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.


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.

Bridget Jones

Yesterday evening I watched Bridget Jones Diary for the first time in quite awhile. It’s quite enjoyable for me and makes me laugh.

Since I’d seen it last, I’ve watched quite a few British movies and television and now recognized many of the other actors in the film. And I love Colin Firth.

It was the British character actors that greatly improved my self-image because they are lovely and look like real people. People who like food too.

Sunday Odds and Ends

It’s a quiet day for enjoying details. At home. I brewed some Earl Grey tea and while I was researching online I opened YouTube and listened to Thelonious Monk–still listening.

Lately I’ve been cold, which is unusual for me. A little while ago I took another shower just to warm up and the water temperature stayed even the whole time. Often I have to use up a lot of my patience with the drastic water temp changes–just like the repeatedly lost internet connection I deal with all the time. That took years and years to learn to stay calm like this.

So far, so good with the liver/kidney cleanse stuff I’m taking and a side effect is I seem to be losing belly fat. Nice.

Yesterday I was looking up some of my favorite authors online to get a list of books to look for at the library. Sue Grafton’s next book will be out in December but she mentioned several writers she liked so I will see if I like them too. It’s great that writers share and aren’t competitive but I’m more cautious than I used to be about hype and such.

A few days ago I finished Robert B Parker’s Split Image, which I got from the library. Looking at his site, I was sad to hear that he’d died unexpectedly about a year ago. He was only 77 which used to seem ancient but now not so much. Then I felt worse when I read some comments on Amazon about his latest books. Maybe he wasn’t at the top of his game. So what. Over the years, he’s given me hours of reading pleasure and when I was ill, his writing made sense to me whereas other things were confusing.

When it comes to my own creativity, I am feeling much safer working with my fabric art than with drawing and writing. It isn’t even about ever making money–I’d like to think I could bring joy and pleasure with my creativity just as some writers, artists and musicians have done for me.

I ordered sets 16 and 17 of Midsomer Murders which is great except one of my resolutions was to quit shopping for entertainment for awhile. Guilt has not set in and I’m feeling like I don’t care—I’m pleased actually.

The weather might be a lot better than the drizzle that’s happening today and I want to get more veggies to expand my personal recipe collection. I’m thinking kale–on pizza, with garlic.

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.

Brit Flicks and Fiction

Still awkwardly planning my next year’s goals, I appreciate the moments when I relax and read the new Charles Finch book, “A Stranger in Mayfair”. I’m wanting it to last. The Victorian protagonist recently attended a speech given by Queen Victoria and I was delighted that he’s in the process of reading Mrs. Gaskell’s “Cranford”.
My local library has the dvd production of “Cranford” which I very much enjoyed watching this summer. When you want to see something weirdly amusing, search YouTube for when the cat ate the lace.
My favorite film series of Elizabeth Gaskell’s work is “North and South” with the wonderful and talented Richard Armitage. I am a fan, something I rarely am of an actor.
Recently I received and watched the third and final season of “Clatterford”. In the UK it was called “Jam and Jerusalem.”
It’s by the same folks who did “Absolutley Fabulous” which I disliked.
Dawn French is amazing in it and it would be so lovely to visit with the Women’s Guild of Clatterford. The scenery is lovely, of course; it makes me laugh and sometimes tear up and the people look real. They live in interesting-looking homes, not all the glass and steel and neutral tones of so many US shows. There aren’t the skinny, air-brushed, slick, plastic looking actors either. It’s a little world that’s both cozy and refreshing to enter into for awhile.
There’s something about the English that helps me feel everything is all right.