January Evenings and Indulgences

Highclere Castle ~ photo from flickr creative commons.

Highclere Castle ~ photo from flickr creative commons.

The third season of Downton Abbey is finally here. (The photo of Highclere Castle, where it’s filmed, is by Jonathan Rieke.)

Sometimes I almost feel as though I’m part of the family. Maggie Smith’s character is a delight to watch, although I wouldn’t want to deal with her in real life. There’s an online quiz, “Which Downton Abbey Job is Right for You”, and I scored Isobel Crawley.

It’s been unusually cold here and the sidewalks are icy or slippery in many places, depending on what has or hasn’t been done. Some people are boring with their struggles regarding New Year’s Resolutions and I’m as interested and supportive as I can be, depending on my energy level among other things. It’s been years since I’ve made resolutions, although I have goals and choose several areas of focus.

I’ve done well with having a “word of the year”. This year my word is “refresh”. I didn’t pick it; it persistently and insistently made itself noticed and while I’m not up for explaining what it might mean, the word seems appropriate and I’ve accepted it.

With new dietary restrictions at this time–because health is very important to me–my treat of choice now is having a glass or two of red wine some evenings, even though I don’t bother obtaining wine without sulfites. We all have our little escapes and soft addictions; I’ve eliminated some and upgraded others.

Freshly grated ginger for tea in the afternoon is another treat I’ve been looking forward to lately. It isn’t about what I’ve chosen; it’s about my paying attention and making the time and effort to follow through instead of telling myself I’m too busy and that “maybe tomorrow” I’ll take care of myself in this way.

By next month the energies and themes of my life will be different and something else will be available to add a little sparkle and pleasure to my daily existence. Taking responsibility is valued by me and when this life is over I don’t want to look back and see a pattern of self-denial when it came down to appreciating life.

What are you making the time to enjoy these days?


There’s a new moon today, which I believe is a great time to begin things and make plans for the next four weeks. This time I have things planned already so I began watching the first season of Downton Abbey.

The story is taking place in England in 1914 and involves the Aristocracy and the serving class in a grand country home. Once I began watching it there was no way I could walk away from it. This DVD just came out so it will be awhile before I get to see the next one.

It was a good way to keep my mind off the week ahead. Two of my least favorite things are happening this week. I’ll be meeting with my tax accountant and I also have a dentist appointment.


After laying low for a few days, I went out for a food run this afternoon. The city seemed deserted. It looks like spring to me now because the forsythia bushes are blooming and the sidewalks are marked up for construction, with a few fenced off and being worked on already.

I’ve been watching Who Do You Think You Are on Hulu, all six episodes from this season so far. The first thing that surprised me is that I’ve never been interested in any of the celebrities featured. After watching for awhile, I begin to care. I guess unless someone is really awful, people are easier to care about once you get to know them a little better.

The second thing I’m aware of is how touched and heartfelt the celebrities appear when they consider the hardships of their ancestors. Some of the ancestors were not sterling characters. So far, the one’s I’ve seen are all in the eastern U.S. except for Kim Cattrall, who went to England.


The three basil seedlings are still alive. They don’t get enough sun and are spindly so I keep turning them. I plucked a leaf off one that seemed to be weighing it down. I ate the leaf and didn’t get much of a taste.

I’ve watched episodes three and four of Edwardian Farm. (It’s awkward the way I watch them on YouTube.) Alex has learned to repair and make hedgerows. The tool he used was shown being forged. Ruth cleaned and disinfected the privy for use. The walls inside were painted with something white which helped disinfect as well as make it easier to see in the dark. Two floppy-eared sows were brought to put in the pig sty next to the privy to assist in composting. They were painted with a waxy substance to protect their skin. Rooting around, they seemed happy and oblivious to whatever was going on outside of what was in front of their noses.

Peter began a trout hatchery. About 1500 eggs were harvested from one trout and she was released back into the stream. It seemed quite a laborious project, making pitch to coat the wooden hatchery and cutting down trees and sawing the lumber for it.

A tractor was borrowed to plow the field. It is the oldest working tractor in the world. Only 500 were made because they were extremely expensive.

Ruth also prepared toilet paper out of newspaper. She has a surprise secret project going–picking sloe from the hedgerow, mixing it with sugar and gin and at Christmas will have sloe gin to share. That was unusual because temperance was being pushed during the time period.

And if you’re still reading this far–on a personal note, I had a consultation with an expert today who recognized that I’m doing very well with the hand I’ve been dealt. I know this to be true and also that it isn’t apparent to the world. I was told that I’m the “gutsiest person” she’s ever met. True. I know it down to my toes.

Edwardian Farm

A few months ago, I greatly enjoyed the BBC show Victorian Farm which someone posted in videos on YouTube. The DVD’s which are available on Amazon do not play in my regions’s DVD players.

The two archeologists, Peter and Alex, and historian Ruth, lived for a year on a farm they worked as the Victorians did for a year, like a documentary/reality show. After checking back a few times, someone has now posted the episodes of Edwardian Farm which I’ve begun watching. It’s all I can do to keep from staying up into the wee hours of the morning watching more of it.

The Edwardian era in England was from about 1901 when Queen Victoria died to about 1914 while King Edward the 7th was on the throne, ending about the time of the first World War. (This was about six years before my Dad was born here in America). I’m guessing that King Edward was the grandfather of the “King’s Speech” King.

Anyway, it’s fascinating. They’ve already brought in farm animals. Ruth scrubbed the kitchen floor with a brush on her hands and knees and said that women would do that twice a day in that era. (It doesn’t sound like my ancestors would have but never mind that.)

The soil is acidic and the men hauled tons (literally) of limestone to nearby kilns to burn into quick lime to spread on the field. Much of the men’s work so far has seemed very dangerous to me. The quick lime business let off toxic carbon monoxide and if gotten wet could cause an explosion or caustic burns.

A heavy granite rock was carved into a feed trough to keep the sheep food off the ground. It was moved in a very laborious way of the times.

One of the meals that Ruth cooked was a sheep’s head soup and it was gross to see the actual head on the table and later when the soup was done. Most of the meat during the time seems to have been sold and what was left for the farmers were such as the head.

The chimney was clogged up and Alex climbed up on the roof while Peter and Ruth were helping near the stove below to unclog it. Fortunately, Alex couldn’t bring himself to use the chicken–yes, he was holding a live chicken to throw down the chimney to unclog it–and they ended up using a bunch of holly instead. Another dirty job.

Ruth spent hours out in the field cutting gorse to feed the horses. It looked rough but they stomp on it first and eat it.

This is what I remember from watching–me of the not-so-great-memory–and I will attempt to ration my enjoyment of it to make the episodes last. There’s always the chance that YouTube will shut down the account like they tend to do. While I enjoy watching, I am certain I would not want to live that lifestyle after living as I do now.

Some Opinions

The temperature was in the mid fifties today and it wasn’t windy out. Considering that I physically overdid it yesterday, I was reasonably functional. In fact my spirit was doing way better than my body and mind which weren’t keeping up very well, so I plodded along.

I’m optimistic enough that I’m going to write about some things I don’t like today.

One is the dvd series “A Touch Of Evil” that I got from the library yesterday. I really enjoy BBC mysteries and I think Robson Green is interesting. This seems to have been filmed in the late 90″s. Now I’m again realizing that I don’t care about the stories much in these shows. It’s the manners, houses, gardens and such that I like. The pace. But this show doesn’t have that. It’s all metal, glass and plastic, all in the city and filmed in grays and smoky blues. Stark. No music. Bleak.

I also watched the Kiera Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice. I like the Colin Firth one better. Hmmm…..didn’t like the new art I looked at yesterday. Am I middle-aged in outlook now? Heh.

Today I went to Winco and got a few groceries. Almond milk instead of rice milk since I’ll be cutting out even more grain based foods from my diet. Walking back, two women approached me. One had a sign about getting signatures for a petition having to do with Norml.

That’s fine—they can do that. But I don’t really care. I’m burned out with people who don’t care about me going on about their agendas. I was polite, listened and told them I didn’t think pot should be criminalized. But when I wanted to share my opinion that in all the research I’ve done, I now believe weed is really bad for physical, mental and energetic health–doing nasty things to people’s auras, I could sense the mind of the one I was speaking to, close shut. So I was done. Then I noticed that the other one had a small camera pointed at me. I went on my way but am wondering if they were recording me. Without notifying me and getting permission. So now, no way am I going to care at all about their cause.

And that’s the way I feel about it and if it makes me seem like a grumpy old lady, oh well.

Showing Up Again

I still want to post every day this year, be positive and authentic, but am sorely disappointed in human nature and wondering if I can ever, ever fix all the mistakes I’ve made.

I’m tempted to write about the bok choy salad I’ve made instead. Rice noodles have made it onto my radar (gluten free) and I broke them into bits and sauteed them in butter and added chopped green onions and slivered almonds, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar and olive oil.

Or I could write about some of the production notes I’ve read about Midsomer Murders, a BBC series I have on dvd and love to watch. It costs two million dollars per episode! And takes five or six weeks to shoot. And in England there is a challenge with aircraft noise when shooting films.

Some things have currently made me jump back into survival mode. That’s what growth is, excavating, understanding, releasing and moving on and then doing it again and again. There’s nothing linear about it. It’s more like a dance.

There are basic developmental things I’ve missed out on and it causes problems. Our society encourages us to be in denial about a lot of things, soldier on, don’t act like a victim, be positive blah, blah, blah and a lot of time that’s all about the person dishing out that advice. They don’t want to feel uncomfortable, they don’t want us to drag down the vibrations, not pitch in to contribute to society enough or whatever it is that they’re perceiving that makes them so lacking in compassion and so abundant with poor advice.

So, I’ve wasted a lot of resources reaching for things without a proper foundation because no one would believe my history. This is the road I’m taking to learn to trust myself, not the people who have no clue what it’s like to be me.

Well, I guess that is obscure and the details don’t really matter. It’s simply been another rough day and I’ll get through to the sunny days again. I feel like a fool for trusting my fellow humans and that is sad.

The King’s Speech On A Saturday Afternoon

It rained a lot all Friday night and it stayed misty all day Saturday. The air was fresher and there was a dampness everywhere. It was the first hint of spring eventually returning.
I went to see the King’s Speech at my favorite independent art house theater. It’s one where you can order drinks and good food and eat at small tables indoors or out, or take your food into the viewing rooms.
Colin Firth is one of my favorites–I thought he was great in A Single Man last year, although I didn’t care for the ending of the film at that time.
The King’s Speech is visually beautiful. The surprising thing is that it consistently held my attention, a rare thing for me. Even with films I really like, I usually find myself drifting away momentarily. Another surprise is the humor in in it. It drew deeper laughter from me and the rest of the audience often. Colin Firth was amazing in portraying the struggle, frustration and pain the character experienced and yet it wasn’t too awful. Or too bloody awful. The persistence and endurance the displayed was inspiring and touching. There was nothing that bothered me about having watched it.
Yesterday was one of those respite kind of days.

Learning From My Three Favorite Novels

the ones on the shelf instead of the floor

the ones on the shelf instead of stacked on the floor

The novel writing book I’m reading by Donald Maass asked for the reader to pick their three favorite novels and intuit or look for why they’re favorites. I chose “Silent In The Grave” by Deanna Raybourn, “The Year Of Pleasures” by Elizabeth Berg” and “A Walk In The Woods” by Bill Bryson.
The character in the Raybourn book is very likable and honest with herself. It’s the descriptive quality of her relationship with people and things around her that I enjoy. She’s wealthy and the story takes place in Victorian times. Many Victorian novels seem bleak to me and while this one isn’t fluffy or frivolous, it is lighter. I love the sense of place and descriptions of clothes, furniture, homes and gloriously, food. It felt good to read of Lady Julia Grey’s relationship with some of her servants, which could be humorous but not in an over-the-top way.
The Berg book (which darn it, I loaned out and will have to obtain a new copy for myself) is about a favorite theme of mine–a mature woman whose old life is gone and the steps she takes to find her way into a new one. It’s what I liked about the film “Under The Tuscan Sun”, a favorite of mine. The book isn’t about drama and angst and suffering. It is subtle and the descriptions of the place and things and the interior journey all blend well together in a way that’s soothing and sensual to me.
Bryson’s book is the funniest book I’ve ever read and I laugh out loud until I have tears. Even though he’s a guy I can relate to the process of setting an incredibly unrealistic goal, forging ahead without proper conditioning and preparation and then the ensuing inner conflict of realizing he’s in way over his head. Again, there is a lot of description of the Appalachian Trail and his relationship to it.
As I read a little further in Haass’s Writing The Breakout Novel, he mentions how 19th century novels treated the landscape as a character in the story. Of course! The outdoors and nature are very alive to me. Setting and landscape can feel more important to me than the action part of the story, although I resent being jerked around and manipulated by the action part and for personal reasons I don’t tolerate tragedy and unfortunate endings well. (I avoid Oprah’s book selections.)
I love the Britflick series Midsomer Murders and it isn’t for the story. It’s for the amazingly gorgeous settings and the relationships.
Relationships between people and things and surroundings are interesting to me as well as relationships between people. In at least one of my posts here, I’ve mentioned that I like stuff. When meeting new people as potential friends, not only do I notice how they treat others but also the way the relate to their cars, electronics, clothes and the environment among other things.
I’ve also mentioned I like the show “Burn Notice” and it certainly isn’t for the story, blowing things up, etc. It’s for the character’s integrity and their relationships to each other. I would never read books about those stories, I think, because it’s a visual thing and the actors do a great job. Although I can appreciate the written descriptions in Robert B. Parker’s novels.
Since I tend to over-analyze and think things to death (oh, you’ve noticed?) I usually stay away from books making intellectual points (although I love the novel Ishmael) and go for more sensual stories.
I avoid books about illness and suffering with the exception of Stephen White’s books. He has a character with MS and he does an awesome job of portraying her as a complex, whole, interesting person who is so much more than her illness.
Now there, I’ve learned a little something about myself and what I look for in a book. And one thing I know for sure–as I’m learning to write, this is the approach that will more likely bringing me an enjoyable experience. I’m well aware that the craft part, very little of which I remember from high school (nope, didn’t take any courses in college on that) and grammar and such–well, I have a lot to learn and refresh there. It isn’t the place to begin for me. So much of my introduction to various things in life have been more of a turn-off and discouragement instead of an inspiration. I’m going to approach it from a direction that might work a lot better for me.

Entertaining My Subconscious

Several times I’ve run across information about the subconscious not being able to tell the difference between seeing violence in life and seeing it in a film. The images one sees are said to be imprinted on your subconscious forever. I tend to believe that but like so many other things in life we have to make choices. We’re here to live life not practice as much avoidance as we can.
I barely watched television from 1970 to 2005. I was doing other things. All those shows that are part of people’s history like Friends and Seinfeld and Cheers and Lost—don’t know much about them. That added to my weirdness factor in the eyes of my peers and co-workers back in the day. Fashion trends, slang and cultural references–I had few clues.
Then when my life changed drastically and I had more time on my hands and not much energy to do things, I began watching television shows. Mostly through Netflix which helped me survive a bleak winter. Now I much prefer watching marathons or a whole season at a time instead of waiting for an episode of something.
It was quite a shock when began watching television again. My goodness, it had changed. As an empath who picks up things as though they were my own energy when they certainly are not, I was careful about what I exposed myself to at first.
One thing that fascinated me in the beginning was how sophisticated some of the writing was, as though the viewer had some degree of intelligence. Not everything obvious had to be laboriously pointed out. I said some writing. Of course there are many lame, stupid shows.
And it wasn’t as though I’d never seen any television during those years. It would be on in the background at someone’s house but I never could get drawn into it. The noise bothered me.
There was a writer I liked who was on Oprah one time and a friend invited me over to watch the show. I was disappointed and horrified at the pacing of it and how Oprah would interrupt and not let the guy talk. Everything seemed so on-the-surface and, of course, that must be normal. No one is going to watch an in-depth, intimate conversation about ideas. Except for me and maybe a few other weird people I’ve never met. It made me want to jump out of my skin. And that’s almost nothing compared to The View.
When I was ill and lonely a few years ago and missed humanity (in theory), I subscribed to Netflix shows and later watched television on the internet with the caution of knowing the images would be in my subconscious forever. (Although I believe everything can eventually be healed.)
And I ended up deliberately choosing shows that could be considered gross or violent or graphic like Burn Notice and Bones over shows where smart-ass, snarky, hip people stabbed each other in the back, displayed rudeness, lack of compassion and made fun of each other’s big butts and weak chins. Seriously. I would rather watch Fiona and Sam blow up a building that watch some office worker make a cutting, harsh remark to a co-worker.
Even though some of those shows can be graphic, I like the dialogue and the relationships–people caring about each other and having each other’s backs. Yes, I know it’s not real but if I’m going to be having something in my subconscious as though it were real, I don’t want it to be stupid, mean, everyday people. Anyway, it’s boring to watch and cheap. I’d rather see compassionate, friendly people (like me).
Except now that I’m having this adrenaline thing going on, I need to avoid that kind of suspense and excitement in my viewing.
I enjoy the character, Dr. House, but as someone who has had health issues that show is traumatizing. Half of it I spend cringing and closing my eyes. Don’t tell anyone but I can’t stand to watch someone put eyedrops in. I have to look away when someone is applying mascara too.
And yet there are people walking around with the sensitivity of a post and I guess I wouldn’t trade who I am for that.

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