Friday, February 22, 2013

"7 Quick Takes Friday" #6: "Downton Abbey" and Other Fine Things

--- 1 ---
My husband and I have climbed aboard the "Downton Abbey" bandwagon, and we're loving it.  (Are we the last people on earth to do this?)  After hearing glowing reports about the PBS show from my husband's brother and his wife--with an emphasis on the hilarity of the zingers flung by Maggie Smith's character--we watched the seven episodes of Season 1 that were free of charge on Netflix a couple of months ago, and we really enjoyed them.  But Netflix didn't have the subsequent seasons available, not for free anyway; and so we just kind of drifted away from the whole DA crew: sweet Mrs. Hughes and trustworthy Mr. Carson, conniving O'Brien and dastardly Thomas, gracious Lord Grantham and tenderhearted Lady Grantham, et. al.  We could certainly live without them, we thought.
Oh, how naive we were!   (We were such noobs.  I'm embarrassed to admit that I used to think the show was called "Downtown Abbey.")

Even though she's posted spoiler alerts, I couldn't resist reading some of Rachel Balducci's recent posts about the show on her Testosterhome blog, and my interest in continuing on with the series began to grow.  And actually, on Super Bowl Sunday, I watched two episodes back-to-back with my mother (and thanks to that black-out at the Superdome, I didn't miss as much of the game as I thought I was going to and was still able to catch most of the 4th quarter with my dad).  Something MAJOR happened to one of the characters on that fateful Sunday, and you'd think that it would have ruined everything for me as far as becoming a follower of the show goes...but somehow it didn't.  I really only watched that night to keep Mom company while Dad watched football; but in reality I just got sucked right in.  The show is so well-written and well-acted, and the characters have such depth.  It's hard to resist.

Anyway, my hubby and I decided to buy the second season from Vudu so that we could watch it together.  (We got nine hours' worth of shows for $14.99--which is a heck of a lot cheaper than two tickets for one two-hour movie at the theater.)  We've been going through the episodes two or three at a time when he's home from work--having "Downton Abbey" date nights.  My husband is not just suffering through it for my sake, either.  He really likes the show--although he says if he had to put into words exactly why this is so, he couldn't.

What is it about this show that's so addictive?  When my husband returned from a trip last night, we watched the last three episodes of Season 2, and now it's on to Season 3!  I just have to make sure I don't ruin the experience for my guy by telling him some of the plot twists I already know about...
--- 2 ---
You need a PhD in remote control usage these days, so there's no chance I'll try to sneak in any "Downton Abbey" watching while my husband is out of town for work.  As much as I might like to watch another episode or two on my own (I mean, hey--it's quiet and lonely in this empty nest when he's on a trip!), I can't for the life of me figure out how to get our new 70-inch TV set to switch over to the place where the Netflix and Vudu movies are listed.  It takes about a dozen remotes to perform this function, and even though my husband went through it all very slowly with me once and I wrote down all the steps on a scrap of paper (which has since been lost), my brain can't seem to retain the information. It's just too hard!  I mean, look at this collection of remotes, all necessary to run one television set.  This is insanity!
It makes you almost long for the days when you had get up and turn knobs on the TV to change the channels or volume.  Almost.
--- 3 ---
I'm a huge fan of vintage artwork, particularly when it involves children.  Here's a sweet example.
This little girl is so much like me.  She has a doll collection: me.  She likes to sew: me again.  And she's wearing a headband, just like I do every single day because I have absolutely no imagination when it comes to my hair: I'm really close on this one!  (I'm channeling Billy Murray talking to Andy MacDowell here, from the movie "Groundhog Day." My family members will know this without explanation, but I thought I'd clarify for those of you who don't make a practice of quoting movie lines ad nauseam, as we Pearls like to do.)
--- 4 ---
Speaking of sewing (we were speaking of it, right?), I'm working on a project for my twin granddaughters.  I'm hoping to get a matching pair of simple cotton sundresses made for them by the time we leave for CO tomorrow to spend a few weeks at their house (because the twins are about to get a new baby brother or sister.  Have I mentioned that?). The pattern is an easy one, without so much as a zipper or a button, so I should be able to finish in time.  I'm using some fabric I got from my late mother-in-law's attic, as I've done for the dresses I've made for them in the past; so again, this will be like another special gift to the girls from their great-grandma.
I was worried that the fabric I chose might not work well with this particular pattern (perhaps a pastel floral would be prettier?), and I wondered aloud, "Will this be cute enough?"  Then my husband reminded me that our granddaughters would look cute in anything--potato sacks included.  And of course he's right.
--- 5 ---
It's so much fun, after raising five boys, buying (and making) clothes for little girls. Look at these sweaters I picked up at Target yesterday.  Aren't they adorable?
I especially like the tulle flower on the shoulder; it's just the right feminine touch.  I raised only boys, so needless to say I never purchased anything pink, or any garments with cute little tulle adornments on them either.  (My sons objected to the very word "cute" when they were young ruffians, seeing it as an affront to their manhood.  And if they'd ever heard the word "tulle," they would have objected to that one, too.)  So shopping in the girls' section is a fun new activity for Grammy.
--- 6 ---
I have just begun reading Franz Werfel's The Song of Bernadette, a novel based on the life of St. Bernadette.  Werfel was not a Catholic; he was a highly respected Jewish author from Vienna, an outspoken critic of Hitler who fled occupied Austria in 1938 and found refuge in Lourdes.  There, he learned about Bernadette Soubirous and the 1858 Marian apparitions.  He made a vow to God that if he made it safely to America, he would write Bernadette's story.  In his words, he would "sing the song" of Bernadette.  He kept his promise and his novel was published in 1941.

I've seen the Academy Award-winning film of the same name, but until now I'd never read the book from which the movie was made.  I am only a few chapters into it so far, but I can already tell that this is going to be an extraordinary book.  The subject matter is fascinating all on its own; but Werfel's storytelling skill and his beautiful prose bring it so beautifully to life.

Although I'm always looking for that next great novel, and this one is a critically acclaimed international bestseller, it never crossed my mind before to read it.  I'm so glad that I volunteered to be a book reviewer for, and that this is the first book for which I will write a review.
--- 7 ---
I rarely have seven interesting things happening in my own life to write about, and today is no exception.  So here's where I tell you it's time to go on over to Jennifer Fulwiler's Conversion Diary, where you'll find some amazing "7 Quick Takes Friday" posts by a host of much-more-interesting bloggers than I.

But before I sign off, though, here's a plug for my husband.  (He likes to tell me that I can always write about him if I'm having trouble coming up with topics.)  We've been an item since he asked me to "go with" him way back in the summer of 1973, and I hate to think what my life would have been like if we hadn't made it through our four-year college separation and gotten married as soon as humanly possible after graduation.  When he left for Notre Dame in the fall of 1976, I was sure he'd find someone new out there (in which case, I tell him, I would have joined the convent), but we made it.  And I just adore this man, who in some ways will always be the 15-year-old-boy I fell in love with.
[Swoon.]  Okay, now really...go on over to Conversion Diary.  I'll just be sitting here, mooning over this old picture of my boyfriend...

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!


  1. Aw, my daughters love it when their grandma makes them dresses. I bet your girls will love them!

    1. Hi Jessica! My little sweeties are only about 21-months-old, so I'm not sure if they appreciate the things I make for them yet. But they've just begun to get interested in playing dress-up, so I'm sure it won't be long before they start to enjoy having new dresses. :)

  2. I think that fabric is going to look adorable! My pillowcase dresses for them have been at the top of my "before-baby-comes" to-do list for about a week now... yikes. Time's a wastin'.

    1. Maybe when Dad and I get there, it will free up some of your time and you can sew to your heart's content. :)

  3. Must tell you, thanks to you I wrote to Catholic fiction and asked to be a reviewer. they are happy to have me:) I just have to read all the fine print, pray and discern if it isn't too much. I already read lots though so don't think it will be.

    Cute boyfriend:)

  4. That's great about Catholic Fiction! I was nervous when I contacted them, wondering if I was really up to the task. But I love to read, too, and to write; so I'm excited to give it a try.

    My husband thinks this is an awful picture of him, but I love it! :)