Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Movie I Loved

The King's Speech.

This is the kind of movie I love. Not a Hollywood blockbuster... no "action" shots, no car chases, no violence, not a gun in sight. Based on truth, with a sense of history. It has a low-key humor, touching in a subtle way. I love Colin Firth, always have. After seeing this, I love Geoffrey Rush, too. They both played their parts so well. Amazingly well, if I may say so.

Thank goodness for movies like this!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Single Flower...

One morning in Hawaii... the beauty of a single flower. I came out to sit by the pool. It was early and not many people were there. I sat down in a chair, and on the table next to me there was a single flower. The flower inspired me. I took a photo of it as it lay on the glass-topped table.

Next, I placed it on the ground to see the color against the volcanic rock:

For this photo, I just propped it up on my knee so the ocean was in the background:

Then I placed it against my shirt:

That flower was my focus for a pleasant twenty minutes or so. So many pleasant hours spent in Hawaii. So many simple joys, like a single flower. I find so much beauty there. I feel blessed when I'm there.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve has always felt magical to me. I have always loved Christmas Eve, even more than Christmas Day itself. There was something about the darkness of night illuminated by Christmas lights that fascinated me. I remember as a child, gazing out my bedroom window at the stars, looking for the one bright star. It always felt to me that a miracle was about to happen.

Particularly vivid in my mind is going to Midnight Mass with my father. He always took my sister and me to the big church downtown for Midnight Mass. It was lighted only by candlelight and decorated with mounds of pointsettias. The choir was all children, singing "O Holy Night". Their voices in the candlelight and the smell of the incense still remain in my head, all these years later.

To me, Christmas Day always seemed more like a regular day... but Christmas Eve was magical.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Playing Santa

Every year since we moved here, I have played Santa for my three nieces. My sister didn't know where to hide their gifts so they wouldn't find them ahead of time. So, she gives them to me to keep at my house. I buy special "Santa" wrapping paper, tags and ribbons so the "Santa" gifts look different from all the other gifts. I try to disguise my handwriting on the tags so it doesn't look too familiar to the girls. Then, on Christmas eve, while my sister's family go to church with her in-laws, we sneak into their house (not down the chimney, though) and hide all the wrapped gifts in the basement so she can arrange them after the girls are asleep.

The girls are almost too old to believe in Santa, though. They have begun asking questions. One asked: "Mommy, are you Santa Claus?". Another one asked: "Mommy, is Aunt Judy Santa Claus?". The youngest, Molly, is perhaps the most observant; she said: "Mommy, Santa's handwriting looks a lot like the Tooth Fairy's handwriting". (I do Santa's and my sister does the Tooth Fairy's.) One day she engaged me in a long discussion of whether I thought Santa and the Tooth Fairy know each other. We decided they probably are friends. She wasn't so sure about the Easter Bunny...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Getting Serious!

Winter came early this year. Sub-freezing temps all through December! More and more and more snow! Icy roads! One winter storm after another. I am getting serious about moving permanently to Hawaii. I am working hard to convince my husband that we could manage it. How high could the energy bills be? Couldn't we grow a lot of our own food? How much money would we spend on gas (how far can you drive on an island?). Certainly not everyone who lives there has to be a millionaire, right? We saw lots of small, normal looking homes there... I don't need granite counters and fancy stuff. Just a cottage with electricity and running water. How about it?

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Season Here

I was getting ready to hang this wreath on my back deck, but Tiger got to it first. He decided to add a little touch of decoration to the wreath by sitting in the middle of it!

We are getting ready for my family to be here on Christmas Eve. I just hope the weather cooperates... we are supposed to have another winter storm!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

School Band Fund Raiser

This struck me as being a bit strange. Usually, school fund raisers sell things like candy bars or wrapping paper. But mattresses? How many people will buy a new mattress to help out their friends' kids? I think of a mattress as a fairly infrequent purchase. What do you think?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Easy A, Emma Stone, Golden Globes

This is a scene from "Easy A". Emma Stone is the girl on the right, with Amanda Bynes on the left.

The Golden Globe nominations were announced this morning. Emma Stone was nominated for her role in "Easy A".

During the first part of the movie, I wasn't so sure if I liked it. It had a lot of "language" and teenage angst. But by the end, I loved it. I especially liked Emma Stone. She had been in other small movies, but I didn't know who she was. I became a fan, though, after I saw "Easy A".

Now that she has been nominated for a Golden Globe award, I think we will be seeing more of her.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Gang!

Every morning when I get up, these kitties are waiting outside my door for their breakfast. These are four of the feral cats we care for. From left to right, they are "Little Sister", "Spot", "Munchkin's Sister" and "Mama-mama".

Irresistible, aren't they? They are as much our pets as the four who live inside with us. In fact, three of the four "indoor cats" came in from outside to be adopted.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In the Deep Freeze

It's COLD here! Temps in single digits and wind chills below zero. The snow we had on Saturday won't melt because it's too cold, and we expect more snow this weekend.

I used to live in Northern Ohio, then Chicago. Both areas are on the Great Lakes... so they get the infamous "lake effect snow". We have also experienced lake effect snow when visiting my sister in upstate New York and my in-laws in Michigan. I hate lake effect snow. It's just ridiculous. Here we measure it in inches, but there they measure it in feet. Horrible!

Well, this week they say the lake effect snow area is so massive that it's making it all the way to Kentucky. I can't escape it! Well, maybe if I manage to move to Hawaii. Maybe some day...

My main concern is the kitties that live outside. They need shelter from this cold. I bought one of these Indigo Igloo dog houses and put some bedding inside for them.

Here it is, on my deck, before the snow fell. The little cat we named "Spot" is checking it out. I have seen three of the cats all curled up together in there. But I still worry about them every night while it is so cold.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Do You Remember These?

If you grew up in the 50s, you might. I remember them well. They are Gurley candles. They were made for every holiday. I just love the details, the facial expressions, and the "body language" of these little characters. Apparently they have become very rare; I couldn't find pictures of them all. I had forgotten about them completely until I saw a picture of some reproductions in a catalog. Seeing them takes me back in time... very nostalgic.





Saturday, December 4, 2010

Is Anybody Out There?


I grew up in the sixties. It was an amazing decade. (I think the word "amazing" is overused these days, but it really does apply in this case.) The sixties were revolutionary, chaotic and scary. I am glad I lived through it because, in a way, it made me who I am today. I went from being a well-ordered, meek child to being a free thinker.

I just started reading the above book about Jim Morrison. I have always liked the music of the Doors. It takes me back to the sixties and my youth. Once I heard Terry Gross on her PBS show, interviewing the Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarec. He described the creative process by which they recorded the song "Light My Fire". That interview was fascinating. It opened my eyes to a truly creative process in music. If you are a music lover and you ever get a chance to hear a recording of that interview, do it.

Anyway, the reason I am writing about this book: I just finished the introduction, and is what inspired me to write here. The introduction to this book says so many things about the sixties that resonate with me. He has described the cultural upheavals that took place during that decade in a way I have always had in the back of my head but was unable to express. To quote from the book:
"Doors concerts.... were as close to the experience of shamanic ritual as the rock audience ever got. The Doors captured the unrest and the menace that hung in the air of the late sixties like tear gas, and they did it with hypnotic cool."

Don't get me wrong. Jim Morrison was never a personal hero of mine. I never did drugs or "dropped out". I remained pretty conventional in my lifestyle. But I was listening... and it affected me.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I went to yoga class today. I'm still recuperating from a cold, and I felt tired and out of sorts this morning. I almost didn't go. But I made myself go. I can only tolerate so many days cooped up inside!

I'm so glad I went! As we relaxed into our breathing I felt all the fatigue leave my body. As we did some torso twists, I felt the tension leave my body. As we moved through the Warrior series of poses, I felt energy moving through my body. Then we had a discussion when someone asked the meaning of "namaste", about bringing peace and light into this weary, weary world.

My body was energized and my spirit was lifted. It was a good session.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I'm tired this week. I feel overwhelmed. I think it's a combination of having a cold and a touch of Seasonal Affective Disorder. I need more sunlight, but it's been raining for a couple of days. Today it's snowing. Oh no, winter! If I could only live in Hawaii. My mind is still back there in the sunshine.

Also, the thought of Christmas is looming. All the decorations, gifts to wrap, food to cook, shopping to do. I think I'm beginning to take on my father's famous "bah humbug" attitude about Christmas. I really hate to say that because I know it's such a joy for so many people. I hope I snap out of this mood and get into the holiday spirit. Things just seem so hard these days. I want to cut back on the budget, but all the kids want are expensive electronic toys. I think part of it is the rampant materialism. Watching kids on Christmas is getting a bit depressing. They look for packages with their name, open them, then go on to the next thing. When there are no more, they look around like "that's it?". Well, yeah, I can't afford many of those expensive things you love so much.

My niece makes me guard her Uggs when she goes in to gymnastics practice because it's well known that they will be stolen if she leaves them in a cubby. They have to have their electronics engraved with their names because they are likely to be stolen. All of this "stuff" obsession of kids is getting to me. I'm trying hard to get rid of a lot of the "stuff" in my own life. I would love to just live in a cottage on a beach, have a tiny wardrobe, and go barefoot every day.