Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Movie Review Madness - The Glass Castle

Jeannette Walls wrote The Glass Castle – excellent memoir about her unique childhood with two off the grid parents-artsy and smart, offering a different perspective of “living” to their kids. However, the kids just wanted to eat and were tired of always moving. And yet, despite everything, those were her parents and she did love them.  Now the movie brings her story to the big screen. The book was better. I think the author’s words just strike a deeper chord. But, the movie is well acted and does a decent job of portraying the contrasts in the Walls’ lives.

Brie Larson is the grown-up Jeannette, now a writer in New York, engaged to a financial fellow, living the dream. One day on a taxi ride home from a fancy dinner, she sees her parents poking through trash, and she chooses to ignore them. In flashbacks, we see Jeannette’s life as a girl with her siblings. Often hungry, not attending school, always rushing to pack up meager possessions to move on to another squatter home. Woody Harrelson is Rex Walls – a free thinker, always dreaming, always scribbling in a notebook, “designing” the dream home – a glass castle that’s energy efficient. We also see him drink away what little money the family has, while his kids eat butter mixed with sugar as desperation. He’s bigger than life, and yet harbors a darkness.  Naomi Watts plays  Rose Mary, the artistic mother who’s along for the ride. She encourages reading and arts. Jeannette soon realizes she has to look out for her siblings and that their goal is to help each other move on.

Present day Jeannette is conflicted and gets tired of her own lies about her parents. The awkward scenes that bring together her fiance’s family with her own are heartbreaking. So much comes to a head – the hurt, the resentment, the love. How she lived made her who she is – that’s the key to the story. The youngsters who play the kids are superb. You root for them, and it’s rather amazing that they did turn out okay. They stuck with each other – sibling power is strong. Brie, Woody, and Naomi are also vibrant on the screen. The Glass Castle is quite a story – and it’s real. That’s the flabbergasting part. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Monday Moment - Action!

 Who knew?
There's a Toy and Action Figure Museum in Paul's Valley Oklahoma.  This is right off I35 on the way to Oklahoma City. On a lark, we stopped. Wow - We're glad we did

 This is just one wall of the Bat Cave.   Crazy!
 Heck yeah, there's Spider Man.
This is just one wall that features a myriad of figures. The museum has over 13,000 pieces in this collection.  We hung out for about 45 minutes. Batman, Spiderman, Wonder Woman, GI Joe - in the Pacific and European battlefields. Barbies, and more. Oh so much more.

Explore America. Get off that freeway and visit a small town.  The Shed Restaurant was worth a stop too - chickenfried steak and also chicken tenders and gravy to die for.

Monday Moment Action!!!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Beehive - The 60s Musical

Beehive - The 60s Musical.  If you live anywhere close to Fort Worth, TX book your tickets now. This show is a must see. I've talked about the Jubilee Theater in downtown Fort Worth before. It's the little theater with big voices. I've never seen a bad show, and Beehive proved to be a blast.

It's a trippy look at all the great women who made 60s music so fun, energetic, thoughtful, and enjoyable. Your toes will tap, your hands will clap. From the Chiffons to the Shirelles, to Supremes, from Aretha to Cher to Tina. Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield, and Lulu. And a final Janis Joplin song.  The young ladies in the show pulled out all the stops in vocals, choreography, humor, and grace.

Kyndal, Jenna, Ayanna, Devin, Nikka, and Mattie - they sang their hearts out.
A very special shout out to Kyndal Robertson for channeling her Tina Turner - that number was lights out fantastic.

Tease that hair, go back in your time machine, sit back, and enjoy Beehive - The 60s Musical.
The Jubilee pulls off another awesome live show.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Wordless Wednesday

Fun stuff that caught my eye in the Bricktown area of Oklahoma City - a happening place!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Movie Review Madness - Dunkirk

Dunkirk is harrowing and memorable. Look for it on Oscar night. Director Christopher Nolan, after thorough research and a serious plan, took three approaches – Land, Sea, and Air. The film moves fluidly between these perspectives and you feel immersed in the war. There is minimal dialogue and no character backstory or superfluous nonsense. Instead we follow the main lad  (Fionn Whitehead) as he navigates Dunkirk, eager to survive. His shell-shocked look as he wanders the beach, ducking from air strikes, trying to get on an escape boat starts to bring on your anxiety.  The sheer numbers of British and French soldiers stuck on the beach was staggering. How were they going to evacuate? That’s the land issue.

On the sea, we follow Mark Rylance and his boys as they sail their private boat to Dunkirk to help. There was an armada of private ships and boats who crossed the choppy channel to come to the soldiers aid. Plenty of drama at sea. Rylance projects a quiet nobility and his sense of duty is reassuring and brave.

By air, we see Tom Hardy and another fellow in their Spitfires as they dodge the German air assault, circle, weave, and shoot. Plenty of scary moments in the air.

Back on land, a group of guys commandeer a ship that’s grounded on the beach but the tide’s coming in. Once afloat, they are feeling safer until shots ring out, they start taking on water, and the fear and scrambling will have you gasping for breath yourself. Harry Styles ( One Direction singer) shows his acting chops in this film and does a fine job. Kenneth Branaugh is the Navy commander trying to coordinate boats and ships. He projects the weary responsibility of some who’s in charge, but concerned that Dunkirk is out of control.

Nolan keeps Dunkirk tight and tidies up the story line into a taut mesmerizing film. This was quite a turn in the war for the Allies. Excellent film, tough film, and not for the faint of heart. War is hell, and I’m sure movie hell depiction is only half of it. Salute those who served – innocent young lads fighting for their country and to survive.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Take Wing

Who Knew ?

Something new for my friend Trish and me - live women's basketball.  Yes, the WNBA has a local team - the Dallas Wings - and they play at the UTA College Park Center. What fun!

Music pounded. The crowd cheered. And the energy level was fantastic. Time flew by as these ladies ran up and down the court. They had a record night of sixteen 3-point conversions. Very impressive.
I'm not usually out on a Friday night. The game started at 7 and I was home by 10 pm. Works for me.

Lots of moms there with daughters. The mascot was fun - she danced all over the place.

Wings won and two players stood out - Skylar Diggins-Smith and Glory Johnson.  Nice work ladies.

Go Wings!!!  

Friday, August 4, 2017

Book Review - Tell the Wolves I'm Home

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt is a well written interesting story about a young girl and her uncle. June is shy, distant, and still trying to learn about life at age fourteen. It’s 1987 and the word AIDS is not common. Her uncle, famous painter Finn Weiss, is her favorite person in the world and he dies. But he leaves behind a “friend”, Toby, who’s a big secret. June’s mother is angry at Finn, Toby, etc about his death.  So June keeps her connection with Toby a secret. She learns more about her uncle’s life, about trust, and love.

This story is quite bittersweet. It’s a family drama that’s missing a key player – the late Finn Weiss. It’s only through his death that we learn more. It’s only through June’s love of her uncle and willingness to connect with his love, Toby, that the picture becomes complete.

p. 101  June:  I felt like I had proof that not all days are the same length, not all time has the same weight. Proof that  there are worlds and worlds and worlds on top of worlds, if you want them to be there.

p. 233  June: If I could time travel, could I be selfless enough to stop Finn from getting AIDS? Even if it meant I would never have him as my friend? I didn’t know. I had no idea how greedy my heart really was.

Tell the Wolves I’m Home is poignant and heartrending at times. It was different and I found it quite compelling. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Book Review - The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is so chillingly apt for our 2017 lives. Crap. I have chills.  It was written in 1986 and I have to say Atwood is freaking brilliant, prescient, and oh so wise. It has had a resurgence thanks to a production on Hulu (which I have not seen. It stars Elizabeth Moss  - an excellent actress).  Anyway – this book is very worthy of a read. It was our book club pick and I can’t wait to discuss it with my friends.

From the back blurb:  Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may only leave the Commander’s home once a day to walk to the food market. Women are no longer allowed to read. Women no longer have access to money. She has to pray that the Commander impregnates her. She is valued only because her ovaries are viable. She can remember the years before, when she lived and made love to her husband, played and protected her daughter, had  a job, money, and access to knowledge. All that is gone now…

Read and find out what happens. Review the life she remembers, how she exists now, and what is possible…if anything.

Atwood has created a world that is horrific and possible. Her vision is amazing and her writing is genius. I read this and shall turn around and re-read it. Wow. It blew my mind.  Quite profound.
I dog-eared this whole book.

p. 64  I’ve learned to do without a lot of things. If you have a lot, you get too attached to this material world and you forget about spiritual values. You must cultivate poverty of spirit.

p.94 What’s going on…has nothing to do with passion or love or romance…it has nothing to do with sexual desire

p.135  Maybe it’s about who can do what to whom and be forgiven for it

p.193  The moment of betrayal is the worse, the moment when you know beyond any doubt that you’ve been betrayed: that some other human being has wished you that much evil.

The Handmaid’s Tale is absolutely  one of the best books I’ve ever read.  Get it. Read it. Think. And re-read it.  And re-read it. Discuss.  Dang!!!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Happy Birthday Ray

Happy Birthday Ray!! Today's the day, my husband, lover, best friend, buddy, and all around great guy turns 61. Yikes!   So fun, so energetic, so opposite of me. Always up for anything, always laughing at my crazy crap. We just can hang or go travel and find adventure. He's up for anything I concoct, and believe me I'm always stirring up something.

Happy Birthday Ray

Love you loads!!!!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Book Review - A Field of Darkness

I like Cornelia Read’s writing and A Field of Darkness was her first book.  I bought it at a book sale and enjoyed the cop investigation murder mystery thriller.  Madeline Dare was a debutante, now married to Dean (yes, she loves him), but feels stuck in podunk Syracuse. She hates the cold, the town, and wants to escape. Visions of being a real journalist clash with her current life at a small town paper. But, an old mystery resurfaces and it might involve her New York  city cousin, Lapthorne – possible gay bon vivant, or lecherous killer of young girls? You decide?

Old dog tags surface. There’s still someone alive from the local fall fair. Girls were killed, but the killer never found or charged.  Madeline digs deeper and  other girls are dead. Who to believe? Is there a local dirty cop? What about her journalist boss?  Lots of suspects, lots of dirt, and Madeline’s husband Dean is out of town and worried about her. Does she and her best friend Ellis get in too deep? It seems that everyone Madeline is connected with seems to die.  Not looking good for the home team.

A Field of Darkness is well written and pulls together the clues to lead you and Madeline to the killer.  Hope it’s not too late!!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Book Review - Theft By Finding by David Sedaris

Theft By Finding by David Sedaris is a treasure trove from his diaries 1977 – 2002.  This is book one.  I now eagerly await the release of 20023 to 2017.  Meanwhile I may go back and meander through this book again.  I’ve enjoyed Sedaris’s writing since The Santaland Diaries – his short story about his time as a Macy elf. It is freakin’ hysterical. The descriptions, the humor…I laughed out loud as I read that .  That was also his huge breakthrough. He read it out loud on NPR and got a huge response. Suddenly, everyone wanted his essays. He wrote about his wacky family, his upbringing in the South, his being a fish out of water, and just his droll wit on every day  occurrences is read-worthy.

Cover blurb: In his diaries, he’s recorded everything that has captured his attention – overheard comments, salacious gossip, soap opera plot twists, secret confided by strangers. These observations are source code for his finest work, and through them he has honed his cunning, surprising sentences.

p. 242  September 25, 1990  Dad doesn’t pay attention when you talk to him, so Paul’s taken to throwing the term IRS into his sentences. Then it’s suddenly, “Hold on a second, what did you say?”

p. 255  February 5, 1991  Elaine called last night with a possible job. (work for a small press as a personal assistant)  I think it involves typing, which might be a problem.  We’ll see.

He’s quirky and unique. Theft by Finding offers a glimpse into an American humor author who’s gifted with a keen eye and a sharp pen. Sedaris also goes deep in regards to the death of his dear mother (quite a character herself and a huge influence on David), and also his troubled sister Tiffany. His writing is not all laughs. He addresses his addictions and obsessions too. These are diary entries and he does not edit out the bad and just keep the good. This is a peek into a life and you see his growth as an author with each entry. Oh, David Sedaris is different and you have to “get” his humor, but it’s worth the journey and laughs.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Movie Review Madness: Spiderman - Homecoming

“Another Spiderman?”

“Wait a minute. Don’t leave this review. Stick around for awesomeness.”

Yes, I am happy to report that Spiderman: Homecoming is absolutely  joyous. It’s  a boundless energetic bundle of a web slinging kid (fresh faced wide-eyed Tom Holland as Peter Parker) battling robotic Vulture (tightly played by Michael Keaton – villain but not off the rails nuts). Parker’s mentor, Iron Man (always just snarky Robert Downey Jr) wants the kid to keep it local – save the little old ladies and earn the right to play with the big boys. But Peter is chafing at the bit to use his skills and prove his mettle. His best buddy in high school is in awe, but somehow they are still the nerds, butts of jokes.

Poor Peter, typical teen. He can’t seem to please anyone or do things quite right. He’s not there for his Academic team, he screws up homecoming, he’s lying to his Aunt May (the ever hot Marisa Tomei), and no one (i.e. Happy (Jon Favreau)  his connection to Iron Man) will hear him out  on the evil arms dealers led by the Vulture (who  is also a “nice” suburban dad). At one point, Iron Man even yanks his nifty Spiderman outfit – he’s screwed up so much.

But there’s redemption, of course. Can’t keep this Spiderman down. The effects are eye-popping, the writing is funny and exuberant, and the movie never gets bogged down in back story, moping around, or over earnest messages. Tom Holland brings this Spiderman to life in Homecoming, and he’s a welcome presence on the Marvel big screen. No need to read the instructions on this new suit, is there? Hang from the ceiling, fling yourself into  a room, and hum that Spiderman theme song.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Movie Review Madness - The Big Sick

Bad title – The Big Sick.  Awesome movie.  This is well written, well-acted, poignant, and based on a true story. It’s a rom-com with heart, just a little film that deserves a wide audience.
Kamail Nanjiiani is from Pakistan and trying to make it as a stand-up comedian (He succeeds in real life). Anyway, his mother and father are constantly setting him up with a good Pakistani girl. Problem is, Kamail has fallen for Zoe Kazan, a white girl. Yikes!  She’s energetic and wonderful, is eager to meet his folks and wants him to meet hers. She’s told her folks everything about him. We see him deflect her questions, and when he shows up for dinner with his folks he dodges their questions. Quite a quandary.

Of course, religion and family obligations cause issues and there’s a breakup. Too sad.  Fast forward and Kamail gets a call. Emily is in the hospital. Bam, she’s in a medically induced coma. Her parents show up – the firecracker –Holly Hunter (always good), and Ray Romano (low key father who feels for Kamail’s situation. Slowly they deal with each other as Emily is in a coma. Funny, sad, and so many good lines. This movie just builds and builds and touches on so many things without hitting you over the head.

So, will Emily wake up? Does Kamail escape family obligations? How does his comedy progress? Chicago to New York, perhaps?  Dating, love, connections, and the whole cultural thing. The Big Sick just runs on all cylinders. This is a smart, caring, excellent flick. I could see it again and enjoy it even more. Take a tissue or two, trust me.  You will be cured of being totally jaded after seeing this movie.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Friends From College

I had high hopes for Friends From College on Netflix,  Alas, not so much now.  I went to college. Did not gather too many friends and no one acted this way. Maybe I did not go to Harvard…. Hmm.
So, these folks with their Ivy League schooling are seriously messed up. They are still either sleeping with each other and regretting it, barely employed, employed but hating it, have children that are destined for therapy, and are just flat ass jerks.

I had high hopes for this show but eight episodes at thirty minutes each was not a huge outlay of time. Nonetheless it was sad. Four hours of whiny pathetic people who f**cked around. Very sorry for the language but that’s what they were doing. Very soulless. Very sad and pathetic.

Colbie Smulders – a normally good actress, is decent in this show but is wasted. She’s a lawyer with a sucky hedge fund – not funny.  She wants to get pregnant – rather sad considering her husband who’s cheating on her (Keegan Michael Key –normally funny dude). Beyond that, you have Fred Savage playing a gay guy who’s a book publisher dude. He’s a jerk to his boyfriend.  All in all, everyone is a bit of a jerk to their significant other. What’s the point to this show?  Maybe I’m being cranky, but none of this seemed real.  It was just annoying.

Oh well. Yes, I committed four hours of my life to save YOU from ruining four hours of yours. You are welcome!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Disaster! in Bedford

 Support your local theater. I am ashamed of myself. I go to Dallas and Fort Worth for various theater shows and musicals. But I've never been to Onstage Bedford in my own backyard. Well, Ray and I remedied this on Saturday July 8th. First dinner at La Bistro in Hurst - yummy Italian food. Then off to the show for what turned out to be quite a fun evening.

Disaster! is a musical based on every disaster film you can think of. It spoofs The Poseidon Adventure, Titanic, Towering Inferno, etc.  A variety of characters are attending a casino opening on a floating barge. Of course explosions ensue, an earthquake causes a tidal wave, there are piranha loose from the aquarium, and meanwhile the actors are singing and dancing away to an 80s soundtrack. The application of these song in times of dire disaster prove hysterical.

The actors give it there all and enthusiasm abounds. At times a teensy pitchy singing, but the end result was just an enjoyable time. The theater is quite nice -seats 100 people, so intimate. Sound, sets, and lighting, etc are all quite professional.  I will be back for more shows.

If Disaster! strikes your local theater, go check it out. You will survive!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Pool Pause

 Here's a snapshot of the past Sunday at our house.  We were celebrating summer birthdays - Ray, Bobby, Kevin, Maria, Becky, Makyla, and Hunter.  Tough times floating in the pool. That's how we roll
 It all went well until time to leave.  Then Skylar (age 2) above with her mother, had a complete I'm-so-tired-from-swimming-meltdown. Oh well. The party isn't a success until there are tears.  Too much sugar and salt water
And then someone chose to nap through the day....always a good option.  Dakota - age 2 months did not don a swimsuit

Happy mid-week everyone...........let's countdown to the weekend once again.

 Happy Birthday to all of you summer "kids"!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Book Review - Saints for All Occasions

J.Courtney Sullivan has been a reliable author in my list. She spins family sagas with heart, develops rich characters, and produces satisfying conclusions.  Saints for All Occasions, her latest, does not disappoint.  I actually heard her speak once at a book festival. She’s young and personable and I’ve been rooting for her. At this point in her career with three books (The Engagements, Maine, and Commencement) under her belt, I’d say she’s doing darn well.

The book begins in Ireland and Nora and Theresa Flynn are headed to America. Nora, the elder, is responsible at 21. Theresa is energetic and pretty at age 17. Unfortunately, she ends up pregnant and Nora has to devise a  plan to avoid family shame. However, the decisions made will forever haunt them both. Flash forward fifty years. Nora sadly must deal with the death of her oldest son, Patrick. He was the good looking black sheep – hard drinking and trouble. Now what? We learn about the siblings – John, Bridget, and Brian and their interactions with their brother and parents. And what of Theresa, now Mother Cecilia, cloistered in a convent. What happens when Nora contacts her about this death? Suddenly an aunt no one knew about appears in their lives at the funeral.

p. 234  Nora:  Now she saw that marriage was like being in a three-legged race with the same person for the rest of your life. Your hopes, your happiness, your luck, your moods, all yoked to his.

p. 320  Without warning, grief might poke you in the ribs, punch you in the gut, knock the wind out of you. But even then, you seemed just fine. The world went on and on.

Saints for All Occasions moves between the past, the present, and the family life versus the convent life. Secrets in a family can break and bind at the same time. Sullivan spins a grand tale and it keeps you interested until the end. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Movie Review - The Beguiled

The Beguiled opens in 1864 Virginia. It’s a hot steamy day as a young girl combs the woods for mushrooms. She comes across a wounded Union soldier and helps him back to the Seminary Girls home and school where a few young ladies remain. The headmistress (Nicole Kidman) helps clean his wound and sew him up. She chooses to not put out the blue scarf as a signal to the local Confederate patrols. Instead she agrees to protect him as he heals. And so the tension begins.

The soldier (played by a charming Colin Farrell) has his smooth Irish brogue working for him as he verbally seduces each female – girls from age 10 up to the older teen (a hot stifled Elle Fanning) to a yearning for a man’s touch young woman (a repressed but lovely Kirsten Dunst). And the headmistress herself is not immune to his charms. Each female in the house slowly feels she is “special” in his eyes and they vie for attention. Whether it’s dinner where they all dress up, play music, sing, and flirt. Or if they come into his room to “check on him”.

Tension mounts and this movie is a slow burn. Each moment hints at danger, and in the distance musket shots echo. Director Sofia Coppola has an eye for filming a pretty picture, each southern tableau dripping with moss and sexual heat. Jealousy builds and then erupts. Then all hell breaks loose in the house. Let’s just say this does not bode well for the one man in the pit with circling cats. I won’t say more. The Beguiled is a mood movie. It’s a slow pace build to quite a finale.  Excellent acting and storytelling. When do you wave the blue scarf?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Movie Review - Baby Driver

Ansel Elgort is Baby – an innocent young man listening to music in his car. But wait, it’s a getaway car and as 1994s “Bellbottoms” blares, Baby revs the engine and the bank robbers get away. Baby Driver is a very fun running on all cylinders heist movie with a killer soundtrack.  See, Baby has tinnitus from a long ago accident that killed his parents. He keeps the music playing as he lives life and drives for bad people. He’s been indebted to Doc (Kevin Spacey) and he’s working to pay back money. Once he’s free, he plans on escaping. He meets a waitress (the lovely Lily James) who steals his heart. But he can’t seem to escape this criminal element. Jamie Foxx is psychotic. Jon Hamm is crazy. This would be a very generic car chase/bank robber movie without the whole cast.

Director Edgar Wright’s jukebox thrill ride (Time 7/10/17) absolutely works on another level. Every chase – on foot or by car is precise. It’s seedy and slick and energetic and bold. Baby Driver is why we go to the movies  in a theater to witness a film on the BIG screen. Eat popcorn, slurp a soda, and chuckle at the humor, wince at the pain, and root for Baby. Ansel Elgort is growing up and he’s convincing as a bad good boy. We know he’ll be redeemed by love and drive into the sunset with his gal. What song will be playing? Speed to the theater and find out. Vroom, vroom. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Book Review - Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid had some buzz, so I decided to get it from the library.  It’s a very thoughtful book, not long, rather somber, and does leave an impression. Hamid’s writing is deliberate and precise with well-drawn characters.  Nadia and Saheed meet in college classes. He’s more interested than she is, but he’s shy. When he finally gets her to go out and meet several times, he’s in love. Unfortunately their country is on the brink of war and upheaval. Life changes rapidly with a key death, a move, and then a life of transition for Nadia and Saheed. They are together, united as a couple, united as refugees, and trying to figure things out.

The book is set in the future and yet so much seems very current (a real shame). Doors open and close. Food is not available. People aren’t welcome. Sound familiar? Exit West isn’t about war per se.  It’s a strong backdrop, and that affects Nadia and Saheed. The book is more about their relationship and how a couple reacts in crisis and whether they grow together or apart. I can’t say this book is for everyone, but I found it interesting and thought provoking.

p.138  …and when the tension receded there was calm, the calm that is called the calm before the storm, but is in reality the foundation of a human life, waiting there for us between the steps of our march to our mortality, when we are compelled to pause and not act but be.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Book Review - Eligible

Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Prep (a darn good book) is out with Eligible – a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice.  From the cover blurb – equal parts homage to Jane Austen and bold literary experiment, Eligible is a brilliant, playful, and delicious saga for the twenty-first century.

I hear screams from Jane Austen fans, and I understand. Pride and Prejudice is a treasure. It’s the one. It can’t be duplicated.  I agree.

However, this is a clever interpretation with lively characters running amok in the twenty first century. Cell phone etiquette and first impressions, dating, and marriage, health and wealth. A lot of life doesn’t really change nor do goals of Mrs. Bennet. Unfortunately she can’t always get her daughters to do what she wants- i.e. get married.   And Chip Bingley is shallow. Fitzwilliam Darcy does not give a good first impression. And Liz Bennet is independent and shows pluck.

Eligible is a breezy read. It’s funny and tackles gender, class, courtship, and family issues.  I enjoyed the book, and it made me want to re-read Pride and Prejudice. Nothing wrong with that.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Wordless Wednesday


summer.  This is at my friend's pool.  I plan to order my own flamingo float as soon as I get home

Wednesday means countdown to the weekend

good luck with the rest of the week everybody!

Friday, June 30, 2017

July 4th Weekend

 I shall kick off the last day of June with a start to the July 4th weekend. My co-workers and I managed to talk our boss into giving us Monday off too, so July 1 thru 4 shall be grand.  Do I have plans?  Well, catching up with various friends for brunch on Saturday and Sunday. Possibly go to a movie on Monday. In between, enjoy lazy pool time and finish up on Tuesday with fireworks. Ray and I just have to drag our chairs to the front sidewalk and watch Bedford light up the sky.
Here's my patriotic tablescape. Tough to beat the red, white, and blue for pizzazz.  I included my British cup that says Keep Calm and Carry On. What the heck, this American experiment is still working out some kinks since 1776.

Patriotism...applies to true love of one's country and a code of conduct that echoes such love -
Howard Fast 1991

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots - Barbara Ehrenreich  1988

Have a safe and Happy 4th of July........loooonnnnnnng weeekend

Wednesday, June 28, 2017


Having Our Say was presented at the Jubilee Theater in downtown Fort Worth. It's an intimate setting, and perfect for this story of two sisters. Bessie (Marjorie Johnson) and Sadie (Perri Gaffney) Delaney were sisters. At age 101 and 103, they shared the first 100 years of their lives. There's a remarkable book and also this play.

Born as daughters of a former slave, they grew up in the Jim Crow South, and ultimately moved to New York, living in Harlem at a renaissance time. Well-educated, they had careers - teaching and dentistry.  Never married, they stuck together through thick and thin.

The actors gave a stunning performance as they chatted to the audience as if we were interviewing them. Bessie and Sadie welcomed us in to their living room and kitchen, telling stories, reflecting on history, and finishing each other's sentences. Having Our Say was rich in history and character. The Delaney Sisters were remarkable women who exemplified a piece of the American fabric of dreams and common sense.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Monday Moment

This year  our crepe myrtle took its sweet time to build up for mass blooming glory.  And then overnight, every bud burst. This is one of the best years ever. I took the picture last Thursday.

Alas,  rain and wind this weekend pummels the pink petals.  It will be pretty for the rest of the summer, but not spectacular.

Good luck with your week. Try to not get pummeled by life.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Fortunate Family

 Let's call this late Happy Father's Day to my Dad.  Here he is with my Uncle Rick.  My uncle is crazy surprised because my cousins threw a 50th wedding anniversary party and all the cousins were there from all over the U.S.  This is actually my mom's side of the family - the Shutters clan.
 L to R - Heather and Jen Shutters - they threw the party and are the daughters. Jen came in from Nevada. Heather lives in Quakertown PA near her folks.  Then Lori (DE) peaks over Uncle Rick's shoulder (he's my mom's younger brother age 78), then my brother David (nearby in Sellersville), Gary (MA) behind Aunt Connie. Then Mark (OR), me (I'm 4 days older than Mark), and Sandy (PA) is the elder cousin.  Quite a troupe.  Dad is front and center - he was the oldest person there and represents my Mom.  Oh it was a glorious gathering - we are fortunate - tons of laughs, no issues or family feuds.  It's great to get together for a happy occasion, since we all are getting older.
 Jeff and Jen,  Aunt Connie and Uncle Rick, Heather and Jeff.   Heather is quite the spitting image of my mother as a young girl.  It's uncanny.
50 years.  I attended their wedding at age 8. It was my first wedding and I thought she looked like a princess.  Through thick and thin, some health issues, etc. - a good marriage.

And we are all a fortunate family.

Book Review - A House of My Own by Sandra Cisneros

Sandra Cisneros is best known for The House on Mango Street. Now A House of My Own is a book of  a richly illustrated compilation of true stories and nonfiction pieces that taken together form a jigsaw autobiography – an intimate album of a beloved literary legend.  (from cover blurb)

She grew up poor in Chicago, but rich in family life. She traveled the world, worked hard at her craft, honed her voice, and sought to make that voice heard through her words. She sought roots and yet stayed restless. Now living in Mexico, back to her ancestral roots, Sandra Cisneros, with this collection – spanning three decades and including never before published work – has come home at last. (from cover blurb)

I think this paragraph in her introduction exemplifies Sandra Cisneros’ style and the reason to read this book:
So I’m gathering up my stray lambs that have wandered out of sight and am herding them under one roof, not so much for the reader’s sake, but my own. Where are you, my little loves, and where have you gone? Who wrote these and why? I have a need to know,  so that I can understand my life.

Another welcoming example of her writing – P. 40.  I look for my kin in fellow writers. Those I know in person and those I know on the page. I feel fortunate at least to open books, and be invited to step in. If that book shelters me and keeps me warm, I know I’ve come home.

Her profiles of other writers. Her travel essays. Her growth as a writer. All are documented here. Her thoughts as an Hispanic woman who left home to get an education, to teach, and to write – all to the chagrin of her family. Why are you not married? How can you leave and be on your own without a husband? She shrugged and moved forward ever reaching, ever seeking meaning as a woman and a writer – in essays, poetry, and stories.

A House of My Own – Stories From My Life by Sandra Cisneros is like inviting a friend in for a chat. This is such a pleasant read. When I finished it, I was ready to start it over again – eager to glean more from her writing. Style, grace, and heart.  Welcome home, Ms.Cisneros. Welcome home.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Solstice Birthday

An oldie picture, but I don't have many of my mother. I've written this before - she always dodged the camera, ever elusive.  This is back in the 1980s -  Lori's early years in college and we were visiting her. I was in from TX. My brother is missing. So young and vibrant.

Today - June 21st is my mother's birthday. She's been gone twenty five years now.
Happy Birthday Mom!  I'll eat some chocolate cake in her honor.

I liked this quote by Russell Baker:
Children rarely want to know who their parents were
before they were parents, and when age
finally stirs their curiosity, there is no parent left to tell them

Monday, June 19, 2017

Monday Moment - Clarity

This interview caught my eye in the June 12th issue of Time Magazine. Q&A with Sir Harold Evans, a longtime editor and author.  Sir Harold on writing evils:

Writing that is deliberately designed to deceive - insurance  policies, political statements. Business verbosity wastes money, confuses millions. I find myself getting much more angry about the moral question of obligation of fairness than I do about a misplaced semicolon. 

other good quotes:
The language police are a bloody nuisance, some linguists in particular

on Twitter
Twitter's wonderful for assertion. It's absolutely useless for argument.

All food for thought.  Let's have a decent week, everyone.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Book Review - Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver is a young adult novel that was also made into a movie.  It is well written, current without being obnoxiously hip, and provides some lessons learned for the heroine. From the cover blurb – Samantha Kingston has it all: looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12 should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning.

Yes, this is a variation on Groundhog Day, except it’s Cupid Day. Samantha and her crew are the girls with the most roses. They are prepping all day to go to the hot party. Samantha is preparing to lose her virginity to Rob that night. Oh there’s alcohol, icy roads, and a crash. Then Samantha wakes up and relives the day over and over with an ever jaded eye on her behavior, on her friend’  behavior, and on the shallowness of high school. She tries to vary the routines, but something always goes awry. She tries to fix a bullying situation that she was a willing participant early on. However, after several “deaths and rebirths” she recognizes her wrongs.  She sees how Kent is thoughtful, kind, and actually looks out for her versus Rob, her boyfriend, who’s actually quite a jerk.

The book isn’t all sugar and spice and perfect redemption. However, Oliver develops her characters well and shows growth. She definitely captures the cliques of high school and the need to fit in well, the need to keep popularity and image intact. She also goes below the surface and shows the underlying angst of teenage life.

A friend lent this book to me and it was a quick read. I recommend checking it out of the library, and I’ll probably keep my eye out for the movie on Netflix. Before I Fall  - you’ll find a piece of your young self  somewhere in this book.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

New Kid in Town

There's a new Faries in town - Dakota Lynn. She was born on 5/25/17 at 8 am. She's going to need that attitude face to keep up with older sisters - Skylar (2), and Makyla (8).  And poor parents, Kevin and Maria, are now outnumbered.

Good luck kid!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Movie Review Madness - Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot absolutely leaps from the screen. She is stunning, smart, and is the perfect Diana/Wonder Woman. I loved this movie. It is sharp, slick, moves along with an actual plot, is visually arresting, and Wonder Woman has a lot of character.  Am I gushing? Sure. So many of the Marvel and DC Comic movies are over-the-top fights moving to more over-the-top fights. Sometimes it’s too big of an assault to the senses.  (I like the films, don’t get me wrong, but…)

Wonder Woman has better pacing as an origin story.  We meet young Diana as a girl living with the Amazons on a shrouded island. This place filled with strong women is idyllic and yet prepared for the worst. Unfortunately, Chris Pine as Captain Steve Trevor, pilot in WWI, crashes into the nearby waters. Diana saves him and the island is invaded by German soldiers. Needless to say, Diana saves her people, unleashing more powers than she ever knew she had. She is special and in her na├»ve way, wants to find Ares – the God of War – to stop this mess. Trevor is a spy who needs to escape and get back to England. Diana says farewell to her world, she’s destined for bigger things, and joins Trevor on his mission.

Once in England, this Amazon fish out of water proves resourceful. Again, Gadot shows trust, heart, and worry – it flashes across her face, even as she’s using her golden lariat, her magnificent sword, and her ever increasing skills. Chris Pine is also quite good with a light comedic touch at times and then true stolid hero bearing. They work together to find the German plant preparing to unleash killer poisons. They find the horrific scientist creating chemical weapons of mass destruction. Oh, there’s plenty of action and blow-em up. But through it all, Diana/Wonder Woman is a towering presence.

Wonder Woman is a winner in so many ways. A strong female heroine with principles and heart. I do believe that Gal Gadot was created from clay and blessed by Zeus. And I look forward to future films from this actress. I want her to save OUR world!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Book Review - A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline

Cover blurb – Later he told me that he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden.

Christina Baker Kline, author of A Piece of the World, deftly brings us a fictional version of life behind the iconic Andrew Wyeth painting Christina’s World.  The writing is lovely and the story is interesting. Christina Olson lived her life at her family’s remote farm in Cushing, Maine. Crippled as a child by illness, her ability to move grew more limited as the years went by. But for twenty years, a piece of the world came to her. Through a friend, Andrew Wyeth arrived as a visitor one day. Curious about the house, he asked if he could come and paint. Paint the house, the farm, the landscape, the view, the brother Al going about his daily chores, and then ultimately Christina in her habitat.

Kline weaves fact and fiction into a “powerful novel that illuminates a little-known part of American history. She brings focus to the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait. Artist and muse come together to forge a new and timeless legacy.”

p. 288  There are traces of Andy everywhere, even when he’s gone. The smell of eggs, splatters of tempera. A dry, splayed paintbrush. A wooden board pocked with color..
the weather cools. He’s still working. He doesn’t leave for Pennsylvania as usual at the end of August. I don’t ask why, half afraid that if I speak the words aloud, they’ll remind him that it is past time for him to return home.

Excellent read. I’ve always liked the Wyeths – Nathaniel, Andrew, and Jamie. I’ve been to the Brandywine Museum and Chadd’s Ford area where they lived in Pennsylvania. And the painting, Christina’s World, is haunting.  Christina Baker Kline’s A Piece of the World gives it and the story its due.