Yes, I'm killing time during Christmas week. I'm actually working quite hard. Omega is a test lab and folks who didn't get their testing done this year ship everything and need it done fast. C'mon folks - it's called "planning". Sigh. Nothing has changed in over ten years. Nothing ever will.
Meanwhile - for those seeking amusement....
Ray was ready for his company luncheon.....not an ugly sweater winner, but still.....
Read a blurb that struck me and I'll share in a Friday Filler
John McPhee, an accomplished writer in his 80s just published his 30th book. Time Magazine did an interview article with him (issue December 17, 2018) that I found quite interesting and amusing. He's modest and not one for public relation pushes.
"A writer grows on the volume of what the writer writes. People standing around, over drinks, talking about writing, isn't writing. Writing is where you go off on your own, close the door, and fight it out with the blank screen or paper. That's the number 1 teacher."
When he teaches, he requires students to submit an outline on everything. "Sooner or later, you have to have a sense of structure, or all you've got is a bowl of spaghetti."
Green Book is inspired by the true story of
Dr. Don Shirley, a virtuoso pianist. In 1962, he lived above Carnegie
Hall and was applauded in the Northeast and worldwide. He chooses with his
record label to tour the south – a tough gig for a black man at that time.
Dr. Shirley (played by the classy consummate actor Mahershala Ali) hires
a driver/bouncer to help him on his tour. Tony Lip (the absolutely incomparable
Viggo Mortensen) comes highly recommended. He’s an Italian-American born and
raised in the Bronx. He’s not classy, but he knows people and situations.
However, this tour proves to be an eye-opener and challenge…for both men.
This movie doesn’t preach, but oh it shows that black,
white, educated, street smart, Italian, married, bi-sexual, artistic, tough –
etc…are words. At the core, man is human and these two men from very opposite
upbringings find a common ground and appreciation for each other. The dialogue
is sharp, the directing is tight, and the acting is Oscar worthy.
This was a really excellent movie. Both Ray and I laughed out loud at scenes.
Ultimately, it just pulled together nicely for Christmas dinner.
I highly recommend Green Book and could easily
see it again. And I shall mention Linda Cardellini as Viggo’s wife. She’s
always been a solid actress and this role, while in the background, is
important as a grounding point for an electric duo. So many good
scenes and moments. Treat yourself at Christmas to a really nice cinema
My mother-in-law, Joyce Faries, turns 80 on December 21st this year. Well, she's always stuck with the combo Christmas/Birthday celebration. So this special year, we decided to throw her a party that's all about her - lunch on Saturday at Miguelitos (Tex-Mex food).
Nacho appetizers, enchilada combo plate, and then we cut into this cake. You could have a margarita if you wish.
Hopefully as I write this on Friday, thirty people show up tomorrow for the festivities. We've been sweating out various senior health issues - turning 80 ain't for sissies, as Bette Davis said.
Here's to all you December kids who's birthday gets smushed with Christmas - you deserve a cake that's not red and green decorations.
Sometimes the person you admire most recognizes something
unusual in you and draws it out, opening a door to a bigger, electrifying
world. (cover blurb)
Meg Wolitzer’s The Female Persuasion is a
decent read with interesting characters. Greer is a college freshman who
meets Faith Frank – an inspirational speaker involved in the women’s movement.
Greer’s trying to find herself and seeks a purpose of some sort. With a job
opportunity offered, questions of power arise, friendships change, and a
childhood love story evolves. Doors open and close, ambition rules, and ego and
loyalty come into question.
Life changes so much during college age and post college
years. People guide and people follow. Some folks make a huge impact on one’s
life. The Female Persuasion acknowledges the flame we all want to
believe is flickering inside of us, waiting to be seen and fanned by the right
person at the right time. (cover blurb)
At times Greer can be a tad whiny, but the book offers up a
lot of good dialogue and insight into girls and women. P. 373 You
don’t always have to feel the compulsion to keep striving toward something for
the sake of striving. There are no grades anymore, Greer. Sometimes I think you
forget that. You just have to do what you want to do. Forget about how it
looks. Think about what it is.
That line struck me. I still keep anticipating a grade and
too often I’m not willing to commit to something that IS
countdown to Christmas with some Wednesday whimsy.
I hit the L.D. Bell High School craft fair last weekend. Some folks are so clever - plenty of Christmas-palooza wreaths, ornaments, snowmen, Santas, and reindeer. I wandered the halls, and then this little fellow called out to me. Hand sewn and so cute. He's normally hanging out in my kitchen now, but I decided a poolside pic was in order.
Hope you are taking breaks in December for some silly fun. Happy Wednesday!
Eastern Pennsylvania morphs from crimson and golds to
Bare branches scrape gray skies
Wreaths in ribbon red adorn front doors
Rooms decked in evergreen crackle with lit fireplaces and
Plenty of merry, merry greetings and mistletoe kisses
signal the season
Careful cookies and milk preparation, then footie-pajama
kids tucked into bed
Awakened by the glistening reflective gleam, eye
squinting, purest white Christmas
(a writer friend introduced our group to "parashots" - not a poem, not a paragraph, more of a short screenshot of a scene. Many of the examples she gave were autobiographical. I was thinking about waking up as a kid (especially on Christmas morning) and KNOWING it snowed. Before you hopped out of bed, the light shining through curtains was blindingly bright...like the gleam of a million halos or something otherworldly)
Kate Atkinson is one of my favorite authors. I voted Life
After Life a winner a few years ago. Now with Transcription
she’s created a work of rare depth and texture, a bravura modern novel of
extraordinary power, wit, and empathy. (cover blurb)
Back and forth between 1940 and 1950, we follow Juliet
Armstrong – eighteen years old and recruited into espionage by a department of
MI5. She’s typing transcriptions (secretly) in a house where folks with Nazi
and fascist leanings come to report and plan for an overthrow. Her work is
tedious and terrifying. Flash forward to 1950 and Julia is a radio
producer for the BBC. However, her time spent with MI5 is coming back to haunt
her. She’s under threat, running into past “spies”, and questioning her past.
P.271 A small shift in the air. The faintest rustle
– a bird settling in a nest. Breathing. A sigh. She could just make out the
silhouette of someone sitting at the table.
Stealthily, Juliet retrieved the Mauser from her bag and
advanced cautiously. It seemed impossible. And yet.
The person who had the greatest claim on her soul. A
sudden terror made her heart spasm.
Twists and turns. Tight writing. Rich characters. Kate
Atkinson draws you in, turns you around, and has you looking over your
shoulder. Transcription is a jolly good read!
Barbara Kingsolver is a genius writer. Her latest Unsheltered
covers two eras and her transitional story line is clean and sublime.
Willa Knox and her husband can barely stay above water. He teaches a college
course way below his level. She is a writer who can’t seem to get employment.
Their house is crumbling. They are trying to keep his elderly father alive.
Their son’s wife died and now they are raising a newborn grandson. It all
sounds crazy, but that is life for so many these days. All under one roof –
folks are just trying to survive, let alone think about retirement, savings,
and a future. It’s strictly try to breathe – keep all balls in the air and
survive…that’s the goal.
Meanwhile, Willa researches the home and hopes for a grant –
maybe someone famous lived in this home. Turns out a neighbor, Mary Treat, was
a scientist. Darn she did not live in this house. BUT, Thatcher Greenwood, a
teacher who supported Darwin’s theories did. And he was key in an important
trial. Maybe the family can get a grant exemption and help pay for repairs
before the house falls down.
Kingsolver moves easily between
both story lines – the past and the present and how they intersect. The
characters are interesting. Her writing is lovely, and she makes one think
about life…past and present. How do folks survive with multiple generations
under one roof? Unsheltered is a searing commentary on life today
by an author who knows her stuff and writes with authority. Kudos.
Joanne Faries, originally from the Philadelphia area, lives in Texas with her husband Ray. She considers herself fortunate to be able to pursue a writing career after eons in the business world. Joanne enjoys reading and movies, and is the film critic for the Little Paper of San Saba.