Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year

Happy New Year 2016 dear blog world

Peace and good cheer for the year. I wish you health and happiness


Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Day

Gift by Joanne Faries

take time to say thanks
thanks to all loved ones
remember your past
shed tears of joy, not sorrow
breathe deep and look around
no phone, no electronics, no gadgets
breathe deep and look around
let your mind take the snapshot

    of the moments  
of love

  repost from blog 12/8/12

Be back at New Year's. Until then - Peace and Love

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve

Bountiful Season 

Christmas cheer and goodwill
from mountains to prairie to sea
rooms glow festive with candles
bells chime to bless you and me

pray for soldiers' safe return
full stomachs and treats
peace in all hearts
delightful friends shall meet

family hugs all around
laughs and stories galore
let this spirit prevail

holiday season and more

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wednesday Christmas Wacky

Gotta have some wacky Christmas going on.  Ray has a membership of some sort with Maker's Mark whiskey. It has proven amusing. As you can see, his Maker Mark bottle received a sweater one year.  This year - ear muffs (and Ray got a ski type headband)

Tis the season

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tuesday Christmas Penguin

There's always a fun new ornament for the tree.  Ray bought this for a school fund raiser.
Yes, we supported education and have amusement to boot

Monday, December 21, 2015

Monday Christmas Clothes

What to wear as Christmas approaches?

Thanks Linda T for my sweater.  We find it amusing.........she's from New York and I'm from PA
(She got them on super duper sale at an after season sale last year)

Tis the season

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sunday Christmas Reading

It's that time of year for some Christmas classics.  Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory is wonderful.  Then How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss is fun. "Twas the Night Before Christmas" must be read on Christmas eve. Don't forget A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Or sit and tell your own Christmas tales - the magic is there

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Saturday Sweet

Two batches of Christmas cookies are already gone - my guys at work gobbled them as if they never had sweets in their lives. And Ray said goodies disappeared quickly at his company luncheon on Thursday.

Just me and a Betty Crocker pouch of peanut butter cookie mix - add egg, oil, and water. So easy to bring joy.

Tis the season

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Movie Review Madness - Spotlight

Spotlight is fast paced and tells quite a tale based on true events. I’ve always liked a “hold the presses” movie and this is old fashioned news beat story telling. Back in 2001, the Boston Globe’s special news team – Spotlight- started researching information on priest abuse. The numbers grew and they realized they had more than a few priests involved – this was a whole system of lies. Interviews, knocking on doors, confirmation of names, and more research yielded an amazing sad expose of lives forever affected due to the trust given to the Catholic church.

Tight film making and great acting gives Spotlight a classy edge.  Michael Keaton is the editor raised in Boston and entrenched in the parish affected. Liev Schreiber is the new comer to the area who questions the fiber of the system. Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams are the boots on the ground researchers, digging ever deeper and getting the necessary interviews to confirm the pain and suffering of former altar boys. Stanley Tucci plays the lawyer who’s been fighting the church for a long time. The cast interaction heightens the drama and sense of urgency to the story.

Oscar buzz surrounds this film and it’s a worthy contender. If you want a well done, smart film experience, then train your eyes on Spotlight.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Leaving you Wordless Wednesday

Star Wars - never watched 'em

(But at work, all my guys have discussed the movies and the new trailers so thoroughly, that I am immersed in all things Lucas mania and more.  We hope J.J.Abrams has NOT screwed it up)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Book Review - Art of Memoir

Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club was a sensational memoir. She followed it up with Cherry and Lit. Now she’s using her skills as a writer and years as a professor and combining the two for The Art of Memoir. It is not a step by step how-to book, but rather a general discussion of the elements needed to put a personal story down on paper. From the cover blurb – she breaks open our concepts of memory and identity, and illuminates the cathartic  power of reflecting on the past: anybody with an inner life or complicated history, whether writer or reader, will relate.

She uses other writers as examples and also delves into her own process. She admits to fear. She describes the concern of baring her soul, facing demons, and dealing with her own family and their perspective on their roles in her life. Mary Karr says, “ In some ways, writing a memoir is knocking yourself out with your own fist, if it’s done right.”

Everyone has a story, but how do you make  yours interesting to others?  She discusses all the senses and how to throw your reader into the life you are depicting. She says, “ Everyone has a past, and every past spawns fierce and fiery emotions about what it means.” If you are writing a memoir, you are taking a side and trying to be fair in the exposition of the tale. Will the reader stay on your side? Or will they drift and wonder what you are hiding? It’s a dance of sorts, and words are the musical pacing.

I enjoyed The Art of Memoir and marked off many pages for the wisdom, wit, and advice Ms. Karr shares. She’s been a favorite writer of mine and does not disappoint. P. 215 Writing, regardless of the end result – whether good or bad, published or not, well reviewed or slammed – means celebrating beauty in an often ugly world. And you do that by fighting for elegance and beauty, redoing or cutting the flabby, disordered parts.  Whether you are a writer or a reader, The Art of Memoir will strike a chord in your heart and have you digging into your own life story.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Santa Boot Sunday

Ssshhh - someone (my Dad) will be surprised with a treat by Tuesday...........

Wish I could deliver this in person

Tis the season

Friday, December 11, 2015

Movie Review Madness: Creed

The original Rocky was a sleeper movie – low budget, heartwarming story, and a lovable lunk mumbling “Yo, Adrian.” It won the Oscar for Best Picture back in 1977. Then the sequels arrived, each more outlandish than the next and the series became an excessive joke. Now, after a long time, Creed arrives on screen and it harks back to the original – a heartwarming story, a lovable lunk mumbles “Yo Adrian”, and there’s a kid with a chip on his shoulder who manages to prove to himself that he’s worthy of his name and he’s a fighter.

Michael B. Jordan is Adonis “Donny” Johnson, illegitimate son of Apollo Creed – the champion boxer back in the day. Donny fights his way through foster care until Apollo’s second wife takes him in and provides a home long after Apollo died. Donny never knew his father. Fast forward to today when Donny is winning fights in Mexico, quits his respectable financial job, moves to Philadelphia, and seeks out the Italian Stallion himself – Rocky Balboa. Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) keeps a low profile these days running a restaurant. He has no intention of taking on a boxer to train. But something about this kid, the history, and the chance for redemption for Apollo.

Now the focus of the movie is on training – running through the streets of Philly (which looks awesome in this film), the physical and mental strain, the slow build-up to a huge match against Ricky “Pretty Boy” Conlan – a tough boy from Liverpool with a grand reach, fast feet, and a faster lip. Who has the staying power?  Adonis Creed who must acknowledge his name and the demons that come with it?  Or Rocky, old guy, who gets a medical diagnosis that ain’t pretty? They have to fight together.

Creed is a boxing movie and yes it culminates in the Big Fight. But it’s way more than that. It’s about esteem, family, history, guts, determination , roots, plus heart and soul. Michael B. Jordan is excellent – he’s physically ripped, but he’s more than that. His face reflects his feelings and you want to root for him. Sly Stallone is great too – he’s always been underrated, and he shows a deft touch as a mentor. Philly shines, and yes, you want to run up those Art Museum steps with the Rocky theme wafting over the city. Step into the ring and soar.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Book Review - Career of Evil

JK Rowling, writing as Robert Galbraith, is so darn good. I’ve featured her first two novels – The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm – and now she’s back with Career in Evil.  I think this is the best Cormoran Strike book yet.
From the cover blurb – When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg. Her boss, detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible – and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.

Yowza – now that will make you turn pages.

Indeed, the book progresses with some grisly murders. It’s obvious a serial murderer is on the loose. Cormoran and Robin are under police surveillance. They, in turn, are doing their own investigative work. Meanwhile, chapters offer up the killer’s viewpoint and as the reader, we have no idea who this is.  We are as stumped as Robin and Strike.  Meanwhile, Robin is maybe getting married, maybe not. Trying to maintain a relationship is very tough in this business. And at one point, Robin and Strike are at odds – now that makes it tough for the reader. We root for both of them – they are our constant.

Cover blurb – A fiendishly clever mystery with unexpected twists around every corner, Career of Evil is also a gripping story of a man and a woman at a crossroads in their personal and professional lives.

I love JK Rowling. She truly is a superb writer with a clever imagination and a gift for rich descriptions and characters. This is her best mystery yet and kept me guessing until the very end. Turn on all the lights, snuggle under an afghan and treat yourself to a great read.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Doorknobs Issue 80 - I have two stories

Not bragging too much, but I'm always pleased to have stories in this journal. 
Enjoy my wacky darkness

Robin Dunn—Leaving the Globe—Winner

Joanne Faries—Fall from Grace

Ryan Pillarsy—From Arbendale Before Rainfall
Anna Bálint—Saint Anne
Bev Vines-Haines—Saints Marching In
Roger Leatherwood—No Saint
 Hayward Fault Line
Bev Vines-Haines—Achieving Sainthood—Winner
James Shaffer—Saint Januarius

Joanne Faries—No Man, Just Me

Kristen Caven—Vino Vidi Vesuvia
Steve Rodriguez—Fictitious Memories—Winner
Anna Bálint—Boy on a Bicycle
Sandy Vrooman—Googling Down Memory Lane
Frank Stewart Symons—Saint Cecilia—Winner
James Shaffer—Saint Anthony
Abha Iyengar—Living in Hope
Roger Leatherwood—Joanna Lost at Seaside
Trudy Cusella—Recollection 
Cairo Room
Lester L. Weil—Cigarettes, Whiskey, and Wild Wild Women
KJ Hannah Greenberg—Her Bulbous Eyes
John A. Ward—The Saints We Know—John A. Ward
Andrew Ramer—Lament:  in several fonts, sizes, colors

Friday, December 4, 2015

Movie Review Madness - Brooklyn

The new film Brooklyn is an immigrant tale written by Nick Hornby.  1950s small town Ireland does not offer a lot of room for growth. It’s a land of predictability – you live, marry, and die. But more is meant for Eilis Lacey. Her sister Rose arranges via the priest for Eilis to travel to Brooklyn, live in a respectable boarding house, and work at a department store.  Rose will stay in Ireland, continue working as a bookkeeper, and care for their mother. So Eilis ventures into an unknown world. After a bout of homesickness, she soon meets a young man. It’s shocking but he’s Italian.  But it’s not Ireland. It’s America, and it’s okay. Eilis grows into her job – learning to laugh and interact with customers. The local priest (Jim Broadbent) sponsors her night school so she can achieve her dream to someday become an accountant. She’s blossoming before our eyes into an independent young woman – an American.

Circumstance bring her back to Ireland and she has to face her past to decide on her future. The auld sod is in her heart, but she’s torn. She has a new life in Brooklyn.  This tender movie is sweet, poignant, and well-acted. Saoirse Ronan’s clear blue eyes captivate the screen. She’s excellent and you root for her. Jim Broadbent is perfect as the local priest looking out for her. Julie Walters is a welcome presence as the boarding house marm. Emory Cohen, Tony the Italian suitor, is a charmer. And Domhnall Gleeson is the Irish lad in the old home town.

Brooklyn presents choices, growth, humor, love, and tells a tale about home and what the word embodies. It’s rich and presents the energy of America. It’s a good movie to see in this holiday season and to give thanks.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Thoughtful Thursday

Can't have a humbug attitude with a lighted penguin on the kitchen counter

Have a good Thursday - almost the weekend!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Ray was off on Monday. I came home to a backyard winter wonderland.  The reflection on the pool is dang awesome

Now I have to catch up and do some indoor magic................maybe this weekend.

Feeling the spirit....are you??

Monday, November 30, 2015

Movie Review Madness - Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2

All good things must come to an end. Some go out with a whimper, others with a bang. Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is the latter – a worthy end to quite a journey for Katniss Everdeen. This film picks up right where the other ended. Katniss is in the once thought destroyed District 13. She’s banged up but recovering. Peeta is still in isolation after being brainwashed in the Capitol. Hammish, Gale, Plutarch, and Finnick are there to rally with Katniss and plan a way to get into the Capitol to kill President Snow and free the people of war torn Panem. 

From the movie synopsis blurb - What lies ahead are mortal traps, dangerous enemies and moral choices that will ultimately determine the future of millions. 

We’ve watched Katniss grow and she’s a bit weary now – tired of fighting, tired of the stress, and afraid she will fail those who depend upon her. However, the girl has gumption and a good team who has her back. In Mockingjay Part 2, she has to dig deep and fight for Peeta’s soul. Will she ultimately choose him or Gale? Was there ever a question?  President Snow (Donald Sutherland) is so evil, so full of snake oil, and he knows better than to underestimate Katniss. Believe me, there’s a Holy Crap! scene that will have you cheering.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss has been so perfect for this role. She embodies character, growth, loyalty, and a stoic presence. She is a true heroine. Josh Hutcherson has grown as Peeta, the baker boy. He and Katniss have been thrown together and their strength and bond has evolved. Woody Harrelson as Hammish has offered Katniss wisdom and strength of friendship. The word strength keeps appearing and that’s the key to the Hunger Games series – it’s been the key to survival after all.  Time to put down your bow and arrow. Time to say farewell to Katniss. The odds have been forever in our favor, after all.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Post Thanksgiving Filler

 Consider this lazy filler. I've been enjoying this "long" weekend.  Here's Ray's turkey - gloriously tasty. It was Norman Rockwell perfect. He also did a ham with a lovely glaze. I did clean up later after we hosted eighteen people.  Plenty of food, laughs, and good cheer.  We are a very fortunate family and all get along. I am grateful
Remember my post about the store REI promoting the fact that they were closed on Black Friday so their employees could enjoy the great outdoors. Excellent idea and promotion. Now that I look back at their ads, they only featured sunny skies. Hmmm.

Here I am outdoors on Friday - now what??  So far - Thursday thru Saturday - we've had six inches of rain.  That's a lot in a short period of time. I'm not keen on a sloshy hike. It's rather cold too.

The heck with the great outdoors. Ray and I did our duty as Americans to help the economy - armed with coupons we spent an hour at Kohl's and got some darn good bargains. Then we parked our butts on the couch and watched television - sports, movies, netflix, whatever mind candy was available.

and we ate leftovers..........see that turkey picture above. This story has come full circle.

Now time for a nap

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Land Safely

Oops - I expected a soft landing on that green grass. Wrong coordinates. Drat

A rock - ouch

A car fender?  really?

Sometimes, life just doesn't go your way

However,for this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I wish everyone safe travels and a "soft" landing

All the best, my friends

Monday, November 23, 2015

Gotta Laugh

Oh the genius of Pearls Before Swine. Always good for a laugh

Happy Week, everybody

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Book Review - Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

I looked forward to reading Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff.  I read some excellent reviews. I liked the title a lot, and it sounded intriguing. Now I report some ambivalence. Maybe my expectations were too high.

Lotto and Mathilde meet and marry in a whirlwind. They are glamorous, destined for greatness, and are madly in love. We read about the early ups and downs, and start to question this partnership. I wasn't sure if I liked them, and perhaps that is the point of the book.

From the cover blurb - It is with an electric thrill, then, that the reader realizes things are even more remarkable than they have seemed. (oh really hmmm. and I was just thinking less of these people) In an emotionally complicated twist, the perspective shifts, and what began as a story about one extraordinary union becomes so much more. (I didn't really like these people or their friends)
In prose vibrant and original, this is a profoundly moving, surprising, and provocative novel about the yoke joining love, art, and power, and about the influence of perception. 

The writing was very good, and the book did have some twists and turns that were unexpected. However, I did not finished it in stunning silence.

Instead I kinda said, "hmm."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Movie Madness - Spectre

Spectre is the latest James Bond movie and it does all the usual Bond stuff. In the overall scheme of movies, it gets a solid B for entertainment. However, I’m going to be picky in this review, and give it a C.  The last Bond movie, Skyfall, was truly a great movie – it had mystery, drama, action, and many holy cow! moments.  Compared to it, Spectre is a yawner and that’s a shame.  The rumor has floated for a while that Daniel Craig is ready to move on from the franchise. Frankly I think it shows. He’s still a decent actor and did the James Bond thing, but he lacked that extra sparkle, pizzazz, edgy humorous smile, and verve.

Cars – well, heck yeah – the Aston Martin gets an A+. No question
Opening credits – always Bondesque and these were good
Bond Theme sung by Sam Smith “Writing on the Wall” – heck yeah – the kid has a voice and this is a worthy song – A
Shaken not stirred reference – check
Bond Girl – pretty enough and yet a tad bland. Frankly, too too young. She had a pretty pout and could run in heels, but was not a standout
Opening chase scene and blast in Mexico City – very good opener. Well filmed and dramatic.
Balance of plot line about the Spectre organization and blah blah blah blah – rather boring
The new Q – this is a bright spot – the kid does a good job and injects some humor into the movie. The gadgets are okay. Back in the “olden” days, they were crazier. Technology now is almost ahead of Bond movies.
Moneypenny – attractive, but didn’t get to do much in this film. Generally her give and take with James adds something. Unfortunately, it must have been left on the cutting room floor.
Missing desperately – Dame Judi Dench as M. Yes, she left us in Skyfall and she’s sorely missed. Her crisp diction and toughness with James gave him some soul. Her scenes always crackled.  Ralph Fiennes is adequate.
Villain – Christoph Waltz – alas. He did his best with the part, but Javier Bardem set a high bar in Skyfall. Sorry – Christoph – just not wacko enough.

Are you seeing the theme? Skyfall truly added to the James Bond lexicon. Spectre is very pale in comparison.  I admit I saw this movie right after the Paris bombing tragedy and frankly it set a pall over the movie. I was sensitive as to the violence, the explosions, etc.  What used to be so “crazy” in the Bond films is now unfortunately on the evening news. I had high expectations, but had to settle for mediocre. As for the car………..oh yeah, still awesome.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Philly Fall - Radiant

 I visited Dad on the most perfect November week possible. Warmer than normal and the colors were still blasting absolute glory

 From the front porch around 7 am

Crisp air and sunshine. Tough to beat

I've been back in Texas two weeks now. Dad reports he's doing much better.  Getting out and about with some friends. No more visiting nurses, so he has to do his exercises on his own. It's quite positive.

Let's have a good rest of the week everybody.

Monday, November 16, 2015

What to Say?

Heartbreaking horror

When, how, will the madness ever end?

Words fail me. I looked for a quote that seemed appropriate, but dismissed then all as too simple for such complexity.

Somehow, this image - one picture - summed up thousands of words and fears for me.

Friday, November 13, 2015

No Excuses - Financial Responsibilty

No excuses.  You can't say "Oh, I'm poor because of bad luck". It's not Friday the 13th every day.
Instead it should be  -  Save a Penny or Dollars Saturday or Sunday every weekend.

Ladies - I am talking to you. I was raised by a mother who should have been that housewife in the 1950s-60s with the apron, cooking dinner and raising kid - totally dependent on her husband. Well, yes - she chose to stay home and raise kids in to the 1960s but my mother was a domestic engineer and financial wizard. I give her credit for everything I have today, and no matter your age, you can do it too.

Budget - boring but necessary.  My mother had envelopes with the titles Grocery, School, Utilities and Fun.  She busted up my dad's paycheck into these envelopes and that's what we lived off each week/month.  Nowadays, if you have a fancy phone, you can create the exact same idea in your notes section or with free financial tools.  Pay your bills on time and be sure to plug money into savings or a 401K. If you don't have the money in hand, you won't miss it. If your company matches 401K, then maximize your contribution - that's beyond necessary in this day and age. It's "free" money - do not squander the privilege.

Sacrifice - I'm sure there are things my mother wanted, but she had been a child of the depression. (Don't roll your eyes here. That was a serious time and absolutely an awesome example for how to live today) and knew how to postpone gratification. Whether it's just you or for a family, you do not have to own the latest and greatest thing immediately.  Save and buy when you aren't going to be in debt. You will better appreciate the treat and not be drowning in debt. Set that example for your kids. Nowadays, too many people buy too much and spoil their kids. It's okay for them to have to wait for a treat. They will be better people for it - they will appreciate you, the item, and it will make them fiscally responsible.  It's up to a parent/parents to teach their kids how to respect money. You are doing them a huge favor. Trust me.

Save for the Worse Case Scenario - My mother was sure that my father would be gone by age 55. That sounds horrible, but his father had died at that age. She was very afraid of losing him, but for practical sake she wanted to prepare for her future and for the kids. Thus she made sure to bank as much as possible. As it turned out, she passed at age 60 and he's still going strong at 84. Nonetheless, you just never know.

So - be sure to sock away money in case of death, divorce, ill health, etc.  You need a cushion. It might seem morbid, but it's smart money to salt some away for disaster.

Debt Free - pay off credit cards each month. Use coupons.  Put money in 401Ks or IRAs or something that keeps you from spending every dime.  Constantly compare/contrast and reassess your dollars.

Fun - now I'm going to say spend some money too. Just don't go into debt for it. You have to have some fun - travel, get that big TV, whatever. Life is short - it's all about balance

Ladies - be bold and ask for a raise. Numerous studies show that women are timid about asking for what they are worth. Do not under value your skills. Present your case with confidence and maximize your value. You deserve it. You work hard. Receive the proper compensation.

I truly reflect on my mother's example and admire her and my dad for giving me and my siblings a good life and a good example. Believe me, we were spoiled enough. But I also paid for my own college education. I bought my own townhouse at age 28. I've never been in debt. And my husband and I are partners in a fiscally responsible marriage.

Bad luck is an excuse. Rolling the dice is a gamble. Take charge of your money. Don't let it rule you.

I recommend reading columns or checking out financial tools from

And a friend of mine has a very good blog

Good, wait. It isn't luck. It's personal choice.  Stay smart and vigilant with your money!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thoughtful Thursday

Follow the yellow leaf road

(The picture doesn't do justice to how the sunlight made this a golden path)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Philadelphia Freedom - Veteran's Day

Cool replica of the Liberty Bell at Philadelphia Airport.

Let Freedom Ring

Salute to Veteran's Day

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

It's a Darn Dish Towel

Oh yeah - this sweet old senior looks harmless.  But inside his heart is a design diva extraordinaire.
(By the way, he's no longer using the walker. He's graduated to the cane in just the week I was home. I shall take full credit)

Are you tired of Dad stories?  Too bad. Here's one.

So, I do laundry and include the kitchen towel that hangs on the oven door that is near the kitchen sink. (Don't question the kitchen design. Think cramped space).  Anyway, I say, "Let's change things up." And I go to the towel cupboard and select a totally different one that's tan and has a design. "There. That's spiffy."

Dad is sitting at the kitchen table. I go do something and come back.

"Well, I don't like that towel. It's muddy looking."

"Okay. What do you want?"

"Get a brown one."  I remove the "muddy" one and get a brown one.

"That's too dark. Get the lighter brown."  I go and there are a selection of "lighter" ones. I bring him three to choose from and he does.

I hang it. I think it's just like the one I put in the wash.

"Now, that's perfect."

"As long as you're happy, Dad."

He gives a satisfied smile.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Black Friday Boldness Coming Right Up

Now that Halloween is over, we can contemplate Thanksgiving and then the super crazy season.
The Dallas Morning News story title says it all "REI's gutsy Black Friday idea: We're Closed"

REI's quote is "You shop, we're going outdoors."

The outdoor merchandise and travel store is giving their employees the day off and paying them to go outdoors, use their gear, and have fun with their families or friends.

Wow and good for them.

I admit I enjoy shopping. However, the whole Christmas season shopping season has expanded into Thanksgiving Day itself and become insane. Frankly, for me I have a certain amount of money I plan to spend on a certain amount of people and there are plenty of shopping days before Christmas for me to spend that dough. I assume that holds true for most folks.

With online shopping, more and more people aren't even stepping into real box stores. It's all about sitting in your pajamas and clicking a screen. It's up to the USPS, UPS, or Fed-X to deliver. Talk about lazy genius.

So, I hope that the Seattle retailer spurs a trend. Let's backpedal from this huge push for Black Friday insanity. Let's reflect on the meaning of Thanksgiving and enjoy our time with families and friends.

Let's get outdoors!   (A waddle around the block will do us good after our huge meals)

Friday, November 6, 2015

Stand up Straight

I am in PA again with my Dad. He had his back surgery two weeks ago and yesterday the staples were removed. Now the goal is to get moving. He needs to wean from the walker and use his cane. He needs to do his leg exercises.

And he needs to sit up straight, and stand up straight.

We all do.

That's a lesson I'm learning with my time with Dad and the physical therapy nurse. Posture helps a lot with your overall health.

We writers and readers spend far too much time hunched over our computers, laptops, or tablets. Make a conscious effort to straighten up. Be sure to stand and stretch every thirty minutes or so. Best to take a twenty minute walk a day, if you can.

Hey, it's Friday. You can slack off a bit - get outside and roam. Your future back and self will thank you.   Cheers everybody

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Basement Step Blues

Crappy picture, but trust me these basement steps at my Dad's house are steep. The railing is "okay" and yet feels a tad precarious. The top fluorescent light takes forever to flick on (if it does at all), which adds to the bad horror movie atmosphere.

These are the steps down to the washer and dryer in the unfinished section of the basement. The finished section is total retro stuck-in-the 60s with panel walls, off color stick-on tiled floor, leftover saggy furniture, and a television with an antenna (I don't think it works). It's the land that time forgot and is musty.

The unfinished section has always creeped me out. The hulking furnace groans in the corner. Thousand leggers roam the concrete floors, and huge spiders could stroll by. One meager light bulb flickers overhead. Shadows are eerie and noises echo.

Something always creaks, crackles, or whistles. (and no, I don't mean my knees)

I managed to swallow fears and conquered laundry here in PA. (Once again up to help Dad - more stories to tell)

But the words, "Go to the basement" bring a chill down my spine.

How about you?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Movie Review - Bridge of Spies

Bridge of Spies is an excellent film. It's a winning combination - director Stephen Spielberg and actor Tom Hanks. Both are at the top of their game in this Cold War telling of a story based on true events. It's 1957 and both the US and the Soviet Union have spies on both sides of the ocean. One man, Rudolph Abel, is caught in Brooklyn and tried for espionage. Tom Hanks, an insurance lawyer, is called upon to defend him. Ultimately, Hanks as Jim Donovan, seeks a fair trial for this man who's being railroaded toward the death penalty. The judge already has him convicted, as do American citizens.

Abel neither confirms nor denies his innocence or guilt. Acted with subtle grace by Mark Rylance, he appears to accept his fate and trusts Donovan. The two grow to respect each other. One point Donovan makes to the judge is that Abel could be used as a pawn if the Soviets catch an American spy. We'd have trade material.

Hmm. Meanwhile, we watch as Gary Powers and other pilots are trained for top secret flight missions over Russia to photograph locations. What happens to Gary's U2 spy plane? Is he broken in regards to giving US intel? Does Rudolph Abel ever break? Are they high stakes swap material? And is a poor US student caught up in the mess in Berlin as the Wall is erected.

Oh it's spy vs spy and cat and mouse game with deft negotiations by Donovan. Tension mounts and Bridge of Spies proves to be a thrilling political action film. Well filmed and acted, this is just the start of the fall movie season. Salute the standing man, and ask, "Do I need to be worried?"

Don't duck and cover - open your eyes and enjoy this film.

Friday, October 30, 2015



evil laugh resounds

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Book Review - Felicity by Mary Oliver

Book cover blurb sums it up
Our most delicate chronicler of physical landscape, Mary Oliver has described her work as loving the world. With Felicity she examines what it means to love another person. She opens our eyes to the territory within our own hearts, to the wild and to the quiet. 

This book is filled with joy. Economy of words, simple phrases - they all paint a wise picture of life and love.

Here are the opening lines to I Don't Want to Lose

I don't want to lose a single thread
from the intricate brocade of this happiness
I want to remember everything

Seek out Mary Oliver's poetry. It will give you a sense of peace and calm.
A soothing balm after a stress-filled day.

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Wedding

 Attended a very fancy wedding reception at the Belo Mansion in Dallas.
The groom cake was dramatic
 The wedding cake was gorgeous
 Flower arrangements were spectacular
 Ray and I cleaned up nicely on a Saturday night
The groom is a graduate of the Merchant Marine Academy. A man in a uniform with a sword to cut the cake offers dashing drama.

Oh so young.......I wish them much happiness, laughter, and good health. They certainly kicked off their new life together in high style.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Movie Review Madness - Crimson Peak

Crimson Peak is not normally my kind of movie genre – gothic romance/horror. However, the cast list is stellar and it is directed by Guillermo del Toro, who is a genius. Indeed, the film is lush and the settings are fabulous. The creepy house is worthy of an Oscar as it looms over a sparse countryside. Inside is another story – things go bump in the night and very dark misty ghosts haunt the corridor. Let’s just say, “Don’t drink the tea that’s served in the house.”  (spoiler alert – how much poison will kill you?)

So, Mia Wasikowska (a stellar young actress) falls hard for dreamy Tom Hiddleston’s  Baron.  Her father frowns and has a private investigator check into some shady dealings. It’s the late 1800’s and basically the father calls Thomas out at a ball. Well, alas, the dad ends up dead at his private club, Mia is an heiress, and she’s able to marry and move to the estate. Hoorah for true love. Boo for Dad’s death. Hoorah for true love. Boo for the creepy sister (a very severe Jessica Chastain) who comes with the house. Oh Mia – so naïve, so young, so eager to be friends with the sister and asks for a set of keys to all rooms.  What?  You dare to think you can roam this house freely and uncover its secrets?

Where money is involved, trouble follows, and Mia slowly figures out she’s a pawn in an evil game. The creepy factor is high and Crimson Peak offers a good scary ride in time for Halloween. Is it a tad predictable? Yes. However, I knew what I was in for when I paid my cheap matinee price. I was scared just right and came home to put on all the lights in the house. Rattle a key or two and explore the basement. You never know what bones will turn up.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Thoughtful Thursday - Ask a Question

Take the time today to ask a question. Actually listen and engage

Here's my story - was picking up shirts at the dry cleaners and the usual woman took care of me. We do general chitchat and I commented on the nice weather. She said, "Oh, I just got back from where it was rather cold."

"Where did you go? Vacation?"

She beamed. "Went to Nashville. My mother turned 80 and me and my four sisters hung out at my oldest sister's place. It's fabulous. She had matching pajamas for us, manicures set up, food, movies, etc."

Her enthusiasm made my day. I said, "Wow. That sounds great. Keep that vacation glow going."

You could tell she was still happy and also glad to talk about her fun.

So, wherever you are today, ask that one extra question.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

More from Saturday's trip to the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens and the conservatory

A bounty of colors, textures, and steamy tropical treats

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Movie Review - The Intern

The Intern is a Nancy Meyer film, and that means it’s glossy and pretty with great sets and a heartwarming story. The cool place to be is Brooklyn, and that’s where Jules (Anne Hathaway) has her nifty e-commerce fashion company – in a refurbed warehouse where no one has an office, she rides her bike to meetings, and everyone is young and dedicated.  Well, almost everyone is young. Robert De Niro (no longer a Godfather, he’s in grandfather roles with a crinkly smile) as Ben Whitaker needs a purpose to his life and applies for the senior intern program. Nattily dressed, complete with briefcase, he’s assigned to Jules. She’s ‘difficult and picky” and rolls her eyes at the thought of using this old dude to help her.

Well, of course, he’s wonderful. Everyone in the company looks to him for common sense wisdom, and finally Jules realizes he’s a good friend who’s looking out for her best interests. He can mend a broken marriage, and help the bottom line. The Intern is frothy fun with a nice story. It oozes charm and is New York eye candy. Anne and Robert are pleasant with a good rapport. I saw this movie at a cheap matinee price and was entertained. It’s a good rental or streamer date night. No need to think much. Just clock out, pour a glass of wine, and relax.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Good Morning Monday, Let's Reflect on Sunday

 Fall festival time at the Dallas Arboretum. This place is beyond fabulous.
Yes, we are blocking the mums - Evelyn, me, and Linda T
 Ray said we're the thorns - Ev, Erica, Linda, and yours truly
 Tons and tons of pumpkins everywhere.
 Gorgeous rose
Fall melange of colors.

October glory finally arrived with "cooler" temps and a touch of crispness in the air.

Have a good week everyone