Laura Haley-McNeil

1/28/18, Victoria

Hello, Everyone!

We just experienced a snowstorm that we haven’t seen in a while. I don’t mind, because I find the snow beautiful and I can watch it from the refuge of our tiny family room, which used to be a breezeway so it really doesn’t deserve the family room moniker. My husband, however, is the one who clears the driveway and sidewalks. He waited until the storm had nearly stopped so he was outside at night removing the snow. It was a little easier this year as last summer we replaced our driveway. The concrete of our previous driveway had crumbled so badly that it looked more like a gravel road than a paved driveway. I delayed the repavement because I had wanted to add an addition to our house. It’s very small and one of the bedrooms was converted into a piano studio for my husband. He no longer performs but loves to teach privately and so we decided that one of the bedrooms, we only have two so the decision was an easy one, would work well as a studio. It has a view of the patio which is lovely during the summer. We removed the window and replaced it with French doors and installed a deck so we could move his piano into the house. When we hired an architect to design an addition to the house, we learned that because of previous additions, the roof had an odd configuration. Just to add a few hundred square feet would cost more than a new house, so we decided we’d leave the house as it was. It has a very large yard, but the house was built in the corner of the lot so adding an addition offers several complications. We couldn’t delay the driveway replacement any longer and that was our project last summer. We hadn’t realized what a neighborhood blight the driveway was until the neighbors came over and told us how beautiful the new driveway looked. Yes, I was a little embarrassed, but the new driveway means that it’s much easier to clear away the snow.

Last weekend, I watched the first episode of the Victoria series on the PBS website. I had wanted to watch additional episodes but PBS charges a fee and I couldn’t justify paying it. I am inundated with requests to send them money but for reasons I’ll keep to myself, I don’t find it justified so I only watched the first episode. The series will appear on Amazon and I can wait until then to binge watch the remaining episodes. I loved the first season. Victoria was so young and just discovering herself. It’s interesting to see how her mother and others tried to control her, but she exerted her independence and became her own woman. I don’t know much about Queen Victoria, but in the series she is portrayed as compassionate and caring which makes me wonder if she really had been that way. She was surrounded by incredible wealth and it would have been easy to become very Marie-Antoinette-ish. And perhaps she did behave that way as well as did her children. The romance between Victoria and Albert is delightful. Watching young love is so refreshing, especially when she juggles that with her responsibilities. Afterward she adds a family to her responsibilities and the character becomes even more conflicted. She is very young and must represent a nation and devote time to her family. I’m sure because of her immense responsibilities, her family and her duties suffered. Though I wouldn’t dare compare myself to a queen, I do work a day job and write evenings and weekends, and I find limited time for entertainment. Though I make a concerted effort to schedule family time, I miss spending time with friends. Fortunately, most of my friends are writers so they understand.

In 2009, another Victoria film was released starring Emily Blunt called The Young Victoria. That film was very good and again depicted her struggle to be her own her person and break away from the controls of her mother and her uncle. In 2017, Judi Dench portrays an older queen in Victoria and Abdul. I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s on my list of films to see. A 1997 film called Mrs. Brown, also stars Judi Dench, and again depicts an older Victoria, but apparently it’s no longer available. It’s been on my list for a while and still no word when it will be available. I could buy it, but I’m too cheap for that. Winter is a great time for catching up on all these movies and television series. Once the weather is nicer and the days are longer, thanks to daylight saving time, I’ll be spending every moment possible outdoors.

I hope your year is off to a great start, whether you like to hibernate or enjoy the outdoors.
Have a wonderful week!