Thursday, October 30, 2014

Let's Get Away From it All

Sinatra articulates my idea of getting away from it all in his song, "Come Fly with Me"

Come fly with me, let's fly, let's fly away
If you could use some exotic booze
There's a bar in far Bombay
Come fly with me, let's fly, let's fly away

Come fly with me, let's float down to Peru
In llama-land there's a one-man band
And he'll toot his flute for you
Come fly with me, let's take off in the blue

My DH, not so much; his interpretation is a tent, copious quantities of gear, and the great outdoors. After many unpleasant discussions, hurt feelings, and begging (to no avail) on my part - I go camping with him and I go to far away places with strange sounding names with my friends. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy camping  with him (perhaps with a little less gear) but I so enjoy relaxing in affordable upscale (yes I realize this is an oxymoron) accommodations that usually involve a passport, a swimsuit, and adult beverages. But, I digress.

This week, was one of those "Let's drop everything and go camping" weeks. Well, actually, it is more like, "Let's go camping" which means we are going to drop everything, get food and coolers together, prepare and pack equipment.Firewood has to be loaded. Cold weather camping gear needs to be pulled out. It means we have to prepare the zoo and call a qualified, trained house sitter (ie vet tech) to move in and care for the brood. It means rearranging any appointments or plans that were previously scheduled.

So after all that is done, instructions are left, the car (or truck) is packed, the list is checked twice, we can leave. Of course we "only" have up-packing and setting up household to do several hours later. Where does the relaxation come in?

This is where the bag is supposed to go on the floor, the swimsuit come out, and we locate the pool. 

But yes, waking up to crisp fall mountain air is wonderful. And that part of the world is lovely this time of year. It will be quiet and peaceful. I guess everyone has their interpretation of "getting away and relaxing". Mine just doesn't involve such exhausting preparation. But then mine cannot be done any weekend on a whim (after 6-7 hours of prep). I know tickets have to be bought and accommodations booked. But just thinking about that pool and beverage for weeks is part of the trip. To each their own.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Land of Unfinished Projects

I live in the land of unfinished projects. There is one on the picnic table on the patio, two on the kitchen table, I've lost count of the ones "tabled" in the sunroom, and who even remembers those buried in the garage. They were all great ideas at the time. But they never seem to get completed. We tend to always get to a certain point where we are waiting another part we need, it rains, or we lose interest. Then it is on to the next big thing.

And, I am not friendly about this. Yes, I appreciate all the grand things that have been done around the house as the result of these ambitious plans. The sunroom now has additional shelves for storage (of unfinished projects). There is a nice metal double drive-through gate that makes our backyard look so much neater and a matching walk-through gate leaning by the fence that will someday be installed to match. 

When my DH launched on his latest project we discussed how long this one would take. He explained how simple this one would be, how he had most of the supplies and all the tools, and bad weather would not delay it. Things were moving along well. 

Then he announced we should go camping. I asked about the project. "Oh I need light bulbs that will be delivered later." (I just hope there is enough room in the garage to store these remnants.) We discussed where we would go and what we would take. When we got to the tent, he stopped.

"That's a problem."


"Well, when we came back from our last trip it needed sealing so I left it in the den."


"It is in the den."


"I never got around to sealing it."

Maybe one project will get finished after all. I love motivation.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Projects One Can Do With a What-Cha-Ma-Callit

Talk about a kid in a candy store. And I am sure it all started with an erector set. You know the fancy kind that came with a motor, a thick book of instructions, and enough thin metal plates and rivets that one's imaginations could run wild. There were few mechanical applications that could not be duplicated with an erector set.But I digress.

I went with my DH yesterday to pickup some steel rods for project he has commenced upon. When we walked in the industrial supply warehouse (a place he had been before) I realized I was out of my element. I would have thought one needed a contractor's license, or at least be able to show a technical ability that far exceeded my range to even enter the establishment. I am just speaking for me. I would never for my DH. He is fearless, often to a fault, when it comes to projects.

While we were waiting for the salesman to come back with a quote, I knew we were in trouble when I saw my DH slowly moving up and down the aisles; his eyes wide with wonder. I could see what was going through his mind - so many gee jaws, thing-ma-bobs, and what-cha-ma-call-its - there has to be a new project here somewhere. Where do I start? 

My rule of thumb, if you don't know what you are looking at, unless someone with a Hell of a lot more expertise than you have shows it to you or sends you to fetch it, don't touch it. Move away slowly. But, oh, my DH wants to run head long into the fire.

We stood there staring at a shelf of large heavy brass somethings(?). I was clueless. My guess was plumbing or some type of waterworks. My DH started, "I must have a use for that somewhere."

"What is it?"

"I don't know but it is fascinating. Look at the way it is made and the latch on it. This is solid brass - it weighs a ton." I walk away slowly so as not to contribute to this possible plan that is being conjured. Maybe it is my imagination, but I am not willing to take my chances.

Then I spotted the most useful item in the store, a large roll of red tape with the word "DANGER" written on it. Now that was something I could use. We were way past the yellow "Construction Zone" or even the yellow "Caution" tape. 

I turn to find him in the section with large power tools. I went back to the aisle I was previously on. Do they have that yellow "Crime Scene" tape. That may be more appropriate if we do not get out of the store. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Clean Spot

This is where someone listening in on our conversation would think my DH and I were trying to copy Abbott and Costello. 

I am cleaning the bedroom when he walks in and comments about a spot on the rug. "I am going to get that stain remover right now and clean that spot - it bothers me."

"You already have."

"You are telling me the stainer remover did not work? Then I will try the one I use on my car seats, it will remove any stain."

"That is the one you used."

"And it still did not take the spot out?"

"Oh it took the spot out. See," I said pointing to the area he was referring to.

"You are making no sense."

"The stain remover worked fine. The problem is now the only place on the rug that is clean is where the stain was."

"So the stain is clean and the rug is dirty?"

"Pretty much."

I knew what was coming next and it pained me thinking about it. As I predicted he pronounced, "Then the rug needs cleaning. If we get it to them [the carpet cleaners] this week it will probably only take them 3 or 4 days to do it. Of course moving the furniture to get it out will be a bear. Then we will have to move the furniture again to put it back."

Thinking back on the agony and marital distress our most recent experience with this rug brought about, I quickly thought of a solution. "What if we rent a carpet cleaning machine from Wal-mart?" He agreed.

Done and done. This is a win-win. The carpets get cleaned, my DH gets to mess with a new machine, and no one has to move the furniture. There is a God!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Movie Review, This is Where I Leave You

Jane Fonda is like the energizer bunny, she keeps going and going and going. And with two Oscars and such well known films such as "Barefoot in the Park", "The China Syndrome", "Nine to Five", "On Golden Pond", "Coming Home" and "Klute" at 77, one would think she would rest on her laurels, that would be a "No".   In addition to Fonda, are Tina Fey, Justine Bateman, and Adam Driver to name a few. 

In This is Where I Leave You, she plays the matriarch of a family of 4 children, who are so completely different, yet so bonded in different ways. The film opens with the father dying. Hillary, the mother, (Fonda) declares at the funeral that one of their father's (who apparently was an atheist) last wishes was that his family all sit Shiva for him. (A week long period of mourning when the entire family literally sits, grieves, and receives guests.) With the children come their spouses, significant others, wannabes, could have been's, etc. It gets complicated from the get go. 

This could have spiraled into a mad cap comedy, not unlike the British funeral film, "Death at a Funeral". But, to the screenwriters credit, it doesn't. The family is dysfunctional (as we all tend to be these days.) The mother has written a best selling book about the children revealing all their sexual tenancies from the boys' childhood fascinations with their penises to the daughter's first sexual encounter. And she is quick to talk about it should anyone bring it up, much to the dismay and humiliation of her children. 

All of the children bring issues home with them - marital problems, conception issues, and child hood relationships. There is humor, chaos, tender moments, and redemption. And, if you don't leave the theater saying to yourself, "Boy, maybe our family is not the only one . . .", perhaps you should do some soul searching. 

I recommend this 103 minutes. It is enjoyable, funny at time, hysterical at times, sad at times, but most of all, deep down, a little close to home. See it.

Movie Review, The Judge

What happens when you put two larger than life actors, Robert Duvall and Robert Downey, Jr, with one Oscar and six nominations between them,  in the same film? Contrary to the laws of nature you get a story of two strong characters with flaws played by two extremely talented actors, who allow the story to unfold and the audience to enjoy their genuis and well honed craft.

The Judge takes place in Indiana, the heartland, the corn belt of the country where everyday Americans live and go about life in a normal (whatever that is any more) way. Duvall plays The Judge (as he is referred to) who has been on the town's bench for 42 years. Downey plays his son, Hank, a hard nose defense attorney in Chicago who takes no prisoners; who felons want on their side (if they can afford him) so they will not be one. 

The film opens with The Judge's wife, Hank's mother, dying and the family coming together for the funeral. It is clear in the first 15 minutes that not only has Hank not been home in a while, it isn't something he has consciously missed. Driving through the cornfields as he makes his way back to his hometown is almost like crossing the great divide from his life in Chicago with his successful practice and marriage that has fallen to pieces and his estranged past he has spent years running from. The one thing that does connect all the pieces are his young daughter, whom he adores and seems to keep him grounded. (We all need the innocence and unfiltered truth of a child to keep us on the right path.)

No spoiler here, if you have seen the trailers, the story involves Hank's relationship with his father, which is acrimonious at best, his brothers, and his past. He ends up defending his father in a murder trial. I'll stop there. The 141 minutes made me pause before choosing this film but it could not have been done is less time and the story never lagged. (There was not a scene I thought they could have scrapped in the essence of time.)

IMDB gave it a rating 7.8 out of 10. I would give it a good 9 out of 10. The casting is outstanding, the story is strong, the screenplay is well written, and the story is not predictable. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Varmit Returns

I forgot I was in the rabbit hole . . . for awhile. But there was an awakening when I realized, yes, I could just barely see I glimmer of light in front of me. And it was getting farther away. 

Saturday I had my photography for sale at an event down at the gardens. There were several other artists there, including a display by the local Art's Council. It was a lovely sunny cool October day. There was live music and BBQ. Life was good.

As folks came through, stopped by my booth, and asked questions about my work and some particular pieces, it gave me some confidence that my photography is pleasing and brings joy to others. People would comment about different places I had photographed. "Oh, I remember going there as a child." "See, Mary, that is close to your Grandmother's house." "Now is that Edisto or Pawleys?"

A gentleman came over and introduced himself. He was from the Arts Council and the one I had been emailing with concerning the change at the county fair. His first question was, "I guess you saw how disorganized it was at the fair?"

"Well, actually it did not seem unorganized at all. Now, I have to say I have never been on the registration side of things so I cannot speak from that end. However from the side of an exhibitor, I thought it went smoothly."

"Oh, well they just did not treat us right. We have always been willing to help them with the Arts Exhibit. We have the experience. But the reason I came over was to invite you to join the council. You would enjoy it." He went on with a few details about when and where they met. I thanked him and made no commitment.

We spoke for a few more minutes and he moved on to another booth.

It wasn't long before another member of the Arts Council came by, introduced herself, and also invited me to join them. Of course this was not before she mentioned the "unfortunate" situation at the fair. She said she would send me an invitation. She moved on.

Seriously? I had not been courted this much since sorority rush. Heck my DH only asked me once if I wanted to marry him - and perhaps, I was too hasty. Of course by the time he asked, we had pretty much cleared the calendar for the following August, selected a new apartment, and were already sparring over a china pattern - but I digress.

Then came the trifecta. A woman walked up whom I did not recognize. She was not particularly friendly. When she introduced herself, I realized who she was - the Varmit! Right here - what the Hell? "I just wanted to make sure you finally got your photography from last year?" she asked.

"Oh, I did, finally."

"Did you ever get your prize money?"

"No, but that does not matter. I do not enter for the money."

"Well, let me tell you one thing. It wasn't my idea to put those pieces in the fair office. They just took them there."

I decided it was time to make her explain herself. "Well, to be honest, the web site clearly said that any work not picked up would be taken to the Arts Center. And in years past that always been the case. Last year, not only did that not happen, no one knew where the works were left."

"Well", she stammered, "the Arts Center wasn't open on Sunday."

"It wasn't in the years past either."

"Well I guess I should have taken the pieces down there on that Monday. But, that is not the point." She could tell I was not buying this. "The people in that fair office should have taken better care of your work. They are not friendly. And all that money disappeared." 

"Really. I found them to be very accommodating. They apologized for not being able to contact me since they had no way of knowing whose work they had. The tags with the names and phone numbers had all been removed."

"And, the money."

"I don't really care about the money. That wasn't the point."

"Well this year was a disaster. They didn't know what they were doing. They decided to throw us out."

"Like I was telling your friends at the Arts Council, I thought it went very smoothly and I had no complaints. My photos were where they supposed to be and everything that was supposed to be with them was there."

"Well, someone stole your money last year and I'm worried about that."

"I'm not."

"The reason I came by was to invite you to join the Arts Council. We need good members who can work with us."

I thanked her and she left.

Not in this lifetime. God, I hope that is light at the end of this rabbit hole and not a freight train. 

(As a note, the term "Varmit" comes from a memorable quote out of GWTW when Scarlet said,  "Ooh, if I wasn't a lady, what I wouldn't tell that Varmit!".)