we Raihira and Haiela girls really need our Paccia to survive at all. Well, that is what she said. Of course the estates are very muddly in the West nowadays, and half of us hardly know if we are Raihira or Haiela or what any more. But it still works. And I suppose we do really, deep down. Know, I mean.
So where was I? Oh, yes. Blondes. So you see, Mina, I don't think you should worry if you aren't an all-competent Magdala blonde. That certainly doesn't mean you aren't a true, golden blonde. The important thing is to have a charming establishment in a really first-rate Province like Trent, or else in a good second-rank Province like - well - any of the others, and if you can't run to a retinue of nannies, chauffeuses, cooks, parlourmaids, chambermaids, kithchen-maids, tweenies and still-room maids, just find a sweet little Paccia darling like my Effie to look after you.
It seems to me you have the important blonde arts - flower arranging, redecorating and so forth. Creating beauty is our mission, and making the world lovelier. Well, that is what I think, anyway, though I am nowhere near as clever as Alisilena.
So are there any number of different blondes, too, from the voluptuous, self-absorbed feminine dream sort-of-a-blonde, who positively withers without her frills and satins and plumed hats and diamonds and champagne cocktails for luncheon, to the capable and sometimes serious houseblonde in charge of a clean, warm, efficient hestia. Then there are those blondes in between, moderately serious yet moderately fun-loving blondes, not particularly attached to fancy clothes and jewelry and not needing constant pampering, but who nevertheless have misgivings about the very sorts of things troubling you, dear Mina. The ultra-ultra-feminine blondes, it is true, may never make independent houseblondes of themselves, though they may learn to be good mistresses and thereby grace many a hestia, (providing they make a wise matrimonial match, which they usually do), whereas blondes of the latter sort usually come around eventually without losing one bit of their fun-loving natures. Why, my very own newlywed daughter, my eldest, Francine, the most sober of blondes, brought up in (I should hope) a model hestia, told me only last week, "Gee, Mom, being married is just peachy, but I can't stand cleaning the kitchen..." (She said this while perched on a stool, munching an apple, watching me scour out the sink!). Why, I had to stop and smile, she reminded me so much of me when I was first married.
My advice to you, Mina? The same as I gave my Francine, simple Grandma-sort-of-advice: take it step-by-step after marriage. Don't start with babies at first (a girl might have twins!) -- go slowly and with moderation. Don't expect to be Betty Crocker or Fannie Farmer right off the bat! Sure, managing a hestia is always hard work, but a girl can learn to become quite efficient (witness the Coronado Crown Roast of Wieners, for example), eventually taking great feminine pride in her very efficiency in keeping her hestia perfectly sparkling and the envy of every other houseblonde in the neighborhood while still leaving herself time for reasonable pampering and life-giving fun.
So, Mina, perhaps you should not be reading the Food and Homemaking or Sewing sections just yet, and should concentrate on the Fashion section or the Hair and Grooming sections instead. All things in the fullness of time. Just make sure you start reading the homey-type sections before you get pregnant!
Some other time I shall tell you all about my trip to New Jersey -- how I ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere during a rainstorm, how I was rescued by a little blue bus full of shining-faced, agrarian blondes who pick tomatoes at the hothouse farms for the Gotham restaurant and hotel trade, how they all had on their winter coats over their bright cotton sundresses... and, how, as the only brunette on the bus, and a Big City Brunette besides, I was mobbed for almost an hour! It was quite like being trapped in an aviary filled with beautifully plumed and softly fluttering songbirds, all warbling at once .... Such delicious torture! I was unable to do any, um, research on countrified undergarments, however, but it was a memorable afternoon just the same.
But back to what I know best: Paris fashions. Speaking of birds, here is a very rare Plumed Pette: her name is Claudia, she comes from a very old Dutch patroon family in the Hudson River Valley not too far north of the city and speaks like a grand duchess, just as one might imagine such an elegant bird would sing. So here is Claudia modeling a blue felt hat overflowing with wine and sapphire ostrich plumes. NORMA
P.S. to Mrs. Marcelene - While I'm handing out thanks, I don't want to forget to thank you for telling me the secret!!!( I won't even name it, you know the one I'm talking about) I promise I will never divulge it to anyone or anything, not even my diary!!!
I have found that free ads in local Pit-newspapers are wonderful for finding just about anything. I have placed many ads that read something like, "Wanted to Buy: (fill in the blank). Must be from before 1960." You can find appliances, clothes, stockings, magazines, telephones, and lots more this way. Recently I found a real phone with an ad, and though I was willing to pay quite dearly for such a fine heavy black phone with a nice rotary dial, the gentleman who answered my ad was so charmed by hearing that I was transforming my house into a haven, that he gave the phone to me! Often strangers are charmed with my Aristasian presence and give me fabulous bargains for real things.
Darling Mina, you do begin to understand, as our Editrix has said, that here is the one place where you can be as sensitive and innocently charming as you feel. I actually find this one of the most wonderful things about our little world: that genuine emotions and rushes of sensitive feelings and tender thoughts are welcomed and valued. In fact, I can't think of many instances when cynicism would be allowed, even when speaking of dreadful things, such as the pea-eye-tee.
I was very warmed to hear from other mothers. For awhile, I was thinking that perhaps I was the only one with a little one under foot. Yes, I must agree that motherhood really does warm one's heart with all things that are wonderful and good in life.
My goodness, and I do mean goodness, I miss Barbi, don't you all? And now with Norma heading off on her adventures, whatever will become of the old place?
Love, Your Very Own,
AMY de CULVER
But really, girls - is this a horrid straying from the gold-paved path of Blondeness? Oh I don't mean to say that I'm totally inept - I'm certainly fond enough of flower-arranging, and I could just decorate and redecorate til the cows jump over the moon - but when it comes to the basic tasks I'm all thumbs. Dusting is a travesty - sneezing fits and an awful enrougement of the eyes unfailingly ensue. Even Mrs. Marcelene's celebrated laundering is anathema to me. As soon as I approach those unsightly modern machines, visions of abuse being wreaked upon delicate garments send me dashing straight back to the sink. And rather pathetically, I'm no use at gardening either - I can't bear all of that muckyness and the frightening possibility of creepy- crawly things lurking within it... I suppose I'm just not earthy or practical at all (nor as poised and glamourous as dear Mrs. Marcelene and that smart Norma).
So are there any other Blondes with a similar aversion to physical labour, albeit of the household kind? Are such girls found in Aristasia? Then again, maybe it isn't out of type after all. For perhaps, just as there must be many Blondes who, like me, cannot drive nor even imagine learning how; I suppose there may well be a few Blondes who would fondly hope to be able to afford a well-paid maidservant and chauffeuse. One sees those sorts of fortunate blondes in real films, anyway - and it's always so rippingly dreamy. I know there are a lot of pettes who take great pleasure in being mistress of all aspects of the home as only a Houseblonde can - but how lovely to have the means to supply a whole retinue of maidservants, nannies, footpettes &c. to any girl who's talents lie elsewhere.
And now I must fly to the Blonde's Room, darlings - the knees need powdering.
Your most admiring,
MISS MINA KUMARI
Here's the secret .... now, listen closely, and never tell anyone! Cross your hearts and hope to die? All right, be very still and I'll tell you. Ready? Ellhedrine! Stop tittering! It's all in what you wear when you bring it to the table! (Double Tee-Hee and Giggle! I feel like a newlywed blonde again, telling you this!) A girl can wear her comfy housedress and flats all day long if she likes, (another confession: I don't - I really wear heels and a town dress, in case I have to pop out on an unexpected errand), but when she serves dinner to her brunette, well, then it's the elegant satins and silks and frills that Norma is always showing in her admittedly wonderful photos. (But not hats and gloves, darlings! Not at home, really, except for anniversaries and other special events!) That's the recipe! That's all there is to it!
As for the "roast" itself, well, it's strictly secondary to what you wear, and it's a snap! Believe it or not, brunettes are generally very suggestible creatures, particularly if they have had a rough day at work and are tired and have had a couple of martinis on the train coming home, and, as a general rule, they know little or nothing at all about cooking, so they are readily impressed with anything heated to warmer than body temperature. So here's all you do for this dish: just scoop out a whole rye bread so that you can fit a glass cereal bowl in the cavity. Then chop up some cooked spinach (it takes about one minute to boil) and shirr it up with some mayonnaise and cottage cheese, then slather it into a mound in the bowl and put the bowl in the center of the scooped-out loaf. Now here's the actual cooking part: take two packages of skinless wieners and toss them in a pot of boiling water for about five or so minutes, drain, then stick them in the scooped-out bread like the crests of a crown. Cut up some parsley, for color, and wedge it between the bread and the wieners. Slice a cucumber thinly and spread round the base of the bread, and .... Viola! (do I have that right?): Coronado Crown Roast of Wieners!
Now, you pettes mustn't tell a soul ... this secret is top secret, on about the same order of security as all the pins and clips those models of Norma's have on those fancy duds, all out of sight behind them, to make their dresses and coats seem to fit so perfectly and follow every curve of their bodies. You see, dear little blondes, well-meaning feminine artifice is ever so important, a feminine Essence, in fact! And besides, quick, impressive dishes like these will leave a girl more time to do her nails, or to put on her face, or to soak in the tub all afternoon, but I could never say this in the Food and Homemaking pages (but it's true just the same)! If Norma can be so very clinical about raising a blonde's veil in order to kiss her, then I see nothing particularly wrong with Coronado Crown Roast of Wieners. That's precisely why it's such a popular dish!
Some one has described Aristasia as "one long conversation". Well, Aphrodite is rather like that. If you want to catch up on the conversation so far, the Archive is the place to do it.
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