Thursday, May 24, 2012

upstairs, downstairs, and in her lady's chamber

This past week I've been totally immersed in the world of "Downton Abbey."  This PBS TV series premiered in 2010, but I'd never had an opportunity to watch it.  The library has dvd copies so I put a hold on the season 1 dvd and finally got it last week.  It's an excellent series.  The upstairs-downstairs intrigues between the wealthy Granthams and their household staff are very interesting and I'm now totally hooked.  I put a hold on the season 2 dvd but there are 27 people ahead of me (who do they think they are, anyway?) -- so I may have to rent it from the video store because I can't wait that long!

I love movies and TV shows that explore moral dilemmas and decisions, and "DA" is definitely one of these.  (SPOILER ALERT:  you may want to stop reading here if you're hoping to see the show and don't want any giveaways.)  Two bits in particular really got me thinking about the relationship between what we do and who we are.  Miss O'Brien, personal maid to Lady Grantham, is snarky and unpleasant right from the get-go, always plotting and conniving with the nasty footman, Thomas.  When the staff is assembled in front of the house to welcome a visiting duke, she kicks the cane out from under the new valet, Bates (whose job Thomas wants), so that Bates will fall and be publicly humiliated, perhaps fired.  She's just a nasty piece of work!  Then at one point, she suspects (wrongly) that Lady Grantham is trying to replace her with a new maid; in her resentment, she deliberately does something that may cause Lady Grantham injury.  But at the last moment, she sees her reflection in the mirror and says, "Sarah O'Brien, this is NOT who you are" and rushes to try to prevent the mishap she's set up.  Unfortunately, though, she is too late and Lady Grantham ends up falling and having a miscarriage.  I was really intrigued by her comment that this action was not who she really is.  Up until that point we have nothing else to judge O'Brien on except her actions -- and they have all been bad.  So I wonder how she can say this is not who she is.  Perhaps the fact that she is capable of feeling remorse and seeing the gap between her actions and who she wants to be is a sign that she is not a completely hopeless character.  And maybe the message is that it is never too late for redemption:  we may not be able to change the consequences of our actions, but we can change ourselves.

Another moment of self-revelation comes from the sweet, naive little scullery-maid, Daisy.  She has a crush on footman Thomas and allows his nasty ideas and opinions to influence her; she even tells a lie to please him.  But later she's talking with another staff member about their families; he declares that he and his parents totally trust one another and that there are no lies in their home.  This comment sticks with Daisy and she soon retracts her own lie, saying, "I think I let myself down."  Although she's portrayed as very immature and "ditsy," she has enough self-consciousness to again see a gap between what she's done and who she wants to be; she has standards, and she's mature enough to recognize when she hasn't lived up to them.

I hope season 2 has more of these kinds of scenes:  the show provides great "eye candy" with the gorgeous costumes and sets, but the moral issues are what keep me thinking about the series and anticipating the next installments.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"I don't want to hear it"

This morning Jonathan got to school and headed straight for the yellow-blue-red, as usual. His classmate Elayna joined him to play and chat.  She is a very nice little thing with fiery red hair -- not from the best background, but a really sweet and considerate girl. She's very protective of Jonathan; she helps him with his backpack (even if he doesn't want her help! :-)

As we waited for the bell, she told me, "Some people make fun of Jonathan or say bad things about him and I just say I DON'T WANT TO HEAR IT because Jonathan's my friend and he's really nice to everybody. He's friends with everybody. And these are grade twos and threes! So I just say I don't want to hear it."

Way to go, Elayna.  Thanks for modeling what it means to be a real friend.

Monday, May 14, 2012

dining 'al fresco'

We are in the full profusion of spring and it is so beautiful.  The grass is lush and green and there are dandelions everywhere.  The ornamental tree next to our deck is full of bees today -- they're happy too!

On the weekend we inaugurated our new patio set by eating outdoors twice.  Yesterday Rich's mom came for supper for Mother's Day and we had barbecued chicken, potato salad, bean salad, bread, and blueberry crisp (actually I think I put in too many frozen blueberries so it was not really very crisp -- more like blueberry moosh).  It was so relaxing to sit outside -- no bugs -- and chat and enjoy the afternoon.

Jonathan was cranky much of the weekend:  not sure why.  Everything we said seemed to be wrong, even when we said what he wanted us to say.  He's back to school today and that's good:  the more structured life is the better he likes it.

Friday, May 11, 2012

thirty-six hex bolts later ....

Today Rich and I spent 2-1/2 hours assembling the new patio table and six chairs that we bought at Canadian Tire earlier in the week.  Assembling things is tedious (and it took longer to remove the yards of bubble-wrap padding from the chair frames than it did to put the chairs together), but we're still speaking to each other.  Finally our new set sits proudly on the deck, waiting to be used this evening for the first time.

It's a beautiful Friday.  The weather forecast predicts sunshine and temperatures in the high teens/low 20s for the whole next week.  Spring is so lovely.  The lilacs (my favourite) have just started to bloom:  this morning I was out for my walk and passed a big bank of purple ones and the beautiful smell almost knocked me over.  Then as I was admiring them, a brown rabbit bounded out from under the trees, stopped and stared at the traffic rushing by on Sir John A. Macdonald Blvd., and then retreated to his safe hiding place.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

I'm baaaack ...

After I created Allison's "Poor Girl, Rich Girl" blog back in January, the settings of this blog went a little awry, so I just put it on hold for the time being until Allison's project was finished.  I've now reset my old information on this blog and put Allison's introductory info on every post in her blog so that anyone who wants to read that one will know what it's about.

I've been posting quite a bit on Facebook since I joined in September, but I realize there are things Facebook doesn't do as well as a blog -- so hopefully I'll have a chance to post a little more often now and maybe share some pictures now & then as well.