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I know it is just a television series. A bit of a soap opera. A serial. I know. I know, but, I just cannot seem to help myself. I am  filled with anticipation, a wee bit of sorrow, but mostly excitement for Sunday night’s premier of the final season of Downton Abbey.

I don’t mind so much that Downton Abbey will end. I know that all good things must, I am just, well . . . I just cannot wait to see what all my friends across the pond already have seen. They have all been very discreet and not spoiled the plot lines and ending for us, and I thank them.

Lady Violet is sure to have her share of pithy phrases, and if I must confess, I really like the Dowager House the best.  Thomas will be typically Thomas, I’m sure. Mrs. Hughs and Mr.Carson will say “I do” (or will they?). There are hints in the trailers about the Ladies Mary and Edith, their love lives, car races (see, Tom, I told you there are “guy things” at Downton) . I do hope Edith finds someone to love her who doesn’t leave her at the altar, or die. The Bates?  Will they find peace in their lives and maybe a wee bairn?  Will Sibbie and George get to play in the nursery together again? What about Branson? I’ll miss Mosely . . . ah, but is isn’t over yet. If fact, it hasn’t even started, so, I think I’ll just put on a pot of tea and see if there are any Christmas cookies left in the tower of tins to tide me over until the opening bars of the Downton theme start stringing their way across the telly.

When I saw this jar of Downton Abbey orange marmalade at Cost Plus World Market over the holidays, I plucked it right off of the shelf like a Sunkist orange grower. I brought it home in sweet anticipation. A certain young lad enjoyed a good bit of it on English muffins over the Christmas visit. Ezra really likes orange marmalade, and seems to especially enjoy this export from the Crawley collection. Our charming  little tyke starts planning his breakfast the moment he gets out of bed, with “orange jelly”  often the first words out of his mouth in the morning, but, I digress, as grannies often do.

Off I go, to start my day, in sweet anticipation of the beginning of the end of Downton Abbey. How about you? Are you a fan of the series? Is another series on your watch list?

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Whilst the Irish Soda Bread was baking and the corned beef dinner was  simmering, a few of my favorite Irish films came to mind, and I was wondering what some of your favorite Irish movies might be.

One that always sets me to laughing is Waking Ned Devine

Of course, there is The Quiet Man, which usually shows up in the these parts on St. Patrick’s Day, as it did again this year.

Evelyn is perfect for social justice and protection of children –  and a wee bit of angel rays,

 

and Finian’s Rainbow if just the one for song and dance.

The trailers are from YouTube. A few I couldn’t find but are enjoyable to watch include Da, The Mammy,  The Secret of Roan Inish, and Ryan’s Daughter.

While I’m blathering on about movies, I would like to mention the British import , Moone Boy on PBS? Have you watched it?

What are your favorite films of Ireland?

 

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2-blizzard-of-1888-nyc-grangerimage from here

I awoke to another gray morn here on the Cutoff.

 I bit my tongue, tried not to complain about the cold, felt mightily for the folks on the east coast; especially Boston.

I remember our winter of ’78/’79, with snow piled so high it bested Tom’s 6’4″ frame. Having “dibs” on parking space even floated out to the burbs that year with folks shoveling snow off their rooftops and the deepening worry of flooding if snow melts too fast.

I will admit to laughing out loud with weatherman, Jim Cantore, who jumped around with unbridled glee at the thundersnow in Boston. Alison of Apple Pie and Napalm recently remarked about weather, that “I never worry until Cantore shows up” in a comment on a recent post. It took me a moment to figure “Cantore” out. I finally remembered.  He is the meteorologist from the Weather Channel who comes out in the worst of storms.

Jim Cantore was enjoying the thundersnow, which is a rare and potentially dangerous phenomenon not often witnessed.  I experienced it for the first time in 2011, and wrote about it here.

But, I digress. . .

. . . as I tickle the keyboard,  snow is sneaking around, barely visible. I knew it was snowing before looking outside, for the room darkened as gathering flakes shaded the skylights; white upon gray upon winter.

I turn to Billy Collins to bring some smiles on yet another colorless, wintry day, where he, too, writes about the sound of snow – and other things.

Snow Day

Today we woke up to a revolution of snow,
its white flag waving over everything,
the landscape vanished,
not a single mouse to punctuate the blankness,
and beyond these windows

the government buildings smothered,
schools and libraries buried, the post office lost
under the noiseless drift,
the paths of trains softly blocked,
the world fallen under this falling.

In a while, I will put on some boots
and step out like someone walking in water,
and the dog will porpoise through the drifts,
and I will shake a laden branch
sending a cold shower down on us both.

But for now I am a willing prisoner in this house,
a sympathizer with the anarchic cause of snow.
I will make a pot of tea
and listen to the plastic radio on the counter,
as glad as anyone to hear the news

that the Kiddie Corner School is closed,
the Ding-Dong School, closed.
the All Aboard Children’s School, closed,
the Hi-Ho Nursery School, closed,
along with—some will be delighted to hear—

the Toadstool School, the Little School,
Little Sparrows Nursery School,
Little Stars Pre-School, Peas-and-Carrots Day School
the Tom Thumb Child Center, all closed,
and—clap your hands—the Peanuts Play School.

So this is where the children hide all day,
These are the nests where they letter and draw,
where they put on their bright miniature jackets,
all darting and climbing and sliding,
all but the few girls whispering by the fence.

And now I am listening hard
in the grandiose silence of the snow,
trying to hear what those three girls are plotting,
what riot is afoot,
which small queen is about to be brought down.
Billy Collins, “Snow Day” from Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems

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092114molesleyhairdye-1411337346“Can you please keep Molesley in the kitchens until his hair stops turning blue.”

Lord Grantham to Carson – regarding Mr. Molesley’s hair.

With all the societal changes, turmoil, aristocratic “airs”, a fire, and the juicy verbal jabs of Lady Violet, good old Joseph Molesley’s attempts to appeal to m’lady’s maid, Baxter, provides some comic relief at Downton.  For all his bumbling and missteps, Moselsey is a kind and good man who just wants to make a decent wage, be liked and appreciated, and, to have someone to love.

Of course, I may be partial to his strands of hair, for I have had my own horrors with hair treatments.

Who can forget Moseley’s wild highland dancing in Scotland – after he unknowingly downs a spiked drink meant for the sour O’Brien – or his awkward responses as Carson grudgingly offers him a much-needed job as a footman?  Then, there was his crummy cricket caper. Poor old Molesley; he fumbles and bumbles, upstairs and down, a footman after all, still trying to please his father and catch m’lady’s maid.

Of course, there was much, much more ado at Downtown. Moseley’s hairy problems are just a tinge of what went on for those of us here on the west coast of the Big Pond just catching the new season here.  Did any of you watch Sunday’s episode of Downton Abbey?

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Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.  

Helen Keller

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Stopped at a traffic light, this old building caught my eye. Could it be? After all these years, could it really be? Why, yes. There is the proof above the door.

Am I the only one who takes photos out her car window at stoplights?  I must be, for, other drivers were looking at me quizzically. I couldn’t help myself, for there, carved in stone, was proof that there really is an ACME.

The light changed, a car’s horn tooted impatiently behind me. Beep Beep Off I went as my mind wandered to Wile E Coyote and his boxes of “things” with which to thwart Road Runner – all from the ACME company!

Did you watch cartoons growing up? Did you LOL at the inane coyote whose purpose in life seemed to be only to catch (and eat) the Road Runner? Did you run around the yard with your friends holding your nose and saying Beep Beep?

I had already wasted time looking up cartoons, one of which is posted below, absconded from YouTube (thank you whomever it was that posted it). It’s about seven minutes long if you should decide to channel your sophomoric self, but, I degrees. In my further wanderings, I came across this lawsuit filled on behalf of Mr. Coyote. I hope the Lectric Law group doesn’t mind me linking to them. http://www.lectlaw.com/files/fun13.htm

 Beep Beep

 

 

 

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With childish, glee, I stopped the car and called Tom. He answered with “the mallards are back”, remembering seeing them earlier in the day and sensing just how long it took me to go down the drive and up the road, where I first saw them.

Actually, they were in the street. The pond, a messy bit of swamp and cattails and grasses, had melted its frozen self upon the road, where the mister and missus were happily courting, oblivious to the me and my auto machine as I braked, grateful that I saw them cavorting about in a fowlish way on the Cutoff.

We missed the Mallard family last year. There simply wasn’t enough water to paddle in. This year; well, this year the snow melt has provided a waterfowl haven. As I slowly drove away, muttering quack, quack, quack, I remembered a little ditty for McDonald’s that aired on television here in the 1980’s. It was a catchy little jingle about Nippersinkers and rain and waddling.

We eventually discovered there really was a Lake Nippersink, just over the Illinois/Wisconsin border. A golf resort/family vacation spot with little cabins, a big lodge for eating, and all manner of activities for young and not-so-young alike. Jennifer took arts and crafts lessons and was in a talent show; something with wishy washy washing machines. Katy, about three at the time, opted to take water aerobics with me. Tom took them canoeing, I went antiquing and we all ate and ate and ate . . .

. . . and we all sang the Nippersink song. Do any of you remember it? Did you ever go to summer camp?

We are Nippersinkers. We’re in luck. If it rains all week, just pretend you’re a duck.  Quack, quack, waddle, waddle!

 

 

 

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she's a good skate37The four years between the winter Olympic contests seem to slide by quicker than they used to. Where, I wonder, has the time gone?

In one of my recent moments of Olympian “remember whens”, I recalled one of the first Winter Olympics I can remember, as a fourth grader in Mrs. Thurston’s classroom. I hunted down a post I wrote, during the 2010 winter games, which, if so desire, you can read about here.

Can it really be that four years have past since I wrote that post?

Have you been watching the 2014 Winter Olympics? Have you been thrilled by the skiing and the hockey, the snowboarding and bobsledding (gotta love the Jamaicans), the ice dancing and figure skating? To me, no matter where one’s roots are planted, the Olympics are golden opportunities to watch gifted and determined athletes from all corners of our small and wonderful planet.

I’m partial to the ice rink events; from ice dancing to pairs ice skating and anything else with two blades, flowing costumes and music, I sit, perched this year on my couch, with what looks like more snow  outside and much colder temperatures than the weather in Sochi, watching, in awe, the warm poetry on ice; the skill, the strength, the athleticism.

What is your favorite Winter Olympic sport?

(PS – there is a very short post on Olympian skier recently posted on Brittle)

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Photo from Blue Bloods website

Photo from Blue Bloods website

As the gurney was being rolled out of the cardiac cath prep area, there were enthusiastic encouragements of “good luck, Tom Selleck” and “hope you are out of here soon, Tom Selleck”. These pleasantries were coming from the nurses, technicians, and even, yes, even the anesthesiologist!  I turned around and smiled, then said “Hey you guys, cut it out. I have to live with him!” . . .

. . . and live with him I do, with all the gratitude one can have for the bullet we just dodged, the miracle of medicine, and a remarkable medical team.

Tom Selleck” in this case is my very own Tom. He was the patient on the gurney, being transferred to a regular room at a local hospital this past Wednesday, in good spirits and happy to be alive.

Tom has been dealing with a complicated and serious eye condition for the past several years. The condition is one that has resulted from being a Type I (Juvenile) diabetic for 45 years. We will talk more about this on our companion blog, Brittle, in time. For now, however, I will bring it all forward with how this condition led to Wednesday’s gurney ride.

A vitrectomy was scheduled for November 19th; a delicate operation on the eye. Tom’s retinal specialist required that he get clearance from his internist, who is also his endocrinologist, for the surgery. An appointment was made, blood work-up and EKG performed, an we made plans for the next month’s recuperation period. A blip in the EKG and Tom’s long-term diabetes necessitated a stress test. On Tuesday, the stress test showed abnormalities. He was immediately seen by a cardiologist, and an angiogram was scheduled for the next day.

Any procedure is risky, dear reader. It is more so with a Type I diabetic. Tom is on an insulin pump, which is the means by which insulin in controlled. The pump is attached by a small needle to his abdomen, with a long tube (like an IV connection) and a small device, the pump, attached to a belt or pocket.

Need I tell you how friendly a hospital gown is for anyone, let alone someone with any type of life device? They ended up taping the pump to the palm of his hand.

Then, there is the actual administration of insulin during any surgery or procedure.

Well, my Tom is much craftier that Jesse Stone, much swifter than Magnum, PI, and tougher than New York City police chief Frank Reagan. He set the nurses straight on what he needed done and how often he needed his sugar levels checked. Before long, the cardiologist came in, papers were signed, and off my dear husband went for a look-see into his arteries.

A little more than an hour later, my hospital issued pager went off, alerting me that the procedure was over. Tom was coming back to his room, and was doing great. He had several blockages necessitating the implantation of two stents .

What surprised us all the most that one artery was clogged by 82%, the other 99%!

Tom has always eaten well, is very active, maintains healthy weight, and has near perfect cholesterol, especially LDL. He showed no symptoms associated with these sort of blockages. No pain. It was a miracle that these arterial blockages were found in the way that they were – and a miracle that he had not suffered a heart attack.

We cannot begin to express how grateful we are that preparation for eye surgery brought Tom to a stress test – and a renewed lease on life. Nor can we express our gratitude for good doctors making timely calls. Tom has recovered fabulously, the route the cardiologist took was through a small prick in his wrist, making recovery easier. We’ll talk some more about neuropathy and how we have now learned that it can also impair the chest on Brittle in a day so.  Right now, Tom Selleck and I are going out for a short, brisk walk down the Cutoff.

I feel like saying amen; for this, dear reader, has become a bit of prayer in its writing.

AMEN!

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We call it Veteran’s Day, though our elders, who were children during World War I, may still call it Armistice Day. You might call it Remembrance Day. Whatever the name, these are moments, brief moments in time, set aside to remember and honor those who have fallen in war.

Have you seen Masterpiece Theater’s My Boy Jack? It was aired here in the States on public television a few years ago. It is the story of Rudyard Kipling, and his boy, Jack, who went off to war, and never came home. This is the final scene with a poem so haunting. So poignant. So memorable on this day of remembrance.

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