Reviewing The News, Reaching For The Wine

“I am satisfied.  Give me a bowl of wine:

I have not that alacrity of spirit,

Nor cheer of mind, that I was wont to have–

So, set it down.– Is ink and paper ready?”

~ William Shakespeare, King Richard III

• • •

USUALLY I’M GOOD AT knowing what I’m thinking and feeling about things.  Clarity of thought.  Sense of purpose.  Focus on what matters now.

Me.  Most of the time.

But the news of these last few weeks has worn me down.  Made me wonder about humanity.  Made me want to stay in my jammies all day, hiding in the back of the closet, playing Candy Crush.

• • •

First we talked about:

Ebola, and the CDCTexas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas‘s half-assed handling of said at a time when everyone in the USA needed them to do things properly.

Then we were inundated with: 

Mitch McConnell [or Old Turkey Neck as he’s known in this house], and his daily TV political attack ads against his opponent, a woman with a gun who seems to scare the bejesus out of him.

Followed by:

Gamergate, and the blatant misogynistic attacks on woman associated with it under the guise of fair journalistic practices.

Then all of this took center stage:

Renee Zellweger, and the incessant opining about the reasons why she did what she did + about the results of what she did.

Culminating in:

The Parliament of Canada, and the unforeseen attack on it leading to the world’s newest isn’t-he-amazing hero who saved lives by calmly doing what needed to be done.

• • •

SO MY POINT HERE?  After hearing and reading about all the above, I’m tired, emotionally.  I’m tired, physically.

I’m just plain tired.

I have to wonder if keeping up with the news is what I need to be doing with my time.  While the well-educated rational side of me says “stay informed,” the sensitive empathetic side of me says “ignore.”  The cognitive dissonance is beginning to get to me.

Leading me to contemplate how I can do both when the agenda-setting function of the media gives me bad news everywhere that I turn.  Except in my closet, of course.  Where you may just find me, with my bowl of wine.

Waiting for my alacrity of spirit to return.

A Funeral On Friday In Florida

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A view of Sarasota Bay & the beautiful clouds above taken from my hotel room balcony.

~ • ~

Last Thursday I boarded a flight to Sarasota, FL, so that I could attend my aunt’s funeral on Friday.  Although my aunt’s health had declined during the last few years, it was still a strange feeling to travel for this reason.

I knew that it was likely that she would proceed me in death, but when the phone call came a few days after Christmas that she had passed, I was sort of stunned.  Granted at age 88 she was the last relative of the WWII generation in my family, but I think that we all thought that she’d go on forever. 

~ • ~

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The waterfall by the pool at my hotel. It’s all about water in Sarasota.

~ • ~

Family members from all over the country attended her funeral, which was about as happy as a funeral can be.  She had lived a full & unique life– and after years of chronic illness she was ready to go.

Talking with everyone at a casual dinner the night before the funeral, all were in agreement that our aunt– or mother, or grandmother– was: generous, funny, kind, educated, creative, determined & a church lady, in the best sense of that phrase.

~ • ~

DSCN1806
Prettiness while looking across Sarasota Bay at a pink building situated underneath the blue winter FL sky.

~ • ~

The service on Friday was in a lovely Episcopalian church on Siesta Key.  It was late in the afternoon and the light from the setting sun shone through the multicolored abstract stained glass windows that rimmed the top of the sanctuary.

‘Twas beautiful & inspiring in a way that perfectly summarized the goodness that was my late aunt.  And I do believe, set the stage for a wonderful, loud, cheerful family dinner afterwards at a local restaurant where everyone lifted their glass of her favorite wine, pinot grigio [or whatever they were drinking], to toast her one last time.

~ • ~ 

So long, Aunt Mary Jane.  You were the best.

2 Movies, 2 Books & 1 Delightful Truth

As part of my attempt to live a more balanced life in 2013, I have given myself the assignment to watch 2 movies and to read 2 books each month.  Here is my April report.

2 Movies

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel  – Predictable + colorful.  A group of British retirees decide to move to India, embrace a new lifestyle and live in what claims to be a newly restored Indian hotel.  When they arrive, the hotel restoration is not finished, but the optimistic young man who manages the hotel tries his best to please them.  Some of the retirees adapt to India, some don’t.  The ensemble cast is delightful, the cinematography + costumes are wonderful, but there is a certain old geezer-ness to this movie that is a little monotonous.  Recommended if you like veteran actors and the idea that life is what you make of it.

The Grass Is Greener – Intriguing, albeit dated.  Because of financial problems, a British Earl and his wife [played by Cary Grant & Deborah Kerr, respectively] allow public tours of their mansion.  An American tourist [played by Robert Mitchum] falls for the wife & they have an affair.  Meanwhile, her friend [played by Jean Simmons] playfully tries to seduce the Earl.  On the surface this movie sounds trite, but the ensemble cast + witty writing make this movie entertaining.  Recommended if you enjoy 1960s style, some absurdity and learning about social mores.

2 Books

The Serpent’s Daughter [a Jade Del Cameron mystery] – Charming + clever.  Set in Tangier, Morocco, in 1920, Jade and her mother plan to go on vacation together.  However, Jade’s mother is kidnapped and Jade must find her… in time.  This mystery, by Suzanne Arruda, is campy, travelogue-y and totally fun.  Recommended if you like spunky heroines, fascinating settings and lighthearted mysteries.

A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison – Amazing, but macabre.  In the 1750s during the French and Indian War in what is now western New York state, the Shawnee Indians capture a white girl and her family.  The Shawnee murder her family, but the girl goes on to live with the Seneca Indians.  She marries, has children and adopts the ways of the Indians.  When she is in her 80s she tells her story to a local white man who writes it down– in the flowery vernacular of the time.  Originally published in 1824.  Recommended if you have an interest in Colonial American History and biographies. [Free on Kindle]

1 Delightful Truth

I was surfing the web looking at design blogs, when I came upon this delightful truth by Amanda Hill.  She said: Beautiful things don’t just happen.  If you want something marvelous, you’ve got to make something marvelous.  [Punctuation added.]  

And I thought to myself: that is so true.  What good advice.  I need to take that advice to heart, henceforth.

So I have.

If The Fates Allow

I don’t feel like telling any stories today.  Instead, here are a few of the thoughts that are swirling through my head.  Keep in mind that Christmas is not my favorite time of the year, so if I sound cranky here it is because I am.  And quite frankly, why aren’t you cranky too? 

::  I haven’t started to address and sign our Christmas cards yet.  I thought that I’d leave that task until tomorrow when I have the morning to devote to it.  I like to send cards because they are personal– or at least they can be when done right.  The right way according to me?  Hand signed.  Group photos, if included, have the names of the people on the back.  A newsletter, if included, is succinct.  If someone does not abide by the above, then I tend to doubt that he or she is sincere when sending the Christmas card.  And I remember this.

::  I spent the weekend cooking.  On Saturday I tried a new recipe for roasted chicken with root vegetables that was a failure.  The only thing that we could salvage from it was the roasted red beets– the rest of it never cooked right.  On the other hand on Sunday, I jazzed up an old tuna noodle casserole recipe.  I turned a plain dish into a grown-up feast by using WW pasta, adding some white wine, throwing in some smoked paprika, topping with panko bread crumbs spicy chipotle pita chips + gourmet parmesan cheese.  *yum*

::  Anyone else finding the incessant Christmas music in all the stores to be especially annoying this year?  I dislike it to begin with, but in light of the Sandy Hook Massacre I find the jolliness of it to be inappropriate… rude… disrespectful.  Live music has heart, but this stuff is just wrong.  We are a nation in mourning this Christmastime.  And the music, which can easily be changed, needs to reflect this.

::  There is no sign of snow around here;  instead, we have lots of rain and lots of gray skies.  Some years December is like this.  It makes for a less than festive atmosphere during what I am told it the most wonderful time of the year.  While at night I enjoy the contrast of the bright outside lights juxtaposed against the late autumn gloom, during the day the grayness overwhelms me.  Any thoughts that I might have of Christmas merriment dissipate into the bleakness.       

::  We don’t exchange presents with very many people.  When it comes to family, all anyone wants is gift cards/cash so that’s what we get them.  EZPZ, no?  I so enjoy giving the gift of shopping to other people who enjoy going shopping– unlike me.  And as for the rest of our holiday gift giving, I am only beholden to find some small items which I either put into pretty bags with cheery tissue paper or wrap in simple paper with a wisp of ribbon.  For us, gift giving is the easiest holiday thing that we do. *hallelujah*

The Petraeus Scandal: When Supposedly Smart People Do Definitely Dumb Things

[Sub-titled: Keep It Zipped, People]

Because I’m smitten with this developing story…

You’re Not Going To Believe The Latest Developments In The Petraeus Sex Scandal

But you know there’s more to this than you might think at first glance…

Clusterf*ck Chart 

Then you have to realize that from my laid back point of view it is entertaining that… 

Woman Linked to Petraeus Is a West Point Graduate and Lifelong High Achiever

It is, of course, ironic that…

Online Anonymity Nearly Impossible, Petraeus Emails Show

If confused by any of the foregoing, then you need to remember…

General David Petraeus’s Rules for Living

Then there’s this little development…

Classified(?) Information Magically Appears at Broadwell’s House

Also, what’s a military sex scandal without a reporter named Bonk involved?

Paula Broadwell’s License Discovered in D.C. Park

Not to mention that just like in a soap opera there is an identical twin sister…

Jill Kelley and Twin Closely Tied to Top Brass

A twin sister who needed two generals to vouch for her…

Petraeus & Allen dallied as furor over Benghazi raged

And finally, the last piece of this scandal yet to be revealed…

WHO IS THE SHIRTLESS FBI AGENT?

Meet the Shirtless FBI Agent from the Petraeus Love Pentagon

Can you see why I’m intrigued?  It’s RHONY + The Simpson’s + NCIS all in one story.  Who’d of thought?!

[Last link added 11.15.12 – YES! I can rest now that I have all the pieces of the story.]

I Has A Sad

[Yes, I’m using LOLspeak here.  Your point?]

Viva de la Vega, my longtime desktop computer & faithful sidekick, is retiring today.  The photos on yesterday’s post were the last items that I needed from her to create something for this blog.

For the last eight years she and I have been constant companions.  BFF, if you will.  I adore her… her smaller, cozy screen… her slow way of uploading photos… the clickety-clack of her keyboard… even the crazy, unpredictable way her wired mouse works.

However, now that Coraline is on the scene, Viva de la Vega is headed for a lovely retirement upstairs in the un-bedroom where she can live out her days in a little out-of-the-way niche on top of an old chest of drawers.  We’ll be able to use her to listen to online music– or to play a few hands of solitaire or hearts.

She’ll be at home there, I’m sure.  And I’ll visit her from time to time.  But I still can’t help feeling a touch bittersweet about this change.

So long, my friend.  I’ll miss you.

*sigh*

And So It Goes

 Kind of a bittersweet week for me.  Endings: small, medium & large.

I.

Our tomato and pepper plants are at the end of their growth cycles.  I doubt that we’ll get more than a handful of tomatoes– or a couple of peppers– before the fall chill kills the plants.  It happens every year this way;  I’m always surprised.  This year the difference is that the other day I noticed two chickadees goofing around in the tomato plants.  At first I thought that they were after the tomatoes, but as I kept watching I realized that what the birds wanted is the cotton string that we use, with the wooden stakes, to hold up the plants.  They were pulling on the cotton string with their beaks, but unable to get it lose.  So I decided that  when I dismantle the tomato plants later this month I’ll cut the used cotton string into lengths and leave it out on the deck railing.  Maybe the chickadees will use the cotton string to make their nests.  We’ll see.

II.

Zen-Den and I have very few traditions.  We don’t do the same thing for any holiday.  There are no “but we always do this” restrictions on us.  It comes from being on our own for so long– and from not having kids, I suspect.  That being said, every September we look forward to our first drive into the countryside to go to a small, locally owned apple orchard that has the best apples ever.  So this last weekend we got into the car and went out there, all excited about our first apple foray of the year.  But when we got to the orchard, it was closed;  a sign out front said: “Semi-Retired.  Closed for Season.  Be back Summer of 2012.”  And with that, our one tradition went *poof* and we found ourselves apple-less in the countryside.  Humph.

III.

As you probably know, All My Children ends this week.  I still can’t quite wrap my head around this.  I grew up around AMC– first at a friend’s house, where her mother was addicted to it;  and then at my house, once my mother retired from teaching.  The fact that my Mom, the happy hermit, watched a soap opera never made much sense to me;  but she said that it gave her day structure and that Erica reminded her so much of her freshman year college roommate that she couldn’t not watch it.  In fact, she watched it every day until her death fifteen years ago.

So here’s the odd thing: even though I never became a fan of the show, I realize that I’m going to miss it.  Knowing that AMC was always on TV gave me a feeling of immediate connection with my mother.  Rational?  Not in the least.  But it’s what I’ve kept tucked away in the back of my mind all these years.  Of course, now with the end of All My Kids, that last connection will be gone.  Forever.

Life’s busy now. More chit-chat next week, gentle readers.  Talk at ‘ya then.