Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Wordless Wednesday - Shadow Play

 shadow play and striking figures at the Nasher sculpture garden in Dallas
 Yo - there's Ray running amok in the garden
 Shadows are way cool
and more.

Ray and I had an excellent weekend - one stop was the Nasher Museum of Art - Modern Art and Sculpture garden.  I've been there before - took some of the same pics and yet...the shadows are always different.

Keep looking...down, up, is there and beyond what you think you see....

Monday, February 25, 2019

Book Review - Educated

Educated by Tara Westover is a fascinating memoir.  From the cover blurb – This is a tale of self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes of severing one’s closest ties.  

Tara Westover grew up in a survivalist family tucked away on a mountain in Idaho. She stewed herbs for her midwife mother. She salvaged metal for her father’s junkyard. Spunky and smart, she was the youngest and was highly influenced by older brother Tyler. He managed to get into college and came back with news of a whole other world. He encouraged Tara and she managed to pass tests to enter a college classroom at seventeen.  There, for the first time, she learned about the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement.  Can you imagine? First exposure at age seventeen.

From there, the  sky was the limit and she was fortunate in gaining mentors who helped her catch up in leaps and bounds. She chose to get vaccinated. She earned the privilege of travel to Cambridge. She worked hard and gained admission to Harvard. Meanwhile, any trips back home brought turmoil – clashes with her very powerful father, whom she respected but now questioned. So many “Whys?” and his denial and need to denigrate what she’d  learned.

Educated covers religion, history, medicine, government – all issues of distrust on the mountain. Educated is about a young woman willing to open her heart and mind to knowledge, to question, to wonder, and to interpret the world around her. Tara Westover shares so many feelings of love and loss and fear. Her writing is insightful – full of doubts for herself and her path. But she was/is  strong and you root for her, and yet understand her concerns. It is quite a tale of a life the majority of us can’t fathom. 

Tara Westover straddles a mountain between worlds and comes out Educated.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Movie Review Madness

Rebel Wilson is a comedic force. She just cracks me up. Thus, on Sunday,  I went to see Isn’t It Romantic? hoping for silly laughs, a no-brainer flick. Mission accomplished.  My five dollars admission gave me frothy, frivolous time well spent.  It beat sitting home with Ray and his Daytona 500  - I mean the cars just go around and around.

We see young Natalie watching Pretty Woman and her mother tells her that’s a waste of time. Love isn’t remotely like that for girls like her – chubby, normal, etc.  We meet grown-up Natalie (Rebel Wilson) and she’s an architect in New York, lives in a crappy walk-up, has a good guy friend (cute, charming, funny Adam Devine) at work, and an assistant (Betty Gilpin) who watches rom-coms all the time. Natalie has no use for romance or love. She’s cynical – just wants to succeed at work. Her current project is for an arrogant billionaire (handsome Liam Hemsworth - who shows his comedic chops).

Getting off a subway, Natalie’s mugged, hits her head, and wakes up in an alternate universe – NYC is clean, her apartment is huge, guys are ogling her, and Liam finds her “beguiling”. Every single rom-com cliché is played out, and Natalie knows this is crazy, but slowly works with it. It’s laugh out loud funny, and Rebel carries the flick. Oh, and of course, you root for her to find the true love she’s meant to find.  Almost like when Dorothy in Oz realizes there’s no place like home, Natalie learns to live and love and see what’s within reach.

Corny, cheesy, and hilarious.  Isn’t It Romantic? Is perfect for a cold, dreary February afternoon. Heck, I believe in rom-com fun.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Wordless Wednesday

My new super power?   X-Ray vision?

Monday, February 18, 2019

Monday Moment - On Top of the World

Here's who's scheming to nab your corner office this week.

(A friend gave me permission to post this pic - let's just say he's the cutest kid on Facebook among various friends' postings.  Notice his style too - he has an outfit for any occasion)

Competition is fierce my friends. I'm looking over my shoulder.

Happy Monday.  Up the ambition quotient.  Go get 'em!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Book Review - The Women in the Castle

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck is a dramatic, nuanced portrait of war, survival, love, and forgiveness.

back blurb - Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three women whose lives and fates become intertwined. 

Marianne von Lingenfels is now a widower of a resister, murdered in a failed plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. She's returned to his ancestor's castle, now in ruins, and works to find the wives of the other brave conspirators. Her privileged past proves complicated, and the women she finds have conflicting stories and pasts themselves. All took different paths to survive the war. All need to be judged as resourceful and courageous.

Lots of repercussions play out in this historical novel. It's well written with strong characters. Marianne is the center and you will remember and admire her, despite flaws. She once said, "Americans can face the world with open arms, because the world hasn't yet come to weigh it down."
She can reflect on her past and embrace life changes.

She's from the castle, and yet did not crumble.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Valentine's Day (that's for you too, Robyn)

 To my Ray - Love  you lots

Stole the pics from a friend in Victoria, BC.   They are awesome.

And I know Robyn Engel doesn't like Valentine's, but I appeal to her core - you can't deny that these pics  make one feel a tad mushy, say
Aw..............golly gosh

Now go to her blog and enjoy anti-Valentine's humor. Our blog world is very clever. 

Cheers and chocolates my friends
Happy Valentine's Day

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Wild Wednesday

Last Tuesday, Ray and I enjoyed another fun evening at UTA for their Maverick Speaker Series.
Jungle Jack Hanna had a two hour presentation complete with some short film, a chat, and animals from the Dallas Zoo.

Hanna is the Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, where he was a zookeeper who helped change how zoos are run. He's a conservationist, television personality, and author - working hard to bring awareness to wildlife conservation.  He's now 72.

He was interesting, amusing, and could laugh at himself, including a blooper reel for us to see.
The animals he presented via the Dallas Zoo were boas, porcupine from South America, a sloth, and more. The grand finale was a cheetah - wow!  Beautiful creature. The young lady zookeepers/animal handlers did a great job.

Best laugh was watching them try to get the sloth from its tree limb into its cage. The slot moved "fast", evading their efforts.

I enjoy the "wild" in our own backyard  - i.e. Arlington and its University bringing speakers and sharing education with the public.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Monday Book Review - Winter by Karl Ove Knaussgaard

I've reviewed Karl Ove Knausgaard's book Autumn.  Now it's Winter and he's awaiting the birth of his daughter. To prepare he takes stock of the world, seeing it as if for the first time. In his inimitably sensitive style, he writes about the moon, water, messiness, owls, birthdays and more. In Winter, the earth is in hibernation, adding a melancholy to his gaze.  (cover blurb)

I enjoy Knausgaard's musings and observations.  p. 26 Winter had almost no self-confidence after the triumph of summer and autumn's resolute cleanup that followed, for what was winter with its snowfalls and its icing of the waters, other than a cheap conjurer. 

Fire  p. 241   For that is how fire is, it is always the same, and this timelessness is what we invoke when we light a fire, and what makes it so beautiful and so terrible. In front of the fire we stand before the abyss. 

As I read his work, he makes his words effortless, like he just wrote a journal entry and shared it with us. However, I know as a writer, that he anguished over every word and description, no doubt editing and re-editing every mini-essay. He shares himself, his thoughts, his life and the book gives insight into a man's view of children, pregnancy, concerns, and cares.

Winter is a thought provoking non-fiction book that has a chill to it. I look forward to Spring.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Finally Friday Fun

Stole this off of Facebook.  It cracked me up.

Happy Friday and weekend everybody.   You know what I'll be doing....

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Movie Review Madness - Mary Queen of Scots

Scotland 1500s - Mary Stuart arrives back in Scotland to reclaim the throne from her half-brother. She's Catholic, been exiled in France, and now she's striding the moors - young, smart, strong-willed, and ready to rule.

Aye, but her cousin Elizabeth I in England is not thrilled with this power move. On both sides, the privy councils question the politics, powers, religion, and battle of two women. Who will marry? Who can produce an heir?  And nobody wants to bow to the Pope, have a Papist on a throne.

Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart is worthy of her Oscar nomination. She is mesmerizing on screen.
Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I is formidable.  The balance of the cast adds depth to the film.

The costumes, scenery, cinematography, story line, and drama are excellent in Mary Queen of Scots.
This is a strong period piece film with plenty of court intrigue, power struggles, sex, violence, and conniving, bowing, and scraping.

Who shall wear the crown?

Monday, February 4, 2019

Monday Music

 Another Saturday morning hour with the Fort Worth Symphony. Their family program is delightful and this Jurassic Parts was exceptionally clever and original.   Bob Singleton (of Barney the Dinosaur fame as musical director) has a varied career. In this world premiere original he envisions the origin of musical instruments with dinosaurs. What I enjoyed a lot was that as each section of the orchestra played, the musicians stood. It was a good lesson for kids (and this adult) to actually be aware of what was playing (i.e. oh, that's the french horn, in comes a trombone, and ah, a clash of cymbals)
Here's the orchestra settling in prior to the show. Saturday mornings are quite casual. Bass Hall was filled to the brim, and yes some wee kids make noise, but it's an excellent hour of lovely music. Jurassic Parts was a nifty experience. I hope it comes to an orchestra near you.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Book Review - The Library Book by Susan Orlean

The Library Book by Susan Orlean is another well written non-fiction book by a talented writer. Just from a tidbit of an old news clipping, she became interested in the 1986 catastrophic library fire in Los Angeles. It occurred the same day as the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown in Russia. Thus it did not make the news headlines. However, after seven hours, 400,000 books were consumed and 700,000  were damaged. Collections, rare manuscripts, and other print pieces were destroyed.

Orlean  introduces us to an engaging cast of employees and patrons, delves into the evolution of libraries, reflects upon her childhood experiences in libraries, and scrutinizes the man long suspected of setting the fire. (cover blurb)

The Library Book reads like a mystery. Orlean deftly sets the stage, gives us history, weaves in personal stories, and shows the importance of libraries in the community. A full chapter discusses the issue of homelessness and how the Los Angeles library handles a growing social problem. It’s rather mind-boggling. Libraries today are more than a repository of books. They offers tech support and computer usage to many, they engage kids in various programs like a Dr. Seuss festival and more, classes are taught, and  book clubs meet. The library tends to be a place where all can feel welcome. And libraries are often incredibly underfunded.

This book (which I did get out of the library) is not dry. It’s an engaging, entertainment read.  Visit your local library and be surprised. Check it out!