My Life A Bit South of Normal

Friday, June 26, 2015

In a Galaxy not so Far Away

There is always the inevitable question, "What are you doing these days?"

While visiting with some old friends this came up once again. As a smart ass I am tempted to say something like, "on my way to my challis in the south of France", or "was just released from the psych unit at the state hospital - hopefully this time I will be stable" or "ordering the next round, what will you have?"

Seriously I should just say "unemployed", trying not to look desperate as I try to find some form of employment. And, if one more (well meaning) person says "oh there are plenty of things out there you could do" I am going to poke my eye out. Yes, I can "do" a lot but the issue is finding someone who will employ me to "do" these things. From the outside it looks so simple, so reasonable but reality sucks.

The fifty something black hole is real. And for those in other parts of the Galaxy it is hard to imagine. For our generation it has always been study hard, work hard, and you will be rewarded. No one bothered to tell us that the rules would change and there is nothing we can do about it. Oh sure there are opportunities out there. You just hope you are in the right place at the right time and know the right person on the right day and pray you are not left handed. 

I wish I could just say, "Retired, and you?"

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Aloha - A Movie Review

What can you say about a movie that Rotten Tomatoes gave a 20% and IMDB gave 5.3 out of 10? Well that depends on how much you rely on someone else to tell you what you would like to see. Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Bill Murray, Alec Baldwin, and Rachel McAdams bring a lot of star power to the table in Aloha. Heck Bradley Cooper just with his blue eyes brings a lot to watch - but I digress. 

Yes, the critics panned the movie. OK, the critics bashed the film. But, I went anyway. I found the story enjoyable. Maybe the bar was set so low based on what I had heard that anything would be better than what I expected. Do critics expect something different from an all star cast? Whatever! I got my monies worth and you most likely will also if this is your type of story.

There are several story lines here. There is the boy meets girl. Boy likes girl. Boy stands girl up. Then boy sees girl again and realizes what he missed. There is super star who fell from grace and joined the "gray side" (a quote from the movie) and now is on his way back. Then there is the go get'em spit fire girl so focused she finds herself blindsided by the rogue. And all of this revolves around privatizing the US space program. Have a lost you?

Cooper is remote, Stone is perky, McAdams is burdened, Baldwin is irate, and Murray is up to something. The Hawaiian gods need to be appeased, the military brass need to be satisfied, old wounds need to be healed, some need to realize that what they have is true love, some need to realize that true love is worth giving up a lot for, some need to learn the truth, and some need to learn they cannot get their way. 

Put all this together and it makes for an interesting story when the film is well cast, the story moves along without stumbling, and all the intertwining parts mingle correctly without getting knotted up. I cannot help it if some folks wanted more.

One caveat - there were many many reviewers who were up in arms that the movie was set in Hawaii with many Hawaiian characters, including Stone's character  whose father is half-Chinese and half-Hawaiian, none of whom were cast by ethnically correct actors. This was an issue.

All this said, I recommend this feel good movie. It is 105 minutes worth your time.

I Don't Like Spiders and Snakes

While searching for a new swimsuit yesterday (a most painful chore) I overheard the following conversation.

"Lord, I haven't seen you in ages. Where HAVE you been?"

"Good gawd. I've been a swamp."

"A swamp. Do tell?"

"Well the state offered this class where I could get all my education credits for this year, all at one time just in five days. So I signed up."

"Uh huh."

"The class was ecology which I needed since I will be teaching 5th grade life science this year. And Lord child they had us spend those five days in a swamp - an honest to God swamp. The Congaree National Park. Have you ever been there?"

"No."

"Well, you know when you leave Columbia on Bluff Road pass the stadium?"

"Uh huh."

"Well you keep your ass going. You keep going for miles - miles into the middle of no where. I did not know that road went that far. It is 15 mother loving miles out there. And when you get there there is nothing but woods. Nothing! Just trees, water, trails, and a board walk."

"I've never been."

"Well, there's more than that, there's bugs and snakes. Everyday we just hiked - up and down these long ass trails looking at trees and bushes. They showed up pig tracks and deer tracks. We saw birds - I don't know what kind because I was too busy worrying about the bugs and watching out for snakes. And they are pretty funny out there. Don't you step off that there trail. Don't want to damage the environment."

"So you were there every day?"

"Everyday from 7 O'clock in the morning until 4 in the afternoon. And when I got home it took me an hour to scrub every part of my body to make sure there wasn't any type of critter on me. God knows what we could have picked up out there. A swamp! Me in a swamp! For five days. I thought we might be walking through the woods and then in a class room looking at a movie or maybe a slide show. I wasn't ready for the swamp. There wasn't anything in that there literature about no swamp."

"Well did you learn anything?"

"Yeah, that I don't like no swamp."


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Far from A Madding Crowd - A Movie Review

My prediction - one of the best films of the year. And if not, the gods bestowing the awards will have erred. Far from the Madding Crowd is yet another film (based on a novel by Thomas Hardy) where Carrie Mulligan shows the strength of her talent. As Bathsheba Everdene, she plays a strong willed and most independent young lady in a story that starts in 1870 in England. The story is the tale of the intertwined relationships she has with three men. 

Over the course of the movie we watch as she matures and starts to question love and independence. She always seems to have control of it all, or does she? Matthias Schoenaerts plays Gabrial Oak, the steady dependable sheep herder (the strong quiet type) who seems to always be there for her. Micheal Sheen plays William Boldwood the middle age prosperous farmer who becomes besotted with her. And Tom Sturridge plays Sergeant Troy, the dashing officer who quickly infatuates Bathsheba and sweeps her off her feet. 

The story moves along and never lags. The characters are well developed and well cast. The scenery and costumes are so well done. There is one small "stumble" in the introduction of Sergeant Troy into her life that I found a little random, but then I do not hold that against the film.

The original version of the movie was made in 1967 with Julie Christie, Alan Bates and Terence Stamp. However, I never saw it or heard of it before so I can offer no comparisons.

I fear say more lest I spoil the story. Some critics panned it. A.O. Scott of The New Times was less than enthused but then when is Mr. Scott ever enthused with much, other than himself?

It is 119 minutes I highly recommend. 

I'm Still Waiting

There is a code among campers, an unspoken understanding of how you treat one another - an honor among those who seek the great outdoors. Some of these unwritten, rarely spoken but understood rules of the trail are:

  • always politely wave and smile as you walk past anothers campsite
  • if you must seriously study the quality, make, and model of anothers equipment never stare and only comment when you have a compliment or a question about their satisfaction with some piece of equipment
  • be quiet at night and respect other's peace 
  • always leave your campsite cleaner than you found it
  • be quick to offer assistance or be happy to share any equipment or supplies you may have that a fellow camper may need 
  • always be quick to offer to help any fellow camper who seems to be in distress of any kind
  • when using a shower at a campground keep in mind there are usually others waiting and be quick and efficient with your time
We have always followed these, after all having a good southern upbringing they pretty much come naturally. That said, not everyone shares that understanding or appreciation for their fellow camper. Take the last "understanding" for example. This is one that irritates me the most.

If you follow me, you know that I enjoy camping but I have one rule - I require access to a hot shower - daily. One of our favorite campgrounds is in a national park. It is an excellent place to go. The sites are well tended, shaded, and large. There are 60 tent only sites. This is all good. They only have one shower for each gender. ie there is only one shower for the women at 60 sites (which means a ratio of more than 75 to one for people doing physical activities -hiking, kayaking, etc- every day). 

After camping here many times, I have adopted a motto - the early bird gets the worm. Or, in this case, the woman who gets up early (around 5:30 or 6 am in the morning) has a good chance of getting a shower without a wait. This has been my practice for the past several years. And, it has served me well. Usually I find the bath house empty, sometimes there is someone finishing up, but worse case I never have to wait long. But even at that early hour, I am quick to get in and out less I make anyone else wait.

One morning while we were there I gathered my things at 5:30 and headed to the shower. When I opened the door I heard the shower running. Being prepared, I had brought something to read as I waited. The lady showering must have just started as I got there because she took a while. Then the shower stopped and she stuck her head around the corner. "Are you waiting for the shower?" she asked.

"Yes."

"Well, you may want to come back later I am going to be a while."

I just paused in sheer amazement. "No, I'll wait."

"Well I come early to shower."

"I do to. I learned that a while back given there are so many women having to use this one shower."

"As I said you may want to come back later, I hate to make you wait but I take long showers."

Not to be intimidated I smiled and said, "I have something to read I'll wait."

I could tell this did not please her, but as far as I knew no one anointed her Queen of the Nile. If I left, it would just encourage her and God knows when I would get a shower. 

As Diana Ross sang "I'm Still Waiting".

Finally she finished. When she came out I could tell she still was not happy. But I held my own and smiled. The worse thing, there was little doubt in my mind she felt entitled and that I had bothered her. I don't think it dawned on her that even though she got to the shower at 5:15 or whatever time, she was still not entitled to that attitude. All she had to do was say something like, "Oh, I didn't realize anyone was waiting. I'll be right out." Had she had said that, I would have thought nothing of the amount of time she took. 


 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Little Lord Fauntleroy

I don't get my knickers in a knot when I receive a wedding invitation that is not engraved or is pink or purple - to each their own. And, I am past the point of worrying about one using initials in the address in lieu of full names. I realize folks these days are busy and don't have the time or are not willing to take the time to get their guests' full names.

However I do find it, especially in the South, unnerving when the forms of addresses are incorrect. One of  my pet peeves (to borrow a favorite phrase from my Mama) is the use, or rather misuse of the title "Master". Addressing a young boy as "Master" evokes portraits of the little one dressed as Little Lord Fauntleroy.



And usually, when someone refers to their son or grandson as such they have no doubt subjected the young lad to a portrait sitting costumed in the required get up of velvet breeches and a wide lacy Victorian collar. I dear say some may still be in therapy due to such get up and humiliation.

Amy Vanderbilt stated "that in the USA, unlike the UK, a boy can be addressed as master only until age eight, then is addressed only by his name with no title until he turns 18, when he takes the title of Mr. although it is not improper to use Mr. if he is slightly younger. "Mstr." is used as a prefix for boys on the UK Passport Service online application form." 

Robert Hickey, deputy director of the Protocol School of Washington, stated that "use of Master [as] an honorific when addressing boys is considered old fashioned outside of conservative circles."

Basically in the United States, the use of this term is considered honorific at best and old fashion at worst. In my estimation (ie my humble opinion) it is arrogant. Little boys should just be little boys. John McCall Pillaster VI, should just be that, John McCall Pillaster VI - isn't that enough. 

And, yes, little girls are still referred to as "Miss" until they are married or choose "Ms." or become a doctor of some type. Perhaps unfair that McCall's little sister is "Miss Margaret Pinckney Pillaster" from the day she is born (in formal address) but such is life. 

So as I said, I only get my knickers in a knot when mothers dress their darling sons in them with the wide Victorian collars and then insist they are "Masters". If they want their little boys to be a "Master"they  should have been British and there they could have enjoyed the title until age 8. 

But then as my dear Aunty used to say, people in Hell wants ice water.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Still Crazy After all These Years

A few people have asked me when am I going to write another book. There is no easy answer. I simply have not considered that. Well, actually I have. However, several people in my life need to achieve room temperature before I can start on my next draft.

My dear Aunt Kat was very clear that I should never speak ill of those around me. My Aunty was quick to amend that with an irreverent, "Unless they cannot hear you." My pious Aunt J'Nelle would have told me it really did not matter because no one was going to read it any way.

I guess there was something to be said about having a little ol' blog that hardly anyone read. It was just my way of crying in the wilderness. It didn't matter what I said or who I talked about, the chances were slim or none they were going to read about it. After all my Mama was scared silly of the "Internets". And the other characters I spoke of in such an irreverent tone were either dead or had no idea what a Blog was. 

These days I am stopped in the grocery store, at dinner, at funerals, at the beach, and in the road with well meaning fans who are quick to comment about something I wrote that they found funny. Or something I mentioned that they could relate to. This was all well and good until a certain several folks commented about how much they enjoyed reading the Blog. Little did they know that some of the stories were thinly veiled references to them. 

It was very fortuitous that they let me know they were readers because, well let's just say they may not have been cotton to find themselves front and center in one of my posts. But truth be told, I can't help what people do. Some folks just don't have a sense of humor when their indiscretions are shared. But I digress.

So now I am awaiting the timely demise of some characters in my life before I can proceed with any more epistles. Someone once said that us southerners don't hide our family secrets. I totally agree, we open the closets and watch the skeletons dance. But everyone has that family member who is crazier than a ding bat, that neighbor who is two bricks shy of a load, or knows that lady at church who would drive a Baptist minister to drink hard liquor in public, in front of God and everyone. 

These folks are so unique, so over the top, that there is no way to tell their story, to refer to their issues, or even mention them by some other name without Hell and half of Georgia (or at least everyone in town) knowing exactly who you are referring to. But I'm taking notes in the mean time.

After all, Mrs. Hewett, my Girl Scout leader, always told me to be prepared.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Vanity Fair, Fake or False

There are always the reunion cliches.  The car commercial where the nerdy class member shows up at the reunion driving the latest high end sports car. The crowd parts, with a murmur, as he enters the room. The men are in envy and the women swoon (most of whom would never have given him the time day in high school). 

Or there is the former overweight ugly duckling, who thanks to the latest weight loss product, is shown looking in the mirror with great satisfaction as she walks out of her house. Her entrance into the high school gym under the "Welcome Back Class" banners also garners much attention, especially from her former classmates, many who have put on the familiar middle age pounds. Ah, we can all dream. 

I can remember a sorority reunion fifteen years after graduating college. Twenty five or so of my sorority sisters and I rented beach houses for a long weekend. I was looking forward to a fun time. One of my best friends and I were some of the first to show up. Since it was just us girls I kept it simple and packed my swim suit, shorts, t-shirts, and a sundress  - for the one dinner we planned to have at a local seafood place. Nothing fancy for a simple weekend at the beach with old friends. 

Or so I thought. The weekend was fun and I was amazed at how well the group had aged and prospered. Out of the 25 of us, only 3 had to work, all but two were married, one was a widow, and one was divorced. There was a plethora of kids aged from newborn to teenagers - of course most had pictures. The group as a whole was well tanned, fit and slim, and extremely well dressed. The parking lot was full of Mercedes, Lexuses, Infinities, Range Rovers and the like. 

The following week, I was on the phone with my friend doing a postmortem of the weekend. "Well I guess I did not make a very good impression with that group."

My friend just laughed. "I wouldn't say that. You realize most of those cars were rented for the weekend. Several of those girls had some "work" done last year as soon as we planned the reunion. I know for a fact 4 of them have been on starvation diets for months and I have never seen most of them dress like that. And I seriously doubt any of those tans came from anywhere but a tanning bed."

I was shocked. "Maybe I did not take the weekend seriously enough. I thought it was just a weekend at the beach with friends. I didn't get the memo I needed Hertz, a personal trainer, a stylist, and a plastic surgeon to prepare for it."

"Neither did I, but whatever. You and I had a good time and spent a lot less time, effort, and stress preparing for it."

Even so, I always wondered what my sisters went home from that weekend thinking about me. There I was in my t-shirt and shorts, pasty white skin, driving a Toyota and not thinking a thing about it - clueless to the parade of the pretension and vanity was all around me.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Be True to Your School

Ah High School, so many years ago. And then the high school reunion. Seriously? Already? Didn't we just have one?

Well, actually it is my DH's reunion - his 40th. Given we went to the same school, he was only two classes ahead of me, and the school was small, I know many of his classmates. Come to think about it, I dated one or two. But I digress.

The letter went out months ago about a planning meeting. Then the post card arrived with the details and, more importantly, where to send the check. To my DH's dismay the invitation said the reunion was going to be open to classes in both private schools in our town plus the public high school and they were inviting the class below them. This was no surprise to me, given his class had maybe 60-70 graduates. 

I had friends in all three schools when I was in high school. However, my DH not so much. 

A week or two later I received an email from the school alumni office containing a pdf copy of the same postcard invitation. I figured they were trying to cover all bases. Knowing my DH was not registered with the alumni office, no doubt they were making sure he received the invitation. 

So there was much talk about should he go or not? Who would be there? Yada yada yada. It's just a get together with old friends. After all everyone is 40 years older - not just you. Why the drama?

As the weekend approached emails were exchanged and posts were made on the Facebook page. One afternoon my DH was reading me a list of classmates who were "confirmed". Then he went on to list of those "no yet heard from".  

"That's odd," I said, "several of those are classmates of mine."

Then my DH read out my name. "Did you know you were invited?"

I told him about the email I received and my theory, which obviously now I understood was incorrect.

Up until then I had been very pragmatic. It was his reunion. Sure I knew many of his classmates, but I was just going along. No one was going to be paying attention to me, wondering what I had done in the past 40 years. Looking me over head to toe, checking out weight, wrinkles, and amount of grey. Assessing how I had weathered the time. No I could just hang out at the bar, chat with the significant others (or my tennis teammates who were in his class). 

Well the rules of the game just changed. I have not played tennis in 30 years. What the Hell am I going to wear? If I had known my class was reuniting I would have watched what I had been eating for weeks.  Made a hair appointment last week  . . . Oh bother.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Can't Help Themselves

One of my favorite quotes from Gone With the Wind is: “[Yankees] are pretty much like southerners except with worse manners, of course, and terrible accents.” With apologies to all my friends north of the Mason-Dixon line, please take this as a compliment. I think Ms. Mitchell took great liberties when she added this line in the dialogue. (I am not sure which character said this in the book/ movie.)

The more I think about it, I guess it is the truth. It is not that their mamas reared them wrong, they just don't know any better. And God knows they can't help the way they talk. But enough of that. Of course we are alike, it would be most unkind to think otherwise, bless their hearts.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Sunrise at the Landing

As some of you may know I fancy myself as a photographer. OK if you don't,  just humor me.

Anywho this week I was at the Isle of Palms which meant every morning, at the crack of dawn, I was out camera in tow trying to find photogenic venues. The fun part of this is that if you do not know the area, you are driving around chasing the sun (if you are trying to find a sunrise). Or you find yourself driving around in the perfect morning light looking for picturesque sights. So was my experience Monday morning.

I know enough about the Isle of Palms and Sullivan's Island to get around so I wasn't totally in the dark (so to speak). I happened upon a marina just before dawn and found still water on the creek and good clouds (a must for a good sunrise). The boats looked boring - just small boats tied to the pier - something common to the area. The shot down the creek over the docks and marsh toward the sunset showed promise but was very dark. I questioned if I could even find color. So be it. I was there - with my camera - at dawn   . . . when in Rome.

After the sun rose over the horizon I packed up and moved on across the bridge to Sullivan's Island. Moving toward the far end looking for a clear view eastward, I made my way through the neighborhoods. I finally saw my opening. I beautiful view of the Ben Sawyer Bridge. Naturally by this time the sun was so bright the conditions looked horrid. But the scene had promise. I finished up and went to the end of the road to turn around. Eureka! There was a boat landing with a clear shot of the Ben Sawyer bridge, the creek, and the marsh. Check and check. Now I knew where to come on Tuesday morning.

So the following morning just before dawn I made my way to the end of Sullivan's Island to the boat landing. Life was good. There was a light breeze which kept the bugs at bay, and enough clouds to make a sunrise interesting.

Now as a caveat here, I do not care for sunrises. They do little for me. Why you ask am I out at dawn while on vacation at a boat landing potently fighting off an army of obnoxious mosquitoes waiting to photograph a potential sunrise that may or may not occur when I do not care for the subject? I may not care them but my customers do. And I am moved by my market. I love my customers - those who care enough about my photography to share their hard earned cash in return for my work. But, I digress.

As I sat there waiting for the magical light to appear, those beautiful colors that arrive long before the sun peaks above the horizon, a truck drove up pulling a good size boat. Great, one thing I did not count on - a boat at a boat landing. The headlights could mess with my shot. Long story short, the boat got in the water and on its way before it interfered with my mission. That was not my problem. My problem was the sun - it was taking forever to get to an aesthetic point. Finally the light came out and threw a swath of pink, purple, and blue across the clouds. There was color behind the Ben Sawyer bridge. But there was nothing special.

Shooting down the marsh had the right light but there was a god awful crane in the background that marred the shot. There was not enough light to shoot the other way. And there was nothing across the marsh to add to a shot. Just as I was turning to go, something caught my eye. The bridge was open and there was a boat, no two, coming through. As they moved toward me I saw they were trawlers and better than that, they were trawling with nets dragging from the long booms on the sides of the boats.

A gift from the gods. I had been able to shoot trawlers on the dock and once one on the water but never one on the water trawling, much less two. They were moving at a fast pace. I started shooting as they came down the creek and turned the bend to make their way in front of the landing. Every once in awhile a little patience pays off.

Several things I have learned about landscape photography - you never know what you may stumble across and you never know what you have until you get home.

So here are a few rewards (and surprises) from my pre-dawn excursion.









Saturday, June 6, 2015

Spy - A Movie Review

In my humble opinion Melissa McCarthy is one of the more talented actors of our time. She uses her size to her advantage when plays any roll with physical humor. Her quick smile, sometimes vulnerable demeanor, and pretty face allow her to take rolls and make the character her own. The parts seem to be written for her -  and some were. But I digress.

In Spy, this summer's James Bond take-off, McCarthy plays Susan Cooper, a CIA agent assigned to the basement as the virtual eyes and ears of a very vain agent in the field - Bradley Fine played by Jude Law. She is very good at what she does and devoted to Fine. Actually she is infatuated with him. 

When things go askew abroad and all the field agents' covers are blown, Allison Janney (who plays Elaine Crocker, the Deputy Director) reluctantly sends Susan into the field only to keep "eyes" on the subject. Susan's cover as frumpy housewife Penny Morgan from Iowa complete with one of the many dowdy wigs she wears in the film, is not exactly the glamorous ID she had hoped for.  As you can assume it doesn't take long before "Penny", God awful wig and all, is in full action, has taken the situation into her own hands, and is putting all her training to work. 

Her character develops from an unconfident ugly ducking who's ability is constantly overlooked to a very effective agent who is resourceful and fearless. Miranda Hart (seen in PBS's Here Come the Midwives) plays Nancy, Susan's CIA tall and gawky fellow agent and sidekick. Together they are the funniest female duo I have seen in a while.

As the story develops there are many twists and turns to keep you guessing. There are chase scenes through Rome and Budapest, neat secret weapons, good looking men in tuxedos, women in couture dresses, glasses of champagne, and yes, the required casino - everything one needs for a Bond genre movie. Even the opening credits are a copy of the opening for a Bond movie.

The film is well made, the cast is well played, the story is interesting although the characters take on their own story and the plot seems to be in the background. Oh and did I mention Rose Byrne, (previously seen in This is Where I Leave You and The Neighborswho plays Rayna Boyanov, the spoiled daughter of a mob boss? In truth it is her hair that should have its own credit. 

It is 120 minutes of action, comedy, and crime, but more than that, it is 2 hours of fun and enjoyment. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Band of Gold

"All that's left is a band of gold", several solitaires, and a sapphire ring missing a stone or two.  After a week of stressing over my damn rings I knew I needed to just make a decision. Just choose a design and go with it. Easier said than done, I was going to have to wear these everyday therefore I wanted to make sure I did not rue my choice each morning when I dressed.

Finally I went back to the jeweler. "I came to visit my rings and see how they are doing," I said in jest.

He laughed and said with a smile, "Well, let's just see. I know exactly where they are." That was reassuring.

He brought the envelope out and put the rings on the velvet mat. Looking at the jumble of jewelry before me I realized I was no more settled than I was on my last visit. However I was determined not to leave without a decision. Thankfully this gentleman had the patience of Job. Even more thankfully he wasn't charging by the hour for his consulting time.

He pulled out the proposed designs. After 20 minutes of "I really don't like this." "Well what if we were to do this?" "Oh,  I like that, but . . ." "Now, I can take these stones and  . . " "Oh I really like that. Can we add . . ." I finally came to rest on a design.

I would have my sapphire ring repaired. Then he would solder that sapphire ring, wedding band, and engagement ring together so they would no longer rub on each other and wear the gold. The final look would be no different than my just wearing the three rings together and if I changed my mind, they could easily be separated. The remaining solitaires could be soldered together on top each other. And, like my other 3, these could easily be separated without any damage to either ring.

I walked out with a feeling of accomplishment. Actually upon reflection I had accomplished nothing but 6 months of stress just to get the rings repaired, resized to fit, and put together to prevent them from wearing on each other. And I champion change - go figure.

The interesting thing will be when I get them back - how long it will be before my DH realizes that I am wearing them again - and that nothing has changed. Talk about much ado about nothing.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of a Window and Disappeared - A Movie Review

Yes, that is the name of the movie, The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of a Window and Disappeared. And, yes that pretty much sums up the plot, but there is more, much more. The movie is based on a best selling Swedish book with the same title. There are sub-titles but I did not find them cumbersome at all. 

Alan Karlsson, a former explosives expert,  finds himself in a nursing home on his 100th birthday and decides he wants out. And so the story goes. However we are not talking about some walk around the park. The film is the story of Alan's adventure after he crawls out the window, peppered throughout with flashbacks of his past. The current story involves a string of events that start with a bus ticket he purchases unbeknownst to a decommissioned train station. That sets off a mad cap adventure in which he makes friends, irritates a gang of thugs, and alludes an inspector among other episodes. 

The story, past and present, involves an elephant, Franco, Stalin, Truman, oodles of cash, an asylum, and many explosions. There are times when the story lags but just when I was beginning to tire, it would pick up and some funny thing would happen. Some of the events were outrageous but then maybe . . .

All in all it just made me hope that maybe there is a possibility I may live to be 100 years old, and if so I will still have the where with all to be able to climb out of a window for more adventure. Better than that, I hope to look back and to have had such an exciting life. (Well there were some downs - did I mention the gulag?) Seeing that I am more than halfway there I have some catching up to do.

This movie is worth the 114 minutes of you can find it. 

Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend

Marilyn said it so well,

But square-cut or pear-shaped,
These rocks don't lose their shape.
Diamonds are a girl's best friend.

I mentioned to my DH, who had still to notice I was not wearing my wedding band and diamond, my dilemma. His reaction was, "Why should that be your decision? After all I gave you those rings. If you wanted something done with them you should have asked me and I would have taken care of it." Says he who had not noticed the rings had been missing for 6 months.

Finally earlier this month I made my way into the jewelry store intent on making my decision. When I walked in the jeweler I had originally spoken with was not in, but the other one I was also familiar with greeted me. I gave him my receipt, told him what it was for and he turned to their large box of envelopes. He looked through it front to back. He looked through it back to front.

Then he opened their large safe and walked in. He came back holding my receipt but no envelope. He went back to the box of envelopes. Finally he came over to me. "I cannot locate your envelope. But do not panic I know it is here. I suspect it is the workroom which we keep locked on the weekends. If you can wait I will call you first thing Monday morning when it is opened." He made sure he had my number and reassured me they had my rings.

I went home feeling reassured everything was OK. Well, as OK as I could. But sure enough Monday morning the jeweler called to say he had my rings and they had been exactly where he thought they were - in the work room.

Later that day I met with him to see what he had in mind. He put all the rings on a velvet mat and gave me a description of each stone and his thoughts. He showed me the designs (in more detail) that they had come up with. I was no more decided than before. The prices he had quoted were high but reasonable considering the changes consisted of removing the stones and completely reworking the settings. In two proposals the designs were starting from scratch.

As I stood there, like a deer in the headlights, he smiled, "You don't have to to make up your mind today."

"But I have been stonewalling now for five months."

"Actually six, I checked on the date and you brought these in during the month of November, But that doesn't mater."

"That is ridiculous. Someone cannot make up their mind in six months? You must think me mad."

"Actually not. We had one lady who took 2 years to decide what to do with her rings. She left them with us. Said she just could not make up her mind. Finally she did. We are in no hurry."

This made me feel a bit better. I thanked him, told him I needed some time but I would be back in less than 18 months -  I promised. Walking out of the shop I still had no idea what to do with the rings. In a way I wished I could just get them fixed and wear them as I always had. But that was not an option. That was why I was there in the first place.

Oh bother.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

With This Ring

Twenty five years ago my DH gave me a lovely ring for Christmas. It was a simple band with alternating diamonds and sapphires. I wore it on my left hand ring finger, with my my wedding band between that ring and my engagement ring. After years of wear I lost a sapphire and had it replaced, then a year later a diamond came out.

The ring was made of 18K gold which is soft and the wear of constant rubbing against my wedding band was taking its toll on the prongs. I soon realized I was fighting a losing battle. I had three choices: wear the ring until all the stones fell out, put the ring away, or move it to another finger. the first choice was prohibitively expensive, the second made no sense - why have a piece of jewelry you cannot wear wear (well except that diamond tiara we all keep for those occasions we dine with the Queen), and the ring just did not look right on another finger by itself.

I had inherited my Grandmother's diamond engagement ring and when Mama died, I also had her engagement ring. So I gathered my rings and the two older engagement rings and went to my jeweler. Needless to say he was very familiar with the ring having replaced the stones in it so many times. I asked his advice on how I could best use all the stones.

He looked at the jumble of jewelry before him and decided the three diamonds were all of similar size and could be set together. Pulling out a sheet of paper and a pen, he quickly sketched out some suggested designs. A modern one I rejected immediately. Two others did not suit. Finally it came down to three that I was interested in. I left all the rings with him to come up with final designs and estimates of the cost.

So  after 32 years I had no wedding band or engagement ring on my left hand, which  felt as if I were walking out in public with no clothes on. Oh, I have a nice citrine ring my DH gave me for some occasion which I could wear on my ring finger so it would not be bare. And for several years I had been wearing a gold ring in the design of an Egyptian knot on my left hand, so I wasn't totally empty handed so to speak. But my DH never noticed or if he did, he never commented. (I found this odd for a man who never failed to notice a new piece of clothing I had recently bought from across a dimly lit room.) But if you know him - I knew he did not notice my lack of rings because it is rare for him to notice anything and not comment on it.

Several weeks later the jeweler called saying he had the final designs and estimates. I went to his shop to see what he had in mind. One design used all three diamonds in a row, suggesting that it be worn on my right hand with my sapphire ring repaired and soldered to my wedding band (to prevent further rubbing and wear) to be worn on my left hand.

A second idea combined the sapphires from the ring with all 3 diamonds with the suggestion that the remaining smaller diamonds be kept for another piece for my daughters perhaps. A third and fourth were different combinations of large diamonds and sapphire stones.

I was totally perplexed about what to do. So may choices. And I was going to have to live with this for a long time. resetting rings was not something I had the luxury of doing every year or so.

First off the 3 stones with the sapphires was just too large for my finger so that choice was out. I pondered the others. Finally the jeweler suggested I just take my time and call him back. "It is only November," he said. "As long as you call me by the first of December I can get it to you for the holiday season. I know you will want it for all the parties."

I told him that would be nice as if my social calendar was packed. I was embarrassed to say I had no plans for any holiday parties. December came and went and I did not call him. I could not decide on what I wanted. Soon it was April and I still was undecided. My biggest  fear being what if I could not find my receipt for the rings? What if they had misplaced my rings? What if they had a 90 day policy and after that were free to sell the stones? My imagination ran wild until I reigned it in. this was our hometown jeweler we had dealt with for years. I had my receipt and no where on it did it mention anything about a time limit. Still I was undecided.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Finally, a Beautiful Cover Girl from the Kardashians and She's a Jenner!

OK, I know, I know, I'm feeding the beast but I cannot help myself. Looking at the Vanity Fair cover with Caitlyn Jenner, I cannot help but that all the Kardashian women (I cannot start to list all those obnoxious names that start with a "K") have to be beside themselves. They only wish they could look so good gracing a magazine cover. Seriously!

And of course Kim announces she is expecting another K-kid on the same day that the VF cover is revealed. How supportive can one be of their stepfather? No competition there I suppose. 

You could not make this stuff up if you tried. If only some sick truth about the family were to be revealed so, they too, could vanish into nowhere like other reality shows. Honey Boo Boo's mother June made that unfortunate choice of a convicted pedophile as a significant other. The Dugger's are still digging out of the revelation of their past unfortunate incident. One would think it would not be hard for the K-Klan to cook their proverbial golden goose. But so far all the gawd, farce, and dysfunction only seems fuel the insanity, leaving behind them a path of dissed husbands, disgruntled beaus, former Olympians, and a trail of hanger-oners hoping to be a part of it all. 

The one shining star is Bruce, now Caitlyn, who in all the mess figured out who he really is and finally got the nerve to go public and go on with his her life. God bless him her.  The miracle is that she survived the melee. In fact thinking about it, having survived that household, all the issues with a transgender transformation should be easy in comparison. At least now she knows she is dealing with the real world instead of imbecilic reality TV and world it creates. 

What irony, from all this rubbish, a swan rises. Who knew it would be Bruce Caitlyn and thank God she spells it with a "C".

Monday, June 1, 2015

Kim Kardashian - Why are we Intrigued about Nothing?

I have never wanted to be famous. Being in the limelight all the time, being hounded by the press, having all your laundry aired to me would frightening. But, I realize some folks live for the paparazzi. They feed on the attention. However, generally they have done something to deserve it - they may have been born into a famous family, ie the Vanderbilts (although Anderson Cooper plays this down), contributed to the future - Bill Gates, Steve Jobs come to mind, entertain on screen and iTunes - like Bradley Cooper and Gloria Estefan, or attempt to lead this country such of the Bushes, the Clinton, or the Kennedys.

Oh, of course there are also the infamous, those who earned their attention for all the wrong reasons - Ted Bundy, George Zimmerman, or Jodi Arias. Whatever or moreover, whomever!

But I am stumped by one enigma in this mess - Kim Kardashian. She is nothing and has made herself famous  - but for what? She (and her mother) managed to convince E! (the TV network) to do a reality show around their lives. And suddenly she is the "it" girl. Everyone wants to know what Kim is wearing, who she is with, and where she is going. 

The public is all agog over "Kim". Her 12 million dollar wedding was a rating's bonanza unlike her marriage that lasted 72 days. But did the public finally see the farce, oh no, they begged for more. Then she was spotted with this "star" and this "athlete" until finally she settled on Kanye West. Now there's a ringer - someone with the couthe to ruin Taylor Swift's moment on national TV when Ms. Swift was being awarded the MTV Best Female Video to take the stage and the mike from Ms. Swift and protest that Beyonce deserved the award.  

Their wedding in Florence, Italy was a much more subdued affair, although they did string out the pre-nuptials for a week to give the press enough time to "glimpse" and photo everyone there to celebrate with them. However, it was kept private, a controlled event, less the paparazzi know who was there or not.

Then there was the pregnancy - the only baby to be born that spring. Well there was that little boy born in England, heir to the throne. The Kardashians (and her minions in the press) tried to compare the pregnancies as if the world was holding our collective breath awaiting the birth of two heirs. Spare me, please.

I was sick enough but when Voque put her on their cover, no doubt to sell copies, I knew the world was blind. But, I also had to tip my hat to Kim. Not only had she managed to become so famous she could be Googled with her three letter common name, she had become well known and famous, simply because she wanted to. She had created her infamy without accomplishing anything - no family, no contribution, no talent, no looks (PLEASE!), nothing. She is famous for nothing but for being famous.

And it all started with the reality show that E! TV produced as if they were introducing the world to the inner sanctum of the "Famous" Kardashians. But, no one stopped and asked, or Googled, who are the Kardashians? So what? Why do they matter? 

And just when we think the dust is settling, she announces she is pregnant again. Perhaps she should keep in mind that she is part of a reality show. There are others, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo comes to mind. As far as I am concerned, they are all alike. Think about it Honey Boo Boo was "famous" for dressing up, her dysfunctional family, and her manipulating mother. Just saying . . .