After 40 years as a computer programmer and game developer—and the passing of his wife of 47 years—Rick has retired and is now living in Ye Olde Folks Home, where he still tinkers with tech and likes to write these amusing and/or thoughtful tales about his storied life.

An Embarrassing Moment
In Memoriam: Betty Edwards-Vessel
A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing
Who Would Jesus Stab?
The Eggshell Incident
First Chapel Service at Ye Olde Folks Home
A Yearly Ritual at Menards
“Mr. Loftus, the Town Hero”
The FCAL Project
Pepe Le Pew Finds New Lodgings
In Memoriam: Dale Lear
Bingo Bedlam at Ye Olde Folks Home
There’s a Shortage of Perfect Movies…
One Day at the DMV
A Visitor from Microsoft
“He Who Should Not Be Named”
Downton… Abbey?
This Home is a Liver-Free Zone
My 9/11 Rememberances
My Yearly Pumpkin Spice Rant
Done In By Baker’s Square
My Eulogy for Alice
“Dear Rikki…”
A Clean, Well-lighted Place for Books
Memories of my First Computer
A Little Excitement at the Staff Meeting
The Tale of Mrs. Butler
Sun, Sand, and a Margarita
“Thou Shalt Not Steal”
Troubleshooting at Ye Olde Folks Home
Stories of my Mother
I’ve Heard Angels Sing
Elevator Mishap at the Eye Clinic
One Day at Fair, Isaac
Saturday Morning Cartoons
A Sprig of Parsley
Fun With Recruitment Ads
Leave Her to Heaven
“Squirrel!”
Bring me Dave Bringle!
Beware! The Oldsters Are Coming!
Life Among the Progressives
A Family Ritual While Watching Masterpiece
The Unforgettable General Oppy
“Don’t Even THINK About Parking Here”
A Dubious Plan Gone Awry
The Singing Christmas Tree!
One Day in the Hospital Lab
The Legend of the Broken Timer
Nelson’s Fruit Stand
This One Time in Glee Club…
Star Trek References for the Win
Family Psalm, Stuck in Lodi
Vacation in Branson
Clyde and Ruth Revisited
COVID Policies During my Wife’s Fatal Illness
I Guess I’m the Shadow IT Department Now
The Tale of Clyde and Ruth
My Garden of Gethsemane Story
We Might Get a Virus!

Downton… Abbey?

Alice was always interested in history; she was a history major in college.

She was also an avid devotee of all things English, and knew all the minutiae of Victorian and Edwardian England; I picked it up along the way as well under her tutelage.

I remember one morning over breakfast we discussed the latest Kate Middleton news, and then the Scottish independence vote, which led to a discussion of the role of Scottish dissenters from the Anglican church in the industrial revolution.

That might seem kind of wacky to you, but for us it was all grand fun.

Since Alice was such a devoted Anglophile, our everyday speech was peppered with sly references nobody else probably understood. At times we used it as a secret code.

“Get a load of that woman’s dress!” Alice hissed one time when were having dinner at a restaurant. I looked over to see a woman in her 80s rocking a daring miniskirt.

“You mean the mutton dressed as lamb?” I replied, using the English snark for a woman dressed far too young for her age.

“Exactly.”

And so I can assure you that our watching of Downton Abbey was quite unlike yours. I got a running commentary about the customs and fashions of the era. “Oh, look, Lady Mary is wearing lavender now… she’s no longer in full mourning, she’s in half mourning.”

Such a glorious, glorious series, and I got all the lowdown from Alice on all the trivia of the period. She was in her element, enjoying the drama, the depiction of Victorian and Edwardian life, and flaunting her knowledge:

One of the first things Alice explained for me while watching Downton Abbey was… why is it called Downton Abbey? There are no monks or nuns about.

Well, you can blame good old Henry VIII.

You remember King Henry… wanted to divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon to marry Anne Boleyn, but the Pope wouldn’t hear of it.

So he founded the Church of England, with himself as its head, and confiscated all the Catholic churches and monasteries in England for himself. This newly-minted Church of England was tickety-boo with Henry’s remarriage plans, of course.

It’s good to be the King.

Later he sold off most of these properties to the aristocracy to fund his fruitless and expensive wars against France and Scotland.

The aristocracy would build grand estates on their newfound property. A preexisting abbey or monastery might be razed, but was usually left alone to slowly deteriorate into picturesque ruins.

Sometimes, if the site wasn’t already graced with such old construction, fake monastic-looking ruins would be erected to give the place an air of mystery. These were called “follies.”

But either way, they usually kept the old name of the place. You know, sort of like how those of us who grew up in the country would refer to “the old Johnson place” despite the fact that old Mr. Johnson passed on several generations ago.

And that is why the fictional Downton Abbey has “Abbey” in its name though there is no abbey in sight.

This folly was built in 1754 to resemble the ruins of a medieval fort.