January 31, 2014

Not where I was heading...

When I sat down to write I had another idea in mind for this post, and then as I started flipping through the rolodex of poems in my mind for some odd reason I started thinking of Dr. Zhivago (the movie).  It may have something to do with the fact that right now Wisconsin feels strangely akin to the frozen wastelands of Pasternak's Siberia.

Any chance we could turn the furnace up just a bit??
Yup, looks like our neighbor's house across the street!
I first saw the movie when I was an impressionable young girl, and fell in love with the beautiful and enigmatic Lara, the wistful Tonya and the impossibly soulful eyes of Yuri.  I have had a lifelong crush on Omar Sharif ever since.  

So I decided to look forward to tomorrow and welcome in February (the shortest winter month--hip hip hooray!) with one of Boris Pasternak's poems.  Problem is, which translation do I use?  I was surprised and fascinated at how different his poem reads and thought you might also enjoy seeing how the poem unfolds in the hands of different translators. So I am offering you a three-for-one and letting you decide for yourself which one speaks to you.  "Sing another song of February"...you can almost hear the plaintive melody of Lara's haunting love theme strummed on the balalaika.  

I fell in love with this beautiful page from The Year in Poetry by Alison Bomber.  You can check out all the poems at the link underneath the picture.  They are so beautiful!

February. Get ink. Weep.

Write the heart out about it. Sing
Another song of February
While raucous slush burns black with spring.

Six grivnas for a buggy ride
Past booming bells, on screaming gears,
Out to a place where rain pours down
Louder than any ink or tears

Where like a flock of charcoal pears,
A thousand blackbirds, ripped awry
From trees to puddles, knock dry grief
Into the deep end of the eye.

A thaw patch blackens underfoot.
The wind is gutted with a scream.
True verses are the most haphazard,
Rhyming the heart out on a theme.

Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Black spring! Pick up your pen, and weeping,
Of February, in sobs and ink,
Write poems, while the slush in thunder
Is burning in the black of spring.

Through clanking wheels, through church bells ringing
A hired cab will take you where
The town has ended, where the showers
Are louder still than ink and tears.

Where rooks, like charred pears, from the branches
In thousands break away, and sweep
Into the melting snow, instilling
Dry sadness into eyes that weep.

Beneath — the earth is black in puddles,
The wind with croaking screeches throbs,
And–the more randomly, the surer
Poems are forming out of sobs.

Lydia Pasternak Slater 

February. Take ink and weep,

write February as you’re sobbing,
while black Spring burns deep
through the slush and throbbing.

Take a cab. For a clutch of copecks,
through bell-towers’ and wheel noise,
go where the rain-storm’s din breaks,
greater than crying or ink employs.

Where rooks in thousands falling,
like charred pears from the skies,
drop down into puddles, bringing
cold grief to the depths of eyes.

Below, the black shows through,
and the wind’s furrowed with cries:
the more freely, the more truly
then, sobbing verse is realised.

Translated by A. S. Kline 

January 30, 2014

I've been feeling achy and sore throaty all week and have drooped around the house the last couple of days feeling pretty blah.  I think Lady Mary has had enough of my complaining...

Downton Abbey's photo.

My winter poem yesterday was a little bleak (it matched my mood) so I thought today I should remind all of us struggling with yet another snowstorm (three more inches today, oh yay!) that January is almost over and spring will come.  Eventually.  Perhaps.  Maybe.  We'll see...

In the meantime, here is a lovely poem by Claude McKay, appropriately titled After the Winter.  Because right now, we need to believe there is an "after"!  And since I had time on my hands while home sick I set myself a challenge of trying to tell the poem through my own pictures.  I hope you enjoy it!

And against the morning’s white
The shivering birds beneath the eaves
Have sheltered for the night,

Where bamboos spire the shafted grove
And wide-mouthed orchids smile.

And we will build a cottage there
     Beside an open glade,
With black-ribbed blue-bells blowing near,

Have a day filled with love and warmth!   

January 29, 2014

That certain slant of light...

I've been feeling under the weather (as well as oppressed by the weather!) the last few days, so I'm letting Emily Dickinson speak on my behalf today.  I had fun playing with the special effects on PicMonkey's photo editing site--all photos are from my front and backyard yesterday.  I think all of us that are enduring this prolonged cold spell and all the snow understand Emily's observation...

That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes —

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us —
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are —

None may teach it — Any —
’Tis the Seal Despair —
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air —

Shadows — hold their breath —
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
On the look of Death

January 24, 2014

But let us cherish with delight the birthday way of lovely living.

Sometimes a birthday can just take you by surprise.  You know it's coming, even though you pretend to look the other way, but you are still caught off-guard.  You go to bed one age, and BLAM, you wake up a year older.  How fair is that?!  So yesterday was my birthday--a middle-of-the-week have-to-go-to-work-even-though-it-is-my-special day birthday...in short, nothing to write home about.  Or was it?

A number of years ago (I refuse to say how many, but more than 10 and less than 20, but closer to 20 than 10 by a landslide...) I ended up celebrating my 40th birthday on a cold and snowy South Dakota evening with my little ones. My husband had to direct a symphony rehearsal in another city that evening, and my mother had planned to have us over for a roast beef dinner, complete with pumpkin pie.  I've always loved pie far more than cake, and as a teen my mother would make a pumpkin pie and my dad would make homemade chocolate malts to go with the pie.  It just didn't get better than that!  Unfortunately, my mother came down with a ferocious headache and had to cancel the birthday dinner.  It was cold, it was snowy, and I had four children between the ages of 5 and 11, so the idea of bundling everyone up and going out was distinctly unappealing.  So we celebrated my 40th with frozen pizza on paper plates in the family room while we watched Gordy, The Talking Pig (who made it Big!), a Disney rental from the library.  

And while 99.9% of the time I loved hanging out with my kids, I had somehow imagined something a little more elegant and sophisticated than frozen pizza and talking pigs for my 40th.  I have a sneaking suspicion I may have looked about as woebegone as I did on my 4th birthday:

Since then, it's become a pet phrase of mine at birthday time--"hey, this beats watching Gordy the talking pig!" or "yum, this is sure better than frozen pizza!"  So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered I was going to be celebrating my birthday alone on Wednesday--my husband again had an orchestra rehearsal in another town.  Some things never change!  And of course we are in a terrible cold spell--way too cold to want to bundle up and venture outside in search of dinner, so my son graciously offered to run out to get us something for supper.  You guessed it...pizza.  At least we managed to move from frozen cardboard-tasting pizza to a Mediterranean chicken pizza, a real step up in the world, complete with real plates instead of paper!  

And I also managed to find something a little more interesting than poor Gordy--a Hallmark movie starring Tom Selleck as a cattle farmer.  I consider cows a step up from pigs, don't you?  And Tom is way up the ladder from any of the farmers in Gordy!!

But even though I had to work all day, and spent the evening on the sofa with Tom Selleck for company, what good things happened on my birthday?  For starters, I woke up in a warm home with food for breakfast, a car to drive to work in, and a job to go to.  I don't take life for granted.  Shortly before my 40th birthday my cousin and his two young sons were killed in a car accident on icy roads, and I promised myself at their funeral that I would never, ever take a birthday for granted or bemoan the fact that I was turning another year older.  And today another cousin of mine is being laid to rest, his life cut short by cancer, and once again, I'm reminded that life is a precious gift that comes with no guarantees.

And part of what makes life so very precious are the loved ones that surround us--phone calls and texts from loved ones far away, Facebook messages from friends and family, birthday greetings from my work colleagues, cards from dear friends in the mail, and while my mother is too far away to bake a pie and my dad is no longer here to treat me with chocolate malts, I came home to find a note on my kitchen counter from my husband that read "Enjoy a piece with Gordy!" with a pumpkin pie just for me.  I think he's heard my talking pig/40th birthday story one too many times...

And the blessing of having a man who knows me so well?  That's something I will never, ever take for granted!  

It doesn't sound like Robert William Service took a dim view of growing old...I love his Birthdays poem because it makes me smile...may I always sparkle with the birthday spirit too!  

Let us have birthdays every day,
(I had the thought while I was shaving)
Because a birthday should be gay,
And full of grace and good behaving.
We can't have cakes and candles bright,
And presents are beyond our giving,
But let us cherish with delight
The birthday way of lovely living.
For I have passed three-score and ten
And I can count upon my fingers
The years I hope to bide with men,
(Though by God's grace one often lingers.)
So in the summers left to me,
Because I'm blest beyond my merit,
I hope with gratitude and glee
To sparkle with the birthday spirit.

January 22, 2014

Sometimes, late at night as I'm getting ready to turn off the lights and go to bed, I look at my Dickens Village and wonder, what do the people do all night?  Do they stay frozen in place during the dark hours of the night, or do they come alive and move freely through the streets of London while we slumber unaware in nearby rooms?

Does the quintet softly play a holiday tune for the cold and weary shoppers who step into the neighborhood pub for a warm hot toddy?

Do the travelers patiently waiting at the train station ever get up and stretch, or finally board a train for home after a long day in the City?

I'd like to think the sleigh finally gets to pull up at the guesthouse and the travelers can warm themselves with a bracing glass of sherry to take the chill off, along with a melt-in-your-mouth, just-out-of-the oven piece of shortbread.  Don't the lights of the inn look warm and inviting?  

And I hope that the parade of actors and jugglers and jollifiers make their way safely home from the Globe Theater, perhaps topping off the night with a stop at a nearby pub or fish 'n chips place.

What prompted my musings about my friendly little Village?  A couple of things, really.  First, my mother will be the first to tell you that I have an over-active imagination, and on that issue she is quite correct!  I always loved "pretending" and I guess I never really grew up in that regard.  So even though today I am one year closer to a new decade, I still love to use my imagination and wonder "what if..."  What if my Dickens characters stroll the streets of London on nightly vigils?  What if my Anne doll serves Diana raspberry cordial in my library after bedtime?  Certainly Woody and Buzz Lightyear had some pretty exciting moments when left to their own devices, and Little Bear and Cowboy Boone raised quite a ruckus when they came to life in Indian in the Cupboard.  As I leave my family room I am always tempted to sneak one quick peek back at London town and see if my little village is stirring, but magic is best left alone at night.  And if they do go about their business, they are considerate enough to keep it quiet and not disturb our sleep  And if a piece or two is out of place in the morning? Well, that's the magic at work, isn't it?  

Poet Danusha Lameris must have had the same thoughts running through her mind when she penned this poem, which is what started my musings this morning. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Fictional Characters

Do they ever want to escape?
Climb out of the white pages
and enter our world?

Holden Caulfield slipping in the movie theater
to catch the two o'clock
Anna Karenina sitting in a diner,
reading the paper as the waitress
serves up a cheeseburger.

Even Hector, on break from the Iliad,
takes a stroll through the park,
admires the tulips.

Maybe they grew tired
of the author's mind,
all its twists and turns.

Or were finally weary
of stumbling around Pamplona,
a bottle in each fist,
eating lotuses on the banks of the Nile.

For others, it was just too hot
in the small California town
where they'd been written into
a lifetime of plowing fields.

Whatever the reason,
here they are, roaming the city streets
rain falling on their phantasmal shoulders.

Wouldn't you, if you could?
Step out of your own story,
to lean against a doorway
of the Five & Dime, sipping your coffee,

your life, somewhere far behind you,
all its heat and toil nothing but a tale
resting in the hands of a stranger,
the sidewalk ahead wet and glistening.

January 21, 2014

Call me Ishmael...

I had great fun attending the baby shower of a dear friend's daughter in Chicago over the weekend. The invitation asked that guests bring a baby book instead of a card, which I thought was a lovely and practical idea.  I won't tell you how long I lingered in Barnes and Noble, flipping through baby book after baby book to choose the perfect book, but I will confess that it certainly got my "grandmother juices" flowing!  I was simply staggered by how many new beautiful baby books there are, on top of all the classics that a nursery library needs.  I'm not quite sure which category this book falls into, because it is an old classic that has been re-imagined in a very creative, fuzzy feltish toddler-friendly way...

When I saw this book, it made me laugh out loud.  I was not familiar with the new series of "classic" baby board books, ranging from Moby Dick to Pride and Prejudice to Jane Eyre to even Kafka.  Yes, Kafka! Don't ask...(bugs...lots of metamorphosing bugs...).

We have always had a fondness for good ol' Moby  at our house.  When my older two boys were quite young I took an American Literature class for fun and one of the novels was MD.  As part of an assignment I also had to rent the movie, and one wintry afternoon the two boys and I snuggled up on the sofa to watch the Gregory Peck classic.  Which, by the way, contained nary a one white felt sail, but isn't this picture cute?!

Boat - Moby Dick (Fall 2012)

I thought they would soon lose interest but the story captivated them and after that, they just couldn't get enough of the white whale to satisfy their adventurous little hearts.  The new rallying cry from the Pequod (aka our living room sofa) was...

"There she blows!--there she blows! A hump like a snow-hill! It is Moby Dick!"

Find - Moby Dick (Fall 2012)

So while yesterday my memories were tinged with nostalgia about my daughter's Christmas ornaments, today I'm happily remembering two giggly little boys, madly chasing each other with harpoons (empty paper towel tubes) around and around, sometimes limping like Ahab, other times using washable markers to resemble Queequeg.  I wish I had thought to take more pictures when they were little, but honestly we were having too much fun to bother posing for the camera.  But they looked kinda sorta like this, except with a sofa for a ship and a cardboard tube for a harpoon, and they were (at most) only 3 feet tall...

Friedrich von Lebebur As Queequeg

My oldest son thought Ahab's vow to chase Moby Dick halfway around the world was simply "awesome" and he loved to run around the house, shouting "Aye, aye! and I'll chase him round Good Hope, and round the Horn...till he spouts black blood!"  It didn't matter a whit that he didn't know what Good Hope (or the Horn) was, the main emphasis was to enthusiatiscally and rather blood-thirstily shout black blood.   That sounded way cooler than regular old red blood. Little boys can be so gruesomely delicious, can't they? 

And when my father returned home from a successful fishing expedition, their little eyes grew quite round and their little mouths opened in stunned awe when their grandfather proudly showed them Moby Dick in the freezer, wrapped in aluminum foil. Never were two little boys more impressed with the contents of a basement chest freezer and the rainbow trout  whale hunting prowess of their grandfather.  You are so right, Mr. Carson--this is what the business of life is all about...the acquisition of sweet and crazy whale chasing memories!

Atlantic Ocean as viewed from the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown, MA.  Quote from Moby Dick, by Herman Melville.

January 20, 2014

The Business of Life

A few Monday morning observations:  1) Weekends need to be longer than two days.  One cannot possibly "get it all done", no matter how "it" is defined on your list, in two days.  I would happily work ten hour days if I could have a three day weekend.  2) I know it was time, but my living room now looks really empty.  I loved my Christmas tree this year, and kept it up as long as I possibly could, but I reached the limit Saturday afternoon and down came all the ornaments.  I think in large part I was stalling because I knew it was the last time I would see my daughter's precious ornaments on our tree--by next Christmas she will be married with a home of her own and all those sweet memories will be lovingly placed on her tree instead.  That's the way it should be, but still...part of my heart broke a little as I packed them away on Saturday.  

I did, however, learn something interesting on my road trip to Chicago yesterday.  I normally start feeling guilty around the start of the second week in January if my tree is still up, but this weekend a lovely woman I met at a baby shower regaled me with stories of St. Canute, the King of Denmark from 1080-1086, who extended Christmas until January 13.  I am not Danish, or Catholic, but I feel a fondness for St. Canute and extend my warm thanks for giving me a guilt-free reason to leave the tree up until the 13th!  My Celtic ancestors won't object if I become an honorary Dane in order to celebrate Christmas a little longer, right?

When I returned from my trip to Chicago yesterday, my living room looked rather drab and quite empty without the tree's reflection twinkling in my bay window.  As I rearranged the furniture and put the room back to rights, I was thinking about all the memories I've accumulated over the years during the holidays. I decided my gratitude jar needed an entry about how blessed I am to have a life where memories are created and cherished.  I then sat down with my family to watch last night's installment of Downton Abbey, and one of my favorite characters, Mr. Carson, must have been reading my mind!

The business of life is the acquisition of memories. In the end, that's all there is.

And my third weekend observation?  That Mr. Carson is right about mornings as well, especially Monday mornings!  As he observed in last night's episode "I find there is something foreign about high spirits at breakfast."  Well put, Mr. Carson.  And with his words ringing in my ears, I'm off to make breakfast and head for work, resting easy in the knowledge that it's okay with Mr. C. if I'm not full of jollity this early in the morning!

    Winter Memories

      Within the circuit of this plodding life
      There enter moments of an azure hue,
      Untarnished fair as is the violet
      Or anemone, when the spring stew them
      By some meandering rivulet, which make
      The best philosophy untrue that aims
      But to console man for his grievences.
      I have remembered when the winter came,
      High in my chamber in the frosty nights,
      When in the still light of the cheerful moon,
      On the every twig and rail and jutting spout,
      The icy spears were adding to their length
      Against the arrows of the coming sun,
      How in the shimmering noon of winter past
      Some unrecorded beam slanted across
      The upland pastures where the Johnwort grew;
      Or heard, amid the verdure of my mind,
      The bee's long smothered hum, on the blue flag
      Loitering amidst the mead; or busy rill,
      Which now through all its course stands still and dumb
      Its own memorial, - purling at its play
      Along the slopes, and through the meadows next,
      Until its youthful sound was hushed at last
      In the staid current of the lowland stream;
      Or seen the furrows shine but late upturned,
      And where the fieldfare followed in the rear,
      When all the fields around lay bound and hoar
      Beneath a thick integument of snow.
      So by God's cheap economy made rich
      To go upon my winter's task again.

      Henry David Thoreau

January 15, 2014

I slipped and slid all over the road coming home from work last night, and was grateful when I was finally home safe and sound.  After hanging up my coat and giving my dog a hug (she's really hurt if she isn't properly greeted as soon as I step in the door!) I headed for the kitchen table.  Not for dinner but to add a small slip of paper to the mason jar on the table.  Do you remember the "gratitude jar" I wrote about a couple of weeks ago?  Well, it's filling up nicely, one day at a time, with all the little things I'm so very grateful for, including safe passage home at the end of a long day.  Some of the notes contain very, very big thank yous for answers to prayers for loved ones, and others are simple memories of something nice that happened during the day, but I'm finding it a meaningful way to remember this year, one special moment at a time and be thankful for this life of mine.

I love the vintage blue jar--it was a garage sale treasure when I was searching for just the right jars to hold gerbera daisies at my son's wedding rehearsal dinner, and I promised the woman selling her mother's collection of antique jars that I would take very, very good care of them.  The ribbon wrapped around the top came from a quilt store in New Hampshire--my purchase was carefully wrapped in this piece of fabric and it brings back good memories of the trip and my excitement of shopping at the store every time I look at it.  And of course the beautiful doily, loving crocheted by my mother, gives the jar a little elegance.  I think it will be nice next New Year's Eve to read the slips and remember so many moments--some special, some mundane, but all infused with gratitude and appreciation for this crazy life of mine.

The words just about sum it up, don't they?  "Perfect"--a description on the jar, but also a pretty nice way of looking at life.  We may have many imperfect moments (and days, and sometimes months!) but we have the gift of life and the ability to love and be loved, and at the end of the day, that's just about perfect, isn't it?


This is what life does. It lets you walk up to
the store to buy breakfast and the paper, on a
stiff knee. It lets you choose the way you have
your eggs, your coffee. Then it sits a fisherman
down beside you at the counter who says, Last night

the channel was full of starfish. And you wonder,
is this a message, finally, or just another day?

Life lets you take the dog for a walk down to the
pond, where whole generations of biological
processes are boiling beneath the mud. Reeds
speak to you of the natural world: they whisper,
they sing. And herons pass by. Are you old
enough to appreciate the moment? Too old?
There is movement beneath the water, but it
may be nothing. There may be nothing going on.

And then life suggests that you remember the
years you ran around, the years you developed
a shocking lifestyle, advocated careless abandon,
owned a chilly heart. Upon reflection, you are
genuinely surprised to find how quiet you have
become. And then life lets you go home to think
about all this. Which you do, for quite a long time.

Later, you wake up beside your old love, the one
who never had any conditions, the one who waited
you out. This is life's way of letting you know that
you are lucky. (It won't give you smart or brave,
so you'll have to settle for lucky.) Because you were born at a good time. Because you were able to listen when people spoke to you. Because you
stopped when you should have started again.

So life lets you have a sandwich, and pie for your
late night dessert. (Pie for the dog, as well.) And
then life sends you back to bed, to dreamland,
while outside, the starfish drift through the channel,
with smiles on their starry faces as they head
out to deep water, to the far and boundless sea.

January 14, 2014

Tranquil fantasy...

Most of the time my blog is a reflection of what is going on in my personal life, about family gatherings and celebrations, holidays, vacation and travel, and occasionally family loss and sorrow. All of the small moments that make up a day--finding a perfect poem, wishing on a falling star, dancing to a favorite song while cooking dinner.  Occasionally I may mention my work life, although I try to keep that to a minimum.  Today’s post is a tad different, coming from a completely different life of mine!  I woke up extra early this morning (as in 4 am), in part because I had a restless night’s sleep and in part because I had no idea what I was going to write about this morning and it was weighing on me.  No creative juices—no flash of inspiration—nada.  I didn’t feel like actually sitting down at my computer so early, so I staggered out to my family room sofa to watch some television, with the intention of starting to write about 5:30 or so.  Which I did, and here is my post:

It was supposed to start snowing during the wee hours of the morning, but when I peeked out the window just now the flakes have yet to begin, so I think I have time to capture a few early morning pictures with my camera.  I’ll just throw on my bathrobe and step outside to see what inspires me…

The first thing I noticed is that the wind had really started whipping the trees around:

But fortunately the wind hadn’t put a damper on the baseball game across the street.  I was surprised to see President Bush in attendance, but hey, our neighborhood baseball games can draw quite a crowd, especially as the stadium is across the street from my house. 

Meanwhile, as I was trying to take a good picture of the president, two joggers bumped my arm as they sprinted across my yard and around the side of my house.  I tried to get a picture of them but my shot was a little blurry as the wind was still blowing and I had slipped on the ice next to the grass when they ran by me.
I hurried to the backyard to see where they were going and peered down the alley to the left of my house, which I have always thought looked just like the alleyways in Amsterdam.  Not that I really know what Amsterdam alleys look like, since I’ve never been to that country.

After peeking down the alley (no joggers in sight) I rounded the corner to my backyard, and was struck by the beautiful sunrise just occurring over the lake that surrounds my backyard.  It was so beautiful and calm, and after taking a picture of the rising sun I hurried inside to write this post.  I found the perfect poem to accompany it, and it felt so good to finally have the post written and published, all before I needed to get ready for work!

My Sunrise

The chirp of birds in the early morning
Bless my smiles with their innocent calling
I head outside with my blanket wrapped around
And lay there listening to this memorable sound.

Inspiring orange light of dawn, infatuating
With all colours the sun rise is portraying
Its cheerful glow fills my heart with serenity
And takes me to a tranquil fantasy.

Amaranth red shimmers of vitality
Creating the most curing reality
Shines transparently through my soul
And takes me to a place so beautiful.

Hues emphasise pure yellow rays of hope
That warms my aura lost in the clouds reflective pink coat
This morning ambience has risen bright
Like heaven shone down with its piercing light.

There will be no melancholy, only a feeling so gay
Because my sun, you've just started my day.

January 13, 2014

Downton Abbey musings...

Oh my--all the drama and heartache and unexpected violence on Downton Abbey last night left me rather sad and gave me troubled dreams!  I finally got up early and discovered many of my facebook friends felt the same way. My daughter's fiance' sent me a "crafty" way to bring a little DA into my "real life"--the one that stretches between 9 pm Sunday night and the following Sunday at 8 pm.  My son even offered to see if he could find the British episodes online and download them so we could quickly find out what happens to poor Anna, scheming Thomas and "my-married-boyfriend-is-turning-German-for-me" Edith, but we quickly shut down that idea.  Half the fun is the anticipation--the buzz around the water cooler and the dining room table and on facebook as to what the next turn of events will be is a huge part of the fun.

Hmmm...perhaps next Saturday I should whip up a few napkins for our Sunday evening tea?  You have to admit, Lady Violet's pithy zingers would look great on linen napkins and add a fillip of elegance to my tea tray.

I can even include my whole family in some DA fun!  For my daughter who loves Clue with a passion that probably even exceeds my DA obsession, we could play this game before Sunday's next installment:

and spend a pleasant hour or two discussing likely suspects and murder weapons.  I vote for O'Brien and the soap...

I could even get my sons involved (fat chance!) by offering them the opportunity to build Highclere Castle. Goodness knows I have enough Legos stored away in bins to create the Castle AND the village!

But for now, the sun is coming up and work is calling, so I'll need to set aside my English swooning and fretting over Downton's unforgettable characters and head back into the "real world."  I'll leave you with a poem that I love, Invictus, by British poet W.E. Henley.  I have it hanging on my wall at work, and I have a sneaking suspicion that it would be one of Lady Violet's favorite poems as well:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

January 6, 2014

Ah, welcome back Downton Abbey!  Hello, Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson.  Greetings, Mr. Bates and Anna.  A friendly wave to Mrs. Patmore and Daisy.  A nod to grieving Mary and Branson, and a hug to little Sybil and George.  How nice to see you again, Lady Violet--glad to know your acerbic wit survived the long hiatus.  And Cora...really?  You have to be the easiest mark in the world...how can you not see through first O'Brien and now Thomas?  They are VILLAINS!  They are Crabby Appletons...rotten to the core!

Thank you all for gracing my home again last night.  We celebrated your return in style--Earl Grey hot chocolate, Lady Grey hot tea, Earl Grey cream parfaits and an English cake roll with tea infused whipped cream.  With a two hour premier we had plenty of time to stuff ourselves (politely, in proper English fashion, of course!).  

I used my "new" vintage tea cups that reminded me of the Downton Abbey tea cups currently for sale. Sorry for the blurry image, I just couldn't get a good picture of it in spite of many attempts!  

And we followed our thoroughly British repast with sherry from my husband's lovely new decanter:

for which we used my new DA coasters (thank you to my daughter for such a sweet Christmas gift--you know me oh so well!)

And after a lovely, lovely, lovely Sunday evening, I get to stay home all day today because of the cold! Cross stitch...here I come!

Enjoy your Monday, and wherever you are, stay warm!