Winky the Blind Kitty

Winky 1 -- brighter

This little sweetie is Winky. She’s missing one eye and the other doesn’t see. She’s a young one, new to her disability and very frightened. As of this post, she’s at the Long Island Save-A-Pet.

Yesterday I took my daughter there and we handed out quilted and crochet blankets I had made.

My friend/SAP Volunteer who drove us there got this little girl out of her cage. She was so afraid that she was a fluffy lump in her bed, unmoving and uncaring. When my friend brought her out of the cage, her legs were fully pulled up, tail curled under.

She was a lost soul and I could see it. She had given up. There was no joy normally present in a kitty. There was no life in her.

I spent about two hours with this scared baby in my arms. She was so afraid she curled up in my arms and lay her head down and wouldn’t budge. My friend had been concerned she was going to try to jump out and onto the floor, but I knew she wasn’t going to go anywhere. She couldn’t see the floor to know how far down it was. She didn’t know what the room looked like to know where to run and hide. No, she wasn’t going to be going anywhere.

With the last crocheted blanket over her and my arms around her, we sat on a bench for a good fifteen minutes to half an hour while my daughter petted her face and head and talked to her. Then I started walking around with her so she could hear different rooms and smell other animals. Those ears slowly started turning this way and that. Eventually the head perked up when she heard a voice she knew, so we went to that person to say hello.

Whichever way her head turned, that was the direction we walked. We smelled numerous other kitties, but they were mostly all sleeping. It was ticky nap time.

I went to the front entry where there was another bench and sat. Within seconds, the head was up and the ears were moving and that nose was-a-goin’!

WINDOW!!!

She knew what a window was, and actively listened to the cars and sniffed and sniffed at the cool air wafting in (it had started to snow on Long Island), and turned her head toward the door whenever someone came in. She remembered there was life outside that lonely cage.

She made no motion to leave my arms but did adjust herself a couple times, pulling herself a little higher over my elbow. I was happy she did that much. Would have been delighted if she’d tried to jump down, or even just purred. But…another day. Recovery happens in baby steps and just perking her ears to actively listen and turning her head to notice noises and be interested in them was huge enough for one day.

When it came time we had to leave, she went back into her cage…and straight to the blanket my friend/SAP Volunteer had put in first. It had her scent on it. My scent as well. Familiar and comforting and hers.

When I checked on her a few minutes later, and took a minute of video, her head was still up, her ears were still up. She was so markedly better that my heart was glad for her.

Sometimes, saving a soul isn’t about throwing money at a shelter. Sometimes it’s being held close to feel the warmth and heartbeat of another animal. Sometimes it’s just being held firmly and kissed and talked to and shown familiar things.

Sometimes, it’s just knowing you’re really not alone.

Quilts for Kittehs & Puppies

I have, in recent years, been giving away all the blankets and baby sweaters, cotton caps, scarves and drawstring bags that I’ve crocheted.

I’ve given them to the Ronald McDonald House of NYC for the children. I’ve given them to a nursing home for the residents. I took my daughter to the RMH twice so she would understand what it meant to give on so personal a level.

But that second time, one of the women working there was so snooty as she was coming in the door, telling my child “That’s right you stay there” that I’ve never gone back.

And then the nursing/retirement home. I learned that one of the employees took one of the blankets I’d made. I didn’t make them for employees. I made them for residents. So no more of that.

Having this pile of fabric, I’d thought to make quilts out of it. But who to give them to? Meanwhile, I helped my daughter (now just about to be 13) to finish her first quilt. A doll-sized piece for one of her stuffed animals. And I thought to myself…self, that would be a perfect size to go in a cat carrier when taking an animal home from a rescue center.

And I know someone who volunteers at a rescue center. Save-a-Pet out on Long Island. It’s not far. Postage shouldn’t be too horrible.

EUREKA! A new passion was born.

I had some triangles already cut and was going to make myself some head wraps out of them. I pinned them together to make rectangles, sewing them on the machine, pinned them to batting and cut it out. Cut out a larger piece of purple gingham left over from the bolt I’d bought for my daughter’s big blanket (now finished and only 13 years old when I did finish it!). I used the outer edges, rolling them over and over and securing to the top/batting layers to make the finished edge. Through the machine all around to secure them and then random meanderings around the middle to create the quilted effect.

Within a day, I had four little quilts finished.

They’re too small to be of much use to people but perfect for going inside the cages. I packed them up and shipped them off. My only stipulation was that the blanket an animal had with them in the cage when they were adopted should go with them to their new home. That way, they would have something of their own, something that smelled like them, when going into this brand new world where nothing would be familiar. If their own blanket with their own smell on it was under them in the carrier, they’d be more likely to be calm during the trip home. Then at home, they’d already have their own bed, wherever it was put…or dragged. They’re highly portable for the enterprising kitty.

I received pictures last night, and video, and it seems the first batch are a terrific hit. I’m simply delighted. I can see in the videos how exciting it is for the animals. They’re playing with the blanket, tunneling under, playing catch that thing with a hand sliding underneath. Such complete appreciation for this small bit of comfort.

quilts with kitties & puppy

Now I have another three on batting waiting for backs. Eight more tops sewn together. And about twenty more pinned or rolled together ready for the machine. But I need more batting. I will be having more as soon as I finish a blanket for my proofreader. But it’ll only be enough for four or five, I’m sure. I’ll have some more when I finish a quilt for myself. But, again, only four or five blankets.

I need to buy batting. And I need to pay for postage. And then when all of these materials are used up, I need to buy more fabric, more batting, more postage.

If you would like to donate cash, I’ve set up a GoFundMe account and also have a Donate button through PayPal. You can easily access whichever you would prefer to use on the Charity Work page of my website.

If you would like to purchase materials for me, I’ve made a Crafts Amazon Wishlist with fabrics and batting. I prefer a batting that’s made of recycled bottles and the size I prefer to work with is only $15 plus shipping. And I found a bunch of high quality quilting fabrics as low as $1.49 a yard! Postage for the box with the first four was about $6. It was between 1 and 2 pounds. Projecting ahead, between 3 and 4 pounds will be nearly $8. So that will quickly add up as I continue on. My initial investment has been only that first postage because I already had the fabric, the batting, the thread; but from now on, I’m having to buy things.

It’s such a worthwhile project. I cannot afford to throw wads of cash at charities. But I can offer my hands and create some comfort for the creatures who find themselves in such an unfortunate circumstance.

Submission is About Trust

Someone in a group to which I belong posed this question: What is your definition of “submission”?

I don’t need my own definition. There’s this fabulous thing called the dictionary. Noah Webster and his pals put the first one together a couple hundred years back and I’ve not found a situation yet that the dictionary and lists of synonyms and antonyms didn’t satisfy me.

submit —
1. to give over or yield to the power or authority of another

7. to defer to another’s judgment, opinion, decision, etc.:

Synonyms — agree, abide, defer, relegate, accede, subjugate, give in, yield, surrender, obey.

Antonyms: object, oppose, repel; thwart, resist, defy,

The definition is silent on three things:

1. the person doing the submitting having to like what they’re submitting to.

2. the person doing the submitting getting to approve what they’re submitting to.

3. Limits

There is this statement that gets thrown around a lot. “The submissive doesn’t have to do anything they don’t want to do.” It’s one of the biggest lies told about d/s relationships. Of course the sub has to do things they don’t like and don’t want to do.

Everyone in the world does.

In this house, submission is doing what the dom wants.

When the submissive is faced with doing something unpleasant, that is when you find out what kind of person they are.

1. Do they make everything they don’t like into a re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings?

A hell of a lot of people do, having decided that the sub gets to approve every little thing and nothing new can be introduced without hours of discussion and negotiation before final approval is given and the (cough) dom is permitted to do that thing. (I call this power of the golden subby pussy gift is in control, and it is completely backwards from my view of dominance and submission.)

The person who was supposed to be following is now in charge of the relationship, with the authority to permit and deny. The person in charge is the dominant one. The sub is now the dominant and the former dominant is now the obedient one.

Those who have fallen into this trap rail at it loudly when confronted with it, as proven by the many stomping feet whenever I bring it up. (more on that in a moment)

2. Do they pick their battles and only put up a fuss when it is really important to them but otherwise capitulate?

3. Do they roll with the punches (as it were)?

When dealing with submission in terms of a d/s relationship, I feel it comes down to trust.

Do you (universal you, not pointing directly at any one person), as an alleged submissive, trust your dominant enough to let go the petty shit that really isn’t important? Can you trust the dominant enough to not have to take control yourself over every little thing, as in example 1?

If you can’t, why are you with that person?

Next we come to the BUTBUTBU–LIMITS!!! part, where alleged doms who do example 1 do so because that’s the way to not be charged with assault while still having access to the pussy (it is usually male dom/female sub, but others have chimed in to say they’ve seen it in female dom/male sub and in gay male d/s as well).

If that’s how you think you avoid a charge of assault, you don’t belong playing around with BDSM at all.

You avoid a charge of assault by finding someone who understands that submissive means doing what the other person wants and is comfortable in that place.

I prefer to assume that the dominant party isn’t looking to do serious permanent harm. That’s usually where these discussions end up and it’s downright annoying. We are talking about two people in a loving relationship. We’re talking about married couples, fiancees, boyfriends and girlfriends (or boyfriends and boyfriends and girlfriends and girlfriends).

Either the sub trusts or the sub doesn’t.

If you don’t trust the person you’re with, why are you with them?

BDSM Activity Discussion Sheet

A few weeks back, someone posted this idea he’d had for a new way to conduct activity negotiations and discussions. Instead of the standard Will do/Not do & Hard Limit list, the list he came up with contained qualifiers for liking or not liking a thing. Unfortunately that person has completely vanished, so I could not reach out to collaborate. I didn’t remember exactly his headings, so I’ve made my own version. I’ve put it into spreadsheet form.

It gives both parties an opportunity to understand how the other views that particular activity. Do they see it just as a duty to be done and don’t particularly enjoy it? Discuss that together and reach a conclusion for how to handle those things. Is it something so very much enjoyed that it could be used as a special reward or treat, if you want a reward system in your dynamic? Discuss it.

I have NOT added actual activities. I’m not going to make a list of the 500,000 things. No such list would ever be complete. There would always be things left off and it would be an overlong waste of space and paper when there are twenty things in a row that neither party cares about.

By leaving the lines blank, I give you the opportunity to create your own activity list specific to yourselves. There is a space on the side for notes. It will be inadequate, of course, but that’s what the back of the paper is for. And loose leaf.  This isn’t the end-all-be-all of forms. It’s a starting point.

There are 40 lines on which to write your activities. That should be enough to get anyone going in discussing their most important interests. You can print it out as many times as you want. Yes the line numbers will duplicate, but that is hardly relevant. Just label the second printing “Set 2” and so on.

What should I put in the activities box?
Be specific. Saying “Impact” is way too broad a subject. I could fill up half the sheet with individual impact items. Hairbrush, wooden spoon, knitting needle, yardstick. Flogger — that alone would have several entries as well. Flat tailed, round braid, knotted, rubber. Whips — also a broad topic now, with makers creating things with one tail, braids that come down to three tails, etc. I’m not going to go into all that.

Basically, whatever is in the toy kits (top’s and bottom’s alike) is what should be on the list. It may happen that the bottom might have an implement that the top isn’t comfortable using. That has to be discussed too.

Include HOW you use them.
Bondage is going to mean one thing and suspension something else entirely. Needle play — does a person mean skimming under the skin to make designs? Or using push pins and just poking them directly into the skin? These are the things that need to be discussed as you fill it out together. Write in the activity, discuss it, and check the appropriate box. Add any notes as necessary.

Make a complete messy mess of it.
You can always print out another to make a nice neat copy of.

Yes, do it together.
As the top, please do not just plop things into it and hand the thing over. That is entirely counter-productive to the purpose. Build the list together, one item at a time. Mark them by name as referring to the preferences of one party or the other where there is overlap in giving or receiving.

Talk talk talk talk about it.
It is a common thing: Ask someone a yes/no question and they will more often just say no. It’s easier. There’s no thought to it. That’s why I’ve put Reward as the first selection, to at once put a person in a positive state of mind, more open and receptive.

I expect you will learn far more about each other’s likes and dislikes, and the thought processes behind it all than with a standard willdo/won’tdo list. Give it six months and go back to your list and re-examine your positions. It often happens that, with time and experience, things that someone used to hate have become dearest loves. Or vice versa.

If you have any questions or aren’t sure how to go about initiating the discussion, you can find me on Fetlife as DameTylerRose or email me at LIST@taobytyler.com

PDF FOR DOWNLOAD & PRINTING
Activity List — reward duty punishment

Document Preview20170518_133945

 

YOUR RIGHTS

I drew this cartoon on November 7th, 2016.

I saw it all coming.

People have asked me why I say that I fear for my 15 year old daughter’s future. I think they’re beginning to understand.

EPSON MFP image

Isn’t the Zoo Basically for Children?

I saw someone say this on Facebook today, and it really made me do a double-take. If the zoo is for children, then I will forever be a child. Learning, being fascinated with new and interesting things, has no age limit. New animals are brought in. New facts are learned. New interactions seen. Every trip to the zoo is different in its own way.

When we were early in our relationship, Henry and I visited the Central Park Zoos (main and children’s, the Bronx Zoo, the Queens Zoo, and the Aquarium at Coney Island. As a family, we’ve had memberships for at least the last six years, and try to get to those same places at least once each year.

I see plenty of adult couples and individuals at the zoo without children.

At this point, I think there are times when I enjoy it more than our 15 year old daughter. Every time we go, we see something we’ve never seen before.

Our last trip to the Bronx Zoo, we watched a burmese python so NOT want to be taken out of her enclosure. We watched the keeper clean the habitat. Then we watched her so NOT want to go back in. It was fantastic. I filmed it and uploaded the video to Facebook.

We saw a wild cardinal and a hawk as well, in December. The tortoises were mating again as well. They were mating the last two times we’d been there. I think they’ve lost track of what their actual mating season is.

Every trip, we take pictures of animal butts. Duchess and I will be making a zoo book at some point, with all the pictures and animals we’ve collected so far.

We’ve seen the otter family, mother and three offspring, behaving exactly as otters should do. We saw the Tapir in its pool for the very first time ever.  I have video of a peacock inches from me, approaching to see if I had food and totally unafraid. We watched a family of sparrows bathe in a tiny stream from one habitat to another.

We saw so much that trip that we don’t normally see. It was a truly fantastic visit.

Our last visit to the Central Park zoo was so Duchess could draw some of the animals from life for an application to an art school. We saw a peacock high above everyone, surveying his domain. At one point, he opened that magnificent tail of his. Out in the swan pond, we saw the black swans for the first time, and watched the hierarchy and territoriality in action. The new male rules that pond absolutely, chasing the companion ducks into a section off to the side whenever they annoy him. He started up after the keeper when fresh food was brought. Even the pigeons know to stay clear of him. It was fantastic.

“Isn’t the zoo basically for children?” is one of the most narrow-minded things I’ve read in a long time.

Take a day. Go to the zoo. Appreciate nature and support the conservation efforts our new president is already trying to destroy with his new budget.

Downton Abbey – How Far Women Have Come in the Last 100 Years

Downton Abbey – How Far Women Have Come in the Last 100 Years
(and other matters)

Last week I saw a rant about season four of Downton Abbey. The author was disappointed in the story arcs, finding them not very exciting or shocking. My first reaction was “Are you kidding? Do you not comprehend the meaning of what you’re seeing on the screen?” I filled the Comment box with my response, but it was far too limited in size so I decided to write a much more thorough retort.

Knowing that this season of Downton takes place from 1920 to 1923 (dated most easily by references to the Teapot Dome Scandal in case you don’t catch a year on the screen), we are close enough to 100 years later. Let us examine story line by story line and see how different things are in the year 2014, especially for women.

1. First episode we’re going to get right into it. Mary is dealing with her grief over the loss of Matthew. By the end of the episode, she finally grabs herself by the bootstraps and pulls herself up…and shows up. She attends the luncheon with the tenant farmers. The Earl of Grantham owns a very large estate that is broken up into rentals. Men pay him rent, farm the land for their income, share the income with the estate owner. And they’re all men. Watch the expressions on their faces when Mary enters the room. Surprise from some. Shock from others. And her brother-in-law Tom (the former chauffeur) relinquishes his seat in the center of the table opposite the Earl because she outranks him and this is her rightful seat.

A woman sits at table in the second power position and there are no other women at the table. This is nothing today. Women run huge corporations worth billions of dollars. They’re in the CEO offices, the President and VP offices and it’s a common thing. They had to fight hard to get there, but they ARE there. But back then, 100 years ago, this woman can’t vote in an election because she doesn’t own land and isn’t over thirty. (Reference Edith complaining she didn’t have the vote in season three.) Now she is guardian over the second owner of this estate, in partnership with her father. In essence, a woman living in 1920 to 1923 is Vice President of the estate because she is guardian of the second owner, her infant son.

Then we learn that Matthew had written down his intention to make her heir to his fortune. She becomes the partnered land owner herself. Being able to vote because of that was not addressed. I wish it would have been. Perhaps next season. It would be a great continuity.

2. If sitting at the table of power is not enough of a “wow” moment, let’s move on to Edith being pregnant out of wedlock. Yes, we know this really isn’t anything anymore. Girls as young as fifteen and sixteen are popping up pregnant and having two kids by two different boys by the time they’re eighteen and hardly anyone cares anymore.

One hundred years ago, however, it was one of the most shameful things a woman could do. Remember, this was when being a virgin on your wedding night was required and if you weren’t and he found out before the wedding, he’d drop you like a hot potato for being a loose and immoral woman. Or your father would have to pay through the nose to get him to keep you. Guys could be dogs and hump their way through the country but women had to remain pristine.

So for Edith to be pregnant by a man who’s vanished off the face of the planet put her in an extremely vulnerable and precarious position. She’s not the sort to sink her hooks into the first eligible bachelor she finds and fudge the dates. She’s going to deal with the situation as it is. She could have been turned out into the streets for all she knew. Disowned. Forced to make her way through life on her wits as a fallen woman. Maybe that doesn’t sound so bad to you, but this is in the age when a woman’s job prospects were extremely limited. Teacher, seamstress, factory worker, maid. In the new incarnation of Upstairs Downstairs, the new house maid reveals that she used to be lady of her own house and had her own lady’s maid. How she got there may have been different (being a Jewish woman in early Nazi Germany), but the result is no less personally shameful to her. As the wife of a nobleman or a wealthy merchant, they were expected to be kept women who dabbled in charity work.

As Mrs. Levinson says to Madeleine in the last episode of season four: “I read about you in the American papers. Just gossip. Nothing serious. But never give them a real story.” What would they have done with this? Edith would have been utterly ruined. As she admits, Sybil might have been able to pull it off, but not her.

And the child. We saw in another season of Downton (through Ethyl) how unwed mothers were treated. We saw how the bastard child was regarded by so many in that day and age. The grandfather made it abundantly clear what he thought, in the most coarse language allowed on PBS. Apply that to the noble circles at large, with the gossip mongering. One hundred years ago, being a bastard child of a fallen woman was the most shameful state of being for a child. It was one they could never get away from since talking about your family and where you came from was common and expected.

Today, with increasing numbers of young people having children without the wedding first and the wedding itself not nearly so much a goal in the first place, I supposed it’s easy to look on this story line and dismiss it as not interesting. You must keep in mind the times. When you see the lengths to which Edith is willing to go in order to keep it a secret, you get a sense of how much shame she feels.

She sets up an appointment for an abortion. What a privilege it is today, for abortion to be safe and legal and easy to obtain in sterile conditions. In the USA. The law that made abortion legal in the UK did not pass until 1967. Upwards of 43 years after Edith’s story. And even then, it allowed for only the standard “health” issues. Today, obtaining an abortion just because you don’t want the child isn’t allowable by the laws in the UK. It’s gotten around easily enough if you have two doctors working in the same practice and they readily agree with each others assessments of “mental health of the mother.” It is a right women have in the USA that they do not have in the UK.

I supposed it’s not that big a deal for an American woman to see a young woman going to obtain an illegal abortion nearly one hundred years ago. Roe v Wade wasn’t decided until 1973. Forty years ago. Long enough that twenty year old women today have no concept of the horrors of the back room abortion. I haven’t quite decided if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

A BBC News article dated February 4, 2013 (http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-21297404) states how the laws are being abused. And states that abortion is flat out illegal in Ireland unless the mother’s life is at risk. Illegal abortion and being charged with murder are still very real on planet Earth, and we are on the verge of having Roe v Wade overturned, if our new President gets his way. He’s stated outright that he will appoint a Supreme Court Judge who will overturn it.

So the topic of a woman facing an abortion is still a relevant and prevalent concern for women in the UK, where the show is written and takes place. It’s still a very serious issue for them. It’s becoming a big deal to many of us in the USA again. We’ll see, in the coming four years, if we go backwards those 40 years, to a time when women did not have that right over their own bodies.

Moving on to the ultimate conclusion of Edith’s pregnancy, as this article isn’t about abortion per se, but a wide variety of issues of the 1920s.

Edith walks out of the apartment, choosing not to have the abortion. That means she’s going to have the baby. The Dowager Countess gets to the heart of the matter very quickly and with remarkably little shock and fuss. While she prefers her small world in stately houses in England, she is a woman of the world. A young woman finding herself in delicate condition happens. When one might expect she’d go off like a nuclear bomb, she instead gets to the practical conversations just as she did with Ethyl.

Edith wants to give the baby to a family in the village, to have it near enough that Edith can see and know the child. Granny points out the very real dangers of this. What if they talk? What if you talk? Edith does what a lot of women did even up through the 1960s and 70s. She went away. The next episode after the idea of going to Switzerland is proposed takes place eight months later. She gave the baby to a couple in Switzerland and returned home when she had her figure back. Hard as it is for her to deal with, she says nothing to anyone who didn’t already know. Granny makes the effort to be sympathetic, but ends with Granny’s typical attempt at humor and Edith’s typical scathing reply.

In the end, Edith cannot live with her decision and makes arrangements with Mr. Drewe for her to pay him to raise the girl with his wife. Mr. Drewe is a smart man. He sees the truth all too quickly. He recognizes the urgency of keeping it secret and promises to keep her secret. I look forward to seeing how this is going to play out next season. The family is going to find out and I’m sure that Cora is going to be all kinds of annoyed that Edith denied her the opportunity to have another little grand baby in the house.

3. Skin color and interracial relationships — There’s a black man in Downton Abbey season four! And he OF ALL THE HORRORS! kisses a white woman in public and sits to tea with her in a public tea house. There weren’t many things a girl of the day could do that would be more shocking to decent society. This is more than forty years before the civil rights movement in the USA came to a head.

How far has race come and how long did it take? Lord Taylor of Warwick received the offer of a life peerage (as Baron) from then Prime Minister John Major. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_Taylor_of_Warwick) Life Peerage means it ends when he dies. His children cannot inherit his title. The first black peer was established in 1996. The USA elected its first black president in 2008. We have not come so far with regards to racial matters as we might think we have.

We like to think that we have progressed, but people are still hassled, harassed and persecuted in the USA for interracial relationships. Lady Mary points it out loud and clear by asking if he’s prepared for “what they will do to you.” A phantom “they” that could mean the aristocracy or the lowest lowlife who doesn’t like a black man being with a white girl. There’s a lot of room in “they” to let our imaginations go straight to someone we’ve personally known during our lifetime. As a white chick who was once married to a Mexican in Northwest Ohio, I get it. Completely. My own paternal grandmother said to me in 1991 “At least he’s not a dark Mexican.”

Mary draws a picture of character for us when she says that the Earl of Grantham would take greater issue with his being a musician than his skin color. And if they lived in a better world she wouldn’t mind his pursuing young Rose.

Granny, of course, would have had an apoplectic fit followed by a stroke. Slavery having been abolished in 1833 within the British Empire, and she having attended Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 (mentioned in season three during the visit to Scotland in the last episode), she’s old enough that slavery of the Africans wasn’t all that long before her lifetime. Perhaps thirty to thirty five years. It’s entirely likely that her grandfathers owned slaves, if we take the story line backwards through the family.

If Rose wanted to shock her mother’s socks off, she’d certainly have done it if Lady Flintshire had known. Mary’s not one to throw stones (remember Mr. Pamuk in season 1), of course, but she deals with the entire matter with the deftness of experience and a practical grasp of reality.

4. The author of the rant I read also complained that Cora’s mother returns for no reason or purpose and brings Cora’s brother with her. I see several reasons for her return.

First, let’s remember that Harold has been painted in previous seasons as a buffoon who likes his boats. But here we see he is quite the savvy man of the world, quick to spot the money-grabbing schemes of noble families facing ruin. Of course he knows about them. His own sister married a treasure hunter. We see through him how daughters were put up to the game and used by fathers who didn’t know how to make money, pawns to obtain more money to maintain themselves. They quite literally prostituted their daughters to save their own skins from ruin.

“I’m accustomed to fathers wanting me to dance with their daughters,” he says, in such a casual American tone that we the viewers can easily see it’s become rather tiresome for him. He’s not just accustomed to it. He can see it coming at him from a mile away, from all directions and the game of it both bores and annoys him. Why wouldn’t he want a good-time girl he just has to give a bauble to in order for her to go away?

Martha Levinson comes to England with the intention of seeing “the season” one more time before she dies. This woman got on a boat and traveled across the ocean just to participate in the London Season. What’s so bleepin’ important about the London Season that someone would do this?, you might ask.

Well, let’s look at the life of a girl in this era of England’s history. As a nobleman’s daughter, she’s not supposed to have a job. Remember the Dowager’s comments when Edith took the job as journalist for a newspaper “and when will she have her debut on the stage?” The nobles weren’t supposed to have “jobs” as we know them. Not as a teacher, not as a hat maker. Even Matthew’s career as a lawyer was frowned upon by Lord Grantham and his mother early in the first season. “What’s a weekend?” is one of my favorite clueless lines delivered so sincerely by Maggie Smith. The concept of a work week and a weekend is anathema to their class.

“Our life is a series of waiting rooms,” Mary said in the first season. Indeed. First the nursery, then teen room (as it were) or too young to be coddled and not old enough to be your own person, then the debutante rooms. “After five seasons, one is more a survivor than a debutante,” Rosalind says to Mary in Season One. Then finally they marry and have a purpose – having children to perpetuate the husband’s name and give him an heir to pass on his title and his property to.

“Coming out” into society was that pivotal moment in a girl’s life when she finally became woman enough that she could be courted and marry. We skipped it, Sybil’s season having just ended in an episode of season one. She was a great success, but we saw nothing of that success. So it’s easy to downplay the importance of the series of events linked with one’s debut into society.

To be presented before the King and have him know you and know your name, perhaps speak a line of conversation. I can easily imagine how thrilling that would be. Not only were they being seen by the King and Queen, likely for the first time and possibly for the only time, but they were also being shown off to the Lords of the realm and their heirs. In this place, at this moment, was nearly the entire bachelor pool of Lords and Lords in Waiting, and a great many of them were in need of a wife. I suddenly had a flash to one of Matthew McConaughey’s lines in Dazed and Confused. “So, how’s this year’s crop of freshman girls looking?”

Queen Elizabeth II stopped the practice after 1958. I take a moment as I type this line to imagine how those girls who would have had their moment in 1959 and 1960, probably up to 1970, must have felt at being suddenly denied this rite of passage their mothers, aunts cousins and sisters all had.

Forward to 2014 and there are still some “coming out” balls for some of the young ladies of England. Cotillion is still a thing here in the US. But I’m from the North and cotillion is mostly a southern thing. We have a “sweet sixteen” party and that’s about it. In Hispanic cultures, it’s the 15th birthday (quinceanera) that is celebrated, with the father putting a pair of heeled shoes on his daughter and, thus, introducing her to the guests as a woman.

The lack of such rites of passage and traditions can make them seem pointless when looking in from the outside. I think that’s rather a sad commentary on the current state of things.

5. The rape of Anna. This happens early in the season and was probably the most horrible thing they could have done to one of the most beloved characters. Of course, it had to be Anna. No one would have cared as much if it had been O’Brien or one of the maids we’ve not gotten to know.

Joanne Froggatt plays it wonderfully, the shame and shock, keeping it from her husband for as long as possible. Yup, she knows her husband all too well. He’d kill the man bare handed if he got the chance.

But think of rape today. Now, Anna could go to the hospital, have a rape kit done, a dna match could be made, photographs would be taken of any marks or bruises on her body. The culprit would be apprehended easily because she knew his name, where he worked and who for. I’m not saying the trial would be easy. That’s never easy. But photographs of her facial wounds would have been entered into evidence and Green would have been convicted and sent to jail. He was very sloppy about it all. He was violent and left marks on her. He left all sorts of evidence the CSI people would collect. Condoms existed but we know he didn’t use one.

6. Not a women’s issue, but a story arc to titillate the brain: Bates. Did he do it or didn’t he?

I love Brendan Coyle’s performance. I have since the first season. He’s just sinister enough that we the viewers know not to mess with him. We know he’s a very dangerous man when provoked. We don’t doubt it for one second.

He has a way of dealing with things by NOT dealing with them — not responding in a knee jerk if at all possible, and he pulls himself back when he does slip (grabbing Vera’s wrist, for example) — but waiting things out until the moment of appropriate action. He’s got a temper. We see that with his first wife Vera. But we hate her, so it’s fine. He takes his moment to confront his cellmate who says “I forgot I was sharing a cell with a murderer.” And Bates replies not to forget it again. So did he commit some other murder we don’t know about? Or was he very smartly playing up his reputation and the charge he’d wrongfully (…?…are we so sure???) been convicted of in order to keep control against enemies in prison?

Things that make you go Hmmmm.

So when Bates tells Mrs. Hughes “it’s not done and it’s not over,” with that particular look in his eye, we know what’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of time. When he inquires where Green’s employer lives, we know where it’s going to happen. It’s just a question of when. The expression in his eyes across the table from Green when Green says he came downstairs for some quiet during the concert. Yup, he sealed his own fate with that glib remark. Mrs. Hughes did warn him that he should keep his mouth shut and keep to the shadows. Her confrontation with him in the boot room was epic. One of my favorite moments of the entire season. Go Mrs. Hughes! You tell him!

So when Bates asks for time to go into York, we know Green’s hours are numbered. We know Bates is going to take care of business. And we love him for it. I wish we could have seen it. I’d have so been cheering him on as he spotted his mark and followed to pick his moment, and that trip and shove in the crowds with those crowds all shrieking in horror around the dead man in the street while Bates walks off calmly and goes back to the train station and his wife.

Damn that must have been so satisfying!

7. How to solve a murder.

This past summer, I saw a Hitchcock movie. Frenzy. Dude perpetrating these horrible (and oh so kinky!) crimes. Yeah, okay, I guess the necktie thing and stuff was sorta kinda kinky and shocking when it was made. Now it’s …eh, see worse on CSI. And speaking of CSI! There’s no way that dude would get away with all that stuff now. He was leaving his epithelials all over the damn place. Where’s Grissom and his team?

So here we are with Bates in 1923. There were no cameras. A person could get away with this kind of crime far more easily. But now? I live in NYC and just assume I’m on camera anytime I leave my apartment. There are five cameras in and around the building I live in. Every security camera I pass. Person of Interest and the various CSI shows all make a point of showing us how much we live our lives on camera. Bates would have been so totally busted. There might have been footage of him in the middle of the actual push. Did he speak to Green at some point? Were they seen together at a pub? Did Bates confront Green first to get a confession of sorts? I’m dying to know this kind of stuff. Or was it someone else entirely? A prior victim of Greene’s who happened to be in the right place at the right time and took advantage of that?

We see twice this season that Bates is also an accomplished forger. What he did for Molesly (is it just me or does everyone think it’s Mosely?) earlier in the season was humorous and sweet. Making it possible for Molesly to accept a gift of money from him and Anna by publicly “repaying” an IOU that had never existed. Of course it was foreshadowing for the job to come.

In the last episode, we see just how serious his abilities as forger can be. I wonder how that is going to manifest itself next season. Or what other interesting talents Mr. Bates possesses.

The family members who know about the situation they need a forgery for were assuring him that it wasn’t for nefarious intent. I found the irony of that quite chuckle-worthy. Oh no, it couldn’t possibly have been Bates himself who was the forger. No no no.

8. Trust and Loyalty between servant and Master.

Mrs. Hughes told Lady Mary about the rape, Anna being Mary’s long-time maid and Mary being in the best position to convince her father to take someone else to America for his sudden trip.

Mary sincerely wants to help Anna. If ever there was a moment in which we see friendship between Mary and Anna, it’s in these scenes. Anna just can’t talk about it and Mary cannot do anything more. When she learns who the culprit is, she’s as horrified as Anna to realize he’s coming with his employer. You can see the revulsion churning in Mary’s mind and on her face (Michelle Dockery is wonderfully expressive, more so with her face than with her voice) when she realizes her infatuation with him and his infatuation with her are putting Anna into this impossible position of coming face to face with the beast who raped her. Mary insisting Lord Gilles fire the valet, without knowing why, shows both a protection of Anna’s privacy and of her person. This is a kind of loyalty that seems to be lacking today, especially in the USA where it seems employees and employers are enemies rather than teammates.

Mary has a moment of faint-heartedness, of course. Mrs. Hughes finds the train ticket stub and they know Bates was in London. (You’d think he’d be smart enough to leave the stub on the train or throw it in the trash at the station where no one would care.) Mary struggles with right and wrong sometimes, usually at the most inopportune moments. She stops and takes two seconds to think about something and has a brief freak out before calming down and thinking with the right organ. In this case, her heart. She erred on the side of loyalty to a servant who had been nothing but loyal to her father and the family since his arrival. Bates did, after all, go back to his first wife in order to prevent Lady Mary’s own scandal from going to the papers. She’s not likely to forget that. Her father isn’t going to forget that Bates “fell on his own sword” to protect the family.

What Bates did to Green (if he was indeed the one who did it) was in vindication of his own wife, the woman who had helped Lady Mary carry a dead body the length of the house in Mary’s own moment of crisis. No one would blame him and even the “enemy within” Charles Blake said he’d probably say nothing. This kind of conspiracy and cover up so rarely works in this day and age.

In Conclusion:

The author of the review I read is quite young. She lives in a society in which all of these things are blasé, unimportant, not interesting because it’s all she’s ever known.

But I grew up in the 1970s and 80s, when a lot of these issues were still prevalent. Roe v Wade was new and violence at abortion clinics, bombing them and killing doctors and nurses, was on the nightly news. It was frightening.

My mother, divorcing in 1971, was part of the last generation of women who were supposed to honor and obey their husband and stay with him even if he beat her or cheated with the secretary. I grew up as the only child (or one of two kids) in class whose parents were divorced. Now, it’s much the opposite and parents who have never been married is the normal state of things. I’m not saying that’s a good thing or a bad thing. It is what it is. Better one loving parent than two who are always at each others throats.

Two viewers.
Different generations.
Vastly differing perspectives.

I saw the historical significance of events in this season of Downton Abbey. I saw the personal interactions and reactions. I was riveted and delighted. I think she and I were watching different shows.

In the end, I have only one thing to say to her: Go back to watching the superficiality of Two Broke Girls, honey. The grownups are watching Downton.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-21297404

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_Taylor_of_Warwick

Power of ~I~ in Writing

So I read a piece about abuse. It’s not written in first person “I felt this” and “I did that” but in third person inclusive “when this happens, you feel this” and “you act like that”.

Well…no, I didn’t feel that. I didn’t act that way. I still don’t. It gives a writing that air of speaking for everyone that I very much dislike. It’s no one’s  job or place to say how you feel. Only you can do that.

It reminds me of bad cyberplayers who type stupid crap like “then you suck my cock and you love it so much. You groan in orgasm when I touch your love button.” <gak>

Don’t tell me what I love. Don’t tell me what I’m going to do. For all you know, I might punch your lights out accidentally with my elbow. Or not so accidentally. We’d just have to see, wouldn’t we.

I don’t like it when people try to tell me how I feel about something. They’re almost always wrong. No one is qualified to write about me except me. No one is qualified to write about you and your experience except you.

What’s worse is that writing in third person inclusive robs a piece of its power.

I statements are much more powerful. It takes ownership of what is being said. It accepts responsibility. I felt this, I did that.

Keep your personal power.

In this day and age of using they and them pronouns in order to include everyone, please don’t lose your own voice.

How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Death Wish Coffee

As some of my friends and followers are aware, I recently bought a bag of Death Wish coffee. World’s strongest coffee, blahblahblah.
I promised I’d say something about how it was, if it was worth it.
Here ya go!
How to brew the perfect cup of Death Wish coffee, by TylerRose.
Step 1. Brew a pot of your favorite regular/reasonably priced coffee. (Today was Maxwell House somethingorother)
Step 2. Put cone filter into your single cup pour over coffee brewing thingy.
Step 3. Put two tablespoons of Death Wish coffee into the filter.
Step 4. Put single cup pour over thingy on top of your coffee mug.
Step 5. When pot of coffee has brewed, take pot and slowly pour until the single cup pour over thingy is about half full. Use a spoon to push the grounds that gather on the side of the filter back into the water. When the coffee is mostly drained, fill again and repeat as necessary until your cup is as full as you want it.
Step 6. Add your sugar and/or creamer as usual. If you take it as is, skip this step.
Step 7. ENJOY!
Step 8. Have another. Or, if it’s getting too close to supper time, switch to your already brewed pot of regular coffee if you don’t want to risk late-day caffeine action that might keep you up half the night.
Yes, I have used hot coffee to brew hot coffee. Today I used my BB8 mug, which holds about 16oz.
If Death Wish coffee is the strongest and has the most caffeine, you couldn’t prove it by me with a single cup. I’d have to drink two this size in order to see any marked change.
Still, it’s tasty. I’m using unflavored extra sweet/extra creamy creamer plus a splash of milk to smooth it out. I am enjoying it, and using two tablespoons to make a single cup per day I drink it will help to extend the life of the bag itself, helping me to feel I’ve gotten my money’s worth.