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 naïve 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.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Movie Review Madness - Baywatch

Baywatch is truly silly with no redeeming value whatsoever. As long as you know that going in, you’ll be amused. We were. We paid for cheap tickets - $5 each and chortled throughout. Consider the source material – the television show was rather stupid. So, Mitch (Dwayne Johnson) is head lifeguard and takes his job very seriously. No fooling around. It’s time to get some new recruits and he’s not happy that a new guy is being shoved down his throat. Matt Brody (Zac Efron) is an Olympic gold medalist who’s now doing community service. He’s a pretty boy hotshot with attitude. Gee, do you think he’ll get his comeuppance?

It takes a bit, but Matt slowly learns that  there’s more to lifeguarding than getting a tan. Especially if our gorgeous villain, Priyanka Chopra is trying to take over all of the real estate. And for what reason other than drug smuggling. Mitch and his team are focused on bringing her down. But the local cop, the local councilman, etc all seem to be blocking him at every turn. But no one stops The Rock.

Muscles, swimsuits, young ladies in slow motion, the one “fatter dude” as comic foil – there’s every stereotype in the book for a summer movie based on a tv series. C’mon. But Johnson and Efron have good chemistry with zinger lines. The girls are pretty, Zac is pretty, and Johnson exudes comic charm. It’s just stupid FUN.  Hang on for the Hasselhoff appearance, and the Pamela Anderson sighting. Wink. Wink.  Plus some funny blooper scenes during the credits. Summer movie season has begun with a splash.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Book Review - Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D.Vance is a nonfiction piece that is very pertinent for today’s troubled world. This is a man who escaped extreme poverty and a very closed world, and yet his reflections are poignant and striking. They give a picture of a segment of America that most of us cannot fathom. But it’s there and factors into today’s political landscape, today’s economic realities, and is a world that we need to acknowledge and consider as we move forward with health care, budgets, etc.

You will like J.D. and can picture him as a young boy – lots of energy, enthusiasm, and intelligence. His naïve charm will conquer a lot. And the key – he had a grandmother and grandfather who had faith in him, who supported him, and knew it was best that he leave their world in rural Kentucky.  They knew to build his world and push him to better. No matter what – he lives in California now – a successful financial dude. Yet, his roots are in Kentucky and Ohio and it keeps him humble.

From the cover blurb – A deeply moving memoir, with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of the country.

p. 213  The rest of the evening was uneventful. I chatted politely and remembered admonitions to chew with my mouth closed.  (a recruiter meal – clothes, chat, etc. all meant a lot and he was in a different world. He did get the job offer)

p. 221  Social capital is all around us. Those who capture into it and use it to prosper. Those who don’t are running life’s race with a major handicap. This is a serious problem for kids like me. Here’s a partial list of things I did not know but learned.   1. Wear a suit to a job interview.   2. Butter knives are to be used for a reason    3. Shoes and belt should match  4. Certain cities and states had better job prospects.  5. Going to a better college brought benefits outside of bragging rights (He made it into Yale!).    I was remarkably ignorant of how to get ahead.

I recommend Hillbilly Elegy to broaden your horizons on social issues. It’s serious and yet well written with a light touch. You will chuckle at parts and cringe at others, feel sad, and question hope.

Excellent read!!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Fore Friday

 Back on May 20th, Ray and I were lucky enough to have free tickets (including FREE parking) for the Byron Nelson golf tournament at the Four Seasons Resort in Irving, Texas. Sounds swanky, I know.

 I'm not keen on golf on TV - boring!  But I kept an open mind about seeing it live, and I came away duly impressed. Plus I saw Sergio Garcia in his bright red pants. He's quite popular and is a fun player to watch - very enthusiastic.  Alas, he fell apart on Sunday and did not come close to winning.
 Aussie, Jason Day caught my eye. Very spiffy and the man could whack that ball hard. Hearing it live, watching it zing far, and joining in the oohs and aahs of the crowd was very amusing. Jason ended up in second place on Sunday.
 More Jason plotting strategy
Placing the ball and ready to swing.   Fore!!

So, golf live gave me a new perspective and appreciation for the athletes. Always good to try new things. (Plus we walked over 10,000 steps - not too shabby).

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Book Review - A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman

A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman is a great read. Ove is a hoot, a very original character, and each chapter just builds until you realize this old coot is quite lovable.  By the end, the book is quite poignant and you will shed a tear at the finale. And that’s what makes an awesome read.  The author captures a man’s life, feelings, and shows how humans touch each other.

From the back blurb – At first sight, Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet, a curmudgeon with staunch principles, strict routine, and a short fuse. People think him bitter, and he thinks himself surrounded by idiots.

But as he keeps trying to commit suicide (trust me, this plot works. You learn his reason, his attempts, and his failures (fortunately) ). New neighbors prove to be lifesavers and aggravating.

He drives a Saab, keeps his tools organized, shovels the walks in his neighborhood, and desperately feels the loss of his wife. She was obviously a saint.  You’ll learn his backstory and that explains a lot. Each chapter title is funny and Backman’s humor will keep you turning pages.

p. 336 – At the bottom of the sheet he’s written in capital letters “YOU ARE NOT A COMPLETE IDIOT”. And after that, a smiley, as Nasanin has taught him.

Trust me, this is high praise.  Read the book to get to this page and smile through tears.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day

 The patriot's blood is the seed of Freedom's tree -  Thomas Campbell
All we have of freedom, all we use or know, this our fathers bought for us long and long ago - Rudyard Kipling

Happy Memorial Day.  As we celebrate and grill, swim, and hang out - let's remember........

Friday, May 26, 2017

Book Review - Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson weaves various mysteries together with connected characters and family drama.  After her big breakout Life After Life, I am a huge fan. This book came before it and shows her masterful command of the English language.

I shall give you her opening paragraph and then leave you to find her book in the library or buy it and go from there. Trust me. By the end, you will be enthralled.

How lucky were they? A heat wave in the middle of the school holidays, exactly where it belonged. Every morning the sun was up long before they were, making a mockery of the flimsy curtains that hung limply at their bedroom windows, a sun already hot and sticky with promise before Olivia even opened her eyes. Olivia, as reliable as a rooster, always the first to wake, so that no one in the house had bothered with an alarm clock since she was born three years ago.

Okay – super teaser.  The sisters camp out. The oldest two awaken to find Olivia gone………..and that’s just one of the mysteries.  Fifty years later, the sisters still seek Olivia.

What tragedy occurred?  What made them keep seeking her? 

Sad, surprising, and so many connected tales.

Awesome read

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Movie Review Madness - Fate of the Furious

Fate of the Furious is the eight installment of the Fate car chase franchise. What the heck – we know what we are going to get. And we love it.  This movie is still in theaters (yes, this review is a tad late), but it’s fun to see on the big screen. I am a huge Vin Diesel fan and he does not disappoint. With a voice that sounds like a motor growling, he’s a surprise. Did Vin turn on the family group and join Charlize Theron (a sultry smart villain) in her plot to take over the world?  Say it ain’t so.

I won’t give it away.  But the gang works hard to figure out what the heck is going on, as a nuclear sub could be captured and used for evil.  Fast cars, fast computer connections, and a lot about family. That’s the key to the Fate story line. Oh yes – we have Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson using his Mojo to thwart evil. Kurt Russell, Tyrese, Ludacris, Michelle Rodriguez, and more. The gang is gathered and ready to drive

This is just fun over the top crazy and worth seeing on the big screen  Spring for the big tub of popcorn and zoom along for the stunts, the quips, and of course – the cars.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday Moment - Art from the Phillips Collection

 How about a Degas?

 Throw in a Cezanne?
So many awesome paintings in the Phillips Collection that is being shown at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth TX  ( )

Duncan Phillips had a vision and the money to amass an amazing amount of art. I enjoyed reading all of the blurbs about what he chose and why?  At some point he wanted a Van Gogh and basically put the word out.  Oh, if you have money, you can get what you want.

Lovely exhibit and I am very grateful to be able to zoom to Fort Worth on a Sunday and peruse such beauty.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Art Adventure - Architecture with Louis Kahn at the Kimbell

 Spent last Saturday in Fort Worth at one of my favorite art museums - the Kimbell.  And it was designed by architect Louis Kahn (1901- 1974).  This exhibit was quite fascinating.

 Born in Russia, his family moved to Philadelphia. He earned great renown in his city planning efforts. His library at Phillips Exeter Academy is famous, as well as the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA.  And the Kimbell itself is considered one of the premier art museums designed in the world.

Drawings, films, plans, and building models all gave us a view of a man forever ahead of his time. His use of space, light, and natural materials gave a modern flare to the world around us.  I enjoyed this exploration of a craftsman.  Here are some quotes by Louis Kahn:

A plan of a city is like the plan of a home - streets, corridors, quiet areas, culture areas, get togetherness, and a workshop.

The sun never knew how great it was until it struck the side of a building.

In regards to the Fort Wayne, IN Performing Arts Theater - the concrete concert hall is protected from the nearby railroad by a brick envelope. It's like a violin case - it's a musical instrument containing people. 

Support your local museums and check out any exhibit. You'll come away with a greater appreciation of the arts.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Monday, May 15, 2017

Movie Review Madness - Guardians of the Galaxy 2

Guardians of the Galaxy 1 was so refreshing and fun.  It’s tough to beat. Thus Guardians 2 is a bit much – plenty of excess, but still extra good hilarity and worth seeing in the theater. I am Groot, now with baby Groot (voice by Vin Diesel) is still an awesome tag line, no matter the dialogue.  Lots of plots, tons of action, and of course, the Star Lord (Peter Quill) himself, Chris Pratt, is ever more confident and handsome and cool as our leading man.  Zoe Zaldana’s Gamora returns as well as Rocket the raccoon (Bradley Cooper). She provides the hot, smart, and sexy. He’s our master of quips and irreverence.

Kurt Russell appears as Ego, Quill’s father. He’s a hoot – self-absorbed villain with a grand scheme to take over the world with his DNA. His wild planet is a feast for the eyes. There are plenty more plot lines and then teasers as the Guardians will fit into future Avenger story lines. Sly Stallone appears as a space thief. There’s a woman in gold who’s out to take over the world but is foiled by the Guardians for now. Teaser after teaser appears and it’s hard to keep track (I thought) of who is who.  But it’s still a bit tongue in cheek and raucous.  You won’t be bored or check your watch.

Big thumbs up. Pay for the big screen experience. Treat yourself to some popcorn and stay and stay and stay until the lights come up.  Groot as a teenager is a plus moment at the end.  Guardians of the Galaxy Part 2 has a great soundtrack and kicks off our summer cinema season.  Just have a blast.  We are all Groot. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Mother's Day Weekend

 My mother as a young girl - a somber lass who loved to read
 Her modest birthplace in Indiana
Mom and Dad's wedding day - June 11, 1954

Happy Mother's Day Weekend.  I salute my mother. She's been gone since 1992 - alas - stomach cancer.  She was super healthy, teeny tiny, never drank, never smoked, and yet............dang........
what can you do?

She's still a force in my brain.  Oh she could move fast.  Somehow I always think of her hanging up laundry in our backyard.  Those trees are gone, but the clothes line hung just so, and the sheets wafted in the wind.

She loved breakfast...but late. Never a true morning person.  She drank tea, not coffee, and ate Tasty-kakes - the chocolate ones.  (A Philly product, also - Pudge's cheesesteak sandwiches - yum)

She loved Christmas, stuffed animals, and always made our birthdays special.

She would have gotten a huge kick out of her grandkids (Lisa and Jeff), and Ray's boys - Chris and Kevin and their kids - Abby, Makyla, Skylar, and one on the way - Dakota.  Treats for all

Happy Mother's Day Weekend everyone.  I hope you are celebrated and remember your mothers and your grandmothers.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wordless Wednesday

Downtown Fort Worth in Sundance Square.  Love the smiley face clock.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Monday Moment - Unicorn

A unicorn pinata fell victim at a party for a two year old. Only the head swings free. The body thumped to the ground, candy guts flying everywhere much to the glee and giggles of little girls.

Keep  your head on straight this week (and giggle).

Friday, May 5, 2017

Book Review - I've Got Sand in All the Wrong Places

I’ve Got Sand in All the Wrong Places by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella is a hoot.  Lisa is known for her lawyer/crime thriller books, but with her daughter she’s carved a niche of humorous essays. The two yin and yang on various subjects.  Cover blurb – it’s a multigenerational take on a variety of topics, from on line dating to fleece as formal wear, sounding like two girlfriends you’ve known your whole life. Lisa is based in Philly, Francesca in New York. They joke, they fight, but always love their way through life’s best and worst moments.

Join Lisa and Francesca as they travel from the beach to the city to the suburbs and all the places in between, exasperating, supporting, and enjoying each other along the way.

p. 4 Lisa on the Jersey Shore. You’ll get sand in your sneakers. You’ll get sand stuck in the elastic in your bathing suit. The sand will come back to the rental house with you, where it will fall on the floor, and when you drive home, it will be in the well underneath the gas pedal. You will track it inside your own house, and you will feel a grittiness under your toes in your very own bedroom, maybe even your sheets.  Don’t let the sand bother you. Think of the sand as fairy dust. Because it is. It’s a magical sprinkling of a summertime mood.

I love that idea!  And I chuckled my way through this library book. Check it out if you need a pick-me-up kind of read. Short little chapters that are big on laughs and observations we’ve all had.

I’ve Got Sand in All the Wrong Places is just plain funny. Enjoy