Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Whatever Wednesday - A Christmas Cuteness Recap

Christmas Eve Day - Santa Ray with Kevin
Me and Ray - cuteness level needs to ramp up

 Cuteness Star - Dakota age 4.  Very pleased with her new tool set courtesy of Pops (i.e. Ray).  Safety first - apparently she's worn the goggles a lot.  Hammer, saw...I'm thinking there might be more destruction than construction ahead. 

Monday, December 27, 2021

Monday Moments - Basketball

Got a last minute invite to go see the Dallas Mavericks play basketball last Thursday evening. The Lorios (we have known them a long time and they are our financial folks) have had season tickets for over 15 years. The folks they had invited had to cancel due to Covid. Oops. So, we lucked out.
Awesome seats, good company, and a loss, but exciting play by the "D" team. None of the big names were in the game - injury, Covid, you name it. No matter what it was a very fun evening.  (FREE! - that's always a bonus)

I hope you folks have had a good holiday. Now we aim toward New Year's Eve. So fun filler posts for now. 

Friday, December 24, 2021

Merry Christmas

This is one of my favorite Christmas pics of all time - Abby at age two awakening to a castle. 


I wish you all a very Merry Christmas

Peace and love


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Wednesday Whatever - Christmas and SANTA!!!

Everyone has visions of sugarplums at this point in the year.  I just hope everyone takes time for themselves to just sit and look at the Christmas tree lights, to contemplate whatever meaning he/she has for this season, to enjoy family and/or friends. It can be a tough time for many. 

My heart does go out to the tornado victims/towns/families, etc who are suffering from such terrible destruction. I realize I am posting this under a wine meme, but that is the vast weirdness of the season. I admit when watching the news, I thought of so many eagerly awaiting Christmas with houses decorated, presents bought, and plans for celebration.  And boom - it's all gone and lives are lost. 

That is humbling. 

We have our penguin light
The bar area is decorated
I don't even have this sweatshirt anymore, but it's amusing
I did bake some peanut butter cookies this year.  More to come. The aromas - yum

Peace to all

Monday, December 20, 2021

Monday Moments - Throw Away the Clock

Will I watch more movies?
Will I write more?
I will read more
I shall enjoy the holiday season and bake when I feel like it with the penguin watching over the measurements
I'll dream of beach days ahead

At age fifteen, I began to work. I wanted my OWN money to spend or save as I pleased. At seventeen, I couldn't wait to turn eighteen so I could work as summer help at Greene Tweed (where my father worked and they hired college kids) and earn union wages. Damn! I was raking in the bucks. 

At twenty-one, I moved to Texas fresh out of college, so green, eager to be all corporate. Oh yeah - I had the padded shoulder power suits. Evenings, studied and got my MBA.  Ready for my career!

Pretty soon, I realized I wanted to do a good job and I did. BUT, I did not want to work a zillion hours, kiss butt, or play the game that hard. So I settled into the regular rat race. Changed jobs a few times. Earned decent money. 

Now after fifteen years at Omega Research, I retired as of Friday 12/17/21.

It is Monday December 20th and I can throw away the clock. No 6 am alarm (unless I'm up to catch a plane to an exotic location).  No gulping lunch in fifteen to thirty minutes.  Time is on my side now baby. I am in control. 

I can take a walk, take a nap, sweep the patio, sit on the patio, do nothing, dream of everything. 

Look out world - another young senior is loose. 

Friday, December 17, 2021

Finally Friday - Gift Suggestion - Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

 If you are still shopping for a great gift, here is a super read - Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead. 

I love this man's writing, and now he's written a hilarious novel of heists, shakedowns, and rip-offs set in Harlem in the 1960s.  (cover blurb)

    Great opening line    Ray Carney was only slightly bent even when it came to being crooked...

Ray sells furniture, makes a decent living, loves his family. But few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his facade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it. (cover blurb)

Ray gets pulled into a deal with his ne-er do well cousin Freddie. He senses this is going to blow up, and yet he could use some cash. Ray the striver versus Ray the crook. It's a double life and you are going along for the ride uptown and downtown, as Ray maneuvers between shady cops, local gangsters, two-bit pornographers, and a Harlem backdrop. 

Great writing. Rich characters. Humor. Hubris. Harlem.  Colson Whitehead with Harlem Shuffle has pulled off another winner.   p. 244 One thing I've learned in my job is that life is cheap, and when things start getting expensive, it gets cheaper still. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Wednesday Whatever - The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman

 Can one unlikely bookshop heal two broken souls?   (back blurb)

I love stories that take place with a book backdrop. Throw in Australia as a setting. I am hooked. 

The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman is a gorgeously written, gentle spirited, and wise novel that reminds each of us that love, literature, and forgiveness have the power to transform our lives, and - if we dare allow them - to mend our broken hearts.  (back blurb)

1968, rural Australia. Tom Hope was dumped and divorced by what he thought was a true love. Forlorn, he meets Hannah Babel, a Hungarian immigrant who's determined to open a bookshop and get folks to read. Tom builds shelves for her but is wary of her intellect and energy. She's a force of nature with some dark secrets and a past that had her in Auschwitz. Love finds a way with these two opposites. 

You will love how this book unfolds. You'll bask in the glow of happy times. You'll root for these two during dark times. I highly recommend The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted. 

Monday, December 13, 2021

Monday Book Review - Will by Will Smith (with Mark Manson)

 Will by Will Smith by (Mark Manson) is an entertaining, peppy, breezy read. I've liked Will Smith through the years as the Fresh Prince, the blockbuster megastar, as a guest on talk shows. He's a Philly boy from humble roots who had goals, and dreams, and  he executed them. 

cover blurb This memoir is the product of a profound journey of self-knowledge, a reckoning with all that your will can get you and all that it can leave behind. The combination of genuine wisdom of universal value and a life story that is preposterously entertaining, even astonishing, puts Will the book, like its author, in a category by itself. 

I enjoyed reading this book and indeed, Will Smith, is loyal to his family, friends, and his work and goals. The book gets a bit preachy, a bit full of itself, but I could take it with a grain of salt. Will Smith likes Will Smith - hey, he has every right to brag. Even when he's being humble, even when he's at the bottom, he is still Will Smith. It's easy to judge from this chair. I don't know the man and have not lived his life under the microscope of public scrutiny. It can't be easy. 

But his memoir is a glimpse into a megastar's life. He's not lazy and he's a man with plans. We'll see how they turn out. 

Friday, December 10, 2021

Finally Friday

Roller coaster December weather.  Came off a rainy brisk Thanksgiving. Then a gradual warming. Last Saturday, we were hot and humid. We should have worn shorts to hike at the Fort Worth Nature Preserve. I had not been there in the fall and the area had a different vibe.  Still pretty
My selfie for the day
Sat on a bench and looked up.  We enjoyed the peace and quiet.  Watched some guys fishing with a bit of success. No creatures but squirrels and birds.  The bison were not on display.  As a matter of fact, we've never seen the bison there - such prima donnas - always a bad hair day?

 Enter the weekend like my Dad. Cherie sent this pic. He was happy at winning a card game. 

Take care and do take a moment for yourselves during this holiday season - take a walk, sit on a bench, have a break. Enjoy the little things. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Wednesday Whatever - Our Voice

Enjoyed a Saturday morning at the Irving Arts Center for a special exhibit:

Our Voice: Celebrating the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards

Stunning books with glorious illustrations.  101 award/honor winning titles. The Coretta Scott King Awards celebrate fifty years as a champion of books about the African American Experience.
A lovely illustration of Martin Luther King Jr.   This one struck Ray's eyes.
I too, Am America by Bryan Collier (2012) caught my eye. 

The galleries were filled with watercolors, prints, oils, and photography. So many talented people. I appreciated this touring exhibition. I may have to go to my library to actually take the time to read and peruse these children's books. 

Monday, December 6, 2021

Beautiful World, Where Are You - a book review

 Critics love Sally Rooney, and I've been working on it. She's considered a writer for "this young" generation. Admittedly, I am older than her target audience, but I do appreciate good writing. I found her first two books interesting and yet annoying. Excellent writing, but her characters were not likeable and rather whiny. Strictly my opinion. 

However, third book's a charm. Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney kept me interested and engaged. Alice, a novelist; Felix, a warehouse worker; Eileen, an editor; and Simon, a handsome lawyer; are a mix of new and old friends with complicated histories. These folks have some depth to them.  Back blurb - They are still young - but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they worry about sex and friendship and the world they live in.

p.18 Alice:  I'm feeling a little loose and dissociative. It's April and the leaves aren't drifting. 

p.95 Alice: If novelists wrote honestly about their own lives, no one would read novels.

p.162 Eileen: On writing notes in a daily diary -  There was something delicate about living like that - like I was an instrument, and the world touched me and reverberated inside me. 

The characters felt very real and raw. They were concerned about today's world and yet not sure what to do about it. They were seeking stronger roots, perhaps even starting families. 

Back blurb: Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?

Words to ponder as we read our news, continue our lives, and worry about the future. Solid novel Ms. Rooney. 

Friday, December 3, 2021

Finally Friday - Foo Fighter's Memoir and More

 Dave Grohl, The Storyteller - Tales of Life and Music is a joy to read. I've seen him on some interview shows and he's an entertaining, energetic man. I've always liked him in the Foo Fighters. I wasn't keen on Nirvana. In general, a lot of his music is not in my wheelhouse. BUT - the sheer enthusiasm he has in music and life makes for a wonderful memoir. 

This book reads like he is hanging out on your patio, drinking a beer (or two or many) and just chatting. It goes back and forth from childhood to present day, as he recounts his life in music. Drumming was in his bones - even when he was beating on a pillow. He memorized music and played along to beats in his head. Never great at school, a pivotal life choice was dropping out and joining the band Scream on tour. From there he never looked back, except when he was starving and tired and questioning himself. 

Dave Grohl oozes honesty in this tale of music and his life. He doesn't back down from questionable decisions or reflect on some stuff that could have gone differently. He is a family man now and his heart is on his sleeve when it comes to his mother (he's very close), his wife and girls. He basks in his luck and is in awe of some choices he made, some people he met, and the sheer drama that is life. 

Cool dude, that's all I can say. Great sense of humor. He's a Foo Fighter, a husband, and a man who loves life. I highly recommend his book, Dave Grohl, The Storyteller. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Book Review - The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan

 The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan is the Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II.  This is a work of non-fiction that has been solidly researched. But it's told like a story as Kiernan zeroes in and follows some key women who are representative of the thousands of women brought to Oak Ridge, Tennessee to work on a secret project. Chosen from small towns across America, they performed key tasks, kept quiet, and forged bonds with strangers as they lived in a created muddy city of 75,000 residents. Chemists, secretaries, factory workers - All were key in helping to end WWII

back blurb: Drawing on the voices of the women who lived it- women who are now in their eighties and nineties - The Girls of Atomic City rescues a remarkable, forgotten chapter of American history from obscurity. Kiernan captures the spirit of the times through these women, their pluck, their desire to contribute, and their enduring courage. 

I had no idea what all went into the building of the nuclear bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. This book is fascinating as it truly goes behind the scenes and gives snippets of the action. It also shows how women and men from all walks of life truly worked together for the sake of America. Loose lips could sink ships, as the saying  goes back then. Oak Ridge, TN was an amazing hub for history. Excellent, eye-opening book. 

Monday, November 29, 2021

Monday Moments - What's in Your Queue?

 So, after a long holiday weekend are you stuffed with turkey and a lot of streaming? 

What's in Your Queue?   Here's a small listing of items I've watched over the last month.  (Yes, I still take plenty of time to read - see my book reviews on this blog)

Red Notice  - fun romp starring Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot. High level thieves working the con and each other. This cast had a lot of fun (you can tell) and they exchange snark and riffs, all while looking fabulous. I was very amused.

King Richard - excellent flick starring Will Smith as Richard Williams. The man had a plan for his two girls, Venus and Serena, to get them out of Compton and into the tennis stratosphere. Yes, we know the outcome. However this film shows the two as loving sisters with immense talent. It's a strong family with a lot of faith. Mr. Williams was no saint, but you do come away with a better appreciation of his story. Oscar buzz for Will Smith - he is worthy. 

Tick...tick...boom - I loved the musical Rent. Jonathan Larson was a creative genius who sadly died way too young. This movie starring Andrew Garfield tells the tale of a young man approaching 30 who loves life in NYC and yearns for a winning show. Good music, acting, and a rather bittersweet tale. 

Passing - Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga are superb as old high school friends who meet up again. Both are African American, but one is living/passing as a white woman married to a successful man. The other has stuck with her roots in Harlem, but as a light skinned woman can pass at times. Their lives in  1930s are complicated and both have to face the realities they created. 

The Harder They Fall - Regina King directed and stars in this kick-ass black western. Two different gangs are at war over towns. You've got the shoot outs, the saloons, the action at high noon. The scenery is gorgeous, the action is slick, and you've got a lot of horse riding. Not to mention Idris Elba - oh, he's bad (but so, so good at it).  Rather violent. Well done!

Shang Chi - Legend of the Ten Rings -  a Marvel movie that stands alone with an Asian cast. Simu Liu is really good as the reluctant hero who was trained and has a lot of ancient power handed down through his family. Now he must face his father and the past. Akwafina is very funny. Michelle Yeogh - always classy with a quiet power. This is sheer entertainment. 

Friday, November 26, 2021

Happy Turkey Birthday and Weekend, Lori

Yesterday - Thanksgiving Day November 25th was my little sister's birthday.  She's our turkey. 

Here with our Nana Crowther

Lori - all happy in a new vest in front of her townhome
Chilling on the Brooklyn Bridge
Always a party with Dad
and back in 2011 in Ashville - hanging with Ray and our sister-in-law Cherie

Happy Birthday Lori!! Hope it was a good turkey day (with some chocolate cake too!). Enjoy your weekend and bask in the glow of another year. You are the best!!    Love - Big sis  J

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Movie Review Madness - Spencer

 Tired of Princess Diana yet?  Her character was last seen on The Crown and I thought it was well done. There's also Diana: The Musical on Broadway. Plus numerous documentaries, books, etc etc etc. 

Now in Spencer, Kristen Stewart plays Diana in crisis over a Christmas weekend at Sandringham House. She is on her old home turf - literally seeing the home where she grew up, now a boarded up wreck - from the Queen's estate. She's on the "outs" with everyone (family, servants, etc) observing her, tailing her, and questioning her every mood. Her bulemia is out of control. Her marriage is an obvious mistake as she and Charles barely speak and she can see the exact gift of  pearls she received on Camilla's neck at Sunday church service. 

This is not a straightforward re-telling of this weekend. It's almost a stream of consciousness from Stewart, and a bit of bonkers thrown in. The woman is alone. Her only joys are her sons and as kids do, they sense her distress. The acting is great as well as Diana's walk, mannerisms, and speech. Stewart still projects a bit less fragile demeanor than that of the Diana we see from interviews. However, it's a worthy performance in an odd film. I'm glad I saw it, but it's not for everyone. 

Monday, November 22, 2021

Monday Moments

Monday moment - This is a curvy road near my dad's that has an ancient little bridge next to an old mill.  It always feels like a step back in time. You can picture horse and carriage days around 1776. 

Feeling reflective as we begin Thanksgiving week. I'll be staying in TX with Ray, and shall probably go to his aunt's in south TX over next weekend. Meanwhile, I'll be wishing I was in PA too - hang with dad and siblings. 

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road.../ The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine - Walt Whitman

As you move through change things slightly, leave marks behind...And in return, life - travel - leaves marks on you -  Anthony Bourdain

Safe travels for those who head out this week on a journey to your family, your past...or onward to something new. 

Friday, November 19, 2021

Finally Friday

I shall use a backdrop of assorted Thanksgiving theme pics to share some recent quotes I've found and liked.   All very random - as is my usual style
Is it politically point out that life is worth living because of a blackbird's song, or a yellow elm in October?   George Orwell. 

     Or I'll say a nifty tree dramatically lit against a November sky?

If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it    Ernest Hemingway

Oh, Ernest - have you never walked with someone under the bower of trees and shuffled through autumn leaves?    I guess not if you are drinking too much in the Florida Keys. 

I'll throw in an oldie Thanksgiving pic of Dad, me, and my sister Lori at a Thanksgiving in Delaware. After a lovely meal we went to a local beach in Lewes DE and enjoyed a brisk day 

 Finally - my $3 felt turkey find at Target.  It brings me joy on our kitchen table. born at the moment when one man says to another "What! You too?"  C.S. Lewis

I am fortunate. As a talker and listener, you do find that common ground if you actually engage with people.  

Have a good Friday and weekend.  

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Wednesday Whimsy - Movie Review on The French Dispatch

 Wacky, whimsical.  It's Wednesday, folks and I've got a director, Wes Anderson, film to review.  The French Dispatch is weird (in a good way). The man has a unique style and this one checks off his quirks. 

1. Cast of a heck of a lot - Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Owen Wilson,  Tilda Swinton, Timothee Chalamet, Adrian Brody, and more

2. Bright colors and vivid sets

3. Animation sequence

4. Words.  There are a lot of words spoken and many hilarious throwaway lines. The script is superb

5. Vignettes. He likes small stories  that all pull together  to one big theme. I like these small stories that feature so many great actors and so many little moments. 

I came home and  told Ray, "You would have hated this."  And that's okay. With a Wes Anderson film, you have to know what you are going in to see and you have to be in a mood for some wacky. 

That sums me up on a Sunday morning five dollar matinee. And there you go for some whimsy, quirky, and Wednesday whatever. 

Monday, November 15, 2021

Monday Moments - All In by Billie Jean King

Wow is all I can say about this autobiography - ALL IN.

  Billie Jean King is flat out an amazing woman. 

cover blurb - This inspiring and intimate self  portrait by her, the champion of equality, that encompasses her brilliant tennis career and unwavering commitment to social justice even as she was engaged in a private struggle to publicly and unequivocally be her true self. 

I dog eared so many pages in ALL IN. Billie Jean King was raised in a loving family, she worked hard at tennis, and she was a rebel who kept asking, "Why? and Why not?" in regards to women - pay, attention, freedom, etc. So much occurred against the backdrop of the civil rights movement, women's movement, the Cold War, 1960s protests, and LGBTQ+ rights movements. She struggled to be authentic and her health suffered at times. 

But she was at the right place at the right time and just never said no. She has a spirit that shines the light for so many and she continues to fight today for equity and inclusion. 

p.376 If you're in the business of change, you have to be prepared to play the long game.  

She also asks, "When this is done, will we have helped make the world a better place?"

Oh Billie  - yes you have.  As Elton John wrote in the song Philadelphia Freedom (her tennis team)- Shine the light, oh shine the light...

She still is!


Friday, November 12, 2021

Friday Book Review - Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah

 p. 19 It was Magic Hour, the moment in time when every leaf and blade of grass seemed separate, when sunlight, burnished by the rain and softened by the coming night, gave the world an impossible beautiful glow. 

Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah is incandescent in its story about resilience, hope, and home. 

A six year-old girl appears out of the deep woods in the Pacific Northwest into a small town. She is speechless, filthy, alone, and is hiding high up in the trees. 

Dr. Julia Cates, child psychiatrist, has been at the center of a scandal and her career is in ruins. This crazy timing has her sister Elle, a police officer, ask for help for this isolated fearful child - a prisoner of her obviously horrible past. Julia has to work to uncover "Alice's" history,  unlock some vocabulary, teach her to trust again, and basically domesticate this poor kid. 

back blurb - The shocking facts of Alice's life test the limits of Julia's faith and strength, even as she struggles to make a home for Alice - and for herself. 

Kristin Hannah knows how to tell a tale and this is based off a news story she had read about some kids found in the wild. Magic Hour is fiction but she's done her research on kids and trauma. The townsfolk, the friends, the community come together to help the "wolf girl."  Like life, there are ups and downs, and some twists and turns. However, Hannah weaves quite a tale and when all is said and done, it is magic. Enjoy. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Whatever Wednesday

The Fort Worth Botanic Gardens has a conservatory. Enjoy these exotic flowers and plants as we have a whatever Wednesday. 
Hope your week is blossoming
Take a moment and appreciate the intricacies of this plant
Look for a pop of color as you stroll through the week

 On a more serious note - Maria Ressa, co-founder and CEO of the news site Rappler in the Philippines, won the Nobel Peace Prize. She was convicted of  "cyber libel"  by her government last year, and has been unable to travel abroad. Hopefully she can get a flight to Oslo for the ceremony. 

She says after the 10th anniversary of Rappler - It just shows the role that journalists play. Without facts, you can't have truth. Without truth, you can't have trust. How can you have democracy without that? This the fabric that holds us together: shared reality. 

Words to ponder on a Wednesday.