Monthly Archives: February 2013

Downton’s Downer Finale

A friend sent this cartoon to me.  And as funny as it was, I was in no mood to laugh about it when it showed up in my inbox.

I was still upset over the death of Matthew and had just snapped at Jason with an “it cannot be!” remark (likely muttered in a shamefully bad English accent). Why did he have to DIE?!  And not just die, but die with a whole lot of blood, leaving no question about his fate.  And after just holding his newborn son and heir!  And when all seemed perfectly right with he and Mary and the world?  I mean really?  Seriously?  Matthew for heaven’s sake?!  Sigh.

I loved Matthew’s character.  Not only was he quite dashing, but he brought a dose of reality, wit, and chivalry.  He handled all the ladies in his life expertly without losing his own sense of self.  Mary is quite the spoiled, self-centered woman but he somehow saw through all that and loved her for who she is.  He was just and honest.  I wanted to stand up and cheer him on every time he stood up for those in the family who might need a little extra support and someone on their side.  And need I mention that he saved the entire family with his inherited fortune and modern vision for bringing the estate into the next century?!  He was a pillar of the estate and family and now he is dead.  What just happened?!

But as a friend pointed out while we were scrambling to make sense of it all, the only thing the writers could have done with the departure of Dan Stevens, who plays Matthew, was to kill him off.  Matthew was entirely too responsible and devoted man (to Mary, the family, AND the estate) to leave for a new love interest or go wandering off on a selfish adventure to meet a foolish demise.  And there is no way any other actor could replace him.  There could be no other Matthew.  The only thing they could have done was to have him die, just like the lovely Lady Sybil.  But seriously!  Enough death already!

I suppose there were some sweet and happy moments in the finale (lest they be over looked over by twisted metal, blood, and death). Cousin Isobel and Dr. Clarkson make a comfortable couple and we are left to wonder if she played dumb to avoid hurting his feelings or if she really was unaware of his impending proposal and feelings for her.  The souvenir Robert and Cora take from the family’s time in Scotland was a unknowing gift given by Shrimpy – a peek into an unhappy marriage and estate in a downward spiral that makes them grateful for what they have. They seem themselves with each other again.  And how about when Carson tends so lovingly to the fussy baby Sybil.  Did that not melt your heart?  Especially as Mrs. Hughes joins him in the nursery.  Makes me wonder might be in store for those two.  Or how about when she sits with sad Tom and tells him how proud Sybil would be of him, how important he is to the family and what a good job he is doing?  I wanted to put my arms around both of them and pass tissues right then and there.  And what about Edith – as happy as I was to see her as the recipient of love and affection, I certainly hope she finds strength to want more for herself than a role as her editor’s mistress.  And the spirited Rose will be coming to Downton and we can only imagine the shenanigans that will ensue given her antics on her last visit to Downton.  But back then she had Matthew to save her.

This was a sad season, no doubt.  It was the shortest season of a series EVER (it’s only February! How can it be OVER?!)  and it was flanked by the deaths of two of my favorite characters.  This finale was a total downer. It was Downton Downer.

Luckily we have until January 2014 to ponder how we Mary will manage without our her beloved Matthew and what will become of new plot lines. Sigh.

Eleven months will be a long time to wait.


Love Notes

The girls in this family like to write.  We like to write stories, letters, wordy emails, notes in lunch boxes, notes in travel bags, messages on white boards, sticky notes on counter tops, not to mention all the notebooks and lists. I think we really just like cute paper, pretty pens, and the notion of hearing ourselves think out loud – or for that matter, write out loud.  You get the idea.

Because today is Valentine’s Day, I am reminded of some of my favorite love notes, and they are not what you think.  They are not mushy, eloquently written cards enveloped in shiny foil or velum overlays.  Nope.  My collection of treasures are scribbled on crumpled paper, index cards, and sticky notes like this one that was taped on the peanut butter jar.  Maggie thoughtfully put it there so that I would find it while making lunches early in the morning.  I saved it and tape it to each new jar of peanut butter.  It sits proudly crowned in the pantry and I smile every time I lay my hands it.


One day while doing the normal around the house chores I came across this note from Emily.  I am used to finding scraps of paper around the house with little notes and scribbled messages.  But for some reason, this one came on a day when I was busy and hurried and not expecting it.  It was tucked carefully inside a small envelope and she left it in an unsuspecting place that only I would see – which somehow made it more special.  So sweet.  It made me feel so special and loved.  It put a little spring in my step and an extra wide smile on my face.  Oh me, oh my.  So lucky, so loved.  Me, me, me…


I bounced around the house continuing my cleaning, still feeling special on my own little cloud of happiness.  Me, me, me.  La, la, la.  And then I found another note.  The same small white envelope and the same girly scripted handwriting.  This one was on Jason’s bedside table, nestled between the large stack of books, but sticking out just enough for it to catch his eye at the end of the day.  And I stopped in my tracks.  She made one for both of us, and carefully placed them where we would be surprised by our finds.


As I carried on throughout the day, I came to find notes all around the house, one for each member of the family.  Each one was cleverly, purposely placed so that it would take us by surprise.  Every note to each person said something different, but the message was simple and the same.  She just wanted us to know she loved us all, each one of us, and that we were all special to her in our own unique way.


I very quickly realized that the little love note I found was not just for me – clearly Emily had left them for everyone.  Gone was the little voice inside my head singing notes of how special I was, the selfish tune of inflated self importance.  It was replaced instead by a choir of gratitude, reminding me how lucky I am – how lucky we all are.  While my note made me feel special, it was no less valued because it was one of many.  The truly beautiful part about all these notes is that they did not discriminate.  On this ordinary day in the middle of October, everyone in the family was gifted to a reminder of how special we are to her.

And it was a little whispered reminder to me how of how much better it is to share love with ALL those around you rather than just keep it for a select few.  Isn’t everyone worthy of signs of love and grace or unexpected kind gestures – family members, classmates, neighbors, strangers in the grocery store, even those who test our patience?  Isn’t that one of the miracles of love – the more give the more you receive? And don’t some of the smallest gestures speak louder than the longest words? Sometimes I think we forget this.

Today, thanks to the love notes, I am reminded.


Freezing Thyme & Freezing Time

Freezing Thyme

I took this photo the other day when we had a blast of cold winter weather.

It’s freezing thyme. Literally.

The thyme growing on my back deck was frozen. Outside, everything was frozen. The cold asphalt roads became thin sheets of ice. Grasses lining neighborhood streets were blanketed in white. Even desperate leaves on trees, clinging to brittle branches, bore coats of ice. Small icicles clung to the edges of play sets and roof lines.  Streets were silent and there was an eerie absence of sound, as if all signs of life were nowhere to be found.

But inside our house it was a different story altogether. The kids were all home, relishing the early release from school and the excitement of a break in routine. We all feigned disappointment as activities and sporting events that rule our calendar were cancelled, one after the other. My mom came over to be with us too, bringing added joy that only grandmothers can. There was laughter and life, voices and song, all awash in the soft yellow glow of the warm fire. Card games were played, board games entertained, and Wii sporting tournaments began as playful challenges were made. I delivered cocoa and billowing bowls of popcorn to willing captives. Everyone was happy. It was a perfect afternoon.


And for a moment I stood still, slightly out of sight. I stopped to just watch them all. I crave these days when the worlds stops and we just get to be. Be with each other in the confines of our happy walls, the cold gray world seemingly so far away. I wanted to remember this moment – the kids, my mom, the happy spirit that surrounded all of us. I wanted yet again to do the impossible.  I ached to freeze time. To keep things as they were just then. Everything in a quiet, unspoken harmony.


But ice melts and snow days pass. Garden thyme defrosts. And I am reminded once again that time cannot be frozen. Even on the coldest days when my heart is warmest.