Marlene Wagman-Geller

"As far back as I can remember, it was always on my bucket list, even before the term bucket list was coined,
to be a writer. It was a natural progression to want to go from reading books to writing one."
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T.G.I.M. (1962)

T.G.I.M. (1962)
Mar 29, 2024 by Marlene Wagman-Geller

   In the 2003 episode of The Simple Life, Paris Hilton, claiming she had never heard of Walmart, asked if it was a place where “they sold wall stuff.” Although Paris does not frequent Walmart, millions do, oblivious to the fact that Samuel Walton, (the last three letters of his surname and the word ‘mart-’abbreviation for market), served as the namesake of the megastore.

ThIs Great War

ThIs Great War
Mar 20, 2024 by Marlene Wagman-Geller

“There is more done with pens than swords.” –Harriet Beecher Stowe

            Extraordinary novels have had a global impact: John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and George Orwell’s 1984. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin altered history as it helped ignite the American Civil War. To learn about the female great emancipator, follow the road to the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center.

Jewel in the Crown (1982)

Jewel in the Crown (1982)
Mar 16, 2024 by Marlene Wagman-Geller

 

  If the Grimm brothers had championed morganatic marriages, Cinderella would still be sweeping cinders, Rapunzel would remain trapped in her tower, Snow White would yet slumber. Similarly, if the English monarchy had harkened to the matrimonial rule of yesteryear, a throne would not beckon for a coal miner’s “daughter.”

The Other Hamilton

The Other Hamilton
Mar 14, 2024 by Marlene Wagman-Geller

“No lapse of time, no nearness to the grave, makes any difference.”

–Eliza Hamilton on her refusal to forgive President James Monroe

 

            At the conclusion of the megahit musical, Hamilton, Eliza Hamilton lets out a gasp, followed by the chorus breaking into the haunting lyrics, “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?” A way to discover Eliza’s story is to visit the Hamilton Grange house-museum.

         

Let History Make the Judgment (1993)

Let History Make the Judgment (1993)
Mar 12, 2024 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
Historically, females could not be attorneys; they could not be generals. Hence, when Janet Reno became the first attorney general, the splintering of the glass ceiling sent seismic shock waves throughout the country.

A Room of One's Own

A Room of One's Own
Jan 25, 2024 by Marlene Wagman-Geller

“For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.”

–Virginia Woolf

  

Monk’s House (opened 1981)

East Sussex, England

 

Leonard Wolf observed, “What cuts the deepest channels in our lives are the different houses in which we live.” His words apply to Monk’s House that served as a lighthouse for him and his writer-wife, Virginia.  

                

The Last Word (1501)

The Last Word (1501)
Jan 25, 2024 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
  Kings are subject to grand gestures, sometimes of a romantic nature. Legend holds that when Queen Amytis grew homesick for the lush landscape of her native Media, her husband, King Nebuchadnezzar II, commissioned the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in his desert kingdom. When Mumtaz Mahal died giving birth to their fourteenth child, Shah Jahan immortalized his wife with the world’s most magnificent mausoleum. King Edward VIII, urged to give up his mistress, Wallis Simpson, instead relinquished the British throne. Another crowned head changed his country’s religion to legalize his obsession.

Graves are Always Tidy

Graves are Always Tidy
Jan 24, 2024 by Marlene Wagman-Geller

 

Chapter # Graves are Always Tidy

“One can give up many things for love, but one should not give up oneself.” -Edith Wharton

 

The Mount (opened 2002 )

Lennox, Massachusetts

 

         The writer who punctured the stereotype of the starving artist, Edith Wharton comes across as a cosseted, stiff-necked dowager, with stays firmly fastened. However, if passion had not beat under the primness, she could never have penned her passionate epics. To partake of her gilded world, grab your lorgnette and head to The Mount.

        

Ready to Depart

Ready to Depart
Jan 14, 2024 by Marlene Wagman-Geller

The Karen Blixen Museum (opened in 1986)

Nairobi, Kenya

 

 

“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills…” are the opening words of Karen Blixen’s memoir of her seventeen-year sojourn in Nairobi.  Visiting her former home, now the Karen Blixen Museum, is to return to a yesterday where the “The Dark Continent,” then the domain of British East Africa, was the paradise-playground of rich Europeans.

The Past

The Past
Jan 09, 2024 by Marlene Wagman-Geller

 

“Never relight a dead cigarette or an old passion.”

–Katherine Mansfield

 

Katherine Mansfield House & Garden (opened 1988)

Wellington, New Zealand

 

The possessors of sphinxlike personalities prove challenging subjects for their biographers who must strip off various masks. Katherine Mansfield, in her journal, paraphrased Polonius’ words from Shakespeare’s play The Tragedy of Hamlet, “True to oneself Which self?” To best understand the New Zealand enigma, journey to the landscape of her childhood: the Katherine Mansfield House & Garden.

                

Of Their Number

Of Their Number
Jan 04, 2024 by Marlene Wagman-Geller

  

“Afflictions are the steps to heaven.”

–Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton   

 

The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (opened 1965)

Emmitsburg, Maryland

                 

A Negro spiritual, popularized by Louis Armstrong, begins with the lyrics, “Oh, when the saints go marching in, oh, when the saints go marching in…” To learn about the woman who traversed the road from socialite to saint, head to Emmitsburg, Maryland, the site of the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.

           

Iron Butterfly

Iron Butterfly
Dec 30, 2023 by Marlene Wagman-Geller

“The people need a role model…especially in the dark of night.”

–Imelda Marcos

 

Santo Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum (opened 1979)

Tacloban, Philippines

                

If a Grimm’s brother princess possessed the ability to write, her message would read, “A new pair of shoes can change your life-Cinderella.” A former First Lady of the Philippines would have wholeheartedly agreed. To partake of a dwelling of fairy tale proportions, enter the estate of the Santo Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum.

Bid Time Return

Bid Time Return
Dec 24, 2023 by Marlene Wagman-Geller

 

“Surely for everything you love, you have to pay some price.”

–Agatha Christie

 

Greenway House (opened 2009)

Devon, England

 

As a rule of thumb, people are not salivating to visit an isolated manor whose hostess’ specialty is poison, where random bodies turn up. While the latter scenario is the case in Agatha Christie’s novels, the author’s retreat, Greenway House, is a pastoral estate to which fans flock.

Coded Diary

Coded Diary
Dec 22, 2023 by Marlene Wagman-Geller

“The more spontaneous the pleasure, the more happy the result.” – Beatrix Potter 

Hill Top (opened 1946)

Near Sawrey, Lake District, England

 

            For over a century, children have delighted in the adventures of Peter Rabbit, the bunny who dressed in blue coat with brass buttons. To enter the whimsical world of his creator, Beatrix Potter, hop on over to the Lake District’s Hill Top.

Quiet Earth

Quiet Earth
Dec 19, 2023 by Marlene Wagman-Geller

“My home is humble and unattractive to strangers, but to me it contains what I shall find nowhere else in the world-the affection which brothers and. Sisters feel for each other.”

–Charlotte Brontë   

 

Brontë Parsonage Museum (opened 1928)

Yorkshire, England

            Historic houses reverberate with secrets, and one is how an isolated parsonage on a windswept moor produced the passion that birthed two immortal love stories. To enter the confessional of the original weird sisters-Emily Jane, Charlotte, and Anne-one can journey to the Brontë Parsonage Museum, a British literary shrine second only to Stratford-on-Avon.

No Regrets

No Regrets
Dec 19, 2023 by Marlene Wagman-Geller

 

“Every damn thing you do in this life, you have to pay for.” – Édith Piaf

 

The Musée Édith Piaf (opened 1977)

Paris, France

            The blind poet, John Milton, illustrated insight into the human condition with his statement, “The anguish of the singer makes the sweetness of the strain.” A chanteuse who proved his words was an alchemist whose songs dwelled on the permanence of love, the impermanence of lovers. To step into her world- whose dragon at the gate is a break-the-mold docent- enter the Musée Édith Piaf.

I Did What I Could (1985)

I Did What I Could (1985)
Dec 14, 2023 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
   Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Geronimo. The names conjure the legendary Native Americans of yesteryear, the era when the buffalo and the teepee dotted the landscape. In 1985, Wilma Mankiller joined the trio as the first principal female chief of the Cherokee Nation.

Rainbow (1860)

Rainbow (1860)
Dec 13, 2023 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
  Whether Ms. Moses found the sobriquet “Grandma” a term of endearment or an unwelcome reminder of the onslaught of time is a matter of conjecture, but it is a name with which she was inextricably bound. Her life, one supposed to be exempt from Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame, was as fanciful as her canvasses. Her biography serves as a testament that one can receive a late-night knock at the door from the hand of fate.  

Loved By Others

Loved By Others
Nov 28, 2023 by Marlene Wagman-Geller

“I believe in the idea of the rainbow. And I’ve spent my entire life trying to get over it.” 

Judy Garland Museum (opened 1996)

Grand Rapids, Minnesota

      In Frank L. Baum’s novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy told the Scarecrow, “There is no place like home.” For Judy Garland, the star of the book’s movie adaptation, home was in the picturesquely named city of Grand Rapids. To pay tribute to the actress and to the childhood classic, one can follow the yellow brick road to the Judy Garland Museum.

Mariposas

Mariposas
Nov 25, 2023 by Marlene Wagman-Geller

“When injustice becomes law, rebellion becomes duty.” Minerva Mirabal

Casa Museo Hermanas Mirabal (opened 1994)

Tenares, The Dominican Republic

     A Hans Christian Anderson story proved prescient in the lives of the Mirabal sisters. In his fairy tale a butterfly stated, “Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” The sibling’s childhood home, the Casa Museo Hermanas Mirabel, resonates their courage.