Monday, March 30, 2020

Book Review - American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Life is good in Acapulco for Lydia (a bookshop owner), son Luca (age 8), and Sebastian (a journalist) until he profiles Javier, a drug lord. The cartel is not pleased and blasts into a family gathering, murdering everyone except Lydia and Luca - lucky break that they were indoors at that moment.

Now life is dangerous as Lydia and Luca are forced to flee -instant migrants headed to el norte - the dream of a safe life in the United States. Riding trains, dodging the cartel, making meager funds last, and finally getting connected with a coyote for the last hike across the forbidding desert - the chapters roll by with plenty of action, turmoil, and desperate life choices. 

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins is a harrowing tale of survival. It's the tale of a mother's love for her son and the dream for a life without fear. The book is a tale of trust and the human spirit as Lydia and Luca befriend two young sisters fleeing danger in Honduras.

This is a work of fiction that was initially praised and then faulted for giving into some stereotypes or for not being authentic. I personally had no issues with the story. I felt that the author had done some research, had no doubt combined characteristics of the migrant experience into memorable characters, and she truly put us into the shoes of her protagonists.

I could sweat the heat, feel the grime, and imagine the fear of the unknown. To me, Cummins humanized the odyssey and offered sympathy and empathy for the migrant experience. Well written, strong, and full of heart, American Dirt will draw you in.  Pour a glass of water and root for Lydia and Luca.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Friday Frivolity

Friday Frivolity from the Faries household.

So, I get up first, shower, breakfast, check email, then leave and drive to work (essential business). Prior to leaving, I might have set up a few roadblocks for Ray.

This is his first week working at home. He's up after me, showers, breakfasts, then staggers to the home office to begin his day. He's not the best morning person. So, he hit "traffic" and obstruction" this morning.

The notes say - Slow Traffic Ahead, Stalled Car, Police Standing Around, Debris, and Construction Zone.

He might have been a tad late clocking in.....hee hee !

Might as well have some fun in our troubled quarantined times.

So, have a super weekend folks - sleep in, take walks,  eat well, nap, read, rinse and repeat.  See ya Monday - I should have a book review written by then.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Wednesday Wisdom - Have a Snooze

I never understood as a kid (i.e age five to twenty - when I moved to Texas) how my mother could want to take a nap. Seriously? On a Sunday afternoon, you want to be on the couch with your eyes closed and sleep? Stuff was going on. You could be doing things. Busy, Busy.

I have become my mother. Like her, I can sleep in on the weekend (i.e. 8-8:30 am), I can go to bed at 10 pm and fall asleep, I can fall asleep as Ray's talking to me (not that he's boring me...). I'm going to say I have a clear conscience.

A new habit in this wacky day and age - I come home from work. If the weather is decent, I take a walk with Ray. Then I sit on the couch with a book, gradually slumping down, until I close the book, take off my reading glasses, and close my eyes. I'm "resting my eyes" from a day of computers and thinking. Yep - it's a nap. And then I have no trouble going to bed.

On the weekends, now that museums are closed, there are no activities to attend, no movies to go see, no restaurants open to go hang with friends - an afternoon snooze is delightful. I've done some in-home exercising, I've cleaned a bit, I've read,etc. A little hour of dreaming....bliss.

I highly recommend a nap.

Hey Mom - I understand now. You are probably chuckling from above.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Book Review - Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid proved to be a very good read. I liked the characters and wanted to know what would happen. It's very current considering life and headlines these days,

Alix Chamberlain is a confident businesswoman and married mother of a toddler. She depends on her babysitter, Emira, and when a family crisis occurred one night, she calls Emira to come get Briar out of the house. Emira takes Briar to the local grocery store and is confronted by a woman who questions why Emira (black) has Briar (white).  Cover blurb - A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Peter Chamberlain shows up, vouches for his babysitter, and Alix resolves to make things right. 

Here's where the book really gets interesting. It delves into Emira's life (she's mid-twenties, college grad) and her goals and how she doesn't plan to sue, doesn't plan to change jobs. She loves Briar, loves caring for this little girl, and wants her life back to "normal". Alix is now very self aware and tries to befriend Emira - be "cool."
And there's social media. What happens and why and how does the video get uploaded and goes viral?

The author does an excellent job of exploring the stickiness  of  transactional relationships, what it means to make someone "family", and the complicated reality of being a grownup. (cover blurb). 

Such a Fun Age made me think a bit. (Always a good thing).

Friday, March 20, 2020

Filler Friday

I've got nothing today gang.

Isolate like Pooh, just have plenty of honey pots ready.

Or soar in your mind with a good book - over the ocean or a mountain - whatever is your zen.

Ray and I have still been working and that's fine. Traffic is light. Can't say I'm working hard. Small company - we can spread out in the building. 

At home, Ray's pulled off some delicious dinners, so we are eating well.
We've had monsoon rains every day in Texas. That's getting old. But today, we managed to get in our walk before the skies opened and thunder boomers rattled the land.

On the plus side, seeing a lot more folks out walking - truly noteworthy.

So TGIF - hope you are well, stay safe, catch up on sleep, books, movies, and your own brain.
2020 - a time of reflection. Where do we go from here?

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Wednesday Wisdom - Solitude

Each hour seems to bring new madness. 

Let's backtrack and enjoy my pics from Italy in 2014. What a lovely country full of hugs, wine, piazzas, pizza, and more.  I vow to visit again with Ray. Good to have goals.

Meanwhile, let's contemplate Solitude

Solitude is naught and society is naught. Alternate them and the good of each is seen - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Great decisions in the realm of thought and momentous discoveries and solutions of problems are only possible to an individual working in solitude - Sigmund Freud

Solitude is un-American - Erica Jong

If you don't like being in your own company, what makes you think others will? - anonymous

Food for thought folks to ponder at your leisure.                Alone 

It's okay..........

Monday, March 16, 2020

Monday Moments - I'm Not Touching You

 I worked Friday. This weekend Ray and I did a good job of couch sitting in between painting our doorway trim. That was phase two of our renovation project. Seemed as good a time as any and our place looks fresh. We have plenty of toilet paper and food for two people. So far so good, and I'm going back  to work on Tuesday, after a planned vacation day on Monday. 
 An Australian friend (Chris Culliver) I met on an Italy trip, posted this picture from her current travels. Maybe Bali (I'm not sure). Either way, I asked to use this photo - it just brought me joy.
 I'm actually supposed to be in PA visiting dad, but it seemed wise to not bring fresh Texas germs to the super senior. We are both disappointed, but I'll reschedule maybe for June assuming a lot of the crazy calms down.
 I am missing spring in Philly which is pretty
 This is from 2016
And Dad in 2016, now a bit smaller in 2020 if that's possible. His sister, my Aunt Janice, turned 94 on Friday. Her nursing home is closed to outsiders, so I would not have been able to visit her either.

So, let's chat about siblings and being in a car. Remember the I'm not touching you game. You would poke your finger as close as possible to a face and be really annoying, but you wouldn't touch. I feel like we're playing a worldwide game of this right now. As blog friends, we are winning - virtual communication.

I'm not touching you...only your mind. Stay healthy everyone and have a laugh too - that's the best medicine. 

Friday, March 13, 2020

Journey to Space with the FWSO

Another fun family symphony outing last Saturday. My friend, Candice, joined me and we had a grand time. The Fort Worth Symphony does such a nice hour program. The theme was Journey to Space and it opened with the 2001 Space Odyssey music, otherwise known as Introduction to Also sprach Zarathustra, Op 30 by Strauss. That music always gives me chills.

Onward and upward with The Mission Theme, The Flinstones Meet The Jetsons, Music from Apollo 13, and a musical interlude with narration by a real live astronaut. Gregory H. Johnson graduated from the US Air Force in 1984. He was selected by NASA in 1998 and his first pilot mission was Endeavor in 2007. This was cool and after the show he greeted kids for pictures or questions.

More space music - ET, Star Wars, Star Trek, Stardust by Hoagy Carmichael, and the finale was the March from Superman.   All in all, we soared with the orchestra, landed on our feet, and enjoyed a BBQ lunch afterwards in Fort Worth's Sundance Square.

(And I didn't need dramamine!)

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Wednesday Wisdom

I lull you with pretty posy pictures - spring is in the air. I have not made it out to the arboretum yet. These are some past spring photos.

With Mr. Toad's Wild Ride on Wall Street these days, let's look at some quotes about money.
There's wisdom to be had somewhere here.

Money is like muck, not good except it be spread - Francis Bacon  1625

Money, it turned out, was exactly like sex, you thought of nothing else if you didn't have, and thought of other things if you did.   James Baldwin 1961

Show me the money!   Cameron Crowe, Jerry Maguire 1997 spoken by Cuba Gooding Jr.

"Money isn't everything" according to those who have it - Malcom Forbes 1978

Money doesn't talk, it swears - Bob Dylan from It's Alright, Ma (I'm only bleeding)  song 1965

and now I'm off to work to earn some cold hard cash (gotta keep Ray in the lap of luxury living!)

Monday, March 9, 2020

Movie Review Madness - Emma

Can't go wrong with a Jane Austen Sunday afternoon at the movies. This newest version of Emma is quite pleasant and delightful. It's a very pretty film with lots of pastels colors, flowers, and green grounds. The estates are magnificent, the clothing lavish, and the manners and deportment are very quaint.

Emma (Anya Taylor Joy) is very pretty, admired and loved, and quite the meddler. She's always matchmaking but not for herself. She's promised Papa (Bill Nighy - always funny and quirky) she won't leave him. Meanwhile, Mr. Knightly (Johnny Flynn) hangs around as a pal, and he alone can call out Emma on her manners and actions.

Her meddling ultimately comes back to bite her with a good friend, a neighbor, and Mr. K. She has to work through her conscience and make amends. Emma is a fluffy film but in the manner of Jane Austen, words do matter. Actions matter. And one must be agreeable with good intentions. Beyond handsome, rich, and clever, there has to be some depth of character.

This was a fun film to see with girlfriends on a cloudy afternoon, with a tasty lunch afterward.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Movie Review Madness - Onward

Enjoyed a preview showing of Pixar's Onward last night with Ray. Unusual Thursday evening date night complete with yummy dinner at Red Robin. We both said, "Fun," when the movie ended. This will not be in the pantheon of beyond awesome Pixar movies, but it's in the category of great animation, good voice characters, and a sweet story. What more could you want for a five dollar ticket?

There used to be magic and wonder, and now the world is just bumbling along. It's Ian's sixteenth birthday and he's quietly missing his father who passed from illness; he'd like to actually talk to people in school; he'd like to learn to drive. Ian (Tom Holland) needs to get some ooomph. Older brother Barley (Chris Pratt) misses his dad, plays quest games, and seems to find trouble. Mom (Julia Louis Dreyfus) tries to guide her boys and be strong. What's missing?  Some magic and wonder.

When mom gives the boys a gift from their dad - a wizard wand, they embark on a quest to have time with him for a day. Oh there's a path to peril, raven's point, and the powerful Manicort (Octavia Spencer) to encounter. In this quest, there's humor, danger, and a chance for brotherly bonding. It's fun and funny and poignant.

All in all, Onward is energetic and family fuzzy warm. I cared about the brothers and they find out how much they care about each other. Big hug all around for this sweet movie.

Yes, it's okay to go see it on the big screen in the theater.  Just wash your hands and carry on. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Book Review - Spring by Karl Ove Knausgaard

and now Spring by Karl Ove Knausgaard. I've given reviews on Autumn and Winter by this Norwegian author. His work is unique - gripping and brilliantly rendered. Sensitive, pensive, and honest style. Spring is the account of a shocking and heartbreaking familial trauma and the emotional epicenter of this singular literary series.  (cover blurb)

This author's project is addressed to his newborn daughter, and he has to discuss appointments with child services. He must keep his daughter safe, and he shares a very emotional day involving psychological suspense and family issues. This man holds back nothing. We are privy to some very deep writing - it's beautiful, it's incredible, and thought provoking.

p. 177 The great and terrifying beauty does not abandon us, it is there all the time, in everything that is always the same, in the sun and the stars, in the bonfire and the darkness, in the blue carpet of flowers beneath the tree. It is of no use to us, it is too big for us, but we can look at it, and we can bow before it. 

Spring is not to be taken for granted. Beyond the pretty flowers, there is so much more to grasp. I enjoy Mr. Knausgaard for his truly deep thoughts. Very poetic prose.  This book and series are ones to read and re-read for different nuances. 

Monday, March 2, 2020

Leap into March Madness

What do you do on the bonus February day that is 70 degrees?  Leap into Ray's RZR and go for a trail ride. 

No sitting at home indoors reading or watching television or writing a book review for my blog. Nope - popped that dramamine, buckled up, and held on for a brain jounce.

This was our first outing without son Kevin and his expertise. Ray was a tad nervous, but he did great. We have all of our limbs, and nothing broke on the equipment. Success!

Now onward into March Madness.....the winds blow, plague and pestilence and politics scour the lands. But we'll always have Costa Rica (the TX version).

Zoom,zoom and good luck with your week.