Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Holiday Carol...with apologies to Charles Dickens

Ebenezer Scrooge was in a bad mood as he headed to his office. He was always in a bad mood.
He encountered his nephew Fred.

Fred: Happy Holidays, Uncle! I’m off to the library!

Scrooge: Bah, Humbug! What right do you have to be happy? You’re poor enough. And what do you want with the library? What good is it to you?

Fred (laughing): And what right have you to be dismal, Uncle? You’re rich enough.

Scrooge: (grumbling) What else can I be, when I live in such a world of fools as this? Happy Holidays. What are the holidays but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer?

Fred: All the more reason to go to the library, Uncle. When times are hard, the library is a good place to go. I am getting some DVDs, which I can borrow for not a pence and I can use their computers to print out my holiday greetings. I am going out of town, so I am also going to check out some audio books to listen to on the plane. But join us for our holiday dinner. We are going to watch the Dr. Who Holiday Special on television. Good day, Uncle!

As Scrooge enters his business premises, two other people follow him in. They are portly gentlemen and stand with their hats off in Scrooge’s office.

Gentleman #1: Scrooge and Marley’s, I believe. Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr. Scrooge or Mr. Marley?

Scrooge: Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years. He died seven years ago this very night.

Gentleman #2: We are from the Friends of the Library and are asking for donations to fund our classes and programs. At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge, it is more than usually desirable that we should have events and activities to benefit those in our community who are finding these economic times difficult and, who suffer greatly at the present time due to the bad economy. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries, hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts. Coming to the library is of great comfort to many.

Scrooge: Are there no prisons? And the workhouses? Are they still in operation?

Gentleman #1: (cautiously) Both very busy, sir.

Scrooge: Good. I was afraid from what you said that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course. I’m very glad to hear it.

Gentleman #2. But people would rather die than go there.

Scrooge: Then they should do it and decrease the surplus population.

Gentleman #1: (thinking Scrooge is joking): We choose this time of year because it is a time when Want is keenly felt. What shall we put you down for?”

Scrooge: Nothing.

Gentleman #2: (hopefully) You wish to remain anonymous?

Scrooge: I wish to be left alone. Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry during the holidays and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned – they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there. Who cares about libraries? Now leave my premises.

That evening, Scrooge takes his melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy tavern and reads all the newspapers, and beguiles the rest of the evening with his banker’s book and then goes home to bed. He lives in chambers which had once belonged to his deceased partner, Jacob Marley. They are a gloomy suite of rooms that suit Scrooge’s personality.
As the candles flicker, Scrooge nods off to sleep --- only to be awakened by a clanking noise, as if some person were dragging a heavy chain. The door flies open and he beholds an apparition.

Scrooge: Who are you? What do you want with me?
Ghost: I am Marley’s ghost.

Scrooge: What? You’re not Jacob Marley.

Ghost: Jacob Marley? I thought they said Bob Marley.

Scrooge: Well my partner’s name was Jacob Marley.

Ghost: Whatever, mon. The message will be the same and here it is.

(reciting) It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen and travel far and wide and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death. I wear the chain I forged in life. I never walked beyond our counting-house in life and never believed in the power of libraries. Seven years dead and travelling all the time. The whole time. No rest, no peace, incessant torture of remorse, because I spent all of that money on Netflix when I could have had DVDs for free or that I never learned how to use a computer because I didn’t know the library had free classes.

Scrooge: Huh?

Ghost: (shaking his head) Basically, mon, Marley didn’t live a very nice life, never helped anyone, lived only for himself and didn’t get it that libraries are life-changers and would have saved him all of that precious money he cared so much about. But you have a chance to change that. 

(getting back into character)

Scrooge, you will be haunted by Three Spirits. Without their visits you cannot hope to shun the path I tread. Expect the first tomorrow when the bell tolls One.

And the spirit disappears. Scrooge feels a draft, shivers and closes the window. He examines the door by which the ghost had entered. It is double-locked and the bolts undisturbed.

Scrooge: Hum…

He stops after the first syllable, goes straight to bed and falls asleep upon the instant.
Suddenly, the curtains of his bed are drawn aside and Scrooge finds himself face to face with another ghost.

Scrooge: Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold to me?

I am.

Scrooge: What and who are you?

Ghost: I am the Ghost of Years Past.

Scrooge: Long Past?

Ghost: Your past. Rise and walk with me.

All of a sudden in the blink of an eye, Scrooge and the spirit are standing outside looking up at a large brick building.

Scrooge: This was my boyhood library!

Ghost: You recollect the way?

Scrooge: Remember it, I could walk it blindfold.

They walk around the library, Scrooge recognizing his favorite childhood books.

Scrooge: The library is deserted

Ghost: The library is not quite deserted. A solitary child, neglected by his family, is left there still.

(The Spirit touches Scrooge on the arm and points to his younger self intent upon his reading.)

Suddenly they are surrounded by storybook characters: Curious George and The Wild Things from “Where the Wild Things Are.".

Scrooge: I had forgotten what a lonely boy I was and how the library was a place I went to escape that loneliness and the misery of my family. All of those lovely books. Without the library, I would have been miserable indeed. The library saved me.

A beautiful and glamorous librarian appears.

Librarian: Happy Holidays, Young Scrooge. Here is the latest book in the Hunger Games series. I saved it for you.

Scrooge: (his face lighting up) She was always so welcoming and wonderful to me. She smashed the librarian stereotype. She never wore a bun or practical shoes and never shushed me. All of the library staff were welcoming and friendly people. And the place was so alive, full of people using the computers, attending the classes and events, gathering with their neighbors…

Ghost: A small matter, to make these silly folks so full of gratitude.

Scrooge: Small?

Ghost: (Looking at Scrooge sincerely) People spend but a few pounds of mortal money for library service. Is that so much that they deserve this praise?

Scrooge: It isn’t that…The happiness and help they give is quite as great as if it cost a fortune. Books and the teen programs at the library helped me through some sad and lonely times. And where else can you go to find information on all sides of a subject and not be judged? The library protects our rights to information and is the backbone of what makes this country great.
But somehow I lost my way.
Spirit…show me no more. Conduct me home. Why do you delight to torture me?
The spirit disappears under the door in a burst of light. Scrooge is overcome by drowsiness and barely has time to reel to bed before he sinks into a heavy sleep.

Scrooge jolts awake from a prodigious snore. A strange voice calls him by name. A light shines from an adjoining room. A woman who bids him enter.


I am the Ghost of the Present.

She is clothed in a green robe and jewels, but her nametag clearly indicates she is a librarian.

Ghost: You have never seen the like of me before.

Scrooge: No, actually I recognized you as a librarian right away. I am used to glamorous librarians.

Ghost: Touch my robe.

As Scrooge does so the room disappears and they stand in the threshold of Bob Cratchit’s dwelling. Bob Cratchit is Scrooge’s employee. Mrs. Cratchit is there dressed out but poorly in a twice-turned gown but brave in ribbons.

She is laying the table with her daughter and two smaller Cratchits are also there. Bob Cratchit appears with Little Tiny Tarquin on his shoulder. Bob is sad and Little Tiny Tarquin is crying.

Scrooge: Spirit, tell me what is wrong with Little Tiny Tarquin?

Ghost: You cut Bob Crachit’s hours and he was no longer able to keep up his car payments. They no longer have a car to get to the library and they can’t afford bus fare either because of the meager wages Bob receives. Little Tiny Tarquin worries that he will not do well in school if he doesn’t get to attend the Ready Reader story times at the library. He doesn’t want to start kindergarten without the same skills that other children will have. I see a vacant seat in the poor chimney corner. If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will not succeed in kindergarten or in life.

Scrooge: No, no. Oh, no, Spirit, say he will be spared.

Ghost: Let him go to the prisons and the workhouses and decrease the surplus population.

Scrooge hangs his head when hearing his own words quoted by the Spirit.

Suddenly the bells toll and as the last stroke ceases to vibrate, Scrooge remembers the prediction of Bob Marley and lifting up his eyes, beholds a solemn Phantom, draped and hooded, coming like a mist along the ground towards him. It is shrouded in a dark garment, which conceals its head, its form and leaves nothing of it visible save its nose and one outstretched paw…er, hand.

Scrooge: Am I in the presence of the Ghost of What is Yet To Come?
You are about to show me shadows of the things that have not happened, but will happen in the time before us. Is that so, Spirit? Ghost of the Future, I fear you more than any specter I have seen. Will you not speak to me?

The Ghost remains silent and leads Scrooge through the darkened town. The Spirit stops beside one little knot of business men.

Man: No, I don’t know much about it, either way. I only know all of the libraries have been closed.

Man 2: When did they close? What happened? I thought they would be there forever.

Man: So did I. But no one supported them and they disappeared.

The spirit leads Scrooge to a dark building. The Phantom’s claw points to a sign.

Scrooge: Before I draw nearer to that sign to which you point, answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that WILL be or are they shadows of things that MAY be?

Scrooge creeps towards the sign, trembling as he goes; and following the pointing claw reads upon the sign


Scrooge: Oh, no, Spirit, no. Spirit, hear me. I am not the man I was. Why show me this, if I am past all hope? I will honor libraries in my heart and support them all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present and the Future. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on that sign.

Holding up his hands, Scrooge sees an alteration in the Phantom’s hood and dress. It shrinks, collapses and dwindles down into his bedpost.

Scrooge: They are not closed. They are here—I am here—the shadows of the things that would have been may be dispelled. They will be, I know they will.

Scrooge dresses and sets out to town. He has not gone far when coming on towards him he beholds the portly gentlemen from the Friends of the Library who had walked into his counting house the day before.

Scrooge: My dear sirs. How do you do? I hope you succeeded yesterday. If you please, accept this donation to the Friends of the Library. And I would love to support my library in any way possible.

Gentleman: I don’t know what to say about such munificence.

Scrooge: Don’t say anything please. Come and see me. I would like to be active in your group.

Scrooge then heads to his nephew, Fred's, home.

Scrooge: (knocking on Fred's door) Fred, Fred, let me in. I've come to watch the Dr. Who Holiday Special with you!

The next day, Scrooge is early to his office. If he could only be here first and catch Bob Cratchit coming late. That was the thing he had set his heart upon. And Bob was late.

Scrooge: (growling but hiding a grin) What do you mean by coming here at this time of day?

Bob: I am very sorry, sir. I am behind my time. It’s only once a year, sir. It shall not be repeated. I was making rather merry yesterday, sir.

Scrooge: Now, I’ll tell you what, my friend. I am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer…and therefore I am about to raise your salary! I will raise your salary and endeavor to assist your struggling family. I want to take Little Tiny Tarquin to the library. They have family story times that would be fun for all of us to go to. And we can take him to the Ready Reader story times so he can get ready for kindergarten. We want him to succeed, don’t we, Bob. And I want you to improve your computer skills. They have free classes.

Scrooge couldn’t stop talking about the library and he was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more.

He became a library champion!

He shared his enthusiasm with everyone he encountered. And he became a donor to the Library Foundation which supports library programs and services. 

And to Little Tiny Tarquin he was a second father. He enjoyed attending the Ready Reader story times with him. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh and little heeded them: for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset. His own heart laughed; and that was quite enough for him.

Scrooge had no further visits from Spirits but lived upon the principle that libraries mattered ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep the holidays well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. 

And so, as Little Tiny Tarquin observed,

Arf, Arf, Arf, Arf, Arf Arf!”

Happy Holidays everyone!

(I wrote this blog for Sno-Isle Libraries in 2011 and like to share it every year to remind us all how important libraries are to our quality of life).

Why not make a New Year's Resolution to support your local libraries?

See you Friday for the Week in Reviews
and more!

Thanks for reading!
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it and/or email it to your friends.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Retirement: Good Days and Bad Days and The Week in Reviews

[I review the movies "Philomena," "All is Bright," "Winter of Frozen Dreams," "Just Like a Woman" and Stacy Keach's memoir.]

But first

We all have good days and bad days.

Retirement is no different, except with all of that time on your hands, the bad days really hurt.

Here are some examples of what I mean:

Good Day:  Your adult child called just to say "I love you."
Bad Day:    Your adult child said, "I love you" after asking you for money to
                   bail him out of jail.

Good Day:  Your adult children are all home for Christmas.
Bad Day:    For your Christmas present, your adult children all chipped in for a
                  week's stay for you at the Rose of Sharon Retirement Home.

Good Day:   Your wine guzzling poodle jumps up on your lap for just a cuddle,
                    not wine.
Bad Day:      Forget that.  Ain't happenin'

Good Day:     You found a volunteer opportunity.
Bad Day:       It involves adult diapers.

Good Day:   You've been to the gym and are feeling a bit slimmer.
Bad Day:      Lane Bryant called.  You left your purchase on the counter.

Good Day:   The Christmas tree is up and you didn't get into a big fight with
                    Hubby over the lights.
Bad Day:      HUGE fight with Hubby over the lights.

Good Day:   You have three darling dogs whose cavorting amuses you.
Bad Day:     Three dogs are a pack and their cavorting knocked you down the

This is what a pack of dogs looks like.
What constitutes a good or a bad day for you? 
Well, sometimes we can't control how the day is going to go. 
But here is something you can count on. 
Rosy the Reviewer's
Week in Reviews.
***In Theatres Now***
The true story of an Irish woman, who as a young girl became pregnant, gave birth in a convent and was forced to give up her son.  Fifty years later, with the help of a disgraced journalist, she goes in search of him.
Steve Coogan is not that well-known in the U.S. but is a huge star in the UK, known mostly for his comedic work.  Here he wrote the screenplay (based on a true story) and plays it mostly straight. 
But this is Dame Judy's show.  Supposedly Dame Judy's eyesight is failing and she has to have her scripts read to her.  Whatever is going on with her eyes, it doesn't affect what she can do with them to rip at your heart strings. If you can keep from crying, especially if you are a mother, you have it over me. Have your hankies handy.  Loved it!
Rosy the Reviewer says...Ring!  Ring!  Dame Judy.  Oscar calling. 
Movies You Might Have Missed
And some you will be glad you did!
(I see the bad ones so you don't have to)
Dennis is out on parole and bands together with old friend Rene to sell Christmas trees so he can buy his estranged daughter a piano.
A small film that didn't have much impact on me, probably because I am not a big Paul Giamatti fan.  Hubby liked it better than I did.
Rosy the Reviewer says...I give it just a couple of Christmas trees.
A college girl turns to prostitution and things don't go well.
A low-budget Thora Birch vehicle (remember her from American Beauty?") that is all very frozen and dreamy and a step way down for Birch from "American Beauty."  It proves once again, I must not put films in my DVD queue based on a preview.  Repeat after me.  "I must not put films in my DVD queue based on a preview."
Rosy the Reviewer says...I usually like films about the underbelly of life but as Charles Barkley used to say, this one is "Turible, Turible, Turible."
Marilyn (Sienna Miller) loses her job and comes home to a cheating husband so decides to hit the road and enter a belly dancing contest in Santa Fe.  She is joined by her friend, Mona, who has a secret.
Think of this as a belly-dancing "Thelma and Louise," without the suicide at the end (and if I just spoiled "Thelma and Louise" for you, where have you been?)

And for every woman who thinks her mother-in-law is a dragon, get a load of this one. 
I couldn't help but wonder how Sienna Miller avoided becoming a big star like Julia Roberts.  She has the looks and the acting chops.  I also couldn't help but remember that her then boyfriend Jude Law cheated on her with the babysitter.  Jude, you idiot!
Rosy the Reviewer says...a fun diversion especially if you like belly dancing. 
***Book of the Week***

All in All:  An Actor's Life On and Off the Stage by Stacy Keach (2013)
This acting memoir begins with Keach's arrest for cocaine possession and then backtracks to his early life and career.
Though Keach has had acting success in films such as "Fat City" and "American History X" and as Mike Hammer in the TV series of the same name, he never attained superstardom.  He clearly preferred the stage and dreamed of being the next Olivier.  He is candid about his drug addiction, which could perhaps explain why his career didn't reach the heights but the book is surprisingly dry.
Rosy the Reviewer says...fans of Keach might enjoy this, but acting students should take note.  He has a whole chapter on acting techniques at the end of the book.


Hooray, hooray.  "Come Dine With Me" has come to the U.S!
Come Dine With Me is a British competition TV program where 4 or 5 strangers get together at each other's houses to cook each other a full meal - appetizer, main course and dessert.  After the meal, the visitors rate the meal on a scale of 1-10.  Naturally the groups of people are disparate and often over the top, lots of alcohol is consumed and sometimes there are costumes which is all part of the fun, and the voice over commentary by Dave Lamb is hilarious.
Now Lifetime is offering its version, which if the first episode is any indication is a Canadian import.  It mirrors the British version down to the theme music, but I miss Dave Lamb's commentary.  Also the British version is usually 30 minute segments over five nights and here we have all five nights wrapped into one hour.  One thing on the positive side, it moves quickly.  On the negative side, there is not as much coverage of the actual cooking as we see in the British version.
Rosy the Reviewer says...Foodies and fans of humorous reality TV will love this! 

That's it for this week.
See you Tuesday!

Thanks for reading!
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it and/or email it to your friends.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Baby Boomer Travel Tips

Though I wouldn't pretend to be a world traveler, I have traveled to Europe many times, as well as taking many little hops, skips and jumps domestically.  But as a Baby Boomer, I have been around the block a time or two, so I know some things about life and travel, so I thought I would share some of my travel tips that might help those of you who are "of a certain age" and those you love.

Burford, England

Nexus card

I mentioned this in my last blog. 

Having a Nexus card not only allows you to get across the Canadian or Mexican borders more easily, but it qualifies you for the TSA Pre-check at the airport.  I can't tell you what a relief it is to avoid long lines, not have to take off my usually inappropriate shoes, pull out the cosmetics and liquids or my computer or remove my coat.  It's just a hop, skip and a jump and you are through security. This doesn't mean you won't get spot checked from time to time and get sent into the regular line.  This has happened to Hubby the last two times we flew. 

He must look like a terrorist.

Victoria, B.C.

Grab & Go Bag

I have one dedicated bag that contains my phone and IPad chargers, arm band for my phone when exercising, ear buds, book holder for exercise equipment, curlers, reading lights, adaptors, wine bottle opener, all of those things you might forget to pack.  I don't have to think about what to take. I keep it current and then all I have to do is grab it, stash it in my suitcase...no worries.  I won't find myself at my destination without those essentials.  Likewise, I have my airplane ready bag of acceptable toiletries that I keep refilled. 

I grab them and go.

Sienna, Italy

Content for your IPad or other Mobile Device

I make sure my IPad is full of content for that long airplane ride.

I download magazines, Ebooks and Talking Books from my library's website (many libraries subscribe to Zinio, which supplies full-text popular magazines and Overdrive and/or 3M for Ebooks and talking books).  I also have HBO To GO and other downloaded TV and movie content (though maddeningly HBO To GO does not work in other countries nor does Netflix).  I can keep myself occupied for practically the entire flight this way and I do. 

Hubby gets lonely and bored because he doesn't do this.  He is forced to read the airline magazine...more than once.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Take only a carry-on

Yes, if you are able bodied, you can do it. 

I have gone to Europe for almost three weeks with just my airplane size carry-on.  The trick is to wear the heavy stuff such as a jacket and boots onto the plane and pack lightweight items.  I am as big a clothes horse as anyone, but I can manage with a few pairs of slacks and then change them up with several very lightweight tops that don't take up much room in my suitcase and a dress

Of course, my other "personal item" is a humongous purse that can practically hold another purse, and sometimes does.  I carry my toiletries, IPad and that grab & go bag I mentioned which leaves as much room as possible for my clothes in my carry-on.  Another reason to take just a carry-on is having to schlepp it all over - up and down escalators (and they move fast in Europe), up onto trains, in the subway...I once had a guy yell "Andiamo" at me as I tried to drag my bag onto the vaporetto in Venice.  You don't want that! 

I recommend Rick Steves' bags.  I have used mine for years.

And speaking of Venice, it's romantic to think of having a room on the Grand Canal.  Just remember, the Grand Canal is the "main drag" in Venice and it all starts at 4am!

Take a coat no matter where or when you are going

Last year we went to Europe in late May. 

Who could possibly think it would rain THE ENTIRE TIME and be COLD?  I froze.  Then and there I swore I would take a coat with me on my next trip even if I was going to Tahiti in the hot season.  If worse comes to worst, you can always use it as a blanket on the plane since those are becoming as scarce as hen's teeth and the plane is always cold.

I had to wear this outfit practically every day because it was the only one warm enough.  Not  easy when you are in Paris and you want to be tres chic!
Note the hair:  rain!

Get to the airport early

They are not kidding you when they say arrive at least an hour before a domestic flight and two hours before an International.  I would get there even earlier.  One time we arrived almost an hour earlier only to discover only one TSA was checking ID's.  We missed our flight by a hair when they changed gates at the last minute.  Planes wait for no one!  However, now with my Nexus card...

Dress Nicely

This use to be the norm in the early days of airline travel. 

Flying was an event and people dressed up for it.  Nowadays, planes are full, the food is terrible (and costly) and there are few amenities, but do you really have to wear pajama bottoms and flip flops to fly?   If you want an upgrade and don't we all?  I suggest putting on those cool, but comfortable, designer duds you have and swan about the airport a bit.  If you look nice, you might get it.  Those people at the gate do have the power.

The Toilet of Modern Art, Vienna, Austria
And I used the toilet!

Be Nice to the Flight Attendants

Just think about it.  These folks are really on the plane to help save your life should an emergency occur.  But they also have to serve you drinks, answer your buzzer and put up with bad behavior on those packed flights.  I always greet the flight attendants with a smile as I enter the plane, I look them in the eye when they are serving me drinks (and compliment them if appropriate) and thank them when I exit.  This has resulted in free drinks on domestic flights, and once, even a whole bottle of champagne to take home. 

Just in general, it never hurts to acknowledge people and be nice.

Take extra contact lenses

If I lost or injured my contact lenses and had to wear my glasses, that would literally ruin my vacation. No way am I wearing my damn glasses. Sorry, I know, but I admit it.  I am vain, even at my age.

And here is another tip.  Keep you contacts case with a little contact solution in your glasses case.  Makes it easy to switch back and forth when needed.

Bruges, Belgium

Travel in Spring or Fall

We went to Paris for Christmas one year thinking, "Who goes to Paris for Christmas?" 

Everyone, apparently.  It was packed, especially with families.  I guess I am alone in thinking people like to stay home with their families for Christmas.  No, they like to travel with their families for Christmas.  And don't even think about Europe in the summer.  It's a zoo!

People everywhere

Avoid hotel rooms near the elevator, ice machine or maid's storage area

Someone has to get those rooms, but it's not going to be me!

If you are a light sleeper or like to sleep in, you do NOT want to hear people getting on and off the elevator.  Even worse is if your room is NEXT to the elevator and you can hear it going up and down.  Likewise, ice machines and snack areas are noisy gathering spots as are where the maids go to get ready to clean rooms in the morning.  Some travel maven once said, I always ask the clerk at the hotel for his third best room, meaning she knows it's going to take three tries to get it right.  Jacob Tomsky in Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles and So-called Hospitality, suggests, to get the best room, tip the person checking you in, partly because no one ever thinks to tip them.  I would, but I haven't figured out a way to do it with finesse.  What do you do?  Slap a twenty down and go wink, wink?

Don't be a lame American tourist

Do your homework and observe your surroundings.  Try to be a local. This keeps you from becoming a lame, American tourist which just perpetuates the stereotype and we don't want that. The Europeans already think we are lame enough.

What are your travel tips?

See you Friday
for the Week in Reviews.

Thanks for reading!
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it and/or email it to your friends.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Gratitude and the Week in Reviews

[I review the movies "Dallas Buyers Club," "The Way Way Back," "Scenic Route," "The Internship," "And While You Were Here" and the book "House in the Sky."]

But first


It's the day after Thanksgiving and, except for the scream I let out that was like a banshee from hell when I stepped on the scale, I am full of gratitude.

And when I think of all that I am grateful for, happy and sometimes funny memories come flooding back.

So the first thing I am grateful for is all of the happy and funny memories I have.

So here is my list of what I am grateful for with some accompanying happy and sometimes funny memories.


We found each other over 30 years ago when we were both at loose ends, and over the last 30 years, we have tied those loose ends together and created a happy life.  He has been a good husband and father.

I am so grateful for that.

Happy, Funny Memory:  On our first date, late into the evening, we sang a boozy duet of "Endless Love" together (and I'm not talking about karaoke.  It was just the two of us).

I knew he was the one.

My son

He and I were all alone and I didn't know what the future would be until I met Hubby.  Now 33 years later, my son is a successful attorney and partner in a law firm.  But more importantly, he is a wonderful, kind man, husband and father.

I am so grateful for that.

Happy, funny memory: When he was about the age in the picture above, he told me he loved me "more than life itself."

I was so happy!  I couldn't believe it.  For one thing, what a mature thing to say, but even better, that he loved me that much.  It wasn't until later when he was watching Walt Disney's animated "Robin Hood" movie, which was a particular favorite of his, that I overheard "Robin" say to "Maid Marian," "I love you more than life itself."

So much for that. 

My daughter

My daughter was an amazing student, like her brother.  She was given the opportunity to go to Stanford and that has held her in good stead as she moves forward in her career.  But she is also a wonderful, kind woman who is happily married.

And I am grateful for that.

Happy, funny memory:  When my daughter was learning to speak she had trouble with her compound consonants such as "TR."  She would turn them into "F's."  She also used to like to point at things she would see as we were driving around and yell out what they were. 

Trucks were a favorite.

Well you get the picture.  My mother was not amused.

My parent's long lives

Since I wasn't born until my parents were 40, I am so grateful they both lived to be in their 80's and 90's.  When you think that my parents were 72 when my son was born, it was a miracle he and my daughter (they were 76 when she was born) knew their grandparents at all.  But even though they were young when they knew them, my parents are remembered by my children.  And it doesn't hurt to come from a family with longevity.

I am so grateful for that.

Happy, Funny Memory: My Dad playing and singing this on the piano.

A peanut sat
On a railway track
His heart was all a flutter
Around the bend came number ten
Choo! Choo! Peanut butter!!!
And then he would chuckle that deep so-satisfied-with-himself chuckle of his.

And this time of year especially, my mother's pies.


I know there is much to despair about with FB but being able to keep up with old friends and meet new ones has helped me immensely as I have moved to a new town, embarked upon retirement, and, dare I say it, old age?  I can keep up with my children, my friends, my relatives, my old friends from long ago...

I am grateful for that.

Happy Funny memory:  I am talking to and sharing with friends from 40 years ago which brings back all kinds of happy and funny memories.

Seattle Stair Walks

Walking is my favorite exercise.  Yes, I go to the gym, but long walks are my exercise of choice.  Add to the walk new neighborhoods and environments and I am in heaven.  When we first moved to Seattle we went through at least two "urban walks" type books and that helped immensely to get to know the place, but we have had the most fun with "Seattle Stairway Walks" by Jake and Cathy Jaramillo. Seattle is a town of hills and stairs to get up and down those hills.  Every walk includes beautiful residential areas, lush greenery and stairs and more stairs.

Happy Memory:  That my ass is smaller because of this book.


I am grateful that I have a pension from 30 years of work and can retire.  I know many people can't (like Hubby) or worry about how they will manage without a job.  Retirement enables me to spend time with myself, something I am finding very rewarding.

I am so grateful for that.

Happy Funny Memory:  Working on it.

My Nexus card

We would go to Canada and when crossing the border see this entrance to the border patrol called NEXUS.  It hardly ever had any cars in it.  I decided to investigate.  Hubby and I are now "trusted travelers" and we can not only use that fast line to get across the border to Canada, but we can use the TSA Pre-check line at the airport.  We can keep our shoes on, no need to pull out the Ipad or the cosmetics.  It's quick and easy.  Love it!

I am so grateful for that.

Happy, Funny Memory:  Thinking nah-nah-na-nah-nah as we whiz through security at the airport or across the border.  No, not really, that would be immature and mean.

The fact that tea isn't fattening

It seems like such a small thing, but let me tell you...anything that is not fattening is a blessing.

I am so grateful for that.

Happy Memory:  High tea at The Ritz in London.


With children and grandchildren living hundreds and thousands of miles away, Skype helps keep us connected.

I am so grateful for that.

Happy Funny Memory:  Watching "Cars," the movie with my grandson.  He is obsessed


When we first got TIVO, I thought this would change my life - well, my TV viewing habits anyway.  No more would I be a captive to the TV.  I could set up automatic recording for shows I liked and then watch them when it was convenient.  Well, that was the idea. 

The reality is it affords me the opportunity to watch way more TV than I ever could have without it. And that's not a good thing.  I find myself setting up Season Passes (this is an action that will automatically record an entire series of a program) for shows I probably never would have watched. 

Not so happy, but funny memory:  I fell to a new low when I actually watched an episode of "Buying Naked."


Hubby gave this to me for Christmas last year.  It works with TIVO and allows you to watch everything on your TV remotely from an IPAD or another device as if you were in real time at home.  It is very cool when you are traveling, especially in other countries where the TV is in a different language.  Not that I spend much time watching TV when I am traveling. Really, I don't.

Strange, funny memory: Here is what I have used it for.  When I am traveling, I turn it on and if I can access my TV from my IPad, I know my TV is still there and we haven't been robbed!


I am grateful for libraries, not just because they sustained my career, but because libraries represent what this country is all about:  freedom - the freedom to read, the freedom to access information, the freedom to view and it's a place for people to gather to exchange ideas.

I am grateful for that.

Happy Funny Memory:  All of the wonderful people I have worked with and met, some very funny.


No elaboration needed here. 

And there is someone else who is grateful for that who will remain nameless, but his initials are W.G.P.

He is so grateful for that.

Speaking of which, my list would not be complete without my gratitude to the Wine Guzzling Poodle and his two cohorts.  They have given us too many happy, funny memories to recount.

This actually is not a complete list. 

I think of things I am grateful for every day.
I am grateful for that!

What are you grateful for?


Now on with the Week in Reviews. 

Take a break from holiday madness, do something nice for yourself, and lose yourself in a film or a book.



Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Matthew McConaughey plays Ron Woodroof, a hard living homophobe who finds himself with the AIDS virus.  It's 1985 and he can't get the drugs he feels he needs to save himself.  So he sets up a "buyer's club" to help himself and other AIDS sufferers get the drugs they need from Mexico and other countries and the FDA tries to stop him.

Much was made of McConaughey's weight loss and his transformation is amazing.  But Jared Leto must also be recognized.  Looks like he did the same thing.  You would never recognize him from teen heartthrob days, though he makes a beautiful woman.  Both will no doubt be recognized by the Academy come Oscar time. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you liked Silkwood or Erin Brockovich, you will like this film.  But it's the acting that stands out here.

Movies You Might Have Missed
And some you will be glad you did!

(I see the bad ones so you don't have to)
Duncan is 14 and on vacation with his mother and her new overbearing boyfriend.
An unflattering picture of adults at play through the eyes of children.
It's interesting to see Steve Carell in an unsympathetic role, but Allison Janney is the one who steals the show in the role of the ditzy, drunken next door neighbor with a heart of gold.  You don't often see her play these types of roles.  I am thinking - Academy Award nomination?  Also Liam James is a fine young actor who can convey his character's transformation just through the use of his shoulders.
Rosy the Reviewer says...a sweet coming of age story that shows how the sins of the parents can rain down on the children. 
Highly recommended.

Scenic Route (2013)
Two lifelong friends are on a road trip through Death Valley and their truck breaks down.  Bad stuff happens. 
I enjoy the occasional horror film and that's what I thought this was going to be, but actually, it was more of a character study about what happens when you are stranded and broken down into your barest most base self and secrets and regrets are revealed - a kind of demented, violent "My Dinner with Andre."
Rosy the Reviewer says...It's one of those "will they or won't they" get rescued movies with an ending that will likely spark discussion. I liked it but, Josh, you are too handsome for a Mohawk and romantic comedies miss you!
Two salesmen (of the worst kind) find themselves jobless so talk their way into an internship at Google.
Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are both funny guys and this was a cute premise, but this film misses the mark.
Rosy the Reviewer says...This is no Wedding Crashers.  
It's predictable and I didn't laugh.
Unhappy married woman in Naples meets and falls for a young boy.
The lush Naples backdrop is the star here.  Otherwise, a rather vapid story with vapid characters.  Jamie Blackley, the young love interest, is worth watching.
Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like travelogues, you might enjoy this.  And can Kate Bosworth be any skinnier?

***Book of the Week***

A House in the Sky (2013) by Amanda Lindhout
An adventurous young woman travels to dangerous destinations and finds herself a kidnap victim in Somalia.

For 460 days, Canadian Amanda Lindhout endured all kinds of deprivation and sexual abuse at the hands of her captors, resorting to converting to Islam in hopes of finding compassion in her captors. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...a harrowing read.  If you liked "A Mighty Heart" or "American Hostage," you might like this.

Try your local library for DVDs and books listed.

That's it for this week.


See you next Tuesday
where I will share my travel tips for seniors
(and others too)!

Thanks for reading! 
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