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:
- Errant and disappointing children
- Dealing with grief after a smallpox epidemic (or after an untimely death in general)
- Church polity
- Lending libraries
- Rotating crops
- Buying and selling imported hairpins
- Buying and selling horses
- Coping with an absent husband
- Handling the noise of cannon-fire within a 10-mile radius
- Thorny legal problems
- Buying and selling land remotely
- Hiring and keeping servants in a employees’ market
- House Renovation
- Sewing, mending, spinning, weaving and other skills related to handcraft
- Taking care of livestock
- Taking in relatives
- Caring for an aging mother-in-law
- Educating your child in the absence of a local school
Please send all inquires and questions for Abigail to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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!
Memorial Day weekend is here. This is a time for remembering those who have died, a somber way to start the summer. Our town has a Memorial Day parade and ceremonies — one at the cemetery and another at the wharf, where those who have died at sea are honored. Memorial Day in Rockport is sorrowful, and momentous, and sometimes even funny — like that time a kid who was marching with the Middle School Band accidentally dropped his flute in the ocean.
After Monday, the summer truly begins, even if the academic year has developed the awful rhythm of extending into June — a miserable change in custom if there ever was one (won’t someone consider the poor teachers!). In our household, we pretend school is over the Friday before Memorial Day, even if truancy laws demand that in practice, the oldest kid still go every day until it is mercifully over and he is released into summer.
2016 is a year in which, sadly, so many good things are coming to an end. America as a shining example of pluralism and democracy, for one. And the show Downton Abbey, for another.
I’m not sure which one I’ll mourn more: the end of America or the end of Downton Abbey. While viewers of the show can’t do much to stop our fellow knuckleheads from electing a nasty orange Oompa Loompa as our President, we can take time from the madness to stop and watch the finale of Downton Abbey, a lovefest that might prove to be an antidote to the hatefest that is going on in this election cycle.
And what a lovefest it was! Two weddings, no funerals, and enough foreshadowing of future match-ups to make the folks at The Bachelor look like the amateurs they are when it comes to trying to find two compatible people to bring together in wedded bliss. Continue reading
It’s been a rough week here at my house, with bouts of flu for all five members of the family leading to pneumonia, ear infections and assorted other maladies. All of which adds up to the fact that I’ve been preoccupied and am only able to turn in a short(ish) late recap of the penultimate episode. But if any episode deserves a short and sweet recap, it is this one.
Season 6, Episode 8 was so generally awesome there is not much to say, except that it was almost (almost) like Season 1 all over again. Solid writing, substantive dialogue, more or less believable action, characters that you care about, scenes that make you cry — at least if you’re like me. Yes, indeed. I wept like a fool this week, pretty much from the middle of the episode until it ended. I even clapped a few times. And laughed. So basically, between the laughing, clapping and crying I looked like a lunatic.
In this episode Lord Grantham is out of bed and ready to tear the world a new one. In all my years of watching Downton Abbey, I’ve never seen him so lively. Maybe all of us should experience the benefits of an exploding ulcer and gain a new lease on life.
Along with Lord G finding a pep in his step, this episode offered other high points: namely, we discovered that Mary is indeed a human being. As readers of this blog will know, I have long suspected her of being an android, or a granite slab polished to high gleam, or a mannequin ingeniously fitted out with tiny mechanical parts that allowed her to move freely about the room and turn her head toward someone when he was speaking. Also she was able to glare at Edith with cunning mechanical hatred. But it turns out that she is a real person. In this episode viewers saw Mary weep actual tears while great, gasping sobs escaped her narrow frame. It was very moving. Even Tom was touched, letting her know that it is okay to feel pain. It is okay to feel at all, actually. It was a big moment, the one in which Mary might just have converted into someone relatable and even likable, which would be a wonderful way to end the series.