Thursday, February 28, 2013

What Your Snowman Says About You

Two years. 

For two years the kids in our neighborhood have been waiting for this. Enough snow. Heavy snow. Snow that will actually make a snowman.

It's been a long wait, but this week, the day finally came. And, boy, did the kids deliver.

Today as I drove through my neighborhood, I started noticing snowmen. Lots and lots of snowmen. 

They made me smile.

In literally ten minutes I snapped these pictures, creeping through my neighborhood with the windows rolled down. Seriously, if anyone had seen me, they would have been completely justified to call the police. 

I got to wondering, does your snowman say anything about you? 

I decided that they absolutely, positively do say something about you. Yes, indeed.

This one, for instance. Typically traditional and as sweet as can be. Must be a nice little family.

Look at those huge smiles. Happy family.

Like father, like son.

I'm guessing somebody might have been sipping a little something while helping their kids with these snowmen.

Nature lovers here.

Zombie vs. Alien fans.

Honestly? I don't know what this one says. 

What do you think?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Good Grief! It's Tuesday!

Yesterday my sweet husband, who appears to be my biggest fan, said to me, "Are you ever going to write anything again? Your fans are waiting."

He might have also mentioned that people might be thinking that all I ever write about is Downton Abbey. Alright, so I may have a slight obsession, and so I may have had a hard time getting over . . . you know, that thing that happened on the finale . . . but Downton Abbey is certainly NOT the only thing I think about.

In fact, if you scroll down my Home page here, you'll see that I also think about food and sex. So there.

[Oh gosh, the very fact that I just wrote that sentence proves that this blog has seriously lost its focus. Not that it ever really had a focus, but any semblance of a niche audience--the one thing the "experts" tell you you NEED to have a successful blog--is now completely gone and the only people left reading here are old friends from high school and my family.

Thank you to those of you who have stuck around.]

And to add to the schizophrenic nature of this blog, I thought today I'd just write a random list of things I've been doing/thinking about. Because that will really bring this whole blog thing into focus.

So here goes.

1. There's a storm a-brewin' today. No, not in my soul or in my marriage or anything like that. Really, a storm is coming. They say we're supposed to get nine inches of snow today. If the screen door on my back porch is any indication, it's true. That baby is slapping so hard right now, I know something is up with the weather.

And while I'm talking about the weather (always the best way to start a blog post, don't you think?), may I take this opportunity to shout out to the Lord that I'm so DONE with winter? Sorry, Lord, I know you might have something to say about it, but if you wouldn't mind just shutting the whole thing down after this, I'd really appreciate it.

Winter is so overrated.

2. I'm an aunt again! My younger sister had a baby one week ago today, and even though we live 900 miles apart, we're all very excited up here in the north. Little Gracie is going to be a huge blessing to our family, I just know it. She already is!

A couple of fun things about this little one and the makeup of our family. First, her next oldest cousin on this side of the family is Julia, who just turned 15. Fifteen years since we've had a baby in our family! And second, Gracie is the sixth granddaughter for my parents. Six granddaughters! (No grandsons.) Isn't that great?!

We're thrilled, as you can tell by my use of exclamation points.

3. Kate has been accepted to an internship program in Washington D.C. for next fall, and, while I'm thrilled for the opportunity for her, it's a little hard to get my brain around the fact that she'll be so far away.

I know what you're thinking: Wait. Isn't she in college? Aren't you used to not having her around? Well, yes and no. She is in college . . . eight blocks away. And, no, we didn't necessarily do that on purpose--she made her own decision about where to go to school. It has been amazing to be able to send her to school, let her be independent, but still be able to deliver food to her on occasion and get to know her friends. Even so, I  know it's time for me to let go, really, and get used to not having her so nearby. It's going to be great for her and so good for me.

But I've been thinking about how much I'm going to miss her.

4. Lately I've realized that my life is entering a new phase, which is both strange and good at the same time. Strangely good? Strange goodness? I don't know what you want to call it, but it sure is different. For one thing, our house is so quiet. With two girls in college and one who is busy with the school's spring musical, it's pretty much just me and the dog hanging out here during the day. (Except for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings when I teach my class.)

(Any burglars reading my blog right now, you know when to strike.)

The other thing that's really different (and you moms of young kids can just look away for a second so you don't hate me) is that I'm spending lots and lots of time alone. It's weird. After all those years of kids hanging on my leg or needing lunch money or asking for rides, nobody seems to need me much any more. Like I said, two are gone and one is really, really busy.

It feels like there's something coming, a change of some sort, but I don't know what it is just yet.

5. Speaking of change . . . I've been thinking about changing the look of my blog. I've loved the design, but I've had it for about three years, maybe longer, and I'm getting kind of tired of the boring green sides. I'm ready for something fresh.

What do you think?

6. I haven't written about this yet, and I'll probably write more about it soon, but I have a birthday coming up in a couple of months. It's a birthday that I should be looking forward to, like a milestone, but instead it feels like more of a millstone. Around my neck. And I hate it with every fiber of my being.

There. I said it. It's out there. Maybe I can write more about it now. For later.

And there you have it. My six random thoughts for a Tuesday.

I'm going to go see if I can find my snow shovel because it seems I am going to need it.

What are you up to today?


Monday, February 18, 2013

Top Ten Lines from Downton Abbey Season 3, Episode 7 – It’s All About Family

**Spoiler alert** Do not read further if you haven't watched the Season 3 Finale. This post does contain spoilers.

Well now, how’s everyone doing? Recovered from last night’s drama yet?

I know, I know, it’s hard to remember, but you must remind yourself that this is fiction. It’s just fiction. Tell yourself over and over again, if you must, but what happened on the season finale is just fiction.

Reminds me of when B and I were dating. He’d take me to the movies, and whenever things got a little tense or emotional he’d lean over to me and say, “It’s just light on a screen, Shelly. Light on a screen.” I never really bought it—my emotions were real, so the drama must have been, in some way, real to me. But I nodded my head and tried to tell myself, “It’s just light on a screen.”

I just watched the episode for the second time, and I think it was more sad even the second time around. I caught so much more of the subtlety and the rhythm and the theme of family and love and friendship. You should really go to the PBS website and watch the episode again.

If you can bear it.

So Season 3 is over and now we have to wait another year for what will, I hope, be several new, happy beginnings for many of the characters. This season was such a season of loss; I truly hope next season is a season of happiness. But then, Julian Fellowes is known for surprising us. I’m sure that whatever he has in store will be a great surprise.

So let’s get on with it—my top ten lines from Episode 7, better known as the episode-in-which-everyone-including-Tom-and-Robert-and-Thomas-and-Mrs. Patmore-make-peace-with-Downton.

Number 10. I have to start toward the end, during the dance in Scotland. Mr. Molesley has had a bit too much of the Scotch whisky and he’s dancing his heart out. Robert and Violet are looking on.

Robert: They do say there’s a wild man inside all of us.
Violet: If only he would stay inside.

Those of us who know my last name will know why I chose that line. *wink*

Number 9. Of course, my lady Violet had some great lines this week, as she always does. This exchange took place toward the beginning, as the family has arrived in Scotland to spend ten days with Shrimpy’s family. His shrew wife, Susan, greets Violet at the door.

Susan: Oh, Violet, we feel so privileged to have lured you this far north.
Violet: Oh, dear, you flatter me, which is just as it should be.

Number 8: Later, Violet and Susan are walking together. Violet asks about Shrimpy’s upcoming colonial post.

Violet: Do you know where it will be?
Susan: No, but it will be filthy and dirty and the food will be awful and there will be no one to talk to for a hundred square miles.
Violet: That sounds like a week with my mother-in-law.

Number 7: Oh Edith. Edith, Edith, Edith. Will you never learn? Honestly, I think Edith has worse luck in the love department than anyone I’ve ever known.

(Wait. Did I just say that? Like she’s real or something? Light on a screen, Shelly. Light on a screen.)

(And also? Sorry about some of the grainy photos. Screen shots just don't work as well as actual photos.)

So her editor, Michael Gregson, turns up in Scotland. He just happens to be in the neighborhood and would like to hang out with the family. Mary is skeptical, as Mary usually is about anyone who would be interested in Edith, but this time, Mary is right.

Matthew isn’t convinced, and when Gregson turns up for dinner, he has a great remark for Mary: "What a disappointment. He looks perfectly normal."

Later, in bed, Mary and Matthew discuss Edith’s love life for about the millionth time.

Mary: He probably took reeling classes before he left London.
Matthew: Don’t dislike him before you even know him. That’s a hallmark of our parents’ generation, and I forbid it.

Stay tuned . . .

Number 6. I won’t get into the whole staff-who-stays-behind-and-goes-to-the-fair business. It’s kind of overly complicated, although I did enjoy seeing what goes on when the family is away. Anyway, the staff does all go to the fair in Thirsk (well, all but one), and as they’re heading out, Alfred bumps into Mr. Carson in the hallway. I absolutely loved Carson’s response.

Alfred: You don’t want to come to the fair?
Carson: I would sooner chew broken glass.

So there. Harumph.

But wasn’t Carson absolutely adorable with Sybie? I loved the scene when he was just waiting in the hallway outside of her bedroom for her to cry. He goes in, lifts her out of her crib, and says, “Oh now, what’s the matter? Let’s have a little chat about it.”


Number 5. So there’s something amiss in the Shrimpy household, that is made perfectly clear. Rose is miserable. Shrimpy is miserable. And Susan is just a miserable shrew.

It has become clear that Shrimpy will most likely be stationed somewhere in India, and he’s had a moment to discuss it with it Violet who, not surprisingly, has some strong opinions about Rose.

Violet:Will you take Rose?
Shrimpy: I don’t think we should, but Susan won’t discuss it.
Violet: Unless you’d like her to be married to a third rate Colonial official with no money and bad teeth, Susan had better think again.

Ah, Violet, why don’t you tell us how you really feel?

Number 4: I love Violet’s more tender moments, and this was one of my favorites of this episode. Vi and Cora are discussing the tensions in the Shrimpy household, specifically things between Rose and her mother. Cora is reminded of her own struggles with Sybil.

Violet: We knew things were awkward between them, but now that I’m here I don’t think Susan handles it very well.
Cora: But it’s so complicated with a young daughter with new ideas. She thinks you’re fighting her when all the time you’re just frightened and . . . I’m sorry.
Violet: We all miss her. Every single day.

Yes, Violet, we all do still miss her, too.

Number 3: 

One of my favorite plot lines this week was with Mrs. Hughes and Tom. Poor Tom has been through the wringer this week, just trying to figure out his place in the upper class world. Housemaid Edna wasn’t making things any easier on him, that’s for sure, what with all the following him around and meeting him at the pub and kissing him when he had his shirt off. Good grief, Edna, don’t you know your place?

Obviously not.

So Tom offers to drive everyone to the fair, donning his chauffeur hat just for old time’s sake. He asks Mrs. Hughes what time they’re leaving, and Mrs. Hughes tells him he doesn’t have to go.

Tom: Why? Because I’m so high and mighty now?
Mrs. Hughes: You’re part of the family now. There’s nothing false in that.
Tom: I know.
Mrs. Hughes: I hope you do, because if someone is trying to make you feel awkward, they are in the wrong, not you.

Later, after Edna has been sacked, Mrs. Hughes takes a moment to talk to Tom in the library.

Mrs. Hughes: Would you allow me to speak as I would have in the old days?
Tom: Go ahead then.
Mrs. Hughes: You let Edna make you ashamed of your new life. But you’ve done well. And Lady Sybil would be so proud.
Tom (crying): I can’t bear to be without her.
Mrs. Hughes sits and takes his hand: You must bear it. And one day I hope, and so would she, you’ll find someone to bear it with you. But until then, be your own master and call your own tune.

[Note: this is the only word that I just couldn’t get. Thanks to Megan at Fried Okra for helping me out with that!]

So sweet to see Tom and Mrs. Hughes have that moment together. Mrs. Hughes is kind of like a mother to many of the younger staff, and it was nice to see her take that role with Tom as well. I just loved it.

Number 2

Well, well, well. Robert does have a moment of epiphany, doesn’t he? Remember in the billiard room with Shrimpy? Shrimpy tells Robert his tale of financial devastation, and he is basically recounting Robert’s very own tale, had Matthew not stepped in to save them all.

Robert has much to think about.

Later that night, as he and Cora are going to bed, he tells her what he’s come to learn.

Robert: I can’t wait to get home.
Cora: Aren’t you enjoying your Victorian idyll any longer?
Robert: I’m glad I was jealous of Shrimpy. It’s made me realize what a fool I’ve been. Downton will survive because of Matthew’s vision.
Cora: I’m so pleased to hear you say it.
Robert: You always knew how lucky we are in Matthew, and now I give thanks for him as I give thanks for my home and my family. And most of all, I give thanks for my wife.

I think they’ve all learned some lessons over the past year, but this episode made it clear that they have all come to love and appreciate what they have: family.

Number 1: And speaking of family. Matthew and Mary’s little family grew last night, didn’t it? And then got promptly reduced in size (for which, I have heard, many will never watch Downton Abbey again, myself not included).

But before the size reduction took place, there was this very sweet exchange in the hospital between Matthew and Mary.

Matthew: You are going to be such a wonderful mother.
Mary: How do you know?
Matthew: Because you are such a wonderful woman.
Mary: I hope I’m allowed to be your Mary Crawley for all eternity, and not Edith’s version or any one else’s for that matter.
Matthew: You’ll be my Mary always.  Because mine is the true Mary.

It was like a send-off. Mary has always been conscious of other peoples’ perception of her, but Matthew assures her that she is just enough, just as she is. And that, my friends, is unconditional love.

Their love story may be over for now, Matthew may be gone, but his words of love will ring in Mary’s ears forever. They may be just what she needs to go home and raise this little boy on her own. Words to give her the confidence to be the mother that this boy will need. Words of love that Mary will need as she moves ahead, alone.

Season 3, I’ve loved you, hated you, dreaded you, and anticipated you every week. You have never ceased to surprise me. Thank you for the few hours of joy you have given to me and to my friends and my family. It’s been fun, tragic, comical, and sad. I will miss you and will look forward to your sister, Season 4.

So let's talk. Tell me what you thought of the season finale in the Comments.

To read the rest of my Downton Abbey Top Five (or Ten) lines:

Season 3, Episode 1
Season 3, Episode 2
Season 3, Episode 3
Season 3, Episode 4
Season 3, Episode 5
Season 3, Episode 6


Thursday, February 14, 2013

One Word :: Love – What I’m learning

Happy Valentines Day, friends! 

It seems fitting, on this day of love, that I should follow up with a little bit of what I'm learning from my One Word, don't you think?

First, an observation. You know what? Once you pick a word, it pops up everywhere.

Seriously, everywhere!

(I dare you to try it.)

For instance, the women’s Bible study at our church is studying I John, and although it’s hard for me to get there because of my teaching schedule, I’m trying to at least read along with them. That book has love written all the way through it!

I hear the word “Love” more these days than I have ever heard it before—on the radio, in conversations, in sermons. And every time I hear it, I think about how the person is using it, what the context is, and what I can learn about love.

So this month, through listening to others and through reading God’s word, I’ve learned this: Love is action.

I’m noticing that love kind of works this way: we perform an action; it becomes love. Either the other person knows that you love them or you begin to feel more love for the person you’ve acted in love towards. But there is always an action involved.

Every morning my husband leaves the house while I’m still sleeping. And every morning, when he’s all ready to go, gym bag in hand, he stops by my side of the bed, leans over and kisses me. Sometimes I’m more coherent than other times, but I always know that he has kissed me.

Does he always feel like kissing me? No. I’m sure he doesn’t. But he does it because it is one small way that he can show me—and remind himself—that I am his wife whom he loves.

Some verses from I John:

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”

“This is love: Not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent His son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Did you catch the verbs there? The actions? Jesus laid down his life. God sent His son. He didn’t just stop with the love—He did something about it.

I’ve heard the phrase “love in action,” but I would suggest that the phrase should be “love IS action.” Because when you love, you do.

You listen.

You see.

You spend time.

You sacrifice.

You give.

You stay.

Sometimes love is really, really hard, and on those days just doing something might be enough. You might not feel love, but you can do love.

This weekend God is calling me out of my comfort zone to love someone. I told you it would happen! I’m a little nervous about it, but because I want to learn to love well, I will go and I will do and I will listen.

I will love.

So lesson #1 about love? Love is action.

Since it's Valentines Day and all, why not show someone you love them today?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Letters to my daughters: Sexual Purity

Dear girls,

Let’s talk about sex.

I know, I know.

I know you. I know you’re rolling your eyes right now. I know you’re thinking, “Mom, we’ve talked about this, and I’m done with it.”

I know.

But humor me for a minute.

See, last week the blog world—sorry, the Christian blog world—blew up over the topic of purity or premarital sex or chastity or whatever you want to call it. Lots of posts were written and, sadly, lots of flaming arrows were thrown.

I don’t want to get involved in all of that.

What I do want to do is to make sure you know what’s what about sex. No, not technically—I’ll let you have the joy of figuring that out on your own one day should you get married. But even though we’ve talked about premarital sex before, and you girls know clearly where your dad and I stand on the issue, I want to make sure you’re really clear.

Really. Clear.

Because, you see, I noticed something about the discussions that were going on around the blogosphere last week. Many people talked about “issues” like the “purity culture” and “shaming” and “guilt” and creating a “theology of sexuality,” but most left out the most important place to begin a discussion of humanity and sexuality and marriage:

The Bible.

God, as the creator of sex, has something to say about how He’d like us to use that gift. These aren’t my rules; they’re His. And as Creator, He has every right to make certain demands on His creation.

You know the demands. They are clearly given to us in several places in Scripture, particularly in I Corinthians 5 and 6. Paul uses words even I wouldn’t use—it’s a little hard to read—but it is the word of God and we need to take care with it. There are many other places in the Bible where God deals with the issue of sexual purity—this is just one of the biggies.

So God’s word is clear: He doesn’t want us to have sex before we’re married. Period.

But why? Why is this such a big deal? Especially if someone is in a committed relationship and they plan to get married, why shouldn’t they be free to show their love to each other?

Well, there are a few possibilities given to us in I Corinthians 6. Our bodies belong to Christ, if we believe in Him, and He doesn’t want us to use them in this way before we are married. I guess that’s one reason.

Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:19)—that could be another.

But I really like the answer Paul gives in the next verse (I Cor. 6:20): “God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”

See, He loves you so much that He sent His one and only beloved Son to die for you. You are worth it. And because you're worth it to Him, He wants to guard you from sins that might harm you.

This is one of those sins.

We might not understand why God has given us this command to stay sexually pure before marriage, especially since it’s a command that seems so difficult to keep, but we know one thing for sure: He loves us enough to die for us. If the life of His Son was the price He had to pay for our sins, doesn’t He have a right to request—no, demand—our obedience? 

In all things, even this?

When you were little we lived on a busy street. I hated living on that busy street because it was always such a chore to keep you in the back yard, which was not fenced, and to keep you from running to the front yard where you could possibly get hurt by running into the street. You would always try to sneak away, around the corner of the house, pushing those boundaries to see how far you could get before I caught you and made you come back to safety.

In a way, that’s how I think it is with God and our sexual purity.

He knows the danger to us, both physically and emotionally, so much better than we do. He loves us enough to give us boundaries and to tell us clearly what those boundaries are. Marriage is the boundary. Not a committed relationship (you have no idea how many people who were just sure they would be married ended up breaking up). Not outside of marriage. Just marriage. Period.

Now hear this, my darlings. You might mess up. You’ve pushed boundaries all your lives, so this is one that might be particularly difficult for you. I hope it won’t be, but you never know. But hear this: nothing is outside the grace of God.

And nothing will keep me from loving you. Ever.

We are sinful people—“prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.” There is not a single day of our lives that we are not in need of the tender, loving forgiveness of our Father. Praise Him that He so freely gives it. And know that this is not the one unforgiveable sin. There is grace.

That’s not to say that we should sin so that grace will abound. No. Our love for Jesus and His love for us should be our guiding light, always.

Last thing. Remember this: sex is an act of the body; purity is an act of the heart.

Work on your heart.

I love you so.


Linking this post to Richella's Grace at Home party.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Top Ten Lines from Downton Abbey, Season 3, Episode 6 -- The Cricket Episode

So, was it just me, or did all of you have a scary dream about O’Brien last night, too? She of the beady eyes and crazy curly-Qs on the side of her head. She haunted me in my dreams last night, and I awoke this morning with the disturbing feeling that if I hadn’t woken up, I was just about to be killed in my sleep.

O’Brien gives me the creeps.


Anyway, back to business. Did anyone else notice the overuse of a certain word last night? It’s not a word I ever remember hearing on the show before, and last night it got used five times (I know because I counted. You can thank me later.).  It’s the word “stuff.” Mary used it twice, Edith used it twice, and Matthew used it once.

What’s up with that?

It was bothering me, so I looked up the etymology (that means the study of the origins and uses of words) of the word “stuff.” Of course, there’s the original meaning, “stuffing,” as in the stuffing of a quilt or mattress. There were several other meanings and origins noted, most from the 14th and 15th centuries. (Still with me?)

And then I noticed that in 1927, just about the time this drama is being set right now, the word “stuff” came to have a new meaning: to have a grasp on something, as in He really knows his stuff. And in 1929, the word “stuff” began to be used in reference to narcotic drugs. Isn’t that interesting?

Don’t ever say you don’t learn something here.

But surprisingly, it looks like you have to go back earlier, around the 1570s, to find its usual meaning: “matter of an unspecified kind.” I thought it would be later, like, I mean, totally around the 1990s and all that stuff, dude.

Anyway, tell me I’m not the only one who noticed that they used the word “stuff” five times last night. And tell me that I’m not the only one for whom that use felt kind of, I don’t know, awkward? I wonder, were the writers trying to tell us that the word "stuff" came into vogue right around the 1920s? Hmmm.

Alright, we really should get down to business. Last night was a two-hour episode, and I’ve had a couple of people ask if I would share my top TEN lines this week rather than my top five.

Oh, all right. If you insist.

10. Are we happy that Bates is out of jail now? And that he got his job back? And that he and Anna are decorating a lovely little cottage together? (Oh, the fun blog post we could have with that one!)

Apparently people Upstairs lack a bit of just-out-of-jail sensitivity because there were a couple of lines thrown Bates’s way last night that just made me laugh.

How about this one? As Robert was trying to figure out what to do about Thomas in order to get Bates his job back he told Mr. B: “I’ll sort it out, I promise. Until then, you just rest. Stay in bed. Read books.”


Anyway, Matthew, Mary, and Anna are discussing the upcoming cricket match and, by the way, who knew this family was so into cricket???

[Side note: we just kept cracking up with all the cricket talk. Cricket, cricket, cricket! They just couldn’t let it go!]

So as the "teenagers" talk about how much they don't want to play cricket but they'll do it for dear old Dad, Matthew says, "Bates must count himself lucky to be out of it." To which Anna sweetly replies: "I think he’d like to walk normally, sir, even if playing cricket was the price he had to pay."

Way to put him in his place, Anna.

9. Oh, Edith, how on earth do you get yourself into these situations? I mean, it’s fine if you want to write for a newspaper and all, but your attitude toward yourself is kind of . . . defeating.

“It’s a relief to be reminded that I’m not an object of pity to the entire world.”

And later, she just blurts out her big news in the middle of dinner to which Violet has a great response.

Edith: Listen everyone, you have a journalist in the family.
Violet: Since we have a country solicitor and a car mechanic, it was only a matter of time.

8. And another of Violet’s great remarks (there were so many last night): “If Branson is watering down his revolutionary fervor, let us give thanks.”

7. Of course, Isobel got in a rare zinger, pointing her guns directly at Violet: “Oh, have you changed your pills?”

6. And then there’s Ethel. Doesn’t she seem sweet these days? Must be Isobel’s magnanimity doing her some good. I’m sure Isobel thinks so.

I cracked up at this exchange:

Ethel: These days a working woman must have a skill.
Violet: But you seem to have so many.

5. Another great Violet line. As she, Robert, and Cora are discussing the estate agent’s leaving, Violet comes up with the great plan to give the job to Tom. Robert objects, of course, but Violet has logic on her side this time.

Well, logic and a great sense of timing.

Violet: Think of the child. You cannot want your only granddaughter to grow up in a garage with that drunken gorilla.
Cora, pleading as she does: Don’t we owe this to Sybil?
Robert: I will do it on one condition. No, two. First, Matthew agrees. And, second, you will both admit it when you realize you were wrong.
Violet: Oh well, that is an easy caveat to accept because I am never wrong.

4. Oh goodness, I haven’t even touched on the Thomas scandal. Was that a twist of fate or a play of justice or simply the writers trying their best to add some political correctness to an era that could never even begin to conceive of such a notion?

Whatever the case, Thomas comes out on top. Again.


He not only saves his sniveling, sorry behind, he gets a promotion! Go figure. I would never have figured that could happen in Edwardian England.

But who am I?

Anyway, Thomas does NOT get one of my favorite lines of the episode. He really wasn’t that clever or funny this time around. He was more like . . . pathetic.

But what I really enjoyed was the interplay between Carson and Mrs. Hughes. They really are the best of friends, aren’t they. And I love how Mrs. Hughes can say it like it is, in a nice way.

So just as everything is coming to light, Carson sits, shell-shocked, with Mrs. Hughes to talk things over.

Carson: Human nature is a funny business, isn’t it?
Mrs. Hughes: Now why didn’t the poets come to you, Mr. Carson? They would have saved themselves a lot of time and trouble.

3. I learned a put-down last night that I think I’m going to tuck away to use another day. I’m sure it will come in handy.

Anna and Bates invite O’Brien for “tea”—we’ll get to that later. But Anna says something to O’Brien that she doesn’t care for, so O'Brien comes back with,

“Get back in the knife box, Miss Sharp!”

Oh yeah, I’ll be sure to pull that one out (ha!) sometime.

2. There’s a very important scene between Robert and Bates, just after Bates gets his job back as Robert’s valet. Everyone’s flummoxed by what’s happened with Thomas. People are taking sides.

And some deep reflection is going on as well.

Robert: Why didn’t Carson tell me? He’s the one who’s being undermined.
Bates: It’s a very difficult subject for him to discuss.
Robert: I can imagine. It’s not as if we didn’t all know about Barrow.
Bates: That’s what I said to Mrs. Hughes.
Robert: I mean, if I had tried to call Blue Murder every time someone tried to kiss me at Eaton, I’d be hoarse in a month.

Can I just say, Eeeeew! to that one? Eeeeew! But still, so funny.

And, yes, I had to look up the origin of the term “blue murder” and here’s what I found: "’Getting away with blue murder’ 

implies a person has gotten away with something so bad that they were expected to get caught for. If a royal was murdered it would be assumed that the culprit would be apprehended as there would be an unusual large manhunt undertaken making getting away with this murder harder than the murder of a normal person. And since royals are known as blue bloods this is where the term originated.”

Consider yourselves wiki-informed.

1. Now, my number one choice for this week might seem a little strange to you, especially if you haven’t seen Seasons 1 or 2, but, to me, this little line was quintessential Downton—just a little hint, just a little jab, but a tiny little line that packs a lot of punch.

Remember that scene in Bates and Anna’s cottage? They’ve been having tea with O’Brien. Tea-with-a-purpose, that is, because Bates is asking O’Brien to tell Jimmy to drop his threats against Thomas. (Following this?) She, of course, refuses. Bates stands up, walks over to O’Brien, and whispers something in her ear that makes her turn as white as a ghost.

Later, Anna asks Bates what exactly he said to her. He kind of shrugs his shoulders and tells Anna that he has no idea what it means, but Thomas had said it:

“It was her ladyship’s soap.”

You got chills, didn’t you? Come on, you know you did!

And there you have it, my friends. Hope you’ve enjoyed this little foray into fictional Edwardian land, or as my little friend C calls it, “The beautiful show.”

And it really is beautiful, isn’t it?

Now, head to the comments and discuss. And have a great week!

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Top Five Lines from Downton Abbey, Season 3, Episode 5 or “Robert’s Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day"

Poor Robert. He was really having a bad night, wasn’t he? Seemed like he was facing opposition at every turn in this episode, not the least from his wife.

So let’s start there, shall we?

Robert and Cora. I have to say that their grief was very raw this episode, and, I think, very realistic. I felt their pain when Cora shut him out and when Robert tried over and over again to reach her. So, so difficult. You can just feel their sadness.

5. And so, I start with the exchange between Robert and his mother. It was a tender scene, wasn’t it? Robert confessing that things between him and his wife weren’t in the best place at the moment, and Violet adding her wisdom, compassion, and even a touch of humor to the situation.

Violet: Robert, people like us are never unhappily married. (Delivered, I must add, with the perfect comedic timing.)

Robert: I can’t seem to think straight about any of it.

Violet: My dearest boy, there is no test on earth greater than the one you’ve been put to. I do not speak much of the heart since it’s seldom helpful to do so, but I know well enough the pain when it is broken.

Ah, Violet. This is why I love her so. While she can be snarky (as we shall soon see) and biting and condescending, she can also be deeply compassionate and loving to those around her. I just love the way they have developed her character, especially this season.

4. I have to say that I resonated with much of this episode, having lost a sibling of my own a long time ago. So much of what they said about grief rang true to me.

Like, for instance, Violet’s words: Grief makes one so very tired.

And then there was Cora’s poignant line: Is it over? When one loses a child, is it ever really over?

I applaud the writers for getting much of this right.

3. I love, love, LOVED the interlude with Daisy and her father-in-law. How sweet are they? Did you see the big smile he had on his face when Daisy walked up to the farm? Adorable!

But even before she left, there was the brief discussion in the kitchen. Alfred doesn’t get it, does he? He thinks that being a farmer, working for himself, would be so much easier than being in service. He talks about how great it would be to not have to answer to anyone. But Daisy puts him in his place. She totally gets it, and defends William’s dad in the process.

No farmer’s his own boss. He takes his orders from the sun and the snow and the wind and the rain.”

Dad, that one’s for you.

 Later, when visiting with Mr. Mason, he asks Daisy how it’s going with “the lad” she was interested in. Daisy explains that he (Alfred) has eyes for someone else (Ivy), and Mr. Mason has the perfect, perfect comeback: Well he’s a fool. Not worth bothering with. He’s seen a diamond and he’s chosen glass.”

I think a certain dad of daughters around here may have tucked that one away for someday if necessary.

2. You know this one had to make my list. In the scene with Violet and Dr. Clarkson, she’s trying to persuade him to come clean with Cora and Robert about Sybil’s chances of survival. It’s important to Violet to get the two of them to move forward together, so she asks Dr. Clarkson to present the truth in as “helpful” a way as possible.

Dr. Clarkson: You want me to lie?

Violet: “Lie” is so unmusical a word.

Yes it is.

1. And finally, the scene that topped my list last night took place in Isobel’s dining room. Ethel, the former prostitute (gasp!), was serving all of the ladies their luncheon. Robert’s horrible, terrible, no good, very bad day has reached its peak at this point, and he storms into the dining room just as Ethel has brought in the dessert.

Robert comes across as the bigoted prude that he is, but is trying not to be, and Cora staunchly refuses to budge. (“Oh, is that a Charlotte Ruse? How delicious!”) Edith and Mary just sit there with their mouths open. Ethel just about drops the tray. Isobel stands in defiance.

Finally, Robert, in exasperation, says, “Is anyone coming with me?” To which Violet replies: 

It seems a pity to miss such a good pudding.

And the gauntlet has been thrown. Old vs. new. Tradition vs. progress. Law vs. grace. Seems like things are changing just a little too rapidly for poor Robert.

What do you think? Will Robert be able to roll with the changes? Will the estate be saved? What was your favorite line of the week? Comments, please!