Monday, December 31, 2012

Parental Guidance - A Friend's Review

A fellow Blogger of mine, Barbara, who writes, Tanzania 5.0, reviewed Parental Guidance. Since I haven't seen it, here is her review of the movie: Parental Guidance 

Closing on Mama's House

The older couple who bought my mother's house were very enthusiastic buyers, to say the least. When I say older, they are in their eighties and had expressed an interest in the house since the day after my mama died. They had plenty of time to consider their purchase. 

Once we had decided that we were definitely selling the house and it looked like we were going to be granted permission from the court (thanks to my mother's sense of humor in not leaving a will), I gave them a key so they could come in any time they wanted to and measure or whatever in regards to their purchase.

And, they did. It seemed like every time I was over there they were just leaving or they came before I left. And, if they had a question, they did not hesitate to call me. The wife was so excited, they had measured for granite counter tops and were going to get new appliances, black ones, like she had always wanted. In fact we had to make sure that the contract for sale was signed before those appliances went off a special sale Lowes was having. And, we did. All was well with the world.

I was exhausted from trying to deal with Mama's 1200 square feet of "prized" belongings. And, since she had moved several times since her divorce, she had shed a significant amount of baggage - thank God. This couple were moving out of a very large country home. The one they had lived in since they were married. I could not imagine. I think the wife was a little over whelmed. They had sold many pieces of family furniture, given appliances and furnishings to local churches and charities but they still had many years worth of belongings to deal with. 

I got calls with questions about the heat pump. I didn't have a clue. All I knew was my mother was a stickler for maintenance and never complained about it. And, the hot water heater, it was electric. They were used to gas. Not much I could do about that. I had promised that a plumber was coming to fix the commode in the front bathroom that continued to run,  a replacement window had been ordered for the broken one in the front bedroom, and the missing knob in the kitchen had been replaced.

As we sat in the attorney's office waiting for the closing, it dawned on me we had not discussed the washer and dryer. They had asked about it going with the house and I had agreed. So I brought it up. "Now, I know you wanted that washer and dryer. I have never used it so I cannot attest that it works. So what it is, it is. I hope you understand that." They just smiled and the wife replied, "Don't you worry about that. I've already washed a load of clothes and dried them. It works perfectly fine."  Why was I not surprised? 

Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away, a Movie Review

For years I have wanted to see Cirque du Soleil, but never had the pleasure for two main reasons: the price of the tickets and I never happened to be in Las Vegas. Well, there was that one aborted trip, but that's another story. Any who, when I saw the trailers for  Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away I thought I would finally get a chance. And, best of all, for only $14.00 in 3D.

Well, last night my DH and I went to see it. Actually, not because it was our first choice, but it was the only movie on that lasted less than three hours. After cleaning my house all day, I was too tired (and too old) to make it through three hours of cinema. But, I digress. The parking lot of the multi-plex was over flowing. There were folks going into all 16 theaters. However less than a dozen entered Number 10, where Cirque du Soleil was playing, ie it is not one of the more popular films.

The story line (and this is no spoiler if you have seen the trailer) is: Girl sees boy, Girl loses boy, Girl seeks boy, Adventure ensues, Cannot tell you the end ;). 

Once the adventure starts there is a Cirque du Soleil performance in the story line. Actually it is part of seven performances: O,  Ka , Love, Mystere, Zumanity, Viva Elvis, and Cris Angel Believe. All of the acts, with the exception of Cris Angel Believe, were filmed in their respective theaters. James Cameron makes sure you are as close to the real thing as you can be short of it being live. Remember, this is the guy who recreated the Titanic and made Avatar (which I still find totally ingenious).

All this said, should I have chosen one show I would have gone to "Love" based on the Beatles songs. Not that I am a Beatles fan  (I'm really not- I know shoot me now.) but the reviews intrigued me. Seeing so many of the shows, one after the another was a lot to comprehend, and the performances they chose first, to me, were redundant and made the story drag. And, just as I would tire of the movie, there would be a Cirque du Soliel moment when I sat in awe of the color and an impossible human feat and said to myself, "How in the heck did they do that? That is just not possible." 

"Love", one of the last segments, did not disappoint me at all. I only wish it were longer. Also, a traditional based aerial act at the end (of course, done by this cast like none you have ever seen) is phenomenal.

All in all, it is a great way to see a part of all these shows if you haven't seen them in person. James Cameron's production in 3D is as amazing as I would think the show would be live. Maybe better because of the angles you see through the camera that even the best seats would not offer. However, I was disappointed, mainly because I felt it was so much at times, it dragged. And, as I said, I think that is due to my taste and those parts were performances I would not have picked to see, should I have had a choice of live shows.

If you have never seen a live Cirque du Soleil performance, this is a great opportunity. And, I do not regret seeing it at all. Perhaps, I expected too much. 

Photography Post - Moonlight

The moon setting over the golf course in the mist at dawn. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Silver Linings Playbook, a Movie Review

The New York Times review of The Silver Linings Playbook states in part, "the exuberant new movie from David O. Russell,  does almost everything right." Generally, I am not a fan of the NYT's Movie Reviews. However, in this case I agree with them, with one small caveat, David O. Russell does everything right in this movie. 

It already has Golden Globe nominations (Best Motion Picture, Best Actor - Bradley, Best Actress - Lawrence, and Best Screen Play) and Oscar buzz and there is a reason why. This is a dramatic story combined with great comedic moments with a love story tangled inside it. If you are confused and think I am crazy then you'll fit right in. 

Bradley Cooper plays the lead (Pat)  trying to deal with bi-polar issues, anger management, and a local restraining order from his estranged  wife. At any given moment something (a song, a memory) can launch an internal trigger that unleashes instant destructive anger in him.

Jennifer Lawrence plays a policeman's widow (Tiffany) with a loose reputation trying to deal with her husband's death. She is not scared of showing her emotions. I expected her to pull out a bow and arrow at anytime and it would all be over but the crying. 

Robert De Niro and Jackie Weaver play Pat's parents helplessly trying their best to make Pat "better" but not sure what they should be doing to accomplish that. 

An example of a humorous scene is when Pat and Tiffany, in the middle of a dinner party, start comparing all the drugs they have been prescribed during their treatments and their various side effects. And, as everyone else at the table is totally lost, these two each find someone they can relate to - almost like being deep in rural  China where you haven't understood anything someone has said for weeks and suddenly a stranger approaches you speaking English.

But, it's not that simple. Like life, nothing is. However in this case one must add mental health issues, family situations, and reality. My DH's comment as we stood up to leave the theater, "I'm glad you made me come see this movie. It was excellent." (Out of 4 really good movie choices I appealed for this one over his disinterest because he had never heard of it, and, perhaps, my lame description of the plot did not help.)

If you haven't figured it out by now, I highly recommend this movie. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Off We Go

Wedding Planning

First stop - Venue Shopping 

No, we are not going to buy the plantation, just look at it as a site for the nuptials. However, for the budget that keeps expanding like the waistline of  a woman expecting twins, we could put a right sizable down payment on it. A small intimate affair must describe something, but other than the guest list, I haven't found it in the planning. But, I digress. 

And, naturally it is raining . . .and cold . . . very cold for down here. That puts everyone in the spirit to imagine a lovely lawn, under the oaks draped with moss, on a sea island in the spring. Well, I hope we all have our imagination caps on. And, if this turns out to be "the place" then a deposit must be put down ASAP because God knows how many brides to be received engagement rings last week and they, too, are busy looking at possible sites. 

The race is on. In my mind I picture the old movie, It's a Mad Mad World. This could get messy. Perhaps I am in the wrong business, if only I had a 300 year old plantation on a tidal creek in the low country of South Carolina. Then I, too, could provide brides with their dream venue for a small fortune fee. Oh, should we all dream.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Trailer Parks Attract Tornadoes

It never ceases to amaze me that any time a bad storm hits a location in the deep south, news crews are drawn to red necks just like tornadoes are attracted by trailer parks. This morning was a prime example. CNN was interviewing a fine citizen of Alabama, "Well, sir, I seen it com'n. It was a big one. You know it sounded like a freight train. Everyone says that's what it sounds like and by God I thought it was coming right through my livin' room. All I could do was grab Earlene. Next thing I knew the only thing left of our house was the concrete stairs and my Barcalounger." "Were there storm warnings in this area?" "Don't know, I just heard the freight train."

Then they cut to their second interview. I did not catch her name, but two of her front teeth were missing. Her description of the heroing experience included the sound of a freight train and tales of flying roofs and walls. "I just prayed to God. It was just awful.

Oh, we heard from the Mayors and Emergency Preparedness Officials, however, Alabama is chocked full of fine articulate citizens and these are the only two CNN could find to interview? Really? 

Photography Post - Dawn in the Surf

Botany Bay off Edisto Island, SC

Friday, December 21, 2012

Are We Still Here?

Well, I guess we survived if you are still reading this. The Mayans predicted long ago that the world would end today 12-21-12. The world breathed a collective sigh of relief when the Vatican's Astronomer issued a statement last week that there was no evidence that that would happen this year. I took solace in that until I remembered that just a while back the Pope himself wrote that the Christ child was born several years earlier than it was recorded. (This was among other things such as Jesus wasn't born in a stable, therefore there was no manger, the story of magi was totally misconstrued, and the angle did not sing from above. But, I digress.)

If Christ was born several years earlier that makes AD (in the year of our Lord) incorrect. Which means that    we must adjust our dates as much as +2 to +7. Now given this news, are we living in 2012, 2014, or maybe even 2019? (If so, I must say I look quite fetching for a 60 year old - but then, once again, I digress.) 

My point is, we may have already passed doomsday and were ignorant of the impending doom. In this case, ignorance is clearly bliss. We were spared the believers running around like chickens with their heads cut off talking about the sky falling and such. We just went silently into the evening, and miraculously awoke the next morning, never aware of what we missed.

But more importantly, back to the Pontiff's revelations. How will the church ladies redo the annual Christmas pageant next year? If Mary and Joseph were turned away from the Inn and there was no stable, then where did the birth occur? In the local market (aka Isaiah's 5&10) ? And, if there was no angel and the magi were in question, what will the children do who were assigned those parts. Oh dear, what about the little girl who has been promised that she, too, would be able to wear the white robe, wings, and sit upon the ladder above the entire cast and sing. And, now her dreams are dashed. The magi, the three wise men - gone. That eliminates three good male parts from the scene. Oh, the humanity! 

Alas, the world will go on until we reach the next predicted Armageddon. And, once again we see if we cross the river Stix. Meanwhile, I think the more important issue at hand is does anyone really know what year it is? 

Photography Post - Radio City Music Hall

Photography Post - Skating at Bryant Park

These skaters were skating to Frank Sinatra. Talk about a romantic setting.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hitchcock, a Movie Review

In full disclosure let me say up front that Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren could star in a Zombie film and I would go see it. That said, I figured the story of Alfred Hitchcock making his piece de resistance, Psycho,  had to be interesting. In the film, Hitchcock, Anthony Hopkins, who is hardly recognizable due to the weight he gained for the part, plays the title role brilliantly - as in Oscar worthy brilliantly.

The story takes place in 1959, when Hitchcock was full of self doubt and feared that at any moment he would no longer be able to continue his long streak of successful films. He was looking for a movie that would keep him on top and prove his critics wrong - that his day was not over. He came upon the book Psycho, and the rest is history. 

Well, it wasn't that simple. That, my friends is what this movie is all about. And, woven throughout the movie is the love story between Hitchcock and his wife Alma, played by Helen Mirren. The marriage is between a talented, demanding, and needy man and a strong and talented woman who is a devoted wife and in many ways provides him much of his strength.

And, Mirren and Hopkins are not the only strong characters. Scarlet Johansson plays an excellent Janet Leigh. And, Jessica Biel plays the role of Vera Miles, an actress Hitchcock felt chose a family over films. 

Obviously, I recommend the film. As one critic said, "All I can say is the film had me at 'good evening' and held me until the final 'good evening'." I couldn't agree more.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Venues - The perfect place

On the great list of details there is the venue.  My daughter wants to get married in the South Carolina Low Country. Unfortunately, so do a majority of the brides in the country. According to the latest polls, Charleston is the number one wedding destination. This has not only priced these venues out of the roof, but brides often have to reserve locations a  year in advance. And, many are finding they have to set their dates on Thursdays, Fridays, or Sundays. 

Personally, I think local brides should trump carpetbaggers coming in. It has gotten so bad local brides cannot find places to get married. Town and Country and other "haute" magazines are filled with pictures of lovely weddings being held at breath taking locations in the South Carolina Low Country only making the situation worse. But, I digress.

Given most brides are trying to find places a year in advance, when my daughter told me she wanted to get married in April - of this year - in the Low Country  - on a specific Saturday, I panicked. Of course, she had a particular location. OK, let's be specific. Why not make this a blood sport? 

In all fairness, the location is a plantation on Edisto Island that has been in the family of one of Mama's dearest friends since the 1700's. The setting is gorgeous, old oak trees, moss, sweeping lawns, with views of the marsh, and the old stately family mansion. And, they rent the place out as a venue for weddings.

I had no problem calling Mama's friend, but I knew as much as she loved me, she was not going to boot some bride because my daughter had her heart set on that venue. Long story short, I called her and explained  my plight. She referred me to her sister-in-law who handles the weddings. I called her next. Naturally, she only had dates available in May and June (and I was most surprised they were in 2013). But, she insisted the bride come visit the property before she would save the date. 

However, while I was on the phone with Mama's friend, she told me, if Linda (her sister-in-law) did not have anything available, she did have a dear friend who may be able to help. She gave me her number and told me to feel free to tell her she had referred me. So I made that call. There is a god - the date in April was available and their venue was as lovely. (I had looked it up online as I was talking with her.) This could work out. Of course, that is if some blood sucking Yankee dog bride to be doesn't show up first and get the date before my daughter does. Not that I would speak ill of another bride. But, there is always that most recent unpleasantness we find hard to forget.  

Photography Post - Dirt Road on Edisto

A typical dirt road on Edisto Island in the Low Country of South Carolina.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Santas on Parade

I want everyone to truly experience Santa Con. So I went and pulled out some of the scenes I was able to capture of the jolly souls on the streets of New York Saturday, lest you think it was a random sighting.

Some were more festive than others:

Some were more creative:

There were a few random reindeer here and there:

There were times they were coming and going:

They were never camera shy:

And, when they were separated from the pack, they were quick to text for directions:

And, off they would go thanks to Google maps!

And, just when it all seemed for naught, could it be? well , maybe . . .

No one said Santa did not wear PJs:

And, everyone needs a Christmas Tree:

Photography - City Decorations

And, then there are the more traditional decorations at Bryant Park. These are next to the New York City Library.

Photography Post - Rockefeller Tree

Yes, "The" Tree. In my mind, the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center just says "The holidays are here." All we needed was snow. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Santa Walks in a Bar . . .

We were on our way from the diamond district (where I shopped vicariously with my good friend who collects jewelry like I collect grocery coupons.) As we got to the garment district, a band of Santas passed us. We just looked at each other and laughed. As we continued on our way toward Macy's there seemed to be a group of Santas on every corner. (I never knew Santas traveled in packs.) And, it was quite the variety.

Most had the traditional red velvet suit, wide black belt, and a white beard. Once in a while there was a green one thrown in for effect. Oh, there were a smattering of young ladies dressed as reindeer amongst the roving groups. Finally, my friend commented, "You know I think they have a Santa Parade every year." My response, "If they do, I think we are seeing the remnants." 

Oh, they were a jolly bunch OK. Some of them jollier than others. One stopped and asked if I had tickets to "Jersey Boys". He was feeling no pain. 

We continued on to Grand Central Station. And, all along the way we passed merry bands of Santas walking along. And, they did not seem to be going in any one direction. So far, short of the entertainment value, there was no method to this madness. 

After we left Grand Central Station and were making our way up Madison, it was time to pause for refreshment. An Irish Pub seemed to be the best place, mainly because we were thirsty and it was in front of us. We made our way into the traditional small bar and settled on two stools. The bar maid asked us for our order in a light Irish brogue. Yep, this was the real thing. You couldn't make this up - the dark wood, the mirrored wall with bottles of liquor, and a few locals down at the end of the long bar chatting to each other.

As we sat there enjoying our adult beverages, my friend asked the bar maid, "What is the deal with all the Santas ? They are everywhere." In her lilting broque ( that I could listen to for hours) she said, "Tis that day? It must be the annual Santa pub crawl. They dress up like Santas and go over the city from pub to pub." Well, that fit the bill.

"What time do they start?" we asked. "About 10 in the mornin'. And, about 3 this place will be packed with them. Tis not a pretty thing. Glad I get off at 6.

It wasn't long before the first three Santas came through the door. It was 2 o'clock. She knew what she was talking about. In 15 minutes, we were in pub full of Santas (and a few requisite elves, reindeer, and a Christmas tree with paper bows stuck all over her, I guess for 'lights'.) They were having a jolly good time as only Santas can.
We made our way out of the bar, wading through a sea of red. My friend commented, "Who knew?" "I'm just glad we do now," I said as 2 Santas, a reindeer, and an elf in red and white striped tights held the door for us. "Oh, I believe."

Photography Post - Angels at Rockefeller Center

The lighted angels at Rockefeller Center in New York, herald in the Christmas Season.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Big City

Today I am venturing north (well past the Mason Dixon line) to New York for a few days in the big city with some girl friends. I hope I am a little more cultured than an acquaintance of ours who literally did not get off the farm much. Seems years ago that she got the opportunity to go to New York with a group. 

Now Ethel Ann was very excited and very scared. New York was a fer piece up the road. And, they were going to fly there. Ethel Ann had never been on an airplane. Her first moment of panic set in when the flight attendant announced their arrival at Newark. "Oh, no you don't understand, I'm supposed to go to New York not New Ark." Her fears were quickly put to rest when the leader of her group explained that there were 3 major airports in New York metropolitan area.

But a grand time was had by all. She came back with tales of bright lights and fancy clothes. She told stories to her neighbors about yellow cabs and traffic. She saw Broadway and Central Park. She told her kin folks that everything was different up there. "They talk different than us, they walk real fast, why they even have their own food. If you go in a restaurant, they don't have ham hocks and fried chicken. They have this fancy meat called a New York strip.

Of course, now things are much different. New York has become refined enough to appreciate and sell Fried Chicken, although I doubt they know how to do it right. Few young folks down south even know what a ham hock is. But, I digress.

I'll see what the big city has to offer, and try not to embarrass myself along the way.

Photography Post - Driftwood at Sunrise

The last image I took as I was leaving an early morning shoot at Botany Bay.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Enlightened - Perhaps

Riding through the country on our way back from Columbia Saturday night, we came upon a house heavily  lit with holiday lights in a fairly random way. I commented to my DH, "Well that's festive."  "I really miss seeing decorations like that," my DH responded. "I can remember when there were lots of houses in the country decorated with bright lights." "To me, that has always been part of the holidays. I hope it is not disappearing like so many other traditions."

"You know, looking at that house makes me want colored lights on our tree. I think next year we should change back to colored lights." Nooooooooooo! Not that argument. I thought we were past that. "Is that really practical since we just bought new LED white lights for the tree?" I said, trying not to sound desperate. "Maybe they (Sams) will take them back." "I don't think so." 

As much as I hate to admit it, the idea of colored lights is not as offensive to me as it once was. The reality of  my mortality brings on a certain nostalgic longing for things of my youth. The memories of the trees in our den, as I grew up, with red, green, yellow, and blue lights seem much warmer (literally) and welcoming than the more sterile looking tree we have today with all white lights. Now, I'm not ready to revert to thumb sized lights that, alone will heat the den and  threaten to torch the tree at anytime.

There are two issues here: (1) I am going to have eat crow, given I have fought tooth and nail to ensure that our tree had white lights and (2) my DH, decided two years we ago that we needed to make a serious investment in new lights for the tree. And, given my protest against the multi-colored lights was much louder than my argument that we did not need to replace the twelve strands of lights simply because new ones were available, I need some strategic planning here.

What says I love you more than twelve strands of colored lights for Christmas? He cannot say he has not asked for them . . . and they are easy to wrap. Done and done.

Photography Post - Wet Driftwood

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Flight, a Movie Review

There are some roles that are made for an actor and some actors who are made for the role. Flight and Denzel Washington were meant to be. I am sure there are other actors who could have played the role of Whip Whitaker, the airline pilot who manages to safely land a commercial airline that is falling apart, all the while with a blood alcohol rate of .221 and cocaine in his system. And, this is no spoiler if you have seen a trailer or read a review. That is not the story. 

The story is how this man seen as a hero to many, a superhero to some, and a failure to a few finds his life in about as a good a shape as the wreckage of the aircraft he and 95 of the 102 souls aboard walked away from in that field in Georgia.

The director, Robert Zemeckis, is a long way from his award winning Forest Gump. Yes, we are definitely talking award winning, but through out this entire movie, one questions whether to like or loathe Captain Whitaker. Yes, the movie opens with the immediate events leading up to the crash. And, yes, in the plane crashes I've experienced in the movies, this one is realistic and scary. As much as I love to fly, this will make me pay attention next time the captain says, "Folks we may have some turbulence."

Besides, Washington, Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda) gives a phenomenal performance, as in Oscar award  winning phenomenal, as far as I am concerned. And, John Goodman, who already came through this year in Argo is very humorous and effective in his role.

Yes, I recommend it. No, it is not predictable. I don't even think Whip knew how it was going to end until last ten minutes.

Photography Post - Peanuts Anyone?

A road side find.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Who Kows What it Will be Next

One night last December,  I went over to Mom's to help her get her winter clothes out of the attic. It took a while to get into her neighborhood. It was the night of the annual Holiday Tour of Homes and the neighborhood's "favorite" child - the florist, had his house on display. There were cars and people every where. Obviously, everyone in town wanted to see how he had decorated his home and were willing to contribute to a local charity to do so.

Well, that would be everyone but my mother's end of the block. As I drove up to her house, she and two neighbors were standing in her front yard. I just couldn't help myself. As I got out of the car, I said, "I think his house is the most popular one on the tour. There are cars all the way out of the neighborhood parked on the main street." The ladies glared at me. 

Mama started, "I just think he has no respect for the rest of us who live here with all the traffic down there."  "Were you planning on going somewhere tonight?" "Well, no, but that's not the issue." One of her neighbors added, "What if someone needed medical help down here at this end of the block? They couldn't get an ambulance through." I looked down the street at the florist's house, in all its glory, where a line of people stood waiting to go in. Christmas music could be heard above the  happy sounds of people talking among themselves.

Finally the neighbors said good night and found their way back to their homes. I  found myself  standing in the dark at the more subdued (to say it mildly) end of the street. The only lights down here were the Christmas tree lights I could see through the windows and the lighted three foot tall Christmas tree, everyone had on their porch. Well, everyone except my mother.

Earlier that week, I had to hear about her stand down with the florist over the trees he had suggested everyone in the neighborhood put on their porch. Mama refused to participate. Personally, I found the trees to be attractive and tasteful, certainly nothing worth waging war over. But not her. The line in the sand (or in this case, on the porch) had been drawn and God bless anyone brave enough to cross it.

As we walked into Mama's house, she was laughing, "Can you believe that house?" I was beginning to get a little tired of this by now. "Mama, his house is beautiful. I can only imagine how it is decorated?" "I bet it is ticky tacky. Who puts two wreaths  - on the inside of his windows - in his dining room?" "OK, he may be a little over the top, but he always did lovely work in his shop." "He is just ruining this neighborhood." "By decorating for Christmas?" "People like him just don't know when to stop."

I noticed a three foot tall Christmas tree sitting just inside her front door. "Is that the tree?" "Oh, don't get me started about that tree." Fear not. I got her clothes down and helped her get them into her guest room. 

As I was leaving she said, "And one more thing, can you just put that darn tree on the front porch," pointing to the small tree by door. I picked it up. "And plug the blasted thing in." I did as I was told and stepped back to admire my work. "I think it looks nice." "No one is going to say that I made the neighborhood look tacky because I wouldn't put a tree out." Then she added, "But, I'll tell you now, if he suggests something like colored lights next year, I'm putting my foot down. You know how they are, today it's Christmas lights, who knows what it will be next.

I got in my car and made my way through the line of folks still waiting to see the inside of his house. I'm not sure what he did to get on my Mama's bad side, but whether he knew it or not he was. And, even though she was a force to be reckoned with, I doubt he was concerned. But, if he wanted colored lights next year, he may not know he may be starting WWW3, at least in my Mama's mind.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

All You Need Is . . .

My mother, God rest her soul, did not leave a will. Or, if she did, she has a dastardly sense of humor and hid it so we would not find it. In South Carolina, if there is no will probating an estate is not pretty. Luckily my brother (my only sibling) and I get along very well and are in total agreement as to how to handle Mama's affairs. Everything was moving along swimmingly until a nice older couple wanted to buy her house.

The good news was that they wanted to her house. The bad news was that they wanted to buy her house. We could not sell it without permission from the Judge. When I first asked the Judge about this, she said that she saw no problem in our selling the house. When it came time, she would grant an order.

As the negotiations got more serious between us and the potential buyers, I called the court to see exactly what I needed to do. I was told I would need to get a valuation of the house for the court, bring it to the Judge and she would issue an order. Thanks to a wonderful friend who is a realtor, I was able to get the valuation in writing. So down to the court I went.

Not so fast, it seems that along with the valuation I needed to complete and file the inventory (that I had originally been told was not due for 2 more weeks) and get a signed contract. I asked the clerk to check her list twice this time. Back home I went.

We got the contract signed, I got the inventory completed, got a copy of the deed, and once again made my way down to the court house. If the Judge signed the order today, I thought, the rest was up to the attorney handling the closing. I sat down with the clerk and we went over the paper work. She handed me a Petition I needed to complete. When I finished that, I was told that my brother would need to be served with the petition and show acceptance of service. (He lives out of state.) 

I asked some very pointed questions and was assured that once I had a signed waiver from my brother the paperwork should be ready to go before the Judge. "If I bring that back tomorrow, can she issue the order then," I asked? "Well, we will need to schedule a hearing," she said. "And," she continued, "she only hears cases on these four days and her docket may be full. But I'll check."  As fate would have it, of those four days, I was scheduled to be New York three of them. 

Suddenly, those initial instructions, "get a valuation of the house for the court, bring it to the Judge, and she would issue an order," seemed seriously lost in translation. 

I was talking with one of the attorneys handling the closing for the buyers, expressing my frustration over this process. His comment made me want to commit hari kari. "We just find it easier to do a deed of distribution of the property to the heirs, then let them sell the property as owners out of the estate. Otherwise, it just gets complicated." No kidding! "So what I am doing is wrong?" "No, you are doing it the way the court wants it done. But, once you start that process, we can't help you.

The last time I felt this way was my foray into cooking duck. And, I still have yet to recover from that humiliating and painful experience. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Photography Post - Shrimp Boat at Rockville

Another image from Rockville, that quaint fishing village on Wadmalaw Island in South Carolina dating back to 1874. This a trawler at the dock. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My Twelve Days of Christmas

Just hum along. My life this yuletide . . .

12 Feet of Garland 
11 Strings of Lights
10 Broken Bulbs
9   Rolls of Paper
8   Dozen Cookies                             
7   Pans of Brownies
6   Bags of Pralines
5   Loads of Laundry
4   Bags of Groceries
3   Missing Magi
2   Playful Pups
And an Advil with a glass of wine.

God, the garland's already shedding. Who wants all these lights? Broken bulbs, the heck with those. All this paper and not one roll with enough to wrap a gift. 

How many dozen cookies? And, pans of brownies? Pralines? Are you kidding me? And, this is not a hotel. We do not offer fresh towels daily - thank you. 

I guess I have to put the groceries up. What do you mean the Magi are missing from the manager scene? They were there last January. Where did they go, to Bahrain? You would think the pups would just learn to wipe their feet. I don't ask for much.

And, make that a bottle of wine with my Advil.

Photography Post - Church Window

Monday, December 3, 2012

Anna Karenina, a Movie Review

It's a play, it's a movie, it's a  . . . Ok, I was a confused when the film started. Full disclosure, I never made it through Tolstoy's novel Anna Karenina, much less, War and Peace. Well, honestly, I never picked up either one.

Anna Karenina takes place in Tsarist Russia with all the beauty of the architecture, costumes, and customs of those times - only in the elite circles. The movie starts on a stage with the opening credits and then when I thought there was a play on that stage, the audience was watching, I realized that the "play" was the movie and the props moved to reveal a new scene and the characters moved seamlessly with dialogue sometimes even changing costumes while talking. Then when I was thoroughly confused, it started resembling a movie.

Of course, anytime a character wanted to reflect on what was going on or view a scene they were not in, they simple climbed a ladder or wooden stairs to the cat walks above the stage and from above among the ropes and lights, they could  become voyeurs, like those of us in the theater. But, not for long, because that genre would soon disappear and the film would lapse once again into a traditional movie.

Confused? I was. But it works, as long as you are willing to go with the flow. The costumes of the film are glamorous as was era, the scenery divine - the exotic land of Russia, and who else, but only Kiera Knightley could play the role of Anna. And, just when the story is moving along, suddenly, I found myself once again lost between a film and a stage play.

Anna Karenina (129 minutes) is an excellent film, a little advant in its delivery. Perhaps, Tolstoy would be proud that his story was too much for an ordinary film genre. Whatever! It is a large story that probably needed something to set it apart. And, Joe Wright, the Academy Award winning Director did just that - set  the story apart.

Photography Post - Cactus

Cactus at San Diego Zoo

Saturday, December 1, 2012

7 Psychopaths, a Movie Review

OK, 7 Psychopaths has an all star cast including Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, and Christopher Walken. This film had been on our list for weeks to see. However, other big name movies took priority. You may have never heard of it, although it got good reviews, it did not get a lot of exposure. 

The basic story line is about a screen writer writing a story about 7 Psychopaths. Characters include a dog thief, his dapper accomplice, and an Irish alcoholic. I'll leave the story there. On to the mechanics, if you have an issue with blood, move along. 

Within the first five minutes, two mobsters are knocked off.  I will say, that particular psychopath (No.1)  is effective and clean. There are others - not so much. And, there is one dog who plays a lead role. (And I'll will tell you up-front - the dog does not get killed. I sat on the edge of my seat ready to leave if they killed Bonnie (the dog). But I digress.)

There were times I turned to my DH, and said, "What the ___?" Other times, the story got a little muddled. But, by the end, it wrapped up very well, like a neat bow on a present. Not, happily ever after, but what non-Disney movie these days does end that way.

It is hard to explain the movie without giving the story away, which I don't want to do. But, I will say, it is worth seeing, and watching all the way through. It is bloody but not violent - my opinion. (Or my justification.)

Photography Post - Country Church

A country church in up-state South Carolina.