I feel a strong need to confess. This has nothing to do with the papal visit. I am not Catholic. However, today I started down a path that I have never taken before. For years I have held my ground. I have resisted the strong desire to join in with an ever-growing rogue group that simply must disobey the rules of American versus British serial television.

The final season of Downton Abbey began in the UK yesterday. The final season of DA will begin in America on PBS on January 3. I always wait for the PBS debut…until this year.

As the beloved (?) former candidate and wacky ex-Alaska Governor Sarah P would note: I decided to ‘go rogue.’

For the past few years Alison has watched DA online, as in tapping into some of those non-sanctioned sites that just happen to post weekly videos after the fact. As this is the final season, and as I felt a need to do something completely out of character, I decided that it was my time to join in.

I want to know what happens to the Grantham clan and their downstairs staff now, not months from now. I welcome the tiny thrill that accompanies knowing how life progresses for the ladies and lords long before many in America tune in on January 3rd.

I want you all to know that I won’t reveal any outcomes, just in case you are DA fans…although I do enjoy pumpkin flavored desserts, dark roast coffees, a nice Malbec wine and Amazon gift cards…in the event that you would like to swap any or all of those for some insider information.

Page addition…

I just spent the morning revising how I originally set up my ongoing blog share series. In the interest of this new, simple, concise format, the blog share has now become a list of blogs that I highly recommend.

You can find that list inside the little menu icon, or for now, here.

It will be an ongoing, perhaps changeable space, as we progress.

And because I can, and I have not for most of the last 36 weeks, I give you the final countdown on the road to granddaughter #2, due within the next 4 weeks.



It was time for one of my theme changes again. Can’t make this blog much simpler or it may just not exist anymore.

This is the first time that I’ve adopted a theme with the little menu icon by the title. I sort of like having the extra pages and archives and buttons hidden away…makes the reader work a bit if they desire to learn more. However, I think that I’m contradicting myself with this theme. I seem to remember stating my own personal dislike associated with hunting for information about the blog/author.

Oh well. Let’s give this a go. Let me know in the comments if you, dear loyal readers, absolutely hate the format. I’m always open to a re-do, and making your reading easier.

And She Shakes Her Head, Clearly Confronted By Such Ugliness

I have to believe that most of you have been there.

You, the individual, are pretty positive that you know something, yet you want not to believe, you want to overlook, you want to hide the realization because it is ugly, and embarrassing, and bad, and goes against personal beliefs, and is sadly associated with someone close to you.

I have long known, through off-hand comments and outright confrontations over word choices and attitudes, that my spouse holds beliefs about specific members of society that are not okay. That are wrong. Call them stereotypical. Call them profiling. Call them flat out prejudiced. I have seen and heard examples of his underlying beliefs, on occasion, for over 30 years. I have heard words directed toward other cultures, other ethnicity’s, both genders, women in particular…all relatively subtle, but still present enough to occupy a place within his ideology.

I could turn this post into a reflection of how and why I came to be living with a person who holds ideals so far beyond my own. I could defend actions and choices that I chose to overlook early on. I could try to explain, but I will never attempt to defend, or agree, or allow his words to be brushed off as unnoticed, or acceptable. As with much of our relationship, I chose to see some aspects and also chose to turn a blind eye to others. The whys behind those choices don’t really matter now, although they are so much a part of the disillusionment I feel with this relationship and marriage.

What does matter is that I have to give voice to injustice, to document here – no matter my association – a blatant act that has left me cringing and ashamed.

My spouse has left for an annual weekend away. Just minutes ago, he was ready to leave, ready to pack up an SUV driven by his friend. His gear was ready to be loaded and I expected to hear the sound of the car driving away. What I heard was our door closing, his footsteps in the hall and then these words: (I apologize for any offense they bring)

“We’re going to wait a bit before we load. I don’t want the Mexicans next door to see me loading up all my stuff.”

I stopped what I was doing and stared at him. Our neighbors have hired a gardening company to take care of their lawn. The crew today happened to be two Hispanic men. The same men who routinely take care of this lawn, who have on every occasion that I have encountered them been nothing but polite, efficient, non-threatening. In other words, simply two men doing their jobs.

Not people deserving of assumptions, or ridicule, or derision. Not people deserving to be stereotyped because of their ethnicity, skin color, or job.

“What do you mean, you’re waiting for them to leave?”

“If they see us loading, you might just have a few visitors after we pull away…figuring you’re home alone.”

Do you know that moment when you are so very shocked by something that you’ve heard that you literally cannot speak?

That was me, just after those words came out of his mouth. It was that gut-punch moment when everything that you want to scream out loud is just clenched inside your core because you simply cannot imagine that someone you know could ever utter words like the ones you just heard.

Before I could shake myself back into the moment, he had taken himself back outside. I managed to get out a sentence about his unfounded need to ‘protect’ me, and his hateful stereotyping, but he was already out the door and all I caught was a response about “…deserving to be stereotyped.”

He left. He did not come back into the house and I did not follow him to further attempt to defend my position, or call him out on his hate-filled words.

I had to sit down here, and write this. I had to get those words out. I have to acknowledge that I am so ashamed of this individual, that he is someone so foreign to me at this moment. That he is a part of the problem that holds our society behind walls of hate.

I cannot make excuses for him. I cannot change him.

But, I can challenge his ugliness. I can speak out.

Lessons Learned

I suspect that many of us who have young children in our lives, rather as parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles, even cousins, sometimes forget that being a kid today can be tough.

I don’t mean the fact that our children are being bullied, or harassed, or stolen, or abused, or killed.

I mean just living day-to-day with changes.

Adults are often pretty accomplished at taking all the stress and confusion in their lives and tamping it down, stuffing it deep inside and moving on, or so they think until their anger boils over, or the occasional drinks with friends becomes a nightly, private session, or food takes the place of being present in the world.

Do you remember when you were two, or three years old?

I don’t. Age five is my earliest memory and even that’s fading, but perhaps you were rather precocious, outgoing, attention seeking. Perhaps you were big for your age; tall and strong and adventurous. Perhaps you were a smart toddler, talking early, remembering more than your parents about ten conversations you had and all the places you went during the day. Perhaps you were some or none of those things. Reticent or outgoing, ahead of the curve in size or hugging the ‘average’ percentile mark on the charts. Wherever you were there was one thing that I bet none of you could do.

At two or three, where you articulate enough to put into words all the feelings and emotions that come when your days were turned upside down? Did you know how to tell your parents that enough was enough? Could you speak words that explained the icky way you feel when your space is invaded or your routine is changed up without anyone asking you if it was okay?

My guess is that your answer is a resounding NO. I would also guess that if you were still able to ask your parents if they remember days when you just weren’t yourself, when your usual cheerfulness was replaced by outbursts, or moments when you turned inward…or turned away…, that they would do what adults still do, use the clichés associated with toddler-hood, like that phrase The Terrible Twos.  

I have no business claiming that they were incorrect in using that term. Maybe this was a personality sea-change and you had slowly morphed into Satan disguised as innocent and pure and good. Until someone told you something you didn’t like. Then all hell broke loose.

Or maybe those changes weren’t so subtle, because let’s face it, you didn’t start spewing hate, vomiting vileness, and perfecting your tantrums overnight. You grew into those behaviors, if you exhibited them at all.

Let’s assume for this discussion that most of you were relatively well-behaved. Is it fair to apply an overall label of terrible behavior to the occasional outburst or rebellion or sullen stillness? Did your parents/family ever look to other reasons that you suddenly turned into a not very likable person? When your own children (if you have them) turn on their attitudes, do you chalk it up to a developmental phase, or do you look deeper?

My point here, returning to that query about emotions and feelings, is that I don’t know any two or three-year old that is proficient in setting their parents/family down and having a serious talk about why they’re having a bad day, or why they don’t want to leave their toys for a sleepover, or why they put the puzzle piece in the space the way that they did, or why they feel lost when too many changes happen at once.

I’m trying to say that kids, toddlers-preschoolers, simply do not have the coping skills, nor the ability to tell you they can’t cope with stress in their life. Adults often cover it up…the not coping. Young children turn outward, at least until even that doesn’t work for them. Then they turn inward. They grow silent. They shut down. They want to escape yet they can’t. They don’t have the words, even though they desperately want to tell you. And when they have reached the point of silence, of turning inside themselves, that’s when my heart breaks because I know that I’ve missed something.

I’ve missed the signs. I’ve chalked up the screaming, and the yelling, and the series of NO and I DON”T WANT TO and the I DON’T KNOW to that terrible age and not to the real issue. I think I can loosely borrow the adult phrase…eyes wide shut here. What I am seeing and experiencing has a deeper meaning, a hidden cause. I only have to stop, and listen, and watch and the answer slaps me in the face.

If you have young children in your lives and their routines change, or life gets hectic or jumbled or intense, or your own adult stress is bubbling up, please just be silent for a bit and stop talking. Watch the child. Really listen to the child. Give the child some space. Tell the child that you understand that things are wonky. Encourage them to just be silent and still themselves. Stop talking at them and listen to them, even to their silence.

They will learn how to speak, to tell you what’s in their hearts and heads. They will eventually have the ability to help you to help them, but not at two, or three, or maybe even eight or ten.

And while you’re learning to listen to them, maybe you can work on listening to your own emotions and what they’re telling you, and what you’re passing on to those kids.