My Life A Bit South of Normal

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Danny Collins - a Movie Review

Well, maybe I jumped the gun by saying The Water Diviner was the best film of the year. Or maybe I should have said best film so far - the year is young.

OK - today's best film is Danny Collins. Al Pacino plays the title role of an aging rock star who decides to change his life upon getting a personal letter from John Lennon - 40 years after it is was orginally sent. The plot seems predictable, but just like Danny Collins himself - nothing is really predictable. The cast is deep with Jennifer Garner, Annette Bening, and Christopher Plummer among the actors. 

A Failure to Communicate

Once again the miracle of analytical computer programs amazes me. Finding jobs these days involves using online aggregators that ask a million questions - OK I exaggerate, but a lot - about everything from your educational background to your employment history to your playground reputation in third grade. Oh, and do you have experience with the DLC, RLK, and FG processes dealing with the fanooking value?

After all that they ask what areas of employment you are interested in and locations in which you are willing to work in. This is where a person with any intelligence takes their experience and education and lists jobs they either have done in the past, have been trained to do, or know they can handle. For example "Rocket Scientist" and "Math Professor" are two occupations that would not be on my list. However just to make things interesting I added "India" as a location I was willing to relocate to. (Everyone has a mid-life issue - sue me!)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Hell Hath No Fury As A Southern Mother's Wrath

There is something to say about being raised reared southern. When we were coming up if we got caught doing something wrong we knew there was Hell to pay. As my Daddy used to say, "You may as well give your heart to God because your bottom belongs to me" - as in spare the rod and spoil the child. Now my parents never "beat" me and I was never abused. Nor were any of my friends, but we were reared with the power of the "switch".

This all came to mind watching the events in Baltimore last night. A young mother was caught on camera grabbing her son, who was dressed in a hoody and out on the streets where his mother did not think he should be, slapping him across his face, dragging him away from the crowd, and giving him a piece of her mind. Comments were made by the pundits saying everything from she was abusing him and she was out of control, to this was just another example of the chaos going on in the streets, to the amazement that the mother would take control of the situation. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Water Diviner - A Movie Review

Yes it is early, but The Water Diviner may be the best movie of 2015. Russell Crowe makes his directorial debut in this story of an Australian father who looses all three of his sons on one day during the Battle of Gallipoli in 1915. After his wife dies he goes to Turkey determined to find their bodies and return them to Australia. 

Although the film was just released in the US (April 24, 2015) it was released in Australia in December to wide critical acclaim. It took home Best Supporting Actor, Best Film, Best Costume Design, Best Lead Actor, and Best Supporting Actress in Australian Film Institute Awards (down under's version of the Oscars). 

The beauty of the film alone is breathtaking in many scenes. The characters are well developed and the story moves along well. There are flash backs that are most effective in filling in background information as the story unfolds. The costumes and locations are colorful and make for a sensory experience.

Movie Review - Woman in Gold

Some critics were not kind but that did not bother me, or even give me pause from wanting to see this film. Only other things in my life delayed my seeing The Woman in Gold. That said, it was good, no it was much better than good. It was well worth the wait.

Helen Mirren, as Maria Aultman, the Austrian Jewish lady forced to leave her home in Austria to escape the Nazis does not disappoint. And Ryan Reynolds as Randy, the young attorney she hires to help her get her family's art back from the Austrian government holds up his part. Katie Holmes plays Randy's wife as a supportive spouse.

This is based on a true story which makes the film even more fascinating. Like many Jewish families, Maria's was a well to do cultured family with many famous expensive works of art. The Nazis came through and just took the art. Eventually the Austrian government set up "Restitution Committees" that would take into consideration claims from families about art that was stolen. The issue Maria ran into was that one piece of art she was claiming happened to be a portrait the Austrian people had come to love and treasure as the French do the Mona Lisa. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Look For the Bare Necessities

Four score and seven days ago, we tired of a leaky bathroom faucet and a plumber was called. 

He came and pronounced the entire faucet set needed to be replaced. He left and we told him we would call when we decided what we were going to do. Me, in my ignorance, assuming that meant select a faucet set that fit the sink, or worse case, replace the sink.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Fenced

I took a respite from the great job hunt and decided to take my camera and go in search of the ruins of this magnificent Gothic Revival church I had seen photos of located in Georgetown County.  The church was on the National Historic Registry and apparently was left to fall into disrepair until 1966 when they tore down all but the front part. The original church dated back to 1876.

Having virtually found the church's location on Google Maps, it seemed easy enough to find it in reality. It was on a road and could be accessed by the public - no need to break any laws, beg any favors, or find someone to bride. So with camera in tow and directions I headed toward Georgetown and Prince Frederick's Chapel.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Run Faster and Jump Higher

"Do you understand that private business is different from the federal government?"

I think to myself, is this a trick question? I sure the hell hope so.

"You realize it is hard to change your mindset."

Actually it was hard to deal with the mindset of the federal government.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Waiting for the Big Kahuna

Being unemployed on the road to poverty is an exhausting ride. Searching for a job is akin to beating yourself up - you bare your soul, beg for attention, only to be spurned, and then with your southern upbringing you have to be gracious. The next morning you get up and do it all over again.

Then eureka, an interview goes well and you are offered a job on the spot. It is a job you know you would enjoy. You know the people you would be working with. The downside - the salary is half of what you made at your last position. That brings you back to the poverty issue. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Liv'n on the Edge

Aerosmith said it so well in Liv'n on the Edge:

There's something wrong with the world today
I don't know what it is
Something's wrong with our eyes
We're seeing things in a different way
And God knows it ain't his
It sure ain't no surprise
We're livin' on the edge


There are a few "little" details that need to be taken care of. Towel racks and hooks will be nice - on the walls. They are not very functional in the boxes on the floor.  And the bathroom door needs to be put back on - just saying. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

I Saw the Light, Praise the Lord I Saw the Light


"I saw the light I saw the light
No more darkness no more night"

Meanwhile back at the bathroom, the issue is lighting. This goes back a ways. I like soft gentle light - you know the kind that makes everyone look good. The kind of light that hides those blemishes and lines. The kind that also hides the not so perfectly clean kitchen. (Actually for the kitchen I prefer task lighting.) My DH, not so much.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Ken Follet's Century Trilogy, well worth the 69 Hours

Fear not, I have not abandoned you or fallen off the earth. After returning from the land of crocodiles and solar showers, I spent a few days with some dear friends recharging my batteries. The idea being that the bathroom would be completed while I was gone. T'was not to be. But I digress.

Sometimes I share a good movie I saw. Today I would like to recommend a great book, actually a trilogy - Ken Follet's Century Trilogy. Because of the length of this tome I have been listening to it through Audible (or books CD/Tape). The total amount of listening time is 69 hours, 24 minutes. I opted for this version over the three paperbacks which totaled 2,612 pages. Yes folks, we are in the realm of War and Peace. Actually this surpasses War and Peace, given Tolstoy's piece de resistance was 1,298 pages. But so much for volume. Stay with me here,  it is the story that counts.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Bare Necessities

One issue everyone knows I have about camping is a hot shower. When my DH first proposed that we take up this sport, I gave him one condition - I required access to a hot shower any where we went - not a lot to ask so I thought.

When the equipment start arriving he was quick to show me a dromedary shower that came with a "personal" shower stall. This little contraption could be installed anywhere one went and the water would warm in the black bag heated by the sun. That did not fit my definition of a "hot shower" even if REI said it was the best thing since sliced bread. For the record it has yet to be used. In fact several years ago my DH stopped packing it when we were preparing to go camping.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Off The Grid

We had planned a camping trip to Florida for several months. As luck would have it the trip was scheduled just after the bathroom reached the "finished enough to use it" stage.  So we packed up and headed south, on a 13 hour drive to the Everglades National Park.

Now several things I learned about the park before I went. One was the campground my DH had chosen was remote, as in when you came through the main gate you still had 38 miles to go before you reached the campground which was located on the edge of the Florida Bay, the southern most tip of the mainland of Florida. Swimming was highly frowned upon anywhere in the park due to the crocodiles, alligators, and venemous snakes, and unless you used ATT, there was absolutely no cell service. So we were going to be in the wild and off the grid.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

You Light Up My Life

You give me hope, to carry on.

The plumber will be finishing up all he needs to do and the electrician will almost be finished.

Since everything has had to be out of the bath, my DH moved it all into our bedroom - naturally. Of course the other bath is a mess since everyone is now using that one. The kitchen is shipping and receiving for all the packages coming and going of fixtures, gee gaws, what nots, lights, fans, nobs, bars, etc - anything that my DH thought we may need in 5 colors and 3 sizes. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

With This Ring

I'll always try to keep you satisfied, 'cause, with this ring I promise I'll always love you.

A day or two ago I mentioned "Shower Curtain Weights". It was not in jest. Some folks really do come up with a better mouse trap, a widget. Well apparently the folks who came up with idea of the "Picnic Table Weights" also came up with "Shower Curtain Weights". I can just imagine the development process.

Sam and Wilma had attended the church picnic. Even on that windy afternoon none of the local Baptists, or at least the practicing ones that showed up for Homecoming knowing Mildred would have her famous fried chicken, were able to enjoy their good southern fare without fear of the table cloth blowing off the table. Sam and Wilma had brought their "Picnic Table Weights". And for this occasion, they had brought the ones that looked like little ants (and yes, there is that design).

When they returned home naturally Wilma wanted to take a shower. Jack had mowed the church's lawn the day before and the dust and grass clippings in that wind made her feel a little dirty. Sure would have been nice if Jack had used a grass catcher. But then he is tighter than Dick's hat ban and would never have spent the extra money for a grass catcher. While she taking her shower, as usual, the warm air created a vortex that caused the shower curtain to blow in and stick to her as she bathed. 

A little light bulb came to mind - that aha moment,  if we used the weights on picnic tables, we could certainly use them on a shower curtain. After she dressed she told Sam about her brain storm. Voila, their business was expanded, they were able to afford that new RV they wanted, and they lived happily ever after. 

I haven't a clue who came up with the idea about picnic table weights or shower curtain weights, but it was good story. Whatever, I digress.

However, let me just tell you who ever came up with shower curtain weights (or even picnic table weights for that matter) was brilliant. Maybe not brilliant or at least proved, once again, that someone can make a lot of money off a simple design without needing a degree from anywhere. When we added them to the bottom of our shower curtain, it simply took care of our problem. The simple silver circles just blend in. We passed on the ant design, after all they do not make them in antique bronze.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Most of us think the wicked queen in Snow White spoke the immortal words, "Mirror, mirror on the wall . . " However, if you look at the script you will see that in the original 1937 Walt Disney Version (the real deal) the wicked queen said:

Slave in the magic mirror, come from the farthest space, through wind and darkness I summon thee. Speak! Let me see thy face.

And the Magic Mirror replied: What wouldst thou know, my Queen?

In my case, had a Magic Mirror asked me such a question, my answer would be, "What damn mirror are we going to hang in our bathroom?"

Let me back up here. In order to properly coordinate our bathroom project the mirror needs to reflect (no pun intended) the look we have been trying to attain. All was going swimmingly until we realized that there was no mirror that would closely match everything else already installed in the bathroom. For a week now, every time I brushed my teeth, I have been looking into a large hole in the wall, that formerly housed the mirror with the medicine cabinet behind it.

Had there been a mirror there, no doubt I would have summoned it to speak as it showed my face. No telling what else I may have asked it to do. But I digress.

As it stands we several "prospects" that should arrive tomorrow, but not unlike the issues Goldilocks faced, one mirror we think will be too "bronze" and one is likely to be too large. The third I fear will be too abstract given the description and small thumbnail photo. 

Naturally any decision on a light fixture is totally reliant on the choice of mirrors. Not only does the finish, style, and texture matter. The position of the light fixture will be determined by the size of the mirror. 

I guess I should believe in fairy tales, or least in the characters in Snow White for one of the closing lines of the Magic Mirror is, "Prepare to be amazed beyond all expectations. After all it is what I do."

Well damn it, if that's the case where the hell have you been. Didn't you hear that faucet dripping weeks ago?

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Looks Like We Made It

 . . . Or I thought so 'til today." 

Then after a review of the renovation a verdict was handed down that perhaps the insides of the toilet needed to be reworked in order to take advantage of the large tank capacity. The loss of floor space in front of the shower (between the cabinet and the wall) may require a special "T" shaped carpet to be installed. Was the new satin finish green really the same "green" as the original "green"? 

Remember the current shower curtain was just a temporary one. Potential finalists were arriving this coming week as well as a selection of "Shower Curtain Weights". Who knew? The same folks who came up with the idea of picnic table cloth weights - seriously!

And even though the electrician comes Monday, the light fixture will not be installed because we do not have the mirror yet. Actually since we are not sure the mirror we ordered is going to coordinate with all the different, browns, greens, woods, granite, and bronzes of the bath, a decision cannot be made on the light fixture. Ergo the final decision on any lighting device is still in the air. I am reminded of all this each morning when I am brushing my teeth and look up to see a hole in the wall where the mirror once was and in the dim light I recall that even though we now have a faucet that doesn't leak, the "leaky faucet" problem is still unresolved.

Oh yea of little faith. I feel certain the UPS man will arrive with enough boxes Monday morning to hopefully provide a suitable mirror and coordinating light. A shower curtain (with or without weights) will soon be hanging in the shower. An appropriate and safe mat/carpet/rug will be placed safely in front of the shower. And the commode will be flush with a tank full of running water. 

Then we can end this saga. 

"Standing close enough to touch . . ."

Oh, wait the door. It still needs another coat of paint and new hardware. My DH said something about coordinating towel racks. 

"Left each other on the way to another. . ."


Friday, April 3, 2015

My Cheatin Heart

Earlier I commented about painting. It wasn't as easy as I made it sound, but then is anything easy any more. By that time we were down to the short rows - painting, but even then I knew the end was no where in sight. If nothing else, the goal line had moved. More and more I could relate to old Charlie Brown trying to kick that blasted football.

My DH made many discouraging remarks over the years about my prior painting job in the bathroom. So when we started planning this job, he said right up front that he did not want me to paint the bathroom. He would do it. He wanted it done right.

So be it. Shoot me - spare me the roller and the brush. My feelings were far from hurt. Of course selecting the color and buying the paint was the easy part. Looking back on it, I am not so sure that selecting and ordering new items was not the reason for this entire exercise, but I digress.

As soon as it was time for the rubber to hit the road, or rather the paint to hit the walls, everything came to a grinding halt. Everything, short of the plague, came up. The plumber was coming and he wasn't sure he would have time to paint before he arrived. It was raining, the humidity was not ideal. Thursday fell on an odd numbered day - OK, I exaggerate but you get where am going here.

My DH's big thing has always been, "Prior Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance." Therefore prepping the walls was a must. So we spent several days sanding, wiping, and getting the walls prepared for their new paint. One would think we were preparing a virgin bride for her nuptials. Finally, there were no excuses left. The paint had been purchased and the walls were properly prepared.

So he put he put on the initial coat. There was quite a bit of mumbling under his breath when it came to the edging. Patience is not his greatest virtue. In fact I think God forgot virtue when he got to my DH. When he finished the first coat, he admitted he still had to figure out how to paint the edge around the tile and the window without getting paint on the other surfaces. My answer was simple - the new miracle blue painting tape.

As I have mentioned before there are several items that have been overlooked by the Nobel committee in Sweden, the Jitterbug Mobile phone for seniors and the Swifter Sweeper just to name two. Well another I can add to that distinguished list is 3M's Blue Edge Lock tape. Just put this pup up along the edge of your paint job and it will protect the surface you wish to avoid and give you a sharp clean edge every time. Unlike the old tan masking tape that would stick to everything, sometimes pull the paint off the wall and cause more problems than it was worth, Edge Lock comes off like teflon but holds like duct tape. By God someone had their thinking cap on that day.

My DH's immediate response was, "That is cheating. A good painter can 'cut' his edge."

Now by 'cut' he meant paint a sharp edge manually by turning the brush and carefully painting a straight thin line. The term came from an old painter we had paint a house for us named "Rev". My DH asked him one day how he painted such a sharp straight edge every time. His response was, "It's how I cut it." "Rev" was also a full time pastor of a country AME church. So in addition to talent he may have had some divine help on his side. Whatever, he was the best painter I ever came across.

"Well, I'm not Rev and I cannot 'cut' paint so I have no shame in using the blue tape," I said thinking I could certainly use some of that divine intervention at this time as well.

When I primed and painted the window I used the blue tape and found my job so much easier. So much so, I volunteered to put the second coat on the walls for my DH.

"You said you couldn't 'cut' paint. You can't paint the walls and get the edge right without doing that."

"Yes I can, using the blue tape."

"I told you that is cheating."

So be it. Let's see, paint, wait for it to dry, then take a razor blade and carefully cut all the excess mess you have on the tile and window frame - remembering to avoid cutting yourself. Then go back and touch up all the places you cut too close and have to reapply the wall paint. Or, tape the edges, paint the wall, then after the paint has dried remove the tape and 'Voila' clean crisp lines.

Hank Williams may have said "Your cheatin' heart will tell on you..." but I doubt he was referring to painting a wall at the time. And even if he was, so be it, let the walls talk. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays . . .

I wish I had a nickel for every time I have heard that phrase coming from my DH's office in a tone of utter delight. It may be in reference to a towel rod in the correct color - that elusive antique brass. Or a bathroom fan that does everything one needs attending to in the bathroom with the exception of towel drying you. 

Now that the cabinet is installed, the commode in place, and the new fixtures in the shower, one would think "we" would be ecstatic. The end is in sight. I am thrilled because after the plumber left I was able to clean the bedroom and now I can walk through it without fear of impaling myself on some odd pole or errant plumbing fixture. All that is left are a box of tools, several cans of paint, and a stool. Which brings me to another point.

The painting is still not finished. Yes, the commode works and water flows from the fancy new Moen sink fixtures like a charm. The shower head is very nice even though we cannot use it until a small issue gets taken care of. None of this is preventing the paint getting on the walls. Well, nothing except even the most expensive Benjamin Moore Waterborne Interior Paint in a Satin Finish cannot will itself out of the can and onto the walls. It must have help.

While neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays my DH from his quest for the perfect cabinet knob, towel rack, shower head, or faucet . . . apparently the walls can wait. By Monday afternoon when the electrician leaves, we will have a functioning bath with all new faucets fixtures, plumbing, and cabinetry. Paint is so overrated. The walls can always be finished - hopefully by Christmas.