Saturday, August 31, 2013

Things I Learned in August

Inspired by Emily Freeman’s series and a tradition in my besties’ annual letters, I’m sharing a few of the things I learned this month.


1. Downton Abbey really is good.

I realize most of you have known this for at least three years. It was stubbornness that had me ignoring all the admonitions to give it a chance.

I grew up watching Upstairs and Downstairs, and it looked like a rehash. I find romanticized views of old England, including my own, tiring. Would it whitewash all the imperialism, classism, and sexism? A British version of “Gone with the Wind”? (and yes, in many ways, it is---at least in season one, but I suspect turmoil ahead). I already watch Parenthood, so why add another family drama/soap opera? It took a combination of Brian’s long fire assignment, a high recommendation from Christy, my love of Maggie Smith, and no new episodes of anything for the summer to get me over my stubborn hold-out.

2. If you’ve paid for Amazon Prime, you can stream the entire season of Downton Abbey on your laptop!

Again, perhaps you already knew that. I checked out Season 1 from the library, and then added my name to a long wait list for Season 2. That night I looked it up on Amazon and saw this beautiful sight:


Watch now? For free*? Don’t mind if I do!

*Amazon Prime is expensive so not exactly free, but it feels free since it had nothing to do with that purchase.

3. How well I eat during the week is directly tied to how well I prepare on Sunday. See lesson #10 from what I Learned in June.

4. Seamus Heaney, the brilliant Irish poet, passed away. I just learned that this morning. I’m sad, but also grateful he gave us all so much before he left.

Here’s a link to his poem, The Rainstick, with a hat tip to Tara Mohr. Brian brought the boys a rainstick after a fire assignment in New Mexico last year. I still remember the first time we held one back in Tucson years ago. My favorite line:

Upend the stick again. What happens next

Is undiminished for having happened once.

5. Dogs don’t chase mice or at least ours doesn’t. Deer, birds, and the poor grasshoppers who get inside our house. But mice, not so much.


Drawing by Patrick Owsley

My sister Elizabeth rightly pointed out this should have come as no surprise, given Spike and Jerry’s coalition.

6. Picking out paint colors for six different rooms might not be best done with all your kids in tow after four hours in the car and with two more still to go.

clare sage

The jury’s still out on this one.

Maybe it was the best way to do it. I had pinned all my favorites, assuming we were going with Benjamin Moore (because it’s available locally) and then Brian surprised me with a stop at Home Depot on our way home from Denver. There was a big sale on paint, so we tried to decide on the spot.

I love two of the colors we chose (Bon Voyage and Clary Sage), but the orange on one wall in the laundry room might give a color cast to everything in the room. And Silver Drop, the color for the main living space and hallways, might be too light.

I had picked out Dolphin Fin, a light grey, and Brian asked that we go up one shade. So far everyone who’s seen it assumes we painted the walls white. I’m hoping trim and carpeting will make a big difference.




7. Aidan might have a future as an actor.

2013 08 03_2373 aidan as a hoodlum 

8. This stuff is yummy. If you have a Costco near you, 2013 08 02_3930 copyget some and enjoy it for me. We’re going to try to make some ourselves.









9. If you need a good cry, just listen to Barber’s Adiago for Strings.

How is it possible I’ve heard this all my life and never really listened to it until this month? I read Katrina Kenison’s beautiful posts about her friend Diane, one of which mentions this song. Kenison’s writing always makes me more keenly aware of the fleeting nature of time, specifically this time while my boys are still young and with us daily. Is there any lesson in life that doesn’t come down to letting go?

10. web2013 08 21_three boys stepping out

I am both ready and not ready at all for this next stage of our lives.

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