Friday, August 30, 2019

Book Review - Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

from the cover blurb -
Let me tell you about our brother. The fourth Dunbar boy named Clay. Everything happened to him. We were all of us changed through him. 

This is a story told inside out and back to front.

The Dunbar boys were wild - all five lived in the moment, fought among themselves, fought anyone who challenged them, and lived by their own rules. Their sainted mother had passed and their father walked out on them. They survived.

And now - Clay. He's quiet, has secrets, is the smartest, fastest, and yearns for more.

He builds a bridge - to and for family, for the past, for greatness, for  sins. He builds literally and figuratively. The father is back. Does anyone forgive?

This was a challenging book to read. I had to get into the rhythm of the back to past, and the hints of the future. I really liked Clay and he kept me connected and interested.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Book Review - Normal People by Sally Rooney

Lots of buzz on this book and writer. Young, wise, and in tune with the times. Indeed, Sally Rooney's writing is quite good and I can see where she does have a grasp of the younger generation. However, for me, that did not make these people interesting. Yet, maybe, that's what does make them "normal."

Whiny, self-absorbed, and often annoying, Connell and Marianne have a secret relationship that isn't that big a secret. He's popular,a football star, and smart. She's lonely, smart, and strange. He's poor and is mother works at Marianne's house. Marianne's rich but doesn't flaunt it, yet there is that class distinction - stuff she takes for granted.

They strike up an intense relationship in high school and he seems to be her rock.

A year later, at Trinity College in Dublin, Marianne is in her element - a niche with friends and a cool aura. Connell's back being a small fish in a big pond. The two clash, connect, and veer into deeper corners.

Normal People was easy to put down. I never rooted for these two, whether apart or together, and their friends were a drag too. I'm in the minority in regards to reviewing this book. Every other review I read gushed about Ms.Rooney's perception and the brilliance of her character relationships.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Monday Moments - Saturday Sunset in San Saba

Home from our weekend at Aunt Pat's in San Saba.  A delightful weekend - we lucked out.

Well, Ray had to white knuckle drive through some crazy rain on Friday. Traffic was horrible getting out of the DFW area.The 3 hour drive took 4. Ugh for him.  But once there,  we settled in for a good time.

It rained an inch overnight and we awoke to a foggy, cool day. The fog lifted and Ray and Kevin headed to town for errands,  came back, and worked on their deer hunt preps for November.  Meanwhile, Pat and I enjoyed a walk - 5000 steps, baby!  Chat and laughs on the patio. 

Saturday evening was gorgeous. Happy hour, meal, and patio sit for the sunset. Temps and breeze were an aberration for this time of year - 70s?  What? Here are the pics - fabulous.

Grand visit, projects completed, plenty of relaxation, and darn  good food. Pat can whip up tasty meals - we were grateful.  We said farewell by 11 am and the drive was sunshine and 3 hours for Ray.  Now I'm doing laundry and getting ready for another workweek.

Happy Monday - Last week of August. Let's finish summer with a bang!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Lazy Friday and Weekend Post

Lazy hazy crazy days of summer.  Ray and I are off to San Saba Texas this weekend to see his aunt. I'm packed. Just have to get through work on Friday.  It will be too hot to really do anything, so my
bag of reading material is bigger than my clothes bag.

Just for fun - here are pics from the Kimbell the other weekend - they had water lilies in honor of their Monet exhibit.

Two more pics are from San Saba from a previous trip.

And the final pic is one of me at the Fort Worth Water Gardens. That's to cool off you folks!

Have a fun,safe,  and relaxing weekend. No heat stroke allowed. Laughter in the shade.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Chatterbox Stories

Ray and I survived the weekend with a 4 year old (Skylar) and an 11 year old (Makyla.)
They were good girls and I think they had fun.  Skylar said, "You're taking good care of us."  Her timing was perfect because I was probably about to say, "Stop playing with your food."

We are not accustomed to non-stop noise and busy busy bees. Skylar was stream-of-consciousness talking. Whatever hit the brain came out of the mouth. Until she fell asleep, there was a babble of bluster.

Ray and I tag teamed. I'm good in the pool. So I told him, "Go have a break. Watch some golf. Have a nap."  He said, "Oh, that's okay."  And I said, "Go. I shall want a break later. Trust me. I might take two hours."  He hustled inside.

We swam a bunch. Now,why did Skylar decide to take bites out of the styrofoam noodles?

We fed ducks at the park and did playground, took them to visit Ray's folks - that was a hit, and Makyla and I did go to Half Price Books - very fun. She's an excellent reader.

We did Play-doh stuff - creative.  Lots of Spirograph with Makyla - she's awesome in design and concentration.

We thought their parents were picking up at 2ish on Sunday. We were ready.  Ooops - text - just left at 12:30 pm for a 4 hour drive.  Then a text - oops - lunch ran long.  Arggghhhhhhhhh.
I confess - I was truly done.  It had been fine and we had plenty of bonding, but I was maxed out. Ray was too.

So when Kevin and Maria pulled up at 5:30 pm - we hauled bags quickly to the SUV. "No, girls you don't need shoes.  Here have candy and a Coca-cola to go...."

Whew! We did keep them alive - mission accomplished.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Monday Moment

I'm stealing this photo my brother sent me from the new Philly observation tower. Good view of the town.

Busy weekend here, plus our internet's been up and down a bunch. So, sorry for not visiting blogs.
Ray and I babysat an 11 and 4 year old. Yowza - kept us busy. Not accustomed to non-stop chatter and mild chaos. The girls were good, but active.

Now, I'm off to work. Hope it's a good Monday for everyone. Take a moment to take in your view.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Movie Review Madness: The Farewell

The heat index Wednesday was close to 110. Crazy. After work, I decided to cool off at the movies and watch an artsy flick. I needed something quiet, something to think about. The Farewell, directed by Lulu Wang, served my goals. It was quiet, introspective, and poignant. Well acted and directed, it's a family story, a cultural contrast story.

Billi (the excellent Awkafina in a dramatic role) lives in NYC but talks to her grandmother in China all the time. Visiting her folks in the city, she finds out they are leaving for China for a wedding. Who's wedding? What? Why?  Turns out, the wedding is an excuse to see the grandmother who's dying of lung cancer. But no one will tell her. It's a secret.

Billi's financially struggling, doesn't get the grant she's hoped for, but hops on a plane and surprises everyone in China. The grandmother is delighted.  The parents, et al make Billi swear she won't break the news. She has to act happy - go with the flow. This is against the Americanized part of her - it's lying, just not right. But in China, it's part of many family's culture - no need to dwell on the bad. Enjoy any final time with family and be happy.

The movie explores the family dynamics as they go through the wedding. The grandmother is so happy and you watch tender moments and struggling moments among the various family members and Billi.  The Farewell is quite good and makes you think. 

P.S.. it does have subtitles.  Warning if that annoys you. Hence, Ray did not join me in my artsy movie mood.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Monet - The Late Years

If you want an hour of serene contemplation, go visit the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, TX for their latest featured exhibit: Monet The Late Years. 

Ray indulged me Sunday and we strolled the art museum enjoying huge water lily canvasses. This exhibit covers the final phase of Monet's career with more than fifty paintings. From 1913 to his death in 1926, he reinvented his style - bolder, different use of scale and composition, and much larger canvasses than painted prior. The splashes of color, the subtle hues of shimmering light and dark. I enjoyed them all. His eyesight was failing. His brother and son had passed. But Monet kept busy - gardening at Giverny, and painting - that's what kept him going.

It was fun seeing some old film clips - a man in a suit, a jaunty brimmed hat, long white beard, cigarette clamped between lips, and a paintbrush in hand. A force of art for the ages.

The Kimbell, once again, brings a classy exhibit to Fort Worth. Well done!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Friday Film Frolic and Loaded Fries

Finished work early on Friday. Came home and nabbed Ray - off to Alamo Drafthouse movie theater for a full fun 3:15 pm film frolic. This theater chain is pricey but I'd been wanting to check it out. Nice! And I'm not big on food service in theaters, but this was part of the Friday plan - share a super good snack - loaded queso fries (OMG, Yummy) and two Alamo draft root beers.

We settled in for the ridiculousness that is the Fast & Furious series. Hobbs & Shaw is crazy town entertainment with Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham snarling at each other, but saving the world. Car chases, a killer virus, super cool villain (Idris Elba) with a snazzy motorcyle, London, Russia, Samoa, Shaw's sister played by Vanessa Kirby adds a kick to the action. Back in prison, Helen Mirren (head of the Shaw clan) is a briefly seen hoot. Throw in CIA "friend", Ryan Reynolds and his wacky chatter. I don't need to tell  you plot line. The stunts are amazing, the film making rocks, it's loud, it's fast, it's furious. No brain power required. Summer Friday Frolic.

***Note - in light of the various serious matter of shootings in Dayton, El Paso, etc. I do want to say that I'm not a "gun" person. Far from it. 
However, I've always been fine with mob movies, cop movies, fast & furious movies, James Bond movies - guns, explosions on the screen, etc. Just like the use of the F word these days, it can be a bit much, but I can stay that step away from the silver screen, recognize it is Hollywood film making, and not confuse "pretend" with "reality". ***

Good luck with Monday and your week, my blog friends. Stay safe (and cool!)

Friday, August 9, 2019

Toni Morrison

Some authors just command respect. Toni Morrison who passed away this week at age 88 is/was one of those authors. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for Beloved. Her writing and presence was strong, commanding, classy, and unique. She offered a challenge to life, conscience, and history.

Here are a few quotes from Toni Morrison. She is a writer who will remain a current and constant in American literature. A formidable body of work.

Narrative has never been merely entertainment for me. It is, I believe, one of the principal ways in which we absorb knowledge.    Her Nobel lecture.

I decided that winning the Nobel was fabulous. Nobody was going to take that and make it into something else. I felt representational. I felt American. I felt Ohioan. I felt blacker than ever. I felt more woman than ever. I felt all of that, and put all of that together and went out and had a good time. 

1993  It is not possible for me to be unaware of the incredible violence, the willful ignorance, the hunger for other people's pain. 

2012  When I'm not thinking about a novel, or not actually writing it, it's not very good; the 21st century is not a very nice place. I need writing to just stay steady, emotionally. 

Her books and work live on , they breathe and keep us aware of history, life, and the human challenge.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Movie Review - Quentin's latest flick

I’m often conflicted on Quentin Tarantino movies. Some can be so good (Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Bastards) and some can stink (Hateful Eight).  Once Upon A Time in Hollywood is a winner. Whew! Quentin captures the 1968 and 1969 vibe with the look, the music, and so many nuances. Leonardo DiCaprio plays an actor on the downhill slide, and Brad Pitt is his stunt double with some issues. Both are excellent. Trust me, there’s a scene with Brad facing off against an actor playing Bruce Lee – it’s priceless.  

Margo Robbie plays Sharon Tate. She’s not in it a lot really, but she does shine and, obviously the Tate figure with the whole Manson ordeal plays a big part of Tarantino’s rewritten history. It’s good to know the backdrop from that time period and understand the references. A younger guy at my workplace thought the flick was boring…but he didn’t “get” it. With Tarantino, you do have to think  a bit (in a good way).

My husband thought it was a tad long and would have edited it down. I can understand his point, but I was okay with the whole flow and mood of the movie. Plenty of laughs and good acting. And I was curious where some of the twists would take us. All in all, I give credit to Quentin for his efforts as a very creative director. He’s unique. Yes, there’s a blast of violence at the end and it works. Plus stay through the credits – some funny touches there with Leo. Plenty of famous faces show up with bit parts – Al Pacino is funny. Once Upon A Time in Hollywood totally entertained me on a rainy Saturday morning – yes, three hours of movie amusement.  Worth the tub of popcorn.

Monday, August 5, 2019

What to Say?

 Do not turn away, through cowardice, from despair. Go through it.

...Pass beyond. On the other side of the tunnel you will find light again.  

Andre Gide 1928

El Paso,  Dayton, and on and on.

Will we find a light? 

Wednesday I'll be back with a movie review, and yes, my life moves on as do most of ours.
Yet, such sad senseless shootings chip away at the psyche. In one day there are millions and millions of  acts of kindness. That's the big picture. But, one horrible act causes countless sorrows and sears into our souls.

What to say?   What to do? 

Friday, August 2, 2019

Book Review - What my Mother and I Don't Talk About

What My Mother and I Don't Talk About edited by Michele Filgate is an interesting collection of essays. Various writers explore their estranged relationships or their very close ones. Others explore trying to have a conversation with their mother that doesn't involve their father. One has a deaf mother - that had different ramifications in growing up.

The editor Filgate says in the cover blurb, "Our mothers are our first homes, and that's why we're always trying to return to them. There's relief in breaking the silence. Acknowledging what we couldn't say for so long is one way to heal relationships with others, and perhaps most important, with ourselves."

I found this book and the essays quite touching. There was such a huge variety. I have to say - I loved my mother but took her for granted. I did move to Texas after college at age twenty-one. I came back to visit my mom and dad twice a year, taking so much for granted.

My mother passed away when I was thirty four years old. Frankly, that has affected me for the rest of my life. Conversations we could have had as adults, questions I did have, etc - no chance for them. I think that's why this book hit a nerve with me.   A winner from my library.

 I will say - if you don't talk to your mother.....consider doing so...before it's too late.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

August is all About Ray

Happy Birthday Ray.  Today. August 1st - the man is a Leo

He golfs, hunts, bowls, swims, laughs, reads, likes margaritas. Loyal family man, hard worker, hard player, sports enthusiast - fantasy baseball, fantasy football, cheers his Cowboys, constantly shaking his head over the Texas Rangers.

He's my cabana boy, weed plucker, project man extraordinaire - knows how to use tools.

He makes a mean batch of sour cream enchiladas, and grills a steak to perfection.

Ray's my sweetie pie hubby.  Treats all day and all month - the goal is a decent cobbler tonight and I'll sing Happy Birthday off-key.

Cheers to Ray on his birthday.