Downton is Coming to a Theatre Near You

The new year has started off with a bang, not literally of course. But figuratively, with political fireworks and bad weather coming together in potent combination that leaves one feeling that the best move would be to stay in bed, under the covers, for the duration of the colder months—or until Trump and Nancy Pelosi come together to end the government shutdown. You know, whichever comes first.

Just kidding. The real reason to get out of bed will come later this year, when the Downton Abbey movie comes out, at a yet-to-be-determined date. See the nothingburger trailer here:

In this sneak peak we see that the Abbey still stands, the sweeping lawns as green as ever, and that the Downtonians still drive really nice cars and sleep in freshly-made beds. Other than that, we are adrift. No plot points or even a glimpse of Stone Cold Mary’s marble face is given to us, the proletariat who so enjoy staring at rich people using their fancy things and sitting upright on very beautiful couches.

BUT! All is not lost, at least for those of you with Amazon Prime video subscriptions. Jeff Bezos has provided access to a lovely series, featuring the legendary British baker Mary Berry. The show is called Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets and the first stop is Highclere Castle, where much of Downton Abbey was filmed. This new show offers ogling, voyeuristic viewers the chance to experience the world of Downton Abbey without having to hide a dead body, or have a secret baby, or glare at one’s enemy across the servant’s table while vigorously darning socks.

I thoroughly enjoyed having Mary Berry as my tour guide through Highclere Castle. It was as if The Great British Baking Show and Downton Abbey came together to produce television offspring of the loveliest sort, and for a brief, gentle hour, I forgot the political blizzard raging all around me on the internet and I forgot my ice-covered front stoop, the one that gives me pause when I consider leaving my house. I could stay home and watch Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets on my screen and rest easy, knowing that somewhere out there, civilization still exists.

 

 

Current Obsession: Nailed It

For a long time, I basically stopped watching stuff online. No more streaming Netflix at odd hours, playing an episode of Midsomer Murders while I was cooking dinner (an unhappy combination) or folding laundry while watching yet another season of Parks & Recreation just because the real-life Leslie Knope inside me was being destroyed by the many real-life Jeremy Jamms, and I needed the fictional Leslie Knope to cheer me up.

It was nice to take a break from wasting enormous amounts of time watching stuff on screens, and I was a better person for it. But now that break from Netflix is over (and I am back to being a terrible person again) and I am once more watching shows online. Right now I’m watching in small doses, and I hope I can keep it that way but probably not.

Here is one of my current Netflix picks:

Nailed It

A stupid, stupid concept based on an Internet meme (which is redundant) in which regular folks try to recreate a baking masterpiece they have seen on the Internet. Usually such inspiration comes from Pinterest, the site where people organize photos they discover online. The site is dominated by recipes, crafts, interior design – that sort of thing. Everyone acknowledges the inspirational nature of Pinterest, but it also must be acknowledged that most of us are complete failures when it comes to implementing any of the ideas we find online.

Nailed It invites three of these Pinterest-style losers to compete in recreating one of these Internet-photo masterpieces in real life. The show, as stupid as it is, is surprisingly charming, thanks mostly to its very weird host. Her name is Nicole Byer, and I’m not even going to google her to find out where she came from, but I had never heard of her until this show. Which makes it feel like I discovered her and I, alone, find her hilarious. She is truly a weirdo. Do you know how rare it is to see a bona fide weirdo (who is also funny, self-aware and smart, I should qualify, as run-of-the-mill weirdos are plentiful) on TV? It is rare indeed. It also means that the whole show is fully aware that its entire existence is a joke. But it is a good-natured joke, which makes Nailed It a sweet show.

Real life Nailed It. Source: The Internet.

Viewers root for the rotating roster of losers to pull off the challenge, because we relate to them, because we are most likely losers ourselves. There is money involved, however: a $10,000 cash prize, so in that sense the show is a serious endeavor indeed.

I’ve noticed that American reality shows always have money involved. Mabye Americans don’t compete unless money is at stake. Meanwhile over on The Best British Baking Show, winners of that grueling 10-week competition get a silver embossed plate or an etched glass cake stand or something. This is probably the basic difference between Americans and British people, and why we won the Revolution.

I have a few more shows I’m wasting time on, which I’ll share with you over the next few weeks, assuming I can tear myself away from a screen.

Rapunzel cakes. Netflix nailed it. Source: Netflix

The Spring Equinox

On Nature

Last Saturday our (last) local farm celebrated the Spring Equinox by holding a Greenhouse Openhouse here in our seaside village. My family and I helped with the event, and had a good time observing the changing of the seasons. A couple of Celtic fiddlers played by the wood stove in the greenhouse, while my husband cooked beef stew – made by one of the farmers from their own locally-raised, grass-fed beef – over an open fire.

We dyed wooden eggs using all vegetable dyes, colors made from beets and carrots and all sorts of edible stuff. Once you start digging into the rituals surrounding it, there are so many inspiring, wacky and awesome ways to celebrate the turning of the seasons. People also took part in planting seeds, literally helping the farm grow.

My kids played in the mud all day, while occasionally complaining about not being at home playing video games. Eventually the complaints died down. Either they finally gave up or – I hope – forgot about the allure of technology for a couple of hours at least.

The air was crisp, the stew was hot, and the greenhouse smelled like warm dirt. It was a great day.

(For more, check out my post on Steemit)

Beef stew over an open fire

Dyeing wooden eggs in honor of Spring.

Taking a Nature Walk Scavenger Hunt

Introducing Ask Abigail: A New Feature

My period of mourning for the death of Downton Abbey has finally concluded (my mourning attire went from black to mauve to colors of sherbet, in honor of the gowns of the widow Iron Mary, before returning back to black since I think people can’t see me if I wear it). I have now moved on to other bloggery things, like writing a new, irregular column for this space I’m calling “Ask Abigail”.

Who is Abigail? I hear you asking. It’s a popular name, it could be any number of people. In this case, however, the Abigail of the title is long dead, so it’s safe to say it’s no one you know. Or me, for that matter. I never met the Abigail of “Ask Abigail” in person, though I feel like I know her, because I have read her mail.

I recently finished reading the book My Dearest Friend: the Letters of Abigail and John Adams, so I’m now mildly obsessed with the Adams family, and, by extension, the historian David McCullough, who wrote John Adams and 1776. In both tomes, the Adamses come off looking like prescient, courageous geniuses, a description they would both most likely object to, but can’t, since they passed away rough 200 years ago.

Abigail Adams may be gone, but her wisdom remains. Due to personal experience, she can answer questions regarding the following:

  1. 51qxriq-slErrant and disappointing children
  2. Dealing with grief after a smallpox epidemic (or after an untimely death in general)
  3. Church polity
  4. Lending libraries
  5. Rotating crops
  6. Buying and selling imported hairpins
  7. Buying and selling horses
  8. Coping with an absent husband
  9. Racism
  10. Handling the noise of cannon-fire within a 10-mile radius
  11. Thorny legal problems
  12. Buying and selling land remotely
  13. Hiring and keeping servants in a employees’ market
  14. House Renovation
  15. Sewing, mending, spinning, weaving and other skills related to handcraft
  16. Taking care of livestock
  17. Taking in relatives
  18. Caring for an aging mother-in-law
  19. Educating your child in the absence of a local school
  20. Revolution

Please send all inquires and questions for Abigail to therovinghome@gmail.com and she will respond via proxy. Please don’t expect a personal response, as some things are even beyond the power of Abigail Adams. If your question is selected, it will be answered in this space.

An Event at the Rockport Public Library

I’m excited about reading A Day in Rockport at an event with my friend and collaborator in this project, artist Mary Faino. We will be reading the book, talking about the illustrations, and working on a book project with the kids attending the event. Also: A Scavenger Hunt. Who doesn’t love a scavenger hunt? Well, probably lots of people. But if you don’t like them, don’t let me know about it, because we’re having A Day in Rockport Scavenger Hunt! You can follow the clues and take the same path found in the pages of the book, from Millbrook Meadow to the Old Harbor. If you are in Rockport and of a suitable age, or just the kind of person who likes events of this nature, then please come to Rockport Public Library on Wednesday, July 20th at 2pm!

RPLbooksigningADinRKPT

ADayinRockportScavHunt