“All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous unpremeditated act without benefit of experience.” ~ Henry Miller

Earth, Air, Fire, and Water

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will.” ~ Jawaharlal Nehru

Massive thunderstorms this afternoon. Loud thunder booms, but no major downpours in our area. The flower garden could use a good dousing. Corey was out doing errands and said that it was raining hard in other parts of the city, but nothing here.

Eamonn is disgustedly happy to have the Trooper back in his possession, even though I told him that we still need to do a few things to it. I’m hoping that the smoke coming out of it is leftover from the problems that we just had fixed and that once it gets a good drive on the Interstate, she’ll start to run like her old self again. Corey said something about the rings, which sounds expensive. I’m ignoring that pronouncement in favor of bad gas (for the Trooper, not me).

I’ve been pricing tires, and of course, what we need won’t be cheap. Nothing ever is. Moving right along . . .

“Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” ~ Joseph Addison  

CharacterDumbledore Half-Blood Prince
Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Tomorrow night Corey, Brett, and I are going to eat sushi and then go see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. This is part of Brett’s birthday present. He is the only one of the kids who actually likes sushi, so that gives us something to look forward to this weekend.

On other fronts, I happen to know that Janson and his wife are currently in the hospital awaiting the birth of their daughter Aurelia. He has been Twittering about the progress most of the afternoon. I love the name Aurelia. It lilts on the tongue and sounds like a fairy.

My friend Maureen who lives in Australia is awaiting news from her doctor, so I’m keeping a good thought for her as well. And David Bridger’s wife Janette is scheduled for surgery at the end of July. Finally.

Even though the medical system in this country needs fixing, I have found from hearing from people in other places that national healthcare does have some major drawbacks—like waiting for operations that are necessary or having some doctors refuse to do procedures that must be performed by other doctors. However, I still believe that this country needs a healthcare system that is available to all, and not just to those who can afford to pay the premiums.

As usual, the blogging community is awash with action. My best to everyone. I’m keeping all of you in my thoughts.

“It is what we make of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.” ~ Nelson Mandela 

Okay, this topic is from David Bridger as well: You are stranded on a desert island, and you can only take ten things. You are one of the ten things. Who or what would you take with you? I’m assuming that food will be on the island so we don’t have to worry about that.

I’m thinking that I need a few different versions of this because, as you know, I have such a hard time making up my mind.

List One: This one is compiled with the understanding that I am not alone in the world, that I have family and pets.

  1. Corey, Alexis (and her significant other), Eamonn, and Brett plus myself. That’s six right there. Must have family with me on this desert island.
  2. Tillie, Alfie and Shakes. Another three. Must have the dogs, even though they take up three spots.
  3. My Lord of the Rings (three books but one story so it only counts as one. I know. I cheat). Must have reading material. But I would give up the books, I suppose, if my sons had companions.

List Two: This one is compiled with the understanding that I am alone in the world, no pets or familydeserted island 1

  1. Myself (1)
  2. My Lord of the Rings (1)
  3. A copy of The Odyssey (because I’ve never made it all of the way through) (1)
  4. Lots of writing paper and something with which to write (2)
  5. A fully-loaded MP3 player and back-up solar batteries (3) (Do solar batteries exist?)
  6. A huge bottle of 4711 cologne to remind me of civilization (odd choice, I know) (1)
  7. A dog for companionship (1)

List Three: This one is compiled with the understanding that I must take that which I need to survive and gather food

  1. Myself (1)
  2. A machete (1)
  3. Two dogs, male and female (2)
  4. Lots of writing paper and something with which to write (2)
  5. A spade (1)
  6. Something reflective (1)
  7. A bottle of 5,000 Ibuprofen (since I cannot have all of my meds) (1)
  8. A bucket
cast-away-tom-hanks-2
Tom Hanks and Fed Ex boxes in Castaway

Now the reality is that if I were to be stranded on a desert island a la Castaway, I would hope that some things washed up on shore with me, one of which should be my carryall bag. I could survive months with just the contents of my carryall bag as it contains meds, scissors, a mirror, candy, a pocket knife, my inhaler, a notebook and lots of pens, a mini screwdriver, and sunglasses.

In Lola’s system of counting, the carryall bag counts as one thing just as the Lord of the Rings counts as one thing.

And if I had my purse as well as my carryall bag, I would be in fine shape. Also, if I washed up on a desert island wearing the things that I usually leave the house with, I would have a watch, my glasses, my cross, some earrings (okay, those I can do without), and probably a book and/or notebook.

Look, I’ve always been a pack rat, ever since grade school when I decided that I needed to take a satchel to school filled with things that I might need. Alexis inherited this tendency, so if she were with me and we got stranded, you can bet that we’d have a lot of things one might need just in case.

I’m not sure about the whole ice skate as dental tools as in Castaway, but the blades would be handy as would the laces. Don’t know if I have it in me to use an ice skate as a dental tool. But unlike Tom Hanks’s character in the movie, I wouldn’t be waiting to open all of the Fed Ex boxes. He was being honorable.

I say that if you are stranded, sealed Fed Ex boxes are fair game. Although given that attitude, the boxes that would wash up on shore with me would probably be things like government proposals, mortgage payments, and car parts. I’m not sure that side steps for a truck would come in that handy on an island  . . .

 “What is important in life is life, and not the result of life.” ~ Johann Wolfgang Goethe

deserted island 3I wish that my lists were more creative, but I think that they actually reflect more about me than at first glance. For example, I could survive without another person with me as long as I had a dog to keep me company. Implements with which to write and record things are very important to me. My choice of a machete instead of just a plain knife show that I am my father’s daughter.

Granted, wanting to take along a bottle of cologne might seem crazy, but if I had nothing else on this island to remind me of home, a smell would suffice. Smells are very important to humans: they conjure happy thoughts, trigger memories, even help with digesting food. The German cologne 4711 would do that for me. It would allow me to remember that piece of me that once belonged to society.

And if possible, having an MP3 player that is full of my personal music choices would serve as a connection to the world. I would have Chopin and Beethoven, the Beatles and Bruce Springsteen, Sarah McLachlan and Annie Lennox, Pavoratti and Broadway musicals. Music, in its varied forms, is communication, and it is something that is universal.

Having music with me would help to alleviate the loneliness, even if there were no chocolate to be found anywhere.

I wonder what other members of my family would choose to take: How Brett would survive without electronics . . . How Eamonn would survive without his cell phone . . . What Alexis would choose of her multitude of things that she must have . . . What Corey would want with him for the rest of his life . . .

Each list would be very different. Of that, I am certain. What and who we value as people is as varied as the sunrises. Not surprisingly. After all, it is that which makes us individuals, unique and the same, as unpredictable as the tides.

More later. Peace.

“Every great film should seem new every time you see it.” ~ Roger Ebert

vertigo

” A lot of movies are about life, mine are like a slice of cake.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock 

“Cinema should make you forget you are sitting in a theater” ~ Roman Polanski

Today is at least 25 degrees cooler than yesterday. It’s overcast and windy and therefore, the perfect day to compile my favorite 100 movies.

kill-bill-vol-2Unlike my top 100 rock ‘n roll songs, which contained 115 songs, I have managed to keep this list to 100 movies, almost. In a few cases, I have listed sequential movies as one listing because it makes more sense. For example, I only used one entry for “Lord of the Rings,” as that was always intended to be one story. The same goes for “Kill Bill,” which was intended to be one movie, but was considered too long for one movie.

On the other hand, I have listed two of the Indiana Jones movies separately because I did not like the second movie. But for “Star Wars,” I only used one entry for episodes 4, 5, and 6, as I view those as one storyline with the same group of actors. I know. I know. More Lola logic.

The movies that I have listed are my favorite movies, not necessarily what I would consider the best movies ever made. I did omit any foreign language films, and some cult classics (like “The Lost Boys” or “Rocky Horror”) because those could be lists of their own. However, the list contains movies spanning six decades and includes musicals, drama, a few comedies, and suspense movies. I have included the main actors rather than the directors, just because.

the-godfatherYou can tell that I am fond of certain actors (Kevin Spacey, Al Pacino, Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins) and certain directors (Alfred Hitchcock, Anthony Minghella, Quentin Tarantino, and Francis Ford Coppola). One thing that may surprise you is the lack of romantic comedies. I am just not a romantic comedy kind of person, preferring instead intense movies with complicated storylines, beautiful cinematography, classics, and science fiction.

I reworked the list at least eight or nine times, removing a few titles and replacing them with movies that I felt were being more true to my preferences. At first, I had included some movies that I like and that were critical favorites, but upon reflection, I realized that they were in fact not my favorites, even though I liked them.

“Movies are like an expensive form of therapy for me.” ~ Tim Burton

You won’t see big blockbusters like “Titanic,” even though I liked it, simply because it was not in my top 100. You will see some movies with which you may not be familiar: “Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai,” “Beyond Rangoon,” “The Red Violin,” “The World According to Garp.” The first and third are movies that have stayed with me over the years that I find much more humorous than the more popular broader comedies such as those by Adam Sandler. “The Red Violin” is one of those movies like “The English Patient” in that its storyline is haunting and remains with you.

beyond-rangoonOf the much older movies, no, I never saw them in the theater. However, I watched many of them over and over again on television in the days before cable. As for “The Ten Commandments,” you are probably surprised by its inclusion, but it was one of those movies that used to be on television every Easter, and I would watch it with my father, who loved it, so I don’t even remember how many times I have seen that or “Ben Hur.” Even though it isn’t necessarily one of my all-time favorite movies, my father loved it, and I loved watching it with him from the time that I was a very young girl.

The rest, well let’s just say that it’s an eclectic list that reflects my eclectic tastes. Please feel free to question entries, suggest others, or argue vociferously over some of the movies that I have included. I would love to hear what other people have to say. Just remember, I called it my favorite 100 movies (a suggestion that I took from Memphis Mafia).

That being said, enjoy.

“The movies we love and admire are to some extent a function of who we are when we see them.” ~ Mary Schmich

 

My Favorite 100 Movies    

1.            “The English Patient” (Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas)

2.            “Lord of the Rings” (Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Sean Astin)

3.            “The Usual Suspects” (Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Spacey)

4.            “Shawshank Redemption” (Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman)

5.            “Braveheart” (Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau)

6.            “The Princess Bride” (Cary Elwes, Robin Wright)

7.            “Dead Poets Society” (Robin Williams, Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard)

8.            “Silence of the Lambs” (Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster)

9.            “Star Wars: Parts 4-6” (Harrison Ford, Mark Hammill, Carrie Fisher, Sir Alec Guiness)

10.       Philadelphia” (Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington)

11.       “The Godfather: Parts 1 and 2” (Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Diane Keaton, Robert DeNiro)

12.       “Se7en” (Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey)

 seven usual-suspects

 

13.       Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark” (Harrison Ford, Karen Allen) 

14.       Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (Harrison Ford, Sean Connery)

15.       “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton)

16.       “Pulp Fiction” (John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson)

17.       “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, John Cleese)

18.       “Henry V” (Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Derek Jacobi)

19.       “Sleepers” (Brad Pitt, Robert DeNiro, Kevin Bacon, Jason Patric)

20.       “Heat” (Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino)

 

heat

monty-python-and-the-holy-grail

 

21.       “Toy Story” (Tom Hanks, Tim Allen)

22.       “The Green Mile” (Tom Hanks, Michael Clark Duncan)

23.       “E.T.” (Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore)

24.       “Gladiator” (Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix)

25.       “Elizabeth/Elizabeth: The Golden Age” (Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Joseph Fiennes, Clive Owen)

26.       Brokeback Mountain” (Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal)

27.       “Capote” (Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener)

28.       “Children of Men” (Clive Owen, Julianne Moore)

 dangerous-liaisons

sense-and-sensibility

 

29.       “Dangerous Liaisons” (Glenn Close, John Malkovich, Michelle Pfeiffer)

30.       “Sense and Sensibility” (Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman)

31.       “Schindler’s List” (Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes)

32.       Mystic River” (Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon)

33.       “A Room With A View” (Maggie Smith, Helena Bonham Carter, Julian Sand)

34.       “Dead Again” (Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Derek Jacobi)

35.       “Alien” (Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt)

36.       “Beyond Rangoon” (Patricia Arquette, U Aung Ko)

37.       “Kill Bill: Vols. 1 and 2” (Uma Thurman, David Carradine)

38.       “Witness” (Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis)

39.       “Goldeneye” (Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean)

40.       L.A. Confidential” (Kim Basinger, Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe)

41.       “Platoon” (Willem Dafoe, Charlie Sheen)

 

platoonmystic-river 

42.       “The Matrix” (Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss)

43.       “The Bourne Identity” (Matt Damon, Franka Potente)

44.       “Saving Private Ryan” (Tom Hanks, Matt Damon)

45.       “The Untouchables” (Kevin Costner, Sean Connery)

46.       “The Red Violin” (Samuel L. Jackson, Greta Scacchi, Eva Marie Breyer, Jason Flemying)

47.        “Star Wars: The Wrath of Khan” (William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Ricardo Montalban)

48.       “Trading Places” (Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis)

49.       “Dead Calm” (Sam Neill, Nicole Kidman, Billy Zane)

50.       “Beyond Borders” (Angelina Jolie, Clive Owen)

51.        “Misery” (James Caan, Kathy Bates)

52.       “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl” (Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightly) 

53.       “Age of Innocence” (Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfieffer)

54.       “Trainspotting” (Ewan McGregor, Johnny Lee Miller)

55.       “The Great Gatsby” (Robert Redford, Mia Farrow)

56.       “Running Scared”  (Gregory Hines, Billy Crystal)

57.       “Apocalypse Now” (Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen)

 the-untouchables the-red-violin
 

58.       “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (Jude Law, Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow)

59.       “Jaws” (Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss)

60.       “Doctor Zhivago” (Omar Sharif, Julie Christie)

61.       “It’s a Wonderful Life” (Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed)

62.       “Throw Momma From The Train” (Danny DeVito, Billy Crystal)

63.       “Vertigo” (Jimmy Stewart, Kim Novak)

64.       “Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai” (Peter Weller, John Lithgow)

65.       “The Blues Brothers” (John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd)

66.       “Amadeus” (Tom Hulce, F. Murray Abraham)

67.       “Rear Window” (Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly)

68.       “The Graduate” (Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft)

69.       “Animal House” (John Belushi, Tim Matheson, Tom Hulce)

70.       “All The President’s Men” (Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman)

71.       “Witness for the Prosecution” (Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton)

72.       “Ordinary People” (Timothy Hutton, Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore)

73.       “Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid” (Paul Newman, Robert Redford)

 dead-calmamadeus

 

 

74.       “The Elephant Man” (Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt)

75.       “Psycho” (Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh)

76.       “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher)

77.       “The Piano” (Holly Hunter, Karvey Keitel, Sam Neill, Anna Paquin)

78.       “The Way We Were” (Robert Redford, Barbra Streisand)

79.       “Stand By Me” (River Phoenix, Wil Wheaton, Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell)

80.       “White Nights” (Gregory Hines, Mikhail Baryshnikov)

81.       “2001: A Space Odyssey (Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood)

82.       “To Kill a Mockingbird” (Gregory Peck, Robert Duvall)

83.       “M*A*S*H” (Donald Sutherland, Elliot Gould)

84.       “Some Like It Hot” (Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon)

85.       “Dial M for Murder” (Ray Milland, Grace Kelly)

86.       “The World According to Garp” (Robin Williams, John Lithgow)

87.       “Saturday Night Fever” (John Travolta, Karen Lynn Gorney) 

88.       West Side Story” (Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer)

89.       “Body Heat” (William Hurt, Kathleen Turner)

90.       “The Dirty Dozen” (Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine)

91.       “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” (Bette Davis, Joan Crawford)

92.       “Oliver” (Ron Moody, Shanni Wallis)

93.       “Othello” (Orson Welles, Suzanne Cloutier)

94.       “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly” (Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach)

95.       “On Golden Pond” (Jane Fonda, Peter Fonda, Katherine Hepburn)

96.       Casablanca” (Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman)

97.       “Tess” (Nastassja Kinski, John Collins)

98.       “I Want to Live” (Susan Hayward, Theodore Bikel)

99.       “The King and I” (Yul Brynner, Deborah Kerr)

100.   “The Ten Commandments” (Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner)

  

“You know what your problem is, it’s that you haven’t seen enough movies—all of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.” ~ Steve Martin

body-heat

Well, I hope that you enjoyed my list. I tried to fit in some of the more evocative movie posters—”Platoon,” “Body Heat,” and my particular favorite, “The Red Violin”— as well as a few of the ones that I think are particularly well-designed, like “Mystic River” and “Untouchables.”

Not to mention Alfred Hitchcock’s wonderful poster for “Vertigo,” which shows Jimmy Stewart clinging to the top border of the poster—great design for something that came out four decades ago. How about that?

So that’s all for now. As always, there will be more later. Peace.

“Just living is not enough . . . One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” ~ Hans Christian Andersen

 

a-birthday-by-emma-florence-harrison-1910  

“A Birthday” by Emma Florence Harrison (1910) (I love this painting)

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air . . .” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

labrador-and-waterWell, the weekend was beautiful, just as the meteorologists predicted. Go figure. It was in the 80’s with bright sunshine, only a few wispy clouds. Corey spent his time outdoors cleaning the pool and trying to get it ready for swimming. Tillie jumped in and was not happy to find no water, well, very little water. She still managed to do some splashing around anyway. Shakes, on the other hand, was mightily put out that there was no pool ball action to be had. I made it up to him by turning on the hose for a bit and letting him attack the water. Don’t ask.

Brett and I spent a little bit of time outside on both Saturday and Sunday. I passed along Glister for him to read, but he wasn’t really enjoying it, said that it was too slow. It is a different kind of book to read. The action is slow in the beginning, but once the first-person narrator takes over, the pace quickens. It’s also a psychological thriller, and I don’t really think that he was in the mood for that.

So he’s decided to reread The Lord of the Rings, beginning with The Hobbit. I thought that for a quick read, in between The Lord of the Rings, I would reread Angels & Demons. I’m hoping that the movie is better than The DaVinci Code movie. Even though I love Tom Hanks, and pretty much anything that he has been in, I just don’t think that he’s the right choice for Robert Langford. Although, I’m not sure who I would have chosen. It’s nothing against Hanks, but more that the character and Hanks don’t seem to be a good fit.

In the meantime, I’m mulling over my choices for my top 100 movies. This is going to be a harder list to compile because I already had the rock ‘n roll list pretty much compiled in my lost notebook, so I had thought about a lot of songs, and they stayed in my brain (hard to believe with my short-term memory loss, huh?). But I haven’t ever compiled a list of my favorite movies beyond my top 10, so this list is going to take some thinking.

And now for an incisive character analysis for no particular reason

law-order-ciAt the moment, though, my big plans for excitement this evening are “Law & Order Criminal Intent.” This is another situation in which I’m not entirely sure that I’m going to be able to handle the casting. Jeff Goldblum, who I also happen to like as an actor, is entering the cast, replacing Chris Noth’s Detective Logan. Noth has been Logan for a long time, first on the “Original Law & Order,” and then reprising the role on Criminal Intent.

Logan grew as a character over the years, which is one of the reasons why I love the whole Law & Order franchise so much. The writers aren’t afraid to change their characters, let them move in new directions and do unexpected things. But this replacement of Goldblum as the new detective in the major case squad has me uneasy. Goldblum is sarcastic and can be hammy.

You would think that those traits would work well with the whole Vincent D’Onofrio quirkiness factor. But who knows. I think that part of me just really misses Logan, and for some reason, I don’t seem to remember a show in which he was going to leave. Did it happen at the end of the season and I missed it? If anyone else is a big L&O fan and remembers, please let me know.

My cold nose does not mean that I am a member of the canine family. Thank you very much. 

shakes-under-cover-bw
Shakes Keeping Warm in Bed

As a result of the very warm weather, we had to give in and turn on a few of the window unit air conditioners for a little bit this weekend. The problem with having very old windows is that most of our screens have holes in them—not huge holes that passersby would notice and be aghast at, but holes big enough for flying critters to make their way indoors (like the bug that was big enough to cast a shadow that kept buzzing my head last night). Hence, opening the windows and letting a breeze in is not really doable until we replace the windows (another thing that got put on hold with the smaller refund that disappeared).

We’re trying not to use the AC too much until we absolutely must. For one reason, I can’t sleep if my nose is cold. No, I’m not making this up. Corey thinks that it’s an excuse not to have the AC on at night, but it’s true: I swear.

If my nose is cold, I wake up, winter or summer. Don’t ask me why, but I cannot abide having a cold nose. It is more uncomfortable to me than having cold ears. Those of you in Alaska are probably snickering right now. Stop it. I know what you’re doing.

“Fear is the father of courage and the mother of safety.” ~ Henry H. Tweedy 

The other thing that really bothers me about having window units is the noise. I like to have a quiet house at night so that I can listen for intruders. Yes, I know. I have read entirely too many suspense books and watched entirely too many scary movies for my own good, but if the AC is running and I can’t hear beyond the bedroom, I get antsy.

bone-handled-balison-knifeI used to keep a real Philippine Balisong butterfly knife under my mattress when I was married to my ex. It was an exquisite hand carved, bone-handle knife that my dad brought back from the Philippines. I don’t know what happened to that knife, but my ex used to make fun of me for keeping it under the mattress.

He would say things like, “do you really think that you would have time to get that out and open it up before someone made it to the bedroom?” Actually, no I didn’t, but just having it there was comforting. Sometimes we do things that are impractical, knowing all the while that they are impractical, but if these things provide us with a little bit of comfort, what is the harm?

Another safety issue for me is having the windows open at night. Again with the movies and books. But we live near a park, and people to go this park at night, even when they aren’t supposed to. Granted, living near a park is not like living near a prison. But the point is that I am afraid of someone breaking into the house through a half-open window.

Little fact for you here: “Between forty and fifty percent of burglaries are accomplished through unlocked doors or windows,” this according to Jean O’Neil, director of research and evaluation at the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC)

Both my daughter and my elder son never got this, especially since a half-opened, unlocked window is much easier to sneak out of than one that is closed and locked. I may be paranoid, but I’m not stupid.

One time I had to break into the house because I locked my keys—along with my cell phone—in the car. I moved the picnic bench below my daughter’s window at an angle, and kind of hiked up the bench and through her window, which I knew would be unlocked. Do you see how easy it would be to break into my house if I weren’t so adamant ab0ut locking windows and doors?

Let’s Be Careful Out There (and inside too) . . .

heavy-door
Now that's a heavy door

Another more serious example of why the front doors should be locked when you are doing yard work: My other mother-in-law used to have an elderly back yard neighbor, Ella Francis, who is no longer with us. One day, Ella Francis was working in the back yard. While she was in the back, weeding or planting, someone walked right into her house through the unlocked, open side garage door and robbed her. Luckily, Ella Francis was not hurt, except for her pride.

When Corey and I were first married, he would sometimes forget to lock the sliding door when he left for work in the morning, I almost had apoplexy. However, in his defense, Corey comes from a place that doesn’t worry about locked doors, as you will read a few paragraphs below.

Nevertheless, a little known fact is that more women are raped in the morning than at night. Two reasons:

First: Rapists who are staking out houses notice when the husband/significant other leaves in the morning, and if the stalker has been watching the woman for a while, he may know that she leaves later, or is alone after taking the kids to school.

Number two: For some reason, women let their guard down more once it is daylight. They get dressed in front of windows that they would never think of standing before at night, believing that the daylight has provided safety, when in fact the opposite is true. Peepers peep in the morning, too.

Who has the keys? Keys? What keys?

Okay, now that I’ve freaked you out with my little idiosyncrasies, I’ll leave you with a little funny story.

birds-keyhookOne time when we were visiting Corey’s family in Ohio, I was the last one to leave the house, so of course, I locked the back door. While we were gone, Corey got a call from his mom asking if he had a key to the house. He didn’t. In fact, no one had a key to the house with them.

I was completely flabbergasted. Who leaves the house without a housekey? Apparently, a lot of people in their little town. No one locks their back doors. They actually had to break into their own house because I had locked the door. All of the housekeys were hanging on the little keyhook on the kitchen wall by the door.

Not so funny at the time (except to me), but I find it even funnier now in retrospective, but in a positive way—kind of cool living somewhere where you really don’t have to lock your doors.

More later. Peace.

If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .

alice-dalton-brown-blues-come-through1

“Blue Comes Through,” by Alice Dalton Brown

“Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself,” ~ Zen Proverb

“If we wonder often, the gift of knowledge will come.” ~ Arapaho Proverb

Okay, so I haven’t posted in two days. I am going through serious withdrawal. I was working on a post called Twenty-six Things That Won’t Disappear when my computer crashed—again. I’m really not going to be able to hold off much longer on downloading all of my files onto flash drives and completely reinstalling everything from scratch.

Corey says that he’ll do it whenever I’m ready, but when do I have time in my über busy schedule to step away from the keyboard? I mean, in between all of the galas and social events that I attend, and my special appearances to talk about my writing career, I just can’t seem to find the time. So many people to do, so many things to see, or something like that.

Damn. There I go being delusional again. Sorry.

“If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him . . . ” ~ Dhamapada Proverb

bush_shrug2
Torture? Who me?

So anyway, I might try to get back to my list of 26 things, but I’ve kind of lost the anger that was behind the post. I’ll bet that you’ll never guess who made me angry . . .

Gee, you’re good. Yep. It was W. and Darth Cheney, and the whole report on torture. So when I get riled again, which could happen the next time I watch Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow, I’ll probably finish my list. I know that you can hardly wait.

“There is nothing you can see that is not a flower; there is nothing you can think that is not the moon.” ~ Basho

Moving along, I got some really great comments on my list of my favorite 100 rock ‘n roll songs, even though I cheated and listed 115 songs. So I was thinking that I might have to do my favorite 100 movies. Memphis Mafia said that he had done his favorite 100 movies, so I’ll have to be checking that out soon.

deniro-and-pacino-in-heat
Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro in Heat

I do love a good movie. Last night, Corey and I watched the latest DeNiro/Pacino movie: Righteous Kill. I love those two together. Even though they were only on screen together for the last part of Heat, I loved that movie, just knowing that they were playing cat and mouse with each other was enough for me.

In Righteous Kill, they are together in almost every scene. The movie did not get great reviews, but that never bothers me. I decide for myself (what a surprise), and I just think that as far as actors go, it’s pretty damned hard to top DeNiro or Pacino.

Maybe I will have to do that movie list after all, but I don’t know that I would ever be able to do my top 100 books. Maybe if I did it by genre, just my mystery/suspense novels. Hmm. Things that make you go hmm.

“The most important point is to accept yourself and stand on your two feet.” ~ Shunryu Suzuki

I got a call from the Stand Up for Virginians people regarding the long comment that I made when I signed the petition. Seems they liked what I had to say.

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Sally Field: "You like me. You really like me."

Want to know a secret? It was an awesome feeling. Validation for the first time in quite a while. Don’t get me wrong, all of you wonderful people who support me by reading me on a regular basis and suggest my blog to other people are a constant source of validation. Sometimes your comments make me go all Sally Field: They like me . . . They really like me. (If that reference makes no sense to you, then you didn’t see Field win her Oscar for (not Norma Rae) whatever it was she won her Oscar for.)

But back to the validation thing. Since I stopped working almost two years ago, I have had my dark moments when I just don’t feel that I am contributing anything of value to society. Granted, not all of my jobs involved contributing anything meaningful to society, but in most of my jobs, I was able to leave my mark on something, and even the smallest thing can have some meaning.

So when I got the call about my comment, I really felt good about myself again. I had written something on an open forum, spoken my mind, and it mattered.

Of course this does not mean that I won’t still be sitting here everyday writing about whatever strikes my fancy for anyone who happens to stop in. This blog is my lifeline. It keeps me sane, which is why having the computer act up tends to tweak my temper just a wee bit.

“All of the significant battles are waged within the self.” ~ Zen Proverb

This weekend is supposed to be absolutely gorgeous here. I plan to sit outside and read and soak up the rays. Yes, yes, I’ll be using sun block. Don’t want any telltale sun damage. I already have a hard enough time looking at myself in the mirror.

bw-of-schoolchildren-in-1960s
No Filipino Faces Here

What a telling comment that is. People who don’t know me might think that I’m fishing for comments when I become self-deprecating. But people who really know me understand just how insecure I am about my appearance. And I can tell you exactly when it started: when I was a young child. Truly. No lie.

Try to imagine how it felt to be half Filipino, half American, sitting in a classroom with a bunch of white English school children. You see, I began school while my dad was stationed in England. So I had an American accent and a decidedly different name: Lolita Liwag.

Then, fast forward a few years, and I’m sitting in a classroom full of American school children, only this time, I have a very proper British accent. Still have the olive skin, dark hair and Asian eyes. Still had the oddest name in a class full of  girls named Kim, Brook, Nancy, Meg, and Linda.

The reality is that everywhere I have ever been, I have been the different one, and because of that, I have always had to prove myself. I have proved myself on my jobs with my abilities, but my quirkiness born of a façade of toughness, has always set me apart. I once had a co-worker tell me (after we had been friends for awhile that when she was first introduced to me, and I shook her hand, that I scared the crap out of her. That really blew my mind, especially since she was known as the reigning bitch. I scared her? Whoa.

“And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” ~ T. S. Eliot

NUP_111711_0887
Battlestar Galactica's Anders & Starbuck

Maybe I’m like Starbuck from “Battlestar Galactica.” Not in the sense that she’s incredibly buff, blond, and fierce. But, you know, all tough talking on the outside, but sensitive and loving on the inside . . . It’s a thought.

Speaking of which, I was longingly looking on Amazon at the boxed sets for Seasons 4 and 4.5. When I get some money (if?), I’m buying those babies. Then, I’m going to sit down and have myself a BG marathon, starting with episode one of the first season. No, wait. Back that up. I have to get the movie first, the one that started the new series. I don’t think that I have that either, and in fact, I don’t believe that I’ve ever seen the two-hour movie. 

501199the-lord-of-the-rings-the-two-towers-posters
Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings

Getting back to my plan: I’m going to sit down and start with the two-hour movie, and then I’m going to watch every single episode from every single series. It will be just like when I watched every extended version of Peter Jackson’s masterpiece Lord of the Rings.

The first version would come out, and we would buy that, and then I would proceed to watch that over and over until the extended version came out. It was sort of a ritual. I remember the boys saying something to me about falling asleep to the music that played as the credits rolled. Think of it as a kind of lullaby, I would say.

I watched each of those at least ten times after they came out. My friend Rebecca would say, “What did you do last night?” And I would get that goofy smile, and she would say, “Not again. You watched it again?”

“There is no fire like passion; there is no evil like hatred; there is no pain like this body; there is no happiness greater than peace.” ~ Dhamapada Proverb

What can I say. I am a woman ruled by my passions. When I’m passionate about something, I am very passionate. Granted, that can have its downside, for example, when I get too intense about something and cannot understand why everyone else is not as intense as I am.

But at the same time, I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to certain movies or television shows: “Highlander” (loved me some Adrian Paul) (ooh aside: Plans are in the works to remake the original Highlander movie. Hooray!); “Battlestar Galactica,” such a great remake, “The X-Files,” never the same after Mulder left, but I had an X-Files coffee mug that changed messages when hot liquid was poured into it (too cool), “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” best of all of the series even though Spock was not a character.

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Adrian Paul as Duncan McLeod in Highlander

 And the Underworld movies (what I wouldn’t give to have boots like Selene), one of the best openings to any movie in the first of the three.

You get the general idea. In fact, when I was teaching at ODU, I really wanted to teach a Science Fiction class, but they weren’t ready to add it to the curriculum at that point.

So, my geekiness aside, my point is that my fierce loyalty towards family and friends also extends to certain shows and movies (but I still wouldn’t attend a sci-fi convention; aside from the total geek factor, who would I be?).

Well, I think that I’ll stop now and put on the first Underworld movie. I don’t think that I’ve watched it in several months. Although, Brett and I are in the middle of re-watching Lord of the Rings; the only problem is that we can’t watch it on the big screen because the DVD player that is hooked up to that television is being skittish (like my computer) and will only play CD’s but not DVD’s. Go figure.

More later (as long as my computer cooperates). Peace.

Of Course Not.

lilacs1

Fresh Cut Lilacs

Truth is a deep kindness that teaches us to be content in our everyday life and share with the people the same happiness.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

Today was one of those lazy Saturdays. I was awakened early by the clamor in the park. The loud speaker came on, and announcements were made about parking regulations. Did that stop people from parking in front of our house which is a no-parking zone because of the fire hydrant?

Of course not. Those regulations are meant for other people . . .

Well, I do have things that I need to do, fill out some more forms regarding my disability. Did I do them?

Of course not. They’ll take care of themselves at some point (audible snort on my part).

“Discovering this idyllic place, we find ourselves filled with a yearning to linger here, where time stand still and beauty overwhelms.” ~ Author Unknown

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It's a Dog's Life

I did sit out in the backyard for a bit. Let the sun fall onto my face and warm my skin. But only after most of the crowd had cleared from the park. The dogs were overjoyed that Brett and I were outside and vied for our constant attention, which made reading pretty much impossible. Tillie came up with a tree branch that she wanted to play fetch with—not a stick, a branch, about two inches in circumference, and two feet long.

What a funny dog. In the meantime, Alfie and Shakes spent their time being sun puppies. Corey thinks that it’s funny that I put a towel in the chair next to me for the dogs, but I want them to be comfortable.

The goal was to give the dogs a bath at some point today. Hasn’t happened yet. I’m sure that between the three of them, only Tillie would be looking forward to doing some serious splashing anyway.

Both Brett and Corey seem to be in the same kind of mood as I am: kind of laid back, not really wanting to tackle anything too tasking or serious. Can’t say that I blame them. Must be something in the air.

“Don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” ~ Winnie the Pooh

I did do two semi-productive things today: I added my blog to fuelmyblog. See that neat icon to the left of the post? Well, if you like a particular post, I think that you are supposed to click on the icon, and I get points, or something like that. Not entirely sure exactly how it works. I did check the box to be a contributor to their blog. I suppose that I could do that if they wanted me to, or I could continue to hide in my bedroom, writing for myself and a few regular readers.

I also changed my site picture. I was getting a little tired of my old picture, but since I don’t really let people take pictures of me, it’s slim pickings finding something to choose. I settled on cropping out most of me, and just focusing on a small part of my face. That way, you don’t have to be exposed to my sausage body, and you won’t run screaming, “Ahhh. Eek. The sausage monster is loose,” or whatever it is you scream when you see a woman in her 40’s sucking in her stomach mightily.

I know. I know. I just wrote about how we should not judge people by their physicality. But do I apply that maxim to myself?

Of course not. I don’t think that I will ever be happy with my physicality.

“That is a good book which is opened with expectation, and closed with delight and profit.” ~ Amos Bronson Alcott 

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"Mirror of Galadrial," by Alan Lee

I decided to begin my annual re-read of Lord of the Rings. A few years ago Corey bought me the set that is illustrated by Alan Lee, the artist who worked with Peter Jackson on the films. It is a beautiful collection. If you’ve never seen the illustrations in this particular collection, you should check it out the next time you are in a bookstore.

Brett is finishing The Prince, by Machiavelli. Don’t ask me why he decided to read it, but now we have to put together some kind of book talk (what in the hell is a book talk?) for his English class, which is being taught this grading period by a student teacher. I know that student teachers have to go in the classroom to learn, but honestly, if this woman wants to teach English, shouldn’t she at least be aware of certain titles and authors, even if she hasn’t read them?

When Brett submitted The Prince as his book choice, she approved it, thinking that it was a contemporary novel. Could he have picked a more difficult choice to do a Power Point Presentation on?

Of course not. Why start now?

“Very little is needed to make a happy life. It is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

andromeda-and-lavendar-azaleaI did cut some fresh lilacs to put all over the house. The bush is in full bloom, and it is absolutely gorgeous. I put lilacs in my bedroom, in the living room, and in the bathroom. Nothing helps a room to look more welcoming than fresh cut flowers or blooms. Not that I’m welcoming anyone into my home anytime soon.

We have a new Andromeda (pieris) plant, and a new lavender Azalea. Corey is going to plant them somewhere. I have wanted both for a while, so I think that he threw caution to the wind and bought both for me to make me feel better. They will look lovely planted near each other.

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” ~ Seneca

Corey went to the open house for the shipping company yesterday morning. It seemed to go very well. The man he spoke to was very impressed with all of his experience. Corey let the company representative know that he is enrolled in some courses that will help his qualifications. Now if only that could transfer into a job, everything would be super.

He also received approval from the City of Norfolk to fund the classes that he wants to take. That is doubly good news. He starts the Tankerman class on Monday, and then the following week, he will be taking the Lifeboat man class. I believe that he got approval for four classes, which is stupendously good news. Maybe our luck is beginning to turn. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

I am trying not to show too much excitement because I don’t want to jinx everything by believing that everything is getting better. That old superstition creeping back into my thoughts.

crossed-fingersTrust me, if I thought that it would do any good, I’d build a fire with all kind of herbs and chant something nonsensical until the cows come home. No sacrifices, though. What do you think I am? Some kind of weirdo?

Of course not. Just like to keep my fingers crossed.

Speaking of which, do you know where the whole fingers crossed thing comes from? Well, there were a number of possible origins: one says that finger crossing comes from pre-Christian times and was used to ward off witches and evil spirits, like the crossing of fingers to form the sign of the cross. Another says that when crossing fingers, benign spirits reside at the intersection of the two fingers. Several sources cite that finger crossing used to be performed by two people in old Europe, the first person who crossed his fingers made a wish, and the second supported it. By linking fingers, it was believed that the two people could energize the spirits to help make the wish come true.

Things that make you say hmm . . .

“The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble.” ~ Blaise Pascal

Well, it seems that I have rambled on about nothing much at all. Like I said: just one of those days. Stick with me; I promise something with a little more depth next time. Until then, Let me leave you with an incredible picture by Janson Jones from Floridana Alaskiana. If you haven’t visited this site you, you are missing out on some really incredible photography. Just look to the left. See his blog in my Recommended Reading? Just click on it. Wasn’t that easy?

Of course it was.

More later. Peace.

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The Shallows at Mt. Glacier National Park by Janson Jones

                                                                                                                                         

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One Hundred Things

A dock at sunset on White Sands Island in the Maldives.

These are the things . . .

I realized that even though I’ve done a few memes on here, I haven’t ever really talked about myself completely, honestly. So I thought that I would compose a random list, just to see where it takes me. So here we go:

  1. I like broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts. About the only vegetable I really hate is okra, and that’s because it’s slimey and hairy.
  2. I’ve never eaten escargot. No matter how much garlic you put on it, it’s still a snail.
  3. I love shrimp, but I will not eat lobster. If someone around me orders lobster, I make clawing motions with my hands and say “help me” in a high-pitched voice so as to shame them for eating something that could live for years and years in the ocean.
  4. I also will not eat lamb or veal. Do you know how they make veal? If you did, then you couldn’t possibly eat it.
  5. I love chocolate. I have tried to give up chocolate many times as it is not good for my headaches, and it is full of calories, but it keeps coming back and jumping into my mouth when I’m not looking.

    kayaking-at-first-landing-state-park-by-karen-roberts
    Kayaking at First Landing State Park by Karen Roberts
  6. The last time I was timed, I typed 126 words a minute. That was a long time ago, and I type much faster now.
  7. I have gone kayaking, and actually really enjoyed it. If I had the opportunity, I would own my own kayak and use it on the Chesapeake Bay.
  8. I like to go hiking in the foothills of Virginia, but I haven’t done it since I hurt my back. My ex and I once went hiking/camping with some friends of ours. The girl wore penny loafers to go hiking. That was her idea of old shoes. I ended up carrying the guy’s pack on the hike back. Not outdoor people.
  9. I love my dogs and treat them like children. Dogs are meant to be loved and talked to. People who abuse dogs should be put in jail as far as I’m concerned. A man who will beat a dog will beat a child or a woman. Don’t ever believe any differently.
  10. I enjoy the smell of fresh cut lilacs, rosemary, gardenias, and lavender.
  11. Butterflies are small miracles.
  12. tiger-swallowtail-on-lantana
    Tiger Swallowtail on Lantana by L. Liwag
  13. My three children, who are no longer small, are still my pride and joy, even when they screw up. After all, who doesn’t screw up once in a while?
  14. I would love to have more children, even though I am considered past my childbearing years. But what does that mean, anyway? I really don’t care.
  15. If I could live anywhere in the world, I would live somewhere where I could see water and mountains at the same time.
  16. I believe in nationalized medicine and a flat tax rate.
  17. I am a liberal liberal. I don’t mind paying more taxes if it means that there will be better schools and better healthcare. My only protest against paying more taxes is that I want the rich to pay their fair share, too, and to stop having so many loopholes so that they end up paying less than those of us in the middle of the road.
  18. I miss my father every day of every week of every year. I see him in my dreams often. I believe that he is looking out for me as best he can.
  19. When I was at the beach once, I asked god for a sign that things were going to be all right, and then the waves pulled back, and a perfect shell was there at my feet.
  20. I believe in angels.
  21. I wish that I remembered more from my publishing class on computer systems, but it was such a painful experience the first time that I think that I have blocked everything that I managed to learn.
  22. I love Beowulf (not the movie, the written version)
  23. I wish that I looked like Angelina Jolie, but I wish more that I had her ability to go to poor countries and do something for the people who live there.
  24. angelina-jolie-goodwill-ambassador
    Angelina Jolie as Goodwill Ambassador
  25. I collect stuffed bears, and I buy the ones who look like they need a home.
  26. I have a calendar fetish. I always have at least three calendars of my own: one next to my desk, one in my purse, and one in the kitchen. If I had more places to put them, I would have more.
  27. I am a speed reader, but I don’t scan in order to read more quickly. For example, I read each of the Harry Potter Books, even the longest one, in just one day.
  28. I have read The Lord of the Rings more times than I can remember.
  29. The English Patient is one of the most beautiful books ever written, and the movie is still one of my favorites.
  30. I get silly drunk about two times a year, but otherwise, I drink very seldom.
  31. I don’t do illegal drugs, and the worst thing I ever did when I was a teenager was speed, and I hated the way that it made me feel.
  32. I love to learn. I have one bachelor’s degree, and two master’s degrees. I would go for another degree in a heartbeat.
  33. I miss being in the front of the classroom but not enough to teach in the Norfolk Public School system.
  34. I’ve never been in a girl fight. How utterly stupid.
  35. I am very sentimental. I can cry at a Hallmark commercial, a Lifetime movie, or a YouTube clip. Sarah McLachlan’s commercials about animals in shelters just kills me.
  36. I am fiercely loyal and protective.
  37. I am an Aquarius.
  38. Eamonn and Caitlin’s birthdays are within ten days of each other in March (Pisces); Alexis and Brett’s birthdays are within three days of each other in July (Cancer).
  39. It’s far easier to give birth in March than in July.
  40. I’m not afraid of needles, as in having blood drawn, but I hate it when I get someone who is not good at putting in an IV. That hurts.
  41. I talk back to the computer and other inanimate objects. I also carry on conversations with other drivers, but they don’t know it.
  42. I love coffee and hot tea. I drink cream in most types of hot tea except for Earl Gray and Oolong.
  43. claire-lerner-blue-tea-cup1
    "Blue Tea Cup," by Claire Lerner
  44. My favorite dessert is Tiramisu, followed closely by real New York cheesecake.
  45. I used to be a shopaholic but have since reformed, for a variety of reasons.
  46. I believe that psychopharmaceuticals were developed for a reason and that no one should be ashamed of having to take them.
  47. I hate it when people jump to conclusions.
  48. I have a terrible habit of correcting other people’s English.
  49. My husband is younger than I am, and when we first got together, no one thought that it would last. We’ve been together for nine years, and it is the best relationship of my life.
  50. My mother is without a doubt the one person in this world who can get to me more than anyone else. She knows exactly what buttons to push.
  51. I wish that Alexis believed in herself more, but at this point, I have to let her be who she is and try not to interfere.
  52. My last beta, Mulder, decided that he didn’t like me and wouldn’t look at me any more. I took it very personally. He doesn’t live here any more.
  53. blue-beta
    Blue Beta: Mulder Did Not Look Like This
  54. I am hooked on crime shows: CSI, Without a Trace, Law & Order. I do not like sitcoms.
  55. Heidi Klum is über gorgeous, especially when she is pregnant.
  56. American society is fixated on how people look and doesn’t pay nearly enough attention to educating its children.
  57. Someday, I want to go to Australia, Ireland, and Greece.
  58. I love to take pictures but don’t like to have my picture taken.
  59. Cruises cease to be fun when you run out of money.
  60. My big goal in life is to be debt-free and to have good credit again.
  61. All of my children inherited my propensity for depression as I inherited it from my father. Sometimes genetics really sucks.
  62. I wish that Mari lived nearby so that we could spend time together again.
  63. I need to get off my ass and put together my book, but I am too scared of the whole rejection process.  
  64. point-woronzof-sunset-2-by-janson-jones
    Point Woronzof Sunset by Janson Jones of Floridana Alaskiana
  65. I managed a newsroom when I was 19-years-old.
  66. One day, I will figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
  67. Ending sentences in a preposition really bothers me.
  68. I love to use quotations by other people in my own work. It helps me to focus.
  69. I love sunsets and sunrises. I cannot think of anything more beautiful than a painted sky.
  70. I miss getting dressed, putting on make-up and going to work everyday. I love make-up.
  71. I hate dreaming that I am at work.
  72. I believe that men and women can be friends, but sooner or later, sex tries to get in the way.
  73. I love music: classical, pop, classic rock, country, new age (whatever the hell that means), opera, blues, even some hard rock.
  74. My birthstone is garnet, which I love, but I also love pearls, aquamarines, and diamonds.
  75. One day, I am going to have a big diamond ring, just because.
  76. I used to love to wear hats, but now I just look silly.
  77. I have long wavy hair, and I would like a new hairstyle, but I look like a monkey when I have short hair.
  78. I usually eat one big meal a day (dinner), and maybe a snack, but I cannot lose weight. I hate that.
  79. I can be very impatient, which can lead to my being snarky, especially when I’m driving.
  80. I find that I always end up telling Corey where to park, even though he doesn’t need my help. I wonder why I do that?speed-limit-sign
  81. I speed on the interstate, but I obey the speed limit in the city.
  82. I desperately need a new old car that is just mine because Eamonn ruined Izzie the Trooper, and it smells like cigarettes.
  83. I love ankle bracelets and earrings, and I love watches, but am down to about four now that still work.
  84. I smoked during college exams, but I hate cigarettes, and cigarette smoke.
  85. I don’t look my age, but that is because of good genes and Oil of Olay Regenerist, and I don’t ever tell people how old I really am.
  86. Writing my blog posts is my daily therapy.
  87. Both Shakes and Tillie snore, but Tillie snores louder. I snore louder than anyone in the house.
  88. I hate my body. I feel like a sausage most of the time.
  89. I really love shoes and boots, especially boots.
  90. I wear Christmas socks all year long.
  91. We are not friendly with most of our neighbors. I wonder why.
  92. I have never really wanted to own a horse, but I have considered living on an old farm.
  93. I am a hoarder when it comes to books and sentimental things like old cards and letters.
  94. I used to own a yard tractor and would mow the yard in my bathing suit. Of course, that was when I was in good shape. My nasty neighbor to my left thought that it was scandolous.
  95. I hold a grudge, expecially if I feel that I have been wronged unfairly.
  96. I think about revenge, but have never actually taken it.
  97. Bad manners offend me, and my sons know this and use it to drive me crazy.
  98. I wash my hands a lot, but I don’t think that I am OCD about it.
  99. One day, my bedroom will finally be painted, and I will be able to put in my new furniture.
  100. I like antiques even though my mother calls them “tired, old things” and believes that people should move on.  
  101. yoda-1
    Original Yoda
  102. I have a hard time moving on, and don’t adjust to change very well.
  103. I like the first three Star Wars movies (chronologically) a lot better than the last three (numerically).
  104. Corey brings me a cup of hot mint tea every night before bed. Isn’t that thoughtful?
  105. I am a pantheist: I believe that god, some kind of god, exists in all things: people, animals, trees, water, and that if we listen carefully enough, we can become one with all things in nature.
  106. One day, I will finally go on a poetry retreat.
  107.  

That’s quite enough for today. Peace.

If It’s Friday, It Must Mean Leftovers

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Elizabeth: The Golden Age (with Cate Blanchett and Clive Owen)

Best of List In No Particular Order

I just can’t put it together today cogently, so I’m doing something I’ve been thinking about doing: a Bests List. Feel free to tag me back with your bests if you want to play along.

Best Book:

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. The prose is beyond eloquent. Reading this book is akin to bathing in finely-scented oils: each time you read a beautiful passage, you think that nothing can possibly be any better than this, and then a few pages later, Ondaatje takes his words and lavishes them upon you until you feel utterly immersed in the exquisite way in which he mates his words to create something incredibly beautiful:

“New lovers are nervous and tender, but smash everything. For the heart is an organ of fire.” (Almaszy), or

“We die. We die rich with lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we’ve entered and swum up like rivers. Fears we’ve hidden in—like this wretched cave. I want all this marked on my body. Where the real countries are. Not boundaries drawn on maps with the names of powerful men. I know you’ll come carry me out to the Palace of Winds. That’s what I’ve wanted: to walk in such a place with you. With friends, on an earth without maps. The lamp has gone out and I’m writing in the darkness.” (Katharine Clifton)

Or this one: “He glares out, each eye a path, down the long bed at the end of which is Hana.  After she has bathed him she breaks the tip off an ampoule and turns to him with the morphine.  An effigy. A bed.  He rides the boat of morphine.  It races in him, imploding time and geography the way maps compress the world onto a two-dimensional sheet of paper.”

Best Character in a Movie:

This one was hard. I finally narrowed it to two characters: Henry the Fifth in Henry V,  starring Kenneth Branaugh. Henry V was one of England’s great king’s historically, and his depiction by William Shakespeare made him truly heroic and larger than life, a king men were willing to fight and die for. The St. Crispin’s Day speech delivered by King Henry before the battle is an incredible piece of oratory:

My other favorite movie character is William Wallace in Braveheart. Obviously, my choices have something in common. They are both men of valor, fighting for that in which they believe. Wallace is the less regal version of Henry.

Best Movie Soundtrack:

Hands down, for me it’s the soundtrack from Philadelphia. I know that the whole movie is incredibly sad, but the music on the soundtrack is, well, not quite as sad. But I think that it’s a wonderful compilation of artists and styles. Runner up would be the soundtrack from Hope Floats, which also features many unexpected artists and an eclectic fare. 

Best Coffee:

Starbucks Sumatra venti with half and half and sugar. Sumatra is a dark, bold coffee, which is the kind I prefer. I don’t like wimpy coffees, but I do like my half and half in my coffee. I’m trying to cut down on the sugar, though, since I just got the lab results back on my triglycerides (yikes!).

Best Song (five categories):

  • Rock n Roll: Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” tied with “Layla” by Derek and the Dominos
  • Country: “Amazed” by Lonestar
  • Classic: “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison
  • Opera: Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma” from the opera Turandot, especially as sung by Luciano Pavoratti
  • Classical: “Adagio for Strings” by Samuel Barber

Again, this is a category that is very hard for me to pick just one Best of, so I thought that I would make it easier on myself by creating categories.


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Homicide: Life on the Street

Best Series No Longer on Television:

This one was easy: “Homicide: Life on the Street.” Set in Baltimore, this gritty cop show ran from 1993 to 1999 and featured one of the best ensemble casts ever. The only thing that I could never reconcile was the question posed in the first episode of the first season: Who killed Adena Watson?

Best Cable Series:

Again, no competition: ‘The Tudors” on Showtime. Admittedly, I never thought of Henry VIII as sexy before this finely-crafted show aired, but Jonathan Rhys Meyers changed my mind. Intrigue, deception, backstabbing, adultery, regal staging: almost American politics, but with better costuming.

Best News Show:

“Countdown With Keith Olbermann” on MSNBC. I love this guy. He appeals to my sardonic side in a way in which no other pundit ever has. He can also show emotion, such as on the night that Barack Obama was elected or on the night of Obama’s speech to the DNC. I like a human pundit who has wit and brains and a segment called “Worst Persons in the World.”

Best Ice Cream:

Edy’s Butter Pecan. Yummy. Nuf said.

Best Poem:

“The Olive-Wood Fire” by Galway Kinnell. I could name at least fifty others, but this poem has stuck with me for a while: a man, rocking his son to sleep by the fire, dozes off, and sees images of war in the fire. Awakens to the placid picture before him: his son on his arms before the olive-wood fire.

The Olive Wood Fire
Galway Kinnell

When Fergus woke crying at night.
I would carry him from his crib
to the rocking chair and sit holding him
before the fire of thousand-year-old olive wood.
Sometimes, for reasons I never knew
and he has forgotten, even after his bottle the big tears
would keep on rolling down his big cheeks
—the left cheek always more brilliant than the right—
and we would sit, some nights for hours, rocking
in the light eking itself out of the ancient wood,
and hold each other against the darkness,
his close behind and far away in the future,
mine I imagined all around.
One such time, fallen half-asleep myself,
I thought I heard a scream
—a flier crying out in horror
as he dropped fire on he didn’t know what or whom,
or else a child thus set aflame—
and sat up alert. The olive wood fire
had burned low. In my arms lay Fergus,
fast asleep, left cheek glowing, God

Best Karaoke Song for Me:

“I Will Remember You,” by Sarah McLachlan. Perfect key for my voice, and I feel a connection to this song.

Best Movie:

usual-suspectsThe Usual Suspects. The casting in this movie is pure perfection. The plot line is completely implausible, but it is a movie that I will come back to again and again. I have no idea how many times I have watched this movie.

 Best line spoken by character Verbal Kint (played beautifully by Kevin Spacey): “Keaton always said, ‘I don’t believe in God, but I’m afraid of him.’ Well I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Soze.”

Runner up (and it was hard to choose) would have to be Lord of the Rings (I’m counting this as one long, nine-hour movie). I have read the trilogy once a year almost every year since I was an undergraduate. Peter Jackson managed to do what I thought no person would ever be able to do: He brought to life a set of books about which many people are fanatical, and in a way that is beyond description. I am still willing to relocate to New Zealand to be a gopher for Peter Jackson any time he calls.

Actually, now that I think of it, it has to be a tie.

Best Female Actor:

This is close, but I think that I have to go with Cate Blanchett, simply because I have never seen her in anything in which her performance was not superb; the movie may have been mediocre, but Blanchett is never mediocre. She has that chameleon-like ability that Meryl Streep has, but I like Blanchett’s body of work better.

Best Male Actor:

Okay, I am really not basing this on looks, but out of all of the actors working today, I particularly like Clive Owen for a lot of the same reasons that I like Kate Blanchett. Owen does not choose to do the same role over and over with just a different movie title. I loved him as Sir Walter Raleigh in Elizabeth: The Golden Age, but I also loved him as Theo in Children of Men, in which he is much more vulnerable and a victim of circumstances.

Best Tea:

Twining’s Darjeeling, hot, strong with sugar and cream. Wonderful alone or with ginger snaps.

Best Outfit Fall/Winter:

Levi’s jeans, black leather boots, turtle neck sweater, long earrings, clunky leather watch, full-length black leather coat, Calvin Klein’s Eternity, squooshy black leather Via Spiga bag.

Best Outfit Spring/Summer:

Bathing suit and sarong, or long sun dress, 4711 cologne, and Birkenstocks.

Best Book Series for Fun:

Harry Potter, all seven books. Best book of series, book 3, Prizoner of Azkaban.

Best Vacation:

Seven-day cruise to Western Caribbean, 2006. Just Corey and me: cave-tubing, swimming with stingrays, sailing on a catamaran. Great meals. No work. Wonderful.

Best Car:

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Black Calais. Loved that car. It had a great stereo; it was great on gas, drove smoothly, comfortable interior.  Killed it in an altercation at a stoplight when right front bumper turned into accordion after tapping metal bumper of full-sized Suburban. Damage to their car: dent in bumper. Damage to my car: totaled.  

Best Day That Cannot Be Repeated:

The day that Corey and I went to Busch Gardens Williamsburg with my Mom and Dad. I hadn’t been to a theme park with both of my parents since I was a child. We had a wonderful time, and had our picture taken on the log flume. My Dad would die from pancreatic cancer less than half a year later.

More later. Peace.