Friday, September 28, 2012

What Would You Give Betty for Her Birthday?

What would one give Betty for her birthday?  I noodled on this thought a bit as I drove the socking un-great Honda Ellicott City-wards last weekend.  Betty rarely offered her heroines much in the way of imagination on gift-giving occasions.  Say it with me, everyone:  gloves, scarves, chocolates, cigars, handkerchiefs.  Brooches.  Small leather goods other than gloves.  Every now and then a small painting sneaks its way in, or a puppy, or a silver mouse tchotchke.  I confess I like my gifts to be fairly personalized, but as Betty seems to shy away from the emotionally-resonant present (that’s a double entendre), I considered:
A first edition of Jane Eyre, priced at $35,000 or 27,000 or £22,000
A more-demure-than-I-thought-commercially-available pink silk tea dress from Liberty of London.

A tweed jacket from Jaeger, in shades of pink and blue

A bottle of Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry, for imbibing directly or sprinkling over the trifle.
Inspired by BettyAnoninTX, a tea hamper

An antique lace hanky from Devon.

Or, I might take her jet-packing, which was the Jonkheer’s gift to me on my most recent birthday.  That’s actually one of my favorite gifts of all time.

I do like lace hankies, though -- the one above costs £175 or 220 or $282 -- and someday I shall treat myself to one of those F&M hampers.  Or maybe their rose-and-chocolate cocoa mix.

Thanks for the tip, Betty von Susie.  A Louise Green hat would indeed be a great gift; maybe this pinkish number:
Although given Betty’s preference for all things British, we might need to stick with Philip Treacey:

And Betty AnoninTX goes for pink roses (from a local Devon florist) and a kitten:

This little one is available for adoption -- you probably know that rescue cats are usually older; this one was born in May, and all its brothers have been adopted...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Betty by the Numbers: Titles

The United State Library of Congress has a collection that includes just under 23 million “catalogued books.”  You try coming up with titles for each of those – I don’t believe it would be possible to do so without repeating, although I suppose you could get a long-ish way on _________ for Dummies and The Joy of ________.  (I wonder what the most common title is?)

Now imagine trying to title just 135 books (requiring 141 titles due to re-naming; two were published under three titles each, and another two were published under two each).

The main reading room of the US Library of Congress.

Several months back, Betty Magdalen posed a question about recurring words in Neels-titles.  The Great Betty and her editors managed not to repeat exact titles, but as one might expect with this oeuvre, heavy on the consistent elements as it is, there are several themes that appear and reappear.  The most frequent is the use of our heroine’s name:  30 titles include her moniker, from the alpha Sister Peters in Amsterdam (1969) to the omega Emma’s Wedding (2001).  Sister P is the only one whose surname makes the spine; all the others are given names.  Those 30 represent 21% of the titles.  They include four that use only the heroine’s first name, beginning in 1976 and ending in 1984; they are Esmerelda, Hannah, Judith and Polly.  Only one hero gets his name on the cover:  Valentine Seymour of A Valentine for Daisy (1993).  Perhaps coincidentally, though Betty used eleven heroine names three times each, and 15 names twice, “Daisy” is the only one that makes it onto multiple covers – the other is Discovering Daisy (1999).

I have tried to group the remaining themes into lexical sets of sorts.  The most-frequently deployed, after the heroine-name thing, is the seasonal theme.  While mists and mellow fruitfulness get a starring role only in Tangled Autumn (1971), Christmas shows up six times (including once as 'mistletoe'), summer and winter five each, and spring four times (one spring, two Aprils and one May).  That’s a total of 21 season-mentions, for 15% of the titles.

There’s a tie of sorts for the third most-used.  One is variations on romance and its results:  there are eight books with the word “wedding” in their titles, three with variations on “romance,” and two each of “proposal,” “kiss,” and “marriage.”  That’s a total of 17, or 12% of the books.  Feel free to argue that “wife” ought to be in this set – I’ve included it in the female-file instead.  And that is our other third-place finisher, also with 17 mentions.  The females include ten girls, three wives (convenient, ideal and good), two daughters, a single (independent) woman, and one damsel.  The girls don’t show up until 1976, but from there on they include a gem of a one, one to love, a green-eyed one, an old-fashioned one, an ordinary one and five others.

Emotions are close behind, with sixteen mentions, for 11% of titles.  The emotions are more widely dispersed than the previous categories, with six titles deploying the word “love,” three each of “happy” (or “happiness”) and “dear,” two “gentle,” and one each of “heart” and “dream.”
Butting right up against the emotions are extra-worldly forces, with fifteen titular appearances, also 11% of the 141 titles.  Magic and chance occur four times each, fate three times and heaven twice, while “miracle” and “destiny” each occurs once.

The next set, with eleven appearances, is poetry – three citations from children’s rhymes, and eight from grown-up poems.    I’ve almost certainly (90%-plus chance) undercounted here, as my knowledge of the Romantic and Pastoral English poets TGB seemed to favor is sadly limited – as is my knowledge of every other kind of poet.  Then there are ten appearances (7% of titles) of light sources:  three moons, three stars, two suns and two candles or candlelights.

In the early days, the Netherlands, doctors and nurses were the most common tropes.  Remember, Mrs. Neels’s first four books got a total of nine titles.  Only the first, Sister Peters in Amsterdam, was never re-named.  In those nine titles, we get four nurses (two sisters; two nurses), a surgeon and a consultant, three Hollands and an Amsterdam.  We also get three names (Peters, Maggy and Harriet) and a single season (April = spring).  Amazon in an Apron (1969) could, of course, refer to a cook, French maid or blacksmith, I suppose, but it could also add a fraction to the “nurse” count.

But then they vanish!  After Tempestuous April was retitled Nurse Harriet Goes to Holland (1970), we get no more nurses, sisters, or references to the Netherlands.  Subsequent titles do add to the hero’s profession, with one each of “surgeon,” “professor” (the medical kind) and “doctor.”  So by the time of The Doctor’s Girl (2001), we total nine references to medical professions (five doctors, four nurses), for 6% of titles.  The only other profession to make a cover is Nanny by Chance (1998), unless you count daughter-ing and wife-ing as professions.

Botanical matter is the second of the seventh-place finishers, also hitting the front page nine times (6%), three times as roses, twice each as fruit (apple, pineapple) and fruit-turned-intoxicant (champagne and a liqueur that is sometimes translated as “dragonfly in green”), and once each for tulips and a nettle.

For some reason I cannot define, I grouped the three “nevers”, two “goodbyes” and two “waits” as a set.  That’s seven references, or 5% of the titles, but I dunno – maybe it doesn’t really count, since I can’t seem to explain it.  Maybe it counts extra because it just feels so right.  Anyway, the true second-largest category is the 20 titles, 14%, that don’t include any of these recurring themes.  They run from Blow Hot, Blow Cold (1969) through The Little Dragon (1977) and The Secret Pool (1986) to Always and Forever (2001).

Partially making up for those are three titles with three themes each.  Two have the same three themes:  Sister Peters in Amsterdam and Nurse Harriet Goes to Holland (nursing, heroines’ name, and the Netherlands); the third is Sun and Candlelight, with two light sources contained within a crib from Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  There are 37 titles, 26% of the total, with two themes apiece; e.g., Nurse in Holland (1969), The Fifth Day of Christmas (1971), Pineapple Girl (1977), The Course of True Love (1988) and Dearest Eulalia (2000).  That leaves 81 titles with a single theme each, or 57% of the total.  My vote for most peculiar title:  Three for a Wedding (1973).

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Upcoming Reprise

Monday, October 1st.
Wish With the Candles
Fender bender, appendicitis, red-headed RDD.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Name That Dress!

In real life I am anything but a fashion diva (Betty Keira is much closer to one than I am, and she's still time zones apart from anything diva-ish).



I do love to look at the picture galleries that show up on Yahoo after every kind of award show.  That's what I was doing this morning, and I found myself thinking, "Wow, that's a very Veronica dress!"

So, here's the deal.  I'm going to post a boatload of red carpet pictures from last night's Emmy Awards, and you Bettys get to choose which character from the canon would have been most likely to wear it (if only she could have afforded it).  Feel free to add the words: but in pink...

Here goes. (all pictures are from
Sofia Vergara
Sofia Vergara in a hand-beaded teal Zuhair Murad gown.

64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals
Zooey Deschanel in a blue Reem Acra gown.

Ginnifer Goodwin
Ginnifer Goodwin wearing an orange floral embroidered Monique Lhullier gown.

Elisabeth Moss
Elisabeth Moss wearing a floral Dolce & Gabbana gown

64th Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals
Jessica Pare in a white Grecian gown by Jason Wu

64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals
Julianna Margulies in a Giambattista Balli floral print couture gown.

64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals
Lucy Liu in a silver metal dress by Versace.

64th Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals
Emily VanCamp in a gray tulle gown by J. Mendel.

64th Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals
Sarah Hyland in a champagne Marchesa frock that she helped create.

64th Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals
Lena Dunham wears a lace Prada gown.

64th Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals
Morena Baccarin wears (or rather, nearly wears) a deeply plunging grey chiffon gown.
64th Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals
Mayim Bialik wearing a burgundy Pamella Roland gown.

64th Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals
Gretchen Mol in a vintage Valentino Haute Couture gown from the 70s.
64th Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals
Martha Plimpton in a black lace gown.

The End of the Rainbow--Reprise

Never mind the "They're always after me Lucky Charms!  They're magically delicious!" title.  This is one of the few books of The Canon that brought out sharply divided feelings.  Some loved (Betty Debbie), some loathed.  I think it depended on whether your suspension of disbelief was of the industrial-strength bungee cord variety or not and whether you were able to enjoy the scheming hussy's machinations or were more Victorian ("We are not amused.") about them.  It also mattered whether you thought Waldo had potential (corals! three coats! raising his brother's off-spring as his own! propensity to rescue and secretly do adorably involved gestures of love like setting up a nursing home!) or if you thought his track record was poor (secrets! blindness about nannies! off-handedness! rash accusations!) and likely to end in tears.
But I hope we can all agree that naming a mousy Araminta "Olympia" is just about the cutest thing ever.
Love and lardy cakes!
Betty Keira

Oh my stars, I love this book. Poor little The handsome, genial giant, Waldo. A cavalcade of aunts: the evil aunt, the not-related-but also evil aunt and the good aunt. The sullen step-daughter. Everyone has an their own long con...some work out, some do not. Here's a preview:
Aunt Maria: adopts Olympia as a toddler and cons Olympia into making a promise to be her slave for the rest of her natural life.
Elisabeth: plans to sweet-talk her way into marriage to Waldo, even though in the time he's known her, he's been married twice and had one child. She'll go to any lengths, including destroying Ria, all while conveying an air of sweetness and light.
Waldo: 1. Pretends that Ria is his daughter instead of the ill-conceived child of his younger brother. 2. Marries Olympia to take care of Ria and his household, causing her to trade slavery for a gilded cage. 3. Mysterious London connection.
Olympia: Falls in love with her husband and plans to hide it - forever if she must.

Our story opens with Olympia working as a Aunt Maria's nursing home. Aunt Maria runs a tight ship, and Olympia is lashed to the helm. Not only does she work there full-time for peanuts, but she has to work split-shifts and be on call every night. No wonder she's skin and bone. Aunt Maria even has her run errands during her "off" hours. Olympia seems doomed to a life of indentured servitude. The only loophole she has managed to negotiate is that she can quit working at the nursing home if and when she gets married. Like that's ever going to happen. The only people she meets are the geriatric patients and their occasional visitors.
Olympia plays a little hooky during her off hours (I'm not sure that doing what you want during your off hours constitutes hooky, but that's how Aunt Maria would see it...). After buying the first white sheets the salesperson shows her at Selfrdiges, she's off to the National Gallery to have a solitary look at the special exhibition. She's got to hot foot it, so as to return before she turns into a pumpkin...SPLAT! Enter Dr. Waldo van der Graaf - as stunning an example of Rich Dutch Docterness as she's never had the pleasure of seeing before. Olympia has done a face plant right at his feet. Shoot, I never catch a break! Dr. Hotty van der Hunkyness dusts her off and convinces her to stay and see the exhibit with him. After establishing the fact that she's not married. And so it begins.
Waldo (which is so not a name that comes to mind when thinking of hunky RDDs) has a knack for putting our girl at ease. He takes her to tea at Fortnum and Mason's and makes her comfy amongst the Givenchy scarves and crocodile handbags. Comfy enough to spill her life story.
Waldo and Olympia share a taxi back to the nursing home where she is dropped off and he rides off, into the sunset...never to be seen again?
Much to Olympia's surprise, Dr. van der Hunkyness is a friend of dear old Dr. Sims who tows him along to the nursing home a couple of days later. Olympia thinks that he's the nicest man she knows.
Waldo now starts dropping by with delightful regularity. His next visit is on the pretext of needing shopping advice - would Olympia come help him pick out a gift for his daughter? His daughter? Dang, he's married. No, no - his wife died a week or two after Ria was born. A fully kitted out dollhouse is chosen by Olympia - because it's something she would have loved as a child. How bleak was her childhood on Primrose Hill Road. It turns out Waldo has come over from Holland just to see offer her a job? He does have that 5 year old daughter - he must need a nanny. Too bad, that won't fulfill the terms of her servitude with Aunt Maria, it's marriage or nothing. Waldo squires Olympia around London for a couple of weeks, then takes her to visit his Aunt Betsy. A majestic and elegant woman, who endearingly confides that she buys her woolies at Marks and Spencer's too. Aunt Betsy leaves them alone for a few minutes so that Waldo can make an offer. Surprisingly, it's an offer of marriage, not a job offer. Olympia is understandably gobsmacked. This would get her away from her dismal life on Primrose Hill Road, but Olympia has qualms. What about the elderlies? Who will get up during the night and take care of them? Waldo promises to find a nurse to replace her.
Meanwhile, Aunt Maria is getting fed up with Olympia having a gentleman caller and tells Olympia that she's going to revoke dating privileges. Not going to happen. Waldo shows up and spikes her guns. Announces the engagement and the replacement nurse and tells Olympia to run and get packed - they're leaving right away! Aunt Maria has no choice...but she spitefully issues dire predictions before washing her hands of her. Olympia shows her backbone and snaps back. I've been working for years for little more than pocket money! Sadly, it only takes Olympia half an hour to pack up all her worldly possessions.
Waldo is appalled at the pittance Aunt Maria paid Olympia. That's hardly enough to keep you in stockings - or is it tights? No wonder you wear that old tweed suit all the time. Never mind the old tweeds now! Waldo has arranged for Olympia to stay with Aunt Betsy and to accept a new wardrobe (to be picked out at Harrod's). Waldo is taking Olympia out to celebrate, so girlfriend gets herself all gussied up. It's worth the effort - Waldo is not a stingy man when it comes to compliments - you look like a princess in a fairy story. Awww. It's time for some family jewels of the sapphire and diamond variety.
Dr. Sims gives away the bride, then it's off to Holland in Waldo's Lamborghini. Home to daughter Ria. Ria who looks at Olympia with unveiled hostility. This sounds like fun. Waldo gives the obligatory house tour and ends with an impersonal kiss and I hope you'll be very happy here.
Well, that you put it that way...yup, it's a dawning realization. Too bad love isn't part of the benefits package. There's really not too much time to reflect on her love, before you can say Jack Robinson, in walks trouble. Trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with E and that stands for Elisabeth. Trouble all wrapped up in sweetness and light. Courteous, kind, cheerful, she's just like a sister to Waldo. Okay, that's just creepy...remember, she's playing a long con, it's been going on for years now. Elisabeth just comes off as an incredibly helpful friend. She is always stopping by and offering her services. Ria adores her - she's known her for her entire life. So, Elisabeth gets smiles from Ria while Olympia gets scowls, frowns etc...
Elisabeth has spoiled Ria - so Waldo tells Olympia that it's up to her to help change things. Yeah, that's going to go well - discipline a child who dislikes and distrusts you? Olympia takes it on, but she does hand the little over to daddy to deal with at times. Good for her.
Things are starting to look up - Waldo wants to have a 'chat' about something...but then Elisabeth barges in...natch.
And now the plot thickens. Or the waters are muddied. Or something. Olympia is just conversant enough in Dutch to answer the phone when it rings. RING! The other party is female, English and has a pretty voice. She'd like to speak to the doctor, but on no account should his wife know about the call. Olympia tells Waldo about the call - but although willing, he'd really rather NOT tell her who the phone caller was. Olympia is rightfully miffed.
In the middle of the night, Olympia draws on her 'on call night nurse' background and hears some suspicious noises coming from Ria's's Ria hurling her dinner. And then hurling again. Waldo and Olympia rush her to the hospital where she is whisked into an operating theatre to have her appendix removed. Little Ria is going to be fine - but what's up with Elisabeth? She assumed that at 1am she should have been called to be in on the drama.
Elisabeth is being a busy bee - giving Olympia helpful hints such as not bothering to knit a sweater for Waldo as he hates hand knitted sweaters. Olympia wisely ignores the advice and buys a boatload of yarn and a pattern. Waldo says there's nothing he'd rather wear, then rewards her with a fierce kiss. Editor's Note: I find Waldo's faith in Olympia's knitting ability quite touching. Frankly he's taking a bit of a gamble here - what if the sweater is hideous?

Back home Waldo takes another mysterious call. Olympia overhears, "Don't telephone here anymore...the risk is too great...I don't want my wife to find out." Wow. Just when she's starting to forget about Mysterious Phone Call from London #1. Mysterious Phone Call #2 is even worse. It's quite upsetting for our gal - and it's no wonder she is a little extra friendly to the housemen at the hospital. Waldo chides her a bit for chatting them up.
While Ria has been in hospital, Olympia has used her sewing skills to make a new outfit for Ria's doll. She puts it on a wee hanger and leaves it by Ria's bed - so she'll see it when she gets home...Imagine Olympia's surprise when Elisabeth gives Ria an identical outfit! Oh, Elisabeth, you dirty rat! Olympia puts it down to a cruel coincidence...surely Elisabeth, dear, sweet, Elisabeth wouldn't do something like that on purpose?
If that isn't enough, Waldo gets Mysterious Phone Call #3 and announces that he is going to London the very next day. Olympia wasn't raised by an emotionally distant aunt for nothin'...she knows full well how to hide her feelings. Waldo sort of offers to tell her why he's going (but he'd rather not), Olympia doesn't want him to tell her. She's imagining all the wrong things...and Waldo is as clueless as he is innocent. In a bit of a non-sequitur, Olympia asks him if he had ever been in love with Elisabeth. Good lord, no!
It's just as well, because Olympia is starting to get a bit suspicious of Elisabeth. Elisabeth not only pulled a fast one with the doll clothes, she also was misleading about the sweater issue and now she gives Olympia another bad piece of advice about spring cleaning. Elisabeth also manages to lurk around the house so as to be at hand when Waldo returns gets back from London. Waldo passes right by her and greets his wife first. He hasn't come back alone...he's hauled Aunt Betsy back too! Yay! Aunt Betsy is no fan of Elisabeth's - and the feeling is mutual. Elisabeth makes herself scarce for a few days. But like a bad penny, she turns Olympia's first dinner party. Yes, she is an invited guest, but had it been me, I would have given her a pat on the back...only with my foot instead of my hand, and a few vertebrae lower. She comes in slightly late and proceeds to tear Olympia to ribbons. In a very 'sweet' way.
*How nice you look in the van der Graaf corals...translation: Those corals should be mine! All mine!
*I thought Waldo was never going to give them to you...translation: If I was married to him, he would have given them to me at the wedding.
*It must be difficult for you, learning our way of life...translation: White Trash!!
*Ria is such a naughty girl not to like you...translation: Loser!
The really unpardonable thing about this whole episode is when Waldo takes dear Elisabeth home after the party because she is upset - she always was a sensitive girl.
Olympia is so incensed she takes off the van der Graaf corals (why couldn't it have been diamonds...or rubies...or sapphires? Coral just doesn't sound as classy) and gives them back. She obviously isn't worthy of them.
Wouldn't you know it, a Mysterious Letter from London shows up in the morning post. Just what she needs!
Aunt Betsy is driven in some state to Schipol - and Ria throws a monster tantrum on the way home. Being a stepmother is just not getting any better. Ria is still resentful and sullen. Editor: In my experience five year olds just don't have that kind of commitment to a grudge, not that kind of attention span. Of course, Elisabeth is whispering sedition at every opportunity.
Waldo clears up a little misunderstanding...Ria doesn't miss her mom - her mom died when she was only a week or two old. Oh, and by the way, he, Waldo, is not her father. He's never told anyone else...Olympia can see that someone else is listening at the door. Waldo walks out, and in walks...yes, it's Elisabeth. She is all sweetness and light. Just thought I'd drop by and take Ria shopping. We'll only be gone a little while.
The little while turns into a long while...Olympia finally puts in a call to Elisabeth's house. Her mum tells her that Elisabeth has gone...wait for it...wait....she's gone to....BELGIUM!!!!!! As we have demonstrated time and again on TUJD, Nothing good comes of rich Americans, skinny finacees or trips to Belgium. Frankly this is the last we'll see of her...but like a bee who has left it's stinger behind, the poison is still pumping. Elisabeth has told Ria the facts of her parentage and told her to run away. Yes, you heard right...she encouraged a five year old child to run away.
Olympia finds Ria... and then they are found by Waldo...who thinks that it was Olympia who did the dirty deed. Why? Elisabeth's stinger. She slapped on the lies with a thick trowel before high-tailing it to Antwerp.
Now is the hour of Olympia's despair. Ria is finally coming around to liking her stepmom, but Waldo doesn't want the recent unpleasantness mentioned - so he is laboring under the misapprehension that Olympia told Ria and caused her to run away. The big problem for him is that in spite of all this, he loves his wife. There's only one thing to do. Take the family to London. Where Ria blurts out the truth to Aunt Betsy.
Best lines in the book:
Him: I deserve to be shot!
Her: Yes you do!
One more mystery to clear up - who is the mysterious woman with the pretty voice? It's none other than Mrs. Doreen Betts. No longer young, dumpy and married. Say what? Mr. and Mrs. Betts are the new caretakers at the nursing home on Primrose Hill Road. Waldo bought out Aunt Maria (who unfairly gets to retire to a villa in Spain, instead of the Black Hole of Calcutta) and has been improving the nursing home - using all of Olympia's ideas.
And now some kissing -a satisfying and lengthy operation. A gleam in Waldo's eye, implied conjugal relations...The End.
Rating: Gosh, this was great. Waldo is charming. He grins, he smiles, he beams. All at Olympia, and all before he knows he's in love. Olympia is pretty great herself. She has been trod upon by Aunt Maria for so long that you could excuse her if she didn't have a spine...but she does. Her spine gets spinier and spinier throughout the book...natural progression. Elisabeth is deliciously evil...she is described as 'a snake in the grass' which sums her up pretty well. Lashings of Whipped Cream.
Steamed pudding, Gateau St. Honore, a mug of cocoa, Marmite sandwiches, ratatouille, Charlotte Russe, salmon steaks with herb butter, apple pie twice, turbot decorated with lobster coral?
Fashion: Waldo buys our girl THREE coats: cashmere, velvet and mink! Two-year old tweed suit made of a material that refused to wear out, leather gloves, apricot wooly bought at Marks and Spencer, a brown bow to set in front of her bun of hair, red corduroy shirtwaister.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

More Bettysday Festive-ness

Oh, joy – photos arrived this morning from Betty Adrianne and more from Betty Barbara.  Please read the previous post if you haven’t already so, so this one has at least a shot at making some sense.

I mentioned Betty Margaret/Mickie’s (She comments as Betty Margaret but in person becomes Betty Mickie.  I shall continue to use both until instructed otherwise.) beautiful peacock theme.  And then Betty Barbara told us she (Betty M/M) acquired a peacock at her country estate some years ago, when it wandered in and stayed!  For those of you wondering, peacocks are not native to the Maryland woodlands.  Anyway, with judicious cropping, I think I can show you a bit better what I’m on about ref: her outfit:

Better, right?  And there’s also a bit better a view of Betty Adrianne in her hand-knit (by her) lacey scarf, and if you peer in just to the left of Dearest Mary Jane, you can see that hand-turned (by her friend) box-elder scarf pin.  But don’t strain, as a close-up is coming.

And here we have a pair of architectural views of the peacock frou-frou or fascinator affixed to Betty Margaret/Mickie’s head in the above, built with feathers from her very own adopted peacock, Pete.  That's right, Pete the peacock:

Hands up who wants one?  (Me!  Me me me oh pick me!)

And here’s a lovely photo of Betty Adrianne in her scarf (or shawl – is that a shawl?):

I’ll take one of those, too, if anyone’s offering.

If you were wondering about the food, which was tasty but a very distant third to the company and the (very distant second) revivifying beverage:

Beginning with the lowest plate, we have some fruit, a little metal cup that used to have corn salad in it, a small cut of dilled Havarti, and a cranberry-orange scone waiting to be bedecked with clotted cream, lemon curd, strawberry conserve or some combination thereof.  On the middle level, there’s a cucumber-lavender sandwich you can barely see – a thin slice of bread, spread with cream cheese with lavender petals blended into it, and topped with a slice of cuke.  Then the round tomato sandwiches, a not-yet-empty cup of corn salad (the shadow of my hand, reaching out to sweep that middle plate clean, hovers in this photo) and a ham-and-habenero sandwich.  Up top are the sweets, which included thickly-frosted carrot cake, some little chocolate things and shortbread biscuits drizzled with ‘chocolate.’  That’s how the tearoom describes them, but I say if it’s pale orangey-yellow, it’s not chocolate.

Ignore any incidental cleavage in that photo, please.  It’s allowable in a married lady, or anyone else.

Also, if I may request this, please forgive errors, typos and oddly-placed photos.  Favorite Girl has decided opinions on the appropriate use of human laps on Sunday mornings, and computers don’t come into it.  So I had to juggle a bit...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Many, albeit belated, returns of the day, Betty

The mid-Atlantic Bettys slowly dispersed after a delightful tea party.  Army Betty drove purposefully Pentagon-wards; Betty Kathy disappeared as mysteriously as she had arrived; Betty Adrianne strolled off to poke her pretty nose into a few needlework-shop windows; Betty Barbara’s husband of never-mind-how-many years pulled the socking great Dodge up to the curb and collected his wife and her friend of schooldays Betty Margaret Mickie, and Bettys JoDee and Magdalen and I, your faithful correspondent, stood on the pavement and gossiped gently.  We had gotten to the part about the domineering-ness of the Neels heroes when Betty JoDee said, in her soft West-Texas-Country voice, “Some people only like the wimpy heroes, like Hugo.”  “Gotta go!” I cried, leaping backwards.  I surely hope those two enjoy their multi-hour drive home together...

Betty JoDee and Betty Magdalen, before the controversy began.

If I note a few of the highlights of our only-slightly-tardy celebration of The Great Betty’s 103rd birthday, I betcha the others will chime in with their thoughts in the comments section:

Best hat:  Betty JoDee’s, as shown above.  Not only is it a useful shade of gray that is actually more an attractive shade of silvered lavender; not only does it have that great bow; but also – when Bettys Magdalen and van den Betsy started a discussion that meandered gently down the back alleys of Brighton, Betty JoDee was able to pull that topper right down to her nose, covering her old-fashioned ears to avoid be-sulliement.   Yay for hats!

Most talented:  Betty Adrianne was wearing a gorgeous shawl she’d knitted herself.  I know nothing about knitting, but this one was lacey and light and complicated looking, and really beautiful.  Also, she’d used some kind of needle-craft implement as a stickpin, for bonus chic points.

Best show-and-tell:  Army Betty brought her Bosnia souvenirs, which invoke Yeats’s “terrible beauty,” plus lots of photos of her time in Sarajevo.  There’s one that shows a parking lot with a low white building behind which lies the courtyard described in her earlier comment!  Betty Adrianne had photos of the manor in her husband’s ancestral English village, plus an Aga.  We hope she will send them to Betty Debbie for future BitW posting.  Betty JoDee claims to have BitW pix from her most recent foray across the pond; we shall see if we ever get to see them.

Betty Adrianne – if a photo that shows her scarf better crops up, I’ll post it – and Army Betty in leopard print.

Most generous:  Betty Barbara brought about two dozen surplus novels.  Betty JoDee scooped several, and Army Betty took a couple of handfuls.  The lucky thing estimates she’s only read about 40 so far.  Betty JoDee brought hand-made and delightful Betty-quote bookmarks.

Best invitation:  Betty Magdalen will apparently give any of us traveling through her neck of Pennsylvania a bedsitting room with en suite bathroom for a night.  I inferred that breakfast might be included in the offer, and am trying to figure out how one makes the basis for a claim that profiteroles are a breakfast food.

Best sport:  Betty Margaret, who’s clearly not the, uh, enthusiast others of us are, and only managed a few minutes conversation about her sci-fi favorites.  She also qualifies for best-coordinated, as her peacock-print dress was perfectly complimented by a peacock-feather fascinator.  Ohmagudnetz, it was lovely.

Best surprise:  Betty Kathy!  A lurker!  She just showed up, and thanks to Betty Sue we had an extra place at the table as Betty Sue RSVP’d late and then didn’t make it.  Not meeting Betty Sue was the un-best surprise, but we’ll get you next time – maybe at Army Betty’s NoVA Halloween party, which I plan to attend costumed as a devoted family retainer and flummox everyone but the hostess.

Betty Magdalen, Betty Margaret in peacockery, and half of Betty Kathy.

Best hilarious moment:  Betty Kathy, asked why she lurks and doesn’t comment, said something like, “I just don’t have anything very witty to add.”  If there’s such a thing as ladylike guffawing, that’s how the table responded; I had to stuff most of my napkin in my throat to arrest the chortles.  “That’s never stopped any of the rest of us,” was the general consensus.

Best not-entirely-delicate gobbling:  Me!  For scarfing down three tomato sandwiches, two cucumber-lavender sandwiches (yummy), two dishes of delicious corn salad, and a scone with both cream and lemon curd.  Plus a pot and a half of tea.

Let’s see – L to R, we’ve got Betty Barbara, Betty Jodee, Betty van den Betsy, Betty Magdalen, Betty Margaret, Betty Adrianne, Army Betty and Betty Kathy.

So this runs Betty Margaret, Betty Kathy, Army Betty, The One True Betty (present on paper, thanks to Betty Debbie's inspired idea of Betty-on-a-stick, though I didn't get as far as the stick), Betty van den Betsy, Betty Adrianne, Betty Magdalen, Betty Barbara and Betty JoDee.

Resolved:  We’ll do it again sometime!

Many thanks to Bettys Barbara and Margaret/Mickie for the photos.  If any of the rest of you have more to share, please do send them along and I'll post them with more non-witty commentary.